Pope Francis as an Aid to the Faith
Pope Francis as an Aid to the Faith
by John Vennari
I finally discovered a way in which the revolutionary Pope Francis can actually be an aid to the Faith, albeit indirectly.
It is this: every time Pope Francis gives a speech or issues a document, read another page from Pope Leo XIII.
In fact, we can read a page, encyclical or speech from any of the magnificent pre-Vatican II popes as a helpful eclipse to Bergoglian utterance. I singled out Leo because his writings happen to be my favorite: magnificently structured, genuinely Catholic, tangibly Thomist.
Francis, thoroughly steeped in liberal Jesuitism, maintains a humanist Modernism as his central preoccupation. At the Jesuits’ 1974-75 General Congregation in Rome, the meeting that sets the tone for the group worldwide, the Jesuits shifted their priority from “the defense and propagation of the Faith,” to become ”the service of Faith of which promotion of justice is an absolute requirement”– a shift, in other words, to a “social justice” pantomime of Christianity.
Francis, who attended this General Congregation as a young Jesuit, is the product of the new direction – and it shows. We are well aware that on the whole, Francis’ words contain little that edifies and instructs, but much that frustrates and bewilders.
What do we do, for example, with Francis’ September 2015 U.S. speech where he told the nation’s bishops: “The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue with laypersons, dialogue with families, dialogue with societies. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly.”
Or his famous interview published in America magazine: “Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture. Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today—which was typical of Vatican II—is absolutely irreversible.”
Or this sampling from the eco-text Laudato Si (#55) that warns against air-conditioning: “Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand.”
Again, we find little that edifies, and much that bewilders.
Though I believe it necessary to keep track Francis’ actions, since his words and deeds set the tone for the Church worldwide, I think we can “draw good from evil” by adopting the principle I mentioned earlier: every time Francis speaks or issues a document, read another page from Leo XIII.
We close with a brief sampling from the magnificent Pope Leo XIII who knew what the Papacy was, and what kind of teaching he was bound to advance:
• “About the 'Rights of Man,' as they are called, the people have heard enough; it is time they should hear of the Rights of God.” - Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi (On Christ the Redeemer)
• “No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: ‘Increase and multiply’.” - Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum
• “Nothing is more useful than to look upon the world as it really is, and at the same time to seek elsewhere [to Our Lord] ...for the solace to its troubles.” - Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum
• “Divorce, which is born of the perverted morals of a people … leads, as experiment shows, to vicious habits in public and private life, is particularly opposed to the well-being of the family and of the State.” - Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum divinae sapientiae
• “It is quite unlawful to demand, defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, or speech, of writing or worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man.” Pope Leo XIII, Libertas
• “Various appetites drag a man hither and thither, and the allurements of external things impel the soul to follow its own pleasure in place of Christ's command. But yet we must struggle and fight against our desires ‘unto the obedience of Christ’; and, unless they are subservient to reason, they become our masters, and separating us from Christ make us body and soul their slaves.” - Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi
• “The Church of Christ [the Catholic Church], therefore, is one and the same forever. Whoever leaves her departs from the will and command of Our Lord Jesus Christ; leaving the path of salvation, he enters that of perdition. ‘Whosoever [says St. Cyprian] is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church. Whosoever leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ. ... Whosoever observes not this unity observes not the law of God; whosoever holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, holds not to life and salvation’.” - Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum
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Online Encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII can be accessed here
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Comments? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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