We Now Live in a Curious Age

An age when the National Catholic Reporter is calling allegedly Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM], whose special boast is that they are not CINO’s like those awful Reporter readers, to listen to the Pope and not attack him.

And the response to that can be pretty neatly divided between those Catholics who say, “I’m glad the Reporter is listening to the Pope instead of attacking him as they formerly did” and those who say “What further evidence do we need? Pope Francis is clearly the enemy of the Church! Look! A ritually impure source agrees with him! We, the Greatest Catholics of All Time, must save the Church from the Pope!”

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  • captcrisis

    This is not symmetrical. Liberals are less likely to call people who disagree with them “not really Catholics” or “enemies of the Church”.

    • Dave G.

      That’s probably true. The terms used will likely be racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, and other useful words. And of course it depends on the ‘liberal’. In some liberal quarters, since religion is not by revelation but inspiration, one religion is as good as another. So it wouldn’t be about being an ‘enemy of the Church’ as much as it would be an advocate of hate, or something similar.

  • Jem

    Is this a function of a former Pope still being alive, do we think? While certain Catholics treat John Paul II like Republicans treat Reagan, even crediting some of the same miracles to him ‘and lo, the Berlin Wall did tumble’, he’s dead so he can’t be a rallying point, only a mythical figure.

    Whereas Benedict the Deserter offers a simple ‘oh, I wish he was still Pope’ for the people who want Catholicism to be the spiritual wing of Fox News.

    So is this, again, something we might lay at Benedict’s door?

    • chezami

      No. Benedict’s social and economic teaching is, like JPII’s, virtually identical to Francis’ (because all of them are Catholic, not conservative Americans). The difference is that Francis has a knack for making that teaching penetrate the ears of Americans in a way that they did not. Secularized righties are panicking about that. Traditionalist righties are panicking because they imagine everything the secular media says about him trying to destroy the Church is true.

      • tj.nelson

        “Benedict’s social and economic teaching is, like JPII’s, virtually identical to Francis’ (because all of them are Catholic, not conservative Americans).”


      • virago

        For my edification, and if you have time, what is a secular rightie?

        • chezami

          As a general rule, a fiscal conservative and social liberal, who wishes prolifers and people of faith would vanish, increasingly alloyed with nutball racialist theories, in love with crony capitalism, eager to punish the poor, happy to support military adventurism. There are different mixes and matches of these traits, but the key thing is a cold indifference to, contempt for, and easy willingness to exploit people of faith.

    • IRVCath

      Not really. Benedict’s teachings on socioeconomic issues are virtually identical to those of Francis. And pretty much all the modern Popes, starting at least with Leo XIII. The problem is with American culture. Modern American Catholics have an annoying tendency to selectively hear what the Vatican is saying. It’s gotten so bad there is even a heresy named just for us.

      Of course, such selective blindness is not exclusively American historically. See Chile at the time of St. Alberto Hurtado (incidentally, a Jesuit). The similar response of Chilean conservative Catholics led to a nation that had the Church theoretically the state religion but a country where 90% of the population never attended Church.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Well done, Mr. Winters. Ideologies are inherently narrow, and as evidenced easily exclude Peter affirming the doctrinal patrimony.

    Also, here is the link to the text of the pope’s address.

    • KM

      Thanks for that link. It’s very inspirational to read the Pope’s own words. This especially touched me:

      “Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others.”

  • Neither commenter attitude is right. When the Pope agrees with God, back the Pope as part of your siding with God. When the Pope doesn’t agree with God, side with God and not the Pope. This means, occasionally, that you’re going to attack the Pope because the Pope is not perfectly aligned with God all the time and when he slips up, fraternal correction is not only permissible, it’s a service.

    That being said, the occasions where the amateurs know better than the professionals is quite limited in any field. In the matter of faith and morals one should tread at least as carefully as one does when you venture to correct your plumber. Sadly, most people are too quick to criticize instead of going through the work of analyzing and understanding prior to holding an opinion.

    Regrettably, Pope Francis’ style seems to be one of insufficient preparation to lay the foundation so that people like Pope Francis’ conservative critics understand what he’s talking about right away and leads to unfortunate commentary like the one that the editorial in NCR is criticizing.

    The world will survive this. It’s not even a sin. It’s sub par strategizing in a situation where the USCCB long ago fell down on the job of explaining the underlying concepts.

    • Guest

      How do we know “when the Pope doesn’t agree with God,” or when he’s not “perfectly aligned with God?” Who can best determine that and offer “fraternal correction?”

      • Sometimes it’s not difficult. In the time of the borgia popes I don’t think that there was a lot of theological wrestling over some of their actions.

        Other times it is very difficult. Many generations of Catholics offered up unqualified support for the Pope until Pope John Paul II offered a penance for the trial of Galileo. Without a framework for permissible correction, how could the commission he named to review the justice of Galileo’s trial have honestly done their work and been good Catholics?

        • HornOrSilk

          Well, I think you are more Borgia than the Pope, myself.

          • While we often disagree. I generally didn’t think you were mean spirited and unfair until now. I have no idea what you think is wrong with my examples or even that you disagree. Instead, I’m just sure you hate me.

            I don’t hate you.

            • HornOrSilk

              This is the last time I plan to respond to you in a long time.

              I do not hate you. Of course, you seem to dislike any and all criticism, but love to lambast the Pope. However, the thing which made the Borgia Popes so bad is their excessive interest in material interests, like their financial affairs, similar to the excess you promote.

              • falstaff77

                “This is the last time I plan to respond to you…”

                I’ve seen calumnies and sneering (‘you are more Borgia’, ‘lambast’,’most stupid plans ever’, ‘inane comments’, ‘Satanic’, …) , but so far no engaged response to TML.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Yes, of course, you forget all the sneering against the Pope and saying “I’m with God over the Pope.” Sorry but the lambasting of the Pope combined with “how dare you?” doesn’t sit well

              • I haven’t much heard murder and debauchery described as “excessive interest in material interests” and it is murder and debauchery which is what I associate as the sins of the Borgia clan during that period.

                I’m unfamiliar with Borgia economic policy and thus have no opinion on it. There doesn’t seem to be much written about it other than to note it was largely an exercise in nepotism. For the record, I’m not in favor of nepotism. I believe merit should weigh much more heavily. I cannot imagine what it is that would make you think otherwise.

                • Guest

                  In High Renaissance Italy, “being Pope was about securing power and riches — with the Borgias developing this particular talent into a state of the art.”

                  Pope Alexander VI “pursued wealth and temporal power single-mindedly, using every instrument at his disposal, including the assassination of his enemies.”


                  • Guest

                    In other words, murder and debauchery were just instruments of the Borgia clan to achieve the ends: power and wealth. Nepotism is a form of cronyism since it is about consolidating power and wealth among a small connected and favored few.

                  • I wouldn’t disagree that he grabbed for the cash. I’m just more offended by the murder and the mistresses while he was under a vow of celibacy.

                • Guest

                  The “economic policy” during the time of the Borgias was Feudalism which helped the Borgias concentrate wealth and power into their family. Some today are arguing that we are now in an age of Neo-Feudalism where CEOs and corporations (which exist to make profits) are the new Lords that are amassing global wealth and power, and we the people (and our governments) serve them.


                  • The economic system was feudalism. The policies that various lords in charge adopted was never lockstep and that is what is a blank for me.

              • virago

                Too funny,

  • Dale Price

    I have rather different reason for disregarding it: it comes from the keyboard of the most disingenuous Catholic pundit of our time. “Distinctly Catholic” is first and foremost about MSW’s loves and (especially) hates, with Catholicism as a special guest star.

    Was Winters in a coma when the same suspects had kittens over “Caritas in Veritate” in 2009? Nope–but highlighting that they were just as wrong *then* wouldn’t allow him to highlight his role as the pious acolyte *now.* Mirabile dictu, it also lets him off the hook for his similarly-discordant notes during the last two papacies.

  • The cafeteria is open. Enter at either end.

  • virago

    When the (liberal) media report only a portion of what Pope Francis says and we don’t do our due diligence and read his words entirely then we get food fights, gnashing of teeth, hurts feelings and general buffoonery.

    We should honor our Pope and God by reading his words .