Pope Francis Has Forever Discredited Non-Infallible Papal Authority
What’s the cringiest phrase of 2021? It surely must be “You need to listen to my podcast.” It’s our age’s answer to 2011’s “You should follow me on Twitter” and 2001’s “You ought to read my blog.”
Nevertheless, I’m persisting. There’s one show I did which I hope folks listen to, with big old mugs of coffee. I recorded it in a white heat with my co-writer Jason Jones. I’d spent the days before writing about the upcoming blasphemy ritual at St. Ignatius parish in San Francisco.
We’ll Convert Your Children … But Not to Christ
The Whiffenpoofs of Yale (my alma mater) are doing a concert at the church with the San Francisco Registered Sex Offenders Chorus. (Okay, it’s technically called something else.) You know, the folks who made the video preening about how they’re going to “convert your children”? Then sadly had to take it down, since at least one of the men singing on the video is a convicted child molester, of boys under 14.
When I first heard about the concert from the heroic ex-gay apostle Joseph Sciambra, I felt a small glimmer of hope. After all, this event promised to concentrate in one place and time all the gayest things on earth (in ascending order of Liberace Points):
- San Francisco.
- The Whiffenpoofs.
- The sex-abuse tainted Jesuits.
- A “Gay Men’s Chorus.”
- Sex offenders. And
- A cappella male singing.
Surely the sheer density must tear a hole in the space-time continuum and create a black hole, sucking all the gaiety particles beyond the event horizon, emitting only some X-rays.
Frankie Goes to the Vatican
But I fear that’s wishful thinking. After all, no singularity was caused by the Metropolitan Museum’s campy exhibit of sacred vestments loaned by the Vatican, climaxing with a fashion show of pansexual glam models swishing around in gold chasubles and copes. All to the titters of Father James Martin, SJ. (He’s the LGBT activist who gushed on Twitter that the fashionistas loved his “sexy priest” costume.)
Actually said to me at the #MetGala tonight:
“I love your costume.”
“Is that, like, for real?”
“You’re the best dressed dude here, bro.” (High fives me.)
“You look just like the real thing.”
And, truly: “I love that you got dressed up as a sexy priest.”
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) May 8, 2018
Even the Vatican’s last Synod on the Family — which was gayer than the uncensored, Roman orgy version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax, Don’t Do It,” video — only frayed the time-space continuum at the edges.
The Worst Papal Scandal in History
I’d already vented on the San Francisco concert, in this recent column. But then I got an email from a Protestant colleague about Pope Francis’ latest, gravest outrage. This one is worse than
- Sending his right hand man to praise Chinese Communism at a gathering of Red Chinese organ thieves who steal lungs from Uyghurs in concentration camps, then sell them for cash.
- Francis embracing an unrepentant abortionist for the cameras.
- The pope greenlighting the dead baby vaccine and teaching that it’s our Christian duty to take it. Or even
- Inviting a disgraced cardinal to address a Vatican synod, who’d favored gay marriage and abortion, and personally bullied a sex abuse victim into silence. (We have that on audiotape.) A cardinal who’d also led the conspiracy to get Francis elected.
This one is worse because it’s more official, more binding, more authoritative. This isn’t Jorge Bergoglio speaking as a IQ 105, quasi-Marxist ex-high school chemistry teacher. It’s Pope Francis writing as Vicar of Christ. Along with his anti-biblical teachings on divorce and capital punishment, I wonder what will be left of papal authority in his wake. (Especially since he has stuffed the College of Cardinals with pale, pastel Xeroxes of himself, so we can expect more popes like him throughout our lifetimes.)
Promoting Same Sex Marriage with “Tenderness”
Pope Francis wrote by hand a personal letter of encouragement and support to Fr. James Martin, SJ, who promotes same-sex marriage, and preaches that message publicly. No word of rebuke, criticism, or correction appeared in the letter. Let that sink in for a moment.
Imagine if a pope wrote a letter full of praise to a priest who backed racial segregation, or the mass deportation of even peaceful Muslims.
Behind the thinnest of veils pretending that he’s only fighting anti-gay “hate,” Martin advances the entire LGBT agenda, inside the church. He promotes the most radical voices rejecting historic, Biblical teachings. For instance, on June 24 Martin recommended to a reporter as an “LGBT leader” theology professor Jason Steidl of St. Joseph’s College. Here’s an example of the theology Steidl professes on Twitter (where Martin follows him):
Bitchy, campy, depraved. That’s the spirit James Martin summons and grooms his pupils to be possessed by.
Saying Yes to Satan
Furthermore, even on non-sexual issues, Martin is an open heretic who rejects core teachings of St. Ignatius, who founded his order. Read my detailed essay on how Martin flips on their head Ignatius’ “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits.” Put simply, Ignatius was teaching his followers how to tell if an apparent inspiration from God was in fact from Satan. One infallible test, Ignatius said, was if it urged you to do something inherently sinful. Then you knew it wasn’t from God.
To the contrary, Martin wrote. If a spirit tells you to do something evil — for instance, renounce Jesus Christ to avoid persecution — then you’re justified in doing so. Since Martin would have us follow impulses like that one, it’s hardly surprising that he’d urge men to give in to their lustful passions.
Singled Out for Praise
There are beaten-down, discouraged, overworked and lonely priests around the world. Most of them don’t live in million-dollar Jesuit palaces. Some of them are being persecuted by their own bishops, for resisting a vaccine made from dead babies. Others are now in prison camps at the hands of the Chinese regime Pope Francis allied with and secretly takes billions of dollars from (according to a whistleblower).
Whom does Francis single out for praise and encouragement? Martin Scorcese’s theological advisor on films, and the anti-Christian media’s favorite church court dwarf, who’s proud of his “sexy priest” costume.
Infallibility Is Not Enough
At this point, my Catholic friends (and a voice in my own head) pipe up to remind me: That letter wasn’t infallible. It wasn’t issued ex cathedra, so Francis’ clearly implied endorsement of same sex, sodomitical marriage doesn’t falsify the doctrine of papal infallibility from Vatican I in 1870. After all, some fourth century popes sent ambiguous or quasi-heretical letters, too.
Relax. Our precious Vatican I is still intact. But the pope doesn’t need to teach heresy ex cathedra to promote it all through the church, to punish the faithful and promote the corrupt, or to turn over priests to Beijing. If a pope sold the Vatican to the Saudis, conducted a Black Mass at the Playboy Mansion, and opened a Vatican abortion clinic, none of those things would be ex cathedra statements either. So should we just shrug at them?
I have a private theory on why Pope Francis doesn’t just “go nuclear” and promulgate all his crackpot political views and clumsy theological errors as binding church dogmas. He’s afraid that maybe, just maybe, God exists and the Catholic faith is true.
If so, then God would prevent him making those ex cathedra statements by any means necessary, including plagues of frogs, meteorites, or hordes of Assyrians. And Francis rather likes his life. He doesn’t believe in an afterlife, being at best a pantheist attuned to the world-spirit Gaia. What a buzzkill if the monotheist God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus in fact popped up out of nowhere and stopped his heart. Best not to take any chances. Just in case.
You Must Treat the Pope Like Stalin
But things are worse than that for us Catholics. I was informed of that by an angry email from some random, pseudonymous backer of Catholic sharia. That’s right, some Integralist I never heard of somehow got my personal email address and used it to send me snark. Responding to my last column, he claimed that we Catholics aren’t just obligated to accept ex cathedra statements from the pope. According to Vatican II, we’re expected to try to give “religious assent” to even the pope’s opinions, when he expresses them publicly. We’re supposed to be essentially empty vessels, waiting for the pope to fill them with what he chooses.
And yes, Vatican II’s (fallible!) document Lumen Gentium really does call for something like that. It endorses the brain-killing phenomenon of “creeping infallibility,” whereby we’re supposed to treat papal opining as … kind of presumptively maybe sort of infallible, but in any case … shut up. Just bleat along with the sheep. If Pope Francis says that promoting same-sex marriage and camping it up as a “sexy priest” is admirable then we should learn to admire it. If he demands open borders, socialism, and Chinese Communist control over the global economy in the name of defending the “climate,” then that’s what we should support.
Not Always and Not Everywhere
That is nonsense on stilts. It is not Christianity. It is Stalinism, in gold vestments. We can point to many instances in history where popes advanced opinions that other popes or councils contradicted. The only way to make coherent what theologians call the “Ordinary Magisterium” (official teachings that have never been taught infallibly) is to use the rule of consensus. What church leaders have taught “always and everywhere” is still binding. But if a pope or a council pops up and contradicts it, then it’s no longer “always,” so we no longer have a consensus. It still might be true, of course, as the biblical teaching on capital punishment is, whatever Francis says.
Happily, on the sex question we have both testaments of the Bible, which no pope or council has the authority to override. So I will continue not to admire but to reject James Martin, and all his works, and all his empty promises. And I’ll wait for a future council or pope to remove the Stalinism clause from Vatican II.
We Are on Our Own
Francis has not disproven the claims of the papacy. But he has permanently shrunk its influence. From 1870, we had a run of mostly good, wise, holy popes. When they gave fallible teachings, what they said was typically … true. They’d infused it with biblical wisdom and careful reflection on centuries of church teaching. That let us get kind of lazy, and get by with ersatz, creeping “infallibility.”
No more. Any future pope who’s actually Catholic won’t be able to claim such deference — since we’ll have the dead rat of Francis’ reign, floating in the punch bowl. In fact, we must look back at all previous fallible papal statements and judge them for what they were: human opinions, perhaps wise and truthful. But only binding on us insofar as they match the Bible and the timeless traditions of the church. Except with ex cathedra statements, we can’t rely on the pope just because he’s the pope ever again — because Pope Francis was pope once, too. That exception destroys the rule. We’re on our own — leaning wholly on Christ.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”