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Under Pope Francis Is the Church Becoming an NGO?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 4, 2015

It was Pope Francis himself who said during the plane flight from Manila to Rome that “when a part of the Church becomes worldly, it becomes an NGO [a Non Governmental Organization devoted to social projects] and ceases to be the Church.”  Having said this, however, Francis himself has presided over an expansion of the Church’s involvement in purely worldly affairs in line with the general tendency of the human element of the Church to replace the courageous preaching of the Gospel precisely with the social activities of an NGO.

Thus we have the upcoming papal encyclical on the environment — about the last thing the Church needs at a time when “civilization is tottering to its fall,” to quote Pope Pius XI, because men have turned their backs on Christ the King and no longer exhibit that fear of the Lord which is “the beginning of wisdom.”

And along the same lines, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace — which sounds very much like an NGO — has announced the formation of something called the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM).  At a recent conference concerning REPAM, the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Peter Turkson, stated that “the people of the Amazon ‘are threatened by pollution, the radical and rapid change of the ecosystem upon which they depend, and the lack of protection for their basic human rights’…” That sounds like the head of an NGO addressing the United Nations rather than the head of what is supposed to be an agency of the Holy Catholic Church.

And consider this NGO-style rhetoric from Cardinal Turkson: “Effective action to face challenges that cross the borders of a single state requires synergy between the living forces of all the nations involved, from the Secretariat of the REPAM to that of the dioceses and other Church initiatives in the various states.”  A UN bureaucrat could not have done better in the jargon department.

Now, the protection of the environment from abuse by industry and others who would exploit it without regard to the common good is a legitimate role of government, subject to what Pius XI called the principle of subsidiary function ­— that the lowest possible level of government should address government’s legitimate concerns. That is the business of government, however, not the Church.

And yet it was Francis himself who warned that when part of the Church becomes worldly it becomes an NGO.  The end result of the process is a Church that cares more about saving the rain forests than it does about saving souls.  Indeed, the very phrase “salvation of souls” has vanished from the vocabulary of post-Vatican II churchmen, from the Pope on down, as if it were something that didn’t matter any longer because everyone is saved.  In which case, what do we need the Church for?  For environmental work and other social projects, apparently.

In his recent and quite historic open letter, Archbishop Pawl Lenga of Kazakhstan speaks of how today “One can observe at all levels of the Church an obvious decrease of the ‘sacrum.’ The ‘spirit of the world’ feeds the shepherds. The sinners give the Church the instructions for how she has to serve them. In their embarrassment the Pastors are silent on the current problems and abandon the sheep while they are feeding themselves. The world is tempted by the devil and opposes the doctrine of Christ.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican busies itself with saving the rainforests of Brazil, and the salvation of souls is not only neglected but threatened by the same wayward prelates who have given us the Phony Synod and its thinly veiled attack on the traditional family and the indissolubility of marriage.

This travesty cannot go on much longer. For “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”