|By Fczarnowski (Own work).|
Okay, so Pope Francis is not Pope Benedict. That much is obvious. He didn't take a traditional name. He doesn't do the Traditional Latin Mass. He wouldn't wear the mozetta on the day of his election, and he doesn't wear red shoes. For his first Mass as Pope, he would not bend to the norms for papal Masses. He celebrated Holy Thursday at a prison and washed the feet of women, thereby hanging priests and laymen who have fought and suffered to get rid of liturgical abuses out to dry. He refuses to live in the papal apartments, thereby probably making life rather harder for his underlings than it needs to be. He has revived the use of the modernist ferula of Pope Paul VI, and insists on keeping his pre-pontifical really ugly iron pectoral cross. To the great joy of standard-issue, '70s-style liberals, Pope Francis gave the appearance of being one of them.
But then the Holy Father started saying things. And doing things. Things that suggest that maybe, after all, this is not the pontificate under which the Church will change her hard teachings in order to salve the conscience of a guilty world. Witness:
March 15th: In his first sermon as Pope, Francis touches on a theme he continues to emphasize over and over, namely, the reality of the devil; and he points out the stark choice that lies before us: God or the devil.
We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
April 1st: Pope Francis urges priests to provide generous access to the Sacrament of Penance:
Open the doors of the Church, and then the people will come in…if you keep the light on in the confessional and are available, then you will see what kind of line there is for confession.
April 6th: Pope Francis preaches on the non-negotiability of any part of the Faith:
How's our faith? Is it strong? Or is it sometimes a bit superficial?...the Faith isn’t negotiable....There has been, throughout history of the people, this temptation: to chop a piece off the Faith...not to be so very rigid. But when we start to cut down the Faith, to negotiate Faith, a little like selling it to the highest bidder, we take the path of apostasy, of disloyalty to the Lord.
April 15th: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith smacks down the liberal wingnut Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- with the approval of Pope Francis.
And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
...Jesus in the confessional is not a dry cleaner: it is an encounter with Jesus, but with this Jesus who waits for us, who waits for us just as we are. "But, Lord, look...this is how I am." We are often ashamed to tell the truth: "I did this, I thought this." But shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human...the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called sin vergüenza: this means "the unashamed," because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble.
May 8th: In an address to the International Union of Superiors General, Pope Francis emphasized the obligation of persons in the religious life to obey their human superiors; the authority of the Church; the need to think with the mind of the Church; and the falsity of the dichotomy between Christ and His Church.
May 12th: Pope Francis canonizes the 813 Martyrs of Otranto, put to the sword by Islamic jihadists for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith, then joins the Marchers for Life in Rome.
May 13th: Pope Francis has his pontificate consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima. The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin, a devotion not shared by the modernist crowd.
So, no, on balance, I would say this is not the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The liberal wing's hopes that Pope Francis will change the Church's teachings to suit them are as ill-founded as the über-trad wing's fears that he will do just that. Both the hopes and the fears are rooted in a lack of faith. However many things Pope Francis may do that I find disconcerting, he is still the Pope; thanks to the graces of office, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope has always been, and will always be, a Catholic.