ROME, January 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis took aim at Catholics concerned with Church doctrine again Tuesday, preaching at Mass that “doctors of the law” were incoherent, hypocritical, clericalist, and lacking in real authority.
Christ’s authority was derived from His service and proximity to people and the fact “he was coherent,” the pope said in his morning Mass homily at Casa Santa Marta.
But his frequent and repeated derision of doctors of the law and Pharisees closely resembled negative assessments he has leveled at Orthodox Catholics at all echelons with ever-increasing frequency.
The doctors of the law considered themselves princes, the pope said, and they are the opposite of Christ, who had authority, was coherent, and close to people.
“These doctors of the law … these had a psychology of princes: ‘We are the masters, the princes, and we teach you. Not service: we command, you obey,’” Pope Francis stated. “And Jesus never passed Himself off like a prince: He was the servant of all, and this is what gave him authority.”
The Pharisees were detached from the people, he continued, and despised “the poor people, the ignorant. They liked to walk about the piazzas, in nice clothing.”
He said the doctors of the law were also guilty of clericalism, a pejorative term he has frequently used for traditional prelates.
“Those detached people, these doctors, had a clericalist psychology: They taught with a clericalist authority – that’s clericalism,” he stressed.
Citing Blessed Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, he said, “One sees the heart of a pastor who is close [to the people]: that’s where you find the authority of the Pope, closeness,” going on to say “the head is the one who serves, who turns everything upside down, like an iceberg.”
Then Pope Francis stated, “one who considers himself a prince has a ‘clericalist attitude’ – that is, hypocritical.”
Jesus counseled His disciples not to do what those with a clericalist attitude tell them, the pontiff said.
“They were incoherent. And the attitude Jesus uses of them so often is hypocritical,” Pope Francis said. “And it is understood that one who considers himself a prince, who has a clericalist attitude, who is a hypocrite, doesn’t have authority! He speaks the truth, but without authority.”
Obliquely referencing the current conflict in the Church between her eternal teaching and proposed changes in pastoral practice, fueled by his populist pontificate, the pope said Jesus’ authority came from His being humble, close to people and coherent.
He said, “And this is the authority that the people of God senses.”
The pope’s homily remarks come amid growing concerns of a climate of fear at the Vatican under his reign, as well as increasingly frequent reports of an autocratic leadership style.
The climate of fear was observed by LifeSiteNews representatives this past November during a semi-annual Rome visit. LifeSite’s co-founders and Rome correspondent witnessed for the first time ever “a consistent pattern of widespread anxiety and very real fear” among Vatican prelates and staff.
There was fear of being removed from their positions or fired from their jobs in Vatican agencies, and also of facing severe public or private reprimands and personal accusations from those close to the pope or even from Pope Francis himself. There is also fear over the damaging direction of the Church and helplessness to stop it.
“One can sense the fear,” they were told by a high-level cleric. “It is tangible.”
There were reports of police state-type monitoring of Vatican workers and clerics, and LifeSite personnel saw hostile and obstructive handling of the press after the November consistory when probing questions of issues related to Francis were asked.
During his annual Christmas address to the Curia in late December, the pope pointedly criticized those who resisted his reforms, dividing them into categories, listing “good cases of resistance,” “open” and “hidden” resistance, and in a thinly veiled shot at traditional individuals resisting his agenda, he used the term “malicious resistance.”
This “malicious resistance” “springs up in misguided minds,” he said, and comes forth “when the devil inspires ill intentions.”
He went on to say the resistance “takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor, and the action.”
This holiday assailing echoed his past Christmas addresses where he would present his papal vision while panning unnamed opponents.
The remarks demonstrate a pattern of verbal assaults on orthodox Catholics so well established that a list titled “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults” was compiled in recent years.
Pope Francis closed both the 2014 Extraordinary and 2015 Ordinary Synods on the Family with backhanded critiques of those Synod fathers who resisted the idea of tacit allowance of Holy Communion for those in irregular unions such as the divorced and civilly remarried, common law and same-sex couples.
In both Synod closing addresses, Pope Francis took shots at those among the Synod fathers who had stood strong for marriage.
After those who sought to uphold the indissolubility of marriage had been better organized and vocal at the 2015 Synod, the pope gave a scathing censure to conclude the contentious gathering, condemning “the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality … ”
The pope further said, “The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit … ”
The year before in his closing Synod address, Pope Francis spoke of “traditionalists” with their “hostile inflexibility,” and who would not allow themselves to be “surprised by God.”
He also indicted those concerned with upholding Church principles as creating “unbearable burdens” and “casting stones at sinners and the weak.”
Criticisms from within the Curia of a climate of discomfort and conflict in the Francis Vatican were surfacing as early as several months earlier in May of that year. Orthodox prelates were already weary of the effects of the “Whom am I to judge?” tagline attributed to the pope and wary of the brewing storm between liberal and orthodox cardinals and bishops at the forthcoming Synod.
Tuesday’s homily also closely follows the pope’s personal Christmas-time sacking of three longtime and accomplished priests from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
The removal is part of a Francis pattern with orthodox and traditional groups and individuals; it’s justification remains unknown. But reports have indicated the pope’s explanation revealed continually emerging dictatorial tendencies.
The Congregation’s Prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Muller inquired with Pope Francis, “These persons are among the best of my dicastery … what did they do?”
The pontiff is said to have abruptly ended the meeting with Cardinal Muller but not before replying, “And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.”