Stacking the Deck

At the weekend, Pope Francis announced a new Consistory for the creation of 13 new Cardinals on October 5th. The group includes 10 new Cardinal electors, pushing the current number of electors to 128.

Catholic social media breathed a collective sigh of despair as the names were announced.

With the exception of Bologna, Francis continues to overlook other episcopal sees historically headed by a red hat — in Italy most notably the Patriarchate of Venice, Palermo and Turin, and in the United States, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.  

The new Cardinali are:

1. +Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and leading historian on Islam. Bishop Ayuso was heavily involved in drawing up the Human Fraternity document signed Feb. 4 by Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, and the Pope in Abu Dhabi. The Vatican called it “an important step forward” and a “powerful sign of peace and hope” between the two religions, but critics have expressed strong reservations about a passage in the document that stated the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God,” arguing that it contradicts a central belief of the Church by relativizing the uniqueness of Christ and the Church.

2. ++José Tolentino Mendonça, Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, second rate Portuguese Poet, consecrated a Bishop only last year. One has to wonder how exactly Mendonça, at just 53 became Bishop and Cardinal in less than a year?? At this rate we will be Pope before he is 60! I thought the pope was against "careerism"? Mendonça is a controversial figure who wrote the introduction to a book on feminist theology by Sister Maria Teresa Forcada. Dubbed by the BBC as “Europe’s most radical nun" and known for promoting “queer theology,” Sister Forcada is pro-abortion, stridently anti-capitalist and for women’s ordination. In his introduction, Father Tolentino de Mendonça wrote that he believed Sister Forcada’s “apostolate” should be a model for a Christianity “free” of past and present dogmatic ties, and that her value is to have “highlighted the importance of ethical relations free of rigid and codified rules.”

3. ++Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. Catholics make up 2.7% of the population. Considered to be close to the Indonesian state, he was re-elected for an unprecedented third term last year as president of Indonesia’s bishops’ conference because of an “urgent need” (he said he was unsure what the nature of the urgency was). He attended the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization and the Synods on the Family. Francis appointed him a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

4. ++ Juan García Rodríguez, Archbishop of Havana, who famously refused to allow Summorum Pontificum and has reportedly said he does not want capitalism to come to Cuba but rather “a progressing socialism.”

5. ++ Fridolin Ambongo Besungu O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Kinshasa, DRC. An African Bishop well known to be in the pocket of ze Germanz.

6. ++ Jean-Claude Hollerich S.J., Archbishop of Luxembourg, Pro-EU, anti-Populist, incredibly political Prelate who made headlines by writing in the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica that European populists are playing a “wicked game” by exploiting people’s fears regarding immigration and security. The “drama” of migrants in Europe, he said, was a “disgrace” and that “to remove our fears we are presented with enemies: migrants, Islam, the Jews, etc.” He added that President Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon and Russian political analyst Aleksandr Dugin were the “priests of these populisms that evoke a false pseudo-religious and pseudo-mystical world, denying the heart of western theology, which is God’s love and love of neighbour.”

He has expressed his full support for the upcoming Amazon synod, telling a conference promoted jointly by COMECE, REPAM (the Church organization set up in 2014 to prepare the synod), and the German Catholic aid organizations Adveniat and Misereor, that the Amazon faces “a global problem which requires a global response.” He added: “We must immerse ourselves in reality, because it is in reality that we find God. And today this reminds us to care for Creation, which requires a real revolution in custom, mentality and the economy.” At last year’s youth synod, the archbishop said discernment “is not about black and white but discovering all the different colors and shades of reality.” A former teacher of seminarians and vocations director, Archbishop Höllerich has close links with the Church in Japan having been a student chaplain and then vice rector at Tokyo’s Sophia University.

7. +Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri, Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Social justice warrior, sympathetic to Liberation Theology.

8. ++Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, collaborator with Sant'Egidio, infamously contributed to the Italian translation of Fr. James Martin SJ, LGBT book

9. ++ Cristóbal López Romero S.D.B., Archbishop of Rabat, Morocco. A Muslim majority country, where 0.7% of the population are Catholic. This Salesian priest studied in Barcelona and obtained a licentiate in information sciences in the city’s School of Journalism in 1982. From 1979-1984 he was known for his pastoral ministry toward the marginalized in Barcelona, and from 1983 to 2003 served as a missionary in Paraguay.

10. Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, Undersecretary for the Migrants & Refugees Section, an issue close to heart of Pope Francis. Czerny is another Jesuit cardinal-elect whose opinions closely match those of Francis. Born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1946 and a Canadian citizen, Father Czerny has long specialised in social justice and human rights. From 1992-2002 he served as secretary for social justice at the Jesuits’ General Curia and afterwards founded and directed the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN). In 2005 he taught in Nairobi, collaborating with Kenya’s bishops’ conference. In 2009, Benedict XVI appointed him an expert at the Synod on Africa.

Often seen at justice and peace meetings or gatherings involving environmental concerns, Father Czerny’s influence grew when he was appointed a consultor for the now defunct Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2010. There he served, and continues to serve, as a chief adviser to Cardinal Peter Turkson, offering him advice on a wide range of social justice issues. Francis has often relied on his expertise, making him a member of last year’s youth synod. He is one of the special secretaries of the upcoming Amazon synod and a leading figure in promoting the meeting’s narrative.

New Cardinals non-electors include a new Englishman ++Michael Louis Fitzgerald, expert on Islam, who headed the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 2002 to 2006. ++Sigitas Tamkevičius, who spent many years in a Soviet Gulag and +Eugenio Dal Corso, Italian missionary Bishop in Angola.

I'm pretty sure this means Pope Francis has created 50% + of cardinal-electors.
So what can we say about the newest princes of the Church - those will will choose the next pope, a pope who will in all likelihood be one of their number? Well, there's no one from the orthodox side of the Church, that's the first obvious thing. It was always noted the Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were both very careful to choose a balance from across the Church. Personally, I felt this was extraordinarily naive, especially when one considers that Jorge Bergoglio was made a cardinal by Pope St John Paul II in 2001 along with Theodore McCarrick, and Godfried Danneels was made cardinal by Pope St John Paul II in 1983. Donald Wuerl was created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and Luis Tagle in 2012.

Even John Allen at Crux, which tends to have a light touch when reporting on this papacy, commented:
The most obvious conclusion to be drawn from the 2019 consistory probably is that Francis is a pope who knows how to take care of his friends, since several of the new red hats are going to key aides and allies.
...the point should be clear: This is a consistory in which Francis is elevating a cohort of like-minded churchmen, positioning them to help advance his agenda right now and also to help ensure that the next pope, whoever it may be, isn’t someone inclined to roll back the clock.
There's also no Americans. The third consistory in a row in which Pope Francis has not appointed a new American cardinal. This is his sixth consistory in total, and in only one did he name any Americans, although that might not be a bad thing: in that 2016 consistory he promoted three of the worst - Kevin Farrell of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Blase Cupich of Chicago, and Joseph "nighty-night" Tobin of Indianapolis (shortly thereafter moved to Newark).

And then you've got this joker:
Remember him? He's the bloke who edited Pope Benedict's letter refusing to approve a series of books on Pope Francis' "theology" to make it look like he approved them, and then was caught red handed.

Recently I have been having some personal struggles with family members who, though nominally catholic, dismiss Church teaching and go their own way, choosing to hold Catholicism as some kind of benign talisman to cling to when someone is ill or dying or taking exams. Beyond that it has no actually effect on them, their decisions or their lives. My wife and I are anathema to these people in many ways and there is a thorny criticism of anything vaguely catholic we do or say. Trying to gently hold the line or argue the point is only made more difficult in a Church that seems contradictory and confusing to the average lay person.

The Church can only thrive if the people who are a part of it are willing and committed advocates of it and its teaching. They have to support it with time and money too. If what the Church teaches is meaningless, who will do this in the future?

It is hard to be a Catholic when you feel even the pope is working against you. My desire for the orthodox is born out of a passion for my faith which encourages me to be closer to God. This compels me to seek to find a way to transform my life in accordance with the teachings of the Gospels. To move ever closer to God and the Trinity and His vision for my life to have life to the fullest.

In a modern secular world which consistently offers a wide path; an attractive, easy and pervasive ideology which seeks to constantly subvert and attack Christian ideals and ethics, it is a challenge to maintain and argue a counter-cultural direction. This task is only exacerbated by clergy who seem to encourage an abandonment of Christian belief and a the pursuit of an agenda increasing driven by secular ideals. Confronted by an argument against an article of faith, they give way rather than offer a reasoned response. How can they not see what hypocrites they appear? How can it be that they do not see how so many people have followed this teaching at great personal cost?

I honestly cannot see a way of compromise between the two positions without betraying some fundamental and foundational principle of consistent Catholic teaching. Further we have a clear idea of where that path lies - we only have to look at the Anglican model which is isolated, fractured and irrelevant. Anglicanism will soon be obsolete unless there are some rapid changes. See here.

I do feel that progressives will figure this out at some point or another I'm sure, the question is, will it be too late?

In concluding, I would make clear that my faith is in no way diminished by this ongoing tragedy, but I do feel increasingly furious with the charlatans who live lavish lifestyles funded by us, the laity, while working over-time to misrepresent the faith and lead people astray.


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