This piece is from the column that Italian Catholic author Alessandro Gnocchi writes for Italian traditional Catholic website Riscossa Cristiana every Tuesday. Gnocchi responds to questions that readers send him. The following is his response to someone who asked about Bishop Nunzio Galantino (Secretary General of the Italian Conference of Bishops - CEI) and his remarks about the“expressionless faces” of those who recite the Rosary outside of clinics where abortions are performed. Gnocchi’s response goes beyond Galantino’s foolish and typically pompous remarks and his subsequent denial/explanation of what he meant. Gnocchi points out that there is a definite pattern at work here, one which is essentially anti-dogmatic.
I begin by saying that in response to your last question (“what can we do?”), all I can say is: nothing. We can do nothing because we find ourselves in the presence of superficiality, of verbal diarrhea, of scorning other people’s intelligence, or a lack of intelligence in the person speaking. Or even better, there is a bit of all of this, because the quality of the actors on the stage is truly very thin. But that is secondary, in so far as the seesaw game of statements and denials corresponds to a precise strategy that I try to explain in an image that may seem banal: it is the strategy of the piece of metal wire.
To break a piece of wire, dear Summa, you have to twist it continually in opposite directions. This is the purpose of all those who apply this strategy in politics, either by themselves, making statements and then denying them, or with the complicity of fake adversaries who maintain the contrary. The purpose, in every case, is always the same: to break apart the organism, the institution, the bonds holding together whatever is being worked over.
If this is serious in politics, we can imagine how serious this is in matters of faith. The little dance of Bishop Galantino can seem merely ridiculous and induces either a laugh or commiseration. But, in truth, where does this lead except to the discredit of the role in which he functions as a bishop? To break into pieces that little bit that still remains of the prestige of a Church office? Because it should be clear that the consequence of this wretched matter is not the splintering of the Bishop himself but of his role, the office that he holds in the Church.
The same can be said for the tragicomic event of the interviews between Scalfari and Pope Francis. Here one must begin with what Giuliano Ferrara said about this: “to err is human, but to persevere is Bergolian.”
Even if we suppose, but only because of extreme kindness and for the sake of argument, that in the first instance one was dealing with inexperience and lack of sophistication, what are we to think after the second instance of giving in to the shrewdness of someone who is hostile to the Church? Is it not rather that they want to show without fear that the office of the Pontifex Maximus, the Vicar of Christ, sweet Christ on earth, in the light of a new “sentire cum eccelsia”, is reduced to the function of a quasi-Berlusconi, who gives interviews and in the same interview denies what he has just said?
Dear Summa, how much can an image be supported in the eyes of the faithful when it is continuously twisted in opposite directions, like the piece of metal wire we alluded to? While we expect that sooner or later a snapping apart will be the outcome of this constant twisting, it has already taken place in the reasoning of those normal Catholics who try to show, (those who are often seen as on the “right”), that everything is normal, that everything is functioning like a well-oiled clock, that everything is under control. And so they are constrained to say that the interviews with Scalfari are perfect, and they must do everything possible to make this true and are willing to behave like circus animals jumping through hoops . Then, when the interviews disappear from the Vatican website they must say that they were not so perfect after all because there were some problematic and perhaps apocryphal passages. Then when the interviews reappear, there they are again explaining that there was so much that was Catholic in those pages, and then when they disappear yet again we see them intent on explaining that perhaps there were problems. But of course it is all the fault of Scalfari, and, it goes without saying, the fault of the incompetence of Father Lombardi.
In this way, thanks to the guards posted at the right flank of the Church, born of the New Pentecost, doctrine is becoming merely a polishing and buffing cloth to be dragged out at whatever time and in whatever form it is needed. And in this way, by dint of demonstrating with success that someone is Catholic even though he is not Catholic, one fine day we will not be able to show that someone who is Catholic is truly Catholic.
Tell me, Summa: is it possible to find a remedy for this very clever montage? But who are we to judge?
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Translated by Father Richard G. Cipolla