The Oblivious Pope
Fatima Perspectives #1285
As my learned colleague Ed Faust has observed: “As tiresome as it has become to react to the vagaries of Pope Francis, it remains a necessity, for without a corrective some might believe what the Pope says is an accurate reflection of the Gospel and Church teaching. He is, after all, the Pope and the laity cannot be blamed for believing he is a faithful Catholic and credible teacher.”
That Francis has consistently, not just occasionally, shown himself to be neither presents a situation quite unlike any other in the annals of the papacy. Perhaps Francis, in the inscrutable designs of Providence, has been permitted to occupy the Chair of Peter in order to impress upon the faithful once and for all the strict limits of the charism of papal infallibility, whose operation depends entirely upon the willingness of a given Pope to confine his personal teaching to what the Church has always believed and what she has always practiced in keeping with that belief. For example, her bimillennial refusal to admit the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion in obedience to Our Lord’s exceptionless teaching that divorce and “remarriage” constitutes public adultery.
As Francis has said of himself: “On the other hand, I am by nature oblivious, and so I go ahead.” [“D’altra parte, per natura io sono incosciente, e cosi vado avanti.”]. My translation of “incosciente” as “oblivious” is kind, for the alternative meanings in Italian are these: reckless, thoughtless, irresponsible, imprudent and even (pejoratively) idiot.
Now, only someone who is totally oblivious to the implications of his own words and deeds could have uttered this preposterous encomium in 2015 concerning Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who died today: “This zealous pastor has served the church with dedication not only in his diocese but also at the national level as president of the Belgian bishops’ conference, as well as serving as a member of various Roman dicasteries.”
That “zealous pastor” was the archetypal wolf in sheep’s clothing. As the whole Catholic world knows, Danneels systematically covered up the homosexual abuse of boys by priests in Belgium, as Rorate Caeli reminds us here and here. He also approved the use of obscene “sex education” materials, supported the legalization of “same-sex unions” and even “tried to persuade King Baudouin [of Belgium] to sign the 1990 abortion bill into law,” all as documented here.
But none of that mattered to this oblivious Pope. For Danneels was also instrumental in the veritable plot to elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy. “According to his own statement,” notes Rorate, “he had been a member of the St Gallen Group of prelates who threw their support behind the election of Pope Francis.” The plot, which failed in 2005 with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, ultimately succeeded with Bergoglio’s election in 2013, even though the St. Gallen Group was no longer meeting formally.
That Danneels was, as Rorate dubs him, “The Great Elector of Francis” was demonstrated amply by the central role Francis allowed him play in his papacy at the time of his election: appearing with him on the balcony when his election was announced and then pronouncing the prayer for the new pope at his inauguration. As Rorate further notes, Danneels “later described the result of this conclave as ‘een persoonlijke verrijzeniservaring (a personal resurrection experience).’” And indeed, Francis resurrected the disgraced prelate by inviting him — the epitome of obliviousness — to participate prominently in the bogus Synod on the Family.
Quite simply, Francis doesn’t care what anyone thinks about what he does. He does as he pleases in order to get what he wants and to reward those who helped him to get it. Obliviously enough, the same Pope who has surrounded himself with corrupt and morally compromised associates who have assisted his rise to power over the years has made a joke of this situation. During one of his airborne press conferences he alluded to the corrupt Borgia family papacies: “I just thank God that there’s no Lucrezia Borgia” in the Vatican, he quipped — a reference to the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI — after it was revealed that he had appointed to his financial reform commission a woman and a priest who were engaging in sexual relations with each other.
At least the Borgia Popes were orthodox in their teaching!
On the same occasion Francis declared that he had not “lost any sleep” over the scandal because “corruption was being rooted out and his reforms were working.” That was four years ago, when the press had exposed only the peak of a mountain of corruption that has since emerged into full view.
“It’s very entertaining to be Pope,” said Francis to his friend Cardinal Polli. But while the oblivious Pope amuses himself, the Body of Christ suffers the continual humiliation of his wayward papacy. From which it seems only divine intervention can rescue the Church.