Rorate Caeli has a fascinating interview of Sandro Magister on Pope Francis which took place on November 14, last year
This year Sandro Magister celebrates 40 years as a Vatican journalist. His first articles in L’Espresso in fact, date back to 1974. And today, from those columns and also from the site of the weekly magazine, he still continues to report Vatican and Church news, everything very well-documented without bowing down to anyone.
Born in 1943, a native of Busto Arsizio, with degrees in Philosophy and Theology from the “Cattolica”, Magister has followed many Roman pontiffs. His articles regarding the present Pontiff, Pope Francis, are distinct from the mainstream Vatican journalists, unhesitatingly noting contradictions.
Question: Magister, Pope Bergoglio, has been basking in worldwide success these past months, but some of his decisions have given pause for thought. For example, he has presented himself as Bishop of Rome but at the Synod for the Family, he evoked the Codes of Canon Law confirming Petrine power.
R: It’s true. He did that in his closing speech.
Q: He outlined a shared and open vision in the governing Church, yet he appointed an outside commissioner with rather tough methods to the Franciscans of the Immaculate and also de facto put a bridle on the bishops conferences.
R: Some, like the Italian one, have effectively been destroyed.
[CONTRADICTIONS ARE INHERENT TO BERGOGLIO’S CHARACTER]
Q: When speaking to the popular movements he seemed to echo some of Tony Negri’s analyses on work, as you wrote on the blog Settimo Cielo. But then he accepted the “layoff” of 500 workers, among them, calligraphers, painters and printers of which the Office of Papal Charities decided it had no more use for.
R: In fact that incident is a bit jarring…
Q: …as jarring as his harsh ultra-libertarian positions on justice and prisons by having the ex-nuncio to the Dominican Republic jailed in advance of judgment on accusations of pedophilia.
R: That’s right.
Q: So, you have been a vaticanist for a long time, what do you think of all this?
R: That there are contradictions inherent in the character of Jorge Bergoglio. This is based on observations of valid evidence over many months.
Q: What conclusions have you come to?
R: Throughout his life he has been a person who has acted on different fronts contemporarily and does the same thing now as Pontiff; he leaves passages open, and on first reading, there are many contradictions. Anyway, those you mentioned are not the only ones.
[VERY TALKATIVE, BUT SILENT WHEN IT COULD MATTER]
Q: Tell us about some others…
R: He is a very talkative Pope and has telephoned and approached all different kinds of people both near and far, but has been silent about the Asia Bibi case.
Q: The Pakistani lady who has been in prison a long time, condemned to death for apostasy…
R: Exactly. Pope Francis has not uttered a word about her. The same goes for the kidnapped Nigerian girls and that unbelievable act of a few days ago in Pakistan when a Christian married couple were burnt to death in a furnace.
[POPE ORGANIZED THE SYNOD FROM START TO FINISH]
Q: These are stories connected to relations with Islam, which we’ll return to later. Some are beginning to define these contradictions as “Jesuitism” in the sense of a ‘multi-way of thinking’.
R: This is a disparaging and unacceptable estimation, even if it’s true that Jesuit spirituality historically has shown itself able to adapt to the most diverse situations, at times even contradictory among themselves.
Q: …as the organization of the recent Synod appeared contradictory…
R: An organization precisely calculated by the Pope, not left to chance as was lead to believe; there were other contradictory elements as well.
[POPE’S DEBATE ON COMMUNION FOR REMARRIED TOUCHES VERY FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH]
Q: For example?
R: Bergoglio has said repeatedly that he didn’t want to make compromises with doctrine, that he was with the tradition of the Church. But then, he opened discussions, like the ones on Communion for the divorced and remarried, which effectively touch the very foundations of the Church.
R: Because it is inevitable that Communion for the divorced and remarried will result in the acceptance of second-marriages, and so to the dissolution of the sacramental bond of matrimony.
[BEWILDERMENT WITH BERGOGLIO NOT LIMITED TO TRADITIONALISTS]
Q: I’m not a vaticanist, but the sense from the outside is that bewilderment is growing and not only from the hierarchy. What’s more, also in sectors you would certainly not define as traditionalist…
R: This is undeniable. We have leaders in prominent positions, not Lefebvrians, who are making this clear, even if they don’t express it in drastic and antagonistic terms. Not even Cardinal Burke, recently removed from his position as the ex-Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura, did so, because there isn’t a prejudicially hostile tendency against the Pontiff. Certainly there are evident manifestations of uneasiness.
[THE UNDERMINING OF BISHOPS IN AMERICA AND ITALY]
Q: What about an example?
R: Take for example the Episcopate in the United States, that is, the bishops of one of the most numerous Catholic populations in the world. In recent years, that Episcopal Conference expressed a coherent and combative line in the public arena, even regarding certain decisions by Barack Obama on ethical issues. A line shared by many prominent prelates. A collective, more than the sum of singles, a management team, we could say…
Q: And so the Americans?
R: They are somewhat uneasy. The Cardinals and Archbishops, like Timothy Dolan from New York, Patrick O’ Malley from Boston, José Gomez from Los Angeles or Charles Chaput from Philadelphia, are all uneasy. This is the episcopate that Burke himself comes from and is certainly not restricted to the marginal traditional circuits, but continues to be part of one of the most solid national Churches.
Q: And also the Italian Episcopal Conference as you said before, appears to be a bit in difficulty.
R: Yes, there are many difficulties in trying to keep up with this Pope. The President, Angelo Bagnasco seems to be the one in most difficulty.
Q: Also since his successor Archbishop of Perugia, Gualtiero Bassetti has already been indicated. He was made a Cardinal by Bergoglio.
R: But, as far I know also Bassetti is among the Italian bishops who are uneasy.
[IT WAS THE POPE’S DECISION TO USE KASPER TO OPEN HOSTILITIES]
Q: Among the Italians, the most explicit were perhaps the Milanese, Angelo Scola and the Bolognese, Carlo Caffarra.
R: Yes, they were with their interventions before and during the Synod. But it was all inevitable considering the Pope’s decision to assign the opening of the discussions to Cardinal Walter Kasper, and so this basically was the start of the hostilities .
R: Because Kasper is proposing again today exactly the same theses defeated in 1993 by John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger, the latter being the Prefect of the Holy Office at the time.
[POPE ACTUALLY SCOLDS CONSERVATIVES, NOT PROGRESSIVES]
Q: Yes, the Pope launched Kasper, he made Abp. Bruno Forte special Secretary to the Synod and who carried weight during the work itself, so much so as to provoke reactions from some Synod fathers. But then, finally, Francis intervened scolding both sides – almost like an old Christian Democrat against opposite extremisms.
R: It’s another recurring practice of this Pontificate: reprimands to one side and the other. However, if we want to make an inventory, the scoldings aimed at the traditionalists, the legalists and the rigid defenders of doctrine appear to be much more numerous. On the other hand, whenever he has something to say to the progressives you never understand who he is really referring to.
Go here to read the rest. The main take away from the interview is that if you are confused by the Pope join the club. 1 Corinthians 14:8 comes to mind: For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle ? At best the confusion caused by the Pope is unintentional. At worst, the Pope intends the confusion he sows as a feature, not a bug.