On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behavior that we have showed you. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!
It wasn’t exactly clear what offenses the pope had in mind, but given the tenor of his pontificate thus far, one imagines that the cause of his contrition may very well have been nothing more than the audaciousness of Pope Innocent III, who dared to send the Poor Catholics religious order on a mission to convert the Waldensians; that they may renounce their heresies and return to the one true Church.
In any case, speaking to the assembly of heretics, Pope Francis said (as reported, in Italian, on the Holy See website):
The unity which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit does not mean uniformity. Our brothers are united by a common origin but are not identical to each other. This is clear in the New Testament, where, despite being called brothers all those who shared the same faith in Jesus Christ, you realize that not all Christian communities, of which they were part, had the same style, or an identical internal organization. Even within the same small community could be seen different charisms (cf. 1 Cor 12-14), and even in announcing the Gospel there was diversity and sometimes contrasts (cf. Acts 15.36 to 40).
This isn’t the first time this pope has tickled the ears of the heretics with the idea that “unity does not mean uniformity,” but it just isn’t true in the sense that he’s laboring to present it.
And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communication of the breaking of bread and in prayers … And the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul. (Acts 2:42, 4:32)
Clearly, it is not the case that we are “united by a common origin;” rather, it is in holding fast to “the doctrine,” otherwise known as the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles, that a “multitude of believers” can be of “but one heart and one soul.”
Pope Francis cannot bring himself to preach in such manner, and the reason is obvious; he simply does not believe that doctrine is all that important relative to unity.
So what does Pope Francis believe about doctrine?
We should not be concerned simply about falling into doctrinal error, but about remaining faithful to this light-filled path of life and wisdom. (Evangelii Gaudium)
He believes that doctrine is in some way opposed to “life and wisdom.”
Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed. (ibid.)
He believes that doctrine is somehow opposed to “pastoral ministry.”
For those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel. (ibid.)
He believes that doctrine somehow obscures “the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel.”
A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. (ibid.)
He believes that doctrine somehow closes “the door to grace.”
In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. (ibid.)
He believes that doctrine does not serve “the concrete needs of the present time.”
All of this adds up to the reason why Pope Francis is so quick to dismiss the Waldensians’ (and other heretics’) rejection of Catholic doctrine as little more than “differences” in “style, internal organization, and charisms,” such that the bonds of brotherhood somehow remain.
According to Pope Francis:
One of the main fruits that the ecumenical movement has already fostered over the years is the rediscovery of the brotherhood that unites all those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been baptized in His name. This bond is not based simply on human criteria, but on the radical sharing of the founding experience of the Christian life: the encounter with the love of God that is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, and the transforming action of the Holy Spirit to assist us on the path of life. The rediscovery of this brotherhood allows us to grasp the deep bond that already unites us, despite our differences.
You see, for Pope Francis, having simply been baptized is enough to establish an unbreakable bond of brotherhood between the Church, her true sons and daughters, and those who fail to “persevere in the doctrine of the Apostles” (cf Acts 2:42).
This, however, is a radical departure from the Church’s understanding that those who refuse the one true faith that comes to us from God through the sacred magisterium are not to be considered as “brothers,” but as a people so detached from the Christian community as to be considered “heathens and publicans.”
As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered – so the Lord commands – as a heathen and a publican. (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943)
One might argue that Pope Francis differs from his pre-conciliar predecessors only insofar as tactics are concerned, as if Pope Pius XII and his predecessors going all the way back to Innocent III and beyond, were needlessly harsh in their approach to the heretics, and therefore guilty of establishing barriers that rendered their entrance into “full communion” less likely, even if only inadvertently.
After all, Pope Francis did tell the Waldensian Evangelicals:
The rediscovery of this brotherhood allows us to grasp the deep bond that already unites us, despite our differences. It is a communion still on the way – and the unity is on the way – a communion, with prayer, with continuous personal and communitarian conversion, with the help of theologians, we hope, trusting in the action of the Holy Spirit, full and visible communion in truth and charity can come to be.
Don’t be fooled by the pope’s alleged “hope” for unity.
If nothing else is entirely clear, it is obvious that Pope Francis, given his negative view of doctrine as demonstrated above, believes that “full and visible communion” can be achieved in some way other than “the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it,” to avail themselves of “the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ” (cf Mortalium Animos, Pope Pius XI).
That presumably is why he finds it so easy to downplay the doctrines of the faith when speaking with heretics of a “communion” as yet to come.
If all that has been said thus far isn’t disturbing enough, Pope Francis once again demonstrated, in his address to the Waldensians, just how willing he is to ply the protestant trade of twisting Sacred Scripture in order to accommodate his views.
For instance, he cited 1 Corinthians 12-14 as if to give the impression that the Waldensians are primarily distinguished from faithful Catholics by their differing charisms, such as they are describe by St. Paul therein.
This is an egregious act of hubris given the fact that the very reference cited serves as an indictment of Pope Francis and his unwillingness to teach the doctrine of the faith with clarity:
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either in revelation or in knowledge or in prophecy or in doctrine? Even things without life that give sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction of sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue plain speech, how shall it be known what is said? For you shall be speaking into the air. (1 Cor 14:6-9)
He also cites, and just as falsely so, Acts 15:36-40 in order to suggest that the “sharp contention” described therein between St. Paul and St. Barnabas, one of the Twelve, is in some way comparable to the relationship between the Waldensian heretics and the Catholic Church.
In no way can it be argued that these great Saints were engaged in some manner of doctrinal dispute, as if one or the other of them had adopted a heresy. The very suggestion would be laughable if it wasn’t coming from the lips of a pope.
In the present case, however, it is no laughing matter.
With every passing day, it is becoming ever more clear that those who take the ramblings of Pope Francis to heart, whether they come in the form of a sermon, a speech, an interview, or even an encyclical letter, are certain to lose the Catholic faith. It’s not a question of if, but when.
It’s also becoming increasingly clear that something must be done to reign-in this pontificate that has been nothing short of a wholesale disaster thus far, as all signs point to the fact that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
This is the same pope who said that his presence during the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in October was “a guarantee of orthodoxy,” and I think we all recall what happened. (If not, take a look at the midterm relatio on the Holy See website.)
Now, we can look forward (provided the Church is not mercifully delivered from the horrifying prospect) of Pope Francis presiding over the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in less than four months.
Where o’ where are the true Princes of Holy Church at this moment in time when the Chief Shepherd is so very obviously a ravenous wolf?