Last November, Pope Francis gave the Jesuits of left-leaning America magazine an extensive and exclusive interview on “a wide range of topics . . . including polarization in the U.S. church, racism, the war in Ukraine, the Vatican’s relations with China and church teaching on the ordination of women.”1
“I Am a Communist, and So Too Is Jesus”
Among the addressed issues, perhaps the most serious and troubling is Pope Francis’s attitude in the face of accusations that he is sympathetic to Socialism and Communism.
In the interview, Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., departing editor-in-chief of America, said to Pope Francis, “In the United States, there are those who interpret your criticisms of market capitalism as criticisms of the United States. There are even some who think you may be a socialist, or they call you a communist, or they call you a Marxist.”2
The Argentine pope’s answer is stunning: “If I see the Gospel in a sociological way only, yes, I am a communist, and so too is Jesus. Behind these Beatitudes and Matthew 25 there is a message that is Jesus’ own. And that is to be Christian. The communists stole some of our Christian values.”3
It is shocking for a pope to insinuate that the “Gospel [viewed] in a sociological way only” reveals that Jesus was a communist, and, therefore, he is too.
Besides being blasphemous, such an insinuation stems from a methodological error.
Obviously, a sociological analysis of the Gospel, in strictly scientific terms, does not lead to that conclusion. That only occurs if one adopts the so-called “Marxist analysis” as scientific—as does liberation theology. Now, Marxist analysis is nothing but an adaptation of reality to the aprioristic Marxist premises. Marxists do not investigate reality according to objective facts but interpret and adapt it to previous conclusions of the communist and socialist parties’ ideology.
It is not surprising that Pope Francis states: “The communists stole some of our Christian values.” It also explains his lavish praise for the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the leading promoter of the Vatican policy of détente with communist regimes, who affirmed, “Catholics who live in Cuba are happy under the socialist regime.”4 Ditto Pope Francis’s satisfaction concerning the dialogue with China because, he says, the Chinese are “a people of great wisdom.”5 Everyone knows he is not ‘dialoguing’ with the Chinese people but with the Chinese Communist Party.
Earlier in the interview, Pope Francis clarified the relativistic background of his thinking.
“Polarization Is Not Catholic”
Having referred to the present polarization of American public opinion and “within the life of the church,” the new editor of America magazine, Fr. Sam Sawyer, S.J., asked, “How can the church respond to polarization within its own life and help respond to polarization in society?”
Pope Francis answered categorically: “Polarization is not Catholic.”6
Polarization on philosophical, religious or other topics results from disagreement about their correctness or veracity, so there is a clash in public opinion or sectors of it.
Are St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., and Other Great Polemicists Guilty of “Polarization”?
In the context of Father Sawyer’s question, answering that “polarization is not Catholic” is tantamount to saying that Catholics cannot defend their beliefs passionately and seek to prevent evils such as procured abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism and other issues that divide Americans.
Those who come out in defense of perennial truths do not cause polarization. Rather, polarization is caused by those who move away from the pole of truth to that headed by the devil, “a liar, and the father thereof” (John 8:44).
The Church had great polemicists from the beginning, starting with Church Fathers who fought anti-Trinitarian, Gnostic, Manichean and Pelagian heresies. Suffice it to recall Saints Irenaeus, Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine. Later, Saint Robert Bellarmine, a member of the once glorious Society of Jesus, refuted Protestant errors so thoroughly that a Chair of Controversies at the Gregorian University was created for him. He was one of the Church’s most famous polemicists.
Denying the Principle of Non-Contradiction
Even graver, in trying to justify his claim that “polarization is not Catholic,” Pope Francis denies the fundamental principle of non-contradiction, according to which one cannot affirm and deny the same thing at the same time and under the same aspect. This intuitive principle is at the core of human thought, and its negation leads to complete relativism. Nevertheless, Pope Francis insisted on this point, leaving no room for doubt as to his thinking:
“Polarization is not Catholic. A Catholic cannot think either-or (aut-aut) and reduce everything to polarization. The essence of what is Catholic is both-and (et-et). The Catholic unites the good and the not-so-good. . . . The more harmony there is between the differences and the opposites the more Catholic it is. The more polarization there is, the more one loses the Catholic spirit and falls into a sectarian spirit. This [saying] is not mine, but I repeat it: what is Catholic is not either-or, but is both-and, combining differences. And this is how we understand the Catholic way of dealing with sin, which is not puritanical: saints and sinners, both together.”7
Irrational Relativism, Vortexes of Nihilism
As Italian Father Enrico Finotti aptly observed in a highly timely article published last year, “In the process of seeking and determining the truth, one must resort to the either-or. In fact, there is only one truth, and it is opposed to error. It is not possible to compose together truth and falsehood, good and evil, God and the devil.” He adds that denying the principle of non-contradiction “would imply the denial of rationality itself and would lead to the terrible confusion of irrational relativism, where all security would collapse, and we would be overwhelmed by the vortexes of the ephemeral nihilist.”8
Pope Francis is consistent with his denial of the principle of non-contradiction. In the same reply to Father Sawyer, he states, “If we see how the Holy Spirit acts; it first causes disorder: Think of the morning of Pentecost, and the confusion and mess (lío) it created there, and then it brings about harmony. The Holy Spirit in the church does not reduce everything to just one value; rather, it harmonizes opposing differences.”9
To claim that the Holy Spirit “first causes disorder” when He acts is blasphemy. The Third Person of the Holy Trinity could not operate from disorder, for, being supreme Wisdom, God is supreme Order as well. Pope Francis gives Pentecost—considered the Church’s public birth—as an example of the “disorder” through which the Holy Spirit supposedly acts! On that occasion, gathered in the Cenacle, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit as Our Lord had promised, were confirmed in grace, and went forth full of zeal to preach “the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).
The “spirit of truth” (John 14:17) cannot act through disorder, which is opposite God’s order, the things or acts arranged according to divine wisdom and ultimately aimed at His glory. Just as truth does not proceed from error, order cannot proceed from disorder.
However, based on absurdity, one can say anything, as did Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor-in-chief of Civiltà Cattolica, who believes that, in theology, 2+2 can equal 5!10
Jesus: “I Have Overcome the World”
This interview in which Pope Francis confuses sociology with Marxism and denies the principle of non-contradiction further aggravates the terrible crisis the papacy and the Church are going through.
Our Lord has permitted this crisis as a punishment for our sins, given the shameless immorality in today’s world, where Satan is receiving public worship in some places.
However, we must not be discouraged.
Amid the terrible storm shaking the Church of Christ, we must remain faithful to her doctrine and confident in the words of the Divine Savior: “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Good Counsel, will help us to remain faithful to the perennial Magisterium of the Church.
Photo Credit: © Yakov Fedorov – WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
1. The Editors, “Exclusive: Pope Francis Denounces Polarization, Talks Women’s Ordination, the U.S. Bishops and More,” America, Nov. 28, 2022, https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/11/28/pope-francis-interview-america-244225?.
2. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.”
3. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.” (Our emphasis.)
4. “Casaroli Elogia Governo Cubano,” O Estado de S. Paulo, Apr. 7, 1974, pp. 1, 14, https://acervo.estadao.com.br/pagina/#!/19740407-30377-nac-0001-999-01-not.
5. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.”
6. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.”
7. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.” (Our emphasis.)
8. Enrico Finotti, “Et et or aut aut?” O Clarim, Dec. 8, 2021, https://www.oclarim.com.mo/en/2021/12/08/et-et-or-aut-aut/.
9. The Editors, “Pope Francis Denounces Polarization.”
10. Tweet by the director of Civiltà Cattolica: “Theology is not #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in #Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with #God and real #life of #people…—Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro), Jan. 5, 2017.