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March Madness?

Just when you think you’ve figured out the Roman Pontiff, Francis throws a wrench into the works.

It’s no secret that I haven’t been head cheerleader for the current Roman Pontiff. I’ve had serious doubts regarding Jorge Mario Bergoglio since shortly after he ascended to the papal throne in 2013 as Pope Francis. To say that I’ve been troubled by this man is an understatement

The teachings of Pope Francis, especially his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,“ have indeed been both troubling and confusing, especially, but not limited to the areas of human sexuality, homosexuality, and divorce. Topping off my ire was the 2019 Amazon Synod Pope Francis hosted in Rome, which featured pagan rituals, including the idolatrous graven image of Pachamama, the Amazonian or South American version of “Mother Earth,” and the pagan rites with which the Pontiff attended and participated.

After his elevation, Francis was heralded by LGBTQwxyz activists, liberal media, and especially Modernist Roman Catholics, for his forward and progressive thinking. Many interpreted his writings and encyclicals as reversing traditional church moral teachings, that is, until recently, has he seemingly, and suddenly changed his tune?

Pope Francis has a history of inviting LGBT advocates to the Vatican. He has spoken warmly about the place of gay people in the church. He has called for national laws for same-sex civil unions.

But Monday (March 15th), Francis signaled that there are some limits to his reformist intentions, as he signed off on a decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican office that defines and articulates Church teaching. The CDF issued a brief “responsum” to the question, which has come up in countries—notably, in Germany—where same-sex marriage is legal. reaffirming age old church teaching and bars priests from blessing same-sex unions.

The pronouncement, flies in the face of many clerics, and even bishops, who have expressed interested in performing such blessings, leans on the kind of language that LGBT Catholics have long found alienating — and that they had hoped Francis might change. It says that same-sex unions are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.” It says acknowledging those unions is “illicit.” It says that God “cannot bless sin.”

Father James Martin, a New York Jesuit, said he feared the directive may prompt “some LGBTQ Catholics to leave the church, after years of feeling rejected and unwelcome.”

In Germany, more than 1,000 people, most of them priests, had by Wednesday signed a petition in which they said they would not refuse to give blessings, according to Burkhard Hose, a priest who launched an initiative calling for “pastoral disobedience”.

In some countries, parishes and ministers had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there had been calls for bishops to institutionalise de facto such blessings, although the practice caused alarm among conservatives.

Then in an interesting development, once again, seemingly aligning himself with conservative theology, on Wednesday, March 24th, the Pope said that Jesus entrusted the Virgin Mary to us as a Mother, “not as co-redeemer.”

This has been a contentious issue for decades, if not longer. Conservative theologians were concerned that Pope Benedict XVI would make a dogmatic proclamation regarding Mary as Co-Redemptrix after he was elevated to his ecclesial throne.

Francis, while speaking at a general audience stated that “while Christians had always given Mary beautiful titles, it was important to remember that Christ is the only redeemer.”

The Pontiff was addressing a theological debate about whether the Church should issue a dogmatic definition declaring Mary “Co-Redemptrix,” in honor of her role in humanity’s salvation.

“Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross,” the pope noted.

“From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon -- sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers,’ like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother.”

He continued: “It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things.”

“But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma -- some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.”

The pope gave his address, dedicated to prayer in communion with Mary, in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions. The address was part of his cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.

So, the question becomes, what does the real Bergolio believe? Which Francis should the RCC faithful believe? Why at this time has the leopard appear to be changing its spots? Pope Francis has been disparaging traditional Catholic teachings throughout his pontificate. Even traditional priestly and religious garb have been fuel for Francis‘ ire. No. I find no fault with the pope’s recent statements. However, questions remain. What has precipitated this “March Madness,” this seemingly change of direction? Will the Pope now renounce his support of globalism? Will he recant of his backing of communist China’s heretical hold over the Church in that reprobate nation?

This truly seems to be March Madness. On the surface, Pope Francis’ seemingly 180 degree change in polemic makes no sense. One must wonder what’s going on behind the scenes? I have many questions. We should all be asking similar things. Inquiring minds need to know.

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