It is true that Pope Francis has frequently expressed more affinity for socialism than for capitalism. During his trip to Bolivia in 2015, he somewhat anachronistically invoked the fourth century Saint Basil of Caesarea to condemn “corporations, loan agencies, and certain free trade treaties.” Indulging his propensity for coprological metaphors, the pope called capitalist profits, “dung of the Devil.”

NOVEMBER 27, 2018

A Nursery Rhyme Pope Francis Would Do Well to Read



“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“’Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.”

Mary Howitt wrote 180 books with her husband, and was a friend of Wordsworth and Dickens, but is remembered perhaps most of all for her children’s parable about insects, written in 1828. She forsook her ardent Quaker roots sometime after moving to Rome where she became a Catholic, less because of the Latin atmosphere and more for her admiration of Pope Leo XIII and his social commentaries. She admitted that she loved the pope and not the papacy.

Combine her spider and fly with our Lord’s admonitions about sheep among wolves, and serpentine cleverness with dovelike innocence, and you have a whole menagerie as commentary on naiveté. It is possible to make all the tragedies of the modern age a montage of the perils of unwitting ignorance in the face of evil.

The spectacle of Neville Chamberlain standing in an unprecedented protocol between the King and Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1938, cheered for having secured “peace for our time,” horresco referens, is not the proudest moment in modern royal history. But on the death of the appeaser two years later, Churchill paid him a tribute in the House of Commons with characteristic chivalry:

Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

It remains that the verdict of history is more acclamatory about Chamberlain’s successor. While there is some confusion about whether Churchill precisely said in January of the same year of 1940, as First Lord of the Admiralty, that an appeaser hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, he will be the last to be eaten, he did say verbatim: “Appeasement in itself may be good or bad according to the circumstances. Appeasement from weakness and fear is alike futile and fatal.” It was a trope on divine words: “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them…” (Proverbs 1:32).

The future was not well served by the way Franklin Roosevelt found humor in the verbal gymnastics between Stalin and Churchill at Yalta, the latter being treated as a fly by both Stalin and FDR. That searing moment in history was not overlooked by the author of the encyclical Centesimus Annus who came from the Poland that was crucified by the moral lassitude of FDR and his “Uncle Joe.” One has a flashback to Lincoln Steffen saying of the Soviet Union, that he had seen the future and it works; and George Bernard Shaw clutching a small statue of Stalin. And then there is Helmut Schmidt’s recollection of a conversation about the Berlin Wall with the benighted Jimmy Carter: “Then, I realized how little my counterpart understood of the situation in a divided Europe and the power of the Soviet Union and its interests.”

Adroit diplomacy secures amity, but at its worst it lets loose ministers who are innocent as serpents and wise as doves. Charles de Gaulle, who was not subtle, said: “Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains, they drown in every drop.” Without succumbing to cynicism, it is possible to see a mixture of calculation and callowness in the 2018 provisional agreement between the Holy See and Communist China, recognizing the primacy of the Pope, but at the price of a scandalously clandestine arrangement giving the government a role in the appointment of bishops, in direct abuse of Canon 377.5 in the Church’s own Code.

Ever since Constantine, and certainly since Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne in 800, ecclesiastical and civil threads have been intertwined. The mediaeval Investiture Controversies were background for the sixteenth-century appointment privileges granted to the French crown and the Concordat between Pius VII with Napoleon. In the year that Mary Howitt wrote about the Spider, nearly five of every six bishops in Europe were appointed by heads of state. Right into modern times, Spain and Portugal invoked the PatronatoReal and the Padroado, but these involved governments that were at least nominally Catholic. The 1933 Reichskonkordat with the Nazi government was soon recognized as a maladroit concession for which the Holy See continues to have to justify itself. But Pius XI honored the Faith with his subsequent condemnations of Fascism. The Vatican’s accommodationist “Ostpolitik” in the 1960s made Cardinal Mindszenty a living martyr. The Second Vatican Council sought, largely successfully, to reserve the appointment of bishops to the Sovereign Pontiff (Christus Dominus, n. 20). But this was also in the context of an agreement with Russian Orthodox observers, and therefore obliquely with the Soviet government, not publicized, that the Council would never mention by name Communism, history’s worst oppressor of Christians. It was a jejune exercise in diplomacy, sterile in result, and remedied only by figures who rejected such supinity: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.

The mellow response of the People of God to the recent canonization of Pope Paul VI, is in significant contrast to the reaction of many to the diplomatic betrayal of Cardinal Mindszenty in 1974. After years of heinous torture, the Primate of Hungary tasked the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot: “Why do you appoint bishops in the countries of the Eastern bloc? It would be better if there were none, rather than those whom the government allow you to appoint.” When Mindszenty refused to renounced his see of Eszertergom and the primacy, Paul VI declared his jurisdictions vacant, informing the “white martyr” of that on November 18, 1973. The cardinal said it was a crucifixion worse than his physical tortures. Upon Villot’s retirement in 1979, Cardinal Casaroli succeeded him, pursuing the same “Ostpolitik.” This writer remembers graffiti in Rome in that period: “Mindszenty Si. Casaroli No.” There is a poignant conundrum: Paul VI has just been canonized, and mention of Mindszenty remains mute.

It was my privilege to know Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei of Shanghai, who endured thirty years in prison, and Archbishop Dominic Tang Yee-Ming of Canton who was imprisoned for twenty-two years, seven of them in solitary confinement. The retired Cardinal Archbishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, sees a betrayal of those who have suffered so much for Christ. Time will tell if the present diplomacy is wise. An architect of this agreement, Cardinal Parolin, said: “The Church in China does not want to replace the state, but wants to make a positive and serene contribution for the good of all.” His words are drowned out by the sound of bulldozers knocking down churches while countless Christians languish in “re-education camps.” A fly would be mistaken if it thought that the Communist spider would nominate worthy bishops. Cardinal Zen, just a few years short of his ninetieth birthday, has made two arduous and futile trips to Rome, hoping to staunch this diplomatic wound. Redolent of Mindszenty, he has said: “Pope Francis does not know the real Communist Party in China.” Of Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State who signed the agreement, he told a reporter: “I told the pope that he has a poisoned mind. He is very sweet, but I have no trust in this person. He believes in diplomacy, but not in our faith.”

Pope Francis agreed to recognize the legitimacy of seven Communist-approved bishops, previously excommunicated, while removing two bishops loyal to Rome.  Since the signing of the Vatican-China pact, a bishop appointed by the Vatican has been arrested by the Communist government and placed in a “re-education camp” with no comment from the Vatican. This was Bishop Zhumin’s fifth arrest in two years. Two government-sponsored bishops, one of whom was excommunicated by Pope Benedict in 2010, were welcome guests at this year’s Synod on Youth. One month after the diplomatic pact, the Chinese government contemptuously destroyed two Catholic shrines in the provinces of Shanxi and Guizhou. Uncertain is the fate of thirty bishops of the “Underground Church” loyal to the Holy See. Cardinal Zen laments the “annihilation” of the Catholic Church in China. State supervision of the Catholic Church has been placed under the total control of the Chinese Communist Party by a directive of Xi Jinping who, having abolished limits to his term of office, is a virtual dictator of the entire country. He has forbidden prayers, catechesis, and preaching to be published online.

Meanwhile, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, has hailed Communist China as the world’s best exemplar of Catholic social teaching and a “Land of Wonders.” Father Bernardo Cervellera, editor of AsiaNews, responded: “The idolization of China is an ideological affirmation that makes a laughing stock of the Church and harms the world.” A fourteenth-century maxim warned: “He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon.” The Vatican might change spoon to chopsticks. Cardinal Zen offers more edifying counsel to his persecuted Catholic flock: “They take away your churches? You can no longer officiate? Go home, and pray with your family. Till the soil. Wait for better times. Go back to the catacombs. Communism isn’t eternal.”

Groundwork for the recent Vatican-China accord was laid by ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He made at least eight trips to China over twenty years, advocating closer ties with President Xi Jinping. While privately inhibited by Pope Benedict XVI, who also cancelled negotiations with Communist China, McCarrick was rehabilitated by Pope Francis, in whose election he claimed to have been a protagonist, after which he was sent on another mission to China. In an interview in 2016 for a semi-official journal of the Chinese government, The Global Times, McCarrick said that similarities between Pope Francis and Xi Jinping could be “a special gift for the world.” He explained: “A lot of things that China worries about, [Pope Francis] worries about: about the care of poor, older people, children, our civilization and especially the ecology.” It is true that Pope Francis has frequently expressed more affinity for socialism than for capitalism. During his trip to Bolivia in 2015, he somewhat anachronistically invoked the fourth century Saint Basil of Caesarea to condemn “corporations, loan agencies, and certain free trade treaties.” Indulging his propensity for coprological metaphors, the pope called capitalist profits, “dung of the Devil.”

Of the twelve apostles, only one was a diplomat, and he is the only one of them who was not a saint, having drunk a toxic cocktail of arrogance and naiveté. That recipe still is fatal. Mary Howitt, moral dissector of the Spider and the Fly, had reason in her generation for devotion “to the pope and not the papacy.” In the ticking hours of our generation, there may be some cause for reversing that. It is a matter too grave to be tossed about lightly in a mere essay, but there is wise counsel in the ending of her poem:

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

(Photo credit: Chinese Deacon from an underground Catholic church holds a bible during Palm Sunday Mass, April 9, 2017; Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Tagged as Cardinal MindszentyCatholic Church (China)Communist PartyOstpolitik,persecution of ChristiansPope FrancisThe Spider and the Fly (1828)Vatican public policy133

Fr. George W. Rutler

By Fr. George W. Rutler

Fr. George W. Rutler is pastor of St. Michael’s church in New York City. He is the author of many books including Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943 (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press) and Hints of Heaven (Sophia Institute Press). His latest books are He Spoke To Us (Ignatius, 2016); The Stories of Hymns (EWTN Publishing, 2017); and Calm in Chaos (Ignatius, 2018).



Recently many educated Catholic observers, including bishops and priests, have decried the confusion in doctrinal statements about faith or morals made from the Apostolic See at Rome and by the putative Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Some devout, faithful and thoughtful Catholics have even suggested that he be set aside as a heretic, a dangerous purveyor of error, as recently mentioned in a number of reports. Claiming heresy on the part of a man who is a supposed Pope, charging material error in statements about faith or morals by a putative Roman Pontiff, suggests and presents an intervening prior question about his authenticity in that August office of Successor of Peter as Chief of The Apostles, i.e., was this man the subject of a valid election by an authentic Conclave of The Holy Roman Church?  This is so because each Successor of Saint Peter enjoys the Gift of Infallibility.  So, before one even begins to talk about excommunicating such a prelate, one must logically examine whether this person exhibits the uniformly good and safe fruit of Infallibility.

If he seems repeatedly to engage in material error, that first raises the question of the validity of his election because one expects an authentically-elected Roman Pontiff miraculously and uniformly to be entirely incapable of stating error in matters of faith or morals.  So to what do we look to discern the invalidity of such an election?  His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, within His massive legacy to the Church and to the World, left us with the answer to this question.  The Catholic faithful must look back for an answer to a point from where we have come—to what occurred in and around the Sistine Chapel in March 2013 and how the fruits of those events have generated such widespread concern among those people of magisterial orthodoxy about confusing and, or, erroneous doctrinal statements which emanate from The Holy See.

His Apostolic Constitution (Universi Dominici Gregis) which governed the supposed Conclave in March 2013 contains quite clear and specific language about the invalidating effect of departures from its norms.  For example, Paragraph 76 states:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”

From this, many believe that there is probable cause to believe that Monsignor Jorge Mario Bergoglio was never validly elected as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter—he never rightly took over the office of Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and therefore he does not enjoy the charism of Infallibility.  If this is true, then the situation is dire because supposed papal acts may not be valid or such acts are clearly invalid, including supposed appointments to the college of electors itself.

Only valid cardinals can rectify our critical situation through privately (secretly) recognizing the reality of an ongoing interregnum and preparing for an opportunity to put the process aright by obedience to the legislation of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in that Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  While thousands of the Catholic faithful do understand that only the cardinals who participated in the events of March 2013 within the Sistine Chapel have all the information necessary to evaluate the issue of election validity, there was public evidence sufficient for astute lay faithful to surmise with moral certainty that the March 2013 action by the College was an invalid conclave, an utter nullity.

What makes this understanding of Universi Dominici Gregisparticularly cogent and plausible is the clear Promulgation Clause at the end of this Apostolic Constitution and its usage of the word “scienter” (“knowingly”).  The Papal Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis thus concludes definitively with these words:  “.   .   .   knowingly or unknowingly, in any way contrary to this Constitution.”  (“.   .   .   scienter vel inscienter contra hanc Constitutionem fuerint excogitata.”)  [Note that His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, had a somewhat similar promulgation clause at the end of his corresponding, now abrogated, Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici Eligendo, but his does not use “scienter”, but rather uses “sciens” instead. This similar term of sciens in the earlier abrogated Constitution has an entirely different legal significance than scienter.] This word, “scienter”, is a legal term of art in Roman law, and in canon law, and in Anglo-American common law, and in each system, scienter has substantially the same significance, i.e., “guilty knowledge” or willfully knowing, criminal intent.

Thus, it clearly appears that Pope John Paul II anticipated the possibility of criminal activity in the nature of a sacrilege against a process which He intended to be purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual, if not miraculous, in its nature. This contextual reality reinforced in the Promulgation Clause, combined with:  (1) the tenor of the whole document; (2) some other provisions of the document, e.g., Paragraph 76; (3) general provisions of canon law relating to interpretation, e.g., Canons 10 & 17; and, (4) the obvious manifest intention of the Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, tends to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the legal conclusion that Monsignor Bergoglio was never validly elected Roman Pontiff.

This is so because:1.  Communication of any kind with the outside world, e.g., communication did occur between the inside of the Sistine Chapel and anyone outside, including a television audience, before, during or even immediately after the Conclave;2.   Any political commitment to “a candidate” and any “course of action” planned for The Church or a future pontificate, such as the extensive decade-long “pastoral” plans conceived by the Sankt Gallen hierarchs; and,3.  Any departure from the required procedures of the conclave voting process as prescribed and known by a cardinal to have occurred:each was made an invalidating act, and if scienter (guilty knowledge) was present, also even a crime on the part of any cardinal or other actor, but, whether criminal or not, any such act or conduct violating the norms operated absolutely, definitively and entirely against the validity of all of the supposed Conclave proceedings.

Quite apart from the apparent notorious violations of the prohibition on a cardinal promising his vote, e.g., commitments given and obtained by cardinals associated with the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia,” other acts destructive of conclave validity occurred.  Keeping in mind that Pope John Paul II specifically focused Universi Dominici Gregis on “the seclusion and resulting concentration which an act so vital to the whole Church requires of the electors” such that “the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit,” even certain openly public media broadcasting breached this seclusion by electronic broadcasts outlawed by Universi Dominici Gregis.  These prohibitions include direct declarative statements outlawing any use of television before, during or after a conclave in any area associated with the proceedings, e.g.:  “I further confirm, by my apostolic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process itself.” Viewed in light of this introductory preambulary language of Universi Dominici Gregis and in light of the legislative text itself, even the EWTN camera situated far inside the Sistine Chapel was an immediately obvious non-compliant  act which became an open and notorious invalidating violation by the time when this audio-visual equipment was used to broadcast to the world the preaching after the “Extra Omnes”.  While these blatant public violations of Chapter IV of Universi Dominici Gregis actuate the invalidity and nullity of the proceedings themselves, nonetheless in His great wisdom, the Legislator did not disqualify automatically those cardinals who failed to recognize these particular offenses against sacred secrecy, or even those who, with scienter, having recognized the offenses and having had some power or voice in these matters, failed or refused to act or to object against them:  “Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur and be discovered, those responsible should know that they will be subject to grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, ¶55]

No Pope apparently having been produced in March 2013, those otherwise valid cardinals who failed with scienter to act on violations of Chapter IV, on that account alone would nonetheless remain voting members of the College unless and until a new real Pope is elected and adjudges them.  

Thus, those otherwise valid cardinals who may have been compromised by violations of secrecy can still participate validly in the “clean-up of the mess” while addressing any such secrecy violations with an eventual new Pontiff.  In contrast, the automatic excommunication of those who politicized the sacred conclave process, by obtaining illegally, commitments from cardinals to vote for a particular man, or to follow a certain course of action (even long before the vacancy of the Chair of Peter as Vicar of Christ), is established not only by the word, “scienter,” in the final enacting clause, but by a specific exception, in this case, to the general statement of invalidity which therefore reinforces the clarity of intention by Legislator that those who apply the law must interpret the general rule as truly binding.  Derived directly from Roman law, canonical jurisprudence provides this principle for construing or interpreting legislation such as this Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  Expressed in Latin, this canon of interpretation is:   “Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.”  (The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted.)  In this case, an exception from invalidity for acts of simony reinforces the binding force of the general principle of nullity in cases of other violations. Therefore, by exclusion from nullity and invalidity legislated in the case of simony: “If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae.  At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.”  

His Holiness made an exception for simony. Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.  The clear exception from nullity and invalidity for simony proves the general rule that other violations of the sacred process certainly do and did result in the nullity and invalidity of the entire conclave. Comparing what Pope John Paul II wrote in His Constitution on conclaves with the Constitution which His replaced, you can see that, with the exception of simony, invalidity became universal. 

In the corresponding paragraph of what Pope Paul VI wrote, he specifically confined the provision declaring conclave invalidity to three (3) circumstances described in previous paragraphs within His constitution, Romano Pontfici Eligendo.  No such limitation exists in Universi Dominici Gregis.  See the comparison both in English and Latin below:Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77. Should the election be conducted in a manner different from the three procedures described above (cf. no. 63 ff.) or without the conditions laid down for each of the same, it is for this very reason null and void (cf. no. 62), without the need for any declaration, and gives no right to him who has been thus elected. [Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam uno e tribus modis, qui supra sunt dicti (cfr. nn. 63 sqq.), aut non servatis condicionibus pro unoquoque illorum praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida (cfr. n. 62) absque ulla declaratione, et ita electo nullum ius tribuit .”] as compared with:Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam haec Constitutio statuit, aut non servatis condicionibus pariter hic praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida absque ulla declaratione, ideoque electo nullum ius tribuit.”]Of course, this is not the only feature of the Constitution or aspect of the matter which tends to establish the breadth of invalidity.

 Faithful must hope and pray that only those cardinals whose status as a valid member of the College remains intact will ascertain the identity of each other and move with the utmost charity and discretion in order to effectuate The Divine Will in these matters.  The valid cardinals, then, must act according to that clear, manifest, obvious and unambiguous mind and intention of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, so evident in Universi Dominici Gregis, a law which finally established binding and self-actuating conditions of validity on the College for any papal conclave, a reality now made so apparent by the bad fruit of doctrinal confusion and plain error. It would seem then that praying and working in a discreet and prudent manner to encourage only those true cardinals inclined to accept a reality of conclave invalidity, would be a most charitable and logical course of action in the light of Universi Dominici Gregis, and out of our high personal regard for the clear and obvious intention of its Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.  Even a relatively small number of valid cardinals could act decisively and work to restore a functioning Apostolic See through the declaration of an interregnum government.  The need is clear for the College to convene a General Congregation in order to declare, to administer, and soon to end the Interregnum which has persisted since March 2013. Finally, it is important to understand that the sheer number of putative counterfeit cardinals will eventually, sooner or later, result in a situation in which The Church will have no normal means validly ever again to elect a Vicar of Christ.  After that time, it will become even more difficult, if not humanly impossible, for the College of Cardinals to rectify the current disastrous situation and conduct a proper and valid Conclave such that The Church may once again both have the benefit of a real Supreme Pontiff, and enjoy the great gift of a truly infallible Vicar of Christ.  It seems that some good cardinals know that the conclave was invalid, but really cannot envision what to do about it; we must pray, if it is the Will of God, that they see declaring the invalidity and administering an Interregnum through a new valid conclave is what they must do.  Without such action or without a great miracle, The Church is in a perilous situation.  Once the last validly appointed cardinal reaches age 80, or before that age, dies, the process for electing a real Pope ends with no apparent legal means to replace it. Absent a miracle then, The Church would no longer have an infallible Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.  Roman Catholics would be no different that Orthodox Christians. In this regard, all of the true cardinals may wish to consider what Holy Mother Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶675, ¶676 and ¶677 about “The Church’s Ultimate Trial”.  But, the fact that “The Church .   .   .  will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection” does not justify inaction by the good cardinals, even if there are only a minimal number sufficient to carry out Chapter II of Universi Dominici Gregis and operate the Interregnum. This Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, which was clearly applicable to the acts and conduct of the College of Cardinals in March 2013, is manifestly and obviously among those “invalidating” laws “which expressly establish that an act is null or that a person is effected” as stated in Canon 10 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  And, there is nothing remotely “doubtful or obscure” (Canon 17) about this Apostolic Constitution as clearly promulgated by Pope John Paul II.  The tenor of the whole document expressly establishes that the issue of invalidity was always at stake.  This Apostolic Constitution conclusively establishes, through its Promulgation Clause [which makes “anything done (i.e., any act or conduct) by any person  .   .   .   in any way contrary to this Constitution,”] the invalidity of the entire supposed Conclave, rendering it “completely null and void”. So, what happens if a group of Cardinals who undoubtedly did not knowingly and wilfully initiate or intentionally participate in any acts of disobedience against Universi Dominici Gregis were to meet, confer and declare that, pursuant to Universi Dominici Gregis, Monsignor Bergoglio is most certainly not a valid Roman Pontiff.  Like any action on this matter, including the initial finding of invalidity, that would be left to the valid members of the college of cardinals.  They could declare the Chair of Peter vacant and proceed to a new and proper conclave.  They could meet with His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and discern whether His resignation and retirement was made under duress, or based on some mistake or fraud, or otherwise not done in a legally effective manner, which could invalidate that resignation.  Given the demeanor of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and the tenor of His few public statements since his departure from the Chair of Peter, this recognition of validity in Benedict XVI seems unlikely. In fact, even before a righteous group of good and authentic cardinals might decide on the validity of the March 2013 supposed conclave, they must face what may be an even more complicated discernment and decide which men are most likely not valid cardinals.  If a man was made a cardinal by the supposed Pope who is, in fact, not a Pope (but merely Monsignor Bergoglio), no such man is in reality a true member of the College of Cardinals.  In addition, those men appointed by Pope John Paul II or by Pope Benedict XVI as cardinals, but who openly violated Universi Dominici Gregis by illegal acts or conduct causing the invalidation of the last attempted conclave, would no longer have voting rights in the College of Cardinals either.  (Thus, the actual valid members in the College of Cardinals may be quite smaller in number than those on the current official Vatican list of supposed cardinals.) In any event, the entire problem is above the level of anyone else in Holy Mother Church who is below the rank of Cardinal.  So, we must pray that The Divine Will of The Most Holy Trinity, through the intercession of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces and Saint Michael, Prince of Mercy, very soon rectifies the confusion in Holy Mother Church through action by those valid Cardinals who still comprise an authentic College of Electors.  Only certainly valid Cardinals can address the open and notorious evidence which points to the probable invalidity of the last supposed conclave and only those cardinals can definitively answer the questions posed here.  May only the good Cardinals unite and if they recognize an ongoing Interregnum, albeit dormant, may they end this Interregnum by activating perfectly a functioning Interregnum government of The Holy See and a renewed process for a true Conclave, one which is purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual.  If we do not have a real Pontiff, then may the good Cardinals, doing their appointed work “in view of the sacredness of the act of election”  “accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit” and provide Holy Mother Church with a real Vicar of Christ as the Successor of Saint Peter.   May these thoughts comport with the synderetic considerations of those who read them and may their presentation here please both Our Immaculate Virgin Mother, Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and The Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.N. de PlumeUn ami des Papes

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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3 Responses to It is true that Pope Francis has frequently expressed more affinity for socialism than for capitalism. During his trip to Bolivia in 2015, he somewhat anachronistically invoked the fourth century Saint Basil of Caesarea to condemn “corporations, loan agencies, and certain free trade treaties.” Indulging his propensity for coprological metaphors, the pope called capitalist profits, “dung of the Devil.”

  1. hellenback7 says:

    Although they lived in the midst of a society that condoned slavery and often left even the industrious without the necessities of life, Apostolic times sure sounds like “communal” living (ie “communist” in the proper, voluntary sense).
    Once Rome relented (converted?) in the 4th Century, it seems inevitable that, given enough time, societies founded /based on Christian principles would attempt to make things more egalitarian through legislation.

    It is not a simple problem and The Holy Spirit no longer strikes people dead on the spot for lying about what they’re giving from what is theirs.

    Also, today’s rulers, even the nominally Catholic/Christian leaders, don’t act much like the Apostles, no matter how “fair” they try to make things (to state things kindly).

    Social programs that try to help the disabled and unfortunate are not inherently wrong.
    Like nearly everything else, it’s the abuse of this communal spirit in any society that can and does create seemingly insurmountable problems.

    This is far too complicated to expound on to any meaningful degree in a combox.

    It would be best to read/mediate on Acts (chapters 4 & 5 specifically).
    But in an attemot to begin to illustrate the point I’m trying to make ….


    Acts 4:…
    …..32: “And the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul: neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed, was his own; but all things were common unto them.”

    33.The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all accorded great respect.

    34.None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from the sale of them, present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any who might be in need.”……

    (Acts, 5)…

    …. 4.While you still owned the land, wasn’t it yours to keep, and after you had sold it wasn’t the money yours to do with as you liked? What put this scheme into your mind? You have been lying not to men, but to God.’

    5.When he heard this Ananias fell down dead. And a great fear came upon everyone present.”

    Then, just so people didn’t think it was a coincidence, the guy’s wife is struck dead right after him for the same lie; told in an attempt to have a bit of insurance if things didn’t work out as planned.

    Governing is no longer easy, even for The Church itself.

  2. Sheepdog says:

    Of course. That’s what Francis the merciful promotes. The Republicans in the US need to fully repeal Obamacare and the Medicaid expansions. Then continue working to stop the greed of big pharma and insurance companies. Instead of excess regulation, have competition as President Trump says. Socialism in the context of the western world is against Christ’s teaching.

  3. planechant2 says:

    A truly perceptive article. Thank you Father.

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