More than once I have had the painful moral obligation to address, in a critical but invariably respectful manner, statements and deeds by Pope Francis favoring revolutionary “social” movements in Latin America, rehabilitating liberation theologians and especially, diplomatically supporting Cuba’s communist regime.
The incomprehensible aspects of his pontificate, however, are not limited to the aforementioned. In Italy and other European countries, his recent claim that “Islamic terrorism does not exist” has caused dismay and concern.
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In this line, journalist Magdi Allam, an Italian of Egyptian origin and a specialist in Islamic affairs stated, “Pope Francis is deceived, because Islamic terrorism does exist,” and that “reality is quite different.” “Unfortunately,” Allam continued, “this is not the first time that he acts to absolve Islam of responsibility for terrorism that cuts throats, decapitates, massacres and blows up,” as was the case with Pope Francis’ statements regarding the “barbarous beheading” of a French priest in 2016. Moreover, by “legitimizing Islam and the invasion of Muslims” into Europe the Pontiff “is committing suicide not only with the Church but with our own civilization.”
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As if that were not bad enough, Pope Francis is causing doctrinal controversy with daring theological writings. And while speaking of mercy on the one hand, he is treating with an iron fist conservative personalities and entities that dare manifest any disagreement, however respectfully.
The present scenario is one of dangerous confusion. Accordingly, the renowned historian Roberto de Mattei has just told the Italian daily La Stampa that “the Church is living one of the most confusing moments in its history, and Pope Francis is one of the causes of this confusion.”
The chaos and confusion within the Church is nothing new. Consider the serious acknowledgment by Paul VI in his speech of December 7, 1968, when he said that the Church was immersed in a mysterious process of “self-demolition.” In his homily of June 29, 1972, he added he had the “feeling” that “Satan’s smoke has made its way into the temple of God through some crack.”
We are actually living in what may be one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the Church and civilization. May the Virgin of Charity, patroness of Cuba, grant us the necessary discernment to see, judge and act according to the gravity of this unprecedented situation of confusion and self-destruction. May she protect, comfort and fill us with authentic faith and give us the spiritual strength to continue fighting for freedom in Cuba and throughout the world with the fire of the Apostle Saint Paul, “fighting the good fight of faith” and “hoping against all hope” (2 Tim. 4:7 and Rom. 4:18-19).
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Armando Valladares, writer, painter and poet, spent twenty-two years in Cuba’s political prisons. He is the author of the bestselling book Against All Hope, which recounts the horror of Castro’s prisons. He was the United States ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under the Reagan and Bush administrations. He received the Presidential Medal of the Citizen and the Superior Award of the Department of State. In 2016 he was awarded the Canterbury Medal, a prize for the struggle for religious freedom worldwide, sponsored by the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. He has written numerous articles on ecclesiastical collaboration with Cuban communism and on the Vatican “Ostpolitik” with Cuba, many of which can be read on the web site www.cubdest.org/.