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Helen M. Weir

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  In the hours since I completed this article, the world has learned the heartbreaking news that little Alfie Evans has died.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. May God also console his parents and, by bringing them into union with Him through the Catholic Church in this life, reunite them with their beloved Alfie in the next.

Like the whimpering "rabbit" of Eglfing-Haar, Alfie took a few extra days before complying with the wishes of his "caretakers."  For those of us who are concerned not only about Alfie himself but also about what his case means, news of his passing does not permit us to comply with those wishes ourselves, by "going back to our everyday lives" as the Death Panel of Alder Hey Hospital (by means of the prepared statement read under duress by Tom Evans) commands.  Rather, we must commit ourselves all the more profoundly to the cause of life, which means--as Father Maximilian demonstrated at Auschwitz--to give ourselves ever more entirely to the Mother of the Alpha and Omega of All Life.  Only She has been given by God the promise of victory over Satan.  Only She can crush all heresy in the whole world.  And make no mistake about it; Alfie died of heresy in the end. He died specifically of the heresy which holds that mercy may be untethered from justice; love from truth; and pastoral practice from doctrine.  That heresy is what we who are alive to see him die must commit ourselves to fighting, through the Immaculata, at all costs. HW

Alfie

Because of our history in Germany, we have learned that there are some things you just don’t do with severely handicapped children. A society must be prepared to look after (them). 

--Professor Nikolaus Haas, testifying in the case of Alfie Evans[1]

According to the Approved Judgment handed down by Justice Anthony Hayden on February 20, 2018, it is in the “best interest”[2] of impaired British toddler Alfie Evans to have his ventilator removed. Contrary to certain expectations, however, following this removal--which took place with the world watching on Monday, April 23--little Alfie did not die on demand. The fact that the child has since been deprived of sufficient oxygen and nutrition, not to mention being refused transport out of the country or release from Alder Hey Hospital at all, handily demonstrates that the verbiage best interest denotes imposed death--nothing else, and nothing less.[3]

As of this writing, little Alfie is still alive, probably because of his heroic father’s decision to do a complete about-face based upon brutal arm-twisting.[4] Asking assembled protesters to “return to (their) everyday lives,”[5] Tom Evans also issued a plea for privacy which should be respected by each and all. Still, there are a number of compelling reasons why we cannot entirely oblige him, where “standing down” on this situation is concerned.

After all, as Mr. Evans himself has pointed out,[6] there is more at stake here than only the life of his innocent and vulnerable son--as non-negotiable as Alfie is. There is the precedent that Alfie’s case will set (or arguably, solidify), should he be forced to die. There is the undermining of objective morality inherent in Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8, which will continue marching like Sherman to the sea unless it is confronted and overturned. And there is our civilizational commitment to preventing the atrocities of Nazi Germany from ever being tolerated again.

Professor Nikolaus Haas is identified in the Approved Judgment as the “Medical Director of the Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Intensive Care at the University Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians (U)niversity (LMU), Munich” (p. 7). Considerable prestige, in other words, attaches to his opinion that Alfie’s prognosis is very poor. With clinical bluntness, Professor Haas has stated that (pp. 8-9):

I do agree with the medical teams involved that there are no useful tests that may be performed to improve Alfie’s condition. The genetic testing (i.e., whole genome sequencing) is performed by blood sampling and without any risks for Alfie. These tests may in certain cases be beneficial to delineate a rare new disease as pointed out by the doctors of Bambino Gesù Hospital. To the best of my knowledge these tests have--even if a new disease is found--never been able to cure a patient with a disease pattern like Alfie’s.

The doctors from Bambino Gesù, like Pope Francis himself, have rested their case not on Alfie’s inviolable right to life, but on the temporal hope that transporting the child to Italy might open up the possibility of a new therapeutic approach and ultimately bring about significant improvement, or even recovery.

Professor Haas refuses to don these particular rose-colored glasses. While he concurs with Alder Hey about Alfie’s condition, he refuses to countenance the removal of life support or the denial of life-sustaining care due to that condition alone. Alluding to the horrors of the Holocaust, Professor Haas instead demands that Alfie be cared for not because there is a chance he may get better, but precisely because “a society must be prepared to look after these severely handicapped children and not decide that life support has to be withdrawn against the will of the parents” (pp. 16-7), as heinous eugenic experience has already proven.

Justice Hayden did not, for his part, take kindly to the reminder. “Notwithstanding that Professor Haas has assessed Alfie’s medical circumstances in terms which are identical to those at Alder Hey,” Hayden writes, rarely in higher dudgeon (p. 16):

(Professor Haas) has different views as to what he terms ‘withdrawal of therapy,’ and which I shall call end of life plans. It is no part of his function, however, to utilize the case as a platform for his own personal beliefs. I found the . . . paragraph (about child euthanasia in Nazi Germany) to be inflammatory and inappropriate, not least because the views expressed bear no relationship to and do not engage with the facts of this case.

According to the individual who has attempted to seal Alfie’s fate at the judicial level, in other words, it is a matter of mere private opinion whether Aktion T4 is even to be deplored or not. At the same time, we are expected to swallow the implication that Justice Hayden himself, bastion of impregnable objectivity that he is, bring no agenda to the table at all--even though he is just as committed to extinguishing the life of little Alfie Evans as Professor Haas is to sustaining it. “But surely, with all this,” noted the Irish Bishops regarding the euthanasia movement as long ago as 1975, “we are in the world of Nazi Germany, not that of Western liberal democracy. Liberal reformers are outraged at the comparison. But it is difficult to see how it can be avoided.”[7]

Picture, if you would, a visit to a state hospital in Germany in the autumn of 1939. As reported by an actual observer, in the children’s ward:

were some twenty-five half-starved children ranging in age from one to five years. The director of the institution, Dr. Pfannmueller, explained the routine. We don’t do it, he said, with poisons or injections. “Our method is much simpler and more natural.” With these words, the fat and smiling doctor lifted an emaciated, whimpering child from his little bed, holding him up like a dead rabbit. He went on to explain that food is not withdrawn at once, but the rations are gradually decreased. “With this child,” he added, “it will take another two or three days.”[8]

This revolting vignette, so eerily comparable to what Alfie Evans is going through right now, was far from a singular occurrence. “Thousands of children were disposed of,” Fredric Wertham, author of A Sign for Cain, goes on to explain (pp. 159-60):

A special agency existed for them, consisting of a commission of three experts: one a psychiatrist and director of a state hospital, the other two prominent pediatricians. The children came from psychiatric hospitals, institutions for mental defectives, children’s homes, university pediatric clinics, children’s hospitals, pediatricians, et al.

And in actual practice, “the indications (for killing) became wider and wider” (Wertham, p. 159), not more carefully scrutinized and circumscribed. The process itself was simplistic as well: questionnaires were submitted to “experts” who would mark people with a plus sign (+) if--in their considered, professional, and unemotional judgment--that patient should still live; or with a minus sign (-) if not. To save time, the “experts” typically submitted these determinations concerning patients they had never even examined (Wertham, pp. 169-70).

These facts are superabundantly documented to the point of being uncontested, for the Nazis were scrupulous record keepers. There is no excuse, in other words, for Pope Francis--who refers to situations like Alfie’s as “delicate,” “painful,” and “complex,”[9] along with the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales which affirms its collective “conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising (sic) decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans” are acting “with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it,”[10]--to remain so culpably obtuse regarding the practical dynamics of the Culture of Death. As Wertham specifies, we can learn from the commission of child euthanasia in mid-twentieth-century Germany that (p. 155):

there (is) nothing individual about it; it was a systematic, planned, massive killing operation. . . . What a physician does or should do with a special individual patient under special circumstances had absolutely nothing to do with those mass exterminations. The greatest mistake we can make is to assume or believe that there was a morally, medically, or socially legitimate program and that all that was wrong was merely the excesses. There were no excesses.

But where did it all begin? Surely, this was all Hitler’s fault--and, since Hitler is dead and gone, we no longer have to consider ourselves as being in that kind of danger any more. Right?

Wrong. Wertham debunks this myth as well, arguing that (pp. 164-5):

(i)t has been stated that the psychiatrists were merely following a law or were being forced to obey an order.   . . . According to that view, everything was fine until that order was given and became fine again when the order was revoked. The reality was very different. There was no law and no such order. The tragedy is that the psychiatrists did not have to have an order. They acted on their own.

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Is this not what the medical personnel at Alder Hey Hospital, not to mention their collaborators in the judiciary, are doing this during this exact historical moment? The questions currently circulating at the popular level, regarding Alfie’s case--“But why are they doing this? Why don’t they let him go to Italy, or at least let him go home? It wouldn’t cost the British anything, so their stubbornness doesn’t even make financial sense!”--have no other answer than the recognition that this is the way practical eugenics always works.

From “one note, not on official stationery but on Hitler’s own private paper,” it was a quick descent into killing helpless people with “both curable and incurable conditions, psychopathic personalities, epileptics, encephalitics, neurological cases, mental defectives of both severe and mild degree, arteriosclerotics, deaf-mutes, patients with all kinds of nervous diseases, handicapped patients who had lost a limb in the First World War . . . et al.” (Wertham, p. 159).   Furthermore, the note signed by Hitler only says that doctors are to be named (Wertham, pp. 165-6):

so that a mercy death may be granted to patients who according to human judgment are incurably ill according to the most critical evaluation of the state of their disease.

So the watershed turns out to be affording legal and moral approbation for the elimination of the patients who aren’t likely to get any better.

This is why it is so disconcerting that Pope Francis is being showered with fawning kudos for a recent of Tweet of his which--far from contradicting the Culture of Death--implicitly affirms it. The news outlets congratulating His Holiness on his “support” of Alfie are too numerous to mention, with pro-life and conservative commentators appearing especially anxious to take advantage of a rare opportunity to sound supportive of the left-leaning religious leader themselves, for a change. Even EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, during his World Over Live broadcast of Thursday, April 26, put the misunderstood message from @Pontifex on screen, accompanied by lively praise. None of this, however, may be even remotely derived from what the Tweet-Even-Justice-Hayden-Could-Love actually says.

On Monday, April 23, 2018--the day Alfie was finally extubated--the world was looking to the Vatican for guidance and hope. Many people erroneously believed they had found these things in these words of Pope Francis, who gushed via Twitter:

Moved by the prayers and the broad solidarity in favor of little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal so that the suffering of his parents may be heard and their desire to try new possibilities of treatment is fulfilled.

Then the pontiff went back to his regularly-scheduled activity for that day, which is how he ended up serving gelato to the homeless while Alfie’s food and air were being “rationed” away.

tiny alfieAs slick as the “social media” Pope can sometimes sound, however, there is an ineluctable flipside to the papal point of view regarding Alfie which turns out to be more than blood-chilling. Pope Francis, whose most solemn duty it is to proclaim the truth of Christ, clearly failed in the most critical of moments to identify the child as the possessor of the inviolable right to life bestowed upon him by his Creator; a right which no doctor nor government may infringe upon at all. In this Tweet, the Fifth Commandment is nowhere alluded to, and neither is the CDF’s Declaration on Euthanasia with its detailed exposition of how the Catholic Church understands situations like the one currently unfolding in Liverpool. Instead, declaring himself moved by “prayers” (as if those particular exercises are meant to address . . . Jorge Bergoglio himself), and by “solidarity” (as if such temporal considerations couldn’t just as easily break the other way--an unnerving possibility which Professor Haas staunchly pointed out), Pope Francis begs only for Alfie to be given a chance to try additional treatments. And even that watered-down plea is based not on concern for the handicapped youngster himself, but for the “suffering” of Alfie’s parents, whose “desire” is alleged to merit singular indulgence.

Pope Francis therefore demonstrates fundamental agreement with the note at the root of the T4 Euthanasia Program, because of his logical implication that “treatability” alone makes Alfie worth keeping alive.   By framing the issue in this way, the Holy Father casts the vulnerable little boy as the untermensch of the scenario, valuable to the extent that he happens to matter to the “real people” involved. This is not Catholicism. It is not even the celebrated merely-human “closeness” which the Holy Father is so fond of extending. It is nothing but Nietzschean predation, at just about its most naked.

There will be those who wish to cite (in refutation of this conclusion) other pronouncements of the Holy Father as well--pronouncements which, in isolation and rank self-contradiction, do make him sound like he embraces the sanctity-of-life position of which the Catholic Church is the irrevocable champion. But the fact that he has said those things doesn’t mean that he didn’t Tweet this. It is wildly unacceptable for the Vicar of Christ on earth to mouth the verbiage of the Culture of Death even once, not to mention his countless slights to the cause of life, and the uncontradicted outrages which have been stated by his surrogates about Alfie to boot.

Is one Tweet, however, really worth all this hoopla? If its contents represent even a subtle crossing of the Fifth Commandment watershed, it surely is. Concepts count. Read over, for example, the note from Hitler one more time, looking for the term which the Führer diabolically twisted beyond recognition, and which then became the basis for innumerable atrocities to follow. If this one National Socialist instance of semantic abuse had been detected and opposed effectively, who knows what reprehensible sights this Vale of Tears might ultimately have been spared?

Curiously enough, the word in question--in case it hasn’t jumped off the page at you already--is mercy.

 ________________________

[1] Alder Hey NHS Children’s Foundation Trust v. Mr. Thomas Evans et al. (Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 308 (Fam); Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, WC2A 2LL; 20 February, 2018), p. 16. This document is linked to by Michael Hichborn in “Judge Cites Pope Francis to Justify Ending Baby’s Life Against Parents’ Wishes” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/judge-cites-pope-francis-to-justify-ending-babys-life-against-parents-wishe); February 23, 2018; accessed April 24, 2018.

[2] “The continued provision of ventilation, in circumstances which I am persuaded is futile, now compromises Alfie’s future dignity and fails to respect his autonomy. I am satisfied that continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s best interest” (Alder Hey v. Evans, p. 22).

[3] Ertelt, Steven. “Alfie Evans’ Parents Head to Court to Restore Life Support After He Lives for Hours Without Food, Water, or Oxygen” (http://www.lifenews.com/2018/04/24/alfie-evans-parents-head-to-court-to-restore-life-support-after-he-lives-for-hours-without-food-water-or-oxygen); April 24, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.

[4] “Did Alder Hey Force Alfie Evans’ Dad to Read a ‘Hostage’ Letter to Save His Son?” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/did-alder-hey-force-alfie-evans-dad-to-read-a-hostage-letter-to-save-his-so); April 26, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.

[5] Quoted in Freiburger, Calvin, “Alfie Evans’ Parents to ‘Form a Relationship’ with the Hospital,’ Asking Supporters to Return Home” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alfie-evans-parents-to-form-a-relationship-with-hospital-ask-supporters-to); April 26, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.

 [6] “Alfie's father also asked the Pope to consider granting his son asylum and told him: 'Please help us save our innocent child and give us the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this. If (Y)our (H)oliness helps our child you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the UK, especially the disabled.” Quoted in Apen-Sadler, Diane and Martin Robinson, “Pope Francis ‘Looked Me in the Eye and Told Me I was Doing the Right Thing,’ Says Alfie Evans’ Father after He Returns from Rome and Continues Fight for His Brain-Damaged Son” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5635629/Alfie-Evans-father-said-Pope-Francis-told-doing-right-thing.html#ixzz5DqAX0JYp); April 19, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018. Mr. Evans also expressed the expectation that involving Pope Francis would cause diplomatic troubles for Great Britain, if Alfie wasn’t allowed to depart for Italy. It is unfortunate, if not unexpected, that the same Holy Father who prides himself on “making a mess” in other contexts did not see fit to do anything of the kind when Alfie’s ventilator was removed.

[7] “Human Life is Sacred,” Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland to the Clergy, Religious, and Faithful (Dublin: Veritas, 1975; reprinted by the Daughters of St. Paul, 1977), no. 53; p. 32.

[8] Wertham, Fredric, M.D. A Sign for Cain: An Exploration of Human Violence (New York: Macmillan, 1966), p. 180.

[9] “Pope Francis Prays for Alfie Evans in Sunday Regina Coeli Address,” by Staff Reporters (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/04/16/pope-francis-prays-for-alfie-evans-in-sunday-regina-coeli-address/); April 16, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.

 [10] Quoted by Dorothy Cummings McLean in “UK Bishops Say Hospital Acting with ‘Integrity’ in Alfie Evans Case” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-bishops-abandon-alfie-evans-say-courts-and-hospital-act-with-integrity-a); April 18, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.

THE PHOTO OP

If there is one thing we have all learned since the humble man from Argentina uttered an odd and Godless “Good Evening”[1] in opening his first official appearance as pope, it is that reasonable observers must not accept at face value any narrative favored by the Bergoglian Vatican. If Pope Francis decides to “spontaneously” marry two people while on board a plane, we all say, “Will we ever hear the rest of the story, I wonder?” and smile wryly at the late-breaking report that the entire thing had, in fact, been carefully vetted beforehand.[2] When a young boy is manipulated into whispering his somehow very politically correct concerns into the Holy Father’s own ear, we recognize and deplore the fact that the poor child is being used as a prop by people who--in the spirit of former President Barack Obama and his Alinskyite coreligionists--don’t believe in letting a good crisis go to waste.[3] But for some reason, the heartwrenching photo of this very same pontiff having his ring kissed by Tom Evans, father of the threatened toddler Alfie Evans,[4] is being gushingly greeted as one of those two times a day when a broken clock tells the time correctly--even by commentators whose circumspection regarding the author of Amoris Laetitia is ordinarily quite reliable.

The discrepancy is palpable, and instructive. Why this sudden, unprovoked demonstration of rank naiveté towards Team Bergoglio, which has already been thoroughly self-discredited? Why shouldn’t papal pronouncements and actions in the Evans case be viewed through exactly the same lens which Pope Francis himself, through sorry experience, has forced us most reluctantly to employ everywhere else? Authentic concern for Alfie and for the many like him, not to mention for the future of the human element of the Catholic Church, compels us to undertake the investigation.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Not that helping the struggling toddler and his heroic parents isn’t the right thing to do. Straightening out a marriage-imitating situation, sacramentally speaking, and comforting a young person who has lost a parent, are also commendable actions in and of themselves. The report that Pope Francis has even specifically charged Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi with seeing to it “that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambino Gesù in Rome” was especially heartening,[5]--until word came, very soon afterwards, that such overtures had been utterly rebuffed. As of this writing, Alfie is not only to have his ventilator removed; drugs are to be administered, ensuring that the desired outcome of imposed death results.[6]   And if the British government’s brutal attempt to deprive the child of the life-supporting technologies which could keep him alive and growing while other therapies are tried WAS thwarted as a result of the Holy Father’s intervention, no Catholic or other person of good will would be anything but grateful. None of this alters the reality, however, that Jorge Bergoglio’s ballyhooed involvement in Alfie’s situation is aflutter with the red flags we have come to expect wherever papal publicity is concerned. Clearly, Pope Francis has gone out of his way to style himself Alfie’s Savior. But is this really--whatever may come to pass--the case?

THINGS THAT DON’T ADD UP

Pro-lifers have particularly trumpeted the papal observation that only God is the “master of life,”[7] as though there is something wonderfully commendable about the Vicar of Christ on Earth coming such a profound and original realization. But even when Jorge Bergoglio is saying something good, he does so very strangely. Why has no one called into question the Islamic overtones of the expression, “master”? It is, after all, the servants of Allah rather than Yahweh who reduce the fatherhood of God to a cruel and nominalistic authoritarianism. Similarly, no one asks whether there exists a comparable photo of the ring of the Fisherman being kissed by a parent of Charlie Gard’s, if Pope Francis is so committed to the defense of the sanctity of human life in the first place. Presumably, human life was just as sacred way back then. Why intervene so visibly in the Evans case, but in the Evans case alone? And while we’re at it, where was Greg Burke when--only hours after the meeting between Tom Evans and Pope Francis had taken place--the bishops of England shamelessly supported Alder Hey Hospital in its Naziesque determination to deprive the targeted toddler of any chance of a second opinion at all?[8] When on Holy Thursday, no less, Eugenio Scalfari notoriously reported that Pope Francis had denied the existence of Hell, we were treated--at least--to a weak-kneed, watered-down quaver of a qualification from the Vatican spokespeople. But when this egregious episcopal endorsement of imposed eugenic selection hit the news cycle, one of the men in white currently residing in Rome (the one who brooks no foolishness from orthodox Knights of Malta and liturgically traditional Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, that is) apparently weathered a full-on contradiction of his public posture regarding Alfie with the most unflappable equanimity; no correction, or even acknowledgment, was forthcoming from Casa Santa Marta at all.

So there are several good reasons to question exactly how Tom Evans gained admittance to the presence of His Holiness on such short notice at all, and to hope--would it be too much to ask for?--that he might also disclose the secret of his success to Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke some time soon.

GOOD COP, BAD COP

For what, exactly, did the meeting between Tom Evans and Jorge Bergoglio accomplish, or change? It isn’t as though the Holy Father learned from speaking to Alfie’s father in person any information that would have been undiscoverable in the absence of a face-to-face encounter. “You speak well, Thomas, you are defending your son with courage,” [9] Pope Francis is reported to have responded--which is undoubtedly the case. But why does someone have to “speak well,” in order to prompt the pope to do what lies within his power for the sake of an innocent child? Was Jorge Bergoglio once again the helpless victim of a regrettable lack of “true and balanced information,”[10] preventing him from grasping the acuteness of Alfie’s plight until Tom Evans was compelled to leave his son’s bedside in order to explain it all? No. He wasn’t. In fact, arguably the strangest thing about this whole strange affair is that the death sentence imposed most heinously upon little Alfie Evans is directly founded on the remarks of Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Judge Anthony Hayden, in his decision dated February 20, 2018, cited the November 2017 open letter of Pope Francis himself, to his own repurposed Pontifical Academy for Life, in reaching a “verdict” of imposed death in Alfie’s case.[11] Like so much of the rest of the Bergoglian corpus, the quoted section contains assertions which sound orthodox enough, and do not immediately present a problem to the listener who is not attentive to their precise phraseology and purpose. Upon closer examination, we will see that the letter itself functions much like Footnote 351, in terms of its calculated duplicity. But there is an even more compelling reason to suspect that the anti-life interpretation Judge Hayden gives the Holy Father’s words is the correct one; namely, that the Holy Father himself has never taken the trouble to correct it.

So why didn’t Bergoglio proclaim himself profoundly misunderstood at the time, if--when the necessary photo opportunity finally arose--he was going to position himself on Alfie’s side in the last analysis?

We’re all familiar with the “good cop, bad cop,” dynamic in which two people, seemingly coming from different perspectives, one supportive and the other antagonistic, work together in underlying coordination. The Vatican is comparably manipulating us about Alfie, in order to try and wrench forth our contrived confession that Pope Francis is a bona fide pro-lifer after all. Jorge Bergoglio may thus stand commended for introducing into the life of the Church yet another of his trademark novelties: that of embodying both the “good cop” and the “bad cop” in his own person, at one and the same time.

TRANSPARENT BUZZWORDS

If someone were to say to you, “I don’t believe in abortion, but I do believe in a woman’s right to choose,” you would reject the euphemism out of hand. “That doesn’t make sense,” you would insist. “To support a woman’s ‘right to choose’ is to support abortion, because abortion is what is being chosen.” Where protecting the lives of the innocent unborn is concerned, the pro-life movement is on the ball. But where end-of-life issues are concerned, you would think we were all born yesterday.

Pope Francis’ statement supposedly defending the sanctity of Alfie’s life is a veritable minefield of anti-life verbal engineering, and nobody is willing to identify, let alone challenge that? “Pope Francis used his traditional Sunday (Regina Coeli) blessing to say he’s praying for British brain damaged toddler Alfie Evans,” is how the Daily Mail reported it on April 19, referring to the Sunday before. “He expressed hope that (Alfie and those like him) would 'always be respected in dignity and cared for in a way suitable to their conditions, with the agreement of family members, doctors and health workers.'”[12] 

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Dignity? Why say “dignity,” here? This word has long served as the dog whistle for euthanasia in this country; “death with dignity,” is how the standard circumlocution goes. Is it wrong for the Holy Father to point out that Alfie possesses human dignity? No more so than it would be for someone to insist that women have free will. But why not refrain from giving the death lobby a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge, by avoiding the employment, in this volatile and intense situation, of the exact buzzword which that lobby particularly prefers? Unless, of course, the little wink-wink, nudge-nudge is precisely what the Roman pontiff intends to convey.

“Cared for in a way suitable to their conditions”? Campaigning politicians, attempting to please all sides at once, are more specific than that. The orthodox Catholic world, of course, would read into this expression what is factually NOT THERE; namely, a definite and authoritative specification of what that “way” must be. That, in fact, is presumably what Team Bergoglio is counting on us to do, and not to notice we have done it, either.

As for the “agreement” of the stakeholders in the case, it would certainly be a felicitous thing to achieve. But the Holy Father states nothing about what should be done, precisely in cases like Alfie’s in which people do not agree. There is one stakeholder whose perspective has been egregiously omitted; the very one who must be allowed to cast the tie-breaking vote, and that is Almighty God. Bergoglio does refer to Him at other points, but it is interesting that He is left off of the initial list.

For example, the “Pope actually stated that I was right and to let God decide. Not Alder Hey, not the doctors here not any parents either,” is how Tom Evans himself recounted the upshot of his face-to-face conversation with the Holy Father.[13] And it certainly sounds as though no one could argue with that. The important thing to call to mind is what Jorge Bergoglio means by “letting God decide” in the first place.

Post-Amoris, the allegation is that God Himself can tolerate--or even directly will--the infringement of His own perfect Commandments. People engaged in publicly adulterous relationships are said to be doing the best they can, which is all that God Himself can expect of anybody. Perhaps, when Judge Hayden and the Court of Public Opinion decide that death is in Alfie’s “best interests,” Bergoglio’s imaginary “God of Surprises” will simply have to grin and bear it. And who’s to say?   The entity which Pope Francis characteristically refers to as “the Spirit”--notably omitting the traditional modifier “Holy”--might actually agree!

Again, it could be objected that, in the open letter to the PAV which Judge Hayden elects to cite, Pope Francis quite explicitly denies that human beings can deliberately shorten another human being’s life, and insists that the act the Church has always condemned as euthanasia can in no way be justified by any of his own remarks. But then again, he also denies that people living more uxorio in second “marriages” without benefit of an annulment are committing what the Church has always condemned as adultery, too. “Does your dog bite?” “No.” “Ouch! He bit me!” “That’s not my dog.”

We should all be familiar by now with the page from the Bergoglian playbook on which doctrine supposedly remains undisturbed, while pastoral practice is given free rein to play out in new, refreshing, and exciting ways. Bergoglio’s deity is no groveling slave to a set of mere rules; not even, mind-bogglingly enough, to ten of His very own.

New, refreshing, and exciting unless, of course, you happen to be Alfie Evans.

Lately, many people have been quite concerned--and rightly so--that Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia may be poised to eviscerate Humanae Vitae itself. Why aren’t we sounding the alarm about that chapter’s implications for the CDF’s 1980eclaration on Euthanasia as well?

ACCOMPANIMENT--AGAIN?

“It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard. I am praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved,” tweeted Pope Francis on April 4, to the vociferous and relatively uncritical acclaim of the pro-life community at large.[14] Best not to look a gift horse in the mouth, right? Fr. Roberto Colombo of the Catholic University in Rome notably stated, siding with Tom Evans: “If a ruling intends to justify a further step towards the ‘throw away culture and culture of death’ it ought not to do so by manipulating the Pope’s words, whose meaning, in the context of the Church’s Magisterium, moves in the opposite direction, that is, to the ‘culture of welcome and of life’.”[15] This assertion, however, merely assumes as true the very point which is at issue; namely, whether or not the Pope’s words are intended to be understood “in the context of the Church’s Magisterium.” Considering the source--namely, a pontiff who problematically holds that whatever he happens to think or say automatically counts as “magisterial”[16]--one must realize that even “praying for Alfie” may be an equivocal phrase. A woman’s right to choose . . . what? Praying for Alfie . . . to what?

It is a question well worth appending to the existing, and still unanswered, Dubia themselves. If Pope Francis means his tweets, addresses, photo ops, and remarks to leave no shadow of a doubt about the sanctity of little Alfie’s life, let Jorge Bergoglio himself credibly advance the case that they do not.

WHAT MORE CAN HE DO?

In the aftermath of the photo op with Tom Evans and the attempt to bring little Alfie to Rome, many are contending that Pope Francis himself has done his best, and can be held to no higher standard in this affair. If that were the case, holding his feet to the fire about buzzwords and ambiguities might seem like mean-spirited nitpicking; another uncharitable expression of an anti-Bergoglian animus that’s got to stop somewhere, for Heaven’s sake.

But the Holy Father hasn’t done all he can, in this situation. Not even close.

What more could Pope Francis do? He could denounce the scurrilous statements of his hand-picked head of the repurposed Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who has sided staunchly with Alder Hey.[17] And then, having corrected Paglia’s egregious perspective authoritatively, the Holy Father could remove him, as suggested, from a position for which he is manifestly unfit.

The burden of proof is on those who contend that Pope Francis is on Alfie’s side to explain why Jorge Bergoglio, who has rivaled Madame Defarge in his passion for rolling heads, does not dismiss the current Academy leader posthaste.

What more could Pope Francis do? He could side publicly and in his own most stentorian fashion with the bishops of Brazil, who have qualified their own support of Alfie’s parents with the understanding that supporting his parents means supporting his sanctity of life.[18] At the same time, and as a logical consequence, Pope Francis could disavow the standpoint of the British bishops, who have championed the cause of Alder Hey Hospital without any qualification whatsoever.

Underground promo

The burden of proof is on those who contend that Pope Francis is on Alfie’s side, to explain why Bergoglio does not state that he himself is on the Brazilian side of this divide. After all, he was willing to clarify that the bishops of Buenos Aires were the only ones to guess the Amoris Chapter 8 riddle correctly in the end--wasn’t he?

What more could Pope Francis do? He could insist, rather than merely offer, that Alfie be transferred to Rome--or that the care the child is being denied would be given to him in the absence of any geographical relocation at all. It isn’t as though the medical assistance Alfie requires is available only in Italy. The point is for him to get the treatment and the second opinion his parents are seeking, not the country in which he gets them.

The burden of proof is on those who contend that Pope Francis is on Alfie’s side, to explain why Bergoglio seems to be summoning all the urgency and determination of Willie Wonka protesting the impending demise of one of the naughty children--“Stop! Don’t! Come back!”

NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

It is telling that the Tom Evans photo op took place in the immediate aftermath of the release of Gaudete et Exsultate. For the “Nothing New Under the Sun” files, it should be noted that Bergoglio has taken Cardinal Bernadin’s Seamless Garment out of mothballs with an insistence that defending the right to life is no different from “welcoming” the illegal immigrants of whom the present Holy Father seems inordinately fond. It isn’t rocket science, in other words, to figure out why the Bergoglian Vatican might want to inflate its pro-life credit score artificially, at this particular moment in time.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me about a hundred thousand times, and the blame must sadly be placed somewhere else entirely. Pope Francis has indeed projected an image of being a benevolent champion of Alfie Evans and the mentally or physically challenged, but let’s face it; by Bergoglio, we’ve been burned before. And in this case, at the very least we encounter yet another case of Peronist self-contradiction, for which conduct the purpose reliably turns out to be misdirection. It may indeed be unfortunate that we ordinary Catholics have to filter our own Holy Father’s words and actions through a hermeneutic of anti-life suspicion, but whose fault is that? On the evidence, and as disciples of Jesus Christ and authentic witnesses to the sanctity of lives like little Alfie’s, we would be positively remiss if we did not.

 ____________________________

[1] “The First Words of Pope Francis: ‘Good Evening!’” by a Staff Reporter at the Catholic Herald, March 13, 2013 (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/03/13/the-first-words-of-pope-francis-i-good-evening/), accessed April 22, 2018.

[2] “In-flight Nuptials: Pope Didn’t Glide Over Church Requirements,” Catholic Philly dutifully reports (reposting an article by Cindy Wooden of CNS, January 23, 2018 at http://catholicphilly.com/2018/01/news/world-news/in-flight-nuptials-pope-didnt-glide-over-church-requirements/), accessed April 22, 2018.   At the same time, The Irish Times gets to gush that the Holy Father’s actions were “impromptu” (as per “Pope Performs Impromptu Mid-Flight Marriage Ceremony,” (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/offbeat/pope-performs-impromptu-mid-flight-marriage-ceremony-1.3360159), January 18, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.  A first-class example of the Holy Father getting to have his public relations cake, and eat it, too.

[3] See, for example, Christopher Ferrara’s outstanding analysis published in The Remnant itself, “Pope Francis: A Pelagian Lutheran” (https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/3857-pope-francis-a-pelagian-lutheran), April 19, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[4] “Alfie Evans’ Dad Flies to Rome, Pleads with Pope Francis to Save Son’s Life,” by Dorothy Cummings McLeon and Diane Montagna (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/thomas-evans-flies-to-rome-pleads-with-pope-francis-to-save-alfie2), April 18, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[5] “Pope Francis Takes First Steps to Bring Alfie Evans to Rome,” by Diane Montagna (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-opens-diplomatic-channels-to-transfer-alfie-evans-to-rome), April 18, 2018; accessed April 22, 2108.

[6] “Chemical Suffocation? How Alder Hey Doctors Want Alfie Evans to Die,” by Lifesite News staff (https://www.lifesitenews.com//news/chemical-suffocation-how-doctors-want-alfie-evans-to-die); April 22, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[7] “Pope Francis Appeals for Alfie Evans: The Only Master of Life is God,” by Deborah Castellano Lubov (https://zenit.org/articles/pope-appeals-for-alfie-evans-the-only-master-of-life-is-god/), April 18, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[8] “Catholic Bishops in England Issue Shocking Statement Defending Hospital Yanking Alfie Evans’ Life Support,” by Steven Ertelt (http://www.lifenews.com/2018/04/18/catholic-bishops-in-england-issue-shocking-statement-defending-hospital-yanking-alfie-evans-life-support/), April 18, 2019; accessed April 22, 2018.

[9] Cummings McLeod and Montagna, ibid.

[10] “Pope Francis Makes Strange Apology to Chilean Bishops for ‘Grave Errors’ in Sex Abuse Case,” by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-makes-strange-apology-to-chilean-bishops-for-grave-errors-in-s); April 11, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[11] “Judge Cites Pope as Baby’s Life Support Withdrawn,” by the staff of the Catholic Herald (http://catholicherald.co.ukwww.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/judge-cites-pope-as-babys-life-support-withdrawn/); March 1, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[12] “Pope Francis 'Looked Me in the Eye and Told Me I was Doing the Right Thing' Says Alfie Evans' Father after He Returns from Rome and Continues Fight for His Brain-damaged Son,” by Diane Apen-Sadler and Martin Robinson (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5635629/Alfie-Evans-father-said-Pope-Francis-told-doing-right-thing.html#ixzz5DRRrHDGh); April 19, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018. 

[13] ibid.

[14] See “Pope Francis Tweets Support for Alfie Evans,” by the Catholic Herald staff (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/04/05/pope-francis-tweets-support-for-alfie-evans/); April 5, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[15]“Vatican Academy for Life President Sides with Judge in Alfie Evans Case,” by Diane Montagna (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-academy-for-life-president-sides-with-judge-in-alfie-evans-case); March 12, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[16] See, for example, “Authentic Confusion over Pope Francis’ ‘Authentic Magisterium,’” by Father Brian W. Harrison, O.S. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/authentic-confusion-over-pope-francis-authentic-magisterium); December 19, 2017; accessed April 22, 2018.

[17] See, for example, “Catholic Mother Says Vatican Archbishop Should Be Fired for Justifying the ‘Killing’ of Alfie Evans,” by Diane Montagna (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/mother-offers-archbishop-paglia-a-filial-correction-on-the-alfie-evans-case); March 21, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

[18] “Brazilian Bishops Express Their Support for Alfie Evans in a Video and Public Letter,” by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/brazilian-bishops-express-their-support-for-alfie-evans-in-a-video-and-publ); April 21, 2018; accessed April 22, 2018.

caffarra kolbe

When we lost Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on September 6, 2017, we gained--it is to be securely hoped--an advocate in Heaven.  His Eminence was well known as one of the “Dubia Cardinals,” or four papal advisors who presented Pope Francis with five concisely-worded queries which, if answered unequivocally and in accordance with Tradition, would put a virtual halt to the moral maelstrom in which the universal Church is presently being engulfed.  For over a calendar year now, the world has been waiting in vain for a response from the pontiff who approaches all difficulties (or so he ceaselessly proclaims) through “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.”[1] Cardinal Caffarra has now followed Joachim Cardinal Meisner, requiescant in pace, in completing his earthly pilgrimage before being received by His Holiness in response to their earnest request.

The clock is still ticking in the West African country of Nigeria, where Pope Francis has threatened to suspend a divinis any and every priest incardinated in Ahiara--even the entire diocese, if he has to--who persists by mid-July in resisting the episcopal appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke.  Tribal tensions are to blame for the fact that many members of the clergy there don’t want to recognize this particular bishop, or so it is alleged.  The priests themselves have indicated, in no uncertain terms, that there are other factors in play.  But let us accept for the sake of the argument that the Supreme Pontiff believes that an attenuated form of racism is behind the aggravated turmoil, since that is the reason he has given for the drastic steps being taken in addressing the situation. 
As reports flood in concerning the letter of the four (now three, with the passing of Cardinal Meisner, RIP) “Dubia Cardinals” requesting an audience with Pope Francis—a letter which, like the Dubia themselves, has evidently been studiously ignored for a considerable while, before being made public faute de mieux—events regarding the Diocese of Ahiara in Africa have been distinctly back-burnered. 

For a moment there, we North Americans watched with a great deal of fascination and much less information as the Holy Father once again wielded his signature weapon of demanding the submission of letters reflecting content he controls, immediately and pending outcomes that could charitably be characterized as draconian.  To reiterate, the priests in this diocese have not accepted a bishop appointed by Francis, ostensibly because of tribal tensions, although the priests themselves have contested this portrayal of their motives.  But whatever the nature of the conflict itself, the facts which have emerged regarding the way the Holy Father has elected to approach the matter remain both disturbing and undenied. [Note: In response to the situation in Ahiara, which he described as “an attempted taking over of the vineyard of the Lord,” Pope Francis asked “every priest or ecclesiastic incardinated in the Diocese of Ahiara, whether he resides there or works elsewhere, even abroad, write a letter addressed to me in which he asks for forgiveness; all must write individually and personally. We all must share this common sorrow.” Whoever fails to do so within thirty days, the Pope said, “will be ipso facto suspended a divinis and will lose his current office.” MJM]

Certain conservative commentators, uncomfortably critical of Amoris Laetitia and arguably eager to seize upon opportunities to sound supportive of this Holy Father whenever they can be, have commended Pope Francis for acting “decisively” in Ahiara (which is putting it mildly), as is his right.  The refusal to accept a bishop is, in fact, a very serious matter regardless of the reasons behind it, compromising the unity of the Body of Christ.  Still, in this as in any case, the reality that some kind of intervention is warranted doesn’t automatically mean that every kind of intervention is justified.  Praising the way the African situation has been dealt with so far is like contending (as the old saying goes) that any liquid will help put out a fire, including—say—gasoline.

In truth, every Catholic ought to be not only quietly concerned, but even overtly alarmed, by the way this Supreme Pontiff is abusing the office he holds in a pattern that is both escalating and impossible to responsibly ignore.  Yes, discipline should sometimes be administered, but never apart from justice.  Yes, higher authority is to be recognized, but so is the dignity of the inferior.  Yes, action must be taken by the Pope (and by all of us) for the good of the Church, but the personal agenda of any of its members, including that of the servus servorum Dei, may not be slyly substituted for this “good,” nor are the rest of us required to turn a blind eye when such an attempt is made.  Pope Francis’ treatment of the clergy in Africa, like his trampling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the Knights of Malta, the John Paul II Institute—and the list keeps getting longer—has not been an exercise of authority but of authoritarianism unhinged.  Those who have lately proffered their applause would do well to recall what appeasement in the face of such tactics has historically been demonstrated to accomplish.

First of all, the threat of suspending the entire African diocese a divinis is egregious.  When an appraiser decides on the value of a property, for example, he looks around at other similar homes in the neighborhood and finds out what they sold for, so that he can determine a price range that might be fair.   When we consider the Mexican Standoff in Africa and ask, “How have comparable situations been dealt with?” we find ourselves—like Reepicheep the Narnian mouse in the clutches of the slave traders—reduced to virtual silence by the number of things that need to be said all at the same time.  Can you imagine Pope Francis issuing the same kind of ultimatum to, say, Cardinal Marx and what’s left of his diocese instead?  Cardinal Kasper?  The hierarchy of the troubled island of Malta? 

Neither can I.

And neither (more to the point) can they.

Looking at the African situation in context, in other words, makes the suspension threat very difficult to support.  If Pope Francis was simply a tough-guy overall, but an evenhanded one, our evaluation could be different.  “Cowboy up; this is how he treats everybody, and we’ll all be better off because of it in the end,” would be one thing.  “Why is he going after these people now, when the ones who really deserve it are still being left alone?” is quite another.   When Jorge Bergoglio personally barges into the office of Father James Martin, S.J., demanding a signature within the hour of a prewritten missive in which Father agrees to pull his Bridges bestseller straight off of the shelves and repent for having harmed the unity of the Body of Christ or lose his good standing as a Catholic priest, I’ll be impressed by the treatment meted out to the clergy in Ahiara—but not before.

Secondly, the emphasis on making the African priests apologize to the Holy Father himself, personally and all but exclusively, is deeply problematic.  Let’s say an adolescent too young for a driver’s license steals his father’s car keys, and obtains and consumes an excessive amount of alcohol while cruising around town.  He predictably loses control of the vehicle, knocking down a teenager who was biking on the sidewalk, and then careens across the park and into the playground, hospitalizing three toddlers before dead-ending into a tree.  What kind of a father would, upon being made aware of the situation, seek out his son, shake him by the shoulders, and shout, “You apologize to me this instant, young man!  This instant; do you hear?  And if you think for one moment you’re going to get away without paying for the damage to the Mercedes, you’ve got another thing coming.  Do you realize what you’ve done to the rest of the family that has to drive it—like, for example, me?   Well, do you?” 

The father in this scenario is well within his rights to count himself as first among to whom his son owes an apology.  Still, he is far from the only one.  It would say something distressing about the man’s personal perspective and priorities if being apologized to constituted, at this stage in the game, his sole or even his main concern.   Yet that is precisely how Pope Francis is behaving. 

What about demanding that the African clergy apologize to the rejected bishop, if mere tribal affiliation is truly the basis for the painful ostracization?  How about requiring those priests to say they’re sorry to the members of their flocks, traumatized and possibly even scandalized by the spectacle taking place before their very eyes?  And would it be asking too much for the Holy Father to take into account even the welfare of the allegedly recalcitrant clerics themselves?  The father whose son went out and wrecked the car would hopefully want to know not only how the teenager and the toddlers are doing, but also that the boy himself is still safe and sound, which are separate concerns entirely from justified condemnation of the child’s clear guilt.   Pope Francis’ entire modus operandi, from his passive-aggressive refusal to so much as acknowledge the existence of concerns which are not his own to the now-legendary meltdowns constituting the flipside of the same coin, indicate clearly that there exists only one person whom he truly wishes to shield from being offended or even harmed.  And I will give you a hint:  that person, according to him, is no one else on earth, and no one in Heaven, either.

But wait—weren’t we treated to another trademark Scriptural garbling contesting this very characterization?  Yes, the Holy Father did invoke the parable of the workers in the Vineyard as his motive for acting as he has in Ahiara, lending the papal high dudgeon a truly holy tinge.  Pope Francis’ point, if not that of the inspired author, comes down to this:  he gets to suspend whomever he wants to suspend, whenever he wants to suspend them, because (as he cordially pointed out to Cardinal Müller on the occasion of having dismissed some clerical personnel from the CDF without cause), he is the Pope!  Which is why, truth to tell, the “caring for the Vineyard” thing ended up ringing a bit hollow at best.

Guarding and advancing the good of the Bride of Christ is to be accomplished selflessly, primarily, entirely, and without prejudice, not only by members of the hierarchy but by all of the baptized, according to their own stations and measures.   This means that a man who becomes our Holy Father incurs greater accountability, not less.  The bishop and clergy of a given diocese have a certain portion of the Church entrusted to their care, but the Pope has the whole thing.  If Francis the First was actually the fearless guardian of the Vineyard which he styles himself, he would be observed behaving personally and officially according to the same standard he is imposing upon his Ahiara underlings, and then some.  But is he?

A Supreme Pontiff like the one Pope Francis is implicitly claiming to be would—to pull a wild example out of nowhere—answer crucial questions put to him about encroachments upon the Church’s timeless Eucharistic discipline in a prompt and forthright fashion (not to mention, correctly).  Such a Pope would, at the very least, give first place in his calendar to any Cardinals requesting an audience intended to address their grave reservations in this regard.  Are we seeing any such thing?   No, we are not.  And it is a safe bet that we will see Father Martin turn in his required letter of apology for his “gay-friendly” apologetics first.

That is why the Bergoglian “L’eglise, c’est moi!” must not to be given any quarter in our hearts, minds, theological reflections, or public comments—the perceived need to be supportive of this particular occupant of the See of Peter whenever possible notwithstanding.  If once Pope Francis is allowed to establish the principle (or, in any case, the credible impression) not that he himself, just like everybody else, has to obey Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that Our Lord may be obeyed in truth by all through ordered membership in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church which He established, but rather that submitting to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is crudely and unqualifiedly the same thing as submitting to Pope Francis personally, and to whatever Christian or unChristian thing he chooses to say or do, then there is no question where this pontificate will end up taking us.  Anyone who fails to recognize this reality will not be able to use the exercise of “charity,” or of “finding the good in everything,” or of seeking a “balance between right and left” as their shield in the end, either, because any remaining ignorance about the shell game Jorge Bergoglio is playing is far, far from invincible at this stage.  All roads lead to Amoris; how far are we going to allow ourselves to led us down this garden path?

After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that we Catholics are being desensitized in either direction.  When Pope Francis does something illegitimate—like, say, trying to allow for the admission of unrepentant public adulterers to Holy Communion—he does it with elaborately legitimate orchestration.  After all, before the promulgation of the objectionable Apostolic Exhortation, surveys were distributed throughout the entire world, endless interviews were granted, and not one but two Family Synods were eventually hosted.  That way, any Catholic critical of the absolutely unacceptable end Team Bergoglio was trying to achieve could be neutralized by citing the complete ecclesial correctness of the means that were so painstakingly employed in achieving it.  But when Pope Francis does something legitimate—like, say, trying to get the Diocese of Ahiara to recognize a bishop authoritatively appointed—he does it in maximally illegitimate ways.  Any Catholic critical of his capricious cruelty towards these particular clerics just has to eat it, because it is the right of the Church hierarchy to retain control over the appointment of its own bishops (just like this same Holy Father has been so careful to do in China—right?).  We are gradually being bludgeoned into accepting the idea that being the Pope means, on the one hand, that Francis the First gets to do whatever he wants to and, on the other, that he can do it any way he pleases.  Is this really a progression which deserves even the most restrained conservative applause?

What Papa Bergoglio means by the peculiar warping of the concept of Catholic “total obedience” he continues to invoke ever more shamelessly on his own behalf, in other words, and what well-formed but not-entirely-clued-in Catholic commentators naturally assume he means, may be two very different things.  Does anyone doubt that the day may not be far away on which letters of assent to Amoris Laetitia and its rank heterodoxies will be demanded from any and all—and on pain, no less, of every sanction that the very highest office of the Church has at its command?  And what will there be left to say in support of The One Who Must At All Costs Be Supported, when it dawns?

Baby CharlieBaby Charlie Gard


When the European Court of Human Rights (George Orwell, call your office) denied the parents of little Charlie Gard the opportunity to take their 10-month-old from Great Britain to the United States in their last-ditch effort to save their child’s life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia had some interesting things to say.  Paglia, of course, is he of ‘homoerotic painted-selfie’ fame, and bears the shiny new Papa Francesco mint mark as the head not only of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, but also of the Pontifical Academy for Life (recently repopulated with activists and scholars who are anything but).  Paglia seems kind of busy to take on the leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as well, but who else is the Holy Father going to get, who reflects his views so transparently and carries out his wishes so faithfully?

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