Pope Francis has been the icon of liberal Catholics, non-Catholic and non-Christian secularists, atheists, agnostics, progressives, modernists, relativists, and pagans. At long last, here is a pope who is a kind of cross between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and between Nancy Pelosi and Harvey Milk, that they can support—though not enough, of course, to deign to darken the door of a Catholic parish. They like Francis so long as they believe he is remaking the Roman Catholic Church in their image, especially with the infamous statement “Who am I to judge?” The more liberal the Francis, the better.
On the other side, many orthodox Catholics and conservative non-Catholics have been frustrated. While I, too, have had my own subjective disappointments with the present Church hierarchy, Francis has at times made statements far and beyond any sincere and honest person in search for God’s truth could ever hope for. He has, for example been a critique of the self-created moral vacuum in the West—a point I argue in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up—that has facilitated the Islamization of our society. That being said, as per Paul Kengor’s article The Politically Incorrect Francis published by Crisis Magazine on March 22, 2019, the pope has made statements that would make liberals weep:
10. Gender ideology is demonic and Hitlerian.
Gender theory is all the rage at our crazy universities, but it flatly enrages Pope Francis. He is an unrelenting adversary, comparing gender theory to “the educational policies of Hitler.” And of Satan. “Gender ideology is demonic!” he thundered in the summer of 2015. It militates against “the order of creation.”
Francis has said this again and again, so much so that Italians fighting the incorporation of gender theory into their government schools have gratefully followed Francis’s lead. In the fall of 2017, he sat down for a series of 20 conversations with a prominent French journalist for a book titled Politics and Society. There again, Francis—in a shot at transgenderism—denounced gender ideology, especially as taught in public schools.
“Behind all this we find gender ideology,” Francis complained. “In books, kids learn that it’s possible to change one’s sex. Could gender, to be a woman or to be a man, be an option and not a fact of nature? This leads to … error.”
This begs a question to liberals, progressives, and silly academic departments of feminist studies and queer studies and critical theory and “intersectionality”: are you okay with Pope Francis saying this? One seething, searing statement like this against an academic-progressive sacred cow like “gender theory” would typically place the person on a permanent enemies list for liberals.
9. No homosexuals in seminaries—or among active priests.
“If there’s a doubt about homosexuality, it’s better not to have them enter the seminary,” Francis told Italian bishops last May. “If you think that the guy is homosexual, don’t put him in the seminary.” If there’s any suggestion of an inkling of homosexual inclination, said the first supposed “gay pope,” the who-am-I-to-judge pope, then keep his carcass out of seminary.
Too bad we have not seen that one at CNN or MSNBC? Elton John called for the immediate canonization of Francis in 2013. Does this slow the rush to sainthood, Elton?
In more recent reports, published in December 2018, Francis spoke equally adamantly regarding current priests. In a long interview for a book by Spanish priest Father Fernando Prado, a theology professor at the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Francis said he had a conversation with a bishop who did not think it was a problem that several priests in his diocese were “openly gay” because it was just an “expression of affection.” The pontiff emphatically disagreed, correcting him: “This is a mistake. It is not just an expression of affection.” Francis insisted: “In the consecrated life and in the priestly life, there is no place for that kind of affection.”
Francis seemed to cast those living such a double life as hypocrites—something that conservative Catholics thought he only applies to traditionalists.
“I say to the priests, gay religious men and women,” said Francis, “we must urge you to live fully celibate and, above all, to be exquisitely responsible, trying not to scandalize your communities or the holy faithful people of God by living a double life. It is better that you leave the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life.”
“For this reason,” said Francis, “the Church urges that persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into ministry or consecrated life.” He lamented: “In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church.”
Here again, Francis reiterated his call to keep homosexuals out of seminaries: “Homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates. The Church recommends that people with this ingrained tendency not be accepted into the ministry or the consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.” He said it “worries me” that these candidates “at the moment they are accepted they don’t exhibit that tendency, but later they come out.”
And so, keep them out. That is what this pope demands.
Throughout 2018, Francis seemed to grow increasingly scandalized, frustrated, and agitated with the avalanche of revelations of the abuse crisis and of priestly infidelity, culminating in a striking condemnation in his annual Christmas speech to the Roman Curia on December 21. With his hands visibly trembling as he read from a prepared text, he referred to abuses as “abominations,” vowing that the Church “will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes.” In a 40-minute address to the cardinals and members of the Roman Curia, he blasted the “scourges of abuse and infidelity.” He zeroed in on “consecrated men, ‘the Lord’s anointed,’” who today “abuse the vulnerable, taking advantage of their position.” He told them to face justice before earthly authorities and God: “To those who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.”
He invoked what I believe is the most appropriate New Testament exhortation for this priestly abomination: “Remember the words of Christ: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it is necessary that scandals come, but woe to the man by whom the scandal comes!’”
Going to the Old Testament, the Holy Father invoked King David as an example of abuses of power, of corruption, of men with “angelic faces” who “shamelessly conceal a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls.” They need to “rouse themselves from a hypocritical and perverse life.”
Here was the famous Pope of Mercy lashing out as a Pope of Justice—at Christmas time, no less. It truly does seem that Pope Francis has been taken aback upon learning just how vile the stench of sin is that has pervaded so many sick men in his Church, far more than he imagined.
As for conservatives protesting that this doesn’t seem to fit with the Pope Francis as described in the Viganò letter, the one who appears to have been a possible protector of Cardinal McCarrick, well, I agree that the larger picture with Francis is so often puzzling (more on that later). And speaking of the Viganò letter, this brings me to number 12.
8. Left-wing equals homosexual.
In one of the most overlooked passages of the first Viganò letter, the papal nuncio said that Francis told him that bishops “must not be left-wing,” adding that “when I say left-wing I mean homosexual.”
Hmm. This statement surely baffles conservative and liberal Catholics alike. It does not baffle me. If you look at a long line of Francis statements, you see that, on the whole, this man seems plainly alarmed by homosexual activity, even allowing for the early statement in his papacy about not judging “gay” people (more on that later, too).
7. Abortion is Nazi eugenics with white gloves.
Pope Francis has been absolutely solid in numerous times denouncing the “throwaway culture” of abortion and urging Catholics to say “no” to the “culture of death.” “Each life is sacred,” he has insisted. “Let’s pray together for those children who are in danger of interruption of pregnancy and for those who are nearing the end of life.” A long chronology of such remarks could be provided, but here are some that stand out:
In several statements in the summer of 2014, Pope Francis warned of a culture in which “children are thrown away” and the family disregarded. The Devil, said Francis, wants to attack the family.
In November 2014, speaking to no less than the European Parliament, the Holy Father condemned “dictatorships of relativism” (invoking his predecessor’s phrase), as well as what Francis called “ahistorical fundamentalisms, ethical systems without goodness, and intellectualism bereft of wisdom,” which, among other things, disregard and discard human life. “Whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.”
To make that statement to the European Parliament required real courage. It was a great moment. As John Allen put it, Pope Francis issued a “strong call to Europe to get both its social and its spiritual house in order.”
Later that year, in December 2014, Francis continued: “The Incarnation of the Son of God opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and woman. And this new beginning happens within a family, in Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family…. God chose to come into the world in a human family, which He himself formed.”
I could give numerous examples along these lines from 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Amoris Laetitia offered a principled rejection of not only abortion but also contraception and sterilization, while upholding the transmission of life, the sacramental nature of marriage, and the role of parents in properly educating their children, with the family being “the first school of human values, where we learn the wise use of freedom.”
And, as my primary exhibit here, recall that this past summer Francis horrified his liberal “pro-choice” admirers when he equated abortion with Nazi eugenics and those who do abortions to Nazis with “white gloves.” What Francis said was widely reported in the mainstream media: CNN, Fox News, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek. “Pope Francis spoke out strongly on abortion and ‘natural family’ Sunday,” reported one source, “telling Italy’s Family Association that he believes abortion for birth defects is akin to Nazi-style efforts to create a perfect master race.” In that same statement, he said there was “only one” true family—a family of a man and a woman.
“It pains me to say this,” said Francis. “In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today we do the same thing, but with white gloves.”
Importantly, the actual context here was a June 16, 2018, extemporaneous speech by the Holy Father to an Italian group, the delegation of the Forum of Family Associations, in which he was so moved by the preceding words of the president of his host group that he went off script and delivered a stemwinder. The full passage is worth reading for what it says about biological gender, marriage, family, reproduction, and openness to, as well as refusal of, new human life.
6. The insidious “ideological colonization of the family”—by progressives.
This distinctly Francis phrase, “ideological colonization,” is a fascinating formulation for which he does not get enough credit. It is a unique catchphrase that captures many of his most trenchant cultural warnings.
“You mentioned a great enemy of marriage today: gender theory,” said Francis on October 1, 2016, speaking in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. “Today the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage.” This war is not being fought with arms “but with ideas.” Among these, there are “certain ideologies that destroy marriage.” They do this in pursuit of destroying “matrimony,” which is “the most beautiful thing God created,” having made man and woman in his image. “So we need to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.”
That was hardly Francis’s first such formulation. In January 2015, in the Philippines, he warned of same-sex “marriage” as one of the “forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family” and “redefine the very institution of marriage.” Francis stated unequivocally that the family is being threatened by relativistic “powerful forces,” “by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life” working to “disfigure God’s plan for creation.”
5. “Matrimony … is a man and a woman” and “it’s not possible to change it.” … “Same-sex “marriage” “is not a marriage!”
Despite leftist attempts to remold the pope into some sort of same-sex-marriage advocate, he has been solid on the Church’s position on natural, traditional, and biblical marriage. Beyond what is already noted in this list, here is another example from the interviews he gave for the book Politics and Society.
“What can we think of marriage between people of the same sex?” asked Francis, who then answered his own question: “Matrimony is a historical word. Always, in humanity, and not just in the Church, it was a man and a woman. It’s not possible to change it.” He repeated for emphasis: “It’s not possible to change it. It is part of nature. That’s how it is…. Let us not play with truths.” The pope insisted: “Let us call things by their names! Matrimony is between a man and a woman. This is the precise term.”
Call a same-sex union a “civil union,” if you will, said Francis. But it is not marriage. Let us not play with truths.
He also said that “Same-sex “marriage” “is not a marriage!” This Francis statement means the same thing as him saying that matrimony is restricted to a man and a woman. Nonetheless, I’m singling it out separately to make it doubly clear to liberals, especially liberal Catholics, who are in denial about this pope.
Before an audience of 7,500 people at Pope Paul VI Hall on October 25, 2014, Francis remonstrated against same-sex “marriage,” practically shouting: “What they are proposing is not marriage, it is an association, but it is not marriage! It is necessary to say things very clearly and we must say this!”
He has said it very clearly and frequently. “The family is hit!” yelled Francis. “The family is knocked and the family is debased.… Can everything be called a family? How … much relativism there is in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage!” The Holy Father condemned the “new forms, totally destructive” of marriage.
He was equally strong the next month in his address to the “Humanum” conference, where he affirmed that “family is a family”—an “anthropological fact” that “can’t be qualified by ideological notions.”
4. “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.”
In an explicit repudiation of the adoption of children by same-sex couples, Francis stated in November 2017 that “children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.” At the Vatican’s three-day international, interfaith colloquium on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” Francis made a number of powerful observations, including this one. He insisted that children have this “right” because a mom and a dad are most hospitable to “creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.” Two “gay” dads, or lesbian moms, are not as conducive, period.
Francis continued: “This is why, in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I stressed the ‘indispensable’ contribution of marriage to society, a contribution which ‘transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.’ And this is why I am grateful to you for the emphasis that your colloquium has placed on the benefits that marriage can provide children, the spouses themselves, and society.” Indeed, in Evangelii Gaudium, he stated: “Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.”
Marriage between a man and a woman benefits children, and this, in turn, benefits society.
3. Gay marriage and gay adoption are a product of Satan.
This scathing denunciation would be higher on the list if not for the fact that the exact quote was made prior to Francis’s election as pope. Nevertheless, it clearly represents his thinking, and it ought to mortify liberals hailing him as pro-“LGBTQ.”
When he was a cardinal in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio declared same-sex “marriage” a diabolical effort of “the Father of Lies” to “destroy God’s plan … and deceive the children of God.” He was responding to an effort by Argentinian leftist lawmakers: “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” This completely novel form of marital arrangement targets “the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
What prompted these words was a 2010 bill in Argentina that proposed giving same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and adopt children. Cardinal Bergoglio saw this as reprehensible. It was nothing less than Satan at work.
2. Transgenders and nuclear weapons.
Transgenderism is now a cause célèbre among Western liberals, but it is an atrocity to Pope Francis. He sees transgenderism as a destructive violation of God’s plan and image.
“Pope Francis Compares Transgender People to Nuclear Weapons,” screamed one headline from February 2015, which reported the pope’s remarks this way:
Recently published remarks by Pope Francis comparing arguments for trans rights to nuclear weapons are the latest in a series of mixed messages the pontiff appears to be sending to LGBT rights supporters.
“Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,” Francis is quoted as saying in a book first published in Italy in January but that caught the attention of the English-language media over the last week. “Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation … With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator.”
LGBT rights supporters regard such comments as a betrayal of the pope’s statements suggesting he wants the church to reconcile with LGBT people.
Yes, I bet they do. This is not the Francis they have been told about. And yet, it is consistent with the Francis who reviles gender manipulators and ideologues. He wants to be merciful, yes, but he also wants to be truthful—a simple logical nuance that seems to confound liberals who cannot wrap their minds around such an overwhelming intellectual complexity.
Francis has doggedly denounced the transgender push to erase the image of God in man. From the opening of Scripture, in Genesis, it is proclaimed that God “made them male and female,” in “His own image,” which is twice reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Testament (Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4). “We are living a moment of annihilation of man as image of God,” Francis told Polish bishops in Krakow. And even worse, he said: “Today, in schools they are teaching this to children—to children!—that everyone can choose their gender.” “This is terrible,” said the pontiff.
“God created man and woman,” Francis repeated. “God created the world this way, this way, THIS WAY, and we are doing the opposite.”
He has decried this gender confusion many times, from off-the-cuff remarks to official Vatican letters. He addressed it in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, where he wrote the following (twice citing his own previous statements, including his encyclical letter Laudato Sí):
The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created…. Sex education should help young people to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension “to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.” (Catechesis, April 15, 2015)
1. “The Church has spoken.”
Amid all these Francis bombshells to liberal sympathizers and conservative detractors alike, this top choice might seem anticlimactic, but it really ought to be the most significant to progressives and conservatives. It is, flatly, a firm repudiation by Francis of the very essence and core of progressive thinking.
Specifically, Francis has repeatedly, since the start of his papacy, and sometimes in the context of politically and ideologically charged progressive concepts (as well as sacramental issues, like baptism), retreated to a fallback position that a true progressive would never accept. Namely, Francis regularly instructs his interlocutors that “the Church has spoken.” When he says this, he means it is a settled issue. This is his go-to position, and it is a fixed position loyal to the Magisterium. Here are notable examples from merely the first year of Francis’s papacy:
On his flight to Rio for World Youth Day on July 28, 2013, Francis said this in regard to a question about women being priests: “As far as women’s ordination is concerned, the Church has spoken and said: ‘No.’ John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That door is closed.”
On that same flight, he said likewise regarding a question on a Brazilian law that “widens the right to abortion and permits marriage between people of the same sex.” The reporter asked Francis why he hadn’t spoken on the subject. Francis again affirmed: “The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this. It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!”
A priest friend of mine in Florence told me that Pope Francis, “the true Jesuit [the orthodox] in Pope Francis comes out when he wants to.” It would be great and beneficial to the entire world if “the true Jesuit” would be a bit more constant.
N. B. The reader is alerted that while the substance of this post relies on Paul Kengor’s article The Politically Incorrect Francis—14 Shocking Statements, I modified it to ten statements.