To Sign or Not to Sign
I have been asked to sign the Filial Correction, I signed the letter of the 45 academics and pastors last year, and almost immediately found Cardinal Nichols’ tanks parked on my lawn to inform me of his displeasure, which was quite mild unlike other lay signatories, who were sacked from their jobs in Catholic institutions for their pains, Dr. Josef Seifertis being the most high profile. I admit it, I am afraid to sign and I know other priests who share my fear. Many of those who might have signed have in the last four years have a certain fear about their place in the Church.
Rome and those surrounding the Pontiff have certainly become more vicious in defending him, never ever engaging in intellectual arguments, merely attacking like ravenous wolves or child bullies those who pose questions. The climate is bad throughout the Church, in Rome it is positively toxic. Under Francis the Vatican has become a place of fear and arbitrary oppression, there was a public glimpse of that in the sacking of Cdl Mueller by the Pope, and earlier in the dismissal of a couple of priests from the CDF and amongst laymen of Libero Milone, former Auditor General and many others. It is not just in theology that 2+2=5, or whatever number the Pope chooses that day, it extends to morality and ordinary human decency, ultimately it is a serious attack on the rationality of the Catholic faith and intellectual rigour.
The abusive attacks on any one who asks legitimate filial questions or even of people like Cardinal Burke and the other “Dubia Cardinas” or even Cdls Sarah or Mueller by the likes Austen Ivereigh, Rosica or Spadaro merely echo the statements of the notoriously immoderate Cardinal Madriaga the senior member of the Pope’s Council of Nine or the shocking insults always aimed at faithful Catholics by the Pope himself. Let us not even go to the shenanigans and manipulation surrounding the Synod on the Family
The men who rule the Church are not even in the worldly sense good, as the former Prefect of the CDF has said “power has become more important than truth”. It would be easy to dwell on the gay chem-sex parties hosted in the Vatican City itself and the advancement of those with a gay agenda, which produces apparently no reaction, not even a dismissal. In the matter of financial mismanagement and corruption, there appears to be window dressing masking inaction, John Allen seems to think this is the big issue above others. In fact, maybe because Francis centralises and 2+2 = whatever he decides, many of those in Rome suggest things have never been worse, a ‘kingdom of brigands’ as one former Nuncio described it.
Dioceses are not Rome but they do reflect Rome, Cardinals and bishops intimidate clergy and others who are faithful, if Francis has done anything it is to highlight a deep rift in the Church, marked by the quite extraordinary rise of an Ultramontane/Liberal faction against those who are faithful. Many bishops, who are often chosen for not for fidelity to Christ nor depth of learning nor moral fibre, not even their pastoral abilities but for their admin skills are quite happy to side with that faction which has power at the moment, moving Vicar of Bray-like from convinced Wojtyłaians to Ratzingeriansw to Bergoglianians..
Therefore one of the chief reasons for my reticence in signing is my fear and cowardice.
Another reason is that I like any other Catholic have a deep reverence for the person of the Sovereign Pontiff, it is not Ultramontane and unquestioning but I have a problem in directly accusing him of heresy or of promoting it, or even of tolerating it. Some might say the evidence is overwhelming, I can’t dispute that but there is a bit of me that hopes against hope, because frankly having a Pope who is heretical, promoting or tolerating heresy is so horrific for the Church I would prefer to put off admitting it. I feel more comfortable with that idea that the Pope is weak, ill, manipulated by his ministers. Certainly, the days of John Paul inadvertently misspeaking and ordering the destruction of whole editions of L’Osservatore are long gone with the coming of the internet.
I admire those who have signed, a friend who has signed said the question is WWSJFSTMD, What Would St John Fisher and St Thomas More Do?
At the moment I am like the majority of the priests I know, who remain silent and praying that the question is not put to them,
I know it is not worthy of Christ, conscience says one thing, fear and self-serving, what some might call prudence, says something else.