Who am I to Judge?
In my column for July, "Sometimes in Life We Meet Our Destiny on the Road to Avoid It," the following paragraph appears near the end of the piece:
"And as the person of St. Peter always prophetically represents the papacy descended from him, the hierarchy of the Church must also consider the dangers of downplaying the evil of sin in our world, and practicing a politics of appeasement in such a way as to shrug and say, ‘Who am I to judge?’ To deny the role of moral arbiter, and to cease to proclaim Christ as the sole source of salvation of the world and all her people, is to desert the Church's responsibility to the world, and those who do this must expect to encounter the Lord Himself, reinserting Himself in history and rectifying this in person. And Revelation tells us this is anything but a journey to Rome to be crucified again."
Now, I was taken to task for these remarks because, though not attributed directly to Pope Francis, it was clearly my intent to connect in the reader's mind the point I was trying to make to his use of the colloquialism, "Who am I to judge?" The key word here is "prophetically," and I used this device to link the ancient papacy of St. Peter with the postmodern reign of Pope Francis in an effort to demonstrate the danger inherent in using such colloquialisms because the media can, in turn, misinterpret or purposely misconstrue his words into a meaning he did not intend. This happens frequently with the pope, and I think it fair to claim that it is often of his own design. Back on the farm, we would often throw our chickens a piece of stale bread, which one would pick up and run with while the others gave chase, so as to create a diversion that allowed us to fill their food hopper with corn. The Holy Father often throws the press chickens a piece of stale bread such as "Who am I to judge?" and while they run around tearing this apart and devouring it, he proceeds to fill the food hopper of the faithful with the more nourishing corn that is the knowledge he intends for us. To know Pope Francis, one must seek out and read what he actually says and not rely on what others say about what he says -- including and especially those who do this from the Vatican.
I am an old man, and I grew up in a time when public figures said what they meant and let the chips fall where they may. Perhaps I'm merely nostalgic for a time in which communication was more direct and not centered in the sound bites, and the false hysteria created around them, which passes for news today. Perhaps I felt the need to warn against playing into this Orwellian nonsense that misinforms as it claims to inform. Orwell's fictional dystopian future in which perception becomes reality has become our dystopian present, and if this doesn't concern us and frighten us, it sure as hell should. The Catholic Church is the last voice on planet earth with both the knowledge of the truth of Christ and the bearing to proclaim it to a world that has moved away from historical Christian truth, and into a time in which life is cheap, the vulnerable are shamelessly exploited, and those who perpetrate this claim it is to the ultimate betterment of mankind. The dualism in "Who am I to judge?" is found in the response that comes from the hearts of those who hear the question. The world that has subjected itself to the Orwellian "dictatorship of relativism" answers this question, "Just another man with no more authority to judge than anyone else." Those of us who hold true to the Catholic Faith answer, "The Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father: the representative on the earth of He Who judges us all." It is this very dualism that Christ spoke of as the separation of the sheep from the goats.
Pope Francis has actually used this particular expression twice in a way that has been deemed newsworthy by those who deem such things newsworthy. The first, and most famous time, was during informal remarks made to reporters concerning gay priests aboard the papal flight home from Brazil in July, 2013. The second was in "off the cuff" remarks made earlier this year at his daily fervorino at his private Mass on March 17 at the Vatican. This article from The New York Times illustrates the spin the secular media put on the former use of this remark, and the Holy Father's complete remarks are presented and explained in this article from Salt and Light by Father Thomas Roscia. Father John Zuhlsdorf offers additional commentary on this incident in this article from Father Z's Blog, and explains and comments upon the latter in this article. If I had the opportunity to do last month's column again, the information presented here would be referenced to "Who am I to judge" in a footnote, and I would rewrite the paragraph with certain qualifiers so as to read as follows:
"And as the person of St. Peter always prophetically represents the papacy descended from him, the hierarchy of the Church must also consider the dangers of downplaying the evil of sin in our world, or even giving the appearance of doing so, as this may be construed as the practice of a politics of appeasement in which the Church shrugs and says, "Who am I to judge?" To thus deny her role as moral arbiter is to cease to proclaim Christ as the sole source of salvation to the world and all her people; it is to desert the Church's responsibility to the world. And those in authority who do this, or willingly create or allow this impression, must expect to encounter the Lord Himself, reinserting Himself in history and rectifying this in person. And Revelation tells us this is anything but a journey to Rome to be crucified again."
Since last month's issue of Christian Democracy, Pope Francis has been embroiled in yet another controversy involving the media, this time concerning yet another interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and its founder and former editor, 90 year old professed atheist Eugenio Scalfari. This interview yielded the pope's controversial claim that two percent of the clergy -- priests, bishops, and cardinals -- are pedophiles. As reported in The Spectator and elsewhere, this sent Vatican Press Officer, Father Frederico Lombardi, scampering to diffuse the resulting situation by claiming that Scalfari didn't record the interview, didn't take notes, and is 90 years old, and, therefore, nothing quoted in the La Repubblica article should be considered reliable. To quote Yogi Berra, this was "deja vu all over again," considering that this was the same response Father Lombardi used to deny quotes from the Holy Father's previous interview with Scalfari last September, in which he was reported as saying that the Vatican court is, "the leprosy of the papacy."
The traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli commented on all of this astutely:
"So, what do we take away from it all? That the time for blaming the media is over. The Pope is a highly intelligent media-savvy nearly-80-year-old man, not a dimwit. For some reason, which we would not venture to guess, that is the way he wishes to operate with a part of the media - Scalfari certainly did not enter the Vatican through a secret passage. Why would a pope have another unrecorded conversation with the same man who is alleged (without any evidence of the allegation, may it be clear) to have fabricated the content of the previous interview, the man who is the founder and former editor-in-chief of the most anti-religious large daily in Italy, if the Pope did not consider him to be a faithful conduit of his opinions? Following the enormous repercussion of his first main interview with Scalfari in 2013 (which was even hosted in the Vatican website for months before removal), the Pope wanted to send messages (to whom?) through him once more. And that is what was done. One more time.
"Just as it is often said that, by his own words, Our Lord was either God or a completely insane man, Pope Francis, by his own actions, is either a highly shrewd smooth media operator who uses the media in order to advance and anticipate his positions or the very epitome of gullibility - tertium non datur."
I think it fair to observe that Pope Francis is neither a "dimwit" nor "the very epitome of gullibility." To the contrary, he is indeed highly intelligent and he has used his media savvy to communicate to those who are paying attention that he is well aware of the issues that confront the Church in the 21st century, and he has done so in a way in which the world hears a message that it interprets to be a new openness to the old sins that it increasingly embraces; sexual deviancy (and particularly homosexuality) being perhaps first and foremost among them. My earlier warning was based upon the notion that this is a walk on a tightrope, but the pope, to be fair, has kept his balance and has been able to maintain his place as a darling of the secular media at the same time that he has used them in revealing some very profound and deeply disturbing truths about the ills that exist within the Church herself. And the fact that he seems to have Father Lombardi continually scampering and spinning and denying is evidence that this is having the effect he intends at the place where he intends it: within the Vatican.
One such example of this, but a highly significant one, is the claim that two percent of the clergy, from the parish level to the College of Cardinals, are pedophiles. While this revelation is shocking to many, to those like myself who have done the research into this, it is nothing new and the numbers are familiar. In my own exploration of this dirty iceberg of an issue that rises above the surface only in so much as we know of it from the public scandal that it has caused, the number commonly suspected was something like 1.8 percent, and this rounds to an even two without much quibbling. Most interesting in all of this is the way in which this indicates that Pope Francis is preparing the Church and the world for the illumination of the greater iceberg that lurks beneath the surface, and the ensuing action that is surely coming against it.
The cleansing of this disease from the Church should not result in the collateral destruction of clergy who have a homosexual inclination but serve the Church faithfully and well. Within this context, I look to Pope Francis and shrug and ask with him, "Who am I to judge?" Catholic teaching on this subject truly does recognize that it is not a matter of right or wrong sexual orientation, but of holiness versus sin and depravity. Having a homosexual inclination is not a sin. Raping children is. I attempted to make this point clear in my work but was labeled a bigot and homophobe simply for having the audacity to broach the subject. I know from my own experience, and from what others report, that the hierarchy hasn't had much appreciation for the laity delving into this, and now that the Holy Father himself has brought it up publicly, it is little wonder that Father Lombardi is scampering and spinning and denying in an attempt to get the cat once more back into the bag.
It is not individual homosexuals but a homosexualist agenda in the Church that is the issue and it needs to be rooted out. This is not about the persecution and "marginalization" of homosexuals within the Church, as those within the so-called "Lavendar Mafia," would have you suppose. It is about the practice of an active homosexual lifestyle within the clergy and the laity, and the necessarily anti-Catholic agenda that promotes it. It is about the way in which this homosexualist agenda, in condoning the practice of the sin of homosexual activity, opened the way for those with a preference for sex with male pubescent children to enter the priesthood and gain access to those who were most vulnerable, in an atmosphere of trust, and in an environment in which higher ups were at best complacent and at worst complicit. While there are those within this agenda who are vocal and eloquent in their denial of such intent, it too often did become the common practice, and the clergy sexual abuse scandal is the undeniable evidence and testimony to the truth that this is so.
When we first moved to our diocese nearly a decade ago, the acceptance of this agenda, and the teaching against the Catholic faith that accompanied it, was so pronounced that my wife and I actually took our children out of the Catholic Church for a period of seven months. In a profound spiritual revelation in which Jesus made it clear to me that He remained in His Church regardless, I suddenly knew that we needed to do so also. Much has changed for the better here since, and, at least publicly, nothing has ever surfaced indicating the widespread pattern of abuse that has been such a horror in such larger and more urban communities as Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and elsewhere. And we thank God for that.
At the time in which we came back to the Church, we were directed to a deeply faithful old German priest who was pastor of a small parish in the most far flung corner of the diocese, and he heard our confessions and graciously welcomed us home to the Catholic Church. The penance that he gave me was to write down and meditate upon those things which had caused me to leave the Church, and the result was this essay, The Church Possessed: The Homosexual Revolution in the Roman Catholic Church. I'm sure this was more than Father had bargained for, but he read it carefully and thoughtfully and then advised me to go to the diocese and explore the permanent diaconate. I was not surprised to learn that I was not considered to be a good candidate for deacon, but I also discovered what it was Father wanted me to know. I was told that, while my research was sound, I should take some comfort and reassurance in knowing that there were indeed those within the hierarchy who knew this to be the abomination that it is, and who remained faithful to the Magisterium. It was further suggested that as a layperson I had the advantage of presenting these issues in public, whereas the hierarchy of the Church chose to work out these things behind the scenes. The purpose of this column is to add the necessary postscript to this, "...until the arrival of Pope Francis."
Since I wrote the words of one month ago, it has become much more clear that there is a method to what many perceive as the Holy Father's madness, and a pattern now emerges in which we are able to see how deftly he is using the most secular and least Catholic (and even most anti-Catholic) of media to throw down the gauntlet of Christ and challenge openly and publicly the forces of evil even within the Church herself. And each time Father Lombardi scampers to the microphone to spin and deny what the Holy Father has said in public in order "to clarify" the Vatican's "official position," we are seeing the Curia tremble at the way in which he has taken the message of God to the Catholic people, and has done so using the secular media which are oblivious to that which is actually taking place.
The evil in the world that Jesus would have us address by the conversion and re-conversion of every people and nation cannot be accomplished until the House of God, the Catholic Church, is cleansed and readied again for this task. To do this, the Holy Father has determined that the battle must be waged in the coliseum of the secular media and in full view of the public. This is bold. It is very bold. But it is the only way. The demons that must be cast out take the form of not merely a deeply entrenched and powerful homosexual lobby, but include the "lepers" of the Vatican court, the moneychangers of the IOR, the recently excommunicated mafia, and on down the line to the very devil himself. These are demons and devils that will not go quietly, and they will raise their tormented screams into the night and howl as the banshees of hell that they are.
And so with a new and deeper understanding, I end this month's column in similar fashion to last month's: with a warning for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. However, rather than warning of the misconceptions current in the secular media, and the false perceptions this may breed, this warning, though also prophetic, is more personal and warns of more intimate dangers. It comes with the urging of all faithful Catholics to repentance and prayer, the beseeching of all of the angels and saints, the Blessed Mother, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father, to come to the aid of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he might be successful in what he is endeavoring to do, and that he might be protected by heaven so as to not end as the pope of the Third Secret of Fatima.
Be so warned, Holy Father. Watch your back, especially when in Rome. Godspeed in cleansing His Holy Church as God has so called you to do. And know that should you fail, the Lord Himself will reenter history and rectify this in person.
And as for what you say in public and how you say it, "Who am I to judge?"
Phil is the owner of the news portal Radio New Jerusalem.