Last week, Mark Citadel posted “An Open Letter to Pope Francis” on the Orthosphere. Some consequent commentary has been lacking in warm fuzzies. I thus commented:
Though I appreciate Mark’s points, I wasn’t going to enter into the polemical comment thread on here. I prefer to follow my general “pas d’ennemis à Droite” policy, admiring even jack-booted TFPers of the most extreme papio-fascist tendencies, who probably would like to burn people like me at the stake. Hey, they have cool uniforms, banners, and drums—and their womenfolk know their place. Yet, as with the recent sorry state of affairs in the Ukraine, I must prioritize my confession over warm well wishes toward Latin reactionaries.
With that said, like John XXIII of sorrowful memory, please let me open a window and let in some fresh air to the discussion above. ISE and others find it objectionable that Mark, an Orthodox man, criticizes the current pope (or “pope” for the sedevacantists in our midst), while our own hierarchs have a track record of voicing modernist platitudes from time to time. I think that it might be useful to compare Pope Francis to Patriarch Kirill here. Both men have leftist backgrounds. The pope sees the world through his Jesuit and South American libtheo. lenses, while Kirill grew up in the Soviet era and became the leading ecumenist bishop in the Russian Church. Both men have a long history of palling around with Communists and other leftwing dictators while criticizing capitalism and the materialist West.
The difference is, I suspect, that Francis appears to be a true believing man of the Left in most ways and acts accordingly, while Kirill, as our bishops in general, often walks the well-trodden paths of Byzantine diplomacy when dealing with secular and heathen powers but nonetheless doggedly advocates and works for the good of traditional Christians (in fact, the words of the former serve the deeds of the latter). To be more precise, Kirill cares for his sheep, while Francis saves his disdain and chastisement for the most pious members of his own flock.
Comments above mention Kirill’s happy talk about mosques. That is true—but it is also true that the Moscow Patriarchate has pushed for the rechristianization of Russia in every domain of life for the past twenty years with surprising success. The M.P. recognized that post-Soviet Russia was not yet ready to embrace the old Throne and Altar symphony of imperial Russia. So, it has gradually and opportunistically chipped away at official secularism—and it has been able to do so by couching its moves as a representative member of Russia’s historic faiths—along with rabbinical Judaism, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism. Moreover, imperial Russia once secured the loyalty of southern Mohammedans from the empire’s borders, and Putin and Kirill both understand what is practically needed to maintain the peace of those peoples and regions today. That understanding has allowed for the expansion of Russian Orthodoxy into the Dar al-Islam, just as British military and economic power did the same for Western Christian sects in the Middle East during colonial times. Different methods, similar positive results.
Concerning the population issue, Kirill and other Orthodox hierarchs have been insistent on the growth of their nations’ people. How many Western prelates voice concerns about the viability of their nations’ native population levels? They’d be embarrassed and ashamed even to think it! As far as Kirill’s calling for more Mohammedan immigration to the West, I wonder if such is just taunting—kind of like Eric Holder’s scolding white Americans for making the U.S. a nation of cowards. It’s a cruel form of mockery, but a just one—the object of the humiliation deserves to be mocked because its vice keeps it from objecting to the mockery. In addition, perhaps the Patriarch recognizes that Europe’s salvation will likely come from a forced reaction to the current age and to its values—with jihad’s being the supplied force. The Russians know a lot about “the worse, the better.”
As for the pope, personally, I really don’t know what to make of Francis. He frequently demeans his most faithful followers as well as the hallmarks of the Roman Church that he leads. Yet, any bishop who constantly reminds people of hell and of the devious power of demons—who supports the expansion of exorcism activities today—is not a complete minion of the enemy. Far from it! So, I don’t think that he is an intentional subversive leader. I am not even in the Roman camp and thus haven’t drunk any Kool-Aid, but perhaps men like Peter Kreeft are right. The current pontificate might be a brilliant Trojan Horse operation against (which is really, ultimately, for) the West’s apostates. Maybe, Francis’ role is to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks (read “lost sheep”) and ingratiate himself with their leaders by conspicuously agreeing with all their pet bigotries—while underhandedly slipping enemy propaganda (i.e. Holy Writ) into their public and private places. Indeed, could the Pope Emeritus have succeeded in getting the Gospel into HuffPo articles? Maybe the Argentinian will prove to be a devastating sleeper agent for the atheistic elite. Never underestimate the strategic wisdom of providence.
Kudos to Mark for articulating our concerns in the letter. It’s a shame that no one with a figurative megaphone will state the same—only unknown bloggers crying in the wilderness. However, wise words would likely fail to achieve their goal even if they were to arrive at the Vatican. One must have ears to hear. At any rate, you may be interested in reading a relevant older post, “Forgetting the City of Man.”