Monday, April 2, 2018

The Pope as Arch-Troll

What does he get out of it?

Some have argued that Pope Francis is not an ideologue. That is, while he wants to be or be seen as a liberal "revolutionary," this isn't because he has any particular belief in liberal theology per se. Rather, it's about power. His power, of course. To "change" the Church is not only a means for Bergoglio to solidify a certain power base, but is a manifestation or sign of the exercise of power itself, and, thus, is worthwhile on its own terms.

Just as, say, a sculptor gets satisfaction out of transforming natural material into a shape that conforms to some inner intention or design of his own, the tyrant gets satisfaction out of transforming people, or transforming those things that are important to people in a way that lets them know they are under his control. How he transforms people or things, or to what apparent end, is secondary to the act itself.

In a sense this is similar to the motivation of the classic social-media "troll." People often speak of "liberal" trolls or "conservative" trolls who wish to fight ideological battles online by, say, spreading "fake news" or rudely insulting their enemies or whatever. Yet this is a misapplication of the original meaning of the term.

"Troll" (as used in social media) originally meant someone that wanted to provoke emotional reactions, not to advance any particular agenda, but for the sheer enjoyment of the provocation itself. Thus a troll might pretend to be liberal to stir up conservatives, or pretend to be conservative to stir up liberals. The object was simply to get people to react, preferably in a way that showed distress or confusion. Or to put it more plainly, the goal was to screw with people.

I used to think Jorge Mario Bergoglio was motivated largely by vanity. He wanted to be a different pope, a better pope, a pope loved by the world, and so on. By transforming the Church to conform more with the liberal zeitgeist he would be praised by the media (made up of liberal journalists) and go down in history (written by liberal historians). Power was a means to achieve worldly praise.

But I gradually came to have a different view, a view solidified by the events of recent days: During Holy Week, Catholics were "stunned" and "rocked" to hear that their apparent leader had denied (or so it seemed) one of the central tenets of their faith, a denial particularly stark on the eve of Good Friday.

Catholics regularly affirm that after Jesus died on the cross, He descended into hell to save the righteous who had perished without knowing Him, just as the righteous that came after would be saved through His Church. But if there were really no hell, what did that mean? What did Jesus die to save us from?

It was another gut-punch to all faithful Catholics, arguably one of the worst, but still simply another in a long-line against Catholic mothers (who breed like rabbits), Catholic priests (who are joyless Pharisees), Catholics in difficult marriages who have tried to conform to what they thought were the teachings of the church (what goody-goodies), and just Catholics in general who have made what many might see as sacrifices . . . for what?

The denial/non-denial from the Vatican of the Pope's hell comments was blackly comic. It scrupulously avoided explicitly contradicting the essence of what the headlines claimed, nor did in affirm that the Pope himself believed what all Catholics have always been told they had to believe.

Francis himself could have simply issued a short statement affirming that he subscribed to the orthodox view. He didn't. Why?

I actually don't think it has anything to do with what he believes or doesn't believe, if he in fact believes in anything. It's laughable to even consider the proposition that Bergoglio is a devout annihilationist (someone who subscribes to the theological claim that the souls of those who are not saved do not go to hell but simply cease to exist). I would be surprised if he has ever seriously considered the question for more than a few seconds in his adult life.

Why did he do it?

Because, to use the blunt language I used above, he enjoys screwing with us. He actually gets sadistic glee from knowing that he has, as it were, spit in our soup yet again. And he knows that we know he can do it anytime.

The Pope, trolling his own flock.

Should this make us angry? Of course. But I wonder how many Catholics are still angry at him. I have to confess that I'm not, or not really, in the same way that I assume I wouldn't necessarily be angry per se at, say, a political tyrant, at least after a certain point. Bergoglio is who he is. I can't change that. Presumably no one can.

But what of all the good bishops who continue to go along with it - this sadist, this troll, this monster, continuing to squat on the Throne of St. Peter?

Don't they have compassion for their flocks? How can they let this go on?


  1. "But what of all the good bishops who continue to go along with it?"

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Excellent point! Thank you!

    1. That is the bigger question.

      For a long time now the existence of a "bad Pope" has not been my worst concern. What is arguably far worse is the apparent and total disappearance of the entire prelature on the issue of a problem Pope. Even worse, this flight apparently includes the supposed orthodox prelates who from time to time issue nice, orthodox statements but do nothing to defend the faith beyond that. They don't even name names and condemn the papal lackeys who march all over the world spouting dubious and debatable doctrines or even rank heresy. It seems obvious that prelates would be in some way sensitive to the faithful for whom all this chaos has called into question the very idea of a Church that exhibits the 4 Marks.

      So it seems to me to be a monumental problem, one literally of "Biblical proportions" that the entire prelature is either on board with this Pope's approach or WORSE, is not, but will do absolutely nothing about it.

      To me that state of affairs seems to describe a diabolical lack of charity toward the flock these men are charged to and...we thought were committed to...protect and nurture.

      So my question goes out to Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider, Cardinal Sarah, and any others who fashion themselves upholders of the faith: What are you going to DO about this? Not what are you going to SAY, but DO?

    2. I know there are many of the following type of persons...
      1 liner reader
      1 liner sayer.

      In this case a 1 liner reader reads what the 1 liner sayer said ... Which is to the effect " there is no hell"

      So the 1 liner reader thinks to himself,,, I'm going out there and do everything God forbids and continually do the forbidden..
      BECAUSE repeat BECAUSE
      The one liner sayer (POPE) said i will just disappear.

      The one liner reader says to himself I really don't care if I disappear.

      So the one liner reader eventually dies (and he is a catholic) and is standing before God and says Your Pope said I don't go to hell cause there is none and I just want to disappear as Your Pope said I would.

      What do you think God the Judge will say?

    3. It's going to get worse... wait until he describes heaven!!

      Because God loves us so much He will have to correct us soon.

  2. If the Pope is a devilish "troll" playing with our Catholic minds then the Bishops are traitors for not protecting us against this wolf in shepard's clothing. Catholics, if they wish to fight these devils, need to pray, do penance and stop contributing money that feeds them.

  3. Oakes,

    "He descended into hell ....... But if there were really no hell, what did that mean? What did Jesus die to save us from?

    From what I understand, these are really two places. In old English "Hell" was the place of the dead, like Sheol or Hades, but not of the damned, like Gehenna.

    He descended to the Dead, not the Damned, and preached to them. The Way to Heaven wasn't open until Easter.

    1. Yes, that's true. I should have been clearer.

      I suppose a consistent annihilationist could argue that Jesus died to save us from non-existence, though that isn't, of course, what He Himself said. Either way, the Old Testament righteous had already been spared the worst fate.

    2. Actually, he descended into Hell. Read your Catechism. He opened the gates of Heaven to the just; though not to the hell of those condemned. You can read the Apostles creed, the Nicene creed, The Catechism of Trent, or the 1992 Catechism, and you'll find they're in agreement.

    3. CCC - 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

      480 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.
      481 Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.
      482 Roman Catechism I, 6, 3.
      483 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.

    4. Here's another explanation fron the Catholic Exchange from 2013;
      "Some Latin clarifies matters. In Latin, the word translated as hell in English is inferna. In the ancient world, this word had the generic meaning of underworld, not hell specifically. In the Vulgate it is used to translate a number of different Hebrew and Greek words from Scripture. Two Greek words are especially important here: hades and gehenna. Hades, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew sheol, is the biblical term for where righteous Israelites went who died before Christ. Gehenna, on the other hand, is the destination of the damned.

      It is to hades—better known to Catholics as the Limbo of the Fathers—that Christ descended, Church tradition says. But, significantly, the power of His presence was nonetheless was felt in the farthest reaches of hell, according to Aquinas."

  4. "Jesus died to save us from non-existence". If that were true it would have been too late for those who died before Easter, since they did not enter Heaven, God in his "mercy" would have annihilated them. (Surprise!)

  5. It's a natural human tendency to endow those in positions of authority with qualities they may not in fact possess. One just assumes, for example, that Pope Francis is mentally fit to faithfully executing the office of the Papacy.

    Well, what if he isn't?

    The Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero in order to clear the way for his Emperial Palace.

    So Francis wouldn't be the first ruler to entertain himself while Rome burned and then persecute Christianity for it. Some will certainly be offended by the comparison to the cruel Emperor Nero, but on a moral plane, isn't this exactly what Francis is doing towards the same end?

  6. I have thought for some time he is enjoying this, and I wonder if it isn't just a happy accident to him, the perc of the job he gets while he does what he is intended to do, rake Catholicism over the coals and turn it into something we won't recognize. As long as he's in there he may as well have fun! "It's FUN to be pope!" he said at the beginning.
    The reason I do think that is the case is his timing. A timeline could be created of his modus operandi.
    Select significant date, vigil, or actual season, such as the Triduum.
    Come out with outrageous or heretic statement or act.
    Use unreliable people as trial balloons.
    Create the buzz. "Did he, or didn't he".
    Enjoy the excitement, knowing that YOU hold all the cards.
    Poke em in the eye.
    Resist corrections that include actual Catholic teaching, don't refute flatly, issue non-committal and nebulous half-denials, or indicate you were misquoted, blah blah.
    Leave it there, for maximum anxieties in the flock.
    Enjoy the glow of being talked about, the center of attention, hell's bells, you have usurped the attention from Christ Himself!
    During the interregnum (the period between scandals), lunch at Santa Marta with cronies to select next escapade.
    Rinse and repeat.

    He's enjoying this.

  7. Your 7th full paragraph ('It was another gut-punch to all faithful Catholics...')may well explain the motivation of Pope Francis. He is not the first such person in the Catholic world, maybe just the first elected pope in many decades or centuries to act in this way. And perhaps it is allowed by God to test His cardinals, bishops, etc. Indeed, where are they? I saw that Antonio Socci mentioned a cardinal politely 'warning' him that he might be deposed. I thank him for his effort but I think it is well past time for polite warnings. I suppose we'll have to see what's next.

  8. Fr. Allen, Twosunrun and Kathleen, thank you for your contributions to Oakes' fine commentary. This is not an impossible situation, surely, and reality is on your side, not on the side of Francis. He seems to work really hard at stirring things up if life gets too quiet for him or if people are angry at him for personal reasons. (For instance, the airplane wedding--he didn't like the criticism.) There are other instances where it bothered him, so his soft spots remain a bit vulnerable. But as a rule, he seems to enjoy 'getting a rise' of tempers, and he's pretty good at it.

  9. I love how a priest pops up in a combox to tell us to "read our Catechism," as though we're all Protestants or something, expected to form ourselves all alone. Yes, we read the Catechism. Yes, we do our best to educate ourselves about the truths of the Faith. And day after day, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, decade after decade, our priests miss opportunities from the pulpit or--worse still--proclaim falsehoods themselves. Our bishops (when they are saying anything at all) openly contradict the Catechism about illegal immigration especially, in order to line their own pockets. Pope Francis is flooding the world with heresies, and from two remaining Cardinals (count them; two) there comes forth something approaching a squeak. Yes, Father, it is our responsibility to learn. It is also the responsibility of the ordained to teach.

    1. I agree with much of that, Justina, but Fr. Allen is on your side. He's one of the best.

    2. You are right; I seem to have stepped into the circular firing squad for a moment there. I retract both the tone of those remarks, and the fact that they appear to be directed towards one particular priest.

  10. I had a bad dream once. PF visited our house and basically condemned us for being traditionalist. Disrupted my sleep significantly. True story.
    Read one too many stories of him sucker-punching faithful Catholics. To be honest, the PF headlines are now for me just noise.

    BTW, I think the traditional term for the "hell" Christ descended into is the
    "Limbo of the Fathers."

  11. He came to the Papacy with an agenda and he is dutifully striving to implement it. It is likely he truly believes he is merciful and doing the work of The Holy Ghost.

    As for the next conclave, Our Pope and Our Cross will have created prolly 50% of the Cardinalate (He is at 40% now) and so he can be said to actualising Hope as that theological virtue can be said to really only exist when things seem Hopeless.

    So, there's that.