Francis’ Failure in Ireland

The result of the referendum in Ireland must be admitted to be Pope Francis’ responsibility. Though he called it a ‘maneuver of the devil’ when the Argentinian government sought the blasphemous alteration, he did not cut through the ambiguity caused entirely by his easily taken-out-of-context ‘Who am I to judge?’ soundbite, which doubtless worked in the same way as the relatio at the preparatory synod last autumn. Low -information voters vote on what is most often repeated in the corporate press, and for most of the past 2 years these are the statements they are accustomed to hearing. Worse, the pope told the bishops of Italy in the past week to ‘Stop telling people what to do and fight graft’ – how were Irish voters to interpret such a message, not directly intended for them, but as permission to ignore their bishops’ words on the referendum? The bishops’ own failure articulate unambiguously that a yes vote would be the sin of sacrilege, direct approval of the violation of God’s primordial ordination, that the ill-instructed and scarcely admonished were able to tweet how they voted yes as Catholics.

There must be some Italian nun, or some modest poverty-vowed religious, who can reach the Holy Father with St. Catherine’s audacity and insist he be less loose and ambiguous in his words. He is, I’m afraid, doing the reverse of St. Paul who strove to present his hearers to God “without wrinkle or blemish”- Francis appears, as of today, to ha e presented an entire nation injured and muddied because he left it out in the world unattended.

Happiness of the Hidden Pope

Paul VI has now been acknowledged as Blessed Paul VI. We became so accustomed to his successor’s way of reaching people in vast crowds, while providing inspiring images for media use, that the Pope he regarded as a ‘ true spiritual father’ was long eclipsed, frequently derided, or even used as a foil in the Pope vs. Pope polemics of demi – catholic pundits.

Mostly he had become affiliated solely with Humane Vitae, and praised as prophetic, but only in relation to matters of procreative ethics. But his quietly prophetic charism was manifest in other ways not so extensively documented.

The media world of spectacle in which we all live thrives on images of suffering. St. John Paul II was always transparent in his suffering as he was in his joy; but Paul VI was of a generation that was not yet friendly with cameras. There is wry bemusement on the pontiff ‘ s countenance in his official portrait. Whereas people felt embraced by John Paul ‘ s glance, there is a thoughtful perceptivity in his, a warmth in which strength is not immediately evident. There is a veil- as if he were already half on the other side but was detained by sharp duties and burdens to remain here in this world for a time.

I am more than delighted to have made his acquaintance a third of a century after his death; there is joy and freshness in touching the undisturbed gems of the treasurers left us by this suffering, sublimely hidden pontiff, whom we can now address as Blessed Paul VI. Before long may he be known as St. Paul VI

Blessed Paul VI, pray for us.