The blind still leading the blind…
On Christopher Ferrara’s “Undertaker Pope”
On June 6, The Remnant published a blog post written by its chief rhetorician, Christopher Ferrara, with the amusing title, “The Undertaker Pope: A Brief Study of an Infallibly Politically Correct Pontificate”. The retired American lawyer takes Francis to the woodshed for his most recent outrageous, erroneous, and sometimes downright ridiculous statements and actions, of which Ferrara provides the following summary:
- Francis’s warm relations with socialist dictators;
- his lauding of pro-abortion and pro-“gay” politicians;
- his abuse of the papal office as a platform for globalist enviornmentalism (thus advantaging the same transnational corporations he professes to deplore);
- his refusal to intervene in opposition to the legalization of “gay marriage” because “the Pope belongs to everybody, he cannot enter the concrete, domestic politics of a country. This is not the Pope’s role”;
- his demand—flatly contradicting his professed abstention from domestic politics—for universal abolition of the death penalty (while declining to demand the abolition of abortion), open borders in Europe and America, and policies of environmental regulation and wealth redistribution;
- his conspicuous failure to identify government policy, particularly in socialist countries, as a primary cause of the poverty he attributes entirely to the greed of the wealthy.
The substance of Ferrara’s critique which follows is right on the money, and in this sense it is worth a read. Ferrara shows how much Francis continues to contradict Catholic teaching, specifically on the Catholic confessional state, which is a teaching, however, that was overturned as far back as Vatican II in 1965.
That Francis is a false shepherd is so obvious at this point that no informed intelligent person has an excuse not to see it, and in this latest write-up Ferrara has supplied yet more evidence for this undeniable conclusion. With regard to false shepherds, our Blessed Lord did not advise the sheep to play dumb, nor did he tell them never to question the legitimacy of those claiming to be their rightful shepherds. Instead, He asserted clearly:
Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he hath let out his own sheep, he goeth before them: and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers.
This proverb Jesus spoke to them. But they understood not what he spoke to them. Jesus therefore said to them again:
Amen, amen I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not. I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep.
(John 10:1-13; underlining added.)
These salutary words are very instructive, and our Lord expects us to heed them.
But according to Mr. Ferrara, this would be “too easy”, and of course “easy” equals “false” for him. Instead, our talented rhetorician wants to have it both ways — he wants everyone to refuse the voice of the stranger while at the same time accepting him as the true shepherd! By doing this, Ferrara nullifies Christ’s divine words. Our Lord said specifically that the sheep do not recognize the voice of the stranger and therefore they flee from him. Conversely, when the true shepherd is present, the sheep follow him and hear his voice.
Is Francis’ daily drivel the voice of St. Peter, or the voice of Judas? Do Catholics recognize St. Peter in Francis? Most certainly not! In fact, if Francis’s voice were the voice of St. Peter, there would be nothing to resist. Like us sedevacantists, the semi-traditionalists have been sharing Francis’ daily heresies, errors, blasphemies, and other outrages day in and day out all across the internet. Jorge Bergoglio manifestly does not speak with the voice of the shepherd, which is why everybody is so busy resisting, fighting, and mocking him.
Francis, like his five predecessors of infelicitous memory, has come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Truly, he “hath no care for the sheep”. Woe to him who claims that such a thief, robber, hireling, stranger, nay wolf, is in fact the shepherd!
By his continued insistence that he who must not be followed is nevertheless the true shepherd, Ferrara (and all who adhere to the semi-traditionalist position) effectively destroys the Catholic doctrine on the Papacy, reducing the rock against which the gates of hell can never prevail (cf. Mt 16:18), the rock that perpetually and unfailingly guarantees the unity and doctrinal soundness of the entire Church and to whom is owed submission on faith and morals (more on that below), to a mere nice chap who sometimes says some nice Catholic things — and at other times digs the Church’s own grave.
The fact that Francis has said explicitly that all of his utterances in speeches, interviews, sermons, etc. are to be taken as magisterial simply elicits more derision from Ferrara, instead of immediately triggering in him a sincere submission of intellect and will, or at least an attempt at such:
For Francis, “magisterium” and “what I think” are one and the same thing. What Francis thinks—and speaks incessantly—generally serves the ends of political liberalism and state power while confirming the Church’s post-Vatican II demotion to a mere religious constituency under the secular sovereign.
But not even during a post-conciliar epoch marked by the generalized surrender of churchmen to the zeitgeist have we seen a Pope willing to serve as the veritable pontifical undertaker at the funeral of the Church Militant, glibly reciting a few last words at the graveside in superficial remarks to reporters that he insists are “magisterium.” Check it out!
The truth is quite simply that if Francis is truly Pope, then Ferrara has no right to limit when, how, or where the Pope exercises his teaching office. Perhaps Ferrara has forgotten over the many decades he’s been “resisting” that the Vicar of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity does not need the advice or permission of a Remnant columnist before teaching his flock. Does anyone seriously think that Ferrara would be questioning how Francis exercises his “magisterium” if he taught solid traditional Catholic doctrine? Not by a long shot! Which goes to show that Ferrara’s real target here is Francis’ anti-Catholic doctrine — the critique of his blabbermouth style is just a red herring that helps Ferrara persuade his audience.
People of the recognize-and-resist persuasion like to claim for themselves the title “traditional Catholic”, and they act as though they defended traditional Catholic teaching in all things — a veritable “remnant” they claim to be (cf. Rom 11:5), as is even reflected in the name of the paper for which Ferrara writes. But is this so?
Let’s have a look at just how much damage Ferrara causes to the Catholic doctrine of the Papacy when he lambasts Francis for his many heretical, erroneous, dangerous, and idiotic remarks and then affirms without hesitation that this man is the Vicar of Christ and successor to St. Peter. The video below illustrates this in just a few minutes:
Somehow when it comes to the traditional Catholic teaching on the papacy and the Church, those “traditional Catholics” seem to suffer from collective amnesia, as the video shows. Quite simply, the traditional Catholic doctrine on the papacy and the Church includes the following:
This chair [of Peter] is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honor and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater preeminence — that is, those people who are in all respects faithful….
Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, nn. 1,7)
Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic…. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held”.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 13)
From these events men should realize that all attempts to overthrow the “House of God” are in vain. For this is the Church founded on Peter, “Rock,” not merely in name but in truth. Against this “the gates of hell will not prevail” [Mt 16:18] “for it is founded on a rock” [Mt 7:25; Lk 6:48]. There has never been an enemy of the Christian religion who was not simultaneously at wicked war with the See of Peter, since while this See remained strong the survival of the Christian religion was assured. As St. Irenaeus proclaims openly to all, “by the order and succession of the Roman pontiffs the tradition from the Apostles in the Church and the proclamation of the truth has come down to us. And this is the fullest demonstration that it is the one and the same life-giving faith which has been preserved in the Church until now since the time of the Apostles and has been handed on in truth” [Adversus haereses, bk. 3, chap. 3].
(Pope Pius VII, Encyclical Diu Satis, n. 6)
In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Saviour, the daughter and the heiress of His redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance, and of that immortality which have been promised it, it makes no terms with error, but remains faithful to the commands which it has received to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time and to protect it in its inviolable integrity.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi)
So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith: ‘The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our lord Jesus Christ, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church [Mt 16:18], cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the apostolic see the catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honour. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the apostolic see preaches, for in it is the whole and true strength of the christian religion.’…
To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received. It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world … referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing….
For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles. Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [Lk 22:32].
This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.
(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4)
The true Catholic Church does not need a “loyal opposition” or “faithful resistance.” The world, the flesh, and the devil need to be resisted, not Holy Mother Church. As Pope St. Pius X taught: “…in spite of a great number of pernicious opinions and great variety of errors … the Church remains immutable and constant, ‘as the pillar and foundation of truth’, in professing one identical doctrine, in receiving the same Sacraments, in her divine constitution, government, and morality…” (Encyclical Editae Saepe, n. 8).
The Novus Ordo Church does not pass this test because it is not the Roman Catholic Church. It is not the immaculate Bride of Christ but an execrable whore drunk with the errors of the world, a monster that continually has to be fought and “resisted” by self-appointed guardians of orthodoxy who have neither a mission from God nor a divine promise of infallibility — unlike the Pope they are resisting.
And so it seems that the much-touted and relatively well-funded “Resistance” is little more than a bunch of conservatives complaining about how non-Catholic their church is while refusing to leave it and instead setting up their own parallel quasi-church, complete with bishops, priests, annulment tribunals, and a de facto magisterium consisting of journalists, lawyers, bloggers, and other pundits who overrule everything that comes from the “Holy See” at will, from documents of an ecumenical council to the canonization of saints. The only thing that cannot be questioned is the legitimacy of the “Popes” they are overruling. All of this happens, of course, while firmly maintaining that this entity they are resisting is still the Catholic Church, yet at the same time also a different religion, as the same Chris Ferrara admits now and again in an unguarded moment:
We’re seeing one thing after another that we have never seen before. Now there are two ways to approach this: Just go with the flow, accept it all, and say, well, our religion is not what it was before. It’s simply a new religion: the religion of openness, inclusiveness, dialogue, tolerance, etc., etc. In other words, Catholicism has conformed itself to the Enlightenment.
(Christopher Ferrara in “Neo-Catholic Bishop Bashing: De Facto Sedevacantism?”, begins at 5:13 mark)
For our full response to this video chit-chat between Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara, please see our lengthy commentary here:
So, it’s a new religion for Ferrara, but it’s also the true Catholic religion of the ages. Pointing out, as we sedevacantists do, that this is an absurdity that the human mind cannot accept, is not permitted. No, this would be falling prey to a “ridiculous syllogism”, as Ferrara complains later in the same broadcast. Oh well. He is a lawyer.
Towards the end of his post on the “Undertaker Pope”, Ferrara provides a cautious opening to the idea that perhaps it will one day be permissible to conclude that Francis was not validly elected Pope — but not for being an obvious apostate even before his election, mind you, but because Benedict XVI did not properly resign. This idea came up once again fairly recently when Benedict’s secretary, “Abp.” Georg Ganswein, tried to tell the world that by resigning, Benedict XVI did not relinquish the papacy altogether but “expanded” it into an active-and-passive two-member freak show:
You can’t make this stuff up.
But, alas, regardless of how many members might actively or contemplatively occupy the papal chair in the Novus Ordo Sect currently, an after-hours Benedict XVI “papacy” won’t help Ferrara either, because although he painted a romanticized picture of it from the first moments of April 19, 2005, the truth about the “most industrious ecclesial termite of the post-conciliar epoch”, as Ferrara still called Joseph Ratzinger roughly two months before his election, is no less devastating than the truth about Francis, although it was always cloaked under a traditional veneer.
Ferrara ends his post by musing that “one can only wonder whether the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the elevation of Cardinal Bergoglio to the papacy are in some mysterious way related to the unexampled recklessness of his reign, so pleasing to the world that sings his praises.” We’d like to submit that the “election” of Mr. Bergoglio is related to the unrivaled recklessness of his tenure in a banally un-mysterious way: A public apostate was chosen for an office which by divine law he is incapable of holding, and so he continues after the election just as he was before — as a public apostate. Sorry to disappoint, but that’s all the “mystery” there is to it.
If Mr. Ferrara wants mystery, he should worry about the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess 2:7) to be unleashed in the last days, the true Passion of the Church, specifically the persecution of (not by!) the Vicar of Christ, as expounded by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning in 1861:
In his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul warned specifically about the advent of the Antichrist…
…whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.
(2 Thess 2:9-11)
That there would one day come a great deception upon people in punishment for their sins is clearly taught in this passage — an “operation of error” that would deceive the masses because they have no love of truth. If this terrible deception would be the fate of those who are indifferent, who have no care for God’s truth (cf. Apoc 3:16), how much more frightening will God’s punishment be for those who want to be deceived, who knowingly and deliberately keep their eyes closed because they cannot endure the truth — and then tell others to do the same!
Let us be careful never to reject the known truth, no matter how frightening or difficult it may make our lives, lest we be numbered among those who “receive not the love of the truth” but instead “believe lying” because they “have consented to iniquity.” And neither let us think that ignorance is bliss or that it always excuses, because so often ignorance is actually quite culpable and sometimes even deliberately sought — are we not, then, equally guilty of having no love of truth?
Alas, for some people, the only possible conclusion to be drawn with regard to Francis and the Vatican II Church is simply not permitted to be drawn. However, in the end reality will always win regardless. No matter how much one may fight it, two and two will always equal four, and those who point it out and insist on it as the only possible answer are doing a great service to the cause of truth, even if the answer of “four” causes unspeakable anguish, perplexity, humiliation, or inconvenience to many.
In his latest write-up for The Remnant, Ferrara mocks Francis as the “Undertaker Pope”. An undertaker he is indeed, one digging the grave for all who follow him. He intends to bury the Church, bury souls, and bury Catholic doctrine. But here we must not fail to mention that one of the main reasons why Bergoglio is able to so actively damage souls in the first place in his position as Chief Novus Ordo Undertaker is that people like Chris Ferrara, Michael Matt, John Salza, and John Vennari continue, as it were, to keep him employed. Did our Blessed Lord not warn us? “…if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit” (Mt 15:14). Yes, Francis has been digging the pit, but Ferrara and his theological confreres have been supplying the shovels. This is the tragic rest of the story that too often goes unmentioned.
If only all those who call themselves and mean to be traditional Catholics around the globe could finally accept the fact that Francis is an anti-Catholic impostor heading a non-Catholic religion, imagine how powerful the witness to this world would be against the New Church! We have said many times before that all of Francis’ power lies in his perceived status as Pope of the Catholic Church. Take that away from him — by enough people refusing to recognize him as such — and his entire sham “pontificate” will collapse. If all who continually whine about Francis actually refused to accept him as Pope, who knows, the old apostate might already be back in Buenos Aires.
In this spirit, we have some final words of advice to Chris Ferrara: Don’t complain about the “Undertaker Pope” if you’re the one leading people to the graveyard.
Image source: istockphoto.com