White Flag Pope

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Pope Francis has long reminded me of popes who reigned at various points in the Middle Ages, seated by some powerful Emperor, King or other political entity, and who then spent their papacies rubber stamping what their political sponsor wanted to do.  RR Reno at First Things explains the resemblance:

 

 

 

 

This papacy is not hard to figure out. Pope Francis and his associates echo the pieties and self-complimenting utopianism of progressives. That’s not surprising. The Jesuit charism is multifaceted and powerful. I count myself among those profoundly influenced by the spiritual genius of St. Ignatius. Yet there’s no disputing that for centuries Jesuits have shown great talent in adjusting the gospel to suit the powerful. And so, I think the European establishment can count on the Vatican to denounce the populism currently threatening its hold on power. I predict that this papacy will be a great defender of migrants and refugees—until political pressures on the European ruling class become so great that it shifts and becomes more “realistic,” at which point the Vatican will shift as well. What is presently denounced will be permitted; what is presently permitted will be denounced.

Adjustment, trimming of sails, and accommodation are inevitable. The Catholic Church is not set up to be countercultural. Catholicism, at least in the West, has establishment in its DNA. But this papacy is uniquely invertebrate. I can identify no consistent theological structure other than a vague Rahnerianism and post–Vatican II sign-of-the-times temporizing. This makes Francis a purely political pope, or at least very nearly so. No doubt he has an evangelical heart. But ever the Jesuit, he seems to regard every aspect of the Church’s tradition as a plastic instrument to be stiffened here or relaxed there in accord with ever-changing pastoral judgments.

This will not end well. The West has seen a long season of loosening, opening up, and deconsolidation, of which the sexual revolution is but a part. Our establishment is committed to sustaining this consensus. This is why it has been at war with Catholic intransigence, which is based on the Church’s insistence that she answer to timeless, unchanging, and demanding truths. It’s foolish for the papacy to make a peace treaty with this establishment consensus. It’s theologically unworkable. It’s also politically inept. For the establishment consensus is failing, and that includes the sexual revolution, which made many promises that were not fulfilled.

Go here to read the rest.  The easiest way to understand Pope Francis is to see him as the “White Flag Pope”, as the Vatican seeks to largely capitulate to the dominant political force in the West.  Such cowards and time servers have ever infested the higher echelons of the Church.  A study of Church history gives us the reassurance however, that such capitulations to the World tend to be relatively short-lived, as the Church is designed to serve the cause of Christ and not the cause of those who wish to hijack her to serve other masters.

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13 Comments

  1. Amen. Serving the cause of Christ. Not the cause of “the cause.”
    As far as short lived?
    Less time to do damage is a good thing to pray for.
    Remembering St. Steven however, some unforeseen good will come from this political pontificate. We must remember the true Captain of this mighty ship!
    A promise of a successful voyage we can count on. HOLD FAST.

  2. Yep. And I’ll wager you a careful review of the public acts of occidental bishops would reveal he’s the modal type among them. There are clergymen who aren’t fantastic disappointments, but you have to go looking for them. The world we live in is vulgar in ways our parents 60 years ago could not have imagined.

  3. “The world we live in is vulgar in ways our parents 60 years ago could not have imagined.” -AD

    Agreed. William Shakespeare’s line in Macbeth nails down our culture; Fair is foul and foul is fair. Our grandparents would believe that the world has been completely lost, and rightfully so if not for our Faith and our unwillingness to give up. Enter the election of a character the likes of Donald Trump. With Hellery the foul would most certainly be praised and propagated.
    With Donald a sliver of hope that foul will be called what is truly is, foul.

  4. Remember folks, this is the same RR Reno who not only dismissed but publicly castigated Maureen Mullarkey for saying pretty much the same thing.

  5. Amen to Mr. Mockeridge. And Reno also barred Maureen from the pages of First Things, which caused me to cancel my long-standing subscription.

  6. “The Catholic Church is not set up to be countercultural.” – ?? Surely you jest, RR Reno. And just as surely, you are not very familiar with the history and nature of the Church. Perhaps your ignorant opinions are best left unpublished.

  7. For the Church to serve the world, as Pope Francis does, is to contradict the message of Christ which is that we are to recover our image of God and help other do the same. The world delights in Original Sin while the Church was created to confront it and overcome it. In this sense Pope Francis is an anti-Christ.

  8. Ah the upper class… I have reflected of late on how much catholic education in America has changed, once meant for the poor it has become the darling of a upper middle contraceptive class in love with private schools with 1 or 2 progeny. Do only those with income and few children deserve a formal teaching of the faith beyond eighth grade confirmation, how strange? Are Catholics to continue this phase where the institutions once founded by now long past nuns and brothers are reduced to mere finishing schools for the wealthy? Given how long past catholic schools trained parents to hand over their children to be taught by professionals, and a lapse in faith by the absence of teaching Humanae Vitae (who now believes that the Church is infallible in faith and morals, all the while it has never been so true?), and a population now going to college with only an eighth grade (at best) education in the faith, how many will and are being lost to the Faith?
    There are persons who have received a Sacrament to aid in the Teaching the young, they’re called Parents.
    There are communities, they’re called Parishes.
    The institutions (schools) must be saved cry Bishops! No, it’s the domestic Church, the Parish, that must be saved!

  9. To RCA Victor: maybe Reno means that such a large institutional organization finds it difficult to be countercultural just because of its size? I’m not arguing with you, just suggesting a possibility.

  10. The claim about the Church not being set up to be counter-cultural can be defended in that “counter cultural” is used to mean counter to the culture of the west…that is, the culture that grew out of the Church. Of course the flaws in that culture are going to be rather hard for the Church to counter, because they grow in already weak points.

    For an example– notice how getting married before having kids and having more than three or so isn’t counted as “counter-cultural,” while an open gay marriage is, even though the latter gets a lot more public culture support?

  11. The Church hierarchy needs a refresher course in the Temptations of Christ in the Wilderness. All of the temptations involve worldly power, the wielding of it, or the access to it. Ancient Israel offended God when it became obsessed with worldliness. Too many people in the Church have allowed the world to assume an idolatrous primacy over the word of God.

  12. “The Catholic Church is not set up to be countercultural.” – ?? Surely you jest, RR Reno. And just as surely, you are not very familiar with the history and nature of the Church. Perhaps your ignorant opinions are best left unpublished.“

    Reno’s remark can be defended if it means that the Church is not countercultural for the SAKE of being countercultural. Her purpose is to bear witness to the truth who is Jesus Christ and of course that is often countercultural out of circumstance, not design.

  13. DAVID WS you bring up a good point about Catholic religious education. In the post Vatican II era the Church has been engaged in what can called spiritual unilateral disarmament. Catholics with poor religious instruction are sent out into a hostile world with little to no means of spiritual defense, like lambs to the slaughter. It is little wonder why so many people end up becoming members of the nones.

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