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.


  1. Well said. I pray God has mercy if we are wrong, because I believe that by speaking out we defend the Church, His spotless bride. However, it is a very uncomfortable position to be in. I pray for humility and not pride to motivate and inform my posts.

    But we are in a very tough spot.

  2. Bear, have you seen this?:

  3. Oh my goodness--it's a bunch of prog propaganda. Excerpt:

    "We believe that only by defending against all threats to life and creation will Catholics be able to credibly make the case for the culture of life and inclusion.
    Questions to Consider When Reading About or Listening to Candidates:
    ● How does each candidate talk about preventing mass shootings and gun violence in our streets?
    ● What alternatives to abortion and euthanasia does each candidate discuss, such as assistance and support to expectant mothers, in particular those who are low-income?"

    Another section on the environment states "live simply...." Ha ha ha -- I know some of the people that are behind this voting "guide" and they are ugly, selfish people, and live lavishly.

    1. Please be advised that the Bear's global surveillance system has identified said document as a tar baby. Do not approach, and above all, do not touch.

      This is also a good example of a "dog bites man story." So the Catholic Church has put out some progressive propaganda regarding an election. Of course it did. It always does. The Bear suspects maybe 1% pay any attention to this sort of thing. Kind of like Pope Francis' 7000-view April Pope Video.

      If it wasn't us looking at this garbage like a car wreck, the audience would be nil.

    2. Well, for what it's worth, at least time is greater than space.

    3. That whole 'time is greater than space' quote does two things: 1) makes me laugh every time I see it, 2) reminds me just how far Francis (and his cabal) have sunk in the 'thinking' department.

  4. Thanks Bear for all you do to fight the good fight and encourage us would be and sometimes reluctant soldiers.

    "We growl like bears,
    and like doves:
    we look for judgment, and there is no;
    for salvation, but it is far off from us"
    --Isaiah Ch. 59

    God Bless you and yours and the various creatures under your care.

  5. From Argentina: Bear, exactly, you're spot on.

  6. This is it, St. Corbinian's Bear. Thank you. Now didn't I read a story where a layman became Pope? (Hint hint :) Your clarity is pure bliss.

    1. Any male Catholic can become Pope, technically. (In which case he would be rushed through Holy Orders.) There are no prohibitions against Bears.

  7. Is it sinful to criticize the Pope? Yes. We ought to reverence the Pope, not undermine him, petition him to leave or retract his latest encyclical, mock him with cartoons, etc.

    The problem, I believe, is two-fold:

    1) When Francis is criticized, Catholics suffer the pangs of conscience because they know, on some level, that he is the very person we should not criticize and, indeed, who we should not need to criticize. Yet, he is truly worthy of criticism. Much more, in fact. The dilemma really points to the deeper, underlying question: is Francis the Pope? Or, more broadly, can what a Francis does and says actually come from a Pope? Obviously, many Catholics think not. And they are right, if Catholicism itself is to avoid being in its essential a self-contradiction and an absurd lie.

    2) Catholics are stuck between a rock and hard place: criticize "the Pope" because he manifestly ought to be, or go along with the new religion? To resist the Pope is not Catholic. But neither is apostasy, indifferentism, Hegelian 'evolution' of dogma, or pick any post-Vatican II manifestation of madness. So the good Catholic, the one who desires to follow and reverence the Pope as he should, is having his own proper sensibility turned against him to the point of near despair.

    That is what makes this so insidious: the Catholic is seemingly forced to sin in one way or the other, irreverence or apostasy. And that is being seized upon, unknowingly or not, by the multitude going along with the flow and shaming those Catholics who know there is no real way out of the mess, at least as it is popularly and presently constituted.

    So there are three elements in this equation:

    1) Pope cannot be criticized or resisted--such a stance was never and could never be Catholic

    2) Pope cannot be a heretic or apostate; neither can he lead Catholics into heresy or apostasy, such that "following the Pope" means not following the Church, Tradition, Christ.

    3) The current Pope is manifestly leading Catholics astray. Such a point cannot be disputed. To do so is simply to make excuses or to deny reality, assuming one knows the faith.

    As I see it, points one and two are constants; they apply in any and all cases, for all time.

    So it becomes a matter of simple logic: point 3 is the true problem, yet also the true way to resolution. If the current "Pope" is not truly the Pope due to public heresy, then the good Catholic CAN resist him, and in good conscience (since he not the Pope), while also keeping with the Church (since a false Pope cannot teach falsehoods on behalf of the Church with an authority he does not now, and likely never did, have).

    Catholics, then, are not truly in a state of absurdity; it only appears that way and, quite strongly so, given the rise of overall "papal" popularity over the past 50 years, access to "popes" via media and, with that, the aforementioned right and good Catholic sensibility to obey and reverence true popes.

    It's really a terrible mess, from one angle, that Catholics are in. But from a cooler, rational vantage point, there is a simple, logic answer to it.

    1. I meant to add: another tragedy in all of this is the fact that the Papacy as such is (practically speaking) being dramatically emptied of its moral authority and dignity, not merely by the celebrity "popes" and Catholics falling for the cult of personality, but by the very Catholics who, I'm sure with good will, are trying to hold together the impossible contradiction noted above. They end up ridiculing Francis out of a desire to adhere to the true faith, for instance, and in so doing end up making the Papacy out to be much less than it is. The devil is truly having his day.

    2. As might be expected, the Bear disagrees. First of all, the critical element weighs less than dust on the scales. We just don't have the mass to harm the institution of the papacy.

      The carping of progressives agains Pope Benedict certainly did not harm the papacy, and they were far louder than the ephemerists worried about Pope Francis.

      More to the point, however, Pope Francis is sui generis. What is being challenged is this particular Pope's unique and continual damage to the Faith in the age of digital information. Don't forget, he knows what he is doing. Whoever thought to create "Pope Videos" before?

      If the Church elects a Pope who will not do all the things that have been documented with Pope Francis (which I believe it will, out of sheer horror) the papacy will not have suffered from a few ephemerists who represent a tiny fraction of Church opinion. It may, however, have suffered from Pope Francis "rebranding Catholicism and the papacy," and "transcending his own religion." The institution of the papacy is so distorted now by celebrity popes' virtual embodiment of Catholicism itself, it is going to take a degree of reticence and retirement from future popes that is difficult to imagine now.

    3. What thinking Catholics feel is cognitive dissonance. We are having to hold two contrary facts as true at the same time. You are at least addressing the problem, although I am not sure that one may never, under any circumstances, criticize the pope. The problem is this: is it not also always true that a layman cannot for himself decide if the Pope is the Pope? May we convict him of manifest heresy and be done with him? In Pope Francis' case, what particular heresy? Most of what he says and does is more ignorant or eccentric. What is undeniable is that his pontificate as a whole is making the Church less like it was before, less Catholic, and more Brotherhood of Man. A specific article of faith that he has rejected is harder to come up with.

    4. "Pope cannot be criticized or resisted--such a stance was never and could never be Catholic." ???

      "But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." !!!

    5. I don't think a layman deciding who is Pope, to use your phrasing, is nearly as controversial as laymen - for over 50 years - deciding that the words and actions of popes, including those which touch on the nature of the Church's worship, are reproachable. That is the sense in which, in my understanding, criticizing the pope is beyond the pale. Do such laymen mean to say that they know better than the pope on the very matters that belong to his authority to decide? Such laymen are correcting the pope - every single day. That has never been Catholic. The very Catholic laymen who charge those who doubt if we have a pope with being protestants are guilty of picking and choosing what is Catholic and what is not in regards to the pope - for over 50 years.

      On the other hand, the layman who decides the pope is not really the pope makes a decision once, and the logical implications of that speak for themselves. It is more truthful to say, I think, that such a layman is not deciding who is pope in the way that cardinals do in a conclave, but rather discerning based on both sound knowledge of the faith and of the public actions and words of a given man, that such a man cannot possibly be pope. The two are incompatible. Popes must first be Catholics. The very idea of a heretical Pope - and many Catholic writers are actually using that word about Francis after his synodal document - is impossible. If one is a heretic, one is no longer in the Church. Thus, the heretical 'pope' would convict himself, by his own words and actions. Francis' 'election' in particular is interesting in that, some say, he did not lose the office; he never had it to begin with.

      As for a particular heresy, why not begin with Modernism, the synthesis of all of them?

    6. Modernism, no. Modernism it may be, but it is too vague. For instance, if someone were charged with the "crime" of Modernism, it would be impossible to defend himself. He would have to ask for a bill of particulars to say exactly what article of faith he denied in connection with his Modernistic beliefs. It is hard to believe Jorge Bergoglio could cause so much turmoil without committing heresy, but the Bear does not know these things. Modernists are clever. They do not commit heresy. They are perfectly orthodox here, and there a nudge toward the direction of heresy. They operate by the ambiguous phrase and the sly wink.

    7. How about the matter of religious liberty, problematic since Vatican II and affirmed by Francis again recently?

      Compare with Pope Pius IX's Quanta Cura (1864):

      "And from this wholly false idea of social organisation they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by our predecessor, Gregory XVI, insanity, namely that the liberty of conscience and worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed by law in every correctly established society... Each and every doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority We reject, proscribe and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected by all the sons of the Church."

    8. Jesse, this is part of what I mean by criticizing or resisting the pope is not Catholic:

      "When one loves the pope one does not stop to debate about what he advises or demands, to ask how far the rigorous duty of obedience extends and to mark the limit of this obligation. When one loves the pope, one does not object that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat into the ear of each individual his will, so often clearly expressed, not only viva voce, but also by letters and other public documents; one does not call his orders into doubt on the pretext – easily advanced by whoever does not wish to obey – that they emanate not directly from him, but from his entourage; one does not limit the field in which he can and should exercise his will; one does not oppose to the authority of the pope that of other persons, however learned, who differ in opinion from the pope. Besides, however great their knowledge, their holiness is wanting, for there can be no holiness where there is disagreement with the pope."

      (Pope St. Pius X, Address to the Priests of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912; in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 [1912], p. 695)

      "To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor."

      (Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua, 1885)

      "Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me" [Lk 10:16]; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine."

      (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 20, 1950)

      It seems, then, that the practice of parsing every word, translation, context, source, interpretation, you name it from a pope and his words is a novel practice itself that prior popes would have found appalling. I am not trying to throw blame around on this at all, for I have done the same and I regret not knowing my faith fully enough to understand what was before me.

    9. I think prior popes would have found a lot that is appalling that is happening right now. So what's you're opinion on global warming now? I suppose you believe in it, since the pope does. What do you think was suggested in Pope Video 1 ? Something other than indifferentism? That Jews now have a Jesus-free special way of salvation because we don't want to hurt their feelings? (Not Francis, but his curia.)

      I think it is a fair question to ask whether you are a 100% ultramontanist, and how you resolve in your own mind all the things that Francis does that do not represent any reasonable extension of prior Church teaching? Do you just not think about those things? Think about them, and convince yourself they are correct? Or believe deep down that they are wrong, but aren't going to let on?

      Seriously, if you have figured out the way to love and follow Pope Francis wholeheartedly, knowing what we all know, then do share it. It would be the single most important contribution to Francisology ever.

      Perhaps with all his tweets and videos, and homilies and lengthy encyclicals, private telephone calls, and off-the-cuff comments he is walking with us, accompany us, in mercifully e engaging us in conversation. After all, if meeting with the the head Islamic cleric, or a rabbi, or an Orthodox Patriarch is fine, what makes you so sure that Francis shares those dusty old views about poor misguided Catholics like us?

      Francis is not like other popes. Sorry, he just isn't. Those popes you quote -- do you you imagine they would not be appalled by what they see, were they here today? Now, are we obligated to agree with Pope Francis on his views on refugees, on global warning, on communion for adulterers, on no mission to Jews, on celebrating the Reformation with Lutherans? On everything?

      Or does Pope Francis actually teach very little directly, but conveys a certain sense by his actions? I think Francis is smart. I think he knows better than openly teach heresy. But if he can somehow convey the idea of indifferentism without actually saying so, I believe he would. And does.

      The Bear is not here to change anyone's mind. If you are satisfied you have come to terms with Pope Francis, then may God bless you. You have the Bear's approval.

    10. Religious liberty was changed by Vatican II, largely at the insistence of the American prelates. You can also find popes and councils teaching no salvation outside of the Church. Who believes that anymore? Certainly not Pope Francis. So the Bear could argue that theology is merely the calendar misconstrued, could he not?

      There are tensions for thinking Catholics. The Bear has always believed this. What was one year's infallible doctrine is another year's forgotten relic. The Church used to be the one and only ark of salvation, and not so long ago. Now, it's one boat in the flotilla. Interfaith and ecumenism used to stand condemned. Now they are celebrated and demanded. So which pope do we love and obey? The one that happens to be living now, or the one that represents a logical consensus over ages, but, alas, is dead?

      That's why the Bear has written a couple of times about cognitive dissonance. At the best of times, the Bear experiences it. Now, you can cut it with knife. It is an important element of this discussion, the Bear believes. Because if you really don't love and believe what Francis says, cognitive dissonance can hurt you.

    11. I think you've missed my point entirely. The dilemma as I see it is: there is no logical way to follow Pope Francis and to be a Catholic, since Francis is not Catholic. Yet, as quoted, Catholics must follow the pope; to do so, at least in a prior era, was not a contradiction. I cite those popes because, in addition to what we all know about Francis, we also know that we cannot reject or resist him--if he is a true pope.

      Your points are assuming Francis is a true pope and I am saying that the only logical explanation I can come up with to resolve the tension is that he cannot be. I am not defending Francis at all. I haven't come to terms with him. He is secondary. What one has to come to terms with is how any pope could say or do what he says and still be pope, which is the position of the majority of Catholics out there who have advocated in one way or another for "resistance" while maintaining that he is actually the pope.

    12. Obviously.

      There are several ways to resolve the cognitive dissonance.

      (a) Francis is not Pope, therefore beliefs not threatened.

      (b) Francis is Pope, he is right, therefore beliefs not threatened.

      (c) The Catholic Church's claim to possess the truth is a pious legend, and we can simply ignore a bad pope and whatever he says.

      Dogma is flexible, and may be altered or even discarded to suit the needs of the age. And, see (c)

      For Francis to not be pope, I am not sure what theory I would invoke. Manifest unpopliness? Invalid election? Sedevacantism after Pius XII? It seems to be that I cannot articulate a theory, except that he doesn't seem to be behaving as a pope.

      I have said before that I do not think he is "Catholic" in the sense of believing what the Church has believed and having the goals the Church has had. I honestly believe he is a Bergoglioist whose mission is to establish the Church as one religion among many. The implication is that he is universalist, as well. He has invented a special grace of neediness, and therefore a Latin leftist who expects the North to pay up. But I've been over this.

      I guess my working theory is that Francis may be pope, but he is so relentlessly revolutionary in his policies that he is an exception to proof texts such as you quoted. Or, alternatively, the strictures against criticizing the pope admit to some qualifications, which I have also read. The "have your Pope and beat him too" position of the Recognize and Resist.

      I'm not sure. But I don't think I have to be sure of the "why" to do the right thing. And I don't doubt I'm doing the right thing. Of course, I could be deluded. Maybe Francis is the real deal, the Maitreya Buddha. Then I will I will be drowned in an ocean of mercy no matter what. (Even B16 was not much for Hell, and thought most people managed to avoid it.)

    13. How would b resolve the cognitive dissonance? And if c is true, then how exactly would we judge a "bad pope"? If there is no truth (in the Church), what's the standard for good and bad?

      I don't think there can be an "exception" to those texts. What would that even mean? You're either with the Church or you're not, you have the faith or you don't.

      I found an explanation from Fr. Anthony Cekada that may help:

      1.Officially-sanctioned Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws embody errors and/or promote evil.

      2.Because the Church is indefectible, her teaching cannot change, and because she is infallible, her laws cannot give evil.

      3.It is therefore impossible that the errors and evils officially sanctioned in Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws could have proceeded from the authority of the Church.

      4.Those who promulgate such errors and evils must somehow lack real authority in the Church.

      5.Canonists and theologians teach that defection from the faith, once it becomes manifest, brings with it automatic loss of ecclesiastical office (authority). They apply this principle even to a pope who, in his personal capacity, somehow becomes a heretic.

      6.Canonists and theologians also teach that a public heretic, by divine law, is incapable of being validly elected pope or obtaining papal authority.

      7.Even popes have acknowledged the possibility that a heretic could one day end up on the throne of Peter. In 1559 Pope Paul IV decreed that the election of a heretic to the papacy would be invalid, and that the man elected would lack all authority.

      8.Since the Church cannot defect, the best explanation for the post-Vatican II errors and evils we repeatedly encounter is that they proceed from individuals who, despite their occupation of the Vatican and of various diocesan cathedrals, publicly defected from the faith, and therefore do not objectively possess canonical authority.

    14. The problem is, shortly stated: If a Pope says "jump" are Catholics required to say "how high?"

      The virtue of obedience says yes.

      HOWEVER obedience doesn't extend to the Pope who command things that are untrue, impossible, immoral, etc.

      The problem is, is that the Pope has juridical authority to declare truth of faith and morality.

      So perhaps a solution, when confronted by conflicting orders (between Pope Francis and previous Popes) is to say "I am sorry sir for my ignorance but I do not understand. I would like to and to be able to jump as high as you would wish me to, but please explain more succinctly again to me how your orders fit with previous orders."

      We want to obey and love the Pope, but the fingers in the eyes are tiring, and perhaps it would be better if we requested the Pope Francis explain himself better before we go jumping around all over the place.

      "I am sorry, your Holiness. Amoris Laetitia is super confusing. Can you try it again in one page? How is it confusing, you ask? Oh...the part where I don't understand how it is Catholic thought and morality. No, please, Card. schonborn didn't make it more clear. Might you try....again".

      I don't know.

    15. NTG,

      Fr. Anthony is a clever, smug man who changes his principles occasionally based on the papacy in question. A few months ago his hypocrisy in condemning Paul VI's liturgical changes while defending comparable changes by Pius XII was quite thoroughly exposed in an issue of The Remnant. He mixes truths with half-truths, and one must carefully consider every point he is making before conceding any of them. (His dismantling of the Novus Ordo Missae is in fact quite good, for the most part.)

      The eight points above are hardly a tightly-argued syllogism, and it could easily be picked apart by theologians or in a court of law. Bishops and popes--fully acknowledged to be such--have often promoted evil and error in the past. The triumphalistic pre-VII papacy and its ultramontanist entourage ignored this reality, pretending rather that the bishops of Rome have always acted as oracles of goodness and truth.

      You can argue too that John XXII "lack[ed] real authority in the Church" in the sense that Catholics of the time should not have followed his stubborn heresies, but not in the sense that he lost the papal see.

    16. Funny you mention John XXII as I was just reading what Fr. Cekada has to say on that false analogy: http://www.fathercekada.com/2015/01/28/dr-de-mattei-prescribes-an-anti-sede-tranquilizer/

      Can you offer an example of a bishop or pope of the past promoting evil and error? What is the error in question and how was it promoted, through what means?

    17. John XXII promoted error by opposing the traditional doctrine of the blessedness of the saints, long established by the ordinary magisterium. He stubbornly refused correction for years, until he recanted on his deathbed. In the mean time, he punished clergy and religious orders who dared defy his errors, some with imprisonment or banishment. But of course he never infallibly defined his heresy ex cathedra nor through an ecumenical council with anathemas as penalties for holding the contrary.

      And neither has Francis.

    18. In your view, John XXII was personally a heretic though he maintained his office because he never tried to foist his personal heresy on the rest of the Church. Have I understood?

    19. If I have understood your view, the article I linked to just above from Fr. Cekada deals precisely with the point you make on John XXII and his view on the blessedness of the saints.

      Each of the points you raise are addressed, and I think refuted, therein:

      1) The doctrine in question was defined after John XXII; therefore he was not a heretic.

      2) John XXII did not resist correction on the matter; he invited it. He said:

      “I say with Augustine that, if I am deceived on this point, let someone who knows better correct me. For me it does not seem otherwise, unless the Church would so declare with a contrary statement [nisi ostenderetur determinatio ecclesie contraria] or unless authorities on sacred scripture would express it more clearly than what I have said above.” (Le Bachelet, DTC 2:662.)

      Also, I don't know if you hold this belief, though it seems you do implicitly based on what you wrote, but the fact that a pope doesn't "define his heresy infallibly" (itself a contradiction) either ex cathedra or through the universal ordinary magisteriam does not therefore mean that all is well, that he is therefore still pope assuming he even was to begin with. To hold an office in the Church, one must be a member of the Church. When one is a heretic (that is, *only* personally as opposed to attempting to "define" that heresy as Church teaching), one loses membership in the Church then and there. And with it, the office they held. This is the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine, of many theologians and canonists, and it seems to me to be common sense when it comes down to it.

  8. Thank you dear Bear. The above essay is brilliantly cogent, laying out exquisitely our travails as faithful Catholics these last 50 years in general and these last three years in particular. Your words provide the fortification we need to soldier on. All faithful Catholic ephemerists are in my rosary intentions for the long haul.

  9. Agree entirely. And in some strange way, I feel very free now. Francis has gone way too far on way too many occasions, so it's not like we're looking at an occasional - although I hate the expression - "misspeak." The evidence has accumulated about him, but also about VII, of which he regards himself the fulfillment. I recently heard from a very good sister in a religious order that didn't go full-out bonkers, but abandoned their charism, their community life and their prayer life because they thought that was what VII demanded, and th bishop apparently believed likewise.

    They were a thriving order with both local vacations and women recruited by the bishops from Ireland. Now they have no member under 60 and most well over 70. But what the sister said was that she feared, after all these years, that they had gone down the wrong road after Vatican II. And believe me, until now she had professed ironclad "faith in Vatican II."

    So in addition to identifying a false pope, I think people are beginning to feel free to identify a false council. Also,,btw, I think a lot of these women feel guilty for having gone along with it...but you have to realize that they were under pressure from their bishops, who in turn were under pressure from people further up the food chain. So in many cases I don't blame them, and I think it's wonderful that they can finally acknowledge it. So it's probably a very freeing experience for them, too, and this sister even talked about "refounding" the order (which can be done).

  10. Why Bear, you have truly come out of hibernation. Good for you!

    1. Thanks, RC. The Bear doesn't remember having been in hibernation, but he'll take the compliment. You're not the only one to say that. I don't hibernate. I nap. A lot.

    2. In the past you were quite accommodating of Francis, but I see no longer, hence my saying that you woke up.

  11. I'm happy to read the Bear's thoughts and observations on any topic, as long as the Bear is okay writing about it.
    Tomorrow this could all be over. Tonight even. When misery comes it always seems as if it will go on forever. It won't. It will go on as long as the Lord allows it.
    It has always been about the numbers, how many Cardinals/Bishops are in agreement or are willing to be silent in the face of this nightmare, and, how many Catholics are nominal Catholics at best and are fine with the dismantling of the church. Apparently we are not doing well in either of these categories.
    Great post Bear. It's not easy to be a Catholic these days, or an ephemerist. Please just keep your wellbeing in mind, and Big Red's, and write when you feel like it.

    1. The Bear always feels like it, apparently. He has good intentions of taking a break, but, whatever. Never seems to happen. There are worse things.

  12. Exactly right Bear. But Pope Francis certainly is guilty of intimations of heresy,i.e., by indirection.

  13. Proposal:

    What if instead of discussing things in terms of heresy, things are discussed in terms of schism? The bar is much lower to prove schism than it is to prove heresy.

    A Catholic WANTS to be in union with the Pope and feels a spiritual pull to this union. That is why it causes spiritual pain for the faithful to find themselves at odds with Pope Francis. But does that mean that the faithful Catholic is schismatic? Depends. Also, it is much easier for an individual Catholic to be schismatic when it comes to dealing with bad ecclesial authority than it is for the individual to be heretical.

    However, it is important to note that schism flows both ways. It is also important to note the temporal dimension of schism. The Faith is One in all times and places so one must refrain from schism from the past, the present, and the future. If an ecclesial office holder refuses to be in union with the deposit of Faith (that which has been handed to him), the sensus fidelium (the living contemporary manifestation of the deposit of faith), is this not schism?

    So the thorny question of how should a individual Catholic remain in union, and not enter into schism, with a legitimate ecclesial office holder, if that office holder likes to take pains to point out that there is a division (schism?) between his thoughts and ways of doing things, and that which he was given?

    Running around and giving people the impression that you can bend God to your will because "mercy" isn't necessarily heretical, but is it not schismatic?

  14. Lovely bear,smack them hard with those big paws of yours.

  15. Wow, what an excellent discussion. It all goes back to, in the Bear's opinion, resolving cognitive dissonance. We are uncomfortable because what we are experiencing doesn't match our beliefs. So we must choose to keep our beliefs or change our expectation of the Church.

    Francis being vaporized in a poof of heresy is one way to maintain both. So is sedevacantism. So is B16 is still (somehow) Pope.

    Or we could admit we are wrong and unquestioningly follow Francis' lead cuz he's Pope. I think NTG is arguing you can't have your Pope and beat him too.

    I don't have any neat answers. Maybe I'm so used to cognitive dissonance I don't even try to figure it out as long as my clothes are still on fire.

  16. Another monkey wrench: Humans have a tenancy to desire a strong leader who says all the right things, and does all the right actions, and smites all the enemies, and elevates all the downtrodden so we don't have to do any of that ourselves. Sloth masquerading as piety.

    So God tends not to give us super Popes.

    That is not to excuse a prelate who is not just bad at what they do, but manifestly dangerous.

    How to be obedient and respect of office of a Pope who is not teaching Catholic theology. Very different than teaching theology badly, precisely, poorly. Those types of Popes are easy to deal with.


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