Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Another 40 days to try to be a little less of a Bear and a little more of a human, through prayer, fasting, giving and service. St. Corbinian, pray for us. The Bear prays that all of his readers may have an edifying Lent. Make the most of each day. Lent goes by faster than you expect.

Pope Francis and the Dead Hand From the Grave

The Cult of Personality of the Pope

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment does a bang-up job dismantling the papolatry of our age. The Bear would like to echo some of these sentiments.

The Pope is not the divine Emperor of Japan, seated on the Chrysanthemum Throne as a descendent of sun-goddess Amaterasu. He should not be the subject of a cult of personality like Kim Jong Un, or Stalin, with a carefully managed image and ubiquitous presence. He is not an oracle that utters gnomic statements to be interpreted by the popular media.

The papacy has been distorted by modern, worldwide media. Sad to say, popes in our age have been all to happy to make themselves celebrities, while swallowing the Church down to the last byte. The Bear sees no end to this trend, which goes back to Pius XII (although not to promote dodgy ideas).

Ironically, the Bear, who writes incessantly on Pope Francis, thinks we pay too much attention to him. (The Bear will continue to do so, although the act is wearing thin.)

The Bear doesn't think he's a reformer. He seems to lack the focused intensity for that. So what is he?

Who Does Pope Francis Think He Is, Anyway?

The Bear believes his Holiness sees himself as an actor in a handful of roles. His image is carefully managed to show him as The Humble. The Uniter. The Caring. The Planet-Saving. That is not to say he is insincere. Unfortunately, he seems all too sincere in changing the agenda of the Roman Catholic Church. He is more comfortable with the UN's Agenda 2030 than the Great Commission.

Now, apparently, we are going to be treated to these very well-produced campaign commercials every month. (The Bear wonders how many takes it took to get his pitch-perfect, eyes on the camera lens, commentary down.) The February intentions, by the way, are that "we take good care of creation," and that "opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter with the peoples of Asia." (Bear seems to remember St. Francis Xavier had his own way of doing that, but wasn't satisfied with just dialogue and encounter.)

What office is Pope Francis running for? He's already Pope. What indeed.

How Pope Francis Operates

He knows his time is short. The Bear thinks he is laying down markers, and intends to constrain and direct future popes with a dead hand from the grave.

The Church itself, however, has remained largely untouched. He knows he does not need the heartburn that officially changing Church teachings would bring. Instead, he and his agents use public relations. But PR is not nothing. While PR does not change what the Church believes, it changes what people believe the Church believes. Obviously, that is important, and this is how Pope Francis operates.

A mere glorified press release from some commission lays down a marker that constrains future popes. The Church has already been praised for bringing it's views up to date. It sets expectations. Woe be to the pope who would violate those expectations by "changing Church doctrine." By "turning back the clock." Can you image the outcry if the next pope said, no, Jews need to accept Jesus Christ, after all?  Just as no pope can ever again use the sedia gestatoria, or wear the papal tiara, now no pope can wear the mozzeta, or the red shoes, or refuse to gabble to reporters at 30,000 feet (Francis did not invent this, but he has made the most of it.) At least not without criticism and ridicule.

Pope Francis can travel to Sweden to praise the Reformation and Martin Luther, and the rubes will eat it up. Having spent a long time in show business, the Bear recognizes a good act. He is playing on the desire all good Christians have for the Body of Christ to be whole once more. Few will realize it's just one more night in the center ring for Francis the Talking Pope.

Luther will always be a heresiarch, and the Reformation will always be a bloody tragedy, no matter what Pope Francis does with his Lutheran mummery. The gesture always looms large in the liberal imagination, which confuses it with accomplishment.

The Future

We are in the fifth reel of this movie, so whatever surprise ending Pope Francis has in store for  us will probably be soon. In some ways, he may have already succeeded, by reducing the papacy to a series of gestures. Caiaphas unwittingly prophesied that it was expedient for one man to die for the people. At dinner after his election, Pope Francis said jokingly to the Cardinals, "May God have mercy on you for what you have done."

The Church needs an orthodox, reserved pope who respects tradition and is brave enough to challenge the expectations Francis has set. If the Church is to be anything but head of a UN Religion and Spirituality Organization, future popes are once again going to have to make the acquaintance of the Bride of Christ.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Patriarch Kirill and the Magic Disappearing Watch

Pope Francis will be meeting Russian Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. There are some things about the Russian Orthodox Church that are interesting. Perhaps the most entertaining are the 2012 shenanigans  surrounding Patriarch Kirill's $30,000 Breguet watch.

The Patriarch appeared on his official website wearing the watch. Then it mysteriously disappeared in fine Stalinesque fashion. Patriarch Kirill insisted to a Russian journalist that he had never worn the watch, and the photo must have been doctored.

The only problem was that whoever photoshopped the watch away neglected to eliminate its reflection on the table. Whoops.

Note reflections of watch on table top in both pictures.

Pope Francis will no doubt know that the Patriarch of Moscow represents a Russian Orthodox Church that is wed to the Russian government and Vladimir Putin in a way scarcely imaginable to us in the West.

Russian Bishop blesses missile destined for Syrian rebels.

Russian clergy of all ranks can be found blessing AK-47s, machine guns, air-to-ground missiles and even ICBMs. They named a nuclear ballistic missile submarine after one of their saints: Alexander Nevsky. Not that Catholic countries have never done that; just not in a very long time. And not vessels designed to deliver nuclear warheads capable of wiping out entire cities.

Pope Francis will not so much be meeting a religious leader in Cuba, as an important, but subsidiary part of the Russian government.

Dress Rehersal

Catechism of the Catholic Church. 675.
Before Christ's Second Coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil "the mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. This supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in the place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
Pope Video 2 (which does not mention God or the Church) Pope Francis.
The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living.  Because we need a change that unites us all.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-11
The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power, and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false.
Are Pope Francis' monthly intentions revealing more than he intends? In Pope Video 1, we have at best indifferentism, or at worst, the gleam of a one-world religion on the horizon. In Pope Video 2 we have an allusion to a solution to our problems that does not involve Jesus Christ, but is entirely man-made.

When Ban Ki-moon or George Soros could make the same video as a pope, this is something the Bear finds curious. "Even the world's leading religious figure, Pope Francis, addressed UN member governments. 'The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development...is an important sign of hope,' before demanding a UN 'climate' regime as well."

What is Agenda 2030? An ambitious and incredibly expensive to fleece the North, indoctrinate children and infringe upon national sovereignty and individual rights. This is what Pope Francis is supporting.

The Bear does not believe Pope Francis is the Antichrist. This is just a dress rehearsal. And the Director must be very pleased.