21 May

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Some words from a recent interview given by Pope Francis to the French newspaper La Croix make me wonder. He said:

“Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”

The Pope also said he “dreaded” hearing about the “Christian roots of Europe” because they take on “colonialist overtones” and he called on European nations to “integrate” Muslim migrants into the continent:

“This integration is all the more necessary today since, as a result of a selfish search for well-being, Europe is experiencing the grave problem of a declining birth rate,” he stated. “A demographic emptiness is developing.”

What is the range of possible interpretations of these bizarre utterances? First, that the Pope has lost what marbles he had in the first place. Secondly, that he only joking. Thirdly, that he is the Antichrist. Finally, that he has spoken the truth.

I shall consider the last interpretation first. Did Pope Francis speak the truth?

No. There is not a shred of truth in any of his statements.

Jesus did not send forth his disciples “In terms of the same idea of conquest.” He said, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

Is the Pope’s “dread” of hearing about Christian roots derived from “colonialist overtones”? Of course not. Christianity did not colonise Europe: Christianity created European civilisation, culture, art, literature, music and its fundamental social and political institutions.

What about his injunction to “integrate” Muslims into European society? Has the Pope not noticed that Muslims do not wish to be integrated into Europe: they desire only to conquer Europe, destroy it and recreate it in the image of the age old Islamic shambles.

My inclination, in the interests of trying to be as charitable as I can, is that Francis was only joking, or that he has indeed lost his marbles – though I wish I could rule out the third possibility: that he might be the Antichrist. 

23 Sep

The Holy Stuntman

How’s this for a slice of ostentatious humility? When Pope Francis arrived in the USA yesterday, he declined a limousine and opted for a modest Fiat saloon. Mind you the number plate was SCV-1 – that’s Status Civitatis Vaticanae which, being translated, means, “I’m Number One.”

I forgot to mention that, before he left Cuba, he treated us to a Lady Diana moment when he called for “A revolution of tenderness.”

Will it be a universal revolution, though? I don’t think so. It presumably won’t include successful businessmen, for earlier the Pope referred to capitalism as t”the dung of the devil” – thus showing us something of the dung of historical reflection: for it is the dung of capitalism which has raised more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history.

But back to the stuntman.

Isn’t there something in the Gospels about the sin of parading one’s self-denial? I was thinking of the Pharisee who said, “I am not as other men. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all I possess.”

And then those words of Our Lord to his disciples:

“When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites…” He was criticising those who make a show of their good works.

This Holy Stuntman Pope resembles Uriah Heep. I can just hear him saying, “Oh do look – there is none so ‘umble as me!”

12 Aug

The Pope is not a Catholic

How many marbles has the Pope got left? He seems to have lost quite a few over the summer.

The Washington Post reports that Pope Francis told a Roman Catholic audience on 27th July:

“Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed
to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world.
For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to
segregate our faiths.

“This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people,
as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring
about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a
state is respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God
regardless of the name we choose to address him by.

“We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our
faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we
slaughter our neighbours over differences in reference to their God.”

Before we decide what sort of psychiatric treatment the Pope should receive for his psychotic delusions – Freud, Jung, Adler, operant conditioning or perhaps ECT? – we really ought to correct the factual errors in his extraordinary statement.

Jesus Christ is not the same as Mohammed. Jesus Christ is not even the same as Jehovah. The world faiths are not the same. The New Testament, The Koran, the Upanishads and the Torah are distinct texts with their own narratives and particular teachings. Mohammed did not rise from the dead, as Jesus did. Jesus Christ did not make a pilgrimage (hegira) from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. It was Mohammed who did that. Certainly a Muslim would rightly be offended if anyone suggested – as Pope Francis suggests – that Mohammed is the same as Allah.

Of course, devotees of the world religions should respect one another’s faiths and abide by a mutual etiquette – but that is not all the Pope proposed in his statement of 27th July.

There are further questions. For instance, would the Pope extend his wider ecumenism to Christian Scientists, Scientologists, Spiritualists, Ancestor Worshippers and the rest of the myriad cults and sects which claim to be true religion?

Does the Catholic Faith have any truth value, as the Fathers, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and all the great theologians have taught down the Christian centuries – and, by the way, as The Catechism of the Catholic Church still teaches? If not, then it is hard to see why anyone should pay any attention to it.

Even more importantly, why does the Pope reject the teachings of Our Lord? Specifically, what does he make of Jesus’ commandment to his followers: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (St Matthew 28:19)?

I find all this papal incoherence most fascinating for a personal reason. I think Anthony Burgess’ Earthly Powers is among the best of all novels. I now see that it is also true prophecy, for it features a Pope who intends precisely what Francis has proposed.

Send for the men in white coats.