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A few minutes into my conversation with Bishop Gracida, bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, TX, it becomes obvious that he is direct and to the point, evidently allergic to beating around the bush. Yet, he’s kindly and thoughtful. At 95, he is hale and hearty, and is one of the very few bishops who regularly blog. His remarks, sometimes trenchant, always readable, are found at www.abyssum.org Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, Latin for “deep calls to deep” (from Psalm 42:7).
If you feel somewhat disoriented by some of the utterances and writings of Pope Francis, you’re not alone. If the thought of criticizing the Pope makes you uncomfortable (there are plenty of nasty professional Francis Haters online), that’s a good sign of filial devotion to the Holy Father and to the Church he visibly leads. Sometimes, though, the faithful have “the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful” (Canon 212.3).
In this regards, Bishop Gracida has some questions that fearlessly “go there.” What do I mean? The authorized biography of disgraced Godfried Cardinal Daneels of Belgium describes activities between and among cardinal electors, such as Cardinal Carlo Martini, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, and Cardinals Karl Lehmann and Walter Kasper—dubbed the St. Galen Mafia. These activities, verified by Austin Ivereigh in his hagiographic biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making Of a Radical Pope involve canvassing other electors to elect Jorge Cardinal Bergolio.
Bishop Rene Gracida believes, as do others, that this activity is canonically illegal under the promulgated laws in the 1996 Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, by St. John Paul II. If this is true, then the validity of the papal election may be in doubt. You read that right.
To state the obvious, I am not a canonist nor was I at the Conclave. What I know is that know that the reaction of most Catholic pundits to the notion that the 2013 election may have been invalid is met with a guffaw or a “that’s crazy talk.” It’s a gorilla in the room whose existence needs to be acknowledged before it can be dismissed as harmless.