Rorate Caeli

De Mattei: The ‘Mestizo’ Theology of Pope Francis

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
December 18, 2019

One of the oft repeated words in Pope Francis' vocabulary is “mestizo”. Francis gives a political, cultural and even a theological interpretation to this term,  not only an ethnic meaning,  He did this on December 12, when affirming  Our Lady “wanted to be  “”mestizo’. She became mestizo for us, not only for Juan Diego. She became  mestizo to show that she is everyone’s mother. She became mestizo with all of humanity. Why?  Because God became “mestizo”. And this is the great mystery: Mary, Mother “mestizo” God, true God and true Man, in His Son” (’Osservatore Romano, 13 December 2019.

Whether Pope Francis is aware of it or not, the origin of  this “mestizo” vision  regarding the Mystery of the Incarnation is in the heresy of Eutyches (378-454,  Archimandrite, of a monastery in Constantinople,); according to Eutyches,  after the hypostatic union, the humanity and Divinity of Christ, was fused to form a tertium quid, a hybrid coalescence that would actually be neither God nor man. ‘Eutycheanism’ is a rough form of Monophysitism because it admits in the Son of God Incarnate, one single nature, resulting from this confused union of divinity with humanity.

Following Eusebius of Dorylaeum’s denunciation (he had also accused Nestorius twenty years before that), Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, in 448 A.D. summoned a synod in which Eutchyes was condemned as a heretic and excommunicated. Eutchyes, however, with the support of Dioscoros, the Patriarch of Alessandria, succeeded in having another synod called in Ephesus, at which he was rehabilitated, while Flavian, Eusebius and other bishops were attacked and subsequently deposed.  The Pope at that time was Leo The Great, who rejected the Synod of Ephesus, calling it Latrocinium Ephesinum; in fact, it was called the  Robber Council of Ephesus and went down in history with that name.

After sending Flavian a letter wherein he set out traditional Christological doctrine Denz-H., 290-295), the Pope urged the new Empress Pulcheria (299-453) to organize a new council in the city of Chalcedon, in Bithynia. During the third session of the council, Pope Leo’s letter to Flavian about the Incarnation of the Word was read out;  as soon as the voice of the reader fell silent, everyone present cried out as one saying: “This is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. We all believe thus, the orthodox believe thus. Those who do not believe thus are excommunicated. Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo” (Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima Collectio, VI, 971, Act. II).

Hence the Council of Chalcedon defined the formula of the Faith which established the unity of Christ as Person and the duality of the natures in the one Person of Christ, perfect and true God, perfect and true Man, one subject in two distinct natures. The dogmatic definition of Chalcedon confesses: “one and the same Son and Our Lord Jesus Christ; perfect in Divinity and perfect in Humanity, true God and true Man, of a rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father according to Divinity, consubstantial with us according to humanity, similar to us in everything except sin; generated by the Father before the ages according to Divinity and in recent times, through Mary, Virgin Mother of God, according to humanity, for us and for our salvation” (Denz-H, 301).

The protagonists of Chalcedon, Flavian and Pulcheria were raised to the glory of the altars, like St. Leo The Great, whereas the name of Eutyches is numbered among those of the heresiarchs.

Among the many variants of Eutyches’s heretical doctrine over the centuries, there is  one called kenosis, developed in the Protestant world through a bizarre interpretation of “annihilation” or “self-emptying” which St. Paul addresses in his Letter to the Philippians (2,7). The Church understands this passage in a moral sense, by reading it as the voluntary humiliation of Christ, Who, whilst being and remaining truly God, abased Himself and hid His infinite greatness in the humility of our flesh. The doctrine of kenosis instead affirms a real loss or complete renunciation of  the Word’s Divine properties.

In his encyclical Sempiternus Rex of September 8,1951, Pius XII confutes it with these words: “There is another enemy of the faith of Chalcedon, widely diffused outside the fold of the Catholic religion. This is an opinion for which a rashly and falsely understood sentence of St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (Phil 2, 7), supplies a basis and a shape. This is called the kenotic doctrine, and according to it, they imagine that the divinity was taken away from the Word in Christ. It is a wicked invention, equally to be condemned with the Docetism opposed to it. It reduces the whole mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption to empty the bloodless imaginations.”

The pretext of limiting the Divinity is absurd, since the Divine Being is infinitely perfect, simple and immutable, metaphysically incapable of experiencing any limitation;  a God Who renounces being Himself ceases to be God and ceases to exist (cfr. Luigi Iammarone, La teoria chenotica e il testo di Fil 2, 6-7, in “Divus Thomas”, 4 (1979), pp. 341-373). The new-Eutychians deny the truth of reason whereby God is Being in essence, pure Act, immutable in His infinite perfections; they reject the truth of faith whereby Jesus inasmuch as Man-God, enjoyed the Beatific Vision, foundation of His Divinity, throughout His life,. 

Pope Bergoglio’s “mestizo” theology, seem precisely to take this stand, the same one  Eugenio Scalfari ascribes to him, when, in a Repubblica  article of October 9th, he wrote that according to Francis, “once incarnated, Jesus ceases to be God and becomes a man until His death on the Cross”. The director of the Vatican Press Office, in his intervention of the same day, did not discredit Scalfari’s words as false, but said that they “represent a somewhat personal and free interpretation of what he heard,” leaving us with a shadow of suspicion on Bergoglian Christology.

Someone might object that we are attributing heresies to Pope Francis that he has never formally professed. Yet, if it is true that the censure of heresy can be applied only to sentences that deny a revealed truth, it is equally true that a heretic can reveal himself through ambiguity in his words, his acts, silences and omissions. It seems to us it is possible to apply to Pope Francis the words an eminent patrologist, Father Martin Jugie dedicated to Eutyches “It is very difficult to know with precision what Eutyches’ personal doctrine was on the Mystery of the Incarnation, because he didn’t even know it well. Eutyches was a heretic because he obstinately sustained ambiguous formulas, furthermore, false in their context: but given that such formulas lend themselves to an orthodox explanation and certain affirmations favor a benign interpretation, he remains unsure in his actual thought” (Enciclopedia Cattolica, vol. V (1950), col. 870, 866-870).  

Pope Francis’ theology is “mestizo” because he mixes truth and errors, forming a muddled amalgamation in which nothing is clear, determined and distinct. Everything escapes definition and contradiction seems to be the soul of the thought and language. Francis, along with Our Lady, would like to make the Church mestizo so that it steps out of itself to mix with the world, immerging itself in the world and being absorbed by it.

But the Church is Holy and Immaculate, as Mary is Holy and Immaculate, Mother and model of the Mystical Body.

Our Lady is not mestizo, in the sense Francis gives to Her, as nothing, hybrid, obscure or confused exists in Her. Mary is not mestizo as She is light with no shadow, beauty with no imperfections, truth uncorrupted, forever whole and without stain.  
Let us ask help from the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to ensure that our faith is not mestizo, but that it remain always pure and uncontaminated, resplendent before God and men, as the Word Incarnate was resplendent on Christmas night when He manifested  Himself to the world. 

Translation: Francesca Romana