Monday, 6 January 2014
A Disturbing Image of Pope Francis and the Church
An earlier post on Francis brought in some comments which might charitably be termed “less than charitable”, though the post simply re-iterated what Pope Francis had criticised in himself. In this post I am sharing a comment on Francis by an Italian journalist. If commentators cannot make charitable and helpful comments but can only remain at the level of personal attack, perhaps they might take time to pray and ask God to grant them the virtues they see in Francis, that they might demonstrate the so-called ‘Francis-effect’ to be a positive one. At present the “Francis effect” appears to be a destructive force; clerical supporters of Francis [appearing so far] to be oppressive of Catholics (the FI) who are simply faithful to the Tradition we have received; and lay supporters producing venomous blog comments in Francis’ defence. Neither his clerical or lay supporters are exemplifying the virtues they praise in him; nor are they demonstrating a positive “Francis-effect”. In this, they are seriously failing the Pope. And so to the post...
Earlier today I posted about Pastoral sensitivity. Having returned from visiting the housebound and posted comments, I have read an article on Rorate Caeli which has greatly disturbed me, bringing me to have concerns for the Church and for Pope Francis. The article brings me to consider that Francis is losing the respect of serious journalists who have so far been very positive about him. Socci’s words should make us –and Francis- shudder, since the Roman Curia under Francis seems to be paving the way for Francis and the Church to be seen as anything but pastoral. Speaking of the current situation with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FI), Socci says,
“...the founder, Father Stefano Manelli, has been forced into isolation (his friars cannot write to him, nor telephone him, nor go and visit him, not speak with him in any way); all of the friars who had roles of responsibility were exiled to remote places, sometimes abroad; the lay movements linked to the Congregation have been put into hibernation; the seminary has been closed and ordinations for deacons and priests suspended.
“The commissioner was unable to take hold of the magazines published by the Order because they belong to lay people, so he forbade the religious of the Congregation to collaborate with them. In substance, an iron fist was used.
“No-one can believe that the Pontiff of tenderness wanted or authorized such a thing. The contradiction between his teaching (“love and kindness, not beatings) and the concrete practice, which brings to mind the ghosts of the Inquisition, would be too great.
“There are those who sustain that this is a sort of oblique vendetta against Benedict XVI for the “Motu Proprio” which liberalized the Traditional Mass. It provoked strong reactions and opposition in the Curia and among bishops.
“Whereas the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” faithfully carried out the “Motu proprio” because they wanted to be in communion with the Pope. Is this then their wrongdoing?
“I believe that their destruction will damage the present Pope greatly. As it annihilates a precious charisma for the Church and it will bring grist to the mill of the “Lefebvrians” who have attacked Bergoglio publically. Now the “Lefebvrians” can say: “See, in Francis’ Church there is room for everyone, except for Catholics.”
“Having always defended the Pontiff from these attacks, I hope that by being informed of the facts, he will bring an end to this incredible persecution as soon as possible and re-establish truth and justice.”
Reading what Socci says I hope and pray that pastoral sensitivity (and redress?) will surface in regard to the FI, whose treatment by Roman authorities is beginning to give off a very unpleasant odour in the press. Of course we do not yet know what infractions of the FI necessitated the “iron fist” response, and we may yet find the measures taken have been fair (though reports suggest this is highly unlikely), but the infractions would have to be very major indeed to warrant what many see as an extreme and harsh response by Rome that falls little short of attack. Not only does any disorder in the FI or in Fr Volpi’s handling of the situation have to be cleared away, but the air must be cleaned too -by full disclosure of what went wrong in the FI, and why Fr Volpi was allowed to take the heavy actions he took. Wherever justice is found to lie, penance will have to be done by one side or the other eventually. Either way, if Francis’ personal reputation is to be saved from the damage Socci fears, such full disclosure is all-but a must, and not only to ensure the good name of the Pope but the well-being of the Church.
Rorate's original source here.