What Is the Meaning of Pope Francis’s New Gesture?

What Is the Meaning of Pope Francis’s New Gesture?

What Is the Meaning of Pope Francis’s New Gesture?
© Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Since the Middle Ages, Popes have used a ferula, a metal rod topped by a cross, to symbolize their authority.

However, at the inauguration of the Youth Synod, on October 3, the Holy Father presented himself with a new papal ferula: a forking bamboo-like staff. The cross disappeared.

Paying close attention, one notices a carved face at the base of the fork, which would be Our Lord’s. According to some, the fork is supposed to represent the arms of the Savior.

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This singular ferula was given to the Pope at the Youth Meeting in the Circus Maximus on August 11.

This new symbol aptly suits the kind of religion you see in photographs of this meeting: countless boys appear shirtless, and girls without a blouse, wearing only a revealing bra and tight shorts.1

Back to the new symbol used by Francis, which caused no small commotion in the Catholic world,2 this aberrant replacement of the cross with a fork has even more serious aspects.

The staff topped by a fork is related to witchcraft and Wicca, and in the United States, it is called a stang. Significantly, one of the girls who delivered the staff to Francis wore a “red string on the wrist . . . something from Wicca.”3

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As one occultist author explains, “The Stang is adored by many modern Traditional Witches, myself included. It’s a tool whose use powerfully evokes a sense of connection to something old and primitive. In its simplest form, a forked staff, Witches use the Stang in various ways including representing the Horned One, aiding in spirit flight, and directing energy.”4

What Is the Meaning of Pope Francis’s New Gesture?

This is not the first time that Pope Francis sends ambiguous symbolic messages, through acts, gestures, and attitudes, to the point that one could ask whether, given these messages’ ambiguity, Francis is not abandoning his Petrine mission to confirm his brothers in the faith.
© Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Why did the Pope abandon the Cross of Christ, replacing it with an ambiguous forked staff? And what led him to use a staff that could be interpreted as an occultist stang?

Since, as Saint Robert Bellarmine states, “the whole Church always taught in words and examples,”5 what did the Pontiff intend to teach through this gesture? That all religions are good, even those that worship “The Horned One”?

Did he intend to consecrate, in a symbolic fashion, the naturalist-ecologist doctrine contained in his encyclical Laudato Si,6 in which he affirmed that the Son of God has “united himself to this earth,”7 that the Holy Spirit is “present at the very heart of the universe,”8 and that the Holy Eucharist is “a  fragment of matter”?9

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This is not the first time that Pope Francis sends ambiguous symbolic messages, through acts, gestures, and attitudes, to the point that one could ask whether, given these messages’ ambiguity (many examples could be mentioned), Francis is not abandoning his Petrine mission to confirm his brothers in the faith.10 For the truth—which can be taught by words and by acts, gestures, and attitudes11—must have a clarity that does not allow ambiguities.

That is why the Divine Master ordered His Apostles to be entirely accurate: “Let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil”(Matt. 5:37).

May the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, the Mother of the Church, His Mystical Body, obtain from her Son that the passion the Church is going through may end as soon as possible.

Footnotes

  1. See “Settantamila giovani al Circo Massimo per il Papa: ‘Non lasciatevi rubare i sogni,’” Il Tempo, Aug. 11, 2018, https://www.iltempo.it/roma-capitale/2018/08/11/news/roma-papa-francesco-circo-massimo-giovani-raggi-1081743/; Chiara Sarra, “Il Papa incontra i giovani: in migliaia all’incontro al Circo Massimo,” Il Giornale, Aug. 11, 2018, http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/cronache/papa-incontra-i-giovani-migliaia-allincontro-circo-massimo-1564095.html; Debbie White, “Pope idol! Adoring young fans mob Francis as pontiff resembles a rock star on stage at 70,000-strong youth festival in Rome” Daily Mail, Aug. 11, 2018, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6050877/Pope-Francis-mobbed-adoring-fans-70-000-gather-youth-festival-Rome.html.
  2. See, for example, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, “What is that? #Synod2018 – UPDATED – EXPLAINED and EXPLAINED MORE,” Fr. Z’s Blog, Oct. 5, 2018, http://wdtprs.com/blog/2018/10/what-is-that-synod2018/; Susan Matthiesen, “Is Francis’ Stang a Laudato Si/Sr Dorothy Stang Stang?” Les Femmes – The Truth, Oct. 6, 2018, https://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com/2018/10/is-francis-stang-laudato-sisr-dorothy.html.
  3. Zuhlsdorf, “What is that? #Synod2018.”
  4. Kelden, “The Stang,” Patheos, Aug. 20, 2016, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/byathameandstang/2016/08/the-stang/.
  5. St. Robert Bellarmine, On Laymen or Secular People (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012), 54.
  6. See Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, “Notes on the Unacceptable Philosophy and Theology of Laudato Si’,” TFP.org, Aug. 2, 2017, http://www.tfp.org/notes-unacceptable-philosophy-theology-laudato-si/.
  7. Francis, Encyclical Laudato Si’, May 24, 2015, no. 238, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., no. 236.
  10. “Confirm thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
  11. See Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, “Acts, Gestures, Attitudes and Omissions Can Characterize a Heretic,” in Can Documents of the Magisterium of the Church Contain Errors? Can the Catholic Faithful Resist Them? trans. John R. Spann and José Aloisio A. Schelini (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property—TFP, 2015).

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