THE POLITICAL POPE:
How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives
By George Neumayr
288 pp. Center Street (Hachette Book Group). $27
During his studies in 16th century Paris, a young Spaniard began to structure his concepts and ideas concerning how best to counter the exploding Protestant Reformation. The ambitious, eventually canonized Ignatius of Loyola, along with several fellow students, envisioned a simple objective for the fledgling Society of Jesus—to become a military-like force in defense of the Catholic faith. Never in his wildest dreams could he have foreseen that a member of the order he founded, the Jesuits, would become the most powerful religious leader in the world.
Pope Francis is not only the first Jesuit and pope from the Southern Hemisphere, he is the first to relativize, and seemingly marginalize, the orthodox Catholic faith. He is truly an unprecedented postmodern leader who is executing the ancient Jesuit axiom of “the ends justify the means.”
In The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, a devout Catholic author, George Neumayr, produces a stinging critique of Francis’ policies. Not only does he contend that Francis is the most liberal pope in history, but more strikingly he links Francis to not only the Marxist liberation theology of South America but also to the rise of Progressivism in America developing rapidly since the turn of the 20th century.
Neumayr points out that in 1907 Pope Pius X warned, in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Feeding the Lord’s Flock), that “modernism wishes to fashion a faith suited to the times in which we live based on the subjectivism of modern philosophy.” Not surprisingly, this philosophy interfaces with some of the concerns voiced within historic Adventism regarding the rise of humanism over Scripture.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ascension of the American version of Progressivism, largely copied from the German model, was being led by “The Four Horsemen of Progressivism.” One of these intellectual elites, John Dewey, transformed education. Also, one can trace the rapid emergence of judicial activism in the past 40 to 50 years to the early 20th-century progressive leadership of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Concurrently, a larger and more centralized government was envisioned by Herbert Croly. Possibly the most insidious of “the horsemen” was the development of the social gospel in the church along with government-centered welfare under the powerful influence of Richard Ely. Taken together, their Progressivism has formed a cohesive ideology which has served to undermine our constitutional founding with the unattended consequence to efface liberty, particularly liberty of conscience.
The significance of the foregoing “ascension of American Progressivism” is not only revealed as one observes current American polity and academic environs—but the culture overall—from the erosion of Judeo-Christian values to the insistence on the suppression of free speech primarily through “political correctness” and “identity politics.” Neumayr explicitly unpacks how Francis, the ultimate Jesuit, has co-opted this Progressivism and is disseminating it from the Vatican.
George Neumayr’s angst toward Pope Francis may be partially colored by his emotional revulsion at the trajectory of the current papacy, especially given that Francis has already named close to half of the Cardinals who could choose his successor. Not surprisingly, those Cardinals overwhelming follow his ideological bent. Thankfully, Neumayr’s open advocacy for civil and religious liberty aligns closely with the great 19th century Catholic, Lord Acton, whose oft-repeated line “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” may more aptly fit this Pope than any other pontiff since medieval days.
Connect that reality with the current systemic belief in a fluid, morphing, American Constitution and the recipe for the fulfillment of Revelation 13 begins to emerge. Study the Beast and it follows that identifying the Image to the Beast becomes quite obvious. Clip the wings of individual liberty and America is cut down to size as a mere Image to the Beast that Revelation 13:11 states, though possessed of lamb-like characteristics, will “speak like a dragon.”
A study of history reveals that a merger of Church and State occurs best when there is a strong centralized government—as with the papacy and the massive centralized federal government of America. Until Francis’ papacy, communist dictatorships would seem to contradict that fact as they are committed to Atheism. However, the warm welcome extended to Communist leaders from China and Cuba by Pope Francis seems to eliminate that contradiction.
Neumayr reports that a simple but highly symbolic event occurred during Francis’ 2015 visit to Bolivia. The country’s despotic and proudly Marxist president Evo Morales presented Pope Francis with a gift of a crucifix in the shape of a Marxist hammer and sickle. Pope Francis happily received this gift even though communism is a religion with government as god.
Separation of powers as detailed in our Constitution was designed by our Founders to be the antidote to Church/State merger. While this is not George Neumayr’s stated conclusion, a strong allusion to it, perhaps unwitting, is threaded throughout his analysis. Writing about the state of America in the fall of 2015, British-American thinker Charles C. W. Cooke asked a pressing question in his National Review magazine cover story, “Shall We Have a King?” His conclusion was “The founders said no, but today Congress and the courts aren’t so sure.” The more centralized the power of the government becomes, the more it resembles the papacy.
The Political Pope is a trenchant expose of the development of a Machiavellian papacy as a potent complement to a Machiavellian centralized government. The 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States have, not surprisingly, become among Francis’ leading cheerleaders through the celebration of a Progressive government. And now, Francis is rapidly succeeding in institutionalizing Progressivism throughout the Catholic Church—some say, to make it “irreversible.”
Students of the 1962-1965 Vatican II will recognize that Francis has simply put many of the recommendations on fast-forward and instituted new recommendations, opening the Church to historically rejected immorality as included in the now famous Francis retort, “Who am I to judge?”
Consequently, Neumayr worries that under Pope Francis the Catholic Church is on the same trajectory as liberal Protestantism. During the tumultuous 1960’s, British journalist (and Christian convert from atheism) Malcolm Muggeridge wrote that the Catholic Church was hooking up with “the army of progress (liberal Protestantism) just when it was in total disarray.”
Lest we forget, Rome has boasted that she never changes. That is—the principles of the Church’s goal of domination over personal liberty and its ultimate commitment to the eventual control of the State haven’t changed. The repudiation of every principle of the Constitutional founding of America is essential for this to occur. This has been the dream of the Progressive movement for more than 100 years, and I thank George Neumayr for exposing the current papal zeitgeist wafting across all lands, cultures, and religions. The reading of this work should not be ignored and is, in fact, a tremendous asset in considering the worldwide movement toward the destruction of Liberty by both the Government and the Papacy—the emergence of the perfect “marriage.”