Francis Rewrites the Account of the Healing at Bethesda

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 29, 2017

A major element of what Antonio Socci has dubbed “Bergoglianism” is Pope Bergoglio’s freewheeling “exegesis” of Scripture during his improvised, rambling homilies at Casa Santa Marta.  The result often bears no resemblance to the Gospel account and even at times turns the Gospel on its head.

In the homily of March 28, for example, Pope Bergoglio addresses Our Lord’s miraculous healing of the lame man at Bethesda recounted in the Fifth Chapter of St. John.  We read of the poor man being unable to approach the healing pool in time when the angel stirs the waters because his infirmity slows him down. When Our Lord asks him if he would be made whole, he replies: “Sir, I have no man when the water is troubled, to put me in the pond: for whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me.”  Whereupon Our Lord heals him on the spot, he takes up his pallet, and walks away.

Pope Bergoglio somehow manages to convert this touching account into an indictment of the lame man!  As he told the congregation at Casa Santa Marta:  “This man was like the tree planted along the bank of the rivers, mentioned in the first Reading, but it had arid roots, roots that did not reach the water, could not take nourishment from the water. This is clear from his attitude of always complaining and trying to blame the other.” 

What?  The lame man was not blaming others and “always complaining” but was merely telling Our Lord about his plight of being unable to approach the healing waters because he could not walk unassisted.  As Father Haydock explains in his commentary on the passage, when Our Lord asked the man if he would be healed, “No doubt but the poor man wanted nothing more. Christ put the question to raise him to a lively faith and hope.”  And indeed, the man responded immediately in faith and thus was healed as the reward for his faith in the Lord.

Yet Francis’ bizarre exegesis continues to condemn the man even after his cure: “he rose and walked with that slothful attitude… living his life because oxygen is free… Sloth is a sin that paralyzes us, stops us from walking.”  Thus, according to Francis, the cured man was some sort of lazy ingrate. But this is nonsense. As Father Haydock notes, the man “went out [walked away] not out of malice, but out of gratitude, and told the Jews that Jesus had cured him.”

Further, as Our Lord Himself tells the man when He later encounters him in the Temple: “Behold, thou are made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.”  By these words, writes Father Haydock, “the Saviour shows his infirmity was sent in punishment of sin.” By his faith the man had been cleansed of his sins and granted the divine favor of a miraculous cure.  Yet Francis portrays him as a lazy lout who takes his cure for granted, like the free oxygen in the air.

Moreover, the long wait the man had to endure at the pool was not a sign of spiritual laziness, but rather (to quote Father Haydock again): “The longing expectation of the suffering patients is a mark of the persevering prayer with which poor sinners should solicit the cure of their spiritual infirmities.”

After four years of this sort of thing, there is no denying that we have a Pope whose presentation of Sacred Scripture is manifestly unreliable and even contrary to its plain meaning.  This is not even to consider his moral theology, as expressed in Amoris Laetitia, which contradicts the entire teaching of the Church on the exceptionless precepts of the divine and natural law, particularly the Sixth Commandment.   

Never in her history has the Church witnessed a Pope who is a veritable font of dubious pronouncements and who almost daily raises questions about his own orthodoxy, as this website compiled by diocesan priests documents with devastating thoroughness.   This unprecedented papal phenomenon has arisen because Pope Bergoglio refuses to respect any of the traditional constraints on the exercise of the papal office, preferring to say whatever he thinks, whenever he thinks it, in whatever forum or medium he chooses. 

If a Pope elects to indulge in an endless stream of uncontrolled verbiage, no charism of infallibility — nor even a reasonable assurance of orthodoxy, for that matter! — can possibly be attached to the resulting indiscriminate output. Such is the nature of Bergoglianism and the acute exacerbation of the ecclesial crisis it represents.