Part III Good out of Evil Papal Corruption
To conclude our series we must look into some of the aspects of the Francis pontificate that have been positive, then we will hazard a guess as to what might be the greatest good that God will bring out of this evil pontificate. As we have seen with the first two pornocracies, even evil popes can do great things. Why is this?
First we must remember that all men are divided in their hearts between good and evil. This mysterium iniquitatis is summed up beautifully by Solzhenitsyn:
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Those who think they can avoid Church corruption by leaving the Church are attempting to live in a fantasy world where evil men do not exist. The frightful reality is that you can never escape from the evil present in your own heart!
Further, when we look out on Church corruption, it is easy to simply think about the pope and bishops as evil, while we are the good ones. Even if this is generally true, each human person before the final judgment is more complex than purely good or purely evil. An evil man can sometimes do good, and a good man can sometimes do evil.
Finally, we must also remember that the Vatican is a massive bureaucracy. There are many different people who work in the Vatican at different congregations, and at least some of them are striving to be good Catholics, even in a period of extreme corruption such as our own. There will always be good men out there pulling strings in the right directions.
So for whatever reason, even if the Francis pontificate is the worst pontificate in history, I believe we can still find a number of significant good things that Pope Francis has done, which may have lasting positive effects.
1. More Marian Feast Days
The first good thing that Pope Francis has done is institute the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church on the Monday of the Pentecost octave. This helps to restore something of the Pentecost octave, just as St. John Paul II restored the Pentecost Vigil (suppressed by Pius XII). But the spirituality of Our Lady as mother of the Church has far reaching implications at a time when the Church is in crisis. This title of Our Lady is a salve on the wounds of Catholics hearts. Meditating upon this truth brings the soul back to Revelation 12 which speaks of her motherhood over the Church at the time when the dragon is making war against us, her offspring. This feast and title is like the Mother of God interposing her maternal care over us, despite everything.
In a similar, indirect way of restoring the octaves Pius XII threw out, Pope Francis also inserted Our Lady of Loreto into the Octave of the Immaculate Conception on December 10. Thus with Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas on December 12th, the glories of Mary shine out from her Immaculate Conception. This helps promote this traditional and astounding miracle with its great Litany for the faithful for the salvation of souls.
2. The Year of St. Joseph
Along with Our Lady we can give thanks to God that Pope Francis proclaimed the year of St. Joseph and published Patris Corde: On the 150th Anniversary of Proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. I firmly believe that devotion to the earthly father of Christ is a boon and a balm for modernity, with its great and ubiquitous father wound. The fact that Pope Francis did this helps to alleviate the father wound that many experience from Pope Francis himself. I have done the consecration to St. Joseph promoted by Fr. Calloway, and I firmly believe the importance of this devotion for our time. Therefore I thank Pope Francis for this.
Concerning the Greek schisms, promoting this devotion goes a long way to promoting the universal primacy of the Pope, since it strengthens the spiritual basis upon which we call upon universal fatherhood.
3. Strong Rhetoric Against Child Murder
Here we come to various words and deeds of the Holy Father which may or may not be sincere. But as St. Paul said, What matter, so long as either way, for private ends or in all honesty, Christ is proclaimed? Of that I am glad now; yes, and I shall be glad hereafter (Phillip. ii. 18). Thus even if some things that Pope Francis has done or said are insincere or even have a selfish motive, in the end the Gospel is preached, and for that we should be grateful.
For the rhetoric of the Holy Father has been strong against child murder, likening it to “hiring a hitman to solve a problem.” This is very powerful imagery and truly condemns child murder with the utmost severity, as is fitting. In Laudato Si’ he also numbers the unborn among the poor and vulnerable humans that should be protected (117, 120), cutting against the Marxist abuse of the poor for child murder as well
It is true that Pope Francis has undermined this stand with other statements or by his relation to those who practice or promote this evil, but this does not negate the positive effect of this fitting rhetoric.
4. The Reorientation of the Papacy on behalf of the Poor
This is another example of a possibly insincere action, since even as a bishop in Argentina, Bergoglio would bring video cameras with him when he met with the poor, as Henry Sire notes in The Dictator Pope.
But even if the Pope is promoting the poor as a show of piety, nevertheless he is helping the poor. These are good optics for the world to see what the Church stands for, and this always commands respect. Even if the Church is judged by her enemies on purely secular grounds, the Roman Catholic Church is the greatest humanitarian organisation in history and the present world. Thus there is great good for souls even if Pope Francis is making a show of piety here.
5. The promotion of intergenerational communities, particularly with his attention to elderly populations
A few years ago, Pope Francis created World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. It is held on the Fourth Sunday in July, the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Anne (or Ss. Joachim and Anne, in the new calendar).
This is a very good thing, for the generational breakdown has been severe in modernity, and strengthening these bonds and caring for the elderly is essential to the Fourth Commandment. In order to restore the family, we must restore the intergenerational family, wherein grandparents live nearby their children and children’s children, and act as Patriarch and Matriarch over a whole family system of love and support. This was how people lived before insurance and 401k options. And we must do so again.
6. Measured Critique of Modernity in Laudato Si’
The encyclical Laudato Si’, contrary to the popular narrative, has a great deal of good for the Church. We do not have space to delve into all of its good here, but I will hazard a rough summary. First of all, the encyclical’s statements on climate change are minimal, and can be disputed for scientific reasons, as with any scientific claim in any papal encyclical.
Second, as with the strong rhetoric against child murder, this encyclical numbers unborn children among the poorest of the poor made vulnerable by environmental degradation (in paragraph 117). Obviously the child murderer Jeffrey Sachs missed that paragraph when he praised the encyclical, hoping it would justify his globalism.
One of the greatest aspects of the encyclical is its definition and critique of a pervasive, insidious spiritual problem that cuts to the heart of metaphysics, the “technocratic paradigm”:
The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us (106, emphasis in the original).
Notice the defence of Tradition in this paragraph (“for a long time…”) against a Modernist approach to nature itself (“Now, by contrast…”).
But Pope Francis is not just idealising traditional farming ways of life. This technocratic paradigm must be faced by every Catholic head on. It is a wicked form of scientism that has obtained since the time of Newton, Galileo, and other alchemists. This also helps provide a critique of the gender ideology, which is utterly anti-nature. This forms the basis for a truly orthodox theology of creation, as we see in the Creation Theology Fellowship and the St. Basil Institute.
For more on this point, I refer readers to Gideon Lazar in his analysis contained on his channel.
Lazar emphasizes how the encyclical relies heavily on Bonaventure in order to provide a critique of modernity and its technocratic vision. Another good reflection is contained in the Thomas Storck edited Glory of the Cosmos by Arouca Press (which includes a contribution from Peter Kwasniewski). This book unpacks the metaphysical issues that are latent in the aforementioned section of Laudato Si’ also relying on Romano Guardini’s critique of industrialisation, as Pope Francis does.
But again, these positive things about Laudato Si’ do not take away the negatives: the encyclical has been used by the globalists to promote their agenda (with at least tacit approval from the Vatican).
7. The Consecration of Russia
This may prove to be the greatest thing Pope Francis did in his pontificate. According to Bishop Schneider, this was finally the Consecration of Russia in the words, intention, and manner that Our Lady of Fatima requested. If this is true (which is a reasonable belief), then Pope Francis’ pontificate will be remembered for helping to bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our time! Of course, this cannot come about without widespread penance on our part.
8. Promoting peace in Ukraine
Throughout the awful invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Pope Francis has continually been a pope of peace, as all popes have been in the modern period, when war has become so horrific with many civilian deaths and technology with dubious moral justification. It is true that some bad motives might be behind this, such as a false belief that Catholic just war theory is no longer Catholic teaching. Nevertheless, as in the example about the poor above, this promotion of peace is what the pope should be doing, which helps all sides and ultimately promotes a swift end to this awful conflict.
9. The restoration of the traditional ordination of married men in the Eastern Catholic Churches in the States
Leo XIII promised in one of his encyclicals that if the Greeks were to return to Rome, all of their local customs would be respected. In the next pontificate, the Greeks were given an example of the opposite.
Due to an unfortunate conflict with the Irish bishops in the United States, St. Pius X ended up forbidding the ordination of married men in the Eastern rites in the United States. This was an abuse of power by Pius X. The ordination of married men has been an apostolic tradition since before Nikaia, and the suppression of this tradition seems to show to the Greeks that their traditions are not safe in Rome. The answer, of course, is given by the Eastern Catholics, who resisted this and suffered under it, but stayed in communion. Nevertheless it provoked many thousands to leave the Catholic Church and join the Orthodox in the United States (led by their saint, Alexis Toth).
Thanks be to God, Pope Francis reversed this ruling and restored the traditional rights of ordaining married men.
10. The giving of faculties to the SSPX
Pope Francis has also given wide permissions and faculties to the SSPX, which helps to heal this division and regularise this important society of priests. This is in contradiction, of course, to his subsequent actions in Traditionis Custodes. Nevertheless, these are very positive and important indeed.
11. Decree of protection for the FSSP
His Holiness also issued a very strong decree of protection for the FSSP, which confirms them in their charism of preserving the ancient Roman rite for their faithful, again in contradiction to Traditionis Custodes.
12. Canon Law against Female Ordination
Pope Francis also approved a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See for anyone who attempts to ordain a woman, as well as the woman herself. This is a very severe penalty and is strong against the overtures for female ordination (including to the deaconate) which have been tacitly promoted by the Vatican.
13. A Moderate Response to the Israel-Hamas War
It is far beyond the scope of this short article to delve into this explosive topic with the erudition it needs, but nevertheless I must hazard a comment for this final good thing, in my opinion, that Pope Francis has done.
For Catholics in these United States, our views toward the modern state of Israel are usually more influenced by the Protestant ideology of Zionism rather than the Catholic Faith. In my view, a Catholic and rational view of this conflict would conclude – as Israeli and Arab Catholics seem to conclude – that there are two legitimate claims to the land from the Israelis and the Arabs. The Catholics there are stuck in the middle of this conflict – whether they are Hebrew Catholics, Arab Catholics or one of the many other ethnic Catholics who live there and maintain the Holy Land and her pilgrimage sites. Having studied the conflict for some time, I believe this moderate stance which acknowledges the just titles of both peoples (with Catholics on both sides) to be the truly Catholic approach. Indeed modern warfare is almost never a matter of “good guys vs. bad guys” contrary to what almost every news outlet had told us for decades about virtually every armed conflict in the modern period.
This Catholic stance in the Holy Land has been promoted manfully by the Catholic bishop of Israel, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. He has acted as a fearless man of God and defender of peace and justice not only for his own flock of Hebrew, Arab or other Catholics, but also to non-Catholics and non-Christians. When we compare this Catholic stance to the views of Catholics in the United States, we get more of a one-sided approach to this conflict influenced, as I said, by Protestant Zionism. It is not the one-sided approach of Americans that the Holy Father has promoted in the new Gaza conflict, but the Catholic approach of Cardinal Pizzaballa.
After the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the response of the Holy Father was moderate:
He begged both sides to “please stop the attacks and weapons and understand that terrorism and war do not lead to any solution, but only to the death and suffering of many innocent people”.
“War is a defeat, every war is always a defeat,” he said, and asked faithful to join him in praying for peace in Israel and Palestine.
This “both sides” approach angered the state of Israel, who has enjoyed a one-sided response from American media who immediately condemned Hamas as “terrorists” who launched an “unprovoked” invasion of Israel. This was very similar to the way American media called the 9/11 attached “unprovoked.” Like 9/11, the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel was indeed “unprovoked” in one sense, but in another sense it is misleading and fails to recognise the injustice which fuels terrorism.
Instead, later in December of 2023 Pope Francis seemed to say that there were terrorists on both sides of the conflict, both targeting civilians and unarmed women and children, when he condemned the Israeli attack on the Gaza Catholic church. Led by the aforementioned local bishop (as he should be), the Holy Father is promoting a true dialogue between both sides in Israel, and this is the approach of the Holy See to war in general, as it should be. Again, as with the Ukraine example, there might be some false ideas about war involved here, but nevertheless this does not negate the fact that his words and deeds here are good.
What about the Holy Office Responsum
Regarding Same-Sex Blessings?
On March 15, 2021, the Holy Office decreed that the Church has no authority to “give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex,” and this decree was approved by His Holiness. When I first reflected on good things Pope Francis has done, this list included this document. As we know, since the appointment of His Eminence, Cardinal Tucho Fernández to the Vatican doctrinal congregation, this decree has been undermined and contradicted by the decree Fiducia Supplicans (2023). As a result we cannot really include this in the list of good things Pope Francis has done.
Nevertheless, unlike Traditionis Custodes, Fiducia is explicitly claimed to not abrogate the decree of 2021, but rather “develop it.” So the 2021 decree remains in force and, since it seems to be the one that is more in line with Tradition, it is not unreasonable to hope that the 2021 document will be the “last word standing” on same-sex blessings, once the theologians and the Magisterium work out this imbroglio caused by Fiducia.
The Greatest Good out of the Evil Francis Pontificate?
Here we must note another positive thing, and perhaps the greatest, which seems to be coming out of this Francis Pontificate: an end to hyperüberultramontanism, “the false spirit of Vatican I.”
Many good Catholics are looking at the situation and finding that there is no way that the Pope is free from error in every case. It makes more sense that the infallible protection is more restricted than many had thought. It makes more sense that the Catholic Church authority should be restored to the local bishop in communion with Rome. It makes more sense that Catholics should not be constantly looking to Rome for their daily Catholic life.
Thus God has punished us with a bad pope for our sins. But I believe He will bring good out of evil by opening our eyes to a more balanced practice of the Catholic faith through limiting the Papacy as the center of gravity for Catholic life.
This balancing approach to the Papacy is being published in mainstream places like Nova et Vetera, Communio, and St. Paul Center’s Emmaus Academy. In print, we see the book Defending the Faith against Present Heresies bringing together Catholics of all stripes to oppose Francis and thus undermine hyperüberultramontanism.
In the future, the Francis Pontificate will likely be used as an example to decree or dogmatize a clarification of Vatican I, which shows the limits of papal infallibility, condemning an excessive papalism that has obtained until now.
This, I believe, will be the greatest good to come out of the evil Francis pontificate. Although, it might take five hundred years for this to come about. But in the meantime, Jesus is on the throne.
 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, abridged ed. trans. Whitney & Willets (Harper: 2007), 75.
 This is not to exclude a form of Catholic support for the modern state of Israel which is entirely legitimate. I mean rather to state the origins and mainstream ideas of Zionism come from Protestantism and non-Christian Judaism whose influence can excessively influence Catholics in the United States. For a legitimate form of Catholic support for Israel see, for example, Lawrence Feingold, “The Return to the Land of Israel As an Eschatological Sign in the Light of Romans 11,” D’Costa and Shapiro, eds. Contemporary Catholic Approaches to the People Land and State of Israel (Washington D.C: Catholic University of America Press, 2022).