Where Does Pope Francis Really Stand on Same-Sex Marriage?

Pope Francis recently had a private meeting in the Vatican with a same-sex “couple” – “Diego” Neria Lejárraga, a woman from Plasencia, Spain, who had a “gender change” surgery, and her “wife”.  The story was initially published in the Spanish periodical Hoy, and reported by various other publications like Rorate Caelias well as various Italian publications such as Corriere della SeraRepubblicaIl Giornale, etc.

Diego Neria Lejárraga is a 48-year old native of Plasencia [Western Spain], who was received on Saturday [January 24] by Pope Francis in a meeting that was strictly private  in his residency of Santa Marta, in the Vatican, at 5 p.m.  Diego’s mother asked her not to change her body while she lived.  One year after her mother’s death, when Diego turned 40, she finally took the step: she contacted a plastic surgeon and changed his body/gender.

Regarding the encounter with the pope, Diego said: “I would have never dared before [to do gender change surgery], but with Pope Francis, yes; after hearing him in so many interventions, I felt that he would listen to me.”

Diego asked the Holy Father if there is any place in the house of God for her, following the “gender-reassignment” surgery,  In response, Pope Francis reportedly embraced her in the presence of her “wife”, with whom she will form a “family” soon.

Gradual “Softening” of the Church’s Stand?

This new development muddles up an already confusing situation as to where the pope really stands in regard to same sex marriages.  Pope Francis has generally toned down the Church’s stand with regard to same sex marriages.  In his press conference on the way back to Rome after his trip to Brazil, he told reporters: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” In another widely-publicized interview published in September 2013, Pope Francis told Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible…it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

And yet, in various other instances, the pope has taken the traditional Church line on the impossibility of homosexual marriages.  In November 2014, Pope Francis told an interreligious conference on traditional marriage that preserving the family as an institution based on marriage between a man and a woman is not a political cause but a matter of “human ecology,” since “children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

In “Lumen Fidei” (“The Light of Faith”), the first encyclical of Pope Francis jointly written with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the two popes say marriage should be a “stable union of man and woman.” It continues, “This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation.”

What the Catechism and Previous Popes Say About Same Sex Marriage

Church teaching holds that homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered,’ though it stresses that gays should be treated with compassion and dignity. As Pope and as head of the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog before that, Pope Benedict has been a strong enforcer of that teaching: One of the first major documents released during his pontificate said men with ‘deep-seated’ homosexual tendencies shouldn’t be ordained priests.

In his 2012 Christmas message to the Vatican Bureaucracy, Pope Benedict said that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself.” He emphasised that children needed proper “settings”, and that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said.

The Catechism (2359-2360) is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.  Homosexuals are called to a self-sacrificing chastity, and cannot enter into a “marriage”:

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.Conjugal Love. Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

The Catechism (2358) likewise emphasises that although homosexual persons must be treated with respect, homosexuality itself is “objectively disordered”:

This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Actions Speak Louder than Words?

If it is indeed true that Pope Francis recently met with a same sex couple in a private audience in the Vatican, then it is a very strong signal of acceptance of same sex marriage – a direct contradiction, though, with the Church’s clear, unequivocal stand on this matter.  While we do take comfort in some words of support for the Church’s stand in this matter, we cannot avoid suffering some confusion with some of the pope’s contradicting messages (“if a person is a gay…who am I to judge?”) and actions.

They say that actions speak louder than words.  In the case of the pope and same sex marriage, for the sake of the family, let us hope and pray that this cliche does not apply.

Catholics with Large Families: “Like Rabbits”?

In a press conference on a plane from Manila to Rome, Pope Francis said that Catholics should not breed “like rabbits” because of the Church’s ban on contraception.  In response to questions about birth control, he said: “Some think that, excuse the language, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood.”

The world’s press, as a result, screamed their headlines: “Pope says Catholics shouldn’t breed like rabbits…”.

What the Church Teaches on Family Size

The Church has always encouraged Catholics to have a positive view on children, while giving them flexibility to control their family size using natural family planning methods in case there are serious impediments to having a large family.  As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains:

The Church teaches that a couple may generously decide to have a large family, or may for serious reasons choose not to have more children for the time being or even for an indefinite period (Humanae Vitae, no. 10).  In married life, serious circumstances – financial, physiological, or those involving responsibilities to other family members – may arise to make an increase in family size untimely. The Church understands this, while encouraging couples to take a generous view of children.

Problems with the Statement

The problem with the above statement of the pope is that as can be seen in the press reactions after, the secular world will manipulate those words to precisely argue the need to control family size using artificial means.

Another problem with the statement is that it strikes a highly condescending tone to those Catholics who currently have large families.  Many Opus Dei members, for example, because of their loyal adherence to the Church’s pro-life stance (ie, openness to the possibility of life in every marital intercourse), have large families.  Are the parents of those large families nothing more like “rabbits” who breed children irresponsibly?

Benedict XVI’s Call to Help Large Families

Contrast this with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who, in a February 15, 2012 audience, praised large Catholic families for their “faith, courage and optimism”, and called on governments and communities to provide the necessary social support for such large families:

There is no future without children. In today’s social context, a family made up of many children constitutes a witness of faith, courage and optimism. I hope that adequate social and legislative measures are promoted that safeguard and sustain large families…

Pope Pius XII: Large Families are the “Most Splendid Flower Beds in the Garden of the Church”

In an address given by Pope Pius XII to the Directors of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and Italy in January 20, 1958, Pope Piux XII praised large families:

Large families are the most splendid flower-beds in the garden of the Church; happiness flowers in them and sanctity ripens in favorable soil. Every family group, even the smallest, was meant by God to be an oasis of spiritual peace. But there is a tremendous difference: where the number of children is not much more than one, that serene intimacy that gives value to life has a touch of melancholy or of pallor about it; it does not last as long, it may be more uncertain, it is often clouded by secret fears and remorse.

Hand Signals of Freemasonry Explained

freemasonry hand signals

Satan, the “horned god” of freemasons.  The goat and ram head are greatly revered in Satanism and witchcraft; a mockery of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

As we have discussed in our previous article (“Grand Lodge of Masons Buy Full Page Ad to Welcome Pope Francis”), Christianity and Freemasonry are incompatible.  Various popes have condemned this secretive occult organization, and for good reason.  Many of its members (in the lower ranks) are simply not aware of the true purpose of the organization.  At its highest levels, however, Freemasonry is devil worship.   Pope Leo XIII called it “the synagogue of Satan”.

Freemasonry is a Satanic religion in disguise.  The Popes knew the real nature of freemasonry.  Aside from the numerous testimonies from former masons, one of the more accurate sources was the seizure by Pope Gregory XVI of documents from the masonic lodge known as “Alta Vendita”. The documents were later on published in a book, and disseminated through various lectures.

The “Alta Vendita” documents chillingly summarizes a plan to infiltrate and destroy the Catholic Church from within:

Our ultimate end is that of…the final destruction of Catholicism, and even of the Christian idea … The Pope, whoever he is, will never come to the secret societies; it is up to the secret societies to take the first step toward the Church, with the aim of conquering both of them. The task that we are going to undertake is not the work of a day, or of a month, or of a year; it may last several years, perhaps a century… What we must ask for, what we should look for and wait for, as the Jews wait for the Messiah, is a Pope according to our needs … You will contrive for yourselves, at little cost, a reputation as good Catholics and pure patriots. This reputation will put access to our doctrines into the midst of the young clergy, as well as deeply into the monasteries. In a few years, by the force of things, this young clergy will have overrun all the functions; they will form the sovereign’s council, they will be called to choose a Pontiff who should reign …

Hand Signals Used by Freemasons

Freemasons use various hand signals to show their allegiance to satan, and to signal to their fellow freemasons their membership in the occult organization. These hand signals are usually flashed in public by various world leaders and celebrities, while the unsuspecting masses remain ignorant.  Like various Illuminati symbols, only Illuminati/freemasonry insiders are aware of the true meanings hidden behind the signs and hand gestures.

In this article, we discuss two of the most common hand signals of freemasonry: The devil’s horn, and the hidden hand.

The Devil’s Horn

The devil's horn

The devil’s horn freemason hand signal, as contained in the Satanic bible.

The “devil’s horn” signal signifies that satan rules.  Remember that satan is called the “Horned God”, and the hand signal is formed so as to resemble horns.

It is a universal hand signal used by politicians, celebrities as well as heavy metal bands, affirming their allegiance to satanic powers and a visual shorthand for “Hail, Satan.” The devil’s hand has been observed and photographed around the world, used by George Bush, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi, Elizabeth Taylor, Prince William, Paul McCartney, Metallica, Ozzie, Avril Lavigne, Stephen Dorff, Dave Navarro and many others.

This hand symbol is known by several names: Devil’s Triad, Il Cornuto, Cornuto, the Horn, Horned Devil, Twin-horned Salute, Horned Hand, Devil Salute, and Devil Horn Salute. The Devil’s triad is a recognition sign among Satanists and witches.

Isn’t this the Deaf Hand Signal for “I Love You”?

Self-proclaimed German vampire Manuela Ruda

Self-proclaimed German vampire Manuela Ruda

The “devil’s horn” hand sign often is confused with the deaf hand signal of the phrase, “I love you.” While at first this appears an odd resemblance, we must remember that the person who invented the hand sign system for the deaf, Helen Keller, was herself an occultist. Did Keller purposely design the deaf’s “I love you” sign to be such a remarkable imitation of the classic sign of Satan? Was Keller saying, basically, “I love you, Devil?”

Beyonce, in one of her performances, shows the devil's horn hand signal (right hand), bottom.

Beyonce, in one of her performances, shows the devil’s horn hand signal (left hand), bottom.

Self-proclaimed German vampire Manuela Ruda was seen flashing the masonic “devil’s horn” signal inside the court – that is, while court hearings against her were happening.  She was eventually convicted for murder.  This couldn’t have been Manuela Ruda flashing an “I love you” sign inside the court, given the circumstances, right?

Contemporary Leaders and Celebrities Using the Devil’s Horn Signal

Below are just a few of the more popular contemporary leaders who have publicly used the devil’s horn hand signal:

President George Bush flashing the devil's horn hand signal.

President George Bush flashing the devil’s horn hand signal.


President Barack Obama flashing the devil’s horn hand signal.

The Hidden Hand

Could it be just a coincidence that all of these famous men and women, when posing for a picture or portrait, hid one of their hands?

Could it be just a coincidence that all of these famous men and women, when posing for a picture or portrait, hid one of their hands?

Another popular hand signal is the “hidden hand”.  The paintings and pictures of the great men of the past centuries reveal a common thread which links them together. Is it a coincidence that many of them hid one of their hands when posing for a portrait? It seems unlikely. We’ll look at the Masonic origin of the “hidden hand” and the powerful men who used the sign in famous portraits.

Most of the people using this sign are proven (and often enthusiastic) members of the Freemasons. Considering the great importance of this gesture in Masonic rituals and the fact that all of the elite were either part of Freemasonry or knew of it, it is simply impossible that the recurrence of this sign could be the result of a coincidence. The “hidden hand” can, in fact, be found in the rituals of the Royal Arch Degree of Freemasonry and the world leaders that use this sign are subtly saying to other initiates of the order: “This is what I’m part of, this is what I believe in and this is what I’m working for”.

Stalin’s reign of terror in the Soviet Union  lead to the deaths of millions of his own countrymen. He is often shown in pictures using the  hidden hand gesture. No official records have been found that prove Stalin’s initiation into Masonry. The hiding of his hand, however,  provides an initiate’s clue to his possible allegiance to an occult brotherhood.

Stalin’s reign of terror in the Soviet Union lead to the deaths of millions of his own countrymen. He is often shown in pictures using the hidden hand gesture. No official records have been found that prove Stalin’s initiation into Masonry. The hiding of his hand, however, provides an initiate’s clue to his possible allegiance to an occult brotherhood.

This hand gesture is said to be inspired by Exodus 4:6. In this biblical verse, the heart (“bosom”) stands for what we are, the hand for what we do. It can thus be interpreted as: What we are is what we ultimately do.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a known mason.  Five of the six members of Napoleon’s Grand Councel of the Empire were Freemasons,

Napoleon Bonaparte was a known mason. Five of the six members of Napoleon’s Grand Councel of the Empire were Freemasons.

Karl Marx is the founder of modern Communism. Marx is said to have been a 32nd degree Grand Orient Freemason.

Karl Marx is the founder of modern Communism. Marx is said to have been a 32nd degree Grand Orient Freemason.

The symbolic significance of this gesture might explain the reason why it is so widely used by famous Masons. The hidden hand lets the other initiates know that the individual depicted is part of this secret Brotherhood and that his actions were inspired by the Masonic philosophy and beliefs. Furthermore, the hand that executes the actions is hidden behind cloth, which can symbolically refer to covert nature of the Mason’s actions. Some of the more notorious leaders in history with their portraits showing the “hidden hand” signal include Joseph Stalin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Karl Marx.

Some Food for Thought

We now share a couple of photos that we ask the reader to look at closely, in light of the two (2) Freemasonry hand signals we have discussed today: the hidden hand, and the devil’s horn.  They may be disturbing, but we ask our readers to keep an open mind, to watch closely current events in the Catholic Church, and more importantly, to pray for our Church.

Pope Francis Hidden Hand

Then Cardinal Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) with the hidden hand symbol while riding the bus in Argentina. During his inauguration as pope, as he walked out of the balcony of St. Peter for the first time as pope, he likewise briefly flashed the hidden hand.

Pope Francis and Cardinal Tagle of Manila, flashing the horned hand signal during the pope's recent visit to Manila, Philippines.

Pope Francis and Cardinal Tagle of Manila, flashing the horned hand signal during the pope’s recent visit to Manila, Philippines.

The Freemason Who Almost Became Pope

After Pope Leo XIII died on July 20, 1903, the Cardinals in conclave began the process of selecting the next pope.  After the initial votes were tallied, the initial frontrunner was Cardinal Rampolla, the former Secretary of State of Pope Leo XIII.

Suddenly, the conclave was interrupted by a shock announcement by the Bishop of Cracow (at the time within the Austrian Empire), Jan Cardinal Puzyna. In Latin he declared, “… officially and in the name and by the authority of Franz-Josef, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, that His Majesty, in virtue of an ancient right and privilege, pronounces the veto of exclusion against my Most Eminent Lord, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro.”

No reason was given during the conclave, but the “veto” action exercised by the Bishop of Cracow cost Cardinal Rampolla the papacy.  Several years after the incident, direct evidence was discovered that Cardinal Rampolla was not just a freemason, but a member of the diabolical Masonic Academy, the Order of Oriental Templars (OTO).  The name of Rampolla was listed in the OTO’s Manifesto, published in a Masonic journal.  Who were the other members of OTO?  Aleister Crowley, British spy and considered the “grandfather” of modern Satanism.  It seems that the alert bishop of Cracow discovered this evidence, and used an ancient “veto power” by the Austrian emperor, to block the candidacy of Cardinal Rampolla.

The masons had almost succeeding in achieving their ultimate goal of controlling the papacy.  But there is no reason to believe that after that setback, they would not try again to take over the papacy.

Prophecies Concerning Apostasy Within the Church

After the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI remarked that the smoke of Satan was seeping into the Church through cracks in the wall.  On October 13, 1977, he said:  “The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.”

Numerous reputable prophecies and apparitions of both Our Lord and Our Lady throughout the years have precisely predicted this great Apostasy, or loss of the true faith, in the Church – brought about principally by the diabolical infiltration of freemasonry into Church ranks.

In the Church-approved Marian apparition of Our Lady of Good Success at Quito, Ecuador in 1634, Our Lady warned Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres that in the late 19th Century and throughout most of the 20th Century, the Church would yield to a great heresy. The Sacrament of Matrimony“will be attacked and profaned,” and “Masonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the objective of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin, encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.”

Our Lady also warned that  “…the secular [diocesan] Clergy will leave much to be desired because priests will become careless in their sacred duties … Lacking a Prelate and Father to guide them with paternal love, gentleness, strength, wisdom and prudence, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger.”

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, the stigmatist and mystic who was given various visions of the life of the Blessed Virgin and the Lord Jesus, was another visionary who prophesied about a future time when a “secret sect” will relentlessly undermine the Church:

I saw the secret sect relentlessly undermining the great Church. Near them I saw a horrible beast coming up from the sea. All over the world, good and devout people, especially the clergy, were harassed, oppressed, and put into prison…I saw many churches closed down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed…But it did not last long…

Blessed Emmerich likewise saw the special relationship between “two popes” during the End Times, or the period just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus:

“I saw also the relationship between the two popes. . . I saw how baleful (harmful) would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness…”

In the Church-approved apparitions of Our Lady of Akita, Our Lady warns of this attack on the Church from within:

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scored and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalized. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God.

Some contemporary prophecies and apparitions have also warned us of the emergence of the “false prophet” of the book of revelation just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The “false prophet” will take over the Catholic Church and lead it into widespread error.

In these trying times, let us pray for our Catholic Church.  We take comfort in Our Lady’s promise that “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Grand Lodge of Masons Buy Full Page Newspaper Ad to Welcome Pope Francis

Pope Francis is in the Philippines, and among the groups welcoming him is the Grand Lodge of Masons, who bought a full page ad in the January 16, 2015 edition of the leading newspaper in the country, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Below is the full page ad:


Freemasonry is a worldwide secretive group that, for many innocent members, seems nothing but a noteworthy “fraternity” or “brotherhood”. And yet, what many do not realize is that freemasonry is condemned by the Church. In fact, membership in freemasonry means automatic ex-communication for Catholics, a fact that Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), on November 26, 1983, emphasized:

The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion…. Consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated.

Numerous popes have condemned freemasonry throughout the ages. Pope Leo XIII called freemasonry the “synagogue of Satan”. In his letter to the Italian people dated December 8, 1892, Leo XIII writes:

Let us remember that Christianity and Freemasonry are essentially incompatible, to such an extent, that to become united with one means being divorced from the other. Let us, therefore, expose Freemasonry as the enemy of God, of the Church and of our Motherland.

Freemasonry is nothing more than Satanic worship – beautifully packaged as a “humanitarian” movement to unsuspecting victims.

One of the prominent leaders of freemasonry was Albert Pike, grand commander of the Scottish Rite of freemasonry. In 1871, shortly before the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII, Pike wrote about the true nature of the “light” which masons seek in his book “Morals and Dogma”, traditionally handed out to high degree Freemasons only: “LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light …? Doubt it not!”

The goal of freemasonry is to rule the world and destroy Christianity. Pike said: “The World will soon come to us for its Sovereigns and Pontiffs. We shall constitute the equilibrium of the Universe, and be rulers over the Masters of the World…”

Many contemporary reputable apparitions and prophecies have warned that the church itself is being attacked from within by the forces of freemasonry, which has penetrated its interior. For more details, read this article on “the church under attack” by freemasonry.

Chicago’s exiting cardinal: “The Church is about true/false, not left/right”

By John L. Allen Jr.

Associate editor November 17, 2014

Originally published in Crux Now by John Allen

CHICAGO — Back in 1997, journalist Jonathan Kwitny published a biography of Pope John Paul II called “Man of the Century.” The idea was that the biography of John Paul cut across all the great dramas of the 20th century, from Nazism and Communism to the upheaval in the Catholic Church caused by the Second Vatican Council.

By the same logic, one could argue that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was the American churchman of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, because there’s almost no story in which he wasn’t a lead actor.

George played a key role in pushing through a reform of Catholic worship in the English language, adopting translations closer to the Latin originals and, in general, a more reverent and traditional style. He was the architect of the US bishops’ battles with the Obama administration over health care reform, and more broadly in defense of religious freedom, during his three-year term as president of the bishops’ conference.

George was also the lead advocate for the American bishops when their new zero tolerance policy on sex abuse seemed dead on arrival in Rome, eventually making it stick over significant Vatican resistance. To boot, George voted in the conclaves that gave the Catholic Church both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Now 77, George will formally step aside in Chicago tomorrow (Editor’s Note: George retired in Nov 18, 2014) when his successor, Archbishop Blase Cupich, is installed. At the moment he’s fighting for his life, undergoing an experimental cancer treatment thought to have around a 50-50 chance of success.

Long seen as one of the most accomplished cultural critics among the American bishops, George isn’t pulling any punches in winter. In an exclusive interview with Crux Friday, he rejected suggestions that the change in Chicago is a “course correction” or a “repudiation” of what are conventionally seen as his more conservative views.

He spurns the entire left/right dichotomy, calling it “destructive of the Church’s mission and her life.”

“For us, the category that matters is true/false,” he said. “I reject the whole liberal/conservative deformation of the character of our lives. If you’re limited to that … then somehow or other you’ve betrayed your vocation as a bishop and a priest.”

…The following are excerpts from the interview… including what George would like to ask the pope if he gets the chance.

Let’s talk about Pope Francis. Recently veteran Italian writer Sandro Magister said many American bishops seem “uncomfortable” with Francis, and hinted that the American bishops may have to become the defenders of tradition rather than the Vatican under this pope. What do you make of that?

I hope he’s wrong! It’s not because I don’t trust the American bishops, I do, but that’s a very broad statement about the pope and the Vatican.

Are you concerned that there’s a wholesale abandonment of tradition?

I don’t think there’s a wholesale abandonment of tradition. The pope has said he wants every question to be raised and it has been, so he’s gotten what he wants, and now he has to sort it out. He himself has said that the pope has the charism of unity, and he knows very well that it’s unity around Christ, not around him. Therefore, the tradition that unites us to Christ has to be the norm. How he interprets that, and how somebody else might interpret that, is where you get into conversations that shape a government.

I can see why some people might be anxious. If you don’t push it, he does seem to bring into question well-received doctrinal teaching. But when you look at it again, especially when you listen to his homilies in particular, you see that’s not it. Very often when he says those things, he’s putting it into a pastoral context of someone who’s caught in a kind of trap. Maybe the sympathy is expressed in a way that leaves people wondering if he still holds the doctrine. I have no reason to believe that he doesn’t.

Until the Synod of Bishops in October, most mainstream folks in what we might loosely call the ‘conservative’ camp seemed inclined to give Francis the benefit of the doubt. Afterwards that seems less the case, with some people now seeing the pope in a more critical light. Is that your sense as well?

I think that’s probably true. The question is raised, why doesn’t he himself clarify these things? Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear that burden of trying to put the best possible face on it? Does he not realize the consequences of some of his statements, or even some of his actions? Does he not realize the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t. I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise these doubts in people’s minds.

That’s one of the things I’d like to have the chance to ask him, if I ever get over there. Do you realize what has happened, just by that very phrase ‘Who am I to judge?’ How it’s been used and misused? It’s very misused, because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution whom he knows well. That’s entirely different than talking to somebody who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness. It’s constantly misused.

It’s created expectations around him that he can’t possibly meet. That’s what worries me. At a certain moment, people who have painted him as a bit player in their scenarios about changes in the Church will discover that’s not who he is. He’s not going in that direction. Then he’ll perhaps get not only disillusionment, but opposition that could be harmful to the effectiveness of his magisterium.

Is there a role for American bishops to provide that feedback, to help him understand how these things are playing out?

I think there is a role for bishops to do it. I don’t think it would be good to do it as a national thing. We’re never a national Church, not in this country or anywhere else. It wouldn’t be good to say, ‘American bishops versus the Vatican.’ Individual bishops should take their responsibility and do what they have to do. If it’s something that affects us collectively, then perhaps we should talk collectively. But on something like this, namely the impressions left because of the unexplained statements of the pope, I don’t think a conference as whole should take it on itself to ‘correct’ the pope or to decide what they’re going to do about it. We can talk, and people do, and then decide individually whether we should find some means of getting to the pope.

I think a number of bishops have tried to do just that. Whether they’ve been successful, I don’t know, nor how he himself receives that news. That’s the great unknown, isn’t it? I’m told that sometimes when you went to Pope Benedict with news he didn’t like to hear, he didn’t always hear it very well.

There was the famous interview with Cardinal [Joachim] Meisner, who said that in 2009 he went to Benedict on behalf of a number of cardinals to suggest some personnel moves in the Vatican, and Benedict didn’t want to hear it.

Yes … Der mensch bleibt. [Note: A German phrase loosely meaning that an office doesn’t take away someone’s human personality.] I don’t know how this pope reacts to that. Before one would go and try to do that, it would be wise to talk to people very close to him who would have some sense of whether this would be helpful or harmful.

You don’t want to encourage any tendency to see the American bishops as a counterweight to the Vatican under Francis?

We have no mandate from Jesus to be a counterweight to the Holy See!

Right now your focus is on your health. If things turn around and you get some additional time, do you have a next act in mind?

I have a book coming out on the Catholic intellectual tradition, from Catholic University Press. … You know, there were a lot of big topics I was very interested in at one time or another. Some of them have to do with epistemology, because I’ve always been fascinated by what we can know and what we can’t know, and why we think we can. In theology, I’ve always been interested in eschatology.

It’s interesting to me that this pope talks about that novel, “Lord of the World.” That’s one thing I want to ask him. How do you put together what you’re doing with what you say is the hermeneutical interpretation of your ministry, which is this eschatological vision that the anti-Christ is with us? Do you believe that? I would love to ask the Holy Father. What does that mean? In a sense, maybe it explains why he seems to be in a hurry.

Nobody seems interested in that but I find it fascinating, because I found the book fascinating.

[Note: Written by Robert Hugh Benson, a converted Catholic priest and son of a former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the novel is an apocalyptic fantasy culminating in a showdown between the Church and a charismatic anti-Christ figure.]

I read it quite by chance when I was in high school. It was written in 1907, and he has air travel, he has everything modern. It’s really eerie because it seems as if he was looking at our time, meaning right now. Does the pope believe that? Now, that’s much more interesting than my thing about my successor will die in prison. What does the pope believe about the end-times?

Eschatology might be one project I’d like to continue. Ratzinger, as you know, wrote a book on eschatology and probably would have pursued that if he hadn’t been elected pope. I’ve read his book, and like all things it’s helpful and it’s not depending on what your own interests are.

In relationship to the pope, I hope before I die I’ll have the chance to ask him: How do you want us to understand your ministry, when you put that before us as a key?

You’ve now mentioned twice things you’d like to ask the pope. It sounds to me as if you’d really like to have some face time with him.

I would. First of all, I didn’t know him well before he was elected. I knew him through the Brazilian bishops, who knew him well, and I asked them a lot of questions. Since the election, I haven’t had a chance to go over for any of the meetings or the consistories because I’ve been in treatment and they don’t want you to travel. I haven’t been to see him since he was elected.

I’d just like to talk to him. It’s less important now, because I won’t be in governance, but you’re supposed to govern in communion with and under the successor of Peter, so it’s important to have some meeting of minds, some understanding. Obviously, I think we’re very different people. I always felt a natural sympathy with Cardinal Wojtyla, with John Paul II … a very deep sympathy, on my part anyway. He had that capacity to do that with thousands of people. With Cardinal Ratzinger, there was a distance but also a deep respect. I don’t know Pope Francis well enough. I certainly respect him as pope, but there isn’t yet an understanding of, ‘What are you doing here?’

Archbishop [Joseph] Kurtz recently posted a blog about calling you back in Chicago after he saw the pope recently and Francis asked about your health.

I was very touched by that. As I said, I’ve never had a chance to talk to him and I didn’t know he was aware of my situation.

That’s actually the big question, isn’t it? Who’s advising the Holy Father? I haven’t asked him yet … that’s another thing I would ask him if I got the chance.

Vittorio Messori: Doubts on the twists and turns of Pope Francis

by Vittorio Messori

December 24, 2014, originally published in Corriere della Serra, English Translation in Rorate Caeli

Editor’s Note: The article below by the most influential religious analyst in Italy, Vittorio Messori (main editor, among others, of the Ratzinger Report and of John Paul II’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope), has caused great sensation in the country since its publication in the Italian paper of record, Corriere della Sera, on Christmas Eve. The reactions from “Progressive” authors have been violent and aggressive – in response to a text that is actually very mild and terse, and regarding an author who was from the very beginning a huge supporter of the papal election of Cardinal Bergoglio. We translate, you decide why the reaction has been so.


I believe that honesty demands I admit it from the first: perhaps I am abusing the space given to me by my putting forth more than an article but rather what is a personal reflection. I confess that I would have willingly put off writing this, if I had not been asked to do so. Yes, I would have put it off, because my own (and not only my own) appraisal of this pope oscillates continually between support and perplexity, a judgment that changes according to the moment, or a particular occasion, or in relation to subjects that are discussed. A Pope who was not expected. For what it is worth, I was among those who were waiting for a South American and someone who is pastoral, someone with experience of everyday governance, a sort of balance for an admirable professor, a theologian too refined for certain palates, like the beloved Joseph Ratzinger. A Pope who was not expected, but who quickly, right from that very first “Buonasera” has shown himself to be nothing anyone could have forseen, so much so as to make some of the Cardinals who elected him to gradually change their minds about him.

This quality of “not knowing what to expect” continues, agitating the tranquility of the ordinary Catholic who is accustomed to not think too much about faith and morals and who has been exhorted to “follow the Pope”. Indeed, but which Pope? The one who gives daily homilies in Santa Marta, the preaching of a parish priest of the old days, with good counsel and wise proverbs, with even firm warnings to not fall into the traps of the devil? Or the one who telephones Giacinto Marco Pannella, who was in the midst of one of his innocuous fasts, and who greets him with “Keep up the good work”! when for decades the “work” of this radical leader consisted of and still consists of preaching that true charity lies in the battle for divorce, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality for all, gender theory and the like? The Pope who recently in a talk given to the Roman Curia sounded like Pius XII with conviction (but really like Saint Paul himself) defining the Church as “the mystical Body of Christ”? Of the one who, in the first interview with Eugenio Scalfari, ridiculed whoever might have thought that “God is Catholic”, as if the one, holy, apostolic Roman Church were an option, an accessory to somehow get to the Holy Trinity according to one’s personal tastes? The Argentine Pope who is aware, through direct experience, of the drama of Latin America that is on its way to becoming an ex-Catholic continent, with the exodus in mass of its people to Pentecostal Protestantism? Or the Pope who flies to embrace and wish good success to a dear friend, a pastor actually in one of the communities that are emptying out Catholic communities and doing so exactly with that proselytism that he condemned among his own flock?

One could go on, naturally, with these facets that appear—and perhaps truly are—contradictory. One could, but that would not be right for the believer. They know that they are not to see the Pontiff as an elected president of a republic, or like a king, the heir to another king. Certainly, in a conclave, those instruments of the Holy Spirit, within the context of faith, are the cardinal electors who share the limits, the errors, yes, even the sins that are the mark of all of humanity. But the one and true head of the Church is Christ himself, all powerful and all knowing, who knows a bit better than we do what would be the better choice as regards to his representative at this time in this world. This choice can appear disconcerting to the limited vision of those of us who live at this time, but that in the future, from an historical perspective, it will be revealed why this was the right choice. The one who really knows history is surprised and pensive when he discovers that –in the perspective of two thousand years, which is the Catholic perspective—every Pope, whether he is aware of it or not, has carried out the role he was meant to and, in the end, how things were meant to turn out.

Precisely because of this awareness I have chosen, for my part, to observe, listen and to reflect without hazarding adopting opinions that are intemperate or even reckless. I go back to that question that has been cited too often out of its context: “Who am I to judge?” I am on the same plane as everyone else, just one man. I am not assisted by the “pontifical charisma”, the assistance that is promised by the Paraclete. And to the one who would want to judge, does not the full approval of the “Pope Emeritus” (so different in style, formation and understanding of what needs to be done), repeated many times, in speech and in writing, of what Francis is doing count for nothing?

It is a terrible responsibility for the one who is called today to respond to the question: “ How can we bring the message of the Gospel to contemporary man? How can we show that Christ is not a faded and remote ghost, but is the human face of that creator God who is Savior, who wants to give meaning to life and death to all?” There are many responses to these questions, often contrasting with each other.

Even if it counts but little, after decades of working within the Church, I may well have my own answers to these questions. I may well, I say: the use of the conditional tense here is obligatory, because nothing and no one makes me certain of having had a glimpse of the right way to go. Would I not be taking the risk of becoming perhaps like the blind man in the Gospels who wanted to lead others who were blind and all ended up in the ditch? And so, certain pastoral choices made by the “Bishop of Rome”, as he prefers to call himself, persuade me; but others seem to leave me perplexed, they seem to me to be opportunistic, even seeming to be of a brand of populism that generates an interest that is as vast as it is superficial and ephemeral. I might prefer that there be other matters with greater sense of priority and content that would in hope result in an apostolate that is more fertile. I should hope, I should think so, all in the conditional, I repeat, as a perspective of faith demands where even a lay person (as in Canon Law) can express his thoughts and concerns, as long as they are well considered and well motivated, on the ways and means of evangelization I will leave, however, the general strategy and, above all, the custody of the depositum fidei up to the man who came out from the conclave dressed in white. In any case, I have not forgotten how Francis himself recalled in that harsh address to the Curia that it is easy to criticize priests, but how many pray for them? I want to also remember that he, on this earth, is the “first” among priests. And so, I ask of all those who adopt a critical stance those prayers at which the world laughs, but which guide, in secret, the destiny of the Church and the whole world.

[Original version: Italian. Rorate translation by Fr. Richard Cipolla.]