Mr. Neumayr’s comprehensive and exhaustive work, a fine example of investigative journalism, should deeply worry Catholics, laity and clerics alike.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first Latin-American pope in Catholicism’s centuries-long history. He is also, Neumayr quips, “the Pope they have been waiting for,” whose messages support Marxists and Marxism, shockingly unlike the statements issued during the papacies of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis’s radical pontificate has in four short years set the Catholic Church on a course of broad politicization and moral relativism. Pope Francis grew up in a socialist Argentina, an experience that arguably provides the foundational basis of nearly all of his radical beliefs. Pope Francis, Neumayr writes, with “his program of promoting left-wing politics while downplaying and undermining doctrine on faith and morals . . . [is] the ecclesiastical equivalent of Barack Obama.” Most alarming is Francis’s focus on liberation theology, especially his rehabilitation and reinstatement of liberation theology priests and bishops that were either marginalized or laicized under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
A former seminary official who was interviewed for this book claims that the Pope’s famous question—“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”—reflects the fact that “The gay mafia [in the Church] is so strong” and explains “the plethora of gay-friendly bishops Francis has promoted.” Neumayr tells a particularly revealing story concerning Msgr. Battista Ricca whom Francis promoted to the highest ecclesiastical position at the Vatican Bank despite the monsignor’s amazingly sordid past, including a string of homosexual affairs (one of them with a Swiss Guard), a beating he received at a gay bar, and a grimly comic incident involving the discovery by a fireman of Ricca trapped in an elevator with a young male prostitute. By word and action Francis has given his blessing to a gay priesthood. By contrast, Pope Benedict had instructed seminaries to stop ordaining gay priests.
Neumayr describes Francis’s personal history (from priest to Jesuit superior in Argentina to archbishop and cardinal of Buenos Aires to Pope) and theological teaching in the context of the left’s long march on the papacy and the Catholic Church. A history of the Jesuit order provides the basis for the author’s well-founded arguments as well. The author also notes that secular mainstream journalists have showered this pope with praise, as have intellectuals and left-leaning politicians. Neumayr provides the facts pertaining to Pope Francis’s promotion of liberals, his demotions of conservatives, and his stacking of the College of Cardinals to ensure a future for his far-left beliefs and agenda. Francis is the first Pope to have been ordained a priest after Vatican II. His guiding and abiding concern is, and has been, social justice—a leftist buzzword that summarizes the direction in which Pope Francis is taking the Church. He views the pre-conciliar Church to have been hopelessly benighted, and his mission seems to be to enlighten Catholics with Jesuit situational ethics and appeals to nonjudgmentalism regarding divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, abortion, and the general suspension of moral norms.
Neumayr shows that this pontificate may be viewed as a time of unholy alliance between Rome and Democrats in the United States. “In a grim irony, Obama, whose presidency substantially eroded religious freedom in America, rose to power not in spite of the Catholic Church but because of it.” Francis’s objective seems to be a politicized Church, as evidenced by his first major appointment, that of Blase Cupich as Chicago’s cardinal-archbishop. Cupich is a liberal who de-emphasizes the moral horror of abortion by lecturing Catholics on the importance of issues beyond abortion. Francis also states that the issue of climatic change is more important than almost anything else. He wrote the first eco-encyclical, and during his pontificate “priests are more likely to question Catholics for their ‘carbon footprint’ than their abortions.” And Francis is the first Pope to champion the cause of open borders. His positions on refugees, migrants, immigration, and Muslims mirror those of the radical left; he opposes both the death penalty and life imprisonment. Francis is also a pacifist and has openly adopted the position that all wars are essentially unjust. He has coddled dictators around the world. He has worked to appease the Chinese government, but has denied the Dalai Lama’s request for an audience. Only recently, Francis agreed to allow the communist Chinese government to select certain of the country’s bishops.
Chapter 9 of this book, entitled “I Don’t Want to Convert You,” offers startling details about the Pope’s enthusiasm for every religion but his own. Not surprisingly, he is making what Neumayr calls “one hell of an ecumenical mess.” He has celebrated Martin Luther, causing the Religion News Service to ask, “Is Francis the first Protestant Pope?” His syncretism with regard to Islam and Judaism has distorted the meaning of Catholic evangelism. Then again, Pope Francis has demonstrated a curious sympathy even for atheism. Indeed, it seems he is sympathetic toward everyone but traditionalists, a proclivity Neumayr expands upon in his final chapters, revealing the Pope’s complete and total opposition to the Latin Mass.
Finally, “while keeping his hands off orders of politically liberal nuns, [Pope Francis] is seeking to ‘reform’ orders of contemplative nuns.” One priest interviewed for this book told the author that this determination “could kill off the lifeblood of the church.” Unchallenged by this papacy are liberal nuns such as Sister Carol Keehan, a healthcare lobbyist who helped secure the passage of Obama Care with its contraceptive mandate and who, according to Neumayr, makes over a million dollars per year.
The sex-abuse crisis has engulfed the Church since the publication of his book. But the moral turpitude of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, a central figure of the scandal, is addressed by Neumayr in the volume, presciently. The prelate, who has since resigned from the College of Cardinals, “had endorsed civil unions, which has only elevated his status under Francis.” He was living in opulence before his public disgrace, while Francis preached on climate change and the plight of refugees.
It is time for accountability and reform; including, perhaps, the removal of this Pope by the College of Cardinals.
[The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, by George Neumayr (New York: Center Street/Hachette) 288 pp., $27.00