Bad writers need good editors. Pope Francis needs a good plumber. The drains at Santa Marta have sprung a titanic leak. Fratelli Tutti's 43,000 words are flooding St. Peter's piazza, and Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz — the Vatican's elite Polish plumber — is as discombobulated as a plummeting parachutist whose ripcord is tangled in the zip of his trousers.
Fratelli Tutti, Francis' latest encyclical, is a veritable bacchanalia of verbosity. It is longer than Jeremiah — the Bible's longest book. Jeremiah (and his redactors) stand up, speak up and shut up using 22,285 Hebrew words. Pope Francis' ink bottle runneth over. He pounds his keyboard to a pulp. He almost doubles Jeremiah's feat. It is finished!
The Church's longest encyclical emerges from the bowels of the Vatican like Leviathan, the mythical sea monster, in the book of Job: "Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down its tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook?"
Or, as Holofernes puts it well in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost: Pope Francis "draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument."
As the Catholic chattering classes plod through the painfully ponderous prose of the encyclical's dense verbiage, Job offers a nugget of wisdom in interpreting Francis' Leviathan: "Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed; were not even the gods overwhelmed at the sight of it?"
St. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians when the embryonic Church in Corinth was drowning in a whirlpool of words. The diarrhea of words from a sect nicknamed the Sophists was resulting in a constipation of theology. The Sophist sect was preaching a skewed spirituality using "words, words, words" — as Hamlet would reply to Polonius.
The Corinthian Christians, according to recent New Testament scholarship, were imitating the Sophists and invalidating the power of the Cross of Christ by substituting humanistic "wisdom" for the "wisdom of the Cross."
Like Pope Francis, the Sophists were "inebriated by the exuberance of their verbosity" and sang the humanistic chorus of "Glory to man in the highest."
The humanism of the Sophists was based on the philosophy of Protagoras which elevated "man as the measure of all things."
"About the gods," wrote Protagoras, "I am unable to know whether they exist or do not exist, nor what they are like in form, for there are many things that hinder sure knowledge — the obscurity of the subject and the shortness of human life."
Fratelli Tutti echoes Protagorean humanism with fatuous phrases like "shared humanity," "common humanity" and "new humanity" punctuating the encyclical like counterpoints in a Bach toccata and fugue.
But, as reported in Church Militant, "the pontiff does not mention 'salvation' or the uniqueness of Jesus and his salvific work on the Cross even once in the eight chapters of his encyclical."
Francis is pushing the "naïvely optimistic" idea of a coming kingdom which is "all fulfillment of promise without judgment," in the words of ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr. Francis' new humanity has a "one-sided view of progress which sees the growth of the wheat but not that of the tares, the gathering of the grain but not the burning of the chaff."
The gospel of Fratelli Tutti is the good news of "a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross," as Niebuhr prophetically thundered in his book The Kingdom of God in America.
St. Paul would respond to the folly of Sophistry and the fatuousness of Fratelli Tutti with his proposition: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in word of wisdom, in order that the Cross of Christ should not be emptied/made void/rendered futile."
The Apostle declares what he considers "of first importance" — "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."
Sophistry was dividing the Corinthian church because its peddlers were puffed up with pride. Russell Kirk, in his book The Roots of the American Order, suggests that it was Sophistry that sounded the death knell of Greek civilization.
The handmaiden of verbosity is pomposity. In Fratelli Tutti, verbosity and pomposity kiss with no masks on like Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb in passionate embrace.
Bergoglio quotes himself ad nauseam — more often than he quotes Jesus, the Bible, or previous popes. The encyclical cites 292 non-biblical sources in 288 footnotes. Of these, 172 come from his own writing. Francis, the pontiff of ecology, reminds us so often how he loves hearing the melody of creation. He also loves hearing the cacophony of his own voice.
The pontifical pomposity is also reflected in Francis' arrogance in interpreting other religions: "The commandment of peace is inscribed in the depths of the religious traditions that we represent," he asserts, and "religious violence" is a result of "a deviation from religious teachings" and "a political manipulation of religions."
The Grand Panjandrum even has the gumption to "cancel" the Bible on the death penalty, St. Augustine on just war, and Pope Leo XIII on private property. "In the current pontificate, I submit, it has become simply impossible to square the Pope's statements with those of his predecessors," writes Phil Lawler, author of Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock.
Fratelli Tutti is Francis' epitaph to a dying post-Vatican II Church of Nice that has substituted the logorrhea of psycho-eco-babble, cultural Marxism, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and flatulent globalist UN-speak for the Cross of Christ.
"The Christian church and Christian theology become relevant to the problems of the modern world only when they reveal the 'hard core' of their identity in the crucified Christ," wrote Jürgen Moltmann in The Crucified God.
On this litmus test, Fratelli Tutti fails irredeemably. Francis, like the Sophists, has nullified the cross of Christ. Jesus the savior is redundant to the pope's project of "human fraternity."
Without Christ, Fratelli Tutti is, in the words of Shakespeare, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
At best, fleeting passages in this torturous opus magnum will be commended by Francis' flunkies for what the Germans call "Binsenweisheit" — politely translated as stating the bleeding obvious, e.g., "All too quickly, however, we forget the lessons of history." Really? I wouldn't have known this if the pope hadn't told me!
At worst, Fratelli Tutti is, in the words of St. Paul to the Galatians, a "different gospel." And, exhorts St. Paul, "even if we or an angel from Heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be anathema!"