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Hungary-Slovakia: Don’t Wonder About What the Pope Says

Thus, on Aldo Maria Valli’s blog of September 16, a “young priest” had this to say on the subject of “marriage for all”: “The Pope, after having correctly reiterated that the Church is against same-sex marriage because it does not have the power to change the sacraments… Only to say an outrageous remark as if it were taken for granted, referring to the French law on the recognition of civil unions.”

“Here are his words: ‘But there are laws that try to help the situation of many people of different sexual orientation. It is important that they are helped. If a homosexual couple wants to live together, the states have the civil possibility to support them, to give them security in matters of inheritance and health. The French have a law on this subject.”

“Well! this is the death certificate of the battle that the Church had always supported against Dico [DIritti e doveri delle persone stabilmente COnviventi; the rights and duties of people living as a stable couple. NDT] or Pacs, since a same-sex union is recognized as ‘good’ and therefore, as such, must also be protected by law.”

In the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of September 17, Luisella Scrosati expresses his indignation: “How is it possible for a pope to openly contradict on the question of civil unions what the Magisterium has already on the matter, making his own personal opinions prevail?”

He added: “More than eight years after the election of Pope Francis, it is most especially the papacy that is being humiliated.… The Pope is no longer the guardian of the faith, nor the one who confirms his brothers, but one who acts according to his own desires and sensitivities and demands to be obeyed, without taking any pains to show his continuity with his predecessors.”

“Humiliation also for the Church, reduced to a mediocre political party, in search of media consensus and no longer that of Christ.…The Sovereign Pontiff is the first to have to renounce himself in order to have the thoughts of Christ. Like any Christian, more than any Christian, the Pope no longer belongs to himself.”

“And every time he wants to put his own opinion above that of Christ, he is betraying the will of the Lord, his mission, and the whole Church.”

On the Monday Vatican website of September 20, Andrea Gagliarducci also examined the ambiguity of the pope’s responses to the journalists: “No need for a press conference on the plane to confirm Pope Francis’  pragmatic approach to theological questions.”

“But the press conference on the return flight from the trip to Hungary and Slovakia further clarified some aspects of the Pope’s approach to theological matters. One question, in particular, focused on the theme of Communion given to Catholic politicians who support abortion in various ways. It is a divisive issue in the United States.”

“And the answer says a lot about the Pope’s modus operandi. Pope Francis did not deny the gravity of abortion. He said, as he had already pointed out several times, that abortion means ‘hiring a hit man.’ He reaffirmed the ‘scientific’ truth that there is human life already at conception.”

“He stressed that those who come to kill are outside the community, and for this reason, excommunicated. In short, he cannot take communion. But he didn’t want to get into the merits of the matter. He went so far as to say that saying yes or no is casuistry. And he said that this casuistry is theology, while pastoral care is life and theology together.”

“He didn’t say to give or not Communion. He said that everyone should be accompanied with compassion and tenderness. He recalled that Communion is a gift, not an award for perfect people, but he did not want to clarify his position on the subject. He never will.”

He adds very aptly: “Pope Francis is certainly not a person of the center. He takes a point of view and carries it forward, counting on the fact that he’s in charge. On the one hand, some take doctrinal positions to the extreme and make them a point of principle. On the other hand, those who make a point of principle of the relativity of doctrinal positions.”

The Argentinian site The Wanderer, taken over by Aldo Maria Valli on September 20, sees a mark of his Peronist logic in this attitude of the Pope: “During a brief private meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Pope declared: ‘The family is the father, the mother, the children, period!’ Orbán said he was moved by the pontiff’s words and that these words confirmed his policy.”

“Poor deluded one! He doesn’t know what it means to deal with a Peronist! A few hours later, in an interview given to the press on the flight back to Rome, Francis affirmed that yes, the sacrament of marriage is between a man and a woman, but for those who prefer the union between people of the same-sex, the states must guarantee them the right to a civil union.”

“Ultimately, everything is resolved in a semantic question. The Pope, as usual, tells each one what he wants to hear.”

According to The Wanderer, it is “difficult to understand the logic of Pope Francis: he does not fall into religious categories. He moves in the religious realm but without the constraints of religion, in a sort of personal version of what to do that changes continuously.”

“And this behavior, once again, is typical of politics, where a leader’s supporters are constantly checking what to think and what to do at any given time, depending on what the leader orders.”

“This sense of unpredictability is typical of modern realpolitik. You can never be sure, because ‘orthodoxy’ is constantly changing, at the whim of the leader.”

And to apply this very docile attitude to episcopal conferences: “Today, the sleepy bishops who populate the majority of the Church have adopted, as their primary and priority episcopal function, daily sniffing the air in search of the aromas emanating from the Roman Pontiff, in order to know in which direction orthodoxy is going so as not to lose their positions, even at the cost of the life and the faith of their sheep.”

Always keen to identify the complex personality of the Pope, Stefano Fontana offers the following analysis his the October 1 post on The Daily Compass:

“Ambiguous sentences, off the cuff comments not sufficiently thought through, theologically very questionable positions … and so on: there has been talk of ‘humiliation’ of the papacy, of ‘confusion’ in the words of the pope, of overstepping the ‘limit of decency.’”

“All these criticisms, in a nutshell, focus on one point: Bergoglio has the upper hand over Francis. The person of Bergoglio – with his way of being, of doing, of communicating – has priority over the papacy with which he has been invested.”

“After becoming Francis, Bergoglio has remained Bergoglio, with his idiosyncrasies, his tics, his prejudices, his instinctive aversions, his way of thinking… in short, with all his personal history…. instead of speaking as pope, Bergoglio speaks and moves as Bergoglio.”

Now, according to Stefano Fontana, “it is actually contemporary Catholic theology that maintains that the papacy must pass through the person of the pope, i.e. that Francis must pass through Bergoglio. At one time it was deemed that, once elected pope, the pope should think and speak as pope, ceasing to think and speak as who he was before.”

“This was because the papal investiture was attributed a transcendent meaning with respect to the immanence of the invested person… But today the dominant Catholic theology no longer thinks this way. It believes that the Christian faith and the life of the Church is a historical process and that all life in the Spirit does not come from outside but passes through the concreteness of history.”

“Remaining Bergoglio is therefore essential to being pope, because the papacy is not something that is ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ the man Bergoglio, but the Spirit opens up avenues of self-communication precisely from within that individual biography….”

Returning from his trip to Hungary and Slovakia from September 12 to 15, 2021, Pope Francis answered questions from journalists on the plane. Several of his responses drew harsh comments in Italy.


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