calls cohabitation "real marriage."1
He refers to Italy's most prolific abortion supporter as "one of the
He bows down before a statue of Pachamama, an Amazonian demon-godess.3
He refers to as "a man" a woman who had sexual reassignment surgery.4
He talks about love and mercy, but treats orthodox Catholics like dirt.5
He kowtows to China's Communists, selling out faithful Chinese
Catholics in the process.6
He constantly pushes for the mass immigration of Muslims into Europe,7
and belittles the martyrdom of Christian victims of jihad when he
co-signs, with a Grand Imam, a statement that says that the “pluralism
and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.”8
A list of the problems the faithful are suffering under Pope Francis
could go on for a long, long
time. And in response, confusion, anger, despair, and infighting
abound. Some think the Pope is a heretic and is, therefore, no longer
the Pope. Some think that may be true, but they don't have the
authority to proclaim it. Some think he was not rightfully elected in
the first place,
and that Benedict is the Pope. Some go back and forth, and in the
meanwhile, post walls of text from everything from Canon Law to St.
Robert Bellarmine to support their thesis-du-jour. Some think they not
only have it all figured out, but have the authority to "excommunicate"
or call "schismatic" those who disagree with their conclusions. Some
fear that "the
Church" is no longer the Church, and leave in despair. Some are just
confused and don't know what to think.
But we don't have to have it all figured out. If Francis had not been
rightfully elected, or if he's lost the papacy due to heresy, it's not
up to us laypeople to figure out. That's not our job. That's up to a
future Pope to handle. And we Catholics need to remain calm and carry
on as Catholics always had, no matter who the Pope is or isn't or might
be or could be, no matter if Francis is the last Pope or a Pope to be
followed by 277 more Popes or not a Pope at all.
Look, St. Peter, our first Pope, denied Christ three times, and St.
Paul "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed"
(Galatians 2:11). Pope Honorius I was proclaimed a heretic by the
Council. We had 67 years of "the Avignon papacy," or the great Western
Schism, which began with friends of France's King Phillip IV beating
Pope Boniface VIII, and was followed by: their being absolved by his
successor, Pope Benedict XI; a friend of the King becoming Pope Clement
V; the curia moving from Rome to Poitiers and, later, Avignon; and
years of Pope and anti-Popes -- during which people who were later
canonized argued against each other about which man was the true Pope.
We endured the
"Borgia Popes" with their mistresses and embrace of usury.
The point: as Pope Leo the Great said, "the dignity of Peter suffers no
diminution even in an unworthy successor" (cujus dignitas etiam in indigno haerede
non deficit). None of the above, and none of Francis's doings
make the papacy less what Christ made it. And certainly none of it
"the Church" has gone off the rails. If you're dazed and confused and,
especially, if you're prone to despair over all this, you
simply must come to have a deeper sense of history -- and to know
precisely what papal infallibility is and isn't.
You have to keep in mind always that we've been promised that the gates
of Hell will never prevail against Christ's Church. But that doesn't
mean that we've been promised a leisurely walk in a rose garden. Quite
the contrary: we've been told that, toward the end of time, the Church
will follow Christ in His Passion and Resurrection. We will
have much to suffer. Whether that "end of time" is now, I can't say.
But we don't have to worry about that either; each individual, no
matter in what historical period he lives, has his own "end of time" to
endure. Each of us will die. And that
-- not Church politics -- is what
we are here to concern ourselves with.
If the horrors of Francis's papacy derange you and negatively affect
your faith, stop reading about him, and keep in mind the hundreds and
hundreds of years of Church history in which the typical Catholic knew
nothing about what was going on in Rome. Minding the 24/7 news cycle
that repeats papal blatherings uttered on a plane is not typical of how
Catholicism was lived for its first 1,950 years.
Build up in your mind a
concept of the Church as what She truly is: the spotless Bride of
Christ, made pure by grace. She is like a Platonic Idea, greater in Her
Form than Her earthly manifestation lets on with its sinners and
many in clerical robes. She is not just the Church Militant, but the
Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant. No matter how badly those
aforementioned sinners and rogues dirty Her garments, She,
spotless, and outside of Her, there is no salvation.
Focus on your soul and the salvation of those you love, especially
those you have a duty toward. Stay close to Christ. Develop a deep
prayer life. Receive the Sacraments. Find particular devotions that
suit you. Will to grow in virtue.
Embrace Tradition. Attend
only the traditional Mass
if it's at all possible. Study
the Faith to know what
is true and what is not,
and hand that Faith down to your children. Focus on the domestic church, your home, and
make it a place of joy and peace. Live
deeply the liturgical year and its seasons.
Form communities with
like-minded Catholics. Starve the USCCB and similar Bishops'
conferences, and do the same with heresy-ridden parishes, supporting
traditional priests, religious, and apostolates instead. And don't let
fools with mitres and Roman collars take you away from Christ and His
Church; they only have that power if you give it to them.
Finally, when you're tempted to despair, think of what Christ said to
disciples when they were on a boat in a raging, stormy sea, and pray
for faith if you lack it:
And He saith to them that day, when evening was come: Let us
pass over to the other side. And sending away the multitude, they take
Him even as He was in the ship: and there were other ships with Him.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the
ship, so that the ship was filled.
And He was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a
pillow; and they awake Him, and say to Him: Master, doth it not concern
Thee that we perish?
And rising up, He rebuked the wind, and said to the sea:
Peace, be still. And the wind ceased: and there was made a great calm.
And He said to them: Why are you
fearful? have you not faith yet?