Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome

In an interesting move, R.R. Reno of First Things explained that the site has decided to stop hosting Maureen Mullarkey's blog:
Maureen has a sharp pen and pungent style. Her postings about Pope Francis indicate she’s very angry about this papacy, which she seems to view as (alternately) fascism and socialism disguised as Catholicism. This morning she put up a post that opens with the accusation that the Vatican is conspiring with the Obama administration to destroy the foundations of freedom and hobble the developed world. I've had my staff take it down. [...]
I’ve criticized Pope Francis and his encyclical, Laudato Si. However, Maureen’s commentary on Francis goes well beyond measured criticism. She consistently treats him as an ideological propagandist, accusing him of reducing the faith to secular political categories. This is her way of reducing him to the political terms she favors. And those terms are the ones used by radio talk-show hosts to entertain the public with mock-battles against various Empires of Evil. I don't want First Things to play that game.
I am impressed by this decision.  I became even more impressed when I read the blog post in question, which is now being hosted at another site which apparently has no problem with its intemperate language or barely-veiled insinuations that this particular Holy Father is a secret political agitator (whether Marxist of Fascist remains in question) out to destroy the Church. Here's a brief sample of it:
The road show is over. The spectacle flamed up and subsided, a Roman candle of demonic sanctimony. Think of it as pre-game warm-up for the main event: the global climate summit in Paris, November 30 to December 11. The Vatican is partnering with the Obama administration, at the U.N. and later in Paris, in magnifying state control over a free society and tightening the screws on the developed world. This, in the name of saving the planet from the production and growth of those very means by which the poor can raise themselves out of poverty. [...]
I cannot not help but wonder if this week-long showcase of misdirected sermonizing, and often ambiguous pieties, signaled the de-Christianization of the Catholic Church. Were we witnessing the descent of Catholicism into one more “ism,” an ideology using language onto which an audience could project its own meaning? After Cuba, the non-stop showboating, pageantry, and preachments in the wrong places took on the look of a Faustian bargain between the Vatican and cynical brokers of worldly prestige—an exchange of truth (including that of the gradual but ongoing diminishment of poverty) for power.
I can't recommend reading the rest of it; it's not just nonsense, but pernicious nonsense.  It is invective without substance.  It is a quintessential example of finding a button (Pope Francis' concern for the disproportionate harms done to the poor by the global economy, for instance) and sewing a whole vest of shadowy conspiracies to destroy the Church from within, shackle the Free in chains of government control instead of letting them loose to Build Businesses and Save the World through Commerce, and stop the spread of American Exceptionalism (the only thing that will truly help the world's poor) throughout the globe around that button.

I don't know how anyone could read Laudato Si, watch the pope this past week and (especially) read what he actually said in his homilies and speeches and still come to the conclusion that he's some sort of stealth ninja operative of various anti-Catholic and anti-captialist powers hellbent on destroying the Church and (more importantly) America's Manifest Destiny to spread global multinational corporate values (complete with their unsafe factories and slave-wage jobs) all over the world as the true saviors of humankind.

It seems so strange to connect this Machiavellian figure of power with the affable and kindly pope who just visited our nation that I can only conclude that this is the manifestation of a new political disease.  We can call it "Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome," perhaps.

UPDATE: The remarkable Scott Eric Alt coined the term "Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome" back in 2013 and has used it regularly since.  I appreciate his pointing that out and apologize for my ignorance of the phrase!  


David Sharples said...

"Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome."
- let's call it satan's wish to divide us all.. many nasty things have been said of late, and it has to mean Pope Francis's visit was a success. (And I'd bet that the Pope is gauging that, and knowing that.)

Let's not forget to pray for the Pope, as no one is more hated on earth than he.

Scott Eric Alt said...


Siarlys Jenkins said...

If anyone gets the idea that the liberals and the Trads are going to mutually schism and rend the Catholic Church in twain... there is Erin reminding us who does the laboring in the vineyard, what really holds the church together, and no, Francis is not Rodrigo Borgia, nor are the Trads going to set up shop in Avignon. If a bishop had never responded to Napoleon's threat to destroy the church with the remark "Good luck, even we haven't been able to do that," Erin would have offered something similar, albeit not as a priest.