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Why Change Is Francis’ Only Constant

July 27, 2023 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Many pundits and Vaticanists are scratching their heads and wracking their brains in the attempt to make sense of Pope Francis’ cardinal picks, the appointment of Fernandez to the doctrinal dicastery, the high turnover rate of personal secretaries and other oddities of his pontificate. Of which there are many.
You cannot make sense of nonsense, however.
When the plan is apparently to undo all plans, turn the Church into an unorganized mess, overwhelm the Catholic system with non-Catholic and anti-Catholic distractions, substitutions and inversions, the use of reason is useless in making sense of it all.
Catholic writers who have confidently for years made a living explaining for the benefit of other Catholics the inside scoop on the Church are at loggerheads with Pope Francis.
The only word I have been able to come up with to explain the unexplainable is “overwhelm.” What do I mean?
Pope Francis, and those surrounding him who currently pose no threat to him and therefore are for the time being still useful for his purposes, is overwhelming the entire Catholic “system” to the breaking point. He has made it clear from the very beginning that his plan is to “change the Church so it cannot be changed back.”
We owe it to ourselves to accept that at face value. In particular because it explains well that the personnel, policies, traditions, customs, precedent, all of the revered Roman, Vatican, and ecclesial methods are overturned at whim in order to serve the goal of change for the sake of change.
But what is being changed? And why?
Pope Francis wears white as all Popes have since Pius V. The Curia still goes by the old titles of secretary of state, for example. Cardinals are still cardinals. The word “Catholic” is still used. Although for quite a long time already increasingly since Vatican II it may mean many different things depending upon who is speaking. Mass is still offered at the high altar in St. Peter’s, and sometimes by the Pope depending upon the latest vagaries of his declining health. Many of the old Catholic, Roman, and Vatican touchstones remain in place. Wednesday audiences, Sunday angelus. For many Catholics it seems, at a superficial level, that the old Church as always is still “there.”
So, what is being changed? And why?
This all reminds of the trusted and age-old Communist method: Use the old language and symbols while changing the meaning. If the teaching is that there is no teaching than all teaching must be changed into non-teaching. The only way to overturn morals is with immorality. The only way to destroy faith is with faithlessness.
Take a look at Amoris Laetitia, for example. Many of the traditional aspects of the teaching about the sacrament are employed in the text of the document. Paeans of praise can pour forth for the Real Presence, and other aspects of reverence and custom remain to calm the hearts of the trepidatious. But the entire document is in fact a thrust to the heart of the truth of Eucharistic doctrine nonetheless. The smoking gun footnote 351 reveals the apparent purpose of the whole document, a change authorizing Communion for adulterers which opens the door to the complete destruction of the truth to be accepted in faith by believers on grace, sanctity, and the Real Presence itself.
We can say whatever we want of traditional praise for the Blessed Sacrament while in practice reducing it to a mere symbol by giving our Lord sacramentally, and therefore uselessly and sacrilegiously, to anyone regardless of faith or worthiness. The biblical story of feeding the dogs with the scraps from the Master’s table comes to mind.
This is one example of the way in which the goal of irreversible change is achieved. The system of Catholic doctrine, praxis, catechesis, liturgy, custom is overwhelmed by changes small and great so that one would have to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb in order to discover them all.
Pope Francis’ decisions with regard to personnel hiring and firing are thought by some experienced Rome-watchers to keep him and the changes made by him in the forefront and everyone else in the background. Anyone who has worked long-term in Rome, and in close quarters with the Pope, could be sought out after he dies as a possible interpreter or inheritor of the “spirit” of Francis. To prevent this, which might derail his program of change if such a person were to hew traditional, or to the way things were before, personnel must be overturned frequently, with no one remaining in place long enough to threaten Francis’ “reforms” which in fact deform.
This can help explain the high turnover rate of his personal secretaries. Only Fernandez, at this point, is most trusted to undermine Catholic teaching and has been placed in the perfect position to accomplish that.
Such can also serve to explain the very unusual and odd treatment of Ganswein, Benedict XVI’s longtime secretary and for a time secretary of the household of Francis as well. Previous Popes would have sent a former papal secretary off to a high-ranking office as a suitable reward for serving the chef Shepherd of the flock. Hence, JPII’s secretary Dziwisz was sent back to Poland as archbishop and future cardinal of Krakow. Not so Francis. If Ganswein, an archbishop, were to be given a role in the hierarchy, or allowed to remain in a curial position in Rome, he might be sought out after Francis’ death as a possible spokesman for the anyone who seeks to restore the policies, programs, and teachings of the Benedictine papacy. No one is more a threat to the current Pope and his program than his Predecessor, if he wishes to change ecclesial course in a way that lasts, because more persons associated with the previous Pope are still living than any other previous holder of the Chair of Peter.
The Synods which increasingly speak only of homosexuality in approving tones are another example of overwhelming the system so that change is increasingly irreversible. Talk of “going beyond the Scriptures” by papal henchmen such as Fr. James Martin, and speech by Fernandez about the “errors” in, and the need to change the text of, the Catechism on the subject of the objective disorder of same-sex attraction are pieces of the overall plan to overwhelm. The Scriptures tell us that subjects like sodomy should “not even be mentioned among you.” Even apart from this many rightly have a distaste for discussing such unsavory topics. High-ranking churchmen are now not merely banal in regard to evil but are in fact praising it. Fernandez has all but guaranteed that he will authorize the blessing of same-sex relationships even though Ladaria, his predecessor at DDF, promulgated in writing that such is impossible.
We are informed by Fernandez in negative tones that such did not have the “smell” of Francis. Implying, of course, that it may be already on the chopping block. He will, we are informed, uphold the “recent” Magisterium of Francis. How recent, therefore? Yesterday? The day before? Even a document published under Francis’ regime cannot be assured an existence beyond tomorrow.
Especially puzzling is Francis’ rejection of First World cardinals. He has shown a preference for the peripheries in choosing future papal electors. The Germans, for example, have sought to outdo Francis in overwhelming changes to the faith and praxis by furthering auto-destruction of the liturgy and mutilating teaching on Ordination and morals, to name a few. But he has not rewarded them with more cardinals. The risk in choosing from the peripheries is the longstanding likelihood that the faithful retain the faith long after the hierarchy has abandoned it, and more so at the peripheries.
As long as Pope Francis is around there is no predicting anything. Everything is up for grabs. Hang onto your hat. As long as it’s not a saturno!
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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