Pope Francis and Church “Rules”

When Pope Francis said in his recent interview with Antonio Spadaro, S.J.: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. . . It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” – my initial reaction was, “who or what is he talking about?”  As far as I can see, my archdiocese, Milwaukee, is beyond reproach in terms of overemphasis on abortion, contraception, gay marriage, etc.

The pope adds, “I have never been a ‘right-winger.’” He would be glad to know, then, that none of the pastors I have had in forty-five years residence in this city would fit that description either – their homilies have never touched on these three hot-button issues that “are being talked about all the time.”

But when the pope in the same interview faults the Church for locking itself up in “small things, in small-minded rules,” the liberal media, newspapers and TV, interpret his remarks to refer, yes, specifically to abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. These issues, for them, constitute the substance of “small-minded rules.”

My liberal friends, who hardly ever say anything to me about religion, spontaneously volunteered some “hurrays!” and “yes, finally!’ when they heard the news, apparently relieved that the Church was now taking steps to overcome its fixation with what the pope calls “small things, small-minded rules,” rather that concentrating on important things like social justice. So, if this is a common interpretation of the interview, we are dealing – at least – with a “PR” problem.

What is the pope’s reference to “rules” all about? Abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, don’t qualify as Church rules. Abortion has to do with the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue; contraception comes under the category of natural law; “gay marriage” flouts very clear Scriptural injunctions.

The pope doesn’t get very specific, but refers to “ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now. . .have lost value or meaning.” His language has a tendency to need further clarification when he enters these thickets. Strictly and officially, the only “rules” that could possibly fit this characterization are the six Precepts of the Church.

Some readers are probably scratching their heads at this mention of the Precepts. I haven’t heard of Gallup or Pew Research polls concerning the general acquaintance among Catholics with these precepts. But judging from my unscientific personal inquiries with friends, I would conclude that very few Catholics, especially Baby Boomers and later, would be able to enumerate them.

             Walking on Water (Saving St. Peter) by Ivan Alvazovsky, 1888

There are some variations in the wording of the precepts, but they include:  

1) To respectfully and devoutly assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
2) To fast and abstain on the days appointed. 
3) To go to Confession at least once a year during the Easter Season.
4) To receive the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist at least once a year during the Easter Season. 
5) To contribute financially to the support of the Catholic Church.  And
6) To never violate the laws concerning the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Now, precept 6 would, of course, include a restriction of contraception. But as I mentioned above, this “issue” is just a reiteration of an element of natural law; and in any case the pope mentioned in his interview that he is a “son of the Church” and not about to question the Church on that issue or the other two issues mentioned.

So which, if any, of these precepts are rules that have “lost value or meaning”? The only precept that I personally would think fits in this category would be No. 1, insofar as it includes obligation of attendance at Mass on eight Holy Days of Obligation, in addition to Sundays. Speaking ecclesiastically, this is a big deal. Attendance on these days, according to the Catechism, is required sub grave, i.e., under penalty of mortal sin.

But as I mentioned in a previous column, on the basis of my own experience, apparently hardly anyone in my cluster of Catholic parishes observes that rule regarding Holy Days. And it also seems to me that this requirement may have “lost value and meaning,” and should be reconsidered in terms of the “binding and loose-ing” powers entrusted to Peter and his successors.

Since most of the Holy Days of Obligation, except Christmas and New Years’ Day (i.e., the feast of Mary, Mother of God) fall on days when many adults and children are at work and/or school, and since in most countries they are not national holidays, perhaps some relaxation of this rule would be in order. As St. Paul admonishes in Romans and other letters, sin and law go hand-in-hand; and where there is no law, there is no sin. St. Paul’s reference was to multiple Mosaic laws, which caused problems for Jewish Christians, but this principle also seems to be relevant to Church laws, which explicitly obligate sub grave.

I presume that the Church would not want to remove the obligation sub grave for attending Mass on Sundays, since this precept is just an interpretation, for Catholics, about how to observe the Third Commandment about “keeping the Sabbath holy.”

Any law that binds “under penalty of mortal sin” and is hardly observed by anyone should be a candidate for reconsideration, simply out of deference to individual consciences, which should not unnecessarily be overloaded. Clearly the pope has not said, as the MSM infer, that the Church’s positions regarding abortion, contraception, or gay marriage are examples of “rules that have lost value or meaning.” 

But if there are laws or rules for the universal Church that are superfluous or outdated, these should be specified and reconsidered. However, as the pope indicates in the same interview, it is important that whatever laws or rules are inculcated, are done so always in the context of Christ’s mercy and the Gospel of salvation.

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.

  • Matt

    The church discerns the errors of human society at large, of Christianity in general and the trends threatening the faith of Catholics specifically. For each audience she adopts a tenor of voice. She speaks frequently and courageously to the world so as to be heard above the mockery. She speaks with authority as from the pulpit to Christianity at large and she speaks as a mother to her own catholic children as in a home. When progress is made in the correct direction, encouragement is given. When progress stops, she raises her voice in concern and when progress is reversed, she admonishes. The Gospel transcends history yet the Church was created to make the journey through history with us – as a personal guide in every age.
    To accomplish this, the Church has always emphasized a facet of God’s truth to counterbalance human society’s tendency to drift and then embrace an extreme. She has always discerned the error of the time and countered it by emphasizing the error’s contradiction: rational thought vs sentimentalism, man’s freedom vs communism, worker’s rights vs pure capitalism. Faith vs Rationalism. She emphasizes mercy to counterbalance scrupulosity, God’s justice when moral laxity run rampant. She emphasized the arts to the world when it became mired in ugliness, she emphasized tradition when novelty was the rage. She is truly the physician of mankind as well as a guide.

    Be it her children within the church, Christianity in general or human society taken as a whole; the Church has always stood as a contradiction to the Zeitgeist. The question we have today is what is the Zeitgeist of our age?
    What does Pope Francis discern to be the critical corrupting influence that the Prince of this world is promoting? What are the errors being adopted by Christianity and what is the greatest threats to the Catholic faith; in other words – what are the great errors that our current era is embracing that endangers the eternal soul of man? And with that answered, what is the remedy; the contradiction of the current Zeitgeist?

    The Holy Father’s recent interview with the Jesuit publication gives us a more accurate picture than does the media’s distortions of the Pope’s sound bites. The Bishop of Rome has chosen the format of a lengthy interview in a Jesuit Magazine – rather than the typical first encyclical of a Pope – to layout his Pontificate’s concerns. Concerns, I might add, that the conclave obviously agreed with.

    Reading through the interview, is it not apparent that the Pope has diagnosed the world’s major crisis as Poverty? That Christianity has a fallen into a lack of charity by not teaching salvation first – above all? That the Catholic Church herself is gravely afflicted by forms of Pelganism, Clericalism, a false idolization of Tradition, Triumphalism, Small-mindedness toward situational ethics, an unhealthy obsession with the West’s’ legalization (and even promotion) of the Culture of Death and a fundamental error of giving pride-of-place to the decadent and largely bankrupt philosophy of Thomism?

    Having made the diagnosis, what will be the remedy prescribed to the World at large, to Christianity in general and to Catholics specifically? What will be the contradictory remedy offered by the Pope to the Zeitgeist of our age? Perhaps more pragmatically spoken by the interviewer, How does the Church progress within the framework of mankind reinterpreting himself? The Pope gives us a clue in his statement:

    “What gave me confidence at the time of Father Arrupe [superior general of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983] was the fact that he was a man of prayer, a man who spent much time in prayer. I remember him when he prayed sitting on the ground in the Japanese style. For this he had the right attitude and made the right decisions.”

  • ron a.

    Thank you professor for your excellent post!

    I fear, hopefully without real justification, that we have 1968 all over again. And we know how that has turned out. A tepid pastoral MO only encourages secularism. Small things? Are we returning to the doctrine of the “seamless garment”? Is abortion really a small thing?

    I am in full agreement with you: I can count on one hand, in the last 40 years, how many times I have heard a priest at my parish preach about abortion. Pastoral concern! (Full disclosure: I have, for the most part, been attending Mass at the local monastery for the past four years.) Gay marriage, contraception and divorce never come up either. Pastoral concern!

    If other issues are to be preached, what are they? Is it again going to be “love” in its many manifestations. Well that’s pretty much where we have been the last 40 years! Most other Catholic churches I’ve attended lo these many years, I might add, have been pretty consistent with my local parish in the content of their homily. And where has this approach led us?

    It’s hard to imagine that THE interview is anything but “enemy fodder”. Early indications are that they seem to think so.

    I just can’t help myself: how can we possibly push abortion into the background? Like Rachel, we should “refuse to be consoled, because they are no more”.

  • Peter Northcott

    For me, to suggest, “ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now…have lost value or meaning.”, can be interpreted two ways.

    One is, ‘…and therefore should be re-thought or abolished.’
    The other is, ‘…and therefore, they should be recovered and reframed.’

    The second way is always how I interpret the ‘aggiornamento’ of Vatican II, and I’m sure is what our Holy Father meant.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    During a 2007 interview, Archbishop Bergoglio, as he then was, was asked, “For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church?”

    BERGOGLIO: It is what De Lubac calls “spiritual worldliness.” It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. «It is worse, » says De Lubac, “more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes.” Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the centre. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: “… You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others.”

    According to de Lubac, this occurs, when Christianity is treated as an exercise in self-improvement, rather than a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. It also happens, when people like l’Action Française see the Church as an instrument of social control, “to preserve in Catholicism,” as Blondel said, “only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes.”

  • arthur

    Removing the obligation for attending MAss on holy days would be a move in the wrong direction. Here in our part of the country Ascension Thursday already has been moved to the next Sunday… I guess making the 40 scriptural days of little value. Sigh.

    In any given year, there are almost never even the usual days falling on a weekday or Saturday and when the latter they are usually “folded in” to the Sunday obligation. How little can we expect from the faithful to talk about lessening three or four times during the year to go to Mass outside what is becoming the Sunday “social club” where the rest of the week has no relevance to things Catholic?

    Rather, it is a pity that these “little rules” if such they be as you suggest– it cannot be what the pope means– need strengthening to remind people of their identity which, at least in my eyes,we are forgetting in larger numbers save for the young. Pre communion fasting alone– today being virtually non existent– has resulted in the ever present coffee cup in the pews before Mass and people snacking there as well.

    Today, in a world devoid of structure it is what people are desperately seekign and to say “We will get rid of still more” seems destined to increase the already declining practicing Catholic numbers in the developed world and in the US at least.

  • William Manley

    The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath.

  • Chris in Maryland


    The Church you describe does not exist, it is a strawman:

    1 – idolization of Tradition?
    2 – Triumphalism?
    3 – Small-mindedness toward situational ethics?
    4 – an unhealthy obsession with the West’s’ legalization (…promotion) of the Culture of Death?
    5 – giving pride-of-place to the decadent and largely bankrupt philosophy of Thomism?

    I am 57, and attended 12 years of catholic School, including 1 of the “best” Catholic HS’s in Long Island. I have lived and worshipped in 8 different diocese, due in large part to having been in the US military for 25 years. There is no evidence to suppoort your claims.

    As to Tradition – I was never been taught anything about the meaning of The Mass in Catholic School, after the 2nd grade (Communion class). Our Novus Ordo Mass has been implemented with the systematic suppression the Roman Canon, the oldest continuous liturgical tradition of any rite in Catholicism, which is the heart of the Eucaharistic tradition of The Church. The purpose of handing down traditions is to continue a cult/culture. The Roman Catholic Church has largely abandoned the recourse to cult/culture.

    Triumphalism – name 1 Pope, Bishop or Cardinal who that charge can be levied against, and give your evidence.

    Small-Mindedness twd Situational Ethics? – you should clarify whatever your concern is here.

    Unhealthy Obsession w/ the Culture of Death? – name 1 Pope, Bishop or Cardinal who that charge can be levied against, and give your evidence. And this so-called obsession you are asserting is #4 to whatever your #3 is?

    Giving “pride-of-place to Thomism”? – name 1 Pope, Bishop or Cardinal who that charge can be levied against, and give your evidence.

  • Randall Smith

    Can Thomism (or anything else for that matter) be both “decadent” and “bankrupt” at the same time? One would have thought that the bankruptcy would have precluded any “decadence.” No money, no parties.

    As a professor who teaches the thought of Thomas Aquinas, I get the part about being “bankrupt.” I’m still waiting for the “decadent” part.

    I think I would have described Thomism, rather, as “sober” and “commonsensical.” Then I might have pointed out that Thomas is the “common doctor of the Church” and Catholics are admonished to form themselves according to the mind of St. Thomas in nearly every official Church document of the last 50 years, including: (A) the Second Vatican Council, and (B) Fides et Ratio.

    As for an “unhealthy obsession” with the culture of death, that seems to me a bit like saying: “Some of these Germans have an unhealthy obsession with the Jews being carted off to Auschwitz.” Do we have an “unhealthy obsession” with the misuses of the death penalty? Would it be better if we just forgot those guys on death row? If I’m one of those guys slated for termination, I’m hoping SOMEONE gets obsessed with my fate.

    Since the “spirit of the age” (would “zeitgeist” by any other name smell as sweet?) is largely one of apathy, urgency about issues of life seems about as “contrary” as one can get. And since the “zeitgeist” of the age is largely one of moral individualism and moral relativism, anyone who proposes actual moral rules and virtues that limit man’s autonomous self-determination is also about as “contrary” to the “zeitgeist” as one can get.

  • Chris in Maryland


    Yes, we all agree with that governance from Our Lord. Now, let us consider how the Church applies it, since The Apostles and their successors are given authority to make application. Do you have anything to say about the Church’s Precepts (“rules”) about observing the Sabbath, and Holy Days?

    What you might say there would engage on the topic.

  • Dan Deeny

    Excellent article. Nor have I heard many homilies on contraception, abortion, etc. I wonder what Pope Francis is thinking. Does he regret his interview? Is he thinking about giving another one? Perhaps he’s considering joining a pro-life march? We have one here in January; perhaps he will join the march?

  • Pay


    Are you talking about the Catholic Church?

  • Ben h

    “His language has a tendency to need further clarification when he enters these thickets.”

    My interpretation of Pope Francis’ statements about ‘rules’ was that he was criticizing a tendency rather than specific rules. I think you can observe this tendency in any community and perhaps especially in religious ones and even more so in ones that consider themselves conservative or orthodox. Its a tendency that reduces religion to following rules and going by a specific formula. Its really the error of the Pharisees, who thought they were righteous because they not only followed the rules, but followed the rules (that they made up) based on the rules.

    This is a safe way to view religion because as long as you follow the ‘formula’ you are ‘safe.’ Jesus spent a lot of time, according to the Gospels, criticizing the Pharisees and their approach to righteousness which consisted of follow the rules and not abandoning their hearts to the love of god and neighbor. He did not spend a lot of time griping with the Pharisees about what a bunch of secularists and cynical cultural relativists the Sadducees were.

  • Alex

    My interpretation of the Pope’s statement is that the Church fight has also to give proper consideration and its importance to Public Opinion… specially in these times when Mass Media has become the dominant agent of culturalization.

    If I understand him correctly, he is trying to bring the image the Church has acquired through the ages into question and the need, in his opinion, to learn to appear less like an iron fist; perhaps rethink the “approach” the Church have used to these ‘scandalous issues’ (wear a silk glove???) or, practically speaking, to redirect the conversation to a less confrontational dialogue and exchange it into a more persuasive one. Cardinal Burke’s recent ‘public’ condemnation of Nancy Pelosi is a clear example of how NOT to go about giving ammunition to the liberal-media who thrives in portraying the Church as intransigent, dogmatic, moralistic, etc. Now, is Cardinal Burke right… of course he is… should Burke have refrained from publicly voicing his opinion (in the way he did) and rethink the delivery… that is what I believe the Pope wants the Church to rethink.

  • Robert Royal

    I expressed my concerns about the ways several things are worded in the pope’s interview in my column Saturday. But to be clear: he only claims to have personally been taught a “decadent” and “bankrupt” Thomism, not that Thomism itself is such. Harsh words from a caring man, perhaps, and that in itself is worrying since he seems to be given ammunition to one side in a battle long past. But he does affirm the kind of reformed, genius of Thomism that has affinities with DeLubac, Chenu, etc.

  • William Manley

    Chris in Maryland: excellent point. Basically my response is that the Sabbath has been created for man. It is there for our spiritual betterment. It is up to us to maximize the value of the Sabbath. Do we grudgingly roll out of bed, gulp a cup of coffee, and try to get to Mass before the homily in order to satisfy a church “rule” or do we follow the advice of Francis and truly prepare for and value the incredible opportunity to ingest our Lord at the eucharist into our beings? The first road is following a rule; the second road is following our heart. That, I think, is the Pope’s message. Why is it so difficult for everyone to take the Pope at his word? Let’s stop overanalyzing and accept the Pope’s message at face value.

  • Jim Brown

    What level of concern about the culture of death is sufficiently serious and yet attractively and popularly short of obsession? We certainly don’t want to be fuddy duddies.

  • Dan Kennedy

    Amen. I was scratching my head at his comments as well. My liberal friends were ecstatic. Of course, with the American Bishops’ lack of action regarding high profile Catholics who are pro-choice, it adds to the erroneous perception that they are not serious, or that the teaching can be changed. Unless there is more precise language coming from the pope as well as the Bishops taking action to match their words, the New Evangelization is going to be even tougher.

  • Botolph

    As Pope Benedict repeatedly made clear, a hermeneutics of discontinuity in reading Vatican II, teachings of the post Vatican II papal and Church teachings will not arrive at the truth whether used by ‘the world’, the media Catholic progressives or by Catholic integral it’s. In order to understand Pope Francis as w/ Blessed Pope John, Blessed Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict only a hermeneutic of continuity will arrive at the truth or be practically helpful for that matter.

    The teaching of the Church on such issues as abortion, gay marriage and contraception is clear. That being said, however they belong to ‘natural law’, can be reasoned by any human being, believer or non believer. While the Gospel certainly includes the sanctity of human life, of marriage and the meaning of marital love, the Pope or anyone of us would be disengenuous to state that the are the center of the Gospel. The heart of the Gospel, the Gospel itself is Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and raised for our justification

    What Catholics believe is simple: One God Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here is the Gospel, Tradition, the Catholic Faith. Our task is to deepen our faith and see in this light where such ‘issues’ as abortion, gay marriage and contraception connect with the fundamental creed (they do!)

  • Botolph

    Seems what is missing in Much of the furor since the publication of Pope Francis’ interview is a real hermeneutic of continuity. While many in the Church Seem to have bought the hermeneutic of discontinuity that has been rampant in media reports, a person using the hermeneutic of continuity would have little or no difficulty understanding what Pope Francis said

  • Chris in Maryland

    William – Thank you for your response.

    I wasn’t aware that anyone was having trouble understanding Pope Francis on the Church precepts for the Sabbath…

  • Chris in Maryland

    Bravo Randall Smith!

  • Chris in Maryland

    I’m just declaring my position to TCT:

    (1) I would be labeled as a “right-winger” in many “Catholic” establishments (e.g., NC Reporter, Notre Dame, and I guess most Catholic colleges) because I loved and ardently read/followed Pope Benedict, and Pope John Paul II; and
    (2) I read, love and recite for my kids Pope Francis’ homilies, which I think are sublime; and
    (3) I say with sorrow that he really stumbled in “The Interview,” and especially so, since the preparation and review of it offered ample opportunity for careful communication. I am afraid that the reliance on Fr. Spadaro, and whoever else, if any, was reviewing the piece, was not up to par.

  • Sherry

    There seem to be a number of ambiguities in Pope Francis’ writing. In the book I am reading, “Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century: On Heaven, On Earth”, the pope is in dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Skora. He says:

    “The worst thing that can happen to a religious person is living a double life, whether he is a rabbi, priest, or pastor.

    In anyone else it could happen that they have their home here and their little love nest there and it does not seem that condemnable.”

    Maybe there are translation problems, or it is a matter of a Latin American style, but it seems there could be a better way of saying what I think he is saying.

  • Manfred

    It is amazing, is it not. Six months in office and so many people wish he would join Benedict in retirement. Think of the Catholic writers of twenty years from now writing about when they first considered sedevacantism. Getting a plug from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has to be a papal first. Soon he will be receiving an e-mail “kiss” from the North American Man Boy Love Association(NAMBLA) for his taking the pressure off his sodomite priests and bishops. As Francis said, “Who am I to judge?”

  • Louise

    If you search, “Don’t Create a Sacrament Out of Pastoral Customs” one can find a discussion by the pope of some of the little rules that we put in place that act as a barrier, formally and informally. That’s the context within which I’m reading him and I think the several paragraphs in which the pope discusses this bears that out.

    And Ben H., these rules have multiplied in the modern parish; not the other way around. It’s kind of the opposite of pastoral.

    Howard, I think your idea of the Holy Days is one that should be discussed because hardly anyone comes and I see your point.

    RobertR. thanks for making that point. I find it necessary to reread the pope’s interview occasionally because it’s easy to get what he actually said, mixed up with something that he supposedly said.

    Jim Brown, I really think the pope’s point about abortion etc is being misread. Primarily, he’s defending his own practice…he doesn’t think it is necessary that HE talk about them all the time. He’s answering real criticisms that he has received. He’s only secondarily offering advice on how these issues are best addressed by faithful Catholics. People are letting NARAL’s interpretation control the discussion.

    The Hadley Arkes and Robert Georges among us should not slacken in their efforts!

  • Jack,CT

    It almost seems like we
    have a “Wound” from the
    Pope and healing is not
    I just think alot of people
    have been working on these
    issues …abortion and
    contracption etc..
    And to diminish there work
    even by 0.00099% is plain

  • Pay


    Does the hermeneutic of continuity include small minded rules? Which ones get excluded?

  • Rich in MN

    GK Chesterton often had a brilliant way of expressing facets of the human condition. Among his Father Brown stories, my favorite is probably “The Chief Mourner of Marne.” If the ending of that story does not make you cry, check your temperature — you’re probably a reptile.
    It is our own society’s profound confusion about the very nature of charity, particularly Christian charity, that, in my humble opinion, must always be weighed into the equation whenever we speak (especially if our last name happens to be Bergoglio). For example, if Cardinal Dolan does not want to deny Holy Communion to Andrew Cuomo under Canon 915, Cdl Dolan should at least make it clear that his Code of Canon Law does, in fact, contain Canon 915, and that publicly supporting abortion and gay marriage is publicly supporting evil and creating scandal, but that he chooses not to exercise Canon 915 out of compassion and charity (assuming it is an act of compassion and charity). Similarly, if our Holy Father does not want to “obsess” on abortion or other intrinsic, grave evils, he should still make it clear that they are intrinsic, grave evils, but that the mercy of God transcends the greatest of evils.

    But there is definitely a time and a place where the preaching of Christian charity must be front and center. Yesterday, I heard two very moving examples of God’s mercy being preached to the heartbroken sinner. The first was by “Father Rocky” on Relevant Radio and the second was by Fr. Mitch Pacwa on “EWTN Live.” In both cases, a woman who had had an abortion called into the show. Their stories were quite different and yet the same, and you could hear in their voices that they were both distraught over their abortions. What those two priests did, the ‘triage’ that they administered over the phone to those two desperate souls, was nothing short of Christlike.

  • Avery Tödesulh

    Pope Francis makes one wish for Robbie Coltrane …

  • kristinajohannes

    Jack, CT, I really don’t think you have to worry about that too much (diminishing the work). In my case, the pope’s interview caused me to schedule an nfp class because I realized I’ve been a bit lax in doing that lately and I was encouraged in that my class affords me the opportunity to do exactly what the pope counsels-talk about these things in context.

  • stan j

    As time goes by I am beginning to think that the sedevacantists may have something we are not aware of!

  • Matt

    Chris and Randall: – I will freely admit that I can not give you an example, let alone a strong current, of Triumphalism, idolization of Tradition, Pelganism, etc threatening the mission of the Church.

    I merely reiterated the points the Holy Father noted in his interview with Antonio Spadaro, S.J. and other recent statements.

  • Jack,CT

    @Kristina, ty I see what you are saying and perhaps the
    Please understand I love and support our Holy
    Father very much.

  • Chris in Maryland


    I sincerely thank you for your response. My point is then that I feel like our poor Church is more than a little bit blind to “the sign of the times.”

    This part is not directed at you, but my general obeservation – The Church, especially via its “establishments” (USCCB, National Conferences, colleges, hospital associations, etc, etc) is constantly fretting about secondary, and sometimes imaginary, things. They are pre-occupied with trying to interpret their mission through the non-Christian/anti-Christian hermeneutic of politics, as if they are trying to appeal to Caesar that – “Hey, look at us – we count too.”

    I believe Jesus witnessed to us that the mission of His Church is an expeditionary force (“Go ye therefore and teach all nations…”), not a “religious” NGO seeking world approval.

  • kristinajohannes

    Jack, I wasn’t questioning your love and support. Just trying to allay your anxiety a bit.

  • Jack,CT

    @Kristina, no, no I never felt u were
    doing anything but offering
    support ty so much and God

  • Jack,CT


    I ask if u saw R Royal on EWTN
    with “The World Over”,I enc u
    to listen to this weeks episode.
    RR really broke down the Popes
    remarks well of late.

  • Matt

    The Pope’s statements do not make the distinction between “Redemption” which is universal to all men and Salvation which is wholly personal.

    Pope Francis’ tone and inexact words gives the impression that the universal nature of Redemption applies equally to Salvation.

  • K in BC

    In the article you mention that some things go against natural law.
    For the ordinary Catholic, where are the resources that teach us about natural law?
    There is so much contradiction these days as to what is natural that we need some clear magisterial teaching on these topics.
    You can’t simply adopt the reasoning that people should know this inherently.

  • Howard Kainz

    @K in BC: I think the natural law theory of Thomas Aquinas offers the best and most intuitive formulation. I published a column on this on the CatholicThing website on Oct. 12 last year, and a longer article last week in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, which is online.