I Can't Help Thinking...

I know that thinking isn't encouraged by the Pope and his entourage, it is positively discouraged, but I can't help thinking that it's all about the shoes. Yes, it's all about the shoes.

Would it not have been far more fiendishly clever and cunning for Pope Francis and his inner circle to have followed a different pattern of behaviour, a different trajectory to that which has been chosen?

For instance, if the Kasper proposal that was to quickly become the Bergoglio proposal had been introduced by stealth instead of in a brazen manner that would inevitably create a noisy opposition, might things have been a little different in the Church today? If Pope Francis and his inner circle hadn't spent four years cultivating his image as 'a Pope like no other' might not Francis be taken more seriously? Might not people take more seriously someone who appeared to all external testing to be a traditional Pope, but who underneath it, wanted to radically reform the Church in such a way as he has made so very plain?

From the moment that Francis was said to have turned down the mozzetta and sniffed at the red papal shoes, from the moment that Francis asked the St Peter's Square crowd to call down God's blessing on him, introducing himself with a simple 'Good evening', from the moment Pope Francis went out of his way to make himself look and to behave in a manner that was so strikingly different to his immediate predecessor and all those who came before him, a clear trajectory was taken that forms part of an image cultivated to make Francis the Pope as different to the traditional understanding of 'the Pope' as possible.

If Francis had instead blessed the crowd in Latin, worn the red shoes and the mozzetta, retained around him Benedict XVI's appointments, been friendly and courteous with them, gathered so-called 'conservatives' around him, fostering an image of traditionalism, instead of pushing Benedictines out and isolating them, if he had retained Cardinal Burke and sought out his friendship and advice, if he had not bullied the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate into submission, alienated traditional Catholics across the world, insulted Catholic priests left, right and centre, promoted traditional liturgy, continued the Benedictine encouragement of Ad Orientem worship and the reform of the reform, then things would be so different now. Think of how many people would have been fooled and how many people would be 'on side', at least up to now. Oh how much more clever that would have been. To convince the Church you were a conservative but underneath it all to suddenly turn around and unveil your real agenda. Oh how much more sinister and devilishly wicked that would have been!

But he didn't do that. He did the complete opposite and I cannot help thinking - just from a 'strategic point of view' that this was a huge mistake for him personally. The fact is that Francis has been Francis the whirlwind. Francis the unique. Francis the incredible. Francis the 'one off'. Francis the innovator. Francis the lawbreaker. Francis the lawless. Francis the rupture with the past. Francis the socially liberal. Francis the political animal. Francis the Pope who discusses copraphagia in public. Francis the 'so very un-Pope-like that it's hard to believe he's even a Pope.'

Francis has been in such a huge and blatant rush to be so completely and utterly 'different to a normal Pope' and 'not quite like any other Pope we have seen' that it is rather silly of him and his circle - and rather silly of Austen Ivereigh - to expect the Church simply to accept what he says in Amoris Laetitia and to expect someone who has cast himself quite uniquely as a 'revolutionary', someone unique in the history of the Church from the very beginning of his pontificate up to the present to be taken at face value based solely on the authority that he wields 'because he's the Pope'. The credibility of the Pope comes from fulfilling the Office of Peter and stepping into the 'shoes of the fisherman'. It doesn't come from his personality. His authority relies not on being himself but on being 'the Pope', not the first of many, but the latest in a line, not the key-cutter but the keeper of the keys, not on being 'completely different' but in being 'the same as' or at least 'similar to'. If your remaking of the papacy involves not a small amount of destruction, don't be surprised if people can't recognise what 'the all-new pope in the all-new papacy' is and whether he should be taken terribly seriously.

Now where did I put my keys?

There's something very silly about smashing up your Office so badly only to be surprised the phone or your printer doesn't work anymore, that you can't even find your keys, or even locate a footnote to a document you signed, let alone your credibility as a Pope. Of course, the incorruptibles such as Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider would still have eventually cottoned on that they had been deceived, after such a convincing act that fostered the image that Francis was 'a traditional conservative' with a 'pastoral heart' but the deception would have been far more successful and far more wickedly clever and they would find it harder to convince the believing masses that it was possible that his document contained serious errors that needed to be addressed.

Small consolation for many.
Unfortunately for Francis, his strategy has been far too brazen and far too up-front. If anything, he has been too open in his agenda of 'reform' and has shown his hand too early. If many clergy, many Bishops, a number of Cardinals and swathes of the laity cannot take Amoris Laetitia terribly seriously and believe its contents 'on faith', then that really is not their fault, but rather the fault of the 'strategist' himself. Perhaps because he is a predominately political creature, his strategy seems to be akin to a politician who spends four years wrecking stuff with his silly ideas, alienates his civil servants, avoids challenging questions put to him by his party, heaps unto himself terrible political advisors, makes rash and stupid errors of judgement, manipulates the voting results at party conferences on future policy, offends the populace with his interviews and speeches, institutes policies that are disastrous, takes the country into civil war and then turns around after four years asking the electorate to trust him because he's apparently the man to guide the country to a greater, brighter, more prosperous future.

Remind you of anyone?

If a man wants to be taken seriously 'as a Pope', take the role of being a Pope seriously, seriously enough for people not to have asked, even just a year into a pontificate, whether the Pope is, indeed, Catholic, leaving vast areas of the Church only with the small fragment of consolation that at least bears still use woodland areas as lavatories and that some things, at least, do not change. The next Pope should aim to make himself appear deeply respectful and courteous and behave like a gentleman. He should say the things Popes say and do, rather than the eccentric things Latin American Jesuits might say or do. He'd be wise to make it apparent that he is a 'normal' Pope, a 'conservative', since Popes are by the nature of the Office they inhabit 'conservative', rather than radically re-making the papacy in his own image, stamping his personal opinions all over the Church and trampling under foot his supposed 'enemies' while denouncing his opponents and generally making himself look rather silly. In his conduct, he should be considered wise, rather than, as some have suggested, unhinged.

Yes. the next Pope, be he a blessing upon the Church and Her faithful children or a further and deeper chastisement upon them would be wise to wear the red shoes. I don't think Catholics, including many Cardinals will trust a Pope wearing black shoes for a long, long time.

Comments

Thomas said…
Excellent observations, but perhaps it's better not to give anyone too many ideas. The machiavellian minds who lurk in the shadows behind the throne thought they were putting in a puppet they could control, but he is too much of a maverick and a chatterbox to do their bidding without drawing attention to what is going on. That could turn actually into a saving grace. God writes straight with crooked lines.
The latest insult used by a senior cleric towards his fellow bishops is 'despotic'. However this comes from an Anglican "archbishop".
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.leaders.of.africas.anglican.christian.churches.are.despotic.says.nigerian.archbishop/102952.htm
In a statement devoid of any obvious sense of irony, this Anglican "archbishop" criticises his fellow bishops by saying about their organisation: "It is not a movement of the Holy Spirit because it is divisive." This poor chap does not seem to be too well-informed about the origins of his own "church".
Cesare Baronio said…
Have a look here:
http://opportuneimportune.blogspot.it/2016/12/scandal-in-rome-cleric-seen-wearing.html
It's a joke, of course...
God bell you.
Baronio+
Bruno W said…
So the Holy father may not be devious and has good intentions, but has a very poor formation and a less then desirable temper. Could not that fit the bill?
viterbo said…
A Pope is doctrinnally sane. A Nope is profane and is in conflict with Christ and St Peter.

http://novusordowatch.org/start-here/
Liam Ronan said…
I would have thought that were one to appropriate the name 'Francis' for one's papacy then sandal-shod or, better still, bare-foot may have been the Gramscian way to go.
Nicolas Bellord said…



A must read is Ivereigh's latest:

https://cruxnow.com/analysis/2016/12/16/francis-80-redeemed-leader-looks-like/

It is beyond all belief; Ivereigh praises Pope Francis for being a Peronist politician.
c matt said…
Not so sure PF's approach is wrong, if the intent is to push the agenda for the long term. A couple of reasons:

1. Good cop, bad cop. This could be playing out several ways - BXVI could have been the good cop, PF the bad - making us pine for the days of BXVI. However, BXVI was precisely the sort of disguised Traditionalist you suggest. If you read BXVI's writings closely, you will discover a "God of surprises" couched in terms of evolution of Catholic teaching. Or, the good cop may yet come next - donning an exterior Traditional veneer, while pushing a subtle "progression" of Catholic teaching.

2. PF may simply be playing the numbers. Sure, many do see the dangers he pushes, but far more do not (or actually support those changes). If push comes to shove, what do you think the breakdown would be between the Bergoglio church and the Burkean? If 10% stood by Burke, I would be shocked at such a high number. What better way to rid the Church of the last remnant then simply making them a remnant? To most of the world, which part would appear to be the true Catholic Church?
Kathleen1031 said…
c matt, that's it, and I have thought this was about numbers for a long time now. It all depends...God will have His way no matter how many love Him or will turn their back on Him, but in terms of what happens to the church in the temporal world, it comes back to numbers. It appears most Catholics are asleep or couldn't care less, poorly catechized and informed, they probably would support the pope on first glance, maybe later think twice and end up disillusioned.
Either way, people are being hurt, and I am hoping for schism, because this is unbearable and will ultimately bring about a crisis of faith for many. One thing unavoidable to ponder would be why a just and powerful God as ours would allow usurpers to wander into his temple like goats and cattle and make such an unholy mess. The longer this goes on the worse it would get.