25

PopeWatch: Divider?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

A fascinating article about Pope Francis, prior to him being made Pope, by Mervyn F. Bendle may be read at Quadrant Online.  PopeWatch was struck by this passage:

Nevertheless, such problems were substantial and the criticism he faces has been emphatic. For example, a presently serving provincial of another Latin American country and one of the most senior figures in the Society of Jesus confided his negative views in an e-mail quoted by Paul Vallely, in his new biography, Pope Francis: Untying the Knots (2013):

Yes, I know Bergoglio. He’s a person who’s caused a lot of problems in the Society and is highly controversial in his own country … As Provincial he generated divided loyalties: some groups almost worshipped him, while others would have nothing to do with him … He left the Society of Jesus in Argentina destroyed [and] we have spent two decades trying to fix the chaos that the man left us … It will be a catastrophe for the Church to have someone like him in the Apostolic See.

 As Vallely observes, “this constituted an extraordinary counterblast” to the acclaim that otherwise met the election of Pope Francis, but it was “far from a lone voice” from within the Jesuit order to which Bergoglio had dedicated a major part of his adult life.

Go here to read the rest.  It is remarkable to PopeWatch how little analysis there has been of the life of Pope Francis prior to his being elected Pope.  The type of polarizing personality mentioned in the passage above seems to be demonstrated in the current papacy.  Here is the full quote cited:

 

“Yes I know Bergoglio. He’s a person who’s caused a lot of problems in the Society and is highly controversial in his own country. In addition to being accused of having allowed the arrest of two Jesuits during the time of the Argentinean dictatorship, as provincial he generated divided loyalties: some groups almost worshipped him, while others would have nothing to do with him, and he would hardly speak to them. It was an absurd situation. He is well-trained and very capable, but is surrounded by this personality cult which is extremely divisive. He has an aura of spirituality which he uses to obtain power. It will be a catastrophe for the Church to have someone like him in the Apostolic See. He left the Society of Jesus in Argentina destroyed with Jesuits divided and institutions destroyed and financially broken. We have spent two decades trying to fix the chaos that the man left us.”

 

Many more articles like this one would be a great resource in attempting to understand Pope Francis and where he is likely to lead the Church.

Share With Friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

25 Comments

  1. You could be describing Jesus of Nazareth. Sometimes, when you aggressively pursue God’s agenda, there will be “cleavage”
    The important standard of evaluation are his actions- calling someone to make a pastoral phone call? Calling attention to the evangelizing mission of the Church and how wide her arms should be?
    The problems I see people having with Pope Francis are mostly subjective opinions about the effects of his word usage or his breaking of “small” traditions (I think he healed some men on the Sabbath or maybe they were eating heads of grain, I forget).
    The man is orthodox and has reinforced every important dogma (even mentioning Hell re: the mafia and is quick to acknowledge the work of the devil in his homilies – how old fashioned!) He has put the Catholic Church out there for the world to behold and has aggressively cleaned up clericalism and refocused even the bishops in this country toward a simpler life and toward a Church that is not “self-referential.”
    Most of the gripes against the Holy Father are just sour grapes – every single Saint had the same divisiveness and I question the motives of those who oppose him so vigorously.

  2. “every single Saint had the same divisiveness and I question the motives of those who oppose him so vigorously.”

    Of course you do Nick, because there can never be honest criticism of a pope, right? Pope Francis has to be judged on his words and his actions, as were all the popes that came before him, and his fans do him no favor when they act as if he is above criticism and examination.

  3. I don’t really have a comment on the characterization of the pope offered in that email. It could be reasonably accurate or it could be full of smoke. However, this comment is pretty loaded and may tell more about the accuser than the pope.:

    He left the Society of Jesus in Argentina destroyed with Jesuits divided and institutions destroyed and financially broken. We have spent two decades trying to fix the chaos that the man left us.”

    Someone who upset the Jesuit order (order of things) 20 years ago could be a hero. The SJ in Latin America of 20-40 years ago was not something that should have carried on. The comment suggests to me that the accuser might be a liberation theology radical and hostile to the pope for not being one. I dunno…

  4. In fairness to the Pope, the state of the Society of Jesus here there and the next place has been such that one would expect large blocs of Jesuits to be alienated from their superior – especially if he were doing his job. When someone else says person ‘x’ is ‘divisive’, that’s commonly a good sign about person x if the organization in question is corrupted.

  5. Could be Art. That is why more investigation and facts about the background of Pope Francis would be helpful. The lack of curiosity about this man before he became Pope I find highly surprising.

  6. The full quote is mostly puff, it has little that is substantial. However, it did leave me with two thoughts:

    “In addition to being accused of having allowed the arrest of two Jesuits during the time of the Argentinean dictatorship…”
    This has been refuted. The only people who continue to harp on it are people who are to the left of Pope Francis. So the inevitable question is, how many people in the Society of Jesus who think he is “divisive” are Liberation Theology adherents? It could be the majority of these critics. (Oops, I typed this before I read RL’s comment on Liberation Theology, but I agree wholeheartedly).

    “We have spent two (?!) decades trying to fix the chaos that the man left us”
    Really? That is an awful long time. Bergoglio was Provincial for only six years (1973-79) and that ended 35 years ago. So his successors took decades to ‘fix’ the ‘chaos’? It would appear that the ‘chaos’ is either exaggerated or due to broader problems unrelated to Bergoglio’s stewardship. He joined the Argentine episcopacy in 1992, so where are the comments on ‘chaos’ arising from that service?

  7. “He is well-trained and very capable, but is surrounded by this personality cult which is extremely divisive. He has an aura of spirituality which he uses to obtain power.”
    —–
    That seems like an apt description of Barack Hussein Obama.
    —–
    1st Samuel 8:4-5:
    —–
    Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.”
    —–
    And the peepul received Barack Hussein Obama and Jorge Bergoglio.

  8. “Why are paragraph spaces removed? Are we going “green” around here?”
    I’m sure there is an HTML tag that will issue a line feed for paragraph spacing. I’ve been too lazy to look it up, so I’ve been sticking hyphens in instead. I’ll eventually get around tuit.

  9. Mac and PWP, Money quote: “The lack of curiosity about this man before he became Pope I find highly surprising.” Hope and Change! This certainly is true for the venal ignoramus slumming in the WH.

    Which product was more dishonestly marketed: Amazing Live Sea Monkeys or Barack Obama?

    I am giving Pope Francis the “benefit of the doubt.” It seems His Holiness knows nothing about the “chain of command.” I suggest his response to the next (he is about to receive 10,000) provocative letter would be to order his secretary to compose/send a form letter advising the crank to ask the parish priest.

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.'” (Matt. 10:34-36)

    The thing is: I do not hear Pope Francis say, “Take up your cross and follow Jesus.” He seems to say “There. There.”

  10. [br] Hard to know what to make of it, really. As Art said, the Jesuits have been an order in turmoil for quite some time now. Also, he has explicitly “repented” of his behavior as Provincial. Further, any article that takes claims that C&L is “fascist” seriously is…not exactly capable of careful discernment.[br]

    I think perhaps a better key to the man is one that was pointed out to me recently: given that the Pope is man who came of age during and survived a period of dictatorship and turmoil, it is safe to say that virtues such as clarity of thought and speech will not have deep roots. Such are not conducive to survival.

  11. “Of course you do Nick, because there can never be honest criticism of a pope, right?”

    I didn’t question criticism, I questioned “vigorous opposition.” What is going on here is nitpicking that has morphed in to outright slander of our preeminent bishop. What is the point of bringing up his past except to cause division? That article has him on both sides of liberation theology

    It goes from “An arch-conservative military chaplain was brought in to take over the teaching, while “Liberation Theology was actually forbidden”, as a former student and now rector of a Catholic university recalls.”

    to “Bergoglio also witnessed the emergence of one of the most important theological movements of the twentieth century, one that was also thoroughly embroiled in the surge of leftist revolutionary activity sponsored by the communist bloc.”

    to “evidence is now being cited that the Pope is sympathetic to the ideals of the movement.”

    What is going on here? Are you really criticizing the Pope for his good or are you just smearing his reputation? Do you really think you are following St. Paul’s instruction in 1 Thess. “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. ”

    What I see here is baseless criticism and a move to slander the man’s character and reputation instead of his actual deeds. Beware the divisions you cause.

  12. “evil’s power is in alienation and strife” I just read that in Gunton’s essay in “Tolkien, A Celebration”.
    We know that we use critical assessment as a way of understanding something…i t doesn’t necessarily mean a personal attack, but can mean trying to understand a person today by getting to know more about his yesterday.
    We know we are all works in progress and the pope is still learning and growing too. Thanks to some of the links and suggested readings from Donald McClarey, I can see that he has “been there and done that” trying to find the right way to respond to the Church, the Council, the needs of his own Argentine people, and now all people.
    .
    Both Francis and Ignatius are very passionate models. I imagine he looks more to them and to Jesus than to Peron. While reading the links I was touched by a quote about him being homesick when in Frankfurt (studying Guardini Yay!) He has been influenced by his native culture but he also realizes, like Dorothy in Oz, that he is “not in Kansas anymore”.
    He did not choose Ignatius Loyola or some Jesuit saint’s name, but he shifted gears.The legacy of both Ignatius and Francis has been misunderstood even by their own followers. I don’t want to contribute to alienation and strife! but I hope to stay stong and not veer to the left or to the right ( first chapter 7 verse of Joshua)

  13. I think this Pope is certainly divisive. And confusing. He says one thing to one person and then the opposite to the other. He is NOT friendly to tradition although I am hoping he throws a bone to the Franciscans of the Immaculate who are and will be faithful to him.

    Not looking forward to the Synod of bishops as it appears all the old liberals have not yet died off.

  14. Obviously all of us reading/commenting here are intensely focused on the fullness of our Faith and the welfare of the Church. I at least also look for the leadership that in my own lifetime I have looked for in any Pope.
    I believe that our collective porcupine bristles have been raised by the kidnapping of Pope Francis’ loose public statements by those who are looking for a nod for homosexuality and its (en)trails, contraception, abortion, dissolution of Church authority and the like; it is a blessing that so many shed light from opposite points of view on the present Holy Father: but one keeps hoping for a clear and salvific guidance from a successor to Peter (who fell, but was strengthened for his ministry by Christ): perhaps this day will yet come.

  15. The Society of Jesus in Latin America had big problems before Padre Jorge Bergoglio. It had them during Padre Jorge Bergoglio’s time there and it has problems now.

  16. Penguins Fan

    Indeed there were and are problems in the Jesuits in South America. It was communicated to me by Jesuits that Jorge Bergoglio was seen as a conservative churchman by his fellow Jesuits in Argentina.

    See it is always good to get the complete picture when trying to understand a person or a situation. Words such as ‘divisive’ are two-edged swords.

  17. I will try to avoid “subjective opinion” and only focus on purely objective thinking. (re. Nick) 🙂

    Alright, let’s just have the Sgt. Joe Friday-facts that have drawn my attention. Bergoglio, as far as his education goes, has failed to demonstrate a capacity for critical thinking, for consequent synthesis of ideas, and for clarity of enunciating his conclusions. Let me show where I see this originates. I know this is repeating some of these facts for some people, but I want to be on the same page for anyone else.

    First, there is PF’s failure to complete his Ph.D at a tough theologate (Frankfurt’s Sankt Georgen), something originally omitted by the fawning progressive media. Contrast that with BXVI’s doctoral and post-doctoral theses (on Augustine’s doctrine of Church; the latter on Bonaventure’s notion of history). BXVI was required to complete the 2nd these for his habilitationsschrift, qualifying him for a professorship. In the case of JP2, very similar academic history: doctoral thesis on S John of the Cross at the Angelicum, and post-doctoral thesis on the ethical system of phenomenologist Max Scheler. Each of these two popes successfully defended their theses against strongly competent faculty representatives. Each of these two popes spent years honing their thought processes, communicating with brainy students bombarding and plumbing their intellects with pithy questions.

    And Bergoglio? Started his thesis on (apparently) Romano Guardini, never finished it. The other Jesuits from this era wont explain more, except one reputedly stated, “That is water under the bridge,” wishing obviously to close off the discussion. Failure to complete a thesis is important for someone who eventually came to run arguably the world’s largest teaching institution. Usually, in the Jesuits, failure to complete a Ph.D. is a disqualification for rectorship of a major educational faculty or even the position of provincial: how would one be able to communicate on an equal level with a peer. Yet somehow, support for Bergoglio in the Argentina province advanced him to key positions: master of novices; rector of the San Miguel faculty; provincial superior for Argentina; then coadjutor bishop for Buenos Aires. Doesn’t this strike anyone as singular?
    br
    With this deeply flawed education as a background, there is an explanation for PF’s fascination with glib word-masters, like Cards. Gerhard Ludwig Muller & Walter Kasper and mad-cow-diseased theologians like Gustavo Gutierrez or Leonardo Boff (the same Leonardo Boff who called Ratzinger guilty of “religious terrorism” and who has called America and Israel “fundamentalist terrorist states”). As documented in the Mervyn F. Bendle article Donald McClarey references above, PF contacted Boff on eco-theology (a new branch of Liberation Theology), we can conclude, approvingly; and very likely is seeking to incorporate Boff’s insanity into future pronouncements (“eco-theology…seeks to liberate the earth from the oppressive presence of human beings and their technology”). When you dont have a firm analytical grounding in your own well-examined Catholic positions, you are bound to incorporate heterodox ideas of “visionary” new thinkers (much like the LWCF’s love affair with Barbara Hubbard Marx) as the best ideas available. As an additional example, witness the disaster of PF naming marriage-dissident Card. Kasper as keynote speaker at the February cardinals’ convocation. Kasper is just plain wrong, and Bergoglio couldn’t figure it out: that even the Pope has no power to declare invalid a properly constituted marriage. It must have been a shock for someone to point it out to him. Maybe not.
    br
    So, we are saddled with a confused, at times shockingly incoherent, Teacher of the Faith, who doesnt know exactly what he should teach and why. A Pope that at a open air Mass in Sardinia pronounced (in a highly charged political atmosphere to cheering throngs): “We don’t want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the center as God wants, not money,” but without offering a clearly analyzed answer for the “problem”. Earlier, a throng welcoming PF to Sardinia was chanting, “Work! Work! Work!”, which PF called a “prayer” as he urged on “workers’ rights.” (A very Peronist technique, of course.) So: Is PF arguing to do away with the monetary system? To eliminate the world-wide banking system? What does he propose to replace the present economic system? Why are there no jobs for these people? Hmmm? Answers, anyone? He doesnt have them.

    Maybe one of his newly appointed Vatican banker-theologians can quickly throw him a life-line. Or Boff and Gutierrez, more likely. It is hard to be both Pope and revolutionary. And history has not been kind to the pluperfect ultimate establishment types who try to be both.

  18. Lets assume these previous critics are acting in good faith, and an even bigger leap that they’re correct. Church history is full of people who had offices, or greatness, thrust upon them, despite their past, and they cooperated with grace to the benefit and consolation of the Mystical Body of Christ. Becket is an immediate example that comes to mind. So I would urge them to have more faith and not obstruct the Spirit.

  19. Unfortunately Tom for every Becket there are many scoundrels who attained high office in the Church and who did great harm. (That is why we celebrate saints like Becket because they are so exceptional.) Trust in the Holy Spirit to make everything all right negates the responsibility of all of us to defend the orthodox teaching of the Church. That is a duty not only imposed upon clerics but also upon the laity.

Comments are closed.