"Pope Francis doesn't want cultural warriors; he doesn't want ideologues," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash.:
"The nuncio said the Holy Father wants bishops with pastoral sensitivity, shepherds who know the smell of the sheep."
Bishop Cupich was conveying instructions the papal nuncio had delivered from Rome to guide U.S. bishops in choosing a new leader.
They chose Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who has a master's degree in social work, to succeed Archbishop Timothy Dolan whom Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times describes thus:
"[A] garrulous evangelist comfortable in front of a camera, [who] led the bishops in their high-profile confrontation with the Obama administration over a provision in the health care mandate that requires most employers to have insurance that covers contraceptives for employees."
That mandate also requires employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.
Yet here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.
There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.
What would that entail? Can we not already see?
In America, the family has disintegrated. Forty percent of working-class white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic children, and 73 percent of black children. Kids from broken homes are many times more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, join gangs, commit crimes, end up in prison, lose their souls, and produce yet another generation of lost souls.
Goodstein quotes the Holy Father as listing among the "most serious of the evils" today "youth unemployment." And he calls upon Catholics not to be "obsessed" with abortion or same-sex marriage.
But is teenage unemployment really a graver moral evil than the slaughter of 3,500 unborn every day in a land we used to call "God's Country"?
Papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno have much to teach about social justice in an industrial society.
But what is the special expertise of the church in coping with teenage unemployment? Has the Curia done good scholarly work on the economic impact of the minimum wage?
The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its "long march" through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed. It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle.
Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith.
Our civilization is being de-Christianized. Popular culture is a running sewer. Promiscuity and pornography are pandemic. In Europe, the churches empty out as the mosques fill up. In America, Bible reading and prayer are outlawed in schools, as Christian displays are purged from public squares. Officially, Christmas and Easter do not exist.
The pope, says Goodstein, refers to proselytizing as "solemn nonsense." But to proselytize is to convert nonbelievers.
And when Christ admonished his apostles, "Go forth and teach all nations," and ten of his twelve were martyred doing so, were they not engaged in the Church's true commission -- to bring souls to Christ.
Pope Francis comes out of the Jesuits.
Hence, one wonders: Did those legendary Jesuits like St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs make a mistake proselytizing and baptizing, when they could have been working on youth unemployment among the Mohawks?
An Italian atheist quotes the pope as saying, "Everyone has his own idea of good and evil," and everyone should "follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them."
Does this not reflect the moral relativism of Prince Hamlet when he said to Rosencrantz, "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?" Yet, is it not the church's mission to differentiate good and evil and condemn the latter?
"Who am I to judge," Pope Francis says of homosexuals.
Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional.
"[S]ince he became pope," writes Goodstein, Francis' "approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding."
Especially the atheists, one imagines.
While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for "skyrocketing" poll numbers.
If memory serves, the Lord said, "Feed my sheep," not "get the smell of the sheep." And he did not mean soup kitchens, but more importantly the spiritual food essential for eternal life.
But then those were different Jesuits. And that was long ago.