Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'm offering this up, you know.

An interview with Vaticanist Sandro Magister was published earlier this week and translated into English on Another Blog I Don't Like Linking To. Said blog, to underline its views on the Holy Father, accompanied said piece with a picture of a cover from The Advocate (featuring the Holy Father with a NoH8 on his face).

I'll leave to your conclusions the intent.

That blog's version featured interstitial comments (presumably by the translator) and some curious word choices in the translation. Keep in mind the answers are the opinions of Sandro Magister, and also be aware of the biases of the interviewer. Many of these opinion are based on demonstrably incorrect assumptions. (I'll add the links relevant thereto as I have time.)

As a public service, here is my version. Feel free to compare it to the original.

“Pope disorients many bishops” This is the conclusion of Sandro Magister, who for 40 years has closely followed the events of the Vatican “because he [moves] on several levels and also often contradicts himself.”

Sandro Magister this year celebrated 40 years of chronicling the Vatican. His first articles in L’Espresso, in fact, date back to 1974. And even today, [not just] from those columns but also from the website of that weekly, continues to report on the Oltretevere [i.e. “Vatican”] and the whole Church in highly documented manner but without reverence of any sort.

[He is] a native of Busto Arsizio, “class” [i.e. born in] 1943 and graduated in philosophy and theology from La Cattolica, and has followed many Roman pontiffs. On this last [pontiff] Pope Francis, his chronicles are distinguished from the mainstream of Vaticanisti, and do not hesitate in underlining [any] contradictions.

Question: Magister, pope Bergoglio, in these [last] months, has enjoyed a global success but there were also some decisions that have given [us] to think about. For example, he has presented himself as Bishop of Rome, [yet] at the Synod on the family reclaimed the codes of Canon Law which affirm Petrine power [in the sense of “authority”].

A: It is true, in his closing discourse [or “speech”].

Q: He has outlined a shared and open vision in the government of the Church, has commissariated [there is no exact translation, but roughly means “governed through intermediaries”] the Franciscans of the Immaculate with somewhat hard methods and has de facto put the bridle to episcopal conferences...

A. Some, including the Italian [one], have been, in fact, annihilated.

Q. Speaking of popular movements, he seemed to re-echo certain analyzes of Toni Negri on labor, as you wrote in the blog Settimo Cielo, when then accepts the "dismissal" of 500 among calligraphers and painters and printers of whom the Vatican Charities has decided to no longer avail itself.

A. In effect that story is a bit strident...

Q. …as strident as the hard ultra-protective [there is no exact translation for “garantiste”] position, on justice and prisons, with his choice to incarcerate beforehand the ex-nuncio of Santo Domingo, in expectation of a judgment [conviction?] of pædophilia.

A. That also.

Q. So, you are a long term Vaticanist, what ideas do you have [bout this]?

A. That the contradictions are there and represent an informed judgment, based on the observation of several months, inherent in the personality of Jorge Bergoglio.

Q. And what conclusions does that bring?

A. He is a person who, throughout the arc of his life and now also as Pontiff, acts on different registers [in the sense of “levels”] simultaneously, leaving gates open, and on a first reading, many contradictions. But the ones that you mentioned are not, however, the only ones.

Q. Point to others...

A. That of a loquacious Pope, who phones, who approaches very diverse and very distant people, but remains silent on the case of Asia Bibi.

Q. The Pakistani sentenced to death for apostasy, jailed for some time...

A. Exactly, on whose story pope Francis did not say a word. As it was for Nigerian girls kidnapped, and on the incredible deed, a few days ago in Pakistan, on that married Christian couple, burned [to death] in a furnace.

Q. There are stories that relate to Islam, to which we shall return. But some are beginning to define these contradictions as “Jesuitism” in the sense of a nuanced [literally “changing” in the sense of “gradient”] way of thinking.

A. In these terms this is a disparaging qualifier and not acceptable, even if it is true that the spirituality of the Jesuits has been shown historically to be able to adapt to the most varied situations and, at times, in contrast with each other.

Q. This appeared to contrast with the management of the recent Synod.

A. A management accurately calculated by the Pope and not left to chance as one may have believed it, and which registers other contrasting elements.

Q. For example?

A. Bergoglio, who said, repeatedly, that they do not want to compromise on doctrine, to stay with the tradition of the Church. But then he opened discussions, such as those on communion of the remarried, which effectively touch the cornerstones of the magisterium.

Q. Why?

A. Because it is inexorable that the communion of the remarried [leads to the] arrival of the acceptance of second marriages and then to the dissolution of the sacramental bond of marriage.

Q. I’m no Vaticanist, but the feeling, from the outside and that disconcert is spreading a bit and not only within the hierarchy. Moreover, even in areas not clearly definable as traditionalist...

A. Of this there is no doubt. There are exponents of notable importance and certainly not Lefebvrians, who understand, even if they do not express it in drastic and adversarial terms. Not even Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the ex-prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, recently removed, has done this, because there is not a current prejudicially hostile to the pontiff. Certainly, there are manifestations of evident unease.

Q. Are there some examples?

A. Let's take a look at the Episcopate in the United States, the bishops of one of the most numerous Catholic populations of the globe. The bishops' conference, in recent years, has expressed a coherent [or “consistent”] and combative line in the public square, [sometimes] also in respect to certain decisions of Barack Obama on ethical issues. A line that is shared by many prelates of prominence. A collective, more than a sum of individuals, a core which directs [the bishops], say.

Q. And therefore the Americans?

A. Are a bit uneasy. These are cardinals and archbishops such as Timothy Dolan in New York, Patrick O'Malley of Boston, José Gómez in Los Angeles or Charles Chaput in Philadelphia. An episcopate from which comes the same Burke, who is certainly not confined to marginal circuits of [the] traditionalists, but continues to be part of one of the more solid national Churches.

Q. And also the CEI [Italian Episcopal Conference], as was said before, appears to be in a little bit of difficulty.

A. It is difficult to keep pace to this pope. With a president, Angelo Bagnasco, who seems to be in the most difficulties of all.

Q. Also because it was openly stated his successor as archbishop of Perugia would be Gualtiero Bassetti, created Cardinal by Bergoglio.

A. And yet, I also know that Bassetti is among the Italian bishops to be uneasy.

Q. Among Italians, the most explicit were perhaps the milanese Angelo Scola and the bolognese Carlo Caffarra.

A. They were intervening [i.e., speaking openly, “lobbying”?] before and during the Synod. But it was inevitable considering the decision of the pope to entrust to Cardinal Walter Kasper the opening of the discussions, and which practically was the opening of hostilities.

Q. Why?

A. Because Kasper re-proposes today, unachanged [no exact translation for “tali e quali”], the thesis defeated in 1993 by the duo Pope John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger, the latter vested with the prefecture of the Holy Office.

Q. Yes, the Pope launched Kasper, has made Archbishop Bruno Forte special secretary of the synod that, during the work [of the Synod] has weighed in, to such an extent as to give rise to reactions of some Synod fathers, but then in the end, Francis intervened caning [!] one and the other. Almost an as old Christian Democrat against extremists on both sides.

A. It's another [example] of recurring forms of expression of this pontiff: reprimanding one part and the other. However, wanting to do an inventory, his canings of traditionalists, the legalists, the rigid defenders of the arid doctrine, appear to be much more numerous and targeted. On the other hand, when he takes on the [progressive] do-gooders, you never understand who he is talking about.

Q. The Synod has launched more and further the director of Civiltà Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro.

A. He styles himself a spokesman for the Pope and the Jesuit magazine, which was progressively declining (with him as director busying [himself] with the web and social networks) today is expressive of the highest pinnacle in the Vatican. Especially after the first big interview with the Jesuit pope. While Francis’ ghostwriter is Manuel Fernandez, the Rector of the Catholic University in Buenos Aires whom the Pope made an Archbishop. It was with Fernandez that Francis wrote Evangeli Gaudium, as he [they] had written the document of Aparecida in Brazil with him in 2007 when [Francis] as the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires successfully “brought home” the Latin American Bishops’ Conference; document that for many is an anticipation of this papacy.

Q. In the face of a large consensus, there are also people who, as the writer Antonio Socci, contests even the validity of the election of the pope. Have you read his book It’s Not Francis (Mondadori Press)?

A. I read it in one evening, in one breath, even if there are more than 300 pages. And not for [his] thesis of the invalidity of the election, due to the cancellation of one ballot into the conclave, on the grounds of a white card. A thesis, in my opinion, inconsistent [i.e. baseless]

Q. So then, because of what was the reading so interesting?

A. For what is determining the success of the book, to both to push to the top of the charts, overtaking the books by and about Bergoglio. And this is because it reconstructs, with indisputable facts and words, the contradictions which we have cited.

Q. A book of which none speaks, almost risking to imperil the popularity of Francis, which is enormous. In spite of this consensus, however, religious practice does not increase and, indeed, there is a growing aversion, in public, to Catholicism. Bergoglio yes, the rest not.

A. Even the popularity of his predecessors, let us not forget, was very strong. John Paul II has experienced a worldwide success and not only in the years facing [his] illness. And Pope Benedict XVI, between 2007 and 2008, reached the pinnacles in the opinion polls, even if this is forgotten. His trip to the USA was the climax, with a large and positive reception even on the part of the lay public.

Q. And so what is the difference?

A. That the predecessors were popular especially within the Church, even if challenged harshly by strong sectors of non-Christian public opinion. While the popularity of Francis appears to be on the outside, even if it does not cause waves of conversion. Indeed, with him there is a certain contentment in culture foreign or hostile to Christianity.

Q. In what sense?

A. In seeing the head of the Church moving to their positions, which he seems to understand and even accept. The story of the repeated talks with Eugenio Scalfari is exemplary: the pope accepts the founder La Reppublica, once the hardest protester of the pontiff, publishing from their talks whatever he wants.

Q. Though, Scalfari himself declared he had published things which Bergoglio had not said.

A. Exactly. But, in all of this, there is no nearing to Christianity. Christianity from the mouth of Bergoglio is not provocative, makes no problems as before, it can be treated with courtesy, superiority, distance. Christianity counts less. Suffice it to say that to the President of the Council, Matteo Renzi, a Catholic, what the IEC does is not important at all. In short, from a situation of confrontation or conflict, we have passed to [one of] disinterest.

Q. On the Muslim world, pope Francis is silent. And even the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, intervening [i.e., speaking] recently at the United Nations, has been very prudent. Some speak of a great deal of caution, and, when they do, they cite the address of Benedict XVI in Regensburg, which provoked [hostile] reactions and even deaths.

A. It is a caution pushed to the extreme that, however, in practice, I cannot see the advantages it produces, it does not seem to me it results in aid, however minimal or partial, to the Christians of those regions. The caution you can understand, if you measure it in proportionality to the effect, that is if it produces less damage. The situation reminds me of the silence of Pius XII on the Jews.

Q. A historic polemic, even the recent ...

A. Pope Pacelli did everything he could to save the Israelites, even personally in the Vatican, now we know. But he hesitated to openly denounce, fearing that [things would] happen as in Holland, where the complaints of some bishops were followed by even worse persecutions.

Q. But this silence is remains.

A. Except the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, prefect of interreligious dialog, which does not spare [his] judgments, however severe.

Q. What is the point?

A. It is that with powers such as ISIS, with which there is haste to say that Islam has nothing to do with it, but that [they] are instead nourished by a radical Islam, which does not resolve the question of rationality and therefore the relationship between faith and violence. That is precisely what Pope Ratzinger had denounced in Regensburg. And in fact the only true dialogue between Christianity and Islam and was born from that lecture, with the next letter of the 138 Muslim scholars.

Q. But the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the year after, that was considered a reparation of Benedict XVI.

A. Ratzinger could make that gesture, having said those things at Regensburg. His judgment was not enigmatic, we understood it very well, had expressed it with crystalline clarity.

Q. And is Francis clear?

A. Sometimes no. When in Bethlehem stops in front of the wall that divides the territories from Israel and remains in absolute silence: it isn’t known what he is intending to say. And when in Lampedusa cries out "shame," it is not clear who should be ashamed or why. Italy? That has saved thousands and thousands of lives? Why not say so? There are often words and gestures that are intentionally left in uncertainty.

Q. There is no time to talk about the Vatican events, such as that of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was removed from the IOR under the secretariat of the Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, but of whom has emerged, on several occasions, that he had been correct. Even with the closing [of the case] by the Italian courts.

A. It denies a rehabilitation. Has asked for an interview with the Pope but that was refused.

Q. The Church as "field hospital" sometimes has locked doors.

A. It is like that.