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Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was penned by famed Italian Catholic journalist Aldo Maria Valli. For over fifty years Valli has been covering the Church from a Catholic perspective. He is known for his moving coverage of the final years and days of the papacy of Pope St. John Paul II. This piece does not necessarily reflect the views of LifeSiteNews.

February 22, 2021 (Stilum Curiae) – Rome is without a pope. The thesis that I intend to support can be summarized in these five words. When I say Rome, I am not referring only to the city of which the pope is the bishop. When I say Rome, I mean the world; I mean the present reality.

The pope, although physically present, in reality is not there, because he does not do what the pope does. He is there, but he does not perform his duty as successor of Peter and vicar of Christ. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is there; Peter is not.

Who is the pope? The definitions, depending on whether one wants to highlight the historical, theological, or pastoral aspect, may be different. But, essentially, the pope is the successor of Peter. And what tasks were assigned by Jesus to the apostle Peter? One the one hand, “Feed my sheep” (Jn 21:17); on the other hand, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19).

This is what a pope should do. But today, there is no one who carries out this task. “And you, once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers in the faith” (Lk 22:32). So says Jesus to Peter. But today Peter does not shepherd his sheep and he does not strengthen them in the faith. Why? Someone answers: Because Bergoglio does not speak about God, only about migrants, ecology, the economy, and social questions. But this is not so. Actually, Bergoglio does speak about God, but what emerges from the whole of his preaching is a God who is not the God of the Bible but an adulterated God, a God, I would say, who is weakened, or better still, adapted. Adapted to what? To man and his demand to be justified in living as if sin did not exist.

Bergoglio has certainly placed social themes at the center of his teaching and, with sporadic exceptions, appears prey to the same obsessions of the dominating culture of the politically correct, but I believe that this is not the profound reason why Rome is without a pope. In wanting to highlight social themes, it is possible to have an authentically Christian and Catholic perspective. The question, with Bergoglio, is another one: it is that his theological perspective is deviated. And this is for a very specific reason: because the God of whom Bergoglio speaks is not one who forgives but rather one who removes all blame.

In Amoris Laetitia we read: “The Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children” (Ch. 8, para. 291). I’m sorry, but that’s not how it is. The Church must convert sinners.

Once again in Amoris Laetitia, we read that “the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage(para. 314). I’m sorry, but those words are ambiguous. In situations that do not correspond to her teaching, there will also be “constructive elements” (but in what sense?); however, the mission of the Church is not to give validity to such elements but rather to convert souls to divine love, to which one adheres by observing the commandments.

In Amoris Laetitia we also read: “Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal” (para. 303). Once again there is ambiguity. First: there is not an “overall demand” of the Gospel, to which one can more or less adhere. There is simply the Gospel with its very specific contents; there are the commandments with their clarity. Second: God never – I repeat, never – can ask someone to live in sin. Third: no one can claim to have “a certain moral security” about “what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits.” These muddled expressions have only one meaning: legitimizing moral relativism and playing games with the divine commandments.

This God committed more than anything else to freeing man from blame, this God in search of mitigating circumstances, this God who refrains from commanding and prefers to understand, this God who “is close to us like a mother singing a lullaby,” this God who is not a judge but who is “closeness,” this God who speaks of human “frailty” and not of sin, this God bent on the logic of pastoral accompaniment” is a caricature of the God of the Bible. Because God, the God of the Bible, is so patient, but not lax; he is so loving, but not permissive; he is so considerate, but not accommodating. In a word, he is a Father in the fullest and most authentic sense of the term.

The perspective assumed by Bergoglio appears instead to be that of the world, which often does not reject the idea of God entirely, but rejects the characteristics of God that are less in tune with the permissiveness that is rampant. The world does not want a true father, loving in the measure in which he is also judging, but rather it wants a buddy; or better still, a fellow traveler who lets things go and says, “Who am I to judge?”

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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/20)

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

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PETITION UPDATE (12/10/20)

Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-concerned-about-pro-abortion-biden-previously-hailed-him-as-second-catholic-president

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=standard

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-philly-archbishop-biden-not-in-full-communion-with-the-catholic-church

https://www.thesoutherncross.org/news/bishop-mcelroy-offers-prayers-and-congratulations-to-president-elect-biden/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/us-catholics-weigh-mixed-reaction-biden-win

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PETITION UPDATE (9/29/20)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (8/17/20)

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-priest-denies-joe-biden-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-stance

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-mccarrick-and-the-concealing-of-romes-position-on-denying-communio

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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On other occasions I have written that with Bergoglio a vision triumphs that overturns the real one: it is the vision which says that God has no rights, only duties. He does not have the right to receive worship worthy of him, nor to not be mocked, but he does have the duty to forgive. According to this vision, the reverse is true for man: man does not have any duties, but only rights. He has the right to be forgiven but not the duty to convert. As if there could be a duty for God to forgive and a right of man to be forgiven.

This is why Bergoglio, portrayed as the pope of mercy, seems to me to be the least merciful pope that one could imagine. In fact, he neglects the first and fundamental form of mercy that belongs to him and to him alone: preaching the divine law and, in so doing, pointing out to human creatures, from the height of his supreme authority, the way that leads to salvation and eternal life.

If Bergoglio has devised a “god” of this sort – which I intentionally indicate with a lower-case “g” because it is not the One and Triune God whom we adore – it is because for Bergoglio there is no fault for which man must ask forgiveness, neither personal nor collective, neither original nor actual. But if there is no fault, then there is also no Redemption; and without the need for Redemption the Incarnation makes no sense, much less the saving work of the one Ark of salvation which is the Holy Church. One wonders if that “god” is not rather the simia Dei – the ape of God – Satan, who pushes us towards damnation at the exact moment when he denies that the sins and vices with which he tempts us can kill our soul and condemn us to the eternal loss of the Supreme Good.

Rome is therefore without a pope. But while in Guido Morselli’s dystopian novel entitled Roma senza papa it was physically so, since the fictional pope went to live in Zagarolo, today Rome is without a pope in a much more profound and radical way.

I can already hear the objection: But how can you say that Rome is without a pope when Francis is everywhere? He is on TV and in the newspapers. He has been on the cover of TimeNewsweek,Rolling Stone, and even Forbes and Vanity Fair. He is on websites and in countless books. He has been interviewed by everyone, even by Gazzetta dello sport [translator’s note: the Italian daily sports newspaper that is the most widely read newspaper of any kind in Italy]. Perhaps never before has a pope been so present and so popular. I respond: that’s all true, but he is Bergoglio; he is not Peter.

It is certainly not forbidden for the vicar of Christ to concern himself with the things of the world. Quite the contrary. The Christian faith is an incarnate faith, and the God of the Christians is God who becomes man, who becomes history; thus Christianity shuns the excesses of spiritualism. But it is one thing to be in the world, and it is quite another to become like the world. By speaking as the world speaks and reasoning as the world reasons, Bergoglio has made Peter evaporate and put himself in the foreground.

I repeat: the world, our world born from the revolution of ’68, does not want a true father. The world prefers a companion. The teaching of a father, if he is a true father, is laborious, because it points out the way of freedom in responsibility. It is much more convenient to just have someone next to you who simply keeps you company, without pointing anything out. And this is just what Bergoglio does: he shows a “god” who is not a father but a companion. It is no coincidence that Bergoglio’s “church of going out” likes the verb “accompany” – just like all modernism. It is a church that is a companion on the road, that justifies everything (by means of a distorted concept of discernment) and, in the end, relativizes everything.

Jesus is quite explicit in this matter. “Woe, when all men speak well of you” (Lk 6:26). “Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man” (Lk 6:22).

Every now and then a rumor surfaces that says that Bergoglio is also thinking of resigning, just like Benedict XVI. I believe that he has nothing like this in mind, but the problem is something else. The problem is that Bergoglio has become de facto the protagonist of a process of resignation from Peter’s duties.

I have already written elsewhere that Bergoglio has now become the chaplain of the United Nations, and I believe that this choice is of unprecedented gravity. However, even more serious than his adherence to the agenda of the UN and what is politically correct is that he has given up speaking to us about the God of the Bible and that the God at the center of his preaching is a God who clears people of blame, not a God who forgives.

The crisis of the father figure and the crisis of the papacy go hand in hand. Just as the father, rejected and dismantled, was transformed into a generic companion without any claim to the right to point out the way, in the same way the pope stopped being the bearer and interpreter of the objective divine law and preferred to become a simple companion.

In this way, Peter evaporated just when we most needed him to show us God as an all-around Father: a loving Father: not because he is neutral, but because he is judging; a merciful Father: not because he is permissive, but because he is committed to showing the way to the true good; a compassionate Father: not because he is relativist but because he is eager to show the way to salvation.

I observe that the protagonism in which the Bergoglian ego indulges is not a novelty, but goes back in large part to the new conciliar anthropocentric formulation, beginning with which popes, bishops, and clerics placed themselves before their sacred ministry, their own will before that of the Church, their own opinions before Catholic orthodoxy, and their own liturgical extravagances before the sacrality of the rite.

This personalization of the papacy has become explicit ever since the Vicar of Christ, wanting to present himself as “one like us,” renounced the use of the plural humilitatis with which he demonstrated that he was speaking not in a personal capacity but together with all his predecessors and the same Holy Spirit. Let’s think about it: that sacred “We” which made Pius IX tremble in proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as well as Saint Pius X in condemning modernism, could never have been used to support the idolatrous cult of the Pachamama, nor to formulate the ambiguity of Amoris Laetitia or the indifferentism of Fratelli Tutti.

Concerning the process of personalization of the papacy (to which the advent and development of mass media gave an important contribution), we must recall that there was a time in which, at least up to and including Pius XII, it did not matter much to the faithful who was the pope, because in any case they knew that whoever he was he would always teach the same doctrine and condemn the same errors. In applauding the pope they applauded not so much the one who was on the holy throne at that moment but rather the papacy, the sacred regality of the Vicar of Christ, the voice of the Supreme Pastor, Jesus Christ.

Bergoglio, who does not like to present himself as the successor of the prince of the Apostles, and who has put the title “Vicar of Christ” into the background in the Annuario Pontificio, implicitly separates himself from the authority that Our Lord has conferred on Peter and his successors. And this is not a mere canonical question. It is a reality whose consequences are very serious for the papacy.

When will Peter return? How long will Rome remain without a pope? It is useless to ask. The designs of God are mysterious. We can only pray to the heavenly Father, saying: “Your will be done, not ours. And have mercy on us sinners.”

First published on February 20, 2021, at radioromalibera.org 

English translation published at Stilum Curiae

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