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Chasing the neo-con scapegoat

19. December, 2014Blog Post14 comments

Got your backIn a recent First Things column, George Weigel attempted to defend Pope Francis against the allegedly false impression so many have that he is “some kind of radical wild-man, eager to toss into the garbage bin of history” the more traditional aspects of the Catholic faith.

And you’ll never guess who he blames for perpetrating this distortion…

According to Weigel, it’s the media’s fault for “filtering out” of their reporting Pope Francis’ teachings in defense of tradition.

In this, one cannot but recognize the similarity between the modus operandi of the neo-conservative papal excuse makers and the Obama worshipping political left, as each group has created a scapegoat that can be flogged whenever their chosen idol is properly criticized; for the latter, it’s George W. Bush, for the former, it’s the big bad media.

As evidence of this media filter, Weigel points, among other things, to the pope’s “passionate defense of marriage as the stable union of a man and a woman, which he underscored in an address to the Schoenstatt movement right after Synod 2014.”

True enough, this address didn’t exactly make international headlines, but let’s not pretend that it was a “passionate defense” of tradition; in truth, it was nothing more than a pope reiterating immutable Catholic doctrine.

This is what popes are supposed to do!

So, why, one wonders, would George Weigel expect the media to alert the world to a run-of-the-mill occurrence such as this?

I mean, wouldn’t that be like me notifying my auto mechanic every time my truck starts?

Well, sorta…

Consider this; my truck starting really would be news if I hadn’t been able to get it going for some twenty-one months.

With this in mind, Weigel is actually on to something, even though all indications are that he doesn’t quite possess the wherewithal to connect the dots.

You see, the only reason any Catholic might consider a pope speaking like a pope newsworthy (Weigel included, even if only subconsciously), is the plain fact that he so often attacks the doctrines of the Faith!

In the present case, everyone who is paying attention realizes that the greatest challenge facing the Church as it concerns her treatment of marriage is Pope Francis himself; otherwise, the pope repeating the Faith of the Church on the matter wouldn’t even merit a yawn.

Lastly, Weigel concluded with another favored maneuver of the defenders of all things Francis; he played the Devil card:

Another aspect of Pope Francis’s preaching that’s been too often filtered out of the coverage of his pontificate involves (if you’ll pardon the term) demonology. No pope in decades has so regularly referred to Satan as Pope Francis. The Evil One is no abstraction to this pontiff, nor does he think of “satanic” as a rhetorical intensifier to underscore one’s disapproval of, say, Hitler. Satan and his minions are very real to Pope Francis; it would be interesting for an enterprising reporter to draw him out on the subject in one of those freewheeling papal press conferences.

Need I remind Mr. Weigel that “the last pope in decades” to so regularly refer to Satan was none other than Pope Paul VI; the Jimmy Carter of popes who will forever be remembered in history as he whose ineptitude paved the way for a period of unprecedented upheaval in Catholic life; including having presided over the greatest liturgical disaster the Church has ever, and very likely will ever, have to endure.

Perhaps Pope Paul of bitter memory found the Devil’s name on the tip of his tongue so frequently because he was so often, knowingly or not, marching to the Evil One’s orders.

In any case, it is at once interesting and a cause for deep concern that our current Holy Father has confirmed that for him, “the great light was Paul VI.”

And so the upheaval continues…

Is the Holy Father’s health failing?

16. December, 2014Blog Post7 comments

Pope healthIn his latest interview, Pope Francis was asked about his health. For those who are praying that he may have a lengthy reign, his answer wasn’t gloomy, but it was less than reassuring.

I do have some aches and pains, and at my age ailments don’t go unnoticed. But I am in God´s hands, up to now I have been able to work steadily.

He doesn’t really look all that well to me. Watching coverage of his trip to Turkey, I thought he looked more drained than ever. A younger man would likely be exhausted from that trip as well, so who knows…

That said, watching (as a form of mortification) the Papal Mass offered at St. Peter’s Basilica for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, however, gives rise to new concerns. In the brief excerpt below, you’ll see and hear that his breathing seems terrible. And for the record, this was just before the Confiteor and well prior to the band banging out their pulse raising version of the Gloria in Creole Latin hoedown style.

(If you’ve not had the… ahem… pleasure of viewing it yet, a clip is available at Catholic Family News. Go, take a look and offer up the suffering for the Holy Souls.)

Now, let me be clear… I’m not praying for the pope’s demise (as some have been quick to accuse in the past).

Truth be known, I pray and fast often for his conversion, and given this most recent indication that his health is not very good, I would urge all concerned to redouble their efforts to do the same.

 

The Synodalistas are coming

16. December, 2014Blog Post13 comments

RevolutionThe Holy See has published the Lineamenta (preparatory document) for the Ordinary Synod of Bishops that will take place next October, and it includes yet another questionnaire.

Quoting from the Relatio Synodi published at the end of the Extraordinary Synod, we are assured:

… in the collegial journey of the bishops and with the involvement of all God’s people, the Holy Spirit will guide us in finding the road to truth and mercy for all.

Praise God!

It’s about time we plotted a course along that long sought-after path which has lain hidden from humanity’s sight in spite of the best efforts of the Saints, the Doctors of the Church, and every Holy Roman Pontiff who happened to have had the misfortune of reigning prior to Pope John XXIII.

As for “all of God’s people” who will be invited to help the Synod find its way, I would remind those of you with a short memory that this really means homo-sympathizers, adulterers, and perhaps an over-sexed senior citizen or two.

The Lineamenta prefaces the questions with the following statement of purpose [emphasis added]:

The proposed questions which follow and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the Relatio Synodi are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.

Well, no one can say that the revolutionaries have hidden their real agenda from sight! In the space of this solitary sentence we are given two crucial pieces of information (in reverse order):

First, the “path already indicated” is NOT based on “an application of doctrine,” and secondly,  we’ve been put on notice; the Ordinary Synod is going to do its damnedest to “avoid” applying the doctrine going forward.

This isn’t just the language of revolution; it’s the language of revolutionaries who are convinced of their ability to prevail. Buckle up.

La Nacion notes

12. December, 2014Blog Post36 comments

la nacionIn addition to the brilliant one-liners offered in his La Nacion interview, following are some notes on the pope’s more serious comments.

- Pope Francis mentioned that nasty old “proselytism” no less than five times.

OK, OK, we get it, Holy Father; that venerable practice otherwise known as the mission that Jesus Christ gave to the Church is still on hold. So noted.

- The Holy Father said with respect to opposition to his agenda:

“Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement … it´s very healthy.”

This only reinforces the prediction that I made just prior to the Synod’s closing:

Pope Francis will close the Extraordinary Synod by extending words of deep gratitude to the bishops for their hard work and openness to frank dialogue. He may perhaps even make a little joke and flash a “humble” grin, but make no mistake; this is no laughing matter, neither for the pope nor for those men who stood up in opposition to his agenda of “mercy.”

Watch for the Bergoglian Retribution to unfold over the next year as his foes (read: defenders of the Catholic faith no matter how lukewarm) are duly compensated for their offense.

How he does this may not be public nor immediately obvious, and while his retributive injustice may not include every last name on his hit list, rest assured he will make examples of enough of them that the others will get the message.

- Concerning the Curia’s reform, the pope said, “You see, in pre-conclave meetings, as cardinals we have demanded lots of things which we should certainly not forsake.”

This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has indicated that he is in some sense beholden to an agenda that was set by the cardinal electors prior to the conclave. If the translation is to be trusted, the Holy Father stops short of suggesting that an agreement was made (as some suspect), but that said, “demand” is a rather strong word in its own right; one that leaves the door open for more speculation.

-  The Synodal process, according to the pope, is “a protected space where the Holy Spirit may endeavour.”

It was unsettling enough when Pope Francis suggested that the breath of the Holy Spirit inspired the text of the Second Vatican Council, but the Synod?

Well, that’s the “God of surprises” for you, I suppose!

Pope Paul VI set the stage for this nonsense when he established the Synod for the purpose of allowing the bishops, together with the pope, “to facilitate agreement, at least on essential matters of doctrine and on the course of action to be taken in the life of the Church.” (Apostolic Letter, Apostolica Sollicitudo)

Sounds harmless enough until you consider the plain fact that there really are no “essential matters of doctrine” over which legitimate disagreements exist, and when there is such disagreement expressed, we have a name for it; heresy.

- This brings me to the “case of divorcees who have remarried,” as the pope called them.

According to Pope Francis, “We posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open?

I have a couple of questions of my own: Who says we have to do anything with them that isn’t already being done?

In other words, from where is this sense of urgency coming?

To be sure, unlike the homosexualist movement referenced in the previous post, the numbers of Catholics who are civilly divorced and remarried is indeed appreciable.

Even so, don’t be fooled; the urgency isn’t a response to the pleas of the “divorcees” themselves, it’s a fruit of the insatiable desire to reform that is part and parcel of the conciliar revolution.

Consider the “problem” as presented for our consideration by the pope:

In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact!

OK, let me get this straight…

“Divorcees” are barred from reading the Scriptures at Holy Mass and disqualified from teaching Sunday school?

Not to be flippant, but on what planet is this the case?

Come to think of it, where exactly are those Catholic parishes, the pastors of which encourage (much less enforce) abstention from Holy Communion on the part of “divorcees who have remarried” until such time as they remedy their situation?

It’s difficult enough to find a bishop with the wherewithal to even suggest that notorious pro-abortion politicians abstain from Communion, and the pope thinks there’s an urgent need to make sure “divorcees” aren’t barred from acting as godparents and handing out Jesus on Sunday?

This is wholesale lunacy.

Having spent many a year in the Novus Ordo world, a number of them while abstaining from Holy Communion until my own marriage was regularized, I know firsthand that all but a tiny percentage of the people present rush forth to receive the Eucharist at every single Mass.

Oh, the “divorcees who have remarried” are there, and indeed some in this situation do willingly abstain from the sacraments, but the overwhelming majority simply march right on up for Communion with the rest of the herd.  And what’s more, the pastor knows it.

In fact, unless you happen to be one of those fortunate few who belongs to a parish that has some crypto-Lefebvrean tendencies or otherwise tends to lean in what Pope Francis would call a neo-pelagian restorationist direction, the proper disposition for the reception of Holy Communion is a message you will rarely if ever hear discussed.

That, my friends, is the real problem, and it’s an old one.

The failure of our pastors to teach the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine and to rule accordingly has been a problem for more than forty years now thanks to the earthbound, man centered orientation of the Second Vatican Council.

Our Blessed Lord warned His Apostles, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me first.”

And yet the vast majority of the hierarchy today, not just including, but especially the pope, give forth every indication that they simply are not willing to risk being hated for His sake; preferring instead to conjure up solutions to make believe problems, all in an effort to court the affections of men.

Pope Francis and the LGBT playbook

11. December, 2014Blog Post28 comments

PlaybookAbout the Synod’s treatment of homosexuality, Pope Francis offered in his recent interview with La Nacion:

What we did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation. That is to say, the synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter. That´s what the synod addressed. That´s why someone mentioned positive factors in the first draft. But this was just a draft.

So, according to Pope Francis, “We come across this reality all the time.”

Really?

That’s odd. Just a moment later he tells us, “This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires.”

So, which is it, Holy Father?

Does it come up “all the time,” or is this something that one might encounter just “several times” over the course of a forty year ecclesial career?

“We have to find a way!” 

Alarmist talk such as this has always been the stock and trade of revolutionaries both within the Church and without.

John Courtney Murray, for example, in an attempt to anoint with Catholic chrism the American Constitutional model of religious liberty, the same eventually adopted at the Second Vatican Council, sent the following urgent plea to the future Pope Paul VI in a 1950 memorandum:

… the situation is critical: if this vital adaptation [of the Church’s traditional doctrine on religious liberty] is not immediately undertaken the result will be a progressive alienation of the American mind from the Catholic Church, with consequent damage to the apostolic activity of the Church.  

In the present case, Pope Francis’ rhetoric seems to come straight from the playbook of the LGBT revolutionaries who, as a matter of strategy, have been deliberately lying about the prevalence of homosexuality for years; repeating the preposterous claim that some 10% of the population is gay, when study after study reveals that it’s really less than 2%.

Though unmentioned in the interview, consider a related alarmist claim that is being put forth by the Synodalistas; namely,  the ludicrous assertion that the Church must create pastoral initiatives to address “people living in [same sex] unions [who] request a child’s baptism.” (cf Instrumentum Laboris for the Extraordinary Synod)

Let’s take a moment to consider just how urgent that need is, or is not, by applying some common sense to what we know to be true; beginning with the fact that less than 2% of the population is “homosexual.”

Now, even though it’s no secret that homosexuals as a whole are notoriously promiscuous (i.e., they’re not exactly the “marrying” type), let’s just say for the sake of argument that every last one of them is in an allegedly “stable” (don’t laugh) so-called “same-sex union.”

This would mean that of the general population, less than 1% is comprised of a “unit” that one might consider a “same sex couple” (assuming that they connect in twos in spite of this being dangerously close to adhering to a “norm”).

The LBGT activist group known as GLADD claims that roughly one-quarter of same sex couples are raising children.

While there is every reason to suspect that this too is a deliberately inflated figure, playing along for the sake of argument would mean that less than .25% of the general population is comprised of that unit known as “people living in a same sex union raising children.”

Of this group, how many self-identify as Catholic?

In the United States, the figure among the general population is slightly less than 25%. Surely, it is lower among active homosexuals, but let’s just apply that 1-in-4 figure to these couples as well, setting aside the fact that both “partners” aren’t necessarily of the same religion, just for the fun of it.

This would mean that only .0625% (that’s roughly 6 out of 10,000!) of the general population is comprised of that unit known as a “same sex couple that identifies as Catholic raising children.”

Now, of this statistically insignificant group of people, how many are banging on the rectory door “requesting baptism” for their kids?

The obvious answer? Practically none!

Clearly this tiny demographic doesn’t give a flying one-night stand in a gay bar bathroom about the sacraments, much less the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church.

Of those who claim as much, arguably some small portion thereof really is seeking to respond to the promptings of grace, and God help the cleric who provides accommodation (stones) instead of the unadulterated truth that calls them to conversion (bread).

That said, is there really anyone so naïve as to not realize that the overwhelming majority of those “same sex couples” who claim to desire baptism for their unfortunate children, small in number though they most certainly are, really are looking for little more than for the Church to validate their sexual deviancy?

Well, if we’re charitable, we have to conclude that there are some among us who are so naïve, and one of them is running the show in Rome.

Rebuking Burke: Francis confirms it

9. December, 2014Blog Post33 comments

Burke fashionAfter a brief hiatus following the Extraordinary Synod debacle, the Cotton Candy Catholic Chorus has emerged from Lala Land to wax delirious over the pope’s recent comments concerning the reassignment of Cardinal Burke.

“See,” they say, “Pope Francis didn’t retaliate against Cardinal Burke; that’s just a spin job put forth by those negative traditionalists!”

I, however, take a more sober view of the Holy Father’s latest interview relative to Cardinal Burke.

Before we get to that, as a courtesy to those readers who may have expected Pope Francis to plainly address the friction that clearly exists between himself and Cardinal Burke, I would suggest that your time might be better spent watching Plim Plim the South American tree-hugging clown than reading any further; i.e., this article isn’t really… how do I say this… “age-appropriate” for you.

As for the adults still left in the room, most of us realize that plainspoken statements offered for public consumption as it concerns the relationship between a pope and a curial prelate isn’t exactly the Roman way.

It wasn’t that way when Pope Pius XII exercised the age-old option to “promoveatur ut removeatur” (that is, promote to remove) Giovanni Battista Montini, sending him packing for Milan in 1954, for example.

By contrast, our current Holy Father’s decision to move the sixty-six year old Cardinal Burke from the eminently powerful position of Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, at a time when canonical questions of great importance are being debated in the Church, to the figurehead post of Patron of the Order of Malta is refreshingly transparent by Roman standards!

As for why Cardinal Burke has been so reassigned, I’m reminded of a statement made by Pope Francis in his closing address to the Extraordinary Synod wherein he criticized those who might succumb to:

… a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law…   

When I first read this comment, I understood that the pope was poking yet another finger in the eye of tradition loving Catholics everywhere, of course, but I also considered that his very specific reference to “the law” was aimed directly at the Curia’s then chief canon lawyer, Raymond Leo Burke.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Holy Father’s interview to see if he offered anything that might reasonably temper that suspicion.

Here is what Pope Francis had to say about Cardinal Burke’s reassignment:

Pope Francis: One day Cardinal Burke asked me what he would be doing as he had still not been confirmed in his position, in the juridical sector, but rather had been confirmed “donec alitur provideatur” (“until otherwise provided for”). And I answered “Give me a little time because we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9.” I told him nothing had been done about it yet and that it was being considered.
 
After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him “This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod as a Dicastery Head.” As the chaplain of Malta he wouldn’t have been able to be present.
 
He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.

First, pay close attention to the first paragraph.

Notice that the starting point of the conversation is the fact that Cardinal Burke was left unconfirmed in his post for more than a year, as if we’re all supposed to accept that it’s simply a given that he would have to go.

Really?

Any interviewer worth a wooden nickel would have asked (just as any reasonable Catholic will certainly wonder) why the pope found it necessary to remove Cardinal Burke in the first place.

There is absolutely no indication whatsoever, from either the pope or the cardinal, that Burke himself desired a transfer; in fact, far from it.

Furthermore, just to be clear, if recent history is any indication, it’s certainly not standard procedure for a new pope to replace a sitting Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura with a man more to his liking:

- Cardinal Francesco Roberti was made Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope John XXIII in November of 1959. Paul VI confirmed him in that post where he remained until his retirement some ten years later.

- Cardinal Pericle Felici was appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Paul VI in August of 1977. Following his elevation to the papacy more than a year later, Pope John Paul II confirmed him in the position; one he continued to hold until his death in 1982.

- Cardinal Burke’s predecessor, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Agostino Vallini was appointed by Pope John Paul II in May of 2004, and was promptly reconfirmed in that position by Pope Benedict XVI less than month after ascending to the Chair of St. Peter in April of 2005. He remained in the post until Burke was made Prefect in 2008.

As for the comment, “we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9,” don’t be distracted from the real question at hand; namely, why does Pope Francis find it necessary to remove Cardinal Burke from a post that he has filled faithfully and with great passion for many years, and clearly desires to maintain?

While the restructuring of the Curia may have played a hand in Burke’s extended “until otherwise provided for” status, it most certainly had nothing to do with the decision to reassign him.

In other words, it’s not as if the pope isn’t quite sure whether or not the Tribunal will retain its independent status and thus remain in need of a Prefect of its own. This much is obvious given the fact that a new Prefect, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, has just been appointed to replace Cardinal Burke.

To the delight of the papal excuse makers, Pope Francis went on to call Burke a “smart American,” and said that he deliberately waited to send the cardinal off on his extended vacation in Ceremonyland so he could be present at the Extraordinary Synod!

According to seasoned Vaticanista Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican, who is either suffering a nasty sugar overdose of his own or is perhaps just playing the “three-cheers-for-Francis” game as a matter of self-preservation (not that there’s all that much difference):

This is evidence that the decision to change Burke’s post had nothing to do with the conflict which emerged during the Synod itself.

Can you even stand the journalistic insight!

Let me guess… Next we’re going to be informed that the decision to yank Cardinal Burke from the Congregation for Bishops; replacing him with Cardinal Wuerl – a man who imagines a dichotomy between “doctrinal givens,” like the gravity of adultery, and “pastoral applications,” like offering Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers – also had nothing to do with the Synod.

No fooling.

Anyone who has been paying even a modicum of attention knows very well that Cardinal Burke has been in Francis’ crosshairs for quite some time. (He was, after all, left unconfirmed all these many months for a reason.)

As for making sure that Cardinal Burke was present at the Synod; big deal.

Many bishops of a similar mind were there present to witness firsthand the pope’s machinations. The Holy Father clearly wasn’t concerned that the presence of one “smart American” was going to derail his plans for “making a mess.”

As it is, history will forever recall that Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was there when Extraordinary Synod 2014 published its infamous interim report, the document of which Bishop Athanasius Schneider said:

This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope… It’s an indication to the extent that the spirit of the anti-Christian world has already penetrated such important levels of the life of the Church.

Incidentally, this abominable text remains available in multiple languages on the website of the Holy See for all to see.

As for the revelation that Cardinal Burke actually thanked the pope, accepted his “offer” and “even seemed to like it,” who would have expected anything less than a gracious response from this seasoned Curial prelate?

Moving on to the heart of the matter…

Those with eyes to see are being given a glimpse at just how crafty His Humbleness really is when he states, “He accepted my offer…”

You have to give credit where credit is due; Pope Francis is a master of subtlety!

Be not fooled, however, in no sense was Cardinal Burke’s then pending reassignment an “offer.”

Only the insipid (of which there are many, obviously) can imagine for even a moment that the Bishop of Rome and the lame duck Prefect were involved in some sort of consultative process concerning the latter’s future. This, however, is precisely the message deliberately implied.

At this, let us return to where we began; the Roman game, a veritable fencing match wherein seemingly innocuous commentary offered for publication is readily recognized by the initiated for the verbal public undressing it is intended to be.

“A smart American who would know how to get around… he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling…”

Please allow me to translate the pope’s words as read through the lens of Romanspeak; bearing in mind that they were not so much about Cardinal Burke as they were directed to Cardinal Burke in order to skewer him in the plain sight of his confreres; understanding that there is also a warning shot being fired therein for the benefit of every other prelate who just so happens to be cut from a similar cloth:

“So, Eminence, it would seem that you have a penchant for international travel, especially given your many journeys back to the United States where you so graciously offer the old Mass for those restorationists who, for whatever reason, are attached to that fashion… Perhaps you’d be better suited for a more ceremonial position that allows you the freedom to move about?”  

In conclusion, Pope Francis didn’t downplay the tension that exists between himself and Cardinal Burke; on the contrary, he confirmed it.

 

Family business

6. December, 2014Blog Post23 comments

I know that some of you were mid-conversation with Lionel Andrades, but he’s no longer allowed to comment on this blog. He was asked over a month ago to stop derailing posts with his repetitive off-topic rants about EENS and he chose to ignore that request.

As a courtesy to those of you who wish to continue the conversation with Lionel, you can visit his blog here.

Surpirse, surprise, surprise!

5. December, 2014Blog Post9 comments

SurpriseWith respect to the Church’s relationship with the schismatic Orthodox Churches, Pope Francis said on his recent return flight back to Rome from Turkey:

Unity is a journey we have to take, but we need to do it together.

If indeed the treatment of Christian unity articulated by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos is a matter of divine faith (and it most certainly is since it is founded on Sacred Scripture and has been constantly held in the Tradition of the Church), then “doing the journey to unity together” with the Orthodox might look something like this:

Orthodox: We recognize and accept the fullness of the Catholic Faith as expressed by sacred Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church throughout the centuries. As for the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, we recognize not only his Primacy, but we also recognize and pledge to obey his legitimate Universal Authority and his Supremacy, as well as that of his successors. 
 
Rome: Welcome home!

Sure, Rome might have to clarify certain points of doctrine and iron out some details along the way, but the scenario above is pretty much where the rubber meets the road in this so-called “journey to unity.”

As Pope Pius XI said, “The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.” (ibid.)

To be sure, Pope Francis has other ideas. Elaborating on the “journey” as he envisions it, he said:

I’ll say something that a few, perhaps, are not able to understand: the Eastern Catholic Churches have a right to exist, but uniatism is a dated word. We cannot speak in these terms today. We need to find another way … We have to continue in the footsteps of John Paul II: “Help me to find a form of Primacy that we can agree on.”

So, what is this “uniatism” to which Pope Francis refers?

For an explanation, let us turn to another Jesuit ecumenist, Fr. Robert F. Taft, S.J., Professor Emeritus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, who said in a lecture given in December 2000:

In “Uniatism,” one Church is perceived as an aggressor against a “sister Church” with which it happens at the moment to be in schism, absorbing groups of its faithful deceptively by allowing them to retain their own liturgical and canonical traditions and a certain autonomy. This type of union, considered the result of political pressure reinforced by violence, created not unity but new divisions in an already fragmented Christendom.
 
To understand “Uniatism” and this negative view of it, one must understand the nature of the reunions of the 16th and later centuries, and of the Eastern Catholic Churches that resulted. Regardless of the intentions behind them, these reunions were not, except in the most formal theological sense, a restoration of the communion that had existed before the schism between East and West. They represented something new in the history of the Church, a departure from the past, which is why the Slavic neologism “unija” was invented to describe it.

Setting aside for the present discussion the rather odd (and oh so Jesuit) suggestion that there is “the most formal theological sense” on the one hand, and a different reality on the other, one wonders from exactly what “past” the reunions of “the 16th and later centuries” departed?

Fr. Taft explains:

Phenomenologically, the Churches had in fact evolved beyond the pre-Nicene system in which one could still legitimately view the universal Church as a federation of local Churches with no intervening higher structures – as if Canada, for example, were just a collection of towns not united into separate provinces.

Allow me translate:

Fr. Taft is saying that in order to avoid that dreaded “uniatism” that he and Pope Francis find so intolerable, any future “unity” for the Orthodox Churches must include freedom from the Supreme Universal Authority vested in the Successors of Peter such as it was in the pre-Nicene era.

Ironic, is it not, that if the Pope were to present this same idea to the Society of St. Pius X as a pathway to the canonical recognition that justice alone demands they should have at this very moment, they’d reject it immediately.

Why?

Because they like every other authentic Catholic realizes that submission to the pope’s legitimate authority is an essential part of unity!

In any event, the problem with Fr. Taft’s particular brand of antiquarianism lies not only in its disregard for some sixteen centuries of authentic Magisterium, but primarily in the fact that it is based upon a rewriting of history; i.e., such autonomy never truly existed among the “local Churches.”

[For an excellent and approachable treatment of this topic, please see an article by Fr. Ray Ryland written for Catholic Answers entitled, Peter and the Eastern Orthodox.]

You see, as Fr. Taft would have it, the re-establishment of communion with Rome among the formerly schismatic Eastern Rite Catholic Churches didn’t create real unity; rather, it simply replaced one division with another.

So the Orthodox groups that entered into union with Rome were not simply restoring the former, broken unity between a local Church and the Church of Rome, even if this is what they had intended. Rather, they were separating themselves from one entity, their Orthodox Mother Church, and being absorbed into another, the Latin Catholic Church of the West. In short, they were leaving the Eastern Church and being assimilated into the Western Church. Far from restoring the broken communion between East and West, this led to new divisions.

Pope Francis, in saying that “uniatism is a dated word … we need to find another way,” appears to have declared himself to be among those who accept the fallacy that the Bishop of Rome had no supreme authority over the Eastern Churches in the first centuries, and furthermore, it is possible to return to such an arrangement.

Par for the course, I suppose, for a pope who went on record as saying:

Orthodox theology is very rich. And I believe that they have, at this time, great theologians. Their vision of the Church and collegiality is marvelous. (Interview with Corriere della Sera, March 2014)

Indeed, any supposed Papal Primacy that does not include submission to the Universal Supreme Authority of the pope as conveyed upon the Office of Peter by Jesus Christ Himself, is a lie.

Even so, Pope Francis suggests that this new “form of Primacy” and the unity that will supposedly follow is out there somewhere, if only we allow the Spirit to lead the way:

The thing I feel most deeply about on this path toward unity, I mentioned in yesterday’s homily on the Holy Spirit: only the path of the Holy Spirit is the right path; he is full of surprises…

What is interesting to me is that in spite of the fact that the popes for at least the last four decades have been willing to negotiate a false idea of papal primacy that the Orthodox can accept, it hasn’t been done.

In fact, the effort to concoct such an understanding hasn’t even gotten off the ground, and this even though both parties have expressed a sincere desire to make it happen.

And why, one wonders, have their ecumenical dreams thus far been stifled?

Well it might just come as one helluva surprise to Pope Francis, the Vicar of Dialogue, but it seems to me that there is but one plausible answer: the Holy Ghost simply will not allow it.

How do you like that God of surprises now, Holy Father?