In a transcript from a private meeting with his fellow Jesuits in Portugal during World Youth Day, Pope Francis once again lambasted those pesky and troublesome faithful American Catholics who are holding fast to the deposit of faith. According to Francis, they are “backwardists” (is this even a word?) who isolate themselves and condemn everything new, different, and progressive. This is not the first time he has expressed frustration with American Catholics. In a rather vindictive and petty statement unbecoming of the Roman Pontiff, Francis once bragged it was a badge of honor to be criticized by Americans. He appears to have no time or inclination to dialogue with or, in his famous words, “accompany us.”
In a somewhat baffling comment during the private meeting in Portugal, Francis stated, “When you go backward, you make something closed off, disconnected from the roots of the church.” With all due respect to Pope Francis, wouldn’t going backward to the actual words of Jesus and the doctrines of the early church connect one more to the church’s early roots?
In another unusual Kamala Harris-like word salad, the Pope commented, “If you don’t change upward, you go backward. And then you take on criteria for change different from those the faith itself gives you to grow and change.” Honestly, I’m not sure what this is even supposed to mean. Correct me if I am wrong, but it was my understanding that faith leads one to live a more holy and pious life, not one in which you are affirmed in your sins.
In another comment colored with the bigotry of low expectations, the Pope remarked, “We must not be superficial and naïve, forcing people into things and behaviors for which they are not yet mature or capable of.” Does not a genuine encounter with Jesus give one the graces, understanding, and counsel to live a better life? Our Catholic tradition is filled with wonderful examples of those like St. Matthew, Mary Magdalene, and St. Augustine, who turned away from lives of sin and became great saints. Why does Pope Francis count out those who may, with the help of doctrinal correct catechesis, make a complete conversion and turn away from their sinful ways?
But the harshest criticism came with a line in which the Pope accused traditional American Catholics of losing the one true faith, “Doing this, you lose the true tradition, and you turn to ideologies to have support. In other words, ideologies replace faith.” Excuse me, but who is the one who has elevated progressive ideologies of all kinds as a form of social justice, like the ideology of climate change, which is now a grave sin against the earth, or the ideology of gender confusion, which seems to require accompaniment alone; or the ideology of forced experimental vaccinations which has now been elevated to a moral imperative? This looks like a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.
It appears that this American Catholic bashing by the Pope is simply setting the stage for the Synod on Synodality that will convene next month. Rome and faithful American Catholics are headed for a huge battle if reports of the blessing of homosexual couples, allowing communion for the divorced/remarried and those in polygamous marriages, and ordaining women deacons are all on the table. These initiatives are not in keeping with the scriptures, the deposit of faith, or the 2,000-plus-year tradition of the church. It also invalidates the persecution and martyrdom of so many of the saints who willingly gave their lives to guard and protect the faith like St. Thomas More, who stood up for the sanctity of marriage; St. Tarcisius, who protected reverence for the Eucharist; St. Maria Goretti who defended chastity; and St. Athanasius who fought heresy.
Those who rightly object to these abominations are labeled rigid, backward, and schismatics. In reality, the actual schismatics are trying to alter the church inextricably by a “hostile takeover,” as Cardinal Muller pointed out. Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has recently published a letter and video eloquently telling us who the actual schismatics are and encouraging us to “Stand firm in your faith.” Both prelates have encouraged the faithful in America to resist these radical changes.
Let us hope and pray that our fears are unfounded and the Synod on Synodality is simply a harmless group of progressive types talking about their pet projects. However, if it proves to be a true Marxist revolution and a takeover of the church, we must stand firm in our faith and resist.