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NEWS: November 9, 2020
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Bird’s Eye View of the News
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Atila Sinke Guimarães
THE FORM OF FRATELLI TUTTI - After reading Francis last Encyclical I decided to analyze it from two points of view, its form and its content. Today’s article is dedicated to its form; other articles shall follow to study its attacks against Western Capitalism, more specifically against private property and indirectly against the Church Militant. These, I believe, are the three major targets Pope Francis had in mind when he wrote Fratelli tutti.

Papacy

The Papacy seemed to live in a transcendent sphere hovering over History

About 56 years ago, I dedicated my life to fight for the defense of the Catholic Church and Christendom. In the last 49 years this fight has been principally through writings. These studies suppose, of course, a lot of reading of papal documents. For me this task was not a sacrifice since I am an enthusiast of the style of the papal encyclicals. Until Pius XI the style was so grave, solemn and majestic that it invited the reader to enter that sublime sphere where the Sovereign Pontiffs seemed to hover throughout History.

I would say that the style of the papal documents was one of the characteristics of the authenticity of the Papacy and a proof of its veracity.

A change in the style of papal documents

Here is not the right place for a minute comparison, but I would say that the magnificence of that style reached its apex under Pius IX and Leo XIII. To read one of their documents for me was tantamount to seeing those Popes pass by carried in their Sede Gestatoria, wearing their Tiara and surrounded by Flabelli.

I believe that such magnificence can still be noted in the documents of Pius XI, as I said.

Pope Pius XII

Although weak, Pius XII still maintained the appearances of a great Papacy

A change happened in the documents of Pius XII. As with almost everything during the pontificate of Pius XII, there was a loss of density. Most of his documents continued to be orthodox – Thanks be to God! – but his concern to appear and be present on every front of the modern world and give an orientation made the Papacy look less solemn than before. As the multi-century maxim says, assueta vilescum, what becomes customary becomes banal.

But the egg-skin of the grandiose style of times past was still there.

John XXIII and Paul VI, two indisputable partisans of Progressivism, took advantage of their roles as Popes to advance Socialism under the disguise of Catholic doctrine. Mater et Magistra (1961) and Populorum Progressio (1967) did more to achieve this goal in six years than what the Revolution had accomplished in the previous 600 years. Clearly, the style of their documents suffered, although a certain class was still present.

Under John Paul II the papal documents entered into the phase of mass production. The written production of John Paul II was so extensive and disproportional to the preceding papal teaching that very few people in the world could follow what he signed. That hemorrhage of literature made many persons doubt whether JPII actually wrote those documents or even read what he signed. It is not necessary to stress that the solemn papal style plunged downhill. Besides, in order “to democratize” the Church, he abolished the beautiful majestic plural “We” and introduced the common “I” in the papal written and spoken language.

John Paul II

With JPII the man stopped reflecting the Papacy; the Papacy started to reflect the man

I believe that the assassination of the magnificent style in the papal documents should be credited to Pope John Paul II.

Thenceforth, Catholics ceased to hear that transcendent and glorious voice coming from the Vatican that echoed all the papal teachings in History. Instead they heard the voice of a lone man, Karol Wojtyla, the ex-Archbishop of Krakow.

The Italian press started to call the Conciliar Popes by their personal names – Pope Roncalli, Pope Montini, Pope Wojtyla etc, and soon this habit was adopted as well by the Catholic press, e.g., L’Avvenire and L’Osservatore Romano. I believe that unconsciously they acted correctly: we no longer see the grandeur of the Papacy represented by them, but rather their personal characteristics, qualities and defects.

The same continued to be true for the next Popes. In Benedict XVI we heard the old German professor, not the mythical Pope; in Francis I we hear the not-so-learned ex-Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

I consider that it is my duty to read the papal documents. Regarding Pope Bergloglio’s literary production I fulfill this duty with aversion. Since I appreciate good literature, reading the works of Francis is a sacrifice for me. I hope God will count this effort to shorten my time in Purgatory, if I will be fortunate enough to get there.

The style of Fratelli tutti

Unfortunately, the style of Fratelli tutti is not an exception to this rule.

First, the document is unnecessarily long. The exposition is heavy and repetitive. If Pope Francis is sloppy in his biased thoughts, he should at least have the care to tidy them a bit when he teaches one billion Catholics.

Second, it was not unusual for the pre-conciliar Popes to quote themselves. But when they did so, the repetition was a prudent insistence upon a needed teaching, indispensable for Catholics. Those repetitions were careful to not give the impression of a lack of humility.

JPII changed this rule. He habitually quoted his previous documents. With him humility abandoned the See of Peter and self-centeredness took its place.

Now then, in Fratelli tutti Pope Francis broke all the previous records of megalomania: In a document of 287 paragraphs he quoted himself 168 times, if I counted correctly; this translates approximately into an average of quoting himself twice every three paragraphs. I believe that this figure reveals more than megalomania; we are observing a phenomenon of critical Narcissism.

Pope Francis

A resentful & vengeful Bergoglio pays close attention to anyone who speaks against him

Third, Pope Bergoglio has acquired the fame of being a despotic and vengeful authority. His constant position of chastising traditionalist or conservative religious orders is an example of this despotism. The violent punishments of Card. Burke and Card. Pell after they issued public criticisms to his papal innovations are pungent samples of his habitual vengeance. Also his arbitrary interference in the Order of Malta and the discarding of its Grand Master earned him the title of The Dictator Pope, which is in fact the name of a book written by a member of the Order.

Having justly acquired the fame of being a despotic Pope, it is particularly abhorrent to see him vociferously attacking in others the same defects we daily discern in his conduct. Indeed, in his new Encyclical when he criticizes those who take rigid positions in the social media, he affirms that they “discredit and insult their adversaries from the outset by attributing humiliating epithets to them instead of engaging in an open and respectful dialogue that seeks a deeper agreement.”

He continues, “Discussion is often manipulated by powerful special interests that seek to turn public opinion unfairly in their favor.” (§ 201, Italian edition by L’Osservatore Romano, October 4, 2020)

Now, I ask, when Francis labels Traditionalists with many disdainful epithets, does he not practice the same vices he so bitterly criticizes in others? When he refused to answer the Dubia of the four Cardinals, was he not avoiding “an open and respectful dialogue”?

How should we qualify a man who practices the exact same despotic behavior he condemns in others? Hypocrite is the word that comes to mind.

Fourth, as shown above, besides being despotic Pope Francis is also resentful and unforgiving. But this same man believes that he can teach the world about charity, love and forgiveness (cf. §§ 183-187, 194-195, 246-254). Again, it is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that he is a hypocrite.

These are some observations that occurred to me with regard to the form of Fratelli tutti. I hope to return soon to study more specifically its content.

Continued