Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pope Francis and the Martyrs of Uganda: Missing the Point

It seems that every time our Holy Father goes on a trip anywhere, he sows confusion and concern as much as any good he does with his Apostolic visits.   In another post soon, I will discuss the truly scandalous interview he gave in his latest airborne press conference.  I use the term "scandalous" in the sense of the sin of scandal.  If you don't know what that is, please look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And just for the record, yes, I do believe the Holy Father does much good in his travels.  In spite of the serious issues Pope Francis creates with his unscripted comments, and even at times with scripted ones, as the Vicar of Christ on Earth he has a powerful charism, endowed by the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, if you prefer).  I have no doubt that the Spirit works through Pope Francis in numerous ways, and not just when he administers the Sacraments.  This is not something to be demeaned or belittled in any way, and it is not my purpose to do so.  The unfortunate fact is that he also does much damage to the Faith and to souls, who need to be confirmed and supported in their faith, not led astray by a pope who seems at times to be incapable of coherent communication.

This post is concerned, as the title indicates, with the pope's homily during the Mass he celebrated this past Saturday for the Martyrs of Uganda, St. Charles Lwanga and companions.  These men, all of them quite young, were canonized in 1964.  As is usually the case with martyrs for the Faith, they died under horrid circumstances but remained faithful to the end, praying and singing hymns even as they suffered unto death.  Joanna Bogle wrote an article for Catholic Answers Magazine, published in May, 2008, describing the case of the martyrdom, which is very informative, although it contains a couple of typos in the online version, here.

The papal homily was, in and of itself, not problematic.  You can read the full text on the Holy See's website.   It was a moving tribute to anyone who makes the ultimate sacrifice for Christ and His Church.  The problem was not what the pope said, but rather what he did NOT say.  As Ms. Bogle's article explains, these men were not martyred simply for their adherence to the Christian faith.  The primary motivation of the king who murdered them was their refusal to submit to his demands that they engage in sodomitical acts with him.  Yet for reasons known only to him, the Bishop of Rome (as he insists on being called, in his often strained effort to demonstrate his own humility) chose to say not one single word about this critical fact.  Hence, the subtitle of this post, "Missing the Point."  In a world where whole nations are enshrining in secular law the oxymoronic notion of marriage between persons of the same sex, and engaging in legal and social persecution of anyone who dares to resist, the putative spiritual leader of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the successor to St. Peter, threw away a perfect opportunity to teach the whole world the truth as revealed by God, that sodomy is always and everywhere an offense against nature, and therefore against God and our very essence as human beings made in God's image and likeness.  The heroism of St. Charles Lwanga and the other Ugandan martyrs stands for this truth, because it was their Christian faith, their Catholic faith, that gave them the strength to refuse the king's deplorable demands.  (Yes, I know, there were also Anglicans martyred at or about the same time and for essentially the same reason.  They deserve to be honored as well.  More than that, I will say only that in today's Anglican church, it is open to question whether they would even be considered martyrs.  It will soon be a moot point in any event, as Ross Douthat noted some time back, since the Episcopal church is in its death throes in the US, as is the Anglican Communion worldwide.)

The redoubtable Father Z also has commented on the pope's omission from his homily of the facts of the Lwanga story.  I reproduce here his closing paragraph, which as always hits the bullseye:
"I saw some of the coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to Africa.  I am not a fan of the dancing and so forth and some liturgical choices (HERE etc.), but I will say this: African bishops still know the difference between a boy and a girl, they still know what male/female sexual organs are for and what they are not for, they still know that marriage is between one man and one woman, and now they really know how to scare German bishops."
Please do read Father Z's entire post and follow his links.  It will be worth your time.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

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