Joining me on this special episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, however, is Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa (the Syriac equivalent of an auxiliary bishop), rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. Filmed at the Catholic Identity Conference, we discuss the current state of the Church and Pope Francis’ lack of “fatherly” leadership.
Speaking about the Conference, His Excellency explains that while some would think that the event is a “far right-wing” event, people averse to the event are unaware of its message. To Spinosa, Michael Matt’s message to “unite the clans” is important because it is not something unique to the Latin Rite of the Church. The Eastern Churches face similar challenges, such as how one can bring people to church.
“It really energizes me because I see people who are very appreciative of the faith that they have, and there’s confusion amongst them, it’s not always their fault, and they’re looking for answers, they’re looking for stability,” he explains. “They want to be good Catholic people, and sometimes they feel marginalized. And I come across this all the time, and it’s not just the laity, but the clergy as well.”
Spinosa also addresses the problems of the Francis pontificate, comparing them to the approach that St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI had to the papacy.
Spinosa says people look to leaders for clarity and for something fatherly. Recalling the papacy of St. John Paul II, Spinosa says that the Pope was universally loved, whether one disagreed with him or not. Benedict, meanwhile, was a scholarly man: quiet, but gentle. Looking to Francis, however, Spinosa observes that people do not see the same gentleness in him, with statements that can be “confusing and contradictory” and don’t strike us as “fatherly.”
Spinosa looks to Francis’ accusations of “indietrismo” (being backward-looking) as something that parents don’t do with their children, and that many were “hurt” by what he said, even if Francis didn’t “mean it in that way.”
“This is what bothers people. There’s ambiguity. There’s lack of clarity. There’s not so much teaching now as much as [being] involved with other things, [being] concerned with other things which are valid points, whether it’s climate change or social issues or whatever it is,” he tells me. “We have to be involved in all of that. But we also need to know the teachings of the Church.”
We also touch upon the “alphabet issues” in our discussion. His Excellency points to Genesis’ exposition that God made man male and female.
“It’s set from the very beginning, and I don’t see how we can change any of that,” Spinosa notes. “As sympathetic or empathetic as anyone would like to be, you cannot change what goes back to the very beginning of creation.” He also notes that Benedict XVI, when still in charge of the Dicastery (then Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that pastors ought to approach those with same-sex attraction by not rejecting them.
“You have to help authentically,” he emphasizes. “When you compromise the faith of the Church, the beliefs of the Church, or the morals of the Church, or whatever it might be, you are not helping the individual. Actually… you’re doing them great harm.”
“It doesn’t mean the problem will go away,” he continues. “We just have to work a little bit harder as to how are we going to bring individuals like this closer to God.”
To Spinosa, however, an even more “upsetting” prospect to consider is how we continuously hear of “absurdities” that would not have even been imagined a few years ago. In our day, Spinosa continues, these same people insist they cannot be told how to live their lives.
“But the Church has the obligation to do that because the Church has to speak the truth and it has to be done with kindness and charity and all… Christian love, obviously, but you cannot compromise the truth. And this is where we’re tripping up,” he laments. “We’re trying to help in any way possible, but we’re also compromising the truth.”
For more from Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa, tune in to this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show.
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