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Fr. Davide PagliaraniSSPX News - English / YouTube

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March 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Is Pope Francis an ideologist who can be tidily categorized as the proponent of a known school of thought? Is he, on the contrary, a pragmatist who lets usefulness, things, and events direct his words and actions? In Fr. Davide Pagliarani’s view, the present Pope is a much too complex “man of government” to fit in that sort of classification. As the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), Fr. Pagliarani gave an interview this Friday about Pope Francis to DICI, a news service of the SSPX. In his words, “The pontificate under which we are living is a historical turning point for the Catholic Church,” a revolution that is not new but that is reaching a head.

The lengthy interview will put a stop to comments saying that the historic traditionalist group whose seminary at Ecône, Switzerland, was created by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre soon after the liturgical upheaval created by the “New Mass,” in order to form and ordain young men wanting to preserve the traditional Mass of Saint Pius V, is quietly going its own way without taking the risk of ruffling Pope Francis. While it is a fact that the Pope has sought no battle with the Fraternity, instead proclaiming its priests’ legitimacy to hear confessions and legally bless marriages, Fr. Pagliarani is very open about the SSPX’s problems with the Pope’s deeds and declarations.

On the other hand, he presents the current Pope not as a counterpart to his immediate predecessors, but more as one who pushes to the extreme points of view that they did not wholly or solidly oppose.

For Pagliarani, it is obvious that Francis has a clear set of ideas, even if they are not clear to the observer: “Being a man of government, he knows perfectly well where he is going. A large-scale action is always inspired by theoretical principles, by a set of ideas, often dominated by a central idea to which all praxis can and must be related.”

The Pope’s attachment to “theology of the people” (a “much more moderate” variant of liberation theology) is not sufficient to explain his thinking: “It seems to me that Pope Francis is beyond this system, and even beyond any known system. I believe that the ideas that direct his actions cannot be analyzed and interpreted in a satisfactory way, if we limit ourselves to traditional theological criteria. He is not only beyond any known system, he is above them all!” said Pagliarani.

He then noted that John Paul II had kept certain points of doctrine “untouchable,” while Pope Benedict has “a spirit that was attached to the roots of the Church,” a “concern for fidelity to Tradition” that was “doomed to failure” because he was trying to “square the circle.”

“But with Pope Francis, such a preoccupation no longer exists. The pontificate under which we are living is a historical turning point for the Catholic Church: bastions that still remained have now been demolished forever — humanly speaking; and at the same time, the Church has redefined, by revolutionizing it, its mission towards souls and the world,” commented Fr. Pagliarani.

The “bastions” in question, according to the Superior General of the SSPX, are the moral demands of the Church regarding marriage and the condemning of “sexual perversions.” These are now being “practically denied” under the pontificate of Francis: in Pagliarani’s opinion, this has been made possible because the Church’s demands “were unfortunately based on a dogmatic theology that was diverted from its purpose, and thus made unstable.”

Amoris Laetitia in particular “not only contains serious errors, it manifests a completely new historicist approach,” according to Fr. Pagliarani. The Pope “seems to me to be affected by a kind of hyperrealism, a sort of ‘pastoral’ hyperrealism,” said Pagliarani, adding that according to the Pope, “the Church must face the facts: it is impossible for it to continue to preach moral doctrine as it has done up to now. She must therefore resolve to capitulate to the demands of modern man, and consequently, to rethink her role as a mother.”

Seeking to accompany is not of itself a bad thing, but for Fr. Pagliarani, the shift towards mere “listening” is changing everything in the Church: “For example, since she can no longer impose the same conditions for receiving Holy Communion as previously, because modern man sees them as an intolerable intolerance, the only realistic and truly Christian reaction, when following this logic, consists in adapting to this situation and redefining its requirements. Thus, by the force of things, morality changes: The eternal laws are now subject to an evolution, made necessary by historical circumstances and the imperatives of a false and misunderstood charity.”

This change refers in particular to the concept of mercy: “It is no longer the response of a God of love, welcoming the repentant sinner with open arms, to regenerate him and give him back the life of grace. It is now a fatal mercy, which has become necessary in order to meet the urgent needs of humanity. Henceforth considered incapable of respecting even natural law, men have a strict right to receive this mercy, a kind of condescending amnesty from a God who also adapts Himself to history without dominating it any longer.” Similarly, Christian morals “adapt” to worldly morals.

Fr. Pagliarani uses hard words against the Pope’s new impulse in the Church: “This mercy has thus become a sort of panacea, the foundation of a new evangelization to be proposed to a century that can no longer be converted, and to Christians on whom the yoke of the commandments can no longer be imposed. In this way, souls in peril, instead of being encouraged and strengthened in their faith, are reassured and comforted in their sinful situations. In so doing, the guardian of the faith even abolishes the natural order, which means absolutely nothing remains.”

Thus, “earthly well-being” becomes the only thing that matters, he adds.

For Pagliarani, Pope Francis is going on the way of adaptation to the world set by Vatican II, “but in a new and extreme sense: The Church must now adapt to the sins of the world — at least when the sin is ‘politically correct.’”

In the Pope’s “alternative way of thinking,” as promoted in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti in view of a “new humanity” living in “peace”, Fr. Pagliarani discerns a “utopia”: “This is what happens to all those who cut themselves off from their roots. The Holy Father, breaking with Divine Tradition, aspires to an ideal and an abstract perfection, totally disconnected from reality.” It is a “dream” that is “profoundly naturalistic” and doomed to fail: “Without God, nature alone tends to become, in practice, ‘unnatural.’ By calling and elevating man to the supernatural order, God has ordered human nature to grace.”

The Pope’s “utopia” is twofold, according to Pagliarani: “It can be summed up in two ideas: those of integral ecology and universal fraternity. There is no coincidence that the Pope has dedicated two key encyclicals to these subjects, which, as he himself maintains, characterize the two main parts of his pontificate.”

The problem which Fr. Pagliarani identifies Laudato si’ is that its “integral ecology” is in fact a “new morality” for all men, “leaving aside Divine Revelation and therefore the Gospel” at a time when humanity is “mired in purely material concerns.”

In Fratelli Tutti and the principle of universal fraternity, there “is nothing less than a naturalist caricature of Christian fraternity, founded on the divine paternity common to all men redeemed by Our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Pagliarani. “This fraternity is materially identical to that of Freemasonry, which, over the last two centuries, has done nothing but sow hatred, particularly against the Catholic Church, in a fierce desire to substitute itself for the only truly possible fraternity among men.”

He noted that this idea of “fraternity” betrays “the lack of understanding of the wounds of original sin, and the oblivion of the need of grace to restore fallen nature and to promote peace among men.”

In a word, it is “secular humanitarianism” that is fascinating the Catholic Church.

However, Pagliarani does not believe that this is the end of it all, nor does he respond as if he thought that Pope Francis is not the legitimate Pope. Instead, he has words of hope: “And yet — this is the mystery of our faith and it is also our hope — the Church is Holy! It is Divine! It is Eternal! In spite of the sorrows of the present hour, its interior life, in all its highest dimensions, is certainly of a beauty that delights God and the angels. Today, as always, the Catholic Church fully disposes of all the means necessary to guide and sanctify souls!”

How can the Church “regenerate herself,” in the words of the interviewer? Fr. Pagliarani says she should turn back to “three key points:” proclaiming once more “the existence of original sin,” the “necessity of grace,” the fruit of redemption, and the “transcendence of an ultimate end which is not on this earth, but in Heaven.”

He concluded: “These three concepts can be summed up in a single ideal: that of Christ the King. He is the essence of our faith. He is the author of all grace. He is the author of this natural law that He engraved in the hearts of all men when He created them. The divine legislator does not change. He does not renounce His authority. Just as this law cannot be altered without altering the faith itself, neither can it be restored, without restoring to its divine legislator the honor due to Him. To put it simply, we must not capitulate before this world, but ‘recapitulate all things in Christ.’”

Confidently believing in Christ’s ultimate victory, he added that the Blessed Virgin Mary will be associated with it. “She will certainly be associated with this one in a very special way because never before has there been such a triumph of so pernicious and subtle errors, that have caused such widespread and profound ravages, in the concrete life of Catholics. The proof of this is that among the most beautiful titles that the Church attributes to Our Lady are those of ‘Destroyer of all heresies’ and ‘Help of Christians.’”

Father Pagliarani’s full interview is available here on the English-speaking news site of the SSPX.

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Jeanne Smits has worked as a journalist in France since 1987 after obtaining a Master of Arts in Law. She formerly directed the French daily Présent and was editor-in-chief of an all-internet French-speaking news site called She writes regularly for a number of Catholic journals (Monde & vie, L’Homme nouveau, Reconquête…) and runs a personal pro-life blog. In addition, she is often invited to radio and TV shows on alternative media. She is vice-president of the Christian and French defense association “AGRIF.” She is the French translator of The Dictator Pope by Henry Sire and Christus Vincit by Bishop Schneider, and recently contributed to the Bref examen critique de la communion dans la main about Communion in the hand. She is married and has three children, and lives near Paris.