Twitter (as X will likely be known for as long as it exists, whether Elon likes it or not) often memorializes fleeting thoughts that otherwise would have vanished, leaving the world at large none the wiser.
Entering spur of the moment ideas into the social media historical record – where they sometimes take on a life of their own – is risky business. Commentary posted in a fit of passion, for example, all too often comes back to bite its author, leading to embarrassment, regret, and sometimes even serious and lasting repercussions.
There is, however, an upside to putting top-of-the-mind ideas into play on social media inasmuch as doing so sometimes forces us to think them through in more detail, to defend them, or perhaps to admit that they never had any merit in the first place.
Several days ago, I had just such an experience as I tweeted the following with very little pre-meditation:
Without any specific person in mind… the resist-the-pope movement as a whole – in particular as it concerns its most vocal leaders – strikes me as rather effeminate… weakness, surrender, victimhood. #BatteredCatholicSyndrome
As I write, most of the reactions have been “likes” and “shares” (not surprising considering the make-up of my followers), but a handful of other commenters pressed for more specificity.
On reflection, my observation is perhaps better stated to say that I find the resist-the-pope position to be effeminate (not feminine, but rather the opposite of manful), the posture of which toward Francis is well represented by the following profession:
We who resist-the-pope plainly observe and publicly admit that Francis routinely belittles tradition and all who cling to it. He seems clearly to despise those of us who are deeply committed to the one true Faith, both lay and ordained.
We note with considerable angst that he gives succor to the enemies of Christ: homosexualists, abortionists, and globalists.
We despair at how often he denigrates, both in word and in deed, Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and our Holy Mother, the Church. In fact, it may be said that he actively opposes the Church and her God-given mission.
We attest that he is at the very least heterodox; more properly, heretical, and perhaps even more accurately still, an apostate.
And yet, even though we make great fanfare of opposing his errors, we have no choice but to endure his abuses like lashes upon the Lord’s back, to honor him as occupant of the Chair of St. Peter, and to affirm that neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from communion with Francis.
Moreover, we feel obligated to encourage our wounded confreres to likewise remain in communion with Francis lest they lose their way.
Though St. Robert Bellarmine said, “It would be the most miserable condition of the Church if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd,” this is where we find ourselves.
In the end, when it comes to the persecution that we suffer at his hands, we are as captives utterly powerless, so much so that we dare not even whisper aloud what all but the most unintelligent and uninterested can plainly see: The man is not Catholic.
The most we can do is lament his wicked ways as we pray for the day when we will be rescued by a new pope, a holy one (please God!) who understands the Faith as we understand it, and who will do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves, namely, to tell us that Jorge Bergoglio was not a member of the Holy Roman Church after all, much less was he her visible head on earth.
You get the idea. In short, the resist-the-pope position – despite so often being clad in the rhetoric of false bravado (e.g., Michael Matt’s favorite battle whimper, We resist him to his face!) – is one of utter and complete resignation.
Now, let’s talk about the hashtag #BatteredCatholicSyndrome.
Analogies always fall short. In the present case, I am aware that drawing a comparison between resist-the-pope proponents and persons (typically women) who persist in an abusive relationship invites the former to attempt a counter-analogy of their own:
Yes, and just as the abusive husband does not cease to be one’s husband, so too does Francis remain the pope, wickedness and all. We can resist an abusive spouse, but we cannot take away their identity as husband or wife.
A similar argument is often made that an abusive father remains one’s father. A lousy pope is still pope!
Of course, both arguments fail spectacularly insofar as the pope is not sacramentally joined to the papacy, nor is he joined to the office biologically or genetically. The Roman Pontiff can freely abdicate the throne of Peter at any time, just as a member of the Church can ipso facto sever himself from the Mystical Body of Christ via schism, or heresy, or apostasy. (See Pope Pius XII concerning membership in the Church, Mystici Corporis 22, 23, 69).
Returning now to #BatteredCatholicSyndrome…
I did some research on the most common reasons women gave for remaining in an abusive relationship and I discovered that a number of striking parallels exist in the resist-the-pope movement. For example:
- I believed that if I tried harder, there was a chance that I could change him, to help him become a better person.
This calls to mind how often the leaders of the resist-the-pope movement create petitions, joint statements, and multi-signatory letters urging Francis to reject his grave errors and to affirm the true faith. Amoris Laetitia alone gave rise to dozens of them. Just last week, a new “Filial Appeal” was started in an attempt to amass signatures from bishops, priests, scholars and authors calling on Francis “to urgently withdraw” Fiducia Supplicans.
Campaigns of this nature amount to little more than a fruitless attempt to make Jorge Bergoglio a better man; to turn the abuser into something that he presently is not, namely, a Catholic.
- I blamed myself. I told myself that I deserve it.
One cannot count how many times members of the resist-the-pope crowd have stated, “We don’t always get the pope we want; we sometimes get the pope we deserve. Look at the faithlessness in the Church, the scandal, the sacrilege, etc. We don’t deserve a holy pope!” (As if a kind and loving father would ever wish an angry and violent spouse for his ungrateful daughter.)
- I felt powerless. I didn’t believe that I had the resources to do anything differently. In hindsight, I had agency all along, but I didn’t realize it. Once I did, fear kept me from acting on it.
Resist-the-pope proponents believe wholeheartedly that they are in full possession of the ability, and at times the duty, to determine which papal teachings are false and which are true, and yet they delight in telling themselves and other abuse victims, “We don’t have the ability to say that Francis isn’t a member of the Church, much less the authority to declare that he isn’t pope!”
As it is, the ability and the duty that one has to identify grave error in matters of faith and morals, as well as to point out those who purvey them, is the same that can make it known whether or not a certain individual is a member of the Catholic Church. We’ll return to this momentarily.
- I was afraid that if I didn’t endure in the abusive relationship, I would lose other valuable relationships, I’d be alienated from certain family members, friends, and important professional contacts.
There isn’t a papal resister alive who does not realize that publicly stating that Jorge Bergoglio is not Catholic (even without directly addressing his claims to the papacy) is to brand one’s chest with the scarlet S, to invite immediate ridicule, to have one’s opinions immediately dismissed out of hand, and to be summarily cancelled from the entire conciliar enterprise.
They know very well that he who speaks the obvious can forget having a relationship with any of the men in the popular cleric cult – Burke, Muller, Schneider, Strickland, etc.
There can be no doubt that this is a major factor in keeping many resist-the-pope professionals “in (fake) communion” with Francis.
Lastly, and so closely related as to form just one reason:
- I knew that the negative financial impact of not staying in the abusive relationship would be substantial. I couldn’t imagine how I would make ends meet without it.
There is very little doubt in my mind that these final two factors together account for the single biggest reason why resist-the-pope professionals persist in their position.
Do I mean to say that each and every one of them is consciously doing so merely for financial and personal profit?
No, I can’t say that. While I think it highly likely that some are playing the game for fortune and fame, others, I believe, are not. In all cases, God alone will judge.
The simple fact of the matter – undisputed by all who are worthy of the name Christian – is that Holy Mother Church has given us all that we need in order to avoid Battered Catholic Syndrome.
That is to say, she has equipped us with the wherewithal to identify our enemies in the Faith, and most overlooked in the resist-the-pope milieu, Divine Revelation itself has plainly given us instruction as to how we are to treat them:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. (Galatians 1:8-9)
To be anathema in the sense intended by St. Paul entails “exclusion from the society of the faithful” (See Catholic Encyclopedia), that is, severance from the Mystical Body of Christ.
So critically important is this exhortation concerning those who dare preach a false gospel that St. Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, saw fit to repeat it in two successive sentences. And yet, it is routinely ignored by men who should (and sometimes do) know better.
In conclusion, if someone you love suffers from Battered Catholic Syndrome, encourage them to man (or woman) the Hell up, to repeat after Jimmy Buffet, “It’s my own damn fault,” and to use the gifts that God gave us to free ourselves of ersatz communion with our enemies.