A Pope Who Can’t Help Himself

THERE are two schools of thought on Pope Francis as a lightning rod of theological controversy: 1) he is a manipulative Peronist who enjoys upbraiding ‘rigid’ (meaning non-liberal) Catholics via the press; or 2) reporters cherry-pick and sensationalise anything allegedly novel in his utterances and animadversions – especially when the subject is sex – to caricature him as a bomb-thrower. I now read his modus operandi as being more complex – but not necessarily less damaging – than such a dichotomy allows. Anyone who took the media at its word last week would have believed the pope had told parents to accept the homosexuality of their children no matter what. But his Wednesday address didn’t mention homosexuality. It was, in fact, a splendid homily on the voice of God in the four dreams of Saint Joseph. Only in passing did Francis cite “sexual orientation” as one potential ‘problem’ in a child that should not be remedied with condemnation.

What is also clear, however, is that a reference to sexuality in that passage was not really necessary. Francis habitually does this: he encourages a light touch with a heavy hand. Why does he sabotage or, at the very least, dilute the impact of his own preaching by inserting drive-by subject-matter he must realise will be swooped upon by reporters to the detriment of the edifying whole? In a word, vanity. What Boris Johnson signifies with his hair, this pope signifies with his ‘humility.’ Ever since he was elected, Francis has drawn attention to himself by extravagantly eschewing attention. Thus, he didn’t want a big car but a smallish one (making life more difficult for his bodyguard); he didn’t want to speak from an elevated dais (making it harder for people to see him); he doesn’t want the faithful to reverence the Ring of the Fisherman (thereby conflating his own person with the office) – not even an octogenarian cardinal like George Pell. Similarly, when he sermonises, Francis adds a culture wars nugget so the secular peanut gallery can never quite dismiss his worldview as lousy with Catholicism. He courts and revels in ambiguity – but humbly.

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8 Responses to A Pope Who Can’t Help Himself

  1. Ivan Denisovich says:

    In a word, vanity. What Boris Johnson signifies with his hair, this pope signifies with his ‘humility.’ Ever since he was elected, Francis has drawn attention to himself by extravagantly eschewing attention.

    Mathew 6:1

  2. Entropy says:

    He is a Argentinean, which should immediately disqualify him from anything to say about politics or economics.

  3. Roger W says:

    Well, he’s not actually the Pope, is he.
    That would be Benedict XVI.

  4. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    My suspicion is the Vatican press office is the source of many of the hyperbolic reporting. Journalists tend to get such press releases and turn them into stories, since that is quick and easy. I very much doubt the journos who cover Francis sit down and listen to what he is actually saying, since they don’t have the time.

    Breitbart London/Europe is a great site for seeing what the Vatican is releasing. Often four or five stories a day. The guy on the beat is Thomas Williams.

  5. rosie says:

    The trouble I see is that most of the good work goes unreported, unnoticed.

    Like the installation of a Spanish born Franciscan as bishop of Corsica, along with a cohort of young Franciscan religious in a quest to reclaim France for Christ.
    In fact a scroll though of the priests in Corsica shows Corsica has been blessed with many priests of African heritage and two from Poland.
    God bless Africa!

  6. cuckoo says:

    “backing into the limelight”, as George Bernard Shaw said of T. E. Lawrence.

    I admire your fairness in this case, CL. I had to sit through a mass yesterday celebrated by a notorious Dominican who riffed on the liturgy to insert his own criticisms of the Church and his wishes for it to ‘accept’ women and gays, in such a way that the hapless congregation were snookered into mumbling ‘amen’ to these ramblings. Naturally this guy thinks Pope Francis is wonderful. Then the sermon was basically that all religions are more or less valid, when you come to think of it. And the ‘prayers of the faithful’ included good wishes for those celebrating the Lunar New Year FFS. How he is still saying Mass is beyond me. I know he has received reprimands in the past, but of course he wears these as badges of honour. An ego the size of St. Peter’s Basilica.

  7. C.L. says:

    It’s amazing priests like that are still around really.
    That whole schtick is so old now. They are militant conservatives.

  8. howardb says:

    In a video currently going viral on social media, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano warned that Pope Francis is a “zealous cooperator” in the Great Reset, and accused the Pope of pursuing the “demolition of the Church” to replace it with a philanthropic [venture capital] organization of “Masonic inspiration.”

    Archbishop Vigano is not the only Catholic figure warning of Pope Francis and the Great Reset. A Benedictine Nun named Mother Miriam issued a warning of what she described as a globalist depopulation agenda involving COVID-19 vaccines, at one point referring to Pope Francis as the “spiritual leader” of the globalist elites.

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