In fact, most of us are absolutely sick to death of talking about him. He’s bad, we know it, and there’s not much we can do about it. Many have taken to just ignoring him, and that’s probably for the best at this point.
But there’s a new “pope video” out today, and aside from making me wonder why the heck it shows people of different faiths randomly texting each other prayer hand emojis for no apparent reason and then being ridiculously amused about receiving those texts, it prompted a question I don’t know how to answer.
I want to discuss that question today.
First, here’s the video in question, which I’ll break down the transcript of down below. It’s only a minute and a half long, but you might want to watch it on mute just to keep your teeth from clenching. It’s what I had to do:
The video opens with Francis saying, “When we pray to God following Jesus,” — a weird grammatical construction, I know — “we come together as brothers and sisters with those who pray according to other cultures, other traditions, and other beliefs.” (Cut from a lady praying the rosary to a Muslim woman on a prayer rug.)
“We are brothers and sisters who pray.” He continues. “Fraternity leads us to open ourselves to the Father of all and to see in the other a brother or sister, to share our lives or to support, to love, and to know each other.”
There’s that use of “fraternity” again. We talked about this with Fratelli Tutti. It’s disturbing because it’s so reminiscent of Masonic language – and the Masons absolutely agree. Recall what the Grand Lodge of Spain tweeted after the release of that encyclical:
“The Church values God’s action in other religions,” Francis goes on, “without forgetting that for us Christians, the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
For us. This is a huge flashing neon sign screaming, “RELATIVISM!!!” The Church doesn’t teach that Jesus is the “wellspring of human dignity and fraternity” at all. It does teach that he is the Divine, Incarnate Son of the Eternal Father, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Messiah whose passion and death has freed us from the bondage of sin and made eternal life possible for those who believe in Him and live accordingly.
But that applies for everyone, not just Christians. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me,” Jesus said, and the pope might not be sure He meant it, but Christians are pretty set on that one.
It’s not one of those “all roads lead to Rome” propositions. The Church insists, rather, that outside of her, there is no salvation.
If you want to dispute that claim, make your case, but in the interest of intellectual honesty, you’d best not pretend the Church doesn’t teach it. Especially if your job title is “Roman Pontiff.”
“We believers must return to our sources and concentrate on what is essential” he goes on.
In other words: If you’re Muslim, go back to the Koran. Jewish, go to the Talmud. Hindu, the Vedas. Etc.
Oh, yeah, and you Christians can go back to Scripture and Tradition if you want. I guess. Whatever.
“What is is essential to our faith,” he continues, “is the adoration of God and love of neighbor. Let us pray that the Lord may give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions and not fight each other, and praying for one another, open ourselves to all.”
This reminds me of the January 2016 “pope video.” Remember this image?
Visually, it tells us that all religions are the same. We’re just all getting to God by different paths.
And ultimately, that seems to be the theme of this month’s video.
So aside from my other comments above, here’s what I don’t get: what kind of belief system do you have to have to think about God this way?
I asked that question on Twitter, and Eric Sammons gave me the following response:
I think it’s a system that believes all dogma is unimportant. God is like a kindergarten teacher: he just wants us squabbling kids to get along, and as long as we do, who cares what we believe? And if we do get along, he’ll will allow us to get out our juice boxes at breaktime.
— Eric Sammons (@EricRSammons) January 5, 2021
And though Eric is probably right, it would mean that with this kind of theology, knowing anything about God would be essentially pointless. It wouldn’t matter what we believed, because we’d all get the juice box either way.
Which directly implies a God who doesn’t care, or more to the point, doesn’t even want us to know him. Nothing about his true self.
As weird as that is, God’s pretty inscrutable, and people can have some strange beliefs about him. It never surprises me when people with a vague numinous impulse attribute this or that thing to God, or decide it doesn’t really matter what we think, he just wants us to be good people, etc.
That’s fine for hippies and moral therapeutic deists. But it doesn’t explain someone willing to give up the natural desire for marriage and family to become a Catholic priest. To go through seminary formation. To learn theology – even Jesuit theology – to better understand a God who, through the Catholic lens, absolutely wants to be known. To then overcome bureaucratic and political obstacles and become a bishop. Then a cardinal.
And to finally realize the goal of your lifelong ambition after elbowing and scraping your way to the top of the Catholic Church, particularly by means of a rather carefully-plotted and nefarious conspiracy.
Why would someone who thinks God couldn’t care less what religion people practice, who tells the faithful not to bother trying to convince anyone to become Catholic, who tells even atheists that he has no interest in their conversion, want the job of being in the most important Catholic ecclesiastical office in the world, with all the defense of the deposit of faith that entails? Why would he want the stress, the demands, the responsibility for something he doesn’t even believe in?
Unless he actually does believe it matters, and is on a mission to undermine that truth. Unless he sees the integrity Catholic faith as the natural enemy of his agenda, and wants to bring it down from within.
I can’t think of a single good reason for an avowed indifferentist to want to be pope if it weren’t to obtain the power to destroy the papacy, and much of Catholicism along with 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.