The scandalous synod on the family skidded to a stop last weekend in Rome but not before Pope Francis got in a few more licks at conservatives, whom he caricatured in his final remarks as heartless.
The speech was notable for its nastiness, displaying the very lack of charity he routinely assigns to conservatives. The synod, he said, had exposed “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”
He continued: “It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”
Under the lightweight leftism of Pope Francis, the question “Is the Pope Catholic?” seems less and less rhetorical. Previous popes, reading the remarks above, would conclude that the speaker held to the theology of liberal Protestantism. They would find the false contrasts between divine law and mercy, upon which Francis habitually relies, pitiful in their shallowness, and they would find his constant resort to straw-man fallacies and motive-mongering against traditionalists to be an unsightly blot upon the papacy. With a pope like this one, orthodox Catholics don’t need enemies.
All the tortured throat-clearing from pundits about the “nuances” of Pope Francis is very unconvincing. He is not nuanced at all. He is an open left-wing Catholic, perfectly comfortable with the de facto heretics within his own order and inside his special cabinet of cardinals. Cardinal Walter Kasper, whom Pope Francis has identified as one of his “favorite” theologians, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, who is one of his closest advisers, stand to the left of Martin Luther.
Well, say the pope’s desperate propagandists, Francis may not possess a deep mind but at least he has a big heart. If so, it seems to bleed for everyone but orthodox Catholics, whose fidelity to the faith under secularism’s ceaseless encroachments is treated with contempt.
Like many modern Jesuits, Francis often sounds like he loves every religion except his own. Could anyone imagine him every talking about imams, rabbis, or even a feminist witch, in the same caustic style that he disparages Catholic traditionalists? If he did, he would have an “ecumenical” crisis on his hands.
Early in his pontificate, video footage captured him teasing a blameless altar boy for holding his hands together piously. Were they “stuck” together? the Pope asked the bewildered boy. That is what passes for humor in the liberal Jesuit order. Visit almost any Jesuit college or school and you will soon encounter similar instances of anti-Catholic gibes presented as “reform.”
In his final remarks at the synod, Francis ripped into the orthodox and praised the heterodox, identifying the latter as the “true defenders of doctrine” for preferring “people” to “ideas,” for “overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother (cf. Lk 15:25-32) and the jealous labourers (cf. Mt 20:1-16).”
If future popes are to take these cheap polemics seriously, they will have to rewrite the parable of the prodigal son, excising any condemnations of him for cavorting with prostitutes. It turns out that sex outside of indissoluble marriage is no big deal. The story could be retitled the parable of the progressive son, who stands as a forerunner of the “Christian Newness” that granting Communion to those in a state of adultery promises. In the parable of the progressive son, the sin-obsessed father would cry at his own rigidity and FedEx the fatted calf to the son’s brothel.
According to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, speaking to America, a Jesuit magazine that prides itself on undercutting the traditional Catholic family with stances in favor of modern morality, the synod was a smashing success, as it moved the Church away from “the code of canon law” and toward a free-floating “understanding of God’s mercy.”
Jesus Christ told his disciples, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” One can imagine his critique of the synod on the family, at which the Church’s no has turned into a maybe. A devious ambiguity is the new orthodoxy, and the Church’s “fresh air” smells more like sulfur.