So Many Errors, Your Holiness. And Some Marked With Red
Francis likes his talk freewheeling, with all the risks that go with it. Here is a review of his latest blunders, a dozen in four months. The most sensational with China
by Sandro Magister
ROME, October 19, 2016 – Last June, http://www.chiesa registered and analyzed a certain number of misinterpretations, gaffes, memory slip, errors in the discourses of Pope Francis:
> The Pope Is Not Infallible. Here Are Eight Proofs (13.6.2016)
Since then, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has again fallen into two of the errors pointed out there.
The first was that of flattering Cardinal Christoph Schönborn with a role that he has never held: that of “secretary” of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
The first time the pope had promoted him to this role was April 16, during the press conference on the return flight from the island of Lesbos. And that time, in transcribing the pope’s words in the official bulletin, the Vatican press office had corrected the mistake, replacing the title of “secretary” with that of a simple “member.”
But on June 16, in a discourse to the priests of Rome at the cathedral of Saint John Lateran, the pope repeated himself. In telling the priests how to interpret “Amoris Laetitia” correctly, he advised them to pay attention to the “great theologian who was secretary of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Cardinal Schönborn.”
This second time, in the official transcription of Francis’s words, the error was not corrected.
A bit further on, however, in that same discourse of the pope, a corrective “ex post” intervention was made.
In describing the episode of Jesus and the adulterous woman, Francis is supposed to have said, according to the official transcription: “And Jesus sort of plays the fool, he lets time go by, he writes on the ground. . . .”
But in reality the pope had said: “And Jesus sort of plays the ‘scemo’…,” an expression that sounds rather harsh in Italian (comparable to “retard”).
The second relapse has to do with an imaginary translation – coined in the West and fashionable in the United States on the lips of politicians – of the Chinese word “weiji,” conflict, according to which this is made up of two ideograms, one of which stands for “risk” and the other for “opportunity.”
The first time the pope had presented this “hearsay” was on April 24, in a conversation with members of Focolare.
And he repeated it a second time on June 18 on a visit to the community of Villa Nazareth.
But then Francis stumbled into new mistakes, to be added to the list.
One of these has created a certain amount of discussion and has been corrected in the official transcription of the pope’s words.
In the already-cited discourse of June 16 at Saint John Lateran, Francis at a certain point said that he maintained that “most of our sacramental marriages are null,” because the spouses “do not have the awareness” of what they are doing.
In the subsequent official transcription, “most” has been scaled down to “some.”
Few noted, however, that immediately afterward in the same discourse, Bergoglio expressed a somewhat conflicting opinion.
After having said, in fact, that he holds most sacramental marriages to be null, he said that on the other hand he maintains as “true marriages,” endowed with “matrimonial grace,” the simple cohabitation practiced in rural parts of Argentina, where – he explained – they start families young but marry in church only later in life.
Another questionable opinion that Francis loves to repeat concerns a capital in the medieval basilica of Vézelay, in France.
“On that capital,” the pope has said on at least three different occasions, “on one side there is Judas hanged, with the eyes open, the tongue out, and on the other side is the Good Shepherd taking him with him. And if we look carefully, with attention, the face of the Good Shepherd, the lips on one side are sad, but on the other side they form a smile.”
In reality, no art historian identifies Christ as the second figure, who is simply taking Judas away for burial. But the pope likes to interpret it this way, in order to confirm the mercy of God for the last of sinners. And this is how he spoke out on June 16 with the priests of Rome, on August 2 with the bishops of Poland, and on October 2 with journalists on the return flight from Azerbaijan to Rome.
Moreover, Bergoglio sometimes falls into linguistic misunderstandings. For example, with the word “estracomunitario,” which in Italy simply indicates someone who does not belong to the European community.
Francis, however, is convinced that this word has an underpinning of cruelty: “That very cruelty which turns you, who are from another country, into an ‘extra-comunitario’: they take you out of the community, they do not welcome you. Which is something against which we must fight very much.”
The pope said this to young Italians on July 28 in Krakow, during world youth day.
Still other times the error is descriptive. For example when on October 12, in addressing the conference of “Christian World Communions,” Francis cited the martyrdom of the “Coptic Orthodox friars slaughtered on the shores of Libya.”
Who were indeed Coptic Egyptians, but laymen, not “friars.” No correction was made “ex post” to this part of the address, in the official transcription.
Then there was the case of the Spanish transexual whose story Bergoglio told during the return flight from Azerbaijian to Rome on October 2.
The story told by the pope differs on various points from the one told by the transexual in the days of his audience with the pope, which took place on January 24, 2015, together with his “wife.”
But above all the story told by the pope took it as a matter of course that absolution and communion should be given to “married” transexuals, remaining silent on the fact that the applicable discipline of the Church does not permit for transexuals the celebration of sacramental marriage.
More than an omission, here Francis has carried out a deliberate break with this discipline, but without making a declaration.
See, in this regard, the commentary of Christian Spaemann, a psychiatrist by profession and the son of the illustrious German Catholic philosopher Robert Spaemann:
On another occasion the pope made a mistaken prediction, with the result of then finding himself on a collision course with an entire episcopate, that of Colombia.
The error regarded the outcome of the October 2 referendum on the agreement between the Colombian state and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Francis, speaking on September 26 at Santa Marta with representatives of the World Jewish Council and foreseeing the victory of the “yes,” had gone out on a limb, praising the supporters of the agreement as persons who “risk everything for peace,” and instead dismissing the opponents as persons who “risk everything to continue the war, and this wounds the soul.”
Only that what ended up winning was the “no,” and among the opponents was a large part of the Colombian Church, this also desirous of peace but not under the conditions established in the accord. So much so that for the signing of the document on September 27 Cardinal Parolin came hurrying in from Rome, but no bishop was present, and the episcopal conference had invited Colombians to vote for or against according to their conscience.
Fortunately those words of the pope did not go into the official records, since they were spoken in a private meeting. But they were made known by participants at the meeting:
> Papa Francesco dialoga con membri del Consiglio ebraico mondiale
An attempt at stitching up the rift – in contradiction with the pope – was made by the president of the episcopal conference of Colombia, Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, who told Vatican Radio:
“It’s not that some say yes to peace and others say no. Those who say no consider that the agreement must be corrected in some points, but they too want peace. This is not a case of war and peace.”
But perhaps the most sensational error into which Bergoglio has stumbled lately concerned China.
On October 2, on the return flight from Azerbaijian to Rome, Francis gave a couple of news items that at the time no one was able to verify.
The first: “The Vatican Museums have presented an exhibition in China, the Chinese will present another at the Vatican.”
The second: “The other day there was a conference at the [Pontifical] Academy of Sciences on ‘Laudato Si’,’ and there was a Chinese delegation from the president. And the Chinese president sent me a gift.”
On October 7, however, the agency “Églises d’Asie,” the authoritative voice of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, published a thoroughly documented note that demolished both news items:
> Le président Xi Jinping a-t-il vraiment envoyé un cadeau au pape François?
To begin with, the Vatican Museums did indeed organize an exhibition, from February 5 to May 2 of this year, on the papacy, the Catholic mission to the Orient, the liturgy and the sacraments. Not in the People’s Republic of China, however, but in the house of the . . . enemy, in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
As for the presumed gift from Chinese president Xi Jinping to the pope, the thoroughly detailed reconstruction made by “Églises d’Asie” ends up defining it as nothing less than “unthinkable.”
On October 11, the agency “Asia News” of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan conveniently made the reconstruction by “Églises d’Asie” available to readers of Italian, English, Spanish, and Chinese:
English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.