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How To Win Friends and Influence The People—or, Nothing Personal​,​ But You’re The Pope

Munkácsy Ecce homo
Munkácsy Mihály: “Ecce Homo!” (1896)
“[W]hen asked how he would like to be remembered, Francis simply responded: ‘As a good guy. … I hope they say: “He was a good guy who tried to do good.” I have no other aspirations.'” — Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. (, May 25, 2015)
“‘I do not like the word “narcissism,” the pope said, ‘it indicates excessive love for oneself and this is not good, it can cause serious harm not only to the soul of the one who is affected by it, but also in relationships with others, with the society in which one lives. The true trouble is that those who are most stricken by this which in reality is a sort of mental disturbance are persons who have a great deal of power. Bosses are often narcissists.'” — Eugenio Scalfari (La Repubblica, October 1, 2013)
“[Let us] no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.” — Ephesians 4:14 (RSV)
The Extraordinary Synod in Rome drew to a close Saturday, just as the mega-hurricane Patricia dwindled to a mere tropical storm.1 This is a win of sorts for Rome: the Synod managed to cause far more damage and chaos than the largest hurricane ever recorded by satellite, proving that the Church is still a mighty force in the world. As dizzying and dismaying as the recent Synod was for many Catholics, it was just the latest variation on a familiar theme. The Synod was dubbed “Vatican III” by some observers, and with good reason. Pope Francis, in his address marking the 50th anniversary of the permanent Synod of Bishops as a whole, drew an explicit connection between the nature and purpose of the Synod and the Second Vatican Council, saying, “the Synod … is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council. For Blessed Paul VI, the Synod of Bishops was meant to keep alive the image of the Ecumenical Council and to reflect the conciliar spirit and method,” thereby officially invoking the “Spirit of Vatican II” as the basis of his vision for a synodal, decentralized Church. The bitter pill which many battle-weary conservatives must swallow is that thinking in terms of the dread “Spirit of Vatican II” is a feature, not a bug, of Francis’s papacy, and of the Conciliar Epoch as a whole.
In the name of taking a “pastoral” approach, the hierarchy at Vatican II decided to open the Church’s proverbial windows, let down the Bride of Christ’s proverbial hair, and adapt its message to be more in harmony with the world’s modes of thought. As an explicitly “pastoral” council, it followed that Vatican II was to be the most “personal” of councils, the main aim of which was to engage in unconditional interpersonal dialogue, and to overcome interpersonal, social barriers that a rigid and centralized papal tradition had built up against the world—to “raze the bastions” as Hans Urs von Balthasar would have called such papal perestroika. The aim of the Council was not to correct or—gasp!—condemn prevailing errors and worldly trends by simply reaffirming traditional teaching.
Fresh, not harsh; vibrant, not staid—that’s the ticket, fellas.
People over ideas; appearances over propositions; candidness over canons—that’s what the world needs, fellas.

man men creativity

Dialogue Or Bust 
Since Vatican II, then, the idée fixe for the hierarchy has been pastoral accommodation. While “the personal touch” is very important in evangelism and pastoral ministry, the Evil One never ceases trying to twist our good ideas and best practices into his own weapons. The prevailing assumption for decades has been that the main risks in evangelism are “proselytism” and “judgmentalism”, and that the worst sins in ministry are  “Pharisaism” and “dogmatism”. (Never mind trying to pin down what these terms mean; all we need to remember is that they’re taboo!) The problem is that these prevailing assumptions ignore the other side of the coin, namely, that persons-over-ideas pastoralism is fraught with dangers of its own, dangers which the Evil One constantly exploits to undermine the Gospel, as was manifest during the Synod, where a call for “mercy” and “listening” was a raft for heresy. Meanwhile, a commitment to plain ol’ Catholic orthopraxis was sneered at as, you guessed it—Pharisaism and dogmatism.
Providentially, last week I discovered some insights that encouraged me as much as they enlightened me about the underlying causes of the scandal and confusion emanating from the hierarchy (cf. I Corinthians 14:33). While the Synod seems to have blown over, much as Hurricane Patricia fizzled out, the effects of the confusion and uncertainty unleashed there must be redressed with solid spiritual wisdom—with mature spiritual discernment—as we proceed along the path of synodal “decentralization” that Pope Francis envisions for the Church.
Spiritual Discernment 
Translated into English in 1996, Fr. Segundo Galilea’s book, Temptation and Discernment, provides a brief but very enriching guide to spiritual discernment in the overlapping spheres of Christian ministry and prayer. Galilea, a Chilean priest who died in 2010, defines the discernment of spirits as “discerning what is a call from God and what is temptation” (p. 11). He admits that the discernment of spirits is “much more complex than any other type of discernment,” which is why he relies so heavily on “the most well known and influential” guides to such discernment, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. John of the Cross.
The two mystics, Galilea notes, agree on a fundamental criterion in spiritual discernment: “the most subtle and dangerous temptation in spiritual persons is that which occurs under the appearance of good” (p. 15; my emphasis). Thus, in the fourth rule of the Second Week of his Spiritual Exercises (#332), St. Ignatius warns, “It is a mark of the evil spirit to assume the appearance of an angel of light. He begins by suggesting thoughts that are suited to a devout soul, and ends by suggesting his own” (ibid.; my emphasis).2 This danger is also sometimes referred to as “in cauda venenum“. St. John likewise warns “that among the many wiles of the devil for deceiving spiritual persons, the most common is deceiving them under the appearance of good rather than of evil, for the devil already knows that they will scarcely choose a recognized evil (Precautions, 10)” (ibid.). In our day the dominant method for smuggling evil under the appearance of good is invoking buzzwords like “mercy,” “conscience,” “dialogue,” “courage,” “freedom,” “creativity,” and the like.3 U.S. Presidents have not needed to change the Constitution to flout it, so why should leading prelates have to “change doctrine” to achieve the same effect?
Fueled by such Pavlovian buzzwords, Christian witness descends from principled discourse to personal interaction. Insofar as the Divine Logos (or, Idea) is a Divine Person, there simply can be no clash in evangelism between being rational and being personal. The most personal thing we can do is rationally proclaim the Good News that Divine Reason is the greatest Person in existence, and that Reason Himself loves us from all eternity. Yet, while “the personal” and “the principled”—the doctrinal and the pastoral—are inseparable, we must also respect the revealed teleology of the Gospel: all personal interaction is directed towards defending and articulating the principles of Christ’s loving reign. A focus on persons, therefore, is but a means to an end, that of “pulling down … fortifications, destroying counsels and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, DRA).
But back to Fr. Galilea’s manual.
He mentions a final criterion for true spiritual discernment, namely, that one must avoid subjective bias and error by consulting with competent people for their advice. As St. Ignatius explains: “When the enemy of our human nature tempts a just soul with his wiles and seductions, he earnestly desires that they be received secretly and kept secret. But if one manifests them to a confessor, or some other spiritual person who understands his deceits and malicious designs, the evil one is very much vexed. For he knows that he cannot succeed in his evil undertaking, once his evident deceits have been revealed” (“Rules for the Discernment of Spirits,” The First Week, Spiritual Exercises, 326; my emphasis).
Perhaps you’ve heard that we should keep our worries to ourselves, and keep mum about the scandalous gyrations of the hierarchy. While I do not endorse tearing down bishops and the pope in public, we must accept the fact that keeping silent about spiritual dangers—much like keeping silent about abusive priests—is exactly what the Devil wants. We must not cause undue scandal with muckraking, but we dare not play the Devil’s game of keeping silent in the face of evil. (Just ask the sexual abuse victims at the hands of sly pervert priests and their complicit bishops.) As St. Ignatius teaches, the Evil One “cannot succeed in his evil undertaking, once his evident deceits have been revealed”! Where the line falls between scandal and speaking the truth in love is, of course, why we must cultivate spiritual discernment.
The demon of messianism leads ministers to set themselves up as the center of all pastoral activity in which they participate. The temptation subtly penetrates their lives, until they end up feeling indispensable in everything. … Those who fall into this temptation do not ignore God nor do they fail to pray and appeal to the Lord with problems. They do so, however, so that God may help them in the ministry they plan and direct. Ultimately, what we are dealing with here is incorporating the Lord into our work, and not incorporating ourselves into the work of God. Following the temptation, we unconsciously substitute our personal messianism for the messianic ministry of Christ, the one evangelizer.
This attitude before God manifests itself in an equally faulty attitude toward those with whom we collaborate. We become incapable of delegating responsibilities or tasks. We do not really trust people, except for a few—those who are a consistently faithful copy of ourselves, with whom we permanently surround ourselves. … There is always a relationship between the attitude towards God and the attitude towards others, and vice versa. Distrust of collaborators in ministry, therefore, reflects a distrust in God. This is what we mean by the demon of messianism. …
The messianic attitude does not allow others to grow, since the apostolic endeavor’s growth and maturity do not run parallel as they should with the maturation and growth of all who carry it out. In the same way, the messianic ministers’ [sic] initiatives and creations do not necessarily contribute to a community’s formation nor do they prepare anyone to succeed them in ministry. Often they identify themselves with their work even to the point that the ministry ends when they leave or are transferred. It has been tied too much to the person, and successors are not prepared to step in. (pp. 23-24)
Little Trust in the Truth 
[Another temptation is] not trusting in the power of truth…. [which] is a variation of lacking confidence in God [as in messianism], but it has separate characteristics as a temptation. … Many cannot believe that there are times to accept without understanding. It is not ‘popular’ to assert truths such as the positive value of austerity, suffering, and the cross, or life after death. Likewise the value of chastity, virginity, persistence in marriage, or the defense of life even in extreme cases may be unpopular. …
In this context, the minster is tempted to vacillate. He or she may not offer Christ’s truth as it is…. The assumption may be that the truth will not be accepted and followed, or that is inconvenient. Some truths go by the wayside or fall into ambiguity when in various ways the minster of the Word trusts more in human prudence than in the truth force and attraction. … Instead of the the Gospel’s demands and its light, the minster proposes the ‘reasonable’ advice of human experience, depriving people of the opportunity to yield progressively to the truth that sets them free. (p. 29)
Preaching Problems 
[A third temptation is] preaching problems and not certainties… [which] causes confusion between different moments and levels of ministry in the Word. … [O]n the level of catechesis, homilies, and missionary preaching, it is always necessary to hand on the Christian message…. People in this situation expect the certitude of faith in order to renew their lives. They do not want their issues and problems returned to them without a response. … The essence of evangelization is to announce a message and not problems…. Evangelization announces certainties, not conjectures or personal opinions.
There may be many causes of this temptation. Ministers may lack experience, judgment, or discernment. They may be projecting their interior state. If they themselves are vacillating in their convictions, or if their Christian life is more a bundle of problems and questions than certitude, they will tend to transmit that to others. The old saying ‘the mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart’ fits ministry perfectly. The Christian community is built on the faith, hope, and love of its members. It is not built on doubts, confusions, and shared problems. (p. 30)
Secularizing Hope 
[A fourth, and, for the purposes of this essay, final, temptation is that of] secularizing Christian hope…. [This temptation] consists in transmitting a message of purely secular hopes to the detriment of fundamental Christian hope. For example, the minister promotes a better social or political future, with the accompanying freedoms that men and women are searching for today. He or she preaches confidence in overcoming sickness, poverty, and other human dilemmas. Although we should strive for these legitimate human hopes, the promises of Christ do no guarantee them in this life. We do not know with certainty if they will be achieved. To proclaim them as Christian hope deceives the people, and reduces the Gospel to a message of legitimate human liberation or optimism about the future. …
To secularize hope is to do away with the proclamation of the human vocation to eternal life, holiness, faith, and love as the driving force and the supreme value of human liberation. With that, ministers will be tempted to change their service into the inspiration of secular expectations and the commitment to a better future. (p. 31)
Theandric, Cruciform, Ultramontanist—Catholic
Our bishops are mere humans as we are, and even the Pope, “Our Sweet Christ on Earth,” is but a peccable fellow human, and only very occasionally infallible. Keeping both of these truths in tension—the divine dignity of the office and the mundane frailty of the officeholder—is all of a piece with Catholicism, which embraces apparent contradictions without itself ever falling into contradiction. As such, the Christian life is theandric: the human and the divine are preserved in a mysterious unity. The Christian life is also cruciform, wherein everything worth offering to God—including our obedience to His duly appointed shepherds and the Chief Shepherd—feels like bearing a cross.
In a strange but very real sense, it is every Catholic’s birthright to be—gasp!—ultramontanist. As loyal sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church, it is the most reasonable thing in the world to harbor childlike love for the Vicar of Christ, il Papa. Yet the cruciform, theandric tension abides: love for the Vicar of Christ is no excuse for denying, much less blindly imitating, his moral frailties and intellectual errors. As deep as the ultramontane instinct is in the Catholic mind—a supernatural instinct to love the Pope as we ought to love the poor and the Eucharist—, we cannot deny that when our shepherds, and even the Chief Shepherd, succumb to the temptations described by Fr. Galilea, it becomes a cross to show them unflinching love.
I was reminded of this dilemma a a few weeks ago when a friend noted a “creepy” parallel that Maureen Mullarkey had drawn in late September in a piece here at One Peter Five. On the one hand we have a scene of fascist adulation from Mussolini’s salad days, and on the other hand we have a scene of clergy taking cellphone photos as Pope Francis passes:
pope francis il duceiPhones capturing iPope
As noted above, I don’t think such affection for the Pope is creepy in principle. It’s a basic Catholic instinct, a reflex, to venerate the Pope as our sweet Christ on earth, to honor him as the sacrosanct keeper of the keys, and to bow before him as the vice-regent of the Risen King of the Universe. Having been a Catholic for less than a year when I went to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, I admit I was thrilled and humbled to see Benedict XVI pass by in the Popemobile—The Popemobile!—a mere arm’s length from me. If I had a “smartphone” then, I probably would have taken a picture like the priests shown above did.4 I do admit, though, that there is something very odd, and oddly disturbing, about a hall full of ordained men snapping photos at the pope like teens at a pop concert. That’s what you get, though, when you raise up a generation of pastors to “learn from the world.” So, the problem is that otherwise legitimate papal affection has been running on the wrong kind of fuel for decades–the crude oil of pastoral populism, a zombie-like infantilism that confuses universal authority with widespread popularity, confuses “P.P.” with “P.R.”


In contrast to the photo of the iPriests, ponder this photo of Pope Pius XII in procession:

Procession with Pope PiusXII

The multiple layers of order, decorum, and rank act like a Kevlar vest for the fusillade of instinctive popular affection, or like the arresting wires for a tailhook on an aircraft carrier, slowing down and tethering the ultramontane instinct of the masses before it goes the way of Kid Icarus beneath a papal sun. Precisely because Pacelli was ensconced in such an intricate web of sacred semiotics—his individuality cloaked by the mystical bureaucracy of the papacy—the appeal of Pacelli the Man was blunted, dimmed, diffused, so that the popular devotion could flow over him, past him, beyond him towards what he was merely animating, rather than being caught in the populist hydraulic of his personal charisma (much less his shoes).

Once upon a time, a man elected to be pope did not just die to himself by devoting all his labors to the care of the Church, but also rather literally buried his own self under the byzantine demands of the papal attire, routine, manner of speech, associations, residence, and so on. “Congratulations, you’re the pope—now vanish!” That was how a sacrosanct apparatus like the papacy ran on the stable fuel of sacrosanct populism.

When the papacy decided to “loosen up,” lose the triple tiara, and dye the Church’s allegedly graying hair, the semiotic and spiritual focus shifted from the office to the man in that office. “Ecce homo!” As the traditionally robust papal exterior has been scraped and sanded down to a thinner, more “functional,” more “personal” veneer of down-to-earth pastoral accompaniment, rather than a seemingly aloof royal authority, an otherwise healthy love for what the pope represents has been projected onto the man who happens to be representing the papacy.

It is, to use a crude analogy, as if children at an amusement park have been conditioned to fawn over the man inside the Goofy suit instead of loving Goofy qua iconic reality. Once you removed Goofy’s head, the spell was broken, and the only choice for most children was to walk away disillusioned or to latch onto that new, all-too-human face with the same instinctive zeal. But just as an actor is hired to hide inside his role, so a pope is elected to deny himself inside the larger iconic reality of the living authority of St. Peter, who “to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, chapter 2).

pope francis time cover bold message“The Catholic Church’s Bold Message—nah, not quite the same ring.”

Pope Francis america visit cover people's pope in person

“Catch him in person”

pope francis lipstick kisses

“Healthy numbers”

What We Now Call Personality

As long as our pastors insist on thinking with “the world,” on trying to learn from “the world,” on appealing to “the world,” rather than simply calling it to conversion–in a word, as long as the hierarchy remains stuck in the rut of pastoral accommodationism that was carved out at Vatican II, we will not shake the perception that the pope is but the most prominent “mega-church” pastor in the pack. The papacy has become so democratized, so “personalized”, that the ancient instinct to venerate the pope can only find purchase on the particulars of The Man With The Papal Ring. Hence, authentic love for the pope and our shepherds is not based on popular relevance, but on traditionalism. For it is by anchoring ourselves in the ornate sanctuaries and estuaries of the larger Catholic Tradition that we, to paraphrase Chesterton, may be freed from the tyranny of our own age–the age of the image, the I’mAge.

To cite Chesterton again:

Luther opened an epoch; and began the modern world. He was the first man who ever consciously used his consciousness or what was later called his Personality. He had as a fact a rather strong personality. Aquinas had an even stronger personality … [but] it never occurred to him to use anything except his wits, in defence of a truth distinct from himself. It never occurred to Aquinas to use Aquinas as a weapon. … [H]e belonged to an age of intellectual unconsciousness, to an age of intellectual innocence, which was very intellectual. Now Luther did begin the modern mood of depending on things not merely intellectual. … When he quoted a Scripture text, inserting a word that is not in Scripture, he was content to shout back at all hecklers: “Tell them that Dr. Martin Luther will have it so!” That is what we now call Personality. A little later it was called Psychology. After that it was called Advertisement or Salesmanship. … [Luther] destroyed Reason; and substituted Suggestion.5 Thomas Aquinas (1933), chapter VIII.

Personal Charisma, Popular Appeal, and Pastoral Persuasion vs. Reason, Tradition, and Royal Order–that is the choice Catholics face, a choice between good-guy, rockstar popes, on the one hand, whose kinetic personalism compels them to “open for” Buddy Jesus in all the major cities, and popes, on the other hand, whose quasi-anonymous bearing and traditional, sacrosanct trappings actually bespeak the vice-regent of Christ the King.

Without the traditional semiotic buffer that obscures his individuality, the Man In The High Basilica cannot but become one Great Leader among others (e.g. “the Catholic Reagan,” “the Catholic Obama”, etc.). This is why Pope Francis’s World Famous Humility™ rings so hollow. By rejecting the conventional residence, clothing, shoes, expressions, liturgical disciplines, etc. of the papacy, Pope “Call Me Jorge” Francis becomes a tractor beam of attention, deepening, as I have argued, a spiritual displacement that began in the Conciliar Epoch, when the papacy decided to vulgarize itself in the name of ecumenical outreach. By emphasizing how different he is from, and how much more selfless he is compared to, his predecessors, Pope Francis has become the biggest egotist in the world. After all, sadly, “bosses are often narcissists.”

Nothing personal, Fr. Bergoglio, but you’re the pope–please act the part. We Catholics will be your biggest fans.


1 This is a win of sorts for Rome: the Synod managed to cause far more damage and chaos than the largest hurricane ever recorded by satellite, proving that the Church is still a mighty force in the world.
2 This danger is also sometimes referred to as “in cauda venenum“.
3 U.S. Presidents have not needed to change the Constitution to flout it, so why should leading prelates have to “change doctrine” to achieve the same effect?
4 I do admit, though, that there is something very odd, and oddly disturbing, about a hall full of ordained men snapping photos at the pope like teens at a pop concert. That’s what you get, though, when you raise up a generation of pastors to “learn from the world.”
5 Thomas Aquinas (1933), chapter VIII.

40 thoughts on “How To Win Friends and Influence The People—or, Nothing Personal​,​ But You’re The Pope”

  1. This Pope is a real joke to be honest…He comes to the States and has an audience of a bunch of Catholics supposedly who support child slaughter/abortion and sodomy and WHAT does this Pope talk about??? He talks about climate change and immigration, I mean, HOW BIBLICAL IS THAT??? Nothing about saving souls or repentance, pretty much NOTHING….Also, WHY aren’t these Catholics who support abortion or gay marriage and are NOT repenting kicked out of the Church as the BIBLE3, THE BIBLE, clearly says to do in Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:13??? Why do so many leaders including in this Pope fail to utilize or apply the Spiritual Works of Mercy, ADMONISH THE SINNER, in this church???? One cannot be sitting there like the coward in Chicago, Cupich, does and give out communion to folks like Durbin, etc, etc, AND at the same time say that they are admonishing the sinner, does NOT work like that….

    • Oh, Mr. Feehan, I’m sorry, but you’re at least 55 years too late. Please stop talking like a Catholic; there’s no room for that in the neo-protestant religion of Rome.

      • You know, a lot of you folks like to think that you are better than Protestants, EXACTLY WHY is that?? I have been on both sides of the spectrum and my experience has shown me that most protestants that I have met REALLY read the BIble unlike most Catholics and they rely on the BIBLE, THE BIBLE, alone…I could really care less what some Pope or some Catechsim says, the BIBLE, THE BIBLE is and always will be my final authority, NOT SOME WEAK SOCIAL JUSTICE COWARD POPE….Again, why the arrogance/better than attitude among far too many Catholics as it relates to solid evangelicals, it REEKS of pathetic arrogance, ESPECIALLY when I have met a TON, A TON, of Catholics over the years who have little to no clue about the Book of Romans, how they can KNOW that they are going to heaven, etc, etc…

        • I was attempting sarcasm. I guess it fell flat.
          I’m not well enough versed (pun intended) to get into this discussion with you. Ask Mr. Skojec.

        • You do not know if you are going to heaven and if you think you do know you have swallowed a lie and one of your big problems with your approach to the Bible is that every single word of the New Testament was written by a Catholic to other Catholics in an already existing Catholic Church and yet the author of the New Testament – The Catholic Church -has never taught what you claim.

          One has to be a Catholic to be a Christian for for that is what Christ ordained for He called all to be a member of it, to be taught by it, to be under its authority, to receive the Sacraments as the way to Salvation and Sanctification.

          Have a nice day

          • Yes, I DO know that I am going to heaven, ephesians 2:8 and 9, Romans 6:23, Titus 3:5 iand 1John 5, verse 13….Your church does NOT teach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ so you would not know this….Catholic means Universal and so one does NOT, THANK GOD, have to be a Catholic in order to go to heaven, DROP THAT WEAK GARBAGE with me….I don’t CARE what your church teaches, THE BIBLE is my final authority, NOT SOME WEAK SOCIAL JUSTICE COWARD POPE YOU FOLKS LIKE TO CALL HOLY FATHER, NOT SOME CATECHISM, BUT THE BIBLE, GOD’S WORD, is my final authority….Drop the garbage also that you wrote the Bible, that is an outright lie…..One has to be called a Catholic in order to be a Christian????? REALLY???? SO, BILLY GRAHAM, C.S. LEWSIS, DIETRICH BONNHOFFER, DL MOODY, AW TOZIER WERE NOT CHRISTIANS, IS THAT IT???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME HERE GENIUS????????? You are barking up the wrong tree here as UNLIKE MOST OF YOU CATHOLICS, I actually read and know God’s Word, I don’t just go to some weak ritual for an hour every week and that is it….If you are such a CHRISTIAN, then why do you and folks in this church participate or support so many things that are NOT, NOT in the Bible…I want BOOK, CHAPTER, AND VERSES to support your position on the following Catholic Church teachings and I am not messing around here, I want SPECIFIC BIBLE BOOKS, CHAPTERS, AND VERSES….You want to come on here and give me this big lie that you folks are such CHRISTIANS, then please, IN THE BIBE, tell me where the following information can be found:—–Praying to Mary—-NOT BIBLICAL
            —-Purgatory___NOT BIBLICAL
            —Praying the rosary
            —-Going to some priests, a fair amount who are gutless cowards/homosexuals to confess my sins (plenty of bible verses to refute this lie)
            —-Calling someone Holy Father
            —–Praying to a saint
            —–Calling your priests Father
            —–Praying for the dead
            —–Mortal versus venial sin…
            ****And again, DO NOT bring up the Catechism or ANY OTHER document to support your weak argument, I WANT bible books, chapters, and verses…..
            I know so many people getting out of this “dead religion”, it is not even funny….Oh, and answer me this one please….IF, I am not going to do it, but let’s suppose that I give you the benefit of the doubt….IF the Catholic Church, as you say wrote the Bible, then PLEASE EXPLAIN to me why there are NO, NONE, NO BIBLES in the pews, answer me that one???? Also, please explain to me why SO FEW Catholics ever read the Bible or attend Bible Study????? Come on, I want good answers to those questions…and ONce again, THE BIBLE, THE BIBLE, is my final authority, NOT some weak social justice left leaning COWARD Pope and NOT some Catechism or church tradition….True Christians that I know, and I know a TON of them, A TON of them former Catholics, they have found the TRUTH, not a bunch of man made traditions/CRAP, use the BIBLE, THE BIBLE as their final authority….If you support this joke of a Pope, then that is further evidence that you just may be a little bit lost….I mean, the weak social justice COWARD gets in front of Congress, a bunch of wicked sinners and WHAT does the coward focus on, not abortion or ss marriage, but CLIMATE CHANGE AND IMMIGRATION, I MEAN, WHAT A JOKE THIS COWARD IS….Oh, and your “Holy Father” certainly NOT THE HELL mine, and NEVER WILL HE BE, said that Jesus death on the cross was a failure, YEP, HE SAID IT….BUT, BUT you and your type, you keep on keeping on calling this coward Holy Father, I sure the heck am not going to stop you….

          • Separate and aside from my capital letters, you do not have a leg to stand on…I will pray for you that God opens your eyes to the TRUTH of his word and his word only. I was once where you are at, but ONCE I opened up God’s Word and actually read it, things changed for the better…. WHY no bibles in the pews, can you answer me that one??

          • Mike, you’ve stumbled into the wrong place to go dropping your Jack Chick theology around like so much digital napalm.

            There are more than enough people here who could substantively engage your questions, if you chose to phrase them respectfully. But since you’re not, let me just say this (it’s probably more your speed):

            Repent and convert, lest you risk eternal damnation.

            “Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,’ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]. ”


          • Catholic means Universal, CERTAINLY NOT something of which a bunch of man made TRADITIONS which Jesus Christ himself spoke CLEARLY against following in Matthew 15:9…You want to throw one out one verse here, one verse there, you go ahead with someone else…Jack Chick theology, ARE YOU REFERRING TO GOD’S WORD as that???? I know your religion, me and the TONS of foliks who have gotten the heck out of if know it quite well and ALL of the things which your church teaches that ARE NOT found in Scripture…Why don’t you respond to ALL of the specific things above, which I mention which are NOT in Scripture, NOT EVEN CLOSE. to which your church adheres to??? Purgatory, NOT BIBLICAL, praying to Mary, NOT BIBLICAL, praying the Rosary, NOT BIBLICAL, going to some weak coward, quite possibly homosexual priest for confession, NOT BIBLICAL, calling priests Father, NOT BIBLICAL, calling some weak social justice left leaning coward Holy Father, NOT BIBLICAL, mortal/venial sin, NOT BIBLICAL…Again, I KNOW the truth and the TRUTH is in God’s WORD, NOT based on what some Catechsim says, NOT on what some weak left leaning social justice coward Pope says, but in GOD’S WORD AND GOD’S WORD ALONE…And, you mean to tell me that CS lewis, aw tozier, dl moody, spurgeon, all great men of God are in HELL because they were not CATHOLIC, is that it??? Again, you want to spew that garbage somewhere else, you go right ahead, NOT with me…..Now, why don’t you go and pray to Mary while I will go STRAIGHT TO JESUS as the Bible clearly indicates to do, 1 Timothy 2, verse 5…I will pray for you as well as you are quite confused and lost., don’t worry, you have plenty of company….Go ahead, pray to Mary, I will go straight to Jesus Christ……

          • Christ is the head of one church, not some weak left leaning social justice coward….Start following Jesus and stop putting this weak social justice coward on anywhere near the same level as Jesus, he is NIT even close….

          • Your arrogant Bible-alone ignorance has led you into the sin of presumption, whereby you arrogantly claim to know for a fact that you will enter heaven before your final judgment with Jesus. You are in for a huge surprise.

          • You are filled with know-it-all hubris, rooted in your individualist, self-serving interpretation of Scripture. Nowhere in the Bible does Scripture claim ONLY the Bible can be the source for understanding the Christian faith, which is Catholic and, by the way, more accurately means “whole” – notwithstanding the rampant ignorance of the term so often repeated in service to false claims to the name.

  2. In the youtube video that is linked (call me jorge) at the end of this article, the man speaking knew Bergoglio in Argentina. He started a school program to teach children of different religions to [he stated] “respect others” because “that is the most important thing”. He went on, “It’s in the jewish tradition and in the talmud”. Well that’s good enough for me!

  3. (I think all references in the article to “Pascalli” should read Pacelli.) This perceptive essay catches the great problem at the center of this papacy, the cult of the personality; not even with John Paul II did we see anything approaching the (silly) adulation we see lavished on this pope. And why the current pope-boosting? Because Jorge Bergoglio has cultivated the “persona humilde” look, the note of ostentatious humility we saw from the first instance of his reign, and it is something well-liked on today’s world stage, even if the spectators choose not to follow the example themselves. Personally, I catch a faint whiff the pharisaical in the theatrics.

    It struck me from day one of his election, that perhaps a truly humble attitude if one disliked pomp and ceremony would be to endure the trappings of the office in order to convey to all its majesty, not to cast them on the floor to demonstrate….well, to demonstrate something. After all, “enduring” entails personal suffering, while peremptory rejection would seem to involve at least a little personal pride. And I always thought that an essential note underlying true humility and charity was to hide their workings. If we shared a poor man’s meagre meals, we were to do so in private, not in front of television cameras; if we gave lodgings to someone needy, we weren’t supposed to advertise the gesture to every reporter who cared to record it in his newspaper. There was a reason no one discovered Becket’s hair shirt till he was murdered.

    These days especially as never before we should apply a rule of thumb to what occurs around us: Any person or institution is authentic only in inverse proportion to his or its public acceptance. When vast swaths of the population applaud a man and admire him, it is an almost infallible indication that something is amiss. There are endless examples to certify the reliability of my rule. Remember the embarrassing night of Obama’s election when fully grown adults made perfect fools of themselves crying in front of cameras, overcome with joy at the election of an absurdly mediocre small-time Chicago politician? Now think of the popularity of Pope Benedict compared to that of Pope Francis and draw your own conclusions.

    • Precisely. We knew there was an issue when Pope Francis refused to wear the red shoes. He told the world that he was going to be different,and thst means better, than his predecessors.

      • Good point, Laura. Upon assuming an office, most men don’t mean “I’m going to be worse” when they announce they will be different.

    • Thank you for catching that error. I had written that section weeks ago and the transposition got away from me during revisions.

      Also, I don’t know if I conveyed it clearly enough, but, yes, the element of SUFFERING and SELF-DENIAL that being pope entails is what is most spurned in this papacy, and, I would argue, since Rome decided to “modernize” and “personalize” itself at V2. To recall Mel Brooks, “it’s good to be the king”–but only if one exploits the carnal benefits thereof. For a Catholic, our share in Christ’s royal authority–and ESPECIALLY SO for the pope!–entails deep self-denial. After all, Christ the King was emptied of glory, shrouded in weakness, and subjected to death in order to show His Kingship most decisively. The pope can only do the same, but in an inverse way, since he is an icon to that Kingship. His weakness is to be shrouded in regal trappings, his personal-preferences immolated in fidelity to the Kingdom.

      In a word, away with beta, celebrity popes! 😉

  4. Elliot, you made many good points but the article was soooooo very long. And I am not sure what the first half of your piece had to do with the second. I wish your article had started with ‘Theandric, Cruciform, Ultramontanist—Catholic’ .

    Anyway, our Pope is Mr. Personality, the Mercy guy who has a good word for every sinner by telling them, if effect, if it feels good and your conscience says it OK, just do it. Happy, happy Pappy. But unfortunately Pope Francis’ kind of mercy (not telling folks to stop sinning) is soul killing. Our dear Pope doesn’t seem to understand that letting folks continue sinning is not why Christ came. Christ wants us to stop sinning because sinning make us unhappy in the long run. Christ is merciful when he gives us rules on how to behave; the Pope is not when he fails to do so.

    • Yes, Jesus Christ the Son of God brutally suffered and died just so thst we could continue reveling in our sin. It is all so mind-boggling….

    • It is becoming more apparent that Francis wants a Protestant Catholic Church. As a beginning. After this is accomplished we will be asked to move ‘forward’ to embrace pagan religions (sic) and then to embrace the non-beliefs of atheists.

      There must be a goal to all this nonsense and I think that it is One World Religion.

    • Mr. Dowd, thank you for your comment. I did indeed grapple for many days about whether to cut the piece in two, but ultimately it seemed like a unified “story” I had to tell. The transition was rather artless, but the point of the first ‘half’ is to show what temptations our hierarchy is flirting with (and often wallowing in), and to establish that the “Bergoglio” problem roots that go much farther back than 2013.

  5. Thanks for a fine, insightful article.

    Much rings true regarding the importance of distinguishing the divine office, from the personality with the strengths and foibles of the man himself. For that matter the article outlines a good model for how all Christians should conduct themselves; as disciples of Christ, office holders or ambassadors of a sort, who are representing our Lord, each of course in his/her own unique way, but ultimately drawing others to Him, not ourselves. I say this all as one who along with my wife, was blessed to have seen His Holiness when he was in DC recently. As wonderful as the experience was, it will only bear fruit in so far as it leads to a deeper relationship with our Lord.

  6. Of course here at 1P5 we are naturally most concerned about Francis’ baleful effect on the Church, the disastrous results of his comments and actions over the last 30+ months. But a pope is also a political figure, someone whose words matter in international affairs. There too Francis’ innate liberalism, his disturbing penchant for siding with leftists everywhere, gives cause for alarm. Nowhere is that more true than across Europe, a continent now in extreme danger because of a massive invasion of Mohammedans, an invasion that, far from criticizing or even rationally analyzing, the pope seems to support. Read this analysis from American Thinker magazine:


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