Vatican expert lays out the current ‘crisis’ in the Church
November 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “A near total absence of dialogue with orthodoxy” and homosexual activity in the Vatican at an all-time high are among the issues recently raised by a Rome correspondent covering the Francis papacy.
The “Protestantization of the Church,” a pope concerned about power, and reports of a climate of fear at the Vatican were also discussed by Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register during a presentation at The Remnant traditional Catholic newspaper’s recent Catholic Identity Conference.
As a Vatican journalist, Pentin gave a firsthand perspective on the crisis during the Francis pontificate, including the problematic Synods on the Family — which were the basis for Pope Francis’ controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
His observations — the contents of which he said are played down by the mainstream Catholic media — consisted of viewpoints from numerous Vatican officials, clergy and other well-placed sources who were compelled to remain anonymous due to the “great fear” in the midst of the crisis.
“And I think you’ll agree it is a crisis by any objective measure,” stated Pentin, “despite the wider Church and the world thinking otherwise, or rather, not thinking very much about the issue at all, sometimes on purpose.”
There’s so much ignorance about the situation, he said, but it’s to the point where all of this has to be out in the open, as Catholic identity in the West is not only being threatened by secular society “but now seemingly by the leaders of the Church Herself.”
“And this can’t be passed over as if nothing is happening,” Pentin said, “even if you agree with what is happening and what the changes are.”
Pentin said he has been told of the pope being focused on politics and power. But in fairness, he said, he also has heard that Francis is generous to work for and tolerant.
Pentin said it’s important to assume the pope’s motives are only for the good of the Church, even if the facts still might appear otherwise, recounting his distinct impression from watching the pope on papal trips, that Francis genuinely believes he’s doing the best thing for the Church.
Pentin told those at the conference that he really only wants to expose what is happening to encourage everyone to pray for the unity of the Church.
“Because I do believe that only by exposing some of what people I often hear say is a diabolical presence in the Church or naming the demons, as it were, can they be properly exorcised,” he said.
A multitude of issues
Pentin said another aspect of concern to many in Rome is the development of a “parallel Curia.”
This is seen most clearly with Francis’ apostolic letter Magnum Principium, released in September and removing much of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments’ authority and giving it to the local bishops instead.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Congregation’s Prefect, was not notified of the change, Pentin told the conference, as it had been devised and enacted through a Francis-appointed commission. After Cardinal Sarah then wrote a subsequent article saying the Vatican’s authority remains intact, the pope issued a very public rebuttal of Sarah.
This public refutation of the cardinal is just one that has occurred in the Francis pontificate. And Pentin’s sources attribute the reprimands of Sarah to the cardinal advocating a liturgy that puts God at the center.
The incident puts into sharp focus the existence of two Curias, Pentin said, “one essentially run by Francis and filled with so-called reformist officials and external advisers, and another made up of orthodox largely Benedict-appointed staff.”
But it also shows Francis’ tactic of placing orthodox prelates in charge of some dicasteries, he added, possibly to give a “veneer of orthodoxy,” and then placing those more favorable to a more reformist position in less senior ranks of the Curia positions, which are historically actually more influential than can be the Curial prefect or president.
“There seems to be a near total absence of dialogue with orthodoxy” by Francis, he said, except for when a mandatory formality.
The pope’s pronouncements of mercy have played well to the world, Pentin said, though it does remain to be seen if this will bring people to the faith.
“But as somebody pointed out,” Pentin noted -- having heard from some that the Church is no longer known for being clear on doctrine, “if the identity of the Catholic faith is no longer clear, which faith would these people really be attracted to? Is it the true one, or a Protestant one?”
Pentin also spoke of inconsistencies under Francis, such as the pope’s call for collegiality while ruling from the top by decrees without consultation.
“This inability often to practice as he preaches or to criticize others for what many see himself doing ought to be a warning sign,” Pentin related from a trusted observer. “And like an increasing number of Catholics in Rome of good faith, he put it down to a disregard for absolutes and tradition teaching.”
There are also reports that some lament “a total lack of substance coming from this pontificate,” said Pentin, “and concern that the faithful aren’t being properly nourished in their faith.”
A climate of great fear
He detailed how the climate of fear has spread beyond the Vatican to staff in chanceries and vicar generals around the world, as well as the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.
This has created “a breakdown of trust,” he said, with reports of anyone not towing the party line coming back to Francis through the Congregation for Clergy.
Anger and frustration, alarm, sadness and depression were among the reactions that Pentin reported among many close to the Vatican, including cardinals – as many as 40 to 70 who want a change at the head of the Church.
“They’re simply petrified about speaking up,” stated Pentin, “despite seeing the Church being attacked from within and often from the very top.”
One Vatican official reported demoralization and physical sickness, the result of seeing “the pope and bishops trying to destroy the faith and the Church.”
Vatican officials often go along out of obedience, Pentin said.
Some either lay low to avoid trouble with the Francis papacy, or they leave — orthodox prelates, canonists and experts in ecclesiology being replaced by priests and laity with sociology, psychology or backgrounds in human sciences.
“It’s all part of a general shift from God to man,” one Vatican official told him.
Pentin was also told earlier this year by an official that he and his colleagues are often reluctant to tell a stranger that they work in the Vatican because they’re ashamed of the poor image that Vatican officials now have.
Pentin discussed some of what he covered in his 2015 book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod, explaining that what went on during the synods gives the best clue to understanding the forces behind the current situation.
The synods were criticized for manipulation, he said. And while engineering and strong-arm tactics are not new to synods, this time these methods were “especially mendacious.” And they weren’t used to protect orthodoxy as in the past, he said, “but rather to bring in concepts and practices that many argued broke with the Church’s teaching and Tradition.”
“Many I spoke with at the time were concerned, and they were convinced that the synods were a Trojan Horse,” Pentin stated, “an attack on the Eucharist that was geared towards allowing acceptance of homosexual unions, cohabitation and other immoral practices.”
“But something happened which I think is crucial to remember, and which is often neatly forgotten or blithely ignored by defenders of Amoris Laetitia,” he went on, “as it shows the flimsy basis I think on which Amoris rests. I think you can see that from any objective view.”
Pentin pointed out how at the end of the first synod, the Kasper proposal to allow Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics failed to gain the requisite two-thirds majority needed for approval.
“And yet the pope controversially broke with custom,” said Pentin, “which he can do, and authoritatively insisted that the Kasper proposal and two others be kept in the document, thereby enabling them to be carried over into the working document for the Ordinary Synod on the Family the following year.”
The Holy Spirit?
Pentin added that it’s probably little surprise given its genesis that Amoris Laetitia has led to what we’re now witnessing in the Church.
“If the document is all the work of the Holy Spirit, as its proponents often freely insist,” he pointed out, “and that you have to be converted to understand it, it’s quite legitimate to ask the question — Why the need for such manipulation, heavy-handedness and underhanded methods?”
There also has been much name-calling, rancor and failure to deal with the substance of the criticism, he said, something he has never seen after any of the other synods he has covered at the Vatican.
Help in the media
Pentin also described for the Catholic Identity Conference the dubious tactics of what he called the Vatican media machine, consisting essentially of the Vatican Insider website and La Civilta Cattolica, the prestigious Jesuit journal run by Father Antonio Spadaro -- a close confidant of Francis and possibly one of his ghost writers.
“It’s been quite remarkable to watch over these years how the news is spun by these publications and others,” he said, “and they often resort to personal attacks, and they have a failure to tackle the issues at hand.”
“And the accusation of fake news I’ve notice recently is sort of thrown about when there’s something which by all accounts is factually true, and they’ll accuse of spreading fake news,” Pentin added, “it’s quite remarkable really.”
“L’osservatore Romano used to be known as the Vatican Pravda,” he said, “but I would say that that description perhaps now best fits these publications, because they really do put across the pope’s line in a very uncritical and often untruthful way.”
“But it’s perplexing why,” he continued, “if the message is so right and true, as the pope’s supporters say it is, there’s a need to go to such great lengths to spin it.”
The influence of secularists
Connected to the media is the quality of the content coming from the Vatican, Pentin said, adding, “What’s clear to me even before Pope Francis was elected is how secularists have been increasingly defining the terms of debate in the Church.”
Thus papal pronouncements are more and more on issues such as the UN, poverty, appeals for peace and migration.
“Those are acceptable,” he said, “while abortion and other pro-life issues and same-sex marriage and any mention of Christ for that matter in the public square has become hardly spoken of at all because they’re seen as taboo. So the Church is finding her positions on family and life in particular, being steadily narrowed, but this seems to be hardly noticed and it’s happily conceded to.”
He said some have noticed that this pontificate appears to not only be going along with the secularists, but also actively encouraging them in their ideology and giving pointers to strike the wider Church.
Pentin related how critics say we now have a Vatican that’s openly flirting with population control advocates to find a solution to poverty and climate change, a pope who dares not criticize Islam and promotes seemingly syncretist view of religion as a result, and blanket approval given to the UN Sustainable Development Goals despite their support for reproductive health – “which everyone knows is a code word for abortion and contraception.”
“They also say we have a pope and a Vatican that remains silent on crucial issues and so aren’t teaching,” Pentin stated. “This seeming surrender to the world appears to be accelerating.”
“The concerns are real, they’re growing every day,” Pentin stated, summing up the things he has been told, “these are genuine attacks on the Church coming from within, and at least in the Vatican, and appear to be perhaps a full-frontal attack on all that the Church stands for.”
“But I’ll leave you on a hopeful note with the words of one of the Vatican officials I quoted earlier, which I think is quite salutary,” Pentin said. “And he says, apart from the battle and because of it, one thing remains, that the most important thing to remember is to pray, perhaps offer sacrifices, knowing that God does not abandon His children, or His Church.”
Click HERE to view the video of Pentin’s presentation.