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The Question Mark Becomes An Exclamation Point

November 3, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

For the past five years, Catholics have tiptoed around the question: What in Heaven’s name is our Supreme Pontiff doing? Early on, he told us to “make a mess” (“¡Hagan lìo!”), but he didn’t tell us how to clean it up. Instead, “Who am I to judge?” became his mantra — even as his radical agenda became very judgmental indeed.
In short order, the newly elected Pope Francis made a public spectacle of joining internationalist secular elites advocating a malevolent left-wing political and cultural agenda. Global warming, mass immigration, anti-Americanism, and anti-capitalism emerged as constant themes.
He became the darling of the international media, a status which he appeared to enjoy despite their profound hatred of everything Catholic. By all appearances, he strived for acceptance and applause from the enemies of the Church, while he vilified “rigid” Catholics and their love of tradition and devotion to magisterial truth.
When his own cardinals asked simple, vital questions in the Dubia, he ignored them, instead hanging out with a motley assortment of pro-abortion magnates, rock stars, and left-wing agitators. From the point of view of the faithful, he left questions of doctrine to twist slowly in the wind.
But he made sure that others were there to pick up the ball. Walter Cardinal Kasper, representative of the rich and collapsing German Church, quickly rose in power, demanding that the spirit of the age prevail over the legalistic, rigid, and backward tradition of the Church.
A homosexual mafia ran rampant in the Vatican. There’s no getting around it: They rigged the synods. Supposedly on “the family” (two of them) and “youth,” they used the final reports to plant the seeds of “Catholic” adultery, sodomy, and a host of other taglines of modernity.
All this puzzled us, but we waited prayerfully. After all, the Pope’s public image was one of a humble man who loved the poor. Theologically he was all over the place, but he was “reaching out to the peripheries.” Now that he had their attention — those who had ignored and even reviled the Church for years were listening! — now he would teach them, gently but firmly, the truths of the Faith that make us free.
At best, it seems he intended to Catholicize the sexualized secular culture. Alas, the culture won, secularizing and sexualizing the Church.
For five years, Catholics watched and listened, questioning delicately. Not anymore.
Is Pope Francis letting it sink into the modernist mire, we asked? An increasing number of Catholics, both lay and ordained, have removed the question mark. The answer, they ruefully reply, is an emphatic “yes!”

A Lonely Voice
Becomes A Chorus

The case of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap., illustrates this development. A year ago, Fr. Weinandy took the unusual step of writing a letter to Pope Francis. He first expressed his loyalty and love of the Church; then, to put it bluntly, he begged the Pope to save the Church from impending chaos.
We cite Fr. Weinandy’s case here at length because it represents the maturing and articulation of the heightened spirit of desperation shared by countless others today.
“Your Holiness,” he wrote, “a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate. The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions. This fosters within the faithful a growing unease.”
Fr. Weinandy focused on the now notorious chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia. “I need not share my own concerns about its content. Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that. The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching. In Amoris Laetitia, your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.”
Fr. Weinandy then added what many others had thought privately: “To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it. Moreover, only where there is truth can there be authentic love, for truth is the light that sets women and men free from the blindness of sin, a darkness that kills the life of the soul.
“Yet you seem to censor and even mock those who interpret chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism. This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry. Some of your advisers regrettably seem to engage in similar actions. Such behavior gives the impression that your views cannot survive theological scrutiny, and so must be sustained by ad hominem arguments.”
Having received no response to his letter, Fr. Weinandy made it public. Whereupon the USCCB immediately demanded his resignation as a consultant to its Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices.
Donna Bethel, a longtime leader in Catholic education, responded in a letter sent to every member of the USCCB:
“To make matters worse,” she wrote, “Cardinal DiNardo excused the USCCB action by complaining that recent public comments about events in the Church ‘are often expressed in terms of opposition, as political — conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs. Vatican II.’ But these words in no way describe Fr. Weinandy’s respectful letter and to imply that they do adds calumny to cowardice on the part of the USCCB.”
This past week, Fr. Weinandy wrote that, in the year since he wrote the letter, he had received support from hundreds of laymen, clerics, academics, “and, surprisingly, from over thirty bishops. . . . The Body of Christ presently suffers more than it did then — and I fear the suffering will become even more intense,” he writes.
And in the year since, many who were uncertain then have become convinced: Pope Francis is steering the Church on a dangerous, seemingly disastrous course.

Confrontation, Confusion,
And Collapse

Pope Francis stalwartly refuses to address Fr. Weinandy’s concerns — as well as those raised by Archbishop Viganò regarding the career of the monstrous Theodore McCarrick.
In unusually unambiguous terms, the Pope repeatedly lashes out at his critics. “Constant accusations dirty the Church,” he told bishops at the end of the recent Synod on Youth. “Now is the time to defend Mother Church from the Great Accuser with prayer and penance.”
Meanwhile, the USCCB has been badgered into silence. The Pope refuses to investigate McCarrick and the hierarchy’s homosexual network. “Go on a silent retreat,” he told Cardinal DiNardo in Rome (they will, in January).
Since the new scandals broke in June, the voice of our bishops has been attenuated. Humanae Vitae’s fiftieth birthday was welcomed tepidly at best. The bishops are unanimously silent on the ten pro-abortion Catholics running for Senate, and the dozens running for the House. Why, things have gotten so bad that they haven’t condemned Global Warming for months!
Their credibility in shreds, their magisterial authority an orphan languishing in the shadows, they will meet in two weeks to pass an updated “Pastoral on Racism” confirming the one truth they can all agree on: Only whites can be racists, and most of us are.
Pray for our bishops and for Holy Mother Church.

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