The ‘Francis effect’ is silencing Catholic bishops, priests, and laity
Fr. Linus Clovis: The Synod of the Family, last year, set off alarm bells for most Catholics, and we saw bishops against bishops, and episcopal conferences fight other episcopal conferences. And, in all of this, we know that Heaven has given us warning; and in 1973, at Akita, the prophecy was made that the work of the devil would infiltrate even into the Church, in such a way that one would see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops, and the priests who venerate me would be persecuted—and, of course, this is part and parcel of our experience.
The Cardinals to whom we turn, naturally, for leadership—some of them have given us great encouragement, but the others who have scandalized us, especially the little ones—in particular, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who said publicly, in commenting on a gay college football star who came out, “Good for him! I have no sense of judgment on him. God bless him.” And then he goes on to say, “The Bible teaches us that we should observe the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity in marriage and so on; it also teaches us not to judge people, so I would say ‘Bravo!'”
When a bishop—a Catholic bishop—can actually applaud sin publicly, it causes us to tremble. But this is essentially the Frances effect; its disarming bishops and priests, especially after the Holy Father said, “Who am I to judge?”
I, as a priest, say Mass, preaching, and I make a judgment about a sin, one breaking the Ten Commandments—I would be condemned for judging. I would be accused of being more Catholic than the Pope. There used to be a saying—rhetorical—”Is the Pope Catholic?” That’s no longer funny.
Who is the Pope? Catholics—we love the Pope, all of us. We love him, wherever he is, wherever he comes from. We pray for him—every Mass, we pray for him. When we say our Rosaries, we pray for him—and we look to him for leadership. He has been entrusted by Christ to feed the flock, to look after the sheep.
At Fatima—and I think all we’re going through today is centered on Fatima—and until the consecration is done, I think we are going to be fighting an uphill battle—at Fatima, Our Lady asked us to pray for the Pope. Jacinta and Francisco prayed for the Pope.
The Gospel is handed on in two ways—orally…Sacred Tradition, as proclaimed by the apostolic succession—the Magisterium, but we also have the Scriptures, the written Word. And, again, as Catholics, we do not use the written Word enough. But I think we need to go back to the written Word, before it is changed, because I am sure already there are efforts to change the written Word, reinterpret it. After all, there are so many scholars, so many wise men who know much better what the Apostles themselves taught.
So, “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing beneath the breath of the Holy Spirit”—straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is the speech of God in writing.
Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God, which has been entrusted to the Apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the Apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.” That is what we’re supposed to be doing—preserving what has been handed on to us. Again, that is from the Catechism.
The Scriptures. In—and I’m just taking one example and that is St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, and this is particularly relevant to us—1 Corinthians 11:23, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you. That the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, broke, gave it to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my body.” In the same chapter, he goes on to say “he who eats and drinks unworthily eats judgment to himself.” So, when we quote Scripture, it is insufficient to quote apart; we have to take the whole of it—in context.
Before…I think Paul VI was the last pope to take the papal oath, but the popes used to take an oath, on their salvation, that they would hand on to posterity what they themselves had received. This is the essence of Tradition. And, suddenly, they no longer take this oath.
The Magisterium of the Church is the third leg in the stool. So, we have Scripture, we have Tradition, and we have the Magisterium, the teaching office. “The task of giving an authentic interpretation to the Word of God, whether in written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome”—again, the Catechism, section 85.
This sounds like a loaded gun, but there is a caveat: “Yet, this Magisterium is not superior to the will of God, but its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith”—The Catechism again, Section 86.
So, when we have shepherds—bishops—who are deviating, we can go back to the Catechism and say, no, you are not there to give us new doctrine; what you’re there to do is to guard it, to expound on it, and to do so with dedication.
So we have to have this continuity, there cannot be a break, but we have seen for us there have been so many breaks. “The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.” (CCC 888.) Unfortunately, we’ve seen—yes, the documents come out, the beginning is okay, but just leaves it —it’s just hanging there. So the idea that we, as faithful, have to accept it is not stressed. It’s almost left to whether we feel like it or not.
“Obedience is owed to the Pope, but the Pope owes obedience to the Word and the apostolic Tradition.” We have to obey the Pope, but the Pope himself must obey the written Word; he must obey the Tradition. He must respond to these and the Holy Spirit.
“Obedience is owed to the Pope, but it is the duty of the Pope to give the character of possibility to this obedience.” The Pope has to facilitate our obeying him, by himself being obedient to the Word of God.
Pope Felix III told us, “An error that is not resisted is approved. A truth which is not defended is suppressed.” So we have an obligation to resist error, and we must do everything we can to promote the Truth.
Once we have had concerns about other popes, even St. John Paul—there’s things he’s done which we felt uncomfortable about—I don’t think that Pope Francis has done anything other than disconcert us. He’s literally pulled the rug from under our feet. And so, here is the reason—the many reasons—why we are concerned.
Our Lord tell us in John’s Gospel, 15th chapter: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you’re not of the world and I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.”
The Popes are hated, and I don’t think we had a problem with that, per se—we didn’t like it, but I think that I would be correct in saying that we prefer our Pope to be hated by the world than loved by the world, because if he is loved by the world it indicates he is speaking the language of the world. And we know that there can be no relationship, no fellowship, between light and darkness. St. Paul tells us this.
The Church’s traditional enemies—and this is vocalized, articulated in Time magazine, The Advocate, Rolling Stone, and so on—approve of him. He appeared on their front cover many times over the past two years. I came across a quote from someone who knew him in Argentina, and she said: “Apparently, he loves to be loved by all and pleases everybody. So on one day he could make a speech on TV against abortion; the next day, on the same television show, bless the pro-abortion feminist in the Plaza de Mayo. He can give a wonderful speech against the Masons, and a few hours later, be dining and drinking with them in the Rotary Club.”
So—how can you make a decision about a man like this who is everybody’s friend? Our Lord tell us, nevertheless—this is John, the twelfth chapter of St. John’s Gospel—nevertheless, many–even many of the authorities believed in him–that’s from Our Lord—”but for fear of the Pharisees, they did not confess it, lest they should be put out from the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Am I making judgment? I don’t think so; I am quoting Scripture, “where the die falls, let it rest.” The Holy Father has done many controversial things; and there we are concerned with the major ones, not the—adorations (sic) which come up. And the one that will go down, I suppose, until the Second Judgment, is “Who am I to judge?”
One of the facts of (what) the Holy Father does is that he takes common prejudice against Catholics, and he actually uses it against us. So, in other words, he’s accepting what it is perceived our position to be, as if it were true. The Church does not judge persons; the Church judges actions and teachings. Even the heretics—Luther wasn’t condemned for his personal immoral life; he was condemned for his teaching, his doctrine. And so with all the other heretics. Arius; it was his teaching that the Church judged, and has the authority to judge.
But when the Pope says, “Who am I to judge?” he is giving the impression that the Church judges individuals because of who they are and what they do in their personal lives. That is for the Confession(al).
Even yesterday, I read that the Pope—the Daily Mail said—the Pope has given, has commanded priests to absolve the sins of women who committed abortion and doctors who have performed abortions. Well, the impression given is—you go in, you don’t have to be sorry, no repentance, no amendment of life, you can just go in and be absolved. Well, it doesn’t work that way, as we know as Catholics. You have to be sorry, and you have to promise to change your life. That’s necessary.
Scripture tells us very clearly in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5—St. Paul is writing to the Church of Corinth because they had accepted a man among them who was guilty of immorality—and the Apostle writes: “I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunken, or robber; not even to eat with such a one, for what have I to do with judging outsiders?” Aha—”what have I to do with judging outsiders?”—”*It is not those inside the Church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
So, how can the successor of Peter say, “Who am I to judge” without contradicting Scripture?
He complains that we talk too much about abortion and contraception. Well…do we? Again, the Apostle tell us: “Be urgent in season, and out of season; convince, rebuke, exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching.” So we have an obligation to speak about those sins for which the punishment is eternal damnation in hell. We’re talking about the salvation of souls.
The Code of Canon Law ends with the highest good is the salvation of souls, and this is why Christ founded His Church—for the salvation of souls.
The Rabbit-gate affair was an insult to all Catholic mothers. Those who have risked their lives, offered their lives, and given their lives for their children and, above all, for the Gospel. We have spoken about it, so I won’t extend my presentation here—except to say something that was deleted from the Pope’s statement, which was “Three is enough.” He had said—so, three children are enough. But that is deleted; I think the Vatican put it as a little too much.
Our concern, of course, is for the upcoming Synod and what appears to be in favor of remarried divorcees (access) to Holy Communion. This is going to be a serious blow to the Church and to the faithful, because already it has caused a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Even in my pastoral experience, I have encountered a woman who said—well, a mother; her son is divorced and remarried—and says, “Well, the Holy Father allows him to [receive] Holy Communion, doesn’t he? I don’t think it’s right, Father, but the Pope…”
We have that problem already, and we’ve seen the pattern. It is done for Humanae Vitae; it is up there, “in the air,” and of course it’s become the law. You can do it.
So we really do need to have eyes very firmly fixed on Heaven, beseeching Heaven to guide our bishops.
The rumors of the pastoral relaxation of Humanae Vitae, as Dr. Wood said, is not going to be contradicted, it’s not going to be deleted—it’s going to be extended, which is so much more deadly, because we are presented with something that is evil, as if it were good. And we are building this evil thing on [a] good foundation.
The Liturgy, of course, is another area but that doesn’t concern us today. And, when it comes to the New Evangelization, it seems as if it’s Open House; we embrace everybody and anybody. And this is going to, again, cause much confusion among the faithful.
We love the Pope. He is our father, he is our “sweet Christ on earth.” This concern among Catholics, who are confused and fearful, and we–and they—do not wish to criticize or, worse, to judge the Pope. But, again, we are judging not his person or his office, but the results of his actions. And we’re not doing this out of indignation, because what he is doing is *the cause* of *our* indignation and it is a threat to our Faith. And it’s a threat to the Church, and it is a danger for the salvation of souls.
So, can we judge the Pope’s actions? Yes, we can. We have no less a person than the Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul, writing to the Galatians, and he says: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him, the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
And this is what we are facing today. We have prominent Cardinals taking an anti-Catholic stance on moral issues, which we thought were settled. We have the Holy Father himself seeming to support them, to give his blessing to them. And what did St. Paul say? Barnabas, St. Paul’s right-hand man, was carried away by their insincerity.
So many bishops—and please God, we have many good bishops still—when they see this, they will also be carried away, and this is why the suggestion is made, that we circulate our material to the bishops, and to priests, especially to priests. It’s so very, very important.
We have the example of history, [in] John the 22nd, who taught that the blessed do not see God until after the General Judgment. He was opposed by the theologians of the University of Paris; by cardinals and bishops and even by kings. So these were—we have the learned, the intellectuals, the theologians—who knew what was going on, and were able to oppose the Pope, and of course we have those in authority, the bishops, and we have lay people, as well—the kings.
The Code of Canon Law also tell us that we have a right to express our opinion. In Canon 212, Section 3: “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess”—and I think in this gathering, we are showing our knowledge; the fact that we are heads of various organizations [shows] our competence and prestige—we have “the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.”
And this is very important. We have [the right], in other words, to go public on this. Now, it can be said—this is written by Melchior Cano, a famous theologian in the 16th century, “Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weakened the authority of the Apostolic See, they do not support it; they subvert it. They do not fortify it. Peter has no need of our lies. He has no need of our adulation.” In other words, we must be vigilant. We must be objective in our approach to the present crisis in the Church.
So, then, we have now among us, in our own time, cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops [opposing] bishops. We saw at the Extraordinary Synod top members of the Church’s hierarchy, with a few notable exceptions, opposing publicly and debating how to get around the very words of Jesus, our Jesus Christ, so that they can institutionalize the Sexual Revolution in the Church.
In the Scriptures, from 2nd Chronicles: “All the leading priests, and the people likewise, were exceedingly unfaithful.” And I think, again, as Dr. Wood pointed out, and Professor Mattei—you know, this began a long time ago. And with the rejection of Humanae Vitae, this is where our infidelity became manifest.
“They were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations, and they polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem”—the sacrileges that came about. “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy. Therefore, He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of the sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged, He gave them all into his hand.”
Are we living in such a time? Has God decided there is no further remedy? Are the servants of Mohammed at the gate, ready to enter the temple?
Because of our faith and love of Christ and His Church, we ask with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
The Francis Effect is to disarm us…so we must stay in the Church and we must stay armed. If our shepherds have come down like Aaron to join the Bacchanalia, then we must be Levites. And, again, in Exodus—you know the story. Moses was on the Mount, receiving the Commandments; the people were in the valley; they got fed up waiting, and they said to Aaron, “You know, we don’t know what has happened to this Moses. Let us make gods.” And Moses—that is, Aaron said, “Bring your rings”—earrings, nose rings, and chains—and he made the molten calf. “And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose, for Aaron had let them break loose, to their shame among their enemies, then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said: Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.” And so they went and purified the people, and God chose Levites, then, to be priests for Israel.
In Matthew’s Gospel, in the 24th chapter, Our Lord tells us: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death. And you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and many false prophets will arise, and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures until the end will be saved.” We’re talking about salvation.
So then, what shall we do? Well—first, the battle belongs to the Lord. We must pray. Our Lord tell us: “Watch at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man with confidence.”
Our Lord Himself said to Peter, James, and John: “Watch and pray that you fall not into temptation.” So—prayer is our first act. We must pray.
We are not fighting flesh and blood, but principalities and powers. We’re fighting hell itself. And the gates of hell are very close now.
Second, we must study, as we’ve been doing. We must know our Faith. We must be familiar with the Scriptures. The Word of God is a sword with which to fight. We must know the constant teaching of the Church, and understand the principles of moral theology.
In a letter to the Hebrews: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings.”
So we consider our leaders; we think of the saints of old—St. Athanasius, who stood alone against the world; St. Clement, who stood at Ephesus; and when we think of these, we think ourselves privileged that we also have been called at a critical time in the Church’s history.
Third, as we said earlier, we must transmit the Faith by teaching, by sharing within the family, by practicing and praying together as a family.
And in [earlier] talking about doctors, one of my nephews is studying medicine, and he already has the pro-life spirituality. I know when he goes into more studies, he will be put to the test and, of course, at that point, it’s only prayer and his own personal character that will see him through. But that’s what we have to do, and not just for doctors—nurses, and teachers, they also must be catechized.
Fourth, we must support each other—which is what we’re doing here—and all true and authentic Catholic speakers and organizations. We have a wonderful example of 500 priests who, in the UK, signed an Open Letter, asking that Catholic doctrine be promoted at the Synod on the Family.
And fifth, I think we have to prepare ourselves for martyrdom. We used to pray for that, every day, in the old Mass, the Tridentine Mass. In the “Nobis Quoque,” we read: “To us also, Your servants who, though sinners, hope in Your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with Your holy apostles and MARTYRS”—-I think we have that share today—”with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, and all Your saints, admit us, we beseech You, into Thy company, not weighing our merits, but granting us Your pardon, through Christ, Our Lord.”
—-Speech by Fr. Linus Clovis at a seminar for Pro Life Leaders in Rome, May 8, 2015.