If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. – Sun Tzu, Art of War
I keep trying to think of a movie scene to illustrate my point, but I’m grasping at straws. It’s such a common theme – the underdog who manages to keep prevailing despite all odds, the superior foe shaking a clenched fist and issuing a spittle-flecked tirade of incredulity, the unmasking of the villain who would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
If it sounds absurd, it is. As I said a couple of weeks ago:
— Steve Skojec (@SteveSkojec) May 19, 2017
I was referring, of course, to Cardinal Mariadiaga’s very public and even more petty scolding of Cardinal Burke. From the Crux story cited in my tweet:
American Cardinal Raymond Burke was recently dismissed as a “disappointed man” upset over the loss of his power by fellow Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, coordinator of Pope Francis’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers.
In the new interview, Maradiaga comes out swinging.
“That cardinal who sustains this,” Maradiaga said, referring to the criticism of Amoris, “is a disappointed man, in that he wanted power and lost it. He thought he was the maximum authority in the United States.
“He’s not the magisterium,” Maradiaga said, referring to the authority to issue official teaching. “The Holy Father is the magisterium, and he’s the one who teaches the whole Church. This other [person] speaks only his own thoughts, which don’t merit further comment.
“They are the words,” Maradiaga said, “of a poor man.”
Maradiaga also criticized conservative schools of thought in Catholicism, of which Burke is often seen as a symbol.
“These currents of the Catholic right are persons who seek power and not the truth, and the truth is one,” he said. “If they claim to find some ‘heresy’ in the words of Francis, they’re making a big mistake, because they’re thinking only like men and not as the Lord wants.
“What sense does it have to publish writings against the pope, which don’t damage him but ordinary people? What does a right-wing closed on certain points accomplish? Nothing!
“Ordinary people are with the pope, this is completely clear,” Maradiaga said. “I see that everywhere.
“Those who are proud, arrogant, who believe they have a superior intellect … poor people! Pride is also a form of poverty,” he said.
“The greatest problem, however, is the disorientation that’s created among people when they read affirmations of bishops and cardinals against the Holy Father,” he said.
Maradiaga called his fellow cardinals to loyalty.
“I think that one of the qualities we cardinals [should have] is loyalty,” he said. “Even if we don’t all think the same way, we still have to be loyal to Peter.”
Whoever doesn’t offer that loyalty, he said, “is just seeking attention.”
Sounds like someone’s feeling a little sensitive.
This is why Maradiaga is seen by pretty much everyone outside
the inner circle of papal henchmen C9 as a cruel joke. He’s a hothead, an unapologetic Modernist, an advocate for irreversible Church “reform“, quite likely a Communist sympathizer, and by all appearances a comically scornful man. This isn’t the first time he’s lashed out at his ecclesiastical opponents in a public forum.
I’d think that would make him more of a liability than an asset, but with colleagues like Cardinals Marx and Kasper, this isn’t exactly the enemy’s A-game we’re facing. It’s taken them over half a century to set up this hive of scum and villainy inside the apostolic see, and the key players have all been damaged by the intoxicating effects of their errors. They may have the devil’s own luck, but they don’t have God’s blessing. And in religious affairs, that’s kind of a big deal.
On the same topic, Fred Martinez, one of our readers and the blogger at Catholic Monitor, passed along this tidbit. It’s simply too encouraging not to share:
A Vatican expert who has met Pope Francis told me:
“There’s an old saying: the the louder they scream, the scare-der they are. This applies to Oscar the Grouch.”
“Maradiaga’s unprovoked, caustic, low blow at Burke is simply bizarre, but it signals to me that they are losing their popularity. Oscar’s rant signals desperation. He senses the wind is shifting away from the merciful Pope.”
“The fact that Burke is still around, gaining traction and the voice of the Resistance is infuriating them.”
According to the source who wishes to remain anonymous, “Francis is very thin skinned.” The “series of Resistance conferences in Rome’s steps” and the “band of bloggers” is getting “under his skin.”
The Vatican expert’s advice to the Resistance and the band of bloggers:
“Keep the heat on.”
It’s interesting to think that Cardinal Richelieu may no longer have the distinction of being history’s most notoriously devious and power hungry member of the curia. If Maradiaga’s clumsy outbursts are any indication, however, Richelieu is in no danger of being unseated in terms of competence and accomplishment.
As for keeping the heat on: you’d better believe it.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.