Leading Pro-Life Priest Laments “The Francis Effect”

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“The Synod of the Family last year, set off alarm bells for most Catholics and we saw bishops against bishops and episcopal conferences fighting other episcopal conferences, and, in all of this, we…we know that heaven has given us a warning. And in 1973, at Akita, the prophecy was made that ‘The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops” and “the priests who venerate me will be persecuted.’ Of course, this is part and parcel of our experience.”

So began a talk given last week by Fr. Linus Clovis at a gathering of pro-life leaders in Rome. Fr. Clovis is a very well-credentialed, if not widely known, leader of the international pro-life movement. From his bio on the Board of Directors page of the Population Research Institute:

Fr. Linus F Clovis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Castries, St. Lucia in the West Indies.  He studied for the priesthood at the Angelicum in Rome and was ordained in 1983 by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Clovis is a qualified teacher and holds a doctorate in Mathematics and degrees in Theology, Canon Law and Latin Literature. He has served as dean of the Arts, Science and General Studies Faculty of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and for seven years was principal of St. Mary’s College, St. Lucia.

He is the archdiocesan spiritual director of the Legion of Mary in St. Lucia, through which he promotes devotion to Our Lady, especially that of the Rosary, the Perpetual Help novena, and the First Friday and FirstSaturday devotions.  Additionally, he has led outreaches to the neighbouring islands, and annual pilgrimages to Marian shrines in over fourteen different countries.

He is also the spiritual director of the Population Research Institute and Family Life International and a versatile speaker on pro-life issues, Scripture, Mariology and on Catholic teaching in general.  Not only has he many talks and homilies on CD to his credit but he has made literary contributions to newspapers and international magazines and has published a book entitled “A Biblical Search for the Church Christ Founded.”

He is currently the Director of the Secretariat for Family and Life in the Archdiocese of Castries, which works towards reestablishing family and family life on solid Christian principles in St. Lucia. In 2003, Fr. Clovis led the resistance to the St Lucia Government’s surreptitious legalization of abortion in his Catholic island and even refused Holy Communion to the head of state for having signed abortion into law.

In his carefully-articulated talk, Fr. Clovis outlines what he sees as a prophesied crisis in the Church, one he ascribes in no small part by the Holy Father, Pope Francis himself. I’ll post the full video at the bottom, but first, I wanted to share with you some points that I transcribed. (Together, these quotes comprise a nearly complete transcript of the middle section of his talk, but some ancillary points have been left out, and the text has been broken into bullet points to accentuate those arguments of greatest emphasis.)

You will note that his criticisms of this pontificate are almost all based in Scripture and the teachings of the Church. There is nothing angry or condemnatory in his tone or manner. He speaks with confidence and concern.

  • “When a bishop — a Catholic bishop — can applaud sin publicly, it causes us to tremble. But this is essentially the ‘Francis Effect.’ It’s disarming bishops and priests, especially after the Holy Father said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ I as a priest say Mass, preaching, and I make a judgment about a sin, one breaking the ten commandments, I would be condemned for judging. I would be accused of being ‘more Catholic than the pope’. There used to be a saying — rhetorical — ‘is the pope Catholic?’ That’s no longer funny.” (in reference to Dolan’s “Bravo!” comments regarding the coming out of football player Michael Sam.)
  • “Obedience is owed to the pope, but the pope owes obedience to the word and the apostolic tradition. We have to obey the pope, but the pope himself must obey the written word. He must obey the tradition. He must respond to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is owed to the pope, but it is the duty of the pope to give the character of possibility to this obedience. The pope has to facilitate our obeying him, by himself being obedient to the Word of God. Pope Felix III told us, ‘an error that is not resisted is approved. A truth that is not defended is suppressed.’ So we have an obligation to resist error, and we must do everything that we can to promote the truth.”
  • “Once, we have had concerns about other popes, even St. John Paul, with the things he’s done which we felt uncomfortable about, I don’t think that…Pope Francis has done anything other than disconcert us. He has literally pulled the rug from under our feet. And so, he is the, the reason, the many reasons why we are concerned. Our Lord tells us in John’s Gospel, 15th chapter, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, and I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.’ The popes are hated, and I don’t think we had a problem with that per se. We didn’t like it. But I think that I’ll be correct in saying that we prefer our popes to be hated by the world than loved by the world. Because if he’s loved by the world, it indicates that he’s speaking the language of the world. And we know that there can be no relationship, no fellowship, between light and darkness. St. Paul tells us this.”
  • “The Church’s traditional enemies — and this is vocalized, articulated in Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Advocate, and so on — approve of him, he appeared on their front cover many times over the past two years. I came across a quote from someone who knew him in Argentina. ‘Apparently, he loves to be loved by all and please everyone, so one day he could make a speech on TV against abortion, and the next day, on the same television show, bless the pro-abortion feminists in the Plaza de Mayo; He can give a wonderful speech against the Masons and, a few hours later, be dining and drinking with them in the Rotary Club.'”
  • “So, how can you make a decision about a man like this, who is everybody’s friend? Our Lord tells us, ‘Nevertheless,’ this is 12th chapter of St. John’s Gospel, ‘Nevertheless, many of the authorities believed in him, [that’s in our Lord] but for fear of the pharisees they did not confess it lest they should be put out of they synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ Am I making judgment? I don’t think so. I’m quoting scripture. Where the die falls, let it rest.”
  • “The Holy Father has done many controversial things, and we are concerned with the major ones, not the aberrations which come up. And the one that will go down, I suppose, to the Second Judgment, is ‘Who am I to judge.’ One of the…effects that the Holy Father does is that he takes common prejudice against Catholics, and he uses it against us. So in other words, he’s accepting what is perceived, our position to be, as if it were true. The Church does not judge persons. The Church judges actions and teachings. Even the heretics. Luther wasn’t condemned for his personal moral life. He was condemned for his teaching. His doctrine. And so with all the other heretics. Arius. It was his teaching that the Church judged. And has the authority to judge. But when the pope says, ‘Who am I to judge?’, he is giving the impression that the Church judges individuals because of who they are and…what they’re doing in their personal lives. That is for the confession.”
  • “Scripture tells us very clearly in First Corinthians chapter five St. Paul is writing to the Church of Corinth because they had accepted a man among them who was guilty of immorality. And the apostle writes, ‘But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders?’ Aha! What have I to do with judging outsiders? ‘Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Drive out the wicked person from among you.’ So, how can the successor of Peter say, ‘Who am I to judge?’ without contradicting Scripture?”
  • “He complains we talk too much about abortion and contraception. Well…Do we? Again, the apostle tells us ‘convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.’ So, we have an obligation to speak about those sins for which the punishment is eternal damnation in Hell. We’re talking about the salvation of souls. The Code of Canon Law ends, ‘the highest good is the salvation of souls.’ And this is why Christ founded His Church: for the salvation of souls.”
  • “The ‘rabbit-gate’ affair was an insult to all Catholic mothers. Those who have…risked their lives, offered their lives, and given their lives for their children, and above all, for the Gospel.”
  • “Our concern is of course for the upcoming synod and what appears to be favored to bring remarried divorcees to communion. This is going to be a serious blow to the Church and to the faithful. Because already it has caused a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Even in my pastoral experience I’ve encountered women who’ve said…a mother, her son’s divorced, remarried, and says, ‘Well the Holy Father allows him to communion, doesn’t he? I don’t think it’s right, father, but the pope…’ We have that problem already. And we see the pattern, is is done for Humane Vitae. It’s up there in the air, and of course it’s going to…become the law. You can do it. So, we really do need to have eyes firmly fixed on heaven, beseeching heaven, to guide our bishops.”
  • “There are rumors of the pastoral relaxation of Humanae Vitae….it’s not going to be contradicted, it’s not going to be deleted, it’s going to be extended. Which is so much more deadly. Because we have presented something that is evil as if it were good. And we are building this evil thing on a good foundation.”

confusion

  • “We love the pope! He is our father. He is our sweet Christ on Earth. There is concern among Catholics who are confused and fearful. And we and they do not wish to criticize, or worse still, to judge the pope. But, again, we are judging not his person or his office but the results of his actions. And we’re not doing this out of indignation. Because what he is doing is the cause of our indignation. And it is a threat to our faith. And it’s a threat to the Church. And it’s a danger to the salvation of souls.”
  • “So, can we judge the pope’s actions? Yes we can. We have no less a person than the apostle to the gentiles, St. Paul, writing to the Galatians. And he says, ‘But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” And this is what we are facing today. We have prominent cardinals taking an anti-Catholic stance on moral issues. Which we thought were settled! We have the holy father himself seeming to support them. To give his blessing to them. And what does Saint Paul said? Barnabus! St. Paul’s right-hand man was carried away by their insincerity.  So many bishops — and please, God, we have many good bishops still — when they see this, they also going to be carried away, and that’s why I think the suggestion made, that we should circulate our material to the bishops, and to priests — especially to priests — is so very, very important.”
  • “We have the example of history, John XXII, who taught that the blessed do not see God until after general judgment. He was opposed by the theologians of the University of Paris. By cardinals and bishops and even by kings. So these were…we have the learned, the intellectuals, the theologians, who knew what was going on and were able to oppose the pope. And of course we have those in authority, the bishops. And we have lay people as well, the kings.”
  • “The Code of Canon Law also tells us that we have a right to express our opinion, in Canon 212, section 3, ‘According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess,’ — and I think in this gathering…we’re showing our knowledge, the fact that we are heads of various organizations – our competence, and our prestige — we ‘have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful…’ And this is very important. We have, in other words, to go public on this.”
  • “‘Now it can be said…’ — this is written by…Melchior Cano, a famous theologian in the 16th century — ‘Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weaken the authority of the Apostolic See; they do not support it; they subvert it; they do not fortify it… . Peter has no need of our lies; he has no need of our adulation.’ In other words, we must be vigilant. We must be objective in our approach to the present crisis in the Church.”

There is a great deal more in Fr. Clovis’s presentation. I urge you to watch it and come to your own conclusions:

It seems more and more obvious that as we approach the second half of the Synod — now just five months away — that we’re left with no more room for indecision. We must choose where to stand. It is not a question — and never could be — of choosing whether to stand with or against the pope. It is a question of ensuring that we stand as close as possible to Christ, no matter who chooses to move further away from Him than we would like. Even Peter.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” – Matthew 12:30

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