On one other variety of bullshit…

[Let me preempt a likely complaint from a sharp-eyed reader or two. Didn’t I recently complain about a commenter using vulgarity here and yet don’t I use bad words in this post? Correct, but my “policy” on foul language is this: while you can level it against ideas, don’t level it at others, at least not more than once; realize that one repeated “bad word” in here is an accepted technical term; and, finally, accept the adage, “my blog, my rules.” Happy reading!]

“We belong to the Church militant; and she is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass her destruction. Not only in the far-off centuries of the early Church, but down through the ages and in this our day, the enemies of God and Christian civilization make bold to attack the Creator’s supreme dominion and sacrosanct human rights.”

— Pope Pius XII, 14 October 1953 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 45 [PDF!] (1953) pp. 680 ff.), at the opening of the North American College in Rome.

“This isn’t Denzinger.”

— Fr. Lombardi (3 October 2013)

+ + +

One of my favorite philosophical works is Harry G. Frankfurt’s petite yet powerful On Bullshit. Recently, at his blog, Ed Feser analyzed some species of bullshit, so the topic is fresh in my mind once more. Feser begins by defining bullshit per se: “It is speech pointing back at the speaker rather than at the world, just like sentimentality is emotion pointing back at the one feeling it rather than at the situation that prompted it.”

By writing a book on bullshit, Frankfurt–unlike some of the authors who have ridden the cliché after him–was not being merely cheeky or doctrinaire. Rather, he was elevating “bullshit” to a technical term, worthy of philosophical consideration in its own right. According to Frankfurt, bullshit is not error, nor deception, but something else entirely: bullshit is a form of rhetoric which is indifferent to error or accuracy, and apathetic about truth or falsity. The bullshitter does not aim to lie; if what he says happens to be true, so much the better. For his primary goal is simply to influence people to agree with him. Bullshit differs from sophistry by degree, since the sophist has perfected bullshit into an almost formal art (or, if he’s of the more pragmatic bent, into a lucrative career). This is why anyone can be a bullshitter, but it usually takes years and several advanced degrees to forge a true sophist.

bullshit nonsense

A good case in point is Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB (b. December 29, 1942), whom Pope Francis has appointed as the coordinator of his Five-Year-Planesque “Gang of Eight” committee of apparatchiks cardinals. He seems to have tried, studied, and taught everything at some point: saxophone, piloting, theology, philosophy, science, psychiatry, etc. As you’ll see, or may have already seen, if he’s not a bullshitter, I don’t know who is. With his effusively chummy glad-handing and doublespeak, he is the perfect mascot for the punitive psychiatry campaign that is sweeping soft ultramontanists throughout the Church. Aptly enough, Rodríguez Maradiaga “received a diploma in clinical psychology and psychotherapy” from the Austrian University of Innsbruck.

Feel the mind meld.

As you probably predicted, I was not able simply to triage Maradiaga’s recent speech in Dallas without blogging about some of my findings. I was not going to blog about Cardinal Vapid’s perestroika speech, but my usual round of blogs today, and a little time on Facebook, presented me with so much fecal matter that I could barely restrain myself.

And I’m not the only one. I have it on good confidence that we might not only be seeing a Great Fisking in the very near future, but also a guest post here at FCA. I seem to be getting the same response from most people I’ve talked to: they’ve all seen it, but are barely able to comment on it, as they are still in the midst of commenting on the Pope’s prior statements, or on some other peculiarity in his papacy. Numerous commentors have remarked how rapidly Pope Francis has acted since being elected. He’s done some things in seven months that it took previous popes years to address. A sign of a happy worker or of something else? My feeling is that this papacy is working in the Blitzkrieg warfare works: success requires that you act faster and more broadly than the defense can react. Preemptively sowing a little dissension among the ranks and disseminating misinformation through the media seems to have worked well, too.

I can’t say when those other commentors will get to their own fisking, here at FCA or elsewhere, so let me speak frankly for myself: 

Maradiaga’s Dallas speech is a total clusterfuck.

And it perfectly captures what I mean by the Friends of Francis Effect

go ape!

As one friend put it, “It’s the worst thing I have read from a prominent prelate. Heretical, root and branch.” Disturbingly, Whispers in the Loggia calls it “the vision of this pontificate through the eyes of the closest thing Francis has to a ‘Vice-Pope.'” I have admitted that it’s intellectually risky, if not morally dubious, to attribute to the Pope every thought of his appointed advisors. Yet, it’s hard not to say that the Maradiaga who let loose in Dallas is not the hand puppet of Pope Francis when he states that a core premise of his disquisition arises simply from sowing the line being plowed by the Pope:

“If the Church has a mission at all, it is to manifest the deeds of Jesus. The Church has never been her own goal. Salvation comes from Jesus, not from the Church. The Church is mediation; it is not an end in herself or of herself. … That is the reason why Pope Francis is telling us that we have to reach out to the removed; we have to reach out to the periphery of the world, to the new missionary frontiers of the contemporary world.”

As outrageous as the entire first half of that quotation is, I will limit myself for the moment to the larger point that the reference to Pope Francis is not a general nod to the Smiling Pope, not just a perfunctory rubbing of the papal talisman. Most of those phrases in the lines that I emphasized come directly from the Pope’s more recent homilies. For instance, on 1 August 2013, Pope Francis said:

“We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel…. It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away. … Go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets.”

Likewise, on 30 October 2013, he said that

in response to the urgent needs of the present time, we are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters”.

You can be sure the newly promoted Maradiaga has been taking copious notes, the evidence of which we saw in his speech in Dallas.

Just to make clear how awful it is to think that Maradiaga’s point above is meant to be a restatement of the Pope’s own mind, let me dissect the madness.

“If the Church has a mission at all, it is to manifest the deeds of Jesus.”

False dichotomy by mystical mystification. In other words: bullshit.


The sacraments just are the deeds of Christ given for the salvation of all mankind for all ages (cf. CCC 1113 ff., Lumen Gentium #1, #4, #9.). Even in LG #2 we read of an eschatological, not merely an instrumental Church: “At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just … will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.”

“The Church has never been her own goal. Salvation comes from Jesus, not from the Church. The Church is mediation; it is not an end in herself or of herself.”

time bandits robin williams headAnother damnable false dichotomy! Clerical bullshit! Christ is the head of the Church and the Church just is the mystical body of Christ! To sever Christ qua Head from the Church qua Body is to commit the grotesque error of Protestantism, and yet such bullshit is lauded in the top cardinal in our day. In contrast, the actual Second Vatican Council taught:

“[God] has shared with us His Spirit who, existing as one and the same being in the Head and in the members, gives life to, unifies and moves through the whole body. … Just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, so the Church is called to follow the same route that it might communicate the fruits of salvation to men. … God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity” (LG #7, #8, #9).

“I will put enmity between Jesus and the Church: she shall crush his head, and he shalt lie in wait for her body.” — Genesis 3:15 (Not-So-Solemn-Nonsense Translation)

You might notice that I am primarily citing Vatican II documents. I do so intentionally. For, while I could draw on earlier magisterial wisdom to counter Maradiaga’s bullshit, as I have done recently, I think it’s important, in this post, to underscore the unprecedented grandeur of the bullshit that we’re witnessing these days. Pope Francis and Cdl. Maradiaga make a lot of noise about their esteem for Vatican II, but if Cardinal Vapid’s handling of the Vatican II texts is any indication, it’s a lot like Obama’s esteem for “the free market”: the words are there, but there’s a fundamental disconnect. As I’ve noted, Maradiaga’s claim that the ministerial and common priesthoods are not “essentially different” flies utterly in the face of the teaching of Vatican II that the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood “differ from one another in essence and not only in degree” (LG #10, 2). This shaman of the Spirit of Vatican II, being subject to a new genre of papal speech, and beholden to a new hermeneutic, can’t even be bothered to get his vanguard council’s texts right. Pure postmodernism. Pure bullshit.

Where does a cardinal learn to talk like this, let alone think he has the right to unburden himself of this much bullshit into the ears of the faithful? Insofar as Pope Francis might be the Manchurian Candidate of the Spirit of Vatican II, Maradiaga is the man of a thousand faces.

Since I think you get my overall point, and since shoveling this amount of bullshit is exhausting, I’ll proceed with much briefer fiskings. (Aren’t you happy!)

“To undertake this journey, one has to go back to the life of Jesus,…”

But not the death or resurrection of Jesus as Pantocrator?

“…who, despite being a layman,…”

Come again? Jesus was a layman? As in, one not anointed to pass on the sacramental grace of God? HERESY. Hebrews 5:6 – “Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.” How could a layman ordain men to be priests? Ohhhh. And if a priest is an alter Christus, but Christ was a layman, then–OHHHH! Neat trick!

“…caused ‘a change in the priesthood’ (Hebrews 7: 12).”

And so, implicitly, laymen in our day can and should rally to change the priesthood.

“Jesus’ entire life was a priestly life, in the sense that He became a man,…”

Umm, so, Jesus’ primary priesthood resides in his humanity? HERESY.

“…[Jesus was a priest because he] was poor, fought for justice, criticized the vices of power,…”

Cool. Kind of like Pope “We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised / The leaders of the Church have often been narcissistic, flattered and wrongly incited by their courtiers. The court is the plague of the papacy / love for temporal power is still very strong inside the walls of the Vatican and throughout the institutional structure of the Church” Francis. Convenient voodoo, there!

“…[Jesus] identified Himself with the most oppressed and defended them, treated women without discrimination,…”

And therefore would have ordained women?

“…clashed with the ones who had a different image of God and of religion,…”

And therefore rejected dogmatic orthodoxy?

“…and was forced by His own faithfulness to be prosecuted and to die crucified outside the city.”

Or would be forced by his own “humble” ego to be the target of well informed criticism and confusion, and to take it upon himself to reside in a hotel outside the Apostolic Palace. I get it.

“This original [social-works, non-clerical] priesthood of Jesus is the one that has to be continued in history.”

As if that dimension of Christ’s redemption had heretofore never been in play? From the now ritually unclean Scalfari interview: “I am the Bishop of Rome and the Pope of the Catholic world. I decided that the first thing to do was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisors. They are not courtiers but rather wise men who share my intentions. This is the beginning of a Church whose organization is not only vertical but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini spoke about this and emphasized the role of the Councils and Synods, he knew only too well how long and difficult the road ahead in that direction would be”. 

And yes, the Pope’s stumping for Marini is a problem.

Back to Padre de la Mierda del Toro:

“If the Church wants to stay faithful, she must also continue purifying herself through the martyrdom and the sanctity of the faithful.”

Even if this weren’t another false dichotomy, Lumen Gentium (#10) teaches the exact opposite: “The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist. They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.”

“Too many times she gives the impression of having too much certitude and too little doubt, freedom, dissension or dialogue.”

When? Where? Be specific. Stop bullshitting in the name of God.

In any case–too little doubt? Really? None other than St. Paul desired that we “know how … to behave … in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim 3:15). Not the snack bar of dialogue or wrestling mat of dissension: the one pillar and the sure ground of the absolute truth. I could cite handfuls of other Scriptures, but you should get the point by now: Maradiaga is a sacred bullshitter, since he doesn’t even care if what he says is consistent or well grounded, as long as it influences his desired audience.

“No more excommunicating the world, then,…”

Are we supposed to think that Pope Francis’s excommunication of Fr. Greg Reynolds is the last excommunication the Church will ever see?

“…or trying to solve the world’s problems by returning to authoritarianism, rigidity and moralism,…”

In other words, we need to let go of the past and embrace the future of anti-authoritarianism, flexibility and latitudinarianism.

“…but instead keeping always the message of Jesus as her sole source of inspiration.”

As if She has not done this till now? Good God, who are these Montanists?

“The Church could not continue posing as a reality facing the world, as a parallel ‘perfect society,’…”

Cue hard kick to Leo XIII’s teeth! Back off, hoary old Tradition!

“…which pursued her own autonomous course, strengthening her walls against the errors and the influence of the world.”

The only alternative being to weaken her walls to the errors and influence of the world. HERESY.

“This antithesis of centuries needed to be overcome.”

This is all of a piece with Pope Francis’s crypto-Hegelian/Whiteheadian process theology. The word “overcome” (“aufgehoben“, or sublated) is a key Hegelian buzz word, just as the word “antithesis” is. Where, after utterly dividing the Jesuits in Argentina, was Bp. Bergoglio sent for doctoral studies? Germany. Who are his two favorite authors? Dostoyevsky (existentialist) and Borges (pluralist/pantheist). But of course none of these factors should play any role in how we parse this papacy. 

“The Church did not have a monopoly on truth anymore,…”

Another false dichotomy, if Cardinal Vapid means the Church claimed to be competent to judge every single thing, like say mathematics or carpentry.

“…nor could she pontificate on a thousand human matters,…” 

Oh, wait. This means His Vapidness was talking about non-human (i.e. divine) matters in the previous clause. FACEPALM. If the first clause was meant to negate the Church’s regal authority in matters of faith, then the denial of a right to papal-judge (i.e. pontificate) on “human matters” negates Her authority in morals. TWO-HANDED FACEPALM.

“…or hold stances denoting arrogance or superiority. … Dialogue should … count on the contribution of humanisms and of non-Christian religions, which will take us back to the foundation of any creed, any ideology.”

This is miles from the traditional teaching that evangelism should be willing and able to consecrate and incorporate elements of paganism and humanism. In contrast, Maradiaga is saying that the Church needs paganism and humanism in order to restore the foundation of her creed. HERESY.

“What is Christian has its substrata, first and foremost, in what is human.”

Well, this is at least one point that I can easily unspin in an orthodox way–“grace perfects nature“–but, given the rest of the heterodoxoid goop in the speech, it’s hard to say that Maradiaga would even admit a Thomistic framework. Then again, if it helped sway the people, I’m sure he would be happy to bang the Thomistic drum.

Anything for the cause of bullshit.

zombie smiley

It’s probably as tiresome to read my fisking as it is for me to read Maradiaga’s bullshit, so let’s thank Cardinal Vapid that we can end it here and that he saved the biggest zinger for the end, thus making the whole tragic trudge worth the effort. Before you read his concluding nostrum, though, you best get yoself an anti-emetic:

“After the papacy of Benedict XVI, a time that was virtuous and heroic, the person of Pope Francis has arrived … [and] I do not find [it] naively optimistic to say that we are in the beginning of a new and dynamic period in the history of Catholicism, where the Church will constitute a missionary movement for the conversion of culture, propitiating and multiplying the signs of growth, of great vigor and hope –like for instance the world youth days….”

Tell me again that Maradiaga is not stumping for Pope Francis.


Being confronted with such a torrent of confused orthodoxy, or even kudzu-like heresy, coming from the top of the Church, is almost exciting in its enormity–or, at least, it can be so for those of us who believe in God’s providence over the indefectibility of the Church. She will not be corrupted, no matter how deeply these Montanist ticks like Maradiaga (but surely not Pope Francis) sink their glistening, smiling teeth into her. Triaging Maradiaga’s steaming heap is exciting in a morbid, dizzying way, like being anesthetized and seeing your own entrails removed without any direct pain. It’s so bad it’s almost surreal. Literally tragicomic.

Meanwhile, will we hear anything like a qualm of correction from Pope Francis?

Not on ya life.

As for the “open” Church being promoted by Pope Francis and his C-8 coordinator, Maradiaga?

There’s a word for a woman who is always open, always roving for new takers, always trying to look pretty for her clientele, and that’s what Montanist bullshitters like Maradiaga in Dallas are trying to transform our Holy Mother Church into.

That’s right.

You guessed it.

woman sitting open

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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10 Responses to On one other variety of bullshit…

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  7. James says:

    The quotation from Venerable Pius XII (Santo subito, Deo Volente) is wonderful. Good, clear, realistic, bracing stuff. What a contrast with today ! I hope that’s not unkind.
    The Cardinal’s speech didn’t mention Our Lady once – but we need Our Lady, badly, badly, badly. If that vapid, salvation-ignoring, Calvary-ignoring, redemption-ignoring speech, that mentions sin 4 times (sin is IIRC vaguely important – not that the speech explains why) is what counts as Catholic teaching today, no wonder people leave the Church 😦

  8. Pingback: Extra communitatem nulla salvatione? | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

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