Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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.

39 comments:

  1. I was with Father until this point: "popes are not even protected against being heretics or expressing heresy." If you or I are heretics, my understanding is that we are out of the Church, excommunicated ipso facto, as an implication of divine law. How can someone hold an office in the Church while not being a member of the Church?

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  2. I do not understand this point: no future popes can do anything differently than past popes. No tiara, no red shoes, Russia has been consecrated, no one can publicize the third secret, no sedia gestatorie, no mozetta.

    It it's true that infallibility applies to only what he declares on faith and morals ex cathedra, then why is it that everything else he does must be followed by future popes?

    What am I missing here? This is so ridiculous and so anger-inducing (yes, it makes me so angry) that on a whim all of our most beautiful traditions just can be banished. Why do the popes follow their predecessors in these things when they know it is wrong?

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    1. Of course they could but no pope wants to be seen doing something considered silly, anachronistic or departing from recent usage. Do you really think it is likely we will ever again see the tiara or sedia gestoria? Or washing only men's feet only on Holy Thursday?

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    2. They know their pontificate would be all about "turning back the clock." So, yes, I think popes can tie the hands of their successors. I will proven wrong when we have the welcome sight of a pope returning to the traditions.

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    3. But we HAD a pope who was returning to the traditions. Benedict, however, understood recovery to be a long-term prospect, not something a pope should or could accomplish simply by fiat.

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    4. Compare Benedict's restoration to Francis' destruction and you will see that Benedict would never come close to keeping up. There is such a thing as trajectory. We see the trajectory of the Church. It will resemble the Catholic Church of history less and less bar something unexpected happens. As for Benedict's pontificate, history will make its judgment.

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    6. I view V2 as the Church thinking out loud at a particular moment of time. That's what pastoral means to me. It seems impossible to me that the Church could ever intend to bind Catholics to lengthy, impenetrable, compromise documents, especially those that by permissible interpretations contradict previous infallible teachings of the Church. That is why earlier councils used anathemas. They condemned individual propositions and there was no doubt. But V2 didn't want to harsh anyone's buzz, so they issued these gaseous, positive position statements from which positive points of required believe are nearly impossible to extract.

      But if I'm wrong, and the Church wants me to read and digest all those documents and extract what is taught from among the maybes and it-would-be-nices, I guess I'd better get busy, huh?

      Can you elaborate on your last paragraph, please?

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    7. I deleted my comment because I thought it may be imprudent at this stage to put ideas out there that I am confused about myself.

      But what you wrote alludes to my point: is it impossible or not for VII to contradict pre-VII on matters of faith and morals? The question hinges on where, if at all, is VII infallible.

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    8. I think that's like asking if the potato soup I ate for lunch was infallible. There are simply no clear propositions to be infallible or not infallible. Where a pre-V2 council spoke clearly, then, no, I don't see how V2 can overrule it. It would have to be interpreted to be consistent with the previous dogma. Because hippies smoking dope wrote V2 documents. Okay, not really. But they are VERY dated with the 60's feel-good, optimistic, buy-the-world-a-Coke vibe that hasn't aged well.

      Show me an anathema, and we'll talk. Give a Bear 20,000 words about unicorns and hand-holding and he'll read two pages and make paper airplanes out of the rest of them.

      How much confusion was caused IN THE CHURCH ITSELF about whether Christ corresponded to the Church "as organized in society" or somehow bled over into, say Protestant denominations. "Subsistit in." The CDF had to finally clarify that one. Maybe. That's the kind of ridiculous, weaselly wording that may or may not change anything, but, then again, might, so let's make it all as confusing as possible.

      That's what I mean when I always say, "show me clear propositions that are condemned, or simply, unambiguously, and briefly set forth, and I will grant assent to them. But that's not what the council set out to do. It was a pastoral council that wanted to have a conversation with the world through those windows St. Pope John XXIII unwisely (in the Bear's humble opinion) threw open. Just look at the documents and ask yourself: are these the products of men who were defining infallible dogmas of the Church? I'm sorry, they're just not. Yeah, they're worth something, but can't overrule a previous infallible doctrine. If such a thing were possible, then the Church was in error way back when, which we know is impossible.

      Lumen Gentium killed the Church's mission activity outright. Bang. Dead. Because it could be read that everyone was going to Heaven with or without the Church. But then, wait! To further confuse things, it holds out the possibility that some might go to Hell, the only group specifically threatened being Catholics who leave the Church.

      Not to mention the absolutely criminal way the liberal faction rammed everything through because they were clever and well-organized. Read The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber for an excellent, even account.

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    9. But if the Council was an act of the universal ordinary magisterium, then it is authoritative (and possibly infallible), and we can't simply not assent to it/ignore it. THAT is the dilemma we face. That is the absurdity of it all.

      Yes, subsists in, to take one example, contradicts prior teaching that the Church of Christ was the Catholic Church. Now, by implication, it somehow also subsists in other "churches." And then we get ecumenism for 50 years, now reaching heights of absurdity (Cardinal Koch and the mysterious way Jews can deny Christ and be saved).

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    10. Are councils infallible or are their teachings infallible? In Bear theology, it is the teaching, for all practical purposes that is infallible or not. What proposition did the Council of Trent condemn? Many. There is no doubt what the Council of Trent said, because it used the traditional anathema formula. "And the Lord answered me, and said: Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables: that he that readeth it may run over it." Habakkuk 2:2 (in the rather unhappy Douay-Rheims translation that sounds like an auto accident).

      What did the "infallible" V2 Council say? Who the Hell knows? Maybe it's the lawyer in me, but for a teaching to be infallible, there must be a teaching, right? Not a good idea, a promise, a hope, and invitation, a happy thought. Page after page of exposition of ideas is impossible to reduce to a teaching, infallible or otherwise. So let me put this question to you: how can the faithful be expected to assent to lengthy documents (more pages than every other council in history combined) full of vague ramblings? If V2 had said "Let him who saith Jews must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved, let him be anathema," then the Bear would say, wow, that's weird, and it's going to be hard to reconcile with previous Church teaching." Instead we get something like this:

      "And, to our elder brothers and fellow heirs in the Three Great Abrahamic Religions (TM), the admirable race of Hebrews, or the Jewish People, sometimes called, Catholics extend the hand of friendship, in recognition of their many treasures in common, not the least of which is the Old Testament, not old, so as to be outdated, but old in comparison to the Gospels, which portray a New Testament, in which the figure of Jesus, Whom Catholics believe reflects many of the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people throughout history, we are happy. It is our hope that Catholics may lay aside all the prejudices and beg forgiveness for the many atrocities visited upon the innocent Jewish people. We look forward to continued dialogue that shall bring us ever closer in mutual respect and the bonds of brotherly love." Blah, blah, blah.

      If it takes a theology degree and a year of close statutory construction, and guesswork, leaving countless inconsistencies extant, to know what the Church is trying to say, I don't see how that can have any claim to infallibility. Clearly, the Council was not, in that case, TRYING to establish an infallible proposition.

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    12. I edited that poorly. My apologies.

      +++

      Paul VI said in his General Audience on Jan 12, 1966: "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document."

      When he speaks of those extraordinary statements, I believe he means ex cathedra ones. As we know, they are not the only teachings which are infallible.

      So in addition to this statement, it further seems unlikely that the nature and aims of each document did not have the intention of binding the faithful given that the documents had to be approved by the bishops through a voting process and also the final approval of the Pope.

      Lumen Gentium, for instance was "solemnly promulgated" by the Pope. And it states: "Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God."

      So whatever "pastoral" may mean in the context of the Council, Paul VI states that this is a "dogmatic" Constitution.

      These are significant points, it seems to me.

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    13. All that said, I understand your point and I don't know what to say about the "teachings" of Vatican II. Indeed, how are we to assent to something so vague and obviously confusing? This I guess is the motive behind the hermeneutic of continuity movement and the efforts to "truly" implement the Council.

      But I don't see how such a thing is even possible when "the Council" as such seems to defy a definitive interpretation (and further, what kind of a Council NEEDS such "interpretation" in the first place?).

      Card. Kasper has said: "The successor of John XXIII, Paul VI, was basically on the side of the majority but sought to involve the minority and, in line with the ancient tradition, tried to obtain approval of the conciliar documents as much as possible by consensus.... He succeeded but paid a price. In many places they had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of
      the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction."

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    14. A principle of statutory interpretation is that the law does not require an impossibility. Perhaps God does not, either.

      The simplest answer is that the Holy Spirit protected the Church by the very tricks the Council Fathers sought to play, such as not using anathemas or properly defining propositions so the faithful could understand. The documents are, as I have said, the Church talking to itself about various topics at a particular point in time. If there is something affirmatively and unambiguously taught, then it must be understood in light of previous Church teaching. That's Bear theology, though. What might those teachings be? Be nice? Jesus plays some role in all Christian denominations? Muslims and Jews are related to Catholics in some special way, but even atheists can go to heaven? Or not?

      I think they out-foxed themselves, the whole lot, and eventually, V2 will be downgraded to its proper place as PASTORAL. People talk like that word THEY CHOSE to describe it means nothing, and that V2 is somehow the Council of Trent for our time.

      So my interpretation gives due consideration to the Council, and recognizes any infallible teachings where they may exist, but simply finds none, because they ended up doing something other than teaching Catholics what to believe.

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    15. The Pope can "duly promulgate" the menu at the Vatican cafeteria. So we accept it as authoritative. Okay. So now what?

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  3. "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."

    Everyone wants to see Peter, the crowds grow and Peter can bring the gospel to many places. I believe our previous Peters had the right heart and spirit to be among the faithful. Some events will hold millions but I never heard our previous popes teach a celebrity gospel, I say well done for going out to the sheep and being among us, there is a priest blessing, a bishop blessing and Peter's blessing which our previous Popes gave generously to the flock. I believe there visits outweigh the potential abuses especially if their heart is in the right place in proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord. I would of loved to be at one of our previous popes events, just as hundreds of thousands will go see the pope at home, I watched on TV and was still blessed.

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    1. Pope Francis is a celebrity. Anyone who gets his picture on Time, Rolling Stone, Advocate, Trumpet and who knows how many other magazines is a celebrity. The focus is on HIM, not the gospel, not Jesus, not the Church. This is a serious distortion of the papacy, and no good can come from it. Celebrities do crazy things like fall for fads such as global warming, and they love the idea of a one-world government solving all our problems for us.

      Riki Tiki Tavi mongoose is gone, as Donovan sang, and the Pope won't be comin' around for to kill your snakes no more my love.

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    2. The people want to see PETER, not jorge, joseph, karol,etc. I saw PETER in our PREVIOUS POPES,(no ones perfect) Francis preaches a celebrity gospel. Benedict, John Paul, etc. have blessed me and I am thankful for their ministry. There are some catholic websites all is gloom and doom since 1968, we live in a gloom and doom world but we still manage to appreciate the good or else become very cynical, you and I know these people, everything is basically a bitch &
      complaint. The bear can poop wherever he wants, its his blog. "Unmitigated disaster," I'd asked the bear "how so" in regards to my post of previous popes to better understand a bears mind but sometimes bears just like to sleep and growl.



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    3. I'm no bear, but I would certainly consider this papacy an unmitigated disaster as well, for those of us who know it, and those who don't. We all are losing, under this pontificate, in many, many ways.
      A lot can happen between now and October 31, the unbelievable day that a holy father would celebrate, on Halloween no less, the Reformation and Martin Luther. What next, Feast Days for the Aztecs?
      I admit, I will perhaps be in some spiritual trouble if he is allowed to do such an unthinkable thing.
      If the Cardinals were to regret and repent of what they foisted on the church, and the next election were to go to a man who actually loves the church and the faith, and if that man was confident, unapologetic about tradition, disinterested in the media, and concerned more with souls than popularity, in my opinion tradition could be resurrected. Maybe. Or we may be the last part of a remnant.

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    4. Debbie, "how so" is nature of modern media. "The medium is the message," is very true when it comes to any pope. The Church is more than the Pope. But the camera lens is very narrow, with room for only one personality. If you want to enjoy it for Pope John Paul II, then you must realize that someday it's going to focus on one Jorge Bergoglio with even more intensity, since the media is constantly growing and colonizing more and more of our lives.

      It is not necessarily the popes who are bad (although it would be wiser not to become celebrities), it is just the nature of the media. It's like giving Pope John Paul II a powerful, preternatural gun to shoot devils. Wonderful! But then when Jorge Bergoglio gets it, he starts shooting up the Church with the same gun. Uh oh. Maybe we shouldn't give popes that gun, but oh well, too late. The celebrity status of the pope in the media age is more dangerous than any gun.

      St. Pope John Paul II wasn't always a model of media wisdom, either. He allowed himself to be photographed kissing a Quran, and participating in various dubious rituals. That was just a small taste of things to come. Now we have Jorge Bergoglio participating in slick commercials where he's not just caught on the spot kissing a Quran, but deliberately using his celebrity status to intentionally promote indifferentism or syncretism, or, questionable UN initiatives.

      I will say it again. The Cult of the Pope is an unmitigated disaster that was originally unintentional, but now, right before our eyes, is being used by Jorge Bergoglio to spread heresy.

      It will certainly be used by the Antichrist and False Prophet in a way similar to, but even more powerful than the trail being blazed by the generic spiritual leader of the world, the man who has been on more magazine covers than Lady Diana, The Bishop of Rome, Jorge Bergoglio.

      I trust I have made myself clear, now, Debbie.

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    5. "I will say it again. The Cult of the Pope is an unmitigated disaster that was originally unintentional, but now, right before our eyes, is being used by Jorge Bergoglio to spread heresy."


      People can now see their leaders in ways
      unimaginable before, they can see alot of things unimaginable like never before, good and evil will fight for the tube to present images of holiness and evil. John Paul saying mass, John Paul speaking with the love of Christ on his face and words, heaven is saying, Keep the camera's rolling! His airtime will not match what the devil will keep his camera's rolling on, you don't give the devil 100 % of tube time if you can help it. The world doesn't want to hear or see a catholic presence, its good when Peter can speak to the flock with a society that might be listening in to the conversation. The
      Church cannot be afraid of reaching out to the world any way she can for fear Peter, James or John will present Judas the same platform. The face of the Church is disfigured & distorted through malicious misuse of power and disbelief of doctrine. Peter has more ways to exercise his ministry, some might not like his choice of venue while others love it, that's fine, now that you have shine some light on the bears brain about "unmitigated disaster" unintentionally leading to a Pope Cult. Cults can be good or bad, people gathered around saintly people, they go to shrines of our blessed mother, they see Peter in large numbers, they flocked to our Lord and his apostles, for a good they percieved. Some people can go overboard in anything, they can over do it in regards to the Lord and the Church thus spiritual counselling and discernment. Francis can use this great platform that reaches the world for good or evil, communication is a gift, the Church is not staying behind in media outreach, we the faithful have been given more of a voice and connection to those who share our beliefs, our concerns , good even if bears and bees have a showdown.





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    6. Debbie, compared to the amount of time the popes have been on camera, the devil has had the other 99.9%. So to the rest of the world, the pope is just another celeb, no matter what he is doing. He's on t-shirts today and gone tomorrow when his term is over. He needs to stay in Rome and do his job. In this day of interwebs media, he doesn't need to travel on airplanes and give off the cuff remarks that result in demolition Luther could only dream of. So now he is going to give tribute to the second biggest Church-wrecker of all time (himself being first place). It doesn't matter how many babies he kisses on air or how holy his face appears when he's preaching (while purposely NOT mentioning Jesus in any of it), he's only making noise and keeping his face in front of everyone. That is NOT papal! Or what we need right now. His traveling blessing show is bleeding (crucifying Christ) the Church. Don't you see that?

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    7. The Lord commanded his disciples to go out to the whole world bringing them the gospel. Peter has a right to do that in any way he sees fit. I'm very thankful to see and hear PETER in the many ways the field of communication has provided for us. Francis preaches a celebrity gospel so I am not hearing PETER. To hear him speak anywhere but especially from the Vatican is an extreme hardship, sure I would like to
      have St. Peters square quarantine and no
      reporters allowed within 50 miles but the Church must endure with all of its members from top to bottom for better or worse. We know the day is coming the worse will be over and we will truly be of one heart, one spirit in our different persons forming the one Body.

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  4. It is much more serious than all that.
    Firstly, all we think and do, as followers of Christ, comes from a sincere desire to do His will, not ours. Our flesh resists, but we pray that we may have the grace to overcome the fear of letting it go. This pope wants Christ to follow current fashions and anti-Christ ideologies. He puts service to humanity ahead of the service of God.

    I would call it a dead-serious problem. It simply can't get more serious than this.

    Secondly, anti-Christ ideologies have overtaken all or most education systems around the world. Christian are offering very little or no resistance, and the pope is encouraging it. What this means is that soon there will be no believers left. (Apart from Africa, I think, but the UN, so loved by the popes, is applying unrelenting pressure.) Brainwashing of all humanity with the spirit of the Antichrist is very much in progress. Many of us, of middle or old age, have no idea, how godless it is out there, where children grow and learn.

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  5. One of your best posts to date.

    "While PR does not change what the Church believes, it changes what people believe the Church believes."

    This is very important, because now I hear people, including Catholics in my own parish and people writing to the newspaper to complain about the fact that our bishop wrote a letter opposing a bill for forced transgender "accommodation," saying that Catholics who support an orthodox position are opposing the Pope - who in their minds, now that he's a raving leftist, defines the Faith. BXVI to them was an aggressive interloper and they and their cronies in the Vatican destroyed him, while JPII was more or less orthodox but so weak that opposing him wasn't worth it.

    My only question is whether he's the Antichrist or merely the False Prophet. He's a small-minded self-obsessed man from a backward, leftist country that has always been very arrogant because, unlike most of Latin America, it's not Spanish. The majority of the important people in Argentina are, like the Pope, Italians and the others are Germans with a few English families scattered into the mix. They have virtually no Indian or even mestizo population, and the fact that the country speaks Spanish (although with such a heavy Italian accent that it's barely intelligible) is sort of an accident. People like Francis boast about having "no Spanish blood."

    So he's got a tiny brain in his tiny head, virtually no cultural education or intellectual formation, and a garbled political system. He's a fool, which is probably the only thing that prevents him from being the anti-Christ. In other words, he's being used, and the poor sap - who is, however, quite vicious - is so thrilled by the publicity and adulation that he's perfectly happy with this.

    He's hoping to be in charge of the URI, the United Religions Initiative, which came out of the Episcopal Church in San Francisco (also the spawning place of the UN), and is now hoping to become the official New World Religion.

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    1. First among equals in a world federation of religions and spirituality is the long con. The Church is positioning itself to thrive even after Catholic faith is dead. It is a necessary and prudent plan to keep the organization relevant. In their minds. It will always be "walking," and "accompanying."

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    2. P.S. he's already Generic Spiritual Leader of the World, having replaced the Dalai Lama. Not bad in three years. He clearly knows what gears to grease.

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    3. Many good points, Elizabeth. I don't think he's the Antichrist or the False Prophet. But I do believe that when the make their appearance, they will be using many of the same tricks pioneered by Pope Francis.

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    4. Elizabeth, interesting comment. I have wondered the same thing. What part is he playing, and I am not sure what I hope, because he's so bad I don't know if I want things to continue or hope these are the End of Days.

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  6. http://www.cfnews.org/page88/files/20cc6fe560e8f782592d69d1986d15d2-533.html

    Cute comic. Hope it shows up.

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  7. you see, Jesuit provincials and superiors interpret their authority in very large terms of infallibility. They think they can determine matters of fact. Pope Francis unfortunately has taken this understanding of authority and infallibility to the papacy. A pope actually has much less infallibility than a Jesuit provincial has over his subjects.

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  8. Bear, you are so right: Pope Francis' celebrity has eclipsed that of the Dalai Lama. He is a media darling. I do not see Peter in him. I see Jorge. And I don't want to see Peter or Jorge...I want to see Jesus Christ.

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  9. Bear, you are so right: Pope Francis' celebrity has eclipsed that of the Dalai Lama. He is a media darling. I do not see Peter in him. I see Jorge. And I don't want to see Peter or Jorge...I want to see Jesus Christ.

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