Topping Up the Oxygen Tank at 35,000 Feet

Topping Up the Oxygen Tank at 35,000 Feet

Because it made such a headline, I immediately thought – as I made apparent in my last post – that Pope Francis had gone and done something that was controversial, that would serve to generate a great deal of publicity and would ensure that such publicity would serve to benefit himself but few others, including Christ our Lord.

As more commentary came flooding in through social media, it became clear that the cynical among us would not be disappointed. This is one of the redeeming elements of cynicism, that you can’t really be disappointed by bad Church news, especially now bad Pope news, but you can feel affirmed and thoroughly justified in your attitude. Even now, I feel rather self-congratulatory about the prescience of my last post on the aggressive PR campaign that surrounds the Most Humble Pope Ever. Pray that such feelings pass, however, because as well you know, the deep crisis in the Church is not about me, or how right I or you feel, but about God Himself and His Church now under a concerted, calculated and systemic attack, from seemingly all angles within, as well as from without.

That said, there was something particularly absurd and shocking about the latest stunt – and it was a dramatic stunt  – does he have a body double? – at 35,000 feet, no less! Pope Francis ‘suddenly’ (we were informed this was not a planned course of action) decided it would be a great idea for a couple in a civil marriage of 8 years to get married sacramentally in his presence on the airplane, ‘right here, right now’. More on that in a moment, since it has since been revealed that there was nothing ‘sudden’ about this event at all just as some suspected upon release of the news. It was perfectly staged to generate whatever reaction Francis had hoped it would generate and Francis, no doubt, was not disappointed either with the result. This man seems to live off chaos and its the reaction his chaos generates.

Canon lawyer, Ed Peters, posted a pin-point perfect appraisal of the problems inherent with what we were told was a “shotgun convalidation” on a plane, one which as it turns out was not a sudden event at all. The marriage was reported, according to the words of the publicity-seeking couple to have been suggested by an individual of mega-fame who just happens to be the Pope ‘on the spur of the moment’ to two “unsuspecting” airline stewards who just happened to be on-board at the time. As Ed Peters said, I would have questions, let us call them ‘dubia’, about the possible problems with validity of such a sacramental marriage, one that was reported not even to have been suggested by the couple themselves but which originated from the Pope, because the issue of consent (this wedding is our decision, not the Holy Father’s) is so vital to a valid marriage. As well as a lady and a gentleman being the ones entering into the Sacrament, consent is the one other totally necessary ingredient. If there is no consent, there is no marriage, so thankfully, at least this couple had thought about this moment in advance of their shift.

But the Vatican’s PR team didn’t let the reality of the situation get in the way of a great story and, once again, all was not as it seemed with Francis, as Ed Peters made plain in a follow-up post. Clearly the couple had much more time than we were at first led to believe to consider sacramental marriage because the laughably staged nature of the PR event became clearer. It was discovered in this article that the intentions of the couple themselves to be married by Francis while at work were stated publicly, yes publiclyat least as far back as December. Oh, what a web we weave, when Greg Burke is on hand to feed us with a narrative! Suddenly the PR spin doesn’t look quite so smooth and suddenly all the players in this stunt look rather dishonest, yes, even the Holy Father, but then, if His Holiness, usually so adept at playing the media is going to self-immolate by telling Chileans to shut about about the allegations against the Chilean bishop he placed in a Diocese, even Greg Burke cannot help him. Cardinal Sean O’Malley should watch out. It’s quite a drop from a helicopter passenger seat to the rain forest.

“So what were you saying about the Pope, Your Eminence?”

Here on in, this couple’s marriage is between them and God and His Church, and I hope that they receive all the possible graces and blessings from the Lord to assist them in their married life. It was, in my opinion, astonishingly reckless and foolhardy of Pope Francis, who once famously said that he thinks that‘50% of Catholic marriages are invalid’ to perform this rite – if that’s what you call it – with a couple, sealing a sacramental bond when such was not immediately necessary (much as we decry living in sin), without adequate preparation, surely, background checks, notifications of freedom to marry and the rest of the things ordinary Catholic priests (as well as ordinary couples themselves) have to think about before the big day. Who knows? Because this was no a spontaneous event at all, but a staged one, perhaps indeed, the necessary preparation was done.

“50% of Catholic marriages are probably invalid”

Yet with such a ‘laid-back’ approach to the Sacrament of Marriage, one really does wonder whether when Pope Francis gave his statistic on marriage validity, for which he never cited a source, he was being self-referential again, so that, in fact, ‘50% of my Catholic marriages are invalid’. For how long has Pope Francis been so slack about marriage preparation, about which he spends a good amount of time praising in his Apostolic (cough) Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

Barely anyone turned up to Earth Day either, if I recall…

But the really telling thing about the whole airplane disaster, the first disaster of his trip, but clearly not the last, was how revealing it was of the Pope’s craven need for ongoing publicity and just how willing those around him are to indulge him in what is becoming a dangerous pitfall in this pontificate, undermining not only the Church’s credibility, which it is clear Francis cares not too much about, but his own, yes, even in the eyes of the media.

The height of Pope Francis’s brazen megalomania and profound narcissism finds its fullest expression in the fact that he really, actually believes that what makes a wedding truly ‘amazing’ and wonderful is not a Church, a Cathedral, an Altar, an ordinary parish priest, the Sacrifice of the Mass, reception of penitents for Confession before entering a sacramental marriage, a happy couple with their family and friends, photos in the beautiful church, confetti and all the supplementary things we take for granted when we go to a wedding, but, instead of all of that, nothing other than the presence of himself. Reports lead us to believe that this was precisely what this strange couple were looking for and their own interests dovetailed neatly with the Pope’s continuing need for great PR but that doesn’t make him look any less a publicity whore than they aspire to be. While I wish this couple every happiness, I am a bit cynical about this whole affair. As I said in my last post, nothing with Pope Francis is as it appears. N-o-t-h-i-n-g.

Yep, I am cynical. The knock on effects of this for clergy are not good. What I see here is a stunning abuse of power and authority, albeit egged on by this couple, for the sake of a day’s feel-good publicity for the Pope that leaves your average priest in a hole when he has to explain to people that he cannot just decide on a whim to do what the Supreme Legislator just took it upon himself to do. Your average priest cannot marry spouses, ‘right here, right now’, not even in the Church, let alone in a hot-air balloon, and he has to explain to the uninformed that there are laws he cannot violate, which are there to safeguard the validity and sanctity of the sacramental bond of marriage itself as well as the couple’s overriding concern that what they enter into, they enter into without impediment, coercion, unexpected or undue pressure and all the necessary requirements and checks in place for a marriage sanctioned and blessed by the Church.

Lights, camera, action? That is not what marriage is about. Francis has trivilalised the Sacrament of Marriage publicly. Was there even a reception for this imprudent couple, or did they have an hour’s break before the next shift? What romance! Hey, they weren’t able to run off into the sunset in a car that said, ‘Just married’ to the well-wishes of family and friends and relations who perhaps might have liked to have attended, but at least they got a “shotgun convalidation” from Pope Francis while at work! That’s the main thing!

Yes, apparently, ‘that’s the main thing!’ Unbelievable, isn’t it? I thought I had seen it all with this Pope, but one day, he managed to make a Chilean couple’s abundantly clear 8-year reluctance to have their civil marriage regularised by the Church, as well as the very day upon which they finally decided to honour Christ (I hope that is what they intended) and tie the knot in a sacramental union, all about himself, while cameras were rolling and photographers flashed and journalists fell over themselves trying to get the story. I had thought that such breathtaking hubris was beyond anyone, but then I really need to turn to myself and say, Laurence, know thyself. 99% of priests would say that, if he agrees to this scandalous event, the cameras are not going to be rolling. Most other priests would have said, ‘No, sorry, I simply can’t do that’ because it wouldn’t reflect adequately the Sacrament into which the couple claimed they wished to enter into freely.

The use, the exploitation and abuse of a couple’s ongoing irregular situation for yet more mass media based Pope adulation is sickening and disgraceful even if they were willing holocausts in this charade. Even if they wrote to the Pope asking him to “bless” or rather to perform the Rite of Marriage for them on a plane on the way to another land while they were at work, by no means was it ‘pastoral’ to indulge this couple in their ‘dream’. There are plenty of priests in Chile and there are still plenty of Churches, earthquake or no earthquake. Pray for this ridiculous and careless Pope. What is he going to do next flight? Dish out the Blessed Sacrament from a plastic bag to everyone on board while saying, “Hungry? I always feel a bit peckish on a flight!” One should not give him ideas…

Pray for the happy marriage of the couple. 
Pray for a deepening of reverence in the Church. 

Pray for the clergy!



There has to be a reason Pope Francis wants to avoid Argentina. 
They got a telegram, so I hear, but during his latest trip, we all got the memo.
Don’t let this guy try and sell you anything unless it has directly down from his predecessors:

Not Amoris Laetitia.
Not his ‘tears’ over clergy sexual abuse and its covering up by prelates.
Not a ‘spontaeneous wedding on a plane’.

No, sorry! I wouldn’t even buy a used car from Pope Francis!
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