I remember the afternoon John Paul II was elected. I was at a committee meeting with our local auxiliary bishop. The white smoke had already been seen and one of our number had been delegated to keep an eye on the television in the next room and let us know when the announcement was made. The “spy” in question was an old Irish monsignor and he came into the room in a state of shock. “It’s some Pole” (he didn’t use the politically correct term) “who I never heard of.” The room exploded as everyone jumped up and made for the television room. While everyone else seemed quite excited by the first non-Italian Pope in over four and a half centuries, I had an immediate feeling of foreboding. Italians know how to do the Pope thing. They’ve done it so long that the Pope is just the guy in the white robe who live down the block or over on the other side of Rome or a two-hour rail trip away. They don’t take the pope all that seriously. Even when they become pope, they take the whole thing a bit more lightly. But a Pope from Poland—that spelled trouble.
Now don’t get me wrong. There were aspects of John Paul’s reign that were absolutely brilliant. He was a great communicator. And he was a phenomenal political strategist. But by and large, it was a troubled and troublesome papacy. At least, I, for one, was not a happy camper during those long years of ever tightening and centralizing control. He wrote some great encyclicals—and some not so great ones. But most of all I saw good bishops with vision being replaced, successful innovations in pastoral practice being reversed, and a negative message edging out the Good News of salvation. But he was the Pope. I respected him and while in the classroom or in private conversation I might point out the flaws in his policies or thinking—and even the infallible have flaws—I only spoke with respect. I had various opportunities to meet him—well, to be presented to him actually: needless to say we never sat down over a kielbasa and beer—and I always acted with due deference. I was not a happy camper during his pontificate but I was—and remain—a Catholic and that means that there are boundaries regarding what and how we say what we say regarding the Pope.
I had more respect for Benedict. He was a sort of papal Jimmy Carter. While I think his pontificate was, aside from his precedent setting resignation, a disaster, I believe he is a man of unparalleled integrity. I would probably agree with him on very little but he is a sound scholar in his field (which is not history, by the way; he doesn’t have a good grasp of historical data, even Church history) and I have a genuine empathy for the man who I believe sincerely desired to be pope to “fix” what he perceived to be the problems left behind by both Vatican II and his immediate predecessor, but who found that his professorial skills were not up to the shenanigans of the long-entrenched cesspool of monsignoral fuchsia that stood between him and his objectives. All in all, I was no less unhappy with him in the chair of Peter than I was with John Paul II. But again, I spoke only with respect of him. The Pope is the Pope. Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia. While I was personally discontent with the direction in which these popes were taking the Church, I bore neither any animosity, personal or otherwise. After all, they were Pope and I am not.
Needless to say, I love Francis and feel thirty years younger with him on the Chair of Peter. But not everybody shares my enthusiasm. Last week it was announced that Gallup reported some serious drops in Francis’ popularity among Americans, especially since Laudato Si and its critique of our consumerist society. Let’s face it, we all love our SUVs more than we love our Catholic Faith. Jesus was obviously wrong: it is possible to love God and wealth, or at least to love some pious idea of God and the reality of our material obsessions.
Criticism of Francis ranged from the ignorant to the vituperative. Self-proclaimed authority on all things Catholic and Republican candidate for President, Rick Santorum, declared
The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we're really good at, which is theology and morality.”
I think he would have a point if he knew science as well as those scientists the Pope turned towards for advice on the encyclical, or even as well as does the Pope himself. His Holiness is no authority on science, of course, but he does have a stronger background than does climate-change denier and general fantasist Sanctimonious Santorum. Nevertheless, the ex-Senator’s remarks were mild compared to some who aren’t running for President and are able to shoot from the blind the Internet offers. (Admittedly, I too keep my identity concealed in cyberspace anonymity.). Here is an exchange of anti-Francis buffoons from the Katholik Krazy blog Eponymous Flower:
AnonymousJuly 26, 2015 at 4:41 AM Pope Francis stinks.
AnonymousJuly 26, 2015 at 5:34 AM It's only the sheep' smell......don't you like it?
AnonymousJuly 26, 2015 at 5:51 AM "Pope Francis stinks." That's for sure. He stinks from the rot of Vatican II !!!
Some of Francis’s strongest critics are both very public in their identity and ruthless in their critique. Our Fancy Friend over at the Knight of Malta, Cardinal Burke, says that the Church under Francis “is a rudderless ship.” It has been a long time since a Cardinal was so openly contemptuous of a reigning Pope, probably not since Cardinal Lucien Louis Joseph Napoléon Bonaparte, grand-nephew of the Emperor, who was given to open mockery of Pius IX, the Pope who both ordained him and named him a Cardinal. (Curiously they remained friends despite Bonaparte’s well-known habit of ridiculing him to visitors.)
Equally insulting to Pope Francis is Fox News Commentator, Steve Milloy who refers to Francis as “The Red Pope.” The Fox News crowd caters to an audience that is rabidly opposed to any degree of self-restraint on the part of free-market capitalism and its raping of the planet’s resources and considers the sort of economic reforms Francis calls for sheer heresy. One “Bruce,” responding to the KK blog, The Radical Catholic, says
Pope Francis is to the Catholic Church what Obama has been to America. Obama kicked the already weakened final supports out from under the country and America is NO MORE. Call it what you may but it is gone. The Pope is well on his way to doing the same to a Church already turned Protestant by the Modernist Heresy. If they aren't already the confused Catholics will soon be Useful Idiots for the Global Elite who Francis apparently serves.
The electronic version of the British Conservative Magazine, The Spectator, recently produced an article: “Watch Out Pope Francis: the Catholic Civil War Has Begun.” The article isn’t bad at all, other than calling Ross Douthat of the New York Times, a “moderate,” but it is a bit like Paul Revere hanging the lights in the tower of the Old North Church (actually Robert Newman, the church sexton hanged the lights to warn us about the Brits); we know that already, it ain’t news. The article drew some pretty rabid responses however: who knew the Krazies were literate enough to read The Spectator? One “Gwenn Ap Nudd” responded to Phil Steinacker
Yes, this Pope teaches error so he is not a Pope. Sede Vacant (sic) - the Seat is empty. There have been a number of Anti-Popes. Francis is just one more.
And then to one “James M”
Legalism. As Rev Cekeda says, he was a manifest heretic before his election so it wasn't valid to begin with. The Council rejected the Holy Spirit and elected a heretic. I grant you it would be more complicated if a Pope fell from grace while in office. But he didn't fall, he never had it apparently - or at least since he's been in the public eye. (Antony Cekada is a sedevacantist, “theologian” in residence and companion of Bishop Daniel Dolan, ersatz sede-vacantist bishop of no place in particular. I have written about Dolan and Cekada elsewhere; you can check the Label list on the right side of the webpage.)
Actually Francis is driving many of those who were clinging to hope of a pre-Vatican II restoration to sede-vacantism. The KK blog, Eponymous Flower, draws a number of readers who espouse the idea that Francis is not the authentic pope. One, writing under the universal veil of “anonymous” and who represents a sort of second wave sede vacantist theory (first wave being those who claim Pius XII was the last authentic pope) wrote:
Thanks guys! I see things in a different light. Pope Benedict XVl is still for me the Supreme Pontiff. And if I live to see the day of his death, then it will be Sede Vacante. I am a Traditional Catholic and Francis will not deprive me of that. May God forgive this fake Pope. In the meantime I am a CATHOLIC. And Francis is an anti-Catholic. Deo Gratias!!!
Then there are those who want to depose Francis. A particularly Krazy blogger from Boston by the name of Carole McKinley who runs the Blog The Tenth Crusade (in various other reincarnations known as Throw The Bums Out 2010 and What The Pope Really Said) has not only had some of the blog-flies that feed off her ordure suggest that it is time to give Francis the boot but supports the idea herself. One Michael Dowd wrote:
I suggest a petition be developed and circulated via blog network for the removal of Pope Francis. This kind of thing might get some more national media attention on this diabolical issue. Every day more and more souls are being lost due to him. He renders advocacy for Catholic doctrine ineffective by the carelessness of his moral attitude and confusing remarks. He has got to go. Go Francis Go.
An “Anonymous” came right in behind in support
Michel Dowd is right. Enough of this. Are there no cardinals or bishops with a Catholic backbone left? Stand up to this man and boot him out.
Ironically the post was titled “Catechized Catholics Upset With Our Holy Father’s Shtick” When I suggested that really catechized Catholics know that there is no way for cardinals or bishops—even those who have backbone—much less petitions to remove a pope, Carol herself came in with one of her typically vitriolic exercises in unapprised idiocy:
If the Holy Father reveals himself to have been elected by the queens to contradict Church teaching, his See most certainly has the power to kick him to the curb. We are all waiting to see what kind if stunt is pulled at the next synod. The last one was orchestrated by the queens and had the collaboration and blessing of the Holy Father…,
I was only relieved that she referred to Francis as “Holy Father” but then I remembered in an earlier blog where she said she calls him that “tongue in cheek.” One “Lazarus Gethsemane” then chimed in his opinion that Francis was foisted on the Church by a College of Cardials gone mad:
And yet - what we get from the politico Bergoglio is not truth, but rather, confusion, chaos, division, constant obfuscation of clear doctrine, and an unprecedented elevation of man and physical manna, and all at the detriment of immutable Truths and doctrines within the church itself. … Many of the corrupt liberal clerics in the college of cardinals (which is the majority) knew about Bergoglio, and that is exactly why they launched an illicit internal campaign to elect him to the papacy. Don't think for one blessed moment that this chaos and destruction wasn't pre-planned beyond Bergoglio.
So, yes—Francis is edging the Church towards a Civil War, or actually a schism. It wasn’t his doing: it has been brewing for years. The Lefebvre Schism was the first wave, the sede-vacantists the second. They both had their roots in the Council and the papacy of Paul VI. The more measured track of John Paul II and Benedict XVI let the fires die down a bit but as nothing short of a rejection of the Council and post-conciliar Magisterium would appease the rebels, the fires remained smoldering. Francis has fanned them into flame again. Some hold the old grudges about the changes in the Liturgy or the ecumenical openings initiated by John XXIII and confirmed by the Council. For others it was seeing their hopes of a restoration of the old rites promised in Summorum Pontificum dashed by a Pope who has no time for what I have referred to as the Colonial Williamsburg approach to worship. There are those who grieve the “injustices” perceived to have been done by Francis to His Corpulence, Cardinal Burke. More are threatened by the more pastoral direction taken in regard to the divorced and remarried. But the largest number of American discontents to Francis’ pontificate are bound to be those who see him as a threat to our socio-economic status quo. Let Christopher Moncton and Sarah Palin and Senator Inhofe and Governor Parry and, of course, Rick Santorum continue to deny the effects of our economic strategies on our planet, but as for me I am a believer—both in Francis and in the fact that we gotta change. Let me just conclude with this slice of Ashley Ahearn’s KUOW Seattle program on NPR this past Tuesday.
Tribes and wild fish groups share Butler’s sentiments. River temperatures throughout the Northwest are entering lethal territory for salmon. The fish become stressed once river temperatures reach the 60s. When they exceed the 70s, temperatures can be lethal.
“When these fish are very hot they become lethargic and they don’t reach as large sizes as they would in more cool conditions,” says Adrian Tuohy, a biologist with the Wild Fish Conservancy. The nonprofit group analyzed water temperature data from the U.S. Geological Survey earlier this month on 54 rivers in Washington, Oregon and California. Thirty-nine of the rivers were at temperatures that can be lethal to salmon and trout.
"Their metabolic rates are so high that they just can't grow as fast," Tuohy says. “That affects their survival rates in the ocean.”
Warmer waters contain less oxygen and provide conditions for fish diseases like gill rot to thrive. So as the water levels drop and fish crowd into smaller and smaller pools, the results can be deadly.
So, say what you want about Pope Francis, but as for me and the fish, we’re believers.