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2016: The year Pope Francis finally showed his hand

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

ROME, January 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – 2016 marked a dramatic turning point in the pontificate of Pope Francis. It may be called the year of the great awakening, as more and more faithful Catholics and prelates, Cardinals included, came to a frightening understanding that there is a major problem with the current Pope.

For the beginning years of his papacy, most, including LifeSite, gave Francis the benefit of the doubt. They repeatedly told themselves and others not to believe the media; that his words were being taken out of context or mistranslated; that he was just plain poor at doing interviews; that he wasn’t often aware of the consequences of his words; that he wanted to be pastoral and thus overstated things at times; and that off-the-cuff interviews are not official expressions of the Church’s teaching authority.

Many of these hopes were pinned on the outcome of the two controversial Synods on the Family. It was hoped that the final document by the Pope would finally set things straight after he had allowed many bishops to express themselves freely, even in ways contrary to Christ’s own words. In the end, they thought, it would be as it was with Pope Paul VI who, after two years of deliberation and being urged by numerous close advisors to alter the Church’s constant teaching against contraception, nevertheless proclaimed Humanae Vitae and confirmed perennial, authentic Catholic teaching.

However, with Amoris Laetitia it has not been so. The confusion has been allowed to fester and only increase as Pope Francis himself has made known his personal views on the grave matters under consideration. He showed himself to be, at least in hard cases, open to altering the teaching of the Church, or as he would call it, being open to the “surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

While the shift can most clearly be seen in the dubia by the six Cardinals, four of whom went public, it can also be seen in the growing concern expressed by powerful Catholic entities such as EWTN. The Catholic media empire founded by the saintly Mother Angelica has in it's television programming with Raymond Arroyo, in their newspaper the National Catholic Register with Ed Pentin, and in their UK blog run by Deacon Nick Donnelly, taken to accurately and unapologetically reporting on the controversies caused by Pope Francis.

Other Catholic officials and entities have also begun to express dismay and grave concerns but, after witnessing the demotions of Cardinal Burke, the brutal dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and many other such actions, their dismay has thus far been expressed in only whispered tones.

It is instructive to watch what is not being done in order to appreciate the situation. Historically, with few exceptions, when a Pope has been openly questioned by Cardinals, a majority of the Cardinals lept to his defense. However, in the matter of the dubia, we see, in addition to the four Cardinals that have gone public, several others expressing their sympathy and desire that the Pope would answer the questions and end the confusion. Yes, there are a bevy of bishops and a handful of Cardinals that have jumped to the Pope’s defense, many of them with personally derogatory remarks directed at the four Cardinals. However, where are the majority of the 120-strong College of Cardinals leaping to the defense of the Pope?

The gravity of the present situation can best be understood by a look at the evidence. So in order to demonstrate the concern over Pope Francis, LifeSite here presents many of the more disturbing developments in the Francis papacy during 2016.

For brevity, most of the incidents are presented with only a few words of description and a link to a fuller explanation for more careful study. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing for the year, but only the most grave of incidents. We pray this compilation may serve to awaken more Catholics to the need for ardent prayer, sacrifice and productive action for the Church and the Pope at this grave time in the Church’s history of two millennia.

January 18, 2016

Pope: Catholics who say “it’s always been done that way” have a “closed heart,” “will never reach the full truth,” and are “closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

January 21, 2016

Pope Francis changes Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual to include women. Christ washed the feet of his all-male apostles at the Last Supper.

February 8, 2016

Pope calls Italy’s foremost abortion promoter one of nation’s ‘forgotten greats’In an interview with Corriere Della Sera Pope Francis praised Italy’s unrepentant leading abortionist and proponent of abortion, Emma Bonino, as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats,” comparing her to great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman.

February 18, 2016

Pope Francis’ uncorrected remarks on contraception interpreted worldwide as a shift in Church teachingOn his return flight from Mexico Pope Francis was asked about “avoiding pregnancy” in areas at risk of Zika virus transmission. “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” he said.  After reiterating that abortion is never morally justified, he said, “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

Vatican confirms that Pope Francis was approving use of contraceptives and condoms in grave cases. (However, to do so would contradict the clear teaching of previous popes.)

March 2, 2016

Pope changes Vatican protocol to allow for Catholic Heads of State in irregular marital unions to be able to meet the Pope along with their partner.

April 8, 2016

Pope issues apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, creating an ongoing storm in the Church.

April 14, 2016

Pope Francis warns against those who resist the Spirit with “so-called fidelity to the law.”

April 16, 2016

Pope visits migrants on Greek island of Lesbos, then takes 3 Muslim families back to the Vatican, but no Christian families.

April 29, 2016

Pro-abortion U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Vatican event on adult stem cells.

May 3, 2016

Archbishop close to Pope says Pope wanted to conceal his support for communion for remarried divorceesArchbishop Bruno Forte, the Special Secretary for the synods on marriage and family, claims publicly that Pope Francis said, “If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried, you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.”

May 12, 2016

Pope says the Church should study ordaining women as deacons.

May 16, 2016

Pope Francis compares radical Islam to Catholic evangelization: “It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”

May 29, 2016

Pope Francis gives award to Hollywood pro-abortion, anti-marriage advocates Richard Gere, George Clooney, and Salma Hayek.

June 2, 2016

Pope laments too much focus on Christ's words to adulterous woman "go and sin no more": "Sometimes I feel a little saddened and annoyed when people go straight to the last words Jesus speaks to her: 'Go and sin no more'. They use these words to 'defend' Jesus from bypassing the law."

June 9, 2016

Pope Francis: “Rigid… this or nothing” Catholics are “heretical” and “not Catholic.”

June 17, 2016

Pope Francis: Cohabitations are “real marriage” and “have the grace of real marriage.”

June 21, 2016

Pope Francis says there’s an absolute ban on the death penalty: “The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty…. One sign of hope is that public opinion is manifesting a growing opposition to the death penalty, even as a means of legitimate social defence... It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan.”

Pope says all of Amoris Laetitia is sound doctrine: “For your own peace of mind, I have to tell you that everything that is written in the exhortation [Amoris Laetitia] – and here I refer to the words of a great theologian who once was a secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Schönborn, who presented it [Amoris Laetitia] – everything is Thomistic, from the beginning to the end. It is sound doctrine.”

June 26, 2016

Pope Francis misrepresents the Catechism on homosexualityOn the return flight from his visit to Armenia, Pope Francis said Catholics should apologize to gays. “I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” said the Pope. “The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well...this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism,” the Pope added. The Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality is given in three paragraphs comprising just over 220 words. The Pope’s response references only 20 words from the middle of the second paragraph, ignoring the numerous passages warning against the harmful sexual behaviour.

July 7, 2016

Pope Francis named Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich to serve as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.

Pope Francis distances himself from ‘very conservative’ bishops.

July 18, 2016

Vatican issues quick dismissal of Cardinal Sarah’s call for Mass facing East.

July 26, 2016

Pope: Martin Luther’s intentions were not mistaken, he was a reformer.

July 27, 2016

At World Youth Day, Vatican releases teen sex-ed program that leaves out parents and mortal sin and includes sexually explicit photos and films.

August 2, 2016

Pope’s deaconess commission includes women’s priesthood supporter.

August 23, 2016

Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid leftist groups to influence Pope’s USA visit. The e-mails name key papal adviser Cardinal Maradiaga as a potential contact.

September 1, 2016

Pope Francis: Go to confession for not recycling, repent of excess plastic and paper, ecological conversion and new works of mercy.

September 9, 2016

Pope: There’s “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia than allowing communion for divorced/remarried in some cases.

Pope Francis: “Division is the weapon the devil employs most to destroy the Church from within.”

September 29, 2016

Report reveals that some of the 45 signatories are feeling the heat over their letter urging clarification of ‘Amoris Laetitia’.

October 1, 2016

Pope Francis says it is a “very grave sin” to try to convert the Orthodox: “There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism.”

October 2, 2016

Pope Francis calls woman with sex-change operation a “man” and calls partners “married”.

October 6, 2016

Pope: True doctrine is not a rigid attachment to the Law, which bewitches as ideologies do.

October 9, 2016

Pope to replace Cardinal Sarah for speech at John Paul II Institute’s inauguration, and the Cardinal is not permitted to speak at another event.

In “seismic shift” Pope appoints very liberal Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich and 2 more U.S. progressives among 17 new cardinals. He also appoints the liberal Belgian Jozef de Kesel as cardinal.

October 13, 2016

Pope receives a statue of Luther in the Vatican and gives a new definition of “lukewarm.” Pope Francis told pilgrims to the Vatican “it is not licit” to “convince [non-Christians] of your faith.” “You must give testimony of your Christian life; it will be your testimony that will stir the hearts of those who look at you,” he added. And he concluded: "It will be the Holy Spirit that moves the heart with your testimony – that is way you ask – and regarding that you can tell the 'why,' with much thoughtfulness. But without wanting to convince."

In that meeting, the pope also offered a novel definition of “lukewarm,” which according to Pope Francis is when Christians “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

October 24, 2016

Pope Francis said '…beneath rigidity there is something hidden about a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift of God.

October 28, 2016

Pope Francis again elevates Church progressives in a complete overhaul of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.

November 1, 2016

Pope proposes ‘new beatitudes for a new age’.

November 8, 2016

Pope Francis again welcomes visit from Italy’s leading abortion advocate.

November 10, 2016

Pope: Pontifical Academy for Life members no longer required to sign pro-life declaration.

November 11, 2016

Pope Francis on the young who like Latin Mass: ‘Why so much rigidity?’ Pope Francis said he wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it. "And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid."

In an interview Pope Francis said, “What we want is a battle against inequality, this is the greatest evil that exists in the world.

Eugenio Scalfari reports Pope Francis' response to a question, “It is the Communists Who Think Like Christians". The Vatican, as usual, does not issue any clarification.

November 18, 2016

In wake of 4 Cardinals letter, Pope Francis rebukes ‘legalism’ of Amoris Laetitia critics.

Vatican expert: Sources say Pope Francis ‘boiling with rage’ over Amoris criticism.

November 27, 2016

Pope publicly uses the scatalogical terms coprophagia and coprophilia.

December 21, 2016

Pope launches an investigation of the Knights of Malta after they fired top official over condom scandal.

In his annual Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis says that ‘malicious resistance’ to his reforms that ‘takes refuge in traditions’ is from the devil.

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