Rorate Caeli

The Mission of Francis in a Church under total siege

By freeing himself from masters,
Bergoglio has found His own Master

by Antonio Socci

The Catholic Church is going through a season of epochal changes. Pope Benedict’s renunciation of the papacy in February was a historical gesture of enormous significance, which highlighted the great dramas of our time.

The arrival of Pope Francis to the Chair of Peter on March 13 is, even in his choice of name, the beginning of an evangelical “revolution” which is already stirring the people (we will see this also in his upcoming trip to Brazil).

It is certain that he will change the Vatican as we have come to know it over the centuries: from “a Renaissance court” (as Pope Bergoglio said) it will become the home of the humble, crucified King, who embraces – just like the Bernini colonnades – all of the misery in the world.

The other day a friend and former student of the Pope, the Argentine writer and journalist Jorge Milia, related some of his telephone conversations with the Pontiff. And he gave us some enlightening news-flashes. First of all, he underlined “the gratitude and tenderness” that Francesco has for his predecessor: “he makes me feel that I have found an old friend.” “You cannot imagine the humility and wisdom of this man,” Pope Francis told him while speaking of Benedict XVI. “Well then, you must keep him close to you,” the writer replied. And the Pope responded: “I wouldn’t even think for a second about renouncing the counsel of a such a person - it would be foolish of me to do so.”

Then Jorge Milia spoke of the great crowds of people that are flocking to St. Peter’s Square, to hear his words and embrace him. Francis said: “They must be able to do this! It is my duty to listen to them, comfort them, pray with them and shake hands with them so that they sense that they are not alone.” But Pope Francis added that it was not easy to make this need understood in the Vatican, where they are used to an image of the Pope as an inaccessible entity. “It hasn’t been easy Jorge, because here there are many “masters” of the Pope with a much greater length of service.” said the Holy Father. He let it be understood that every change was extremely hard for [people] to digest – starting with the choice of not going to live in the legendary Papal “Apartment”. He made this decision because many popes “up there” ended up becoming “prisoners” of their secretaries and he did not want the same thing to happen to him: “I am the one who decides whom to see, not my secretaries…” Jorge Milia adds: “He told me that Popes have been isolated for centuries and this is not good. The place of the Pastor is to be with his sheep…”

The Pontiff has expressed this thought many times. It might seem just his personal propensity for cordiality, affability, compassion. But it is not only this. It is much more. It is a revolution in the concept of the Papacy. At least that of the last millennium. Certainly, his predecessors already initiated a progressive dismantling of the regal heaviness of the Curia, starting with Paul VI and John Paul II preferred taking to the streets of the world rather than staying in the Vatican. Benedict XVI shot thunderbolts against “careerism, clericalism, worldliness, divisions, ambitions of power.” He also called for evangelical poverty and used the atomic bomb against “the filth in the Church.”

Now we have Pope Francis who has begun to fulfill (it seems in an overpowering way) all that his predecessor had asked for a thousand times over. But what is being announced is not just the newness of a person (typical of every pontificate) and a strong change in structures but it is a radical mutation in the actual way of being Pope.
Francesco is trying to bring back the entire Church to what is essential, to Her apostolic origins, in short to Jesus Christ. As St. Francis did in the XII century.
The young man from Assisi was in the little ramshackle church of St. Damian, when he heard these words directly from the Crucified: “Go Francis, and repair my house, which as you can see, is falling into ruin.” He interpreted them to the letter and materially started to rebuild that little chapel. But his readiness in following the words of Jesus [also] repaired many wounded hearts and finally the Church Herself as a spiritual edifice.

So it is with Pope Francis who has chosen the name of the Saint from Assisi. He is also beginning with the essential - announcing Jesus - the consolation and tenderness of God for men - especially for the poorest and most suffering.

The other two key words of this pontificate are “mercy” (“God forgives always, forgives everything. It is we who become tired in being forgiven”) and “prayer” ( he is always repeating: ”Strong prayer is needed, and this humble prayer allows Jesus to work a miracle… Courageous prayer, which struggles to make that miracle reality. Prayer makes miracles happen, but we must believe this!”).

It is not that Pope Francis avoids the enormity of the attack that the world is conducting on the Church on all fronts. But what is the nature of this attack? The great persecutions of Christians in all of the Islamic world and tyrannical regimes (such as: China, Vietnam, Cuba and diverse African countries) continue. And this after the collapse of Communism in Europe twenty years ago, when the Church non longer served as a barrier against Marxism, added to anti-Christian hostility which spread from the United Stares of Clinton and Obama to the technocracy of Europe. It is not just the Christian Faith that is attacked, but the fundamentals of the natural law itself: the family - the union between man and woman, which has been at the base of all civilizations, from the ancient times before Christ, until today, but has now been radically trampled on and emptied [of meaning]. Since the Clinton years (which saw the entrance of China in the WTO) the new “one and only way of thinking” has been proclaimed by the western world along with a total “deregulation” of both economic-financial exchanges and human relations.

In the first case – with the bursting of the financial bubble in 2008 – we arrived at the brink of world-wide bankruptcy. In the second case we arrived at a devastating turning point in the history of civilization.

There was even the “conservative” parenthesis of George Bush Jr. who after the September 11, 2001, tended to call upon the Christian religion into a sort of “clash of civilizations” and religions with Islam. But the Church of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who also knew about the sufferings of Christians under Islam – had to refuse this call, for the reason that it would have been impious to put the seal of Christ on conflicts that had the aim of guaranteeing energy supplies to the West. Also because it would have been the Christian minorities in Islamic countries that would pay the price – as in fact has happened.

Now that the Church is under a perfect siege – from the anti-Christian USA and Europe on one side – and on the other the persecutory regimes in Asia, Africa and Muslim countries, Pope Francis emerges from this historic siege which threatens the very survival of the Church – by means of the only irresistible weapon with which the Church has always triumphed over the course of the centuries when persecuted: the Gospel (or as the Pope would say, “grace”).

It is false that the Pope has set aside the teachings of his predecessors on “the non-negotiable values” as the conservative Catholics reproach him for and as the progressive Catholics would like him to do. (His first encyclical “Lumen Fidei” demonstrates this).

Pope Francis simply knows that, in the situation at which we have arrived, it no longer makes any sense for the Church to break out into a cultural battle or in political action to exorcize, through human means, the collapse of a civilization and the “barbarian invasions”.

The Church knows that only the grace of Christ is indispensible for Her. That is why today the Pope asks for conversion (beginning with the dismantling of the “Renaissance Curia”): incessant prayer which obtains miracles; the marveling at Jesus “who kisses His wounds” in the poor, the sick and the desperate; the announcement and experience of the mercy of God for men.

It was in this way that the world was conquered peacefully and reconstructed by Christianity. And it will happen anew.

(Source: “Libero”, July 14, 2013; translated by Contributor Francesca Romana)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the translation efforts, however, I find the suggestions, the anticipations emanating from this article to be rather unamusing. The author evidently comes from a mindset in which he believes some great burst of life has occurred with the appearance of Bergoglio on the scene which conversely he is disdaining Pope-Emeritus Benedict. What "profound renewal" does this Socci think is going to be effected by this Pope? Pope Francis will dismantle the Church and in reality make it a minority, powerless Religion just as it is now in the Middle East. Ironically, he's making the Universal Church into the very entity he's complaining about. Merely running around believing the way he thinks without any formal, time-honored structure actually becomes the Protestant way of doing things and a diminution of the Roman Church.

The great strides and advancement of the West occurred because of the Roman Catholic Faith and the solid theology and philosophy which were imbued in those who built up the West as civilization was advanced, and the Roman Church was an entity to which commanded respect and sought-after input. Grassroots-wise, Tradition is taking hold and things are developing that way. Sometimes great things happen from the bottom up. There are cases like this though when things from the top down are very necessary, and not happening from Rome.

With Francis in power, I really doubt we'll be getting anything by way of a true renewal. Personally, I can't see what the great shakes are with Pope Francis. Actually, of the moment I see The Holy Father as the Church's "Obama."

Continuing in prayer.


poeta said...


You might recognize Antonio Socci as the author of "The Fourth Secret of Fatima."

Joseph Franceski said...

An interesting article, but not terribly compelling. Bergolio is an enigmatic character, and it is very hard to see how he can lead the Church with any spiritual, intellectual or even physical vigor. Maybe the "grace" referred to will be the answer, but a very serious question remains-- is this the pope who can lead in the life and death cultural wars we are fighting?

thenextstep09 said...

I was starting to get a bit down about the way things have been going for the Church in the US, but this has given me a bit of hope (and instruction) on what needs to be done. God Bless You!

Anchorite said...

Obama he is. I remember saying that on Fr. Z's blog and the audiences got personally upset! How funny.
The conclave just elected a man of average intellect whose rhetoric of "hope" and "change" was loudest.
He is tiresly building his Politburo outside the walls of Vatican as wasps building nests outside a family home.
The author is doing what Bergolglio does best - empty inflated demagoguery.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

My impression is that +Francis's first priority is making sure Muslim Africans feel welcome in Catholic Europe.

David Werling said...

Kool-Aid for the masses.

Bill said...

If what the article says is true, Tradition in Action is right again when that apostolate thinks that Benedict is telling Francis to continue what he, Benedict, began. The more I hear about Francis's pontificate, the more it disappoints me.


pierre said...

Oh why don't they just canonize Francis and get it over with. I realize they are wedded to the old idea of waiting to after a pope dies. But why? So many precedents are being broken. Why not break this one? He will be the first pope who is a living saint. Then he can do some real good!

Robbie said...

This piece seems to be yet another round about way to praise and promote VCII without specifically mentioning the Council by name. Maybe I've totally missed the point, but that's the impression I have.

It seems quite clear the author is hopeful about the continued deconstruction of the papal person. He touts the Vatican as a humble home rather than a Renaissance Court while praising the progressive dismantling of the regal heaviness of the Curia. When Paul VI is mentioned favorably, it can only lead to one conclusion.

The author goes on to say Francis has ushered in a radical mutation in the actual way of being Pope. Again, that goes back to the papal deconstruction. Francis acts more like a parish priest while, at the same time, acting with a sort of protestant personality. In other words, all that's grand is bad, while all that's dirty and low is good.

Unfortunately, I think the writer of this piece has the likely outcome of the Bergoglio pontificate correct. He's excited by it while I'm not.

Anchorite said...

What really bothers me is that Bp. Francis measures very well against today's breed of populist politicians yet hardly so against the popes (and anti-popes) of the past and recent past. In fact, more spiritually powerful words were said by the Renaissance popes ("princes") than by this self-proclaimed Humility-in-Chief.
The irony is that as a bishop, Bergoglio doesn't measure up to his own lofty ideals of a bishop: he preaches generalities and never confronts ANYTHING specifically or directly - except the disgraceful and laughable practice of counting rosaries.

JB said...

Pierre, that made me laugh. Yes let's canonize him while he is alive. Why not? He has the power...

Ramadan said...

A little more charity and a little less judgment toward Pope Francis might be appropriate. All in all, the postings here often make me rejoice that it is God who will judge me and not the anonymous keyboard warriors of the blogosphere, Catholic or otherwise.

Liam Ronan said...

There is further coverage of this matter at Catholic Online. The link is here:

David Werling said...

"A little more charity and a little less judgment toward Pope Francis might be appropriate."

Because everyone knows that criticizing the pope is uncharitable.

And, without fail, the admonition to charity is always followed up by an equally uncharitable statement about the critics:

"...anonymous keyboard warriors of the blogosphere..."

Thanks for being the cliche.

Edward More said...

"The Church knows that only the grace of Christ is indispensible for Her"

Couldn't agree more. But, hold on, my dear Socci, the recent show at Lampedusa is how the pope intends to renew the life of grace in the Church? (see minute 1:30 in video below for a rather bizarre surprise - an altar made from a boat and the papal ferula made from other such junk)

Socci's lavishes on the current pontiff shouldn't surprise us all that much - isn't Socci a well known Medjugorje devotee? Didn't cardinal Bergoglio permit one of those fake charlatan visionaries of Medjugorge into his diocese on the 4th March to put up their show, where "Our Lady" magically appears at the behest of the charlatan? Could there be some connection there I dare say?

"But what is being announced is...a radical mutation in the actual way of being Pope."

Huh??? Is pope Francis some kind of "super-pope"? What does Socci mean here? Does he believe that previous pontiffs who were saints and practiced the apostolic virtues of charity, humility, prudence, faith etc to heroic levels were somehow deficient in their roles as pope?

"Francesco is trying to bring back the entire Church to what is essential, to Her apostolic origins, in short to Jesus Christ. As St. Francis did in the XII century."

Poor St Francis! I wonder what he must be thinking of the present situation from his heavenly abode! The seraphic virtues of the holy Saint again (like during the ecumenical Assisi events) being perverted and twisted to ram the modernist heresy into what is left of the walls protecting Catholic doctrine! This has truly been one of the great "achievements" of the devil - using the twisted legacy of one of the greatest saints in Church history for his own diabolical purposes. God help us!!

Aloysius Gonzaga said...

Yawn. It's interesting how the preoccupation with a poorer more pure Church in fact can end up sounding a lot like triumphalism.

Anonymous said...

May the Lord continue to protect His beloved Church, from the forces outside and from within which attempt to divide and conquer her. And may He bless and strengthen His servant Francis each day and grant him many years.

Johannes de Silentio said...

This hardly need be said, but it is way too soon to write off an entire pontificate, just as it is way too soon to discern in it the heralding of a long-sought reform perfectly calibrated to meet the temper of the times.

"But I will always hope."

JFM said...

A huge generational shift is taking place, and has been since Clinton in the US. I think it is reasonable to try to navigate this. I pray the Pope has success. But...

Talk such as “God forgives always, forgives everything. It is we who become tired in being forgiven” seems too clever for its own good and the same old Vatican II approach which has proven pretty ineffective. If he is such pals with Luis Palau, I wish he would start preaching like that Evangelical.

JB said...

Exactly David.

I have to say that seeing the pope, or bishop, in the Ford Escort or whatever that was, was stunning to me. Maybe he can downgrade to a used version of that car, since that one was clearly new. Maybe a Prius would be better.

Does he understand that the Mercedes and the popemobile are not about hedonism but security and the dignity of the office? It's really disturbing.

Capreolus said...

"It is a revolution in the concept of the Papacy. At least that of the last millennium."--This seems like a wild exaggeration, at least on the face of it, i.e. in regards to the Holy Father being accessible to the people. The writer seems to have no idea what things were like in the pre-Risorgimento Vatican, namely how easy it was to simply wander into the Quirinale to see Pius IX or approach him during his passaggiata in the City. There are numerous stories of his interaction with all sorts of ordinary people: fishmongers, little children, a slave from the U.S., and many more. Bl. Pius IX's encyclicals were more "ad rem" in the face of problems confronting the Church, too, I think.

S. Armaticus said...

The madness continues. Mutant propter Mutationem.

And speaking of 'mutantionem" and Pope Benedicts contribution to it, the author writes:

"Benedict XVI shot thunderbolts against “careerism, clericalism, worldliness, divisions, ambitions of power.” He also called for evangelical poverty and used the atomic bomb against “the filth in the Church.”.

Where's the "Mutant" beef?

On an aside, it would appear that the nuclear bomb was used against Pope Benedict.

Barbara said...

Well, I think Antonio Socci had some good points but he left out too much of the really big changes in the figure of the Pope i.e. abandonment of exterior signs of his office of supreme MORAL authority, much more important than the apartment deal. So his picture is incomplete.

Mr. Socci's idea that the Pope has kind of given up on the social and political battle is only his idea! It does not comfort me in the least that the Pope has not spoken out CLEARLY about "unnatural unions" and all the gravely sinful contra-life issues that goverments everywhere are imposing on the people. And it is truly a kind of brainwashing that is happening. Who will oppose this if not the Holy Roman Church bearer of the TRUTH? And with a MEGAPHONE -whatever the price may be. People on the front lines of this battle for life (like myself) need to hear their Commander and Chief make absolute thunderbolt announcements on our behalf. No - no way around that one I don't buy it...silence - not good...

Anyway you should all know that in Italy we have been "totally under siege" with TV news and newspaper articles of this type. Even that fishwrap of Vanity Fair. What class... for the Pope's image to be on the front cover! Not his fault of course but I've never seen the likes of it...

However, J. de Silentio said it is still too early to give up on a Pontificate and I agree with him so I am still hoping...and praying for Papa Francesco!

Some of the criticisms here really are off - points, principles and facts are the focus of true criticism. Otherwise there are egos in the middle. One can be clear, tough and convincing without resorting to sarcasm and insults which is the lowest form of wit. Irony and humour is another matter.Don't much like the kool-aid crack either Mr. Werling (I so often love your insights) - remarks like these will not win other people over to Catholic Tradtion. It is but for God's grace...

UnamSanctam said...

I think there is a great deal of wishful thinking on the part of many Catholics with regard to this Pope. This article seems to me to be a prime example.

What I see is a man vested in nylon and the mentality of the hairy early 1970's with a big splash of Aruppian Jesuit aftershave who is woefully out of his depth.

Who knows? Perhaps I'm wrong.

Benedict Carter

Claude said...

The article is pure political demagogia with flashy statements such as "a radical mutation in the actual way of being Pope" Come on ... In recent times, have any popes been more accessible, affable, smiling, friendly, compassionate than John XXIII, John-Paul II and Benedict? Benedict's resignation is not an eathquake in the Church; please all calm down! And the poor and prisonners demagogia? Today the poor are all those who have their brains destroyed by the media ... and those who adore false idols. Yes, we live in a bankrupt world but what are bishops doing about it? The fruits are always the same: true vocations: priests, committed celibacy, matrimony with many children blooming in a world respectful of the natural law and of God, starting with a properly oriented liturgy, towards our Creator rather than our poor navels.

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

Mr. "Ramadan", I have been accused of many things (often quite rightly) but never of being an "anonymous keyboard warrior of the blogosphere." You would never be accused of that, of course, since you are clearly a real Muslim supporter of the Holy Father. Happy Ramadan. May we all meet anonymously in paradise one day, Inch'allah!

Bwangi Kilonzo said...

Dismissing so easily how other Popes have exercised the office might come back to bite our Holy Father. I remember Blessed John Paul II was all about being with the masses and being close to ze people. Until he got shot. Were it not for his love of Our Lady, and her intersession, he might not have survived. He promptly saw the wisdom if his security detail.
The security people are not trying to imprison you. If it feels like a prison, it’s precisely because you are a prisoner of your office. And what is this about accusing the secretary wanting to be your jailer? It would seem to me the Holy Father sees a lot of the Catholics who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Church at the Vatican as enemies of the Church. Would it not be prudent to keep such thoughts to oneself? Being the Holy Father, he could clean up the entire place and bring on people he trusts.
The thing is though, when he became Pope, he gave up the right to bus rides. He is a prisoner of his office. The Sooner he accepts that the better for his pontificate.
Running around looking simple and poor is not going to help his work. He needs to look at fixing the institutions that the Church needs to re-evangelize, take out the heretics and get the Church back in the holiness business.

Good headlines in the Secular media will never do that. Shutting down disobedient clergy orders such as Jesuits will.

Bizlep said...

I’m truly amazed by the lack of Faith in God’s Providence perspiring on most of the above comments. They seem to ignore that this pope was elected canonically and it is probably the one God wanted among all the cardinals in the Conclave. Let me state it again: given that this was a canonical Conclave Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio was the one God wanted/allowed in the Papacy right know, given that the chosen one before renounced. The most important piece from Socci article is the extraordinary fact revealed that we seem to have a Pontiff whose ‘spiritual director’ to say so is... the previous Pontiff. I was really delighted to hear it and now see what the dark forces inside the Vatican probably already grasped: the efforts they made to ‘oust’ Benedict may have backfired because now we have kind of two Popes with two distinct ‘hands’ at work: a pastoral one very needed to reach out the Catholic brethren (‘example’) and a cut hedge theological one. Benedict is going to have influence on Pope Francis, I have no doubt of it. This was the amazing revelation of Socci’s piece. Quite probably, on Francis difficult choices related to his Petrine ministry, the counsel of Benedict might really be the decisive last word. Also, this piece of information from Socci does but reveal how much to the point are the Locutions to the World filtered by Mons. John Essef from the 19th February to the 15th March.

Anonymous said...

Bizlep, stating that God wanted this pope, that you know that, is absurd. The Holy Ghost offers guidance, He doesn't raise fallible cardinals hands and vote for them.

Bwangi Kilonzo said...

Bizlep Holy Father Pope Francis is Pope, no one can argue with that one and call themselves Catholic.

But then, this is a blog about opinions. People are going to have some that you may not like

Gratias said...

The abdication of our dear Benedict XVI is having great consequences. The pendulum has swung. Pope Francis is not that different from my Vatican 2 priest here in California.

Rome, we have a problem. As a Peronista, the Pope sides with the poor but our Church is for the next world. We already had Obama, Ortega, Castro, Hollande, Fernandez de Kirshner, Madero, Morales,Correa, Mujica, and Roussel in charge of Socialism in this world. The impoverishment of the Catholic Church will help its enemies prosper. .

JB said...

Bizlep, I highly doubt that Ratzinger is his "spiritual director." Given the litany of bizarre insults to his papacy, i.e., "no more mercedes!" "no red shoes!" "i'm not a renaissance prince!"

Dr. Mabuse said...

"Benedict is going to have influence on Pope Francis, I have no doubt of it."

That is the new line, after "Benedict will be able to influence the choice of his successor" failed so spectacularly. I don't think this little straw will hold up much better. Yes, things are polite right now, but how long will that last once opposition to Francis starts coalescing around Benedict? And it will, even if Benedict tries to prevent it, because traditionalists are a large group, and they will resist being scattered and picked off. It is natural human behavior to seek a focal point to rally around, and Benedict has a history of support for Tradition. Whatever he says now to the contrary will be dismissed as the result of outside pressure. Francis, like Obama, is a divisive force, not a uniting one.

Ramadan said...

@David Werling
If the cap fits...

Ramadan said...

@Dr. Timothy Williams
Dr. Williams, I would most certainly not accuse you of anonymity. Nor have I ever found yours posts to be anything but charitable and open. For the record, I am not a muslim but come from a mixed ethnic background.

Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

Peace, Ramadan. I never take offense at anything. God bless you.

authoressaurus said...

I'm with Aloysius Gonzaga, but without the yawn. Triumphalistic Poverty is da bomb! In fact, Bp. Francis' poverty could kick anyone else's poverty's behind, twist its arm, make it say uncle, take its lunch money AND its bus pass, and give them to someone poorer. But that would make them richer than someone else, so Bp. Francis's poverty would then have to beat up their poverty, take back the bus pass and lunch money, leaving them crying on the playground like a little bourgeois sissy-girl, and give it to someone else. I haven't figured out where this cycle ends yet, but Bp. Francis' poverty RULES!! He's so poor he makes the rest of you look like, um, not poor. And he's coming for you. Brazil, you're first. You think you're poor now?! HAH! Wait till Bp. Francis' poverty gets through with you. Sissies.

Aged parent said...

One of those who commented stated that Mr Socci is an enthusiast for Medjugorje. If that is in fact the case then certainly Socci's judgment is, at best, skewed.

Those who support that farce have more of an emotional, as opposed to reasonable, attachment to the Faith.