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A Scandal Without End

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 1, 2016

Father Gruner and I were in Rome on the night Pope Francis was elected. The video of our entirely positive and hopeful reaction to the news is there to see for anyone who might think the subsequent criticism of this pontificate on these pages was motivated by some preexisting bias or animus.

No, the criticism that came later was motivated by one thing and one thing only: the growing evidence of a scandal on the Chair of Peter the likes of which the Church has never before witnessed.  There have been weak Popes and morally corrupt Popes who occupied the Chair in the Church’s long history, along with the greatest of saints who not only defended the Faith in the Church’s darkest days but also contributed to the building of an entire Christian civilization, such as Pope Saint Leo the Great and Pope Saint Gregory the Great.  But never, ever, in 2,000 years have we had a Pope who repeatedly, seemingly without end, has scandalized the faithful, belittled the Church’s doctrines, disciplines and traditions, and been rewarded with the world’s unanimous praise simply by speaking or writing whatever trivial thought comes into his head.

The most recent, and perhaps one of the most telling, examples is the Pope’s new book consisting of his written answers to children’s questions about the faith. It seems impossible that a Roman Pontiff could write the following in answer to a nine-year-old boy’s question whether the young Bergoglio served as an altar boy when he was growing up in Buenos Aires:

Dear Alessio, yes, I was an altar boy. And you? What part among the altar boys do you have? It’s easier to do now, you know: You might know that, when I was a kid, Mass was celebrated different than today. Back then, the priest faced the altar, which was next to the wall, and not the people. Then the book with which he said the Mass, the missal, was placed on the right side of the altar. But before reading of the Gospel it always had to be moved to the left side. That was my job: to carry it from right to left. It was exhausting! The book was heavy! I picked it up with all my energy but I wasn’t so strong; I picked it up once and fell down, so the priest had to help me. Some job I did! The Mass wasn’t in Italian then. The priest spoke but I didn’t understand anything, and neither did my friends.  So for fun we’d do imitations of the priest, messing up the words a bit to make up weird sayings in Spanish. We had fun, and we really enjoyed serving Mass.

It defies belief that we have a Pope who deems this an appropriate response to an earnest spiritual question from an impressionable child. 

First of all, Francis misleads the child by telling him that Mass is no longer celebrated the way it was when he was a boy, for the traditional Latin Mass is still celebrated in exactly the same way around the world today, thanks to Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict’s greatest contribution to the Church, which has to be seen as an intervention of the Holy Ghost, who will not allow the Church’s liturgical patrimony to be destroyed by mere men, not even by Francis.

Secondly, exhibiting a level of banality and triviality that is simply breathtaking in the person of a Pope, Francis mocks the Mass of his youth by depicting the priest as “facing the wall” rather than “the people,” when he knows full well that the altar ad orientem is intended to signify both priest and people facing Christ, who will come again from the East. Equally misleading and insulting to the Church is his suggestion that the Latin liturgy, descended in its Canon from the Apostles themselves, was just a lot of incomprehensible gibberish, when he knows full well that every Missal he used as a boy contained a vernacular translation alongside the Latin, and that without even consulting the vernacular any semi-intelligent altar boy knew — just as altar boys know today — the essential meaning of the key liturgical phrases at each point in the liturgy, including the Confiteor that Francis himself had to commit to memory in order to serve at the altar.

Lastly, Francis encourages rebellion and even sacrilege in the child to whom he is writing by publicly reveling in the fact that he was an irreverent little smart aleck who mocked his own priest and, infinitely worse, God Himself by making up jokes about the Mass in which he had the supreme honor to assist, and the very words of the liturgy he had the supreme duty to hold sacred and pronounce with utmost reverence.

Why has the Church been saddled with the election of this supremely embarrassing figure as Vicar of Christ? That it pertains to the scourging the Church now endures at the hands of many of her own leaders is clear. But how long this punishment will go on, and how it will be ended at last, are no doubt the subject of the post-apocalyptic scenario depicted in the vision Our Lady must have explained — in the text of the Third Secret we have yet to see.

May Our Lady of Fatima deliver us from this madness.