So the Pope has now appeared on the front cover of three American periodicals: Time Magazine, The Advocate, and Rolling Stone. For the first two, the Pope was declared Man of the Year. The caption on the cover of Rolling Stone was “The times they are a-changing”. What does it mean when the Pope is the cover guy for a main stream but very secular American weekly, for the most prestigious, in some sense, gay periodical in the United States, and now Rolling Stone, the print symbol of the hip culture born of the 1970s? All is needed now is for the Pope to appear on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine with an inside article written by the now ubiquitous and never shy representative of ‘70s Jesuitism, Fr. Thomas Reese.
All three periodicals that have featured Pope Francis on their cover and in a lead story, in their own way, are inimical to the teaching of the Catholic Church: Time for the Catholic Church’s audacity to resist the inevitable triumph of secular liberalism; The Advocate for the Church’s teaching that homosexual sex is sinful and disordered and therefore her refusal to join the militant and intolerant chorus extolling the equality of both “forms of sex”, hetero and homo; Rolling Stone, because the Catholic Church is just irrelevant in the post 70s world, a relic of the oppressive past swept away by the revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
What is it that drove the editors of these three rather disparate periodicals to put Pope Francis on the cover and to celebrate, each in their own way, his accession to the Papacy? Because they see in him evidence that the Catholic Church will become a completely tamed opposition to what they see as the inevitable outcome of history in their image and likeness, that the lion will become a cute cub that is nice to have around, or like the dowager empress that can be trotted out to fulfill religious niceties at important occasions. And they base this on the now famous, or infamous, statements that Pope Francis has made, or not made according to some, in various interviews, chats and homilies about various key topics like life issues, homosexuality, traditional Catholics, sin in general, the nature of the Church, and much more. Whether or not the Pope’s statements have been misunderstood by the editors of Time, The Advocate and Rolling Stone, they are nevertheless using those statements to push their agenda, an agenda that includes if not the destruction certainly the emasculation of the Catholic Church.
The Pope’s press secretary, Father Lombardi, a Jesuit himself like the Pope, spends much of his time explaining away what the Pope has said. Yesterday he had to express his displeasure at the attacks on Pope Benedict in the Rolling Stone article. He said that despite the welcome attention given to the Pope in various media it was not necessary to say scurrilous things about the last Pope in the context of lauding the present Pope. But the fact is that the praise heaped on Pope Francis by the secular press is most often accompanied by a negative, to say the least, assessment of his predecessor, or rather of that Pope Benedict who lives next door to that Pope Francis in the Vatican. The fact is that Rolling Stone said in a much milder and secular based way what some Cardinals, Bishops and priests in Rome and elsewhere are saying about Benedict, those who have chafed and waited for a long time to go back to the 1970s and that peculiar agenda that resulted in the collapse of the priesthood, the religious life, the liturgy and Catholic moral teaching.
It will not be pleasant to have to go through a period in the Church that tries to pick up where Pope John Paul II halted the march to New Church. It will be like being at a Rolling Stones concert, always a bit embarrassing even for their faithful fans, who all have grey hair, are a bit paunchy and are all in their 60s and 70s. But you see, time is always on the side of the Church. The mantra chanted today, even by Catholic politicians, that those who oppose gay marriage, assisted suicide, abortion and all the liberal agenda based on the rights of the insatiable naked self—these are on “the wrong side of history”. But this is not possible for the Church, for her Lord is the Lord of history.