As every morning, I opened my e-mail and Internet, just like gentlemen in the old days reading The Daily Telegraph or The Times, or even The Guardian over their breakfast coffee and toast. I pay my fixed fee each month and I don’t have to send the dog to the newsagents! Anyway, to the point.
Someone who has become a blogging friend wrote What things may come…, and he comments on my articles whilst developing his own analysis. Other things came to my attention, but I’ll differ that to a later part of this article. Let’s firstly take things at face value.
I was amused to find I am not the only one to have coined the term Slum Pope whilst thinking of the heroes of nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholicism. As the slums in the west have been demolished and expensive office blocks built in their place, the slums of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and other cities on that continent remain. Poverty in the west is hidden and covered up – in Latin America it is on show, and the Church still has an “interface” with it for good or for evil.
When I went to my mother’s funeral, my wife and I had a trip by train from Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport, and there was a sight to behold in the Seine-Saint-Denis area, just by the railway – a bidonville, a slum consisting of derelict caravans and improvised shelters. These people are immigrants without papers and people who excluded themselves from society or have been excluded. And we live in the affluent west. Charity won’t do those people any good, only a thorough reform of politics and the economy will make any difference. Those people have either to be given jobs and food – or killed as some totalitarian “socialist” dictatorship would do.
My blogging friend takes me up on the idea that Catholicism is leaving the West and will undergo change as it caters for the so-called Third World. Catholics will be forced to examine their priorities against a new standard. We will find about the same attitudes to the liturgy as under Paul VI and John Paul II, and may find churches going back to the 1970’s. The so-called “progressives” are not going to fare any better, as they are not going to see the LGBT agenda vindicated or the ordination of women.
Pope Joseph may have shown himself as a simple man when he appeared on the Loggia of St Peter’s, but he was an authoritarian as Jesuit Provincial and Archbishop of Buenos Aires. We can expect nothing different as Pope. He may have the gentleness of a son of St Ignatius and a moral probabilist or Molinist. I see no sign of his being an aesthete – but rather an ascetic. I have known some real Jesuits, like for example the saintly Fr Hugh Thwaites in London, and they are truly either angels or demons!
So, the cause of liturgical aesthetics and even the integrity of traditional rites will be dropped as a “failed experiment” – but we will see… The progressives of Golias are no happier, and there seems to be a real grievance as most of the mainstream press is reflecting. Finally, are we to become Latino Americanos instead of gringos, or is Rome simply pulling the plug?
There is something very disturbing. In the light of all the scandals associated with covering up for paedophile priests, Vatileaks, the Vatican having a major share in a gay sauna in Rome, the so-called Dirty Dozen, we may yet get much worse than under Benedict XVI who was trying to do something about it. The newest shadow is a controversy over whether Bergoglio collaborated with the totalitarian regime in Argentina back in 1976 causing two rebel priests to be tortured and imprisoned by the regime. The allegations have been denied by the Argentine human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. There are some links to mainstream press articles to be found with Google. The most forthright positions come from the extremes Links of Pope Francis to military dictatorship (traditionalist) and Habemus papam – François Ier Bergoglio, une ombre au tableau (French left-wing progressive). This being said, these stories are being circulated by a mass media with an agenda which include the desire to eradicate religion. The dice are likely to be loaded, so we have to be careful what we believe without evidence and official statements. Also see Statement by Jesuit priest tortured under the Junta on the role of the Pope, which leaves me with an impression of Bergoglio’s innocence.
Perhaps something we British find most shocking is Pope Francis’ support of the Argentinian government in its continued claims over the Falkland Islands in spite of the majority of their inhabitants wanting to remain British. Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner suggests Pope Francis could mediate over Falklands.
Earlier this week, she [Kirchner] dismissed the referendum in the Falkland Islands, in which residents voted in favour of remaining a British overseas territory as a “parody”, likening it to “squatters voting to continue to illegally occupying a building”.
According to my source, this referendum to which she refers was held on the Falkland Islands according to normal British rules of referendums and elections on 10th and 11th March 2013. Out of the 1,517 ballots cast, only three voters were against keeping the islands’ current status. Turnout was over 90% with 1,650 islanders eligible to vote in a population of 2,841. 99.8% of the people of the Falkland Islands voted to remain British. If Pope Francis has a problem with that, then we can doubt his commitment to democracy and the modern world he wants to evangelise.
New standard? It seems to me that the new standard is transparency and the ability of the Church to stand behind the standard of Jesus and not that of Mammon, Satan, Totalitarianism, you name it. Honesty and clarity need to be the name of the game – so that the Church may be credible and be of appeal not only to those who are crushed by poverty, but also to those of us with the leisure to think.
In any case, if this is not to be and if the Church is entering a new period of darkness and obscurantism, many of us are not under that Church’s jurisdiction, nor do we misrepresent ourselves as such. We can just keep calm and carry on for as long as we need to.
There may be surprises, and it’s too early to judge. Already, most new Popes confirm the old cronys of the Vatican in office within a day of their election. This one hasn’t yet. Let’s see who’s going to be Secretary of State, Prefect of the CDF, Congregation of Bishops, etc. All that’s going to be telling.
We in the west might not be very devout, but we’re not fools. We’ve been ripped off before and we’ll be ripped off again. We’ve has Hitler and the various Communist leaders in eastern Europe. We still have shenanigans galore from our politicians with the same tired-out old stuff. Our world is tired.
If God pulls the plug on us, to whom can we go?