A reader struggles with his faith

A reader struggles with his faith November 5, 2015

He writes:

I am sorry but I simply had to reach out to a fellow Catholic.

I may not be too much help, but here goes.

I feel that I am losing my religion.  I had once believed that the Holy Spirit guides the College of Cardinals in the selection of the most wisest holiest candidate for the position.

Why would you think that given the fact that cardinals chose Alexander VI?  Or that Jesus chose Peter?  Recall Chesterton: ” “When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

I no longer believe that since Francis has become the Pontiff.  It was evident to me when JPII and Benedict were made popes but something went horribly wrong with the election of Francis.

Nothing has gone horribly wrong.  What has happened is that false expectations you placed on God and the Church are dying and you are experiencing the pain of that loss.  But Francis has not, in fact, said or done anything heterodox with respect to the Faith, merely with respect to your human expectations about things neither Jesus nor the faith ever promised in the first place.  You are losing faith in false human traditions you projected on to the Faith, not in any promise Jesus or the Church ever actually made.

Maybe the Holy Spirt does not guide the Church in these matters?  Maybe it was a lie?  Maybe everything else is a lie too?  I am losing my faith.   I feel like my faith is unravelling.

It would be good to cross-examine your assumption in light of the Church’s actual teaching then and ask, “Which is more likely?  That Jesus Christ and the apostles, martyrs, and saints are a pack of liars, or that I am wrong about something somewhere and need to rethink the unspoken assumptions and demands I placed on God without ever asking?”  Common sense says its the latter.  So ask:  “Where have I elevated mere human traditions and assumptions to the level of divine revelation?  What can I do to give that up and stick with what God has actually said through Holy Church?”  He’s not jerking you around.  He’s shaking loose false ideas you have about him and about his Body the Church in union with the bishops and Peter.

Everytime I hear a pronouncement from Francis I shudder and realize that we have a socialist nutcase in charge.

We don’t.  We have a Catholic with an intensely strong evangelistic and pastoral charism articulating Catholic teaching just like his predecessors.  Everything you need to know about him is summed up in the words, “He has preached good news to the poor.”  Nothing he has said is incompatible with the Church’s teaching.  Most of it is a rehash of things JPII and B16 said.  It’s just that you didn’t notice it.  To wit
In Wilhelmine Germany, too, Catholic groups felt closer to democratic socialism than to the rigidly Prussian and Protestant conservative forces. In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.” – Pope Benedict XVI

I rue the day when not too far off the Synod on the Family will pronounce gay marriages / families as somethign worthwhile and receive the blessing of the church.

You are worried about phantoms.  The Church cannot alter the sacraments.  The most that may happen is that the Church will face the fact that Caesar has decided to pretend that there is such a thing as gay marriage and that people involved in such arrangements require some form of pastoral care. Would you rather the Church simply reject them and their children?  Christ comes to call not the righteous, but sinners.  So that’s not an option.  The desire of some Catholics to cut people off from the very opportunity of grace is as old as Donatism.  The Church as a fortress and an engine of vengeance is not the gospel.  She is bound to seek the lost.

Part of the problem is that people have no idea what this Synod is about.  It is, like all conciliar actions, a time when the Church “holds herself in suspense” as Bp.  Robert Barron puts it, and makes up her mind about things.  It is supposed to hear from all sides so that it can sift wheat from chaff.  The pope did something similar when drafting Humanae Vitae, consulting theologians who urged him to ditch the Church’s ancient tradition about artificial contraception.  He declined to do so.

What this come down to is a test of your trust, not in Francis, but in Jesus Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into all truth.  It is He, not Francis, who is the soul of the Church.

Anyway, my faith has been shaken.   Please pray for me to recover the certitude I once did in the teachings of the Church.

May God our Father hear the prayer of Paul for you through Christ our Lord:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Faith means “you stay”.  That’s really it.  When the disciples’ faith was shaken they turned to Christ and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  It is Christ who remains the source and summit of our faith, not our false ideas, not the pope, and above all, not ourselves. 🙂  Don’t despair.  Stay, and see what Jesus is going to do in you and in our holy Church.

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  • Scott Bute

    What a terrific exchange! I am so edified by your responses to this reader. Thank you and may God richly bless you!

    • Cas

      Indeed! “Edified” sums it up perfectly. Well done, Mark! And I will pray for you, fellow reader.

  • FrogLeg

    “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it.”

    Faith is not the absence of doubt, it is acting in spite of it

  • tj.nelson

    Mark – this is the very best! Thanks for writing it – beautifully presented and encouraging to all. Edifying is the key word. Prayers and God bless you and the person who wrote the letter. I think a tear is leaving my eye as I write.

    • Maggie Goff

      I *know* that a tear, more than one, is leaving mine. 🙂

  • johnnysc

    “The most that may happen is that the Church will face the fact that Caesar has decided to pretend that there is such a thing as gay marriage and that people involved in such arrangements require some form of pastoral care.”

    That is a concern right there…..what form of pastoral care? A key mission given to the Catholic Church by Christ is the salvation of souls. The identification and condemnation of sin is essential in carrying out that mission. It seems there is a hesitancy to call sin a sin as Jesus did. It’s not about vengeance…..it’s about salvation which is the Gospel.

    • Alma Peregrina

      Simply calling a sin a sin won’t make the sinner acknowlegde he is sinning. If you are really concerned by the sinner’s salvation, you must do it in the most efficient manner. Making the sinner trust you is paramount. You can’t do that if you’re not pastoral.

      • johnnysc

        What…..bait and switch? 🙂

        Identifying and condemning sin is pastoral.

        “Neither do I condemn you (compassion); go, and do not sin again (conversion).”

        Compassion for this life, conversion for the next. Both are pastoral and done out of love.

        • Alma Peregrina

          Yes, but there are many ways to do it, some more effective than others.

          I doubt Mary Magdalene would’ve repented of her adultery if she was stoned for her sins. And yet, those stoners were being crystal clear about the fact that she had sinned.

          • LFM

            There is a rather vast difference between acknowledging that some act is a sin, and stoning someone to death for committing that sin.

            • Alma Peregrina

              Indeed. Both Christ and the stoners acknowledged Mary Magdalene’s sins. But one of them converted her and the others didn’t.

              • LFM

                He didn’t convert her by telling her that her sins were not sins, or saying that after all they did not matter very much.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Again, no one is advocating that He did. Paraphrasing you: There is a rather vast difference between being pastoral to a sinner and telling the sinner he/she is not sinning.

                  • LFM

                    Yes – but just what does “being pastoral to a sinner” entail? You have already said or implied that it is not wise in such instances to emphasize the sin thing too much, although you keep rejecting this when I try to pin you down about it.

                    I mean, I told you that as a sinner myself, I felt no sense of rejection at beng reminded of my sins when I returned to the Church, yet you were quick to tell me that this approach seldom works.

                    So if the correct pastoral approach is NOT preaching/reminding the sinner of his/her sins, and NOT on the other hand dropping the vocabulary of sin at strategic moments but still somehow retaining it, could you please set out, define, describe, articulate the CORRECT PASTORAL APPROACH, the one that makes none of these mistakes? Sorry for shouting, but you Francis defenders have me very confused. I suspect it’s because you are yourselves confused, but perhaps I’m mistaken.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      It’s funny, because I was going to post in my next follow-up comment how you guys were acting with me exactly like you act with Pope Francis, telling me that I’m confusing when I expressed myself extremely clearly. In fact, I still can’t understand what you guys find confusing in my comment.

                      Let me reiterate my first comment (emphasis mine):

                      Simply calling a sin a sin won’t make the sinner acknowlegde he is sinning. If you are really concerned by the sinner’s salvation, you must do it in the most efficient manner. Making the sinner trust you is paramount. You can’t do that if you’re not pastoral.”

                      You guys somehow interpreted this as saying that we shouldn’t call a sin a sin. And you get frustrated when you can’t “pin me down about it”

                      So, let me express myself through a kind of parable, if you will:
                      ********************************************

                      I think you agree that praying for the sinner’s conversion is an integral part of trying to convert him/her. Because, on the end of the day, it’s God’s grace that does it, not us. You may have the most brilliant apologectic arguments, but if you think it’s all up to you, then you’ll fail.

                      So, yeah, praying is important.

                      Now, let’s say that a certain catholic just prays for the sinner’s conversion. I mean, he doesn’t do anything else but pray. All he does is pray, because, you know, praying is important.

                      One day, the sinner comes to the catholic and says: “Hey, I have a doubt: Why does the Church call divorce a sin?”. The catholic having heard that, instead of replying with a rational explanation, falls to his knees and starts to pray: “Oh God, convert this poor soul”.

                      The sinners just keeps staring at you, completely baffled. Eventually he turns away. He wasn’t given what he needed.

                      Then I come along and say: “I don’t think your approach is effective. Just praying isn’t enough”.

                      And the other replies: “So, you’re saying that we shouldn’t pray?”.

                      Me: “I didn’t say that.”

                      The catholic: “First you say that we shouldn’t pray and now you deny that you said that. You’re so confused. Why don’t you set out, define, describe, articulate every single instance of when we should and shouldn’t pray for the sinner’s conversion?”

                      And I’ll say that I can’t do that, because I can’t set out, define, describe, articulate every single atitude for every single sin for every single person on every single community. That’s up to the evangelizer’s discretion, if he has common sense.

                      But I can understand that there’s a proper time for every approach. People in complicated familiar situations are many times hurt, have a complex background, find solace and relief in their sin (and they do, otherwise they wouldn’t do it), they are in denial and get aggressive if you burst their bubble. On the other hand they feel attracted for the Church. Let’s take that into our advantage. Keep them near the Church and provide them with a catholic atmosphere that will eventually lead them to the natural conclusion that their actions are sinful, but make them feel that said atmosphere is welcoming them, or else they’ll close themselves to it. Don’t say they’re not sinning, but don’t hammer them all the time about it. The appropriate time will come, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. On your specific case, it came sooner. Good. For some it may come later. It’s up to the evangelizer’s discretion to discern the right moments. Until then, keep showing kindness and mercy towards them, it’s the only way to make them trust you enough to open themselves to what you have to say.
                      *************************************
                      Now, since you couldn’t completely grasp what I meant in a one-paragraphed comment on a Net blog, couldn’t that mean that your interpretation of Pope Francis “confused statements” stems, in fact, from some confusion from your part?

                    • LFM

                      The reason I could not grasp what you meant was because you do not know what you mean.

                      I appreciate that some approaches to sinners will work better than others, depending on time, place and the individuals concerned, but that is not really what I meant when I asked what approach you wanted us to take. I never suggested haranguing individuals about their sins, any more than you suggested that we should drop all mention of sin. I just asked, or meant – perhaps I did it badly – how do we de-emphasize some sins without giving people the impression that they were not really sins?

                      Leaving that aside, so many who deplore the Church’s excessive emphasis on sexual sin depict a Church I simply do not recognize. Of all the Big 5 sexuality-related sins that have so vexed us since the 1960s (abortion, divorce/remarriage, pre-marital sexual relations, homosexual sexual relations, and contraception), the *only* one I have ever heard preached against in a Catholic Church is abortion. The only one.

                      Yet you and others appear to think that the Church has over-emphasized these sins at the pastoral as well as the “meta” level, thus driving some people away, and that it is time to start talking of mercy and good works and leave these other matters alone. How much less attention could we pay to such sins except by never discussing them at all?

          • johnnysc

            What’s wrong with the way Jesus did it?

            • Alma Peregrina

              What?

              • johnnysc

                These are Jesus’ words to the adulteress woman…..“Neither do I condemn you (compassion); go, and do not sin again (conversion).”

                And you said…..Yes, but there are many ways to do it, some more effective than others.

                Wasn’t Jesus’ approach effective?

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Yes it was. That’s actually the point.

                  I can’t believe this needs clarification, but the “many ways to do it” refered to the stoners’ approach, not to Jesus’ one.

                  Jesus said “Go and sin no more”. Yes, He did. He said that after He showed mercy and kindness to her. And he showed mercy and kindness to her before she did anything at all to change her ways, when she was a de facto adulteress.

                  He told Magalene to sin no more after He awed her, after touching her soul, after turning upside down her preconceptions about how a religious person acts. She was then completely receptive to the fullness of His message.

                  So wasn’t Jesus’ approach effective? What’s wrong with Jesus’ approach?

                  • johnnysc

                    But it was in the same meeting. We hear much about ‘walking with someone’ and ‘meeting them where they are’. Jesus did not walk very long with the adulteress woman before He told her not to sin. Why? Because sin is deadly in this life but more important it is deadly for the next life. My point all along is that warning against sin is pastoral as Jesus shows.

                    Another example…..the rich young man who asked what he must do to be saved….. ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’…..If someone like Cardinal Burke said this today he would be accused of being legalistic. 🙂 But Jesus said it and then he told the rich young man to give up his possessions, give to the poor and follow Him. And the rich young man could not do it…..he had to hold on to his possessions. I remember a priest saying one time that in this case it was greed but it could easily be said of any sin we ‘possess’. If a sin (possession) is holding you back from following Jesus then that is what needs to be addressed . It needs to be identified and condemned. Compassion and conversion go hand in hand.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Yes, Jesus did it in the same meeting. But in that meeting He did show mercy in a more intense manner than the average evangelizer can do in an average meeting. Jesus changed her entire life completely in that meeting. Her ears were completely open.

                      Compassion and conversion go hand in hand. Yes, they do. But you guys seem to think that it is an instantaneous and not a process, a very slow and sluggish process sometimes (even spawning decades, if you look at Augustine).

                      And again, I’m not saying that calling a sin a sin from the outset isn’t the proper approach sometimes. But the time at which that is enforced more vigorously does change according to the circumstances. What doesn’t change is the proper *order* of the process. *First* you make the sinner trust you and open his/her ears to you, *then* you talk. In fact, I don’t understand how sensible people can’t understand this simple truth that it is futile to speak to people who aren’t listening.

      • LFM

        “Simply calling a sin a sin won’t make the sinner acknowlegde he is sinning.”

        This is, I think, a misconception, at least where many of us are concerned. I’ve said before when this issue arose on Mark’s blog that I had been thoroughly confused by the clouds of confusion emanating from priests and confessors. I was relieved to begin to hear clear statements of what was sin as the 1980s progressed, when I was struggling to revert to the faith.

        When you’re drowning in a raging sea, you need a rock, not a pillow.

        • Alma Peregrina

          I commend you for having turned away from you sin on the basis of preaching only.

          Unfortunately the vast majority of people doesn’t behave as such. Most just try as much as possible to justify their sins and will turn away from you (or against you) if you just keep down that road.

          In fact, I don’t think there’s just one answer for it. The pastoral approaches should be individualized, for the efficacy of the various approaches depends on the sin being commited, on the sinner’s personality, on the sinner’s history and education, on the cultural context, etc…

          But the Church being universal and all, there is a need for some general guidelines.

          • LFM

            I didn’t actually say that I was turned away from my sins, nor that it was on the basis of preaching. I said I returned (reverted) to the faith. It was not preaching but reading clear statements of what Catholic teaching is, and why it is what it is, along with the knowledge that the Church did indeed still teach that these sins were sins, that helped me to do so. I am still a sinner and still struggle, though perhaps to a lesser degree, with the sins of which I was guilty before my conversion. It has helped me to know that they were and not merely personal quirks.

            You may think that few people respond as I do to messages about sin. Perhaps. But I doubt very much that fudging the question of what sin is in order to welcome in sinners – which is what Francis and the German cardinals seem to have wanted the Church to do – will lead people to the kind of conversion that is necessary to correct their lives. Alcoholics need to admit that they are alcoholics and to want to change that fact before they can begin to do so. Encouraging the divorced and remarried, or gay families (many of whom obtain their children by means which are not only immoral in Catholic eyes but legally and medically questionable) to receive Communion without first amending their sins will NOT help them to change their ways.

            It’s no use saying that the important thing is to give them “pastoral care” in the church at that point, because to judge by what I read by lapsed Catholics, very few think they have done anything wrong and would NOT return to the faith if it involved any admission of guilt.

            • Alma Peregrina

              Then your experience doesn’t match mine. Explaining why something is sinful only works on a minority of people.

              But keeping those lapsed sinners in the arms of the Church is the way to let the door open for an eventual leap of grace.
              However, I do admit that those measures seem to be insufficient. People on those complicated (and yes, immoral) familiar situations should have much more atention and pastoral care by the Church.

              And, BTW, there’s still no evidence whatsoever that the Pope will allow communion for those people. Or that his aim is to “fugdge the question of what sin is”. What about waiting for the apostolic exhortation?

              • LFM

                I am not talking about driving sinners out of the Church – that would be absurd and utterly contrary to the Church’s raison d’etre. What I am talking about is not pulling a bait and switch by welcoming sinners back to the Church under their (erroneous) assumption that their sins are no longer regarded as sins, only to proclaim that after all they are still sins.

                I agree that there’s no evidence that the Pope will allow communion for such people but I think he wanted to permit communion for remarried divorcees and was disappointed when a majority of senior Churchmen refused to accept the possibility. Further, various German Churchmen appear to have announced publicly that they intend to follow their own consciences with regard to communion for divorced/remarried Catholics, without receiving a rebuke, that I know of, from the Pope.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  “What I am talking about is not pulling a bait and switch by welcoming sinners back to the Church under their (erroneous) assumption that their sins are no longer regarded as sins, only to proclaim that after all they are still sins.”

                  And you’re right. But the Pope isn’t advocating this, as far as I know. Nor am I. So what’s the point of bringing this up?

                  • LFM

                    Has nothing changed since Francis became Pope? Are some people who had stopped attending Mass not returning? And when these people speak of the reason for their return, do they not often say things that suggest that they think Francis has somehow altered Church teaching?

                    There is *something* different about Francis, and while he cannot fundamentally change Church teaching he seems to have created the impression in many circles that it has been changed. At first I thought that perhaps this was unintentional and the result of the media’s ignorance. Now, it seems to me that while media ignorance plays a part in it, Francis has intentionally encouraged this impression. My own parish priest seemed to think something fundamental has changed.

                    I am not as worried by Pope Francis as many Catholics, in part because while I think he is mistaken about some things, he is not a bad man, and in part because I know there have been many bad and indeed wicked popes in history and the Church has survived them. But I regret that Francis appeared when he did, just as some welcome reforms of the liturgy and music (back to pre-Vatican II usages) were starting to take hold under Benedict’s rule.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “Has nothing changed since Francis became Pope? Are some people who had stopped attending Mass not returning? And when these people speak of the reason for their return, do they not often say things that suggest that they think Francis has somehow altered Church teaching?”

                      I don’t claim to know the hearts of every person returning to the Church through the influence of Pope Francis. But if they do so, it’s because they haven’t read a word of the man whom they so much admired.

                      But we weren’t talking about those. We were talking, I think, about catholics in immoral and complicated familiar situations.

                    • LFM

                      Why could not the “catholics in immoral and complicated familiar situations” also be people who stopped attending Mass but have begun to return because they have misunderstood what Pope Francis stands for? I am not certain what you are getting at here but as far as I understand it, the distinction does not make a difference to my point.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      OK, I’ll try to make this clear. There’s 2 sets of people being discussed here:

                      1) People in immoral and complicated familiar situations

                      2) People that have returned to Mass because of Pope Francis

                      Those 2 sets aren’t mutually exclusive. So let’s define set 1 even further:

                      1.1) People in imoral and complicated familiar situations that already were attending Mass before Pope Francis (or that have returned attending Mass, but not because of Pope Francis)

                      1.2) People in imoral and complicated familiar situations that are returning to Mass because of Pope Francis

                      To people from subset 1.1, your comment doesn’t really apply and is, in fact, digressing from the main topic (which is set 1 in general).

                      To people from subset 1.2, then my reply was: “But if they do so, it’s because they haven’t read a word of the man whom they so much admired”. So that’s covered as well.

                    • JohnnyVoxx

                      It’s almost as if he “appeared when he did” *because* of those “welcome reforms” that were underway…or is that too conspiratorial?

                    • LFM

                      It probably is “too conspiratorial” but it is a tempting idea. Sigh. I keep having to remind myself that bad taste is not a sin. Though I can’t help but think – but no, mustn’t go there…

      • [Simply calling a sin a sin won’t make the sinner acknowlegde he is sinning. ]

        This is a time for “Yes, but” . The Bible is pretty clear that admonition of sin is essential and I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong) the Church teaches that failure to properly admonish sin is itself a sin.

        I will agree that simple identification of what is and isn’t sinful isn’t enough, while I hope you agree that it is nevertheless an essential part of the process.

        • Alma Peregrina

          [The Bible is pretty clear that admonition of sin is essential]

          This is a time for “Yes but”.

          “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” 1Cor 3:2

          Also, remember that many of Christ’s teachings were offered just for His closest followers… and even those constantly fell short.
          ****************************************

          [I hope you agree that it is nevertheless an essential part of the process.”]

          I do.

          • Hmm. It has always been my understanding that right/wrong distinctions *are* milk and deep theology is the solid food. Paul says something about how natural law is even written on the hearts of pagans and we teach our kids what is ok and what is not ok before they are able to comprehend exactly why. I’ve always understood that it is the philosophical, social, theological, implications of “why” that is difficult to swallow and “what” is the milk.

            Not arguing btw. Just throwing out there where I’m coming from. Interested in how you would respond.

            • Alma Peregrina

              And your interpretation may be right. But again, no one is saying that we shouldn’t tell the sinner that he/she is not sinning. What I’m saying is that people may not be spiritually mature enough to instantaneously come fully into doctrinal alignment with the Church on matters that involve them personally. Maybe they need some time and care before that and to be integrated until then. And I think that’s what the Church is discussing… how to handle those situations.

  • Stu

    Nicely done.

  • capaxdei

    On the question of whether “the Holy Spirit guides the College of Cardinals in the selection of the most wisest holiest candidate,” Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments in a 1997 interview are often quoted, and for good reason. It’s a sound position, historically and theologically, and consistent with (though of course not itself) magisterial teaching.

    He was asked, “Do you really believe that the Holy Spirit plays a role in the election of the pope?”

    He replied, “I would not say so in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope, because there are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked. I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.” (Source (though I’ve seen several references to this through the years): http://blog.adorationservants.org/2013/02/12/40-holy-hours-for-a-holy-pope/ )

    • Stu

      This was exactly the quote I was thinking about recently when I remarked that it would nice if we didn’t have to always fall back on the Holy Spirit being a firewall for our poor decisions.

      We don’t always listen to Him and thus we don’t always get it right but He continues to put the train back on the tracks.

  • Sam Schmitt

    “The pope did something similar when drafting Humanae Vitae, consulting theologians who urged him to ditch the Church’s ancient tradition about artificial contraception. He declined to do so.”

    This is a common misconception. The pope never considered changing Catholic doctrine, but rather wanted to know the best way to present it, particularly in view of the (then) new contraceptive pill. Members of the papal commission took it upon themselves to deliberate on changing Church teaching in this area; this was never the pope’s intention.

    • Heather

      Keep in mind Mark didn’t actually say that he was considering changing doctrine. Just that he consulted with people including people who did in fact want him to do so.

  • [Nothing he has said is incompatible with the Church’s teaching. ]

    That’s not necessarily true and it doesn’t need to be either. I think that’s an important distinction because it gives an extra level of relief. You don’t have to worry about interpreting everything the pope ever says as being perfectly orthodox because there was never any promise that it would be.

    Plenty of Popes from time to time have said unorthodox things. But none have undermined Church doctrine. The belief that the the pope won’t destroy doctrine must not be conflated with the belief that you have a pope incapable of erring or harming the earthy organization. The first is true, the second is not.

    This is a relief because you don’t have to sit around parsing every interview or trying to find an angle to agree with every statement. On the other hand, you have to let go of the false idea that the pope will always say and do things you think are awesome.

  • Maggie Goff

    Just beautiful, Mark. I saved it. Thank you!

  • Tony

    Great stuff, thanks Mark! I too worry about Francis, not the socialism stuff, but frankly the people he keeps close to him, but you are right, I need to have faith

  • winslow

    But Francis has not, in fact, said or done anything heterodox with respect to the Faith,” — Mark Shea

    He has done both, Mark Shea. When a woman from South America complained to him that her pastor she couldn’t receive the Sacrament, he threw the pastor under the bus and told her, “Never mind. You go ahead and receive. What’s the harm in a piece of bread and a little wine.” This is the Vicar of Christ urging a woman to commit a sacrilege. while referring the Body and Blood of the Lord as ‘a piece of bread and a little wine.’

    In his correspondence with his Protestant friend in Argentina he told him, “We are not journeying toward each other. We’ll meet in the middle.” In other words the Catholic Church isn’t the true faith. We’re all the same. Have you ever heard him say one single word about converting the wayward to Catholicism?

    You got this guy wrong, Mr. Shea. Pay closer attention. It’s game of 3-card monte.

    • “What’s the harm in a piece of bread and a little wine.” Time to reread the CCC (or the Summa if you prefer) about the sin of detraction (if not calumny).

      > In other words the Catholic Church isn’t the true faith. We’re all the same.

      In YOUR words.

      • LFM

        I think you misunderstood the point of the previous comment by “winslow”. He was quoting these statements not to agree with them but to attack them, and in doing so, he wishes to show that Pope Francis is or seems to be guilty of certain serious pastoral and doctrinal errors.

    • LFM

      I hope you’re wrong but fear you’re right. Your examples are certainly telling.

    • KL

      The source for the anecdote about the Eucharist above is 1) a Facebook post 2) written by the husband of 3) the woman in question, who says she spoke to the Pope over the phone. The phrase you use, which is indeed problematic, is nevertheless removed from Pope Francis’s actual words twice, by two persons who have a powerful interest in reporting those words as favorable to their position. In fact, I can’t find a reference to even that third-hand source (the original Facebook post) using the phrase “a little bread and wine”; the first time it appears, as far as I can tell, is in a Daily Mail headline which reads “A little bread and wine ‘does no harm,'” which indicates that “does no harm” is attributed to Pope Francis but not the first phrase — likely the product of a Daily Mail editor. In various posts and articles in the ensuing days and weeks, the internal quotes get dropped and somehow the whole sentence gets attributed to the Pope. Thus, your using what is, at best, a Facebook post by a third party not involved in the conversation and, at worst, the imaginative wording of a poor journalist to substantiate claims of heresy against Pope Francis is, if not deliberately misleading, downright irresponsible.

      • LFM

        All right, but why is Pope Francis so peculiarly prone to misquotation?

        The public statements of Benedict and John Paul II were frequently discussed and analysed by people with little knowledge of Church language or history, which meant that they were often misunderstood. There was seldom anything ambiguous or fuzzy about their words; the fault lay with the media (although one could argue that the Church ought to have found a way to address the world in language it could better understand).

        Where Pope Francis is concerned, however, even when he is quoted correctly and in context his words are sufficiently vague as to be open to misinterpretation (unless it’s not actually misinterpretation, and he really means it), not because he is using the language of the Church to an audience that does not understand it, but because he is using colloquial, feel-good language to an audience that understands it only too well. The fact that perhaps he does not really mean to create the impression that he does, or that he means it but only in part, adds to the confusion he generates.

        • Heather

          “All right, but why is Pope Francis so peculiarly prone to misquotation?”

          He’s not. Or rather, he is, but it’s not because of him, it’s because of the intense levels of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, where every off the cuff remark and bit of gossip is made instantly available to the entire world. It’s a phenomenon that wasn’t really a factor yet in JPII’s papacy. Benedict experienced it to some degree but he was so self-effacing and the media was already bored with him by the time of his election so he didn’t get the celebrity gossip treatment.

          It’s also the fact that he doesn’t really speak English so that everything we get from him is filtered through translations of sometimes very dubious quality.

          • Heather — stop being so sensible!

            • Heather

              lol… it’s a slow morning at the office 😉

        • KL

          “Pope Francis does not speak with the rigorous philosophical clarity that characterized his immediate predecessors and I wish that he did” is a very different statement than “Pope Francis contradicts Catholic teaching.” Winslow made the latter claim, to which I responded. Your claim, which as I understand it is more or less the former statement above, is frankly subjective and a matter of personal taste. It’s an entirely valid opinion and one is free to hold it in good conscience, but it’s not at all something that could be leveled as a serious accusations against Pope Francis’s orthodoxy.

          • LFM

            Speaking with rigorous philosophical clarity is one of the duties of popes, or those who speak for them. Failing to do so is a serious pastoral failure. It should in theory be possible to speak rigorously and yet find ways of addressing the public in its own language, ways that do not sow confusion regarding Church teaching concerning faith and morals. That does not seem to be happening now, however.

            • KL

              Speaking with rigorous philosophical clarity is one of the duties of popes, or those who speak for them.

              I deny this premise, and furthermore no tenet of Church teaching requires me to accept it. Speaking with rigorous philosophical clarity is a charism, one which JPII and Benedict both possessed and used to marvelous effect. I am grateful for their contributions to the deposit of Catholic theological thought. However, the fact that Francis lacks this charism is evidence of neither sinfulness nor heresy. It is simply a reflection of the diversity of the gifts of the Spirit.

              Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)

              The role of the Pope is to shepherd the Church as the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome. That’s it. The manner in which an individual pope does this is particular to his own gifts and talents, poured out by the Spirit. Francis’s charism is not articulation of doctrine — I don’t think anyone will argue with you on this. But he has no obligation to possess that charism. Rather, his gift is the extension of joyful invitation and the proclamation of God’s boundless love and mercy. All of these things are consistent with Scripture and Tradition. None contradict the Faith.

              • Really well said, KL!

              • LFM

                I don’t disagree with anything you say here, and I agree that I should not have said that Popes ought always to speak “rigorously”. But Popes must still take care that their statements do not tend to confuse the faithful, and I still think that Pope Francis is doing so.

                Look: I still wish Pope Francis well, and because I do not like the concept of the celebrity Pope that has grown up since the early days of John Paul II’s papacy, I don’t necessarily regret that his reign will force some people to reconsider their view of the nature of the papacy as a kind of Election, rather than, simply, an election. However, I think you’ll find that he does sow confusion among his priests and among Catholics in general, in a way that I hoped was behind us, after the more unfortunate misinterpretations of Vatican II made their way through the Church.

                • KL

                  Fair enough. But, like Heather downthread, I am not at all convinced that there is something particular to Francis that lends itself to confusion or willful misunderstanding. I suspect that much has to do with the secular media’s breathless hysteria and insistence on seizing upon any opportunity to hold up Francis as a herald of change and a progressive ally, even to the point of misreporting or misinterpreting the meaning which is fairly straightforward in context. The 24 hour news cycle, on TV and online, which requires constant grist for its mill also contributes to the never-ending search for new and “juicy” tidbits. This didn’t happen with JPII or Benedict, and there is much in their thought and speech that could well have been given the same treatment. But the media narrative, from the first moments of Francis’s papacy, has been radically different. I am sure that Francis could in some way fight against this narrative, but it’s not fair to require that of him. He did not compose it or ask for it, but had it imposed upon him from the very beginning. And like most media narratives, it was neither based on fact to begin with, nor can it be significantly budged by fact. I don’t blame him for realizing that no matter what he says, someone will take it the way they want to, and instead moving on with doing the work he’s been tasked to do in his own way. Might someone else, with different gifts, approach it differently? Sure. But there’s no moral failing involved here.

      • winslow

        The story has been out there for over a year and neither the Pope nor his mouthpiece have denied it, modified it or even commented on it. Your guesses have no foundation.

        • Is it the Pope’s job to correct, modify, or comment on every single story about him “out there”? And just how widely known is that story? I hadn’t even heard of it until I read your comment.

          A couple of times now, friends of friends have circulated on Facebook a Pope Francis meme where he supposedly rejects the Bible as fiction. Someone I know actually believed he said that, and that’s a shame and frustrating, but I don’t expect the Vatican to be monitoring Facebook to make sure no one says anything inaccurate or incorrect about the Pope.

  • RedPill

    I like this! Nevertheless, I worry that some of the German cardinals with Moralistic Therapeutic Deist tendencies are too close to the Pope’s ears. But, sure, the gates of hell will not prevail, because we already won.

  • onlein

    I struggle much less with my faith since Pope Francis. About time, IMHO, for the Good News of the Gospel including the Beatitudes — for love, mercy, forgiveness; for disengaging from money concerns; for helping the poor….
    I was a freshman in college when Pope Pius died and Pope John was elected. I felt very at home in the ecumenical era. But then John died and much of Vatican II died away also. Stale old dogmatic concerns predominated. I’ve struggled a long time with my faith, and drifted away for a time. Eventually I became a fallen away agnostic, returning to the Church in May 2001, just in time for the sexual abuse scandal. But I am back and am heartened by the current welcoming, loving atmosphere.

    • LFM

      So, since sin is still sin and Francis can’t change that and, of course, according to everyone here, hasn’t attempted to try, and if there really isn’t any doctrinal difference between Francis, Benedict and JPII, just why is it that you find the church so “welcoming” and “loving” now? What has changed? Why did you find the Church under Benedict or John Paul so unwelcoming? They talked about sin but also forgiveness; Francis seems to want to drop sin from the lexicon altogether when talking to individuals – but then I am repeatedly told here that I’m wrong about that.

      What “stale old dogmatic concerns predominated” after John’s death? What dogmas do you find stale and old? Are you aware that Mark and others here insist that these dogmas are as relevant as they ever were and that Francis cannot and will not do anything to remove them as a focus of Church teaching? Do you know that a dogma is an incontrovertible truth?

      I can understand that dogma might sometimes become tiresome to discuss or to read about, but it cannot ever be irrelevant or unworthy of attention unless the dogma itself is wrong, i.e. is not dogma after all. And if that’s what you mean to say then I am afraid that most Francis admirers here would not agree with you, because they regard the new Pope merely as one whose emphasis is different from his immediate predecessors, not one who intends to alter dogmatic teaching. Though you may turn out to be correct after all about Pope Francis’s own attitude toward dogma. It’s one of the things we’re debating here.

      Well, the preceding probably sounds a little confused (and I admit, Francis confuses me) but what I mean is just that if Francis is really that exceptional in his impact on people like you, he must be more of a revolutionary figure than his “orthodox Catholic” admirers here are willing to admit.

      • onlein

        As a retired clinical social worker, I was heartened by Pope Francis calling the church on its obsession with abortion, birth control and same sex marriage. Obsessions usually lead to no good, to excesses, to one-sidedness, to blindness of other concerns or sins. Whether it admitted it or not, under the previous two popes the church had adopted a worst-sin theology: abortion. This took the focus off other areas of wrongdoing, like sexual abuse of children including, of course, by priests.
        Pope Francis has reminded us in his way that we are all sinners, even in the sin of abortion if we are for cutting the economic safety net for poor women, thus making it much harder for them to bring new life into the world. Cutting welfare benefits in 1996, for example, led to the group of women who were cut off having a much higher rate of abortion. Countries with adequate safety nets have a much lower rate of abortion than we do.

        • LFM

          Nice effort to change the conversation, but it doesn’t address the main issue. No one ever said that the sexual abuse of children was a good thing, not even the most glib secularist or the most ardent priest-defender. Abortion and same-sex marriage, on the other hand, are not only welcomed as Good Things by secular society, but they are positively celebrated. Worse yet, the right to criticize these actions is being steadily eroded by over-the-top political correctness. For that reason I was not at all heartened by Francis’s words regarding the Church’s “obsession”. Indeed, I was dismayed.

          • LFM

            In any case, who is “we”, kemosabe? Most of the western Catholic world has better social safety nets than does the United States. (I’m from Canada; we do too.) They also have rather high rates of abortion, of course, although not so high as in the US, which won’t surprise you. But why should a pastoral approach that “privileges” the importance of social service and social safety nets over the importance of taking a firm stand against abortion, an approach that is really relevant only to the American experience, become the default attitude of the Church? Especially considering, as I said in my previous comment, that it is becoming almost socially forbidden to express any criticism of abortion, same-sex marriage and other sexual issues.

  • JohnnyVoxx

    Jorge Bergoglio has helped confirm my worst fears after witnessing for the first time the Mass of the Ages in 2008: that there is no continuity between the pre and post Conciliar periods. He is merely the fullest expression of that reality. This horrible realization does not provide a solution, of course, but it makes the contrast appropriately clear. There is an old religion and a new religion. I will, as best as possible, in fear of damnation just for being associated with the new religion, practice what is left of the old one to the extent it is available and promote the same to all.

    • chezami

      In short, given the choice between the indefectibility of the Church and the infallbility of You, you choose the latter. Good luck with that.

      • JohnnyVoxx

        I am not operating outside the bounds of the visible Church. I simply note the avalanche of heresy promulgated by the post Conciliar popes, prelates and priests, and decline to support it. I encourage everyone to demand the full implementation of Summorum Pontificum and start denouncing the heretical positions of Cardinals and Bishops without denying their authority. You go along to get along. I think we’ve seen quite enough this year to impel us to action.

        • chezami

          Remaining within the Church to receive its benefits while telling everybody it is a false Church and encouraging apostasy and rebellion manages to combine ingratitude, cowardice and pride with complete incoherence. Think it possible you may be wrong.

          • JohnnyVoxx

            If I listed the heresies here that you would have to subscribe to in order to cheerlead these overlords of destruction, you would burn with shame. Mental health begins when we stop telling ordinary people to reconcile the irreconcilable, as Mark Shea tries above. Enough. Rupture. Deal with it. Call it out. Insist upon a return to orthodoxy. Don’t pretend the modern Popes and Prelates have not promoted heresy.

            • Marthe Lépine

              In other words, you, of your own personal authority, are calling for a schism… Who gave you that authority?

              • JohnnyVoxx

                No, those are not my words, nor are they “other” words that can be inferred from my words. Those are your words and yours alone. It is those in authority that abandoned the timeless teachings of Holy Mother Church about so many things, some dogmas, some doctrines, some disciplines, but all catastrophic, all bearing horribly rotten fruit. I do not call for a schism. I call for all the existing members of the Church, clergy and laity, to recognize the attack on the true Faith which occurred, and correct the errors, just as Arianism was rejected, so too should the Vatican II schema be rejected in every way it is heretical and destructive. Just rejected. This is a call to the Catholic leadership to embrace and promote Catholicity as if they believed and understood it was the one true Faith, founded by God as an exclusive means of salvation. That is hardly a call for “schism” as you suggest. It is a call for a return to Catholic unity.

                • Andy

                  What dogmas, specifically dogmas have been abandoned? As dogmas are considered to be tied directly to the deposit of faith I think it might be big news if a dogma changed. Doctrine is tied to the deposit of faith – so as far as doctrinal changes – doctrine changes not in content but how it is expressed and taught – it develops. So what doctrines has Pope Francis abandoned? Disciplines are man-made and can change as often as the church sees fit.

                  • JohnnyVoxx

                    The information is well established by many competent theologians and even ordinary priests and laypeople who observe the contradictions and departures from dogma, doctrine and discipline. (I am aware of the differences.) Chiefly, the departures or heresies or contradictions or changes in dogma and doctrine that are *actually found in the documents of Vatican II* concern Ecclesiology — what the Church proclaims about Herself — and thus intimately connected to that theological category are the subjects of ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality and the Church’s relation to the world. But apart from the errors or seeds of error in the VII documents themselves, we have endured countless contradictions since then coming directly out of the mouths and from the pens of modern Popes and prelates, operating in the “spirit of Vatican II,” essentially watering and fertilizing the seeds of error found in the Vatican II documents themselves. Chief among them is that the Church is not *the* Church of Christ as had always been taught, and therefore not truly necessary for salvation (“Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus”), but that the Church of Christ merely *subsists in* the “Catholic Church.” See Lumen Gentium, 11/21/64. This *seed* of error would later allow Pope John Paul II to hold the scandalous meeting(s) at Assisi which presented pagan religions and other false religions in an equivalency with the Church of Christ, formerly exclusively and precisely identified with the Catholic Church, and it would allow Pope Benedict to explicitly reject any effort to call protestants back to the one, true, salvific religion, the Catholic Faith, telling them publicly, “Unity…does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not! It does not mean uniformity in all expressions of theology and spirituality, in liturgical forms and in discipline.” So much for the ONE, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, huh? And since the Vatican II decree on ecumenism says things like, “The brethren divided from us also carry out many of the sacred traditions of the Christian religion…these actions…can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation.” So much for the “New Evangelization,” huh? And it is what allowed Pope Francis in his first encyclical, Evangeli Gaudium, to declare the “dual covenant doctrine” as follows: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29),” suggesting there is no need for those who call themselves “Jews” to convert to the religion of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Faith. This is a major heresy and much has been written on Pope Francis’ seeming adoption of it. In short, the modern Popes gave the store away. It is so much worse than that, so much more comprehensive than that, but there’s a little taste of the destructive quality of the modern religion, just to get your beak wet. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, and I don’t know what to do about it either, since the Catholic Faith is true. I remain within the body of the Church under the authority of the Pope but I argue and exhort for a full return to the Mass of the Ages, traditional Catholic theology and culture.

          • JohnnyVoxx

            I should be clear it is you who placed the scandalous words “false Church” into my post. I am simply painfully aware of the continuing heresies of those who seem to be in positions of authority during and after Vatican II. I do not draw the conclusions you seem to jump to in evaluating my post, sedevacantism, etc. As I said I do not have a solution. But neither do I sweep the damnable sin and crime of heresy under the felt banner of false unity. I simply plan to “make a mess in my Diocese” as a major Catholic figure recently suggested.

            • Marthe Lépine

              It seems to me that you are considering your own interpretations as usually true… What are your qualifications to actually be able to spot all those things you call heresies? I regret to have to point out that the sin of pride is one of the most dangerous ones, to the point of cutting the prideful person off from God…

              • JohnnyVoxx

                I am not a “prideful” person. I am a sorrowful one who looks upon the attempted destruction of the Ecclesia with a woundedness you would find unfathomable, particularly if you do not already see with your own eyes “all those things [I] call heresies.” These are not matters of opinion, mine or others. One does not need a graduate degree from the Angelicum to spot the departures from the Orthodox Catholic Faith in the Vatican II schema. One needs only to use ordinary intelligence and perform an A:B comparison. Perhaps you played a game in pre-school called “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” to learn to distinguish between shapes and colors? Not much further foundation is needed.

  • Re_Actor

    false human traditions you projected on to the Faith

    elevated mere human traditions and assumptions to the level of divine revelation

    The pure Evangelical Word shall sound all the clearer once all these manmade Romish mummeries have been swept away!

    • John Servorum

      Your man made protestant traditions are nothing when compared with the one true Church Jesus Christ founded by his own authority and on the faith of St. Peter and the Apostles.

      Only in Christ’s beloved Catholic Church can we ever hope to find the fullness of Christ himself, rather than the schism and heresies foisted on the world in 16th century Europe by men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Cranmer, Knox and all of the other heretics who rebelled against Jesus Christ and invented the thousands of false religions that constitute protestantism.

      Who created your “church”?
      Men, only men, not Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Give up your prideful separation and come home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that alone is the fullness of truth and the true Body of Christ.

      • Re_Actor

        Don’t worry, John, I’m not a Protestant. It was just a feeble attempt at a humorous dig at Mark’s choice of words. Mea maxima culpa.

        The irony is, everything suggests that your choice of words (“schism and heresies foisted on the world” … “heretics who rebelled against Jesus Christ and invented the thousands of false religions that constitute protestantism”) would horrify the current Catholic Pope.

        • John Servorum

          Understood. I guess I missed the humor. Sorry for that. No harm no foul.

          As far as Pope Francis is concerned we can only speak the truth as we know it best and if that means speaking the truth to power then so be it.

          Catholics before the 20th century were far more fearless about speaking the truth and defending the faith than we are comfortable with.
          Honestly I admire their willingness to be bold. Sometimes I think we need to learn from the uncompromising fierceness of John the Baptist who spoke with great force and bravery until they finally chopped his head off.

          “Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished……”

          Be well.

  • Cypressclimber

    The pope did something similar when drafting Humanae Vitae, consulting theologians who urged him to ditch the Church’s ancient tradition about artificial contraception. He declined to do so.

    Indeed. And, as we all remember, there were absolutely no adverse consequences to how Pope Bl. Paul VI handled that episode. It all went swimmingly well. Right?

    Right?

  • John Sobieski

    The statement that the Pope has said nothing which is incompatible with Church teaching is absolutely laughable.

    • KL

      Can you provide a counterexample?

      • RodH

        Sure. He supports heretics; he advances them and their agendas, he promotes them {Koch, Berlin, etc} and selects them {Cupich, Daneels, etc} over orthodox leaders to represent the people of God in a gathering of Bishops {Family Synod} and THINK for just one moment what the topics of their heresies are: promotion of SODOMY, a crime and evil considered the worst of crimes and evil in Church teaching {and stated as such by the Fathers and many in Church history} until just recently when “welcoming” unrepentant sodomites has taken the place of the demand for repentance. Another issue they promote is ADULTERY.

        He condemns those who affirm Catholic teaching and the truth of God and the Gospel {his derogatory statement after synod, etc}. He creates “annulment rules” that make possible the “annulment” of every single marriage ever consummated. I have maybe the best marriage in the world and if I and my wife wanted to call it quits we would have zero trouble finding reasons in the Pope’s new “merciful” list of reasons. What mercy is there in promotion of evil?

        Read his many statements about Islam that are not only simply factually wrong but also promote novel doctrine and compare to the statements of past Popes on Islam. Read who he thinks our Mother is…..”Mother Earth”. and now he has Turkson repeating it. Uh…last time I checked our Mother is the Blessed Virgin. Period. Who affirms the Earth as Mother? Pagans. Remember Gaia?

        In order for this to make sense you need to study the Magesterial documents of the past. Read the Catechism of the Council of Trent for example, or get a copy of Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum or read past encyclicals and read what past Popes have written then read what this Pope has written and said. Read what is actually said about invalid marriages, about homosexuality and about Islam. Do it. The topics are too extensive to cite in detail here, but are easy to find and compare with the current Pope.

        And then there are his self contradictions that even if they don’t support heresy per se are just plain bizarre. He condemns “globalization” but then says he supports it by claiming he supports UN Agenda 2030, a horrendous plan that supports population control and the rest of the UN anti-Catholic agenda. He raves incessantly about economics and then admits in public he doesn’t know anything about economics. READ the Pope. Do not just read what his supporters or detractors say. READ the Pope. Sit down and google his homilies and his Angelus addresses. Do it. But sit down and don’t drive or operate machinery soon after doing so. You might be shaking so hard you won’t be safe!

        Heck, he has even flat out misquoted Jesus in an encyclical {Evangelii Gaudium paragraph 161} and worse, in such a way that it advances his anthropocentric agenda. He has misstated Scripture to make a point the Scripture doesn’t make at all {Homily, Closing of Synod, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 25 October; “None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did. They continued to walk, going on as if nothing were happening.”}.

        Cheers.

      • John Sobieski

        “All of us will be up there together, all of us!” General Audience, Nov. 26, 2014

        • Andy

          This is the Church’s destination: it is, as the Bible says, the “new Jerusalem”, “Paradise”. More than a place, it is a “state” of soul in which our deepest hopes are fulfilled in superabundance and our being, as creatures and as children of God, reach their full maturity. We will finally be clothed in the joy, peace and love of God, completely, without any limit, and we will come face to face with Him! (cf. 1 Cor 13:12). It is beautiful to think of this, to think of Heaven. We will all be there together. It is beautiful, it gives strength to the soul. And the problem with saying this is the destination of the church is what? I would also add that only God knows who gets not heaven and who does not.

          • John Sobieski

            Our Lord stated that most people are not saved, in fact.

            • chezami

              No. He did not. But Reactionaries have a constitutional tic that wants this to be so very badly.

              • John Sobieski

                Read the parable of the banquet. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

                • If you were a father, and even one of your children fell, wouldn’t that be too many? “Few” and “many” are vague. God loves us all, and wants all of us with Him. I have no trouble believing that if 99% of humanity ended up in Heaven, that would be too few from God’s perspective.

            • Andy

              The church invites people; it aids people as the mature to be ready for heaven – it provides the guidance, the teaching the love to help us get there. Francis said when we come face to face – he did not say everyone will be saved. He is speaking to those who believe and accept what the church teaches.

              • John Sobieski

                The Church has never dared to state who goes to Heaven, and even less that we will all go to Heaven. This is the sin of presumption.

                • Andy

                  He i not stating who will be there – he is saying that the destination of those in communion with the church is heaven. Is that not what the church teaches – that we must be in communion with the church and thus with God to enter heaven/

                  • John Sobieski

                    Yes he is. He says all of us will be there. He is most definitely not saying: “All those of us who are members of the One True Church who die in a state of Sanctifying Grace will be there. Those of us who are not guilty of personal mortal sin but have not had the stain of Original Sin wiped away by Baptism suffer an uncertain fate. And those who die in a state of mortal sin will go to Hell. And based on the words of Our Lord, it is prudent to fear that most souls do not go to Heaven.”

        • Heather

          “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

          Yeah, what a bunch of triumphalist nonsense!

      • John Sobieski

        “…at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted [to Holy Communion].” Interview with Eugenio Scalfari, Oct. 28, 2015

        • Andy

          Since Scalifari does not take notes or record conversations/interviews – what was left out?

        • Heather

          Scalfari is a notoriously unreliable source who reconstructs conversations from memory and put his own words in other people’s mouths. Try again, and this time try to find an actual documented and substantiated quotation.

          • John Sobieski

            Scalfari has been impeccable. The Pope has not once complained about how he’s been quoted. No reason to think he was misquoted now. Everyone knows this is the Pope’s agenda.

      • John Sobieski

        “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” Interview with Eugenio Scalfari, Oct. 1, 2013

        • Andy

          the whole quote:The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.” And from Pope Benedict XVI: Today there are many forms of voluntary assistance, models of mutual service, of which our society has urgent need. We must not, for example, abandon the elderly to their solitude, we must not pass by when we meet people who are suffering. If we think and live according to our communion with Christ, then our eyes will be opened. Then we will no longer be content to scrape a living just for ourselves, but we will see where and how we are needed. Living and acting thus, we will soon realize that it is much better to be useful and at the disposal of others than to be concerned only with the comforts that are offered to us. I know that you as young people have great aspirations, that you want to pledge yourselves to build a better world. Let others see this, let the world see it, since this is exactly the witness that the world expects from the disciples of Jesus Christ; in this way, and through your love above all, the world will be able to discover the star that we follow as believers. “Let Us Go Forward With Christ!” Homily at closing Mass of World Youth Day, Cologne, Aug. 21, 2005

          • John Sobieski

            The Church teaches traditionally that the most serious evils afflicting the world are mortal sin and ignorance of the Gospel.

            • Andy

              Sin in is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121

              1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.1

              Evil is the absence of good – it is an opposition to what is needed for the greater/common good. It is always an a negative.
              I would suggest that all sins are mortal – that is they lead to our culpability. As far as I know the church teaches that it is unbelief that is the greatest of sins.
              I would suggest that it is evil – the absence of good, the opposition to human needs that is cause of why many leave the church – the old question if God is good, why does evil exist?
              The church does not equate sin with evil.

              • John Sobieski

                Sin is an evil. There are other evils. But mortal sin is the greatest of the evils in this world, for it is by mortal sin that we lose Sanctifying Grace, i.e., the divine life.

                • Andy

                  You are right sin is an evil – it is turning against God. And Francis did not say sin he said the greatest evil and from the Catholic Encyclopedia – Evil, in a large sense, may be described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals; whence arises, among human beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds. Thus evil, from the point of view of human welfare, is what ought not to exist.

                  • John Sobieski

                    I think you need to reread the Pope’s clear words. He said youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old are the greatest evils afflicting the world. Clearly that is false.

                    • Andy

                      I read his clear words – the greatest evil… – got that. He did not say sin. As I said evil is an absence of good; i is opposition to human desires and needs. I would argue that youth unemployment and discarding the elderly are the greatest evils. It is these evils that lead people to sin avarice, theft, despair, and so on.

                    • John Sobieski

                      You’ve lost me.

        • Heather

          “The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds” – Jesus.

          Have you ever seen a strawberry seed? It’s smaller than a mustard seed. Have you ever heard of the rhetorical device called hyperbole?

      • John Sobieski

        “Who am I to judge?”

        • Andy

          Judge not, that ye be not judged.

          2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

          3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

        • Heather

          I think you missed the actual context of that statement, which was something along the lines of “if someone has done something, repented, changed their life, and is now living in accordance with Church teaching, then who am I to judge?”

          Unless you think that forgiveness of sins is incompatible with Church teaching, and St. Paul should never have been allowed a position of authority within the Church because of his history of persecuting Christians and hanging around with lynch mobs.

          • John Sobieski

            The Church taught traditionally that men with homosexual proclivities were not fit candidates for the priesthood. Benedict XVI reiterated that teaching. By this one statement, Francis opposed it, and under the guise of opposing judgmentalism, which had nothing to do with the traditional teaching.

            • Heather

              Nonsense.

              He was talking about someone who was already a priest. As far as I am aware, there is no such thing as a declaration of nullity for ordination. Are you saying that there is no such thing as forgiveness and moving on with one’s life, and that any priest who does anything at all that might have gotten them kicked out of seminary ought to be laicized?

      • John Sobieski

        “How I wish that Christians could kneel in veneration when a poor person enters the church.”

        • Andy

          If one cannot see God in the poor, how can one see God in anything? We should see in the poor person the suffering Christ, the Christ who emptied Himslef for us.

          • John Sobieski

            With this statement, the Pope makes an idol out of material poverty. The beatitude reads “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” i.e., those detached from material things. Not “Blessed are the people without money.”

            • Andy

              Is the idol you mention the same idol that we in America embrace – the golden one? I would suggest that the Catechism points out we are to love the poor. 2444 “The Church’s love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor.235 Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need.”236 It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.237

              2445 Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use:

              Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.23

            • KL

              Yikes. This is embarrassing. You may not be aware that the beatitudes appear in two different gospels, with different wording. In Matthew, the first beatitude does indeed read “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

              But in Luke, here is the evangelist’s account:

              Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Lk 6:20)

              Blessed are the poor. Full stop. And follows it up with “Blessed are you who hunger.” Full stop.

              If the Pope is making an idol of material poverty in his words above, then so does Jesus, in the words of Scripture.

      • John Sobieski

        “It was also about laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families”

        • Andy

          From Benedict XVI 3rd February 2010: “One’s career, the exercise of power: are these not a temptation? A temptation from which even those who have a role of activity and governance in the Church are not immune.”

        • Heather

          Can you actually explain how this is incompatible with Church teaching? Because all I see is a statement against using moral authority as an excuse for personal vindictiveness and lack of charity.

          • John Sobieski

            He is disparaging the bishops who, during the Synod, upheld traditional teaching regarding Holy Communion.

            • Andy

              I assume you are referring to this: One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

              – The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

              – The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

              – The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

              – The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

              he seems to be addressing both conservative and liberal prelates, but I guess for you the liberals deserved?

  • RodH

    Mark: Read CCC 1697. You need to get yourself a copy of Denzinger. When you get it, read it. I mean, actually read it. Methinks you might spend a wee bit too much time with fingers on keyboard and too little time with eyes on paper. “Heresy” does not have to be explicit. Check out Auctorem fidei 1794, when the Pope condemned the Synod of Pistoia NOT for what they said clearly, but for being ambiguous. Read it. Seriously! It has helped me and I strongly recommend it. Then read the accounts and documents of Honorius I. He was condemned not for merely being a “heretic” but for encouraging heresy. Think about that. Think about both of these. Get a copy, Mark, I guarantee you, your horizons will be expanded!
    PS: Do some reading on the death penalty, too. 😉

  • Christopher Ray

    Doctrine de-emphasized is doctrine undermined.
    Appearance is often reality, especially in the modern world.

  • John Servorum

    Faith means “you stay”. 

    I like that. In fact I like it a lot.

    I’m staying because when the Lord returns he will return for his Church.

  • Tater Spivey

    these so called man made traditions that are being treated with such disdain were given to us by people who were far more Holy and know God far more intimately than anyone on this blog does. they were intended to communicate truths about God to us so that we would come to know Him better. that those who disdain them have become so deaf as to know how to listen or so blind as to know how to see and read them and know what they are there to tell us is to our shame and shame on us all for treating them like they are the problem.

    I don’t blame him for feeling like leaving but the fact is there is no where else to go because like it or not this pathetic group are the sick that the hospital of the Church established by Jesus Christ is here to heal.

    The Saints of the past can show us how to live through times that are tough its not like the Church has not been here before and doesn’t have some wisdom to share to make this go around easier for us if we weren’t deaf, dumb and blind.

    We can become Saints is anyone is willing to look and see, listen and hear.

    • RodH

      “THE Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.” Hilaire Beloc.

      I, too am staying, mostly for the reason that I truly believe the Church is the only Church…and I’ve spent a lifetime studying the options and partly because I am drawn to struggle, but Hilarious Hilaire was…right. Thank God I have a FSSP parish only about a couple hours away. Praise God!!

  • anna lisa

    I wanted to be like the perfect ones, the ones I read about in all of our 30 bookcases, –but I was naive, and only pregnant with my first son.

    Six sons, and two daughters later, plus the ones we’ve buried–I can only thank God that he chose a humble man to address, saying “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

  • Cuf of Coppee

    This letter is the sad result of papolotry that has been going around for the last few generations. If you find yourself agreeing with someone who ridicules a fellow Catholic as being ‘more Catholic than the Pope’ then you know you are infected with Papolotry.

    Newsflash: The Pope has never been the standard of Catholicity. It’s not Church teaching – never has been, never will. Yet, when you watch or listen to ‘conservative Catholic’ media you would think the Pope is the Faith. Simply not true. This letter writer is a casualty of this mindset. Please pray for him or her.

    • RodH

      I hate the term, but many “conservative” Catholics do indeed seem unable to even observe facts about the Pope and describe what they see without twisting the obvious shortcoming into a full positive. I’ve spoken to Catholics who cannot even make a statement about Pope St John Paul 2 kissing the Koran!

      As a convert, one who finds the Traditionalist expression of the faith the closest to the teachings of the Church, I marvel at this irrational fear. I marvel at the bizarre need some feel to, well, declare the Emperor clad in robes of purple when he is in fact bare-bones nek’ed as a jaybird. Must “good Catholics” all just repeat the mantra? When they see a car must they call it a motorcycle just cuz?

      We have a duty to obey at the proper time a Pope. We have the responsibility to listen and take seriously the words of a Pope. But we are not barred from observing facts. This current Pope has given us many facts to observe, and some of those facts are grievous to bear.

      I seriously hope we have Bishops evaluating and studying what is appropriate should this Pope “go too far”. Frankly, I and many others think he clearly already has.

  • James B

    I’d never even dream of despairing to the point that I’d leave the Catholic Faith. But I’m sorry, and God help us all, Pope Francis is a disaster.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    The idea that the Holy Spirit chooses the Pope, that the Conclave shares in some way in Papal Infallibility, is a common belief. It is a pious superstition.

    No Catholic’s faith should be shaken by the election of a mediocrity (or worse) as Pope, just as no Catholic’s faith should be shaken because people get sick, have accidents, or die. Jesus never promised that such things would not happen.

    The Pope has no knowledge or understanding of economics. Virtually everything he has proposed in the field of economic policy can be guaranteed, by those who DO understand economics, to create suffering, poverty, misery, and destruction.

    In the field of public policy, the greatest scandal of this papacy is the Pope’s endorsement of the Global Warming Hoax. The globe just entered its 21st year with NO WARMING. And the measures it is claimed will ameliorate global warming will impoverish and kill millions of people. Perhaps a billion people in a decade.

    • AMA

      Having worked in the natural resources world for over 30 years during which time I observed, read and restored, I never see the anti-climate change science but constantly hear others disclaim research. What I am lead to believe is that if this affect of over consumption reigns in the Country’s economic engine, it must not be trusted. Christ required his followers to embrace poverty. John wrote about Apocalyptic angels given power to harm the earth. Perhaps those who perform earth care marvel at God’s glory and try to honor Him by treating it with respect and restraint.

      • ArthurMcGowan

        “Christ required his followers to embrace poverty.”

        What? WHAT?

        • Andy

          “A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why doyou call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’ He replied, ‘I have kept all these since my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'” [Lk. 18:18-23] One can argue then that to truly follow God and Jesus that one should give all that he has to support the poor and thus become poor.

          • Stu

            Alternatively, he was asking the young man to give up that which he valued more than God. For some it is riches, for others it is something else. It’s a matter of which form of idolatry challenges us. Even Joseph of Arimethea was wealthy. It’s what you do with those riches that God gave you that matters.

            • Andy

              Both interpretations are valid I agree – indeed it is what we do that determines how Gid will see us.

      • LFM

        So, do you think that the rich world should be trying to secure for the poor one more food, better shelter, more comfortable living conditions (i.e. air-conditioning and central heating), cleaner water and flushable toilets, or not? Because it is not really possible to provide those things without abundant supplies of goods and the energy required to produce and distribute them.

        It is of course possible to live without these things, but should we blame the poor for wanting to acquire them too? The Church, and indeed many Catholics, have curious ideas about poverty (not wrong; I said “curious”), in that they think it is a terrible thing, one of the worst things in the world, and a wonderful thing as well. I understand this and admire it, but the idea that poverty is in some sense a wonderful thing was never – I think (?) – intended to imply that society should shut down the means that might help people to become richer, which is what the kind of drastic cutting of carbon-based sources of energy proposed by global-warming activists could entail.

        None of the alternative solutions proposed look very promising, I mean, ethanol? Wind farms? Are these people *serious*? The one atmospherically clean and abundant alternative, nuclear energy, is too genuinely dangerous to be widely adopted.

  • pete

    I’m concerned that Pope Francis has been appointing liberal bishops and cardinals. Ones that say things like same sex couples should be blessed, or same sex couples can go to communion if their conscience lets them, and on and on. Cardinals from belgium, germany, holland, and even right here in america. How the most liberal bishops were given invites to the synod, some known for heretical sayings. This does not portend well for the future, or the next conclave. And all interviews seem to come from liberal outlets like America magazine and the atheist italian from the very liberal newspaper that is the only one the Pope reads, so he says. The Pope is liberal, there is no denying that. He does not seem to be for same sex marriage, but many of his favorites around him seem lenient on the subject. I pray for the Pope. There are things I’ve learned from him, but I’m concerned his friends and appointees will take things even further in the future, after Pope Francis is gone.

    • SD

      Ignore all that. Just close your eyes.

    • LM

      “He (Pope Francis) does not seem to be for same sex marriage…”
      Then I have to ask why he does not explicitly say so, and condemn homosexual acts which are being celebrated via the same-sex “marriage” ruling? ‘Does not seem to be’ is correct. ‘Seem’ tells us nothing. How do we actually know what the pope thinks of this very divisive secular issue? He won’t say so. WHY doesn’t Pope Francis lead on this issue on Christ’s teachings on what marriage is, rather than surrounding himself with bishops and cardinals who want the Church to soften Church teaching on it? To do so would lead people into sin.

      • pete

        LM, i say he does not seem to be for it because he has given several talks where he says that marriage is between a man and a woman. He teaches on complementarity. He speaks out against gender ideology, and ideological colonization on the subject. What he said as a cardinal also seems to show he is not for it.

        What he does not do, as you say, is emphasize church teaching on homosexual acts. He seems to give upmost respect to people and free will, and doesn’t seem to want to seem harsh. He does not emphasize repentance, but that is not only on this issue. He emphasizes mercy, which we all want and need, but not repentance. He seems to leave the go and sin no more part off.

        I think that his emphasis on mercy is great, but think that if he spoke of repentance also he would soothe a lot of nervousness that people have.

        I agree that his promotion of those clerics who are soft on homosexuality is very concerning. I am trying to understand Pope Francis’ methods, but I’m afraid I’m like a lot of others, confused. I keep praying for him.

  • jenmikeolson

    Oh Mark, that was beautiful! This has been such a hard time for so many of our brothers and sisters, ourselves as well. Somethings really can shake us to the core. But this is why Christ must be the cornerstone of our faith. You have spoken well, as you so often do. Which is why I always look forward to your articles. Thank you so much for your “yes” to God, and thanks be to God for the wonderful gifts He has given you. I so appreciate that you share them with us. God bless!

  • teo

    Although I would agree with Mark’s thesis (no heresy from this pope, so get over yourself) I still have my doubts about this pope’s ability to communicate to me the faith. I have read his second encyclical but found some of it poorly explained. (Some of it written like my 10 grade students’ term papers.) But, even though he doesn’t speak heresy I can still find his comments confusing and the omissions of things problematic. Examples, He once said that, “the two greatest evils in the world are: youth unemployment and old people that are lonely.” Ok, i’m trying to wrap my brain around that. Rape, murder, enslavement? And more recently he said publicly that the Mayor of Roma (former) is a pretend catholic (or he pretends to be catholic). Stunned. Like i never thought i would hear a priest, bishop (or pope!) ever refer to a particular catholic as a pretend catholic. Now- not heresy but sorry Mark, he still turns me off on these things even though i read his stuff.

    • Cypressclimber

      Mr. Shea is very heavily invested in the All is Well (TM) thesis regarding Pope Francis. So he sets the bar thusly: as long as the pope never denies the Faith, then all is well; and anyone who says otherwise is “hysterical” or “hates his guts.”

      • Heather

        Mark is not talking about people who have disagreements with the current Pope’s communication style, or disagreements with his genuinely prudential opinions on genuinely prudential matters. He is talking about those who think the current pope is “a socialist nutcase” or an avowed heretic who is desperately trying to destroy Church teaching on the family. You can express your distaste for his personal rhetorical style all you want, that’s fine. But calling him a nutcase or a cackling monster or the worst pope since Alexander VI or whatever IS kind of hysterical.

        • Cypressclimber

          The problem I have with Mr. Shea is that when people offer disagreements over the “Pope’s communication style, or (express) disagreements with his genuinely prudential opinions…” — as well as express concerns over his governance, he jams his fingers in his ears and sings loudly, “nananaNA, I can’t HEAR YOU!” But as soon as someone raises the heresy issue, then his hearing is acute, and he pounces. He just dismisses the possibility of any problems, any misjudgments, and highlights anything extreme or screwy, as if to say, see, THAT is what the pope’s critics are like.

          I do NOT like offering any criticism of the holy father. Beyond the nutballs — they exist — are lots of faithful Catholics who have really tried to understand and make every allowance.

          But Mr. Shea’s “All is well” theme no longer works.

          When the crazy atheist coot at La Repubblica claims the pope told him, all divorced Catholics who ask will be readmitted to communion, the overworked papal spokesman comes out and says, hmm, er, well, that’s not exactly right.

          Here’s a question anyone but Mr. “All is well” Shea reasonably ask: why in the world is the pope giving interviews to this crackpot, when (according to the Vatican), he always gets the story wrong? Really, how many times are we going to hear the excuse, “how dare you blame the poor pope, he’s just grossly misunderstood”?

          I love the pope; I pray for him. But he is making some very strange decisions. And a number of his episcopal preferences are troubling. No, all is NOT well.

        • Stu

          I think we often do collateral damage to the latter group when addressing the former. I also think that referring to the concerns of some, even if they are extreme, as “hysterical” or other such ways is counterproductive. How many of us would respond well to be told to “calm down and be reasonable. You are being hysterical.” Even those who come to some extreme conclusions have some concerns that are weighing on them. Shouldn’t we work to bring them back? Isn’t that something that Papa tells us? I have a guy right now that I am discussing some issues with who goes to my parish who has come to some very wild conclusions about the Pope and is almost sedevacantist. I need to bring him around, not fuel it by dismissing him or making light of him.

          I also believe that by not focusing on the more reasonable concerns of this pontificate, we fail to set a good example for that same extreme group.

          I absolutely applaud this post by Mark. I don’t agree with every point he has made exactly but I love the style. I’m also sorry that when does something like this and take some shots int he combox by some of the more extreme voice that I haven’t been able to back him up. It’s just a matter of bad timing and I am busy. Regardless, I think reasonable an calm engagement is the answer.

    • > I can still find his comments confusing and the omissions of things problematic.

      It happens to me with all the popes. Also with bishops, priests, lay bloggers, lawyers, engineers and taxi drives. Also with me, when I re read myself.

      > Examples, He once said that, “the two greatest evils in the world are: youth unemployment and old people that are lonely.” Ok, i’m trying to wrap my brain around that. Rape, murder, enslavement?

      What an example! There’s a discipline called rethoric, which teaches about figures of speaking, including hyperbole. Google for “there’s nothing worse than” and see some examples; say, this page (at random) : http://associatesmind.com/2011/06/28/avoid-hyperbole/ starts “There is nothing worse than reading a brief that is filled to the brim with over-the-top exposition and exploitive narrative detail. ” (ironically, the page is titled “avoid hyperbole”).
      When a human says “there’s nothing worse than” (or the “two the two greatest evils in the world are” … or “Our chief weapon is surprise”) humans are expected to not read it literallisticaly. The speaker is not saying that he has compiled a ranking of all the evils in the world and declares that, all things considered, these two evils win the top.

      Jesus, by the way, often resorted to hyperboles (not to mention confusing comments and curious omissions).

      > And more recently he said publicly that the Mayor of Roma (former) is a pretend catholic (or he pretends to be catholic).

      There’s nothing worse than to trust the media 🙂

      • teo

        ” There’s NOTHING WORSE than to trust the media 🙂 ”

        Is that ‘hyperbole’, ‘a discipline called rhetoric’ or to be read ‘literallisticaly’??? (peace).

  • Jim M.

    I like the way this pope realizes the power he has to change everything.
    He’s so free. All doctrines, dogmas, and theological traditions which
    stand in the way of his all-encompassing and liberating perspective must
    be set aside. There is no sin, only mercy. And Eucharist is always for everyone, no one is to be excluded. It is difficult, though, to adjust to the realization
    that the church has been so very wrong all this time about almost
    everything. But Francis is here now. It’s going to be alright. He’s
    like the Second Coming, or maybe he’s the “Elijah” who heralds the
    coming of The Christ. And before that time we’ll understand that that
    everyone and everything is already Catholic, has always been Catholic,
    so there will be no exclusion, and we can all love each other, and there
    will be no male or female, straight or gay, married or unmarried,
    sinner or saint, Marxist or Fascist, Muslim or Christian. We are all one now and Hell has been emptied and destroyed by Pope St. Francis.

    • Heather

      The hysteria is strong with this one.

      • Jim M.

        We must overcome the illusion of contradiction. There is no heresy because Francis has made all things true. Just as Jesus fulfilled the law of the Jews, Francis fulfills the law of the Catholics.

    • “and there will be no male or female, straight or gay, married or unmarried,
      sinner or saint, Marxist or Fascist, Muslim or Christian. ”

      Interesting choice of words, there.

      “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor
      freeman, there can be neither male nor female — for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    • Faith

      Right on, Jim M. We will now be able to reach the Omega Point with the help of our master, His Holiness Pope Francis I.

    • Artevelde

      Actually, Pope Francis has argued against the idea that male and female are social constructs. You, on the other hand, seem to believe they are.

    • CSmith

      heh. Nice bit of satire

  • Willard

    There was a certain type of Catholic who thought the Church should be the religious wing of the Republican Party. Pope Francis has disabused them of that notion and they are mad about it.

    • LFM

      Piffle. Many Catholics are upset about or bewildered by Francis and most of them are not even American, nor right-wing in any sense a Republican would understand. Will you folks (Americans), Right or Left, never get over thinking that it is always about you?

    • Peter

      Francis opposes the right and the left. The final working document has several references to Humana Vitae. The problem is that people have politicized the Church. The Catholic is unabashedly pro-life and pro marriage. We are also against laissez-fairre capitalism.

    • Therese

      Again, you are judging the motivations and heart of others. Shameful.

  • orual’s kindred

    If what the Church says is unchangeable is indeed altered, why should any of all the other teachings still be considered true and binding? If the Church proves false in one matter, how can She be considered trustworthy in another? What even is marriage? Is there such a thing? Who is this Holy Spirit that supposedly guides the institution? Does such a Being exist? Is there a God at all? In such a scenario, I would ask in what way Pope Francis could be said to be leading people astray. I would think that, if all this is true, Pope Francis is doing everyone a favor!

    Which is more likely? That Jesus Christ and the apostles, martyrs, and saints are a pack of liars, or that I am wrong about something somewhere and need to rethink the unspoken assumptions and demands I placed on God without ever asking?

    From the comment thread, people are behaving in a way that says their answer is not the latter. People are aghast at the suggestion that Christ requires His followers to embrace poverty; describing socialism as the worst possible evil the world has and will ever see; recoiling at the call to support wounded families; dumbfounded by the very idea of welcoming sinners into the Church. I often wonder if such people would ever openly blame Our Lord for this current mess.

    Many such people ask why self-described leftist Catholics still call themselves Catholics. I think the question could be asked of them in turn, since their words and actions speak of their conviction that the Church has been overcome by a man-made ideology, and that Jesus Christ was, at best, a bumbling fool worthy of contempt. Their words and actions all but say outright that he his an ineffective leader, and his methods just aren’t what’s needed to get things done. His commands can’t get things done. I wonder how many even consider Him worthy of attention. And yes, I am aware that many such people decry the harshness and cruelty of others who are driving them away from the Faith, and even damning them to hell.

    As such, perhaps lectures and argument may not always be an effective means to reach and engage such people. However, I do trust in the Church’s teaching in regards to prayer. So I hope and pray that such people come to know and love Jesus Christ, as fully and as most pleasing to Him, in the Catholic Church which He instituted. The Church is not a lie and Our Lord is not an imbecile. He may not be the manager that such people would prefer Him to be, but praise God, He is better. He is God. And, as someone who such people most likely consider a socialist kumbaya heretic, I hope and pray that each and every one of them receive the loving, righteous mercy that Our Lord offers. And I hope that all of us may one day enter into the joy of Heaven, where all of us are healed, and where loving one another will no longer involve frustration,bitterness, and sorrow.

    • Andy

      Very powerful, thank you for articulating what I feel/felt.

      • orual’s kindred

        And I humbly thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry that I only got around to saying that! I got distracted by work, and then I got sick.

    • Therese

      I have to respond. I find the premise of your argument, that people who are having difficulty with Pope Francis’ style, words and actions confusing at best are being driven by selfish, greedy, legalistic motivation. That is being extremely judgmental of motivation, which is the sin Jesus condemns. You have no idea of where there hearts are, you don’t even know their daily actions. Yet you condemn them.
      You don’t have a clue as to how these Catholics spend their time or their treasure, yet you condemn them. I think you might need to re-assess your own motives before condemning others.

      • orual’s kindred

        Interestingly, I see none of what I said in your comment. What I said had to do with specific sentiments expressed in the post as well as in the comment thread. The reader who wrote Mark Shea says “Maybe the Holy Spirt does not guide the Church in these matters? Maybe it was a lie?” because he (or she) is convinced that “we have a socialist nutcase in charge.”

        What I wrote in my comment regards how such expressions effectively measure the authority of Church by some standard other than what Our Lord promised. My mention of any confusion with Pope Francis is tangential, because it is. What I wrote concerns people who, whether they realize it or not, by their words and actions place their trust on things other than God.

        I said nothing about whether anyone and everyone who is confused by Pope Francis is “being driven by selfish, greedy, legalistic motivation.” I said nothing of the sort because that is neither what I think nor what I intended to discuss in my comment. And to be clear, I do in fact think there are people who are honestly confused and/or have been grossly misled regarding Pope Francis; just as I think there are people who are honestly confused and/or have been grossly misled with regards to Pope Benedict XVI and other previous popes.

        I said nothing about intentions or making judgments. It was you who did. And if you insist that what I was doing was making judgments or condemning people, instead of pointing out error (as some in the thread have said is the proper response to error) then perhaps the person falsely imputing intentions on other people is you. Notice that even here I make no definitive statement regarding your intentions. I don’t know your intentions, and no, I cannot read minds or hearts. I won’t even try to make any speculations. However, if you choose to misinterpret my words (and, just to reiterate for clarity, I said if), then that’s a choice that you make; which, it would seem, I cannot force nor prevent you from making.

  • Wesley Vincent

    The epitome of your writing. This is a powerful presentation of correct Catholic thought.

  • Artevelde

    Today we seem to have mostly people visiting who are ranting against the pope, proclaiming the prosperity gospel and/or conjuring up a doctrine of election straight from the darkest corners of five point Calvinism. Which Patheos Channel is this again?

  • Bemused

    Far, far, far too many people (often even people in the Church itself) have made the mistake of conflating worldly power and spiritual power. The Church should not be, at it’s heart, a political body. The Church, in part, is meant to be a voice and a refuge for the voiceless and the powerless. It is not meant to be a support for the rich and the powerful (though it often is) or for a worldly government. I have sat in more than one mass where the priest told the parishioners who to vote for. I have been in religious classrooms where the priest or nun taught politics, not morals. It isn’t surprising, then, that people confuse church moral positions with their own political positions and feel as though they can generalize that feeling to the rest of their political positions, even ones that do not line up with Church morality. It is no wonder that they are then surprised and disappointed to find themselves on the “wrong” side of an issue addressed by the Church.

    I had a conversation with a priest once about doubt. As a result of that conversion, I reached a conclusion that has held steady for 2 decades. People who have never doubted have had their faith come easily and, for some, as result, shallowly. People who have held to faith despite and sometimes because of or after traveling through doubt, often have a deeper faith in the end that is not so easily shaken. The self-perpetuating power-structure of the Church sometimes has clay feet, but that doesn’t mean that the theology doesn’t shine. And people, as much as they don’t like to think it of themselves, will never be perfect in how they weigh the religious and the worldly, so there will almost always be doubts and conflicts that they have to resolve internally. And maybe it’s important to look at our values every so often and really think if the beliefs we are so comfortable with are actually congruent with what we say we believe. If one holds values that are not congruent with the Church when one maintains that they are entirely congruent, one should probably think long and hard about that. Maybe it isn’t always the Church that isn’t consistent with itself. (and maybe one’s worldly values don’t always need to match a worldly interaction that the Church has, given some of the, um, less than graceful actions the Church has taken on a worldly stage in the past *horror*. 😛 )

    I’m not Catholic because I believe every single thing that comes out of the mouth of a priest (even one as exalted as the Pope) or that the Church has been infallible in every worldly interaction. I’m Catholic because I believe that the church is The Church and that the core values it contains are the most Truthful ones.

    • Re_Actor

      Far, far, far too many people (often even people in the Church itself) have made the mistake of conflating worldly power and spiritual power. The Church should not be, at it’s heart, a political body. The Church, in part, is meant to be a voice and a refuge for the voiceless and the powerless. It is not meant to be a support for the rich and the powerful (though it often is) or for a worldly government. I have sat in more than one mass where the priest told the parishioners who to vote for. I have been in religious classrooms where the priest or nun taught politics, not morals. It isn’t surprising, then, that people confuse church moral positions with their own political positions and feel as though they can generalize that feeling to the rest of their political positions, even ones that do not line up with Church morality. It is no wonder that they are then surprised and disappointed to find themselves on the “wrong” side of an issue addressed by the Church.

      I don’t think any Catholic would quarrel with any of that in principle. The trouble is, ethical principles, put forward with all the Church’s spiritual authority, have to be put into practice somehow; so the Church cannot remain entirely aloof from the business of politics. And because we live in a fallen world, the business of politics is always going to be a messy one, in which perfection is impossible. Politics is the art of the possible — we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got.

      Unfortunately — again because we live in a fallen world — this politics all too easily degenerates into sloganeering which is less concerned with articulating thoughtful moral concern than with moral status-signalling as a surreptitious way of exercising the will to power.

      • Bemused

        It is, in part, a moral calculation, but in that calculation no one is going to be pure and no set of political beliefs is going to be pure. If people don’t make their peace with that, they are bound to carry illusions about their own righteousness and then feel disillusioned if they discover that the church is in a moral place that does not match up with a person’s political beliefs.

  • Lazarus

    An important and timeous discussion.

  • Thomistmuse

    I concur with the encouragement you give. But it is not impossible for a pope to be a poor pope. Nor is it a settled question whether a pope can be an antipope by reason of heresy rather than by reason solely of invalid election. Bellarmine rejected this possibility, but admitted most of the Fathers thought it real, and so he developed an account of what would be the case were it to be true. Cajetan and Suarez thought it possible, and developed different accounts. The cavalier errors of this pontificate in doctrinal reference–short of promulgation, but misleading and dispiriting–combine with what certainly look like errors of prudence, so as to suggest principally simply a poor pope. But this pope seems constantly on the verge of breaking out into enthusiasm for things the Church universally rejects, and that is novel. Your friend needs to be encouraged to stay, and to pray, and hope, but also to realize that it is no part of our faith that trials will not come, or that all popes will be good, or even that antipopes are impossible…

  • Guest_august

    Excuse me!
    For a Catholic Pope to describe a fellow Catholic as “Gay”, is in itself heresy.
    What is “Gay”? Where is the word “Gay” in the Catechism or in 2000 year history of the Catholic Church?
    Is it not clear that the declaration on the plane in 2013, was a heretical declaration?
    And it does not matter in this instance whether formal or not. Heresy is heresy.

    • Jacob Suggs

      Regarding: “For a Catholic Pope to describe a fellow Catholic as “Gay”, is in itself heresy.”

      …why? Forgive me if I don’t accept that the Pope is a heretic on your word alone, but require, at minimum, you to actually say what doctrine he has purportedly contradicted. The fact that you don’t like the way that words are used or that the way that words are used have changed is irrelevant, by the way.

      Also, do you have any idea what was actually said on that plane?

      • Heather

        Because if the Pope doesn’t use the right Culture War shibboleths, it means he’s a heretic. Because shut up.

    • Jim the Scott

      >For a Catholic Pope to describe a fellow Catholic as “Gay”, is in itself heresy.

      Which Pope & or which council ratified by a Pope defined this heresy and forever prohibited use of the term “gay” as an adjective for SSA?

      Well?

      >What is “Gay”? Where is the word “Gay” in the Catechism or in 2000 year history of the Catholic Church?

      The same place as is your phantom doctrine that the use of the term “gay” is heretical. Out the back of your arse.

      >Is it not clear that the declaration on the plane in 2013, was a heretical declaration?

      Only to brain dead papal bashing fags such as yourself.

      >And it does not matter in this instance whether formal or not. Heresy is heresy.

      It is heresy to assume the powers of the Pope to bind and loose what no Pope has bound and loosed.

      There is no doctrine that says you can’t call SSA people “gay”.

      Deal with it prot boy.

  • Chris Ferrara

    As Francis declared in his final address to the Synod he stacked with 45 personally appointed progressives, who were still unable to deliver the goods because of united conservative opposition to the atrocious Instrumentum he attempted to shove down their collective throat: “It [the Synod] was also about laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”

    Query: How does one “hide behind” Church teaching, which is the revealed truth, and good intentions, which are praiseworthy?

    Query: What is it that Francis claims these episcopal hearts are closed to, seeing that they defend the truth and have good intentions?

    Query: How are the “closed hearts” who “hide behind” Church teaching acting like Moses, when it was Moses who tolerated divorce while the “closed hearts” at the Synod refused to open the door to acceptance of what Christ definitively abolished?

    Query: What is exactly is “superior” and “superficial” about the judgments of the “closed hearts” in their view of “difficult cases” and “wounded families”?

    The claim that Francis has said and done nothing contrary to sound orthodoxy is sheer self-delusion. His entire pontificate has been a relentless, demagogic assault on “doctors of the law” and “Pharisees” who are actually defenders of the very doctrine Christ revealed in OPPOSITION to the doctors of the law and the Pharisees.

    As Bishop Schneider has so rightly observed, this was the “Synod on adultery,” not the Synod on the Family, and its agenda was a kind of neo-Mosaic return to laxity respecting divorce.

    Give us a break, Mr. Shea.

    • Pope Francis is the one doing the hiding – hiding behind ambiguities. More families will be “wounded” as a result of these ambiguities.

    • sancho

      You know, Mr Ferrara, if Mark Shea identified himself in his blog as part of a ‘remnant’ I would be much more suspicious of him. He tends to be much more inclusive, like Christ and incidentally, Pope Francis as well.

      • Chris Ferrara

        This is another example of the prevailing boo-hiss mentality.

        • sancho

          And ad hominem argumentation is a logical fallacy.

          • Chris Ferrara

            Which is precisely the argument you have just made: ignore the merits of my comment and urge everyone to boo and hiss because I write for a newspaper called The Remnant, which means I am a real meanie who is not inclusive. Boo. Hiss.

            • Jim the Scott

              When it comes to ambiguity, lawyer boy you are worse than Vatican II.

              What “argument”?

    • Jim the Scott

      >The claim that Francis has said and done nothing contrary to sound orthodoxy is sheer self-delusion.

      Ambiguous nonsense. You can’t have it both ways. Heresy is a clear phenomena. Clearly there has been no clear reversal of Church teaching on giving communion to those in invalid “marriages” nor a change in a single doctrine.

      >His entire pontificate has been a relentless, demagogic assault on “doctors of the law” and “Pharisees” who are actually defenders of the very doctrine Christ revealed in OPPOSITION to the doctors of the law and the Pharisees.

      So what was Jesus’ excuse then bagging on the doctors of the law and the Pharisees? Because logic dictates whatever Jesus was bagging on about then Francis is on about it too.

      >As Bishop Schneider has so rightly observed, this was the “Synod on adultery,” not the Synod on the Family, and its agenda was a kind of neo-Mosaic return to laxity respecting divorce.

      Quote”It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”

      Where would you uber trads be without your conspiracy theories?

      • Chris Ferrara

        Uber trads. Conspiracy theories. Not inclusive. Boo hiss.

        I happily join Bishop Athanasius Schneider in the camp of the uber trads. You just on booing and hissing.

        • Jim the Scott

          I answered you buddy. As for your accusations of “boo hiss” project much?

        • chezami

          The incredible capacity of Reactionaries for self-involved narcissistic buttheart is breathtaking. An entire letter on the joy of the gospel and the *only* thing Reactionaries get from it–the only thing–is a passing reference (in the midst of a catalog of challenges to evangelism) to self-aborbed promethean neopelagianism. And for *months* after that, all the narcissists in Trad circles can do is whine, bitch, and moan because the pope was so mean. Boo hoo. Hiss!

          A world needs evangelizing and you crybabies are completely AWOL. All you care about is yourselves.

          • Stu

            Mark,

            Let’s be honest. There is more than just that one remark from the Pope over the last few years. As one of your cohorts even remarked, the Pope can be a bit of a “blabbermouth” in such things. Seems to me that he has singled out a certain group for critique on a routine basis.

            Should we get worked up about it? If it is warranted, I suppose. But at least for me, I don’t think much of it is so I tend to shrug it off. Just like when my own Bishop told me to my face that the reason that we like the Old Mass is because it’s “like children playing dress up in the attic with their grandparents old clothing.” Shrug it of and move along but let’s not deny that these things are being said.

            And if you accuse me of looking for pity, then I will shrug that off too.

            • chezami

              I repeat. A man is drowning. Reactionaries show up in droves to throw him a series of anchors, lead weights and millstones. Because it is *far* more important to these narcissists that they win a culture war argument and reinforce the barricades of Fortress Katolicus than that one of Christ’s little ones lose his faith. It will go heavy in the judgment with these people, warns our Lord.

              • Re_Actor

                But does it really help to fend off despair by pinning one’s hopes on the personal qualities of a particular pope and damning all criticism of him? Why die on this hill when you’ve already cited Alexander VI to show that Christ, not the pope, is the summit of the Faith? Might it not be more prudent (not to mention charitable to all concerned) to simply say, “Look, I think you’re dead wrong about Francis. I think he’s a terrific pope, a true shepherd. But even if he did turn out to be the ‘socialist nutcase’ you fear, that would be no cause to despair — because Christ, not the pope, is the summit of the Faith”?

              • Stu

                Do I have to repeat from below where I applauded this post from you? Do I have to repeat from above where I chided Chris?

                I responded to one small comment you made. That’s all. Can we actually discuss things and share ideas without all the hyperbole?

            • Mike Blackadder

              Francis definitely has a theme in where he directs his criticism. He has a message which is that the faith is not about being comfortable sitting in the pews of your church and doing nothing else. Many people are highly insulted that Francis would direct his criticism at the pew-sitters, even blaming them it seems that others fall away from the church. It’s not fair, disproportionate, missing the fact that these pew sitters are hanging on by a thread trying to stand up for the faith against the culture of death of abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, relativism. Still there is urgency to the objective of saving souls. He doesn’t need an army of pew sitters but an army of evangelists. It seems to me that despite it being disproportionate, he sees where change needs to come from.

      • Re_Actor

        Clearly there has been no clear reversal of Church teaching on giving communion to those in invalid “marriages” nor a change in a single doctrine.

        “Clearly Sacrosanctum concilium gave no clear mandate for the abandonment of Latin, improvised liturgies, communion in the hand, altar girls, clown masses, etc, nor a change in a single doctrine.”

        • Jim the Scott

          >Clearly Sacrosanctum concilium gave no clear mandate for the abandonment of Latin, improvised liturgies, communion in the hand, altar girls, clown masses, etc, nor a change in a single doctrine.”

          So what?

          • Re_Actor

            So the ambiguity of these conciliar or synodal pronouncements cuts both ways. It allows one to say that doctrinal indefectibility has been duly maintained — nothing heterodox, still less heretical, is explicitly called for. But it also allows doctrinal purity to be rendered effectively irrelevant by the apostles of heteropraxis in high places. On one level, that of Catholic doctrine, nothing has been changed; on the level where Catholics think and feel and act, it might as well have been. What is this if not Modernism in action?

            It’s a brilliant strategy because it neutralises potential resistance from the ‘centrist orthodox’ bloc (formerly known as the ‘conservatives’), who can shut their eyes to rampant heteropraxis and robotically intone their mantra “No doctrine has been officially changed, no heresy has been officially promulgated” — as though that matters.

            (It is wonderful how far these people will go to keep the narrative afloat. Witness Mr Suggs’ reply to Mr Ferrara above wherein he speculates that Pope Francis, in condemning ‘closed-hearted individuals hiding behind Church teaching’, might actually be referring to those who appropriate the language of Christian mercy to justify adulterous communions! To his credit, Mr Suggs himself comes close to acknowledging the absurdity of this.)

            • Jim the Scott

              >So the ambiguity of these conciliar or synodal pronouncements cuts both ways.

              No comparison since the conciliar documents you cite mention discipline not doctrine. Discipline can change, has changed and will change.
              Paul VI can suppress the Mass of St Pius V & had done so. St JP2 restored it to some extent. B16 went further than St JP2 and gave every latin rite Priest the right to say theold Mass and contrary to radtrad hysteria Francis doesn’t seem to want to reverse b16 and went further than the former Pope in reconciling the SSPX to the church.

              I only care about doctrine. If Francis pulled a Paul VI on the Old Mass I would say that was a dumb move but I would also say he has the absolute right to make that dumb move. But I wouldn’t personally care which Mass is said as long as it’s a Mass. It’s the same sacrament and salvation Novis Ordo or Old Mass. In fact an Anglican High “Mass” may from a classic aesthetics view make look more pretty than a dull ICEL Paul VI mass except it would be 100% useless being celebrated by men Pope Leo XIII said are not real Priests.

              > It allows one to say that doctrinal indefectibility has been duly maintained — nothing heterodox, still less heretical, is explicitly called for. But it also allows doctrinal purity to be rendered effectively irrelevant by the apostles of heteropraxis in high places.

              No that is stupid and idiotic. Doctrinal purity is effected by the brute fact the liberals where the ones running around teaching their version of the Faith. If you teach orthodoxy it ABSOLUTELY does not matter which Mass you use. Scott Hahn learning doctrinal history and seeing a mere Paul VI Mass was converted to the Catholic faith.

              Trads don’t really convert people. Rather they just pick up persons already converted to the Faith who want something more fancy. I don’t begrudge that to them but I think it short sighted to think that merely changing the liturgy will fix one thing. I won’t.

              >On one level, that of Catholic doctrine, nothing has been changed; on the level where Catholics think and feel and act, it might as well have been. What is this if not Modernism in action?

              Catholics rely on feeling not thinking. Modernism thrives where the Faith is not taught. There had been liberal Old Catholic Churches I’ve read about with female Priests and latin Masses. Old Masses are no substitute for actually teaching the faith.

              >It’s a brilliant strategy because it neutralises potential resistance from the ‘centrist orthodox’ bloc (formerly known as the ‘conservatives’), who can shut their eyes to rampant heteropraxis and robotically intone their mantra “No doctrine has been officially changed, no heresy has been officially promulgated” — as though that matters.

              Conservatives make most of the converts because they are mature enough to go to war with the army they have to kick arse. Trad fags sit on their butts crying over the army they wished they had and refuse to fight (except to undermine the conservatives and encourage loss of Faith).

              There are rare exceptions but that is the rule.

              >(It is wonderful how far these people will go to keep the narrative afloat. Witness Mr Suggs’ reply to Mr Ferrara above wherein he speculates that Pope Francis, in condemning ‘closed-hearted individuals hiding behind Church teaching’, might actually be referring to those who appropriate the language of Christian mercy to justify adulterous communions! To his credit, Mr Suggs himself comes close to acknowledging the absurdity of this.)

              Rather Radtrads have guilty consciences that is all. They are busy bitching over legalistic nonsense instead of taking the world for Christ. They spend ten times more of their energy attacking fellow orthodox Catholics who don’t share their obsession with the old liturgy then they do the modernist freaks.

              Conservatives actually convert people. Trads merely leach off their labor.

              • Re_Actor

                No comparison since the conciliar documents you cite mention discipline not doctrine. Discipline can change, has changed and will change. … I only care about doctrine.

                My point was that one doesn’t need to change a word of doctrine to render it otiose. The right change of discipline is sufficient. For example: I think trads make a good case that the New Order of Mass contributed to a decline in Catholic belief in the Real Presence, the result of intrinsic defects in the rite and irreverent celebrations that were allowed to proliferate unchecked. Whether you agree with this assessment is irrelevant — the essential point is that my opinion doesn’t require that I claim Paul VI changed or desired to change or could have changed Catholic teaching on the Real Presence.

                It allows one to say that doctrinal indefectibility has been duly maintained — nothing heterodox, still less heretical, is explicitly called for. But it also allows doctrinal purity to be rendered effectively irrelevant by the apostles of heteropraxis in high places.

                No that is stupid and idiotic. Doctrinal purity is effected by the brute fact the liberals where the ones running around teaching their version of the Faith.

                And why were they allowed to run around with impunity?

                If you teach orthodoxy it ABSOLUTELY does not matter which Mass you use. Scott Hahn learning doctrinal history and seeing a mere Paul VI Mass was converted to the Catholic faith.

                Good for Scott Hahn. What about all the simple folk in the pews who weren’t being taught orthodoxy? Who were instead informed by their parish priest (as I was) that angels didn’t exist, that Mary never said the Magnificat and that Jesus didn’t really perform any miracles? Who thus had no intellectual defences to sustain them when they felt a natural revulsion from faggy liturgies?

                Catholics rely on feeling not thinking. …

                I’m guessing that’s a slip of the keyboard.

                … Modernism thrives where the Faith is not taught.

                Yes, that’s my point.

                Conservatives make most of the converts because they are mature enough to go to war with the army they have to kick arse.

                And are understandably left scratching their heads in perplexity and dismay when their commander-in-chief tells them that kicking arse is exclusionary and merciless and pharisaical.

                Radtrads … are busy bitching over legalistic nonsense instead of taking the world for Christ.

                At least they don’t mistake the world for Christ.

                • Jim the Scott

                  >My point was that one doesn’t need to change a word of doctrine to render it otiose.

                  Rather simply don’t teach them doctrine & that renders it obtuse. Continue to rely on the practice of treating all Catholics like ignorant peasants who somehow will learn the faith by holy osmosis which to date has never worked.

                  >The right change of discipline is sufficient.

                  Nope, the Greeks haven’t changed their liturgy in 1500 years and they have the same problems we have. They don’t teach their people the faith and liberals fill the vacuum nature abhors. It does not matte which liturgy you use. Holy Osmosis sucks in place of real religious instruction.

                  > For example: I think trads make a good case that the New Order of Mass contributed to a decline in Catholic belief in the Real Presence, the result of intrinsic defects in the rite and irreverent celebrations that were allowed to proliferate unchecked.

                  It’s a stupid claim. Decline in belief is the direct result of a decline in religious instruction. I learned nothing in Catholci school about the faith. I learned everything from Catholic apologists and converts who taught the faith. I learned nothing from the first latin mass I went too. The Mass has no meaning regardless of rite without instruction.

                  >Whether you agree with this assessment is irrelevant — the essential point is that my opinion doesn’t require that I claim Paul VI changed or desired to change or could have changed Catholic teaching on the Real Presence.

                  The assessment is wrong. If Paul VI did nothing to the liturgy but left the current status quo of non-teachign and unchecked liberalism the problems would be the same. Just like the Greek orthodox who haven’t changed their liturgy.

                  >And why were they allowed to run around with impunity?

                  Bishops aren’t doing their job. That is nothing new.

                  >Good for Scott Hahn. What about all the simple folk in the pews who weren’t being taught orthodoxy? Who were instead informed by their parish priest (as I was) that angels didn’t exist, that Mary never said the Magnificat and that Jesus didn’t really perform any miracles? Who thus had no intellectual defences to sustain them when they felt a natural revulsion from faggy liturgies?

                  You really think if Paul VI never changed anything the modernists wouldn’t fag up the old liturgy? Not being taught orthodoxy was the problem. Which rite you used in the environment of non-teaching mattered not.

                  >Yes, that’s my point.

                  You point seems to be “Change the Mass back to the old way and everything is fixed”. You are not clear here. You are ambiguous.

                  >I’m guessing that’s a slip of the keyboard.

                  Nope, your average Catholic right or lift tends to feel before thinking. It would be better if we brought back scholasticism.

                  >And are understandably left scratching their heads in perplexity and dismay when their commander-in-chief tells them that kicking arse is exclusionary and merciless and pharisaical.

                  Only radtrads with guilty consciences feel the Pope’s words are directed at them. I have a lot to feel guilty about but arse kicking liberals isn’t any of it.

                  >At least they don’t mistake the world for Christ.

                  They mistake the external form of the rite for Christ not the essence of the dicier life bearing sacrament.

                  • Re_Actor

                    What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. I’ll try to make my meaning clearer.

                    I not saying impressive liturgy can do the job of sound catechesis. Orthodox teaching is absolutely necessary. I don’t think it’s absolutely sufficient — because we’re not angelic spirits, our intellects can do with with a little help from our senses and passions now and then; conversely, the effect of sound teaching can be somewhat blunted if our senses and passions are denied a nourishing diet. But orthodox teaching remains indispensible — on that we are agreed.

                    Now in order to have orthodox teaching in the classroom we need to have orthodox teaching ‘on the books’, a body of unchanging truth that can be transmitted. We had that orthodox teaching, that unchanging truth, in the beginning, have it now and always will have it. I trust we are agreed on that.

                    I’m not making a distinction between catechesis and liturgy and then saying good liturgy means we can jettison sound catechesis. I’m making a distinction between the body of unchanging truth ‘on the books’ and the whole range of disciplines, practices and customs which serve to transmit that body of truth to the faithful — foremost among which are liturgy and catechesis. To have the truth is to know the truth. Truth is powerless if it is taught badly or not at all. It’s no good if the truth is in books if nobody reads the books or acts on them or even knows that they exist.

                    So why did sound catechesis collapse? It’s common knowledge that the stinking, filthy, treacherous trads, who are basically no better than animals, point to the revolutionary changes of the conciliar period, and it seems to me they have a case to answer. You deplore modern Catholics’ tendency to feel rather than think and you call for the return of scholasticism. But wasn’t putting scholasticism on the backburner one of the goals of the conciliar enthusiasts, whether they saw the matter from the perspective of aggiornamento or ressourcement? Didn’t the council fathers reject the original submitted schemas because they were couched in old-fashioned scholastic language? The collapse of sound catechesis and good liturgy went hand in hand.

                    Don’t kid yourself. When a vile modern prelate in the age of Francis attacks the fusty, musty remnants of self-righteous legalism, those narrow ossified traditions of men that shut the door to the overflowing mercy of God, you can be sure he means the rigorous precision of scholastic philosophy quite as much as the rigorous precision of the Tridentine Mass.

                    • James Son of James

                      My last post to you since Mark banned me because I made the mistake of tweaking his nose on politics.

                      >What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. I’ll try to make my meaning clearer.

                      Yes you should stop channeling your inner Vatican II. Just saying…..

                      >I not saying impressive liturgy can do the job of sound catechesis. Orthodox teaching is absolutely necessary. I don’t think it’s absolutely sufficient — because we’re not angelic spirits, our intellects can do with with a little help from our senses and passions now and then; conversely, the effect of sound teaching can be somewhat blunted if our senses and passions are denied a nourishing diet. But orthodox teaching remains indispensible — on that we are agreed.

                      Good. We agree on that.

                      >Now in order to have orthodox teaching in the classroom we need to have orthodox teaching ‘on the books’, a body of unchanging truth that can be transmitted. We had that orthodox teaching, that unchanging truth, in the beginning, have it now and always will have it. I trust we are agreed on that.

                      Yes we do.

                      >I’m not making a distinction between catechesis and liturgy and then saying good liturgy means we can jettison sound catechesis. I’m making a distinction between the body of unchanging truth ‘on the books’ and the whole range of disciplines, practices and customs which serve to transmit that body of truth to the faithful — foremost among which are liturgy and catechesis.

                      Sorry I give the primacy to catechesis. It must come first since there is no logical reason why you can’t have beautify liturgy mixed with heresy. Some High Church Anglican and Liberal Old Catholics strive to have beautify liturgy mixed in with heresy. Changing disciplines, practices and customs does nothing as long as correct teaching is still given. The modernist crisis post V2 is the result of bad teaching & I have NEVER met a liberal Catholic in my entire life who has ever quoted the exact text of Vatican II to justify some heterodox notion of theirs. They simply have never read the text. Not one of them and the only texts I hear from Trads that are charged with “ambiguity” have to do with discipline which everyone and his uncle will tell you can be changed.

                      > To have the truth is to know the truth. Truth is powerless if it is taught badly or not at all. It’s no good if the truth is in books if nobody reads the books or acts on them or even knows that they exist.

                      Of course conservative Catholic apologists taught me the faith in their popular writings and encouraged me to read the primary documents of Church teaching. That was far more productive then if I merely attended a Latin Mass as a blank slate.

                      >So why did sound catechesis collapse? It’s common knowledge that the stinking, filthy, treacherous trads, who are basically no better than animals, point to the revolutionary changes of the conciliar period, and it seems to me they have a case to answer.

                      Rather these animals attack those who in the post councilor period have successfully promoted orthodox Catholicism in the face of the modernest onslaught just because they did so without using their disciplines but those of the modern Church. Remnant boy in addition to his knee-jerk Pope Kvetching attacks EWTN, Charismatic Catholics, Karl Keating etc…….he was taken in by Gerry Matatics who later stabed him in the back by going flu blown Sede. It’s not that Trads are fighting to be one equal voice among many in the realm of orthodox Catholicism, They wish to be the sole voice. Their behavior has never led me to believe otherwise.

                      > You deplore modern Catholics’ tendency to feel rather than think and you call for the return of scholasticism. But wasn’t putting scholasticism on the backburner one of the goals of the conciliar enthusiasts, whether they saw the matter from the perspective of aggiornamento or ressourcement?

                      Who knows or cares? Scholasticism is one philosophy among many. Molinism, Anselm, Augustinianism, Scotism are all viable philosophies & since I believe Traditional Thomism is the best I merely advocate it’s proponents let it out of it’s cage to take care of itself. I certainly don’t advocate bashing the other competing philosophies. But since when have Trads done anything other than bash non-grad orthodox Catholics? They don’t and I tire of them.

                      >Didn’t the council fathers reject the original submitted schemas because they were couched in old-fashioned scholastic language? The collapse of sound catechesis and good liturgy went hand in hand.

                      Except that nobody read the documents, nor was anyone taught the difference. Like I said I have NEVER met a liberal who has ever cited a text from Vatican II. They cite “the spirit of Vatican II” but never the text. Why? because the text says nothing to plainly even ambiguously defend their nonsense.

                      >Don’t kid yourself. When a vile modern prelate in the age of Francis attacks the fusty, musty remnants of self-righteous legalism, those narrow ossified traditions of men that shut the door to the overflowing mercy of God, you can be sure he means the rigorous precision of scholastic philosophy quite as much as the rigorous precision of the Tridentine Mass.

                      Other anti-Francis non Traditonalist conservatives (apparently that is a thing) seem to think that is aimed at all orthodox Catholics not just trads and SSPX wannabes? So which is it? Oh and yeh the SSPX & their fellow travelers don’t exactly make the case for “tradition” when they tie tradition up with the anti-tractional concept of Schism. Augustine said THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR SCHISM even if it is admitted the Church is being ruled by wicked and sinful men. If you can’t understand that then why should I give you a hearing on the liturgy?

                      Goodbye there will be no further responses from me.

                      It is Mark’s blog.

                    • Re_Actor

                      My last post to you

                      Sorry to hear that.

                      Mark banned me because I made the mistake of tweaking his nose on politics.

                      “A l’exemple de Saturne, la révolution dévore ses enfants”

                      you should stop channeling your inner Vatican II

                      There’s nothing wrong with my inner Vatican II, it just hasn’t been implemented properly …

                    • chezami

                      Nope. Banned him for being a rude, insulting jerk. Rude insulting jerks always portray themselves as free speech martyrs, but never pause to ask why the many others who disagree with me don’t get banned. (Hint: they are not rude, insulting jerks.)

      • Mike Blackadder

        I trust Jesus’ authority rebuking the Pharisees and that He was right to so so. Does that mean that bishops who stand against a progressive agenda are being rebuked by Christ too? I trust that Jesus knows the hearts of men. That doesn’t translate into Francis or anyone else knowing that these bishops are not acting in good faith, that they are not doing their best to follow the gospel and the influence of the Holy Spirit. There are different opinions among Catholics all over the world on the topic they were debating. I also thought it was particularly outrageous for Francis to accuse fellow bishops of having a closed heart and the spirit of the Pharisees. Who is he to judge?

        • Jim the Scott

          >Does that mean that bishops who stand against a progressive agenda are being rebuked by Christ too?

          I am a conservative who opposes the progressive agenda & I choose not to feel I am doing anything wrong when I do so ergo I therefore don’t read into the Pope’s rebukes any type of attack on me. Only those who in their heart of hearts are shameful rebels need feel guilty. That includes every radtrad professional Papal Kvetcher because of their knee-jerk egotism.

          >I trust that Jesus knows the hearts of men. That doesn’t translate into Francis or anyone else knowing that these bishops are not acting in good faith, that they are not doing their best to follow the gospel and the influence of the Holy Spirit.

          That is only valid if Francis singles out a specific individual by name. He hasn’t. General criticism of Pharasee jerkoffs naturally must apply to somebody somewhere & as I said only those with a guilty conscience need feel offended & what they should do is repent.

          > There are different opinions among Catholics all over the world on the topic they were debating. I also thought it was particularly outrageous for Francis to accuse fellow bishops of having a closed heart and the spirit of the Pharisees. Who is he to judge?

          He is the Pope and it is his right to give spiritual council. Those who are offended by him must be guilty. I oppose communion for the divorced but I don’t feel I am a pharasee towards those in the Kaspar camp. I am merely content to know the Holy Spirit will over rule Kasper and there is nothing he can do about it. Those who wish to bed wet because they doubt Christ propobly should listen to the Pope and repent.

          • Mike Blackadder

            Francis said that the synod “laid bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families”.

            Jim, that kinda sounds like he’s talking about the bishops at the synod who opposed his agenda. And I don’t think it’s a charitable interpretation of their position. And no I don’t think noticing that is evidence that I’m guilty of something. Very old-school Catholic of you though to make that suggestion. 😉

            • Jim the Scott

              >Jim, that kinda sounds like he’s talking about the bishops at the synod who opposed his agenda.

              Nope, only if you have a guilty conscience and you really do see the Church teaching as a means to sit in the chair of Moses and judge and you judge with super superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.” If your conscience doesn’t convict you of this I see no reason to feel it applies to you regardless of where you stand on the issue.

              The only reason you would believe it applies to you is because deep down you really are a Pharasee(speaking hypothetically of course). I for example ABSOLUTELY believe communion should not be given to invalidly married persons & I certainly upon examination of conscience don’t think or feel I am guilty of what Francis condemns.

              You OTOH might I suggest (speaking hypothetically) are trying to guess the motives of the Pontif behind his statement & thus you are judging him & or are guilty of the very thing you are trying to lay at his feet. Because logically your reasoning applied fairly and uniformly leads to no other conclusion.

              God will judge the Pope and you and I sir will but out.

              > And I don’t think it’s a charitable interpretation of their position.

              Sorry but I have the Pope’s speech right in front of me & I missed the part where the Pope says those who believe giving communion to those in invalid marriages is wrong are trying to sit in the seat of moses…judge superficiallyetc..

              You have to assume that meaning and motivation on the part of the Pontif and read it into the text. That begs the question.

              BTW if I am allowed the same liberty as you in reading into the text.

              Quote”We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.

              And without ever falling into the danger of relativism or of demonizing others, we sought to embrace, fully and courageously, the goodness and mercy of God who transcends our every human reckoning and desires only that “all be saved” (cf. 1 Tm 2:4). In this way we wished to experience this Synod in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy which the Church is called to celebrated.”END QUOTE

              So those who fall into relativism tend to demonize others? Yeh that describes your average Catholic Liberal to a tee. No doubt the boyz over at FishWrap will be upset & Radtrads true to form ignored this little chesnut and or will down play it.

              >And no I don’t think noticing that is evidence that I’m guilty of something.

              You and the Pope judged by the same standard have that in common. There is no reason to believe the Pope was attacking his ideological opponents. It is just your imagination.

              >Very old-school Catholic of you though to make that suggestion. 😉

              Ideologically these days I am actually quite the Trad I just think the jerk-offs over at the Remnant are useless tits.

              Because they are……

              • Mike Blackadder

                Interpreting what the Pope means to say and discerning the motivation behind his statement is not ‘judging’ him. When Francis says something he knows that others will try to understand his meaning (though obviously Jim is an exception). Once again, it doesn’t actually make you guilty to find fault in what someone says, and it is not a sin to discern people’s motivations, even if you discern wrongly.

                If it is true that Francis didn’t mean to criticize individuals at the Synod who took the opposite approach to church law then I definitely fail to grasp what he is talking about. Francis said that there were ‘closed hearts’ at the synod. That’s a very strong statement. It seems incredible Jim, that even if you don’t believe the remarried should receive communion that Bishops who strongly agree with you can have no possible basis for their position other than having a closed heart.

                It’s actually OK that Pope Francis was maybe over zealous and even uncharitable in this comment because he’s a human being. What’s not OK is encouraging unfair characterizations of other people and not asking for our religious leaders to clarify what they are saying to us and the rest of the world.

          • Segmented

            “so ergo I therefore” verbose. Pick one “So I… therefore I.. ergo… “

    • Jim the Scott

      >Query: How does one “hide behind” Church teaching, which is the revealed truth, and good intentions, which are praiseworthy?

      About as stupid a question as asking “How does one become a white washed tome filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleaness?”.

      Do you really not know what a platitude is trad boy?

    • chezami

      The pope is conspiring against the Faith and only Chris Ferrara can save us all, because he’s not vainglorious and narcissistic or anything.

      • Jim the Scott

        Actually you are both vainglorious and narcissistic.

        How do I know this? Well I can smell my own kind a mile away….;-)

      • Jim the Scott

        BTW how do I respond to rumors I am vainglorious, narcissistic and a silly b***h?

        I embrace them.

      • Marie

        I just read Mr. Ferrara’s comments for the first time.

        All his points are extremely valid and Catholic; and nowhere does he claim to “save” anyone.

        All he has done is voice the same concerns and observations that I and MANY other Catholics I know are thinking and troubled about.

        Why hasn’t anyone in this forum responded to his remarks in an intelligent manner?

        All you’ve done is act like a bunch of high school students ganging up on the one student in the class who makes them look bad.

        Is that the best you can muster?

        Are you really thinking about the crisis in the Church – which Bishop Athanasius Schneider has referred to as the 4th great crisis in Church history – and the part Pope Francis is playing in that crisis either by failure to affirm Church teaching in the midst of chaos, and/or facilitating the dissemination of error or muddled thinking?

        Is any of us really more qualified than this venerable Church Prelate in assessing the current situation in the church? Bishop Schneider referred to it as a Synod on adultery – and guess who presided over that Synod and furthered it’s clearly heterodox agenda?

        Are you simply blind, or do you have compelling reasons not to acknowledge what the entire world clearly recognizes?

        Why not address these concerns intelligently?

        • Jim the Scott

          >his points are extremely valid and Catholic;

          Horsehockey! His post was at best ambiguous mush.

          >All he has done is voice the same concerns and observations that I and MANY other Catholics I know are thinking and troubled about.

          He is a professional Pope Khvecher! He has been complaining about the Pope since the time of St John Paull II wether it be about Assisi or “Koran kissing” or wearing shorts at World Youth Day. If the man doesn’t complain about the Pope he dies. Like a Greek woman’s need to nag.

          It gets old.

          >Why hasn’t anyone in this forum responded to his remarks in an intelligent manner?

          What was intelligent about them?

          >All you’ve done is act like a bunch of high school students ganging up on the one student in the class who makes them look bad.

          Ha! Ha! Marie likes Chris……….no seriously, he hasn’t made anyone look good or bad. At best he is an amusement.

          >Is that the best you can muster?

          If he has something coherent to say I’d like to hear it. But all he hss to offer is incoherent mush. Here is a post Mark has put up about some poor shlep who is loosing his faith listening to all the Francis bashing propaganda and what is Chris’ contribution? Anything about how schism from the faith has no excuse regardless of what you believe is wrong with the Pope wither justly or not? No, just complaints not everyone here buys into the anti-Francis hysteria of him and his ilk.

          Nice job there lawyer boy.

          >Are you really thinking about the crisis in the Church – which Bishop Athanasius Schneider has referred to as the 4th great crisis in Church history – and the part Pope Francis is playing in that crisis either by failure to affirm Church teaching in the midst of chaos, and/or facilitating the dissemination of error or muddled thinking?

          Chris is also here to advance his anti-Vatican II trad narrative which really has NOTHING too do with the truth of the faith.

          Quote”Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said.

          Failure to affirm church teaching? Please sister more like Assumes it right out of the Box as a given.

          >Is any of us really more qualified than this venerable Church Prelate in assessing the current situation in the church? Bishop Schneider referred to it as a Synod on adultery – and guess who presided over that Synod and furthered it’s clearly heterodox agenda?

          I don’t question bishops questioning bishops. That is their job let them sort it out amonst themselves. But I do take issue with laypersons who put on airs.

          >Are you simply blind, or do you have compelling reasons not to acknowledge what the entire world clearly recognizes?

          Ambiguous much?

          >Why not address these concerns intelligently?

          There is nothing intelligently put for here to address.

          • Marie

            Wow, are you irrational. Not only have you proven everything I said, you are so delusional that instead of holding Francis responsible for what he’s doing to compeletely damage the Faith in souls – and this one in particular who wrote to Mark: “Everytime I hear a pronouncement from Francis, I shudder and realize we have a socialist nutcase in charge” – you blame Ferrara!

            Thank you, I’ll check out from this Wonderland and its delusional inmates. Nothing to see here.

            Good night.

            • chezami

              Meanwhile, you urge a struggling soul to despair. Check that millstone around your neck.

            • Jim the Scott

              >Wow, are you irrational. Not only have you proven everything I said, you are so delusional …

              Interesting but basic, rhetorical tricks you are using here. A little poisoning the well here…a dash of ad hominid there plus a red herring thrown in for good measure.

              So basic…

              >that instead of holding Francis responsible for what he’s doing to compeletely damage the Faith in souls –

              Here you assume facts not in evidence and without rational argument. That again is again the most basic of sophistry. But it does serve to self disarm your two faced attempt to portray yourself as the neutral rational passerby who is kicking against Mark’s “extremism”. Rather than just a full blown Remnant partisan.

              >and this one in particular who wrote to Mark: “Everytime I hear a pronouncement from Francis, I shudder and realize we have a socialist nutcase in charge” – you blame Ferrara!

              I blame lawyer boy for putting his trad narrative ahead of the faith. He is entitle to his narrative but the faith should come first. If idiots are running around saying they are loosing their faith because they don’t like the Pope’s center left wing politics then he needs to disabuse them of that as a justification for rebellion, apostasy and schism. Because dearie St Augustine said THERE IS NO EXCSE FOR SCHISM even upon the admission the Church is being ruled by wicked and sinful men.

              BTW FYI I am very very far right. I am against illegal immigration. I think Capitalism has more going for it to help the Poor than government sponsored nanny state nonsense. Trump may be a nut but he is an order of magnitude better than Lady MacBeth/Hillary. Anyone who wants to “raise the minimum wage” in essence wants to starve the poor.etc

              All this I believe & I DON’T waste my time getting butthurt over the fact the Holy Father doesn’t agree with me. Nor do I love him less or am in anyway disloyal to him or condone disloyalty because of this disagreement. Heck the Man is a freakin Jesuit & I am an Banezian Thomist do the math on how far apart he and I are philosophically. But I also don’t care since Molinism is within the Faith (even if not as cool as Thomism).

              >Thank you, I’ll check out from this Wonderland and its delusional inmates. Nothing to see here.

              Try bringing some substantive argument next time there girl. Maybe you would be less boring.

          • Re_Actor

            Why the scare quotes around “Koran kissing”?

            • Jim the Scott

              Again so what?

              • Re_Actor

                Well your use of quotation marks suggested that you were implying the scandalous incident in question never occurred or was misreported.

                • Jim the Scott

                  All I have is a picture of the Pope with his face near a green book and I have no knowledge he knew what it was when it was presented to him. Worst case scenario he made a mistake.

                  Still the bloody screaming over it by Radtrad trash was more scandalous IMHO then the koran kissing and I chuckle these days at neo-conservative jerkoffs who rant about Pope Francis and speak well of St JP2 forgetting they where bitchen about him back in the day.

                  Radtrads Papal Kvechers need to complain or they die.

                  • Re_Actor

                    All I have is a picture of the Pope with his face near a green book and I have no knowledge he knew what it was when it was presented to him. Worst case scenario he made a mistake.

                    Courtesy of Mr Akin: “… the former Chaldean patriarch–Raphael Bidawid–was present at the meeting where the event occurred, and in an interview with the press service FIDES, he said the following: ‘… At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect.'”

                    Still the bloody screaming over it by Radtrad trash …

                    Truly your lips are as a honeycomb dripping the sweet and fragrant unction of charity.

                    … was more scandalous IMHO then the koran kissing

                    You are of course entitled to your HO. “May Saint John Baptist protect Islam!”

                    I chuckle these days at neo-conservative jerkoffs who rant about Pope Francis and speak well of St JP2 forgetting they where bitchen about him back in the day. Radtrads Papal Kvechers need to complain or they die.

                    As I recall, the neocons were generally pro-JPII (at least until the Iraq unpleasantness). In any case I don’t think there’s much of an overlap between them and trads (rad or otherwise).

                    • Jim the Scott

                      >ourtesy of Mr Akin: “… the former Chaldean patriarch–Raphael Bidawid–was present at the meeting where the event occurred, and in an interview with the press service FIDES, he said the following: ‘… At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect.'”

                      Still doesn’t prove the Pope knew what the book was. I expect an Arab speaking Bishop to recognize a Koran like a Catholic in Utah recognizing a book of Mormon. I have no reason to believe a Polish Pope knows a Koran from a hole in the head. Still worst case scenario it was an mistake we would not know about were it not for the detraction of disloyal radtrad trash.

                      >Truly your lips are as a honeycomb dripping the sweet and fragrant unction of charity.

                      :”Charity” is plead by radtrads when someone treats them with the same level of contempt they treat the Pope and every conservative. After all it was you animals who invented terms like “Neo-Catholic” yet you bitch when someone calls you radtrad back. What a bunch of girls.

                      >You are of course entitled to your HO. “May Saint John Baptist protect Islam!”

                      Islam in that context referred to the Muslim people not the false doctrinal content of their religion. Middle eastern people tend not to make the formal distinction between people and religion. The Pope clearly meant the people & anyone with an IQ larger than three who doesn’t read the REMNANT would know that.

                      >As I recall, the neocons were generally pro-JPII (at least until the Iraq unpleasantness). In any case I don’t think there’s much of an overlap between them and trads (rad or otherwise).

                      No the only “neo-con” Catholci I ever knew who bashed the Pope over the Iraq war was the future apostate Rod Dreher. Neo-conservatives merely politely disagree and went their merry way.

                    • Re_Actor

                      … radtrad trash … you animals …

                      “All sheep are smelly but some sheep are smellier than others.”

                      Islam in that context referred to the Muslim people not the false doctrinal content of their religion. Middle eastern people tend not to make the formal distinction between people and religion. The Pope clearly meant the people & anyone with an IQ larger than three who doesn’t read the REMNANT would know that.

                      “God bless you all! God bless Jordan! May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan …”

      • Tim

        I don’t agree with Mr. Ferrara but your response is just an ad hominem. You must be Mark Shea.

        • chezami

          A man is struggling to keep from drowning. Ferrara shows up to tie a millstone around his neck because his immense pride matters more to him than a struggling brother.

          You show up to help him finish tying the knot. Do you guys think of *no one* but yourselves ever?

          • Tim

            That is about as presumptuous as it gets. All I said was that you used an ad hominem. Now you are piling on. I even said I don’t agree with him. Do you ever actually read posts? Please don’t respond! I gave up reading Shea for a year. That was a good year and I won’t be back.

    • Jacob Suggs

      Ok, there’s been a couple comments now about lack of a reasonable addressing of your points. This is in fact because your points are very common, and somewhat twisted presentations of the truth that have been answered before many times, but just for fun and because I have some work I want to put off, I’ll respond.

      >Query: How does one “hide behind” Church teaching, which is the revealed truth, and good intentions, which are praiseworthy?

      By twisting Church teachings to one’s own end, so that they are not actual Church teachings any more, and having good intentions that are unbalanced. For example: the Church teaches that God loves everyone, and that His mercy can extend to everyone no matter their situation. Many people have the good intention of bringing this mercy to those who are living as though married with those with whom they are not married. That is a good intention, and Church teaching shows that it is possible (though it does not mean what some people think it does).

      And some people use the language of mercy and the good intention of bringing the divorced and invalidly remarried back into the fold to hide from the truth that persisting in living as though married with a person who is not one’s spouse is adultery and bars one from communion. Now, is this the example that Pope Francis had in mind? Likely not, but you’re trying to paint the very idea that this is possible as heretical, and it’s clearly not, so your query is answered and raises no objections in itself.

      > Query: What is it that Francis claims these episcopal hearts are closed to, seeing that they defend the truth and have good intentions?

      Hard to say, since neither you nor I were present and involved in the various debates. When he releases a document that is addressed for us to read (as opposed to a speech in reaction to a meeting about which we have mostly second and third hand information, and which was addressed to the participants), perhaps we’ll find out.

      But in principle, one could say that some episcopal hearts were closed to Jesus’ teaching on the permanence of marriage, in their defense of the truth of mercy and with the good intention of helping out families in hard situations.

      Is that what the Pope meant? Likely not, but again you are attacking statements in principle by saying that they cannot mean anything good when in fact they could.

      > Query: How are the “closed hearts” who “hide behind” Church teaching acting like Moses, when it was Moses who tolerated divorce while the “closed hearts” at the Synod refused to open the door to acceptance of what Christ definitively abolished?

      See above.

      > Query: What is exactly is “superior” and “superficial” about the judgments of the “closed hearts” in their view of “difficult cases” and “wounded families”?

      Depends rather on the judgement, does it not? Have you not seen people treat others in hard situations badly? This happens. Whether or not you suspect that the Pope was referencing judgements that are legitimate (ie X action is objectively wrong) and calling them bad is irrelevant.

      >The claim that Francis has said and done nothing contrary to sound orthodoxy is sheer self-delusion.

      You could try to make a case that Pope Francis is trying to determine what to do, and that he called this synod to help him do so, and that during this determination, he has so far been leaning towards taking steps that are actually wrong and contrary to Church teaching.

      But this is in the stage of determining what to do. It is not heretical to try to consider whether or not a certain procedure would be consistent with Church teaching, even if it turns out that it is not.

      Unless and until you get something more definite than “the Pope seems like he favors IN HIS DELIBERATION BEFORE MAKING A DECISION something that is impossible to square with Church teaching” to “the Pope officially violated Church teaching,” then no, the Pope has not violated Church teaching.

      There is a saying: if you like sausage, don’t go to a sausage factory. If you can’t handle that the certainty of Church teaching emerges from the deliberations of imperfect and uncertain people, then I suggest that for you in particular, you adopt the head in the sand strategy.

      You will find that the Church will not fall, whatever weirdness may or may not happen, and while sticking your head in the sand isn’t the most helpful thing a person can do for the Church, it’s better than the headless chicken strategy, which to run around knocking things over in a panic, and making a mess for others to clean up. Trust Christ and His Church, and if that’s hard for you given what you’re seeing, then cover your eyes.

      When the dust settles, uncover them, and if it turns out that the Church has fallen then that means it was a false Church and you can save a lot of time on Sundays. But we both know this won’t happen.

    • Stu

      Chris,
      Even in sharing many of your concerns, I don’t think your rhetoric helps the situation. And if you visit here frequently, I often make the same point to Mark as well.

      I wish the discussion could find a middle ground somewhere between “All is Well, Don’t Panic” and “We’re Doomed!” I think there are many valid questions regarding the style of Juan Bergoglio and even the execution of the last two synods. But knowing that the gates of hell shall not prevail, cannot we with those concerns be measured in our questioning and get the same results?

  • Mike Blackadder

    I sympathize with the reader. I also think Mark Shea has said exactly what needs to be said to support them in their struggle.

    Bishops, including the Pope are men. We’ve had bad Popes and many misguided bishops throughout the history of the church. We aren’t trying to seek out the perfect men within the magisterium, but rather the voice of the Holy Spirit which is perfect.

    As Mark says the directive of faith is to stay. The sins and error of the men of the church will lead others astray, it will do injury to the body of Christ. It is all the more harmed when we abandon our faith as a consequence and when this disunity leads to schism. This is the wrong path and instead we must put our trust in God.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      “Put our trust IN GOD”. Ultimately,Mark,that’s what it all boils down to,doesn’t it? As you peruse,delve into,and meditate upon the Scriptures,you make a remarkable discovery, personified in the Saviour’s invitation issued in The Gospel of Matthew,chapter 11,vss.28-30: “Come unto ME”…”I will give you rest”…”Learn from ME”…See the pattern? Our Saviour invited you,me,and all of His Born-again,Blood-bought Children to HIMSELF,NOT man-centered,quasi-political, pseudo – theological constructs erected upon the dead ashes of pagan ophilosophies; Our Saviour proclaimed the only source of Truth and Life is HIMSELF: “I am the Way,the Truth,and the Life”…He told Pontius Pilate that…”Every one who is of the Truth hears MY Voice”…Yes,I’m aware that He told the apostles / disciples that…”He that hears you hears Me”… but that doesn’t negate the responsibility we as individual servants and followers of Him to exercise discernment and to test what we are hearing from His presumed spokesmen against the Scriptures; after all,these spokesman are STILL men,and men (and women!!) GET IT WRONG!! My own foundational verse is Proverbs 3 : 5-6 :”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”.It could be said that THAT’S the verse I live by day-to-day,and God guidance HAS NEVER steered me wrong.In closing,let me leave you with this,Mark: At the close of your earthly sojourn,when you stand before The Judgment Seat of Almighty God,the only life you can give account for is—YOURS.–PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!

  • Juli Pirola

    As

  • Juli Pirola

    As a Catholic from Buenos Aires, I’d like to share some points with you:

    -In Argentina, Pope Francis was and is perceived as a very orthodox bishop, and is booed by LGBTs and radical feminists alike.

    -Pope Francis, when he was known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was one of the most vocal opponents of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s presidency.In case you guys don’t know, she is a mixture of populism and absolutism, and a soft version of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro .She was the main promoter of gay “marriage” here. Pope Francis joined forces with the Jewish and Evangelical communities, along with pro-family groups. Obviously, the law was promulgated in 2010 because the Parliament has no independence from the presidency anymore. As a Pope, he has always hated the sin and loved the sinner. So please, don’t call him communist or pro-gay advocate.

    – Later on, a Kirchnerist militant, Horacio Verbitsky, claimed that Pope Francis had co-operated with the 1976 military dictatorship, when in reality he helped in the hiding and rescue of priests. What is more, Verbitsky himself was actually involved in this same regime.

    -I’ve never been to the USA, but it seems to me that the gap between left-wing and right-wing is much wider than in other countries. There’s something called the social doctrine of the Church, that teaches us that extremes are dangerous and that we should take the good of each political system. The Catholic Church has always stressed a preferential option for the poor. Add to this the fact that Cristina has always hidden the actual percentage of poverty in this country.

    – I think Pope Francis views himself as the priest of a very large parish, and that’s a very new and Christian understanding of the papacy nobody on the chair of Peter had proposed before. He’s close to the people and wants Catholic priests who proclaim the truth with charity.

    And finally, Pope Francis prays for all the sheep in Christ’s flock, and his post is a difficult one. Why don’t you pray for him??

    • Stu

      “I think Pope Francis views himself as the priest of a very large parish”

      I agree with you completely. But that’s not what he is and I think that causes the problems. He is the Pope and has a different responsibility now. He can’t make offhand comments like your parish priest can because the whole world is listening with the context of who he is or where he is coming from in certain things.

    • Defensor

      If you have any links or citations to Argentinian newspapers outlining some of what the Pope did like you mentioned I would love to see them! I definitely encounter many people in America who believe Francis ruined Argentina while he was Arch Bishop so a couple counter arguments would be phenomenal. Especially any counter arguments that come from an especially liberal news outlet.

  • Maria Taheny

    Thank you for writing this Mark. I just came up against this in my own parish and was on the opposite side of the argument. I was losing my confidence in the Church because a select few disappointed me. You are right. I need to change my expectations. Although I am thrilled with Pope Francis and his loving attitude towards the Transmission of the Faith, I am still discouraged by the number of people who rigidly adhere to the confines of traditional expectations. It is hard to keep hopeful. However, you nailed it with the last line. Faith is staying.

    Well written. Thank you.

  • Ab illo bene dicáris

    In the NT, Jesus tells the Pharisees that Moses gave them divorce because they were “hard hearted.”

    Pope Francis says all sorts of unpleasant things about “exclusionary” practices, like not tolerating divorce and remarriage.

    Thus, Jesus is hard hearted.

    Folks, the current Pontiff in his statements has performed the full inversion of values, bringing back Mosaic law and replacing the law of grace given by God in the New Testament and making anyone who disagrees with this transmogrification a really mean, icky person. Remember, the Church should look like the secular world. It’s monism now and monism forever.

    For Pope Francis, you are hard hearted and exclusive, hung up on moral rules and what not when you should be giving out communion to anyone who wants to receive.

    Often forgotten are two important things:

    Pope Francis was reported to have taken a call from a Latin American woman concerning the fact that she was not going to communion because she was D&R w/o an annulment. She knew Church teaching. Pope Francis said words to the effect that “you should go to communion.” Zip and nada about repenting first of her adulterous marriage. The story was picked up in the early days of his pontificate by the Party of the Chair of Moses crowd within the Church (formerly known as “faithful Catholics.”) No one else cared. It was an important story because it shows Pope Francis signaling his intent. I do not know if he still does the phone calls to random people, but he was very adroit at using this woman’s story to test the waters for his reforms.

    Secondly, the motu proprios speeding up divorce were released exactly at a time when the full damage of their contents would be quickly passed over/forgotten in the popular Catholic media by the opening of the Synod. If a banal post-Synodal exhortation comes from Pope Francis soon, it will not undo the incredible damage done by the motus. In other words, communion to adulterers is already green-lighted no matter what. The “et cetera” clause guarantees that McNullments will expand and marriage and family life will further deteriorate in the name of a false mercy that leaves only misery.

    • Stu

      One small point.

      On the Latin American woman. We don’t know what the Pope said to her. We only know what she said that he said. Big difference.

      Now I would think her conversation should have been with her priest and Bishop but even still, I think we should be accurate.

      • Ab illo bene dicáris

        He called her and it was publicized. Why do you think he called her?

        • Stu

          I don’t know. I wasn’t part of the conversation. Whether or not it was prudent for him to call her, we don’t know what was said.

          • Ab illo bene dicáris

            I think it better to let the woman and her “husband” tell their side of the story.

            http://davidgibson.religionnews.com/2014/04/23/pope-francis-really-tell-divorced-woman-take-communion/

            Note carefully that the story is dated April 23, 2014, before either of the recent Synod sessions.

            “This received too much public attention. He told me to go and take Communion in a different parish, but now I won’t be able to go anywhere,” she told the radio. The pope said he was “dealing with the issue” of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, and she added:

            “Then he told me there are some priests who are more papist that the pope. He was completely normal with me on the phone and I tried to speak to him with the utmost respect. Now I am overwhelmed by the enormous effect this story has had and I feel moved by the fact that I spoke to Francis. I told him I would write to him again when I take Communion again.”

            • Stu

              Now find where the Pope explains how he sees rhe event and we will have enough to make some judgment. Absent that, you have some account from a person that we both do not even know.

              • Ab illo bene dicáris

                Not a person, two people.

                • Stu

                  But still lacking the word of the Pope. Though the article you linked to has clarifications from Father Rosica that run counter to the account given by the lady.

                  • Ab illo bene dicáris

                    Yes, we’re all aware of Fr. Rosica’s fine work. He totally doesn’t have an agenda as evinced by his work at the Synod.

                    • Stu

                      And you are just as sure that the women in question doesn’t have an agenda? You know her personally?

                    • Ab illo bene dicáris

                      Yes, I’m positive she has an agenda since she wrote to the Pope expressing it. Her agenda is “I want to go to communion but my parish priest said ‘no.’ Please fix it.”

                    • Stu

                      Yes. So what did the Pope tell her? And not her account, given her agenda, but what did he really tell her?

                    • Ab illo bene dicáris

                      And not her account, given her agenda, but what did he really tell her?

                      Stu, we have to assume that he did *not* tell her whatever her and her “husband” says he told them unless it’s favorable or neutral to him.
                      The first rule of all human interaction is assume that the other two parties are lying. Society could never function w/o this premise.
                      Her letter was probably a conspiracy to make Pope Francis look bad. And all the evidence that her statement is consonant with his behavior for the past year should be wholly and completely discounted. I completely trust Fr. Rosica.
                      In thinking over your points, it seems this woman and her “husband” were up to no good.

  • elissaanne

    You really have a gift for articulating reasons for our hope. Thank you.

  • Buddha Rocket

    naomi klein

  • Tom More

    I am coming to the realization that the pope will permit remarried people to receive communion. Jesus himself said that one who divorces his spouse to marry another. commits adultery. If it is permissable for people with this mortal sin then it is permissable for people with any mortal sin. What are we to do with St Paul’s exhortation about receiving the eucharist unworthily? In fact, people do it now and priests approve. The difference is that now we have clear teaching to counteract wayward priests. If the pope permits this with his teaching authority I do believe it would be difficult to understand how the teaching is not heretical, I am sorry to say. I do believe that more needs to be done to make divorced, remarried not anulled, understand that their participation in the Mass is important even if they can not take the communion. It must be stressed that these brothers and sisters in Christ witness to the honor of the sacrament by humbling themselves to deny themselves the communion for sake of safegarding holy reception of the Eucharist. Reconciling this in my mind is important. If one wishes to dismiss my concerns as being one of a person lacking in faith or a person not wanting to let go human tradition is raising a strawman. Please, address the theological problem. A great many faithful bishops are struggling too. I am not alone.