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Pope Francis is no John Paul II. This past weekend, an image of Pope Francis with Nancy Pelosi called to mind a famous image of Pope John Paul II with a Nicaraguan priest and Daniel Ortega. Ernesto Cardenal was a Roman Catholic priest serving as the minister of culture in the Marxist government. He and the dictator in designer glasses, Daniel Ortega, expected a great visual as they welcomed the Pope on the tarmac. Nancy Pelosi expected the same from Pope Francis. History did not repeat itself, and this pope appears to be steadily undoing the work and teaching of his prominent predecessor.
Not only was Ernesto Cardenal wrapping up Marxism in priests’ robes, he was part of a small group of leftist clerics who were collaborating with Ortega in the Sandinista government’s suppression of the official Catholic leadership. Pope John Paul II invoked “dark ages,” referring to the anticlericalism of the Mexican Revolution and other leftist Latin American movements earlier in the 2oth century. In this context, John Paul confronted the errant priest and the priest’s real boss, the dictator in designer sunglasses.
When confronted with the subversion of sound Christian doctrine by socialists, appending “liberation” to “theology,” John Paul responded forcefully both in official writings and in his wise use of the media. He avoided giving the Sandinistas and their heretical pet priest a world media victory, instead generating an unmistakable photographic image of the Church rejecting liberation theology. Caring about a priest, or any other member of the body, who has persistently strayed and refuses correction, means more than another gentle conversation.
Indeed, Christ commanded separation from fellowship as a necessary corrective. Consider Christ’s command to his disciples, as expressed in the modern American Catholic translation hosted on the Vatican website:
15 “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
[official comment on verse 17]
The church: the second of the only two instances of this word in the gospels; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 16:18. Here it refers not to the entire church of Jesus, as in ⇒ Matthew 16:18, but to the local congregation. Treat him . . . a Gentile or a tax collector: just as the observant Jew avoided the company of Gentiles and tax collectors, so must the congregation of Christian disciples separate itself from the arrogantly sinful member who refuses to repent even when convicted of his sin by the whole church. Such a one is to be set outside the fellowship of the community. The harsh language about Gentile and tax collector probably reflects a stage of the Matthean church when it was principally composed of Jewish Christians. That time had long since passed, but the principle of exclusion for such a sinner remained. Paul makes a similar demand for excommunication in ⇒ 1 Cor 5:1-13.
So, as the cameras flashed and rolled, Ernesto Cardenal knelt before the Pope and sought to kiss his ring in a false display of obedience. John Paul understood exactly what was happening and what message would be conveyed if he accepted the gesture. Instead of extending his ring, he extended his finger and vigorously admonished Ernesto Cardenal in front of Ortega, the Nicaraguan people, and the world.
“You should regularize your situation,” the pope scolded. Later that year he suspended Cardenal from the priesthood along with his brother Fernando, who was then serving as minister of education.
Cardenal was never repentant of his Marxist perversion of Christianity, so remained out of clerical office until a comrade came to the papal throne.
Only late in life was Cardenal’s suspension lifted by Pope Francis: In February 2019, as Cardenal was in the hospital, the Vatican noted that he had accepted the punishment, refrained from pastoral activity and long ago abandoned the political arena.
The Vatican’s ambassador to Nicaragua visited him at the hospital and joined him in celebrating Mass, a moment that Cardenal’s personal assistant described as “very moving” and said made him “very happy.”
[ . . . ]
Cardenal continued to hold a dim view of John Paul for decades after their run-in, calling his canonization in 2014 a “monstrosity.”
He was more supportive of Francis and his calls to build a better world for those on the margins of society.
“I try to live with the message of the gospel,” Cardenal once said, “which is a political message, which is changing the world so that there is a better world after 100,000 years of inequality.”
Now consider Pope Francis granting a papal visit in the Vatican to Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is in equally open defiance of church teachings and notoriously perverts religion to her death cult’s ends. Indeed, Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone called the falsely named Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 “child sacrifice.” Nancy Pelosi was completely defiant, as she should be given the complete failure of Catholic clergy to do more than write a stiff letter occasionally.
When asked about Cordileone’s comments at her Thursday press briefing in the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi responded that “it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families.”
“The archbishop of the city of that area, of San Francisco, and I had a disagreement about who should decide this [family size and timing]. I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities,” she said in response to the question from Erik Rosales, Capitol Hill correspondent for EWTN News Nightly.
This is precisely the context in which Nancy Pelosi sought and was granted a personal papal audience by Francis. She is openly in defiance of church teaching and authority. She has been so for decades, so she is an “arrogantly sinful member who refuses to repent even when convicted of [her] sin by the whole church.” Indeed, she has already been admonished on her duty to use her legislative office to advance just protection of life at every stage of development. That admonition was the message out of her private audience with Pope Benedict.
Her defiant response: she knows more about having babies than the Pope.
How did Pope Francis respond to the wayward sinner and what visual message did he carefully choose to convey to the Catholic church and the world? See for yourself:
Notice the body language. The pope is relaxed, smiling favorably on Pelosi. Look in the background between them. This event is being captured on video and still camera. Compare the video reporting on her meeting with Pope Benedict to this friendly audience with Pope Francis:
A parishioner seeing this would be excused for thinking that Speaker Pelosi is a faithful Catholic and favored by the Pope. Whatever the Archbishop of San Francisco wrote must be wrong, or not applicable to Speaker Pelosi in either her political office or her standing in the Catholic Church. How can any Catholic clergy condemn her after this clear public blessing by the Pope?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is no cloistered innocent, naive to the ways of the world. He knows what he is doing with his papal office. He understands the importance of symbols and public rituals. Like this:
Not only did Pope Francis choose to accept into his hands a Marxifix, a Marxist twisting of the crucifix, he allowed the Marxist leader of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to place a necklace around his neck with the same twisted symbol. He did not raise his hands in admonition, nor did he take off the necklace immediately as he handed back the larger wooden and metal Marxist mockery.
Pope Francis, in the context of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, chose to praise Italy’s most notorious advocate of abortion, Emma Bonito, for her open borders, mass migration advocacy. In 2016, Francis attacked Donald Trump and his voters, although not by name, for wanting to stop illegal immigration. He praised Emma Bonito for her African mass migration advocacy.
He likens the Old Continent to Abraham’s wife Sarah. Sarah is barren and when she is now over seventy years old, according to the customs of those remote times she gives her slave wife to her husband to give birth to a son for her. But then, miraculously, he manages to have one to ninety years. “Europe”, Francis likes to repeat, “is like Sara, who first gets scared but then smiles secretly”. His hope, reports those who spoke to him, is that Europe will “secretly smile” at immigrants.
[ . . . ]
As for Bonino, to interlocutors who squint their eyes hearing the quote of the radical exponent, he claims that “she is the person who knows Africa best. And it offered the best service to Italy to get to know Africa. They tell me: they are people who think very differently from us. True, but patience. You have to look at people, at what they do.”
Of course, Bergoglio means a very selective, dare I say left-eye dominant look at what people do. He was happy to publicly praise and then, on Election Day 2016, give a private audience to Emma Bonito, Italy’s high priestess of the death cult, because she advocated mass migration from Africa, replacing the children never born, thanks in important part to Emma Bonito in Italy.
Pope Francis had an audience with former Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino on Tuesday for talks about asylum seekers and the integration of migrants, the Vatican said.
Bonino, 68, is a former leader of the Radical Party and was involved in domestic campaigns for divorce and abortion in the 1970s. She was the European commissioner for health and consumer affairs from 1995 to 1999 and foreign minister during the centre-left government of Enrico Letta in 2013 and 2014.
Where John Paul II spoke with great force and clarity, speaking truth to political power, in his visits to his native Poland, Francis was silent on Ireland’s vote to legalize abortion on demand. Then he was AWOL in his home country, Argentina doing the same in 2020. Pope John Paul II saved Poland from communism. All the first Latin American pope could muster was a Hallmark Card tweet, only hours before the Argentine Senate was to begin debate:
El Hijo de Dios nació descartado para decirnos que toda persona descartada es un hijo de Dios. Vino al mundo como un niño viene al mundo, débil y frágil, para que podamos acoger nuestras fragilidades con ternura.
— Papa Francisco (@Pontifex_es) December 29, 2020
The Son of God was born discarded to tell us that every discarded person is a child of God. He came into the world as a child comes into the world, weak and fragile, so that we may welcome our frailty with tenderness.
This pope did not believe this strongly enough to have gone to his home country between 2018, when the legislation was first introduced, and December 2020 when the left-wing ruling bloc passed a bill to legalize abortion, signed into law by a leftist president.
The initiative was spearheaded by President Alberto Fernandez and his left-leaning ruling bloc. However, not all lawmakers in his camp were in favor of the changes.
Pope Francis chips in
The debate was heavily influenced by the country’s powerful Catholic Church, which formed an alliance with the evangelicals in a bid to bury the bill. Some 62% of Argentinians identify themselves as Catholic, while over 15% declare themselves as evangelicals.
Pope Francis, who is Argentinian, mostly stayed silent on the debate until Tuesday evening.
Where Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical condemning Marxism, Pope Francis wrapped lab coat leftism in liturgical garb with Laudato Si’. Peter Robinson reported the devastating response of Fr. Schall to “Laudato Si.” Where John Paul issued an encyclical, Centesium Annus, defending private property rights and the dignity of work, Francis used his latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti, to denigrate private property, for the purpose of promoting socialism by another name.
For my part, I would observe that “the Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property”. The principle of the common use of created goods is the “first principle of the whole ethical and social order”; it is a natural and inherent right that takes priority over others. All other rights having to do with the goods necessary for the integral fulfilment of persons, including that of private property or any other type of property, should – in the words of Saint Paul VI – “in no way hinder [this right], but should actively facilitate its implementation”. The right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods. This has concrete consequences that ought to be reflected in the workings of society. Yet it often happens that secondary rights displace primary and overriding rights, in practice making them irrelevant.
Rights without borders
121. No one, then, can remain excluded because of his or her place of birth, much less because of privileges enjoyed by others who were born in lands of greater opportunity. The limits and borders of individual states cannot stand in the way of this. As it is unacceptable that some have fewer rights by virtue of being women, it is likewise unacceptable that the mere place of one’s birth or residence should result in his or her possessing fewer opportunities for a developed and dignified life.
122. Development must not aim at the amassing of wealth by a few, but must ensure “human rights – personal and social, economic and political, including the rights of nations and of peoples”. The right of some to free enterprise or market freedom cannot supersede the rights of peoples and the dignity of the poor, or, for that matter, respect for the natural environment, for “if we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all”.
123. Business activity is essentially “a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world”. God encourages us to develop the talents he gave us, and he has made our universe one of immense potential. In God’s plan, each individual is called to promote his or her own development, and this includes finding the best economic and technological means of multiplying goods and increasing wealth. Business abilities, which are a gift from God, should always be clearly directed to the development of others and to eliminating poverty, especially through the creation of diversified work opportunities. The right to private property is always accompanied by the primary and prior principle of the subordination of all private property to the universal destination of the earth’s goods, and thus the right of all to their use.
The rights of peoples
124. Nowadays, a firm belief in the common destination of the earth’s goods requires that this principle also be applied to nations, their territories and their resources. Seen from the standpoint not only of the legitimacy of private property and the rights of its citizens, but also of the first principle of the common destination of goods, we can then say that each country also belongs to the foreigner, inasmuch as a territory’s goods must not be denied to a needy person coming from elsewhere. As the Bishops of the United States have taught, there are fundamental rights that “precede any society because they flow from the dignity granted to each person as created by God”.
Just as there is a collective responsibility for avoiding war, so too there is a collective responsibility for promoting development. Just as within individual societies it is possible and right to organize a solid economy which will direct the functioning of the market to the common good, so too there is a similar need for adequate interventions on the international level. For this to happen, a great effort must be made to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge, and to increase the sensitivity of consciences. This is the culture which is hoped for, one which fosters trust in the human potential of the poor, and consequently in their ability to improve their condition through work or to make a positive contribution to economic prosperity. But to accomplish this, the poor — be they individuals or nations — need to be provided with realistic opportunities. Creating such conditions calls for a concerted worldwide effort to promote development, an effort which also involves sacrificing the positions of income and of power enjoyed by the more developed economies.
This may mean making important changes in established life-styles, in order to limit the waste of environmental and human resources, thus enabling every individual and all the peoples of the earth to have a sufficient share of those resources. In addition, the new material and spiritual resources must be utilized which are the result of the work and culture of peoples who today are on the margins of the international community, so as to obtain an overall human enrichment of the family of nations.
Hence the question in the title. Was the private audience between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Pope Francis a pastoral failure or council of the wicked? Or is that too harsh, a bit uncharitable?Published in