Pope Francis is enabling the persecution of Christians

I know he thinks that his watered-down, softened-up version of Catholicism is making it easier for us, but the real effect is quite the opposite, and this is easy to understand.

As all of you know, disapproval (or even insufficiently-enthusiastic approval) of homosexuality is becoming a punishable offense throughout the Western world.  Failure to go along with the emerging consensus can, depending on one’s line of work, lead to being fired or facing fines for violating anti-discrimination laws.  And yet modern man still claims to believe in freedom of belief and respect for conscience.  How does he resolve the contradiction?  He says that moral opposition to homosexuality isn’t really a belief.  It’s not even a mistaken belief (since, as a good liberal, he knows that the state may not discriminate between sects on the ground of truth or falsity).  It is just groundless emotional animus disguising itself as a belief.  It can thus be punished.  Error may have rights, but animus has none.

Now, actually I agree that the state has no sacred obligation to respect my right to annoy and insult groups of people that I dislike for no reason.  However, I obviously don’t think that groundless dislike is what drives opposition to gay marriage.  After all, distinct gender roles have been from time immemorial a central part of how we organize our families and fashion our identities; they are certainly not a post-facto excuse to slight the minority with abnormal sexual urges.

Anyway, suppose I had some kind of job in which somebody might ask me to perform a function that effectively involved approving homosexuality.  I say “No dice.  That would violate my beliefs.”  At this point, the other guy will say “You bigot!  You’re just saying that because you hate gays.  I’ll sue!”  What is my defense?  I must argue that my beliefs are not hostility-based.  I’ll say “I don’t hate anyone in particular, but after having considered the arguments and evidence, I have come to believe in the truth of a certain set of beliefs about the world, our place in it, and the proper way to live.  My set of beliefs is called ‘Roman Catholicism’, and I didn’t choose it for its opposition to homosexuality.  I became convinced of its truth for its answers to more general questions about the human condition.  Nevertheless, these beliefs do have consequences for sexual morality, and among them is that sex is only licit for a married husband and wife.”

Thanks to Pope “Who am I to judge?” and Cardinal “Bravo!”, this defense no longer carries any water.  If I say that the Catholic worldview forces me to condemn sodomy, my prosecutor can point to Francis and Dolan to show that apparently it doesn’t.  (And, to be clear, any obscure orthodox statements we could dig up from these men will do nothing to offset the public impression created by their celebrated statements of indifferentism.)  There are now two Catholicism’s:  Catholicism A (the pope’s) and Catholicism B (mine), and my judge or HR officers can fairly think they’re being very generous if they grant my take on Catholicism equal weight as the pope’s.  How do Catholicism A and B differ?  I suspect they differ in everything, but I can’t prove it, because officially Francis and Dolan still believe in the Trinity, creation ex nihilo, apostolic succession, and the rest; they just don’t “obsess” over sexual sins.  So sexual morality is the main definite difference between Catholicism A and B.

How then do I justify my adherence to Catholicism B rather than A?  It can only be because of my irrational animus toward gays, right?

“But…but, the Bible!”  I cry, “and Sacred Tradition, and natural law…”  That’s no good.  Francis and Dolan say they accept all of those things just as much as I do, and yet they didn’t reach (or at least seem to the world not to have reached) my “hateful” conclusions.  They offer themselves to the world as proof that Catholics can ignore (or, at least, appear to ignore) Jesus and Saint Paul when it comes to sex.  By claiming for themselves every principle of Catholicism while refusing to visibly stand by its moral consequences, these princes of the Church have left me with nothing to which I can appeal when I refuse to betray the Faith myself.  To prove that my beliefs are not a cloak for anti-gay animus, I must argue that he Catholic hierarchy is misrepresenting Catholicism.  My situation is hopeless, and my guilty verdict is assured.  And yet it is true!  The hierarchy does misrepresent the Faith to promote their own private popularity at the expense of the faithful.

Thanks a lot, jackasses.

42 thoughts on “Pope Francis is enabling the persecution of Christians

  1. Pingback: Pope Francis is enabling the persecution of Christians | Reaction Times

  2. I’ve had the same thought, as I’m quite outspoken about genderism, but I also sort of get their view on this because of my attempts at evangelization.

    The question is: Should I hold other people to the Catholic standard, or should I focus on converting them first and then count on the thirstiness of their faith leading them to the orthodox pond for a drink?

    • Conversion First. Once converted and with hearts and minds open to the faith then change in behavior can happen. Not before.

    • Never having successfully evangelized anyone, there’s no reason to take my advice, but I’d imagine that it’s best to put focus, to the extent you guide the conversation, on where our focus as Catholics truly is: God, Jesus Christ, the sacraments. I’d admit (and indeed celebrate) from the start that these big truths make a lot of aspects of our lives that had seemed meaningless turn out to be intensely meaningful, and that this will affect how one lives. But then I’d wait for the other person to bring up sex, which he or she will probably do pretty quickly.

    • Personally I think just telling the unvarnished truth in and out of season is better than trying to treat Christ as a marketing project. The Good News is actually Good News, after all. No need to “apologize” for it.

      But That’s Just Me [tm].

      • C.S. Lewis wrote that Jesus Christ is Who He says He is or he is a madman. Nothing else will do. If He is Who He says He is then He is indeed the Way and the Truth. In the end that means that the so-called real world around us does indeed turn to dust and is eaten by moths as Scripture claims. I am learning to change my mind. I now see that the world really isn’t the real reality. Christ God is. It is He who shows us what is real and what will turn to dust.

        When people ask me how I can believe in God, I ask them how is it they don’t.

  3. Who are *you* to stand in the way of the movement of the Holy Spirit?! Shame, shame! 🙂

    I’ve said since his consecration that Francis is a type of anti-Christ, but I’m not (yet) Catholic so I guess I ought to keep my opinions to myself on the particular topic of papal legitimacy. Can I still say that Obama is not really “American?”

  4. As a refreshing and encouraging contrast, it is well worth spending 40 minutes watching Elder M Russell Ballard in this most recent major lecture on the lds.org website.


    Elder Ballard is one of the Mormon Apostles (the CJCLDS is led by the President and his two advisers, and twelve Apostles). He is just *rock solid* on these tough questions; and the talk is about the problems for young people who are living by traditional standards which are reviled by the mainstream culture; for example coping with accusations of hatred, or oneself being hated as a bigot – and all the other major problems of a modern Christian. This is exactly how it should be.

    If the Mormon leadership can do it, why not the leaders of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists etc?

    Simply because they are deeply corrupted. They are on the other side – overall and where it matters most.

    They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    • Dr. Charlton, do you find the LDS’s view on abortion “refreshing and encouraging” and “rock solid”?

      Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.


      Or is opposition to abortion mere “legalism”?

      They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      I think that sentiment describes pretty much everything you’ve ever pushed here.

  5. Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever “successfully evangelized” anyone, as who knows which straw finally broke the agnostic’s back, but I have had people online and offline tell me that my efforts cotntributed to their conversion or reversion. I don’t really dwell on personal morality until they’re clear on the basics, as it is much easier to understand (and accept) the rules when you have a relationship with the Rule Giver. Mostly, I am unashamedly pious and accessible, and people ask me about my faith because they’re not used to seeing that sort of dedication from anyone who isn’t clergy. They’re sort of wierded out, sort of fascinated, and they’d like some of whatever I’m having.

    That said, if anyone asks my opinion on any particular topic, I express myself clearly and confidently because the Truth is beautiful. I think we should be able to expect the same from bishops, since explaining those sorts of things are their raison d’etre, and if they’re cowards then they have the wrong job.

  6. “The Good News is actually Good News, after all.”

    I thought the Good News is that Jesus Christ died and rose again, so that we might have eternal life?

    If they’re preaching Christ crucified and leading people to the Magesterium, then I can disagree with their tactics without claiming they’re the anti-Christ or whatever. Sometimes I think they’re wrong in how they frame things, but I’m not going to be a chicken hawk about it.

    Catholicism has always been a “preach the Gospel, use words if necessary” sort of religion, so my biggest problem is that they’re giving interviews at all, especially to non-Catholic news agencies.

  7. “You bigot!  You’re just saying that because you hate gays.  I’ll sue!”

    I was thinking about your concrete anecdote. My response would be to say, “Yeah, so sue me.” Why should we explain ourselves to bullies?

    I was recently accused of being a Nazi, so I said, “Sure. Everyone knows I’m a Nazi. You say it like it’s news or something. You’d think my swastika tattoo would be a dead give-away.” They didn’t even know how to respond.

    You can brazen your way out of most such conflicts. It’s easy to do, once you realize that being a martyr is a good thing. If they back down, you win. If they persecute you, you also win. Win, win. You’re biwinning.

    • But here’s the thing: he’s not a bully. Given the way our leaders talk and act, he’s drawing a reasonable conclusion. If the pope says abortion and sodomy aren’t things to get bent out of shape about, then there must be something wrong with me. If I could get through to this fellow, which is nearly impossible in this “age of mercy”, he might actually benefit from my defense (as well as me obviously benefiting from it).

      • Well, I guess we suffer under general ignorance about the role of the pope. It’s not like these pronouncements are ex cathedra, or anything. We’re free to disagree with him and criticize him.

      • Objectively, Alte, yes, that’s true. That’s the proper relation of Catholics to the Pope. But even most Catholics don’t get that, being in thrall to neo-ultramontanism. What chance, then, do non-Catholics have of understanding that?

      • It’s not just the Catholics, anymore. It’s increasingly the way we interact with all leadership. We just wait for the next royal pronouncement so that we know what sound-bytes to repeat. It’s more tribal than rational.

        Who said you were allowed to have an opinion? The Big Man said this, so why are you against the Big Man? Differences of opinion are now perceived as personal insults against the leadership, which means that dissent is illegal. We’re serfs, essentially, and serfs who take a moral stand on something are just troublemakers.

        Try speaking out against the party line on any topic: genderism, but also Islam, peacekeeping wars, usury, immigration, building permits and land use, education, whatever.

        Did you know that it’s considered “right-wing extremism” here to be against the Euro? Like, seriously.

      • @Proph

        “Objectively, Alte, yes, that’s true. That’s the proper relation of Catholics to the Pope.”

        I do wonder whether (especially) Pope Francis is trying to get Catholics to grow up in this way, to stop hanging on his (or any Pope’s) every word as though he were the Oracle. It would be a delicate task, as we feed on the position of the day, and to go without that means going through great withdrawal symptoms before overcoming the dependence. It’s also a difficult pill to swallow as administered by Pope Francis in particular, who in so many public presentations seems not to have grown up in some very important ways himself.

      • I’ve had the same thought sometimes, especially after he thanked one of his own (vicious) Italian critics for his criticisms. I suspect it motivated in part Benedict’s decision to resign, as well. The major task of the Popes since the maximizing decades of Pius XII/Paul VI/JPII has been to remove some of the gratuitous and excessive mysticism surrounding the Papacy, which has become a stumbling block to genuine piety.

      • Yes, it’s become almost cult-like. The double-canonization being the final sacrifice to the papacy gods. Pope Francis has become famous for his attempts to be plain and unassuming, which is an own-goal.

        Perhaps we can all move along now, as there’s nothing more to see at the Vatican.

  8. “If I say that the Catholic worldview forces me to condemn sodomy, my prosecutor can point to Francis and Dolan to show that apparently it doesn’t.”

    Well, their argument is more that our Catholic views force us to condemn a lot of things, but we’ve focused on genderism because it personally grosses us out. Which is true, and which serves to undermine our moral authority.

    I’m so hardcore about so many things that my husband jokes that he’s going to buy me a t-shirt with “I’m against it.” written on it. So, an anti-homosexuality rant from me wouldn’t surprise anyone. They only get offended when somebody “nice” takes a moral stand. If you were already known for being a religious fanatic and a traditionalist nutjob, they wouldn’t bother to approach you, to begin with. That’s why nobody messes with the Muslims, after all.

    • @Alte – “They only get offended when somebody “nice” takes a moral stand.”

      That’s a very shrewd insight which deserves careful analysis for its implications.

  9. Christian leaders tend to compromise when faced with some threat point. Was there something like that leading the Pope and the Cardinal to make such statements? Sodomites and their political enablers are not so powerful as to warrant weakness. And compassion does not require moral ambiguity.

    Or worse, could it be that Christian leaders actually believe in such vagueness on the issue of human sexuality? I do not see Christ as being either unclear or bending on the issues of divorce and adultery.

    Sodomy is not a privileged exception to natural law.

    • I can’t speak to what the Cardinal said, but if you read the full translation of what the Pope said, what the MSM is reporting he said and what he actually said are two different things.

      From saltandlighttv, what the Pope said was

      Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation. And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him. We found none of that. That is the answer. But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published. These things are not crimes. The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime. But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh? This is a danger. This is what is important: a theology of sin. So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ. And with this sin they made him Pope. We must think about fact often.

      But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing. That is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay. They say there are some gay people here. I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and “they must be integrated into society.”

      The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter. There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!

      Unless I’m misunderstanding him, what the Pope meant was that there is a difference between someone who has homosexual tendencies and who is trying to do what is right and someone who has homosexual tendencies and who denies the sinfulness of homosexual acts and acts with a group who do the same. I don’t think it’s a question of him compromising so much as it is saying something off the cuff that was rife with opportunity to be misquoted and misconstrued by those with an agenda to push.

      • Yeah, the “good will” part is pretty key, since it pretty much means “and isn’t an active sodomite or agitating for social valorization of sodomy,” i.e., it excludes all those people who think he’s talking about them.

        As you say, the issue is his own tone-deafness to how his words sound and how they are heard by a world that has no ear for context and no patience for hunting for the same. Ironically, for all of the talk about “bringing the Church into the modern world” and the obsession with Hegelian phenomenology, our prelates are remarkably insensible to how their utterances are interpreted by the world at large.

      • Francis says nothing about a distinction between the act and the inclination. The above quote does not establish that he sees any contradiction between “seeking the Lord and having a good will” and engaging in the act of sodomy. That he does not see any such contradiction is the conclusion the media has drawn and has used against Catholics who do maintain the sinfullness of sodomy. This has been going on for a long time now, and the pope has done nothing to clarify the situation or come to our defense. Together with his other discouraging statements (“proselytism=nonsense”, “‘obsessed’ over sexual sin=bad”, “‘triumphalism’=bad”, “remarriage+Eucharist=okay (at least in private conversations on when speaking through favored heretical Cardinal)”, etc.), it is a fair guess that the pope really doesn’t believe in or at least doesn’t care about Catholic sexual morality.

  10. Uh, what? How are you holding them accountable for unintended and unreasonable (though perhaps foreseeable) misinterpretations of their positions?

  11. There is a much broader point here. The more alien a phenomenon is, the less likely one is to feel they have a legitimate expectation of values consensus. To make Catholicism less apart, this simply produces ire in the mainstream. I know this from Prod-Catholic confrontations; some of the Vatican II attempts at bridging across to Protestantism actually had the opposite effect.

    For leadership to minimize the differences between groups, even while radical (relatively-speaking) differences in practical opinion remain, leaves the followers exposed to greater hostility.

    Does even the most extreme dyed-in-the-wool Left-feminist really despise New Guinea tribesmen for patriarchal thinking? No.

    But they hate you.


    You’re supposed to be “one of us.”

    Perceived betrayal is much more rage-inducing than opposition from the outside.

    To use an example from a different vein, Enoch Powell was despised because someone like HIM, i.e., someone like us (even better educated and cultured actually) cannot have THAT kind of opinion.

    As an aside, it is a kind of cognitive dissonance.

    • Rob:

      Perceived betrayal is much more rage-inducing than opposition from the outside.

      Interesting. That may be why some Catholics throw ecumaniacal tea-and-crumpet parties with every blasphemous heretic on earth but have an absolute freakfest over latin-Mass-loving “traditionalists,” or Catholics who aren’t (in their estimation) ultramontane enough.

      I’ve noticed even in blogging that some folks get genuinely offended that I am not “one of them” when they think I should be. Probably there is something very visceral about the distinction between stranger and traitor in the human psyche that drives this kind of thing.

  12. “By claiming for themselves every principle of Catholicism while refusing to visibly stand by its moral consequences, these princes of the Church have left me with nothing to which I can appeal when I refuse to betray the Faith myself. To prove that my beliefs are not a cloak for anti-gay animus, I must argue that he Catholic hierarchy is misrepresenting Catholicism.”


    “[B]y their fruits you shall know them.” (Matt, 7:10) The actions of the current Church hierarchy (and generally of that since Vatican II) more and more manifest the errors of Modernism. Much of what comes from the mouths of the hierarchy is simply un-Catholic. Sedevacantism? For many Catholics with questions about the conduct and teaching of the Church’s hierarchy, this position is the only one which offers answers to the current crisis.

  13. Bonald, your posts on science and culture are usually so good. What’s this all about? Where’s the charity?

    Papa F isn’t enabling anything except holiness and you’ve already abdicated this particular issue (same-sex whatever) by implicitly accepting some sort of Divine Command theory. As with all of the Church’s moral teachings, it’s not true because the Church teaches it; the Church teaches it because it’s true. You make passing reference to natural law, but if you really believed that “it’s wrong to engage in homosexual behavior” was as true as “it’s wrong to eat dirt” or “it’s good for humans to have friendships” then you wouldn’t need a soundbite from the Holy Father to back you up. It’s up to us to teach and reteach natural law to a new generation of philistines.

    Pope Francis is a smart man, I should remind you. He knows he’s in an entrenched position on this issue. Instead of starting with a condemnation of homosexual acts, he starts with the joy of the Gospel, the call to help the poor and dispossessed, the universal call to holiness and the need for repentance. Seems like a winning strategy from where I stand. Which is in 21st century secular America.

    • Just scrolled through the comments…

      Bonald: …I’d imagine that it’s best to put focus, to the extent you guide the conversation, on where our focus as Catholics truly is: God, Jesus Christ, the sacraments. I’d admit (and indeed celebrate) from the start that these big truths make a lot of aspects of our lives that had seemed meaningless turn out to be intensely meaningful, and that this will affect how one lives. But then I’d wait for the other person to bring up sex, which he or she will probably do pretty quickly.

      How is this not exactly what Pope Francis is doing?

      • Notice I did not recommend that Alte try to enhance our own popularity by denigrating loyal Catholics or by making ambiguous statements which, even when (barely) amenable to orthodox interpretation, would certainly have the effect of confirming hearers in their sins and their religious indifferentism.

    • Hello Curio,

      I suppose I’m just spoiled. I grew up during the John Paul II era, and I’ve gotten used to having popes help promote natural law rather than hinder it. I do admire your loyalty; I suppose I should try harder to emulate it.

      Where is the evidence that Pope Francis is a smart man? His statements show a definite lack of precision (something even emphasized by his defenders), and too great a reliance on vague, slogan-like images (e.g. of God being “on the peripheries”). Even his insults (and he himself is extremely uncharitable with his critics) miss the mark. That is, even if all the things he accuses us of were true, it would not make us Pelagians, gnostics, or Prometheans. Certainly the effect of his interviews with the media has been to convince people that they don’t need to repent and become holy.

      If this is a strategy to achieve anything other than his personal popularity at the expense of the Church at large, it’s a very stupid one.

      • I’m sorry, Curio. This comment came off sounding angry at you, which I am certainly not. I appreciate your comments.

      • No apology necessary, I did not perceive it that way. In fact, I had the same worry regarding my original comment.

        The level of discussion at Orthosphere is leagues beyond most other Catholic and Christian forums. I’m convinced that one of the reasons for this is that orthodox and theologically secure Christians are able to separate men from their ideas. We are never required to show mercy to ideas, but always charity towards men.

  14. Pingback: New stuff by me | Throne and Altar

  15. Curio makes an excellent point about mercy to ideas and charity toward men. Sadly, though, I think the Catholic Church’s ecumenists show too little charity when they act as though any religion were good enough to get its believers to Heaven. Since Vatican II, which I hope the Church will reject, even popes to treat human dignity as almost an idol. Today’s ecumenism suggests that freedom is more important than truth. Well, God is no religious indifferentist. Somewhere, in Exodus, I seem to remember, God tells ancient Hebrews that, after they reach the land He’ll give them, they should smash its idols. But some popes after Vatican II have still attended, or even chaired, religiously indifferent prayer meetings, where Hindus prayed to their false gods and where a man prayed to the Great Thumb. Religious liberty doesn’t show anyone’s genuine charity. How could it do that when it’s a heresy that Bl. Pius IX condemns it in his Syllabus of Errors? In the Douay Rheims Bible, Psalm 95:5 warns me that, “The gods of the gentiles are devils.” Post-Vatican-II popes have meant well. But they don’t help pagans get to Heaven by telling them to practice their pagan religions. For me, the pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have been scandalous, especially the ones of John Paul and Francis. Like JPII, Francis seems to have attracted a personality cult. If he has done that, his egalitarian, seemingly pharisaical(?) humility, his refusal to act like the monarch he is, and the way he or other Vatican officials have treated the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate explain why I haven’t joined that cult. If you wonder how I think a pope should behave, you may want to learn more about Popes Pius IX, St. Pius X, Pius XI, and Leo XIII.


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