Frequently, when talking or corresponding with other Catholics, people express how difficult it is to not get disheartened by the way the media seems to be enamored of Pope Francis and totally oblivious to the damage being done. That is true here in America, where, other than the rock solid traditional Catholic media, such as The Remnant and Catholic Family News, there are only a handful of objective Catholic journalists. One of the best of them, Patrick Archbold, recently got fired from the National Catholic Register for speaking objectively about the Pope. In Europe and the UK however, there are some interesting reports from mainstream media about the changing impressions of Pope Francis as his papacy continues.
The following post is a brief review of articles in the media about Pope Francis. Where I have commented, the print is in blue.
Press Review: Pope Francis in the eyes of Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom
If the French press, with a few rare exceptions, seems to be completely won over to the new face Pope Francis wishes to give the Church, worry is rising in other European countries as the 2nd Synod on the family approaches (October 4-15, 2015).
In Italy, in Corrispondenza Romana, on March 9, 2015, historian Roberto de Mattei commented on an interview he granted to several periodicals:
“(…) Francis does not make outright statements against dogmas, but his pastoral strategy is in itself revolutionary, for it subordinates the truth to praxis, and what is more, on a matter as sensitive as that of the family. He thus marks a profound discontinuity in the history of the papacy that had not been noticed for the past 50 years.
CR: The Church is not ready for this change.
“I most certainly do not wish to support such a direction. It seems to me more correct to say that Francis disorients cardinals, bishops, priests and parishes. Take the petition addressed to the Pope by 120,000 faithful from all over the world, asking him to express himself clearly at long last on the indissolubility of marriage. Even the very fact of tolerating second marriages and thus opening communion to remarried divorcees would affect the Church’s doctrine.”
CR: On this point, there was a very strong confrontation during the last synod between the progressivists and the conservatives.
“I should rather say a fracture in which the paragraphs of the final document, the ones on homosexuals and divorcees, did not obtain the necessary 2/3 support. The real novelty of this assembly was the African and Eastern European bishoprics’ strong opposition to the reforms. Precisely those bishops from the outskirts that Bergoglio never stops praising. That is one of the paradoxes of this pontificate.”
CR: What are the others?
“In October, the pontiff met with the popular movements, giving an image of himself as a peronist, very close to the social bodies. And yet, upon whom does the Vatican call to certify the appraisals of the Institute for the Works of Religion? An institution of capitalist globalism such as Ernst & Young. Again: Bergoglio speaks of de-centralizing the power in the Church, but proves himself to be a strong centralizer.”
CR: Who continues to enjoy wide approval?
“Yes, in the world of the media and outside the Church, where he has surpassed even Wojtyla in popularity. But within the Catholic world he is much less appreciated. Even the participation in the Angelus and the audiences at St. Peter’s Square is decreasing.”
In Germany, on March 13, 2015, for the 2nd anniversary of the pope’s election, a press review presenting a critical assessment was published on katholisches.info.
The Pope of Words, a commentary by Lucas Meyer-Blankenburg in the Südwestrundfunk: “ After two years full of words, what Francis really wants still isn’t clear. The euphoria of the beginning of his pontificate has worn off. The steps he takes do not seem to lead in any precise direction; instead of concrete facts, we have flowery words.” (…)
Pope Francis is Dividing the Church, by Julius Müller-Meiningen in the Augsburger Allgemeine: “The early enthusiasm for Pope Francis has worn off. And even within the Vatican, the pope is dividing his cardinals into two sides, thus creating powerful enemies. At present, are even the faithful giving up on him? ‘Papa piacione’, they call him at the Vatican, meaning, ‘the Pope who only seeks to please’. For the applause of the atheists, the Church’s critics and the sheep who have wandered from the ‘straight path’, is all his. It must look suspicious to the Catholic world, or at least to important sectors of it. Two years after taking office, Francis has divided the Church. There have always been different sides, different opinions, and even violent trench wars. ‘It has never been this serious,’ says a prelate who has been observing the Vatican from the inside for years.
Two Years of Francis’ Pontificate: Grey Clouds in the White Smoke, by Gerhard Kiefer in Badische Zeitung: “Francis, who turned 78 in December, and is now older than Benedict XVI was at his election, is forcing a ‘dynamic of rupture’. From this dynamic is to come the second Synod on the Family, next fall, at the Vatican, where Rome’s sacramental treatment of remarried divorcees – as well as those who have contracted homosexual and lesbian unions that they want blessed – will be decided. After the synod, the pope will have to decide alone – a synod is not a council.
“The reaction to Francis’ decisions, enthusiastic or horrified, likely either to rally a majority or to provoke a schism, will condition the answer as to whether he, too, will resign, and if so, when he will do so, thus demystifying his function even more.”
Mercy and reform projects. Pope Francis has launched many things in two years, by Thomas Jansen in Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur: “It is hard to imagine today that right after Francis took office, the following possibility was seriously considered: that the pope would abandon his claim to exercise a universal pontifical authority and be content with more or less a role of primus inter pares. (But) in concluding the bishops’ synod, Francis underlined the primacy of the pontifical jurisdiction in stronger terms than his predecessor Benedict XVI ever used.”
On Radio Vatican (German editorial), Cardinal Walter Kasper made this declaration that is not a criticism, but is highly significant: “‘The pope will continue to carry out his program,’ such is Cardinal Kasper’s conviction. ‘But what he wrote in Evangelii Gaudium is a program for a century that no pope could carry out in the time his pontificate lasts. His principle is not so much to provide posts as to initiate processes that are meant to be irreversible. That is his intention.’ According to the cardinal, this certainly has practical consequences, as can be seen in the nominations of cardinals: ‘he wishes to change the face of the Church – not her substance – and to give her a new direction’.”
Here we have Cardinal Kasper reporting that Pope Bergoglio intends to make “irreversible” changes in the Church. Where have we heard that before? Oh, I remember, Cardinal Maradiaga, Coordinator of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisors, stated at a conference 20 January 2015 that, “The Pope wants to take this Church renovation to the point where it becomes irreversible.”
The Unpredictable. Two years of Francis’ Pontificate by Markus Gunther in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Francis was liked from the start. Then there was one misstep after another. Little by little, even his most unconditional admirers have come to feel that in the end, only one person is guilty. Him. But recess is over. From now on we have to be ready for anything every day: firm advice on education, questionable digressions on matching four-legged and two-legged mammals, anecdotes full of good intentions and poorly told jokes: Francis offers it all, with a mixture of theological seriousness and South American nonchalance. For a long time that even seemed to play in his favor: … Thus was it possible to reinterpret once or twice in the pope’s favor things that were really incomprehensible and inacceptable. And when things were really bad, the media was held responsible, and misunderstandings were invoked: once again, someone had misunderstood the pope. Francis was untouchable. But that has changed. […] The limit has been reached. (…) Difficulty separating the public and private domains. Doubts on the pope’s motives. Many desires mistaken for realities: ‘a breath of fresh air in the Vatican’. Indignant remarks after the Christmas allocution (in which the pope harshly criticized the cardinals, Ed. Note)”.
In the United Kingdom, on March 24, the Catholic Herald published an open letter signed by 461 priests asking the participants in the next Synod on the family to “maintain the traditional discipline” concerning the reception of the sacraments, in other words, not to grant remarried divorcees permission to receive communion. “We urge all those who will participate in the second Synod in October 2015 to make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed,” they wrote, re-stating their “unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia.” They requested the “upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.” (H/T DICI.)
And so we see that once you escape the stifling oppression of the USCCB’s dictatorship of the Catholic media, there actually is a bit of intelligent, objective reporting out there. But for now, we need to do all we can to support good blogs, like eponymous flower, harvesting the fruit and Catholic newspapers like Catholic Family News and The Remnant, because they are the sole voice of sanity in an increasingly disoriented world.
We have 25 weeks until the Synod Against the Family and the Eucharist, So please:
Pray the Rosary and confound the devil!