Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Judas Pope

More than two years into his pontificate, opposition to Francis is growing among many Catholics. Of course, polls still show that a majority of "Catholics" count themselves as very favorable to the current Pope. But the more you narrow the group to faithful and practicing Catholics--those who attend Mass every week, for example, or to narrow it more, those who go to regular Confession or say the Rosary--the proportion of the disaffected increases greatly. The more Catholic you are the more you don't like this Pope.

As I've said before, at my traditionalist (non-SSPX) church, you would today be hard-pressed to find anyone who likes Francis. I'm not saying we're saints. But we are Catholics.

Among those who are unfavorable, it is still a live question as to how that opinion should be expressed publicly, or if it even should be expressed at all. And there is also a range of views as to what's wrong, as it were. Is Bergoglio a weak man who has put himself under undue influence from bad associates and advisors? Is he simply out of his league, as they say? Is he a narcissist, addicted to secular praise? A careerist going with the flow of what is now an institutionally "liberal" Church? Or is he an ideologue who wants to entrench that liberalism and thus, in a sense, permanently "change" the Church? Of course, even more disturbing and sinister possibilities have been raised.

Accusations of possible heresy are made almost constantly now. And as I and others have argued, they are not unfounded. There are by now all sorts of claims and statements made informally, formally and officially (in the encyclicals, among other places) by this Pope that certainly border on heresy--whether it's denying the existence of hell, denying the reality of Gospel miracles, casting doubt on the essential role of Christ and His Church for salvation, elevating "the poor" to a quasi-divine status while simultaneously implying that the Church's primary job is to help to eliminate poverty, abandoning the traditional social doctrine of the Church in favor of outright socialism and class warfare, and so on.

So, people ask whether the Pope may be a heretic. Few serious Catholics have as yet publicly uttered the phrase "anti-Pope" but that thought is clearly percolating underneath polite speech, fed, among other things by the odd and unprecedented situation of a former Pope in a white cassock--"the only color cassock I had available at the time"--living on the Vatican grounds.

And then, of course, for the especially excitable, there is that other label that begins with "anti-". But it is best not to think about that.

I propose another way of looking at the problem and an alternative way of characterizing Francis, who is in the process of inflicting such harm on the Church.

The Judas Pope.

Judas betrayed Jesus. That is one of the central facts of the Gospel narratives. But it is telling that opinions differ on why he betrayed Jesus. Was it for the money--those thirty pieces of silver? Was he jealous of his Master or of some of the other disciples, as might be suggested by the incident with Mary Magdalene and the costly perfume? Was he disappointed in discovering that Jesus' agenda did not include violent political opposition? Or is the explanation as "simple" as Luke and John's "Satan entered him"?

Was Judas a heretic? Simply uttering that question confirms it's the wrong question to ask.

The other important thing to note about Judas is the obvious fact that he was an "insider", and this of course made his betrayal all the more meaningful. Judas was one of the original twelve Apostles and remained a "full" Apostle right up until the betrayal. That he perhaps retroactively lost that status may I suppose embolden the Pope as anti-Pope crowd. But the point is there was nothing "irregular" or "invalid" about his status. After all, Judas was chosen as an Apostle by Christ himself.

The current Pope is in the process of betraying the Church in multiple ways and on many fronts. His rehabilitation of liberation theology--more and more it seems by actually becoming a mouthpiece for it--is a direct betrayal of the work of his two predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI. More disturbingly, he has betrayed ordinary Catholics by lending his support to the madness of secular crowds--climate change, "unconventional" families, etc.--while incessantly criticizing the standard norms of Catholic worship and practice. This at a time when Christians and Catholics are coming under unprecedented attack by secular forces.

Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. But nowhere is it guaranteed that a Pope could not be a bad or immoral man or even bad for or harmful to the Church. Indeed, there are a number of diverse and pointed examples of this in Catholic history among the 266 men who have occupied the Chair of St. Peter, not including the numerous anti-popes not counted in that number.

In an odd sense this should be partly reassuring. The Church has survived for close to 2,000 years despite always containing evil and harmful men, even some who made it, as it were, to the top. That we currently seem to have a Judas Pope does not mean he is the last Pope or that the Anti-Christ or End Times will be soon upon us.

On the other hand, that Francis is a Judas Pope does not mean they we aren't entering some awful time of tribulations, either. Nor, whatever the future might hold, should it make us complacent about the very real harm currently being inflicted on very real human beings. And of course, we all know it's not just about one man. Whether or not Francis ever ends up being formally outed as a heretic, he certainly represents a sort of high-water mark for a a particular heresy--that usually given the title of Modernism. Had the Modernists not already been in many ways in the ascendant, this Pope would probably not have been elected, nor would he have had the ability or the willingness to push so quickly and so fast with his agenda.

This blog has obviously been pretty hard on those who continue to go through mental and moral contortions to defend Francis. I think a policy of not publicly and directly criticizing the Pope is not unreasonable (though I obviously haven't followed it), especially for those in certain positions. But actively covering for and, yes, in effect lying for this Pope, and at the same time attacking the faith and character of the "dissidents" is not merely unreasonable, it's unchristian and uncatholic. And I say that while at the same time acknowledging that many of those doing it are otherwise good Christians and faithful Catholics.

Catholicism, while recognizing the obvious and legitimate Christ given claims of authority, is not a Dear Leader cult. Nor is it a suicide pact for our reason.

When you see the Church being betrayed, you fight that. How you fight it is another question. And there is room for reasonable people to disagree. But there is no room (for a Catholic) to obstinately side with and actively collaborate with its betrayers.

The Judas Pope.

There are a number of prophecies, many associated with appearances of Our Lady, that would appear to have increasing relevance in these fast moving times. No doubt they contain truth, albeit truth only half-understood. But God alone knows how this will end.


  1. The most polite and charitable way I like to put this is this way: 'This is not my favorite Pontiff', or 'I really haven't been able to understand this Pope'. (which is TRUE) I think you CAN be charitable and still express the truth of how you feel about Francis. 'My Catholic mind doesn't think the same way his does.' That pretty much says it all:)

  2. "Judas Pope" is not an ecclesiastical category. Two factors indeed make Bergoglio one of near 40 antipopes in Catholic history (an antipope IS an ecclesiastical categoty with norms of canonical response. The heresies you've mentioned perforce render an antipope on our hands. But so does surfaced evidence of a questionable resignation by Benedict XVI and an uncanonical election of Bergoglio. You should understand that heresy and uncanonical election perforce make one an antipope. He then must be indicted and tried by His episcopal confreres. Once again, Judas Pope is not a canonical category. Antipope is and for the good of Hoy Church, there are norms of responding to precisely such a situation.