In the midst of the cold war declared by the NYPD against our ultra-liberal mayor, the hot wars in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, I could not help but notice a well-written and hard-hitting piece by traditionalist Catholic attorney Christopher Ferrara for redoubtable Remnant newspaper.
Now, why is Ferrara’s “The Remnant’s Man of the Year” article, which in a calm, respectful tone, outlines various criticisms of the current pope important? First, the Catholic Church was and hopefully the spiritual backbone of the West, with the Pope being its spiritual leader and whether non-Catholics like it or not, the most important religious leader in the world. Before Vatican II and even after, the Church had the role of the spiritual battle police of the Christian West, holding the line on the most important spiritual and societal issues of the day. As Ferrara writes, “The world understands, even if most Catholics have forgotten, that the Catholic Church is the last barrier against the terminal civilizational apostasy for which the powers that be have been laboring for almost three centuries”. Second, the article serves as a warning for traditionalists, both Christian and Jewish, about the dangers inherent in the admiration of the mainstream media. Third, the words and deeds of the current pope are used by the anti-Catholic media to malign previous popes, including the Pope Emeritus. It must be pointed out, that for all of his criticism of Francis, Ferrara neither adopts sedevacantist arguments, nor accuses the Pope of heresy.
Let us consider some of the criticisms Ferrara makes.
an unprecedented disdain for traditional vestments, customs and protocols of the papacy, with the result that the media exalt Francis’s “humility” to the detriment of all his predecessors, including canonized saints who honored these traditions as due the sacrality of the office of Vicar of Christ;
further ostentatious demonstrations of “humility,” always before the cameras (dining with Vatican employees in the cafeteria, “selfies” with members of the crowd, riding a bus to the annual retreat, carrying his own black bag on the chartered jet, etc.), which the media further exploit as an unfavorable reflection on previous Popes;
perversion of the traditional Holy Thursday mandatum, commemorating the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist at the first Mass offered by Our Lord, by washing and kissing the feet of non-Catholics, including Muslim women, thus degrading a sacred tradition by subordinating it to his personal desire to display “humility” in a novel way;
the infamous declaration “Who am I to judge?” respecting “gay persons” in the Catholic priesthood, creating the impression of an unprecedented new “openness” to “gay people” in the Church, which he has since done nothing to counter but on the contrary has continued to cultivate, as seen at the Synod on “the Family,” which he controlled.
All valid criticisms, are they not? As many traditionalists pointed out, this “humility” comes across as inappropriate and even prideful attempts to please the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian mainstream powers-that-be. Did not Patriarch Filaret have a point (him being a schismatic notwithstanding) when he criticized the newly elected Francis for “showing off” and asserted that true humility is before God, not people? Needless to say, the above actions of the current pope dismayed and angered many traditionalist, non-sedevacantist and non-SSPX Catholics, including several parish priests whom I am friends with.
Even more troubling is the Pope’s attitude towards Islam, which echoes back to John Paul II.
a defense of Islam against the well-founded claim that it inherently promotes violence against “infidels”: “You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups”—thus suggesting that Roman Catholic traditionalists or Protestant “Bible-thumpers” are on a par with Muslim fanatics who commit murder, rape and innumerable other acts of violence and persecution against Christians or routinely sentence them to death for “blasphemy” or “apostasy” according to the established juridical frameworks of Muslim countries;
the invitation to a Muslim Imam to “pray for peace” in the Vatican gardens, who, quoting the Koran in Francis’s presence, called upon Allah to “grant us victory over the heathen/disbelieving/infidel” (i.e. non-Muslims), following which there erupted violence of massive proportions in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the savage Muslim persecution of Christians in various nations;
the failure to intervene to plead for the freedom of Mariam Ibraheem Ishag, the pregnant Catholic convert sentenced to death by the Islamic dictatorship of Sudan for “apostasy” from Islam, even though governments, religious leaders and human rights groups around the world militated—successfully—for her release;
silence and inaction in the face of written pleas from Aisa Bibi, sentenced to death for “blasphemy” by the Islamic regime of Pakistan, whereas Pope Benedict XVI had publicly called for the dismissal of all charges against her and even the Russian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church recently issued a formal statement declaring that “our multimillion flock joins their voice to that of the great number of people throughout the world who advocate for saving the life of this Christian woman” and calling upon Pakistan’s president to grant her a pardon.
As I have pointed out some months ago, this kind of unilateral disarmament in the face of hostile non-Christians only weaken the Church and the West as a whole, presenting the Catholic Church not as the spiritual shield and sword of the West, but as a cringing, walking-on-eggshells entity, always afraid of offending non-Catholics. I can only hope that Ferrara’s article will spark a lively, yet respectful discussion in these pages and among traditionalists at large.