Pope Francis and the Left’s March to the Papacy

For a Church that was always regarded as “unchangeable,” the impossible has happened.

There seems little doubt that the Roman Catholic Church in 2022 is on a mission to destroy itself.  

For a Church that was always regarded as “unchangeable,” the impossible happened.

The Second Vatican Council, thought to bring a new Pentecost to the Church, did the opposite. It emptied convents, seminaries and monasteries. It changed the liturgy in a radical way so as to make the Mass unrecognizable from what it had been for centuries.

It was, of course, not the documents of Vatican II that created these changes, but the so-called runaway “spirit” of the Council in the 1970s and beyond that helped to create a new Catholicism.

Vatican II never mandated that the priest face the people at Mass.  It did not call for communion-in-hand, altar girls, liturgical dancers, the abolition of Latin, the wreck-o-vation of Church architecture, or the end of Gregorian chant and its replacement with syrupy summer tent revival hymns.

Pope Benedict XVI once wrote that when you change the liturgy, you “change everything,” as in [although he did not say it] changing the religion itself.

A progressive during the Council era, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) had a ‘return-to-tradition” epiphany in his later years and issued Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, after his election as pope. 

Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, very quickly embarked on a campaign to slowly dismantle the former pope’s Latin Mass protections.

Francis’ war on tradition picked up steam over the years and went on to include an all-out-war on traditionalist Catholic religious communities with the final goal, as some critics have noted, of the complete abolition of the Latin Mass by 2023 or 2024.  

But Francis’ leftwing political orthodoxy and hatred of tradition has not only cast him as a kind of dictator pope, it has shown him to be ruthless and disrespectful in his purge of the work and feelings of his predecessor.

Benedict, who lives within Vatican walls, has had a front-row seat whenever Francis feels an urge to take his iconoclastic axe to yet another ancient Church tradition.

The question arises: What must the former pope be feeling as Francis proceeds with his revolution?

At this point, one may wish for a heroic rescue fantasy, one in which Benedict is given the grace to rise up -- the flame of the Holy Spirit shining bright and vibrant over his head -- and lash out at Francis with the vehemence of a prophet, in effect sending the destroyer of tradition back to his swinging tango mass swamp in Buenos Aires.

Francis, as George Neumayr noted in his 2017 book, “The Political Pope,” is the pope that the worldwide Left has been waiting for.

Francis is the first radical green pope, the first open borders pope, the first “I don’t want to convert you” pope.

Francis, in other words, is the end result of “The Left’s Long March to the Papacy.”

Vatican insider Malachi Martin once wrote that the devil or dark forces seek to sow confusion among the faithful, and that’s precisely what Francis’ critics claim he does.

About atheism, Francis posits:  “Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

This humanist statement could have been lifted from a private conversation between Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus at Paris’ Café de Flore sometime in the 1950s.

“Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals,” wrote Stanford economist Thomas Sowell. “He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.”

That trend also includes the subject of Islam.

“[Francis’} references to the persecution of Christians have tended to be opaque and rare, and do not even remotely approach the urgent status he has given to such comparatively trivial subjects as climate change and amnesty,” Neumayr wrote.   

Imagine a pope who doesn’t want people to convert to Catholicism, or even Christianity for that matter.  “Proselytism is solemn nonsense,” Francis once told an Italian atheist.

As for the divinity of Jesus, Francis put a UN spin on the Son of the Father: “The Son of God became incarnate to instill the feeling of brotherhood in the souls of men.”  

Resistance in the Catholic world to Pope Francis is profound, yet this resistance is categorized by the mainstream Left media as coming from “fringe far-right” Catholics. In other words: lunatics and fanatics.  

“Fringe” and “far-right” are “scare” labels used by the left-wing news media. The implication being that you can dismiss it out of hand.

Whatever Francis may do to shock conservative Catholics -- from the 2019 Pachamama scandal to the pagan “smudging” ceremony ceremony he participated in during his recent trip to Canada -- he’s still a cultural hero to the same people who brought you Justin Trudeau, Nancy Pelosi and Governor Newsom of California.

Like many on the political Left who pretend to loathe fascism, Francis pretends to support freedom and openness except when it comes to forces that challenge or oppose his views.

Bottom line: this cancel culture pope promotes bishops who think as he does and penalizes those bishops who oppose him.

The Latin Mass crowd is a particularly stubborn bunch because they represent the Old Church Francis wants reduced to ruins. As long as the Old Church is around, his revolution cannot move forward.

His puppets in the United States, such as Blasé Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, whom Francis himself elevated in 2014 as Archbishop of Chicago, are Francis sycophants who are often transparent in their obeisance.  

Immediately after his election to the papacy, Francis made an international show of his “humility” when he opted to live in a set of apartments rather than in the papal palace.

Immediately after Cupich was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by Francis, Cupich opted to live in a suite of rooms at Holy Name Catholic rather than in the mansion traditionally reserved for Chicago’s archbishops.

Cupich, who grew up in Nebraska, is of Croatian descent with impressive academic credentials, but since his ordination to the priesthood, he’s been on a fast track to theological wokedom.

In 2004, Cupich did not join the list of Catholic bishops who went public in their condemnation Catholic politic who support abortion. 

Like Francis, Cupich is an enemy of liturgical tradition.

As early as 1998 as Bishop of Rapid City, he banned children from receiving First Holy Communion or being confirmed in the Tridentine Mass. In 2002, he banned a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) community from celebrating Paschal Tridum. 

In 2021, as Archbishop of Chicago, Cupich issued restrictions on the celebration of the TLM in Chicago.

After Francis published his anti-TLM manifesto, “Traditionis Custodes,” which labels Catholic Traditionalists as subversives, Cupich doubled down on the Latin Mass crowd in Chicago when he shut down the Latin-Mass Institute of Christ the King Sovereign King.

“To stamp out the old Latin Mass, Pope Francis is using the papacy in precisely the way that progressives once claimed to deplore: He centralizes power in Rome, usurps the local bishop’s prerogatives and institutes a micromanaging style that is motivated by paranoia of disloyalty and heresy,” wrote conservative Catholic critic Michael Brendan Dougherty.

For many Catholic traditionalists, Cupich’s order to shut down the Institute of Christ the King, was the last straw. They saw it as Francis-directed or Francis-inspired, which of course it was.

Some Catholic podcasters like Taylor Marshall called for traditionalists in Chicago to defy Cupich’s  order to shut down the Institute.

Marshall, who is always touted as especially “far-right,” is of course correct.

Catholic leftists think nothing of defying bans or even the tenets of the faith, such as the priest in Chicago who used a guitar to bless people at Mass, while traditionalists, when they come under the yoke of oppression, tend to run and hide while praying that a future pope will one day restore Tradition in all its glory.

It is highly unlikely that there will be a future “restorer” pope.

Restoration and change will not come from the wave of a papal wand, but from the laity and from those bishops who have the courage to resist the continued destruction of sacred Catholic traditions.  

Thom Nickels is a Philadelphia-based journalist/columnist and the 2005 recipient of the AIA Lewis Mumford Award for Architectural Journalism. He writes for City Journal, New York, Frontpage Magazine, Broad and Liberty, and the Philadelphia Irish Edition. He is the author of fifteen books, including ”Literary Philadelphia” and ”From Mother Divine to the Corner Swami: Religious Cults in Philadelphia.” “Death in Philadelphia: The Murder of Kimberly Ernest” will be published in 2023.

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