|Peter or Judas? Who is Pope Francis?|
I'm writing this because of a rather acrimonious discussion on my friend and colleague Susan's post the other day about whether Francis is the pope or an anti-pope.
I don't agree or disagree with Susan. I just don't know and have decided to set that particular fight aside because it doesn't change anything for me.
All I have to do is live according to the teachings of the Church as handed down from the apostles and the magisterium throughout the millennia.
It's that simple!
So I study doctrine. I read the Scripture. I pray and receive the sacraments. I talk to my spiritual director. And I resolve to be among the sheep rather than the goats. And...I fight for the true faith.
I leave the state of the Vatican and the person of the pope up to the Holy Spirit.
Is Pope Francis a legitimate pope? Heck if I know! But does it matter to my daily life and my faith?
What's my opinion of the pope as a role model?
Some of his words are great! Whenever he teaches in line with the Church, I will gladly listen.
But his words often conflict with his actions. As my dear mom always said, "Actions speak louder than words." And Pope Francis' words speak volumes about his contempt for the orthodox who should be his pride and joy. Dietrich von Hildebrand could have been describing Pope Francis when he wrote this in The Devastated Vineyard [my additions in red]:
The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated [and, in fact, some of it comes from the bishops themselves and, dare I say it, the pope?]: the bishops [including the Bishop of Rome] tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful." But they want to silence [or insult and ridicule] the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should by all rights be the joy of the bishops' hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace. And should it happen that they get carried away in their zeal and express themselves in a tactless or exaggerated manner, they are even suspended [and called fundamentalists, Pharisees, rigid, etc.]. This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops' failure to use their authority. For they have nothing to fear from the orthodox; the orthodox do not control the mass media or the press; they are not the representatives of public opinion. [Ah, but they have blogs and websites and the bad bishops hate that!] And because of their submission to ecclesiastical authority, the fighters for orthodoxy will never be as aggressive as the so-called progressives. If they are reprimanded or disciplined, their bishops run no risk of being attacked by the liberal press and being defamed as reactionary. [In fact they will be applauded!]Von Hildebrand wrote these words in 1973, but they could have been written yesterday. The actions of Pope Francis and his cartel in the hierarchy tell us he's an enemy of the faith. He misses no opportunity to confuse and upset the faithful, especially those who are poorly catechized.
Pope Francis will have to answer for the chaos he has fostered and I thought Phil Lawler pointed that out well in his October 9th article about La Republica journalist Eugenio Scalfari's recent claim that the pope doesn't believe Jesus was God. Scalfari's statements are never corrected, simply described as his interpretation. We are left to wonder and wander in confusion, a confusion that more and more seems to be deliberate. Lawler wrote a second article two days later on the same subject. Both are short and well worth reading.
When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, our priest, Fr. Hugh Monmonier (may he rest in peace) asked us how we thought the average man in the street thought and lived during the collapse of the Roman empire? Did he understand what was happening? Did he recognize the chaos that was coming with the barbarians on the borders? Or did he just go on living day to day even like Scripture describes the people of Noah's time.
It's a good question for us today? We know more about the chaos because of our instant and all encompassing news media may be unfortunate. Knowledge isn't always power; it can be paralyzing! On the other hand, Jesus challenges us to understand the "time of our visitation." If we let it, this troubling time can be an invitation to sanctification.
We have choices as we experience the confusion and devastation in the world and in the Catholic "vineyard." We can panic or we can practice the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. We can speak the truth in love and refuse to accept the poisonous lies like those bubbling out of the Synod cauldron in Rome. We can teach our children and grandchildren the faith and encourage them to read good, Catholic books, to pray the rosary and practice pious devotions that will water the soil of their hearts.
Perhaps, above all, we must practice fortitude. Study the lives of the saints, particularly those who were persecuted during times of chaos in the Church. What did they do? How did they persevere?
St. Athanasius is a good role model for our time as he struggled against heresy in the Church, excommunication, murder attempts, etc. He never lost the faith!
Another is St. Joan of Arc who was caught up in the Church and state politics of her day. It led to her betrayal and martyrdom by a Catholic bishop who declared herea heretic. She isn't celebrated as a martyr, but as a virgin. Perhaps it was seen as too embarrassing to the Church -- martyred by a bishop. [Ironic eh?]
Above all, we can never give up, but need to hold our ground with tenacity and never let the devil pass. Think of St. Michael the Archangel as you watch the video below with Gandalf defending his charges in The Lord of the Ring.
Tolkien, a serious Catholic, gave us a strategy for fighting the great battles of our own "middle earth." Gandalf was an angel guardian for the fellowship of the ring, as Tolkein himself described him in a letter [#156] to Fr. Robert Murray:
I wd. venture to say that [Gandalf] was an incarnate 'angel'... an emissary from the Lords of the West, sent to Middle-earth, as the great crisis of Sauron loomed on the horizon. By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour.We have our own guardian angels and St. Michael to guide and lead us. Our crusade, like Frodo's, is to bear a burden of suffering in order to participate in the salvation of our fallen world and join the mission of the great king to overcome evil with good. We need to recognize the friends who will assist us like Sam and Aragorn and those who would betray and destroy us like Sarumon and Wormtongue. And we have angel guardians like Gandalf to aid and protect us. This kind of story can help us inspire our children to embrace a lifelong mission pursuing the good and fighting evil.
Obviously, the pope is called by God to be the supreme religious authority -- to teach, govern and sanctify us for the journey. If he chooses to betray that mission and act more like Sauron than Christ...well...we simply must respect the authority of the papacy, follow, the magisterial teachings of the Fathers of the Church and their successors, and refuse to let the pope scandalize us or make us abandon the faith.
I will not commit spiritual suicide because of any cleric (even the pope) committing spiritual murder. God is the judge who will deal with the Judases in the clergy. I will follow Christ and his Church no matter how evil a reigning pontiff is.
That seems to me to be the only choice.
Our Lady of America, Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us who have recourse to thee.