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Pope Francis and the
Paradox of Absolute Relativism

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 19, 2018

During a meeting with a group of his fellow Latin American Jesuit subversives in Chile, transcribed by his Jesuit “mouthpiece,” Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolicà, and published in English translation by Life Site News, we are provided with yet another frightening glimpse into the mind behind what Philip Lawler has rightly called “this disastrous papacy.”

When asked about Catholic “resistance” to his “reforms” by one of the attendees, Pope Francis replied:

“When faced with difficulty, I never call it ‘resistance,’ because that would mean giving up discerning, which is what I want to do instead. It’s easy to say that there is resistance and not realize that in the push-back there can also be a grain of truth. And so I let myself be helped by the push-back. Often I will ask someone: ‘What do you think of this?’

“This also helps me to put many things into perspective which at first sight seem to be resistance, but in reality are a reaction arising from a misunderstanding, from the fact that there are some things one needs to repeat and explain better. It may be a defect of mine that sometimes I consider some things obvious, or I make a logical leap without explaining the process well, because I am convinced that the other person has immediately grasped my reasoning. I realize that, if I go back and explain it better, at that point the other person says, ‘Oh, yes, I agree ….’ In short, it is very helpful to examine thoroughly the meaning of the push-back.”

In other words, his critics are all laboring under a misunderstanding of what he considers completely obvious; he needs to explain his “reasoning” better to those who have been unable to “grasp” it.  Perhaps if he speaks very slowly all those dunces of the “resistance” will understand him — as if he hasn’t made himself perfectly clear in the plainest (and often crudest) of language over the past five years.

Here we see the thinking of a Pope who views the Magisterium as the product of his personal thought processes rather than a sacred doctrinal inheritance it is his duty to protect, along with immemorial disciplines integrally linked to doctrine, such as forbidding the administration of Holy Communion to public adulterers in pretend “second marriages.”

Indeed, as he has done constantly, here Francis expresses contempt precisely for the constancy of doctrine and discipline in the Church:

“When, instead, I realize that there is real resistance, of course it displeases me. Some people tell me that resistance is normal when someone wants to make changes. The famous ‘we’ve always done it this way’ reigns everywhere, it is a great temptation that we have all faced.”

In the mind of Francis, a defense of the Church’s constant teaching and discipline against reckless innovations is nothing more than a narrow-minded habit of conformity to mere routine. This disparagement of the faithful and of Tradition itself is breathtaking, no matter how many times Francis repeats it in various forms.

And then this stupefying pronouncement:

“For example, we all lived through post-Vatican II. The opposition after Vatican II, which is still present, has this aim: to relativize, to water down the Council. I am even sorrier when someone enlists in a resistance campaign. And unfortunately I see this too. You asked me about resistance, and so I cannot deny that there is resistance. I see it and I am aware of it.”

The one absolute in the mind of Pope Francis is “the Council.” This alone must not be relativized by evil “resistance” to relativizing reforms, whose aim is to banish the banal mentality of “we’ve always done it this way.” 

Not even morality is absolute in the mind of Francis, which is why he promulgated Amoris Laetitia (AL):

“I believe that one of the things the Church needs most today, and this is very clear in the perspectives and pastoral objectives of Amoris Laetitia, is discernment. We are accustomed to ‘you can or you can’t.’ The moral [approach] used in Amoris Laetitia is the most classic Thomistic moral teaching, that of St. Thomas, not of the decadent Thomism like the one some have studied. In my formation, I also received a way of thinking that was ‘up to this point you can, up to this point you cannot.’”

The attempt to enlist Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, for the admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion is not worthy of comment, except to say that the most charitable view of Francis’ opinion is that he has no idea what Thomas teaches about the absolutely exceptionless and universally binding character of the Sixth Commandment and the other negative precepts of the divine and natural law.

Contrary to Saint Thomas, Pope Francis reduces the Church’s entire prior teaching on the Sixth Commandment to a cheap joke:

“I don’t know if you remember [here the Pope looks at one of those present] the Colombian Jesuit who came to teach us moral [theology] at the Collegio Massimo. When it came to speaking about the sixth commandment, someone dared to ask the question: ‘Can engaged couples kiss?’ If they could kiss! Do you all understand? And he said, ‘Yes, they can! There’s no problem! They just need to put a handkerchief between them.’ This is a forma mentis of doing theology in general. A forma mentis based on limits. And we are bearing the consequences.”

Citing this trivial anecdote as if it were a profound theological insight instead of the lowly demagoguery it is, Francis opines that the idea there are strict limits to human conduct under the Sixth Commandment must be done away with. 

If only this were a nightmare instead of a living reality.

Turning to his authorization of Holy Communion for public adulterers who intend to continue committing adultery in the form of “remarriage” following civil divorce, Francis engages in the shell game of classic Modernism:

“If you have a look at the panorama of the reactions aroused by Amoris Laetitia, you will see that the strongest criticisms made against the Exhortation are on the eighth chapter: can someone who is divorced [and remarried] receive Communion or not? And yet Amoris Laetitia goes in a completely different direction. It does not enter into these distinctions and poses the problem of discernment…”

When asked about his permission for Holy Communion for public adulterers, Pope Francis says, in essence, don’t look there, look under this shell over here — discernment! Meanwhile, he has authorized Holy Communion for public adulterers.

Francis admits that he is aware of “doctrinal resistance” to his thinking — meaning the defense of Catholic doctrine against it — but avers that “For the sake of mental health I do not read the websites of this so-called ‘resistance.’”  These sorry people, says Francis, “believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse you of being a heretic…” Perhaps Francis’ mental health would actually improve if he read some of the criticisms of his novelties now rising up throughout the Catholic world.

In view of this interview, Mr. Lawler might wish to consider revising the title of his about-to-be released book: “Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock.”  Something even stronger may be indicated.