Monday, April 22, 2013

Bergoglio contradicts pundits account

Why is there so much disinformation about Pope Francis' past as Cardinal Bergolgio? I ask this not coming from any perspective, but just from the view of a layman who is trying to figure out what sort of individual our new pope is. To this day people are still disputing the status of the Extraordinary Form in the federal city of Buenos Aires; conservatives insist Summorum Pontificum was implemented with zeal by Bergoglio while Rorate Caeli has brought forward very convincing evidence suggesting that it was not, which is still being denied by many in the mainstream Catholic blogosphere.

Then there was the rumor about Pope Francis refusing the mozzetta and telling Cardinal Marini, "You put it on; this carnival is over," followed by another rumor that that first rumor was unsubstantiated. There was the story about the Pope banishing Cardinal Law, followed by vehement statements by Fr. Tomas Rosica and Fr. Federico Lombardi that this story was completely made up.

Here is the most recent case of confusion-disinformation:

When Pope Francis was first elected, this picture was circulated around the Internet, suggesting that he had participated in an ecumenical prayer gathering and allowed himself to be "blessed" by a Protestant minister. The Remnant, as well as some more mainstream blogs, chimed in and stated that Bergoglio was not in fact blessed by a Protestant minister; what really happened, they said, was that Bergoglio knelt down to receive a blessing from Fr. Cantalamessa when the Protestant minister stepped in to add his 'two cents' and blessed Cardinal Bergoglio without his explicit knowledge or permission. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Now we have Pope Francis in his own words contradicting the revisionist version of the story. With the appearance of Bergoglio's 2010 book On Heaven and Earth contains his own account of the event, which he discusses in the context of speaking about undue "rigidity":

At another stage, Francis warns of the dangers of “rigid religiosity” and “fundamentalism.”

“This type of rigid religiosity is disguised with doctrines that claim to give justifications, but in reality deprive people of their freedom and do not allow them to grow as persons,” he says. “A large number end up living a double life.”

Francis acknowledges that he’s felt the sting of that rigidity himself, especially in criticism of his pastoral style over the years.

He describes once attending an ecumenical service in Argentina that brought 7,000 Evangelicals and Catholics together, where the Evangelical pastor asked if it would be okay for everyone to pray for him.

Francis says he knelt down to receive the blessing (among other things, anticipating his now-famous gesture the evening of his election to the papacy,) and the next week a traditionalist magazine carried the shot under the headline, “Buenos Aires sede vacante: Archbishop commits the sin of apostasy.” (source)

So, Bergoglio knelt down to receive a blessing from Cantalamessa and the Protestant stepped in to add his own 'two cents', unbeknownst to the Cardinal? According to Bergoglio himself, it was the Protestant who asked him if he could receive a blessing, and Bergolgio knelt before the Protestant with full knowledge of what the Protestant minister was doing.

Thus, Bergoglio himself, in his 2010 book, contradicts the accounts of the pundits who were offering the Cantalamessa excuse to explain away the event.

It is not my point here to comment upon the propriety of Bergoglio doing this. My point is to ask why is there so much misinformation about this pontiff?  It is not that two sides are disagreeing on the meaning of the facts; it is tremendously difficult to get a straight answer on what the facts are. Why is it so hard to get the facts? Why so much misinformation, and who is behind it? Even his daily homilies are only being reported anecdotally, with out the published text.

I am not in any way blaming Pope Francis for any of these ambiguities. I am voicing my frustration that well-meaning Catholics who simply want to know what kind of man the pope is cannot get straight information. This is tremendously frustrating, and I suspect the answer is that a certain group of people have  a vested interest in putting a particular spin on things. Strange times, indeed.


Samuel said...

If there's a double life problem -- it's not because of rigidity: it's because of the chaos it has produced due to decades of contradictions like these by the hierarchs of the Church.

NBW said...

I too am frustrated with all the misinformation.

Crouchback said...

Dear Unam Sanctam,

The idea of sede vacante as a result of Bergoglio's actions in accepting publicly the blessing of the Protestant minister -- presumably unrepented -- have me very worried indeed. What is the Canon Law on this issue, do you know? That is, assuming the worst, what scenario could we be faced with in terms of Canon Law?


Unknown said...

Rigid religiosity, like believing that some things are right and others are wrong, that some things are true and others are not... I'm really disappointed to hear the Pope's account of this. I had taken some comfort in the previous explanation.

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

So was it a "blessing" or a "prayer"? And what's the problem with kneeling when being prayed for / prayed over, etc.?

I understand your post is about the spins being given to this story, but you can't expect to raise this issue and then attempt to side-step it. Clearly some people see this as something that needed explaining away, and others see it as something not to make such a big fuss out of. (And others see it as something to parade around and blow out of proportion.)

Eric Brooks said...

I find the contradictory accounts about his support of civil unions particularly troubling as it could signal a very dangerous shift in the church if the rumors are true. It seems like rigidity is the only thing that keeps us from living a double life, from trying to find compromise between Christ an the world, between the true religion an heresy.

Boniface said...


I don't think there was a sede vacante because I do not think Bergoglio's action in allowing himself to be blessed constituted the sin of apostasy. Traditionally, apostasy has to be pretty blatant and unambiguous - a full, willful rejection of the Christian faith entirely. For example, during the Enlightenment, there were several bishops who regarded many aspects of the Faith as superstitious and semi-publicly embraced Deism and questioned the whole concept of Revelation, yet such positions, as heretical and deplorable as they seemed, did not constitute apostasy and no one in their own day suggested they lost their office. An act would have to be much more blatant than kneeling to receive a blessing from a Protestant to constitute apostasy.

Crouchback said...


Thanks for the helpful and reassuring reply. You are certainly right in your post on the difficulty of finding accurate information. Let us hope and pray for the best.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Effete Ecumenism is the universal solvent which is dissolving Tradition.

In its Ecclesiastical praxis, the post V2 Church has pitched its tent in the desert of Indifferentism and this new Pope will make the previous two ecumenical-minded Popes seem triumphalist by comparison.

As my Uncle used to say; "It is always darkest before the storm

There IS a reason we are not being told the truth and it is NOT because our Holy Father is a Traditionalist.

Were he a Traditionalist he would not have co-authored a book with a pro-abortion Rebbe and he would not have...

Well, the list is long, and growing, isn't it?

The Brick By Brick Bund can pretend that everything is fine but the New Theology that has dragged the Bride of Christ out of the church and down into the gutter has shown no sign of relaxing its grip on the Bride of Christ; that is, the Crisis is captious and cataclysmic and it is continuing to produce malign results that are increasing in frequency and intensity and still invisible is one Prelate whose embodiment of Tradition could be a force applied to our inertia into indifference.

Karl said...

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth it goes. Assume the best, assume good will, assume, assume, assume. I'm sitting here tonight thinking about calling in sick tomorrow because I'm tired of the harassment from my co-workers about being religious. I think to myself, how easy it would all be to take if I knew that I had some people at my back. Like the priests, or the Pope. But I don't. Maybe I would feel a lot better about it if I thought I merited anything, but I can't even manage to stay in a state of grace.

I am so tired of all of this.

Boniface said...


there is really no place for despair. this is all in God's hands. All you need to worry about is your own soul. stay faithful, and trust in God, not men.

Steve Dalton said...

I don't like to think there's a conspiracy, but when you get conflicting information again and again about a person or thing, it's not hard to think that somebody is running a disinformation campaign to confuse people.

Jack Tollers said...


"I am not in any way blaming Pope Francis for any of these ambiguities."

And yet, you should.

Jack Tollers (from Bs. As.)

Boniface said...


I guess you are right insofar as Bergoglio's actions while Cardinal have prompted the discussion, but my article was more focusing on how others are distorting or misinforming people about the facts rather than about the nature of the facts themselves.