This is a small story, obviously, but I think it's a useful example of where we are now in the Church.
In the brief history of social media, when people have said, "I've been hacked," to disavow a problematic communication, have they ever been telling the truth?
A few days ago, the Diocese of Tulsa tweeted out a link to a recent post by Jeff Mirus from the website Catholic Culture. Titled, "On the Role of the Holy Spirit in Papal Elections," the post debunked the old wives' tale that the Holy Spirit "chooses" the pope or infallibly guides the cardinals to always elect the best candidate. According to Mirus, while the Holy Spirit might "prompt" the electors to, so to speak, listen to His guidance, there is never a guarantee that any particular elector or the body as a whole will do so. Mirus then went on to list a number of historical "bad choices," not including Francis but curiously including Pope John Paul I.
The general claim - the Holy Spirit doesn't pick popes - is, of course, not controversial, and was in fact made by Benedict XVI himself (when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger). To the question, does the Holy Spirit choose the pope, he answered:
I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. ... I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit's role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.Then he added the self-evident clincher:
There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!Clearly the topic is now on everyone's mind, however, as more and more Catholics, including Mirus' partner at Catholic Culture, Phil Lawler, contemplate the disastrous pontificate of Francis.
Here is the tweet from the Diocese of Tulsa:
"The ignored it" was obviously a reference to Francis.
I'm not sure how long the tweet stayed up, but more than 24 hours later, this tweet appeared in its place:
Two other tweets were subsequently made:
As I implied above, I'm confident that the "we've been hacked" claim is an outright fib, at least if "hacked" is given its normal meaning. Either there are a number of people on the Diocese Twitter team, and one thought the initial tweet was a good idea but was then overruled by the others, or the sole person responsible for the Diocese Twitter account tweeted it out bravely but was then dressed down (and probably removed) by higher authorities.
As reported at The Hirsch Files and The Okie Traditionalist, the new Bishop of Tulsa appears to be an enemy of the Traditional Latin Mass and is no doubt a sort of third-tier ally of Pope Francis. But I suspect that the offending tweet would have been disavowed by any diocese or archdiocese in the country. Very few bishops want to go explicitly on record as "opposing" Francis in any way, shape or form.
In many cases, of course, its due to outright agreement or sympathy with the Pope's agenda. In other cases, bishops have convinced themselves that they are upholding their vow of obedience or protecting their diocese and their flock from retribution. Many observers would claim that the last two motivations are often mixed with cowardice.
But there is one Tulsa Catholic (almost certainly not a bishop) who is no coward.
Whoever you are, anonymous tweeter, have a drink on me.