Your buddy: the Pope.
It’s a bit embarrassing for someone like me, utterly dismayed since the day of Pope Francis’ election, but also not wanting to disrespect the figure of the Pope. I must get to it, though. At last.
To give some perspective on the foolish self-destruction course chosen by the progressives who gained control of the Catholic Church. Let’s face it, this Pope is essentially on the side of those that opposed all his predecessors.
I must muster the courage to speak, as I was saying, even if it means losing some friends in the process.
We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence. The Bride of Christ turned pale.
St. Catherine of Siena
A striking resemblance.
The opening Pope Francis photo is taken from the Missio Giovani (Mission to the Young) Facebook page; it’s been used to better illustrate, from a Pope fanboy perspective, the content of the feel-good sermon he delivered on Palm Sunday.
I found it eerily reminiscent of the Buddy Christ meme statue, a popular image taken from the arguably blasphemous anti-Catholic movie Dogma (1999).
In the movie a cardinal devises a plan to make the Church more palatable to a younger audience, launching a “Catholicism WOW!” campaign, which includes this grotesque winking Jesus.
Shall we continue? I could name a number of mortifying episodes following the same guidebook. The most visually striking examples being represented by priests -and even bishops- clumsily dancing in front of the altar, pretending to be cool.
Your brilliant strategy tries to entice apathetic and uninterested young people by involuntarily mimicking the laughable buffoons invented by the most virulent, hate-filled satire directed at you.
Alluring words from the Pope
This sermon was meant to celebrate the 23rd World Youth Day, commenting on the Gospel episode where Jesus is acclaimed while entering Jerusalem, even if in a few days the same crowd will condemn Him to crucifixion.
Let’s analyze some excerpts.
[…] And you, dear young people, the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and even irritation to some, since a joyful young person is hard to manipulate. A joyful young person is hard to manipulate!
Now, imagine you’re a teenager brought up on a steady diet of happy ending stories, reassuring praise meant to reinforce self-esteem, cookie-cutter uni-dimensional school curricula and progressive, politically correct slogans. What could you make of this exhortation (assuming that you bother to listen, that is…)?
Well… it’s all OK, we’ll be fine providing we stay joyous, spontaneous and full of hope.
We can change the world. We’re young, educated, resolute. We can correct the mistakes made by our fathers. Heal the World!
If we follow our instincts and resist those deplorable dogmatists who try to push against the tide, nobody could manipulate us!
I mean, who could possibly oppose joy?
Problem is, this is just a pipe dream. A stupid and dangerous delusion.
Contrary to your expectations, you can’t trust your feelings. If you’re young, this is the time for you to learn, humbly and through years of hard work. To iron out the quirks in your character, learning to control your feelings. Not the time to demand policy change or new religious doctrines to better serve your expectations, modeled on your limited experience of life.
Who could possibly suggest such absurd notion that those who know less should teach?
Wait, this is exactly how manipulation works.
But the Pope just said that joyful teens can’t be manipulated! He said it twice!
Of course they can be, indeed they are.
First of all there’s no such a thing as a perennially joyful person. Joy is a fleeting condition.
The closest thing I can imagine is the pathological case of people telling themselves they’re super happy even when they’re not.
Due to a contagion effect this may also happen for a few hours to a crowd at a World Youth Day, but it’s superficial. Soothing as it may be, it’s far from ideal to base an idea of self worth on such a flimsy ground.
Secondly, it’s precisely through the illusion of joy that scores of people are manipulated!
That’s a mainstay of many cults. Consider what has been described as love bombing: a prospective convert to the Jehovah Witnesses entering a Kingdom Hall for the first time is greeted by all with exaggerated manifestations of sympathy, warm welcome and brotherly affection. The power of the group overwhelms the victim, who by then lacks the emotional resolve to rationally question the tenets of the congregation: how could you possibly be so ungrateful to those wonderful people who opened their hearts to you!
We’re in the era of feel-good idealism trumping our freedom and ability to understand reality.
Here the Pope reinforces young people’s delusions instead of sounding a wake up call.
But, you may object, he’s explicitly referring to a joy that Jesus awakens in them, not any warm feelings. Problem is, nobody’s defining what this joy represents. If it’s subjective, and you’ve been taught to value your inner self and sensations, then Jesus becomes a screen for your whims.
Choose the unadulterated Christian message. Put the Cross in your cross-hair and you may explore and experience a deeper meaning, hence a deeper joy. Even when in pain, even through the hardships of life.
If instead you substitute the fundamental Christian values with fortune-cookie-grade nuggets of comforting “wisdom”; if you take joy as the worthwhile goal, then you’ll live a shallow life. Plus you’ll often feel miserable.
This is painful. I really don’t like over-analyzing the words of my spiritual leader. And yet here I am, part of the group of “traditionalists” who desperately try to say something and don’t really know how to salvage this wreckage, other than by praying.
Francis knows this and depicts us as those who react with “anger and irritation”.
But today, a third kind of shouting is possible (editor’s note: the crowd welcoming Jesus, spontaneously cheering and praising God; juxtaposed to 2 other cries, the “Crucify him” and the scornful “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” said by Roman soldiers):
“And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” ” (Lk 19: 39-40).
The temptation to silence young people has always existed. The Pharisees themselves rebuke Jesus and ask him to silence them.
Here Francis is clearly torturing the meaning of the text.
This absurd message (Power to the Young?) becomes superimposed with the Gospel (!). The disciples of Jesus, proclaiming His Lordship in Jerusalem, somehow are representatives of “young people” shouting their ideas.
Anyone opposing Francis’ vision is to be considered a Pharisee. The last notion is actually one of his signature rhetorical figures. Routinely applied to those that refuse to surrender to the spirit of the World, i.e. those who do the exact opposite of what the Pharisees did.
Talk about a straw man! Is this the crisis of our time? The temptation to silence young people?
There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anaesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. “Keep quiet, you!” There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.
Again, in a era of (often violent) group protests in the name of absurd ideals, of emotionally fragile young students inflamed by racial tensions or spewing propaganda slogans, attacking the very concept of freedom of speech in colleges and universities because they cannot stand the idea of a dissonant voice, the last thing we need is a sterile defense of their pretense to pontificate in unison without even bothering to learn first.
An intellectually bankrupt opinion leader can be recognized by this: he’s fulminating against the perils of floods while he’s sitting in the middle of a great fire.
The applause of the arsonists is guaranteed tho.
Notice also the emphasis on dreams. In the original Italian the phrase is even more powerful: he’s railing against those who prevent the dreams of the youth from soaring high.
That’s a seductive choice of imagery.
Teenagers don’t need someone to encourage them to dream.
I remember that occasion, more than 10 years ago, when I tried to discuss the pitfalls of this Church Renewal Craze™ with a progressive prelate who held a position of responsibility within the Diocese of Genoa. You can recognize modernists (progressives) by their typical answer to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5, 37: “Yes, but…”
Anyway, this meek, good priest focused his approach to pastoral matters on a keyword: fantasy. I was floored. It’s like being guided by reckless babies.
Blind optimism is no substitute for wisdom.
Young people expect from you guidance, stability, words of caution, possibly even an authority figure to defiantly challenge. This is true for educators, but even more so for members of the clergy; not just based on how people expect(ed) them to behave, but due to the very nature of the doctrine: if it really comes from God it cannot possibly be subverted and substituted to accommodate for new sensibilities.
When even the restless guardians of Tradition are scrambling to innovate, chasing dreams and putting their very role in question, the younger generation is left out in the cold, without a compass, moral or otherwise.
For a fleeting moment, though, those teachers who break with tradition enjoy a surge in popularity: “Wow, you’re so enlightened for a priest!”
In a sense the following could be a fitting description of this pontificate: Bergoglio dragging Pope Francis down to make Bergoglio popular.
In the process the papacy and the Catholic doctrine get steamrolled.
Meanwhile the anti-religious leftist media take notice and cheer.
But the dwindling attendance numbers in Saint Peter’s Square testify to the failure of this strategy even if we chose to think in terms of popularity.
Of course. People have no use for an old man indirectly telling them to stop following him.
Here’s how the Pope’s sermon ends:
Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. […] It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders – so often corrupt – keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?
As I anticipated earlier, this is all about reassuring the younger generation that they already have what they need; that they should fight against the adults that lacks the spirit and courage to change; that the proper way to react is that of shouting.
In other words, letting loose. An emotional reaction.
No wonder those who know how to influence the emotions of the masses are laughing right now.
Wait, what about St.Catherine of Siena?
The quotation opening this article is routinely used by critics of this pope as a good example of a saint who, despite her reverence for the figure of the Holy Father, didn’t restrain her tongue but rebuked the Pope on multiple occasions, through public letters.
On the other hand you may find her words superficially similar to those of the sermon. After all Pope Francis is telling youngsters to fight corruption, to refuse to be silenced, to cry out! Just as St.Catherine insisted, right?
Anyone can strike a pose. What matters is not your ability to act indignant, but the reasons that lay behind your attitude.
If there’s something worse than silence, it’s the reversal of the roles between Pharisees and disciples. Silencing those who should cry and encouraging the radical voices who already dominate the scene.
There’s no doubt that Catherine was speaking in the name of the traditional Catholic idea of the Word of God, demanding virtue and a return to Rome.
Sadly the opposite could be said of many cardinals and bishops that Francis chose to put in a position of power, including characters like Paglia, Maradiaga, Marx, Schönborn, Galantino…
Pushing for the kind of change that the enemies of the Church demand. Through a fog of words meant to avoid clarity.
Here’s some context for ya.
2018 is the year of the Synod on the Youth.
A sign of the times: the Pope ordered the meditation for this year’s Good Friday Via Crucis (televised from the Colosseum) to be written by the students of a Rome High School.
What was originally a deep and insightful meditation authored by the Pope, then delegated to authoritative bishops, in recent years became an opportunity to give prominence to the voice of laymen or theologians. Last year’s edition saw Anne-Marie Pelletier, a feminist Bible scholar, in the role of our thoughtful guide through the Mysteries of the Passion. And now it’s just an extracurricular school activity for a few random teenagers.
More importantly, in order to prepare for the Synod, the Vatican organized a meeting of 16 to 29 years olds from all over the world, to discuss their views and proposals on matters of life and faith. The final document, summarizing the ideas expressed in the meeting and through a Facebook page, is the kind of aimless, well-meaning conglomerate of incoherent musings that nobody would really find worth reading. Too many voices, lots of compromises in the wording.
And yet the kind of content that made the front pages (also meant to influence the bishops at the Synod) was a selection of the subversive proposals contained therein.
Young Catholics demanding that their Church align itself to the battle cries of the modern progressive.
More inclusiveness, social justice, integral ecology, above all bringing women to positions of power.
Francis had this document in mind when he delivered the sermon: in fact it was officially presented to him on Palm Sunday.
A few gems from this report.
The Church oftentimes appears as too severe and is often associated with excessive moralism
We need a Church that is welcoming and merciful, which appreciates its roots and patrimony and which loves everyone, even those who are not following the perceived standards
This is a remarkable passage because it highlights the pitfalls of a diplomacy-laced discourse.
If you’re orthodox and faithful, well… ostensibly there’s nothing for you to object here. And yet, if on the contrary you believe that some Catholic teachings are just wrong (case in point: on homosexuality), you can read into those words a call to reform: dear elderly Church leaders, stop demanding that people conform to a standard, stop calling this standard “moral values”, don’t be haters…
On topics that include
contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation, marriage, priesthood
the document says
there is still disagreement and ongoing discussion among young people on these polemical issues. As a result, they may want the Church to change her teaching or at least to have access to a better explanation and to more formation on these questions.
To change her teachings! The parts of the text where the opposite view is mentioned can’t neutralize the explosive nature of this approach.
The only reason why this kind of demands caused barely any ripple in the fabric of the mediasphere is the fact that such levels of impudence have become commonplace, plus non-Catholics, including sworn enemies of religion, don’t really feel they need to beat this dead horse anymore.
Aldo Maria Valli (a commendable and unique Vatican reporter, one that chose to jump off Bergoglio’s bandwagon at the precise moment when most others jumped on) commented that this text, allegedly coming from “the youth”, seems rather to closely reflect the mindset of someone who’s following 50 years old ideological blueprints; moreover the analysis contained therein is superficial and “seems to meet the expectations of the World: a loser Church, constantly required to defend itself from its accusers.”
We’ll get back to those ideas from 50 years ago. Just one final fragment of the text:
The Church must involve young people in its decision-making processes and offer them more leadership roles. These positions need to be on a parish, diocesan, national and international level, even on a commission to the Vatican. We strongly feel that we are ready to be leaders.
Well, you’re young, you want to lead and decide, you speak in the name of an abstract category, you express your feelings. What could possibly go wrong?
The foot soldiers of the Revolution
In Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 the brutal communist Khmer Rouge regime caused one of the worst genocides in history, with more than 2 million dead (a quarter of the total population of the country). It’s not just the appalling level of violence and starvation; the more details you know about the extent and absurdity of this social engineering experiment, the more you lose faith in humanity itself.
One of the cornerstones was the total renewal of the society; the only trustworthy subjects were young children who had no memory of a life before the revolution and could be brainwashed and modeled as perfect citizens of the new era.
Boys as young as 10 were put in charge of commandos and distinguished themselves for their cold brutality.
Empowering teenagers is one of the most dangerous actions you could carry out.
Oh, by the way: the anthem of the Italian Fascist regime was entitled Giovinezza (Youth). It originated from a goliardic song. Young and idealistic university students at the turn of the 20th century became inflamed with the fads of the time: nationalism and the cult of war as a cleansing force for humanity. They pushed for a participation in the First World War. Evolving into Fascism was the natural next step.
You may think those examples are too extreme and don’t apply here.
Well… In the 60s the student movements tried to obliterate traditional morality, effectively redefining our understanding of sexuality, family, identity and justice.
Self-restraint, virtue, modesty, purity, authority and even marriage became bad words.
The sexual revolution is still developing, notwithstanding the extensive damage already caused. Better, it’s expanding thanks to said damage. For example fewer and fewer people get married, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen any debate, let alone assertive proclamation, putting in question the opportunity of divorce. Even in the Church. Mostly through the pretense that you can’t really make those that have been through one feel bad…
The more people grow up in broken families, the more they insist this is the new normal, complaining that -alas- love doesn’t last, but insisting that the traditional family is just one of many equivalent possibilities, plus cohabitation is actually a splendid idea to get to field test your sex partner in everyday life before any further (provisional) commitment.
People who engage in sex before having a shot at achieving maturity; who often don’t have any experience, however indirect, of what matrimony really means, now demand that the Catholic Church reflect their cramped, dimly lit microcosm. Anything short of apologizing for its outdated doctrines would sound close-minded and non-inclusive.
Here’s a pope who, also thanks to his emotional connection to his own sister Maria Elena Bergoglio, who is divorced, seems determined to bend the unchangeable Catholic teachings on marriage in order to abolish them in practice while keeping them theoretically in force.
Case in point: the Eucharist for the divorced who remarried.
If you follow closely what happens in the Vatican and especially what transpires from Bergoglio’s interviews, you may agree that we’re not discussing isolated incidents. There’s a common thread that permeates this pontificate. From his words of support for extremist leftist groups to his sympathy and cordial dialogues with powerful atheist radicals like Eugenio Scalfari.
(This just in: today Scalfari published on the newspaper La Repubblica another one of his infamous dialogues with the Pope. This time the most appalling declaration attributed to Bergoglio, beyond his pride in being defined a revolutionary, is that there’s no such a thing as Hell! The unforgivable sinners simply disappear, according to his words. This is pure heresy. And yet the Pope can let such obscenities stand, without the need to correct or deny anything, since we can always assume that his pal and preferred journalist misquoted him. The net result is a doctrine that is neither affirmed nor denied, yet it’s still out there in the wild, in a sort of state of flux. Welcome to Schrödinger’s Theology!
Edit: the Holy See Press Office denied the authenticity of the content of the interview, which was the least you could ask for. But consider: anyone seriously interested in preventing such tripe from circulating would react way more energically. At any rate, he wouldn’t get back to further conversations with the same manipulative journalist, time and again, as it’s become customary.)
A transformative approach meant to bring the Church closer to the ideas of the world, slowly running away from its roots, so to speak. A revolution, but sotto voce. With no formal declaration.
Put things in motion, insist that delicate matters need further discussion, and the orthodox believers won’t find an explicit statement to object to; no smoking gun. But the revolutionaries will get the message: what was settled before is now open for debate. And since there would be no point in reopening the debate only to get back, after years of rumination, to the point where it started, change is taken as a given.
Key to this strategy, though, is anticipation. Pressure appearing to come from the pews. Letting the genie out of the bottle, spreading the idea that it’s impossible to turn back.
That’s why Francis insisted that while drafting the preparatory document for the Synod he expected the youth to speak freely, openly, boldly.
Young people looking down on the institution: that is the essence of the plan.
Forcing the fathers of the synod to exclaim: “Guys, we can’t be this out of touch, we really need to change!”
con franchezza e in tutta libertà. Faccia tosta!
A single document can’t cause much effect, but here we’re examining only a piece of the puzzle. It’s a complex battle because you can’t overplay your hand.
The 60s are still here
Many of those young students who used to attack the institutions 50 years ago later went on to build successful careers, taking control of those same institutions.
Our present society bears the fruits of their ideas.
The failures of their revolution greatly contributed to the dissatisfaction of the current student generation, but now those graying radicals, mostly retiring but still influential, found here a new fertile ground through a Machiavellian feat of mimetism: convincing young protesters that they should follow the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers, mistaking radical conformity for radical change. Under the pretense that we’re still hampered by what remains of centuries of western civilization. Those basic building blocks won’t dismantle themselves if you don’t take action, y’know!
There’s a parallel story in the Catholic Church. Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the spirit of the 60s has been repackaged as the true spirit of Vatican II.
Pushing for the progressive ideas that supposedly were contained implicitly in the Constitutions of the Council, or at least should have been put in there.
The generation of bishops who had memory of the hard lessons of WWII, by now dead or retired, is being replaced by churchmen who lived through their formative years this exuberant atmosphere of renewal and liturgical experimentation, naively opening to the world. Often falling in love with the most trendy (and seemingly unstoppable) ideologies of our time, Communism and Progressivism.
Since the Catholic Church is quite conservative and resilient to external pressure, only recently, through the unique figure of Francis those heralds of de-Catholicization reached the very top of the Church structure, with (finally) no authoritative figure in sight (think: Joseph Ratzinger) in a position to stop them.
They can barely contain their excitement: this is their chance, now that they’re elderly (after an entire life spent fighting against their superiors), to relaunch and popularize their stale myths of “reform”. Including the rhetoric of youth.
Encouraging the so-called Pope Boys to become enemies of Tradition, in their image. A legacy of disruption.
Winds of change, clouds on the horizon
In most of the underdeveloped world the mean age of the population is in the late teens, due to a demographic boom. Those billions of uneducated and restless persons are as close to a blank slate as you can get.
Meanwhile in the West scores of students attack the very foundation of their societies, painting with a broad brush and essentially condemning their entire history as too imperfect to be acceptable.
Additionally it’s not uncommon to read about teachers and educators who instructed their pupils to take notice of the behavior of their parents and possibly rebuke them if they didn’t align themselves to the latest ideological trend.
Nagging little rascals, fining their daddy because he didn’t recycle enough!
Don’t laugh though. As we’ve seen, reversing the roles and letting young, easily manipulated activists decide based on their distorted perception of competence could lead to catastrophic consequences.
The worst possible moment for change is when everybody’s asking for it.
Something sinister is brewing.
The Pope would be, you’d think, the most appropriate person to contrast this transformation, sounding words of caution and defending tradition.
The case for Tradition.
Wisdom is distilled through centuries of hard work, trial and error, wars and misery; eventually accepting -and passing on- the fundamental principles that define a civilization; principles so complex and profound, especially in their long term ramifications, that their rationale isn’t even fully understood by those who uphold them.
Therefore self-preservation (and any chance of further improvement!) lies in the ability of a society to prevent anyone but a few exceptional geniuses from tampering with its inner workings.
On the contrary to those who desire change wisdom becomes indistinguishable from blind acceptance of outdated and meaningless ideas.
The more advanced a society, the subtler and more fragile the barrier between real progress and decadence.
The spoiled children of today, passing harsh judgments on human history from the comfort of their couches, mistakenly believe they know better.
They’ll pay dearly for this hubris.
If you want destruction you should give power to the youth.
Francis knows it.
Enjoy your Holy Week.