The Francis-Kirill Declaration: A Dead Letter Already?

The Francis-Kirill Declaration: A Dead Letter Already?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 18, 2016

In my last column on this subject I noted the positive elements in the Joint Declaration signed by Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill during their rather incoherent encounter in Cuba. I also noted my impression that the document’s strong statements condemning abortion, defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman open to procreation, calling upon Europe to recover its Christian soul and its Christian roots, and decrying the persecution of Christians by modern secular nation-states “seem to have been the result of Kirill’s [i.e. the Kremlin’s] involvement in the document.”

My impression has been confirmed by subsequent events. I suppose it is hardly surprising that no sooner had the document been signed than Francis, ever the prudent politician, began to run away from it. During the in-flight press conference on the way from Cuba to Mexico, Francis immediately began to minimize the import of the document’s anti-liberal declarations, stating that the document “is not a political Declaration, is not a sociological Declaration, it is a pastoral declaration, even when it speaks of secularism and biogenetic manipulation and all of these things. But it is pastoral: by two bishops who met with a pastoral concern.”

Figuratively tossing the document aside, Francis told the press: “But if there is any doubt, Father Lombardi will be able to explain the true meaning of the thing.” The thing? In other words, political leaders and social planners should pay “the thing” no attention. And pay it no attention they did — along with the press, which completely buried its politically incorrect contents.

Tellingly, even before it was signed the document was minimized by one of the Pope’s mouthpieces, fellow Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, S.J., who conducted the now infamous interview of Francis in La Civiltà Cattolica (wherein Francis belittles the Church’s supposed “obsession” with abortion, “gay marriage” and contraception and her — never identified — “small-minded rules”). According to Spadaro, “what will be written in that declaration matters little, all things considered. What matters, however, is the meeting.” Indeed, that does seem to be what matters from Francis’ point of view: the event as opposed to the contents of the declaration or indeed any imagined progress toward ending the Orthodox schism, which clearly is of no concern to him whatsoever although it stands at the heart of the events at Fatima.

Thus, as the well-connected Vatican Insider reported beforehand, in order to obtain the meeting Francis “agreed to the proposals which arrived from Moscow regarding the place and mode of the meeting as well as the contents of the declaration that will be signed by the two.” And in that document are found precisely “themes and hints on which for some time the Patriarch of Moscow has concentrated in his public and ‘political interventions’” — but certainly not themes on which Francis has been concentrating or even mentioning.

As the Rorate Caeli blogsite rather bluntly put it: “Pope Francis needed the Moscow Patriarch to force him to say some obvious things.” But, having said them, it seems Francis has no intention of ever saying them again, as we see from his latest “Liberation theology tour” now winding up in Mexico, where he prayed at the tomb of a rebel Marxist bishop, Samuel Ruiz Garcia of the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, who was denounced by the Congregation for Bishops and asked to resign by the Papal Nuncio (he refused) on account of his gross deviations from the Faith and his substantial destruction of Catholic fidelity among the laity in the local Church.

In an article entitled “What is the Pope’s signature worth?”, the Italian Catholic blogsite, noting Francis’ immediate efforts to minimize the declaration he had just signed, concluded: “There is, however, a not-unimportant ‘but’: the Pope signed it. Even solemnly. And so the question presents itself: what is the signature of Pope Francis worth in this case?”

What indeed?

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7 comments on “The Francis-Kirill Declaration: A Dead Letter Already?

  1. Ted Baxter, when asked rhetorically, “is the Pope Catholic?” replied, “I think so, but I’m not so sure about the last one, though” (referring to Paul VI and gag Blessed gag John XXIII).

    And there is a Bishop in Switzerland, I hear, who wants to “do business” with this impostor, with this anti-Pope, with this man named Jorge.

    Is it getting time to pack it up, move along, because the show’s over? Are we just waiting for them to burn the costumes and throw away the sets? The Church, how can I help not to deny it?, has become a stage, Holy Garb just costumes, and Altars just equipment. And Fellay seems to want to audition for a part in the show, to help train actors.

    This is freakin’ madness. I’d ask you to pardon my French, but I speak enough French to know pig-latin when I hear it.

    • We’ve got ladies here. We get readers from all over. Let’s keep it a notch higher.

      Now, are you saying the Church is ended? Do you know where it is, or are we dead in our sins?

      • I hardly think I’ve crossed any lines of decency, Cyprian. All to that which I’ve referred about the Church I found right on page 1 of the forum.

        Maybe you’re jumping the gun here with your conclusions?

        Clearly what Bishop Fellay has been attempting with Pope Benedict and Jorge Bergoglio was unthinkable 15 years ago. Why defend it now?

        Those of us who found the Society years and years ago can sense the shift in thinking– even the dimmest of us, of whom I count myself among the most dim.

        I’m neither a sede, nor an alarmist– just confused. And with each subsequent Papacy I become more and more confused.

        Maybe you can explain to me not only the logic, but also the security or the safety we’ll have having the full recognition of the Church in Rome which has arguably ceased being the Church in Rome.

        Help me out Cyprian. Clearly you’re much more capable than I. But so’s a bug, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.


        • I wasn’t defending the ladies from sedes. It was your French.

          As for the Church, none of us has an answer. As for the SSPX, Francis unilaterally regularized them. All that’s left is the paperwork, and that will never come from a Vatican-II pope.

          • I don’t know many ladies so prudish that the word I used would offend them. A thousand and one pardons!

            And thank you for addressing the concerns raised! You’ve made me much better informed. Thank you.

  2. Ted Baxter:…and the current Pope seems to be using the John XXIII playbook…

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: I don’t think that’s an accident. Many progressive modernists are still using the John XXIII playbook.

    Hawkeye: I thought we were all supposed to be using the John XXIII playbook.

    For Mary Richards, a single career woman with no children, following the John XXIII playbook
    was not really a problem as Glenn Frey and the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” crooned on the Dolby stereo of her Ford Mustang in groovy 1970s Minneapolis, enshrouded in the mellowness of the groovy Vatican II decade of antinomian experimentation and navel-gazing self-fulfillment. Thoughts of the U.S. currency crashing or Middle Eastern terrorists attacking Christmas parties in suburban California with open Alinskyite borders and Apple encryption were far removed from her mind…Meanwhile, festering at the University of St. Thomas, the John XXIII playbook was about to swing into high gear…

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