The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” means that multiple and complex ideas can be conveyed with a single image. Perhaps one could say that a video with audio, dialogue, and animations is worth a million words.
That would be particularly true regarding the 83’ video recently released by Disney—a giant of the entertainment industry and propagandist of the homosexual movement. In the April 5, 2023 release, Pope Francis visits amicably with ten Spanish-speaking youths.1
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Indeed, this documentary’s video and audio synthesize everything Pope Francis has said and written about his “Synodal Church.” It is titled “Amén. Francisco Responde.” [“The Pope Answers”].2 As we will see, the movie could have been titled more accurately and synodally, “Amen: Francis Listens and Agrees.”
“Above All, an Image of Synodality”
According to Pope Francis, the new “Synodal Church” is an inverted pyramid with power at the bottom, not the top. It is a Church that does not teach but listens to what the “Spirit” speaks to its grassroots.3
The new Disney video is a living example of that “Synodal Church.” The pope learns from the youngsters. After hearing young people defend abortion, pornography, bi-sexuality, and so forth, he said, “I learned a lot from you, thank you for the good you have done.”4
Fr. Máximo Jurcinovic, director of the Argentine Bishops Conference’s Communications Office, comments: “The Spirit inspired the Holy Father so that everything that was said and meant about synodality would have an image. An image that dispels doubts and shows us the way to understanding [synodality]. The Disney documentary, called ‘Amen. The Pope Answers’ is first and foremost an image of synodality.”5
In an atmosphere of camaraderie and relaxation, Pope Francis strikes up a friendly conversation with ten young men and women aged between 20 and 25, dressed vulgarly in shorts, for the most part. Two young women have bare midriffs. One has her breasts almost exposed. They sit without composure, one young woman on a table, others on the floor. They often address the pope with the Spanish form of treatment among equals, “tu.”
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The pope gave the video producers, Spaniards Jordi Évole and Màrius Sánchez, total freedom to choose the participants, so they handpicked the ten young people. When the producers showed him the finished product, Francis approved it without ordering the removal of the obscene scenes they had included.
“According to Évole and Sánchez, Pope Francis did not set any red lines when it came to filming this meeting, although he did ask, half-jokingly, that there be at least one Catholic; nor did he censor anything when shown the final montage.”6
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Participants were Spanish-speaking youths from various countries. A young Spanish woman calls herself “no binary” and appears kissing another woman. Another is a Peruvian ex-nun, who is now a lesbian non-believer. A young Colombian woman explains that she makes her living from pornography by exposing herself for Internet and social media customers. An Argentinian woman says she is Catholic, a catechist, and at the same time, “a proud pro-abortion activist.” An Ecuadorian is a former Catholic who is now Protestant. Only one young Spanish woman calls herself a full-fledged Catholic and defends Church doctrine and morals. One of the young men is Muslim emigrant from Senegal, while others call themselves non-believers or confused. Another claims he was abused7 in a Catholic school.8
“This Documentary Is Not Suitable for All Audiences.”
The subtitle comes from Kelsey Wicks’s warning in an article on the Catholic site ACI Prensa. She explains:
“Participation in the documentary by Alejandra, a young Colombian woman who says she creates pornographic content and distributes it on the Internet and social media, opens the way to detailed descriptions of masturbation and sexuality. The documentary alternates the dialogue between the young people and the pope with some images of those young people in their places of origin. These include a bed scene [of two women] (without explicit sexual acts) and [tongue] kissing between female couples.”9
As stated, Pope Francis saw and approved the video, even with such scenes of immorality.
“The Catechesis on Sex Is Still in Diapers”
The centuries-old moral doctrine of the Church ceases to have meaning in the new “Synodal Church.” A different morality is in the works, which, according to Pope Francis, “is still in diapers.”
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After hearing a description by the pornography-producing young woman and how she does it, there is a discussion about masturbation in which the Spanish Catholic woman is the only youth to take the correct position. Pope Francis concludes, “catechesis on sex is still in its diapers. I think we Christians have not always had a mature catechesis on sex.”10
Such words show contempt for the great moralists, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori, and the Magisterium, which has formulated and taught morals based on Scripture and the natural law for centuries.
“God Rejects No One; God Is Father”
During the conversation, the “no binary” woman tells the pope: “I wanted to ask you if I see a space in the Church for trans people and no binary people or the LGTB collective.”11
As he has done before, Pope Francis answers that all are children of God, who therefore never rejects them: “In general, every person is a child of God, every person. God does not reject anyone, God is Father, and I do not have the right to throw anyone out of the church; moreover, the church must always receive; it cannot close the door to anyone.”12
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The young woman insists that there are “priests who promote hatred and use the Bible to support hate speech and read them to you like gospel to say, no, I am not excluding you, the Bible says so, not me.”13
In his answer, the pope strongly criticizes these faithful priests, calling them “infiltrators”: “I get sick and tired of saying that this is not the message of Jesus. Those people are infiltrators. They are infiltrators who take advantage of the Church for their personal passions and narrowness; it is one of the corruptions of the Church. These ideologies are not true.” 14
Following Freudian psychoanalysis, Pope Francis considers such faithful priests neurotic: “In the end, all these people have an internal drama, a drama of great inner incoherence, that they live to condemn others because they do not know how to ask forgiveness for their own fault. No. In general, one of these types of condemnation is incoherent, has something inside. He then frees himself by condemning others when he would have to adapt his mind and look at his guilt.”
The Church, he continues, must accept everyone, “blind, deaf, lame, good, bad, everyone.”15
“Depart From Me, You That Work Iniquity”
The statement that all are children of God and that He, as their Father, rejects no one goes against true fatherhood, which punishes a bad child, for “[w]hoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Prov. 13:24).
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Moreover, it fails to consider the two senses by which God can be called father, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent explains: As Creator, God can be called the father of all by analogy with earthly fathers. In a more appropriate sense, though, God is the father of those who, “led by the Spirit of God,” become His adopted children by grace and heirs of God together with Christ.16
Indeed, St. Paul says, “For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have . . . received . . . [a] spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). . . . And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:14—15, 17).
Therefore, those who, despising the Commandments, do not live as adopted children of God, at the Judgment may hear from Our Lord these terrible words: “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23).
Pope Francis and Abortion: “Be Merciful”
In his whole talk with the young people, who insisted on defending sinful acts, situations, and behavior such as pornography, abortion, and masturbation, Pope Francis—while disagreeing—uses only non-religious arguments. He never mentions sin, an offense against God, nor one’s eternal destiny—heaven or hell.
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One of the young women, who calls herself a Catholic catechist and abortion activist, after ardently defending abortion, gives the pope a scarf containing the words, “Abortion: free, safe, and without cost.” Its fringe has the rainbow colors of the homosexual movement. The pope accepted the gift with a smile, kissing Milagros on the cheek.17
Pope Francis speaks against abortion only in natural terms and insists that priests should not be harsh with women who have had abortions: “I always tell priests that when a person comes to me in this situation, with a burden of conscience, because the mark that abortion leaves on a woman is hard, please do not ask too many questions and be merciful, as is Jesus, who receives everyone afterward. No matter how sinful or how much the world abandons you, the Lord never abandons you.”18
Migrants Are Slaves
This mercy that Pope Francis asks for those who seek abortion is lacking in his analysis of illegal immigration. When dealing with the topic, he failed to make the necessary distinctions between the right to emigrate and the right of established States to regulate immigration into their territories to defend the common good of their citizens and the immigrants themselves.
Responding to the immigrant from Senegal who says they are exploited, Francis comments: “behind this is a conscience of exploitation and use; I do not welcome you as a brother; I use you, no; and it is an exploitative conscience. That is to say, the ghost of slavery is ultimately behind this. No, the migrant is considered a slave. In other words, colonialism is always behind an immature migration policy.”19
* * *
There is no doubt this documentary film is “an image of synodality.” However, it also shows the “spirit” that animates the new church that Pope Francis is trying to impose.
1. See Hulu, The Pope Answers, https://www.hulu.com/movie/the-pope-answers-99bb958e-e16d-407d-8209-33155f5d7ec5 ; Felipe Herrera-Espaliat, “In Open Dialogue a Documentary on the Pope—“Amén. Francisco responde” on Disney Plus” L’Osservatore Romano, Apr. 6, 2023, https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/news/2023-04/ing-014/in-open-dialogue-a-documentary-on-the-pope.html.
2. All quotes from the video are taken from the Spanish original. English translations are mine.
3. See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “A Confused, Upside Down ‘Synodal Church,’” TFP.org, Dec. 9, 2015, https://www.tfp.org/a-confused-upside-down-synodal-church/.
4. The PopeAnswers, 1:20:35.
5. Máximo Jurcinovic, “‘Amén, Francisco responde’: el documental del papa que es un modelo de conversación,” Infobae.com, Apr. 16, 2023, https://www.infobae.com/opinion/2023/04/16/amen-francisco-responde-el-documental-del-papa-que-es-un-modelo-de-conversacion/. (Our emphasis.)
6. Fernanda Avila, “Desde aborto hasta abuso, gen Z cuestiona al Papa en documental ‘Amén, Francisco responde’” El Sol de Mexico, Apr. 19, 2023, https://www.elsoldemexico.com.mx/mundo/amen-francisco-responde-de-que-trata-el-documental-del-papa-francisco-en-star-9942993.html. (Our emphasis.)
7. According to investigations by public and ecclesiastical authorities, no such abuse occurred and the accused teacher was acquitted. See Luis Fernando, ¿Quién restablece el buen nombre del profesor del colegio del Opus en Bilbao?, https://www.infocatolica.com/blog/coradcor.php/1510120431-iquien-restablece-el-buen-nom ; Imanol Goyarrola, “Colegio Gaztelueta de Bilbao: El Vaticano cierra el caso y pide que se restablezca el buen nombre del profesor acusado de abusos,” InfoCatolica.com, Oct. 12, 2015, https://www.infocatolica.com/?t=noticia&cod=25056.
8. Vive, Documental: Amén: Francisco responde, https://revistavive.com/documental-amen-francisco-responde/; Herrera-Espaliat, “In Open Dialogue.”
9. Kelsey Wicks, “6 cosas que debes saber sobre el nuevo documental del Papa Francisco en Disney+,” ACIPrensa.com, Apr. 7, 2023, https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/6-cosas-que-debes-saber-sobre-el-nuevo-documental-del-papa-francisco-en-disney-72049. (Our emphasis.)
10. The Pope: Answers, 1:04:43-1:05:56.
11. Idem, 51:05-51:19.
12. Ibid., 51:33-52:12
13. Ibid. 52:32-52:24.
14. Ibid., 52:41-52:57
15. Ibid., 52:58:-53-57.
16. See The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1982), 20—21. See also S. Gonzalez, S.J., “De gratia,” in Sacrae theologiae summa (Madrid: B.A.C., 1950), III, c. 2, a. 3, Nos. 208—19.
17. The Pope…, 30:37-31:36; see Peter Pinedo, “6 Hot-button Issues Pope Francis and Gen Z Confront in New Disney Doc,” Catholic News Agency, Apr. 7, 2023, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254049/6-hot-button-issues-pope-francis-and-gen-z-confront-in-new-disney-doc.
18. Wicks, “6 cosas que debes saber.”
19. The Pope answers, 20:56-21-10.