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A Revealing Top Ten List

by Christopher A. Ferrara
October 1, 2015

In my last column I discussed Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s attempt to engage in theological gerrymandering by which he draws a crooked line that allows him to declare that the Modernists whose deviations from the faith he accepts are “within the Church” (the Nuns on the Bus and what he calls “I’ll do it My Way” Catholics) while excluding from the Church as “schismatics” the Society of Saint Pius X, which accepts none of the deviations Fr. Longenecker is willing to tolerate as one of several “perspectives” on Catholicism.

This theological gerrymandering is necessary to justify the neo-Catholic position of affirming doctrines on faith and morals on the one hand, while accepting on the other the post-Vatican II liberalizing tendencies, all approved or tolerated by Church authorities, which have drastically undermined adherence to those same doctrines.

One of the liberalizing tendencies the neo-Catholic accepts is the reduction of the Vicar of Christ to a kind of life coach to the world, offering nothing to non-Catholics beyond generic moral advice and half-baked political solutions to address worldly issues such as peace, social justice and “global warming.”

Quite revealing in this regard is Fr. Longenecker’s Top Ten list of reasons “why the Pope must be listened to and why his voice is important for politics.”  Here they are:

1. He is a global leader.

2. He is a moral leader, not an elected politician. 

3. His moral beliefs reach beyond his religion. 

4. He represents Western civilization.

5. The Pope represents virtue — not ideology.  

6. The Pope is a man of the people.

7. The Pope reminds Politicians that they are there to serve.

8.  The Pope reminds us of our greater priorities. 

 9. The Pope reminds everyone that there is more to this world than
material power and wealth.

10.  The Pope is Pro Life. 

With one minimal exception, this list contains not the slightest reference to the real reason for the Pope’s importance to every living soul: that he is the Vicar of Christ, earthly head of the one true Church, the sole ark of salvation, who holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and presides over the only institution that has the power to transform the face of the earth by the operation of God’s grace through the Seven Sacraments — above all Holy Communion, confected by the hands of the Catholic priest acting in persona Christi.

The one minimal exception, curiously demoted to No. 9 on Fr. Longenecker’s list, is that “the Pope reminds everyone that there is more to this world than material power and wealth.”  In his comment on that same item, however, Fr. Longenecker writes: “As a spiritual leader Pope Francis is a potent reminder that there is another life beyond this one and all of us will give account of ourselves one day to the judge and maker of all.” 

The only problem is that Francis has never ever actually said such a thing to any political leader or opinion-maker, including President Obama, Raul Castro and Evo Morales, the socialist enemy of the Church who gave him the infamous “Communist Crucifix,” which Francis took back to Rome.  On the contrary, Francis told the militant atheist Eugenio Scalfari, in an interview Francis later had published in a book, that he has no desire to convert him and that “there is no Catholic God.”

Perhaps Fr. Longenecker means that the mere sight of a Pope wearing papal garb indirectly reminds people of the world to come.  But it can hardly be demonstrated that the Bergoglian pontificate has anything to do with teaching the world about the Four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven and hell.  Although the threat of hell was trotted out for rhetorical effect when Francis was denouncing Mafiosi, the Final Judgment and damnation are never mentioned when it comes to the eternal fate of the butchers of hundreds of millions of unborn children, the politicians who enable this mass murder — including so-called Catholics — and the promoters of sodomy in civil society, the courts and the legislatures of a decadent and dying West — including so-called Catholics.  As to these diabolical malefactors, Francis never breathes a word about how “all of us will give account of ourselves one day to the judge and maker of all.”  Instead, he shakes hands, smiles, and poses for photographs with many of them.

Even item No. 10 — “The Pope is Pro Life” — reflects a compromise with the spirit of the age.  The Pope, says Fr. Longenecker, is “pro life in the biggest, best and broadest way. He is not only anti abortion. He is for human life in all its fullness for all people.”  The defense of innocent children against slaughter on a mass scale is reduced to being “only anti-abortion,” and a crime that cries out for divine retribution is demoted to just another social justice issue. In short, the seamless garment of the evil Cardinal Bernadin.

The Pope as life coach: that is what the neo-Catholic mentality accepts regarding the role of the Vicar of Christ on the stage of this fallen world. Fr. Longenecker could not have stated this fatal compromise more clearly than in his comment on item No. 3:

3. His moral beliefs reach beyond his religion – Pope Francis is the leader of over a billion Catholics worldwide, but on the world stage, even if his particular religious doctrines are not shared by everyone, his moral teachings are shared with the vast majority of human beings. In addition to the Catholic faith, the pope stands for love, for family, for loyalty. He stands for life, for the poor, for the vulnerable. He stands against war. He stands against killing and violence, greed and oppression. He stands against tyranny and injustice. Therefore his teaching and all that he stands for transcends every religion and he teaches a way of peace and love, justice and good for all humanity.

There we have it: according to this neo-Catholic reductionist view of the divine commission, the Pope’s role is to preach consensus morality to an otherwise unbelieving world.  Completely lost on the neo-Catholic mind is that only through the Law of the Gospel, conversion, and the state of grace maintained through the Sacraments — in short, the Social Kingship of Christ — can the human race hope to build a civilization that truly values love, family, loyalty, life, concern for the poor and the vulnerable, peace and the elimination of violence, greed and oppression. Indeed, without the guidance of the infallible Magisterium and the grace of the Sacraments, these values can neither be understood fully nor maintained integrally in social order.

The Pope was not commissioned by Christ to be the promoter of a pluralist utopia that “transcends every religion.”  The Pope was divinely commissioned to be the earthly head of the Catholic Church that is to make disciples of all nations and thus followers of only one religion. What Fr. Longenecker and the neo-Catholic constituency in general accept instead, however, is precisely what Saint Pius X condemned as “an inconsistent and impotent humanitarianism” that ignores the very truth the Bergoglian program has completely obscured in keeping with the past fifty years of ecclesial drift and decay.  Quoth Saint Pius X:

No, Venerable Brethren, there is no genuine fraternity outside Christian charity. Through the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ Our Saviour, Christian charity embraces all men, comforts all, and leads all to the same faith and same heavenly happiness.
By separating fraternity from Christian charity thus understood, Democracy, far from being a progress, would mean a disastrous step backwards for civilization. If, as We desire with all Our heart, the highest possible peak of well being for society and its members is to be attained through fraternity or, as it is also called, universal solidarity, all minds must be united in the knowledge of Truth, all wills united in morality, and all hearts in the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ. But this union is attainable only by Catholic charity, and that is why Catholic charity alone can lead the people in the march of progress towards the ideal civilization.

Like the full-blown Modernist, then, the neo-Catholic blithely promotes the disastrous de-missionization of the Catholic Church and the reduction of the Pope to Official Life Coach of the New World Order, a “spiritual leader” who makes no particular religious demands on the unconverted.  And that is why both the Church and the world are in crisis.