You Don’t Have to Like a Pope

Let me see whether I can clarify something. You don’t have to like a pope. You don’t have to like the way he talks to reporters, the way he addresses people in public, or the kinds of shoes he wears. You don’t even have to like the approach he takes to various topics. But you do have to respect the teaching authority of his office when he exercises that authority officially.

In making this claim, I’m merely echoing Pope Saint John Paul II who in Ad Tuendam Fidem, a document composed with the explicit intention “of protecting the faith (ad tuendam fidem) of the Catholic Church against errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful,” considered it “absolutely necessary to add to the existing texts of the Code of Canon Law. . .new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church.”

Thus in the Church’s Profession of Faith, one finds this affirmation: “Moreover I adhere with submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.” Indeed, according to Lumen Gentium, this religious submission of intellect and will “must be shown in such a way that [the Holy Father’s] supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, and the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. . .[which] may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

A Catholic who is disappointed with the pope is a disappointed Catholic. This is a common enough state of affairs in Church history. But a Catholic who imagines that he or she participates more fully in the charism of magisterial authority granted by the Holy Spirit to the pope than does the pope himself – and who decides that he or she has the authority to set the spiritual standard by which the official teaching of a papacy can be judged (and judged a failure) – is making the mistake Martin Luther made. It is the same mistake many modern liberal theologians make. They have made themselves the authority, the touchstone, the standard; and the pope, whoever he is, should, they insist, bring himself into accord with what they think or be spit out like a piece of rotten fruit. This is the way of folly and division.

You glean from official Church teachings every bit of wisdom you can find. You “lean in,” so to speak. You let it sink in, challenge you. Especially when it repeats something taught by popes whose sanctity and wisdom is unquestioned.


And quite frankly, if you have any disagreement with that teaching, you should be ready to provide serious counter-arguments rather than merely giving vent to some childish expressions of dislike and disappointment. One hardly need add that selectively quoting “proof texts” out of context from popes who were dealing with problems centuries ago to convince contemporary Catholics that they are part of a corrupt church is no more convincing than evangelical Protestants selectively quoting biblical “proof texts” out of context to convince Catholics as a whole that they belong to a corrupt church.

Indeed, the similarities between Protestantism and many contemporary forms of anti-papal “traditionalism” are stronger than one would expect. It’s important to remember that Luther had no intention of founding a “Protestant” church; rather he thought of himself as a conservative reforming the true Church that had lost its way by making corrupt additions to the authentic tradition.

In a similar vein, many so-called “traditionalists” see themselves as preserving the authentic Catholic tradition that was somehow lost somewhere along the line – even though many of these “traditionalists” look back only to one period of Church history (usually relatively recent) or one special document as the sole standard that defines “the tradition,” just as Luther looked back to a “pure” Christian church that he imagined existed in the early years after Christ’s death (but never did) and to the epistles of Paul (as he, Luther, understood them).

If you are a “conservative” who places being an American-style “conservative” above being a Catholic, that’s your choice. But then you do not have room to blame the liberal who places being an American-style “liberal” above being a Catholic. If you’re a Catholic, be a Catholic. And Catholics have an apostolic, magisterial tradition. The Church isn’t a members-only club, a sect, or a political party.

For these reasons and others, you cannot allow your annoyance with the personal style of any particular pope, even if he does things you and I might consider foolish, to distract you from the official teaching of this or any papacy. You don’t always get the pope you want. Sometimes you get a silly fisherman who denied three times that he even knew Christ when Jesus needed him most. We don’t believe in the man, no matter how wise or holy. Our faith is in Christ’s promise to be with His Church until the end of time and to send His Spirit to guide her.

If you feel that there are problems in the Church (and there always are; we are a “pilgrim people”), then you fast and pray. You re-double your efforts to live out your call to holiness. But if you think you’ll help the Church by endless speculation about Vatican politics or ceaseless whining about various persons in the curia, you are letting the spirit of division invade where the spirit of union and charity should be.

Let the Holy Spirit guide the Ark of the Church through the current storms. We have our work cut out for us for tilling the vineyards in our own backyard.

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall B. Smith is the Scanlan Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. His most recent book, Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, is now available at Amazon and from Emmaus Academic Press.

  • Tom Williams

    You are being a minister of mercy in this article by correcting those of us who feel the pope is leading the Church in a wrong direction. The Church is in a difficult time in history as I’m sure many of us feel, but by our not doing as you suggest to fast and pray more for the Church, we play our part in The Church’s irrelevance to the culture. Simply put we must pray more and complain less. Or at least keep our opinions in check. As Bambi said “if you can’t say something good about someone, you should not say anything at all.”

    • ABMK

      As a frequent reader of these comments, thank you for such a sane and humble response! You reminded me that I needed to fast and pray more, too, so thanks for that

    • Patricia Gallagher

      “If you can’t say anything good about [someone who speaks error about the Faith] …?
      Catholics are bound to oppose teaching, from whatever source, that contradicts the Truth of Divine Revelation — Sacred Scripture and Sacred (Apostolic) Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church. We must always be ready to give a reason for our hope.

      — Athanasius vehemently opposed the Arian heresy. Should he have remained silent?
      — The Council of Trent directly opposed the Protestant heresy of the 16th century. Should the hierarchy, instead, have remained silent about the errors of Martin Luther?

  • James Stagg

    Hear! Hear! Well done! Well stated!

  • Dave Fladlien

    Well Randall, I hope you have your helmet and flak jacket on (figuratively speaking, of course); I suspect you’ll need them when you read the responses in the morning. But given all the controversy over Pope Francis these days, I think this did need to be written.

    So I’m actually going to agree with you, at least to a considerable extent. I think what you say can be carried to an extreme: for instance, what if a Pope were to advocate genocide? But in the reality of the world we have today, we don’t have a Pope advocating genocide, we have a Pope who makes a lot of seemingly irresponsible impromptu statements, but then carefully reiterates long-standing Church positions in his more official statements. There I think you are at least fundamentally correct: he is the Pope, whether we like him or not. But I also don’t think that means that we can’t correct him as best we as a Church can. As I recall (though I couldn’t find the quote when I tried to some years ago), Vatican II said that the laity exercise the ordinary gift of prophecy when they point out genuine shortcomings in the Church. Would that not also apply to pointing them out in the Pope?

    So while I share your view that it is no more “Catholic” for a conservative Catholic to reject a liberal Pope than for a liberal Catholic to reject a conservative Pope, I do think there are reasonable limits too. Those limits don’t allow for endless defamations against the Pope, especially the vitriolic ones we often find today, but I do think they allow for us to adhere to what we — after careful consideration and research (which you did point out) — genuinely believe as a result of our deliberation. Very good article; thank you.

    • Aqua

      I think worse than genocide is sacrilege. Christ tells us to fear not what happens to the body which passes away. Rather fear what happens to the soul which lives forever, whether in heaven or hell. Not to mitigate genocide, obviously, but simply to put sacrilege in its proper, similar, place.

      Offering The Eucharist to unrepentant, manifest sinners like adulterers and homosexuals; and separated heretics like Lutherans is worse than genocide because it makes a mockery of the centerpiece of our Faith, our Lord on His Throne. And it inhibits repentance, the first essential step of Gospel Salvation.

      True unity within Mother Church, and salvation of souls is less likely, not more, unless the Gospel is presented in FULL, without mitigation or alteration.

      • Dave Fladlien

        I understand your point about genocide / sacrilege. Actually I think I was trying to save space by combining thoughts about seriousness of the matter and about off-hand versus official remarks. My comments tend to be long and the editors have a couple times asked me to try to keep them shorter, and they have been really good about posting long ones of mine and many other people lately, so I was trying to respect their request too.

        At the same time, I only partly agree with you on Communion for separated Christians. Those people of any denomination living in unrepented subjective mortal sin, true, cannot receive, but I don’t see sincere separated Christians that way, assuming they believe in Real Presence. V2 did allow for inter-faith communion, as I recall, with some heavy requirements for permissions, but I would think the Pope, of all people, would be the one qualified to give that permission. I do think we need to bring about much better cooperation and mutual respect between us and separated Christians, and while I have lots of gripes with this Pope, I do agree with him on that point.

        • ForChristAlone

          Receiving communion signifies BEING in communion, otherwise it makes a mockery of communion. If Lutherans (or as some put it “separated brethren”) desire to receive communion, why have they not placed themselves IN communion?

          • Dave Fladlien

            The problem with what you say is that it leaves a lot of question what “being in communion” means. You, for instance, don’t seem to be completely “in communion” with Pope Francis, and he’s the Pope. Being at least nominally a Catholic, I naturally have a number of Catholic friends, and none of us believe exactly the same thing, so clearly believing exactly the same thing isn’t a workable test: almost none of us could receive. That means we are stuck with debating just how much similarity there has to be.

            To me the essentials are that someone receiving be a Christian (a person who believes that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly a man), that he/she is trying to be in God’s friendship, and that he/she recognizes the real presence of Jesus (not just symbolic presence) in the Eucharist. So by that definition, we are in communion, at least to a sufficient extent, providing all three of those conditions are met.

            Actually though, my memory is that V2 pretty much worked through all that and decided that, with special circumstances, we could have inter-faith Communion, but I think it can’t just be ordinary as that would at best blur the differences we have and need to resolve. I think the Council made a good choice and we should do it that way, so to me the Pope can decide that a specific circumstance is appropriate.

          • ForChristAlone

            Disagree with your understanding what “being in communion” means. The Catholic Church teaches that to be in communion means to accept and believe ALL that the Catholic Church teaches (which can be found in the Catechism).
            There is no interfaith communion. A non Catholic Christian who believes what we do about the Eucharist and whose life is in imminent and grave danger may be administered the Sacrament.

          • ForChristAlone

            Disagree with your understanding what “being in communion” means. The Catholic Church teaches that to be in communion means to accept and believe ALL that the Catholic Church teaches (which can be found in the Catechism).

            There is no interfaith communion. A non Catholic Christian who believes what we do about the Eucharist and whose life is in imminent and grave danger may be administered the Sacrament.

        • Aqua

          I appreciate your reasoned response. To expand on that point:

          To receive the Body, Bloody, Soul and Divinity in full and in His entirety, you must believe and live as Jesus through His Church has always taught. Nothing changed three years ago to alter the Church’s teaching on the proper reception of our Lord. It demands this for the sake of our Lord, first, but also for the sake of the souls of those who receive. And they are damned, not saved, if they receive unworthily (according to constant Church teaching, not personal and popular opinion).

          Following are the rules that govern proper reception of Communion. And remember, these are not just administrative minutiae. This is the heart of our Faith. All of heaven looks down as we re-present the crucifixion of our King of Kings and receive Him into ourselves for salvation. Most of us will spend time in purgatory before we are allowed into His presence in Heaven. But in His Temple, in this life, He allows us to approach; but ONLY if we follow the rules of His Church, (which are not hard, but they are certain):

          1: You must be in a state of grace: 1 Cor. 11:27–28. This is an absolute requirement which can never be dispensed. To receive the Eucharist without sanctifying grace in your soul profanes the holy Eucharist.

          2: You must have been to confession since your last mortal sin.

          3: You must believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation. “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor. 11:29).

          4: You must observe the Eucharistic fast, per Canon law.

          5: You must not be under an ecclesiastical censure, be excommunicated or interdicted, or obstinately persist in manifest grave sin. (CIC 915).

          This is the heart of our Faith. It is not about style and aesthetics. The Faith, whole and entire must be defended, but especially this, its heart. If we don’t have this, we don’t have anything. The merciful message to Protestants, as to all others, is the simple Gospel message: submission to and entry into the Holy Catholic Church, accompanied by confession, MUST come before communion. The essential pattern is this: Grace and conviction, repent, turn, confess, receive communion, follow, all within the arms of Holy Mother Church. It cannot be altered, shortened or re-arranged. It is the sure, narrow path that leads to heaven through this narrow gate.

    • Murray

      With all due respect to Dave, this is an excellent example of the confusion that can result when people like Dr Smith do not take care to delineate the limits of magisterial authority. See my long comment elsewhere here, if the moderators see fit to publish it.

  • Vince Whirlwind

    For anyone interested in finding the above material in Lumen Gentium, it would be #25, paragraph 1. I’ve tried in the past to point this out on this forum to certain priests that post here with an obvious disrespect for our current pope. Those posts never made it past the moderator.

    I guess I came to assume that “obedience” only pertained to the unwashed masses.

  • ForChristAlone

    I think the tone presented here is that of “conservative, traditional” Catholics who are unwilling to open themselves to the Petrine ministry. That’s a misrepresentation.

    What traditional Catholics want is CLARITY in teaching in order that they might be taught. This has not been the case. It’s difficult to be obedient to Peter’s teaching when it’s confusing and sometimes contradictory.

    Most “traditional” Catholics who by definition submit themselves willingly to Peter want fewer ad libs and more ex cathedra statements from His Holiness. That way they can more effectively be open to Peter.

  • Francis Miller

    I agree with your message but find it a hard one. I am usually skeptical of the opinions of the next priest that comes to my parish and comments which follow. I take that as a given. 3 very different men, Paul VI, St. JP II and Benedict XVII gave us some consistency, at least with respect to reason and faith. I can’t say their paternal guidance was reflected clearly and consistently locally. So why should my discomfort be any less when I find Pope Francis making me uneasy? Maybe I should never be comfortable in my faith?

  • Michael Dowd

    I think we need to hear the Pope but when he goes against historical doctrine he should be called out as this is our duty. Jesus indicated being a good Catholic is not a ‘love-in’ within the household of the Church or anywhere else as noted below.

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:34-36

    Let always pray for the Pope regardless of his actions.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      I am always wary of claims about “historical doctrine.”

      I am always wary of claims about “historical doctrine.” It brings to mind the question Mgr Ronald Knox put to himself, when he was still an Anglican: “Why did those who anathematized Nestorius come to be regarded as “Catholics” rather than those who still accept his doctrines?”

      Now, there is a very simple answer to Knox’s question; the “Catholics” had the bishop of Rome in their party and the Nestorians did not. “Catholics have a ready answer: if you ask a Catholic “What is the Catholic Faith?” and are told it is that held by the Catholic Church; if you persevere, and ask what is the Catholic Church, you are no longer met with the irritatingly circular definition “the Church which holds the Catholic Faith “; you are told it is the Church which is in communion with the Bishop of Rome.””

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Michael your argument gives precedence to communion with the Bishop of Rome and not doctrine. There is no issue about the orthodoxy of Catholic doctrine which is ensured by Christ. The mistake you make is making an heretical analogy between why Catholics who stood by the Papacy instead of Nestorius is false coin. It is instead that Nestorius was a heretic who denied the human as well as divine nature of Christ challenged by Cyril of Alexandria. Doctrine always was and will always retain its integrity in the Church the spiritual integrity of the person holding the office of pontiff was not promised by Christ as is clear regarding Honorius I. If a Pontiff Francis does not formally change the Deposit of the Faith he can effect the same intent by words, actions, political maneuvering, appeal all suggestive but powerful. Communion with the Bishop of Rome has been the instrument of unity for the Church for 2000 years however what remains forever are the words of Christ not a Pontiff’s integrity whose heresy and movement of the people of God to rejection of Truth and loss of salvation.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          But by what test do we know that Nestorius was wrong and Cyril right? After all, the Blessed Theodoret thought Cyril a Monophysite. Every party accuses the other of heresy and who is to choose between them?

          According to Knox, “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine
          apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. No doubt, in the long run this means the people who are so orthodox that Rome has seen no reason to excommunicate them, so that unity and orthodoxy still react upon one another.”

          It is a test remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances.

          • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

            I agree with that aspect of your point Michael. However if we reduce it to authority [certainly papal authority unifies including doctrine] then the question is precisely How do we know whose right. The basis of Cyril of Alexandria’s rejection of Nestorius’ heresy is contained in his Anathemas. Example his First anathema Nest denial Mary is Theotokos means that Nest taught the Word assumed a body as a vehicle. Thus Nest and the Gk Ch continued the heresy that Jesus was not divine but the Word was, a duality of persons. Nest explicitly denied that the flesh of Jesus did not commune the Divine Nature of the Word. These are most profound heresies that the W Church incl the E [Cyril of Alex and other E prelates presbyters cons heresy]. The Faith of the Church was far more in line with Cyril than Nestorius. True there were other heresies not quite as evident to the unschooled mind that Rome settled. Example the common belief that the non baptized were condemned to hell as thought by Augustine. Innocent III corrected that in 1201 letter to the Bishop of Arles stating only those responsible for committing mortal sin and did not repent were condemned. Thus we had the undetermined notion of Limbo. Innocent III was confirmed in the new Catholic Catechism still leaving the question of status undetermined yet adding non baptized were subject to God’s mercy.

  • Cal-gal

    I completely agree with Randall Smith. On this site, I have taken more than one commenter to task for their lack of respect, holier than thou attitude and American style Catholic expectations toward Pope Francis. Basically when he performs to THEIR expectations, then they will follow him. Hmmm…scary place to be in, I think. Some have partially listened but most have been too proud. Perhaps they don’t understand the Pope’s role vs the every day Catholic. Thank you, Randall Smith, for bringing clarity to a much needed subject!

    • HMV

      Who are you to judge?

    • samton909

      And you, of course, do not have a “Holier than thou” attitude.

  • Mr. Graves

    With all due respect to the commenter below, I don’t think the combox will light up with fireworks anytime soon. Someone warns against American/conservative/”traditionalists” (FSSP? SSPX? TLM folks generally? This isn’t clear). Must be Thursday.

    As an (expat) American TLMer who is both theologically and politically conservative, I have grave reservations about this pope’s prudential judgment based on what he says and the pro-homosexual, anti-marriage, global warming, pro-socialist company he keeps. But the Church has survived worse, and every Am/co/trad I know feels the same way. We keep our heads down and weather the storms.

    I don’t know whom you’ve been corresponding with or what blogs you’re visiting, but this column seems like — I don’t know how to say it well — misdirected anger, maybe? The folks you’re criticizing are good people with real concerns that can’t be brushed away by simply dismissing their worries or painting them with too broad a brush. If any one understands the importance of the Petrine succession, it’s traditionalists, at least in my experience.

    • FreemenRtrue

      some blogs have lists of PFs insults to traditional faithful Catholics. It runs on for pages. What’s not to like? Apparently in Argentina verbose hyperbole is a style of speech. Most unbecoming in a pope. If anthropogenic global warming does not exist how are we to have confidence in his intellectual abilities?

      • Mr. Graves

        This is only my experience, but I find it best to avoid the more vitriolic sites, from either political/theological side. They exist, but — again — it’s a question of prudence which ones you visit. There are excellent trad sites that tack to the middle (one priest-blogger comes particularly to mind) and remind us all that any papacy is merely a parenthesis in the Church. Good, bad, indifferent — they end. This papacy will end, too.

  • DaveJ

    The Church is the defender of, among other things, truth. When the leader of the Church makes statements that obscure or undermine truth, we are obligated to respond, to rise to truth’s defense. Indulging silently this pope’s or any pope’s foolishness is not merciful, it is cowardly.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      But how do we know the truth?

      AsCardinal Manning said, “But perhaps it may be asked: If you reject history and antiquity, how can you know what was revealed before, as you say, history and antiquity existed? ‘I answer: The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour, is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening”

      He goes on to turn the question rather neatly: “The first and final question to be asked of
      these controversialists is : Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world ? If so, the
      history, and antiquity, and facts, as they are called, of the past vanish before the presence of an order of facts which are divine.”

  • Michael Randolph

    One of the particular problems we’re faced with these days arises when people who know we’re Catholic ask us for our thoughts about the Pope. This was much less of a problem in the past.

    • samton909

      Just sort of look into the distance and slowly shake your head.

  • Marguerite

    Should we all be ignorant Catholics who just pay and obey? That’s the gist I get from the above essay. The Pope by virtue of his office deserves our respect but when he is deliberately causing confusion by his outrageous statements are we to just shut up? Who is actually causing the folly and division? Why was the Pontiff calling Cardinals at the Synod closed-minded, why did the Pope advise a woman not to breed like a rabbit? Why does the Pontiff marginalize traditional-minded Catholics, branding them as Pharisees? Is there not room in the Church to celebrate both those who love the Traditional Mass and those who love the Novus Ordo? Why is the Pope celebrating a man who was declared a heretic by the Catholic Church? Why does the Pontiff denigrate the Body and Blood of Christ by suggesting those in serious sin or not even a member of the Church can receive Holy Communion as long as their conscience is guiding them? It seems that a lot of rotten fruit is rather coming out of the current Pontiff’s mouth than out of us rubes. Also, didn’t “silly” St. Peter cry bitterly over his betrayal of Our Lord and die crucified upside down? The Pontiff is not above reproach in fact, to whom much has been given much will be required.

    • I can hardly imagine a better response to what Randall Smith has written than this comment by Marguerite. I think she expresses the viewpoint of many faithful Catholics when she writes that the Pope is “causing confusion by his outrageous statements.” This confusion is not a result of some decision we have made that we have the “authority to set the spiritual standard by which the official teaching of a papacy can be judged.” This confusion is the result of the contradictions between what the Church has always taught and the often incomprehensible statements and actions of the Pope.

      • JGradGus

        I tend to think the confusion is caused when people rely on the secular media (especially the AP and Nicole Winfield who never met an anti-Catholic pejorative she didn’t like) to find out what the Pope is saying. When you read a secular media
        story about ‘what the pope said’ and then go read the quote in context on a
        Catholic news website, the difference is always night and day.

        • MSDOTT

          Ummm…so the Holy Father travelling to Sweden to celebrate the Reformation is just the secular media.. …?

        • HMV

          That is absolutely absurd.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Most of us accused of disrespecting this pope do not tend to rely on secular media for our understanding of what occurs within the Church. If there is any group in the Church who understands we cannot trust the secular media reporting on our Church, it is traditionalists. Many of my conservative Novus Ordo Catholic friends believe likewise.

            I use Catholic media only for such information.

          • HMV

            That people are still blaming the media is so absurd that such comments must be dismissed immediately.

    • Mark Leakos

      I concur with the statement of Margueritte. To reiterate one specific point: to call the great St. Peter “silly” is the epitome of disrespect for not just the “Rock upon which the Church is built” but also disrespect to our Lord who made the declaration. Further, by throwing his moment of weakness back in his face is to deny the ability of Jesus to wipe away sins, an act which is truly of the devil.

    • Questioner @ large

      He has no problem not showing mercy to those who are trying to live the most faithful lives that they could.

    • ABMK

      It is the same thing. You can’t pick and choose, just like our progressive brethren can’t pick and choose to contracept, to permit homosexual marriage, or to permit abortions or the ordination of women priests. You are not the final authority – and yes, you are obliged to obey in matters of faith and morals. Though you come up with many fine distinctions, you are no different than a protestant or a progressive, and the article gets to you so badly because you love your own authority as much as those dissenting groups do.

  • Frank

    I tend to think that faithful priests don’t speak against these heterodox statements by Pope Francis for fear that it may cause an exodus in the Church. Many priests believe if they don’t say anything, those nonsensical uttering will just fade away. However, those of us who do listen are genuinely upset by some of the statements that Pope Francis makes. After all, he did say he wanted to mess up the Church. My feeling is, isn’t the Church messed up enough?

    • samton909

      Someone suggested that the most effective way to respond to Pope Francis is for Catholics to re-read and become experts on the documents produced by JP II and Benedict.

      Denouncing the Pope overmuch can be counterproductive. It would be much more effective if we were to say “But Holy Father, JP II said in Document X that…” Or, “But Holy Father, your quotation of JP II is incomplete – he went on to say that….”

      I see Pope Francis as a man with a big heart that overrides his intellect sometimes. He is not evil, but he can be awfully misleading, and he seems incapable of NOT sowing confusion. But he has a good side that can instruct us on certain subjects as well. Our challenge is to soak up as much of his good side without letting his more out of control side overwhelm us. Becoming experts on the well written and well argued documents of the church can only help us.

  • Aqua

    The issue is not the Pope, his personality or style. Our Church transcends by a long shot any individual living man. The issue is whether or not the current Pope proclaims Jesus Christ in season and out and whether he is in adherence to the constant teaching of the Church or is instead tearing that edifice down.

    This Pope has been a constant stream of opposition to the constant teaching of the Church. Constant. Calling opponents of this, “childish” as you do is, well, childish.

    I think the burden of proof is on the Pope, and also you, to prove how giving Communion to non-Catholics and unrepentant sinners is part of Church teaching.

    • Faithful Catholic

      Excellent rebuttal of this essay. You nailed it!

  • Stilbelieve

    Here are a few teachings that are troubling to me that I think bring into question the authenticity of the “teacher,” at least on that particular issue.

    One, Pope Francis’s belief in so called (now) “Climate Change (cc).” To believe in “cc” is to believe God didn’t know what He was doing when he created the world and life based on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Oxygen (O2). It is a belief in man and a computer programmer instead. It is pure ignorance to think CO2 is a pollutant.

    Two, that capital punishment (CP) is unnecessary and morally wrong, now a days, because of high tech prisons. No one ever committed a sin, nor ever will, in carrying out the process of “CP,” whether an arresting officer, a prosecutor, a juror, a judge or the executioner himself. This new teaching in the Church is based on an “assumption” by Pope Francis that advanced economies and high tech prisons can protect the public from further harm by such capital offenders. It sets up a two tier “moral” penalty system depending on the economic “advancement” of state/country. Poor countries can execute capital offenders because their prisons are not high tech, while wealthy countries can protect the public. Also, they should end CP because such convicted persons should be given the time to repent and seek God. The trouble with the latter reasoning is nothing will cause a person to repent and seek God more than knowing the exact date and time you are going to die. But the most damaging thing about this new teaching of the Church is – it is not true, the public is not protected from further harm by such advanced prisons. Federal and state prosecutors and Correction Departments have said hundreds of murders on the outside have been orchestrated from inside maximum-security prisons. They say that nothing can be done to stop the killings, ordered by inmates who have nothing to lose and nothing but time on their hands.

    Third, the Church teaching on Mt 25; 35. The bishops teaching that this is referring to everybody who is hungry or a stranger.etc. is contrary to the explanation in my Catholic bible on the meaning of Mt 25; 31-46 in which the footnote ask, “A difficult and important question is the identification of these ‘least brothers.’ Are they all people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (35.36) or a particular group of sufferers?” It goes on to say, “Scholars are divided in their response and arguments can be made for either side. But leaving” that aside, “it seems that a stronger case can be made for the view that in the evangelist’s sense the sufferers are Christians, probably Christian missionaries whose sufferings were brought upon them by their preaching of the gospel. The criterion of judgment for ‘all the nations’ is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf 10, 40. ‘Whoever receives you, receives me.'”

    That is my 3-cents worth towards this discussion.

    • Murray

      And once again–no disrespect intended to Stillbelieve–this is another example of the confusion engendered by those who cry “religious submission of intellect and will” without making the proper distinctions.

      • Stilbelieve

        Please clarify.

        • Murray

          Sure. You mention being troubled by the pope’s “teachings” on climate change and the death penalty. But climate change policy is not in the realm of faith and morals–if we are not to strain the meaning of those words beyond credible bounds–so it is not a legitimate subject of magisterial teaching, and the pope’s personal opinion on the issue has no more weight than mine or yours, regardless of how it’s packaged.

          Capital punishment, by contrast, is a moral issue, but the Church has always formally acknowledged the right of states to employ the death penalty (CCC 2267), and Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that Catholics have the right to favor capital punishment after they have given it due consideration. There is so much scriptural and magisterial teaching acknowledging the basic legitimacy of capital punishment that it cannot simply be voided by one pope’s personal opinion.

          And this is why apologists like Dr Smith are so troublesome: they invoke magisterial teaching authority and “religious submission of intellect and will” without delineating the clearly laid out limits on that authority, and thus mislead people into believing that the pope’s teaching authority is far more comprehensive than it actually is.

          • Stilbelieve

            You are right when you said “…this is why apologists like Dr. Smith are so troublesome….” Specifically, such teachings are used by a majority of Catholics to justify endorsing the Democratic Party with their names and support thus the reason abortion-on-demand remains the law-of-the-land 42 years after Roe v Wade. The Democratic Party is solely responsible for the continued murder of unborn babies, and Catholic Democrats are the reason the D-Party has the power to keep abortion legal.

            It is a mortal sin against the 5th Commandment for Catholics to simply join the Nazi Party or the kKK. There are no “if, ands or buts” about it; i.e. no disqualifying conditions exempting the mortal sin, give your name to either of those two organizations is a mortal sin.

            How, then, can registering as a Democrat not be a mortal sin since that organization, alone, is responsible for the murder of God’s greatest gift – life. And now they are responsible for the destruction of God’s second greatest gift – the sanctity of marriage, by their support for same-sex “marriage.”

            A lot of Catholics are going to hell when Our Lord returns, including a lot of clergy and apologist for their teachings which will be the reason there will be so much moaning and crying when Jesus directs those “jackass” to line up on his left side with all the other goats.

  • Stilbelieve

    opps, a mistake in number “Two” —“”assumption” by Pope Francis.” That should have been Pope John Paul II.

  • grump

    It’s harder to like people than to love them.

  • allenroth

    Yesterday the world saw the Pope hosting and laughing it up with the President of Iran who presides over the most bloodthirsty regime on earth. Our State Department says Iran is the largest supporter of terrorism in the world. Under this President non- violent dissenters, homosexuals, opponents of the regime are publicly executed and the rate of persecution has increased under this president’s term. The Pope is using the Church to legitimize this devil, are suppose to sit by silently?

    • ForChristAlone

      When they met this week, President Rouhani requested that His Holiness pray for him. But yesterday, once again denied (on the Day of Remembrance) the truth and reality of the Holocaust. My guess is that Francis will, indeed, pray for Rouhani, but will he let stand this lie?

  • Rene

    Excellent article, Dr. Smith. I do not particularly like Pope Francis. I believe many of his statements and actions so far are significantly damaging the Church, but we have to respect the office and follow any magisterial declarations that he may make. For example, I need to believe that damaging the environment is sinful, because this is a moral question. I do not need to believe, however, in climate change, or if there is any, that it is caused by human intervention, because these are scientific questions.

  • den

    You liberals!!!

  • Joseph

    Great article! I’m one who is disillusioned with Pope Frances. However, I always inclued him in my prayers knowing the Holy Spirit will guide him and the church!

  • Michael DeLorme

    Once again, from the top: When the Magisterium teaches on matters of faith and morals—even when not teaching infallibly—it enjoys the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    The problem is, just because it is claimed that a teaching is a matter of faith or morals doesn’t make it so. And one is not a cafeteria Catholic for making that distinction.

    When liberal Catholics reject the teachings of “Humanae Vitae” concerning artificial birth control, they are unquestionably rejecting a moral teaching. The whole meaning of
    procreation’s inherent connection to both marriage and the family is tied up with a sacramental reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church.

    When I reject the teachings of “Laudato Si,” on the other hand, I reject no moral principle. The
    Pope believes in man-made global warming; I don’t. It is a prudential judgement on both our parts.

    My cynicism comes into play, though, when I consider that two months before “Laudato” was promulgated, a Vatican summit on the climate was held in which those who doubt global warming were systematically prevented from attending. If you are someone who can countenance a pontificate that allows that kind of dishonestly, more power to you.

    The same with the economy. If Francis wants to claim that capitalists throughout the world have turned that world in to Satan’s dung heap, I’m willing to hear him out. But what these capitalists need is moral training—not to be turned into Marxist socialists. They need to be excoriated (where appropriate) for their heartlessness, their indifference to any suffering they cause, for their selfishness, dishonestly and cruelty. Even for their mere blindness, in many cases. Catholic capitalists, especially, need to be exhorted to holiness in their transactions.

    As far as the economy goes, though, I happen to believe in the validity of the “Laffer Curve”—the principle that says that to lower tax rates is actually to increase tax revenue because it increases the taxable base; that is, when employers get to keep more of their profits they tend to hire more employees who are, in turn, taxed.

    I could be completely wrong in my faith in the principle; but if I am, it is a failure of prudential reasoning; I have yet to be shown evidence that it is untrue. Moreover, the Holy Spirit no more inspires those who reject the Laffer Curve than He inspires those of us who accept it.

    In any case, I am not guilty of “cafeteria Catholicism”—as those who reject “Humanae Vitae” most certainly are—for not taking Francis’s word that capitalism is evil. Nor will I be successfully told that it’s disrespectful to call him on it.

  • Scott Thomas

    Honestly, it is not a question of personality or style. It is a question of substance, and who the Pope associates himself with. Daneels? Kasper? Rodriguez Maradiaga? How about grave questions such as the receipt of Holy Communion by those in a state of mortal sin? You can’t just pretend this means nothing, and that throwing doctrine out the window is an integral part of rebranding the Church as it it were a consumer product. Of course we need new ways of talking about the Faith to engage with and re-convert a post Christian society. Of course we need New Evangelism. That doesn’t mean turning a synod into a Kangaroo Court designed to validate a pre-determined outcome that is not in keeping with Church teaching or tradition. The problem with Pope Francis is that he himself shows contempt for his office. That makes it very hard for those of us who want to respect the office even if we think the man himself is feckless, ill-advised, and egocentric. The Petrine office is all about clarity and orthodox teaching, not about one man’s whims, which seem to vary from day to day. The Church has had bad Popes before and usually emerged stronger as a result in the long run. That is not the issue here. The point is that respect for the office entails a clear-eyed view of when it is being abused.

    • Faithful Catholic

      Well said, Scott Thomas! Yours is one of the best, clear and concise summaries of the problems that many serious Catholics have with Pope Francis.

  • sg4402

    The post Vatican ll prelates and theologians, who euphemistically, wanted to make the Church “relevant”, are the real Luthers (unless one lives in the upside down of Modernity), given their Protestant like reforms and the reality that it was THEY, effectively, who left the Church. Yes, they were clever enough to reform from within. But that is SCANDAL, not credibility. And, he is THEIR pope. He puts no distance between them and himself.

    “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” (Lk 6:44) Oh, what that “spirit of V2” has wrought! (That’s MY biblical “proof text”—and I’ll stick with it.)

    The great sin of the past 50 years is all the “cover” these Reformationists have been given, at such a great cost to His Mystical Body.

    • Questioner @ large

      and now Pope Francis is going to celebrate the Reformation and Martin Luther in October. Ironically on Halloween.!

  • Rick

    Wasn’t one of the goals of V2 to get the laity more involved? Well…they got it.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Bingo! Or touche!

    • Questioner @ large

      Actually I learned in later years besides what you stated that ~ they wanted to make the Church more inviting to non Catholics hence they demolished so many of our beautiful churches. And what happened? the Protestants kept moving further away and Catholics were deprived of their beautiful churches and traditions.

  • Howard Kainz

    You say: “If you are a “conservative” who places being an
    American-style “conservative” above being a Catholic, that’s your
    choice. But then you do not have room to blame the liberal who places
    being an American-style “liberal” above being a Catholic.”
    — But the problem is that “liberal” used to have a good connotation. Classical liberalism meant meant respect for individual rights in regard to speech, property, religion, etc., as spelled out in the UN Declaration of Rights. But now American “liberalism” means support for contraception, abortion, gay marriage, etc. So there are ethical issues, and it’s not just a matter of political “taste” to put American-style liberalism above being a Catholic.

    • Kathy

      AMEN and thank you!

  • Murray

    Indeed, according to Lumen Gentium, this religious submission of intellect and will “must be shown in such a way that [the Holy Father’s] supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, and the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. . .[which] may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

    Well said, but I note that you omitted the definition of precisely what comprises the Magisterium to which we must give “religious submission of intellect and will.” Fortunately, this is found in several adjacent passages in Lumen Gentium 25:

    In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff…

    Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held…

    And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith,(166) by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals

    There we have it. The authentic Magisterium of the Church encompasses matters of faith and morals (admittedly a vast subject touching upon almost every aspect of human life in some fashion). The teaching in LG25 is reiterated in Canons 749-753 in a more concise fashion.

    I note, not for the first time, that papal apologists like Dr Smith often take great care not to specify the precise boundaries of the papal magisterium, even though they are clearly laid out in an almost repetitive fashion in LG and Canon Law. The practical effect of this omission is to mislead people into believing that the papal teaching authority is far more extensive than it actually is. It does not encompass matters of prudential judgment such as politics, economics, or scientific controversy. though we are of course required to bring our mens Catholica to bear when considering these questions. It does not extend to off-the-cuff statements or interviews. It does not even extend necessarily to homilies or speeches in which the Holy Father, say, gives vent to his frustration with Catholics reluctant to get on board with his program to reform the Church’s ecclesial structures or alter ancient disciplines. It certainly does not extend to statements or gestures in which the pope appears to contradict settled teachings of the Church (such as intercommunion with protestants, Our Blessed Mother cursing God at the foot of the Cross, endorsing Annihilationism, or the notion that non-Christian religions are channels of grace in and of themselves).

    None of which is to say that we are free to show disrespect to the person of the pope, accuse him of formal heresy (a judgement which can only be pronounced by the Church hierarchy), or disregard him entirely, as tempting as that may sometimes be. And the Church has every right to intervene in social and political questions. As Canon 747 §2 states:

    It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.

    I once asked Dr Smith on these pages to specify the precise binding teachings of the Second Vatican Council, to which he responded by accusing me of “spitting on the Council.” Undeterred, I ask the same question here: Please enumerate, as precisely as you can, the Holy Father’s teachings on faith and morals to which we are bound to provide “religious submission of intellect and will.”

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Murray probably the best, accurate account of the dilemma the Church faces with this Pontificate. You clearly differentiated between the authentic Magisterium and the suggestive heretical remarks and actions of Francis that Dr Smith glosses over. I’m shocked at his response to your question but perhaps I’m too naive wanting to grant him some integrity. What he says about prayer and fasting now seems fake. Whether you are cleric or layman the Church requires more like you to speak out.

      • Murray

        Thank you, Father. God bless you for your priesthood.

        Our Vatican II exchange occurred a couple of years ago (A Pastoral and Dogmatic Council, July 19, 2014) when TCT was on the old commenting system, and the record of our exchange seems to have been lost. I expect Dr Smith wrote that in the heat of the moment, and I certainly bear him no ill will.

        But the basic thrust of the two articles is remarkably similar…and remarkably vague. In both articles, Dr Smith exhorts Catholics to obedience to something, though he curiously omits the specifics of what that something would entail. And instead of, say, defining his terms, he spends a good chunk of his ~1000-word TCT allotment erecting cardboard cutouts of his erstwhile opponents and throwing darts at them. The result? More confusion among faithful Catholics who are plenty confused enough as it is.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    The Doctrinal Commentary to Ad Tuendam Fidem referring to “a religious consent” is to official pronouncements from the authentic Magisterium that are not ex cathedra. Pope Francis even on this third level of compliance [the first obligatory to the Deposit of the Faith and Apostolic Tradition the second similar to those declarations that explicate the first] has never contradicted Church doctrine. That is not at all the contention which you take pains to purport of those who have reservations with Pope Francis. You construct a completely false premise, a straw man, and then attempt to justify it with doctrinal teaching. It is like the blind trying to lead those with perspicacity. You are of course aware that it is Pope Francis’ non official acts and remarks, including reproach to priests, bishops who defend doctrine that they are pharisees, and that the Gospels “are only words.” You say these are careless asides. Have you had discussion with Card Burke? Justified concern, dissent is not disrespect and neither does it belong to conservative or liberal. It belongs to faith in Christ, courageous witness to His truth, and not feeling comfortable in one’s self-assured judgment.
    “In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, counter cultural, prophetic voice, one that the world needs to hear” (Bishop Thomas Tobin, Providence, Rhode Island).

    • RodH

      NAILED IT!

      Well said.

      In addition, one more thing. The author says: “these ‘traditionalists’ look back only to one period of Church history (usually relatively recent) or one special document as the sole standard that defines ‘the tradition’,”. This is absurd. The FACT is that the features of modernism corrupting the Church today were specifically identified by several Popes as those issues arose in the 19th Century and those Popes wisely and prophetically WARNED us about them. We were then warned through Papal pronouncements in the first half of the 20th century of yet more. Now we see the disease metastasizing and the author would have us simply ignore it.

      In referring to specific issues of modernism warned about by past Popes, well, OF COURSE we go to the sources! And we have not only one, or even one time period. We have many. In addition, on other issues that have arisen we have VAST support from the perennial Magesterium of the Church. For example, in confronting the vile video the Pope recently released and the obvious religious indifferentism we see promoted, we have centuries and more or less endless support condemning it. Ditto the support for those condemning the offering of communion to sodomy-supporting and women-ordaining “Lutherans” and apologies to the Lutherans, etc.

      I am a convert from Lutheranism and frankly, if I knew only about the Catholic faith what this Pope teaches, I would have had utterly no reason to convert. And indeed, we have even a Bishop of the Anglican Church who testifies that Bergoglio told him not to! Thus we have every right to expect and decry the lack of a Bishop to stand up and resist this to the face of the Pope as Saint Paul did to St Peter on a single issue… We have MANY.

      No, the ones who are pulling quotes out of context are those who rely almost exclusively on ambiguous language of the Vatican 2 documents in order to promote their own destructive agendas. Read in an orthodox manner, and in concert with past documents of the Magesterium, even Vatican 2 poses a sharp rebuttal tomany things we hear from the Pope these days.

      • MSDOTT

        Well said!

    • Pat Ekeler

      I feel fortunate that I grew up many moons ago (prior to Vatican II) and can only say that I have been horrified by many of the things this Pope has said and done that (in my opinion) have been totally contrary to the teachings of the Church. I imagine I am one of the Traditionalist that he dislikes so much. What I learned and it has stayed with me all these years is that unless he (Pope) is speaking ex-cathedra, we do not have to accept what he says or does as official Church teaching and we are free to reject it. (and there are very few things that any Pope has done throughout history that were done ex-cathedra). We all have to stand before God when our lives come to an end and answer for our actions and that includes the Pope as well.

  • Diane

    Why do we need to be re-taught what Jesus has already taught us. Jesus is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. No need to go any further. As a faithful Catholic I am disturbed by what this Pope is saying and doing. We have had heretical Popes in the past. So, when the Pope allows those in adultery to receive the Holy Eucharist, or thinks that those in active homosexual Civil Unions can receive the Holy Eucharist, or those who are not Catholic or tell women not to breed like rabbits, or act as if Climate Change is more important than abortion, then, we need to question this, not just sit by and accept that our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church would condone such horror. He also scolded those Cardinals and Bishops at the Synod who would question these contradictions to our Church Teachings. What is beautiful about the Catholic Church IS the unchanging of the Laws of God, the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Doctrines of the Catholic Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Holy Bible. What on earth is wrong with those of us who believe that these things are unchangeable, this is our belief, this is the foundation of the Catholic Church. What is good is now bad, and what is bad is now good. We cannot give in to the wrong. We must always question what goes against our beliefs no matter who is causing the confusion. As far as capital punishment is concerned, in the last six months 6 murderers have escaped from maximum security prions, so much for keeping the public safe. Only the worst of the worst evil men and women are sentenced to death. John Wayne Gacey who raped and murdered 24 boys and buried them in his basement in Chicago, who was a Clown at parties for children, or Jeffery Dahmer who raped, dismembered and eat his victims. The list goes on and on. It is actually more humane to execute these evil men because they were tormented and hunted and even killed in prion by their inmates who were disgusted by them.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      As Socrates said: “Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing”

      The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment. An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, “ἐὰν δ᾽ ἀνέρῃ τι, σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – If you ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence.

    • BXVI

      “Jesus is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.”
      But aren’t you ready for the “God of Surprises” that Pope Francis keeps threatening to spring on us?

      • Questioner @ large

        One of God’s properties is that HE is constant.

        • olhg1


      • Diane

        No way, no how! I think the surprise is going to be on those who turn their backs on the Teachings of Jesus Christ.

      • edith Wohldmann

        anyone witness the New Year speech of Nuncio Vegano there appeared in the background a life sized painting of Pope Francis all based in glorious light with the dove of the Holy Spirit hovering above, and a picture of PF on the right corner kissing the foot of a sinner and on the left corner PF with children.

    • Xavier Gnanasekaran

      Dear Diane,
      Often we tend to think like self-righteous people. It is unfortunate that we judge others according to our own standard. i believe that Jesus always, yesterday, today and everyday, wants us to UNDERSTAND OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS rather than judging or condemning them. Of course Jesus does not tell us to approve what is not uniting us with God and one another but to understand others with mercy and compassion as he did. Our Mother Mary could not understand everything that she saw or heard but kept it in her heart and pondered over it TRUSTING IN THE LOVE OF GOD who chose her to be part of his plan for mankind. Let us be inspired by our Mother Mary. It is better for us to be another Christ, full of Mercy and Compassion, than be a pharisee.

      • johnnysc

        Yes the liberal image of Jesus as the benevolent camp counselor where ‘if you love me you will follow my commandments’ is turned into ‘I love you, do whatever the heck you want to’.

      • Diane

        I am not the one who taught us all of this, It was JESUS. What is it you do not understand? Yes, we are all sinners and yes, we all need to ask for forgiveness and yes we need to repent, but mercy does not mean that nothing is a sin anymore. Sin is still sin. To understand what is sin is not being self-righteous. Jesus is merciful and He is also just. We can’t just do what we want to do and pretend that our conscience is telling us it is OK. Tolerance is not mercy, it is sin. I am not the one who is judging, God is the judge by telling us to keep His Commandments and Jesus came to fulfill the law and teach us about adultery and what marriage is. So, in my view those who do not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ are those who are self-righteous, you have it reversed. What was GOOD will be BAD and what is BAD, will be GOOD. You are being brainwashed into thinking that faithful Catholics are the Pharisees, when those who are going against the teachings of Jesus are the Pharisees, just as Jesus was trying to teach them. We have been taught, by Jesus, now follow His Teachings.

      • RodH

        Rubbish, Xavier. Diane is right. We are commanded to judge righteous judgement, not to judge by appearances, not to shirk our responsibility to judge at all.

        The classic passage the folks like Xavier always seem to have ready on their lips is the one about the woman caught in adultery. But they do not know the Law. In reality, the decision was an easy one, legally-speaking. Jesus knew the Law and did what was righteous. He was bound to release her. She could not be justly executed under the Law because the Law required BOTH parties to adultery to be executed and only she was presented. An obvious ploy, an obvious setup.

        Ever wonder what Jesus was scratching in the dirt when the crowd brought him the woman caught in adultery? I have.

        I’ve always wondered if what he wrote in the dirt was:

        “Bring me Chaim, too”.

    • olhg1

      St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 18, 6 sounds like Capital Punishment to me.

  • Stan Marciniak

    A wonderful article, Dr. Smith. But, just as we are asked to honor and respect the Office of the Papacy, should not our Pope also extend that same level of respect and avoid entering the political arena? ‘Render unto Caesar’ was the Lord’s way of saying that politics has no bearing on one’s faith, that the two are mutually exclusive. So, why now is our Pope involved in politics?

    And I might add that I find his behavior with Iran’s leadership to be mystifying, if not utterly confusing.

  • Thomas Johnson

    “If you feel that there are problems in the
    Church (and there always are; we are a “pilgrim people”), then you fast
    and pray. You re-double your efforts to live out your call to holiness.” – I think I’ll start here with myself. Thank you Randall.

  • Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI

    Beautiful and timely. Thank you.

  • Tad

    I think we have to pray harder for the Pope today.

  • Dave

    Randall, this is an important article and clearly you have engendered a lot of discussion. Many thanks. You are right about the proto-Protestantism of “traditionalists” who believe that the explication of authentic Tradition, and its authentic development, came to a stop with Pius XII. While I am sympathetic to much they have to say, they really cannot account well for those places where under the Novus Ordo the Church is really thriving — certain dioceses in the United States, Africa, Asia; nor do they seem to get past the Tridentine understanding of the lay person as a jv member of the team who has to assimilate as far as possible practices of the religious state suitably modified for them, instead of front-line participants in the evangelization of the world and full team members answering the universal call to holiness.

    Nonetheless, Fr. Peter has his finger on a really important point. The problem with the Pope’s “careless asides” is that they occur too frequently and at too strategic moments for one really to accept that these asides do not represent his true perspective. Yes, he carefully backtracks and the official teaching of the Church is upheld — but after the damage is done, after the green light is given. The “who am I to judge?,” which, yes, was taken out of context and then quietly contextualized leads right to Mo Rocca’s reading of the first lesson at the Pope’s Madison Square Center Mass. So which are we to believe: the “who am I to judge” or the actions that imply open acceptance of open behavior that is quite at odds with the Church’s constant teaching?

    The Pope is the guardian, the custodian of divine revelation as contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The way we can work out the conundrum is this: when what he says is in accord with that sacred deposit, when he explicates it, when he extends it, when he applies it, bravo, and he gets our full support. When he doesn’t, what he has to say is non-binding. And in every circumstance we have to pray for him and for his intentions, trusting that the Holy Spirit knows just what to do with and about them, and trusting that, however challenging we may find him, he is the Pope the Holy Spirit led the Cardinals to elect, for reasons the Holy Spirit does not have to disclose to us.

    • Dave Fladlien

      I say this not to harass you or criticize you, but because I am struggling with this too: “When what he says is in accord…When he doesn’t…” My problem is that as soon as you say that, you set *yourself* up as the judge of what is and what is not truly consistent or at variance with Church teaching and Revelation. A lot of me agrees with you; yet I am also aware that making that determination is supposed to be the job of a Council or of the Pope, not of you and me. I strongly believe in the supremacy of conscience, when properly formed, but that is on the level of an individual who must decide what action he/she is to take. I also believe that the organization — the Church — must go in the direction the head of the Church takes it, or we won’t have a Church at all.

      Again, I say this not to criticize, but because I am aware of both “sides” of this argument, and frankly I don’t completely know what to do with it either.

      • Dave

        Dave, I don’t feel harassed or criticized by what you write. The fact is that each of us is bound by conscience to render judgments on truth claims that are presented to us. Each of us must decide freely to accept what the Church proposes. But we are not left in a vacuum: we have Holy Scripture, we have twenty centuries of Magisterium, and we have clear papal teaching on a myriad of judgements. We also have faithful bishops, priests, and deacons who know what the Church has always taught and can instruct us (when they are not intimidated, which too many of them are). Nor are we obliged to submit in matters of prudential judgement or informal pronouncement — though we are obliged to consider it.

        So when a Pope proposes to lift something like the Friday meat abstinence, which is a matter of discipline, Catholics are free to do the alternate penance (because that is what we are supposed to do, if we don’t abstain from flesh meat) or to abstain from fish: no problem whatsoever. When twenty centuries of Catholic teaching says that the divorced and civilly remarried may not lawfully present themselves for Holy Communion and a pontiff says well wait a minute, it is we who must protest, because now this is not just Church discipline but dominical precept and gets to the heart of our faith. Or when he turns a blind eye to behavior that the Lord through the Church, and even prior to the Church, has always condemned, we have to sit up and say no this goes too far. And if it isn’t “we,” then it certainly is “I,” because at my particular judgement it is “I” who must give account for every commission and omission. Would we have been obliged to say with almost all the bishops, against Athanasius, that the Word was created? Should we jump off a cliff if the Pope were to say that everyone who disagrees with his new formulations of the faith should do precisely that?

        This is why Professor Smith distinguishes between official teaching and personal style. We are not subject to obedience in prudential matters, though we are subject to consider them carefully. On official teaching, we are subject to obedience, and if we were to receive a teaching that in our judgement were out of synch and in opposition to the Magisterium of the Church, we are duty-bound to manifest our concern to a pastor of the Church, who can assist us in understanding or refer the matter higher up. We are not meant to be passive subjects who blindly do what our “betters” tell us to do.

        • olhg1

          Or fasting from midnight from food or drink before Holy Communion. I always went to early Mass.

    • kathleen

      I pray for the Pope every day. I do not pray for his intentions since I am not sure about his intentions. Yes, I believe the Holy Spirit will take care of things.

      • Dave

        We just pray, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” When we pray that with the aim of praying for the Holy Father’s intentions, we cannot err.

      • Mr. Graves

        In order to gain an indulgence, prayers are required “for the intentions of the Pope.” I believe you’re confusing what the Pope wants (and the combox is a perfect case in point that none of us are sure exactly what that is) with his monthly universal prayer intentions. The monthly intentions (which you used to find on EWTN) were always things like “support for married couples” or “an end to human trafficking.” In other words, things everyone can get behind.

        To the best of my knowledge, *these* monthly intentions are what we pray for when we pray for the pope’s intentions, not that his personal vision for the Church come to pass.

    • Andrew Joe Nelson

      Oh yes, the Catholic faith is just thriving in the West since Pope Pius XII. How can you explain the millions of Catholic leaving the Church? Or the collapse of the priesthood and religious orders. Authentic development cannot contradict the prior Magisterium of the Church, and some things since Vatican II contradict prior teachings of the Magisterium.

      Also, when the Pope speaks off the cuff, the cat is out of the bag, and the damage is already done to doctrine by undermining it, especially in the age of the internet. This is the problem with Vatican II along with many vague and confusing statements by Pope Francis. Documents and statements can be interpreted in opposite ways by people within the Church. This is why precision and clarity are so important with regards to official documents and public statements by the Pope. It is the Church of Jesus Christ, not any particular Pope and his personal conscience. Popes before Vatican II spoke with precise language so nothing could be construed one way or the other.

      Plus, the Sacrifice of the Mass is not about us. It is about giving proper worship to God. There was nothing in Vatican II about removing communion rails, communion in the hand, getting rid of Gregorian Chant along with Latin. We have become a closed circle of parishioners at the Norvus Ordo with the priest facing us. We seem to care more about our feelings(being a so-called part of the jv team) than having the priest lead us in our prayer to Jesus Christ. Is not there a lack of reverence for the Eucharist today with all these changes? Was not the tabernacle even moved out of the sanctuary in many places? Again, is it not more about us than the Sacrifice taking place on the altar and the Eucharist these days?

      Lastly, why is there so much ecumenism and love with every other Christian group, except the SSPX who hold on to the traditions of the Church? Why so much hate towards this so-called schismatic group and others who love the traditions of the Church such as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, who have been decimated under Pope Francis.

      We have opened the window of the Church at the expense of our Catholic faith. We have abandoned tradition in favor of accommodating the world.

      • Dave

        Sir, you need to go back and read what I actually wrote. The Catholic Church is thriving in those places in the United States where the laity have fully embraced everything the Church teaches and where they have clergy who have done the same. I gave example of but a few dioceses in America where I know this is so. This is also true in Africa and Asia, where the Church is thriving, because of complete acceptance of and adherence to the fullness of divine revelation. Where these conditions are lacking, the Church flounders; and when the pastors seem more aligned to the powers that be rather than to the Church’s divine Founder, the Church stumbles. We are in agreement that much has been lost and souls are imperilled because the Gospel is not being presented in its fullness. But here we must be careful, too, for it has never been easier to find out everything the Church has ever taught, thanks to the Internet and other means of communication. If people are leaving the Church, it’s because they want to, it’s because they prefer to leave rather than to put in the effort it takes.

        Then, our second paragraphs are virtually identical. My problem with this Pope is the problem millions of us have with him: his “informal, off-the-cuff” pronouncements seem to indicate his true intentions and direction and his days-later, careful enunciation of what the Church has always taught seems to be merely base-covering, the damage already having been done.

        Nothing of what I have written can be read to say that the Holy Sacrifice is about us. I agree with you that the Council did not call for all the changes that we have come to see and about the self-referential quality of too many celebrations of the Mass, and I love both the TLM and the Novus Ordo in Latin (as, indeed, I love the Novus Ordo, it being the rite that brought me into the Church). My remark was more about the apostolate: Vatican II’s lasting contribution is the recovery of the understanding of the laity as the prime agents of apostolate in civil society — in the family, in their places of work, of recreation, wherever they happen to be — which is a recovery, it seems to me, of a pre-Constantinian model of the Church in which the baptized and confirmed receive both the vocation of and graces for the apostolate. This is NOT to denigrate in any way the inestimable contribution of the religious and contemplatives — whose prayer, action, and sanctity really have been models for us all, especially in the life of piety, and whose presence in the Church is a great honor as well as a necessity — nor to suggest that the priesthood is anything less than essential for the Church. It is simply to point out that the Council revived the ancient understanding and dignity of the laity — and to agree with you, a priori, that the clericalization of the laity in far too many parishes and dioceses attenuates against both their proper apostolate and vocations to the priesthood. Celibates have higher status in the divine economy, yes: Our Lord told us so. But that doesn’t mean that non-celibate laity are j.v. members of the team: we bring the Gospel to places that the clergy and religious can never reach. On this score, the understanding that the ordained sacerdotal ministry activates the common priesthood of the faithful seems right on target.

        I cannot speak for everyone about dismay over the SSPX, but I can tell you this, for myself: I know — and love as friends and as brothers and sisters in Christ — traditionalists who see and accept that there are devotees of the Novus Ordo who uphold the Magisterium, seek to love God, our Lady, and the Church in all we, and who are willing to make common cause with people outside traditionalism. I respect them. I would say that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are good examples of this; and I agree with you that what has happened to them is tragically unjust. But from so many quarters of traditionalism come far too much negativity, scorn, and bitterness about anything — and anyone — that isn’t traditionalist. How do you make common cause with people who despise what you accept and love? What do we make of those whose lives do not show the joy and peace of the Gospel? I would suggest that when traditionalists have a much more positive, optimistic presentation of the Faith and evaluation of those who do not share all of their perspectives (but people nevertheless loved by Jesus Christ about whose salvation he is infinitely concerned), traditionalists will get a broader hearing.

        • Andrew Joe Nelson

          Thanks for the reply. But these places are flourishing in spite of the Norvus Ordo, not because of it. I agree with most of the rest of you post, even with regards to the laity being ‘the prime agents of apostolate in civil society’. However, we have to bring the Catholic faith as laity in the society, and sadly, we have compromised our faith to get along with the world. Ironically, it is more often than not, the traditional laity who are speaking up in defense of the Catholic faith in our secular world.
          Plus, so-called traditionalists, I would just call them Catholic, are angry over the casting off of so much tradition which bound Catholics together in the one truth, and enabled the laity to be more effective apostolates in society. Not angry at the ordinary Catholic, but at the leaders within the Church who have facilitated it. Catholics have been deprived of the full spectrum of the Catholic faith over the past 50 years.
          Lastly, there is joy with ‘traditional’ Catholics, but we do take the truth of Jesus Christ and his Church seriously, as the salvation of souls is a serious business. But I would say there is definitely more hostility towards traditional Catholics, not the other way around, especially within the leadership in the Catholic Church. You don’t think a traditional Catholic woman would not get harsh looks by simply wearing a veil during Mass. Or a devout person taking communion on the tongue while kneeling. Traditionalists don’t believe they are more holy, we only want to express our worship in a pious manner which is owed to God, and had been done by Catholics for hundreds of years.

          • Patricia Gallagher

            To your last line: Indeed, for centuries, for millennia!

            I grew to love the Faith as a child in a Catholic city, in a Catholic home, in Catholic education through high school … “love” as in “sentiment.” That did not hold me into young adulthood and early mid life.

            By the time I graduated, in 1971, yes, the Mass at my high school was offered in English. Folk guitar and the mimeographed hymnal of psalmic parodies had replaced the organ and choir. We girls were distributing and taking Holy Communion in the hand.

            Dramatic changes!

            Nevertheless, when I made a weak attempt to go to Sunday Mass in late 1978, I was shocked and saddened to find the liturgy utterly unrecognizable. “This is no longer the Catholic Church I knew and loved.” I didn’t return until 1996.

            I know now that, for those 25 years, my mother and paternal grandmother — advocates of devotion to, and in cooperation with, our Blessed Mother — *begged* for my soul before the throne of God. Pope St. John Paul II, unmistakably Marian *and* scholarly, drew me back to the Faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with his great intellect and love for authentic teaching, solidified my recommitment.

            With that understanding, I began a serious study of the Faith. With my childhood prayers and devotions, I began to experience a child-like surrender to Jesus through Mary.

            Nothing short of glorious!

            The TLM is different from the Mass in Latin that I vaguely remember, and it was strange to me at first. I came to love the Mass again through the Novus Ordo as reverently offered by good and holy priests. Despite the deplorable abuses, or perhaps because of them, that love is retraining me in Sacred Tradition.

            Full circle!

            We must “pray and don’t worry” (–Padre Pio), make sacrifices, and give alms. We know how The Book ends.

          • Dave

            Andrew, I am not sure how you can claim that these places are thriving “despite the Novus Ordo.” Here in Northern VA, one can find the TLM, and they are well-attended, but the churches are packed on Sunday with people assisting at the Novus Ordo. Similarly, in Africa, the evangelization of St. John Paul II resulted in a 40% increase in the number of Catholics there, and their Masses are also inculturated in a way that we might find difficult or strange, but that give people the privilege of worshiping God and the strength of serving him throughout their days, including martyrdom.

            I agree, looking at the state of the Church in Western countries, that as a whole we laity have done a terrible job in those areas of life specifically commended to our care. We will have much to answer for. In addition, too many of our number have cowed the bishops, many of whom are “prudent” in teaching the Faith in all of its fulness, lest people march out the door and take their cash with them.

            Where does this leave us? I think it is fair to say that wherever Catholics “pick up your cross daily, and follow me”, wherever they embrace the Magisterium in its fullness, they find joy, they find God, and their worship comes alive. I know we will disagree here a bit: I love the TLM, but find it a bit remote. I am indeed suggesting that for the Lord, uniformity with his will in the concrete circumstances of our lives is what moves him to quicken our wills and our lives, whatever defects may be present in them or in whichever rite at which we assist.

            On the hostility to traditional Catholics, I think that’s a two-edged sword. Yes, the bishops and priests could be more accommodating and generous in the celebration of the TLM, but too many traditionalists consider that only traditionalists are real Catholics (or that real Catholics in the NO are really traditionalists, they just don’t know it). OTOH, if a bishop or priest looks askance at a veiled woman or someone who wants to receive on the tongue kneeling, pray for the bishop or priest. Only please don’t think that if a woman is not veiled or one does not receive kneeling, one is less pious: let God be the judge of each case, and let each pray for mercy at our particular judgements.

  • BXVI

    I guess we’ll see in the upcoming apostolic exhortation. Will he effectively destroy the Church’s entire sacramental system by admitting the unrepentant to Holy Communion? And, of course, he would have to overturn the paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic In doing so, he would have to overturn the binding Magisterium of the previous two Popes, each of whom addressed the issue with unambiguous clarity. Church that expressly forbids the divorced and “remarried” to participate in the Eucharist. How are we supposed to have faith in a Magisterium that can flip-flop like that on such a central issue?

    I pray that he won’t do it, but every indication is that he will. Reports from people who have seen the drafts are alarming. The CDF supposedly sent a 40 page response outlining the problems with it, but will be ignored as usual by this Pope. The CDF has been completely frozen out.

    Pope Francis has treated the Magisterium of his immediate two predecessors with incredible disrespect. We should never have had a discussion on communion for the divorced and remarried if Pope Francis had any respect for the Magisterium of his predecessors. Pope Francis has treated the Church like a political institution where he can just come in and try to engineer the overthrow the legislation of the prior “administration”. It is beyond clear that he thinks St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict led the Church astray. That is very uncomfortable for many of us.

    How can Pope Francis expect us to respect his teaching when he clearly does not respect the teaching of the last two Popes (at least not the bits he wants to change)?

    • Andrew Joe Nelson

      It reminds me of President Obama who believes he is above the law with his executive orders. Pope Francis seems to believe he is above the Divine Law or any part of the Magisterium he sees as lacking mercy. There can be no true mercy without the truth of Jesus Christ. It is simply false compassion.

    • Faithful Catholic

      Very well said!

    • Patricia Gallagher

      “How are we supposed to have faith in a Magisterium that can flip-flop like that on such a central issue?”

      *Authentic* Magisterial teaching NEVER “flip-flops.”

      During a recent discussion of sexual morality, an RCIA candidate asked, “Do you think, if Jesus walked the earth today, His teachings would be different?” I had, the day before, listened to a talk about God, who is eternal Beauty. Goodness, and Truth, so I was unequivocal in my answer:

      Jesus is God. God is eternal: the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Therefore, Divine Revelation, which *is* God, does not change to accommodate transient fashion and philosophy.

      The Catholic understanding of Divine Revelation that of a “three-legged stool” which cannot stand without all three legs. Divine Revelation consists of three essential elements: Sacred Scripture, Sacred (Apostolic) Tradition (which closed with the death of the last surviving Apostle, St. John), and the infallible Magisterial teaching of the Church.

      Thus, the test of *authentic* Magisterial teaching is that it objectively agrees with and supports Sacred Scripture and Sacred (Apostolic) Tradition. Just so, the test of interpretation of Sacred Scripture is that it objectively agrees with and supports Sacred Tradition and Magisterial teaching. And, every tenet of the Faith asserted to be from Sacred Tradition must objectively agree with and support both Sacred Scripture and Magisterial teaching.

      If the interpretation of a facet of one of these essential elements does not agree with and support the each and both of the other two, you can be sure that that interpretation is *false*.

  • Xavier Gnanasekaran

    I like it. Thought provoking and inspiring as well. Thank you.

  • David W

    Well said. I’ll be sharing this article.

  • James Belna

    In the event that we are called to uphold an authoritative teaching, I don’t see how Catholics have the option to do otherwise. But just as we are asked to make distinctions between the Holy Father’s exercise of his Magisterium and his casual, non-binding statements, we are entitled to insist
    on the distinction between our criticism of the Holy Father’s performance of his duties as the temporal leader of the Church and our respect for his teaching office.

    In other words, Catholics have the right and obligation to criticize Pope Francis, sometimes in uncomfortably frank terms, when he says or does things that scandalize us. If he carelessly commingles doctrine and personal opinion, that’s his fault, not ours. The Holy Spirit protects the Church from error on matters of faith and morals, but not from foolish or ineffectual popes. Of course we owe everyone a duty of respect, and it harms the Church when we are unduly critical of the Holy Father – but that is not to say that criticism is never warranted.

    • gubllod

      James Belna: AMEN! The source of everything for which the Catholic Church stands may be found in the Bible. The Magisterium, an accretion of ecclesiastical pronouncements over the centuries, does not supplant this fact. As a further observation, we are sinful men, though redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. That is a given fact. Therefore while we recognize the Church as the Body of Christ, we constitute that Body and that means that we are both sinful and subject to an infinite variety of dispositions from which flow all sorts of behaviors. How these behaviors are perceived and received by others depends largely on the spirit behind them as well as the spirit of the receptor.

      For example, Isabel saw Pope John Paul II as weak, though he and President Reagan are generally credited with bringing down the entire USSR and its communist system without firing a shot. That does not give the appearance of any special weakness at all, at least to me. Further, that Pope John Paul II met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem and apologized correcting an error [based largely on a misinterpretation of commentary ascribed to what St. Augustine is supposed to have written in the 4th century] upon which the Church has operated for some 1,500 years seems to me to have been an act of supreme Christian contrition without parallel in modern times. And that he visited the Muslim in jail who tried to kill him with the purpose of forgiving this Muslim man was also without parallel in modern times. The Muslim was so moved by this, that he forsook ISLAM almost on the spot and, because of Pope John Paul II’s visit to him, became a Christian at real risk to his own life. I find these no small accomplishments however one wishes to view them.

      The problem for me at least comes, when someone like Pope Francis I begins making public comments in areas which are beyond his education in scientific matters. To be specific here, I refer here to comments made on climate change which is caused by periodic fluctuations in the amount of radiation given off by our sun, fluctuations which astronomers have found seem to come and go in cycles of roughly 60 to 70 years. This is objectively measurable. For example, the famous Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska is expanding. Glaciers in the Antarctic are, too, though glacieologists have no explanation for why this is happening, just that it is happening and satellite measurements confirm this, since at least 2009. It is this sort of commentary which Pope Francis I would be better advised not to make. That way the dignity of his office would not be brought into question.

      • Patricia Gallagher

        “The source of everything for which the Catholic Church stands may be found in the Bible. The Magisterium, an accretion of ecclesiastical pronouncements over the centuries, does not supplant this fact.”

        This statement is absolutely incorrect, the essence and origin of heresy, Protestant on its face.

        The Catholic Church holds, and the Catechism States unequivocally, that Divine Revelation includes — and is limited to — Sacred (Apostolic) Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, both narrowly defined, and Sacred Scripture. Not one of these can contradict another and remain Truth.

  • David Dickey

    My problem with Pope Francis is not his teaching, what little there has been of that. It is with his crude, rude, and incessant, thinly veiled attacks on faithful Catholics. Francis is given to making nasty comments about Catholics who still pray the Rosary daily, genuflect before the tabernacle, say grace before and after meals, venerate Mary and the saints, etc.. There is definitely a Protestant in town, and his name is Jorge Bergoglio.

    • klaravonassisi

      I don’t think I have ever met a Protestant who insults Catholics as much as Francis does.

  • Isabel

    Ah, a little glass of Ultramonism with lunch! This has nothing to do with “liking” the Pope. I didn’t like JPII, but he was basically orthodox…although weak as a Pope and given to foolish gestures, such as kissing the Koran. But he always meant well, and even though I didn’t like the “superstar Pope” that he projected – and encouraged, since I’ve seen commemorative statues of his visits, some of them paid for by himself or some related foundation, throughout the world – I always felt that he did this because he thought people would not think only of JPII but of the Church and the Faith.
    With Pope Francis, it’s all about him. He’s the Donald Trump of the Catholic Church.

  • johnnysc

    Well orthodox Catholics in the US knew they were in for a rough ride from the very beginning when the Pope admonished that there was obsession with abortion and homosexuality thereby sending a signal of approval to Obama and in turn liberal ‘catholics’ who voted for him. Meanwhile orthodox Catholics were ‘rigid’ and ‘fundamentalist’ for trying to defend the teachings of Jesus.

  • Cheryl Jefferies

    Yet, it’s o.k. for this present pope to call me and those who stand for things he doesn’t agree with “Pharisees?” I have listened to him and read his words. I have noted who he has appointed to high positions within the Church and who he has, in effect “demoted”…or, as they say in other areas, given a “lateral promotion.” Which really means, shuffled off to the side. I’ve noted all those things and, as you say we should do, I have thought deeply on these matters and I can truly say I have learned a lot. And, most of what I have learned is giving me great concern.

    • klaravonassisi

      Yes. How dare Francis call my poor departed parents “Pharisees”. As he said himself, anyone who insults my mother deserves a punch.

  • Mike Hurcum

    if you want to read a good teaching on who am I to judge, try Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary. He is in the throes of a huge battle with the Catholic School Board of Calgary

    • Mary Marple

      Actually it is the Government of Alberta he is in the battle with.

  • D_Hughes

    Spot on and thank you! I also believe that, when it comes to a difference of opinion, instead of broadcasting it across the internet, we should be taking it to Jesus in prayer and asking Him to help us understand the Holy Father’s teaching.

    • Aqua

      These are not exclusive things.

  • 50AF

    Amen, Randall. I grew up in, and loved, the JPII pontificate and reveled in the theological course of the B16 pontificate. But we all — traditional and liberal alike –tend to want Pope’s in our own image. We are scandalized by the alternative — which marks more our lack of faith, and our pride, than our righteousness. If you want to be affirmed, the Devil is ready to tell you anything you want to hear. If you want to hear Truth, it will — by definition — be a hard and scandalous thing at times. Not always, but often. It is as it should be, unless you are confirmed in your own righteousness (which is, needless to say, a dangerous place to be).

  • GreggorytheGreat

    Tradition has always protected the Church from Heresies lest not forget that.

    • olhg1

      The Holy Spirit protects the Church with its Holy and venerable Tradition.

  • smc

    Although not part of the Ecclesia Docens (Teaching Church), priests, religious, and even laity do participate in the charism of infallibility in so far as they “receive” the Truth and become messengers that spread the Truth. Many traditional minded Catholics are not “receiving” well the statements of this present revolutionary pope simply because it is not the Faith received from Christ through His apostles. The reason they do not like this pope is not just because of his “style” and lack of papal decorum, but also because he is a modernist. In other words, he is not liked because he is an enemy of the Faith breaking down the traditional bastions which once protected the Church from falling prey to worldly thinking. To be honest, give me the Renaissance popes…give me the horrible popes of the 10th and 11th centuries…give me a drunk pope…an overindulgent pope…but please spare me from these modernist revolutionaries that have plagued the Church for decades. We have popes now that embrace the evolutionary hoax. They deny the full and complete inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. They celebrate syncretistic prayer services that cause the greatest scandal. They have liturgies which are atrocious embracing the basest elements of the culture. One speaks of a pseudo-mercy which is nothing less than sacrilege. The same one questions the apostolic discipline of clerical celibacy. The modern popes speak of Martin Luther as moved by the Holy Ghost, though he was nothing but a Judas of the 16th century. And yes finally, they have embraced the liberal, French Revolutionary agenda which topples Christ the King from His rightful throne. They have uncrowned Him. They have betrayed Him. And so, we don’t like the pope and we will not follow Him when he acts like a blind guide leading souls to hell.

  • Jordan Miller

    This post is a simplification of the current reality. To express concerns about the actions or words of a Pope is not the same thing as challenging the teaching authority of the papal office. Otherwise St. Paul was wrong to publicly challenge St. Peter for an inconsistency in his dealings with Gentile Christians (Gal 2).

    One can have a true understanding of the authority of the Petrine office, and also raise questions with respect and charity. There is an important distinction to be made between questioning a seemingly problematic papal action, and setting oneself up as a pseudo-magisterium. Questions stemming from one’s own private interpretation of Scripture or Tradition are quite different from questions that have to do with a universally-acknowledged element of Catholic teaching.

    Moreover, Catholics who are concerned about the actions and words of Pope Francis are not solely composed of (a) Latin Mass traditionalists or (b) Americans who fail to distinguish between Catholic orthodoxy and political “conservatism.” Some Catholics are faithfully, respectfully concerned because of ambiguity in the area of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual love, as well as a de-emphasis on abortion, rather than a simultaneous emphasis on poverty and abortion as two aspects of the loss of the awareness of the human person.

    It is well-known, not via conspiracy theorists in internet com boxes, but through ordinary media covering the proceedings, that at both of the the two recent synods on the family, a certain faction of European cardinals (Kasper, Marx, Danneels, etc.) pushed hard for fundamental changes to the Catholic doctrine of marriage (primarily in terms of divorce, but also in terms of the intrinsic necessity of sexual difference for marriage). This group of cardinals was, fortunately, rebuffed by a larger faction which emphasized that along with God’s infinite mercy we must always recall the clear and unambiguous teaching of Christ on the nature and meaning of marriage (Mt 19; Mk 10). Kasper, Marx et al tried very hard to make it seem as though they were the champions of “mercy” in the synod debates, in opposition to rigid, cold-hearted Pharisees sacrificing the spirit of the law for its letter. But one may note the irony, which is that it was the Pharisees who wished to allow for divorce, while Christ declared the one flesh union of man and woman to be indissoluble.

    Pope Francis was by no means a neutral bystander in all of this; he did not merely seek open discussion between more ‘conservative’ and more ‘progressive’ cardinals. Rather, he indicated his stance by (a) the handpicked choices he made in terms of which cardinals would participate in and lead the synods, and (b) his public rebuke of those at the synod who he accused of being closed to God’s mercy and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is beyond clear that those he intended to rebuke were not Kasper, Marx and co. but rather the cardinals who stood in opposition, and prevented the final synod documents from openly distorting Catholic teaching.

    Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit will not and has not abandoned the Pope in his exercise of the Petrine ministry. I remain certain that even if his forthcoming apostolic exhortation lacks doctrinal clarity, it will not explicitly advocate for a fundamental alteration of the Church’s teaching on marriage. At stake in the Church’s teaching on marriage is not only ‘sexual morality’ narrowly defined, nor sacramental theology, but in fact the whole deposit of faith. Christ teaches clearly (and St. Paul reiterates) that marriage reflects the great mystery of Christ’s love for the Church his bride, and the Church’s love for Christ, her groom. So the doctrine on marriage is also Christology, and Christology is the doctrine on marriage.

    Pope Francis is, I believe, a man of good heart and deep faith. He entrusts himself to Our Lady, and no one who implores her help is left unaided. His emphasis on poverty and on our stewardship of creation should be very welcome, unless one has confused Catholicism with being an American “conservative.” What could be more Catholic than to remind us of Christ’s solemn warning that “Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brethren, you did not do for me.”?

    However, I remain very concerned about the theological implications of the synods on the family, and Francis’ support for the aforementioned European faction. I remain concerned that he does not fully appreciate the prophetic insight that compelled Pope St. John Paul II to devote so much attention and such profound theological reflection to the topics of marriage and sexual love.

    Even so, I am certain that Christ will not allow him or any Pope to lead the Church astray in terms of doctrine. The Church has survived scandalous, terrible popes; it has survived situations where there were multiples claimants to the papal office; it has survived countless heresies from within and attacks from without. The Church is always in grave danger; the Church is never in grave danger. Pope Francis is not perfect, no Pope is (not even Peter, or Leo the Great, or Gregory the Great, or John Paul). We should pray for him, and pray for our own ongoing conversion.

  • 6chars

    So, just to take a recent example, even if His Holiness took the counsel of not one contrary voice in his environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’,” we should accept his pronouncement as gospel even though the document is in itself internally contradictory and filled with “climate change” propaganda? Is that what you’re saying?

  • James T.

    I only hope Dr. Smith reads the comments section. That makes this so much more fun.

    This article is what you would call the next level of telling traditional Catholics that they are not welcome in the current Church, once again equating us with heretics and schismatics (Luther in this case, which we could address, but won’t for brevity’s sake.)

    First, I, and many other traditionalists, aren’t using OUR teaching authority or theological expertise to counter Bergoglio. We use the Saints, previous Popes, past encyclicals and faithful councils. In essence, we use THE MAGISTERIUM against incorrect statements. I proclaim that because I am who I am and I hold the title I hold that Bergoglio (and many other current clerics) are confused. I would rather use the Church Triumphant to do that for me. And they do it quite well.

    If Bergoglio wants to speak as if he is adding to the Magisterium, then HE better be prepared to argue for his statements when those statements seem to conflict so much with the Magisterium in his statements. Logic would tell me that if the pre-Bergoglio magisterium (just like the pre-John XXIII magisterium) conflicts with Bergoglio’s statements, I am not going to assume that all of sudden, God changed His mind and he is using the Pope to articulate that – especially on issues like the protection or desecration of the Eucharist due to unauthorized people receiving Him.

    I also refused to accept this “let the Holy Spirit guide the ark of the Church” argument that encourages Catholics to sit back, pray and fast while rebels and heretics in the Church fundamentally change the Church and put millions of Souls at risk of eternal damnation. As a Catholic, I am REQUIRED to fight for Christ and His Bride. I am REQUIRED by my fully formed Catholic conscience to defend the Faith against all enemies foreign and domestic.

    These rhetorical, passive aggressive attacks toward traditionalists are laughable. If you have a problem with the Magisterium make your arguments for why the Saints, the Apostles and Our Lord are wrong. Go for it.

    • Dan C

      Refer to him as Pope Francis.

      It’s called respect.

      • James

        God reward you. Fine reasoning.

      • James T.

        Just as someone who is excommunicated has excommunicated themselves through their free will based actions, I believe the argument can be made the Bergoglio has removed himself from the Papal throne through his clear actions and statements that are, at their basic level, heretical.

        As such, he ceased to be Pope Francis and is now Jorge Bergoglio and the Papal throne is unoccupied.

        He has continually denied the necessary salvation that comes from conversion to the Catholic faith, whether for Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Buddhists or even atheists. God’s mercy saves them all.

        That is not the Faith taught by Our Lord, the Apostles and the Saints.

        • Robert Wolske

          “I believe the argument can be made . . .” Yes, but by someone with the authority and responsibility to do so. Not by you or me.

    • Ernest Miller

      Very well said. Thanks!

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “We use the Saints, previous Popes, past encyclicals and faithful councils”

      Sounds fine in principle, but, alas, as Bl John Henry Newman pointed out, “At first glance, what is the history of doctrine but ‘pope against pope and council against council’ and ‘Some fathers against others, the same fathers against themselves; a consensus of fathers of one age against a consensus of fathers of another age; the church of one age against the church of another age.’”

      The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment. An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, “ἐὰν δ᾽ ἀνέρῃ τι, σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – If you ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence.

      • James T.

        Which Councils proclaimed the heresy of Arianism that is now considered part of the Magisterium?

        Which Saints denied the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

        Which Council proclaimed that the Muslim “god” is the Father of the Trinity (that isn’t Vatican II and it’s very controversial Nostra Aetate)?

        Tradition of belief has a foundational effect on the Church that prevents it from accepting error — if only the current incarnation of the Church (clerical and lay) would actually read and study it.

        Heresy spreads in a sea of ignorance.

      • accelerator

        “The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority…”

        So Vatican II or Francis can contradict earlier teaching, but its all ok because the man behind the curtain explains it all away and says…

        Very sad, and the reason the Church has pretty much stalled.

      • Robert Wolske

        Ah yes, the Church of the Eternal Now. What is true today, is true today even if it was false yesterday. We have always been at war with Eastasia. No need to engage with what the Church has taught over the past 2000 years, no need to study Scripture, for that matter. If you want to submit to a living prophet, I just put in a call to Salt Lake City for you. They say they have some openings.

        What is most objectionable is your blatant misrepresentation of Cardinal Newman. In this quote he’s paraphrasing William Chillingworth, a Protestant debater – in order to refute him. As in “At first glance . . .” it seems like this, but reality is just the opposite. Newman’s entire Essay on the Development of Doctrine was written to refute exactly this opinion you’ve imputed to him.

        You are either ignorant, and haven’t actually read the document you’re pulling your proof texts from, or you’re being disingenuous. Either way you’re propagating a lie. Stop it.

        • Patricia Gallagher

          Thank you, Richard.

          Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman converted from the Church of England, in part, because he recognized the primacy and authority of the Bishop of Rome. I’ve only scratched the surface of Newman’s body of work but knew better than to think that he would make such a statement against the Magisterium.

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Hmm…seems ‘ol Newman was smarter than I thought…his remarks remind me of the infamous “Synodus Horrendus”, AKA the Cadaver Synod.What the what was THAT about? Anyone?

    • James

      God reward you. Fine reasoning.

    • James

      This is exactly what needs to be said. Thank you for your directness.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    According to Pope Francis I should have remained where I was and not have entered the Church.

    According to Pope Francis we should be discovering the unique charism of homosexuality and not seek for its removal from the lives of persons and the Body of Christ (which is more than the question about “gay” marriage- which, I am confident, Pope Francis is not seeking to change). And, yes, he is suggesting that for he does not bat the notion down nor contradict the homosexual-aggenders who have latched onto his papacy – and his statements. The observation that the search, by far too many in the Church, for the charism of homosexuality (its *theosis* potential) is the more urgent issue, for being more subtle in its prowling about seeking to destroy. Yet, if, now, I am required to change my position on such an issue as that – because certain players are in the ascendancy and are solidifying their influence – then I have been taken for the fool.

    I entered the Catholic Church from Eastern Orthodoxy: and gladly, under John Paul I at the height of the sex abuse crisis. I never asked for nor expected temporal perfection in the institutions of the Church or the lives of its leaders even popes. Suppose I still carry an Orthodox’s traditional reserve regarding the papacy, even while being well versed in its history and polemics. I understand how the Apostolic Succession works in the Eastern Church. Have never, after all these yeas, been able to establish an emotional attachment to the papacy. That most likely feeds my wariness.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    In view of the article’s points and thrusts maybe someone here can tie those points into this bit of news about the Pope’s upcoming document on the Family Synod (which by now we have all read). Taken from LfeSite, of course:

    Archbishop Fernández gave an interview last year in which he laid out the method used by Pope Francis in creating change.

    “The pope goes slow because he wants to be sure that the changes have a deep impact. The slow pace is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the changes. He knows there are those hoping that the next pope will turn everything back around. If you go slowly it’s more difficult to turn things back… . You have to realize that he is aiming at reform that
    is irreversible,” he said at that time.

    The archbishop left little doubt as to his theological orientation when, in another interview,he spoke of a controversial paragraph in the final Synod document on
    homosexuality not getting support from a majority of the bishops. “Probably there was a lack of will to say, with Pope Francis: ‘Who are we to judge the gays?’” he said at that time.

    • James T.

      Archbishop Fernandez reeks of sulfur. He is a very dangerous man who serves something other than Christ and His Bride.

      BUT he has given us 1 great gift — his forked tongue has been loosened by the Holy Spirit to state very clearly for all Catholics to read exactly what he and his conspirators in the Church are ACTUALLY trying to do. And any truly believing Catholic will read his words and be horrified that this is what constitutes the current leadership in the Church.

  • olhg1

    During the run of the 266 successors of St. Peter, there have been-I’ve read-about 9 or ten Popes that have been outrageous and vile men. Not a bad average for the Church. In the past two hundred years the Church has been specially blessed with good-sometimes great-men at the helm.

    • klaravonassisi

      Yes so it was about time we got a bad egg like Francis.

    • James T.

      And the last time we had a Pope who contradicted the Orthodox belief of the Church regarding Our Lord was over 1600 years ago when most of the bishops were Arians and only men like St. Athanasius (the hammer of Orthodoxy) fought against them to correct their error so millions wouldn’t fall from false belief.

      He was exiled from his archdiocese 5 separate times.

      What are we willing to do?

      • geoffrobinson

        Back then they didn’t believe in papal infallibility so it was easier for “traditionalists” to survive such a change.

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        I am a HUGE FAN of the “Black Dwarf “, James T.! (How many of my catholic friends know that that was Athanasius’ nickname?)—Thanks for bringing him up!!

  • ForChristAlone

    Not that long ago, Francis indicated to a Lutheran woman to let her conscience be her guide regarding reception of the Holy Eucharist. Then, earlier this week when Lutherans were attending Mass at the Vatican, some were administered the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

    Now, here’s my question: Francis is going to Sweden to participate in the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. If he were to attend a Lutheran communion service, should he receive their communion and, if he did, what would be the implications? And if he didn’t how would he explain his not receiving? What if his conscience told him to go ahead and participate in their communion?

  • olhg1

    Rarely does the Holy Father expatiate infallibly. He’s the man whom the Holy Spirit has chosen to guide the Church. He’s at the head of the table even though he might want to sit in a lower place. Although he’s a Jesuit, I doubt that he knows every workable strategy for all occasions. He’s a pretty smart guy.

    • GaryLockhart

      Assumes facts not in evidence.He’s the man whom the Holy Spirit has chosen to guide the Church.”

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

  • Yankeegator

    Freemasonic indifferentism from The Seat of Peter. The Diabolical Disorientation of Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate. This man calls no one to The Sacraments and leaves them in their darkness. Call all men to The King and His revealed dogmatic truths given to His Bride!!!

    Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus!!!

    John 14:6

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      t as the Holy Office insisted in the case of Leonard Feeney, “Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

      However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.”

      In particular, we must understand it in the sense given to it by an ecumenical, most holy and inspired council in Lumen Gentium, Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate.

      • Lautensack

        Could you please let me know how one can reconcile the Athanasian Creed with Nostra Aetate?

        If you can’t, which of the two do you think is true, and which one isn’t?

  • agape

    Thank you for the article, it gave me some reflection and I agree with some of your statements. I will just comment on what I disagree with.

    St. Peter was not “silly”, he was a follower of Christ, one of his disciples. Jesus forgave him and He knew of St. Peter’s love for him.After giving him the chance to redeem himself three times for having denied him, Jesus told him to feed his sheep, not Peter’s sheep but Christ’s for the real Shepherd is Jesus. Jesus is the Good Shepherd that for a time known only to God, entrusted his sheep to Peter and his successors. After this command to Peter, Jesus told him to follow Him.We know what happened, Peter did as the Lord commanded and later died a martyr.

    So yes, we as the people of God, His sheep, we must respect and ascent to the teachings of the Magisterium, to pray for the pope and love him as the Vicar of Christ. By loving him I mean to bless him, to wish him well and pray for him. But we would be guilty of idolatry if we accepted every contradictory statement that comes from a pope. The pope is also a redeemed soul and like the rest of us he needs daily conversion. It is so easy to fall from grace. The fate of the Church is not in the hands of a pope nor of anyone else but in the providence of God. Jesus promised Hell would not prevail over His Church.

    More often than not I am surprised to hear/read words such as liberal and conservative in defining Catholics as if we were divided into sects, this one a conservative, that one a liberal. I am just Catholic, and what basically defines a Catholic if not a common faith in Jesus, keeping His commandements and obedience to the Magisterium? For love for Jesus who founded the one, holy, Catholic apostolic Church, I pray Catholics to unite in holy obedience to the prayer of Jesus, that we all be one in Him. Remembering St. Paul who told us not to give cause for scandal, may we have this example from our pope as well. May he be always aware that his duty is to feed , nurture and guide Christ’s sheep. That the Church is larger than just local Churches in the western world.

  • HMV

    Anyone concerned about truth and faithfulness should be deeply concerned with what this Pope is doing and saying. To deny that fundamental concept is intellectually dishonest.

    • Dan C

      This pope repeats almost verbatim Benedict.

      You knowledge is insufficient.

      • HMV

        That is beyond absurd. To deny the obvious insults intelligence. Simply stating a few Catholic items while at the same time stating strange, confusing, and contradictory things is not reasonable. I am not even mentioning the appointment of heterodox prelates to key positions.

      • KathleenWagner

        I guess we’d better give up and go home, HMV. Dan says our knowledge is insufficient, and we’d be no better than those unenlightened fundamentalist Catholics if we dared to doubt Dan. Whoever he may be. {facepalm}

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    A needed sign of hope for the better. Just recently while the Italian parliament is now debating recognition of gay marriage Pope Francis speaking to the Roman Rota said there can be no change to marriage as God intended it. He alluded to change as same sex marriage, cohabitation. This may indicate his position on marriage in the expected exhortation in reference to the Synod on the Family. We should pray this will occur indicating a positive trend.

  • Alicia

    Pope Francis has been invited and accepted the invitation to go to Finland in October for the Celebration of the 500-year Reformation.
    He will take part in a joint prayer with the Lutheran Bishops in this celebration. !!!!!!!!
    What is there to celebrate in what is a very sad event in the history of the Catholic Church. ?
    We should respect and pray for our Christian brothers and sisters that they come home to the true Church.
    But, celebrate their separation ?

    • sg4402

      The upside down Church. No better way to “make a mess” than to turn everything upside down, shake it up and…SURPRISE!!!

    • ACM

      Who says that he is celebrating it? Maybe he goes to bring an olive branch? To restore Christian unity? Recall John 17 – unified Christians was Christ’s prayer just before he died. Maybe Francis’s work is aiming for that goal.

      • HMV

        Absolutely no evidence of that. His words and actions do not lend any thinking person to conclude that.

      • Alicia

        If you are right, I hope that olive branch is loud, clear, in accordance with Catholic doctrine, and big enough for all Catholics so see it.
        The Catholic Church in Finland issued a very clear and strong, public statement saying that giving communion to Lutherans at the Vatican had been a mistake contrary to our doctrine. They then offered Rome a very diplomatic, face-saving excuse by saying that sometimes the people giving communion were not well informed on the doctrine of the church.
        Those Finnish bishops sound like they will keep an eye on the Pope while he is there.
        Daily rosaries for the chuch and the pope.

      • GaryLockhart

        “And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6

        It used to be part of a joke when the rhetorical question “Is the Pope Catholic?” was posed. Sadly, with this Pontificate, the question is neither rhetorical or humorous.

      • mw006

        Unity may be his intention but for all his good intentions this Pope has shown himself to be unwise and heedless of the harmful, practical consequences that can come from ill-advised, boundless open-heartedness. It is far-fetched to believe any lasting good will come of this event, given the scandalous leaders he is meeting with. It is likely to just sow more confusion among Catholics and Protestants alike.

    • samton909

      We shall see what he says when he gets there. For the first time, I see some possible reason for Pope Francis to be Pope. With the internet, every Protestant in the world is being exposed to the truth about Catholicism. In many cases, all they have heard is bizarre lies about what Catholicism is and the reasons it exists. So now, they are more and more being exposed to the sometimes complex – but correct – reasons the church does what it does.

      So if he goes there and says things that get them thinking that their separation is unnecessary, which ultimately leads to great numbers coming into the Catholic church, then it will be worth it. The same goes for Muslims. They are now able to read the bible on the internet and they too will realize that many things they have been told are simply not true.

      We may be on the cusp of an age where people of all nations and religions realize that the Catholic church has the fullness of truth. Francis just may be instrumental in moving that effort forward.

      We shall see.

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Having studied /still am studying Roman Catholicism for over 25 years now, I discerned the…”truth about Catholicism” looong before the Internet came along,samton909…it’s why I’ll STILL Simply Christian. (Acts 4 : 12.)—-PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!

  • anna lisa

    Oh wow, THANK YOU!

    Even when he’s a bit of a dork, I’m so grateful for our Pope. My kids have done the same to me–what indignity! It never ceases to make me squirm, even after nearly 30 years of chasing kids who haven’t attained the age of reason. (ages 6 to 28.5)

    I’d (ALWAYS!) rather look perfect, (and be praised for my decorum), but that’s not the job description of a good parent. A good parent is in the trenches. A good parent takes on the odor of the sheep. A good parent gives the little ones milk, –and then spoon fulls –and then solid food.

    –And just because some can only take milk, doesn’t mean that the parent doesn’t believe in,and look forward to the day that they will thrive on solid food!

    Our Holy father is patient as God is patient, and he’s winking at all of us who labor in the trenches. He gets it, because *CLEARLY* he’s had many children in his care…

    • Patricia Gallagher

      “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? … [Even the wicked] know how to give good gifts to [their] children….” (Mt 7:9-11)

      But if the wicked, or merely inept, *does* offer a stone or a snake, someone with knowledge and authority must feed — and save — the starving children.

      • KathleenWagner


      • anna lisa

        I don’t get it. Who is giving who the snake and stone?

        Pls explain.

        • Patricia Gallagher

          Statements from the Pope and prominent cardinals and bishops that cause confusion about, or directly contradict, orthodox Catholic doctrine is tantamount to offering to the Children of God “snakes and stones” in place of faith-nourishing “bread and fish.”

          Examples from just the last six months or so (paraphrased):
          — The Jewish people do not need Christian evangelization or conversion since the Old Covenant — which continues to await rather than accept the coming of the Messiah and denies that Jesus is God — nevertheless guarantees salvation.
          — A woman whose conscience, as a Lutheran, is not what Catholicism considers “well informed,” asked if it is proper for her to receive Holy Communion with her husband, and is told to “follow her conscience.”
          — The Holy Father is planning, with Protestants, to “celebrate” the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Manifest heresy that has led millions of souls from the Truth is to be celebrated?
          — Encouraging open dissent from doctrines such as the indissolubility of marriage and proper disposition with which to receive the Eucharist, as set out in the framework documents for the 10/2015 Synod on the Family that approved by Pope Francis.

          Stones and snakes, not bread and fish.

  • Geoffrey Lopes da Silva


  • James

    Read well this from Vatican I which, while often cited as expanding papal power, it corralled it. Pius IX would not recognized the absurdity presently on stage at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. From the Dogmatic Constitution “Pastor aeternus” of Vatican I (1869-70) – “The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.”
    Get out your copy of Denzinger and read it in its context. It means what it says.
    For the last three years we have stomached the most glaring debasement of Roman Catholicism imaginable at the hands of those we need trust. Continually abandoned to a state of disbelief, shock, disgust and simple embarrassment at what is transpiring at the very highest levels of pastoral leadership in our Church, and for all the world to see.
    The fiasco now underway was made possible by a similar enterprise of “put on a happy face, and pretend the Church is a happy place,” that Pope Saint John Paul employed (with virtuous intention) hoping somehow a sinking ship could be restored to the sea worthy Barque of Peter without losing the horde of the aberrant. I venerate the man, I count myself graced to have been brought back to the practice of the Faith by his teaching – but his stratagem failed. It only gave cover to a knot of vipers, to a fifth column of what can be termed “transcendental atheists” hell-bent on disemboweling the Roman Catholic Church. Witness the subversion endured by Pope Benedict.
    Given the “…we need not pay too much attention to the African…” mentality in vogue, there is no reason to believe that anything but a superabundance of miraculous intervention will stem the tide, given there are scant few clerics,
    ecclesiastics or religious who are willing to risk all to speak the truth to power.
    We are on the third generation of Roman Catholic youth with no catechesis. The
    engaged faithful are dying off and those few with a few decades left to them are deeply wounded. When will our priests, bishops and religious stop enduring the strap of manipulation that masquerades as evangelical obedience? The abuse of power presently enjoying center stage is sacrilege. Complicity with it only fuels its hubris. Souls are in jeopardy at the edge of the cliff, while those that can bring this charade to an end mull career strategies.

  • jenmikeolson

    Amen! Amen! Amen! Well said!!!! Thank you for articulating so well what’s been bugging me for sometime.

  • Elijah fan

    There are huge swiss cheese holes in this essay and in Lumen Gentium 25 (22 is worse). The last three Popes have repeatedly attacked the death penalty obviously without looking at the US Supreme Court four year deterrence study of 1976 and without looking at the two largest Catholic countries…non death penalty Brazil and Mexico for whom UN recorded murder rates are over 20 times that of East Asia ( largely death penalty)….East Asia being comparable to Brazil unlike Europe because East Asia has millions of poor like northern Latin America. Both Catholic countries …Brazil and Mexico…have repeated prison escapes while the catechism claims modern penology is protecting us without needing execution…oh those new locks on doors.
    And no paid Catholic writer will mention that we as a world are, through insufficient deterrence, getting largely poor people murdered at high rates in all of non death penalty northern Latin America….tens of thousands unnecessarily. To continue to earn money on the Catholic circuit, writers must rather debate which form of Mass….not how many poor Mexicans are getting slaughtered by Knights Templar cartel thugs as they work in lime fields whose owner hasn’t paid extortion to that cartel. These Popes were no special heroes in protecting young people from sexual clergy but the over submission of Lumen Gentium 25 has an entire Church ignore that and ignore world murder rates and say yes to the preposterous death penalty reversal from the same men. Check UN figures. The worst large area of the world for adult murder is non death penalty largely Catholic northern Latin America. The safest is East Asia. Check this week’s article on most dangerous cities at cnbc.

  • Michelle

    It is money. Mammon. Filling the empty seats with rich pseudo-ex-Lutherans and pseudo-ex-Pentecostals and pseudo-ex-wordlings-of-rainbow-stripes. Follow the money and everything the current Pope does makes sense. There’s a huge and untapped market of “left-outs” (if you get my meaning) and Bergoglio is going to tap it, with “Mercy.” He’s a cad. Courting lady poverty with his lips while really in the sack with all those “poor” “left -out” wealthy “special” interests. wink wink 😉 Why do we do we resort to Magisterium to denounce the guy when his worldly motives are so obvious? sigh..

  • Bobby Hesley

    I did a recent podcast defending Pope Francis from Catholics who take their public criticism of him too far. If you are interested, check it out at Army of Apostles.

    • johnnysc

      Did you also do a podcast defending orthodox Catholics from a Pope who takes his public criticism of them too far?

      • Tweck

        Someone should do a podcast on people who willfully misinterpret what the pope says in order to take their public criticism of him too far.

        • Someone should prove that’s what’s actually happening before tossing the general accusation around.

        • HMV

          How can you deny the obvious?

  • John Nagy

    Well said, professor. And a quick scan of the comments thus far confirms how much it needs to be said, again and again and again if necessary.

  • AuthenticBioethics

    As a theologian with some specialization in the area of marriage and family (defending my dissertation in Rome next month), I am anticipating the March release of Pope Francis’ post-synodal document with some trepidation. Considering the people he relies on as advisors and theologians – people who should have been put out to pasture by his predecessors, but weren’t – and the distance that he has put between him and theologians I wished he kept closer, my trepidation seems justified for now. I hope, however, given the gravity of the document’s authority and the eagerness that secular media are awaiting it, he speaks clearly – and clearly in line with the Faith. Otherwise, he risks unmercifully undermining the fortitude and temperance of those of us striving to avoid the very situations (and other related behaviors) that appear to be possible targets for relaxation of disciplines. I hope he has mercy on the rest of us, and gives us strength to persist, too.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Hmm…if you’re seeking someone to…”have mercy on you,and give you strength to persist”…Authentic bioethics,you might try Jesus the Christ Himself.He always works PERFECTLY for me. (Read Proverbs 3 : 5-6, and mull and reflect, my friend.)—PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS! !

      • AuthenticBioethics

        ….well… I appreciate your good wishes…. and I certainly won’t dispute the advice…. still you really shouldn’t judge people you don’t know anything about. As for my previous post, the Pope has great influence on the way people (the “us” I used, since I wasn’t referring only or even to myself) pursue their relationship with Jesus Christ and assess whether that relationship is good or needs improving. In fact, I would say THAT is the essence of his JOB. We don’t pursue relationships with Jesus Christ in a vacuum. We are not – and should not be – on our own in this. That is why HE founded a CHURCH and gave us a POPE. This upcoming document could serve to freeze some people in a poor relationship by letting them think the relationship is fine and at the same time give those striving for a better relationship an excuse to backslide. And that is hardly in line with a “year of mercy.” I don’t know what the upcoming document will say, or whether it will relax disciplines or not, but I am just looking at the possibilities and my concerns are not wholly unfounded. And as for my own state, about which you seem to wonder, I have been pursuing graduate degrees in theology for almost 30 years now while working full time in completely unrelated fields and raising a family, including 4 years with my family and no income in a foreign country, an endeavor one does not undertake for no reason. Peace.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Well…I won’t quibble with you,AuthenticBioethics ; I am sorry that what should be considered sound advice somehow comes off as”judging” to you.At any rate,my comments stand.There is NO ONE who should have more influence on your “pursuit” of Jesus Christ than He Himself; as for individually seeking Him,you should read the Gospels again my friend; Jesus dealt with many,many people on an individual basis.When you and I stand before His Judgment Seat to receive our rewards,He will deal with us individually,as Scripture makes clear.Finally, while seeking graduate degrees in theology is fine and has its place,living and abiding In Christ NOW is without parallel.I’ve been / still am a Born-again, Blood-bought, Spirit-filled child / servant of Almighty God for 39 years now, and as long as JESUS IS LORD, that will be the case.He Himself said,”seek and ye shall find”, no? Yes.I’m a great lover of theology myself,and take the utmost pleasure in the intellectual side of our faith; after all,we are commanded to “Love the Lord our God with all our minds; even so,I suspect that what happened to Thomas Aquinas when he gave up his intellectual pursuits was that he realized that one can only go so far in one’s finite mind; it gets to the point where you must simply embrace The Saviour as He is and let Him embrace you.”Come unto ME all ye that labor and I will give you rest” is the invitation from The Lover of our souls,AuthenticBioethics,and speaking only for myself, I have eagerly accepted that invitation…Will YOU?—PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!

  • Randall Smith concluded this essay by stating …”you are letting the spirit of division invade where the spirit of union and charity should be.” He obviously knew what to expect in the comment section. Perhaps TCT should have put a caption above the comment section “But It’s Okay Now To Tell Us How Much You Hate Pope Francis.” Would I be right to think that the editors of TCT condone the attacks on our Pope? Perhaps like many newspapers and web sites it’s time to do away with the comment section and simply share the quality writing that is available to Catholics through TCT. You might be doing a greater service to our Church.

    • Brad Miner

      As Wm. F. Buckley Jr. might have remarked (it’s essentially what his response to readers who wrote to ask him to cancel their subscriptions to National Review): Cancel your own darned comments section.

      • johnnysc – it’s probably the first time I’ve been called a liberal. Brad would you care to answer the question I posed about TCT condoning the attacks on Pope Francis?

        • HMV

          People are not “attacking”. They are defending the Church.

    • johnnysc

      But…..but…..I thought Pope Francis wanted open dialogue… make a mess.

      Typical liberal tactic… calling and shut down honest dialogue. Equating criticism of the Pope with being hateful.

    • HMV

      Clericalism at its worst.

    • edith wohldmann

      No human being not even Popes are immune to temptation of Satan to stray from the truth. If a pope teaches un-truth, he confuses and hurts many believers. We do not hate Pope Francis, we pray for him daily. Praise be to Jesus Christ.

  • Tweck

    Hear hear! Very well said.

  • KathleenWagner

    Not buying it. Where the present Holy Father sows confusion, it’s quite proper to set the confusion right. It’s also perfectly proper to reassure those who don’t know why he says these things, that spontaneous gum-flapping to reporters is not the authentic Magisterium..

  • Robert Kloska

    Well put, Dr. Smith!

  • geoffrobinson

    As a Protestant, I find all this quite fascinating. It’s like a little test or game. How big a break and how far from traditional Roman Catholic understanding does your church and your pope have to do before someone will actually admit the obvious that there’s a problem?

    When you have the presupposition that Rome’s magisterium is infallible, I gather it will take a lot. And a lot of intellectual justifications for the changes will be made in the meantime. If you can go from Unam Sanctam to Vatican II and be fully convinced in your own mind, more power to you.

    Will you just put every change under the umbrella of Newman’s doctrine of development?

    • Elijah fan

      No, because Newman noted that abrupt changes ( like the recent death penalty one of St.JPII who never cites Romans 13:4 in all of Evangelium Vitae)…abrupt changes do not signal development of the authentic type according to Newman.

      • geoffrobinson

        When I discuss the blatant changes to “no salvation outside the church” I get directed to Newman by Catholics. I don’t think that works, but that’s the explanation I get.

        • samton909

          Read Dominus Iesus. This is a complicated subject, but it is not just a reversal of course as you suggest. You don’t need Newman, you need Dominus Iesus.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            We need neither Newman nor Dominus Iesus,samton909…Acts 4 : 12 will do just fine,thanks. PEACE.

          • geoffrobinson

            I’m familiar with that document although it’s been a while and I should give it a proper reading. Even that contradicts previous understandings like Unam Sanctam. And that’s fine as far as it goes. The problem is when you still try to maintain infallibility. And then try to save infallibility by giving it the death of a thousand qualifications.

            I’m reminded of this quote by Catholic theologian Raymond Brown:

            “Essential to a critical interpretation of church documents is the realization that the Roman Catholic Church does not change her official stance in a blunt way. Past statements are not rejected but are requoted with praise and then reinterpreted at the same time.”

          • Sankt Athanasion

            It’s not a contradiction because submission to the Pontiff is a necessity of precept for salvation, not a necessity of means. In what way is it contradiction? That has never been demonstrated. Indeed, that’s why I converted from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism.

        • Sankt Athanasion

          That’s because EENS is widely misunderstood. Read Pope Pius XII’s letter to Feeney.

    • Sankt Athanasion

      No, Popes are only infallible in when they speak ex cathedra. Every Catholic knows that Popes can err, the Church has never said that every word they speak and action they do is infallible. At least three popes in the past fell into heresy, and this has always been recognized by the Magisterium of the Church. So it doesn’t shake one’s Catholic Faith.

    • Sankt Athanasion

      According to Newman’s development of doctrine and the Magisterium, doctrine can never develop in such a way that it becomes a contradiction or nullification of previous doctrine in esse. It can only come as something more clear, a clarification, not a reversal. A reversal would be heresy (if done with full knowledge) or material error (if done out of ignorance). Nonetheless, if the authentic magisterium of a given prelate contradicts the Universal Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterium, a good Catholic must always go with the latter. Confusion arises in this time because not a few Catholics know about distinctions in Magisterial teaching.

  • Diane

    Faithful Catholics are not self-righteous, we are Jesus-righteous!

  • There’s very little “authentic Magisterium” being expressed in this papacy. Lots and lots of personal opinion and insinuation. Not much teaching.

    The irony of comparing Catholics who manifestly have a better grasp than even their chief shepherd on what the Church teaches (and which, therfore, even the Roman Pontiff is subject to) to Martin Luther is rich, considering the fact that our pope is getting ready to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the old heretic and his legacy.

  • Nate Purd

    Peter was silly? Silly? What?

  • Christophe

    Donald Trump for Pope! Let’s make the Church great again!

  • Fyodor D

    The comments of so many REAL Catholics posting here make me support the Pope even more. Indignant self-righteousness is very unattractive.

    • HMV

      Real Catholics bind themselves to Truth. If the Pope confuses then more clarity is the answer not false unity.

    • Diane

      The truth can never be changed. Jesus Christ is the truth. This Pope causes confusion of this truth. As I said below. Faithful Catholics are not self-righteous, we are Jesus-righteous. We only uphold the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  • John Sobieski

    No “traddie” that I know of shows disrespect to the teaching authority of the Magisterium. If anything, they are calling the Pope to show some respect for it.

  • edith wohldmann

    Rod Dreher wrote an article “Pope to commemorate Reformation” (The American Conservative). Indeed Pope Francis accepted the invitation to meet in Sweden on Halloween 2016 to celebrate the Schism of the Church most likely with the Bishop of Stockholm Eva Brunne, an open ;lesbian married to her fellow lesbian priest Gunnila Linden. Bishop Brunne proposed to remove all signs of the cross and to pray towards Mecca for the benefit of Moslem worshippers. Yes, Mr. Dreher, “Good grief, man, you are the Roman Pontiff”.

  • alicianagy

    So clear. Well stated!
    I recently have been chastened by how wrong I was to criticize St. Pope John Paul II’s words concerning our invasion of Iraq after September 11th. I disagreed with his assessment and thought it was justifiable to go after the terrorists and WMD in Iraq. He warned and pleaded against it and warned of a much bigger mess if we invaded. I wanted him to stay out of matters of state. Now we can see how right he was! I am much more humble about trusting God’s Vicar on Earth now because he has a grace of state that I do not have. We can take the example of Mary Who asked questions with a faith seeking understanding, “How is this to be since I do not know man?”

    • Elijah fan

      You are leaving out the fact that he also warned with forebodings against the coalition taking back Kuwait from Hussein….as though it’s okay to let bullies take small countries. Thankfully the world ignored him in that case…and Iraqis tripped over each other to surrender in the desert.

    • Murray

      St John Paul II was right to oppose the Second Iraq War, and possibly even the First, given the benefit of hindsight. But you were perfectly within your rights as a Catholic to consider the merits of the respective arguments and respectfully disagree. Popes are not granted charisms endowing them with preternatural insight into matters of public policy dealing with (e.g.) war, welfare or scientific controversies. They are certainly entitled to speak out about these matters and render judgment “insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it” (Canon 747 §2), but there are a great many areas of public policy in which Catholics may opt to favor a different remedy than the one proposed by a pope. It is almost as dangerous to treat the pope as an oracle with magical insight into political matters as it is to disregard him when he exercises his legitimate teaching authority.

  • accelerator

    “But a Catholic who imagines that he or she participates more fully in the charism of magisterial authority … than does the pope himself … is making the mistake Martin Luther made. It is the same mistake many modern liberal theologians make.” Oh, OK. Right. Meanwhile the Pope will next month be celebrating the insights of Luther and the Reformation in Germany. Square that circle.

    “…the similarities between Protestantism and many contemporary forms of anti-papal “traditionalism” are stronger than one would expect.” Not really: the caricatures of Trads here are straw men. The similarities between Modern Rome and Protestantism, though, are very very real.

  • Morton

    “You don’t have to like a pope.”
    Yup. And I’ve basically tuned this one out. He has caused confusion with his pronouncements, gone out of his way to castigate those who have the temerity to disagree with his attempts to undermine basic doctrine on the eucharist and marriage, or who generally don’t see things as he sees them, and debased the papacy with a plethora of ill advised comments. To cite but one example of the latter, on the day of the funeral of one of the 7 people killed in Paris in January he explained the terrorists’ behaviour by saying that if someone insulted his mother he should expect a punch. I can’t think of a more ill-timed, coarse and generally inappropriate comment for anyone, let alone the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.
    Francis has made the office of the papacy smaller: he seems more politician than spiritual leader.
    After awhile people tune out politicians.

  • Unanimous Consent

    Nice. How about this?

    1.) The Holy Father continually insults in EXACTLY the same way that my dissenting professors at Catholic University of America used to do. Not a complaint, just an observation – from this Promethean neo-pelagian.

    2.) The Holy Father makes cute little remarks about women who have too many cesareans (7), when there are actually women who DO have that many – and safely too. In fact, his cute little statement about us “rabbits” occurred the day before my seventh child was born by the seventh cesarean to my convert wife. If the Holy Father wants to evaluate medical procedures, he should have gone to medical school.

    3.) He thinks he’s pithy and hip, and is constantly making the cute type of comments I continually tell my 12 year old to avoid.

    I am convinced at this point that the Church is being chastised. Perhaps we deserve it, but I am amazed it comes from Peter himself.

    • samton909

      He asks us to pray for him. Perhaps he knows he has a flippant and sharp tongue, and has trouble breaking the habit.

      • Unanimous Consent

        That is a charitable way of assessing it. In fact, that is precisely the argument I used the first five or six time he did this.

        I can no longer defend it. It’s either reckless, or intentional.

        The Holy Father is a smart man, so I find it hard to believe it entirely reckless.

    • ABMK

      In countries that are not Western Advanced Industrialized democracies, 7 cesareans would be very dangerous, so he is describing something that would be a problem and is something to considered for the large majority of catholics, especially in cultures where women are not taught that they can refuse their husbands sex if they are concerned for their physical or mental health. I think peoples reaction to the particular comment on the cesareans was to take it out of context, because we just interpreted it through the lens of the developed west. He is pastorally very well acquainted with Latin America and is also thinking of much of the developing world – in these countries the faith is growing, and they receive a lot his attention because they are a large number of the faithful. I would just presume to ask the question if he says something that offends you “Would this make more sense to someone who lives outside of the advanced industrial west”? Our church is made of eternal truths, but there are some things that are simply matters of prudence, and it’s important to know the difference.

      • Unanimous Consent

        I am very well acquainted with your argument. That’s specifically why Sanctissimo would be wise to keep his mouth shut on issues like this. He speaks to the whole world, not just the underdeveloped countries.

        Furthermore, the incessant use of his airplane trips to propose an on the fly Airplane Magisterium is regrettable and short sighted of Sanctissimo. It indicates that he either is not aware of how the media will use him, the incompetence of his communications staff, or his intentionality to just recklessly throw things out there and see what happens. Stir the pot, so to say.

        And, I have great respect for his comms staff, so I know it’s not that. I have personally known two of them for years.

  • HMV

    Who appointed Daneels to the Synod?

  • Robert

    Though I disagree with this article, I think it is certainly worthwhile and am glad to have read it. Dr. Smith quotes Pope John Paul II on the obligation of “upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magesterium of the Church.” Certainly this obligation applies to the pope and bishops. But does it not apply to all Catholics, even if to a lesser extent? After all, if yesterday the Magisterium taught one thing, why did we bother learning it if we cannot question when a prelate teaches something that clearly contradicts the first and universal teaching? When I converted to Catholicism twenty years ago, I was primarily drawn by the Church’s claims to intransigent Truth with respect to matters of faith and morals. I saw that the Church upheld truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium. In some matters 2+2=4; the modernist mind admits of this, with the qualification that 2+2 also equals 5, the letter B, and perhaps an elephant. Let us pray for each other: pray for the pope, for Dr. Smith, for our good and bad clerics. But goodness, Grace lands on nature and we do ourselves and the Church no favors by abandoning reason. Kyrie Eleison.
    Robert M.

  • ABMK

    I learned a lot from this, and I appreciate it a great deal. The test of true virtue is when things become hard for us, and I appreciate you calling attention to that. i also appreciate they distinction you draw between American political party platforms and the teachings of the church. Timely article

  • Mike Hamann

    Thank you, Dr. Smith! I believe you are right on target and have stated something that has to be said. Reading the comments, I am amazed by those who assert that Pope Francis is somehow and imposter, a false pope changing Church Doctrine. I find it quite disturbing. On the other hand, I do see the point of those who are less than satisfied with our Holy Father’s sometimes off-the-cuff remarks that he has often had to walk back because they have led to confusion. Further, while I do wholeheartedly support taking a look at and perhaps loosening Church discipline, I do understand the genuine concern of those who worry that in doing so, it could potentially misread the situation. That is, rather than seeing the pope’s efforts as actions of mercy, they will interpret them as a further relaxing of moral standards.

  • MGarrett

    Actually, if that teaching authority runs contrary to scripture, I don’t have to respect it at all. All teaching has to be supported by scripture, plain and simple. 1 Tim 3:16.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Thank you,MGarrett! You’d think that “Scripture” was a curse word on some of these sites,Sheesh!

  • jmstalk

    My experience is that many writers and bloggers are misunderstanding the problem people have with the pope. It’s not that the ordinary orthodox Catholic disagrees with the pope on doctrine. It’s that he/she feels insulted for having been an orthodox Catholic standing up for orthodox teachings by this pope in all the labeling and “those who think, those who do” sentences without expressly ever saying who “they” are. And by orthodox, I mean having fidelity for the doctrine straight out of the Catechism and taught orally by the magisterium for two thousand years, I do not mean those traditionalists who deny every pope’s credentials since Vatican II.

  • TtT Engine

    We have had bad/sinful Popes in our history. Were these bad popes vicars of Christ ? Pope Francis, in his St. Patrick’s homily, made reference to Jesus’ death on the cross,” humanly speaking, as a failure.” Even in its best light and without further description to the Risen Lord is terribly worded and border line sacrilegious. He should not refer to God, as “the all merciful one”. This is an Islamic reference, pandering and is inaccurate because God is the perfect balance of Justice and Mercy. Pope Francis’ obsession with “climate” and his partnership with the pagan, abortive climateers reminds me of Judas Iscariot. Christi Fidelis !

  • Stephen Lowe

    The constant teaching that the Holy Spirit is bringing us ‘new’ ways of living a Christian life, with new activities and new acceptable behaviors is purely and simply changing the focus of the faithful from the Cross to some private revelation the Pope has had. It is okay to question this as revelations can come from spirits other than Holy. One thing I am absolutely sure of is that the Holy Ghost teaching/revelation would not be inconsistent or contrary to Sacred Scripture. Invoking the Holy Spirit in order to violate Sacred Scripture is not only sinful and in error, it is gravely sinful and puts the faithful in peril. The first and foremost thing the Pope needs to do is to protect the Church from error. It seems to many he is injecting error at every opportunity….Hence the hits just keep on coming….you can go along to get along or you can express your love of the Church and The Truth with charity. I prefer the later.

    • hippecampre

      I recently read an article about Kasper and his early dependence on the Hegelian Geist. This would explain a lot.

  • Philippe of Bordeaux, France

    I am really amazed by some comments I read in this forum…as a French ROMAN catholic.

    They reflect a total misunderstanding about what is the teaching of the Magisterium and the role of the Pope.

    I don’t know if the catholics in the US turn more and more “hyper-cons” but if it is the case, this is not at all a gook thing for the Church.

    We don’t need “conservative” catholics or “progressist” ones : we do need “progressing” christians faithful to a living Tradition in constant development (cf Cardinal Newman).

    • Sally

      You mean obedience in areas of faith.

      American Catholics don’t roll over and relinquish their freedom of speech and free will when anyone proclaims leftist ideology. If the pope insists on speaking out in other areas not faith-related, he knows very well that his viewpoint is his own – and that Catholics have no obligation to follow him in these areas.

      Catholics are free to hold their own views in economics, politics, and climate change. Being French, you are more used to leftist political and economic viewpoints than are most Americans. You embrace them, we reject him. Has nothing to do with Catholicism.

  • srlucado

    This article seems like a verbose way of saying “Pray, pay, and obey.” I thought the Church was past that.

  • Vitalis

    The one who sees a trace of hatred in his own heart through any fault at all toward any man whoever he may be makes himself completely foreign to the love for God, because love for God in no way admits of hatred for man

    Saint Maximus the Confessor

  • hippecampre

    I am interested in Catholicism but this Pope is a blocker to me learning more.

  • Sally

    When the pope speaks more on non–religious matters – such as economics, politics, and climate change – these are not areas where Catholics need to follow him and agree with him.