New York Times columnist Timothy Egan chose to confront the widening scandal within the Catholic church — namely, the allegation that Pope Francis’s power base is a homosexual cabal within the Vatican, leading him to advance known pederasts — by asserting two things: (1) The Church has a long history of Popes who deviated from church teaching on sex and (2) Church teaching on sex is all wrong, because Jesus Christ never explicitly said “It’s a sin for two men to have sex with each other or for adult men to use male children and teenagers for sex.”
People more learned in Church doctrine than I have already addressed the second argument. Matt Walsh makes it simple:
I am not at the moment interested in discussing whether Christianity is right about homosexuality or human sexuality in general. The point is simply that Christianity does have a teaching on the subject, and, if you wish to be Christian, you can’t disagree with it. The Bible clearly condemns the homosexual act repeatedly, including in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:10, and all across the Old Testament, most notably in Leviticus and Genesis. And Jesus Christ is quoted in two Gospel accounts explicitly defining marriage. He teaches that marriage is when a “man” and “his wife” come together and “become one flesh.” That is settled doctrine, right from the Son of Man Himself. It is not a liberal doctrine or a conservative doctrine. It is just truth. A Christian must accept that it is truth because it came from the One who Himself is Truth.
As for the first argument — naughty Popes — Egan is not the first to the chasm between Church preaching and practice. Boccaccio’s Decameron, written immediately after the Black Death attacked Florence in 1348, tells of a group of wealthy young people who amuse themselves with stories during their exile from plague-ravaged Florence. Here’s just one example of many stories concerning lascivious priests and nuns:
An abbess, arising in haste and in the dark to find one of her nuns, who had been denounced to her, in bed with her lover and thinking to cover her head with her coif, donneth instead thereof the breeches of a priest who is abed with her; the which the accused nun observing and making her aware thereof, she is acquitted and hath leisure to be with her lover.
Other medieval and early Renaissance literature made similar points about the distance between priestly vows and behavior. The medieval Church responded to the manifest failings of its earthly emissaries, not by changing its doctrine, but by explaining that the priest, through his ordination, was merely a conduit to God. No matter how corrupt the cleric performing religious ritual, God’s power transcended the flawed vessel through which that ritual flowed.
The pre-21st century Church has always had a consistent message: While man may be flawed, Church doctrine, which is a reflection of a perfect God, is itself perfect and immutable. Those who wish to be saved must live in accordance with doctrine whether their priest is a paragon or a putz.
Pope Francis, however, is taking the Church in new directions. He is not creatively interpreting or delicately eliding Catholic doctrine. He is, instead, undermining it. Long before Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Pope Francis of returning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick to active duty after Pope Benedict had essentially exiled him gross sexual malfeasance, Francis had been pushing to upend Church teachings on homosexuality.
For example, just a few months ago, Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man who was the victim of clerical abuse, stated that Pope Francis told him, “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.” Putting aside the Pope’s factual error, because it was probably priestly sexual abuse, not God, that put the Cruz on the path to homosexuality, what’s significant is that the Vatican never challenged a report that the Pope abandoned entirely traditional Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
Cruz’s report was only the latest in Pope Francis’s gay-friendly positions. In his first year in the papacy, when a reporter asked him about a “gay lobby,” he refused to answer. Instead, he shot back his own question: “Who am I to judge?” Think about it: The administrative and spiritual head of the Catholic Church was refusing to agree with Church doctrine holding that gay sex is wrong.
Francis’s obsessive focus on climate change also veers closer to Progressive Gaia worship than one would expect from the leader of the Catholic Church. His 2015 encyclical demanding action on climate change is a Progressive dream document:
[Climate change] represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.
Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worse if we continue with current models of production and consumption.
I almost expected the encyclical to wrap up with an exhortation to reduce to one the number of antiperspirants available to consumers.
Francis is not alone in holding morals that are minimally important to the modern Catholic Church. Cardinal Blase Cupich, a Chicago prelate, leaped to national prominence when he had this to say about Viganò’s accusations:
The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going down a rabbit hole on this.
Church teachings? Pfeh! Climate change and illegal immigration are the new catechism.
So one has to ask, how in the world did the eternal Catholic Church get to this point? At the risk of sounding like someone with a large wardrobe of tinfoil hats, I believe the answer is a sustained communist attack on the Catholic Church, beginning in the early 20th century.
Bella Dodd, who was a leader of the Communist Party of America during the 1930s and 1940s, eventually left the party and became a strong anti-communist. In her autobiography, she stated that she was under direct orders from the USSR to encourage communists to infiltrate the church: “In the 1930’s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within. The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops.” And again, in a different context, “In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the [Roman] Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations…. I, myself, put some 1,200 men in [Roman] Catholic seminaries”.
In Latin America, where Pope Francisco came of age as a Catholic, communism took the form of Liberation Theology, which is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:
Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.
Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.
Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.
Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.'”
In other words, liberation theology’s defining concept is “social justice,” which is what all Leftist faiths (Unitarians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reform and Conservative Jews, etc.) espouse. The United Nations, in 2006, explicitly defined “social justice” as economic redistribution:
The United Nations’ 2006 document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations”, states that “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…” The same document reports, “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” The report concludes, “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”
To see the connection between Pope Francis and Liberation Theology, just read his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the Bishops, Clerk, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World. In addition to traditional exhortations to the faithful to mind their souls, it went full Marxist on the economy:
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.
Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
Francis’s word choices — e.g., “inequality,” “exploitation,” and “oppression” — were Marx’s word choices. Having primed the pump, Francis made an explicit attack against capitalism:
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
The Pope doubled down on his Marxist economic analysis when he defended a managed economy as the best way to relieve income “inequality”:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.
There’s no way to pretty this up. The Pope said that poor Third World countries suffer from free-market systems and that these systems explain their appalling poverty. He was wrong, of course.
The laws of economics are both as abstract and as inexorable as the laws of physics. Governments that try to override them only end up perverting their inevitable, implacable outcomes. Icarus soared for a few minutes until his poorly designed wax wings ended in his fatal fall to earth. Government interference works for a few years as it pumps paper money into the economy, or redistributes from rich to poor, but then true wealth disappears and the managed, manipulated economy collapses, leaving a few winners (usually government cronies) and a lot of desperately poor losers. We give our losers welfare, but they’re still losers in a system in which true wealth diminishes as the government continuously impoverishes the wealth-creators in our society.
While the Leftist assault on the Catholic Church in Latin America was economic, in Europe (and in the U.S.), which have wealthier and morally more decadent cultures, the communists attacked the Church with the most potent weapon of all: sex. There is no better example of this than what happened in Brussels, Belgium, where the Left-leaning church hierarchy aggressively and openly promoted hardcore pedophilia.
That same aggressive sexuality became an open secret in the Vatican that produced Pope Francis. In 2013, the same year Francis ascended to the Papacy, Michael Joseph Gross wrote a Vanity Fair article about homosexual behavior amongst Vatican employees:
A few keep their sexuality entirely private and adhere to the vow of celibacy. Many others quietly let themselves be known as gay to a limited degree, to some colleagues, or to some laypeople, or both; sometimes they remain celibate and sometimes they do not. A third way, perhaps the least common but certainly the most visible, involves living a double life. Occasionally such clerics are unmasked, usually by stories in the Italian press. In 2010, for the better part of a month, one straight journalist pretended to be the boyfriend of a gay man who acted as a “honeypot” and entrapped actual gay priests in various sexual situations. (The cardinal vicar of Rome was given the task of investigating. The priests’ fates are unknown.)
There are at least a few gay cardinals, including one whose long-term partner is a well-known minister in a Protestant denomination. There is the notorious monsignor nicknamed “Jessica,” who likes to visit a pontifical university and pass out his business card to 25-year-old novices. (Among the monsignor’s pickup lines: “Do you want to see the bed of John XXIII?”) There’s the supposedly straight man who has a secret life as a gay prostitute in Rome and posts photographs online of the innermost corridors of the Vatican. Whether he received this privileged access from some friend or family member, or from a client, is impossible to say; to see a known rent boy in black leather on a private Vatican balcony does raise an eyebrow.
In a sane age, the above would have been a call to arms for addressing behaviors so at odds with Church teaching. Gross, however, challenged the teachings themselves which, now that you’ve read this post, should sound familiar.
The new “Franciscan” Catholic Church has no interest in reforming the Church to bring it in line with Catholic doctrine. Thanks to the Left’s decades long march through the Church, Francis’s prelacy wants to bring Catholic doctrine in line with communist economics, Gaiaist earth worship, and the debauched sexuality Romans embraced as their empire declined and fell.
I’m Jewish, so it’s reasonable to ask why I care so much about this canker eating away at the heart of the Catholic Church. The answer is simple: I care because I believe that Judeo-Christian civilization is a bulwark against mankind’s innate savagery, something the Holocaust reminded us is barely held in check. Moreover, I believe that the Catholic Church is one of the essential bulwarks of this civilization. Bring it down and there is very little left to protect us from our worst, basest, most murderous instincts.
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Photo credit: SBA13, Flickr, Creative Commons