Francis: A Pope for our times – Part 4
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the third of seven excerpts from a talk by Fr. Linus Clovis at the Catholic Truth Scotland Conference in June 2016. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here and part 3 is here. To read his presentation in its entirety, click here.
November 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The chequered history of the papacy shows, in the words of St. Vincent of Lerins, that “God gives some Popes to the Church, God tolerates some Popes in the Church and God inflicts some Popes on the Church.” This certainly is a view to which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI subscribes.
It is perhaps sufficient to recall the famous interview he granted in 1997 to professor August Everding, Professor Everding asked the then-Cardinal Ratzinger if he truly believed that the Holy Spirit intervenes in the election of a Pope. Ratzinger's answer was simple and clarifying, as usual:
“I would say not in the sense that the Holy Spirit chooses any particular pope, because there is plenty of evidence to the contrary – there have been many whom the Holy Spirit quite obviously would not have chosen! But, that He does not altogether relinquish control, but rather like a good educator keeps us on a very long cord, so to speak, allowing us a great deal of freedom, but never unfastening the cord – that’s how I would put it. It needs to be taken in a very broad sense and not as if He says, 'You’ve got to pick this one!' What He allows, however, is limited to the fact that everything cannot be completely ruined.”
There is no doubt that the Church is currently in a state of deep crisis, which has been brought to a head by the current Pontiff. As David’s accession to the throne was a blessing to the Israelites and that of Saul or Rehoboam (Sirach 47:23), Solomon’s son a punishment, so we can be certain that God has given each of Blessed Peter’s successors to the Church as the pope best suited for that time.
I believe that Francis in undoubtedly a pope suited for our time in that he has, in three short years, opened the eyes of many to the diseases plaguing the Mystical Body of Christ. Without doubt, he is advancing ideas that provoke such disturbances within the Church that they would appear to be a very efficient way of separating sheep from goats. In stark contrast to the reception given to his predecessors, even his immediate predecessors, it is striking that the Church’s traditional enemies all applaud him, recognising him as their own (Jn. 15-19).
His actions have the effect of revealing the extent of the rot of Modernism within power structures of the Church. Perhaps the most notorious example of this is the confidence with which Cardinals Godfried Danneels and Walter Kasper could openly and publically admit to being part of the St, Gallen Mafia Club.
The Holy Father seems to be the very personification of the Second Vatican Council, with its multitudinous ambiguities in which the Church’s traditional understanding or practice is affirmed in one place, only, in another place, to be immediately contradicted or neutralised by the alternatives being permitted. Additionally, Vatican II has the distinction of being the only ecumenical Council in Church history to win the world’s approval and similarly, Francis has received praise as no other Pope in history has ever been praised by the Church’s adversaries.
In many ways, the current pontiff fits the caricature that non-Catholics have of the pope: an autocrat whose every word must be obeyed. Indeed, his demand for compliance with his directives rings hollow when one considers his own violation of the Church’s liturgical laws as archbishop of Buenos Aires. For example, whilst he was archbishop, he included women in the ceremony of the washing of feet on Holy Thursday in infringement of clear liturgical laws. He also admitted to the sacraments, without amendment of life, remarried divorcees in outright violation of Canon Law, of the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of the encyclical Veritatis Splendor of Pope St. John Paul II and of documents issued by Roman dicasteries.
We are living in duplicitous times. The post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia is, to date, the greatest scandal of this pontificate as it contains key passages that are “intentionally ambiguous, as proven by the multiple and contrasting interpretations and practical applications that they immediately received.” For instance, certain paragraphs of chapter eight give the go-ahead for communion for the divorced and remarried. Although this is quite contrary to the Church’s clear immemorial teaching and practice, it was already being illicitly done when Pope Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Even more troubling is the discovery that key passages of Amoris Laetitia were formulated some ten years ago by the then professor of theology, Victor Manuel Fernandez in articles, which gave a dissenting critique of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor. The upshot is that the two Synods on the Family would appear to be a farce designed to produce pre-determined results.
According to this same Fernandez who is now an archbishop, Pope Francis plans to make permanent changes in the Church in ways that cannot be undone by future popes. He responded to a reporter’s question, saying “The pope goes slow because he wants to be sure that the changes have a deep impact. The slow pace is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the changes. He knows there are those hoping that the next pope will turn everything back around. If you go slowly it's more difficult to turn things back. … You have to realize that he is aiming at reform that is irreversible.”
For the informed Catholic, all these things are, of course, extremely disturbing. Yet, we must remember that we are not fighting flesh and blood. The current situation is desperate but it also brings into focus the lament of Paul VI on 29th June, 1972. Celebrating the ninth anniversary of his pontificate in St Peter’s, Paul reflected to the situation of the Church at that time, saying he had a sense that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God. There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we are not alert to the fact that we are already the owners and masters of the formula of true life. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it entered by windows that should have been open to the light. Science exists to give us truths that do not separate from God, but make us seek him all the more and celebrate him with greater intensity; instead, science gives us criticism and doubt. Scientists are those who more thoughtfully and more painfully exert their minds. But they end up teaching us: “I don’t know, we don’t know, we cannot know.” The school becomes the gymnasium of confusion and sometimes of absurd contradictions. Progress is celebrated, only so that it can then be demolished with revolutions that are more radical and more strange, so as to negate everything that has been achieved, and to come away as primitives after having so exalted the advances of the modern world.
This state of uncertainty even holds sway in the Church. There was the belief that after the Council there would be a day of sunshine for the history of the Church. Instead, it is the arrival of a day of clouds, of tempest, of darkness, of research, of uncertainty. We preach ecumenism but we constantly separate ourselves from others. We seek to dig abysses instead of filling them in.