Over his ten-year pontificate, Pope Francis has scandalized the Catholic faithful through actions and words contrary to Catholic doctrine and morals. Here are some examples:
- He has welcomed warmly and supported unreservedly people living in public sin, such as homosexual and “transgender” “couples,” and appointed ecclesiastics who support them to high positions in the Church.1
- He participated in the idolatrous worship of the Pachamama “goddess” in the Vatican Gardens. He denied the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ through his atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari.2
- He proposed a “Synodal Church” that will be an inverted pyramid instead of the hierarchical Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.3 This new Church will be governed by its base—the people—and not by the hierarchy.
- In a recent Disney video, he entertained young men and women. One young woman enthusiastically defended abortion and gave him a scarf with the inscription “Abortion: free, safe, and without cost.” He smiled and kissed her on the cheek. On the same occasion, he listened unashamedly to another young woman, scandalously dressed, explain how she made her living from pornography. As she finished, he gave only a weak criticism of pornography. In his whole talk with the young people, who insisted on defending sinful acts, situations and behavior such as pornography, abortion and masturbation, he (while disagreeing) used only non-religious arguments. He never mentioned sin, an offense against God, nor one’s eternal destiny—heaven or hell.4
Continuing this trend, on June 23, 2023, he invited “200 artists, filmmakers and writers to the Sistine Chapel to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Museum’s contemporary art collection,” the Associated Press reports. “Francis acknowledged that some in the crowd—there was Andres Serrano, of “P*** Christ” fame—sometimes use confrontation to make people think. But he said their aim was to find harmony and beauty.”5
Andres Serrano is a photographer known for his immoral and blasphemous works. Paul Monaco writes, “The P[***] Christ [is] a creative inspiration of Andres Serrano. It is a photograph of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a bottle of yellow liquid that the artist described as his own urine. By titling the work as he did, it may be assumed that part of the artist’s intention was to affront the sensibilities of believing Christians who have faith that Jesus is divine. A substantial number of Christians, no doubt, regarded Serrano’s work as a silly and infantile display unworthy of their further concern.”6
There could be no greater blasphemy against Our Lord than this disgusting “work of art.” However, photos of the June 23 Vatican event show a smiling Pope Francis warmly greeting the author of this unspeakable blasphemy and giving him a thumbs up.7
Given the notoriety this blasphemy gave Serrano, one cannot admit that the Vatican staff in charge of this event did not know who he was and, therefore, that inviting him to a ceremony in the Sistine Chapel was tantamount to giving prestige to a blasphemer.
Is honoring a blasphemer not participating in blasphemy?8
Pope Francis’s praise for the artists present, including Serrano, was not mere courtesy, which would be grave enough. He likened them to Old Testament prophets: “Like the biblical prophets, you confront things that at times are uncomfortable; you criticize today’s false myths and new idols, its empty talk, the ploys of consumerism, the schemes of power.”9
Is Serrano’s blasphemy against the Redeemer the destruction of the “idol,” Our Lord Jesus Christ?
It is painful to say it, but is that not what Pope Francis’s words suggest?
God Punishes Sinful Humanity by Allowing Bad Popes
God allows the election of bad popes to punish sinful humanity. That happened in various epochs of Church history, such as the tenth century, which Church historian Cardinal Baronius called the saeculum obscurum (Age of Darkness) because of a succession of bad Roman pontiffs.10 Most of the Renaissance popes were also bad.11
God Tests Us to See Our Love
God allows a bad shepherd, who leads the sheep astray, as a punishment for our sins and a trial to see who remains faithful to the Almighty.
In the Old Testament, Moses explained to the Jews the reason for this trial when speaking of the false prophets who propose seditiously: “Let us go and follow strange gods, which thou knowest not, and let us serve them.” Moses urged the Chosen People not to listen to them: “Thou shalt not hear the words of that prophet or dreamer. For the Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or not. Follow the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and hear His voice: Him you shall serve, and to Him you shall cleave” (Deut. 13:2–4).
Christ Remains With His Church Amid the Storm
However difficult it may be to remain faithful to the Church, we must remember that Our Lord promised to be with her always, even to the end of time (see Matt. 28:20).
In today’s trial, we must show our love for the Church by refusing to follow false prophets. We must remember that trust is hope strengthened by faith. Let us remain faithful to the faith of our fathers, to the truths handed down to us from Scripture and Tradition through the Magisterium. Let us resist “strong in faith” (1 Pet. 5:9).
Our confidence is all the more certain because, at Fatima, Our Lady promised, “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
However, one cannot fail to be indignant at the support shown to this infamous blasphemer and ask our adorable Savior to forgive this vile action. For, as the Psalmist says, “You that love the Lord, hate evil” (Ps. 96:10).
1. See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “Ten Years of Pope Francis: ‘A Disaster, a Catastrophe,’” TFP.org, Apr. 19, 2023, https://www.tfp.org/ten-years-of-francis-a-disaster-a-catastrophe/.
2. See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “A Confidant Says Pope Francis Denies Jesus’s Divinity: Where Is His Indignant Refutation?” TFP.org, Oct. 22, 2019, https://www.tfp.org/a-confidant-says-pope-francis-denies-jesuss-divinity-where-is-his-indignant-refutation/.
3. See Solimeo, “Ten Years.”
4. See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “‘Amen. The Pope Answers.’ The Disney Documentary Exemplifies the ‘Synodal Church,’” TFP.org, May 11, 2023, https://www.tfp.org/amen-the-pope-answers-the-disney-documentary-exemplifies-the-synodal-church/.
5. Nicole Winfield, “Pope Francis Invites Artists to the Sistine Chapel as the Vatican Seeks a New Cultural Dialogue,” APNews.com, Jun. 23, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/vatican-pope-artists-culture-andres-serrano-eab9e07c2a7def7ad16d578e096aa20a. (Our emphasis.)
6. Paul Monaco, Understanding Society, Culture, and Television (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2000), 100, accessed Jul. 2, 2023, https://archive.org/details/understandingsoc0000mona/page/99/mode/1up. (Our emphasis.)
7. Michael Haynes, “Pope Francis Warmly Greets Infamous ‘Artist’ Who Created Image of Crucifix in Urine,” Lifesitenews.com, Jun. 26, 2023, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-warmly-greets-infamous-artist-who-created-image-of-crucifix-in-urine/.
8. Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1868, https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6D.HTM.) (Our emphasis.)
9. Pope Francis, “Address to Artists for the 50th Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Modern Art,” Vatican.va, Jun. 23, 2023, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2023/june/documents/20230623-artisti.html.
10. See Wikipedia contributors, “Saeculum obscurum,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed Jul. 2, 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Saeculum_obscurum&oldid=1153001144.
11. See Ludwig von Pastor, The History of the Popes: From the Close of the Middle Ages (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co. Ltd., 1908–1928).