The Pope’s Commission

A guest post by Orthosphere commenter PBW:

Faithful Catholics are expected to accept that, although the Pope is elected by the Conclave of (eligible) Cardinals, the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself: the cardinals are His catspaws, so to speak. It is a grave offence to leak the proceedings of the Conclave (which is why such leaking is so rare), but if the preceding is to be accepted, the machinations in the Conclave are irrelevant. Therefore, I can appreciate both the smile and the squirm of orthodox Catholics who, in these very pages, see the so-ordained Pope described as … ahem … Pope Fruit Loops I.

Events resulting from the airing of dirty linen belonging to the bishop formerly known as Cardinal McCarrick have dramatically rearranged the lighting around Francis and the logic of the succession. The stress fractures of this pontificate are no longer associated with Laudato si’ or Amoris Laetitia, but with the widening vortex swirling around McCarrick. It is sucking in, innocent and guilty, the US cardinalate and episcopate, the Chilean episcopate, the Roman Curia, and now the Papacy itself.

In this imbroglio, the media’s most urgent role will be to quarantine homosexuality, as a laudable way of life, from the sexual abuse of young men and adolescents by older men. Prima facie, that is a considerable challenge, demanding Olympic-level logical gymnastics of a media caste suckled on homosexual apologetics and visceral detestation of any principle of chastity, let alone supernatural faith.  Oh me, oh my.  How to gore the Church with one horn of this dilemma, while keeping the other spotless?  Some initial tests have been run with the concept of clericalism. It’s promising. In particular, it suggests that the problem is with outmoded clerical practice and thinking; you know, like adherence to millennial teaching on faith and morals. If this crisis were not so broad and deep, it might carry the weight. But the piers are flimsy, and a perfect storm is raging, with no sign of abating.

That the homosexual networks to which Archbishop Viganò and others refer must be dismantled is essential if the Church is to be restored to health. That on its own, if it is realised to a significant degree, will be a mighty achievement; but that achievement would send shock waves through the surrounding culture borne of, yet alienated from, Christianity. Similar networks are established in secular realms of influence and power. A restored and cleansed Church would be a mesmerising sign of contradiction.

Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Here’s the paradox. Should this renewal come to pass, it will inarguably have been a work of the Holy Spirit, and that work will have been done, one way or another, through Francis.

28 thoughts on “The Pope’s Commission

  1. Pingback: The Pope’s Commission | @the_arv

  2. Imagine your house had been infested by this thing… An entity. Not rats or bats. Not snakes or fakes. Not spiders or hiders. You set about to rid your house of these things like a knight rider… These entities need to feel the lighter. Then some time down the road after these things seemed to have proliferated you realize that without a proper name for this thing you cannot summon any collective will. No name, no deciders. It is only you who is willing to eradicate these entities. But should you? After all, you cannot convince anyone else to assist you in a plan of annihilation by fire. So you resign yourself to a name. Snay. These things infesting your house are snays. And they are definitely not waggots for hire. Still, you can find very few sidekicks. Then one day you decide to let the whole house know that these faggots raped your baby brother.

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  4. “In this imbroglio, the media’s most urgent role will be to quarantine homosexuality, as a laudable way of life, from the sexual abuse of young men and adolescents by older men. Prima facie, that is a considerable challenge, demanding Olympic-level logical gymnastics of a media caste suckled on homosexual apologetics and visceral detestation of any principle of chastity, let alone supernatural faith.”

    Not really. They’ll just spin it as old white men abusing their privilege/power with the children as victims.

  5. Faithful Catholics are expected to accept that, although the Pope is elected by the Conclave of (eligible) Cardinals, the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself

    No, they are not. Not sure where you get this. A conclave is not some supernatural audience with the Holy Ghost to carry out His directives. Like any action, the individuals who comprise the conclave have varying levels of grace in their souls and available to them. And like any other individual, they can choose to cooperate with said or grace or not. The Pope, for better or worse (and many times worse) is elected by a group of individuals that run the gamut from near saint to near satan.

  6. As with c Matt, I would remind the author to look further into the issue of whether the Holy Spirit always guarantees the election of the right Pope. Somewhere there is a statement by then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger denying this, and here is a link to an article by the respected Jeff Mirus on this issue (especially the ability of the papal electors to reject the indications of the Holy Spirit) and on the related question of divine providence.
    The matter of Francis cannot simply be resolved by hyperuberpapalism, but the workings of providence must also be taken into account.

    • I didn’t read PBW to be suggesting that the Holy Spirit guarantees the election to the Papacy of the man whom orthodox Catholic creatures might in their purblind well-intentioned finitude most like to see upon the Throne of Peter. I read him rather to be suggesting that Divine Providence, operating through the Holy Spirit, guarantees the election to the Papacy *by wicked rebellious sinful cardinals* of the man whom Omniscience would most like to see upon that Throne, mutatis mutandis, and given his omnipotent Providence.

      Wicked cardinals and popes do resist the will of God, to be sure. Nevertheless shall they all find at the end that their wicked acts could not but play their role in Providential salvation history – that, despite their best efforts to rebel, they remained God’s catspaws.

      After all, even Lucifer is God’s catspaw.

      Creaturely magic is powerful, and real. We do really have the power to rebel. Indeed, we have the power to kill God. But creaturely magic is temporal. God’s Magic is from Before Time, and is the forecondition and basis of all lesser magics – including the magic of Death.

      • In light of Dr. Mirus’s article, the use of “selects” in the OP implies a little more than mere permissive will; it sounds more like active will. If what was intended by the OP was God’s permissive will allows the electors to choose a crappy Pope, that, in the grand plan of God, will ultimately be for the good of the Church (e.g., as punishment to wake us from a sinful stupor), I have no disagreement.

      • My apologies for taking a while to respond. The comments here have obliged me to think, and that is a time-consuming process.

        Thanks to Kristor and T. Morris for grasping my meaning. When I referred to “paradox,” it was to the paradox of renewal arising from a severely compromised Papacy. See also my reply to tnpapist.

        There’s a larger question here. If we allow that *wicked rebellious sinful cardinals* can act to thwart the purposes of the Holy Ghost, while advancing the purposes of the Master they serve, and further, that the active will of the Holy Ghost gives way to His passive will in this matter, then what becomes of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility in ex cathedra pronouncements on matters of faith and morals; for example, on matters to do with sexuality and the family, or to do with the reception of communion?

        Yes, there is inertia in these matters, as we have seen recently. But a policy of deliberately cultivated ambiguity creates turmoil within the Church whilst mapping the strength of the resistance and the degree of acquiescence. Acquiescence has its own inertia, and when it is great enough, the remaining objectors to the expression of a malformed Papal will find themselves pinned by their own adherence to Papal Infallibility and their own loyalty to the Chair. This is an echo of the dilemma of political and social conservatives throughout the West; or perhaps the latter dilemma is an echo of the first.

        If the Catholic Church, formed as it is around the Papacy, is a human institution which the Holy Ghost, in an exercise of permissive will, simply refrains from interfering with, Papal Infallibility is an absurdity.

        Along these lines, I’ll respond here to the comment of Joseph A. I am ex-Catholic Orthodox, but I don’t see that the Orthodox can take any comfort from the current discomfit of Catholics. Orthodoxy believes that conclaves, known as Councils, are guided to infallible decisions. Some of these infallible decisions have generated schisms which remain to this day. If the current turmoil were to advance the cause of reunification, how would that be achieved? By a Council?

      • PBW, I take no comfort in the current turmoil. Some sort of wicked satisfaction — yes, I confess that a petty, ugly part of me does — but no comfort! The demons rampage through our streets, and I shudder to think of the damage that is yet to come. The desolation of the Roman Church, however far she has fallen from her proper glory and vocation, is a key strategic achievement in the beast’s destruction of the West. It is a cause for lamentation.

        As far as any clear formula for infallible authority, I think that it’s all human grasping for an easy answer and easy comfort. I can’t buy it — from emperors, popes, bishops, synods, exegetical methods, or whatever. In my possible damned opinion, an honest, critical view of history leaves no authority unblemished. They’ve all fallen short, obviously, and they’ve all gone down many foolish, contradictory paths. The common papist objection — that God wouldn’t leave his flock without a shepherd — i.e. without a clear, visible, uncontroversial, institutional guide to the truth — is something I must reject. Being thrown blind and naked into the world is just how life is. We see through the glass darkly, and there’s no palantir that lets us glimpse into the mind of God — no easy tool to wield, no cosmic Noah Webster to consult. In this, the Protestant rationalists are correct. Where they err, however, is that their drive to criticism eventually hollows all authority and ultimately deifies the individual will (and consequently leads to nihilism, I fear). So, the Scott Hahn types are justifiably spooked by what must appear as a cavalier dismissal of authority (or, better, a roundhead dismissal). We have God-given authorities — the law, the prophets (who continue to preach), the gospel, the apostles, the fathers, the monastics, the saints, popes, patriarchs, bishops, kings, governors, ancestors, family members, the local Sunday school teaching team, the life of the Church throughout the ages, all our traditions in how Christians live, pray, praise, believe, handle infractions, and so on — these all have authority. Yet, I don’t believe that there is ultimately a clean formula to crank out answers — to weigh these parties when and where they appear to disagree. Rather, we are to cultivate Christian virtue, Christian wisdom, use everything at our disposal for knowledge and sanctity, and grow in Christ. As a whole and in general, the Church knows the voice of her master. That doesn’t mean that the current generation of Christians can divine the divine mind over every speculative or even pressing practical matter. We must use our individual and collective judgment — and these only work well when we are spiritually healthy. Just as only certain demons can be exorcised through pray and fasting, so also the proper path of Christians demands the spiritual struggle.

        Only the virtuous man has the practical reason to see what action is appropriate in a given set of circumstances. So also only the holy man — the pure in heart — sees God. And the unholy, while striving for perfection, can get a pretty good idea of who is holy from a long-view assessment. Fig trees, fruit, and all that. In this way, even a renegade atheist from a fallen away Calvinist family, or an apostate Jew, or a pious, truth-seeking Mormon can find a trail in a dark forest to a nearby chapel and join the faithful therein. Those fortunate enough to have been born in the surrounding village should do everything in their might to make that path more visible and easier to find. Whether the unfolding events in Rome ultimately obscure or better mark that way is beyond my ability to tell. Centuries from now, though, I trust that thoughtful Christians will be able to assess the situation pretty accurately, just as medieval and modern Christians better understand what was at stake and what happened during the fourth century Arian controversy than the majority of its sufferers. That’s no modernist or Hegelian boast. The Church has had centuries to digest the issues, and that is why the Cappadocians instruct the faithful, visibly written on our walls, rather than the other guys. The cynic might scoff that victors write history, and that is a legitimate argument. It might be as much as the cynic can behold.

  7. I’m curious about people’s assumption that Francis willingly helped these people. I would not assume that if there is a St. Gallen/Lavender Mafia that supposedly: drove Pope Benedict out, is tracking and attempting to assassinate Archbishop Vigano, may have killed off St. JP2 (okay I do not know that the St.Gallen mafia is responsible for this, but I heard rumors right after his death that he was euthanized), etc. that Pope Francis has not been coerced. Everyone is also assuming that this Mafia does not have a contingency plan for when some of their sins began to be publicly revealed. I find it more likely that this Mafia sacrifices a few of the lower level members along with Pope Francis (who I honestly cannot see as a mastermind; in fact I’ve never heard a good explanation how Francis, who was in Argentina, was somehow in charge of these people) in order to satiate people’s anger and next conclave kick out Burke, Sarah, and anyone else willing to challenge them.

    • That is a plausible explanation of events that cannot be dismissed, either. It would explain much of the confusion caused by Pope Francis’ frequent self-contradiction and the lack of clarity that has ensured that he has introduced nothing that can be definitively construed as unambiguous heresy.

      As he seems to be a ‘tough nut’ himself, ought we speculate that, if your scenario has some truth in it, the lives of his family members might be threatened?

    • My post was, essentially, a what-if speculation, based on certain known elements. I think it is beyond doubt that the Church in the U.S. and farther afield is burdened with significant numbers of homosexual bishops and priests. The significance of their numbers lies in the degree of influence they have achieved, the networks they have formed, and dogged support they receive from fellow-travellers in the episcopate and the hierarchy generally. The crises in the U.S. and Chilean provinces can no longer be ignored, any more than can some of the outrages that have become public in Rome.

      The speculation begins with the assumption that the facts are pretty much as Archbishop Viganò has laid them out in detail. The additional material that he has produced in support of his contested version of Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis bolsters the critic and deepens the shadows around Francis and his coterie. Nonetheless, none of this is proven, and it may be that Viganò is extremely cunning, and that the Pope and his confidants are excruciatingly inept.

      I moved from speculation into what might be pure fantasy when I allowed that the homosexual networks would be effectively disarmed and dismantled. This must and will happen. The question is whether that will be on the watch of Francis. There is no need to assume that Francis is a part of these networks; only that he is a weak leader, inclined to tell each one what he wants to hear as long as the conversation is private, that he is susceptible to flattery, and that he is a poor judge of character. None of that, if it reflects the reality, augurs well Francis’ being willing or able to drain the swamp. None of it, either, requires more than the usual struggles for influence and power within the Curia. Even JPII, a man of iron will and powerful personality, was susceptible to manipulation by McCarrick, and the gentle academic Benedict found that even his personal staff were prepared to betray him.

    • It’s possible that Bergoglio is coerced. It’s also possible that he has been manipulated.

      But it would be wise to prepare for the worst.

  8. In the days of the undivided Catholic church before the Great Schism, the (Eastern) Roman Empire held the belief that the Emperor was selected by God; which was why there was no system of sucession (‘yet’ that Empire lasted 1000 years! – far longer than any other polity since Christ).

    And indeed the Emperor was quite often bad – on the basis that God had decided that people needed (or deserved) a bad Emperor.

    But that did not prevent ‘the people’ (specifically, action by some combination of the main power-groups such as the Church and its Patriarchs, the Army and its Generals, the state bureaucracy of Eunuchs, and the ‘mob’/ people of the Hippodrome, for example) removing the bad Emperor, once recognised. (Often by force.) Indeed, it placed the onus upon them to do so.

    For example, when the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated the Emperor, he might well be sacked and exiled (the Emperor appointed the Patriach and other major church leaders); but that Emperor was weakened and seldom lasted long – because his authority depended upon his having been anointed by the church.

    My point is simply that the fact of a bad Pope being the work of God does Not mean that he ought to be tolerated, and that all the laity or all clergy should therefore ‘do nothing’ (wait and see) – the intent *may* be that by identifying and deposing a bad Pope, the church is renewed and purified and strengthened.

    Such cannot be pre-judged, nor is it a consequence of adding-up the ‘evidence’ – but is the result of spiritual discernment.

    Which I take it is the job of Roman Catholics – now.

    • I should perhaps let PBW speak for himself, but I took your point – with which I agree – to be implicit in his essay. The pusillanimity of Francis might have been intended by the Holy Ghost to spur the Church at last to a great purgation.

      • Thank you Kristor, once again, for taking my point. In the United States, and I imagine in Chile, “the (Catholic) people” are expressing their disgust at the situation within their Church. The power-groups are different – A.G.s, grand juries, the D.O.J. – as is the Hippodrome mob – call-back radio, polls, emails and letters – but the pressure is the same.

        That said, we now witness the astounding spectacle of elements of the MSM defending the Pope, when he is accused of complicity in the cover-up of sexual abuse. Still, a Pope who protects homosexual networks can’t be all bad.

      • pbw:

        That said, we now witness the astounding spectacle of elements of the MSM defending the Pope, when he is accused of complicity in the cover-up of sexual abuse.

        There has been some concern that the current claims of abuse in the Church are yet another round of attacks on the Church via the MSM. But there is a big difference this time, as you say the MSM are covering up instead of being the exposers as in previous times.

        Something really is different this time.

  9. As Obama may have been the president to save the American republic (by igniting a reaction that, God willing, eventually sets the ship aright), so Francis may be the pope to heal Christian divisions. I grew up hearing the most alarming expressions of ultramontanism. I have heard a quite different tune during the last six years. Even Rorate Cæli has begun making some of the same arguments that I made to knee-jerk papists in my undergrad. days during late night apologetics. The current pope has been a walking demonstration of Orthodox concerns about papal authority, and now Roman trads. finally are coming to see why we oppose their understanding of the bishop of Rome’s role. Put not your trust in princes . . . even ones that wear mitres.

    The Lord is a wily deity, and providence works in strange ways, even (especially?) among you Latins!

    • . I grew up hearing the most alarming expressions of ultramontanism. I have heard a quite different tune during the last six years. Even Rorate Cæli has begun making some of the same arguments that I made to knee-jerk papists in my undergrad. days during late night apologetics.

      It’s practically a Tradition for papal pedestalising to wax and wane.

      If all goes well in a 100 years’ time people will be burned at the stake for publicly suggesting that maybe the pope is only first among equals.

  10. ” the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself”

    If we replace “Pope” by “the President of USA”, will the sentence still be true?
    On other words, is the papal election providential in the same sense as any other event can be interpreted as being?

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