Pope Francis: The H Question
Without wishing to put words in the mouth of Fr Hunwicke or misinterpret them, I would like to add some questions and thoughts of my own. The Church can only judge as heretics those who are her own. If a Catholic, even a Catholic who had risen to the Office of the Papacy literally believes in nothing then can that person be judged a heretic? Am I being harsh?
Recalling Rorate Caeli's prophetic post on the election of Pope Francis, one phrase stands out:
'Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.'
The pin-point accurate Rorate report on the then unknown figure of Jorge Bergoglio in 2013 elucidates for us just a little the mysterious man who is now on the Chair of Peter. It illustrates that for as long as he has been publicly known, Jorge Bergoglio has been vague, ambiguous, ambitious, self-contradictory, demagogic in his employment of language and that it cannot be said that he has a heterodox magisterium (that he is a heretic) because no real comprehensive magisterium can be found. After four years of Francis, I thoroughly concur with this assessment.
Cardinal Maradiaga, has for example, recently laid into Cardinal Burke in a most unseemly manner, a manner unworthy of the Cardinalate, but clearly the Honduran prelate is able to somehow discern in a quite miraculous fashion the magisterium of Francis while to so many it remains enigmatic and utterly confusing. Somehow Cardinal Maradiaga is able to talk in glowing terms of the Pope's 'teaching'. Referring to Cardinal Burke, the Cardinal says:
'“He’s not the magisterium,”...He goes on...
“The Holy Father is the magisterium, and he’s the one who teaches the whole Church. This other [person] speaks only his own thoughts, which don’t merit further comment.'
All of which begs the question: If someone close to the Pope like Cardinal Maradiaga is able to tell us that Pope Francis is the Magisterium, he must know what Pope Francis's magisterium is. Or perhaps not. I don't. Does anyone else? Perhaps Pope Francis has laid it out to him privately or perhaps more likely there is in operation a secret doctrine so secret that it is passed telepathically by people of like minds. It cannot actually be spoken clearly, pronounced, but it is itself a mysterious 'spirit' that pervades the corridors of no less a place now than the Vatican itself.
Indeed, not believing in anything of substance provides the individual with a vantage point to look down upon those who do and His Holiness takes advantage of this with relish, yesterday adding to his repertoire of insults the ludicrous charge of 'fanatics' against those who wish to see the Church's teachings - already solemnly defined - proclaimed and championed. Of course, one who believes in nothing can never be called a 'fanatic' because a 'fanatic' has to believe in something in order to believe it fanatically or in a way that people can paint in terms of mental illness and/or an attachment to evil (whatever that is!). Fanatics, remember, are also those who blow up buildings and people for the cause of their religion/beliefs.
Yet the nullification of Jesus's teachings (doctrine) and the Church's teachings (doctrine) which are His own (doctrine) by the believers of nothing, more commonly known as nihilists, requires some assent of belief by those who instigate it. Believing nothing of substance concerning faith and morals, they do at least have to believe one thing - that they are right. And this, it can be said, they believe most passionately. They do believe that they are right, but ask them what they believe and the answer, as all the ends of the earth have heard, will be most confusing, unintelligible.
However, there is one thing they believe you must do and you must believe and that is to adhere to that magisterium which is Pope Francis, even if you don't know what Pope Francis really believes, because he is the Pope and the Pope is right because the Pope is always right. Of course, if a future Pope taught something different to Francis, or suggested he could have been wrong in some areas, that Pope would be wrong in his potentiality, especially if he believes things as Popes previous to Francis have taught. And if that Pope elucidated Catholic teachings in the manner of Cardinal Burke, well, should you follow that Pope's magisterium? I expect that Maradiaga's position would be: If a future Pope believes anything of substance concerning faith and morals and announces it clearly and intelligibility, do not follow him. Right?
The good thing about the dubia submitted by the four Cardinals was that it politely asked His Holiness to enlighten us on what he actually believes concerning the Deposit of Faith. The dubia touched on the nature of divine and objective truth, marriage, morality, you know, a lot of important matters of Catholic teaching. For doing so they are perhaps to be found among the 'ideologues of doctrine', among the 'fanatics' that displease the Pope. So we know that their appeal is not met with much approval by the Pope, but as to what the Pope actually believes, should we really be told that the Pope is the magisterium, while we await news of his magisterium? Perhaps after all, it takes more faith to be a nihilist than it does to be a Catholic.