Go to the Peripheries? How about listening to them?
by Christopher A. Ferrara
December 2, 2015
The post-Vatican II epoch has been plagued by a proliferation of slogans and buzzwords the likes of which the Church has never seen before: “collegiality,” “dialogue,” “dialogue with the world,” “interreligious dialogue,” “ecumenism,” “ecumenical venture,” “ecumenical dialogue,” “partial communion,” “imperfect communion,” “reconciled diversity,” “the Church of the new Advent,” “the new springtime of Vatican II,” “the new Pentecost,” “the new Evangelization,” “the civilization of love,” “the purification of memory,” “responsible parenthood,” “solidarity,” “the globalization of solidarity,” “the Spirit of Assisi,” “what unites us is greater than what divides us,” and so on.
Add to this heap of nonsense and near-nonsense a slogan that has become the veritable motto of this pontificate: that the Church must “go to the peripheries” or “reach out to the peripheries” or “reach all the ‘peripheries’”, or “go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries,” or some such thing. This idea seems to involve constant papal travel to Third World countries, including the just-concluded trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
My question in this regard has already been posed by Andrea Gagliarducci: “Which peripheries?” It occurred to me — and I learned in writing this column that it had also occurred to Gagliarducci — that Francis seems have a predilection for “peripheries” that are anti-Roman and hostile to the traditional teaching of the Church against such errors as liberation theology and the admission of public adulterers (the so-called divorced and remarried) to Holy Communion.
As Gagliardiucci notes: “[t]his feeling against Rome is not shared by peripheries of the Church in Africa and eastern Europe…” Among the prelates of Eastern Europe and Africa alike, there was fierce resistance to the drive by Francis’ handpicked synodal progressives to overturn the bimillenial discipline of the Church regarding the divorced and “remarried,” upheld by the Polish Pope in Familiaris consortio. And yet, notes Gagliarducci: “None of these peripheries has been rewarded with a new Cardinal.”
On the other hand, for example, from the periphery of distant New Zealand, Francis plucked to receive a cardinal’s hat the ultra-progressive Archbishop John Atcherley Dew. New Zealand, as Gagliardiucci observes, “is one of the most secularized countries in the world,” where “the Catholic Church… has drifted toward desacralization,” the “last liturgical reform there dropped the requirement that the faithful should kneel during the consecration,” priests “are considered mostly ‘sacrament deliverers’, while the entire Church is in the hands of the laity” and “the agenda is mostly focused on social issues, and is very scantly on doctrine.”
To take another example, from the periphery of Uruguay, Francis made a cardinal of the Archbishop of Montevideo, Daniel Fernando Sturla, who “comes from the most atheistic country in South America, and… probably thinks that the antidote to the hemorrhage of the faithful is for the Church to move closer toward their positions…”
As Gagliarducci rightly surmises: “Thus arises the notion that there are peripheries worthy of concern and others that are not… [I]t seems that the Pope’s favorite peripheries are those that perceive any central institution with suspicion and that seek a pastoral autonomy unbound from the doctrine of the Church.”
Thus it should have been no surprise that Francis’ picks from the “peripheries” joined the German progressives in pushing for the overthrow of the Church’s sacramental discipline at both sessions of the Synod. Meanwhile, the prelates from the African and Eastern European peripheries had all they could handle just to prevent an outright catastrophe at Synod 2015.
As for Africa, we know that Cardinal Kasper, “the Pope’s theologian” — whom Francis personally appointed to the voting membership of Synod 2015 — was caught on digital recorder indulging in racist ridicule of the African bishops for their “taboo” against Holy Communion for adulterers and openness to “gays,” remarks he falsely denied having made until the recording exposed him as a liar.
But the racist condescension toward the orthodox Africans continues. As Life Site News reports, on the web site of the German bishops’ conference there has just appeared an article whose author opines that the Church in Africa is growing because:
the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent [!].
In other words, the Catholics of Africa are impoverished simpletons, Cardinal Sarah panders to the simple-minded, and the African clergy are primarily interested in secure employment. Had such gross insults been published concerning the Muslim populations of Africa and their clerics, the author would have been stripped of his position and banished to an ecclesiastical gulag. But here we see, yet again, that in the Church of “dialogue” and “encounter,” governed by the dictatorship of the “para-conciliar ideology,” it is only orthodox Catholics who are fair game for discrimination, derision and demonization.
It is one thing to stage the Big Show of traveling to the peripheries of Africa, but quite another actually to listen to the Church in Africa and heed its prelates’ counsel when they defend the Faith against attack from the peripheries Francis seems to prefer, which are being led by the decidedly non-peripheral, Modernist-infested hierarchies of the decadent industrialized Western nations, whose prelates were allowed to manipulate the Phony Synod at every stage.
One voice from Africa to which Francis ought to listen most attentively is the very one the corrupt German bishops’ conference has just mocked. In his intervention at Synod 2015, Cardinal Sarah fittingly warned: “What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”
But that is about the last thing we can expect the current Vatican apparatus to proclaim. Contemporary churchmen consider such views as belonging to the lunatic fringe — in other words, to the peripheries of the Church today, both “geographic and existential,” which is where orthodox Catholics have been driven. That is why the Church now endures the worst crisis in her long history.