There are lots of quotes running around from Pope Francis, which cause fulminations on Facebook, or other places. Now what Francis actually says is troubling enough, but too often, and perhaps because of his unprepared speeches where he confuses people, it is more believable when hoaxes appear as though they were what he had said. Continue reading
Today we are joined by Stephen Hand, a writer, researcher and Traditional Catholic [though, as Stephen says, some hold this last part in doubt], for a wide ranging conversation of his view of the collapse of society from his youth to when he came into the Church, as well as the early American Traditional Catholic movement. Stephen will also discuss events involving the Remnant, which will be of great interest to many; as well as topics such as criticism of the Pope, the New World Order , the war on terror and Dorothy Day in a lengthy, though endlessly fascinating interview which will surprise many who have preconceived notions of Mr. Hand’s positions. Continue reading
A breaking news item, at the minute of this posting, is the resignation of Bishop Finn from the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. According to a news report:
“Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in his diocese.
The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation according to Canon 104 Article 2 in the Code of Canon Law in an April 21 statement, released at noon local time.
Article 2 of Canon 104, according to the Vatican’s website, refers to a situation when “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill-health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.” [source]
So essentially, the loss of prestige and the apparent damage of the conviction have led Finn to resign. Nevertheless, this raises several questions, particularly with the interesting history of the division in the Kansas City diocese, and the hate that was vented against him for years by the heterodox. Let us start in a few places. Continue reading
The family split in the Matt family, which formed the two different conservative newspapers, the Wanderer and the Remnant respectively, is perhaps a microcosm of conservative movements in the Church here in the United States (in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere, it is similar but different in many respects, e.g. European traditionalists I have known find the American Traditionalist obsession with women wearing skirts and veils puzzling. Thus not all issues are the same. So what I am going to say here is only intended with reference to the situation in this country).
I have broken my ignore all Pope Francis news rule, to observe a few of the more interesting, yet less salubrious quotes (with respect to doctrine) of the Pope of late. One of the most irritating things, is when those who insist the Pope can do no wrong and we must get with it, will always look at something extremely damaging, and say “Oh, its a translation error.”
Being possessed of the ability to fact check this (provided he is speaking in Italian and not Spanish), I decided to look back at a few quotes. Let’s start with the most recent one.
“Because, as a man ought to obey a lower power in those things only which are not opposed to the higher power; so even a man ought to adapt himself to the rule in all things according to its mode; on the other hand, a man ought to adapt himself to the secondary rule in those things which are not at variance with the primary rule: because in those matters in which it is at variance, it is not a rule:
On that account, one is not to give assent to the preaching of a prelate which is contrary to the faith since in this it is discordant with the primary rule. Nor through ignorance is a subject excused from the whole: since the habit of faith causes an inclination to the contrary, since it teaches necessarily of all things that pertain to salvation.”1
There are a lot of comments going about the internet attacking Cardinal Burke for his criticism of Pope Francis. Now in reality, Cardinal Burke’s criticisms have been mild, always minimizing Francis’ damage. Some have gone so far as to call Cardinal Burke Schismatic.
I wonder what they would have said about St. Robert Bellarmine, saint and Doctor of the Church, who said the following (to my knowledge, this has never been rendered into English before.
St. Robert Bellarmine makes an interesting comment in the famous chapter of De Romano Pontifice where he discusses the question of the loss of Papal office. It is in the article immediately before the one sedevacantists frequently use, namely in De Romano Pontifice, Bk II, Chapter 30:
“The third opinion is on another extreme, certainly, that a Pope cannot be deposed either through secret heresy, or through manifest heresy. This recalls and refutes Bishop Turrecremata (loc cit) [Bellarmine is noting in the previous point, citing this Bishop, where he rejects that a secret heretic can be judged] and certainly is an improbable opinion. Firstly, that a heretical Pope can be judged, is expressly held in Can. Si Papa dist. 40, and with Innocent III (serm. 2 de consec. pontif.) And what is more, in the 8th Council, (act. 7) the acts of the Roman Council under Pope Hadrian are recited, and therein contained, that Pope Honorius appears to be justly anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, which is the only reason permitted for inferiors to judge superiors. It must be noted, that although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II was deceived from corrupt examples of the VI Council, and Honorius was reckoned falsely to be a heretic, nevertheless we cannot deny, in fact Hadrian with the Roman Council, nay more the whole 8th general council had sensed, in the case of heresy a Roman Pontiff can be judged. Add, what would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she would be compelled to acknowledge a manifestly prowling wolf for a shepherd.”
We all knew this Synod was going to be bad. I have warned people privately that it would be a watershed moment of Francis’ pontificate. Lately I’ve been given to creating similes to correctly encapsulate Francis, and this latest one I think is the most apt, as we shall see. “Francis is to the Church, what Yoko Ono was to the Beatles.”
It was clear from the beginning that this synod was rigged to produce the effect that Francis wanted. A source I have, who is actually in Rome, told me that the African Bishops as a block loudly protested many of the Synod proceedings, but were shut down Ottaviani style. There is little better that I could say than what Chris Ferrara has said on the Synod:
Let us call this Synod what it is: a secretive, manipulated, progressive-dominated cabal, led by septuagenarian and octogenarian diehards of the conciliar “renewal,” who are rushing to finish their “work”—so rudely interrupted by Pope Benedict—lest death release the Church from their clutches before they are quite done.
So where are we at now? Let’s look at what is a synod, what this document actually is, its contents and then consider where all this is going.
What the heck is a synod?
A Synod is a gathering of bishops to discuss matters of faith or discipline, which can range from advisory to being part of the ordinary magisterium, such as some early synods. They fall short of an ecumenical council in their substance, and their authority is more or less what a Pope chooses to give them. Historically it was an easy way to discuss difficulties without recourse to an ecumenical Council, which in the early Church were called by the emperor, or by the Pope who then pushed for the Emperor’s consent, as was the case with Pope St. Leo the Great, who pushed the Roman empress Pulcheria for an ecumenical council at Chalcedon. Since Vatican II, however, the Synod has been little more than a mini-council continuing Vatican II, where all the Bishops get together and pat themselves on the back for what a wonderful job they are doing in the Church [sic]. Michael Davies, I think, correctly described this process as the abandoning of the Ecclesia Docens (Teaching Church) for the Ecclesia loquens (talking Church).
Typically after a Synod, the Pope commissions a document to more or less summarize what took place, and then writes a post synodal exhoration, like Pope Benedict’s Charitas in Veritate.
What is the document making the headlines?
The current document which we are talking about is the Relatio post Disceptationem, literally, the report after the debate, although, per what Pope Francis declared prior to the Synod’s opening, the original is Italian rather than Latin, which leaves me reading with my dictionary since my Italian, though decent, is not pitch perfect. However, I have noticed that the Vatican translators have done a good job, showing that when a document is to their liking, they will happily and promptly translate, unlike in Benedict’s pontificate. It is not infallible, nor is it an official act of the magisterium. It does, however, reflect the Pope’s thinking, and constitutes the direction which he would like to go. Which, moreover, begs the question, how did a 6,000 word document get written by 6 men and get translated very well into multiple languages that quickly? Unless, as many analysts reckon, it was preplanned.
Liberal groups are hailing this document as a wonderful step forward, while conservative and pro-life groups, even the head of the Polish Bishop’s conference, have called this document a betrayal. These are strong words against the document from groups that normally eschew the slightest criticism of the Pope, and we shall see why.
The Relatio, declares:
From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption. (no. 13)
What is this “Gradualness”? It would appear, the Relatio is saying juxtaposing two entirely contrary things. Continuity, and Novelty, which do not go together, at least in the same respect. How can marriage be interpreted in terms of both continuity (i.e. faithfulness to God’s commands) and novelty (changing them to suit man?). One might argue it means dealing with new novelties, but the next paragraph makes it abundantly clear that they mean novelties to suit man.
Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross. (no 14., my emphasis)
Notice the demonic inversion. They take what, in the clear meaning of the Gospel, is a rebuke against the Pharisees, and they turn it into “understanding”. Tolerance. This is just an act of poisoning the well, for, they are positing as a starting point the “tolerant”, “non-judgmental” and “pastoral” Jesus, like unto that creature we call the average post Vatican II bishop (at least the ones who don’t get fired, or receive Apostolic Visitations!). Moreover, no. 13 above quotes John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, itself a document following a family synod. Let’s see what his notion of “Gradualness” is:
Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 34).
So you see, what the manipulators of this Synod have done, before we even get to the troubled sections on homosexuality, is to twist the previous teaching of John Paul II, to make it look like they have a saint in their camp. This is for the obvious reason that the goals outlined by the “Synod Party”, as I have called them, are explicitly contrary to John Paul II.
There is a lot of irony in this. It is Francis who canonized John Paul II, and now it is he and his regime who are discarding the late “sainted” Pontiff’s teaching, because it is inconvenient to the “new Gospel”. What was the point in canonizing JPII except to baptize his personalist and phenomenological writings? Well, that gets sticky as well. The point of canonizing JPII had nothing at all to do with the glory of the Church, or his sanctity, or any other consideration. It was purely a canonization of Vatican II, whose spirit, according to Cardinal Kasper, is alive and well at the Synod.
So the “official” Synod language has moved to gradations of following God’s commands. Just as was declared in the first week “We must not talk about living in sin, that is harsh language.” The teaching of John Paul II, on that rare occasion it was clear, namely on life and family issues, is cast aside for the emotive feeling of those who disobey Christ’s commands, amplified by the media presentation and the pet beliefs of the minority of cardinals handling these things.
What I want to do, however, is avoid the scandalous passages on homosexuality. There are numerous other websites doing that. Anyone with a clear sensus catholicus knows there is a great difference between treating homosexuals with respect in a civil and public sphere, and at the same time to welcome them into our homes and communities as though their behavior were perfectly acceptable in light of the Gospel.
The real problem is that no one is talking about the fact that the “homosexual identity” is a completely modern creation. People who engaged in homosexuality in antiquity, or the middle ages, or the renaissance, did not identify as “gay” or anything like it. They were often married (to women), and homosexual acts were something they engaged in on the side in limited circumstances. This is more or less how sodomy occurred, and its enforcement historically was sporadic based on how public the business became, not only in Europe, but even in Medieval Islamic societies. There was no such thing as a “gay identity”. The emergence of that said identity, apart from any question of the orientation (which the Catechism teaches in unity with the tradition are disordered) has been something totally different from how homosexual activity affected society in the past. The “identity” has arisen with an animus against western tradition, the institution of marriage and the Church.
What is clear about the “homosexual passages” of the Relatio, is that the man who wrote the document, Cardinal Edö, is scrambling to show how he didn’t write it, didn’t know anything about it! Maybe that’s true, but there is someone who did know something about it, and approved it, as he approved the 6 commissioners who wrote the document, that is Pope Francis himself. Anyone who would do anything but lay the blame for this debacle at the feet of the Pope is simply delusional. Those responsible for the Relatio, are canonically speaking modernists. They are actually trying to harm the Church. As some have noted, the purpose of the homosexual clauses are not to force them into the final document or make them binding somehow. The clear majority of the Synod will not allow it. What they want to do is wound the Church’s unity, and push the majority who are opposed to them on the defensive. This is exactly the tactic followed at Vatican II in the rejection of the preparatory schema. For, all opposition to those passages in the Relatio document (a novelty because usually you don’t release anything until the end) will be read in light of what already came out, and appear reactionary or damage control. The spirit of the world has already seen the first, and it will be treated as doctrine when it has as much weight as a fart during a sermon. (Sorry for being crass, but the analogy is nice given the contents of this document).
Moreover, not only will they put pressure on the Synod Fathers, but it will aid in overlooking the debate on communion for the divorced and remarried (i.e. those who, by the words of Christ Himself, are committing adultery), or to be used to force a concession on the matter. The fact is this synod is an act of manipulation, and a very obvious one at that.
Demonization of Africa
In any other context, the attack on Africa and Africans would be held as racist, unacceptable, immoral, etc. But when it is coming from the Cardinal patron of homosexual and the divorced and remarried, namely Kasper the friendly wolf, it is perfectly acceptable.
Indeed, in an interview today, Cardinal Kasper said:
Cardinal Kasper: The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.
ZENIT: But are African participants listened to in this regard?
Cardinal Kasper: No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].
ZENIT: They’re not listened to?
Cardinal Kasper: In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.
ZENIT: What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?
I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do. (Source)
If that is not one of the most arrogant and condescending remarks from a Churchman, I don’t know exactly what is. Further, it is proof that what the modernists most criticize they are the most guilty of. You have seen it in Francis, warning people not to be obsessed with themselves, then he goes out of his way to get a biography of himself published. He lashes out about not judging, and judges all the time! The modernists criticize the pre-Vatican II Church for being closed minded, unwilling to look at other opinions, and though this is false, it is exactly true of the modernists post-Vatican II. Why must the Africans “shut up”? Because they are more orthodox and faithful to the gospel, at the very least on these points.
The Francis regime and their manipulators knew that coming in. This is why the beginning of the Relatio declares:
Some cultural and religious contexts pose particular challenges. In African societies the practice of polygamy remains, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. (Relation, no. 7)
Now, is that strictly true? Is it true amongst Christians in Africa? Here I know several people from Nigeria and Kenya, who are in a position to know about a lot of these issues. The fact is amongst Christians in Africa, this is a minority problem. Polygamy in particular, is more of a problem among the Muslims, since it is permitted by their religion. Many African cultures have a latent cultural Islam left over from the middle ages, even though they are pagan rather than Islamic.
Nevertheless, it is a preemptive strike against African bishops. You can’t tell us what to do, you have these problems! This should shatter the myth of openness and inclusion.
I could go on, but this has already exceeded what I intended, and it is probably wearisome. I have several other posts coming on these topics soon. To wrap it up however, it is worthwhile to revisit prophecy. Bishops will oppose Bishops, and Cardinals will oppose Cardinals. Here we are.
Pope Pius XI
Meeting and meal with assortment of Protestant ministers
Of all the silly things Pope Francis has said in his pontificate, this one really takes the cake. Principally, in the realm of prudence, but also because it raises questions about what he believes. In terms of magisterial teaching, it is null, so we don’t need to worry about that.
The greatest difficulty is in this: if you are an apologist, if you are laboring amongst evangelicals, or, whatever you like, working to convince them to return to the Catholic faith, whether you are a priest or a laymen, you may now be greeted with this: “But the Pope said we did not need to convert!” and “Who are you to judge!”
There are many reasons why this statement is fraught with all sorts of problems, but the biggest is that it is contrary to what the Church has always and everywhere believed. It also evinces a lack of the virtue of hope, and a lack of the virtue of charity.
There is a lack of hope, in as much as the Pope has already written off the work of the Holy Ghost, “We’ll never agree anyway.” No, never? What was St. Peter Canisius doing laboring away in Germany and Switzerland? Oh, they’ll never believe anyway, why bother. What was St. Francis de Sales doing, writing tracts and sticking them under doors, and fasting and praying for the conversion of the Calvinists? Oh, we’ll never agree anyway! Not at all. There is another matter, which is the virtue of charity. If the Catholic Church is the true Church, and, at least with respect to the ordinary means of salvation that we can see and know from revelation, there is no salvation outside the Church, then how is it charitable to say “I don’t want to convert you.” That’s like saying “I don’t love you.” It is a false charity to withhold from a man his salvation.
But is this some random statement from the Pope, off the cuff and without notes? Actually no, this is precisely what he believes. In 2010, a dialogue was published between then Cardinal Bergolio and Jewish Rabbi Abraham Skorka, titled On heaven and earth, on a wide range of issues. In that, Francis said the following [My emphasis in bold]:
“When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; [!] I respect him and I show myself as I am… I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.” (Pgs. 12-13).
Hence the Scalfari interviews. The curious thing about those, of course, is the Vatican Press office is more or less claiming that Scalfari is changing the Pope’s words, yet the Pope goes to Scalfari again and the Vatican website still promotes the interview. But the Pope’s words are being changed.
More problematic is the unqualified way he speaks of these things. It strikes your feelings, yeah we want to treat people with respect, which then eviscerates truth from your dealings. It is one thing to respect the people in your society, and treat them courteously. It is another, to be entirely unconcerned with their eternal salvation, as though God blesses unbelief. What is the Vatican II mantra, always going back to Scripture? That is largely just a vehicle to discard the Tradition. Congar’s argument is that all Tradition is contained in Scripture, so therefore Scripture has the sufficiency and the Tradition is at best an appendage which we don’t need to worry about, because its all in Scripture. It is also a good argument for discarding the Tradition, once one has judged that it is not in Scripture. But then Scripture itself is cast aside when it doesn’t fit in with the Vatican II meta-narrative, or the religion of feelings and good intentions. What does it say in Scripture?
“Si autem tu annuntiaveris impio, et ille non fuerit conversus ab impietate sua, et a via sua impia, ipse quidem in iniquitate sua morietur: tu autem animam tuam liberasti.
Sed et si conversus justus a justitia sua fuerit, et fecerit iniquitatem, ponam offendiculum coram eo: ipse morietur quia non annuntiasti ei: in peccato suo morietur, et non erunt in memoria justitiae ejus quas fecit, sanguinem vero ejus de manu tua requiram.”
If, however, you will have declared to the impious, and he will not have converted from his iniquity, and his impious life, truly he will die in his iniquity, and you however acquitted your soul.
But even if the just man will have been turned from justice, and committed evil, I will place a stumbling block in his presence, he will die because you will not have preached unto him, and he will die in his sin, and the just things which he did will be forgotten, but I will require his blood at your hand. EzechielIII: 19-20 (All translations from the Vulgate are mine)
Et accedens Jesus locutus est eis, dicens: Data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra:
Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes: baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti:
Docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem saeculi.
And coming, Jesus spoke to them, saying: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me; going therefore, teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to keep all things whichever I commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew XXVIII: 18-20(My emphasis)
Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.
Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur.
And he said to them: Going into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever will have believed and been baptized, he will be saved, but whoever will not have believed, he will be condemned.
Mark XVI: 16 (My emphasis)
These scriptural references should be clear, even if you are using a “Good News Bible” or whatever edition you can pick up at Barnes and Noble. Even absent the Tradition, where copious resources could be produced from every Church Father, and every Scholastic, every theologian, and every Doctor of the Church on the necessity for membership in the Church, the necessity of Faith for salvation and so many other doctrines implicitly defied by the Pope’s behavior toward atheists, the scripture clearly shows his behavior is contrary to Christ’s commands. So the Pope, is saying he is not at all concerned that the Atheist doesn’t believe, in spite of Our Lord’s very clear and grave words. Now obviously there is prudence, and many times I’ve been at that point, where you know if you push any harder you’ll lose the person, but you did try, and resort to prayer where argument fails. Francis wasn’t even talking about that, he’s talking about shirking the whole question altogether. “Who am I to judge?” Unfortunately there is the dread verse in Ezechiel: “I will require his blood at your hand.” It get’s even worse:
“God makes Himself felt in the heart of each person. He also respects the culture of all people. Each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with the culture, and elaborates, purifies and gives it a system. Some cultures are primitive in their explanations, but God is open to all people. He calls everyone. He moves everyone to seek Him and to discover Him through creation. In our case, that of Judaism and Christianity, we have a personal revelation. God Himself encounters us; He reveals Himself to us, He shows us the way and He accompanies us; He tells us His name, He guides us through the prophets. Christians believe, ultimately, that He manifested Himself to us and gave Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Moreover, throughout history, there have existed circumstances that created schisms and constructed diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity, like the Reformation. We lived through a thirty year war and it shaped different faiths. It is very hard to accept and it was a disgraceful time, but that is the reality. God is patient, He waits, and God does not kill. It is man that wants to do so on God’s behalf. To kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” (On heaven and earth, pg. 19; my emphasis.)
Well, where do I start? This simply cannot be read as anything but modernism. For instance, it is one thing to say God uses all cultures to reveal his glory. This is true, and when Catholic missionaries brought the faith, for example, to Native Americans, or into the far East, they preserved the local populations’ culture and tradition, which worked in harmony with the Traditional Latin Mass that they also established. When, however, he says: “each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with their culture”, this is, or at least appears to be, rooted in the modernist opinion that all religions are essentially different visions of God, and we’re all fellow travelers and that sort of nonsense. Yet, that pesky Bible again, says: “Quoniam omnes dii gentium daemonia; Dominus autem caelos fecit.” For all the gods of the nations are demons, but the Lord made the heavens. -Psalm 95 (96): 5.
Where we circle to the relevance with respect to the Pope’s statement to the Protestant ministers, is in the latter part of this quote. It really expresses the metaphysics of Francis’ philosophy of religion. “diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity.” Well, what are we to make of this? In proper Catholic ecclesiology, there is no way of living Christianity, except by being Catholic, in the Latin right, or in one of the Eastern rites. There is only one Church, as is clear in the scriptures. To say that other communities have another way of living Christianity, is to hold that there is an anomalous Christianity, that can be done entirely differently by different groups, who only agree on essentials. What the Church has historically called the essentials is, well, a bit different from that. It might have benefitted the then Cardinal Bergolio to examine what his fellow Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church had said on that subject:
“There is only one Church, not two, that body, both one and true is of men of the same Christian faith with respect to profession, and gathered in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate shepherds, and especially of the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff. It can easily be collected from such a definition, which men pertain to the Church, and those who doe not pertain to her. There are three parts of this definition. The Profession of the true faith, the communion of the sacraments, and the subjection to the legitimate pastor, the Roman Pontiff. By reason of the first part all unbelievers are excluded, as well as those who never were in the Church, such as Jews, Turks and Pagans; and also those who were in and left, as heretics and apostates. By reason of the second, catechumens and the excommunicate are excluded, because these are not admitted to the communion of the sacraments, as these are dismissed. By reason of the third, schismatics are excluded, who have both the faith and the sacraments, but are not subjected to the legitimate pastor, and therefore profess the faith and carry out the sacraments on the outside. All others however are included, even those who might be reprobate, criminal or impious.”1 (De Ecclesia Militante, bk III ch. 2, my emphasis)
Similar statements could be collected from every Theologian until the 1960’s. But no, this was not the religion of Cardinal Bergolio, and it would appear his doctrine has not changed.
Throughout this interview, Francis confesses he is “naive”. This is certainly clear with his historical analysis of the Thirty Years War. This war, from 1618-1648, is often described in popular history as a war between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. This is false, like other pop-history dates, such as assigning 1054 as the date of the Great schism between East and West, even though the Eastern Churches were all reconciled in 1099, and remained so until 1204, and came in and out of union until the 1300’s when the politics in the West caused various worldly Popes from continuing the effort of full reunion. Either way, the Thirty Years war saw Catholics and Protestants fighting on both sides of the conflict. When it broke out, it was when the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick, was invited by the Bohemians (Czechs) who had revolted from the Emperor to become their king. This occurred after the famous “De-fenestration of Prague”. So, Frederick came, and became king, but was put under the Reichs’ ban, which essentially a deposition, that declared all his subjects freed from obedience to him, and made him an outlaw within the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick expected all the Protestant lords and elector’s to come to his aid, but instead they sided with the Emperor, mostly because they wanted to grab some of his land. He also alienated his subjects by his strict Calvinism, which the Lutherans and Hussites did not accept. Later the conflict widened, with Catholics and Protestants on the emperor’s side, and Protestants on the other side. Then the French entered the conflict, and what’s more, induced Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king, to enter the war on the Protestant side. The French, though Catholic, assisted the Protestants in every way, just as they assisted the Lutherans in 1548 against Charles V, so now they assisted the Dutch against the Spanish, fought the Spanish, and sent troops to fight for Adolphus. Although my expertise in this conflict is more on the military side than the political side, it should be clear to anyone who studies it, that while religious considerations were important, politics and military glory were equally apart of this conflict. The security of states, the prominence of royal houses, these were all considerations at work in this conflict. It was not so much killing in the name of God, but in the name of kings, for worldly glory, and power.
The result, was an agreement for toleration in order to avoid more conflict, and was fully in accord with Catholic principles. It was devastating, it was a scandal, but it did not create “new religions”, or “new ways of being Christian”, it solidified those who had left the Church politically.
Ultimately, then, when the Pope told those Protestants that he didn’t want to convert them, and later, apologized to Pentecostals for the Church preventing their growth, this is not some off the cuff comment that he later regrets to make them feel good, this is really what he believes!
The conclusion, then, is that whenever Francis speaks, it is probably best to run to older works of theology approved by the Church at that time, or to read the Fathers of the Church. Pray, but don’t become despondent over it. Francis cannot change what the Church formally teaches, it isn’t possible. God will judge him, as He promised to judge Ezechiel, and it is our job to pray and refer back to the Church’s perennial teaching as the antidote to all the nonsense.1 “Ecclesiam unam tantum esse, non duas, et illam unam et veram esse coetum hominum ejusdem christianae fidei professione et eorundem sacramentorum communione colligatum, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum, ac praecipue unius Christi in terris vicarii romani pontificis. Ex qua definitione facile colligi potest, qui homines ad Ecclesiam pertineant, qui vero ad eam non pertineant. Tres enim sunt partes hujus definitionis. Professio verae fidei, sacramentorum communio, et subjectio ad legitimum pastorem romanum pontificem. Ratione primae partis excluduntur omnes infideles tam qui numquam fuerunt in Ecclesia, ut Judaei, Turcae, Pagani; tam qui fuerunt et recesserunt, ut haeretici et apostatae. Ratione secundae, excluduntur catechumeni et excommunicati, quoniam illi non sunt admissi ad sacramentorum communionem, isti sunt dimissi. Ratione tertiae, excluduntur schismatici, qui habent fidem et sacramenta, sed non subduntur legitimo pastori, et ideo foris profitentur fidem, et sacramenta percipiunt. Includuntur autem omnes alii, etiamsi reprobro, scelesti et impii sint.”