A certain unease hangs in the air. Global conflicts seem to be breaking out everywhere and, even more ominously, the world's two leading nuclear powers --the United States and the Russian Federation --are effectively squaring off now in proxy conflicts in the Ukraine and Syria. In recent days reports have begun to emerge that Russia forces are not active in Syria, a region US forces have been engaged in for several years.
If these potential geopolitical nightmares are not enough, there's the growing economic uncertainties griping the world. China's market has been hammered for the past month all the while it has sold nearly $100 billion worth of US Treasuries. The US market has also been fluctuating frantically as investors nervously await the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting (September 16-17) in which a possible interest rate hike may be announced. Some fearmongerers have suggested that this could trigger a 40% drop in the market. But even mainstream sources have begun to acknowledge the prospect of another recession, even if they place it in 2018.
Meanwhile, civilians murdered by police in the United States continues at a breathtaking rate. Nearly 800 individuals have been murdered by police in this country in 2015, 161 of whom were completely unarmed. Predictably, this has triggered a rash of police killings that has further fueled the myth of the "War on Police." And then there's the specter of the US political scene in which the public seems to have a choice between decaying and corrupt political dynasties such as those of the Clintons and Bushs or the megalomaniac demagoguery of Donald Trump.
Yes, this researcher is not very impressed by these claims and even gets a sense of the Y2K and 2012 hysteria that promised FEMA-driven genocide but ultimately proved to be much ado about nothing. I do not foresee legions of UN Peacekeepers in America's immediate future, but perhaps attention directed at Pope Francis is not entirely undue. The highly controversial pontiff comes to the United States at a time in which Vatican observers have detected a growing schism within the Church's hierarchy that could have serious repercussions.
The extent of this schism became most evident this past October during a Synod concerning the family that turned into a direct challenge to Francis' papacy. The Spectator reports:
"The October synod was a disaster for Pope Francis. Before it started, he had successfully tweaked the Catholic mood music relating to divorcees and gay people. The line ‘Who am I to judge?’, delivered with an affable shrug on the papal plane, generated friendly headlines without committing the church to doctrinal change. Conservatives were alarmed but had to acknowledge Francis’s cunning. ‘Remember that he’s a Jesuit,’ they said.
"Then Francis did something not very cunning. Opening the synod, which would normally be a fairly routine affair, he encouraged cardinals and bishops to ‘speak boldly’. Which they did, but not in the way he intended.
"The Pope’s first mistake was to invite Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s 81-year-old retired head of ecumenism, to set the agenda for the synod by addressing the world’s cardinals back in February. Kasper told them that the church should consider giving Holy Communion to remarried Catholics.
"Even if Francis supports this notion — and nobody knows — his choice of Kasper was a blunder because the cardinal, in addition to being a genial and distinguished scholar, is leader of a German-led faction that represents, in Catholic terms, the far left of the theological spectrum. In 1993 Kasper, then Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, co-signed a letter by German bishops demanding that Catholics living ‘in a canonically invalid union’ should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to receive the Eucharist. The German church is a law unto itself: although its services are empty, it is rich, thanks to the country’s church tax, and arrogant. To cut a long story short, this faction — which had ruthlessly undermined Benedict XVI’s authority when he was pope – tried to hijack the synod.
"They messed it up. The synod’s ‘special secretary’, the Italian archbishop Bruno Forte, wrote a mid-synod report suggesting that the participants wanted to recognise the virtuous aspects of gay unions. In doing so, Forte — an even more radical figure — overplayed his hand. Most synod fathers wanted no such thing. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s finances, were horrified. They ensured that the final report kicked Communion for divorcees into the long grass and did not even mention homosexual relationships. ‘Synod rebuffs Francis on gays,’ reported the media — the last thing the Pope wanted to read."
|Cardinal Walter Kasper, a key mentor to Pope Francis|
"Yet as he upends church convention, Francis also is grappling with a conservative backlash to the liberal momentum building inside the church. In more than a dozen interviews, including with seven senior church officials, insiders say the change has left the hierarchy more polarized over the direction of the church than at any point since the great papal reformers of the 1960s.
"The conservative rebellion is taking on many guises — in public comments, yes, but also in the rising popularity of conservative Catholic Web sites promoting Francis dissenters; books and promotional materials backed by conservative clerics seeking to counter the liberal trend; and leaks to the news media, aimed at Vatican reformers.
"In his recent comments, Burke was also merely stating fact. Despite the vast powers of the pope, church doctrine serves as a kind of constitution. And for liberal reformers, the bruising theological pushback by conservatives is complicating efforts to translate the pope’s transformative style into tangible changes."
The Post goes on to note that this divide is already spurring intrigues within the Vatican:
"A measure of the church’s long history of intrigue has spilled into the Francis papacy, particularly as the pope has ordered radical overhauls of murky Vatican finances. Under Francis, the top leadership of the Vatican Bank was ousted, as was the all-Italian board of its financial watchdog agency.
"One method of pushback has been to give damaging leaks to the Italian news media. Vatican officials are now convinced that the biggest leak to date — of the papal encyclical on the environment in June — was driven by greed (it was sold to the media) rather than vengeance. But other disclosures have targeted key figures in the papal cleanup — including the conservative chosen to lead the pope’s financial reforms, the Australian Cardinal George Pell, who in March was the subject of a leak about his allegedly lavish personal tastes.
"More often, dissent unfolds on ideological grounds. Criticism of a sitting pope is hardly unusual — liberal bishops on occasion challenged Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI. But in an institution cloaked in traditional fealty to the pope, what shocks many is just how public the criticism of Francis has become.
"In an open letter to his diocese, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., wrote: 'In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, countercultural, prophetic voice, one that the world needs to hear.' For his part, Burke, the cardinal from Wisconsin, has called the church under Francis 'a ship without a rudder.'
"Even Pell appeared to undermine him on theological grounds. Commenting on the pope’s call for dramatic action on climate change, Pell told the Financial Times in July, 'The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.' ”
|Cardinal George Pell|
"And now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ‘I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ‘Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ‘He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’ "In an earlier article from July 2015 The Spectator further elaborated upon Benedict's subtle digs at Francis:
"Last year, the Pope Emeritus slapped down his old adversary Cardinal Walter Kasper, a left-wing German theologian, for suggesting that, when he was still Professor Ratzinger, he supported communion for divorced and remarried Catholics — Kasper’s pet cause. He has warned the Church against ‘any wavering from the Truth’...
"Most of these interventions can be interpreted as implicit criticism of Pope Francis. The ‘wavering from the Truth’ comment was directed at Kasper, a mentor to Francis whose radical ideas provoked fury at last October’s Synod on the Family. (Significantly, the Vatican tried to keep Benedict’s words from reaching the press.) The Ordinariate letter is unlikely to have bothered the Pope, but the message to Latin Mass supporters will have annoyed him. When Benedict praised ‘great cardinals’, he had in mind the arch-conservative Raymond Burke — whom Francis sacked as head of the Vatican’s legal tribunal...
"Liberal Catholics will dismiss Benedict’s comments as the embittered musings of a disappointed 88-year-old and point instead to the million-strong crowd Francis drew in Ecuador this week. They overlook something obvious to visitors to many British parishes: younger clergy and worshippers in the West tend to be natural Benedictines, not Franciscans. My own parish is not ‘traditionalist’ but its liturgy has become more solemn, the music more classical and a crucifix has appeared on the altar: a trademark of the hermeneutic of continuity because the priest symbolically faces east, as once he did literally."
|Pope Benedict in "retirement"|
|Pope Jon Paul I|
For our purposes here, the ties Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis had to various secretive Catholic orders is most illuminating. The conspiratorial right has of course had a field day with Pope Francis being the first Jesuit ever to sit upon the chair of Saint Peter, the Society of Jesus being one of their long time whipping boys.
Indeed, as far as Catholic orders go, none draw the kind of attention from the "alternative" media as do the Jesuits. A quick Google search can find allegations accusing them of the formation of the Bavarian Illuminati and Freemasonry; of being pawns of a Zionist world conspiracy; of instigating the rise of Nazism; of being the puppet masters behind the JFK assassination and 9/11; and of course being key players in the Extraterrestrial Question (a notion that has gained further traction of late due to the interest expressed in alien life of late by several prominent Jesuits).
|the emblem of the Society of Jesus|
"Incidentally," it was Pope John Paul II and his close alley, Joseph Ratzinger, who lead the assault against Jesuit support for Liberation Theology in the early 1980s.
"In 1981, John Paul II did an extraordinary thing when he intervened with the Constitutions of the Jesuit order to impose his own leadership on their religious order. The Pope did not like the leadership of Father Pedro Arrupe, who encouraged Jesuits to embraced liberation theology and base communities. When Arrupe had a stroke in 1981, the pope appointed his own man to head the order and forbade the Jesuits to elect their own leader for two years.
"In 1984, Ratzinger attacked liberation theology in an article in the Communion and Liberation journal 30 Giorni in which he complained that the movement liberation theology 'does not fit into accepted categories of heresy because it accepts all the existing language but gives it new meaning.' In March, Ratzinger sent a delegation from his Inquisition Office to Bogota, Columbia, to push for a condemnation of liberation theology from CELAM, the conference of bishops of Latin America..."
(The Pope's War, Matthew Fox, pg. 27)
|John Paul II|
It probably goes without saying, but neither Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict had much love for the Society of Jesus. As has been noted before here and here, both men seem to have had extensive ties to two even more mysterious Catholic orders: the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) and Opus Dei. The former is descendant from the Crusader-era Knights Hospitallers and is more commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta. Opus Dei does not have a nearly millennium spanning pedigree, but its sudden rise after being founded in Spain in the 1920s by the highly controversial Jose Maria Escriva has shocked many within the Vatican. Both orders have on occasion drawn many outlandish claims from the conspiratorial right, but it cannot be denied both orders are close to the inner most circles of power. The prior linked to articles at the beginning of this paragraph give an over view of the facts and fiction concerning either order.
|emblems of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (top) and Opus Dei (bottom)|
|a seal of the Propaganda Due Masonic lodge|
"Towards the end of Paul VI's reign a battle erupted in the Roman Curia between Progressive and Conservative factions. The Progressive faction, which wanted tighter financial controls and opposed greater influence for Opus Dei, was led by Paul's closest aide, Archbishop Benelli. He was credited with resolving one of the most serious crises is of the post-Conciliar Church – the break-up of the Company of Jesus, a project that allegedly had its roots inside the Villa Tevere. Benelli's efforts ensure that the 26,000 Jesuits remained under the command of one general superior, who at the time was Don Pedro Arrupe.
"Benelli was said to have wanted to keep the Company of Jesus intact because it represented the only effective counter-balance to Opus Dei. Moreover, Benelli also made known his distaste for the mercantile morals of Bishop Paul Marcinkus, the head of the Vatican bank whom he regarded as an Opus Dei sycophant..."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pg. 206)
|Bishop Paul Marcinkus|
Fast forward some thirty years, and we find the Vatican bank once again accused of dubious accounting while the progressive wing of the Curia seems to have returned to power after several decades in the wilderness due to the sudden and almost unprecedented resignation of Opus Dei-backed Pope Benedict. Benedict is in turn replaced by the Jesuit Pope Francis.
This researcher suspects that this chain of events represents some kind of coup within the Vatican just as the sudden death of Pope John Paul I and the attempted assassination of John Paul II in the late 1970s and 1980s effectively concluded a successful conservative coup. But this time the Jesuits are in charge and the standing pope was merely forced to resign. Whether Benedict's resignation was triggered by financial improprieties or something more dubious remains in the air. In The Pope's War, author Mathew Fox chronicles the longstanding protection Benedict provided to pedophile's within the Church hierarchy. Certainly this may have also factored into Benedict's resignation.
But Pope Francis himself seems to have no illusions about the long term prospects of the plotters who backed him. Consider these enigmatic comments Francis made in late 2014:
"Pope Francis has said he might have only two or three years left to live.
"On a plane trip back from South Korea, he told journalists he believed he only had limited time left to complete his reforms of the Roman Catholic Church.
"Asked about how he copes with his popularity, he said: ‘I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, so as not to think that I am some- body important.’
"He then added with a smile: ‘Because I know this is going to last a short time, two or three years and then… to the house of the Father.’
"According to a Vatican source, the 77-year-old has previously told those close to him that he thought he only had a few years left."
Rumors of failing health have of course surrounded Francis as they did John Paul I after his death and Ratzinger at the time of his resignation. But few close to John Paul I give much stock to his alleged health problems (as noted before here) while Benedict has seemed rather lucid in recent public appearances. One suspects that Francis, aware of the intrigues behind John Paul I's death, may be expecting a similar fate.
This makes his up coming visit to the United States under such trying conditions most curious. Already members of Stormfront, a white nationalist website linked to almost 100 deaths in recent years, have called for the Pope's death. No doubt these threats are some what muted due to the abandonment of Francis' original plan to enter the United States via Mexico to express solidarity with migrants.
And of course there are countless rumors that a fair mount of ISIS supporters are among the migrants, ISIS being a group that has threatened the Pope's life, among many other things. Its interesting to note that ISIS has long been suspected of receiving extensive backing from NATO member Turkey. Turkey in turn is home to the fascist Grey Wolves movement that produced Mehmet Ali Agca, the attempted assassin to Pope John Paul II. Much more on Agca and the Grey Wolves can be found here and here.
Needless to say, while the prospect of Pope Francis being assassinated by a white supremacist would be dire, an assassination carried out by a suspected ISIS member would have utterly disastrous geopolitical repercussions. And this makes the final days of September that will witness Francis' US visit all the more volatile.