Only shepherds who have the spiritual strength, the Cardinal Gift of Fortitude, to brave the risk of worldly criticism, will be able to lead the Catholic Church out of the valley of the Culture of Death and back on the road to the Civilization of Love which Pope John Paul II spoke of so often.
Why have so many priests succumbed to fear? Why is it that their preaching no longer points out sin? Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange provides us with an answer:
"The reason for this is not difficult to find. A sermon is the result of the combined effort of all the priest's powers; it reveals his entire person; it is his struggle against the vices of the surrounding world." In other words, if the preaching is unsound, it is because the priest's spiritual life is unsound. Fr. Lagrange continues, "Everything in the priest cooperates in his preaching - study, reflection, his powers to compose and revise, the activity of his intellect, his imagination, his memory, his feelings, his voice. Therefore, when he preaches, the priest stands exposed for all to study; some will be attracted, others will not. Some will accept what he says, others will simply criticize. So if the priest approaches his task from the human angle, he will say to himself: 'I cannot afford to lose my reputation; people of weight in the parish who take offense easily must be spared their feelings and not provoked; I must proceed warily so as not to incur criticism.' In that way Christian eloquence is invaded by a profane eloquence in which the preacher looks after his own interests, not the glory of God or the saving of souls." (The Priest In Union With Christ, p. 156).
The Cult of Softness (see here) continues to produce only rot within the Church.
The New York Times has confirmed what devout Catholics already know, that the "Francis effect" is a myth:
"...are Catholics actually coming back? In the United States, at least, it hasn’t happened. New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one.
In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent.
Of course, the United States is only one part of a global church. But the researchers at Georgetown found that certain types of religious observance are weaker now among young Catholics than they were under Benedict.
In 2008, 50 percent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and 46 percent said they made some sacrifice beyond abstaining from meat on Fridays. This year, only 41 percent reported receiving ashes and only 36 percent said they made an extra sacrifice, according to CARA.
In spite of Francis’ personal popularity, young people seem to be drifting away from the faith."
Young people are naturally idealistic. They want to be challenged. They need to be challenged with the hard demands of the Gospel, with the truth.
But Francis offers only a non-dogmatic, Cotton-Candy Catholicism. A sacharrin "gospel" which appeals to worldly types but which is short on substance. And while more and more youth are abandoning the Church, rather than placing an emphasis on doctrinal truths, Francis offers unsound teaching and meets with people like Simon Cazal, a homosexual activist who claims to be married to another man while demanding that the Church founded by Christ Jesus change its teaching on homosexuality to accommodate the New Sodom. See here.
The Cult of Softness has failed. But Francis cannot steel himself to admit this. He has succumbed to an alien ideology. He has decided to genuflect before the spirit of Sodom while this demonic spirit continues to wreak havoc within an already devastated vineyard. See here.
Father Peter Naranjo, Saint Mary's Church in Orange, Massachusetts on Twitter: