(Milan) This 9th of October, Philosophy of Law Professor Mario Palmaro and journalist Alessandro Gnocchi published this in the daily newspaper "Il Foglio", a tough but clear-cut criticism of the pontificate of Pope Francis up to now ( see separate report in German). A text which has been interpreted as a "charge" and "admonition" of the Pope. The article caused a stir, found much approval, but fell off the rails because of its "too hard" criticism. Not only that, even on the day of publication, both were terminated after ten years of collaboration with Radio Maria Italy. Program Director, Don Livio Fanzaga, justified the drastic decision because criticism of the Pope is "incompatible" to the position of a facilitator of Radio Maria.The station had "clear principles": it is "loyal to the Pope and his teaching and his pastoral guidelines". So it had been under John Paul II and Benedict XVI., and it has been also under Francis. The daily newspaper "Libero" gave an interview to the two Catholics fired.
Let's start with the article: What the Pope has said or done, that two Catholic journalists don't like?
There are two problematic aspects: form and content. Francis adopted a behavior and a style that is leading to the unraveling of the papacy in its formal structure, which tends to lead towards a dissolution of the Pope to one bishop among many, and not the "sweetness of Christ on earth", of which Saint Catherine of Sienna speaks.
At the level of content not only ambiguity is found in the interviews of the Civiltà Cattolica and the Repubblica, but objective philosophical and doctrinal errors.
We speak to each other as fellow journalists: We discuss the classic case of a non-message. Here are two baptized Catholics who have heard for months what the Pope says and for months experienced discomfort, while that's obviously what they hear are very large steps away from what the doctrine says. At the end, after all, it is their job to write and comment, write and comment on them. Thus, it provides not only a basic rule of information, but also the Church law. The letter to Scalfari, the interview with Scalfari, the interview with the Civilta Cattolica , are only the most recent, glaring examples. They went around the world, they led to calls for revolution, they amazed thousands upon thousands of Catholics, and thus souls, and no one has something to say?
In contrast, there is a unanimous choir of jubilation, extending to certain conservative Catholics like Enzo Bianchi, Hans Küng to the open church haters like Pannella.
You have criticized the interview granted to Eugenio Scalfari. The interview was not right or the interviewer?
The choice Eugenio Scalfaris is unprecedented and leaves many Catholics stunned. He is not only a Laicist or a non-believer, but a historical antagonist of catholicity. The daily La Repubblica is the symbol of a radical chic culture that has made divorce and abortion the supporting pillars of a new nihilistic society in which there is no room for Christ and the Sacraments. It would have been otherwise had Scalfari to met him in a discreet way to talk with a view to his own good and in the hope of his conversion.
In connection with the Pope's interview Civilta Cattolica, you say that it puts the propositions of the teaching on abortion and mercy in opposition. What does that mean?
The first form of charity is the truth. The good doctor does not conceal from the patient the severity of his illness, in order that he can cure it. God wants to forgive us ceaselessly, but he expects us to repent, to acknowledge it, that we have sinned. A church that is silent on morality, not clashing with the world, it would be lacking in charity toward sinners. It is easy to say that the 300 dead off Lampedusa is "a shame". Much harder it is to say that 300 aborted children is a far greater shame.
And for this and other reasons, you have the "Normalists" criticized the Catholics who, in contrast to the secular press wish to realize a revolution against the Church's Magisterium. But what has changed in reality?
We have a very simple reason for why we describe these as Normalists. These gentlemen do in six months none other than to conceal the errors of Pope Francis: the conscience of ethics, bioethics, to the religious life. With all respect to good will and good intention, they do enormous damage, because they - by saying it is all quite normal and there had been no change, and say there is catholicity where it does not exist - with an end to ease the bare statements of the Pope as Catholic. These poor ones are given the illusion, that the media is moderately stronger than Bergoglio and think that their subsequent corrections reach those addressees. In reality they do not understand anything about how the machinery of mass media works today. They are not able to correct the Pope, but the Pope is the one who absorbs it.
But even if the Pope should make un-Catholic statements, then why do the Normalists do these things as if they don't see them at all?
Because the focus of the problem is no less than the Pope. The proper way Catholics see him is as the leader of the Church through history and it would never actually have to criticize. To make it more understandable: if the interview in the Civiltà Cattolica had been by a theologian or even a bishop, it would have long since been criticized in all parts were not fitting.
But aside from the interviews haven't you also criticized the interpretation of the Pope to the Second Vatican Council. Is not that too harsh criticism?
We stick to the facts: With the Second Vatican Council, the Church openly declared to be open to the world and to want to respond to its expectations. A revolution that has produced their results in these decades: the seminary have emptied themselves, in many [probably most] of them un-Catholic teachings are common, and are even professors' chairs, such as desired by Carlo Maria Martini, to be given to unbelievers.
You have portrayed Bergoglio also as having an exaggerated feeling with the mass media. Are you not thinking that it rather strengthens the image of the Church?
For this purpose, the answer is always McLuhan: The media creates an illusion that is the facsimile of the Mystical Body, and which he calls "a stunning appearance of the Antichrist."
But yesterday [11 October 2013] the Pope insisted in his homily to the fact that the devil is a reality and not a metaphor and said, "Whoever is not with Jesus is against Jesus, there are no half-measures". Does not that contradict your image of a "progressive Pope"?
During these months, Pope Francis has said many things Catholic. But that's normal: he is the Pope. In our article we have only compared what Francis Pope says about conscience with what Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical 1993 Veritatis Splendor wrote. Well, one says the exact opposite of the other, and we think that no matter how convoluted a turn of brain, you can't say that they are basically saying the same thing. No one has commented on what we have written. No one has refuted us even a single line. A friendly gentleman told us publicly even to go to confession. [LOL] Of course this gentleman does not know that that has already happened, we said these things in the confessional and the confessor received the answer that he thinks exactly the same, but he can not say it. This gentleman should also know how many letters and phone calls we have received from Catholics who simply could not take it any more and thanked for what we have written.
These considerations have gotten you fired at Radio Maria. Was this decision to avoid this adventure, or had you already factored it in before?
We had thought about it, but we could no longer remain silent. We were friends with Father Livio Fanzaga before this incident and are there even now. He is the program director and he determines the line. If this line specifies that you must not ever criticize the Pope, when he talks about football, then two such as we obviously out of place. We're also allowed to say that we do not share this line. You can not stifle the intelligence and can not censor more than legitimate questions from the outset. That does the Catholic world no good and it does the Church no good. If something creates a certain bitterness, then the fact that the call came after ten years of working two hours after the article appeared, without even a moment to think about it. Ten years in which we had the freedom to say whatever we felt it necessary even about hot topics. This rashness hurts.
Do you think that this expulsion was decided somewhere else?
That one would have to ask Father Livio, who is a good priest and a good man.
However, can you stay at a Catholic station and yet criticize the Pope?
Of course, provided that the criticism is not contrary to the teaching of the Church. If Paul of Tarsus had not criticized the first pope, then we Catholics today would be circumcised, because Saint Peter wanted to raise the standard. If Saint Catherine had not rebuked the Popes, the Pope would still be sitting in Avignon Pope today.
The Pope seeks dialogue with many people with various militant atheists. You can expect his phone call? That he would like to hear the reasons of two staunch Catholics and perhaps intervened to get you back broadcasting on the radio?
We think that it would be much better if the Pope dedicated himself to his office: to encourage his flock in the true faith, the Catholics due again that they know the catechism and the Doctrine of the Faith, and to work for it, so that those who are far away are converted.
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