Translation by Andrew Guernsey
Two days ago [on June 6th] in Santa Marta, the Pontiff addressed the issue of hypocrisy. Vatican Radio reported all his words*, of which we here offer some excerpts:
We know how much hypocrisy can be a defect of ecclesiastical circles, of those who “speak and judge” [one way] but think something else. This is hypocrisy.
“And hypocrisy is not the language of Jesus. Hypocrisy is not the language of Christians.
A Christian cannot be a hypocrite and a hypocrite is not a Christian. So this is clear. This is the word that Jesus uses the most with these people: hypocrite. Let’s see how these people proceed. The hypocrite is always a flatterer or in a greater or lesser tone, but he is a flatterer “… Another aspect emphasized is that of deception:” The language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit, it is the same language the serpent used with Eve.” It begins with flattery, he said, and ends up destroying people; it even “tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person. It destroys communities ” “When there are hypocrites in a community – he warned – there is a great danger there, there is a very awful danger”. The Lord Jesus told us: “‘Let your speech be yes, yes, no, no. Anything more than this is from the evil one.'”.
“Hypocrisy is so bad for the Church,” the Pontiff said bitterly. And he warned against “those Christians who fall into this sinful attitude that kills.” He concluded with a prayer: “Let us ask the Lord to keep us from falling into this habit of hypocrisy, of the attitude, of putting on makeup, but with bad intentions. May the Lord give us this grace: ‘Lord, let me never be a hypocrite, that I may know to tell the truth and if I cannot speak it, to keep silent, but never, ever, hypocrisy’ ‘.
Reading these words, some things came back to my mind, written on the occasion of the double Synod on the Family, which gave birth to Amoris Laetitia, and the “Dubia“, to which a simple answer was requested, yes or no (see above …) that never came, and perhaps will never come.* * *
I’ll start with the most recent episode. On San Pietro e Dintorni, on May 9, 2016, I reported a piece of news – a statement by a person which has never been questioned. I wrote:
“In a recent conference, at which you can read here the report on Zonalocale, the archbishop of Vasto, Mgr. Bruno Forte, revealed a behind the scenes moment of his discussions with Pope Francis, in relation to the Synod of Bishops on the family. The Pope confided in him: “If we speak explicitly about communion for divorced and remarried, you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.”
Mons. Forte was Special Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, author of the controversial “interim relatio” repudiated by the President of the Assembly, Cardinal Erdő , and substantially not accepted by the Synod working groups.
And Msgr. Forte commented: “Typical of a Jesuit.” Adding that the apostolic exhortation “is not a new doctrine, but the merciful application of that of all time.”
If the anecdote told by Msgr. Forte is true, and there is no reason to doubt it, one may better understand the degree of confusion and ambiguity, as well as diversity of interpretations, aroused by the apostolic exhortation, that is, a deliberate lack of clarity that brings to mind the polemics and the secularist accusations that for centuries have marked the Society of Jesus – the result of a strategy planned since before the work of the Synod of 2014 had begun.
As an aside, and to illustrate the complexity, in order to call it, at least thus, a situation of the Church, we report what the head of Lefebvrian community, Msgr. Bernard Fellay, said on May 1: “… Let us ask God to help us understand this mystery a little better and understand that despite all human misery, despite the fact that even a pope is now saying unbelievable things on morality and trying to tell us that sin is the state of grace – what we are hearing today is unbelievable, unheard of! – well, despite that, this pope can still accomplish actions that sanctify and save. He can do good and he still does.”
If even they who are always so certain and secure experience perplexity, what about the poor Christians in the parishes?”.
The second reference is further back. It dates back even to September 2014, BEFORE the first of the two Synods on the Family began. I was talking about the vexed question of the Eucharist to divorced and remarried, and wrote :
“But anyhow! Cardinal Kasper, who already twenty years ago had his own idea about it, not accepted in those two kingdoms, saw in the advent of Bergoglio the opportunity to present it again. Despite the fact that from Manila to Berlin, from New York to Africa, the vast majority of his colleagues have, once again, reaffirmed the doctrine of the Church, based, unfortunately, on the words of Jesus; one of the few cases in which the statement appears sharp, clear, definite, and even questioned by professional pericope dissectors.
In short, things for Kasper & Co. did not have the air of going very well. But perhaps there is a way to help him. And to try to prevent the troublesome voices from being too loud.
The first step consists in asking that the written interventions be delivered well in advance, which was done. By September 8, those who wanted to make interventions at the Synod were to have submitted them.
Second: to carefully read all the interventions, and in the case that some of them were particularly spicy, before the difficult intervention, to give the floor to a speaker who already tried to answer, in whole or in part, the problems raised by the intervention itself.
Third: if some intervention appears simply problematic, to say that unfortunately there is insufficient time to give the floor to everyone, but that the text has been received, and remains on record, and certainly this will be taken into account in the final production.
And, in fact, the Synod will not be so important, but rather the synthesis that will be prepared, and that will bear the Pope’s signature as the “post-synodal Exhortation”. It is very likely that there will be a clear and definitive text, but based on a “fluctuating” interpretation, so that each one reading it, can pull out the part that most suits them.
This is the humble observation of a poor reporter: but if one has such an elaborate and cunning plan, why talk about it in front of perfect strangers during a sumptuous dinner?”
The prelate who made all these interesting revelations, which history has also proved to be well founded, was one of the leaders, perhaps the main one, of the Synod, and worked in harmony with the Pope. Reading the words of the Pope about hypocrisy, I was reminded of these episodes, and the situation in which the Church lives, of suffering ambiguity from lack of a clear answer on the part of those who ought to give it: Yes, yes, No, no.
*To preserve the integrity of the original essay, we retained the link to the Italian report on the pope’s homily, in the event of translation discrepancies. The English version can be read here.
Originally published at Marcotosatti.com. Reprinted with permission.
Marco Tosatti is a renowned Italian journalist and Vatican expert. He has been covering the Holy See since 1981. His written work appears in La Stampa and La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. He is the author of several books, including The Prophecy of Fatima and Investigation of the Holy Shroud. He blogs at Marcotosatti.com.