1 Peter 2:17 (RSV) Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the [pagan, anti-Christian, persecuting] emperor.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 Even in your thought, do not curse the king, . . .
Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work,  to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men.
Acts 23:1-5 And Paul, looking intently at the council, said, “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.”  And the high priest Anani’as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.  Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?”  Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”  And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” [cf. Ex 22:28]
Romans 13:1-4, 6 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,  for he is God’s servant for your good. . . .  . . . the authorities are ministers of God . . .
1) The time has come to cease the pope-bashing for misguided reasons, in public. If you don’t understand this pope, then start reading articles so that you do: at least read a different side than the suspicion and bashing and moaning and groaning. No one need be confused. But people would rather disparage the pope than read the stuff that might actually help them understand him. I’ve made it easy:
Replies to Critiques of Pope Francis (Dave Armstrong) [170 of my own articles]
Pope Francis Defended: Resources for Confused or Troubled Folks [articles from others]
2) And the stupidest thing is that they vehemently deny that they are bashing, the entire time they are doing it. Tired of this, I asked once, “if this isn’t bashing, what is? Calling him the antichrist or a jerk or a dope?” They’re already calling him a liberal and a host of other false accusations.
3) I’ve long noticed that those who want to bash him have no interest whatsoever in reading any other side. It’s Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome.
4) We truly “are what we eat.” If someone makes a conscious decision to only read negative material about Pope Francis, then what do we expect? They come out like clones of all the other myriads of clueless bashers.
5) People of this mindset want rumor and innuendo and gossip and second-hand trash. They wanna jump on the fashionable, trendy bandwagon and mimic the liberal media and liberal and radical reactionary Catholics.
6) My position has never been that popes cannot be criticized at all, or even in extreme cases, rebuked (or that they could never be heretics). Rather, it is that they should be accorded the proper respect of their office and criticized rarely, by the right people, in the right spirit, preferably in private Catholic venues, and for the right (and super-important) reasons. Virtually none of those characteristics hold for most of the people moaning about the pope day and night these days.
7) I’ve lived to see an age where an orthodox Catholic apologist defending the pope (for the right reasons) is some sort of novelty or alien from another galaxy. Truth is stranger than fiction!
8) I seek to do all I can to promote a normal Catholic, reverential atmosphere on this page, and historic, traditional, orthodox, observant, pious Catholicism shows extreme respect and deference to the pope. We see so little respect for the pope. It’s because people aren’t acting like Catholics or following the biblical and historical and saintly models.
9) There are a host of Scriptures about what we should say and think about; the tongue, gossiping, slander, worthless discussions. Perhaps I assume too readily that [most] Catholics are familiar with these. By their actions they either aren’t or they are and just don’t care (which is far worse).
10) Pope Francis has been massively misrepresented. He speaks spontaneously, and tries harder to speak in “common” (as opposed to “heavy theological”) language, and so context is more important. St. Paul did the same. He said, “I have become all things to all men.”
11) There is only a problem when people falsely assume that he is somehow a liberal and an anti-traditionalist, and then seize upon a word or phrase that they think “proves” this. It happens again and again so that now it has become a false “narrative” and a huge victory of the devil, who has created all this needless uproar, based on silliness and out-of-context nonsense.
12) Catholics allow themselves to be pawns and dupes of the devil insofar as they join in the calumnies and suspicions that have no serious basis in fact or evidence. Divide and conquer!
13) It happened with Pope St. John Paul II. He was excoriated by the radical reactionaries for the “Koran-kissing” incident and the Assisi conferences and other stuff. Not so much Pope Benedict, because he was always the darling of the theological right (due to his emphasis on liturgy). [since the time of these words, the reactionaries have savagely turned on Benedict, too, because 1) he resigned and 2) hasn’t denounced his successor] So this is really just a return to the status quo of suspicion of liberalism and anti-traditionalism, that St. John Paul the Great received. I know, because I defended him many times over against traditionalists and reactionaries alike. Because this trend was interrupted by Benedict, it seems like a new thing. It’s not.
14) I’m out here as an apologist (full-time). We apologists are given the task of explaining and defending, and I defend the pope because I have yet to see anything that makes me suspicious of his orthodoxy or traditionalism. Every time I have looked into a supposed “heterodox” statement or action [170 times, as of this posting], it amounted to nothing.
15) “Who am I to judge?” was a perfectly acceptable comment in context. It was taken massively out of context, which is almost always the problem with all these tempests in a teapot.
16) How ironic if the liberals are now figuring out that the pope is not for “gay marriage” (I recently linked to an article about that) while orthodox Catholics fall for this nonsense that the pope is compromising on the issue. That would be typical of the silliness we have witnessed again and again in the last two years.
17) It’s “interpreters” that are the problem. Many people are unable to read his words in context and prefer to read spin and propaganda about a few words taken out of context, with background ungrounded suspicion.
18) It’s an ongoing false narrative. People don’t care about facts, but only about trumped-up perceptions, and they are suspicious and cynical for inadequate reasons. I and many others have explained each “incident” satisfactorily, I think. It’s a bum rap.
19) My hero is St. John Henry Cardinal Newman. I’m going through 32 large volumes of his letters. Believe me, he was massively misunderstood on many grounds and many occasions. To this day he is outrageously regarded as a “liberal” by many, when in fact, he vigorously opposed that mindset both as an Anglican and Catholic, and chose to talk about that very topic when he became a Cardinal in 1879. But the myth and the lie persists because it is based on innuendo and rumor rather than solid facts. Is that because Cardinal Newman had some huge problem, or because he was brilliant and was, well, misunderstood? Jesus was misunderstood and lied about (accused of being possessed). So was St. Paul. They both had trumped-up trials and were put to death because of it. There was no real basis for any of those three instances. Nor do I believe there is any in this pope’s case. But the “narrative” is firmly in place now and it’ll get worse and worse.
20) I give the devil a great deal of credit for his ingenious strategy on this one. It’s very subtle and clever. He has to be laughing himself silly at how gullible Catholics are, and how easy to exploit for his ends. He gets us fighting against each other, making a mockery of unity and Catholic ecclesiology alike. I don’t form opinions based on the latest gossipy trends and fashions. I actually examine things.
21) If you read “news” through a liberal / dissident filter, then you will have an inaccurate picture. Read someone like Jimmy Akin, who, if he has a bias, is biased towards orthodoxy and observant Catholicism.
22) And now we’ll get the brainless drivel about how anyone who defends the pope is an “ultramontanist” who thinks he is infallible in his choice of socks in the morning and his opinions on soccer, etc. I’ve heard it all; dealt with it innumerable times. The same stupid stuff keeps being said anyway.
23) I think this rotgut comes from two sources: 1) Americanism (traditional antipathy to kings — transferred over to popes — and extreme rugged individualism overcoming Catholic piety). 2) Liberal / modernist and radical Catholic reactionary modes of thinking. Those who do this (insofar as they do it) are influenced (in these instances) more by these errors than by historic Catholicism.
24) I’ve been accused of claiming that no one can ever disagree with the pope for 18 years online, and it has been untrue all that time, and manifestly shown again and again to be untrue. No matter. It doesn’t go with the talking points of the bashers, so they keep saying it (about me) regardless of the facts of the matter. 95% of what is expressed online is bilge and imprudential, sinful bashing, not mere legitimate criticism.
25) Of course, there are no pope-bashers whatsoever in the world (by their self-report), just as there are no bigots and no one in the prisons who is guilty, etc.
26) The pope and “the papacy” are two different things (person vs. office). What is massively going on now is pope-bashing (Francis-bashing), not papacy-bashing.
27) We knew he would be different, as the first Jesuit pope) and other reasons (such as being Argentinian). And I knew that because he was different there would be a group who never would grasp what he is about. I predicted it from Day One.
28) I can understand someone being confused. There are many reasons for it. They might listen to the liberal media, or the radical reactionaries, or liberal Catholics who think the pope is one of them, or the increasing bandwagon chorus (among orthodox Catholics) of the pope’s detractors (what I have called “the [false] narrative”). They don’t study or don’t have time to. I do have a lot of time to devote to this, and I use it for a positive, edifying purpose. That’s why I offer my two collection of links [near the top of this article]. If people spent one-tenth of their time reading defenses of the pope instead of bashing, they could actually learn something and cease and desist.
29) It’s simply scandalous to engage in pope-bashing, for what should be obvious reasons. Then people disagree that it is bashing. If I’m wrong and it is not pope-bashing, surely God won’t condemn me for being (mistakenly) concerned about the papacy and honor and respect accorded to the pope. But if these people are wrong and they are indeed pope-bashing (if my classification of it is correct), this is serious sin. Calumny is mortal sin.
30) I care about the diabolical conspiracy of Satan to stir up unnecessary internal divisions in the Catholic Church, so that we have less and less effect on the lost and the hurting and those desperately seeking something transcendent and hopeful and true. We’re already being roundly mocked by anti-Catholic Protestants because of this sort of nonsense.
31) It occurs to me how ironic it is that I and others were blasted for criticizing a priest for being disrespectful towards the pope, while the point of the thread was blasting and bashing (and occasionally a legitimate criticizing of) Pope Francis (and said priest noting over and over that this was perfectly permissible, done in the right way). Thus, the far greater action towards the pope is winked at, while the far lesser and permissible action towards a priest is frowned upon. This is how screwed-up Catholic priorities can be. It seems that folks think it is fine and dandy to criticize the pope all day long, but it’s Chicken Little if we respectfully criticize a priest? What kind of alternate universe is that?
32) Yes, it is subjective to a large extent because there are fine lines here and reasonable good folks can disagree. What I think is disrespectful and bashing many do not. Whether I am being too strict and legalistic or the ones whom I think are bashing are sinning against charity and slandering and spreading gossip and being imprudent, etc., each person will have to judge. I call ’em as I see ’em.
33) Can pope-bashers agree with me that if they don’t like (or are confused by) some things Pope Francis does or says, and I give them information that helps explain those and remove difficulties, that this is good, right? They have nothing to lose by reading more of my writings and links along those lines. I spend multiple hours dealing with this as part of my job. I’m here to help folks. I offer the pope-bashers real and substantive aids and resources to understand the man. They can choose to read them (agree or disagree) or not. But most will not. You can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink . . .
34) I recommended that the bashers ignore Pope Francis if he troubles them and they are tempted to bash on a daily or weekly basis. He won’t be around forever; then those who are so troubled by him can feel better after he is out of the picture.
35) If anyone has followed me as an apologist, and dislikes Pope Francis, it seems that they would have at least some slight curiosity to read what I have to say about this pope, and then maybe they would feel better about him, and I would have been allowed to do my job, including helping them a bit out of their confusion and frustration. It’s what apologists do.
36) Similar was said about Pope St. John Paul II. First we heard that he wrote in absurdly difficult language (philosophical phenomenologist lingo). Then as he got older it was implied over and over that he was a loose cannon, saying and doing questionable things. I saw it again and again, because I was there defending him, just as I defend this present pope. He was endlessly bashed by the traditionalists and the reactionaries over the Assisi ecumenical conferences, which were invariably distorted in their essence. He was bashed endlessly for kissing the Koran and people thought that he was compromised on the question of Islam and no salvation outside the Church. He was called a modernist and a liberal (just as I have been, dozens of times; I was again today by some nitwit in one of my threads). This has all happened already with him. He’s a saint. So is Pope John XXIII: who is widely (absurdly!) regarded as a liberal by the liberals.
37) People make all kinds of assumptions and generalizations about the pope, so why am I not allowed to do the same about the folks who do that? I don’t bow to extreme double standards. All these strong (usually unjust and erroneous) criticisms are made of the pope, but let anyone dare say strong words against that; give the other side, and all hell breaks loose.
38) [to a Facebook friend who became angry at me over this; whom I blocked and then unblocked] You are the one who freely said that you don’t come to my site anymore. I guess that means that being critical of the pope is far and away your highest priority, so that you don’t care all that much about the thousand other apologetics matters that I deal with (or else you wouldn’t feel compelled to avoid this page).
39) “Dave Armstrong defense of not wanting the pope to be critiqued or criticized”. This has never been my position, as I reiterate endlessly [see #6 and #24 above). Folks need to get my position right if they wanna discuss or critique it. That’s the #1 priority of any critique: know the position that you are critiquing.
40) My defenses of the pope are available for anyone to critique, but the ones who are most critical of the Holy Father rarely want to engage in actual discussion about him. So what can I do? My opinions are laid out for all to see and based on reason and what I think are the obtainable facts, as I always seek to base them upon.
“Nothing New”: Reactionary Attacks on Pope St. John Paul II [4-9-05; with tie-in endnote added on 3-2-18]
Honoring Popes / Scriptural Honor of Even Wicked Rulers [11-30-17; some additions on 3-26-18]
Do I Think Popes Can Never be Criticized for Any Reason? Nope. (I Respectfully Criticize the Prudence of Pope Francis’ Repeated Interviews with an Atheist Who Lies About Him [Eugenio Scalfari]) [3-31-18]
(originally 2-22-15 on Facebook)