PopeWatch: Foolishness

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During his planned trip to Israel on May 24-26 the Pope has refused to ride in a bullet proof car.

Pope Francis is shunning bulletproof vehicles during his trip to the Middle East this month, insisting that he use a normal car and be allowed to be as close to people as possible, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Go here to read the rest at The Christian Science Monitor.  There is courage and there is foolhardiness and this crosses the line between the two.  Bad enough that the Pope does this in Rome, but to do it in the Middle East increases the risk of an attack on the Pope and his entourage.  Courage consists of meeting bravely risks that are unavoidable.  Courage does not mean ignoring elementary precautions to safeguard your life and the lives of those around you.  PopeWatch prays the Pope will reconsider.

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  1. Unless something happens before the trip, he probably won’t reconsider. He’s like the guy in that joke about the flood who rejects recuse by boat and helicopter because he ‘knows’ God is going to rescue him by a miracle. Well, he drowns, and when he reaches the Pearly Gates, he cries out, “Lord, why didn’t you rescue me?” The Lord replies, “Hey, I sent a boat and a chopper for you. What more could I do!”

  2. We know he isn’t defending the Church and therefore could not be a martyr. He is there to promote the idea of modernism by dialoguing with people we know to have heretical views with regards to Catholicism without telling them that they need to convert. Because, if he were to promote the doctrine of “No salvation outside of the Church,” we wouldn’t be talking about his trip to the Middle East.

  3. “We know he isn’t defending the Church and therefore could not be a martyr.”

    Kevin, your statement grabbed my attention. I just finished reading a very short biography of Saint John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, executed on June 22, 1535. When the Lieutenant of the Tower came to prepare the Saint for his execution, Bishop Fisher asked the Lieutenant, “reache me there my Furred typpett to put abowt my necke.” The Lieutenant told Bishop Fisher that his time was very short, not even a half hour, and to not bother about his health. The Saint replied, “. . . give me leave to put on my Furred typpett, to kepe me warme for the whyle until the verie tyme of execution; for I tell you truth, . . . I will not hinder my health in the meane tyme, not a minute of an howre, but will preserve it in the meane season with all suche discrete wayes and meanes as almighty God of his gracious goodness hath prouyded for me.” The Bishop of Rochester was a humble, holy man, a martyr, who died for Christian truth.

    An eyewitness authority attests that Bishop Fisher’s last words on the scaffold were “Christian people, I am come hither to die for the fayth of Christes catholyke church.”

  4. I don’t understand why this Pope would be so cavalier with the lives of those
    who will be accompanying him. Are drivers and security and members of the
    papal household so expendable? Does he assume that any terrorist taking a
    shot at the papal motorcade will be careful not to hit anyone other than the

    And I am truly, truly baffled why the Pope’s spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, would
    see fit to announce to the world that the Pope’s security is going to be so lax.
    While it might be good for grandstanding, this move is bad for security.
    It would be slightly less foolish to forego a bulletproof vehicle if this Pope
    didn’t also make the security lapse so public, well in advance of the trip.
    Such an announcement is less expensive than mailing thousands of invitations
    to every terrorist in the mideast, but just as effective.

    I am not impressed with this Pope’s level of prudential judgement.

  5. Everything about this Pope is ostentation – “look how holy I am”, “look how humble I am”, “look how poor I am”, “look how people-serving I am”, etc ad nauseam.

  6. So Pope Francis is going to Visit Lebanon and Israel. Why? The Maronites and refugee Syrian Catholics in Lebanon will not have their situation made better by his visit. Nor will the Palestinian Christians who get it on all sides in Israel and in the Palestinian territories.

  7. Penguins Fan,

    Pope Francis is answering the invitation of the Patriarch of Constantinople to celebrate and renew the meeting which took place in the Holy Land fifty years ago this year between Servant of God Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagorus.He will be meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew to renew and intensify Catholic and Orthodox ecumenical relations. In turn he will be pastorally visiting the Catholic Faithful in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and in Jordan, encouraging them in the midst of some very difficult circumstances

  8. ‘I thought the Church frowned upon actively seeking out martyrdom. ‘

    Have you read the story of Justin Martyr being summoned to Rome?
    He knew that if he went there he would be killed. It took him some time to get there, but he went rejoicing and telling all that he was going to his reward.

  9. Clinton wrote, “I don’t understand why this Pope would be so cavalier with the lives of those who will be accompanying him”
    One recalls Frederick the Great’s words of encouragement to his troops at the Battle of Kolin (18 June 1757): “Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben?” [Dogs, do you want to live forever?]

  10. “One recalls Frederick the Great’s words of encouragement to his troops at the Battle of Kolin (18 June 1757): “Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben?” [Dogs, do you want to live forever?]”

    Marine Corp Sergeant Dan Daly, one of only 19 men, seven of them Marines, to win the Medal of Honor twice earned immortality with this comment:

    “Daly is popularly attributed in Marine Corps lore as yelling, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” during the Battle of Belleau Wood. Daly later told a Marine Corps historian that his words were “For Christ’s sake men—come on! Do you want to live forever?””

    If I had been one of his Marines that day I think I would have been muttering under my breath, “Naw Sarge, just fifty or sixty more years.”

    On the battlefield a man takes his chances, and courage has to be the order of the day. The Pope is not in that situation.

  11. The “Sloppy Semi-Pope” is so tricked by the adulation he receives by these futile gestures of humility, that he is oblivious to the risks to innocent bystanders. An appropriate armored vehicle deters attacks. He does not understand the real world. The trappings of papal office that he has shunned, are absolutely necessary to place the Pope on at least equal footing in dealing with other world leaders. His choice of simplified ritual and dress, choice of residence and vehicle, are actually defeating him. He just does not understand how to be Pope.

  12. If there is a terrorist attack on the papal motorcade during this mideast trip,
    and (God forbid) someone is hurt or injured that might not have been if the
    security was better, it is on Pope Francis’ head. He chose to depart from what
    I’m sure the Vatican and Israeli security teams recommended. He is choosing
    to roll dice not just with his own life, but with the lives of all the people who’ll
    be in his vicinity during the motorcade. Actually, that’ll include not just his
    security and drivers and members of the papal household, but also the crowds
    there to see him.

    Mr. Paterson-Seymour, the only way Pope Francis’ action would resemble that of
    Frederick the Great would be if the king had also demanded that his troops
    discard every gorget, helmet and cuirass they might have worn and go into
    battle naked– and the king had announced his decision to the Austrians weeks

    And I must point out again that this Pope has chosen to broadcast his decision
    when he could have kept silent about it. He has chosen to give those who
    wish him harm advance notice that he and his will be “going into battle” naked.
    If anyone is harmed or worse… it is on his head. And for what?

  13. One can certainly debate the prudence of the Pope’s decision. Peter certainly did when Christ announced He was going to Jerusalem and all that that would entail-Peter didn’t get very far in that case either. It seems however, that what we are being called to do is to lift Pope Francis up in increasing prayer, as the Church in Jerusalem did when Peter was put in jail. Francis is Peter, folks, with all his strengths, weaknesses, etc. Tu es Petrus

  14. “Francis is Peter, folks…etc”: Peter was in jail because he preached the Gospel to a nascent Christendom: he did not have a world-wide Church to run, nor a 21st century world to be met on its own terms. Francis does, and that makes him either naive or presumptuous. Providence of God is one thing, but certainly tempting Hm is another. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. It is high time this pope sacrifice his personal impulses to the ordinary will of God.

  15. As I said, the perceived wisdom/prudence of Francis’ decision can be debated. However, a debate has two sides. I myself wish that the Holy Father would take more precaution. However, to debate a prudential judgment of another is not the same as going after the person, his or her character etc.

    Let’s talk about the giant elephant in the living room here: there is a great deal of antipathy toward Pope Francis being expressed here. I have been attempting to reconcile this ‘antipathy’ with our Mass [whether in Latin or the vernacular] in which we pray in communion with Francis our pope. Critiquing is one thing, but antipathy? How does this square with being in full communion with the Catholic Church?

  16. I very much like Pope Francis. His open embrace of the world, without protective barriers, testifies to Jesus’ mandate “Be Not Afraid”.
    It doesn’t make sense to hold Francis responsible for the fickle workings of a global media whose ad nauseum reporting of his every act of charity and humility cheapens them by comparison. Consider the source.
    I think Jesus is likely pleased with Francis.

  17. Slainte, I agree that Our Lord enjoined us to be not afraid, but He also
    reminded His disciples that He was sending them out like sheep amongst
    wolves, and to be both wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

    This Holy Father might have the ‘gentle as doves’ bit down, but I respectfully
    suggest that he might need to rethink that ‘wise as serpents’ part…

    And if we seek insight into what sort of preparedness Our Lord wished for
    the disciples to have when they go out as sheep among wolves, well, we can
    reflect on Luke 22:36, where He tells them that if they do not already have a
    sword before setting out, they should buy one.

  18. “It doesn’t make sense to hold Francis responsible for the fickle workings of a global media whose ad nauseum reporting of his every act of charity and humility cheapens them by comparison. Consider the source.”

    This is an extremely valid point. Given the modern media’s tendency to spin stories in their favored direction, how is a pope to speak? If he is outspoken in the use of pastoral language he will run the risk of being played (I chose this word deliberately) the way Francis is being played. If he uses intellectual rigor ala Benedict XVI he will be portrayed as cold and out of touch – and the truth that Benedict was neither is just further proof of this. It would seem that only a truly titanic personality such as John Paul II can use outspokenness and rigor to avoid being captured in one form or another by the media.

  19. Clinton,
    Recall the Words of Our Lord to Peter, the first vicar of the Church Militant, and Francis’ predecessor.
    Matthew 16: 21-28

    “…21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
    22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
    23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
    24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
    28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
    Pope Francis is walking the path of the Via Dolorosa defenceless as did His Lord before him. He relies upon God as his shield; a true model of who we all must become in the coming days as Catholicism and Catholics come under attack.
    Be Not Afraid; I go before you always, come follow me. Deuteronomy 31:8

  20. “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'”

    Though it seems Christ had in mind the very mission of the Crucifixion for the redemption of all mankind. Such is not the case for Francis.

    “He relies upon God as his shield; a true model of who we all must become in the coming days as Catholicism and Catholics come under attack.”

    Though God has also given him a very good shield in the form of a secure vehicle. In the coming days of the attack on the Church, some may in fact be called to be simple lambs led to the slaughter. Others of us may be called to fight both legally and, as in the Vendee of the French Revolution and Mexico of the Cristeros, physically. Francis’ example is only for a few. Most I believe will be called to different forms of reliance on God.

  21. Yes Phillip, but I think we all want to look to a fearless leader who leads by example.
    We have that in the person of Francis…and the forces of this world know it which is why they pay such minute attention to what he is doing; what he is saying; and with whom he is interacting.
    I respect a shepherd pope who travels the world and walks unguarded among his flock. This offers hope and inspiration particularly to those Christians who are faced with terror on a daily basis. He no doubt also inspires the heads of other Christian churches, under assault, who might once have viewed the papacy as unwilling to confront the world fearlessly.
    He is a pope whose bravery will inspire unity among Christians.

  22. “Yes Phillip, but I think we all want to look to a fearless leader who leads by example.”

    For a member of a religious order, Francis is the example. Perhaps even for those in that land.

    For a layman, I will look elsewhere as his example really doesn’t apply to my life or spirituality. Thomas Moore for example, who did not take needless risks so as to, appropriately, protect his life and that of his family. That is, until there was no alternative.

  23. Phillip,
    The moment of which you speak has arrived. The Church and Catholics are already under seige in the United States, western Europe, the middle east, and Egypt (the Coptic christians).
    For those who fear for their lives every time they open their door and start a new day in an anti-Catholic, anti-Christian city, Pope Francis’ fearlessness in the face of danger matters. He is their exemplar and he is mine.

  24. Ah, well, slainte … perhaps he should disband the Swiss Guard and abolish
    his security detail entirely.

    And if not, why not?

  25. “He is their exemplar and he is mine.”

    In such matters, not mine. Which is part of that unity of the Church. I can live a different spirituality then that of the Pope (or religious members). But that difference is still in unity with the Church and its reflection of the different charisms in the Church.

  26. One more point, slainte: as I remarked earlier, the Holy Father’s decision does
    not just involve his own safety. By making a terrorist attack more likely both
    with his decision to reduce security and to broadcast that decision prior to
    the trip, he’s compromised the safety of everyone around him, including that
    of the crowds of the faithful.
    Pope Francis doesn’t have a monopoly on fearlessness. Benedict XVI was
    attacked twice that I recall. John Paul II, as we all know, was shot in St. Peter’s
    square, and Paul VI was nearly assassinated while visiting the Philippines.
    None of those Popes responded to those attacks by hiding away. No one,
    even their enemies, ever suggested that they lacked courage. But they all
    had the good sense not to invite disaster, both for themselves and the
    innocent people around them.

  27. Clinton,
    Francis’ actions, in my opinion, are motivated by an extraordinary act of personal selflessness offered in solidarity with those of his flock already under attack who lack access to a papal police attache.
    Francis wears the smell of his flock on his person by declining protections not otherwise available to the least among us.
    A similar act of courage was demonstrated by King George and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who declined to leave England during World War II despite the German blitzkrieg, the destruction of their home, and a very real threat against their personal safety. They chose solidarity with their people in lieu of protecting themselves. Consequently, they earned the profound respect and gratitude of their nation and the world.

  28. Slainte,

    Something you said struck me. I myself (as already mentioned above) wished that Pope Francis would take more precautions on this pilgrimage. I saw a shepherd wanting to be close to His people, however I did not see the witness of Francis who is going to be as vulnerable as the Christians in the Middle East who already have been under severe and fearful circumstances.

  29. Botolph,
    I credit Pope Benedict for recognizing what a pope in this era would be called to do as Christ’s witness. Benedict recognized that his age and infirmity would curtail and/or limit his ability to effectively fulfill this witness. His decision to step aside was as selfless as it was heroic.
    Christ has graced us with extraordinary intelligence and selfless bravery in both popes.

  30. Slainte, i wholeheartedly agree that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the
    Queen Mother were courageous to stay in London during the Blitz. The words
    of the late Queen Mother– “the children won’t leave without me, I won’t leave
    without the King, and the King will never leave”– still fill me with admiration.
    That said, Their Majesties rightly kept a beefed-up security detail about, had
    blackout curtains in the windows and tape on the glass, and buckets of sand
    and water stood in the palace hallways. Oh, and they sensibly had a bomb
    shelter in the cellars. In short, while they had a bottomless fund of courage and
    an abiding sense of duty to their people, they weren’t damn fools.
    London would have been blitzed whether or not Their Majesties stayed. I do
    not know if some nut jobs would make an attempt on the Holy Father if he
    hadn’t cut his security and then announced those cuts to the press, but
    his actions make such an attempt much, much more likely. And any such
    attempt will hazard not just the safety of our Pope, but also of all the innocent
    people that may be around him.
    Again, I must ask you Slainte: if this Pope, as you put it, “wears the smell of
    his flock on his person by declining protections not otherwise available to the
    least among us”, then why shouldn’t he also abolish the Swiss Guard, disband
    his security detail, and have all the locks taken off the doors and windows
    in the Vatican?

  31. Clinton queries, “…why shouldn’t he also abolish the Swiss Guard, disband his security detail, and have all the locks taken off the doors and windows in the Vatican?..”
    Because Francis’s message is not about the abolition of security forces or safety features within and/or without the Vatican which message would be (and probably already is) being exploited by the world media.
    Rather, Francis’ message is a selfless one…a witness to Christians worldwide to reject fear and stand in solidarity with their Christian brothers in the middle east and Africa who are terrorized precisely because they follow Christ.
    Francis disgards the privileges that his papal office affords him because, like Christ, he knows himself to be the servant of the servants of Christ. His shield is Christ alone.

  32. Clinton:
    Apologies….”servant of the servants of Christ” should read “servant of the servants of God”.

  33. Well, if anyone in Jerusalem gets shot up because of our Pope’s selflessness,
    we can email them Slainte’s fine words by way of consolation.

  34. By the way Phillip and Clinton,
    Francis is the same pope who told an assembled group of Mafiosi, appearing before him, to repent or end up in hell. He is no shrinking violet.

    I also suspect that if he thought that his witness as pope placed anyone in his entourage in danger, he would grant them the day off.
    Write a letter to him and express your concerns…make sure to include your telephone number as he has a proven track record of personally responding to his flock.
    What a pope!

  35. Oh, I have no doubt that if someone gets shot in Jerusalem, our Pope will
    not merely call them, he’ll stop by the hospital. And I’m sure someone will
    have alerted the press to be on hand, too.

    What a Pope, indeed.

  36. Phillip,
    If you lived at the time of Jesus and He told you what He intended to do, wouldn’t you question His judgment as well. Peter did and Christ responded accordingly.
    The pope’s actions may be driven by a spiritual mandate with which we may not be privy. I trust that Francis spent a great deal of time in prayer before undertaking to witness to the world as he is doing.

  37. “If you lived at the time of Jesus and He told you what He intended to do, wouldn’t you question His judgment as well. Peter did and Christ responded accordingly.”

    Given that Peter did not understand that Christ was to redeem the world through his death and resurrection, Christ’s rebuke was appropriate. Francis will accomplish no such thing. He is a mere man. As such, he should use human prudence.

  38. FMShyanguya,
    Pope Francis engages the spiritual mandate of promoting the mission of the Church through bold interaction with the world, even when such interaction might cause injury. What he call the Church to do, he personally leads by example.
    Consider the following quotes attributed to Francis:

    “A church that does not go out sooner or later gets sick in the vitiated atmosphere of her enclosure.” He describes the malady as, “self-reference, the typical illness of the shut-in church … a kind of narcissism that leads us to spiritual worldliness and to sophisticated clericalism.” …”I prefer a thousand times an injured church than a sick church.”
    “The pope’s insistence on the priority of mission flows from the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity. It states, “The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature. For it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she takes her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father.” Mission then is the mission of God. Jesus, God’s missioner, tells his followers, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” The mission of God, therefore, is—or should be—the Church’s highest priority. Or, as is often stated, the Church does not have a mission; mission has a church…”
    “..Pope Francis calls all Christians by virtue of their baptism and all people of goodwill by virtue of human solidarity to join in the mission of creating a world of justice and peace…”

    Source for all of the above: http://www.maryknollmagazine.org/index.php/magazines/437-pope-francis-puts-mission-first

  39. Phillip writes: “…Francis will accomplish no such thing. He is a mere man..”
    A “mere man” who is the successor of Peter upon whom Christ built His Church and then entrusted the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Lest you forget:
    18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16: 18-19

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