If You Want to Disrespect the Pope, You Need to Go to Another Blog

Perugino  keys20

Public Catholic discusses any number of controversial topics.

Sometimes, the conversation gets blunt. There are days when I’m the bluntest of all.

But the purpose of Public Catholic is to equip people so that they can go out into the world and be the light that Jesus called all of us to be.

People who disrespect the Holy Father, are, in my opinion, speaking for the darkness.

I’ve deleted almost all such comments that have shown up here, with the exception of a few that I allowed as an illustration of what not to say.

I understand that Pope Francis has said things that unsettle people, and I have no problem with commenters who express their feelings of being unsettled. I have no problem with honest questions and honest seeking. In fact, I not only encourage them, I often share them. We are all seekers in our walk with Christ.

These are things we need to work through together, in faith.

But Pope Francis is the pope. He is Peter. I will not tolerate spiteful and malicious attacks on his character on this blog.

Tu est petra.

Et portae inferni non praevalebunt.

  • Mary E.

    Thank you, Rebecca. I’ve stopped reading the comments on some Catholic-themed blogs because of the personal attacks on the Pope. It’s a relief to have some blogs where there’s little chance of encountering such ugliness.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Mary.

      • Gordis85

        Thank you Rebecca.

  • David L Alexander
    • hamiltonr

      Discussing the issues the Holy Father raises is not an attack. Expressing your concerns and confusion, if you are concerned and confused about something he’s said, is not an attack. Sharing your fears for the future is not an attack.

      Calling the Holy Father names, likening him to evil, indulging in vulgarity and associating that with him, challenging him as the Supreme Pontiff, are all attacks.

      • David L Alexander

        Unfortunately, many Catholics (including no small number of bloggers) don’t know how to disassociate from such behavior, without falling into a form of ultramontanism. There are genuine concerns about a lack of clarity in remarks.

        At some point, however, the conversation needs to turn to identifying that which is improper, and exactly why. A number of radical traditionalists are flirting with the line in the sand, if they haven’t gone over already. Look for them to take to the next level when Popes John XXIII and John Paul II are raised to the altar.

        • hamiltonr

          My blog, my rules David.

  • RaymondNicholas

    I’ll say this once again, and see if you remove me again. The Pops is a public figure, a world leader, not just religious . When he says things in public, there will be people who agree and people who disagree–in public.
    Disagreement is not necessarily a sign of disrespect. For example, I disagree with the Pope on certain of his words, not all the words, as reported in the public press and on Catholic websites. The reason is that they seem to be open to many interpretations. Should the Pope allow for different meanings of his words? Does this not create confusion? Will some folks look to rationalize their wrongful behavior as a result?
    When the words create confusion, I think the words should be clarified. Almost all of the Catholic bloggers I read have been respectful in their questioning. Most of the bad stuff is in the comboxes. Have you not seen this yourself?
    What I have said is not a sign of disrespect.
    It is disrespectful if the Pope is attacked personally as a human being or as a leader of the Church.
    I’ve seen this many a time on secular blogs. There are quite a few Catholic-haters out there who will use every opportunity to badmouth the Church. There are also many liberals in the Church who will use the Pope’s words to justify what they want to change in the Church. Just as there are many conservatives in the Church who will use the words to claim that the Pope is too liberal. When they go too far, it is a sign of disrespect.
    I am a smart enough Catholic to recognize a Catholic hater when I see one, as well as an extremist on the right or left within the Church. I know full well when there is disrespect vs. honest disagreement.

    • hamiltonr

      I don’t remember what I deleted in the past. There is nothing wrong with this comment.

      • RaymondNicholas

        I defended Rush L regarding his response to the Pope’s economic views, which views I believe are prudential but not dogmatic. Rush has been a defender of the Faith in times past though he is not Catholic, and he is ignorant to some extent of the Church’s social teachings, as are many folks outside the Church. Like most secular pundits, he looks at things in a political context, and what favors his outlook or disparages it.
        What he said does not mean he is a bad guy. I suggested in my post that you take the time to teach him and others like him in the Church’s teachings, knowing that his intent was not meant to be disrespectful.
        Putting the Pope’s views regarding world matters in a religious and moral context of Church teachings would be a great service to the secular media types. There is way too much ignorance among them.

        • hamiltonr

          Raymond, I didn’t remember that you had defended Mr Limbaugh. That is, of course, your true prudential judgement. :-)

  • Stephen

    If I call him a Modernist and proud believer in liberation theology is that OK?
    And I am serious.

    • hamiltonr

      No, it’s not ok. First, it’s name-calling. Second, it’s a smear. Third, it’s not true.

      If you want to talk about the fact that something the Holy Father has said disturbs you and talk about why it disturbs you — without getting into the Holy Father himself — that would be ok. But attacking him, no.

      To put this in perspective, if you said President Obama was a Communist, I would delete it. If you said that you didn’t like his economic policies, I would allow it. I would also allow you to say why you don’t like those policies.

      If you said that Newt Gingrich was a fascist, I would delete that. If you said you didn’t like his policies, that would be fine.

      You can say just about anything, so long as it’s not profane, about either of the two political parties.

      Just keep it on the issues and don’t degrade the person.

      Pope Francis is the pope. He is my spiritual leader. I am a Catholic woman and this is a Catholic blog. I can not abide attacks on him.

      • Stephen

        I appreciate your approach. We are at a cross roads of Papal infallibility. When our Pope tosses out the red shoes traditionally worn by popes to represent the blood of martyrs and opts rather for more utilitarian ugly work shoes I can see your point. We may not like his hair cut or his waist line but it is uncharitable to point it out, he’s got a tough job and he is the vicar of Christ. I would think this type criticism if sin, would be venial. Our current Pope clearly is pushing issues that go beyond fashion, convention and even governing of the Church itself. These 3 are clearly in his rightful domain. When any Roman Pontiff, (lets not forget there have been over 240+ in the history of the Church Christ founded) attempts to change dogmatic truth held by the ordinary magisterium we are obligated to publicly address it as laymen. Indeed Bishops and Priest are bound by the same obligation.

        Recently Bishop Dolan in his very public statement ‘blessing’ an unrepentant sodomite football player clearly was heretical and brought scandal on all the faithful. If he has a diminished culpability for misinterpreting the Popes guidance that would be a great blessing for him, if he rather was accurately representing the views of our Pope, it is a curse for us all.

        “Our desire for truth can not trump truth itself”

        • hamiltonr

          I don’t know of the situation you’re talking about with Cardinal Dolan. However, I must tell you that I am not at all happy with calling Cardinal Dolan a heretic.

          I’m giving you a lot of latitude, but please don’t try to use innuendo as a sly way of slandering people on this blog.

          As for the Pope teaching things that depart from the dogmatic teachings of the Church, that won’t happen. You can trust God and stop worrying about that.

          Neither you nor I are the cop on the theological beat that God has assigned to police the pope. I can tell you for certain that I am a pew-sitting Catholic who is just grateful that they let me in.

          I was rejected by a number of Christians, including some holier than the pope Catholics, because of my past sins. If the Holy Spirit had not stood by me so strongly when people failed me, I don’t know what would have happened to me. As it was, I grieved deeply over it.

          Don’t be cruel to other people Stephen.

          Also, be careful — for the sake of your own soul — about calling other people names and saying or implying that they are beyond the mercy of God. No one is beyond the mercy of God. Also be careful of claiming God-like knowledge of their souls for yourself. I assure you, you do not have that knowledge.

    • Charles C

      If you had a clue what Modernism and Liberation theology were, you might have some credibility. Your unsubstantiated comment demonstrates that you do not. You additionally have no way to know what is in Francis thoughts, unless you read minds. Francis is quite orthodox to say the least. That is true of all Popes.

      • hamiltonr

        Gently, Charles.

        • Charles C

          Benedict and Francis are remarkable in any context. They draw criticism from both extremes. Orthodox is the proper descriptor to be used with either man. Benedict is a theologian and academic. Francis is a Jesuit and Pastoral. Other than that they are both quite orthodox.. They are supportive of Church doctrine in spite of the media attempts to politicize their remarks. Thank you for making your position clear.

      • Gordis85

        Not only quite orthodox, but one who has rejected liberation theology straight out. All one need do is read his history while in Argentina to get those facts.
        Google it or go to the Vatican website to get solid evidence of this.

  • XYZ Studies Alum

    Thank you! I’ve been feeling this way for awhile. I think we all owe it to the Holy Father to carefully reflect on what is he saying, struggle with it a little, and then help others to understand how he is trying to bring Christ to us– even if it makes us a little uncomfortable sometimes!

    • hamiltonr

      Well said. Thanks.

  • rodlarocque1931

    If a situation arises where people start to doubt the orthodoxy of a pope, to the point where they feel confused and unsettled, it is the pope that should react to dispel the confusion, it is hardly effective to just tell the faithful to shut-up about their discomfort.
    The whole purpose of divine tradition is to provide the faithful with clear doctrine so their consciences will be at rest.
    The Catholic Church was never meant to be a ‘messy’ Church…

    • hamiltonr

      I think the Church has always been “messy,” including when Jesus walked this earth and many of His followers left Him because He told them they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood to be saved.

  • http://www.davidlgray.info/ David L. Gray

    Let us distinguish between judging/criticizing the PERSON versus judging/criticizing their ACTIONS/WORDS. If you don’t make allowance on your blog for the former, that’s fine, but if you don’t allow for the latter then you’re just a fascists. :D

    • hamiltonr

      David, what part of don’t call people names don’t you understand?

      • http://www.davidlgray.info/ David L. Gray

        I didn’t call anyone a name unless you admit your running a fascists blog, but only then if you believe that being a fascist is an insult, which a real fascist wouldn’t. Therefore, if we follow logic, all I did was offer a compliment if you answer the question in the affirmative or negative. :D

        • hamiltonr

          I “think” I see your point. :-)

  • Noah Doah

    AMEN, AMEN to this post! I was shocked to see some Catholics calling Pope Francis “Bozo” and other such disrespectful terms. I had a friend on facebook who stated after the election of Pope Francis “I guess heresy won’t be stamped out any time soon now” He is no longer my friend on facebook or socially as well. When Catholics publicly criticize the pope they are skating dangerously close to the theological hole in the ice called Protestantism. Some, not all, traditional Catholics who regulary criticize the pope and denigrate him are following a long line (about 500 years) of people who have declared themselves their own pope. Sadly these folks believe they are sincere Catholics but ultimately are behaving as followers of Luther. Did Saint Francis of Assisi criticize the pope when he was told to “hit the road?” by the pope? No, and look at the ultimate fruit of his obdedience and respect for the pope. Look at the fruit of Luther’s criticism of the pope. Compare and contrast and it will become evident where faithful Catholics need to be regarding their attitudes towards our holy father.

  • Ezbs

    Thank you Rebecca. It’s about time something like this was written in the Catholic blogosphere.

    I don’t ever remember our beloved PJPII or Pope Benedict being insulted and slandered by Catholics the way Pope Francis has been over the past year. It’s unbelievable. I think even the nastiest bloggers and commenters know the difference between what you refer to as questioning and critiquing, as opposed to insulting (and the insults are usually passive).

    I used to enjoy reading “The American Catholic”- it still has some good articles. But unfortunately, I find it to be one of the biggest culprits of what you describe in your post. I’ve grown tired of their “Pope Watch”- a series where the author monitors the Holy Father for any slip-ups, ambiguities. Its sometimes presented as humour, and other times its sharper, in the style of the authors legal background. But I found it always skewed the topic to a point where it manipulated the reader to view the Pope as unintelligent, clumsy, and UN-versed in Catholic Theology and Dogma. It also paints Pope Francis as a simpleton, bereft of tradition or class. It doesn’t censor comments that call for the Pope to keep his mouth shut.

    I’ve commented and questioned the authors intentions on numerous occasions, and he seems to think the snarkiness towards the Pope is intelligent. Go figure.

    The last straw was when his resident female Marine contributer and commenter, started the insults at me, when I brought up the issue of “tact” in evangelising- particular in the case of remarried divorcees. The author of the blog sat back and watched because it supported his agenda of belittling the Pope, and anyone who defends his good name.

    Reading blogs is a pass time for me. If it becomes upsetting, I’d rather not read them. Particular if it involves Catholics insulting the Pope, because he doesn’t fit “their” mould.

    Great and timely post. God Bless.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you, Ezbs.

  • Sheila Connolly

    Thank you. I know not everyone has to agree with the Pope; he isn’t infallible 24/7 in everything he says. But every Catholic should at least *respect* him. It is simply not acceptable for Catholics to call him “crazy uncle Bergie” or whatever other nonsense I’ve heard him called.

    Me, I love him. I agree with almost everything he says, and I don’t think it should be controversial. I can handle hearing people disagree with him. But I will no more tolerate insults of him than I would of my dad.


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