The story varies—some ascribe it to the pontificate of Pius IX other to Pius X and a few to Leo XIII, but allegedly a delegation of British Anglicans were admitted to a papal audience and when they asked for the Holy Father’s blessing, the Pope uttered the following prayer which is used for the blessing of the incense at solemn Mass: “ab illo benedicaris in cuius honore cremaberis” (May you be blessed by him in whose honor you shall be burned). Now those were the days when we knew how to treat heretics. What happened? How did we slide down the ladder from our exclusive perch in the heavenly heights of safeguarding the purity of the faith into the ecumenical boondoggle of inclusivity and relativism?
I suspect the Pandora’s Box of decay and error was opened when Pope John XXIII addressed the world’s cabal of heretics and schismatics (AKA Protestants and Orthodox) as “separated brethren.” Talk about putting lipstick on a pig, they’re nothing but rebels, murderers, and thieves. They stole our cathedrals and ancient churches across Europe and the Near East, they cruelly martyred those who stuck to the old faith, they defaced sacred images and scattered the relic of the saints in the dirt of their streets. Their leaders broke their vows of celibacy and let countless souls to the fires of hell and this Pope calls them “separated brethren?” Enemies, not brothers, and it was they who chose separation. And then that pernicious council of Vatican II speaks of “restoring unity.” The only way back is unconditional surrender. Truth does not compromise. Error has no rights!
But if that weren’t bad enough, the next Pope—even worse than John—Paul VI on December 16 (imagine, in Advent, barely a week before Christmas) 1975 fell on his knees and kissed the foot of the schismatic prelate Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon. What was he thinking? The Pope bows to no one save God alone. He is the Vicar of Christ. Would Christ bow to some schismatic bishop? The same Pope had ten years earlier lifted the excommunication of the Greek claimant to the Patriarchate of Constantinople imposed over nine centuries before. How do you undo almost a thousand years of excommunication? Do the gates of hell open and let the prisoners out? By what authority can a pope undo the divine judgment? Divine Mercy only goes so far—once you are dead you have no more claim to it. It’s too late to change your mind and say, like the Church Lady on the old Saturday Night Life, to God, “never mind.” Once God puts you in the devil’s frying pan you’re there to stay. But what is even worse, this liberal Pope let the Greek claimant to the Patriarchal throne absolve him of the excommunication. As if a schismatic had the authority to life an excommunication, much less impose one on a Pope. I tell you, things were going to hell fast and have been ever since. But it only get’s worse as time passes.
It was John Paul II who really compromised the integrity of the papacy however. He began by apologizing for Galileo. Honestly, he should just have ignored that old canard—I mean over and done with centuries ago. What is the point of bringing it up all over again. And besides, maybe Galileo was right about the earth revolving around the sun, but he was defiant in the face of Church’s authority and refused to back down. That alone should have been grounds for imprisonment by the Inquisition. And it wasn’t that he was tortured or burned at the stake. But that was only the beginning. John Paul then went on to apologize for the Church’s involvement in the African salve trade. Really?!?!?! Like the Pope was selling slaves in Saint Peter’s square. OK, so there were a few bad apples in the Catholic barrel—the Pope can’t apologize for every Catholic who has ever made a bad choice. But then he went on to apologize for burning Protestant heretics at the stake and for the Religious Wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. I am sorry but we had an obligation to stop the spread of those pernicious heresies that were causing millions of souls to be lost. I only think we should have gone at it harder. In 1995 he apologized to women for the way the Church has treated them through the centuries. What drugs was he on? The Church has always been the protector of women. And it just got worse and worse. John Paul apologized for the Crusades, for the treatment of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance, for the behavior of European missionaries in China in the 19th century, for the removal of Australian aboriginal children from their families to Church-run institutions in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, for the 1204 Sack of Constantinople, and for the contempt shown towards the primitive “cultures” of the various savage peoples among whom the Church sent missionaries from the 16th through the 20th centuries. I find this last one particularly hard to understand as we introduced these tribes to music and art and literature; we taught them to read and to write. We gave them medicines and made scientific technology available to them. We have been their salvation in the material as well as the spiritual realms.
And now Francis thinks we owe gay people an apology. Will this madness never stop? What is to be gained by apologizing when we weren’t wrong to begin with? No, the Church should never admit to be wrong. We have the Truth and we should uphold it in the face of all these modern heresies that are corrupting our world. Truth admits for no compromise. All that this apology stuff does is to open the door to dialogue and reconciliation. And surely God doesn’t want that, does he? Stand firm in the Truth and when you pray for your non-Catholic friends and relatives, remember the old prayer ab illo benedicaris in cuius honore cremaberis.