Over at his “Seventh Heaven” blog at L’Esspresso, top Vaticanista Sandro Magister has a post up from a couple days ago that’s worth reading for those keeping score on the contradictory nature of the Francis pontificate — or as I like to call it, the “shell game.”
Magister notes that this year there have been “at least three U-turns that Francis has made on crucial questions, but always without making it clear if these are definitive and sincere, seeing what he has said and done before and after the apparent reversals.”
The first U-turn is on the matter of women priests:
Here, properly speaking, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has not contradicted himself, because every time he has been asked since becoming pope he has always said he is against it personally, for example after his voyage to Sweden, where he had however embraced a female Lutheran bishop (see photo).
But at the same time he has long allowed the favorable opinions to run free, also on the part of figures on friendly terms with him, like cardinal of Vienna Christoph Schönborn.
To judge by the preparatory document of the synod for the Amazon, scheduled for 2019, it is projected that this same region will see the ordination of the first women deacons. And then who knows.
The second U-turn is intercommunion:
When asked about this very question three years ago, while he was visiting the Lutheran church in Rome, Pope Francis leaned heavily toward the favorable side. And in Germany, where mixed couples are numerous, this new practice has spread to such an extent that last February a majority of the German bishops approved a document that justifies it.
Seven bishops including one cardinal, however, have appealed to Rome. The pope called them in for consultation, took some time, but then handed the issue back to Cardinal Ladaria, who with a letter dated May 25 written “with the explicit approval of the pope,” blocked both the document and the practice that had entered widely into use, putting everything off until a future reflection “at the level of the universal Church” and of an overall ecumenical accord, meaning a remote and improbable future, since the Orthodox Churches are unshakably against so-called “intercommunion.”
Except that a few days ago, returning from his voyage to Protestant Geneva, Francis once again reopened the question, praising the document made null and void by Ladaria, and asserting that “there has been no braking.”
The third U-turn was on the pope’s fierce allegiance to Bishop Juan Barros:
Until a few months ago, Francis had been saying that he was absolutely sure of the innocence of these bishops, and defended them with drawn sword against those who were “calumniating” them.
But then the 2400 pages of the canonical investigation that he finally ordered led him to confess that he had been spectacularly mistaken “through the lack of reliable and balanced information.” Whose fault was that?
Magister offers a prediction on where we will not see a U-turn from Francis. Hit the link to read the whole thing.
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.