Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pope's "Mouthpiece" Spadaro Used Fake Sock-Puppet Account to Attack Four Cardinals

Almost two weeks ago I reported on the bizarre social media behavior of Antonio Spadaro, the Pope's "mouthpiece" and editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica. He had used Twitter in various ways to attack the "four cardinals" who had submitted the "dubia" to Pope Francis. This included using screenshots of the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings to equate the Pope's opponents with grotesque fictional villains.

Spadaro appeared to be conflicted about the appropriateness of his actions. He alternated between acting like a man with something to hide and flaunting his prowess at trolling. He deleted one tweet, which appeared to equate Cardinal Burke with a "witless worm," then put it back up with a jokey comment and additional jabs against his critics.

A small group of Catholic Twitter users and bloggers began to follow and report on Spadero's actions. My posts of a few weeks ago were one part of that.

Since then, virtually all of us have been blocked by Spadaro on Twitter.

A few days after the "witless worm" post/deletion/repost, Spadaro made another juvenile pop culture attack on Cardinal Burke et al. but this time it was in the form of a retweet:

In conformity with his past pattern, this tweet was also soon deleted.

Who was Habla Francisco? The name can be translated as "The Pope speaks" or "So says the Pope." The account holder's Twitter page showed that "Habla Francisco" had joined Twitter in September 2013 but had only made 3 tweets, all of which were retweeted by Spadaro. (They have all now since been deleted). "Habla Francisco" supposedly had 18 Followers but the account was "protected" such that no other information was publicly available.

You can guess where this is headed.

A few days ago, one of the Spadaro sleuths discovered that "Habla Francisco"'s account could be traced to Spadaro's own email address at La Civiltà Cattolica.

I cut off the identity of the person who posted the above, but this tweet and other similar communications were publicly shared on Twitter. The information revealed at the bottom was confirmed by multiple sources.

That's right, Antonio Spadaro, the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and one of the Pope's main point men in promoting Amoris Laetitia had been "retweeting" his own tweets from a sock-puppet Twitter account. These fake retweets were used to defend an Apostolic Letter and attack four cardinals of the Catholic Church.

Yesterday, Chris Ferrara claimed, only half-humorously, that the Pope's men were acting like Mafiosi.

I agree, but they're also acting like teenage girls.

Interestingly, Spadaro had previously styled himself as a sort of expert on the internet and social media. A few years ago he authored Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Age of the InternetThe cover shows God jump-starting an internet connection or linking social media users or something:

The book has two brief positive reviews. I wonder who wrote them?

According to the Amazon blurb:
The author suggests that since the Internet has changed, and is changing, the ways in which we think and act, it must also be changing the ways in which we think (of) Christianity and its theology. 
God help us.

The content, as might be expected from a contemporary Jesuit "theologian," is one part quasi-Marxist, one part quasi-new age and one large part not-so-quasi pop culture riff:
Spadaro also considers the hacker ethic in relation to Cybertheology.
Perhaps Spadaro should have considered creating a sock-puppet that wasn't so obviously linked to his professional email address.

There's actually more to this story. But for now at least I'm going to be cryptic about it. Suffice it to say (and I'm not joking around or trying to be overly dramatic here) if you try to go to the Mahound's Paradise Twitter page and find that it no longer exists, know that I wasn't the one who deleted it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NOT A PARODY: OSU "Diversity" Staffer Calls Butcher Knife Terrorist a Victim, Ends Post with #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName

Mark Your Calendars for the Divesity Conference

The Daily Caller is reporting that Stephanie Clemons Thompson, a staffer in Ohio State's Office of Diversity and Inclusion posted and then deleted a Facebook message expressing sympathy for Abdul Razak Ali Artan, yesterday's car/butcher knife Muslim terrorist. The Daily Caller was careful to note that they were not able to independently verify the authenticity of the post, but the screenshot appears authentic, and The Daily Caller has not retracted it.

I'm going to declare my true colors here, so to speak, and then drop the issue, since this blog isn't really about the topic. Here goes:

"Diversity" departments like this one are a joke, completely and utterly. They don't help black people or hispanic people or gay people or whomever else they are supposed to help. Nor do they aid the cause of "diversity" in any sense or however it is defined. Rather, they foster conformity. And they spread misinformation, ignorance, suspicion and even hatred.

Much of their purpose is to provide jobs for mediocre people such as Ms. Thomson who would have difficulty finding equivalent employment in any other area. Indeed, while there appear to be literally hundreds of staffers in the Byzantine OSU Office, they cannot even spell "diversity" correctly on their website's main page (see above).

I should note that while Ms. Thompson is black, mediocre people come in all colors.

There, I feel better now.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Muslim Car/Knife Attacker Had Complained About Islamophobia

The profile is from the 8-25-16 issue of The Lantern, a student newspaper at Ohio State University:
Kevin Stankiewicz / Oller Reporter 
"I just transferred from Columbus State. We had prayer rooms, like actual rooms where we could go to pray because Muslims have to pray five times a day. There's Fajr, which is early in the morning, at dawn. Then Ruhr during the daytime, then Asr in the evening, like right about now. and then Maghreb, which is like right at sunset and then Isha at night. I wanted to pray Asr. I mean, I'm new here. This is my first day. This place is huge, and I don't even know where to pray. I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I'm a Muslim, it's not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don't know what they're going to think, what's going to happen. But I don't blame them. It's the media that put that picture in their heads so they're just going to have it and it, it's going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and prayed. 
Abdul Razak Artan, Third-year in logistics management

BREAKING: OSU Attacker Identified as Somali Muslim Student

Update (2:26 CST): The attacker was first identified from the police dispatch as Ali Muhammad. But it now appears that his name is Abdul Razak Ali Artan. If we believe the police dispatch, then it's unclear whether he registered his car under a different name or whether he was driving someone else's car. 

Multiple sources including CBS Evening News are now reporting that the OSU attacker was Somali Muslim. According to the police dispatch, below, he was identified from the license plate of his car (the ID is at 5:25 to 6:15).

Muhammed drove his car into a group of students on the Ohio State University campus. He then jumped out of the car and started attacking with a butcher knife.

An officer in the area responded within a minute and shot Muhammed dead.

There are nine injuries - most minor, one critical, none life threatening.

BREAKING: Possible Terror Attack at Ohio State

UPDATE (11:58 CST): Confirmed at press conference: Man runs car over curb into pedestrians, jumps out with butcher knife and attacks. A police officer responds within one minute and shoots suspect dead. Suspect has not been identified. 9 injuries, most minor, one critical. Injuries due to being hit by car and/or cut.

UPDATE (10:50 CST): A student witness just reported that ALL the injuries were from someone running over a crowd of people with their car - a car that perhaps tried to ram Watts Hall. He claims that reports of gunshots are false. (It's possible that all gunshots came from the police.)

1. 10TV reports that it started with a car ramming Watts Hall, the Material Science and Engineering building at Ohio State University at 9:30 EST.

2. 10TV reports that one person ran out of the car with a knife/machete, and another ran out with a gun. This appears to be based on tweets from students in the area. However, these may have been based on rumor. There doesn't at this moment appear to be solid confirmation of a second suspect from any other sources.

3. Another witness, quoted by NBC4 Columbus reports hat one of his colleagues was slashed with a machete. 

4. Eight students have been taken to the hospital with injuries - four had gunshot wounds. One is in critical condition.

5. A suspect is apparently dead, presumably shot by police.

6. Police and SWAT teams are currently in place. They are looking for a second suspect.

7. 30 fire units on scene. 18 ambulances.

8. Two people have just been taken out of the parking garage in handcuffs.

9. 11:30 EST: Shelter In Place lifted?

Live Coverage here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

BREAKING: The Bastard is Dead

You have to break some eggs to make a shabby socialist dictatorship

Fidel Castro died yesterday at the age of 90.

In the Americas, he was the greatest mass murderer of the last century.

That counts the prisoners killed by firing squad, the assassinated or "disappeared," the men and women who died in his prison camps, the men, women and children who perished at sea trying to flee his tyranny - often due to direct attacks from regime boats and aircraft - those who suffered premature deaths due to the poverty that he created, and of course the hundreds of thousands who died in the wars and guerrilla operations that he launched or participated in outside of Cuba.

The bastard is dead.

But those who supported him in one way or another, still have the blood of his victims on their hands.

How does that taste with the Thanksgiving leftovers?

The Ten Commandments According to Francis

I have obtained a draft version. Sources tell me that the New Decalogue will be promulgated soon after the four cardinals are beheaded.   
  1. I am the LORD your Pope: you shall not heed strange Popes before me.
  2. You shall not take Yes or No questions to me.
  3. Remember the late 1960's and keep them holy.
  4. Please report dissident relatives to the proper authorities.
  5. You shall not discard that which can be re-used.
  6. Life is complicated.
  7. Let it go.
  8. You shall bear false witness against your neighbor if it favors the progressive cause.
  9. You want American cigarettes? You want woman? You want man?
  10. The powers not expressly delegated to the Pope by this document are nevertheless reserved to him. See 1.
By Francisco I with Victor Manuel Fernández, Feast of Che, anno Bergoglio 4.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is David Bawden, AKA Pope Michael, the True Pope? If Only.

David Bawden, now of Topeka Kansas was "elected" Pope Michael I on July 16, 1990. There were six electors, including himself and his mother and father. The three electors that were not members of the family would later split off to form a rival sect.

For the past twenty-six years, Bawden has "reigned" as Pope, first from a rural farmhouse that he shared with his parents and then from a fixed-up Victorian in Topeka. He now conducts his ministry through the internet and claimed a few years ago to have thirty followers.

According to Bawden, these are the only real Catholics in the world.

I wrote the above summary in as neutral a manner as possible, but it would be understandable if, after reading it, the first things that came to your mind were "nut," crackpot," "fanatic," "egomaniac" and so on.

With respect, you would be wrong.

Bowden has more Catholic faith and love for Christ in his little finger than half the priests and bishops of the contemporary Church put together.

He has more knowledge of the history and laws of the Church than most Catholic writers.

He is more of a gentleman than any public prelate in the current curia.

And he seems to have more humility than even many of the good priests that I know. He certainly is a million times more humble than the current occupant of the Papal throne.

For a man from Kansas claiming to be the one true pope, the last is pretty amazing.

Bawden and his family, friends and followers are victims of the post-conciliar Church, just as we are victims of it. All of us have dealt with this in different ways, being as faithful to the Church as possible, as best we understood things. Obviously, Bawden chose a different path then most. And God will judge him for it just as He will judge all of us. Being wrong about who has legitimate authority in the current Church is not a trivial matter. But it is also not the worst sin in the world. Not by a mile. And in the right context it may not even be a sin. I cannot believe that a just God would condemn Bawden for what he has done. Indeed, I suspect that it might be something of the opposite.

I could be wrong.

Much of what I'm saying is based on a 2011 documentary, appropriately titled, Pope Michael. It was directed by Adam Fairholm with a small crew. None of them are followers of Bawden. I have no idea whether Fairholm is a Catholic or even Christian. I wouldn't be surprised either way.

But I thought the movie was brilliant. It is a "neutral" documentary in the best sense, but it is clearly sympathetic to Bawden as a man, if only because Bawden is a naturally sympathetic character. It is fascinating, moving, sad and ultimately inspiring.

I was directed to the movie by a post on The Okie Traditionalist blog, which appeared as one of the links on Canon212 a week or so ago. The author, like me, appears to be a "standard" traditionalist Catholic who also cannot avoid some sympathy with Bawden, the man.
Every time I hear the story of Pope Michael its about an eccentric, anomalous guy from Kansas, a sedevacantist (i.e. until he filled the chair), traditionalist Catholic with the idiosyncratic belief he is somehow the pope. But I think this characterization misses a deeper story. His story is that of a lot of traditional Catholics out there--including me--understandably crazed by the Crisis in the Church, shifting back and forth across the traditionalist, polemic spectrum, yet trying to be faithful and holy. Some just go a bit too far.
Watch the film and decide for yourself. Whatever your conclusions, I think you'll find it an interesting use of an hour. If  you want to know a bit more about "Pope Michael," you can visit his website Vatican in Exile or his Facebook page.

Is David Bawden the pope? I do not think so. But he wouldn't make a bad one.  And it's certain he would be a great improvement over the current claimant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Pope Misleads on Abortion and Absolution

This is a revised and updated version of a post I wrote last year at the commencement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

One of the headlines yesterday was that in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, Pope Francis had indefinitely extended the temporary authority of every priest to absolve the sin of abortion the temporary authority that he had granted to them for his Jubilee Year of Mercy. This implies that priests did not have this authority before.

From the Letter:
I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.
And here is one headline (from the BBC):
Pope Francis allows priests to forgive abortion
But while the original declaration and its extension have been hailed in many quarters as a sort of stunning development - an example of the Pope's new Church of Mercy in action - its actual effect in terms of the practical ability to obtain absolution for abortion was and still is . . . wait for it . . . zero.

As with many things surrounding this Pope, the reality is different from the hype.

Let's first be absolutely clear: before the Pope stepped in, all priests had the authority to pardon any sin, including abortion. This Pope did not grant them that authority. They already had it.*

The confusion is that there are certain sins that incur the canonical penalty of excommunication or excommunication later sentential - the excommunication is automatic or takes place by reason of the offense. Abortion has long been one of these sins, along with apostasy, heresy and five others, including physically attacking the Pope. Thus, while a priest could technically pardon an abortion or any other sin in the process of engaging in the sacrament, the potential penitent might not be able to receive the sacrament, as excommunication implies that the excommunicate cannot receive any sacraments including absolution.

It should be noted, however, that while excommunication is "automatic" it would only actually occur in a subset of cases meeting the requirements of canon law. A Catholic party to abortion - pregnant woman, doctor, husband or boyfriend - only incurs excommunication if, among other things, the party is sixteen or over, was not subject to physical force and knew (or was negligent in not knowing) that excommunication would result. It is arguable that the last clause would exempt many.

How might a penitent get the censure lifted in order to then receive absolution? Technically, he or she would have to go to a bishop, or to a priest who had been given the proper authority by a bishop. Here's the crucial point, however: in the United States, virtually all priests had previously been given such authority by their bishops.

In other words, in the United States, even before Pope Francis issued his two Letters, virtually every priest already had the authority to absolve the sin of abortion.

It is a matter of some debate how far this had been extended to other countries, and it's difficult to come up with a definitive answer on the question, as statistical lists on these sorts of things are not compiled. But I believe that the "tradition" of bishops designating this authority to their priests was widespread in English-speaking countries and may have been common in most of continental Europe as well. One source I spoke to claimed that it was pretty much the norm everywhere.

But even assuming there were places where it was not the norm - places where technically one still had to go to a bishop to get the censure lifted, canon law offered a "way out". According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, any priest may provisionally remove the censure if he judges that it would be "hard" for the penitent to remain in such a state until the censure was removed. Here, "hard" is usually interpreted as waiting more than 24 hours. In that sort of a case, one of the two - the penitent or priest - would then have thirty days to confirm this with a bishop or someone designated by him. And it should be noted that in the case of a priest contacting a bishop, the full anonymity of the penitent was allowed and expected.

To put it a different way, if you sought absolution on abortion from a priest who did not have the authority to lift the censure (in one of those possible places where he didn't), if the priest could not get you to a bishop or priest who had such authority within 24 hours, you would still be able to receive absolution.

I should say that as a matter of canon law, it still isn't clear whether the pope means to lift the automatic excommunication on abortion or merely grant all priests the ability to lift it. Nor is it clear whether either answer will apply only to abortion or to the other sins automatic excommunication is incurred, such as, say, striking the Pope.

After all this the reader may stop and ask, isn't this all too complicated? Shouldn't the Pope be commended for making it simple and transparent? The answer to this is that while the rules might have been somewhat complicated - it's taken me 1,000+ words to explain them - the practice was not complicated. If one had been a party to abortion, absolution had been readily or "easily" available - at least since 1983 and in many cases earlier.

The truth of the matter of course is that the real impediment to obtaining absolution for abortion has been the state of mind of the potential penitent - not desiring to obtain absolution from a priest, being afraid of it, ignorant as to its importance or whatever.

The Pope's involvement with the issue is in practice nothing more than a PR move.

One might claim that a PR move would itself not be a bad thing if it helped get more people to confession, especially for a grave sin such as abortion. But this Pope has never spent much time stressing the importance of actual confession, even in the context of discussing "mercy." Rather, we get general statements like this:
We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future. Misericordiae Vultus.
Confession has virtually disappeared as a regular or even occasional practice for most Catholics. One suspects that the Pope's quasi-New Age effusions are not helpful in getting anyone to confide their worst secrets to some old man in a priest's collar.

So, it's a PR move, but a PR move to stress the goodness and mercy not of God, but of this Pope, and to implicitly condemn the "old" or "traditional" Church (in other words the eternal Catholic Church).

"The old Church wouldn't forgive abortions. But now, under my leadership, things are different."

That's a lie.

*It was not always this way. Though priests have always had the general ability to pardon even the gravest of sins - i.e. murder - there used to be a subset of grave sins where absolution was remitted exclusively to the Pope or bishops. In other words, to get it you had to go to a higher up. The sin of striking the Pope, for example, was in this category. In the old days, you couldn't just walk into a confession booth and obtain absolution for that, though you could obtain absolution for "common" violence or murder. However, according to current canon law there are no sins in this category. Any priest may technically pardon any sin, including abortion.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Fake News

The headline of this post is of course a fake news headline. I made it up.

I want to say "fooled ya!" But I probably didn't.

In fact, though, I took the post's header photo from a real fake news story titled "Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide." It appeared on the real fake news site

Yes, there is such a thing as real fake news.

As opposed to fake fake news.

Fake news has recently been a burning topic in the media. Even Obama referred to it.

He really did.

It's been identified as a kind of scourge and perhaps the reason why Trump won the election.

Trump voters rely on fake news, you see. Most of us are rural and only got internet hookups a few years ago. Plus it's difficult to operate a computer or at least check sources while clinging to a bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

With me, it's a cocktail and a cigar but still.

Speaking of fake fake news, the whole controversy is actually almost entirely fake.

J.E. Dyer of the conservative website Liberty Unyielding analyzed one of the most prominent fake-news-is-a-scourge stories (from Buzzfeed) and found that if you actually looked at the examples discussed, virtually all of them were cases of perfectly ordinary interpretation or opinion, not fake news in the sense of

And yes, they were mostly examples of conservative interpretation or opinion.

Now that many sources within the "mainstream" media have been exposed by Wikileaks as clandestinely collaborating with one side in a political election, there's already a counterattack against the rival "alternative" media. And that counterattack is based on lies.

Not interpretation or opinion but lies. Read the Dyer piece or the recent article by Paul Crookston at National Review which comes to essentially the same conclusions.

Is fake news, even real fake news, destroying the integrity of our democracy (or at least what's left of it)? No, but you are very often being lied to.

And not by, whose entire site is one big wink (or at least you'll recognize it as one big wink if you have even slightly more sense than, say, your average Hamilton chorus member).

You know who the liars are.

Don't be fooled.    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why Does Cardinal X Check His Cell Phone While Hearing Confessions?

This is a repost of a piece I wrote last year. The occasion was Bishop X's installation as Archbishop X. I'm now reposting it in honor of Archbishop X's elevation to Cardinal X. The only change I've made it so change "Bishop" to "Cardinal."   

From the comments section on one of the most perceptive pieces on Cardinal X:
Oh, and one piece of advice for any of you who ever happen to go to him for confession: ask him to turn off his phone BEFORE the sacrament begins. He is on his phone CONSTANTLY, (which is not news to residents of his former city), but I was STUNNED to hear text beeps occurring while he was listening to my confession. To this day, I regret not asking him why he would leave his phone on during this holy sacrament.
Now, this has never happened to me. Once in a while I have snuck a peak at priests in-between confessions at our church. In every single case, they've either been praying the Rosary, saying other prayers or reading what looked like a Bible or a Missal.

They're probably guilty of crypto-Lefebvrist tendencies.

But back to Cardinal X. Now, I've heard other negative things about his personal behavior, some of them directly from "insiders" that I personally know, not from comments on the internet. That I've heard them is one of the reasons I'm using the above public bit of "hearsay" in this blog post. But for a couple of obvious reasons, I'm not going to talk about the other things here.

Whoa! How unfair of me. How uncharitable. How gossipy. Accusing the man without allowing him to defend himself.

Well, give me a break. Anyone that has followed his career knows what he is. And from a number of other personal accounts, the man is a stewing bundle of bias, uncharity, selfishness and hypocrisy. Sure, I hope he goes to Heaven. But at the moment he's greatly harming the Church and endangering souls. I hope he has a change of heart.

And he can defend himself whenever and however he wants. For example, this blog is entirely open to him.

Why does Cardinal X check his cell phone while hearing confessions?
Q: You seem to also embrace this idea that we've heard-- from Cardinal Kasper and also from Pope Francis the idea of mercy. Not ideas, but the mission of mercy. Why mercy?
A: Well, as Cardinal Kasper said in his very important book on mercy-- there really has not been a fully developed theology of the mercy of God, and so that's why he wrote about it. And yet, it's at the heart of the Scriptures. That if you read throughout the Psalms, also through the Prophets and then how Jesus conducted himself, mercy is at the heart of what God does for us. And it's because the condition that we're in of sinfulness....And so the only remedy for that is God's mercy. It's not something that we can do. So we are thrown at the feet of God's mercy, because we're enslaved by sin. All of us are.
So then, in the confessional, the primary and most physically obvious and consistent mechanism for mercy in the Catholic Church,

Why does Cardinal X check his cell phone while hearing confessions?
Q: So it's about listening? 
A: It is. It's about listening.... 
Q: And so to win a convert, what you have to do is? 
A: Listen, talk, be respectful of people—and make sure that you really have an openness to where people are coming from...
If it's about listening,

Why does Cardinal X check his cell phone while hearing confessions?
A: ...And I just think that more and more you're going to see that kind of appointment (the Pope appointing me--Bishop X--and other likeminded clerics) happening... 
Q: When you say “that kind of appointment?” 
A: The kind of appointment that you're talking about of somebody who looks at people the way the pope does and wants. The pope has said this and the nuncio has said this. The nuncio told us last year the pope told him, I want more pastoral bishops...the Holy Father wants bishops who know “the smell of the sheep.” The pope has been very direct about that. 
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as Bishop? 
A: I'm going to be attentive to the needs of the people that are there and get to know them...
So, why does Cardinal X check his cell phone while hearing confessions?

Because he's a fake.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Spadaro REPOSTS Deleted LOTR Clip with Additional Snarky Comments

Like Anthony Weiner, he just can't stop.

Yesterday, I reported that the Pope's "mouthpiece," Jesuit editor Antonio Spadaro, had posted and then deleted a tweet seemingly equating Cardinal Burke with one of the minor villains in The Lord of the Rings. Unbeknownst to me, Deacon Nick Donnelly had noted this on his own Twitter feed the previous day. The silly kerfuffle was then prominently mentioned by at least three other Catholic blogs and sites - Vox Cantoris, OnePeterFive and Canon212.

It looks like Spadaro is monitoring our rigid neo-Pelagian activities. Today Donnelly noticed that Spadaro had put the deleted clip (and two others) back up, with a further snark at Burke (or one of us, or some generic enemy of Francis or whomever): 
He's a Herald of Woe
He also added a jokey little comment:
Nice to see what happend when I posted just some pics (& no comments) from the movie #TheLordofthe Rings Crazy things & wired hermeneutic!
As you can see, he ended it with a rosey-cheeked smiley face.

By the way, #TheLordofthe is a Twitter hashtag for people who forget to write "Rings" or mistakenly put a space before it. The hashtag page contains six tweets in the last twelve months.

Also, I assume Spadaro meant to write "weird hermeneutic" not "wired hermeneutic." Then again, you never know with Jesuits.

A friend tweeted:

I kidded him that he had just won the Understatement of the Year Award.

In one sense this is all very humorous. And, yes, I think humor is important, not in spite of, but even because of the dark days we are living through. Without humor, many of us would go crazy.

But in another sense, the spectacle is grotesque. By obstinately refusing to answer questions that the cardinals have every right to ask (and every Catholic has a right to hear the answers to), the Pope is further fanning the flames of confusion and division in the Church. It's possible an attempt might be made to "correct" a sitting pope. It's also possible the divisions in the Church itself might explode into open schism.

And in the midst of it - indeed, as his chosen response to it - one of the Pope's closest advisors is playing the Twitter troll, complete with pop culture references and putdowns.

Yesterday I referenced the "banality of evil." But banality can sometimes be colorful or even fascinating in its way. I have no doubt that future chroniclers will describe the personalities of the Court of Francis in their full glory - the kissing priest, the tweeting Jesuit, the little man with a funny name who shouted at teenage girls who dared to kneel for communion.

Hey, man, I didn't start the whole Lord of the Rings thing. But I'm going to try to end it.

There are a number of competing Wormtongues. But we all know who Saruman is.

Are the cardinals the ents?