For several months, Pope Francis has been exhibiting serious difficulties getting around. On April 30, 2022, when receiving pilgrims from Slovakia, he declared that his leg was “not good,” even adding: “it does not work.” He said his doctor told him not to walk.
On May 2, he had to receive his visitors at St. Martha’s House and not at the Apostolic Palace, to avoid travel. On May 3, he received an injection in his right knee for relief. On May 5, he showed up in a wheelchair at an audience given to a group of leaders of female religious orders. And on May 9, we learned without surprise that the Pope's trip to Lebanon, scheduled for June 12 and 13, has been postponed.
This worrying state of health has made Roman observers increasingly asking themselves about the future pope. Thus Fr. Nicola Bux, former consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, returns in an interview granted to Diane Montagna for The Remnant of April 16, to the mysterious memorandum signed “Demos,” published by Sandro Magister (DICI n°419 , April 2022).
The Roman theologian draws a severe balance sheet of the current pontificate: “For most experts in the Vatican, the balance sheet of Francis’ pontificate, from the doctrine of faith to morals, shows a deficit compared to his predecessors, not to mention in finances. This pontificate has contributed to exacerbating the secularization of the West, because the Pope has intervened on the social and political side and supported a spirituality without identity. And so the question arises: what is the Petrine ministry?”
Fr. Bux notes, in passing, that “many who were Bergoglians at the beginning have distanced themselves from the current pontificate and consider it chaotic and despotic.”
He shows how the dechristianization of the South American continent manifests itself concretely: “In the Vatican they are well aware of the apostasy of Catholics in Latin America, which has fallen to 52% in the face of a 25% growth in sects.”
“On January 13, the Wall Street Journal ran the headline (because the Church is losing Latin America), ‘The Catholic Church has opted for the poor and the poor have opted for the Pentecostals.’ This is a tremendous contribution to the process of self-demolition that Paul VI talked about.”
“The Church has been transformed into an agency aimed at solving social, economic, psychological, even environmental problems, abandoning her mission to save souls. At the Amazon synod, they talked not about re-evangelizing the region but about the environment, not about fostering a personal encounter with the Lord, but about political and social issues. In short, while the faithful ask for more religion, the bishops offer socialism.”
Asked what influence this memorandum could have on the next conclave that will elect the future pope, Fr. Bux replied: “Like every Christian, the Pope is subject to revealed divine law, and even before, to natural law and then to canon law, which binds him regarding the essential doctrine and constitution of the Church, which is not synodal but hierarchical. The Memo seems to recall this.”
On the priorities that should be those of the next pope, the Roman theologian recalls the need “to elect a pope who will promote the Catholic faith, put an end to the reduction in the number of priests and faithful in the West caused by secularization who has penetrated the Church”.
He denounces in current ecclesiastical teaching: “politically correct language purged of religious connotations, the loss of the sense of limits (cases of abortion, so-called same-sex marriage, gender, euthanasia, etc. are typical), the loss of the sacred, and the transformation of religious faith into a ‘humanitarian’ religion, the Gospel into a moralism, and the homily into a rally.”
Therefore, according to him, “The priority of the conclave is therefore to elect a Catholic pope; otherwise, the loss of faith will not only be the effect but also the cause of the secularization of Christianity, which will end up becoming irrelevant.”
And to add: “The next conclave will have to clarify what it means to be ‘pastoral’: no one knows so far, and it is used as a master key to justify everything in the Church.”
Fr. Bux insists: “The next Pope must have the fostering and increase of faith at the top of his agenda, so that Christian families and priestly and religious vocations may flourish. It is necessary to return to the magisterium that decides infallibly on matters of family morals, by appointing bishops who accept the apostolic tradition.”
“The schism now latent [less and less latent, and even very patent with the Synodal Path in Germany. Editor's note] will likely be attenuated, even if the ‘persecution’ by the secularist media increases.”
The prelate calls for “a pontificate that looks to a Catholicism that fills churches with devout believers and the public square with witnesses of faith and life, proving that it 'works' because it produces conversions.”
“The Catholic Church must have a pope who says and does what is Catholic – morally, doctrinally, and liturgically. Recall the cover of Time Magazine: ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ Is it strange that the Catholic Church is entitled to a Catholic Pope?”
And to conclude with precision and without detour: “to put an end to the confusion in the Church, the next conclave will have to look for candidates who respond to the Dubia on Amoris Laetitia, correct Evangelii gaudium where it is says that the worst social evil is the inequality, i.e., a bad distribution of wealth, and not sin;
Laudato Si’ where it exalts neo-Malthusian environmentalism, which instead is the origin of all the problems of the last 50 years; Fratelli Tutti which declares capitalism to be over, then suggests how to survive and camouflage oneself with the magic words ‘inclusion’ and ‘sustainability.’”