‘Monday Vatican’ analysis of the state of the pontificate

In the wake of last week’s cover of the Rolling Stone, Andrea Gagliarducci in his Monday Vatican offering does some analysis of the status quaestionis, the present state, of the pontificate of Pope Francis, especially in view of the MSM.

Read the whole thing, which is well reasoned.   Here are some tidbits:

Is Pope Francis really a “pop Pope”?


After four years, however, things might have changed. The Italian Rolling Stone cover is perhaps why some say that Pope Francis’s honeymoon with the media is coming to an end, or at least that his image is undergoing decline. But at the very least, the cover shows the secular world’s determination not to see what really happens around Pope Francis.


Likewise, the several commissions established during this pontificate came about out of sentiment. Joking (but not too much), Pope Francis once said that when someone does not want to accomplish something, he establishes a commission.  [Right.  Like the deaconette commission.]

Commissions and external consultants represent a risk: that they use their position to collect information and later destroy the Vatican system from within.

But the biggest risk that lies behind the appointment of commissions comes from a certain mentality. The risk is that people will eventually think that “new is good, old is bad,” without making any judgment between the harvesting of fruits and the ability to produce them. This is the risk of this pontificate, and the media helps to emphasize the “new is good” issue.  [That’s an important point.]

It is noteworthy that media pervasiveness and the continual flow of news prevent a lucid and detached analysis. Reading back the articles published at the beginning of the pontificate, it becomes evident that the words most used are “revolution”, “Pope Francis’s style” and “new Church”. These formulas are used by the media to generate readership, but also to give the readers the notion of a Church that is going to change completely. The Church, however, does not change suddenly, and Pope Francis is always a priest with a traditional deposit of faith – no matter how he eventually denies it.

So, there probably was an agenda at work behind Pope Francis’s back, but the fact is that this effect was also a media invention to sell more newspapers and to attract readership. That is part of how the market works.


This is his way of doing things. And it is typically Jesuit: no possibility is excluded a priori, everything must be discussed, reasoned, in a never-ending dialogue with the world that the Pope wants to develop within the Church.

Even within the Church, Pope Francis shows his traditional roots, yet they are filled with the notion of pueblo, and this Latin American populism has some hidden Marxist categories in it. The Pope is traditional when he speaks about “Holy Mother Hierarchical Church.” He is also traditional when he centralizes powers: Pope Francis listens to everyone, and then makes his decision, sometimes without regard to any particular suggestion he had been given. This behavior underscores the fact that Pope Francis is often alone in command. Simply put, people wait for clarity, with the understanding that a different opinion can be argued by opponents.  [Yes, Gagliarducci mentions the Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals™.]

This entire situation must be carefully addressed, because any claim of normality in Pope Francis’s pontificate is strongly targeted. The Pope is the Pope: he places trust in the people he wants, he has his personal spoils system, and he also has an inner circle of counsellors that counts more than the Curia. That is normal. But the narrative wants the Pope to be collegial, open to the world, synodal. Above all, the narrative wants the Pope to be “pop”, and any time this image is debated, the reaction is harsh. In his biography of Pope Francis, Paul Vallely recalls that after the years of his provincialate in Argentina, Bergoglio left a Society of Jesus divided in “pro Bergoglio” and “anti Bergoglio” camps. The same is happening in the Church.

[NB] How much Pope Francis is intentionally creating this division is yet to be assessed. Looking attentively at his moves, it seems that he does not opt simply for the right or the left. The final goal seems to be a sort of revenge of the South and of the pueblo, that is, the people in the positive sense in which Pope Francis interprets the term. This revenge is attested by an increased representation of the globe in the College of Cardinals, by his meetings with popular movements, by his insistence on the profile of priests with the smell of sheep.  [Pope Francis seems to ascribe to a special brand of “liberation theology” that stems from the pueblo and popular devotions, etc.]


There is quite a bit more. Read the whole thing there. These are just a few samples intended to hook you.

Andrea’s Monday offerings can be longish, but, as he states in this week’s piece: media pervasiveness and the continual flow of news prevent a lucid and detached analysis.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. scotus says:

    Here is an interesting article on the “achievements” of Pope Francis. It’s quite revealing of the mind and aims of “progressive” Catholics.

  2. Bruce says:

    The only revealing thing I got out of the article you linked to is that there are alot of poorly catechised Catholics.

  3. Absit invidia says:

    It is apparent to me that modernists see the pontificate as a political appointment where the guy in charge can sign executive orders changing church teaching on this and that and taking the organization down a new line of thinking.

  4. Curley says:

    I don’t see how he favors the South or disenfranchised when he does the bidding of the German bishops

  5. donato2 says:

    People who say the secular press has a distorted view of Pope Francis have things backwards. Unlike many Catholics who were slow to see, or to admit, Pope Francis’s ideological orientation, the secular press immediately recognized Pope Francis as one of their own — a “progressive.” The secular liberal press is not wrong to lionize Pope Francis. He is doing their work within the Church.

  6. Uxixu says:

    Eh, the idea of the “revenge” of the pueblo is contrasted by the selection of Abp. Cupich over Abp. Gomez for the Cardinals hat, even if one discounts most obvious difference of the white guy versus the immigrant born in Mexico, it’s a shrinking Catholic population versus a growing the largest archdiocese in the United States…

  7. DeGaulle says:

    How to reconcile ‘pueblo’ with Pope Francis’ recent reported condemnation of populism?

  8. marcelus says:

    ” Pope Francis once said that when someone does not want to accomplish something, he establishes a commission. ”

    it was Juan Peron, not PF

  9. Benedict Joseph says:

    As always Mr. Gagliarducci produced an informative piece. His insights are always stimulating. He has a way of leaving you with a hot button insight. Today it was his use of the word “revenge.” This attitude, disposition, a modus operandi has been persistent in a certain element in the Church – now for more than fifty-years. While somewhat startling to see it employed so forthrightly in connection with the current pontificate – it was not surprising because it is accurate. This background noise of the past decades does appear to be at peak pitch for four years today.
    Mr. Gagliarducci’s is yet another Catholic site is not taking comments, although he does have a comment box. I am left bewildered as to why. I know we need be the height of discretion given our ecclesial context, but it does seem a bit odd. Is it too symptomatic of the state of things?

  10. Mojoron says:

    My sister, a fallen away catholic, ex-nun, often tells me how much she loved JPII and disliked BXVI, has again informed me she loves Pope Francis. Sometimes I wonder what criteria she uses to make her decisions? Is it possibly due to pop culture? I never ask her why, it’s too painful to even talk about it with here.

  11. un-ionized says:

    Mojoron, maybe it is due to how personable they are perceived to be. That’s what I would guess.

  12. dallenl says:

    It would appear that when this pontificate is evaluated by future historians, it will be charitably described as “confusing and erratic” and then consigned, as several pontificates in centuries past, to a place of somewhat irrelevancy.

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