In the last few days, we have had several examples of the political cynicism which has been the mark of Pope Francis since he came to the papal throne. First, there's the appointment as vice-dean of the College of Cardinals of his fellow Argentinian Cdl. Leonardo Sandri, in what is seen as a bid to manipulate the next conclave so as to ensure a Bergoglian successor. To appreciate the full impudence of this appointment, we should read George Neumayr's article in The American Spectator.
Neumayr points out that Sandri is the creature of the notoriously corrupt former Secretary of State Cdl. Angelo Sodano, and was appointed papal nuncio in Mexico for the purpose (which he amply fulfilled) of covering up the crimes of the Legion of Christ and its evil founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.
The second example, or pair of examples, is the recent reception by the pope of the anti-Christian, pro-abortion and divorced president of Argentina, together with his mistress, who were both given Holy Communion; along with this, there's the meeting of the pope (last November, though only just disclosed) with Bill Gates' wife Melinda, a nominal Catholic, regardless of the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the world's largest pushers of contraception. These two meetings illustrate pope Francis' taste for cozying up to the elites of the secular world, with blithe unconcern for Catholic principle.
What is instructive about the events mentioned is their failure to provoke a whisper of criticism from Pope Francis lackeys — the likes of Austen Ivereigh and Christopher Lamb. No act of their idol's, however blatant, will ever prompt them to see him as the cynical and power-obsessed politician that he is.
With propagandists like these, Pope Francis can be sure that his image will be religiously presented in the world's media as that of the liberal reformer and lover of the poor, in defiance of all the evidence. An example of this is given by a mind-boggling article by Paul Elie in The New Yorker for Feb. 2.
The subject of the article is the controversy over the recently published book by Cdl. Robert Sarah and Pope Benedict on clerical celibacy. Elie sets the background by describing the Amazon Synod, which he depicts as a high-minded endeavor to discuss issues "such as climate change and human-rights abuses," with no hint of its character as a device stage-managed in Europe to push the program of the German hierarchy.
Elie misrepresents Abp. Gänswein's intervention on the eve of publication with the words: "He said that Benedict had only contributed an essay to the book, not collaborated on it, and that the pope emeritus wants his name taken off future editions." The fact that Benedict's contribution consisted of an essay was already clear from the book itself; but it was an essay of such importance that Cdl. Sarah had felt it could only be done justice by publication in a book. And what Abp. Gänswein demanded was not the removal of Benedict's name — that was impossible, since his authorship of the essay was indisputable — but a change of credits whereby Benedict was to be described as contributor, not co-author.
As an obfuscation of what the Gänswein intervention was about, this is comparable to an article by another author some days ago, in which, with a show of benign judiciousness and a sedulous ignoring of the real issues, he rebuked Cdl. Sarah for misrepresenting Pope Benedict as the co-author when there had been no separate publisher's contract with Benedict. So that's what was bugging Abp. Gänswein, was it?
But we come to the real jaw-dropper in Paul Elie's article. When Gänswein's intervention, with its multiple misstatements, was revealed, Cdl. Sarah set the record straight by publishing the correspondence between him and Pope Benedict since the previous September, making clear the genesis of the book. On this Elie writes: "The letters are printed on Benedict's letterhead, but progressives have pointed out that there is no saying for sure that Benedict composed them."
That's the story then, is it? Cardinal Sarah has forged two letters from Pope Benedict, on Benedict's own letter-paper, falsifying the account of how their book came to be prepared. One hardly knows where to begin with this suggestion. In the first place, it is difficult to see what Cdl. Sarah's motivation would have been, except that he was desperate to forestall an attack on clerical celibacy by publishing his book. In other words, it was a matter of principle that made the cardinal so unprincipled.
Then again, what has Abp. Gänswein being doing in this story? After his frantic intervention, in which his efforts to discredit the book got no further than making a distinction between a co-authorship and a contribution, has he been unable to expose an elaborate forgery perpetrated under his own eyes, and demonstrate how the pope emeritus would have been incapable of writing those letters?
But the wilder fantasy concerns the world-vision that Pope Francis' myth-makers are conjuring up. A cardinal has forged the letters of the pope emeritus, and for the moment, at least, has been able to get away with it. It's a pretty staggering vision, one would have thought, of the present state of the Church. Have these propagandists any explanation of what has brought it about? Have they uncovered any facts that would begin to make the accusation plausible? Have they collected murky secrets from Cdl. Sarah's past — such as are well documented in the cases of McCarrick, Maradiaga, Rica, Peña Parra and so many others that Bergoglio has protected — and in the case of Bergoglio himself, that support the depiction of him as an audacious forger?
By contrast, those who criticize Francis' papacy have a very consistent account of how the Church has got into its present state. It passes through the St. Gallen Mafia, the lobbying at the 2013 conclave, the long-renowned character of Bergoglio as a clever politician — all facts not only admitted but advertised by such an admirer of Bergoglio as Austen Ivereigh. Several books and a long stream of articles documenting scandals, corruption and manipulation give full ground for the belief that the Catholic Church today is indeed being run by crooks and blackguards. But that is not the corpus of evidence with which the likes of Paul Elie are working. With their backs firmly turned to the truth, they fire off grotesque insinuations about figures of whom nothing discreditable has ever been alleged.
These fantasists are in control, as far as the world's media are concerned. Paul Elie can get his article published in The New Yorker, which would never accept any exposure of Pope Francis and his entourage. The question to ask is, are the Church's cardinals and hierarchy hand-in-glove in this fantasia, or are they privately, secretly, taking stock of what is really going on in the Church?