Pope Francis, as everyone is beginning to notice, is erratic. He is not a systematic thinker; he does not like to be bound by logic; you never know what he is going to do or say next.
Peter Isely, a survivor of sexual abuse, told Crux:
In Isely’s view, survivors have typically encountered two different personas in Francis, one being the sympathetic pastor who has a deep sense of the horrifying impact of abuse, and another who can be cryptic, insensitive and who appears to fail to take action against known abusers.
“I don’t think we’ve ever heard someone from the Chair of Saint Peter talk about these crimes the way he has, and the effect and impact it has on the victim,” he said. “But then we’ve got this other Pope Francis.”
“Sometimes he says some alarming things, like he did in Chile,” Isely said, alluding to Francis essentially accusing abuse victims who protested against Bishop Juan Barros on charges that he covered up for Chile’s most notorious abuser priest, of calumny.
“We’ve got this guy who allows these bishops to cover up these crimes. And when a bishop is removed, we know that’s why he’s being removed, but he won’t say that’s why he’s being removed,” Isely said, adding that it’s not yet clear which persona will show up to the summit, but he’s hoping it’s the first.
In his Amoris Laetitia, he seemed to say that divorced people who entered second unions can receive Communion. Catholic theologians have followed the logic that a person may be civilly divorced, but if he is still in a valid, sacramental marriage, he commits adultery if he tries to marry again, and is therefore in a state of serious sin and cannot receive communion. The four cardinals who asked Francis to explain –the Dubia–were simply ignored.
Worse still, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., confidant of the pope, tried to defend Francis by this tweet.
This phrase has a disturbing history.
The phrase “two plus two equals five” (“2 + 2 = 5”) is a slogan used in many different forms of media, most notably the 1949 dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. In the novel, it is used as an example of an obviously false dogma that one may be required to believe, similar to other obviously false slogans promoted by the Party in the novel.
Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith, uses the phrase to wonder if the State might declare “two plus two equals five” as a fact; he ponders whether, if everybody believes it, that makes it true. The Inner Party interrogator of thought-criminals, O’Brien, says of the mathematically false statement that control over physical reality is unimportant; so long as one controls one’s own perceptions to what the Party wills, then any corporeal act is possible, in accordance with the principles of doublethink (“Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. (Wikipedia)
Solidarity in Poland used the slogan Two plus two always equals four to counteract the Communist party line.
The poster reads: Let Poland be Poland. Two plus two always equals four.
Spadaro is obviously no deep thinker; nor is he much acquainted with history, or he would never have used that example.
But for Francis, one day 2+2 equals 4, the next day maybe 5, the next day maybe 3; and his courtiers, sycophants, and defenders have to justify his erratic statements.
Francis proclaims the need for synodality and lay involvement in stopping sexual abuse. Then he forbids the American bishops from voting on proposals, one of which is to set a lay investigative board. Only the pope can investigate bishops! But then Francis lets Chinese Communist atheists appoint bishops.
He in a footnote in Amoris laetitia raises the issue of communion for Catholics in invalid unions, a question that raises many serious doctrinal questions. But he dismisses any serious discussion of changing the rule of celibacy for priests in the Latin church, although most of the Eastern churches in union with Rome have married priests. Married priests raise no doctrinal issues; the question is whether it would be a fruitful change in the Latin church. Maybe, maybe not. Most the laity would welcome it or at least not object.
Because Francis is erratic, he has not established a clear policy to deal with sexual abuse; he has lessened the penalties that abusers received under Pope Benedict. Since there is not clear policy, one cannot even object to it. One day he lets an abuser function as a priest; the next day he defrocks McCarrick. It all depends the whim and mood of the day. I have little or no hope that any clear and consistent policy about sexual abuse will be established as long as Francis is pope.
Oh, yes. And his critics are tools of the devil:
Speaking on the eve of a landmark Vatican summit on the prevention of clerical sex abuse, the pontiff told a congregation of 2,500 pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Basilica that those who “live their whole life accusing the Church” are “friends, cousins and relatives of the devil”.
Take that, you mean-spirited victims of sexual abuse. Can’t you shut up!