Another week of Francis puzzling and punishing conservatives.
Under Pope Francis, the new orthodoxy is heterodoxy and woe to those who don’t conform to it. Headlines appeared this week announcing that the pope “had taken over the Knights of Malta after condom dispute.” In the past, such a headline would have suggested a papal crackdown on condom distribution. In this case, it refers to Pope Francis punishing an organization that fired an official implicated in the distribution of condoms. Pope Francis was dismayed by the removal of a Knights of Malta official who had overseen the order’s humanitarian agency, which had been handing out contraceptives to prostitutes and aid workers in Asia.
The essence of the complicated story is that that official had liberal friends in high places at the Vatican who swooped down to reinstate him after his firing by the head of the Knights of Malta. The upshot of it all is that the conservative who fired the liberal is now gone (forced out by Francis), the liberal has now been restored to his former position as grand chancellor, and the once-sovereign order is now under the control of Pope Francis for deviating from his liberal wishes.
The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb, who is a de facto stenographer for the heterodox prelates who now run the Church, sums the controversy up as a papal rebuke to the traditionalists in the order, a snub of Cardinal Raymond Burke (the conservative American who serves as its ceremonial head and whose wings have now been clipped by the pope’s “delegate”), and a victory for German liberals (whom Lamb comically casts as white-hatted lovers of the poor, as opposed to those awful conservatives so fixated on the order’s “quasi-monarchic” ways). One of those liberals is Munich’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has been outspoken in his opposition to the Church’s moral teachings.
Once again, the pope’s priorities have been revealed. Countless Catholic organizations, schools, and orders, starting with the pope’s own, the Jesuits, promote heresy and scandal of one kind or another. Yet he never lifts a finger to police any of them. On the contrary, they receive his warm praise. Only conservatives fall under his withering gaze. He is indulgent toward every flock except his faithful own, whom he showers with epithets, from “rigid” to “judgmental” to “neurotic.” His papacy has proceeded like an endless serious of Onion parodies.
Pope Francis has endorsed condom use (to stop the Zika virus) and told Catholics not to breed “like rabbits.” So it is altogether fitting that Paul Ehrlich, the most extreme population control advocate in history (who has called for compulsory abortions and contraceptives to “save the planet”), has been invited to a Vatican conference in February on “Biological Extinction.” Under Pope Francis, the Vatican has become a magnet for the West’s most anti-Catholic activists, many of whom contributed to the pope’s encyclical on global warming.
The Ehrlich invite throws light on the Knights of Malta controversy and the relativistic mumbo-jumbo the pope’s aides have used to try and explain it away. The pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, wrote to the head of the Knights of the Malta that firing an official implicated in a condom-distribution scandal is contrary to “dialogue,” but the pope “has never spoken of sending someone away!” Except conservatives, of course. He just sent away the recipient of that very letter. For all of his endless rhetoric about “autonomy” and “respect for differences,” Francis is the most autocratic and purge-happy pope in many decades. He is the quintessential “tolerant” liberal who rose to power by disobedience (as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he disregarded Vatican directives) then retains power by demanding absolute obedience from others.
Were he calling for obedience to Church teaching, no one could fault him. But he is not. He is calling for obedience to his own modernist whims. While he purges conservatives from the Church, he clears out space in it for her enemies. From the corridors of the U.N. to the halls of Havana and Beijing, anti-Catholic statists can always count on him to soft-pedal their encroachments upon the Church, as evident in his outrageous recent interview in which he said that Chinese Catholics can “practice [their] faith in China.” No, they can’t. The ones faithful to Catholic orthodoxy are treated brutally.
How is it that the pope can look upon Chinese communists so benevolently while viewing conservative Catholics so sternly? Future historians will find it astonishing that at the beginning of the 21st century the pope didn’t so much protect Catholics as join in their persecution.