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Over the course of the last few days, we have been focusing on two aspects of Catholic “issues” that are playing themselves out in the Universal Church, namely:
the situation inside the Catholic Church in Poland with respect to moving toward Tradition, with the strong opposition of the Polish Episcopate to the heretical Bergoglian/Kasperian “theology done on the knees” in the background (see here)
the reports of very low and very unenthusiastic crowds attending the Francis audiences and appearing in St. Peter’s Square, lackluster attendance figures that the Vatican watchers have been observing for quite some time now. (see here)
The reason that we have focused on these two issues is that these issues demonstrate opposition to, and could be a sign of the weakening of the ability of Francis to force his TRUE AGENDA onto the upcoming Synod of Bishops and by extension, onto the Universal Church.
Furthermore, I would also like to remind our readers that Francis is still an absolute monarch and can do whatever he wants. This includes appointing and removing bishops at his discretion. Please recall the shock appointment of Blasé “Francis pulls a bishop out of his miter” Cupich in Chicago (20 September 2014). The background to this appointment we set out in our post titled The Luke Warm Nuncio. (see here) Also please recall that on of the first cardinals that Francis removed was Card Burke from the Congregation of Bishops (16 December 2013) and the secretive manner in which Francis appointed the 20 new cardinals at the February consistory this past February (5 January 2015). So from this anecdotal evidence, it should be clear to all that Francis is bent on making appointments irrespective to the conventional process and without advice provided by the competent authority.
The reason that I am reminding you, dear readers of these historical facts and dates is that today we will be examining how the situation looks with respect to the appointment of another bishop in another country and see if we can identify any similarities or differences in this present process. The observed similarities or difference can then be used to determine if anything has changed with respect to the manner in which Francis appoints bishops. In other words, this examination can be used as a proxy to discern how confident Francis presently feels in exercising his absolute power absolutely.
Today we turn our attention to the country of Malta and a vacancy at the top of the diocese of Malta where the former archbishop, Msgr. Paul Cremona submitted his resignation on the 18 of October 2014.
For those who have been following the situation in Malta, you may recall that the bishop of the other diocese in Malta (Malta has two diocese: Malta and Gozo), Msgr Grech, the bishop of Gozo made quite a “splash” with Francis during the Secret Synod of Bishops of 2014. (see here) Just to refresh your memories, here is how the Maltese Independent newspaper characterized this encounter:
Pope Francis, it seems, was extremely pleased with the Gozo Bishop’s address to the Synod on 8 October. So much so that the next morning, over breakfast at Casa Marta, Pope Francis tapped Mgr Grech on the shoulder and complimented him on his speech. That, people close to Mgr Grech informed this newsroom, was followed by another friendly pat on the back during the next coffee break.
The reason that the above ” two taps” are significant is explained earlier in the article:
With yesterday’s official resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona, the way is now open and the competition is on for a successor to be chosen. The names of a number of frontrunners have been posited lately, but it seems that Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is in pole position.
That was the state of play on 19 October 2014.
So how did Bishop Grech ingratiate himself to Francis so as to get “two taps” on the back in the course of one day? Here is the Independent’s version:
In his address to the Synod, Mgr Grech strayed from his characteristically conservative, at times fire and brimstone, tone.
Could this be a “sighting” of one of those illusive ” Francis Effects”, i.e. a “conversion” to the Kasperian/Bergoglian “theology done on the knees” you’re wondering dear reader? Let’s read on and find out…
In his address, Mgr Grech observed, “Today’s family also quite commonly includes the following scenarios: the situation of a man and woman, both divorced and who now live together in a second relationship; or the case where a son or a daughter profess to be gay; or that given context whereby the exercise of responsible fatherhood proves to be a constant hurdle; relationships that are torn apart by failure; or the challenge of having to live in a framework which renders incomprehensible the very concepts of natural law… We need to know our families very well if we are to offer them the Gospel in a practical way.
Yes indeed. A “practical way”… actually, a “pastoral way” needs to be found according to the good bishop. Sounds like a conversion on the road to Rome, in my humble opinion, and finally a “
Yeti Francis Effect” sighting. But I digress…
As a result of this “conversion”, the good bishop not only got “two pats” on the back from Francis, but simultaneously moved into pole position for the Archbishop of Malta vacancy, according to the Independent of Malta.
But that was then.
So how does this situation look now?
For this information we move over to the website of the Pro Tridentina (Una Voce Malta) and read the following headline:
EXCLUSIVE: Scicluna’s nomination following consultation with Benedict XVI
This headline is just “wrong” and on so many different levels.
A couple of things look “wrong” from the onset. First, Msgr. Scicluna’s name appears as the nominee that was chosen to replace Archbishop Cremona. Next, the appointment was consulted with the Pope Emeritus.
That’s just not right?
But let’s read on. Your humble blogger might have missed something. Here is the relevant passage: (see here)
This Blog can reveal that the new Archbishop was not the first name on the list submitted to Pope Francis. However, in an exceptional way, and probably because the current Pontiff knows the great work done by Scicluna, in particular on the child abuse cases, His Holiness consulted with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
This meeting took place in the first week of February. It appears that Benedict XVI highlighted the exceptional qualities of Scicluna and this seems to have tipped the balance in favour of Bishop Scicluna. This Blog had mentioned two other names some time ago: Msgr Joseph Spiteri and Fr Fabio Attard. One of these names was also in the list submitted to Francis.
On top of the two “problematic” observations that we highlighted earlier, we have another observable conundrum, namely that Bishop Mario Grech, who is the President of the Maltese Episcopate Conference does not even figure into the top three nominee spots. So much for the “Francis Effect” sighting.
Furthermore, and even more strange is the information that the new Archbishop, i.e. Msgr. Scicluna is the one that was promoted by Benedict XVI.
In other words, what we are witnessing is the nomination of a “Ratzingerian”!
So what conclusions can be drawn from the above. Here is what I think are the important points:
1) Francis did not appoint Msgr. Grech on the spot, like he appointed Baldisseri to cardinal after the conclave. This could be due to being informed subsequent to the “two taps” that Grech could be a “Catholic in disguise” who is faking his heretical position in order to get a career advancement. He should be “climbing” mountains for heaven’s sake. But I digress.
2) Francis consulted with Benedict XVI on the appointment. Something quite new when looking at Francis’ previous appointments, whether it was Blasé Cupich in Chicago which surprised the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops or the pederast Juan Barros in Chile which surprised… well, quite everyone.
3) Francis appears to have taken Benedict’s opinion into consideration, and more importantly, it was the Pope Emeritus’ opinion that got Msgr Scicluna the appointment.
4) Archbishop Scicluna can be classified as a Ratzingerian. This is something new since the first 18 months of Francis’ reign was a not so subtle excercise in eliminating any cleric that was even slightly associated with Benedict XVI from any position of authority in the Church. (see here and here and here and here)
So what could the above identified points indicate?
Simply this. What we could be seeing is Francis becoming more and more isolated inside the Sacred Walls of the Vatican. The continuous reports of the internecine conflict inside the Vatican is most likely taking its toll. (see here) It is beginning to dawn on all concerned that the abysmal failure that is the legacy of the Bergoglio reign in the Buenos Aires dioceses is being replicated in Rome, in the Universal Church. The Bergoglio papacy, which is grounded in a “sugar-coated” media narrative and favorable optics, is nothing more than a “Soap Bubble Papay™” (see here) Francis’ populist antics and attacks on the Catholic faithful might have translated into an appealing “media buzz” initially, but have simultaneously translated into low attendance figures at his audiences and low turnout in St. Peter’s Square for the feast days. And since the entire Francis papacy is constructed on the media narrative and optics, this chronic lack of bodies is nothing short of a death-blow to the Francis
strategy Lord’s pastoral call.
As to the situation inside the Roman hierarchy, these clerics are cognizant of this situation and are rebelling. The “clique” that has helped Francis with administrating his “revolution”, i.e. the homo-lobby, is most likely seeing the writing on the wall and receding into the shadows. This abandonment by his supporting troops is leaving Francis “home alone” and looking for new friends. And it is this situation that explains the new overtures to Benedict, and appears to be a belated effort in “how to win friends and influence people”. (see here)
Summa summarum, the Francis “Soap Bubble Papay™” is beginning to “dry up” from the very same causes that created it in the first place. And the Archbishop Scicluna appointment is another piece of supporting evidence.
This blog will be watching this situation as it unfolds. But from the point of view of this humble blogger, something has changed. And that something is not good for Francis.
Below is the video from the Urbe et Orbi of 2015. Notice at the end of the video, about the 22 minute mark, the entire seating section in the bottom left hand corner was empty. I have taken a screen shot and put it at the top of this post