Rorate Caeli

Pope Receives a Very Curious Message in His Own Paper: the Mario Palmaro Riddle

"Mario Palmaro (1968-2014): A great example, for All"
Nothing could make more sense: Mario Palmaro, the great late Traditional Catholic writer, who died so young in 2014, was an example for all. But why this one-page homage to Mario Palmaro, an apparent ad, in page 4 of today's (October 8) edition of L'Osservatore Romano, in the middle of the Synod? Is it the anniversary of the birthday or date of death of the late writer? No, that is not the case at all: Palmaro was born on June 5, 1968, and died on March 9, 2014. Is any of his books being republished with fanfare at this moment? Not really. Even the biography highlighted in the apparent ad was released months ago, in March 2015.

It is, as Italian journalist Sandro Magister explains (in Italian), the second anniversary of the article "We do not like this Pope" (Questo papa non ci piace), that Palmaro and his friend Alessandro Gnocchi published in Il Foglio in 2013, and that was one of a series of articles severely criticizing the pontiff elected that year for the manner in which he was using the media and popularity to impose change in the Church in an almost insidious way (in their view). 

Is a Pope to be "liked" or not? As Palmaro explained in his last interview:

The fact that a pope is “liked” by people is completely irrelevant to the two-thousand-year logic of the Church: the pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and he has to please Our Lord. This means that the exercise of his power is not absolute, but is subordinate to the teaching of Christ, which is found in the Catholic Church, in Her Tradition and fostered by the life of Grace through the Sacraments.

Now, this means that the pope himself can be judged and criticized by the [ordinary] Catholic, on the condition that this happens in the perspective of love for the truth, and that as a criteria of reference, Tradition and the Magisterium are used. A pope contradicting a predecessor in matters of faith and morals has to, without question, be criticized.

We must distrust both the worldly logic where the pope is judged by democratic criteria which satisfies the majority, and the temptation to “papolatry” according to which “the pope is always right.” Furthermore, for decades now we have become used to criticizing many popes from the past in a destructive manner, exhibiting scarce historiographic seriousness; well then, we don’t see why reigning popes or the most recent ones are spared in any way from any type of criticism. If Boniface VII or Pius V are judged why not also judge Paul VI or Francis?

So, then, what is the answer of the riddle of the huge image in the Pope's own paper in praise of Mario Palmaro, the Pope's late but greatest critic, right in the middle of the most nervous weeks of the pontificate, as this unbelievable Synod rages on? It is certainly a message to the Pope, and many in his entourage: Mario Palmaro, as the image says, is "a GREAT example", "for ALL". One has to love the Italian sense of mystery, mordacious irony, and strong warning: as Our Lord said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."