Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Disappointment of Soul

October 30th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Several times I have approached the keyboard to write of disappointment.  I have no authority to write anything of specific judgment or condemnation, but only of hope and disappointment and more hope, so I’ll try to color within those lines.

screenshot350I remember February 2013, and the shock and disappointment I experienced when His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, announced his retirement. I wanted to wail “Nooooooo!” And I wondered “Why is he retiring?” Why had Pope Benedict chosen a different path than (now Saint) Pope John Paul II? Was it because he’d seen from the inside how difficult it can be with a leader of the Church wounded through illness? Was it because Pope Benedict is culturally private and reserved and perhaps personally not as apt to live out final days in the public view? Was it because of the wolves, the ones from whom he’d asked us to pray that he would not flee? Or one of a thousand other reasons?

A leader of almost any entity steps down when his health and energy no longer enable him to keep up the pace of office.  But perhaps it is different for popes, as Pope John Paul II was obviously not persuaded by such argument. Moreover, Christ did not come down from the Cross. Pope Benedict’s writings show that he was not in any way impaired in thought or expression by advancing age, and it was through his writings that we know more of his mind, heart and soul than we do of many others who have sat in the Chair of Peter.  His deposit of teaching is awesome, and recent events warn me to collect the rest of his writings I have not read yet, while they are available. It also came to mind that perhaps Pope Benedict saw the onslaught about to come, and believed his most crucial role would be in extended prayer for the Church. So Pope Benedict had a deep clarity in which to make his decision, and that was reassuring. Disappointing, but reassuring.

Is there a Biblical Element to the Papal Change?

Even an abundant field was left fallow for one year out of seven, to regain its strength.  Sometimes doing less can be the most fruitful protection of all.  From the installation of (now Blessed) Pope Paul VI in 1963, to Pope Benedict’s abdication in 2013, fifty years elapsed.  Biblically, the 50 year cycle is important to mark the Jubilee, leaving the land fallow after seven 7-year cycles, but what can it mean in the context of today’s Church?  We can ask, but the answer may not yet be clear.

Leviticus 25: 10-13: “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you; in it you shall neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat what it yields out of the field. In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.” 

Reflecting on the Drama of Change: Memories

ScreenShot242There are a few developments which stand out in the interim, between Pope Benedict’s resignation and Pope Francis’ election. Obviously, the situation was unique in that there was no funeral of course, with that special time to contemplate the life and death of a Holy Father.

I remember the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica being struck with lightning the evening Pope Benedict announced his abdication. (See: )

One of the events leading up to the conclave was a kind of lottery on line: “Adopt a Cardinal” for whom to pray during the conclave.  Seemingly, it was simply a matter of chance which cardinal one received for prayer.  Mine was Cardinal Danneels of Belgium.  Much later he bragged in some news releases that he was a member of what he called “mafia”, manipulating the conclave, which is completely forbidden.  That is certainly not what I prayed for!  Danneels’ seemed to claim for himself and a small group of other “mafiosi” manipulation of the retirement of Pope Benedict and/or election of Pope Francis.  See:

Also vivid in my memory is the daily conclave and the cameras focused on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, waiting for white smoke.  I didn’t know what to make of the dove? pigeon? seagull? sitting on the chimney flue.  Was it not letting smoke out, or presiding over it?

Finally there was the announcement: “Habemus Papam” [we have a pope] and Cardinal Bergoglio appeared saying “Buona Sera”.  But what I was most struck by, and remembered, were his next words translated as:  “You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the Earth to get him … but here we are.” See  the transcript here:

screenshot347The first words of the new Pope Francis would not have been remarkable at all except for Christ’s own words, His last words to the Apostles, in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” One might expect from Christ’s words that before the end of time, there shall have been witnesses to the end of the earth.  Where is the end of the earth? Pope Francis himself would seem to say Argentina. How much more proof of witness to Christianity can there be in a place than to actually have a Pope elected from there?

End Times?

And, so, the questions of end-times understandably arise. What do we expect of the end-times?  I would like to write separately on many of the signs we presently see, but won’t burden this writing with those details.  I will only say there is nothing, in my opinion, wrong with keeping the eschatological reality in mind, because although Christ said only the Father knows, nevertheless the Lord gave His Apostles specific signs to watch for (Mark, Chapter 13, e.g.)

Rather, let us simply bring to bear the same question which Jesus asked His disciples in Luke 18:8: “… when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  What strange words!  Jesus is sending His disciples forth to convert the world, yet He wonders aloud whether or not there is a kind of failure at the end? Or a natural ending when the ‘full number’ has entered the Kingdom? He warns them (and us) in John 15:18: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”  If indeed the “end(s) of the earth” have been reached, as witnessed by both Pope Francis’ election and his words, then what is the state of “faith on earth”? Would Jesus have asked those words if the whole world had been converted and was spiritually thriving? Or is the tapering off part of the end times, accompanied by a falling away among the faithful? Is a decrease in faith another sign of the end times? We remember the promise to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:25:  “But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching*, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay upon you any other burden; only hold fast what you have, until I come.”  [*Read the preceding few verses in Revelation to understand more of what “this teaching” is and ask whether or not that has already entered the world.]

Issues in Pope Francis’ Papacy

I remember in those early months of Pope Francis’ papacy, looking for works he’d written, trying to learn more about his thoughts, inspirations, exhortations.  Unfortunately, I found little in English, and had to “wait and see.” A few months later, there were words spoken by Pope Francis on the plane returning from World Youth Day in Brazil: “Who am I to judge?” he said, when asked about matters relating to homosexual relationships. Those words raced like wildfire around the world to make the Pope seem as if he were going to relax some long held same-sex Church Teaching. Blame was placed on the media for not understanding, and for blowing words out of proportion. His words are among the most devastating because of the deliberate confusion between “judge,” meaning discern, as we are called to do, vs. “judge” as deciding on the state of another person’s soul. And those words pave the way for the laity to think they need to “back off” defense of the Faith, which is most unfortunate. But, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, we are reminded: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!  Unfortunately, Pope Francis did not clarify his words spoken on the plane. I was very disappointed. It seemed a lost opportunity to reflect what the Church really teaches.

Cardinal Burke: Faithful Son of the Church

Cardinal Burke 2It was Cardinal Burke who stuck his neck out to “explain” what the Pope meant, on several occasions.  His explanations were good, solid, faithful to centuries of Church Teaching, and personally supportive of the Successor of Peter.  Perhaps the Pope did not want that kind of support. In the end, it was Cardinal Burke who was removed by the Pope, first in late 2013 as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which is responsible for recommending new prelates around the world to the pope, and a year later as head of the powerful Apostolic Signatura, unfortunately clearing the way for more local control of annulments, a kind of  “decentralization” which seemed to some prelates as striking at the heart of the Oneness mark of the Church. In what was perceived by media and Vatican-watchers as a demotion of Cardinal Burke, it was fascinating and ironic that Cardinal Burke’s new position, rather than being a powerless figurehead, actually gave him the opportunity to operate anywhere in the world as the Patron of the Order of Malta, and on a wide variety of matters.  See:  While I was disappointed in Cardinal Burke’s removal, nevertheless the work of the Holy Spirit seemed present in his new work being undertaken, and which is still growing and evolving.

Emergence of Cardinal Kasper – the Pope’s “Theologian”

Removal of Cardinal Burke was perhaps the first open shot across the bow of the more traditional wing of the Catholic Church. Instead of healing rifts, they widened and deepened. And during this period my disappointment also widened and deepened, although I clung to the hope that there was some rationale which would suddenly emerge, and delightfully surprise us.  Instead, Cardinal Walter Kasper emerged.  As a prelude to the screenshot349 Synod, in February 2014, the German Cardinal Kasper, whom I would characterize as a dissident to traditional Church Teaching on marriage / divorce / no annulment / remarriage was spotlighted by Pope Francis and given a stage to advocate the Cardinal’s own views, views I find difficult not to call ‘heretical.’  At the very least, the views are scandalous to at least some Catholics in the pew, and I believe divisive in the Church.  Rather than Pope Francis’ disciplining someone with such aberrant views, in advance of the Synod, he seemed very supportive of them. Again, the hope for clarification and action against those attacking church doctrine disappointed.  I felt as if I were watching the Synod unfold as the Arian debates all over again, but without Truth prevailing.

Then came the Synod in Fall 2014, just before Cardinal Burke was removed from the Apostolic Signatura. Cardinal Burke and a number of his colleagues rushed to press with a book speaking strongly for the Church’s traditional position on marriage (entitled: “Remaining in the Truth of Christ”).  The emergency response of publishing this book did not disappoint; it was a proactive defense of Christ Himself and well done. In time, I believe it will stand as a voice of righteousness, no matter what else happens, as a proof that at least part of the hierarchy did not collapse in cowardice , ashamed of Christ and His Teaching.

ScreenShot238It was reported that the distribution of the book to the Synod attendees didn’t happen because of a ‘mixup’ in the Vatican Post Office.  The traditional position expressed in that book was effectively suppressed while the “Kasper” position was advanced.  The English summary of the Fall 2014 Synod was inconsistent in several positions in the Italian, which eliminated three points voted down by attendees, but which nevertheless found their way into the English summary, causing quite a bit of consternation. The “voting down” still had a significant percentage of adherents to Cardinal Kasper’s positions, and I had hoped that the open opposition to Church Teaching would actually result in the Pope’s finally phasing out the disloyal and unfaithful. Rather, it seemed to be the opposite, even leading to elevation to Cardinal of some who dissented from one or more Church Teachings. By the second session in Spring 2015, Cardinal Kasper’s push to admit divorced Catholics (whose marriages were not annulled) to approach the Eucharist was stronger than ever. It was very disappointing that time and dialogue had only strengthened the upstart interpretation which denied Christ’s very clear words in Luke 16:18:

“Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

The Church has always taught that those in a state of adultery must not approach the Eucharist. As a matter of fact, the desire to receive the Eucharist has brought many souls back to their faith, an impetus lost when sinners without reconciliation partake of Christ’s Body and Blood and add more sins to their souls. What would drive anyone to push for such sacrilege? Well, there is a significant tax remuneration to churches which is at stake in Germany, rather than the mercy Cardinal Kasper alleges; i.e. “The root of all evil!” Now THAT is disappointing! It is especially disappointing to me that the flock has been so endangered.

The Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which is the Pope’s summary of both Synod meetings, is said not to have changed Church Teaching, “only” Pastoral Care, but some very credible Cardinals and bishops have written that we can’t have one without the other.  Rather than confronting the matter head on, the interpretation in Amoris Laetitia  is ambiguous, hinging even on an obscure footnote. Splits are emerging in the Church, with Argentina, Granada, Germany and others permitting what in the heritage of thought and teaching would be sacrilege. Even in Italy, it is said that the Diocese of Rome admits to communion those who will not be admitted in the Diocese of Florence. One can try to argue, with the passion that Cardinal Burke showed in loyally defending the Pope in 2013 and 2014, that teaching hasn’t changed, but that ignores the damage being done.  It is difficult to sort out all the details, and surely more will change or be corrected, but the uncertainty layered onto the faith is severely damaging. And some even see the “Year of Mercy,” at least in part, as having been orchestrated as preparation for ignoring violations of Church Teaching. What is devolving in the church, and for me personally, is Trust. I wish I found some of the accusations more difficult to believe, but an obvious track record is building.

Who or What is Next?

Why write now, since these positions have been evolving for a few years, and rapidly when one considers historically how careful and deliberate most changes have been in the Catholic Church, like Pope Paul VI’s careful consideration of the contraception question.

It is because of the news reported on October 29, 2016 regarding Cardinal Robert Sarah, whose work as a Faithful Son of the Church has been elsewhere reported on this blogsite.  A 5-part series begins here on his very impressive book “God or Nothing”: and of the Cardinal’s newest book:

But I also cannot miss the parallel actions to the way Cardinal Burke was handled by Pope Francis.  First he was removed from a lesser responsibility, then from the greater. It is a typical business strategy, I can say from my own observations.  First one is demeaned, reduced in power as a warning to others. Then, unless the target is cowed, bigger actions are taken. What did Cardinal Sarah do to become a target?

God or Nothing coverHe wrote a book “God or Nothing” which attained rapid popularity. I read it cover to cover and there is nothing which denigrates the Pope, but there is unrestrained love for Holy Mother Church and her teaching, a deep and intense faithfulness and gratitude. There is clarity, not ambiguity. Reading Cardinal Sarah, I sense how essential his work and his faithfulness are, and how much they are needed.  If he is being suppressed, it will be a great loss to the Church. But I can also see how others might be jealous of his work. I find this kind of attack to be petty and beneath the dignity of the magisterium; hence, it is especially disappointing.

Further, in an address in England, Cardinal Sarah called for more use of the Ad Orientem Mass, even by Advent this year. His had mentioned it had been suggested and supported by Pope Francis, who denied the same when the news broke. Cardinal Sarah backed off his justification as having been encouraged by the Pope, but we don’t know if it was a “miscommunication” or if he was misled into the call for more Ad Orientem Masses. So I think we are now seeing a follow-up to the public embarrassment of calling for something he believed the Pope had wanted. Was he “set up” or not? I find it interesting that Pope Emeritus Benedict has just put out a call for Ad Orientem Mass Celebration: 

With a whole assembly in the Cardinal Sarah’s Congregation being replaced by Pope Francis, including such solid Cardinals as Burke (yes, one more removal), Oulette, Scola, Pell, Bagnasco and Ranjith, it seems a purge goes on. What is not clear is if there is yet another shoe to drop, i.e. the departure of Cardinal Sarah, which would be an incredible loss.

There is one more strong conservative/traditionalist in the Vatican, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Mueller. He has been staunch in his defense of the Faith, and is a remaining target for those re-forming the Church.  And so the words keep recurring to me: “… when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  Will He even find a faithful magisterium?

Yes, I am disappointed in the nearly 3 ½ years of Pope Francis’ reign. If indeed these are the end times and not just a personality fluke, a mismatch in cultures and natures, then the concern must be for souls, those corrupted by being encouraged to commit sacrilege against clearly two millennia of teaching on the Eucharist, and those who are faithful but being scared away.  May individual responsibility be mitigated in Judgement by what is caused by powers beyond the individual’s control, by voices which don’t sound like the Good Shepherd.

The Foreboding Outreach to Lutherans

screenshot348The looming celebration of Martin Luther and of the Protestant Rebellion (sanitized by some to be called Protestant Reformation) would seem to be against everything the Church has stood for over the 500 years of separation, “rubbing our noses in the stench of schism and heresy”.  From the apparent push for inter-communion with Lutherans (who do NOT believe as we do regarding the Eucharist) to the denigrating words about Faithful Catholics which have been endured the past few years (including criticizing mothers of larger Catholic families, accusations of Pharasaic obedience to God’s Law, and even the push of unproven programs like climate control), the words of Christ’s call in His High Priestly Prayer for unity seem to be ignored:

John 17:20-23:  “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. The glory which thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One, I in them and Thou in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me and hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me.”

How can we “celebrate” 500 years of rupture, and the persistent lack of unity? It seems it would be against Truth to “make-believe” the last 500 years didn’t happen. Unfortunately, there seems to be more alignment with the secular world, embracing sustainability, bathing St. Peter’s Basilica in a lightshow for the environment (like was held at the White House after “same-sex marriage” passed the Supreme Court), lack of clarity to voters on intrinsic evils and the true obligations of Catholics to oppose those who promote the culture of death, especially abortion and euthanasia — all being very disappointing.

screenshot346In the bible, there is a significant and somewhat mysterious term of “three and a half years.” We even find reference, for example, in the New Testament (Luke 4:25 and James 5:17) to Elijah’s shutting up the heavens for three and a half years.  On October 13th  — the 3 ½ year anniversary of Pope Francis’ installation (April 13, 2013), which also is the anniversary of Our Lady’s last Fatima appearance, another disappointing event occurred. Pope Francis welcomed a delegation of German Lutherans and Catholics to the Vatican, with a statue of Martin Luther on display. That action probably says all that needs to be said on the prominence of the heretic over faithful Catholicism, yet there is even more in the link, questioning if there is even room for evangelization, let alone “new evangelization.” Christ’s call to teach and baptize all nations seems to be overlooked!

Check out the link to learn why trying to convert someone is a “sin against ecumenism”.  Fortunately, I am not worried about sins against ecumenism, only sins against God!  However, this also implies that what looms is a free-for-all on the Eucharist without even the veiled intention to have Lutherans becoming Catholics, like the Anglican Ordinariate has done so respectfully.

In Conclusion

What has not been done in some ways speaks even louder than what has been done, only briefly sketched above. Although I have written much, it is only a superficial review of what has deepened my disappointment and concern. Admittedly it is selfish. I want to be deeply moved and inspired by the man who sits on the Chair of Peter, not defensive or wary, not apologizing, but clarifying and hoping for faithfulness, loyalty and courage in the magisterium, caring above all for souls. I hope to see the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit guarding His Church against error. Yet, I do know that God is working even now in this unlikely scenario in which the Catacombs are looking more and more attractive.

I used to wonder how, in the Last Judgment, God would work it all out regarding who is wheat and who is weed, who is sheep and who is goat? It seemed that the more I thought about it, the more impossible it seemed, although of course all things are possible to God. But I wondered: how would it be decided who was just a little too close to goat? Who was close enough to wheat to make it at least into Purgatory? But what has become apparent over the last few years is that it isn’t so much the Last Judgment using an arbitrary line drawn by the Judge, as it is a “self-sorting” of people to embrace sin, or not.  Rushing to embrace sin, to be more accurate! And with the “legalization” of so many sins by government, and possibly at least threatening in some practices within the Church, it seems likely to be ever more difficult to “hold fast” as the people of Thyatira were told to do.

Examining the Fruit

I have shared certain things which most struck me, but what matters explicitly is the fruit of this papacy.  Three and one-half years later it is not unreasonable to look for the fruit.  Hopefully, discussion and reply will lead to comments on what various individuals see as the fruit that it has yielded, and to provide more perspective than I am able.


5 Responses to “Disappointment of Soul”

  1. snowshoes says:

    Excellent post, Diane, thank you. The 900 pound gorilla in the room is not the Lutherans, but the Moslems. I found it strange that our Holy Father would say that we’re in a third World War, but not give direction for fighting it, other than to pray.
    We all know that the attack on 9/11 2001 was the cue to all Moslems that the siege of Vienna was back on. Vienna, then the political and economic center of Christendom, is now New York City. And the march to St. Peter’s is back on. St. Peter’s is still in Rome. When will our Holy Father call for a new worldwide Crusade? Our poor Catholic brethren in Africa are being decimated by the Moslems, parish by parish. It has been going on for more than 30 years. Do you not think your parish is on that same list? It is. The date of your beheading is set. The Catholics in the Near East and Mid East are victims of genocide. The Popes through the centuries have called us to arms to defend our brethren. Sheep and goats indeed. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us and defend us in battle.

  2. raymondfrice says:

    “When will our Holy Father call for a new worldwide Crusade?”


  3. snowshoes says:

    To do what Emperor Heraclius should have done. St. Francis, pray for us.

  4. raymondfrice says:


    how am I to know what he failed to do if it was not done???

  5. raymondfrice says:

    Snowshoes!! I am still waiting for a reply!!

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-