Pope Francis entered a broken, dying country and he left it a broken and dying country. Francis presented himself before American Catholics almost totally ignorant of the Faith they profess and its practices. He left the Catholics in the same state in which he found them. The spiritual physician from Rome did not diagnose the problem nor prescribe the remedy. Indeed the doctor from Rome didn't even recognize that a problem exists.
Perhaps he came for another reason, though I am hard pressed to know what that might have been. There were compensations, however. The cheering throngs gave him the rock star treatment he seems to crave so much. The world does not hate him. On the contrary.
When speaking about US Catholics in general I refer not to those good citizens who work and pray and try to live their lives as Christ wants them to live it. I refer to the rest, the majority (if polls are to be believed), who will go on to do and say and think what they've always done, said and thought, because they were left unchallenged by the man whose mission is to teach all nations.
America needed to hear about its blood lust, the blood lust that murders infants in the womb and innocents abroad who Washington wants "democratized". We needed to hear about arrogance, injustice, moral relativism, our dying culture. But the Pope did not address these things.
He could have said, and with complete justice, that any nation that allows groups like Planned Parenthood to do what they are doing does not have long to live. He could have warned us that we are at the abyss. He could have said that a Great Comeuppance is coming from somewhere (I know not where); that something terrible is going to happen to a nation like ours (I know not what).
He could have said that the Catholics who greeted him were for the most part Catholics completely out of touch with Catholicism, Catholics who are merely Mass-going Protestants. This could be hard for him because he himself seems out of touch with much of the Faith as it has been understood for twenty centuries. Even so, he might have reminded his flock that there is a Sacrament called Penance, rarely used; that perhaps the flock could address that glaring omission in their lives, and soon. A good question in this regard might have been asked: why does almost no one go to Confession anymore. Why do some pastors (like one I met only two days ago) actually physically remove the Confessionals from their churches? Francis could have asked his flock, "Are you all immaculately conceived now, and have no sin?" We have been told that he often exhorts the use of this particular sacrament. If so we heard precious little about it in America where Catholics destroy their own children with the same gay abandon as their non-Catholic neighbors.
We as a people and a nation are drowning in sin...but all we heard from Francis was platitudes. Endless, very boring platitudes.
To be fair, there are reports of some genuinely edifying moments during his visit. Apparently he met Mrs Kim Davis and offered her hope. Good for him that he did that. I wish he had done more of that kind of thing, and with more publicity. It was noteworthy all the same.
But we are flogging a very dead horse here; we know that this Pope, like some of his predecessors, prefers to ignore such vital issues. Why continue to keep mentioning the obvious?
The answer: why do we continue to breathe? Since the Vatican doesn't want to discuss these issues, somebody has to, even if it has to be insignificant bloggers.
Recently I wrote a little apology to those non-Catholics of good will who were about to get the full "Francis Treatment" when he arrived in America. That post was not well-liked by some. But in light of the recent papal visit which has just thankfully ended I reiterate that apology. The Vicar of Christ, the spiritual physician, left us a bleeding, dying nation, just as he found us. Even non-Catholics of good will have noticed this. They wanted to hear truth. A nation that was begging to be healed by the strong and clear teachings of the Faith was left alone and in ignorance. Instead of teaching us he patronized us. He addressed us as citizens of "the land of the free and home of the brave". It is to laugh. How brave is it for us to exterminate little ones in the womb and chop up their body parts for sale; how brave is it for us to march into another country and rain down bombs and destruction on the innocent?
We are "free", Francis? That's extremely funny. Tell that to the "supreme" court, or the bought-and-paid-for Congress. Or to the man in the White House with whom you were so jocular.
Some Catholics, straining beyond belief to find some good in what he said and did while here, looked rather ridiculous in their attempts to paint the rosiest picture possible. It is eye-opening to see this, for it displays how out of touch with reality some can allow themselves to get. Others, out of respect, preferred to keep a dignified silence.
It would be naive to deny that everyone likes to be liked. I do. But I am not certain I would wish the world to be giving me ovations. Francis, on the other hand, like many recent Popes, wants to make friends with the world. I trust I do not need to offer Bible quotes to remind you of Our Lord's opinion about being loved by the world.
I admire Edward Pentin. An excellent, honest journalist who loves the Faith. I envy him because he can write so dispassionately about what is going on, and is about to go on starting this Sunday, October 4. In his interviews there is an inner anguish in the good man's eyes which is unmistakable. Like many he is worried. Admirably he hides what he thinks behind cold, hard facts even if, once in awhile, his anguish can be more clearly read between the lines. He and others are beginning to see what veterans like the late Hamish Fraser was already seeing in the 1960s up until his death in 1986. The ground had been prepared for someone like Francis by previous Popes who preferred not to admonish or even govern.
I mention Mr Pentin for two reasons: I admire his doggedness in reporting the truth. I admire too his calm, his ability to keep his head on his shoulders.And the other reason is that he gives me hope. When honest men who love the Church - but do not classify themselves as "traditionalists" - are willing to see that something is rotten in Denmark, then I believe it possible that the tables are beginning, finally, to turn.
The doctor came, saw the sick, dying patient and just left. We can hope that one day this physician will heal himself.