[First published at The Orthosphere.]
Faithful Catholics are expected to accept that, although the Pope is elected by the Conclave of (eligible) Cardinals, the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself: the cardinals are His catspaws, so to speak. It is a grave offence to leak the proceedings of the Conclave (which is why such leaking is so rare), but if the preceding is to be accepted, the machinations in the Conclave are irrelevant. Therefore, I can appreciate both the smile and the squirm of orthodox Catholics who, in these very pages, see the so-ordained Pope described as … ahem … Pope Fruit Loops I.
Events resulting from the airing of dirty linen belonging to the bishop formerly known as Cardinal McCarrick have dramatically rearranged the lighting around Francis and the logic of the succession. The stress fractures of this pontificate are no longer associated with Laudato si’ or Amoris Laetitia, but with the widening vortex swirling around McCarrick. It is sucking in, innocent and guilty, the US cardinalate and episcopate, the Chilean episcopate, the Roman Curia, and now the Papacy itself.
In this imbroglio, the media’s most urgent role will be to quarantine homosexuality, as a laudable way of life, from the sexual abuse of young men and adolescents by older men. Prima facie, that is a considerable challenge, demanding Olympic-level logical gymnastics of a media caste suckled on homosexual apologetics and visceral detestation of any principle of chastity, let alone supernatural faith. Oh me, oh my. How to gore the Church with one horn of this dilemma, while keeping the other spotless? Some initial tests have been run with the concept of clericalism. It’s promising. In particular, it suggests that the problem is with outmoded clerical practice and thinking; you know, like adherence to millennial teaching on faith and morals. If this crisis were not so broad and deep, it might carry the weight. But the piers are flimsy, and a perfect storm is raging, with no sign of abating.
That the homosexual networks to which Archbishop Viganò and others refer must be dismantled is essential if the Church is to be restored to health. That on its own, if it is realised to a significant degree, will be a mighty achievement; but that achievement would send shock waves through the surrounding culture borne of, yet alienated from, Christianity. Similar networks are established in secular realms of influence and power. A restored and cleansed Church would be a mesmerising sign of contradiction.
Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Here’s the paradox. Should this renewal come to pass, it will inarguably have been a work of the Holy Spirit, and that work will have been done, one way or another, through Francis.