Pope Francis speaks during his general audience at the Vatican Oct. 26, 2022. CNS photo/Vatican Media via Reuters

Starting to feel Francis is including me out

  • October 26, 2022

My inclination is to defend whoever is our pope. I say this for several reasons. For one a pope is Christ’s shadow on Earth. I also believe popes are chosen by men influenced by the Holy Spirit. Lastly, I’m a convert. The idea of criticizing a pope seems presumptuous for someone relatively new to the faith.

But there are cracks in my resolve. 

Pope Francis has been the subject of much criticism from, for lack of a better term, the more traditionalist side. We hear he’s been destroying the Church through his liberal agenda. He’s also been accused of supporting the gay lifestyle (“Who am I to judge?”), favouring the married priesthood, women becoming priests and allowing communion for the divorced and remarried who did not first seek a Church annulment. 

Yet none of these things came to pass. I believe Francis’ reasons for bringing up these subjects was that they have been in the air for ages. He wanted to at least have some dialogue to put them to bed. In other words: “We’re listening but we’re not going to change certain things because we can’t.” 

Unfortunately, there are genuine reasons to be concerned with Francis’ papacy. 

First is his obsession with quashing the Latin Mass. From what I’ve read, he finds those who attend the old Mass arrogant and dismissive of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. He fears a Latin elite who will cause division. Yet those who attend the old rite tend to be the most faithful of Catholics. No one will ever see the Latin Mass folks arguing for Church-approved gay marriage or the female priesthood. Besides, I’ve attended Latin Mass many times and most of those in the pews were simply good Catholics.

Were some dismissive of the Novus Ordo Mass? Yes. But who cares? If this is the biggest problem the Church has, then we have no problems at all.

What has most shocked me was Francis’ decision in 2018 to allow the Chinese communist government to have a say in selecting bishops. I can’t emphasize how terrible the decision was. China is officially atheistic. It regularly throws Christian pastors, and those who attend so-called unofficial churches, in prison. It’s almost as if praying without a licence is a crime under the Red flag of oppression.

In August, the Catholic News Agency reported there are Chinese bishops working in concert with the communist government to “proceed with the ‘Sinicization’ of Catholicism in China.”

Sinicization means  aligning the faith, in part, to China’s political ideology, which includes official state atheism.

To me it was a way of saying to the bullies in Beijing: “Don’t worry. We’ll be good.” How one can be a good Catholic and good communist is a mystery.

“They’re (sending) the flock into the mouths of the wolves. It’s an incredible betrayal,” Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former archbishop of Hong Kong, said when the deal was implemented.

Cardinal Zen is now on trial for a trumped-up charge of financial fraud. So far, the Vatican has said little about the trial. Again, we don’t want to get the tyrants angry.

And the 2018 deal has just been renewed for another two years.

Finally, there’s the recent appointment of Italian-American economist Mariana Mazzucato to the Pontifical Academy of Life. Is it Francis’ idea of inclusiveness?

Mazzucato is pro-abortion and was upset at the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Consider the video she posted on her Twitter account of American progressive politician Ana Kasparian ranting about the Catholic position on abortion.

“These comments might be strong but it’s how I genuinely feel. I don’t care that you’re a Christian. I don’t care what the Bible says. I feel like it’s a clown show…trying to decipher what your little mythical book has to say about these very real political issues,” Kasparian said.

In case anyone misunderstood, she added: “I don’t care about your “g*****mned religion.”

Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University called the appointment “shocking and scandalous.”

“Either one believes in this mission or one does not. If one does not, then why would one wish to be part of the Pontifical Academy?” George told Catholic News Agency.

I’m assuming somewhere out there is a highly educated Catholic economist that Francis could have appointed. But perhaps that would not be inclusive enough.

(Lewis is a regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)

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