Francis Catholic Derangement Syndrome

"Trump Derangement Syndrome" has become a common meme among Conservatives to describe the Left's hysterics regarding Donald Trump since he became President. Democrats' penchant for crying Hitler at a former New York Democrat whose record for implementing his rather moderate platform has been spotty at best lends credence to the meme.

The tech-driven identity marketing bubble we all live in goes a long way toward explaining the TDS phenomenon. Lefties are conditioned to define themselves by their opposition to Orange Man, and their algorithmically chosen social media feeds, TV shows, and breakfast cereals reinforce the programming.

Staying grounded in reality as much as possible is vital, though, and dissidents would do well to remember that we're immersed in the autonomic marketing maelstrom, too. A marked example of the algo echo chamber's effect on the Right is a phenomenon that could be called Catholic Derangement Syndrome (CDS).

CDS comes into sharp relief in the disparate reactions of right-wingers to mainstream reporting on Trump vs the MSM narrative on Pope Francis. When the press accuses the Trump Administration of keeping immigrant children in cages, the red-pilled set rightly calls fake news. But when the whole media rogues gallery from the New York Times to Google trumpets that Francis has hoisted the rainbow flag, they uncritically lap it up.

Otherwise levelheaded people, including practicing Catholics, proceed to clutch their pearls over the Pontiff's latest enormity.

Now, a lot of the Catholics I interact with online are converts--and relatively recent ones. I'm more than willing to cut them some slack since they're new to the sorts of CDS-driven panics I've seen come and go since JPII's pontificate. That's why when this latest bombshell dropped, I advised caution. We are wisely told to wait 48 hours before reacting to any reportage on Trump. Recent history shows that it's wise to apply the same rule in the Pope's case.

Lo and behold, two days after the MSM hailed Francis as an LGBTQ, champion, the whole narrative has turned out to be a psyop based on a shaky foundation of trick editing and outright deception.

VATICAN CITY — Francesco, a newly-released documentary on Pope Francis, contains comments from the pope on homosexuality and civil unions. Some of the remarks, however, are the result of editing distinct phrases from a papal interview and presenting them as a cohesive whole.

While filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told CNA and other journalists that Pope Francis made comments calling for the passage of civil union laws directly to him, the comments actually appear to come from a 2019 interview of Pope Francis conducted by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki.

The pope’s comments on civil unions, have not been disputed by the Vatican despite multiple requests for clarity. The remarks were not contained in the published version of Alazraki’s interview, and have not been seen by the public except in Francesco.

On Wednesday, however, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of the influential journal La Civiltà Cattolica, told journalists that the pope’s remarks on civil unions are excerpted from the 2019 interview, and did not dispute the way in which they were presented in the documentary.

NB: Alazraki doesn't even recall the Pope calling for civil unions when she interviewed him.

Francis 2

At the same time, a CNA analysis of the interview’s transcript shows that other papal comments on homosexuality featured in Francesco were compiled by heavy editing of the 2019 interview’s video footage.

Francesco presents Pope Francis saying the following, in remarks about his approach to pastoral care:
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
While the pope did say those words on camera, he did not say them in that order, or use those phrases in immediate proximity.
Taken as a whole and in the proper context of Francis' past statements dating back to his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires, it's an uncharitable stretch to call the Pope's stance "support for homosexual unions." He has a documented track record of staunchly defending marriage while viewing civil unions as a potential way to mitigate the greater evil of legalizing gay marriage. That's the position he took back in 2013, and it's in line with the 2003 CDF statement cosigned by John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.
If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.
Keep in mind, this is the same Pope who said: 
The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage. These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation.
And who compared the social destruction wrought by gender theory to the physical devastation of nuclear bombs.

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, the Pope's longtime close colleague, offered this insight:
[B]efore he became the pope, then Cardinal-Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance. They know each other thoroughly, they share the same roof for many years, they take care of each other, they sacrifice for each other. Then it may happen that they prefer that in an extreme case or illness they do not consult their relatives, but that person who knows their intentions in depth. And for the same reason they prefer that it be that person who inherits all their assets, etc. This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage.” 
Taking into account the facts that have since come to light, the more prudent interpretation of Francis' statements in the Francesco documentary is:
  • His position on treating homosexuals with dignity is in line with Church teaching, including the 2003 CDF guidelines.
  • His views on civil unions are the same ones he expressed back in 2013, and the out-of-context statement presented in the documentary was actually taken from a year-and-a-half-old interview.
  • Even those statements don't represent a rupture with established Church teaching in light of the fact that gay marriage is already legal, and Francis isn't necessarily calling for civil unions within the explicit context of sexual relationships.
In other words, I do not sense heresy.

What is abundantly evident is the Vatican's woeful failure to get out in front of this story. If they'd quickly issued a clarification as they did after Benedict XVI was falsely reported to have endorsed the use of condoms in 2010, we wouldn't be talking about this.

That brings up the real reason we are talking about Pope Francis--and that reason is Hunter Biden.

The Hunter Biden laptop story has turned out to be the real October surprise of this election. Revelations that the Democrat candidate's son smoked crack and may have hoarded nude pictures of minors--possibly including his own niece--are potentially more damaging than 2016's Spirit Cooking fiasco. If it turns out, as Biden the Younger's former associates are coming forward to claim, that the former Vice President was involved with his son's crooked business dealings, Joe could be looking at immediate impeachment proceedings, even if he wins.

What the MSM desperately needed was a way to bury this story--especially after Big Tech's hamfisted attempts to suppress it activated the Streisand Effect.

It's no coincidence that the Pope Francis story broke as the Hunter Biden scandal was heating up. Evgeny Afineevsky, the director of Francesco, is an ex-IDF member who's made a name for himself by turning out hawkish agitprop designed to provoke war with Syria and the Ukraine. He also suffers from a vicious case of TDS.

It should also come as no surprise that Afineevsky also hates the Church.

So far, Trump has kept us out of any new wars. One reason the establishment is stumping so hard for Biden is that they know he'll get the US into a war with Syria, Ukraine, Iran, or any of a number of conflicts that will serve Israel's strategic interests. Getting a former Israeli soldier who hates Trump to doctor up a diversion from the Biden story isn't exactly subtle. On the other hand, our rulers aren't that bright.

On the other other hand, even self-styled rational dissidents have been so inculcated with CDS that they're ready to believe even the most suspiciously timed anti-Francis hit pieces at the drop of a hat.

The next time you hear breathless reports that the Pope endorsed midget cannibalism, wait two days before reacting. And don't spread the narratives of people who hate you.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier


  1. On a side note, I am getting annoyed by Extremely Online Orthobros sniping at Catholics (such as Dyer) when there's far more important things to handle.

    1. I'm not sure why so many Orthobros are so bitter, but criminy are they annoying. It's like dealing with obnoxious high school kids.

    2. I agree ... often there's too much friendly fire.

      This article is quite good though. I'll see if I can share it ...

    3. I have taken to ignoring the e-Orthodox altogether. It seems that many EOs you come across online are larpers who like the aesthetic of Eastern Orthodoxy, but have never set foot into their local church, or if they did were put off by all of the Russians/Bulgarians/Romanians that weren't very interested by the arrival of Jr. Memelord.

    4. Say what you want about Baptists. They've taken Catholic bashing to a high art form. Orthobros just come off as having a massive chip on their shoulders.

      Honestly, you need to stop and ask who you're appealing to if you're posting, "Germany was Orthodox, and it still would be if the heresy of Rome hadn't caused the even worse Protestant heresy!"

    5. One thing that people of charity should keep in mind is that engaging people of almost any subgroup on TWitter is basically nutpicking, except Twitter is simply ensuring that you only see the nuts (so I'm not questioning anyone's good faith by saying it).

    6. "who you're appealing to if you're posting..."

      Themselves, and only themselves, as is obvious to everyone, but them (and probably, on some level, to them).

    7. It's the ecclesiological version of "We wuz kangs!"

  2. It's a habit of dissidents I learned a few years back. The media essentially lied to you about everything, except religion. That was the one thing they were dead on about.

    But then when you point out they lie about it, just like they do everything else, and the dissidents will keep throwing out the same insults liars like Hitchens and mediocre late night comedians from the '90s hashed out. It's a blind spot, and it's quite the glaring one. You'd have figured they would have gotten past their unthinking Nu phase by now, but I suppose old habits die hard.

    1. The other issue is P.F. does an extremely poor job of clarity (such that it seems to be deliberate) and also has put up with some very stupid things, like the demonic Pachamama ritual bowl (and stupid statues all over), the tree planted while the imam recited a sutra intended to claim the Vatican for Islam, etc. etc.

    2. "The other issue is P.F. does an extremely poor job of clarity ..."

      He does, and you really should have stopped there. Your CDS is showing.

    3. The Holy Father is not nearly so adept at managing the press as St. John Paul II was (and even he wasn't perfect), and doesn't seem to have learned to distrust them like his immediate predecessor.

    4. No, and that would be my biggest problem with him and the Vatican. They don't seem very aware at how the media weaponizes everything they say to hurt, not only Catholics, but all Christians.

      The media is a very different and more dangerous weapon than it was during the 20th century, and that set off the "Spirit of Vatican II" nonsense boomers are still doing damage with today. I don't want to imagine what worse things can happen with what we have now.

    5. Another shopworn meme names the press the enemy of the people. It's ancient in internet time, but it's no less true.

      The media was bad enough back in the days of liberal bias. Now it's blind algorithms keeping people in a constant state of panic over Russian spies, systemic racism, and other sensationalistic lies.
      If this goes on, it's going to get people killed. And soon.

    6. Even outside dissident circles, people know the media at the very best is hilariously ignorant and at worst maliciously lying about people's own industry, region, hobby, you name it... but they assume it's unique in all the universe. They personally just happen to be so unfortunate that the media is, by pure mischance, lying about them and only them in absolutely every respect, no matter how unlikely the confluence of interests, character, and background. What are the odds?

      Realizing this is how I ended up being basically a dissident. And it's also how I, as Protestant as a Baptist can be, routinely wind up saying "There's no evidence for that" or "That's a straight up lie" about all the nonsense the media vomits about Catholics.

    7. Gell-Mann Amnesia is a big hurdle for everyone to overcome.

  3. Thank you for continuing to do this work, Brian. Clarity is ever harder to come by in this age.

    1. Give the glory to God, and do your own research. It's mandatory at this point.

  4. Online Perpetually Outraged More Trad Than You Catholics: "This is outrageous! Once again Bergoglio is proving he's a heretic!"
    Me: "The news is about 10 minutes old. It is probably fake. Give him the benefit of the doubt"
    OPOMTTYC: "He wore out my good will 10 minutes after I found out he wasn't going to wear the tiara at his coronation! He makes heretical statements all the time!"
    Me: "List ten. List ten heresies he's uttered."
    OPOMTTYC: "Ten? That's...."
    Me: "OK - list three."
    OPOMTTYC: [list three OTHER times the press just made stuff up about what Francis said, the OPOMTTYC forgot or never learned they were faked]
    Every. Time.

    1. I find that a lot of the OPOMTTYC guys are recent converts unused to how the press always misreports on popes. Being a cradle Catholic, this stuff doesn't get to me since I remember the following:
      >JPII: He's soft on commies and probably a commie himself!
      >B16: "He's a damn Nazi!"
      >Francis: "He's a Nazi, too! Wait. We can't make that one stick. OK, he's one of us!"

    2. Pope St John Paul II soft on commies?

      LOL! Thanks, I needed that laugh!

    3. I was there. I remember it. People forget how long a shadow the Cold War cast over people's lives. Well into the 80s, the mere willingness to dialogue with the Russians aroused suspicions of commie sympathies.

      Although nowadays, one need not have any dealings with Russia at all to become suspect. The more things change ...

    4. I don't doubt it. It seems such a silly idea in retrospect, but that kind of perspective comes only with time.

      I'm a child of the Cold War, too. In talking to my father more recently, I have learned how deep that shadow really was, though I was aware of it even as a child. My father was an junior infantry officer in Germany in the late '70s. His job in case of a breakthrough at the Fulda Gap was to go to the front and put up a fight, but the general framework of the plan assumed the Soviets would get all the way across Germany and that NATO forces would have to take Europe starting from about the French border. One must assume that those front-line infantry and armor units were expected to suffer a lot of casualties. The life expectancy of a junior officer in combat is rather low. We went back in the late 80s and were in Europe when the wall came down.

      I think I credit JPII and the influence of the Church for how relatively peacefully the Soviet Union collapsed. Some folks might credit Ronald Reagan with finally defeating the Evil Empire, but glasnost and perestroika were only part of it.

  5. The thing that has helped me most is reading a variety of Catholic blogs and bloggers, even if some of those blogs and bloggers are sniping at one another, and bearing in mind that as one of the separated brethren, I really lack the context to sort a lot of this out. From the outside, I can see controversies, confusions, and scandal that must be very painful for y'all on the inside. The hostile press can't help that in the least. It did look like Pope Francis had taken a flying leap of the edge of orthodoxy, but your reminder about the Gell-Mann effect is timely. We are deep behind enemy lines. We must be shrewd as snakes, lest the Enemy deceive us, too.
    I pray that the Spirit will give us all the grace to love another patiently and be reconciled to one another as we are been reconciled to God the Father.

  6. After falling for it one too many times, I've been skeptical of any news about Francis being a Death Cult operative, but there are two I haven't seen dispelled that bug me.

    The first is that clergy who were sentenced to penance by Benedict XVI for sexually abusing seminarians were allowed back into the priesthood. There's not a lot of corroboration, so this is more of a "big if true," though somebody let those guys out, and I'm curious who it was.

    The other is the Pachamama issue. People still worship Pachamama in South America with human sacrifice, and the comparison of Pachamama to Mary led to a dualistic (and still active) heresy in which Jesus and Satan are worshipped as equally powerful brothers. Francis is from Argentina. I don't believe he is unaware of this issue, in which case I am really struggling to find an innocent explanation for him allowing statues of Pachamama in the Vatican.

    This is not a gotcha. I seriously want to know if I've just missed something, especially about the latter controversy.

    1. "I don't trust the media, but these two stories I saw in the media raise concerns."

      The first question to ask yourself about any papal controversy is, "How do I know this?" Did you do your own research, or are you getting it all from the media/secondhand from people who got it from the media?

      It's no earth-shattering revelation that there's corruption in the hierarchy. It's been there since one of the first 12 bishops conspired to commit deicide.

      We are not promised clergy free of personal sin, nor are we the Church Police.

      Are Francis' politics Liberal? Almost certainly. Is he theologically indifferent? Scandalously so. Is he tin-eared in terms of PR? Without question. Could it turn out that he had knowledge of/was involved in covering up serious sexual misconduct? You bet.

      Yet none of that comes within a million light-years of contradicting Catholic dogma regarding the papacy.

      It's dismaying to me how many Catholic Trump supporters happily overlook his known sexual immorality, unsavory associations, past Liberal affiliation, etc. But when the same press that lies about Trump because he's trying to restore Christian culture peddles some shaggy dog story about the Pope, they can't muster a fraction of the same good will.

      Are we Catholics first or MAGApedes first?

    2. It's not about Catholicism as a whole (besides, not Caholic here). My opinion of Francis won't affect my opinion of any Catholic other than Francis or the Church as a whole any more than my opinion of Trump or Obama affected my opinions of America. Even if everything he's accused of was true, the Church has survived worse.

      That being said, I DID do my own research involving both of those stories, and they bother me the way others don't, given that they actually affect his job and seem to have been largely ignored by the media. In fact, the major media outlets ran stories outraged that faithful Catholics would throw the Pachamama statues in the Tiber River. This isn't about being distracted by the media (who I don't trust on anything) or hating on Catholics (which I don't). This is about a clergyman allowing literal idols in the church. Pachamama is serious business. It's why I canceled Netflix. It's why I was happy Evo Morales got deposed. And if the pastor here set up statues of Pachamama in my church, I'd throw them in the river and confront the pastor about it (not necessarily in that order). In the time since this happened, the only statement I can find that he made on the incident was to apologize on behalf of the Catholics who threw out the idols. I have seen this crap firsthand, and if I learned nothing else, I learned this: DO. NOT. PLAY. WITH. DEMONS.

    3. Thank you for your concern. Rest assured, I do share it. We Catholics must undertake a long-overdue cleaning of our own house. The best course of action for non-Catholics, if so inclined, is to pray.

    4. Can you make a few a suggestions for (semi)specific prayer intentions we could bear in mind as we do that?

    5. >Christian unity
      >that the pope be granted increase in faith, hope, love, and wisdom
      >increase in strength, humility, patience, and perseverance for oneself

    6. Thanks Malchus, that's what I was talking about earlier with Pachamama. DON'T PLAY WITH DEMONS!

      If I have any "CDS showing," blame Fr. Z. (His articles on Pachamama and all that other stuff were good though he did jump the gun on the latest PF thing.)

    7. There are countless things Fr. Z is right about, though, such as being our rites, needing the TLM back, and not counting on bishops or other officials to save us from the mess we have today.

      As to holding Trump to a much lower standard than the Pope ... well, the President isn't in charge of God's Church and isn't really expected to be a moral authority. Either way, neither leader's private life makes much difference if it doesn't affect how they do their job. Dumb things said by either one in public are problematic.

    8. Most Catholics lived far spiritually healthier lives back before the Modern era when nobody outside Rome knew what the Holy Father was up to.