Pope Wrestles Mania, Disappoints Some

With my post about the Pope Francis interview the other day, in the aftermath of that interview, we see people picking up their toys to go home and saying things like “the pope doesn’t support this so I give up.” Or, see for example this article from Rorate Coeli blog (FAIR WARNING: the melodrama and histrionics start even with the post title there). My first article on this matter, Jesus wasn’t good enough for them either, used a post from that blog, too.

Recall the tone of that first group of people criticizing Pope Francis, “he’s not doing things our way! Never did they allude to the fact that he was one of the few clerics in Argentina who gave up the limousines and excess comforts afforded the clerics there. They also overlooked the fact that he isn’t a social justice marxist. He is a master at collapsing the celebrity facade, however — just like Jesus.

Remember what happened when Pope-elect Francis walked out onto the balcony? People were cheering like a mad mob! There were whistles and hollers form the crowd. For what were they cheering? They didn’t know anything about this guy, yet they were at an emotional fever pitch.

It’s a MANIA! You can hear the emcee drag it out in a near scream, Pope-a-MANIAAAAAAAAAA!

It’s this maniacal phenomenon at play — the vanity of celebrity. It works just like tribalism — their guy was coming out. Their mania of cheers would make him into what they wanted him to be. Like a horde of animals, they were in the fever pitch of excitement.

This crowd was little different from the audience at Wrestlemania. If Rome were the Pro Wrestling promoter, they’d have dimmed the lights more and had spotlights searching the front of the building as dance music covered the silence between the Emcee’s announcements of the beginning of the event.

The excitement of that crowd was no different. Their guy was going to come out and battle and he might even pick up a chair and slam it over the head of their enemies. POPE-A-MANIA!!!!

EXTRA CREDIT: What did Pope-elect Francis do with that crowd? He tamed them instantly when he asked them to pray. What prayers? An Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be — that is, prayers every Catholic should have learned as little kids. That crowd instantly changed into an attentive one. Talking to people around that time, I detected disappointment in a number of people.

Thank God. While there is excitement to faith and to a new Pope, it’s not false vain entertainment.

Is Pope Francis just a party pooper? No. This sort of human emotion is present in the Gospels as well. The apostles James and John give a good dose of this in Luke ix. 54: And when his disciples James and John had seen this, they said: Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?

Pick up a chair, Lord — let us be a tag team and we can take down Rowdy Roddy Piper right in front of the crowd and they will love us! Let us do something exciting to wake these people up! We want a spectacle!


That’s not what God is about, however. Manufactured drama isn’t God’s style. Wonders and spectacles are for those who believe in the person of Jesus Christ, not for pay-per-view events with posters and billboards. Jesus said so Himself:
And turning, he rebuked them, saying: You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save.

Man, that’s a let down. You mean there’s something more important than a spectacular and entertaining show? Well then, that’s it… I’ll just pack up my lawn chair, banners, and styrofoam cooler and go down to Talladega… They know how to make a fun weekend there!

I heard from a friend that a friend had called him and reported that a few families dropped out of their NFP classes and the pro-life stuff in general. The report I heard is “because the Pope is no longer behind this.”

What? You’ve got to be kidding me! So, like a three year old who wants to bully people into doing his thing, those people are going to pick up their toys and go home. Good. That’s in the Gospel, too, right after the event above, Jesus heads into another town, and there asks someone to follow Him.

And they went into another town. And it came to pass, as they walked in the way, that a certain man said to him: I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. Jesus said to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go, and to bury my father. And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God.

People want to see the Pay-per-view event and be part of the vanity! They don’t want to do this saving souls thing.

Whatever the Church is, it isn’t a simulacrum around which people simulate holy life in a play world of Fantasyland. Like Pope Francis on the first day-it’s about conversation and union with God, Who is a Person.

Felt banners, sloganisms, and catchy phrases are good for Tony Robbins conferences. Prayer and fasting for the work of the Church.


So what about all these Limousine Liberals who are excited about some of the phrases in the Pope’s interview? Did Pope Francis say he is a liberal progressive and he’s going to squash the rigid right-wing of the Church? No.

Some people are sad because they see certain liberals dancing for joy at what the Pope said about certain things. Both the dancing liberal and the person affecting with tribal envy are wrong. I believe those liberals are trying to pick up superficial articulations from the interview and beat everyone else up with them. They are playing air guitar and dancing about. Laugh about it. Trust me. Read the interview — there’s nothing for any marxist progressive to be dancing about in that interview — as I said in last week’s post, collegiality isn’t compatible with marxism authoritarinism. Just see their parades for what it is: their fantasyland warrior has no clothes — he doesn’t even exist.

I am excited about Pope Francis and his interview precisely because it is OUTSIDE of the tribal dialectics. Thank God! It’s also done really well to expose all the fantasyland facade about us. I’ve come to love God because there is no fantasyland about Him. It’s nice to have a Vicar who so abruptly demonstrates that.


By the way, have you noticed that no one mentions that Pope Francis is the first one in a while to ban Communion in the hand inside St. Peter’s? Why isn’t anybody talking about that??? (see update below)

For how many years have people been calling on the Pope to lay down the law about Communion in the hand? Here, Pope Francis does something about it, and nobody says anything. He didn’t destroy anyone and leave a dead body to do it. That’s why.

Isn’t that the chair people have been wanting to see the Papal wrestler pick up and beat people with? (pardon the preposition, but it adds to effect there). Pope Francis just refuses to put the wrestler’s mask on and instead wants to be himself. I like that a lot. Sincerity is a virtue not seen often enough today. Cheer the ordinary here!

If you haven’t done so by now, go read the Pope Francis interview. It’s not all this melodrama has cracked it up to be. If you read it for what it is, and not for what you hope it will say, you will be interested and pleased.

UPDATE: A comment from Ann H. (thanks Ann!) on facebook asked for a link to substantiate the Communion in the hand in St. Peter’s above. What I had isn’t posted anywhere and it’s not something I can post, so I decided to strike that because I can’t find anything in English.  What I did find by googling is dubious and there’s controversy over the point, so better to retract this for now.

Meanwhile, news broke today that Pope Francis did in fact defrock and excommunicate someone — a priest who had been advocating gay marriage and women’s ordination. So, if there was any doubt whether Pope Francis really means what he says when he speaks of thinking with the Church and being faithful to Jesus, there should be little doubt after that.

UPDATE 2: I’m going to go out on a limb here, and state my opinion on another trend I’ve seen several examples of in the past couple days — that of the victim “oh poor is me” statements coming from a number of pro-life organizations. A couple of these try to say that because NARAL “thanked” Pope Francis that something is wrong… An unsurprisingly opportunistic statement from such a group that twists PR in any way it can to make itself look good. In any political context, these same people will otherwise accuse NARAL and other eugenics-advancing groups as being manipulative, twisting the truth, and similar. Why are the pro-life groups unable to see the same here? Did they read Pope Francis’s interview, or merely trust NARAL’s interpretation of it?

What is different is to see the pro-life groups drop the ball and fail to point out that NARAL was twisting the circumstances of the news to make it look like the Pope was with them… Shouldn’t the Pro-life groups be the first ones to point out the error of NARAL??????

Instead, they’re all acting like Pope Francis kicked them and smashed the chair on their heads. Something is wrong here… with their response! They need to go read the interview, too. Had they done that, they’d have realized that they missed an opportunity to point out that NARAL’s press release was manipulative and recklessly supplanted what Pope Francis said.

That’s disappointing. It makes them look like they are playing the victim card.

This article, Pope Wrestles Mania, Disappoints Some is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.
  • I loved this article. It is very effective, especially coming from an “orthodox” source. …if you get my drift… Thank you so much.

  • My work server won’t let me comment, or I would have written the following: History repeats. I think the modern Catholic risks falling into the trap of the citizens of 1st-century Judea: they expect their savior to be Judah Maccabee, not Jesus Christ. Judah was the mighty military figure from two centuries earlier, who slew his enemies and was orthodox to the bone. Herod–who married into the Maccabee bloodline–feared that another Judah was coming to get him. The crowds on Palm Sunday expected Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem to be a repat of Judah’s triumphant entry. When Peter took the sword before the Passion, maybe he was remembering stories of Maccabean warfare. Jesus didn’t meet any of their expectations–he came to end the bloodshed, not to continue it. The same goes with Pope Francis: he doesn’t want to be the sword-wielding Peter, but the Christ who restores the wounded ear.

  • Miklos Molnar says:

    John B. Manos… giving the Pope-a-Dope to nut-bars on the Left and Right.

  • Sarah Lentz says:

    Thank you for this. The more I learn about this pope, the more I like him. I love his words about presenting the truths of the Faith in a context. That should resonate with any Catholic parent. I know when I’m teaching my kids at home, that they’re far more likely to internalize what I’m teaching them if I present it in a context that is already meaningful to them.

  • Ann Heneghan – I don’t have a good english link. I updated the post to reflect that. I did add the news today about Pope Francis excommunicating and defrocking a priest over gay marriage and women’s ordination. While completely different in nature, that news tends to make a similar point that Pope Francis isn’t intending to veer from the Church.

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