This review of the book by Jose Ureta will be done in chapters that appear one day at a time.
Chapter 1 “Pastoral Retreat From ‘Non-negotiable Values’ “
You know how sometimes you just get an uncomfortable feeling about something and you can’t quite put your finger on it but you know something isn’t right. Maybe you are getting sick, or you are in a stuffy room that badly needs a window open. I felt like that for the entire “Year of Mercy” that Francis rolled out. I thought it would NEVER end. I was mercyed to death before it was over. I felt if I heard the word mercy one more time I would scream. I guess that sounds pretty unmerciful of me, but it’s the truth. A WHOLE YEAR of nothing but mercy mercy mercy. As it turns out, this was maybe the best way to get you and me and every other Catholic on the planet to relax a little, to not worry so much about serious stuff, to just chill out and love our neighbors. Stop all this “is it a sin” if so, “how bad a sin.” Does it really matter anyway or should we not just accompany people and try harder to see things from their perspective. You know: BE MERCIFUL! Take a “pastoral approach” to things and get beyond the boundaries we have around stuff like sin and doctrine.
In Chapter One of Paradigm Shift, the author straight out of the box quotes Pope Benedict’s speech to the European People’s Party conference on March 30, 2006, in which he spelled out clearly what are the Church’s non-negotiable values and principles. He said this to his audience:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these, the following emerge clearly today:
· Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
· Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family—as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage—and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
· The protection of the right of parents to educate their children
Very soon after his election Pope Francis abandoned this rock solid Catholic stance when he said spoke to Antonio Spadaro in an interview that was published in the magazine “America.” He said,
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context…
The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently…. We have to find a new balance.” (my own emphasis added)
Are you starting to feel the shift? Maybe you didn’t notice it clearly as such when he made these comments, but juxtaposed with the words of Pope Benedict it’s very hard to deny what a serious change this was for all of us. What he said was, no longer will these issues be my priority or the priority of the Church. They may not go away entirely, but as long as I’m pope, they will have to share the stage with other issues.
It would be bad enough if that’s all Francis had done, but it is worse. On many occasions he has invited people to the Vatican who are known supporters of abortion, others who publicly promote birth control, and people who advocate for the right to euthanasia. On some occasions he has flown them in from other countries at the Vatican’s expense to meet with them.
To combat his foes he has changed the names of well known Vatican institutions that have defended the non-negotiable values of the Church. One example is the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, founded by the Polish Pope and Fr. Carlo Caffarra. Francis dissolved it and in its place he introduced the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family. I remember reading about this at the time and I confess I didn’t think much about it. Looking at it now, however; the phrase “sciences of marriage” suggests that there is more than ONE “science” on this subject. Frankly, I didn’t know it was a science at all. I thought it was a sacrament.
Thomas Jansen, director of the German Bishops’ Conference said the institute “was known as a bastion of resistance against Francis’s mercy program. Now the pope has dissolved it and founded a new one.”
Also getting a hatchet job was the Pontifical Academy for Life. According to Ureta,
“The pope gave Archbishop Paglia detailed instructions to ensure that this Vatican office’s activities are
· Ever more clearly inscribed within the horizon of mercy…. [by focusing on]
· “Reciprocal respect between the sexes and among the generations”
· “Defense of the dignity of every single human being”
· “Promotion of the quality of human life…”
· An “authentic human ecology…..”
· That will be a Church, he added, “capable of facing places of tension and conflict like a ‘field hospital’”
The academy was also “restructured” and given new bylaws that said members would be chosen “without regard for their religion” and the required pledge to defend magisterium teaching on the inviolability of innocent human life was removed. “
One of the new members is Nigel Biggar, an Anglican pastor, appointed BY FRANCIS, who holds the view that abortion is just fine up until 18 weeks after conception. Another newbie is Katarina Leblanc, professor at the Karolinska Institute who works on stem cell research “using in vitro-fertilized, supernumerary embryonic stem cells.”
When things have come up in countries around the world that involve marriage and the votes taken again and again to approve same sex marriages the pope has been silent. Ureta believes Francis has cleared the way for euthanasia by his reaction to the medical case of little Charlie Gard whose parents begged the pope to speak out against the hospital that refused him life support.
He ends chapter one by quoting Fr. Shenan Boquet who said the following about the Academy for Life,
“….the real world effect of appointing an abortion supporter is the same as if they had appointed a pro-slavery advocate: The appearance in the public eye that the Church does not take its teaching against abortion seriously as it once did. This has the direct impact upon pro-life advocates on the ground, who stand exposed to the accusation of being ‘more Catholic’ than the Vatican.”