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Today is a milestone day since we are 200 days from the beginning of the Synod of Catholic Bishops on the Family 2015, or as this site has dubbed this meeting, The Stealth Sex Synod™. We pick back up with the theme of objective reality as opposed to the other two “realities” that we have discussed over the last couple of weeks, i.e. “alternative reality” and “virtual reality”. (see here)
And since today is a special day being the feast of St. Joseph (thanks for the h/t goes to IndignusFamulus) and it being t -200 days to the start of the Synod of Bishops and since the Francis “papacy” has passed the two year mark, today’s post will be dedicated to the effect that this papacy has had on the Catholic Church in particular and Catholics in general. In other words, we will be searching for the “objective reality” underlying that most illusive phenomena known as “Francis Effect”.
Any introduction the topic on the “Francis effect” has to begin with the prescient observation of Cardinal Brandmuller who stated early on in this papacy the following: (see here and here and original here)
Hamburg (kath.net/KNA) Emeritus German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller (85) does not think much of the enthusiasm for Pope Francis: “It is superficial. Were this a religious movement, the churches would be full, “the former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences said in an interview with the Hamburg magazine« History ».
Prophetic was Cardinal Brandmuller’s observation.
Partial Evidence To Date
First piece of evidence comes from this humble blog and a post from the 26th of November 2014. (see here and here) The post re-publishes a couple of Twitter entries via the Rorate Caeli blog that report on the crowds… or rather the absence of crowds that greeting Francis, the bishop of Rome on his trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Here is how by the main religious correspondent of French daily Le Figaro, Jean-Marie Guénois commented the situation: (see here and here)
Never before seen: nobody, or almost nobody, in the streets of Strasbourg to welcome Pope Francis between the airport and the [European] Parliament…
Next piece of evidence comes from the Sandro Magister at the Cheisa blog published on the 24th of November 2014. In his post, Magister writes:
The tempestuous October synod on the family, the appointment of the new archbishop of Chicago, and the demotion of Cardinal Raymond L. Burke have marked a turning point in the pontificate of Pope Francis.
The disquiet, the doubts, the critical judgments are coming out more and more into the light of day and are becoming ever more explicit and substantiated.
On all levels of the “people of God.” Among cardinals, among sociologists of religion, among journalists specializing in Vatican affairs.
I think the above is a good “objective” assessment of the situation on the ground. If the Catholic hierarchy began to question the competence of Francis after the Secret Synod of Bishops of 2014, the Faithful’s adjustment is quite agile. They have started to stop coming to the various Vatican functions.
Here is the post relating to this occurrence made by Antonio Socci and his observation made on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes that was published on the 13 of February 2015. (see here). And below is how this blogger commented this post:
The phenomenon of Pope Bergoglio’s increasingly “empty” audiences has been going on for some time now, although the media talks all the time about the (invisible) “crowds” and the Vatican establishment confirms this account. This phenomenon is parallel with the sales of Pope Bergoglio’s books, which are anything but flourishing: try and ask the publishing houses and you will be surprised…
A confirmation of the “virtual reality” that is the Soap Bubble Papacy™. Here is how this blogger commented this post:
When Cardinal Brandmuller commented that Francis’ popularity appeared superficial a few months after his election, the wise and distinguished Cardinal had no idea how correct his assessment was.
But I digress…
And then this report appeared about the crowds at St. Peter’s for this year’s Ash Wednesday Angelus. (see here) Here are the relevant stats an this bloggers comments:
A staggering 9,000 faithful show up for Ash Wednesday this year.
A measly 50,000 Faithful showed up for B XVI last Ash Wednesday.
But hey, the 9,000 were the right kind of faithful.
So now that we are up to date, here are the latest pieces of evidence that the Catholic Faithful are getting wise to Francis and deflating his “Soap Bubble Papacy™”.
First we go to Roberto de Mattai who provides this answer to an interviewer’s question about the “observation” that Francis still draws sizable crowds:
[ Panettiere:] Who continues to attract a large consensus?
[de Mattei] “Yes, he does, in the world of the media and outside the Church, where he has even surpassed Wojtyla in popularity. But it’s inside the Catholic world that he much less loved.” Also participation at the Angelus and the audiences in St. Peter’s is dropping.”
So there you have it. Confirmation of the “objectively real” Francis Effect.
As to the second piece of evidence that appeared recently, I have reproduced it at the top of this post. It comes from the French television channel’s, France 24’s English news service. The commentator reports on a Le Figaro newspaper front page story about Francis in general while touching upon the issue of the “illusive Francis Effect”.
NB: Notice the objective and factual presentation.
Concluding, I will make just one general observation. When looking at video’s of Francis’ puppet masses from Buenos Aires, one thing that strikes the viewer is how few people are actually in the stands. The crowd could have easily fit into a basement of a parish hall. But I digress… One comes away with the impression that someone, i.e. Archbishop Bergoglio threw a party, and no one came. Please see for yourself:
After two years of the Bergoglio papacy, it begins to dawn on even the average observer as to the most likely reason for the empty stadiums and the empty churches which were all to common in Bergoglio’s dioceses. The most likely explanation is the the NOVELTY wore off after a few months or a year of the “Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires experience”. And what was left of the Bergoglian reign were the empty stadiums, empty churches and empty seminaries. And I almost forget, the growing protestant sects. Need to include that in the Bergoglio legacy likewise.
Now it would appear that history is beginning to repeat itself, albeit on a much larger scale. True, this “Soap Bubble Papacy™” has kept it’s general popularity level high for the first two years. However, a pope does have media assets at his disposal that the archbishop of Buenos Aires does not.
However, even with this “fawning lapdog” media that Francis has at his disposal, not to mention crack professional media men, such as Fr. Thomas Rosica at his beck and call, (see here) the general media are beginning to catch on. A good case in point is the French television report embedded above.
This above phenomenon no doubt is in large part due to the “lack of enthusiasm” for the version of Bergoglio’s “
hate theology done on the knees” that he promoted in Argentina. If anyone needs any better proof of this last assertion and the objective reality of the real Francis Effect, all one has to do is look at the faces and body language of those “ninos” in the above video. If there is a better representation of the “Soap Bubble Papacy™” and the “illusive” Francis Effect, I have yet to see it. Furthermore, this is what is in store for the future of the Universal Catholic Church.
And the Catholics see it, the Catholic journalists see it, the secular media is beginning to see it, as do the reality based cardinals and bishops. One just has to wonder how much longer this circus act can go on before the rest of the cardinals and bishops do something about it.
Or to put the above question another way: how many more souls must be lost before the Catholic hierarchy does something about it?
This should be the first and foremost question on their minds for the next 200 days.
UPDATE: 07:58 Thursday 19 March 2015
BRICK BY BRICK File
Today, on the feast of St. Joseph, the protector of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the Deus Ex Machina Blog is launching a new feature called the BRICK BY BRICK File. At each new or special Immemorial Mass of All Ages sighting, this blogger will post the link below that day’s post.
Today, we have a sighting on the EX MAGNA SILENTIUM blog via the Fr. Z blog. Immemorial Mass of All Ages returns to the Albany Cathedral. (see here).
And here is a follow-up about the interest in vocations at the Albany diocese (see here). Coincidence does not equal causality, but it could. 🙂