In the Star Wars movies there is always the refrain “I have a bad feeling about this” by the character, Han Solo, before the antagonist of the piece is about to be confronted. The same line could be used for the goings-on in Rome these days. There is an air of strangeness and incongruity in the Eternal City not experienced since the controversy over Humanae Vitae in 1968. The Holy Father following a trajectory of associations and actions that may well bring scandal to him and, more importantly, to the Church he leads.
One of the recent guests at the Vatican was Paul Ehrlich, who has spent his entire career advocating population control policies contrary to the Catholic Faith — remember his 1968 book, The Population Bomb?. Ehrlich’s discredited theory that the world is overpopulated has been out of vogue since the late 1970s. However, the Pope and those that surround him decided to resituate his anti-life theories by providing him a platform at a recent Vatican conference.
Before the conference, Ehrlich actually said that it was “pro-life” to reduce the earth’s population from 6 billion to 1 billion people. Evidently, no one at the Vatican conference asked Ehrlich just how he intended to rid the world of 5 billion souls. For those of us who lived through the pontificate of St. John Paul II, such a nefarious character being given a voice in the Vatican appears either terribly comic or deeply tragic. Take your pick!
Another development is the recent resignation of Marie Collins from Pope Francis’ commission on child sexual abuse among the clergy. Ms. Collins was an abuse victim herself and an outspoken advocate and critic of the church’s handling of these cases. Collins cited a lack of action on this very important and highly visible initiative.
Those in the media who fawn over the Holy Father’s social justice bent have not paid much attention to the significance of Collins’ resignation. It wasn’t too many years ago that the anti-Catholic media was hounding the Church on its effort to bring all its sexual predators to justice. The same media have ignored the recent revelation that Pope Francis commutated the sentences of several pedophile priests. In fact, Francis in 2014 overruled the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith and granted clemency to Fr. Mauro Inzoli who was convicted in an Italian Court and recently more sordid allegations about him surfaced calling into question the Holy Father’s judgment and commitment to ridding the Church of this “filth.”
The laxity of Pope Francis stands in stark contrast to Benedict XVI who defrocked over 400 priests in his brief tenure.
From the beginning of this pontificate, Pope Francis has looked to the far left of the Church for doctrinal guidance. For example, Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal for communion for the divorced and remarried was a non-starter in both of the previous pontificates but found new life with the arrival of Pope Francis.
Most disturbing to many was the appearance of Cardinal Godfried Daneels of Belgium at the last Synod who had an atrocious record on dealing with the sexual abuse by priests in his native country. It has been speculated that Daneels was given a role because of his participation in the so-called “St. Gallen Mafia,” a powerful group of cardinals who had a direct hand in helping Cardinal Bergolio in his ascension to the Petrine ministry.
Another flag suddenly went up with the news of a recent pledge of support by the Council of Nine Cardinals who reaffirmed their support for the Pope and his “reformist” agenda. This type of public showing of support is something that is seen in the world of politics but not in the Church. It inspires doubt rather than confidence when a Pope asks nine cardinals to publicly pledge their loyalty.
Yes, “I’m having a bad feeling about this.” With the hosting of Ehrlich, the resignation of Marie Collins, the laxity being shown by the Pope towards abusive priests, and the influence of Cardinals such as Daneels and Kaspar, the Vatican is sending a confusing and troubling message to millions of Catholics who follow on social media.
This confusion leads us to wonder who Pope Francis will invite to speak at the Vatican next? Al Gore? George Soros? Barack Obama? Hillary Clinton? Nancy Pelosi? And now that Cardinal Raymond Burke has been sidelined by Pope Francis, will Cardinal Gerhard Müller prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith be next? The daily news from the Vatican is becoming as unpredictable as the twitter feed of our new President!
We know that that Church will endure but we pray in meantime, May the Lord be with us!