In 2009, CNA began publishing my Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II columns. At first, my writing therein struck a neo-conservative chord (albeit with traditional overtones) born of a naïve belief that the Council documents are beyond reproach; we need only interpret and implement them by applying the so-called “hermeneutic of continuity.” This is, of course, the “company line” being sold by Rome, and back then, I was buying it.
The tenor of those columns gradually became more and more traditional, mirroring as they did my awakening to the tragedy of a non-binding council that all too often employed imprecise language and even includes propositions irreconcilable with the truths of the Faith.
Along the way, my editors at CNA gave me considerable leverage given their rather “main stream” Catholic status, and yet there were red flags too, of course.
For example, in July 2011, I sent a request for comment to the Knights of Columbus regarding New York State Senators Addabbo and Carlucci, both of whom cast decisive votes in favor of “gay marriage,” even as each proudly boasted of their good standing in the Knights of Columbus to support their Catholic credentials.
Within the hour of making that request, CNA made it clear to me that the Knights are untouchable, and no such story will be published.
This was perhaps the first concrete sign that CNA, like so many other Catholic entities, is driven first and foremost by a concern for self-preservation; so when push comes to shove, they’ll toe damn near any line that happens to be cast by those who occupy the halls of power.
Prior to Pope Benedict’s abdication, it was easier to miss, but now that Pope Francis is at the helm, it’s entirely obvious.
For instance, on February 25th, Cardinal Mueller hosted an event in Rome to present his book “Poor for poor: The mission of the Church,” which is a collection of his writings on Liberation Theology as learned at the knee of its founding father, Gustavo Gutiérrez.
Not only was Cardinal Mueller’s mentor present that day; he was honored at the event.
As reported by Catholic News Agency:
Called on the stage for a short speech during the presentation of the book, Fr. Gutierrez, departing from the original ideas from his book “A Theology of Liberation,” stressed that “the idea of service comes directly from the Second Vatican Council.” Christians, he said, are called “to serve and to search for the image of Christ in every man and go toward the ends of the earth and peripheries, as Pope Francis invites us to do.”
How do Fr. Gutierrez’s comments represent a departure from his “original ideas?”
As anyone interested enough to read “Notes for a Theology of Liberation” by Fr. Gutierrez can discover for themselves, they really don’t “depart” in any way whatsoever. That little qualifier was gratuitously added to give readers the impression that the liberation theologians themselves have been rehabilitated by a change in position, when in point of fact, the only thing that has actually taken place is that sympathetic characters, including the pope, have arisen to power.
Another glaring example of CNA’s tumble from credibility can be found in a column written by Deacon Keith Fournier wherein he canonized Pope Francis’ “brother bishop” Tony Palmer while gushing about how he labored so diligently for unity; a preposterous notion given the fact that he died a heretic.
Having called attention to this affront to the Faith, a senior contact at CNA simply replied, “I did not write the column, and I don’t think I need to reply;” a turn-a-blind-eye editorial approach that’s apparently applicable only to screed that dovetails nicely with the pope’s own assaults against the Faith.
Most recently, on September 19th, CNA ran an article denying rumors (initially published by the French journal La Croix) that Pope Francis is upset about a soon to be published book, entitled “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church,” soon to be released by Ignatius Press.
In the book, five cardinals offer essays refuting Cardinal Walter Kasper’s suggestion, made at the Consistory of Cardinals in February, for a “pastoral approach” that would invite civilly divorced and “re-married” Catholics to Holy Communion apart from any real remedy of their adulterous situation.
Catholic News Agency offers:
Controversy over the subject arose when Cardinal Kasper delivered a prominent two-hour address to the February 2014 cardinals’ consistory, which focused on the topic of the family. He has advocated his positon in other interviews and speeches as well.
During the consistory speech, Cardinal Kasper asked “is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person” when a person who has been divorced and remarried is excluded from receiving Communion. He suggested that for “the smaller segment of the divorced and remarried,” perhaps they could be admitted to “the sacrament of penance, and then of Communion.”
The contributors to the Ignatius Press book write that the Bible and the Church Fathers do not support the practice advocated by Cardinal Kasper. The authors say that there is no contradiction between “genuine mercy and compassion” and Catholic doctrine and pastoral practice. Catholic teaching is “based on the teaching of Jesus himself,” they say, according to the Ignatius Press summary of the book.
The contributors also consider the Eastern Orthodox approach to divorce and remarriage and Catholic resistance to it. They find “serious theological and pastoral difficulties” in the practice.
As for Pope Francis’ role in all of this, CNA writes:
Coverage of the rumors surrounding the Ignatius Press book has been prominent among those who speculate or assume that Pope Francis intends to side with Cardinal Kasper’s position at the bishops’ synod.
Pope Francis himself has reaffirmed the indissolubility and lifelong nature of Christian marriage, such as his April 2014 remarks to the bishops of South Africa.
This is just pathetic, and frankly, disappointing given that I know some of the people involved.
So determined is CNA to keep up the illusion that Pope Francis is committed to safeguarding the sacred deposit of faith from distortion and corruption that they are shamelessly pretending that his thoughts on Kasper’s disastrous suggestions (which the Holy Father openly applauded as “profound and serene theology” before the entire consistory!) are somehow unknown.
As things stand today, CNA would be more honestly named BNA – the Bergoglio News Agency.
While many are praying for the Synod to clearly reaffirm the Faith, I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong, I would like nothing more than to have a pope who is serious about “watching over the purity of the Faith and the integrity of Catholic discipline,” (cf Notre Charge Apostolic – Pope St. Pius X) and surrounds himself with men of like mind, but that’s simply not the cast of characters who will be participating in the Synod.
My prayer, therefore, is more realistic; namely, that the devious designs of the wayward men running the show in Rome today will be so plainly stated that even the CNA’s of the world will be forced to acknowledge that there’s a choice to be made:
It’s either follow the regime or follow Christ.