During this week where Americans have been distracted by the unexpected upset of a presidential election that could very well change the course of our collective future, Pope Francis has been busy making political statements of his own.
In yet another interview with Eugenio Scalfari (see our standard rebuttal to “you can’t trust Scalfari!” here), this exchange was reported to have taken place:
You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?
“It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”. [emphasis added]
One of the most hotly contested criticism of Pope Francis is that he is ideologically aligned with Marxists. We’ve covered some of the connections before, so I won’t rehash them here. What seems fair to say is that this is the most direct admission yet that Francis identifies his program of social justice as something compatible with Communism – itself an intrinsic evil.
Of course, this seems all of a piece. On the eve of the US Presidential election — which featured the most pro-abortion candidate for the presidency in this nation’s history — Francis was busy meeting with his friend Emma Bonino, Italy’s most famous and prolific abortionist. They got together to talk about the migrant crisis, something so close to his heart that he not only overlooks Bonino’s crimes and calls her one of Italy’s “greats”, he also used it to take a swipe at then presidential candidate (now president-elect) Donald Trump, saying:
Christians should not give into the temptation to build walls, even in the face of “hateful and cowardly attacks,” a reference to global terrorism.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said, “all walls fall.”
When Francis was asked directly by Scalfari what he thinks of Trump, he responded:
“I do not pass judgment on people and politicians, I simply want to understand the suffering that their approach causes the poor and excluded”.
Today, the theme of migration arose yet again, as it was reported that Francis will infuse a refugee theme into the Vatican’s nativity display:
Measuring an astounding 55 feet wide, the Nativity scene will feature 17 figures dressed in traditional Maltese attire as well as replica of a “luzzu,” a Maltese boat.
The boat, the Vatican’s governing office said, “not only represents tradition – fish and life – but also, unfortunately, the realities of migrants who in those very waters sail on makeshift boats to Italy.”
On matters that should, it seems, be at least as close to the heart of the pope as the plight of refugees, there have instead been bizarre developments over the past few days. Jan Bentz of LifeSiteNews reports that under new papally-approved statutes, members of the Pontifical Academy for Life “will no longer be required to sign a declaration that they uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings.” The Academy is also expanding its focus to protection of the environment.
“The Academy has a task of a prevalently scientific nature, directed towards the promotion and defense of human life (cf. Vitae Mysterium, 4). In particular, it studies the various aspects that relate to the care of the dignity of the human person at the different ages of existence, mutual respect between genders and generations, the defense of the dignity of each single human being, the promotion of a quality of human life that integrates material and spiritual value, with a view to an authentic ‘human ecology’, which may help to recover the original balance of Creation between the human person and the entire universe (cf. Chirograph, 15 August 2016).”
The surprise is the inclusion of the word “gender” instead of the more specific and less loaded word “sex,” as well as the consideration of the quality of a human life in a dependent relation with the “entire universe.” This leaves the door open to all kinds of modern trends, such as elevating animal life to equal standing with human life, or putting the idea of a sociological gender before the natural sex of a person. At the same time, the ambiguous “original balance of Creation” is introduced, which needs further theological exposition in order not to be mistaken for a pagan idea of the cosmos.
And in a new interview included in a book that collects Francis homilies and addresses from his time as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1999 to 2013, Francis’ views on the Mass are brought to light:
Asked about the liturgy, Pope Francis insisted the Mass reformed after the Second Vatican Council is here to stay and “to speak of a ‘reform of the reform’ is an error.”
In authorizing regular use of the older Mass, now referred to as the “extraordinary form,” now-retired Pope Benedict XVI was “magnanimous” toward those attached to the old liturgy, he said. “But it is an exception.”
Pope Francis told Father Spadaro he wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it.
“And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”
The question of how closely Francis aligns himself with Communist ideology will no doubt continue to be debated. His priorities as the leader of the Catholic Church, however, have become increasingly clear.
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 eight children.