by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 03, 2017
As Catholics the world over, from Cardinals to the simple faithful in the pews, look with growing alarm and dismay upon this pontificate, there is no sign that Francis will turn over a new leaf with the beginning of the New Year.
As part of his program of attempting to remake the Church in his own image, Francis never misses an opportunity to weave a condemnation of orthodox Catholics into his addresses, sermons and informal remarks, which relentlessly promote political and social agenda items no Democrat would find offensive, often conveyed in the context of pious references to Our Lord and His Mother.
New Year’s Eve 2016 was no exception. Francis’ homily at the Vespers and Te Deum begins promisingly on a note of sound Catholic piety with a citation from Scripture: “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
But we know what is coming, given nearly four years of experience with that Latin American mélange of populist piety and leftwing politics known as Bergoglianism: the Gospel will be twisted into a social justice manifesto and faithful Catholics who defend orthodoxy will be caricatured yet again. For the man is relentless in the pursuit of his “vision” of the Church. Thus we read in the following paragraphs:
“In Christ, God did not put on a human mask; instead he became man and shared completely in our human condition. Far from remaining an idea or an abstract essence, he wanted to be close to all those who felt lost, demeaned, hurt, discouraged, inconsolable and frightened. Close to all those who in their bodies carry the burden of separation and loneliness, so that sin, shame, hurt, despair and exclusion would not have the final word in the lives of his sons and daughters.
“The manger invites us to make this divine ‘logic’ our own. It is not a logic centered on privilege, exemptions or favours but one of encounter and closeness. The manger invites us to break with the logic of exceptions for some and exclusion for others. God himself comes to shatter the chains of privilege that always cause exclusion, in order to introduce the caress of compassion that brings inclusion, that makes the dignity of each person shine forth, the dignity for which he or she was created. A child in swaddling clothes shows us the power of God who approaches us as a gift, an offering, a leaven and opportunity for creating a culture of encounter.”
Notice the stealthy switch from the Redeemer Christ, Who became man in order to deliver fallen humanity from the burden of sin, shame and despair, as we read in the first paragraph, to the social activist Christ of the second paragraph, Who came to “break with the logic of exceptions for some and exclusion for others,” “to shatter the chains of privilege that always cause exclusion, in order to introduce the caress of compassion that brings inclusion” and to create “a culture of encounter.”
No, Christ did not come to abolish privileges, condemn “exclusion” or promote “inclusion” and a “culture of encounter.” His mission involved none of these leftwing slogans. This is the false christ of Liberation Theology. The real Christ refused any such social justice mission in favor of His divine calling: to redeem fallen man by His sacrifice of infinite worth, by which He won for men the grace to obey His commandments so that, as Saint Paul admonished the Philippians, they could “with fear and trembling work out [their] salvation.” (2 Phil 12)
As Our Lord Himself said to the disciples who were murmuring against the woman who had lavished expensive ointment on His sacred feet instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor: “Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. For she, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial (Matt 26:10-13).”
Of course, Christians have a duty to assist the poor and alleviate their suffering; and the Church has always taught that the goods of this earth have a universal destination and do not belong exclusively and absolutely to their immediate possessors. But Christ did not come to eradicate poverty — which is ineradicable — to redistribute wealth, or to promote “inclusion” — i.e., the open borders and pluri-religious society Francis demands for his “culture of encounter.”
Next, inevitably, comes a condemnation of orthodox Catholics, which Francis now seems to include in virtually every utterance on any subject — which somehow always returns to the same subject. Quoth Francis:
“As another year draws to an end, let us pause before the manger and express our gratitude to God for all the signs of his generosity in our life and our history, seen in countless ways through the witness of those people who quietly took a risk. A gratitude that is no sterile nostalgia or empty recollection of an idealized and disembodied past, but a living memory, one that helps to generate personal and communal creativity because we know that God is with us. God is with us.”
Sterile nostalgia and empty recollections of an idealized and disembodied past — that is how Francis incessantly characterizes the defenders of Catholic orthodoxy and the traditional disciplines that protect the saving truth of Christ from compromises deadly to souls. And just who are those who “quietly took a risk” to promote “communal creativity” and, according to Francis, are the ones whose “witness” is truly Christian? As if we didn’t know: the ones who side with him on the reception of Holy Communion by public adulterers in “second marriages” — the grand obsession of this bizarre pontificate.
Turning to the young, Francis concludes with more of the “social Gospel” that ignores the eternal welfare of souls:
“We have created a culture that idolizes youth and seeks to make it eternal. Yet at the same time, paradoxically, we have condemned our young people to have no place in society, because we have slowly pushed them to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist or fail to promise them a future. We have preferred speculation over dignified and genuine work that can allow young people to take active part in the life of society. We expect and demand that they be a leaven for the future, but we discriminate against them and “condemn” them to knock on doors that for the most part remain closed.”
So this is Francis’ hope for the young during the coming year: not that, by the grace of God, they will be delivered from a corrupted culture and turn their backs on sin, looking to their eternal destiny, but rather that they will find good jobs. Christ did not establish His Church under the earthly headship of the Vicar of Christ so that the Pope could demand full employment for the young, “inclusion”, and a “culture of encounter.” The Petrine office is the rock on which faith and morals rest, and by which they are preserved intact — as handed down through the centuries — for the salvation of souls. But Francis, it must be said, does not seem very interested in that job description.
And it appears we are in for more of the same empty social justice sloganeering in 2017. Barring a miraculous change of heart, until the day this pontificate ends Francis will continue to employ the language of Catholic piety, and the very names of Christ and His Blessed Mother, to advance socio-political aims Hillary Clinton would find completely agreeable, while condemning Catholics who seek nothing more than to persevere in the unreconstructed Faith of their fathers.
Predictions are perilous. But even from a fallible human perspective, this nonsense cannot continue much longer without a dramatic correction from on high. The Year of Our Lord 2017 promises to be filled with that kind of drama.
Our Lady of Fatima, defend Your Church!