Everything You Want is on the Other Side of Fear

I read Father Dwight Longnecker’s fine post, Bergoglio’s List, and it sort of pushed me over the edge I’ve been standing on for a while. Be forewarned: There’s a rant coming.

Pope Francis is like Blessed John Paul II in that he has lived through times when the devil was ascendant and incarnate in his country. He has, in the same way that Blessed John Paul II did in World War II and then under Communism, witnessed and lived through times of great evil. Like Blessed John Paul, he responded to these terrors with Christian courage, fealty and love.

As the article Father Dwight quotes says,

In his Argentina, between 1976 and 1983, Jorge Mario Bergoglio lived through the ‘years of lead’ of the military dictatorship. Kidnappings, torture, massacres, 30,000 disappeared, 500 mothers killed after giving birth in prison to children who were taken away from them.

… In front of three judges, Bergoglio was hammered for three hours and forty-five minutes with insidious questions, above all by the attorney Luis Zamora, the lawyer for the victims. A key passage of the questioning comes when Bergoglio is asked to justify his meetings with the generals Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, in 1977.

… The “list” of Bergoglio is a collection of highly diverse personal stories, which make for exhilarating reading, whose common characteristic is that the people in them were saved by him.

… There is Alicia Oliveira, the first woman to become a judge in the criminal courts in Argentina and also the first to be dismissed after the military coup, non-Catholic and not even baptized, who went underground and was taken by Bergoglio, in the trunk of his car, to the college of San Miguel, to see her three children.

There are the three seminarians of the bishop of La Rioja, Enrique Angelelli, who was killed in 1976 by members of the military in a staged auto accident, after he had discovered who was truly responsible for numerous assassinations.

There is Alfredo Somoza, the scholar saved without his knowledge.

There are Sergio and Ana Gobulin, who worked in the slums and were married by Father Bergoglio, he arrested and she wanted, both saved and expatriated with the help of the Italian vice-consul in Argentina at the time, Enrico Calamai, another hero of the story.

I posted a pro life homily Cardinal Bergoglio gave in which he spoke of the children in his country who live in the dumps and search these dumps for their subsistence.

Our Holy Father has seen the devil looking at him through the eyes of another person. He has lived through times when the devil had absolute control of the government and military of his country. He has been forced to help people without letting his left hand know what his right hand was doing because secrecy of this degree was the only key to survival.

He has seen small children cast out to fend for themselves in dumps.

I am sick to the marrow of my bones of hearing the carping about the way he does the liturgy or how he dresses. I know that the liturgy and the way it is presented is important to some people, but I think we should all remember that the liturgy is not a show. It is prayer. The mass is an hour-long prayer (half hour on weekdays) in which the sacrifice at Calvary is brought home to us and then presented to us in the body and blood of Our Lord for our strength as we go forward in the faith.

Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, is wholly present in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

I respect the hunger of those who love the liturgy for its beauty and draw sustenance from that beauty. But some of the people I’m reading are dangerously close to making an idol of it. The point is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen again and ever present to us on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches of the world.

I think Pope Francis “gets” this. I think he also knows that the mass is prayer and that prayer comes from the heart. There is a whole world out there beyond the borders of the United States, and that world is a butcher shop. The mass, as prayer and re-enactment of the sacrifice of Our Lord, has to speak to people whose reality is far different from ours.

Who knows better what those children in the dumps need; us in our American self-absorption, or the Pope who has walked with them for decades? Who can best address the Church to the people who are suffering and dying for the faith; us, or the pope who has lived with the terror of a killer government himself?

I believe the Holy Spirit gave us this pope for these times because he is the pope we need. He is the pope for those people who are suffering and dying in this butcher shop world of ours.

I think that God gave us this pope at this time because He loves those children in the dumps, those who are unjustly imprisoned, beaten, tortured, raped and murdered. He loves them.

Our problems here in America are — every one of them — things we could solve ourselves if we’d just stop being such cowards. The reason our faith is being successfully attacked from every direction in this country is because Christians are colluding with the attackers by their silence, their tacit support in what they watch and say, and by their actions in how they live their lives.

We don’t need the pope to excoriate those who attack Christ in this country one more time. How many times do the popes have to reiterate Church teachings on the sanctity of human life, gay marriage and all the other evils our debauched society loves more than Christ? Does each pope have to say it five times? Or is it 20?

Maybe the problem isn’t that the popes haven’t told us, but that we aren’t doing our part. We don’t need more excoriation, and we don’t need more obsession over the details of the liturgy.

We need Christians who will follow Christ and stand up for Him, come what may.

The people who need the Holy Father’s active help are those who can’t do for themselves: The ones who are at the mercy of the evils of this butcher shop world.

Here in America, our problem is our own lack of faith in God, which makes us cowards. Christians all over the world are suffering and dying for Jesus. We need to get on our knees and pray for faith like that. It is the answer to all our problems.

The Story of the Armenian Genocide
I Need a Doctor Who Will Listen to Me
When It Comes to Caring for Your Parent with Dementia, You are Alone.
The Murderers Got Away With It.
  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/ D. A. Christianson

    Very important message, very well stated. Thank you.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ JessicaHof

    This is so good Rebecca – all the critics should read it – brilliant comments

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Jessica.

  • FW Ken

    Your post contrasting the sweet, good nuns with the rapist, batterer, abortionist, thief, [and] pederast set me to thinking, since I spent a fair amount of time with that latter group, except for abortionists. As truly inspiring as the nuns are in their work, I’ve learned so much of God from the bad people. Strange you say, but I wish you could see them struggle to do good. I see God in them because I am more like them than unlike. I am also a sinner, although I have not the slightest sexual attraction to children (by the grace of God).
    This has left me very open to the pope talking about encountering Christ in the poor. Now, the biblical poor were not just the monetarily broke, but the marginal and powerless. Criminals are very powerful in one sense, but not so much in another. In any case, God saves us through His Son Jesus.

    • FW Ken

      Reading what I wrote, I’m not sure I made my point: I really believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to the Church through this pope. As to liturgy, I’m easy, although I do like good music. But did you hear the choir at the Vigil for Peace in Syria? Most of the stuff was lovely.

  • Mary E.

    I just read Fr. Dwight’s post and the original article by Sandro Magister. Wow! What a story! I hope the book does well, because this should be made into a movie.

    • Gordis85

      I am looking forward to reading the book when it becomes available in English.

      • hamiltonr

        Me too.

  • perpper

    ” The reason our faith is being successfully attacked from every
    direction in this country is because Christians are colluding with the
    attackers by their silence, their tacit support in what they watch and
    say, and by their actions in how they live their lives.”

    Because we, collectively, are lukewarm … you know what follows …

  • Barbara

    I just came from an academic conference where one professor from Argentina was carping on Bergoglio. This was a much needed palette cleanser.

  • Fred Brown
    • hamiltonr

      What a sad person.

  • Gordis85

    “I am sick to the marrow of my bones of hearing the carping about the way he does the liturgy or how he dresses. I know that the liturgy and the way it is presented is important to some people, but I think we should all remember that the liturgy is not a show. It is prayer.”

    Well said, Rebecca. I had a good cry today after someone accused me of being a heretic for defending our Holy Father . I still cannot get used to all the vitriol and ridicule tossed at him by folks who call themselves Catholic. But it is not for me to judge them…that’s Jesus’s job. Mine is to follow him, pray for my neighbor and strive to remain faithful to that path.

    I am in the process of reading his interview and so far I have found nothing unsettling or disturbing. I want to learn from his words so I can apply them in my walk with the Lord.

    Thank you again for your strong support and love of Papa Francis and helping the rest of us along.

    • hamiltonr

      Gordis, pray for the person who said this to you — and don’t spend a lot of time with them, if that’s possible. Just pray for them. But no one has to be a punching bag for what is essentially self-righteous malice.

      • Gordis85

        Yes, I am praying for them and for myself to not take that same path. Thank you for your kind words.

        I hope you will read this great article:


        • hamiltonr

          That is an excellent article. Thank you for sharing it.

  • norcalrunner

    Thank you. It’s shocking to me that those who’ve known the mercy of God after having engaged in the most hideous of sins are quick to whine and moan and snipe over the most superficial things. It’s all about them, all the time. This pope certainly brings out the true colors among those who’ve been promoting themselves as the
    “true” Catholics.

  • Susan Windley-Daoust


  • Julia

    I needed to read this post, and I cannot wait to read this book. If I must, I will learn Italian.

  • Lozzapug

    Thank you for speaking out against what is essentially just snobbery. The pope’s critics thought of themselves as A+ teachers’ pet Catholics only to find that the entire grading system has changed. That hurts the ego, a lot. It’s very, very hard to let go of a whole identity of righteousness, and the self-invented hierarchy of spirit one assumes to have surmounted.
    I used to be disturbed by this sort of thing, and now I realise how pathetic and sad it is. Yes, this inspiring Pope is for this time – amen! All we have to do is align with him and the Church, and see what great things we can all learn and do.

  • Alvin Kimel

    Excellent post, Rebecca. Clearly Pope Francis doesn’t quite fit into some folks’ model of the kind of Pope they want; but as you so ably point out in your article, he brings to his office and ministry charisms and witness that are powerful in their own way. He too has seen the face of evil. He knows that the only truly effective response to such evil is the love of Christ. This is the note he is so powerfully sounding, despite the occasional media slip.

    Though I am not a Catholic, you may find my tongue-in-cheek response to all the hand-wringing about Pope Francis of interest: http://goo.gl/Ux2NLQ.

    • FW Ken

      Great post, Father. I completely agree with you about “evangelization” :-)

  • tteague

    Great post. I am a brand new Catholic, and naturally I’ve been doing a lot of reading and observing so that I understand better what Catholics think and do. Although I like the liturgy of the Catholic Church more than from where I’ve come, and I understand the Holy Mass is fundamentally different than a Protestant service, and I certainly would like to see more emphasis on beauty, I do find it interesting how some seem to make the whole Catholic “thing” about liturgy. Sometimes it seems that Christ comes in second. Love the liturgy, but love Christ more.

    And I also find it interesting how frequently I read posts & comments that express the “incomprehensibility” of the Pope. I find his comments rather straightforward and human. It feels like he is speaking to me and not a group of Catholic theologians. And I find his teaching orthodox and biblical, and often simply profound. It’s like he’s saying that Catholicism derives its essence from Christ, and thus we must be about the business of following Christ and being Christlike – and to be Christlike is generally far more profound and radical than we tend to believe. How is that incomprehensible? I do not want to be someone who says he knows the “church” but does not recognize Christ. Thus I appreciate the Pope for calling me to Christ.