One of the interesting features of Saint Blogs as of late is the near hysterical reaction in some quarters to any criticism of Pope Francis. Even a cursory study of Catholic history reveals that criticism of Popes by faithful Catholics goes back to Saint Peter. Yet, somehow, criticism of this Pope is verboten in the eyes of some bloggers. (Mark Shea, that is your cue:)
The stinking, sweaty, panic-stricken hatred of the pope from the kind of “faithful conservative” Catholicism represented by Maureen Mullarkey is getting more and more palpable–and respectable among the increasingly deranged right wing. This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs. It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement. This was published by First Freakin’ Things.
The object of Mark’s ire was a blog post on First Things by Maureen Mullarkey. Go here to read it. Criticism like Shea’s caused the editor of First Things to disavow the blog post. Go here to read his comments.
The hilarious thing about this episode is that, in the age of the internet, bloggers like Shea think they can stifle critics of the Pope. It can’t be done, and it is futile to attempt to do so. Besides, silencing of the critics, even if by some miracle it could be accomplished, would not alleviate the underlying problems that give rise to the criticisms. Steve Skojec at One Peter Five understands this:
Recently, in an unusually candid critique of the rumored upcoming papal encyclical on ecology, Maureen Mullarkey at First Things offered this bit of mess-making:
In the cap and bells of Flip Wilson’s Church of What’s Happening Now, Pope Francis is readying an encyclical on climate change. He will address the world’s latest mutation of the grail quest: human ecology. Abandoning nuance for apocalyptic alarmism (“If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”), Francis has signaled the tenor of his utterance.
It comes as no surprise. Handwriting has been on the wall along the Viale Vaticano from the get-go. At the beginning of his pontificate, Francis revealed himself to be fastidiously attuned to image. He refused to give communion in public ceremonies lest he be photographed giving the sacrament to the wrong kind of sinner. So, when he agreed to pose between two well-known environmental activists and brandish an anti-fracking T-shirt, we believed what we saw.
It was a portentous image. Press toads hopped to their keyboards to correct the evidence of our lying eyes. Francis was neither for nor against fracking, you see. Nothing of the sort. He was simply using a photo-op to assert blameless solidarity with the victims of ecological injustice. (Both a decisive definition of such injustice and its particular victims went unspecified.)
If that restyling were true, then the more fool Francis. But Francis is not a fool. He is an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist. His clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba makes that clear. Megalomania sends him galloping into geopolitical—and now meteorological—thickets, sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements.
Later this year, Francis will take his sandwich board to the United Nations General Assembly, that beacon of progress toward the Kingdom. Next will come a summit of world religions—a sort of Green Assisi—organized to lend moral luster to an upcoming confederacy of world improvers in Paris. In the words of Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Francis means “to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
There is a muddle for you. The bishop asserts a causal relation between two undefined, imprecise phenomena. His phrasing is a sober-sounding rhetorical dodge that eludes argument because the meaning is indeterminable. Ambiguity, like nonsense, is irrefutable. What caliber of scientist speaks this way?
The intellectual difficulty of refuting such ambiguity, combined with an astonishingly strong reflex action on the part of many Catholics, has made criticism like this a dangerous venture. The tone taken in the cited article is undoubtedly pungent, but it has the odor of exasperation, not malice. Understandable frustrations notwithstanding, there is sometimes a price for taking a caustic approach, and Miss Mullarkey has paid it. The weight of her arguments, which deserved consideration, were lost in the larger tempest of response to how she made them. Her essay was sternly disavowed by her editor. She has also been raked over the coals (rather less charitably) by some of the shrillest voices of the Catholic Internet. (Voices we will not link to here.)
Mullarkey’s is only the latest thrust in a battle that has been going on for the better part of the Francis papacy. This, sadly, is what it looks like when you “make a mess” in the Church – division, bitterness, and venom. Amidst the salvos back and forth between the various camps, however, thinking Catholics are faced with a growing suspicion that the powers in Rome see the Church differently than the rest of us. Rather than an institution founded by Christ to convert the world and bring about the salvation of souls, they seem to prefer that she more closely resemble a trendy social-issues NGO. As our own Eric Sammons wrote last week, what the Church has been doing for the past half century hasn’t worked; the practice of the faith is decimated, leaving only a tiny minority of Catholics embracing their religion in an orthodox fashion. The impression that this is no accident is only enhanced when hand-picked papal advisers support communist, pro-abortion, and pro-homosexual institutions, or simply foment heresy in the pope’s name. Making matters worse, the Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family produced a public work so deviant from Catholic teaching that it caused one bishop to declare it “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” and something that “will remain for the future generations and for the historians a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See.”
Go here to read the rest. The advent of Pope Francis is bringing into the open a de facto schism within the Church that has existed since the modernists aroused the ire of Pope Saint Pius X at the beginning of the last century. No amount of happy talk, hysterical bluster or wishing critics would shut up will change that.