Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Just When You Thought Things Could Not Get Weirder

You've just tuned into St. Corbinian's Bear Ephemeris to see Bobby Ewing in the shower. For those unfamiliar with 1970s American television trivia, the popular prime time soap opera Dallas killed off a major character, Bobby Ewing.

Imagine viewers' surprise in a subsequent season to find Bobby Ewing, in the shower, as if nothing had happened. Indeed, it turned out that the entire ninth season was another character's dream.

Bobby Ewing in the shower: it was all a dream.

So, just when you thought things could not get any weirder, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is Pope Emeritus Benedict's personal secretary as well as prefect of the pontifical household dropped a bombshell. Gänswein, who ought to know, after all, announced during a speech on May 20th to the Pontifical Gregorian University, that Francis did not replace Benedict after all. Instead, we now have an "expanded" petrine ministry, with an "active member" and a "contemplative." Edward Pentin writing for the National Catholic Register goes on to report:

[Gänswein] therefore stressed that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member.” He added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.” 
“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.” 
Archbishop Gänswein repeated that Benedict’s resignation was “quite different” to that of Pope Celestine V.

You can read more about why Pope Benedict's imagined division of labor is impossible at aka catholic.

So, wake up, sleepyhead! The last three years have all been a dream. Benedict's attempted division of labor between two co-popes was a nullity ab initio. Therefore, he never resigned according to any reasonable definition of "resignation." Looking back, the white outfit and lame excuse that it was the only thing he had to wear should have tipped us off.

This sounds crazy, but it sure looks like Benedict's resignation failed, which looks like it nullifies Jorge Bergoglio's election.

The Bear would observe that Pope Benedict's old Archdiocese of Munich-Freising first belonged to St. Corbinian. Pope Benedict has spoken fondly of the St. Corbinian's Bear of legend. It may be that he somehow absorbed a Bearish delight in elaborate jokes and unpredictable behavior. What a finale! This Bear salutes the old white bear.

However, you would have to be smoking peyote to imagine that the Catholic Church is going to say the last three seasons were just a dream, and nothing Jorge Bergoglio said or did counts. Wait for the spin to smooth out Archbishop Gänswein's comments. The Bear is also cautious to make too much about what this looks like when there are probably canon law considerations that bear on the issue. All law everywhere values finality as much as correctness. Three years is a long to time to permit serious contemplation of some Back to the Future scenario.

But feel free to indulge in some innocent fantasies. Those are best kept to ourselves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Mad Virtues of Pope Francis, and the Desperate Resistance

Typically, for the Bear, this is not short. You may find it entertaining, however. It wraps up several issues that have been occupying the Bear's mind lately as he grapples with the why and the how of what he is doing.

Pope Francis: Finally, a Smiling Face to the Horror

For decades we have had to sit and watch helplessly as the Church was consumed by preventable scandal and ceaseless innovation. The enemy was hard to get a fix on. He seemed to be everywhere and nowhere, and his name was Legion. But it was clear that somehow the schwerpunkt of the Church Militant had without question drifted far from the original plan.

In Pope Francis, we have seen, for the first time, the incarnation of the Church's errors and abuses. God has driven into plain view the secret corruption, the pride posing as humility, the indifferentism posing as tolerance, the disregard for the Deposit of the Faith, and the "rebranding" of Catholicism and the papacy that Fr. Rosica is so proud of. In Pope Francis we finally have someone to speak out against, and thereby indict the whole sorry lot of meddlers, swindlers, and sappers: in short, all those who loathe the Church they are supposed to lead.

In other words, we are reacting not only to what Pope Francis personally says and does, but to Pope Francis the Avatar of a different spirit -- the "spirit" of Vatican II, the spirit of the "media council," and, fundamentally, the spirit of the Prince of this world.

One might say we are seeing the beginning of the end of a plot. To simplify, it began with throwing open to the world the windows of the Church. It is ending by tearing down the walls of the Church.

Boundary Issues

But the Church needs walls. It needs to be separate from the world. Distinct from other religions. The Church should be a fortress from which Catholics sally forth into the world, but not as part of the world, not as worldlings fighting trendy secular battles. Everybody should be able to say with confidence, "here is the Church," and "there begins the world." There are Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, but here is Catholicism. Here is the truth, and there is something else, and we do no favors by pretending otherwise.

That sounds so harsh! Intolerant! Real! We would rather live in our fantasy world where if we're just nice enough, everyone will love us. (To be fair, this does seem to be working out for Pope Francis.) It would be easy to twist the  the Bear's meaning. He is not advocating hiding behind the walls of the Church while the world goes to Hell. We should engage the world, but with evangelism, not indifferentism; charity, not socialism; truth, not accommodation of error.

We should all be Catholic as if it mattered. Especially the Pope.

Of course, the Franciscan Church has a horror of walls or division of any kind. The supernatural must be tolerated for the sake of the masses, but for the initiates, purple, red and white, "There'll Be Pie In the Sky When You Die" remains the favorite hymn. A sarcastic number right out of the Little Red Songbook. The religion of the Franciscan Church, much like Freemasonry, is The Brotherhood of Man. It is remarkable, but true: you could strip it of every specifically Christian element, and the world would not be able to tell any difference.

This is no accident. Religious differences must be downplayed in pursuit of the 8th Sacrament of the Franciscan Church: the Holy Photo-Op. And, of course, the aforementioned Brotherhood of Man.

The funny thing is, no one in the Franciscan Church would deny that they are tearing down walls and erasing boundaries. They might deny celebrating error, but only because they don't recognize error. The Pope can travel to Sweden this Halloween to commemorate "the blessings" of Martin Luther's reformation because we're all Lutherans now. In other words, what the Bear laments, the Franciscan Church is most proud of. "Rebranding" indeed. A crass and ignorant word to cover a multitude of sins.

The Mad Virtues of Pope Francis

We would do well to remember what Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy. It is almost as if he foresaw Pope Francis. In his day, it was Christianity in general that had been shattered. In ours it is particularly the Catholic Church, but the same warnings apply. No mad virtue is as mad as a Catholic virtue, as we have seen in history.

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

Pope Francis is, as far as the Bear can see, more virtuous than the Bear. He is also more mad, if the Bear knows anything about madmen. No virtue may remain merely good with Francis. It must become a mania, a delusion, another shiny object to be incorporated into the narcissistic personality of Francis the Humble, Francis the Tolerant, Francis the Compassionate. Of course, what the Bear calls "madness" becomes "rebranding," or "transcending his own religion."

A Spontaneous Resistance

We who have retained a Catholic identity have universally resisted Jorge Bergoglio. We didn't ask for this. We didn't organize it. It just happened. We found ourselves being appalled by the same things, connecting the same dots, reaching the same conclusions. We speak with one voice from the same vision, without collaboration. The very people who would normally be the Pope's most fervent supporters have become his harshest critics.

Bergoglioism and Catholicism cannot both be right. (The Bear thinks the collection of pathologies motivating Pope Francis deserves the honor of its own name.) The Bear is not going to repeat the indictment here. It is contained in the archives of this ephemeris, and of many others. It is literally becoming difficult to keep up with Francis the Talking Pope. Perhaps the plan is to beat us through attrition, the way he buried the message of Amoris Laetitia in 247 pages that defy all but the most clever and mind-numbing analysis.

If Pope Francis is indeed all we fear he is, there's not much we can do. By and large, people travel with the herd, and try to think the thoughts the world tells them are right. That worked great when a confident Church put the stamp of the Christ on the culture. It was not so long ago that the joke ran: "Hollywood -- a place where Jews make movies selling Catholic theology to Protestants." Not anymore.

The Most Popular Man in the World

Why not just back a winner? The latest poll shows Pope Francis with a popularity rating of 54%, 85% among Catholics, and -- tellingly -- over 50% among agnostics and atheists. "Francis is a leader who transcends his own religion," said Jean Marc Leger, president of WIN/Gallup International. He's the most popular public figure in the world, and has replaced the Dalai Lama as Generic Spiritual Leader. Only Turkey, Tunisia and Algeria don't like him.

Perhaps, any day now, Pope Francis is going to cash in all that full-spectrum popularity to tell the world about Jesus. More likely not. After all, what does "transcend his own religion" mean? What does "rebranding Catholicism and the papacy" mean? Are these words not chilling to any normal Catholic? Do not the pages of old prophecies begin to rustle out of the dust? Whether you want to go there or not, it makes no difference. Prophecies warn about dangers to come. We didn't listen, and now Nebuchadnezzar is in the sanctuary.

From comments out of Catholic officialdom, we know we are heard at the highest levels. Our message is getting through. We speak out, and others take comfort. We try to preserve the truth and condemn error not because we are holy, but because nobody else will do it. Looking over the last three years, we have done a surprisingly good job, in the Bear's opinion. That's how we operate. Independent francs-tieurs. Partisans. The resistance.

This is not to glamorize anyone. Partisans don't always have pure motives, and sometimes go beyond what is reasonably necessary. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we're amateurs. Perhaps our sins will be applied to those who have made the resistance necessary in the first place. We take real risks. One blogger got himself sued by a priest -- papal PR flack Fr. Rosica. But more seriously, we also take spiritual risks.

Ephemerists need your prayers. For prudence, temperance, fortitude, and charity.


Pope Francis uses the entire spectrum of media to spread his errors. If there's a single problem with the man, it's that he lacks a supernatural dimension. Perhaps he suffers from a cultural resentment and envy coming from his background. He cannot think in proper categories. For example, he recently made the bizarre comment that he sees the evangelization of Europe as "colonialism," Worse, from the same interview, he cannot differentiate between Jesus sending forth his disciples to the nations and the blood conquests of ISIS. Mad virtues indeed.

Can madness from a pope really go unanswered? There is hardly a peep from the bishops. Surely all of them are not deaf or in agreement. It would take a lot of courage for a bishop to criticize a sitting pope. The Bear may not be qualified, but at least he's willing to put on his hat, take up his shovel, and start trying to put out some of the brush fires Pope Francis sets.

There is a place for dry and sober analysis. But the internet has its own idiom. The legitimate weapons we place at the service of the Church include agitprop, and sometimes a dash of snark and a dollop of satire, so people will enjoy reading what the Bear writes. (Besides, Bears have a hard time being serious for longer than ten minutes.)

Is it sinful to criticize the Pope? That is not a question the Bear is going to answer for anyone else.  It is an important one to him, because, after all, he still has to go to confession like everyone else. We should not perform an evil act so that we may obtain a good result. But the laity has a legitimate say in the Church. The Bear is performing a lawful act by informing, educating, and commenting about this man who has effortlessly twisted the Church according to his own personal hobbyhorses.

In a nutshell, together, we are staying with the "old brand" of Catholicism, before Pope Francis "rebranded" Catholicism and the papacy, and "transcended his own religion." So what if most people say they like Pope Francis? Since when was the truth found in poll numbers? The Bear has noticed that most of the people who like Pope Francis seem to be unfamiliar with his actions, unable to articulate what he has done to earn their approval, or progressive Church dissidents.

If the Pope and his public business are portrayed in an unflattering light, that is an unavoidable consequence, even as it is not the real objective.  Few are criticizing the Pope for the sake of criticizing the Pope. Even the Bear, who may take an unholy glee in what he does isn't playing.

The Sin of Silence

But there is also the sin of "adulation." Nobody ever talks about it, so here it is, right from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another's vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.

CCC 2480.

Funny, the Bear has never heard Fr. Rosica say, "Patheos bloggers are a bunch of sycophantic losers with a pathological need for approval and an aversion to sound doctrine. We must pray for these disturbed, broken and angry people."

Of course, Fr. Rosica's job might be to commit the sin of adulation continuously, but the Bear does not know the man's heart, or how much culpability might be reduced by mental issues, or secret struggles. One must wonder about someone who brags about "rebranding" Catholicism, though.

Rugiemus Quasi Ursi Omnes

When they gave us a Protestantized Mass, we were silent. When they smashed the altar rails, we were silent. When the nuns started dressing in mufti, we were silent. When the bishops cared more about gun control than souls, we were silent. When the mania for interfaith and ecumenism started, we were silent. And when we were told to sing hymns by Martin Luther, we sang.

One thing is for certain. We will never be silent again. We are guardians of something. The Bear does not want to label it, because it does not belong to this faction or that. But he thinks his readers know what he's talking about. We encourage one another -- and it is just as much readers encouraging ephemerists as the other way around. Pope Francis and his minions are learning that whatever they do in public will be challenged by some very smart and talented people. (And also, the Bear.) It obviously bothers them.

And the Bear says ultramontanism is solemn nonsense.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

It Finally Happened: Bear Snaps

Never Trust a Bear for Anything But Honesty

The Bear thinks we should just form a
single religion named 3GAR and be
done with it. Since we worship
the same God, after all.
Never trust a Bear.

Or, rather, never trust anything about a Bear except his honesty. He is a walking warning sign that flashes, "I am an enormous animal designed to kill you." That's honesty you don't find in humans. There are many sad accounts of a reliable performing Bear suddenly turning on his trainer and killing him, apparently for no reason. But there are no accounts of a Bear lying.

Or tolerating lies.

During his homily, Father, with the three-eyed Mercy Monstrosity behind him, on this, Trinity Sunday, said that Jews and Muslims worship the same God we do.

Now the Bear knows why he said this. It sounds nice, and tolerant. And Pope Francis the Wonderful talks like that. He has no doubt often heard the phrase, "Three Great Abrahamic Religions." He probably doesn't even notice the incompatibility between the stark and terrifying arbitrary aloneness of Islam, and the Holy Trinity. If he does, it is not important. Not set against the imperative of the Franciscan Pan-Religion Love Cult.

Besides, everyone knows this is Father's thing.

But the Bear doesn't care. It's still a lie, and a damned lie at that. And on Trinity Sunday.

Bear Walks Out

You can never trust a Bear. The Bear doesn't even trust himself.

So he got up and walked out. An involuntary mutter that included a very, very bad word may have preceded getting up and walking out. The Bear was not making a point. It was just in everybody's interest that the Bear remove himself. (By the way, May is Bear Danger Awareness Month.)

Getting shot with a tranquilizer dart is no fun. Okay, you get a great body high. (Bears are honest, remember.)

Tearing Down the Church Brick By Brick

The Church has the very best foundation. But the liars are pulling the Church down -- "brick by brick," as it were. Perhaps the source of our frustration is that we all want to fix this Church. But has it ever occurred to you that there may be no fixing? Is it such a stretch to conclude that the Church we see can never recover? Is there a realistic path back to the Church of 1958? No, there is not. Too many things have changed. It's a different world, with different assumptions, most of them hostile to Catholicism.

And there have been too many lies, repeated too often, and believed by sheep who really can't be blamed, and believed by many knaves who should know better. Truth is the last thing many prelates worry about.

Then there are fools like us, who educate ourselves and fall in love with a lady we saw in an old photograph. It's hard to let go of such a fond fantasy and admit that our sweetheart died some time ago after a short illness.

The Blooper Reel of the Church

Maybe something bigger and beyond our understanding is happening.

The foundation is the very best. You won't live long enough to see the glorious temple of truth and light that will one day again rest on that foundation. You can only look out through the crack in the door of your lifetime and see just a bit. A handful of popes, some worse than others.

We don't live in the highlight reel of the Church. We live in the blooper reel. Nothing but clowning, pratfalls, fluffed lines, and falling flats. We can't do anything about that. Let's be honest. Pope Francis did not mess up the Church. A messed up Church picked a Pope Francis.

The Bear wonders if we are so focused on what kind of Church we want, we're not willing to give God room to rebuild the Church according to His own design. (And, no, the Bear does not mean some new syncretistic Church according to man's design, as this statement would mean coming out of a liar's mouth.) It's natural enough to set our own ideal. After all, we know what was working within living memory of many of us. Maybe what is coming will look like what has been. Maybe it will look like something even better.

But the Bear expects the Catholic Church as we know it will come to an end, even if it retains the real estate. It is even now buffeted by the black winds it has conjured. However, in a twist on the parable of the house built on sand, the foundation will remain, while the church of lies will be swept away. The Bear truly believes this. You probably won't live to see what happens next. It will not be the work of man, at least not man alone.

Something Wonderful

The Bear thinks of the film 2010, the sequel to 2001. Astronaut Dave Bowman from the original movie makes enigmatic appearances to different people.

Heywood Floyd: What? What's going to happen? 
Dave Bowman: Something wonderful. 
Heywood Floyd: What? 
Dave Bowman: I understand how you feel. You see, it's all very clear to me now. The whole thing. It's wonderful. 

What is going to get us through this crisis is the confidence that something wonderful will happen. With us, without us, after us, is not up to us. We'll fight where we can, and walk away when we must. But this battle is not ours to win. The Bear believes this simple realization might be the key to sanity.

At any rate, it makes the Bear feel better.

But in case anyone feels depressed, here's a movie of a baby goat (Stormy) discovering her legs.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bless Me Father, For I Have Blogged

The Bear has searched in vain for the "bad pope exception" to sins of the tongue. Hey Baby, agitprop or a cutting bit of satire feels so good. The Bear doesn't feel guilty at all. But he is a smart enough Bear to know that you don't always feel guilty, even when you kill a whole flock of sheep just for fun.

That's what they killed Bruno for.

The Bear gets how that's a sin. Even if it is just a fun game of tag that sheep happen to suck at.

So, it appears that the Pope, or a bishop, or Fr. Rosica has a 00-license to kill, and if we say anything about it, we fall into the sin of backbiting, or irony, or detraction, or gossip, or sacrilege, or calumny, or lack of charity, or rash judgment, or bad grammar, or any one of the other 500 freaking sins of the tongue that Catholic thought has sliced as thin as panchetta over the centuries.

So, unless you're on some weak-kneed, useless site like Patheos, you, the Bear's fellow Ephemerist, are certainly on the way to Hell. Michael Voris is definitely going to Hell. Well, as they say, Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

"I'm a monster."
So confession always goes like this. "Look, Pope Francis is horrible, and is damaging the Church. Just yesterday he said [insert outrage du jour]. Okay, Father, see, I've got this blog, and I am often critical of what Pope Francis and others say or do that is against the Catholic Faith. No, seriously, I mean my blog is big. It has tens of readers, so it is very influential." Then you pull out your iPhone and show it to him: "Look what a horrible picture I photoshopped."

Of course, by now Father is looking nervously around the "rec room," because he obviously has an unbalanced person between him and the door.

But you press on, knowing how crazy you sound. "I feel very certain I have a mission from God to expose the holy Father's errors and abuses, and comfort those whom he afflicts. Like a, I dunno, field hospital or something. So I'm not sorry. Should I be? Can you, maybe, like, accompany me, or maybe do that gradual thing? Cuz, I don't see myself stopping. My therapist says I need to do this. Can I still get absolved?"

You bet. Like he's going to tell some 800 lb. Bear sitting two feet in front of him who thinks he's on a mission from God he's not going to absolve him.

The biggest sin is probably the pleasure the Bear takes in it all. It's the sheep all over again. Pope Francis and his minions are begging for abuse. The prey drive is strong in a Bear. And admit it, you can tell your Bear is having fun, can't you? And it's part of why you come here. The Bear treats serious topics with humor and panache. Every ephemeris has a style. This one is irreverent, not to mention being written by a Real Live Bear. And by now, we all know what that means.

The Bear desperately needs some Jesuitical casuistry to avoid being (gulp) neutered. Otherwise this ephemeris is going to have to be renamed The Memoirs of an Ancient Bear or something. But from where the Bear sits, it looks like the whole game is rigged against us, and malefactors can operate sure in the knowledge that anybody that criticizes them is going to get browbeaten into silence by their confessors.

Bloggers beware.