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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Vicar Of Christ Snookered By America - Pope Francis Goes Way, Way Diverse

Cardinal N'diaye, a former African archbishop recently raised to the Church's highest penultimate rank, had like most African prelates in the Church grown restive and unhappy with the Vatican's new secular drift.  There were enough homosexuals in the vestry, they said, without Francis banging on about diversity and even going so far as to bless gay marriage. 'I did NOT bless gay marriage', the Pope retorted, 'I just blessed the men involved'.  

 

Some fancy parsing and linguistic acrobatics, Cardinal N'diaye thought before his audience with Francis. Of course he was blessing the marriage, who did he think he was fooling? Before long this pope would go completely off the rails.  The rumblings of a palace coup had already been felt in the Vatican as conservative cardinals felt it was time to remove this apostate.  None too soon, thought N'diaye, none too soon. 

The title Vicar of Christ is an important one, for it indicates the direct line a Catholic pope has to St. Peter and through him to Jesus Christ himself.  The selection of a new pope is not the black smoke white smoke deliberation of a hundred old men, but the hand of God.  Francis, Ratzinger, Paul II, John Paul and all the rest were chosen by the Almighty to do his bidding on earth. 

So what was this pope doing banging around in kitchens where he didn't belong? At that errant thought, Cardinal N'diaye thought of his mother's thieboudienne and poulet Yassa eaten under the banyan tree in Thi├Ęs with his aunts and uncles and little Ivan, named after the Russian who had fallen in love with his great aunt, Fatima.  Francis should visit Africa, N'diaye considered, for there he would give up any notions of gay sex and not hesitate to cleanse parish vestries of buggery just like Hercules cleaned the Augean stables.

Jesus was gay, wrote a well-known French cleric turned Biblical historian.  Do you think that the apostles just sat around like a group of golf buddies?  And the Last Supper simply a seder? The betrayal of Judas was a matter of homosexual pique by a jealous man, not the ecclesiastical betrayal interpreted routinely by white straight men. 

 

When N'diaye heard of this, he was incensed.  Where was Francis? and why didn't he excommunicate the man? Another case of craven capitulation to the West, gay this, gay, that; and before you know it there will be a transvestite in St. Peter's.  As a matter of fact, who really was Archbishop Finnerty, that Irish arriviste pushing for Cardinality.  What was beneath his cassock, or rather what wasn't?

Burned by the press after the gay marriage thing, the Pope got on his other hobby horse, the environment, and in a discourse on Thursday had said that it was Catholics' duty to protect the environment as part of 'God's creation', as sacred as an unborn child.  Life should be sacred wherever and however it might be found. 

All well and good, but when he started in on the greedy, manipulative capitalist energy czars, he crossed the line.  The whole eye of the needle thing was not about the inherent evil of wealth, but how the acquisition of it often deflected Man's spiritual vision; but there he was banging on about ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and electric cars. 

'When will you make an end', Julius II had yelled at Michelangelo hanging from a scaffold under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, paint dripping onto his face. The pope was getting impatient with Buonarotti, hanging up there for ages when the thing should have been done long ago; and N'diaye had the same frustrated sentiment about Francis. Get it out of your bloody system, and get back to business. 

Which was what, exactly, asked a colleague of N'diaye's, a supporter of Francis's progressive causes.  'Wasn't Jesus about the very same things?'

Now, it was just this post-modern, deconstructionist parsing of the teachings of the Church that drove N'diaye up the wall.  Jesus never said a thing about the environment except that it and all that was in it, i.e. the universe, was the creation of God the Father, suffused with goodness, infested by the devil, one place, a comprehensive unity of all living things.  Some things come, some things go, and Man is but one equal part of that place.  So why all the banging on about global warming? So what? God's universe, God's marbles, God's game. 

 

Just when Cardinal N'diaye had thought that Francis had turned the corner and was headed back to Catholic originalism - a return to Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, and Aristotle - he showed up at the G7 meeting in Rome and hectored the world leaders about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, whingeing and whining about 'veracity in an age of duplicity' or some such thing in Italian-ese (the old Argentine community organizer still had not mastered the tongue of the Church).  Francis had no idea what he was talking about and pulled randomly-selected speculations from the likes of that monastic loudmouth Biggins from America who said that humanity was in for it. 

Francis had more on the ball than Biden who looked dazed and confused throughout the meeting and who couldn't keep his eyes off Giorgia Meloni, the young, attractive Italian President who presided over the meeting.  Francis at least looked like he understood bits and pieces of the colloquy. He should have spoken up when the discussion turned to abortion - the only area in which he was supremely qualified to speak - but once again, concerned about 'inclusivity', he said his rosary under the table and kept quiet. 

N'diaye knew that most Africans had no concerns about artificial intelligence and virtuality.  Their animist world was all virtual - immanent spirits, evanescent beings, unseen supernatural forces, insidious djinns and devils - so any electronically-generated world would be no different; and besides, it was just like the white man to fool around with toys rather than rut in the forest.  

The Cardinal was ashamed to even think these thoughts, but it is what it is, and unlike his father - chosen by France as an honorary Frenchman, given an internship in St. Louis, Senegal, and then invited to citizenship after the war - most of his fellow Africans were still spear-hunting on the savannah. 

When he finally had his long-awaited meeting with Francis, he spelled out his concerns, quite a litany unfortunately, but all of which needed to be said. 'Stick with the program', he told the Pope, referring to the received wisdom of the church developed by the Early Church Fathers and passed on from century to century by a succession of Vicars of Christ, and went on to air his grievances. 

'Have faith, my son', Francis said to him, taking gentle hold of the African's shoulders and looking him in the eye. 'God will provide'.  He sounded just like N'diaye's parish priest in Thies who had nothing better or more profound to say when the young man asked him doctrinal questions.  He was the Pope, for God's sake, and this was all he had to say? 

N'diaye soldiered on, gay men in the vestry, the primitive, myopic view of environment and man's place within it, the give and take on abortion, the empirically sound notions of capitalism and Francis' meanderings into socialism; but the Pope merely smiled and repeated his nostrum about God.  

The next Pope must be African! N'diaye thought.  That would put an end to all the puerile nonsense that has captured Francis' attention. 

He kissed the Pope's ring, and left his chambers, discomfited, as frustrated as ever, and looking forward to thieboudienne for dinner, not at his mother's hand, God rest her soul, but by Ibrahim, recruited especially to be his aide de camp. 


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