Editor’s Note: On 2 May, George Neumayr’s book, The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, was published. OnePeterFive reached out to him, and he kindly gave us an interview. George Neumayr also gave us permission to publish Chapter One of his book, which we post here below, right after the interview itself. We strongly encourage our readers to support George Neumayr’s courageous book by buying it. It is available on Amazon.
Maike Hickson: What inspired you to write a book on Pope Francis?
George Neumayr: From the first moment I saw him, I knew that he was going to be a Modernist wrecking ball, and he struck me from the beginning as the prototypical “progressive” Jesuit. I knew it was an extremely bad sign that the Church would name the first Jesuit pope at the very moment the Jesuit Order was in its most corrupt and heterodox condition. I knew it was going to be a distressingly historic pontificate, and from the first moment of Francis’ papacy I began thinking that his pontificate would be a good subject for a book. As it unfolded, it became clearer and clearer that someone need to chronicle this consequentially chaotic pontificate.
MH: You studied at the Jesuit University of San Francisco. What was your first response when you saw and heard Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope in the Church’s history?
GN: Having gone to a Jesuit university, I am very familiar with the flakes and frauds that populate that order. When I heard the pope, in the first few months of his pontificate, engage in non-stop left-wing babble, it reminded me of all the nonsense that I heard as a student from similar “progressive” Jesuits. The program of Francis was so obviously set to promote political liberalism while downplaying doctrine; that was the formula of trendy and empty Catholicism that I saw on display at the Jesuit University of San Francisco.
MH: What approach did you take in order to be able to make a proportionate characterization of Pope Francis as pope in his actions and words?
GN: I went back and looked at his time at Buenos Aires, Argentina, at his formation in the Jesuit Order, I read all of his available speeches and writings – when he was a bishop, before he was pope; I read all the existing biographies about him; I talked to Latin American priests, I talked to Jesuits, I talked to Vatican officials, I talked to Catholic activists and Catholic academics and canon lawyers. Given the sensitivity of the topic, most of the people were only willing to speak anonymously with me. I tried to look at all the salient news items that relate to Bergoglio, before he was pope and when he was pope.
MH: What is the main conclusion of your research?
GN: The undeniable conclusion is that the Catholic Church is suffering under a bad pope and that the cardinals must address this crisis.
MH: How do you describe in your book the political worldview of Pope Francis? In which fields of politics does he show his left-leaning tendencies?
GN: Pope Francis is a product of political leftism and theological Modernism. His mind has been shaped by all of the post-enlightenment heresies and ideologies from Marx to Freud to Darwin. He is the realization of Cardinal Carlo Martini’s vision of a Modernist Church that conforms to the heresies of the Enlightenment. On almost all intellectual fronts, Francis is a follower of the Modernist school. He is a student of Modernist Biblical Scholarship, which can be seen in his ludicrous interpretation of certain passages from the Gospel: such as the time when he described the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as a metaphor and not a miracle. On more than one occasion, he said that it was not a miracle but a lesson in sharing: “This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity.”
MH: Do you think that Pope Francis, in his more political statements, misuses his office as Head of the Catholic Church?
GN: Yes, this pontificate is a blatant example of out-of-control clericalism. Pope Francis is using the pulpit of the papacy, not to present the teachings of the Church, but, rather, to promote his personal political agenda.
MH: Are his political statements in line with Catholic teaching?
GN: Many of his statements are not in line with the Church’s teaching, as I document in the book. Pope Francis is the worst teacher of the Faith in the history of the Catholic Church. One could not trust him to teach an elementary school religion class.
MH: When describing Pope Francis as a more left-leaning man, could you give us evidence for that? Which Marxist authors for example did he admire or approve of? Which political figures of the left are admired by him?
GN: I speak about this at the beginning of the book. His mentor was Esther Ballestrino de Careaga who was a very fervent Communist. Francis has acknowledged that he had teachers who were Communists who influenced him. I point out in my book that he also met with the widow of Paulo Freire, the author of the book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed which is a classic of the Socialist left in Latin America.
MH: Which practical acts as pope show that Pope Francis actively supports Marxist or revolutionary movements?
GN: I document in the book all of the liberation theologians whom Pope Francis has rehabilitated. Leonardo Boff is at the top of the list. He is an openly Socialist priest who left the priesthood but who is now in the good graces of the Vatican so much so that he was a counselor to the papal encyclical Laudato si. He also reinstated to the priesthood the Communist priest Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann from Nicaragua who is still in touch with President Daniel Ortega. That priest has now resumed his Communist polemics.
MH: How would you describe Pope Francis’ moral teaching in relation with his political teaching? Is there a parallel between his political and moral liberalism?
GN: He pays homage to the moral relativism and socialism that are at the heart of the global left. It is no coincidence that his signature phrases have been “Who am I to judge” and “Inequality is the root of all evil.” He is a darling of the global left because he is advancing many of the items of their agenda, such as climate-change activism, open borders, and abolition of lifetime imprisonment (a position still so far left that not even the U.S. Democrats take that position). He is a spokesman for gun control, for world government, for the redistribution of wealth by central planners. The pope is pandering to the willfulness inherent in liberalism which takes both the form of moral relativism and a form of a “virtue signaling” socialism. He gratifies the liberals’ egos by offering them a pontificate of “virtue signaling” without any teaching of actual virtue. In other words, liberals like to appear good but not be good. And a pontificate which combines political liberalism with moral or doctrinal relativism agrees with their self-indulgent politics. They also like a dash of non-threatening spirituality in their politics which a Jesuit dilettante from Latin America provides them with.
MH: You talk in your book also about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Is this document in line with Catholic teaching as it has been always taught by the Catholic Church?
GN: Amoris Laetitia is one of the most scandalous documents in the history of the Church. Pope Francis gives an obvious wink and a nod to adulterers in footnote 329 of that document (“In such situations, many [divorced and “remarried”] people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.”). In my book, I speak about the intentional ambiguity of that document and that Archbishop Bruno Forte, who helped to write the draft of the 2014 Synod on the Family, had acknowledged the deviousness of the document and said that it was typical of a Jesuit; and that Pope Francis himself had told Forte at the time that, if they had explicitly endorsed adultery, it would have caused a backlash, and, so, they had to introduce this topic into the Synod document more subtly.
MH: Are there other fields of Catholic teaching where you would say that Pope Francis departs from orthodoxy?
GN: Pope Francis is subverting the Church’s teaching on divorce and thereby subverting teaching on many of the Sacraments such as Marriage, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders. He is subverting the Church’s sacramental theology. I chronicle in my book many of his subversions of Church teaching, from his support of the use of contraceptives with regard to the Zika virus, to his religious indifferentism and his antinomianism, which has become a hallmark of his pontificate. Pope Francis frequently pits the law against mercy which is the essence of the antinomian heresy.
MH: What do you say about the response of the prelates of the Church, especially the cardinals, to some of the problematic parts of Amoris Laetitia?
GN: The response has been feeble. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an outstanding exception, he has spoken forthrightly about the heresy at work within that document.
MH: What should the cardinals be doing now? Are there ways for the cardinals to correct a pope?
GN: My position is that the cardinals should forthrightly confront the pope on this matter and make it clear to him that the heterodox position to which he is adhering is absolutely unacceptable. And then, if he fails to respond to the dubia, they must move to a formal correction.
MH: What are the reasons for the silence of so many prelates of the Church in the face of heterodox teachings coming out of Rome?
GN: One reason is their lack of conviction, another reason is shameful careerism, the third reason is that many of the bishops are cowards before the spirit of the age, and a lot of these “conservatives” are Modernists in slow motion.
MH: How is it possible that such a revolutionary pope could be elected as head of the Catholic Church? Do you touch upon this matter in your book?
GN: As I argue in the book, Pope Francis is the culmination of the Modernist movement which goes back over a hundred years. Modernism has been gathering strength in the Church since the Enlightenment, and it picked up speed in the 19th century and went into overdrive in the 20th century, producing the pontificate of Pope Francis. Pope Pius X’s encyclical on Modernism reads almost like a clinical description of the relativistic pontificate of Francis. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were later speed bumps in that road, inasmuch as they realized that the “Spirit of Vatican II” was wreaking havoc within the Church. But, with Francis now at the wheel, those speed bumps have been completely disregarded, and he seeks to complete the Modernist revolution.
MH: How would you describe Modernism, and what is fundamentally wrong with it?
GN: The essence of Modernism is the absorption of modern liberalism into Catholicism.
MH: So how should the Church find its way back to a strong and healthy response to any weakening and undermining of its teaching as it has been handed down to us from the Apostles?
GN: All of the reforms can be reduced to one reform: a return to orthodoxy and holiness.
MH: You are of the younger Catholic generation, born in 1972. What is and was your own response to the Catholic Church as it presented itself to you in the Novus Ordo Mass, but also in the Catechesis and in all the other aspects of Catholic life? What went wrong and what is missing?
GN: I belong to a generation of Catholics that asked for bread and only received stones.
MH: What do you intend to effect with your book, and what would you say that we Catholic authors and journalists should and could do in this current situation of confusion in order to help the faithful?
GN: My hope is that a book like this would contribute to the restoration of orthodoxy and holiness in the Church, and I think it is the duty of journalists to speak the truth without fear or favor.