A Call to Terminate Papal Trips: A noisy, expensive counterfeit of Papal Duty
A scene from Papal event in Phiadelphia
In 1761, speaking of the primary duty of the Pope, Clement XIII wrote, “In the Lord’s field, for the tending of which Divine Providence placed us as overseer, there is nothing which demands as much vigilant care and unremitting labor in its cultivation than guarding the good seed of Catholic teaching which the Apostles received from Jesus Christ and handed on to Us. If in laziness this is neglected, the enemy of the human race will sow weeds while the workers sleep.”
Likewise Pope St. Pius X, the greatest Pope of modern times, noted that one of the “primary obligations assigned by Christ” to the papal office was “that of guarding with greatest vigilance the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsay of knowledge false so-called.”
Pius explained that in the face of error and heresy (in his case, in the face of Modernism), “We may no longer keep silence, lest we should seem to fail in our most sacred duty.”
To repeat: the primary duty of the Pope is to “guard with greatest vigilance the deposit of the Faith” and “there is nothing which demands as much vigilant care and unremitting labor” to maintain the purity of Catholic teaching. Not to do so means the Pope would “fail in his most sacred duty,” and as a result of this neglect, “the enemy of the human race sows weeds while the workers sleep.”
Or in our case, while the Pontiffs travel.
Papal trips are a noisy, expensive counterfeit of Papal duty – a frenetic sentimentalism disguised as genuine vitality. This high-energy neurosis is now of 50-year duration, the same period of the collapse of the Faith in every country on earth. Worldwide globetrotting may give the appearance of authentic papal action, but the results are useless at best, scandalous at worst. Meanwhile, the abysmal ignorance of the Catholic Faith amongst clergy and laity continues to worsen.
I propose we end the charade and bring the papal trips to a grinding halt – now.
What is needed, and we say this with respect, is not endless travel, but a return to sound doctrine and genuine discipline, according to the model of St. Pius X. This great Pope not only issued clear correction to the errors of his day, but enacted effectively disciplinary measures against priests and teachers infected with Modernism. His Pontificate was that of vigilance, vigilance and ever-more vigilance against heresy and in advancing Catholic Truth. Pius X stayed in Rome and did his job.
The faith worldwide is in collapse. Later we will look at the results of the recent Vatican Synod questionnaire, wherein the vast majority of Catholic Faithful worldwide either reject, or do not understand, rudimentary moral teaching.
Miles and Miles
As for papal trips we can ask some basic questions: such as, how many have there been? What good have they done?
We can also raise the question of cost, which is colossal.
Since January 1962, we’ve seen at least 148 papal trips.
A rough breakdown follows:
• Paul VI, between 1962 and 1970, embarked on nine papal journeys. Keep in mind a “Papal trip” – or “Apostolic Journey” – depending on the way it is listed, can mean either visiting a single country, or visiting a collection of countries. For example, Paul VI’s ninth (and final) 1970 Apostolic Journey included visits to Iran, Pakistan, a stopover in Dacca, Philippines American Samoa, a stopover in Pago Pago, Samoa Australia, Indonesia Hong Kong and Ceylon.
• John Paul II, who presently holds the record, set out on 104 trips – again, each of these jaunts can include visits to numerous countries. His 42nd “Apostolic Journey,” for example, of June, 1989, comprised visits to Norway Iceland Finland, Denmark and Sweden.
• Pope Benedict XVI traveled to 25 countries during his eight-year reign.
• Pope Francis, so far, conducted 11 trips, a number of which include a visit to more than one country. The most recent completed, listed as his 1oth Apostolic Journey, comprised visits to Cuba and the United States (As of this posting, he is now visiting Kenya)
After 50 years of papal trips, the chaotic condition of the Church and the confusion of the faithful have never been greater. Heresy, error and confusion abound. Priests, Catholic university professors, theologians and bishop by the thousands pervert the faith and poison the faithful, while today’s Popes effectively ignore the problem, and stand before government bodies prattling on about environmental awareness and the abolition of the death penalty.
The post-conciliar popes effectively substituted their primary duty to safeguard the faith against error with the Conciliar novelty of smiling dialogue and fevered activity. This concept of the Papacy would be foreign to Popes Pius XII, Pius XI, Benedict XV, Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius IX and all the Popes back to Peter himself.
You can have all the papal travels you want; all the screaming crowds, all the tears and emotions, all the high-energy rock’n’pop liturgies. None of it really matters. It’s a façade. It’s shallow enthusiasm. There is no substitute for the Pope fulfilling his primary role, which is to safeguard the purity of the faith, maintain the integrity of Catholic morals, and discipline those Catholics – be they priests, bishops or civic leaders – who cause scandal by heterodox teaching and bad example.
In fact, during the height of the clerical scandals in 2002, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, said at press conference in Dallas that he has no idea why Pope John Paul II has given the Church so may “lousy bishops.” Bruskewitz went on to cite “a letter that St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote to the Pope of his day, warning the Pontiff that if he [the Pope] was going to be sent to Hell, it would be because he failed to get rid of bad Bishops.” Bruskewitz said with a mischievous smile, “I did pass that letter on to the current pope.”
Then there is the question of the hefty price tag for these flash in the pan events.
In Philadelphia alone, Pope Francis’ visit cost the city $12 million, “which include $4.9 million for police and traffic and crowd control, security and emergency response; $3.9 million for the fire department and emergency medical service; nearly $850,000 for the city’s streets department, and almost $890,000 for the city’s office emergency management.”
Remember, I noted that Pope Francis’ US Apostolic Journey marks the 148th Papal Trip. If each trip costs the cities anywhere near the $12 million Francis’ visit cost Philadelphia … well, do the math, and consider if these excursions are worth millions and millions poured into them (not to mention that massive carbon footprint to be considered by the environmentally sensitive). I think it fair to designate these papal extravaganzas as a “culture of waste”.
Faith in Shambles
The post-Conciliar neglect of papal duty is manifest in the results of the recent questionnaire sent out to Catholic Faithful by Francis’ Vatican in preparation for the Synod. The outcome of the questionnaire is no surprise to the informed Catholic. It is at least a statistical measure of the depths to which we have fallen.
The confusion is due to lack of teaching and/or bad teaching of Catholics teachers who have run unchecked throughout the Church for more than 50 years. In the words of Clement XIII, papal duty to safeguard the faith is neglected, and heterodox teachers and the spirit of the world “sow weeds while the workers sleep.”
Not all of the world’s bishops published the results of the questionnaire, but those who did disclose the same picture: a massive falling away from Catholic truth regarding morals. Here are a handful of samples:
• On the issue of contraception, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg Florida wrote about his diocesan report, “On the matter of artificial contraception, the response might be characterized by saying, ‘That train left the station long ago.’ Catholics have made up their minds” in a way that “suggests the rejection of Church teaching on that subject.” The majority also fails to give full assent to Church teaching regarding Communion to the divorce and remarried, cohabitation, and many favor a more ‘welcoming’ position regarding homosexual unions.
• In Switzerland and Germany, the survey showed that only a small number of Catholics regard homosexuality as a grave sin, and welcome the idea of civil unions. In fact, “60% favor the Church recognition and blessing of gay couples.”
• German dioceses report that, while Catholics are generally ‘pro-family’ in a way, but “’premarital unions’ [cohabitation] are not only a relevant pastoral reality, but one which is almost universal,” since 90 to 100% of those who seek a Catholic wedding are already living together. “Many, in fact, consider it irresponsible to marry without living together beforehand,” said the report.
• The Honolulu diocese reports that “Church teaching on priestly celibacy, premarital sex, contraception, divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage are ‘almost universally rejected’ by both Catholics and society at large.”
• In the diocese of Springfield Ill, 75% of the 334 survey participants said “they did not fully understand the Church’s teaching on the family.”
These findings reflect the state of the Church worldwide. Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said he found the responses “shocking, if I am allowed to use that word … because almost in all parts of the world, the questionnaires indicate that the teaching of the Church regarding family life is not clearly understood by the people.”
In short, the understanding and acceptance of Catholic morality among Catholics is in shambles.
Mind you, this is after 148 Papal trips throughout the world since 1962!
“The Development of Conciliar Attitudes”
A large part of the activity-over-substance superstition within today’s hierarchy comes from the Conciliar orientation itself.
We note the celebratory words of progressivist Father Yves Congar who rejoices that thanks to Vatican II, strict uniformity and doctrinal oversight now belong to the past.
“The Council liquidated,” said Congar, “what I would call the unconditionality of the system. By ‘system’ I mean the extremely coherent whole made up of the ideas communicated by the teaching of the Roman universities, codified by canon law, protected by a strict and reasonably effective surveillance under Pius XII, with accounts rendered, calls to order, submission of the writings of the Roman censor, etc. – in a word, a ‘system’. The Council disintegrated all that.”
Strict unity of the faith now gives way to various alternative theologies and the “more than one way to look at doctrine” approach. Primary importance is now the propagation of Vatican II’s new agenda, which eclipses the traditional program.
We see this especially with Pope John Paul II.
John Paul II never reiterated Pope Pius X’s central principle that the “primary obligation” of the Pope is to “guard with greatest vigilance the deposit of the Faith … rejecting profane novelties of words.” Rather, John Paul announced his primary duty was to implement the novelties of Vatican II.
On October 17, 1978, the newly elected John Paul II said, “We consider it our primary duty to be that of promoting, with prudent but encouraging action, the most exact fulfillment of the norms and directives of the Council. Above all we must favor the development of Conciliar attitudes. First one must be in harmony with the Council. One must put into effect what was started in its documents; and what was ‘implicit’ should be made explicit in the light of the experiments that followed in light of the new and emerging circumstances.”
Among the implicit points that would be made explicit (I’ve written about this at length elsewhere) is the scandalous pan-religious meeting of Assisi wherein various Christian denominations, Jews, Mohammedans and sundry pagans of all stripes pray together for peace – it is religious indifferentism, always condemned by the Church, on display for all to see. John Paul himself said that the meeting of Assisi was a visible illustration of what was called for by Vatican II.
With the Vatican shunning doctrinal oversight, and encouraging Conciliar novelty, we have the blueprint for destroying the unity and stability of the Faith. Post-Conciliar papal trips are steamrollers of this new orientation, which is another strong reason to call for their demise.
This now brings us to a quick review of Pope Francis’ trip to Cuba and the United States.
Talks Much, Says Little
Prior to writing this report, I read every address Francis delivered during his September 2015 visit to Cuba and United States. I can summarize Francis’ presentations in one phrase: Talks much, says little.
In fact, my more complete conclusion from the exhausting exercise of reading all his speeches is as follows: Pope Francis does not really possess the habit of the Catholic Faith, he does not possess the habit of genuine papal thinking. His preoccupation is with the worst element of the Conciliar revolution: ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, vague warnings against religions “fundamentalism”, open your doors to migrants, Americanist religious liberty, “culture of encounter”, economic inequality, a “people over doctrine” sentimentality masquerading as compassion, humanist ramblings, and his reluctance as Vicar of Christ to mention Jesus Christ at secular gatherings.
Francis seems to have a genius for spouting a good bit of God-talk that appears bereft of the sense of the supernatural. I do not intend to give a point-by-point commentary of all of Francis’ presentations, but a handful of selected considerations.
When one reads in totality Francis’ speeches from the recent trip to American and Cuba, one sees a pattern emerge. To a Christian audience, he gently brings in Christian themes, but often with a humanistic emphasis: “Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters,” (Homily in Havanna, Sept. 20) and other such considerations.
But to secular audiences, such as the US Congress, the UN and other such gatherings, he keeps Christ carefully hidden, and panders to the world on the world’s terms. Here are a number of examples of both instances:
• To students at the Father Felix Verola Culture Center in Cuba on September 20, Francis urged students to follow their dreams, believe in hope and engage in dialogue. Christ was only mentioned as someone who is a helper along the way;
• To Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion and anti-Christian president in history, Francis was all smiles and was full of praise. On the White House lawn, Francis said “Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.” Francis did not utter the name of Jesus Christ, but invoked Martin Luther King Jr.
• Francis opened his September 23 homily at St. Matthews in Washington, DC with a special greeting to the Jewish community for Yom Kipper.
• In the same homily, Francis urged bishops to be first and foremost promoters of the “culture of dialogue”. He told them, “The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue with laypersons, dialogue with families, dialogue with societies. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly.” His homily contained a fleeting mention of abortion, but lumped in with less grievous social ills such as those who die from hunger, and migrants “in search of a better tomorrow.”
• When canonizing Juniper Serra, Francis does not mention Serra’s central supernatural motivation, which was to convert pagans living in darkness and to save their souls from Hell. Rather, said Francis, “Juniper sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.” Yes, that might have been part of Serra’s secondary work, but his primary work of conversion and salvation received not even a nod.
• Francis opened his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, wishing “my Muslim brothers and sisters … good wishes as you celebrate your day of sacrifice.”
• Before Congress, Francis once again kept Our Lord carefully tucked away. The Vicar of Christ refused to mention the Name of Christ. Rather, he only mentioned Moses, Dorothy Day, the ecumenical Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King Jr. He never mentioned abortion, “even though Congress was in the very midst of debating the defunding of Planned Parenthood on account of its butchery of the unborn and sale of their body parts.” Francis spoke of the “Golden Rule,” urged the abolition of the death penalty, a call for no more war, and explored other themes one would expect from a hybrid of Al Gore and Cardinal Bernadin.
• At Ground Zero in Manhattan, Francis called for an appeal to diversity, engaged in interreligious prayer, did not mention Jesus Christ or publicly invoke Him in prayer, but imitating the godless seculars, called for a “moment of silence.”
• At the United Nations, Francis dedicated at least four paragraphs of his speech to the environment, but said nothing about the UN’s worldwide non-stop promotion of abortion, population control or the homosexual agenda.
And in all of the Pope’s discourses, there was no mention of the destructive ‘same-sex’ marriage ruling. For him, it’s as if this disastrous Supreme Court decision never happened. He provided no guidance, no tools for the fight, no warnings regarding the further ascent of homosexuality in society that this decision necessarly brings – a criminal omission on his part.
Yes, Francis performed various good gestures during the trip, such as visiting a school in Harlem and visiting prisoners in Philadelphia. But we are not content with a Pope who performs some good actions and even more scandalous actions. Rather, the actions of a Pope must be all good, and all fitting to that of the Vicar of Christ on earth, according to the pattern of Clement XIII and St. Pius X.
It is fair to mention that the spirit of contemporary Papal trips is more of a symptom rather than the disease itself, which is the modernist orientation of Vatican II – an orientation that has malformed today’s Papacy. Along this line, it is amusing to imagine how world leaders would react to a truly Catholic Pope visiting their country to teach uncompromised doctrine.
It is fun to imagine, for example, Pope Leo XIII standing on the White House lawn, saying to Barack Obama, “Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness – namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true [the Catholic Faith]….” (Libertas, 1880)
It would be double the fun to see Pope Leo XIII address US Congress admonishing, “If the laws of the State are manifestly at variance with the divine law, containing enactments hurtful to the Church, or conveying injunctions adverse to the duties imposed by religion… then, truly, to resist becomes a positive duty, to obey, a crime. … If laws of men contain injunctions contrary to the eternal law of God, it is right not to obey them.” (Saptientia Christianae, 1890)
It is fascinating to picture Pope Pius XI responding to an invitation to a New York interfaith prayer meeting saying, “Unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief and one faith of Christians … for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.” (Mortalium Animos, 1928)
It is intriguing to think of Pope St. Pius X addressing the United Nations with his words, “the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants.” (Our Apostolic Mandate, 1910).
These solid Catholic teachings would be as welcome to world leaders as kidney stones, and the Pope would not be invited to visit any other country. Better this than the modern charade of Papal trips that are a counterfeit of genuine papal action.
 In Dominico Agro (on Instruction in the Faith), Encyclical of Pope Clement XIII, June 14, 1761.
 Pascendi (Encyclical Against Modernism, 1907), No. 1.
 “Done in Dallas,” National Review, June 17, 2002.
 “15 Things to Know about the Pope’s Visit,” Sept. 22, 2015. It should be noted: The World Meeting of Families have been funding raising with the pledge to pay the Philadelphia back. But the question must be asked, are these papal visits that do virtually nothing to truly evangelize Catholics worth this colossal sum?
 “Bishop: Synod Questionaire Shows Most Reject Teaching on Contraceptives,” National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 24, 2014.
 “Synod of Bishops: Europe Overwhelmingly in favor or remarried divorces,” Vatican Insider, February 8, 2014.
 “German and Swiss Churches Publish Their Synod Questionanaire Results,” Association of Catholic Preiests (webpage), February, 2014.
 “Some US Diocese Report Results of Questionaire,” National Catholic Reporter, March 11, 2014.
 “Cardinal ‘Shocked’ by Survey Responses on Family Life,” Catholic Herald, May 20, 2014.
 Congar, Une Vie pour la Vérité p. 220. Quoted from 100 Years of Modernism, Father Dominique Bourmad [Kansas City: Angelus, 2006], p. 274 (emphasis added).
 See Peter Hebblethwaite, “Pope John Paul II” in Adrian Hastings, Modern Catholicism, Vatican II and After [London: Oxford University Press, 1991], p. 447. Emphasis added.
 In John Paul II’s 1986 Christmas Address, he gave unqualified praise to Assisi as a dynamic manifestation of the doctrine of Vatican II – a new path for the future: “The event at Assisi can thus be considered as a visible illustration, an exegesis of the events, a catechesis intelligible to all of what was presupposed and signified by the commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue which was recommended and promoted by the Second Vatican Council.” Pope’s Christmas Address to Roman Curia, L’Osservatore Romano, January 5, 1987, pp. 6-7.
 “Pope Francis and the State of the Union,” Christopher Ferrara, Fatima Perspectives (Fatima.org), Sept 29, 2015
From the November 2015 Catholic Family News, with slight adaptions
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