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Tango in St. Peter’s whilst the Barque goes adrift

by Roberto de Mattei
Il Foglio
January 3, 2015

[While Rome burns]

Perhaps future historians will document that they were dancing the tango in the year 2014 in St. Peter’s Square while Christians were being massacred in the Middle East and the Church was on the verge of a schism. This frivolity and irresponsibility is not new to history. In Carthage, Salvian of Marseille records, they were dancing and feasting on the eve of the invasion of the Vandals, and in St. Petersburg, according to the testimony of John Reed, an American journalist, while the Bolsheviks were taking power, the theatres and restaurants were always packed. As Holy Scripture says, the Lord blinds those who want to be lost (John 12, 27-41).

The main drama of our times is not however the aggression that comes from the outside, but that mysterious process of self-demolition of the Church that’s reaching its end results, after being denounced for the first time by Pope Paul VI in his famous address at the Pontifical Lombard Seminary on December 7, 1968. This self-demolition is not a physiological process. It is an evil and there are people responsible for it. Those responsible in this case are the Churchmen who dream of substituting the Mystical Body of Christ with an new organism, subject to perpetual evolution with no truths or dogma.

At the end of 2014, a striking depiction of the situation was offered by two dossiers on the Church published respectively by the French daily newspaper “Le Figaro” and the Italian daily “La Repubblica”

“Le Figaro”, a conservative newspaper noted for its moderation, dedicated its December supplement “Figaro Magazine” to the Secret War in the Vatican: How Pope Francis shakes up the Church: 11 pages, edited by Jean-Marie Guenois, considered one of the most serious and competent Vatican journalists.

“Something seems to be reversing in the Church after the Synod on the Family of October 2014” - writes Guénois – and the accumulated evidence of this justifies our asking: Does the Church not risk facing a tempest at the end of 2015, after the second session of the Synod on the Family?” Guénois reveals the existence of a “secret war” among cardinals with no aim at gaining power. What is in progress is a battle of ideas, which has as its principle object, the Doctrine of the Church on the family and marriage.

Inside the Curia Pope Francis has been accused of being autocratic in his management of power, which the French journalist sums up in the formula: “Quand il tranche, le Pape ne met pas de gants” (When the Pope decides he doesn’t use kid-gloves), but the real problem is his ecclesial vision, inspired and counseled by the most progressive currents in the Vatican. According to Guénois, three theologians define the new objectives: the German, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Italian, Bishop Bruno Forte and the Argentinean, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez. “It was this trio that triggered off a rebellion at the Synod on the Family!” Kasper, incidentally, is the battering ram for the admission of the divorced and remarried to the Sacraments, Forte is a supporter for the legalization of homosexuality and Fernandez is the leading exponent of the Peronist theology of the people.

Guénois then interviewed Cardinal Burke on the Synod, who, as is his custom, expressed himself with crystalline clarity: “The synod was a difficult experience. There was a line, that of Cardinal Kasper, we might say, behind which, those who had the direction of the synod in their hands, aligned. In fact, the intermediate document [relatio post disceptationem] seemed to have had already been written before the interventions of the Synodal Fathers! And along one line only, in favor of Cardinal Kasper’s position. […] The homosexual question was also introduced, which, has no relation to the question of marriage by looking for positive elements in it.[…] It was therefore highly disconcerting. As also the fact that in the final report, paragraphs on homosexuality and the remarried divorcees were kept that had not however been adopted by the requisite majority of bishops. […] I am therefore very worried - added Cardinal Burke - and I call upon all Catholics, laymen, priests, and bishops, to involve themselves, from now until the upcoming Synodal assembly, with the aim of highlighting the truth on marriage.”

That Cardinal Burke’s worries are justified the supplement of the weekly “Il Venerdi di Repubblica” of December 27, 2014, demonstrates. It was entirely dedicated to “An Inquiry on the Church”: 98 pages with 20 articles, wherein “the new era of Francis, among adversaries, saints, the persecuted and sinners” is described.

The champion of “La Repubblica” is Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, who supports the opening to the divorced and remarried and homosexual couples, denies the moral decadence of the West, and affirms that “so-called secularization is a necessary development of freedom. And a society that is free is in progress, according to the real vision of the Gospel.” He explains that Francesco “wants to lead the Church to the original power of its testimony. He has a clear vision of what he wants, but doesn’t follow a fixed personal or pre-established plan, nor a government program. He launches signals and gives examples, as he did in the Synod dedicated to marriage and the family.”

Included in the same dossier, Marco Ansaldo, in an interview entitled Franzoni, The Revenge of the Former Red Abbot, gives ample space to Giovanni Franzoni, ex-abbot of the Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls, underlining how the positions for which he was condemned resemble now the ones coming from the Vatican. Franzoni was defrocked from the clerical state, for his yes to the law on divorce and abortion, and for his declarations about voting for the Communist Party. Married to an atheist Japanese journalist, he doesn’t repudiate his ideas and affirms that he has “discovered sexuality as total enrichment and not as the deprivation of energies which could be dedicated to the Lord.”

According to some rumours, Pope Francis might have the intention of admitting some lay-married men to the priesthood (the so-called viri probati) and to reintegrate priests already married and reduced to the lay state, in the administrating of the Sacraments; priests like Franzoni and the ex-Franciscan and no-global theologian, Leonardo Boff, who presently lives in Brazil with his lady companion. On December 17, Boff, who switched from liberation theology to environmental-theology, confirmed to ANSA News Agency that he had sent at the Pope’s request, material for the next encyclical to him. On the 28th December, in dispute with Vittorio Messori, he expressed himself in We are Church his Support for Pope Francis against a nostalgic writer, with these words: “An open Church as Francis of Rome wants, is extremely important. It is necessary to be open to the irruptions of the Spirit called by some theologians “the imagination of God” for reasons of its creativity and novelty, in society, in the world, in the history of peoples, in individuals, in the Churches and also in the Catholic Church. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church becomes a heavy institution, tedious, with no creativity and, at a certain point, has nothing to say to the world except the same doctrines upon doctrines, without stirring the hope and joy of living.”

Who can deny the existence of absolute confusion? The tango danced in St. Peter’s Square on December17, 2014, for Pope Francis’ birthday, reminds one of another music: the one they were playing on the Titanic the night of the tragedy. Then however, the tip of the iceberg appeared suddenly, and the dancers were unaware of the imminent disaster. Today the iceberg is visible and there are those that are cheering for the impossible shipwreck of the Barque of Peter. Many people though, are alarmed and have a strong sensation, as Cardinal Burke said, that the Church is a ship adrift. We are among them and for this reason we didn’t greet 2015 with dancing and fireworks, but with the firm decision of responding to Cardinal Burke’s appeal to fight, from today onwards until the next Synod - and beyond it - to defend the truth of the Gospel on marriage.

[A Rorate translation by contributor Francesca Romana.]