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Will the Real Francis please Step Forward?

Articles | June 28, 2024 | by Catholics for Catholics

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Gaslighting – noun –

  • : psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator
  • : the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage

From the last few years of the Francis Reign alone, Vatican observers can recall many signs that Pope Francis is a progressive Pontiff for a new age.  After about two minutes of reflection, an inexhaustive list suggesting as much would have to start with Francis’ efforts to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass.

His outreach to the homosexual community, including his encouragement of James Martin SJ, and his works, would have to come next.  Culminating in 2023  with the issuing of Fiducia Supplicans, Francis’ Vatican has veered from Catholic doctrine which disallowed Catholic priests to bless couples who are not considered to be married according to church teaching, including same-sex couples.  Francis has also been loath to discipline borderline heretical statements from prelates like Cardinal Hollerich of Luxembourg, and other European Bishops, who have called for the full approval of the homosexual lifestyle, and the ordination of women to the clergy.

The Marko Rupnik case is another remarkable example of Francis’ style.  In 2022, Rupnik’s excommunication, due to sexual misconduct, was lifted – with the knowledge and permission of Pope Francis. Rupnik currently enjoys priestly faculties in Slovenia, and his art is still showcased.  Compare the treatment of Father Rupnik, with that of Bishop Joseph Strickland, formerly of Tyler, Texas.  Good Bishop Joe was removed, essentially, for publicly disagreeing with Pope Francis.

While Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was laicized for his sexual crimes against young men, to the outsider it does appear that he was never pursued with the same vigor as what Francis critic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is going through.  Viganò is being tried for the very serious canonical crimes of schism, and “refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”  Yes, the same extrajudicial process was used in the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but his laicization merely got rid of the problem of McCarrick, without addressing the virtue of justice through punishment.  In Viganò’s case, the canonical penalty attached to the crime of schism is the declaration of a latae sententiae excommunication, which can have added to it other penalties including a prohibition or order concerning the schismatic’s place of residence, removal from ecclesiastical office, and prohibition on the exercise of ministry.  Everyone involved wanted to make the McCarrick case go away, while examples are, evidently, being made of Strickland and Viganò.

Pachamama, “Who am I to judge?”, his questioning of some titles of the Blessed Mother, the reformulating of the Papacy, refusal to take the moniker “Vicar of Christ”, all of these show a pattern; like it or not, Francis is unquestionably a reformist Pope.  That is not the question.  The question is, how out of character, then, are his repeated use of Italian slurs when referencing homosexuals?

Twice in the last month, leaks have come from his inner circle claiming, without denial, that Francis has voiced an objection to the “faggotry” in seminaries and in the priesthood.  His support of the James Martin ministry alone makes these comments very odd, and not in keeping with his personality.

There is much discomfort raised by his comments, both in general and in specific juxtaposition to his record of supporting LGBTQ issues.  First, and foremost, this language and sentiment is not becoming of the Supreme Pontiff.  It is not necessary and one could never imagine Pope Benedict XVI using such a slur.  He was too proper, brilliant, and classy to do so.  Does Francis think this is going to endear him to those traditional or conservative Catholics, especially in America, who have been critical of him?   If these instances were meant to show bravado, he has miscalculated.  It does not make him more sympathetic to traditionalists who have no truck with the blessing of homosexual unions.  They believe in a masculine priesthood, not obscene epithets.

But something else is amiss.  Or something else is afoot.  Consider.  Why hasn’t he been canceled?

Unrealistic thought it may be, imagine if Benedict had been accused of using such language.  He would have been hauled by a mob to Geneva and tried for crimes against humanity.  The hashtag and pride crowd would never stand for such an offense.  Why no conniption here?  Perhaps they know this is a fake sentiment?  Those who are part of the professional victim class instinctively see Francis as a reliable ally and are letting this pass.

Francis is an interesting study.  There is a story in Argentina of Archbishop Bergoglio himself deciding that a diocesan employee needed to be fired.  It may even have been for a valid reason, but it is irrelevant for the purpose of looking into the psyche of Francis.  He had the man fired by a bureaucrat inside of the diocese.  When the man came to Archbishop Bergoglio to ask for his intercession in getting his job back, Bergoglio informed him that his hands were tied, and could not help.  However, out of desire not to be seen as the bad guy, Bergoglio used diocesan funds to buy the man an automobile.

His idiosyncrasies exist.  This may have been just one of those things.  It is more likely that this was purposely staged.  He and his supporters are very intelligent and don’t typically make missteps.  Perhaps this was to serve as a distraction designed to take attention from the criticisms he is receiving for blessing homosexual marriages, redefining the papacy, the subjugation of the Latin Mass through Traditiones Custodes, and so on.  Those who should have been offended have apparently written this off as a quirky Francis, when in reality it may just be an old school wag the dog operation.  This is over, it will go down the memory hole, but this is too strange for this episode to have just been the ramblings of a cranky older man.

This article was written by Louis Biad, a contributor to Catholics for Catholics.

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