Friday, January 31, 2014

Double Speak Or Deception?

One of the two doves released last Sunday by two children during the Pope's Angelus talk is attacked by a crow.  The other dove was attacked by a sea gull.  Both doves survived, which is probably the real message.

Pope Francis seems to be taking the Barque of Peter on a rightward tack.  Vatican Insider has two articles which have given me reason to seriously question whether Francis is a true reformer, or just a very good performer.

The first excerpt is about a sermon Francis' gave at his daily Mass on Thursday.  He is reflecting on one of the daily readings involving King David, but it's in the middle of his sermon that Francis seems to be contradicting a number of previous Francis statements:

".....Francis then quoted Pope Paul VI: “This is why the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to be with Christ at the margins of the Church. It's not possible. It is an absurd dichotomy. We receive the Gospel message in the Church and we carry out our holiness in the Church, our path in the Church. The other is a fantasy, or, as he said, an absurd dichotomy." (This is an apparent direct contradiction of his statement in Evangelii Guadium that the Church must seek out it's mission on the margins, to get out of the safe center, and learn from the periphery.)

 The "sensus ecclesiae" is "precisely to feel, think, want, within the Church.” There are "three pillars of this belonging, this feeling with the Church.”

“The first is “humility”: “A person who is not humble, can not hear the Church, they can only hear what they like. We see this humility in David, ' Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my home?' That realization that the story of salvation did not begin with me and will not end with me when I die. No, it's a whole history of salvation: I come, the Lord will take you, will help go onwards and then calls you and the story continues. The history of the Church began before us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people that walks the path of the Lord.” (David was far from humble.  See today's readings.)

The second pillar is fidelity that is linked to obedience. Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received. And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus', and we must not - he would say - become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please.”(Again, this contradicts past statements in which Francis spoke about a hierarchy of importance in Church teaching.  Here he conflates the Gospels with Church doctrine and Church doctrine with the Creed. Is this where he is really at, that there is no hierarchical difference and that to question doctrine is to lack humility and fidelity?)


Finally here's an extract from a statement Francis gave to the trustees of the University of Notre Dame.  It could have been written by Cardinal Raymond Burke:

“In my Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions,” the Pope said, addressing the delegation in Italian. “This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defence of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!”


I freely admit I  no longer have any idea what Pope Francis really thinks about much of anything. I think he might actually believe his statements about unfettered capitalism and global economic inequality and maybe, just maybe, his statements concerning ecumenism, especially with regards to the Orthodox.  As far as financial reform, I have way too many questions about the people he has chosen to further the reform and links between specific individuals and the multitude of high end consulting firms he has brought in to further his reforms.  Plus, I don't know that the curia can really be reformed as long as it is based in Italy.  A real reform in this area would be to keep the ceremonial Church based in Rome and the operations/diplomatic end somewhere else far from Rome----like New Zealand.  That would be meaningful reform, especially if the New Zealand end was composed totally of laity.  I know this last is a fantasy of mine and that there is no way in hell such a reform will happen under this pope because I also read this article on Vatican Insider
Here's a paragraph to give the flavor of the linked article:

"Anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength “to carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people,” the Pope said. “Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself “chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us.” Thus, “When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones.”

For all his advice to the laity to take on humility, there's a certain lack of same in the above paragraph when it comes to the ordained priesthood.  I can't say that I think of priests and bishops as 'annointed ones' any longer.  I tend to think of them as self selected homophobic misogynists whose maturity level is too often suspect, whose spiritual maturity level is also questionable, and whose authority is constantly propped up by each other and ignored by those they supposedly serve and lead.   Sorry, that's the just the way it is for me.

I had some pretty high hopes for Francis when he first came on the scene, but in the back of my head was a little voice saying: "The original Francis rejected the priesthood and this Francis sits at it's pinnacle.  This is not irony. This is deception."  Hence the photo for this piece.  


  1. ...just pick and choose what you like about catholic church doctrine and make up the rest as You see fit!

  2. Yes, that "anointing" business with priests and bishops rather loses meaning to me, considering the likes of Robert Finn and Shawn Ratigan and the bishop in Germany that is in the dog house for building the palace of Versailles to live in. Also, if you read the horrendous stories of clergy abuse on "Abuse Tracker", I think that the oil would have been better spent putting on a salad.

  3. Certainly Latins aren't the most ethical of cultures in their public/civic lives, but then why encourage millions of them to come to the US? Don't you think that will have a bad effect on the civic/political life of the US? Make the US as corrupt as Mexico or Guatemala or El Salvador?

  4. Thank you, Colleen, for pointing out the deception in his performance to date. He sure seems to be flip-flopping or having a bi-polar episode without meds. He was talking before as if he really did want reform in the priesthood & now he's giving the good ole boys a blessing over and above the entire body of Christ. Guess the idea of any reform went out the window with the peace doves that were attacked.

    Francis plays the part very well as a performer reformer and he's sounding more like just a conformer for the dead set against any reform. If he can play the liberal role card to win over the left & become popular while the same old characters carry on as before with renewed strength and vigor & no questions asked he is doing a great performance at deception.

  5. sylvesterpatsteffenFebruary 1, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    Be encouraged in the knowledge that hope is informed in the two person characterization of every individual, male and female, even as the human brain is dialogic because of dual personal characterization.
    Only recently, Pope Francis scolded males, including male hierarchs, for their personal self-ignorance and -arrogance. Male self-fixation is hard-wired in the misinformed ignorance of their personhood understanding, and like males of other species they are instinctively territorial and resistant to faith being exposed to and enlightened by reason.
    Francis reaffirms the mutuality of "faith and reason" even while the aggressive male crow instinctively tries to drive off what he considers a threat, represented in the dove (enlightenment). I read Francis's comments here as insisting that the territory of the Church (also the benighted males peopling the hierarchy) remain open to faith and reason .Hierarchy, regardless of individuality, should be mindfully open and dialogic, for faith and reason mutually co-depend and interdepend even as do darkness and light.

  6. sylvesterpatsteffenFebruary 1, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    Don't be too harsh if Francis gives a wink and a nod to the boys he has to live with. It remains notwithstanding, vox populi, vox dei.

  7. " I tend to think of them as self selected homophobic misogynists whose maturity level is too often suspect, whose spiritual maturity level is also questionable, and whose authority is constantly propped up by each other and ignored by those they supposedly serve and lead."

    I think we can with a lot of certainty pin point the sever character difficulties that so many Bishops have. I certainly have not seen an Opus Dei bishop or even a priest that does not suffer from arrogance and the feelings of superiority over the laity. What is so funny is that these men mostly lack true ability for good critical thought, but do not lack the self preservation instincts of greed and envy.

    I am not at all sure of Francis, but I gave up the idea that he would be able or willing to change much in the RCC. I feel that it is the job of the laity to marginalize the clergy by showing that they are clearly authoritarians without ANY authority over the People of God. I will not contribute to one bishops fund and decrease my contributions to other causes or normal maintenance by the amount of the Bishops tax. Most of the time that percentage of decrease is a guess because the lack of oneness of parish and diocese funds. I will never again contribute to organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and use The Salvation Army rather than St. Vincent de Paul because the SA is much more open about their finances.

    Some say all this makes me less than Catholic, I say it is holding clerical feet to the fire of honesty.

  8. Don't be too harsh? That's interesting to hear you say, Sylvester. Perhaps you are being too harsh.

  9. "Only recently, Pope Francis scolded males, including male hierarchs, for their personal self-ignorance and -arrogance." Yes, he did. Now he is saying just the opposite, Sylvester. There is a serious problem here with him saying one thing one day and saying another that is completely the opposite of what he said on another day. And he's saying they are the "anointed ones." By Church laws they are anointed. How can they be considered truly anointed if they are ignorant and arrogant? We have a serious problem here then in understanding just who is anointed and are the anointed only those who are in the priesthood of the Catholic Church? They seem to think so and apparently, so does Pope Francis.

    So, where does this get us to, if anywhere, in terms of bringing the light of Christ into the world if the Pope only considers these men he has to live with as the only one's to be empowered to bring that message into the world?

  10. Dear Sylvester,

    I think you are confusing maleness with personality disorder. If we look at the arrogance, feelings of omnipotence, narcissism, prejudice, greed, envy, hypocrisy, authoritarian thought patterns, we see the delusions seen in disorders that have little to do with gender, but more to do with the non loving environment which they exist and the beliefs that are provoked. I see some of them who actually try to live as celibates (according to Sipe 80% or more don’t) as schizoid personalities and the others as borderline and or narcissistic. This does not exclude the possibilities of combinations of disorders. The reason we see this in so many clerics is the clerical system. It is further provoked by greedy fundamentalists and the orders that are looking for the ONE TRUTH. In order to survive in such a system, these disorders are manifest and encouraged by each member. It is the whole clerical system that reeks with unreality that causes the problem. As the People of God figure this out they simply must find different structure in their lives to attempt to remain at all “Christ-like or faithful good people. The clerical system as it exists has simply imploded and is not fixable. So I place my hope not in Francis or any pope or bishop but in those that are able to critically think and wish to live ethical lives. This does include a small minority of the clerks that I have known. Through my academic carrier, I have known many male leaders that are relatively free of personality disorder.

  11. And this hypocrisy Fran is bred into the clerical system. If there is one compelling truth in this world, it is that of change. We see it in a fetus in the womb and we see it in our own lives and minds. The idea that man can have infallible truth is incoherent and inconsistent with reality and assigns to men the idea that they can know too much of the mind of God. Educated critical thought sometimes questions that we know much of anything. The more we encircle knowledge the bigger it gets but so does the circumference of uncertainty grow.

  12. While I don't hold out much, if any, hope that Francis will be a good shepherd for the Church, perhaps he's had an opportunity to learn that the Church did not begin at Vatican 2.

  13. You make a very pertinent point Fran. How does one purge the priesthood of clericalism while telling the laity to think of bishops and priests as 'anointed ones'?

    Lots of us are now beginning to think that Francis plays to his immediate audience. Unfortunately he seems oblivious to how that can affect people not in his immediate audience.

  14. Love your last sentence.

  15. Dennis, I agree that in some measure the laity have to take back the Church, but I also know that's a tough grind against 1700 years of indoctrination. Some days I think it's ironic that the authoritarian structure itself is the fuel greasing that lay movement. I don't mean just clerical sexual abuse, but also the heirarchy's refusal to even consider changing the doctrine surrounding the celibate male priesthood.

    It's almost like they've gotten so delusional or disconnected that they prefer self immolation to change.

  16. You must have paid much attention to 'ethics' of Wall Street in the last decade. Corruption is about the only direction Wall Street runs in.

  17. Hopefully he will also recognize it didn't stop evolving with Vatican I.

  18. Great statement Dennis. I also think living in such a unique male culture breeds it's own form of self blindness. If Francis and Benedict have one fundamental thing in common, it appears to me to be an inability to think outside the confines of their personal priesthood and that is a major liability.

  19. sylvesterpatsteffenFebruary 1, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Laity need to hold hierarchy accountable to their "anointing" as much as hierarchy presumes to hold laity accountable to theirs. I don't think Francis disagrees with this. (?) If "anointing" is pretentious, it is diabolic; there's been a lot of diabolic goings-on in Church hierarchy.

  20. sylvesterpatsteffenFebruary 1, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    The Christian male "personality disorder" is culturally engrained and roots back to the mythological belief that Eve is from the rib of Adam. Dominion belief is its theology, and it persists to this day.

  21. True Sylvester, one of the stray thoughts going through my head when Pope Francis quoted Paul VI in the above piece, was Paul VI's statement that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church. Diabolical actions indeed.

  22. We all pay rent so careerist "shepherds" can live in our heads. We feel their "pain" when their ever-upward quest for "humble service" is delayed or denied. (I am sick of the "red-biretta-in-my-face-ministry" of Cardinal Timid Dolan.) I'm evicting these proud men.

  23. Eve, the original male scapegoat. Sylvester, do you have much hope the West can be cured of Dominionism with it's angry vindictive male god and attendant male dominance?

    Well, maybe one man at a time.

  24. Aren't all baptized 'anointed'?

  25. sylvesterpatsteffenFebruary 1, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    If history is a measure, it doesn't look promising. However, if the three lines of the children of Abraham could get on the same page of life, that could be a good beginning. Aren't we all claiming the one and same God, but under different names. Well, why then beat up on each other. Francis may yet help to bring about more convergence. But nations also have to get on the same page of life if politics and religion are to stop fighting. Religion and secularity are of a piece in the organic structure of nature/ life. Browse RELIGION & CIVILITY, the Primacy of Conscience.