From the Pastor: Pope? Hello? Can You Hear Me Now?
“Can you hear me now,” for those of you too young to remember when there was bad cell phone reception everywhere, was a tagline from a large wireless phone company claiming that they had better reception than all of their competitors. For those of us who grew up with landlines, which always sounded great and always worked, even when the electricity went out, the terrible reception and constant dropped calls of wireless phones was truly aggravating. Many people simply refused to use the new technology because even at its best it was subpar compared to what they were used to. Until pay phones disappeared, only those who favored innovation over quality used cell phones. Now we have an “innovating” Pope (unless you follow the quite convincing arguments of those who believe that Pope Benedict XVI did not validly resign; or that the St. Galen Mafia, including Bergoglio, excommunicated themselves, invalidating the conclave) who is very much like the then-new wireless phone service. Whenever he teaches in an incoherent or seemingly (at least) anti-Catholic way, real Catholics, those who know the clarity and soundness of the past Catholic teachings and the clarity with which (most) past Popes spoke, are as aggravated at him as they ever were at dropped calls and poor reception. And, just like the supposed “customer service” of the phone companies, where you would call and be put on hold for an hour only to be cut off just as a real person came on the line, so it is with him whenever a faithful Catholic asks for clarification. He refuses to clarify. He responds in a very arrogant and childish way through snide remarks and innuendos in his homilies and interviews, never naming names but making it crystal clear who he means as he, in a roundabout way, calls his “customers” vile names. Just as the phone companies’ lack of service while calling it service discourages its unhappy customers from seeking redress, so with the Pope’s “humble” service. It not only is a slap in the face to those whom he should most wish to assuage as to his Catholicity, but it also is a very purposeful message to others with questions that they will be treated with just the same contempt if they dare ask.
“Can you hear me now?” A group of faithful Cardinals asked for clarification on not-unimportant matters of Faith and Morals 964 days ago. They were ridiculed, lambasted, demoted, and, finally, ignored. Then a larger group of non-Cardinal scholars asked even more questions. “Please,” they begged (I paraphrase), “clarify that you hold the Catholic position on Faith and Morals. Because you refuse to respond to charitable requests for clarity people no longer believe that the press is misquoting you or that radicals within the Curia are putting out messages contrary to your own beliefs. You refuse to repudiate statements against the Faith which are attributed to you. Your pontificate makes nonsense of two interchangeable and often-used rhetorical questions, ‘Does a bear ***t in the woods?’ and ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’” Silence. Most recently another scholarly group stuck their necks out and, through an Open Letter, asked the bishops of the world to either correct the Pope or declare that he, as a heretic, has removed himself from the Chair of Peter. What has been the response from the Vatican? Silence. What has been the response from the Bishops? Silence. What are Catholics to think? A lack of clarity, a lack of interest in proclaiming the Catholic Faith after making proclamations that seem to go against that very Faith which the Pope is bound to uphold and protect, points to one very obvious answer, one which no Catholic ever wants to even imagine could be true: That the Pope is not Catholic. That the Pope does not believe what the Catholic Church professes to be True. That bears are potty trained.
Louie Verrecchio and Jimmy Akin, two reputable Catholics who often have very different ideas on Catholic teachings which involve prudential judgment, have had the best intellectual exchange of all of the commentaries I have read regarding the aforementioned Open Letter (search May 3-6, so far). Jimmy pointed out that “heresy” has a new, very narrow, definition as of the new (1983) Code of Canon Law, and that the Open Letter writers seem to have mistakenly used the older definition, nullifying their accusations. Louie responded that the disciplinary consequence for one guilty of these accusations, even if it meets only the old definition of heresy and not the newer one, is exactly the same: that the Pope (unless he clarifies that he does not actually believe and teach what he has professed and taught) has removed himself from the Faith and is no longer the Pope.
Those who are outside of the Faith or with poor Catholic formation have no problem accepting a “heretical” Pope, for they don’t believe in the Church as Church or in Her moral teachings as the unchangeable teachings of God. For them, to proclaim that they like what Francis is doing is like having and showing off a new piece of technology, a new toy meant to impress others, even if it is worthless or dangerous. They don’t know or care what a “good” Pope is, or what his function is, or how a bad one can be deadly to countless souls.
Please, Bishops and Pope! Proclaim that there is only one true God, only one true Church, only one sure means of Salvation! You either believe it or not. Silence in these matters is not acceptable, honorable, or moral.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka