It is true that much of the news in the Catholic world, at least among those who are paying attention, revolves around the loosey goosey communication style of the Pontiff, and the curious beliefs he seems to hold. For example, he seems to believe that it is not essential, or even important, that non-Catholics become Catholic to further the cause of their salvation. The Bear says "seems" because the Pope has never articulated his theology of salvation, or his theology of the Church: soteriology and ecclesiology respectively.
Catholics are left to guess about Pope Francis' beliefs. However, we may make educated guesses, and it is not without cause that we wonder what Pope Francis means when he claims to be a "loyal son of the Church." It probably depends on what "Church" means to him. Perhaps it is the broader-than-the-Catholic-Church "Church of Christ" that has caused perennial confusion since Vatican II muddied the previously crystal clear waters of ecclesiology.
|Please... just stop.|
What does one need to do to be saved? Pope Francis has confused even this fundamental issue of Christianity. Are sacraments important? Or is knowing Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior all you need?
Despite Pope Francis' hobby horses, the poor are not at the heart of the Gospel. Christ is. Unemployment, yea, even of youth, is a real, but temporary problem in the grand scheme. How to get people into heaven should be the occupation of a pope. (Yeah, the Bear knows, crazy stuff, huh?) Pope Francis smiles and waves a hand like this is unimportant and returns to his favorite topics: youth unemployment, the loneliness of the elderly, and his published philosophy of "live and let live."
The Bear has gone from being an early fan of the Pope to deep distrust. Pope Francis has been entrusted with the deposit of the Faith. He should be as cautious as a man carrying a Tiffany lamp on roller skates. Instead, he is careless, reckless, even. He treats the papacy as Jorge's Big Chance to Do Whatever He Wants. To cultivate a Church of the descamisados*. To surround himself with a kitchen cabinet of Protestants on the back channel. To quash the occasional Traditionalist. We have less of a shepherd than a prophet, and less of a prophet than The International Man of Mystery.
|What if the Spirit of Francis|
is riding the Spirit of Vatican II?
Bear believes the Church is in a crisis of historic proportions. Changes do not have to come by way of encyclicals, councils or ex cathedra pronouncements. If we learned anything from Vatican II, we learned that a "spirit" can seize the Church and attack the people where they live. The replacement of the Church with the "Spirit of Francis" is a real and dangerous possibility. (We will see which way the winds are blowing when October's Synod rolls around.)
So, what does that have to do with Church Militant TV?
Simple. We have reached a point where people are confused, discouraged and even frightened. Oh, the low-information crowd will always love Pope Francis because he smiles, or something. His apologists will trumpet every time he mentions "the devil" in a homily as proof of his orthodoxy, but ignore his soft heresy and bizarre actions. But those of us who love the Church -- the real Church, not what we wish the Church could be if only we had women priestesses, or married clergy, or allowed contraception, or installed the idol of the descamisados in the sanctuary, or lowered the Bride of Christ to the level of another sect alongside 30,000 Protestant ones -- those of us who love the Church and are paying attention are alarmed.
The mainstream Catholic news outlets and blogs are a 24/7 spin machine for Pope Francis. They are a tidal wave to the Bear's tiny sand castle. We need what few heavy hitters we have in the conservative Catholic media to take a stand. Not against the Pope, but for the Church.
The reader who felt Church Militant TV was irrelevant was articulating disappointment that a policy of "silence is golden" when it comes to the Pope is letting Catholics down.
There is an old legal principle that there are circumstances when people might reasonably expect someone to say something. For example, if I seriously accuse you of murder, and you do not deny it, your silence is admissible in a court of law as a tacit admission. Well, history has handed us one of those circumstances where all informed men and women of good will must speak out. If you are not invincibly ignorant, you have to know the dangers Pope Francis is creating. Just in case you don't, let the Bear spell some out:
- he is using soft heresy to revoke the infallible doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus -- no salvation outside the Church -- and replace it with the Franciscan doctrine of "Jesus wants you to blossom where you are"
- he is using that same soft heresy to gut what little remains of the Church's missionary spirit and pull the life support from the comatose New Evangelization
- he is churning the Church's historic and doctrinal sense of herself until no one has any idea what the Church even is anymore
- he is keeping the faithful in a constant state of turmoil by his ill-considered media forays and actions, which distracts them from their own spiritual development
- he is making converts wonder why they bothered (often at great personal cost) to enter and promoting general lukewarmness by undermining the teachings of the church, e.g. communion for divorced and remarried, and the practice of traditional devotions
- he has overseen the suppression of Traditional Latin Masses, alarming and discouraging some of the Church's most fervent children
In a nutshell, for all his vaunted humility, Pope Francis, more than any Pope in memory, has made the papacy all about Pope Francis. He is leading the Church from "wow!" through "huh?" to "meh."
And this is why people look to Church Militant TV. What good does it do to talk about the Pope? There is a lot to be accomplished, actually:
- Catholics need the comfort of knowing that it isn't just them, there is a problem with Pope Francis
- Catholics need to be instructed in sound doctrine when Pope Francis seems to go off the rails
- many Catholics are not in "conservative" or Traditionalist parishes, and benefit from a sense of community where they can freely acknowledge and share their fears
- Catholics can network and maintain a sense of what the Church is
- troubled Catholics can receive support and encouragement, e.g. the Bear always reminds people to "nail your foot to the floor in front of your pew and die there"
- Catholics can be inoculated against "The Francis Effect" and remain true to historic Church teachings
No, the Pope is probably not going to change. He's an old man. He's playing a tune he learned forty years ago. That doesn't mean all of us have to dance to it, because he has proven himself to be not always reliable in basic Catholic teachings. As crazy as it sounds, we can't safely assume the Pope is Catholic in what he says (which makes being Catholic a lot more complicated than it should be).
The Bear has avoided answering the question: is Church Militant TV irrelevant?
In a word, no.
The Vortex is remarkable when you consider that every day a new, high-quality episode is rolled out of production. Usually, it focuses on a problem in the Church. Let's face it, The Vortex is their "red meat" program. But they do a good job. I can't remember the last time Michael couldn't make it in front of the camera, complete with hair and dimples. Love him or hate him, you have to admit the man's a pro. And not every episode is negative. Today, there was a very moving story about Carmelite nuns executed during the French Revolution. The final scene from Dialogues des Carmelites is one you will not soon forget.
Ironically, it is precisely because The Vortex has been so issue-focused and fearlessly hard-hitting that its silence about Pope Francis is all the more noticeable.
But Church Militant TV is not irrelevant.
But Church Militant TV is not irrelevant.
- The Vortex remains a snappy, well-produced show and a faithful watchdog who barks at everybody (except the Pope)
- Although it seems like the Pope dwarfs everything else, he is not the Church's only problem, and The Vortex still has plenty of work to do
- The Vortex can provide instruction on doctrines that Pope Francis seems to call into question, without saying anything about the Pope directly
- The Vortex is only a tiny part of what's available to premium users -- literally a bewildering variety of Catholic programming for 10 bucks a month
While we might hope for more from Church Militant TV, the Bear counsels everyone to let them figure out their own course on this matter. In the meantime, Church Militant TV remains one of the top go-to places for excellent Catholic programming. The worst thing we could do is cut off our noses to spite our face by cancelling subscriptions or tuning out their shows. For once, let's not give in to fratricide. Whether you are a conservative Catholic, prefer the Traditional Latin Mass, or are just an ordinary pewsitter with a growing sense that something is very wrong, we all need to work together and support each other.
Of course, there's always Patheos.
*descamisados (literally "shirtless ones") the poor; affectionately used by Juan and Eva Peron for their poor supporters in Argentina.
A "Best Of" Show: The Martyrdom of French Carmelite Nuns
During the Revolution