In his homily yesterday, Pope Francis (again) chastised the very people who care most about Catholicism by accusing them of causing division and Eucharistic profanation (with my emphasis):
Divisions destroy the Church, and the devil seeks to attack the root of unity: the celebration of the Eucharist. That was the message of Pope Francis on Monday morning at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Commenting on the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians — where St Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their contentiousness — Pope Francis said, “The devil has two very powerful weapons to destroy the Church: divisions and money.” And this has happened from the beginning: “ideological, theological divisions that lacerate the Church. The devil sows jealousy, ambitions, ideas, but to divide! Or greed.” And, as happens after a war, “everything is destroyed. And the devil is pleased. And we, naïve as we are, are his game.” “It is a dirty war, that of divisions,” he repeated. “It’s like terrorism,” the war of gossiping in the community, that of language that kills”:
“And the divisions in the Church do not allow the Kingdom to grow; they do not allow the Lord to be seen as He is. Divisions make you see this part, this one against the other. Always against! There is no oil of unity, the balsam of unity. But the devil goes elsewhere, not only in the Christian community, he goes right to the root of Christian unity. And this happens here, in the city of Corinth, to the Corinthians. Paul rebukes them precisely because divisions arise, right at the heart of unity, that is, in the Eucharistic celebration.”
In the case of Corinth, riches make divisions between the rich and the poor precisely during the Eucharist. Jesus, the Pope said, “prayed to the Father for unity. But the devil seeks to destroy it” even there:
“I ask you to do everything possible to not destroy the Church with divisions; they are ideological, they come from greed and ambition, they come from jealousy. And above all to pray, and to keep the founts, the very roots of the unity of the Church, which is the Body of Christ; which we, every day, celebrate [in] His sacrifice in the Eucharist.”
Saint Paul speaks about the divisions among the Corinthians, two thousand years ago:
“Paul could say this to all of us today, to the Church of today. ‘Brothers, in this I cannot praise you, because you are gathered together not for the better, but for the worse!’ But the Church gathers everyone together — for the worse, for divisions: for the worse! To soil the Body of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration! And the same Paul tells us, in another passage: ‘He who eats and drinks the Body and the Blood of Christ unworthily, eats and drinks his own condemnation.’ Let us ask the Lord for the unity of the Church, that there may not be divisions. And for unity also in the root of the Church, which is precisely the sacrifice of Christ, which we celebrate every day.”
Ironically, this is perhaps the most direct confirmation we’ve had to date that Francis believes that the Eucharist is Christ; it’s certainly the most overtly I’ve heard him speak about it. Which is all the more reason why he should be absolutely terrified about opening the door to profanation of the Eucharist through sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion — precisely the thing that will result from his endorsement of a plan to give sacraments to the divorced and remarried who do not live in continence.
Of course, it’s unsurprising that he is demanding unity, and using the scriptures to shame us into it. But on whose terms? His, of course. He does not like when people oppose his agenda. It makes him very, very upset. He cannot seem to understand the resilience and influence of his opposition. It’s as though he sees himself as the chosen one, fated to bring the reforms that the Church has perennially lacked the “humility and ambition” to accomplish.
On that note, Hilary White brings the concept of narcissistic projection (and gaslighting) to the table in her analysis of this sermon:
If you are one of those who has been aghast at Bergoglio’s ongoing attack on the Holy Eucharist over the last 3.5 years, you will likely be open-mouthed at this outrageous speech. And that’s precisely what the narcissist is looking for. You’re off balance. You’re standing there, doing the fish, spluttering a little, unable to sort out your thoughts.
It works like this.
You catch a narcissist stealing your chips.
You confront him and say, “Hey! Those are my chips!”
He looks at you steadily and with an expression of concerned sadness says, with perfect sincerity, “I can’t believe you’ve been stealing my chips all this time. I’m really, really disappointed in you for betraying my trust like this. I think to make it up to me, you’d better go to the shops and buy me some more, and we can forget all about it.”
Then he shoves another one of your chips into his mouth and walks away, leaving you wondering whether you’re losing your mind.
That is how gaslighting works.
In other words, he is accusing the faithful of planting the very seeds of division that have been the hallmark of his papacy from the beginning. He is accusing the faithful of eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord unworthily, when it is he who wants to give the Eucharist to those living in sin, or to Lutherans, or whomever — in direct violation of 1 Corinthians 11:27.
Unity is vital. It’s one of the four marks of the Church, and one that has been sorely lacking for at least half a century, and probably a good bit longer than that. But it has to be unity in the Lord, not in some agenda that seeks to remake the Church in the image of whoever is calling the shots. If Francis and his friends want to start looking for the source of disunity in the Church, I’m sure they come across several mirrors every day. The people who push back aren’t the rebels, they’re the counter-insurgency. We’re trying to re-establish the reign of The King.
I’ve made a commitment to you not to dwell on every maddening thing he says and does, but this one merits attention. It offers an unusual insight into the working of his mind, and it’s a dark and terrifying place.
I don’t expect this is going to get better before it gets worse. It seems that the beating of faithful Catholics will continue until morale improves.
Editor’s note: The post originally credited the homily of “this morning”, but it was actually from 9/12/16. This has been corrected.
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.