What Can We Expect of New Pope Francis?
By Dr. Eladio Jose Armesto
Treasurer, Una Voce Miami
Habemus Papam! We have a Pope! On Tuesday, March 13th, the Church’s College of Cardinals elected Pope, Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. What can the universal Church expect of its new Pope? What kind of shepherd was he to the Catholic faithful of Buenos Aires?
In Saint Matthew’s gospel, 7:15-20, Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us how to discern the good from the bad: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”
So then, what are the fruits of Cardinal Bergoglio’s work in Argentina? As cardinal, Pope Francis took doctrinally correct positions on so-called “homosexual” marriage, the crime of abortion, and the protection of abandoned and orphaned children from falling into the hands of homosexuals via adoption. For this we are truly grateful.
Sadly, however, under his watch, Catholic Mass attendance plummeted, while Catholic desertions to other religions and sects skyrocketed. Priestly and religious vocations took a nose dive, while demoralization of the clergy proliferated. Evangelization of argentine society was practically nonexistent, while public immorality raged unabated. The Social Kingship of Christ was ignored; while liberal Democracy was extolled as the highest political good. The centuries-old Traditional Latin Mass, a liturgical treasure of the Church, was suppressed; while public liturgical acts were invariably reduced to profane, irreverent song and dance fests.
Cardinal Bergoglio cultivated an image of a humble, simple churchman that rode the bus, cooked his own food, and lived in a modest apartment with another priest. Yet he had no qualms to openly impose his authority to undermine the courageous work of Catholics seeking to restore the rights of Christ the King or to scuttle the labor of love of Catholics faithful to the Traditional Latin Mass and sacramental rites. Can humility be reconciled with contempt and indifference towards the rights of Christ and Tradition? How?
Thus, it is only fair and just to ask: has Cardinal Bergoglio’s strident humility been more the humiliation of the Church, than of himself? In other words, has his apparent humility brought about the exaltation of the Church at the expense of his public image, or has it brought about the exaltation of his public image at the expense of the Church? The answer, undoubtedly, is troubling, disconcerting, scary, even.
And while it is only natural that Catholics give our new Pope the benefit of the doubt; that we give him a chance to prove himself worthy of the Chair of Saint Peter, the truth is that Cardinal Bergoglio's track record leaves much to be desired. He leaves Argentina in shambles morally, spiritually, and religiously. Yes, it is always proper to hope and pray for the best, but let us also not forget that it is always prudent to prepare for the worst.
Yet, regardless of the direction Pope Francis takes the Church, our souls are not his to do with as he pleases. Ultimately, on Judgment Day we must all answer to God for our thoughts and deeds. In godly anticipation of that transcendent moment, let us join Saint Peter Canisius in affirming: “More than the Lord Pope, we wish to please the Pope’s Lord.”
Ever mindful of the need for prayer and vigilance in the days ahead, we humbly ask God help Pope Francis protect and guide the Church!
*** Dr. Eladio Jose Armesto is Treasurer of Una Voce Miami, the Miami chapter of Una Voce America, the worldwide Catholic organization promoting love for the Traditional Latin Mass, traditional sacramental rights, and Gregorian chant; Past Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Council 5110, Miami, Florida, Publisher of El Nuevo PATRIA newspaper, and Treasurer of the US Hispanic Publishers Federation. He can be reached at 786/286-8787 or email@example.com.