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The Strategy of Small Steps

Pope and Frog

We could call it, as some have called, the strategy of small steps: it is the one with which newchurch is replacing, little by little, one piece at a time, one word or one gesture at a time, the true Catholic Church, a word which must be written in capital letters, because it is the Church of the Saints, founded by Jesus Christ and firmly rooted on earth, but extending into the next world, assisted by the Angels and Archangels and by the Virgin Mary, passing through the holy souls in Purgatory and into Paradise, up to the throne of God.

Small steps, but daily, methodical, relentless: and a small step a day means an enormous change over a period of four and a half years. What Pope Francis wanted, what he had announced from the beginning: to change the Church. They were not words in the wind: he wanted to do it, and he did it, he did it, together with the newclergy animated by the same intentions and goals: there’s monsignors Paglia, Galantino, Lorefice, Perego, D'Ercole, Cipolla, Castellucci, and then various religious like Sosa Abascal, or the various theologians like Andrea Grillo. So, a small step a day, from that 11 February 2013 on, when Benedict XVI, surprisingly, announced his intention to hand in his "resignation", which then became effective on February 28 (but he is still alive, well and in relatively good health, so there are now two popes at the same time: a situation that is nothing short of anomalous) until today, a change which appears enormous, radical and perhaps irreversible: this is no longer the Church of just five years ago. Some also call it the strategy of the "boiling frog": raising the flame little by little, almost insensibly, the frog does not notice that he is being boiled alive, and by the time he does notice it will be too late for him to save himself. To others it brings to mind the so-called "Overton window", that is the (scientific) art of radically changing the opinions of the people, without them being aware at all of having been cleverly and thoroughly manipulated, to the point of feeling and thinking the exact opposite of what they felt and thought only a short time before.

The pope, we’ll say it again, is a teacher and master in this strategy; and he did it, and he is doing it, in such a methodical way, with such perseverance, with such - you would say - thoroughness, while at the same time giving the (wrong) impression of an extreme spontaneity, and almost of a continuous improvisation, which things people like so much, that they have become an object of study by scholars of communication sciences, a model that is unlikely to be outdated in the near future.

When, for example, speaking of the mystery of the holy Eucharist - because we’re talking about a mystery, indeed, about a Mystery: the sacred mystery par excellence – he doesn’t use the word transubstantiation, as any good Catholic should, let alone a more or less refined theologian, even a mere parish priest or country chaplain, but instead he used the word theophany; behind this appearance of a certain originality and perhaps an imprecise use of language, he is pursuing, as always, this strategy of small steps: he is turning up by one degree at a time the temperature of the water in which the frog is immersed.

And when he blurted out, with perfect nonchalance, a very serious and unheard-of statement, that on the question of predestination Luther was right, and he does that on board an airplane that takes him home from one of his pastoral journeys, in an unofficial setting, in a very "familiar" and "relaxed" atmosphere, such as that created in such circumstances, in the absence of an audience and an institutionalized context, he does so with deliberate and calculated malice: he cannot not know that he uttered a heresy, and he does so with such a smile, with such a "spontaneity", with such a charge of "human sympathy" (that’s a question of opinion), that even heresy passes by in the background, indeed, it is not even perceived as such. No one reacts, no one is scandalized, no one corrects him, or demands a clarification: everyone is silent, and those who keep silent agree. Nothing about it in the press or on television; the only thing that is "noticed" is the human thought of this pope speaking so off the cuff, so informal, that he immediately gets along so well with journalists. And so, the water temperature is raised by another degree, and a little bit more: the frog is now rosy, he begins to steam, but it seems that he doesn’t yet realize the true fate that awaits it.

The same strategy is that of Galantino & Soci. Every day they raise the bar, but only a little; sometimes they aim a little higher, then they see what happens: it's a test. Since nothing happens, they get ready to shoot even higher next time. Galantino, for example, says that the so-called Lutheran reform was a work of the Holy Spirit: up to six or seven years ago, pandemonium would have broken out, and, to begin with, the Pope would have corrected him. But now nobody corrects him, everyone is silent, and silence means consent. Or Paglia, he says that we should all take his late friend Marco Pannella as a model of spiritual life: nobody says anything, nobody points out that taking this model is equivalent to throwing all the Catholic faith into the trash, starting with the Gospel; and we could go on like this. Sosa Abascal says that the devil does not exist: no one intervenes, no one corrects him, and so everything is fine, you can proceed calmly: and raise the temperature of the water in the pot another degree. Then Cipolla says that he would gladly remove Christian symbols in order not to jeopardize friendship with the Muslims: deadly silence; forward, march. Then Perego says that the future of Italians is the mixed-race: no one protests, no one corrects him: therefore, all is ok. Then D'Ercoli writes that, in order to preach the Gospel, we must first create conditions of social justice; deafening silence: go-ahead. Then Castellucci orders theologian Antonio Livi to cancel a conference, which he had to hold in his diocese, on the topic of rampant relativism: no one protests, no one demands an explanation; moreover, he has already given the explanation, the bergoglio bishop made of steel: we must avoid whatever creates "divisions". But divisions, where? Within the Church, or outside Her, towards those who hate the Church and the values of which She is the bearer? We don’t known; anyway, nobody talks, so it's all right. And so on, always the same.

Every day it’s like this; every day that God gives the earth. “Gutta cavat lapidem”, the Romans used to say, even a drop of water can carve a stone, if it falls incessantly. And not only the priests, but also laymen, lend themselves to this work of systematic destruction and substitution, piece by piece, of Catholic doctrine: Professor Melloni, for example, heir of the school of Bologna and of the Dossettian tradition, who also happens to be the author of "his" translation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and whom no one dreams of asking with what authority he has done such a thing. As if the fact that anyone translates the basic texts of the Catholic religion and puts them in circulation in the Catholic Church was the most natural thing to do in the world, just as it is in the Protestant circles. "But the Pope", says some volunteer fireman, "is often misunderstood". Really? So how come, when some eminent cardinals, and some distinguished theologians, explicitly ask for clarification on an important document of Catholic faith and morality, such as Amoris Laetitia, he simply and flatly refuses to answer. And if Cardinal Sarah tries to interpret a document like Magnum Principium, in order to save what can be saved of the sacred liturgy, the pope hastens to intervene, in a loud and clear voice, to correct and contradict him, and does so with a quick and surprising decisiveness? Evidently, the pope is silent when the ambiguity of his words makes him comfortable, but intervenes, and with extreme firmness to the point of brutality, when he sees the risk that this ambiguity offers room of dissent with respect to the change he wanted.

And when, for example, his great friend Eugenio Scalfari says, and even writes and diffuses in the press, that he has come to the opinion, through his different conversations with the pontiff, that the latter does not believe in the Judgment or in Hell, contrary to what the Magisterium teaches with all Catholic doctrine, it is certain that, had the pope decided to intervene to rectify this impression, and to profess his adherence to the true teaching of Christ, he would have already done so. But if he hasn’t done so, there can be only one reason: that there is nothing to rectify. Moreover, in his own way, the Pope himself has said that there will be no divine judgment, nor eternal damnation for unrepentant sinners: he made it clear during the general audience of 23 August 2017, saying that God will call all men to live with him under a huge tent, which means that no one will be judged, let alone punished.

But this is not Catholic doctrine; it's something else, something completely different. In fact, there's no surprises here: if, for him, God is not Catholic, as he said in a most explicit way, then we certainly should not expect that God behaves as Catholic doctrine teaches us. This is why doctrine annoys him so much: not because it is something rigid and therefore a divisive "ideology" (Santa Marta's homily of 19 May 2017), but because that is what it should be: Catholic doctrine. He does not like doctrines and he does not like Catholicism; at least, he does not like Catholicism as it is presented and interpreted by the Church today. He wants to change it, and he's doing it with all the means he has at his disposal: and those are really many, first of all his immense (and easy, too easy, not to say demagogic) popularity. He has become a media star, they are all crazy about him: all of them. There have even been magazines printed which are completely dedicated to him, to his person, and that almost idolize him as if, in the esteem and affection of the faithful, he comes first and only after that Our Lord God.

Strangely, however, in their time, in Palestine two thousand years ago, people were not all of them crazy about Jesus Christ. Some loved him, admired him and listened to him; many, however, detested him, hated him and wanted to see him dead. In the end, the latter prevailed. It does not look like the crowds, indistinctly, were seduced by charm; many were disappointed, saying: “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” (John, 6, 60). The reason? Because Jesus did not tell people only what was pleasing to their ears; he also told them uncomfortable and painful truths; and made it clear that you can not serve two masters, God and the world. And, in that specific case, he had said: “I receive not glory from men.  But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you.  I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.  How can you believe, who receive glory one from another: and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek?” (John, 5, 41-44); and then he announced his imminent Sacrifice and spoke of the mystery of the holy Eucharist: to eat his Body and to drink his Blood. After this, the evangelist notes, many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. (John, 6, 66). But what about Pope Francis, and his so-called street cardinals and bishops, when they never speak a "harsh" language, that is to say frank and salutary? When do they ever warn against the fatal consequences of sin? When they do speak of the Cross, and say that Christianity without the Cross is nothing, they say that it is only one doctrine among the many, a set of moral precepts, and not the only true source of eternal Life, which gushes crystalline and inexhaustibly from the rock of divine revelation?

There is only one detail we must mention here, which seems, however, not to interest the pope in the least: if he wants to change the Church, well, he has no right to do so. It is not part of his job. It is not for this reason that a pope is elected to the throne of St. Peter, but to guard the deposit of the faith and to watch over the perfect orthodoxy of doctrine and liturgy. It is for this reason, and not for anything else, that a vicar of Christ is needed on earth: a vicar is one who represents someone else, and this someone else is Jesus Christ, the only undisputed head of the Catholic Church. The Pope has no power to change or modify doctrine, not even a little bit. He doesn't have the slightest right to act as if the Church were his own property, even if he were trustworthy, and as if his powers included the faculty to change Her according to what he wanted himself, that is to say - because this is the usual refrain we got to know by heart - according to what he or others believe to be the "true" spirit of the Second Vatican Council. That’s just too easy, to always talk about the "spirit" of Vatican II: everyone can put in this vague and ambiguous expression all that he likes. The fact is that the modernists and the progressives need a pretext, they need a formal screen, a prop, to implement their plan of radical transformation of the Church and of doctrine, according to their own particular goals; and even the Council, from this point of view, is nothing more than a tool to be used, if and to what extent it turns out to be usable. So much so that, referring not to the precise documents of the Council, but to an unspecified "spirit of renewal", we can justify anything and the opposite of anything. But for the Christian, only one text is authentic: the Gospel of Jesus...