Catholics Everywhere Beg Pope Francis: Please, Learn Some History
Three years ago, when Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio stepped out onto the balcony at Basilica San Pietro in Vatican City, and we Catholics heard the name he had chosen for his time as Bishop of Rome – Francis – and he led the crowd in the three prayers we learn before anything else, the concepts of rebuilding the Church and getting back to basics zipped through everyone’s heads. After all, that was St. Francis of Assisi’s mission, and this man took that name. In one way, all the exhortations to the Faithful to be passionate about more in living Christianity than just the pro-life cause is a good thing. So is being open minded and open hearted. Feeding the poor is basically institutionalized for us, as is ministering to others no matter their background, and being welcoming.
On the other hand, being ignorant of history to the point of inviting one’s enemies in to destroy everything that has been built…THAT is the height of stupidity, and that is what even those of us who do not condemn Pope Francis for speaking in riddles when plain talk would much better serve the flock are seeing happen. Wanting the world to be more accepting of those who are not like us…well, we really, really wish the man would look to those who have come before us for guidance in what to say about, say, Islam, and what is turning out to be yet another muslim invasion whether he wants to admit it or not. (As is the reality that the Moors, or the first wave of invaders, were driven out of Spain, according to legend, with St. James the Greater, an actual Apostle, who had been martyred 800 years earlier, leading the charge. For people who aren’t Catholic that might seem fantastic, but it is listed as a miracle.)
Francis wants to see the good in others so badly, that he cannot fathom the evil until it presents itself. With Islam, that is a mistake, and a quick perusal of what the people of the Church who had to deal with the first invasion(s), as well as a survey of the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, the only of the two thought school founding theologians to live AFTER Islam came into being, reveal that hardly anyone of consequence before now has had such a rosey opinion of people who follow the philosophies of a pedophilistic warlord who claimed to be a prophet and gained followers without any miracles, but by the sword and promising “carnal pleasure” in the great beyond. (That’s Aquinas for you. Always pointing out the obvious.)
Take for example this quote from an 8th century monk and scholar:
“There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist…. From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration.”
-St. John Damascene (d. 749), Syrian Arab Catholic monk and scholar. Quoted from his book On Heresies under the section On the Heresy of the Ishmaelites (in The Fathers of the Church. Vol. 37. Translated by the Catholic University of America. CUA Press. 1958. Pages 153-160.)
St. John of Damascus was actually martyred for his faith. He is one of the Church Fathers that we share with the Eastern Orthodox, and is considered in the west to be a Doctor of the Church.
Umm, Your Holiness, Pope Francis, not only does this saint outrank you, but he lived during the rise of Muhammad’s power. It would be a good idea to take his words into account. In addition, your namesake, St. Francis of Assisi sought to convert Islamists in the 13th century, not placate them. You might remember that.
Which makes it most curious that our current pope, a Jesuit who is supposed to be over educated since they usually are, references Pope St. Gregory the Great (Bishop of Rome 590-604) as his example in how to deal with barbarians.
Interestingly, Francis makes reference to how Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) handled matters with some barbarians “who were subsequently integrated.” It should be pointed out that while Gregory was hardly coercive toward the barbarians, his goal and purpose was to have the barbarians become Christian. Is that the goal for the Church in France and Europe? Dare Christians seek the conversion of Muslims and other non-Christians? Or would that be considered triumphalist and colonialist in nature?
Gregory was dealing with the Lombards of what is today northern Italy. They were rough and pagans, but this was before Muhammad was born, and conversion was not a matter of life and death. It was a completely different kettle of fish.
This is where the non-Catholic world needs to understand that unless a prelate is speaking via an official document (an interview doesn’t count) off the cuff comments are just that. In addtion, if the people who are outside looking in condemn a pope for his words, those of us who believe in the Bride of Christ – The Church Herself – cringe. We’re the ones who have to explain the difference without the benefit of being able to reference a whole lot of Catholic teaching.
As it happens, Francis being from South America and not really having experienced anything other than oppressive regimes, and what is essentially honest to goodness colonialism, is much like priests and nuns who went into the seminaries and convents without having lived on the outside first. (Unrealistic expectations, and a skewed view of reality.) He sees the trees, not the forest, or the fire burning through dry brush that has not been watered or fed for quite a long time in a Europe that no longer is passionate about faith. It’s the pope’s job to help clear out the brush, the fuel that will burn as weakness and self-centeredness leaves the continent without a backbone in fighting that which has vowed to destroy it. It’s not too late as yet, but the Crosier needs to be picked up soon, or it will be.
If there is any failure to be reported at this point, it is the reality that no one is saying pushing back Islam during the period of the Crusades was successful due to the renewed piety of the people in the Middle Ages and the reality that the wars invoked God in three persons. There’s a reason why the knights and all flags at the time all wore an obvious cross (and today most of the surviving flags still bear those crosses), or symbol of faith, many in red the color of the passion of martyrs. Pushing back Islam was done in the name of God. It might behoove Pope Francis to remember that.