John Allen Jr. on the controversy stirred by Vittorio Messori

Over at Crux, John Allen Jr. reports on the controversy stirred by Italian Catholic writer Vittorio Messori’s article in which he reveals some of his difficulties dealing with the seeming contradictions emanating from this papacy.

He writes:

ROME — For those in and around the Vatican, the most talked-about piece of rhetoric during the holiday season has been Pope Francis’ Dec. 22 blast at the Roman Curia. A close second, however, has been Vittorio Messori’s own Dec. 24 fusillade at the pope, published in the Italian paper of record, Corriere della Sera.

Under the headline, “Doubts about the turning point of Pope Francis,” Messori wrote that “my evaluation of this papacy oscillates continually between adhesion and perplexity,” and also asserted that Francis’ unpredictability has caused even “some of the cardinals who were among his electors to have second thoughts.”


What has truly rankled pro-Francis commentators, however, isn’t the idea that some cardinals have their noses out of joint, which for them is part of the pope’s appeal. Instead, it’s Messori’s claim that the “average Catholic” — which he defined as believers “not in the habit of thinking much on their own about faith and morals, exhorted to simply ‘follow the pope’ — finds his “tranquility disturbed” by the pontiff’s mixed signals.


Go on over and read the rest of the article, in which he describes Messori’s areas of concern.  Or better yet, go on over to Rorate-Caeli and read the translation of the whole article, though I imagine most of my readers have already done so.

This quality of “not knowing what to expect” continues, agitating the tranquility of the ordinary Catholic who is accustomed to not think too much about faith and morals and who has been exhorted to “follow the Pope”. Indeed, but which Pope? The one who gives daily homilies in Santa Marta, the preaching of a parish priest of the old days, with good counsel and wise proverbs, with even firm warnings to not fall into the traps of the devil? Or the one who telephones Giacinto Marco Pannella, who was in the midst of one of his innocuous fasts, and who greets him with “Keep up the good work”! when for decades the “work” of this radical leader consisted of and still consists of preaching that true charity lies in the battle for divorce, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality for all, gender theory and the like? The Pope who recently in a talk given to the Roman Curia sounded like Pius XII with conviction (but really like Saint Paul himself) defining the Church as “the mystical Body of Christ”? Of the one who, in the first interview with Eugenio Scalfari, ridiculed whoever might have thought that “God is Catholic”, as if the one, holy, apostolic Roman Church were an option, an accessory to somehow get to the Holy Trinity according to one’s personal tastes? The Argentine Pope who is aware, through direct experience, of the drama of Latin America that is on its way to becoming an ex-Catholic continent, with the exodus in mass of its people to Pentecostal Protestantism? Or the Pope who flies to embrace and wish good success to a dear friend, a pastor actually in one of the communities that are emptying out Catholic communities and doing so exactly with that proselytism that he condemned among his own flock?


Hey, I’m one of those ordinary Catholics who is perplexed.

Thank God for the homilies at Santa Marta.

John Allen Jr. continues, my emphases:

Especially looking ahead to round two of the Synod of Bishops on the family in October, a refresher course on the distinction between disagreement and division would be no bad thing.

Second, Messori is not wrong that Francis can be an enigmatic figure.


Of course, one person’s enigma is another’s master of subtlety. Whether the apparent contradictions that surround Pope Francis are a deficit or a strength is, perhaps, in the eye of the beholder, but they are undeniably part of the package.


Allen writes a subsequent post about an online petition in Italy to defend Pope Francis.  To me, its language smacks of Alinsky tactics, to paint disagreement as division, as anti-Pope etc.  It reminds me of the way anyone who opposed the redefinition of marriage in Canada back in 2005 were painted by the governing Liberals as anti-Canadian and anti-charter (of rights.)   Personalize and freeze the target, said Alinksy.  My husband would use the old saying:  Give a dog  bad name to hang it. [My comments in red]

According to the petition, which was launched the day after the essay appeared, Messori’s critique was a “true declaration of war” and expressed the leading edge of a deeply entrenched anti-Francis backlash. [backlash and declaration of war are fighting words that demonize the other side]

“The arrival of Francis has provoked frantic reactions with the Vatican Curia, which, decimated by scandals and corruption, considers the pope a foreign body in its systems of alliances with worldly power, fueled by two perverse instruments: money and sex,” the petition asserts.  [The petition also equates conservative or orthodox Catholic belief with corruption in the Curia, as if the backlash is fueled by those who defend corruption.  See what’s happening?]


Among other things, the petition cites a book issued shortly before last October’s Synod of Bishops on the family, in which five cardinals — Gerhard Müller of Germany, the Vatican’s doctrinal czar; American Raymond Burke, former head of the Vatican’s supreme court; Walter Brandmüller of Germany, and Italians Carlo Caffara and Velasio De Paolis — came out against the idea of allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

That book, according to the petition, “reinforced the front of adversaries who see in Pope Francis a danger that must be blocked at all costs.”  [The liberal/progressives paint any defense of Catholic teaching as an attack on Pope Francis.  ]

“We oppose these maneuvers, expressions of a conservatism that often has impeded the church from fulfilling its only true responsibility of spreading the gospel,” the petition says.

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One Response to John Allen Jr. on the controversy stirred by Vittorio Messori

  1. Macy says:

    Let’s not forget that this is the pope who induced Planned Parenthood to triumphantly thank him, on the would-be grounds that he was going soft on abortion. (I tend to forget that very painful episode because I so much wish that it never happened.)

    He’s the pope who gave Time Magazine the impression, or at least the leeway to plausibly assert that he “rejects dogma”.

    I am still waiting for Francis to clarify the distinction between the objective and subjective aspects of sin. Since he hasn’t, I tend to think that “Who am I to judge?” was calculated to be misunderstood as acquiesence towards homosexuality.

    His insistence on doing a zig for every zag of the popes before him is helping to reinforce the idea that he can change teaching and is doing so.

    If the problem has been breaking through the barriers, then one-tenth of his stunts would probably have been sufficient. Why the onslaught?

    I strongly suspect that a lot of enthusiasm for Francis is an expression of relief on the part of people who feel that they have been given permission to ignore their conscience (even though they may not be able to articulate the sensation). If that’s indeed the case, doesn’t he hold grave moral responsibility

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