Damian Thompson asks: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

At Heat Street, Damian Thompson asks: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

That site is a mess to read, so let’s see some of it here.  My emphases and comments:

Is the Pope Catholic? Here’s Why Many of Pope Francis Flock Aren’t Sure

Pope Francis, we learned this week, will take part in a service next year to celebrate a great moment in Christian history.

The Reformation.

Yes, you read that right. ‘Pope celebrates Reformation’ sounds like an Onion headline, but it’s actually going to happen – when Francis travels to Sweden next year to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s first furious broadside against Rome.  [Here’s one Catholic who won’t be celebrating the Reformation.  I’ll be flipping to the back of my Missale Romanum for Votive Masses Pro fide propagatione, and ad tollendum schisma and  contra persecutores Ecclesiae….]

Liberal Catholics, liberal Protestants and the secular media will cheer when he does so. They will drown out the groans of traditional Catholics for whom this is yet another feelgood stunt by a pope who isn’t interested in theology. [That doesn’t sound like an unqualified “Huzzah!”, does it?]

And only the very sharp-eared will hear the rattle of decapitated skeletons – both Catholic and Protestant – turning in their graves.

The Reformation jamboree will pay lip service to the ‘tragedy’ of the 16th-century martyrs. But if those bones could speak, I suspect they’d say the real tragedy is the spectacle of Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican leaders glossing over the doctrines for which they died.

One thing is for sure. Benedict XVI, if he were still pope, wouldn’t be throwing himself into the Reformation festivities. Indeed, it’s hard to think of anything Francis has done that his retired predecessor really approves of.

‘Exactly!’ say Francis’s millions of admirers. ‘Benedict was a dinosaur who tried to turn the clock back. Francis is sweeping out the Vatican stables. He’s making Catholicism more compassionate. And did you see him with George Clooney?’

At which point I’m the one letting out a groan, together with lots of Catholics who, like me, were initially charmed by the Argentinian pontiff’s laid-back style.

Let’s get one thing straight. Pope Francis is not a ‘great reformer’, as one sycophantic biographer dubbed him. He’s pushed through just one overdue reform – simplifying the church’s marriage annulment procedures. [The annulment thing… oh boy, don’t get me started.  However, were Francis to accomplish only a financial reform of the Curia, that would be something noteworthy for a pontificate.]

His other ‘reforms’ never happened and aren’t going to.  [… not sure which he means here…]

That’s because Francis has a bad habit of hinting at big changes to Catholic teaching (especially on sexual morality) that he never gets round to proposing – either because he knows his bishops don’t support them or because he hasn’t made up his own mind how far he wants to go.

To add to the confusion, sometimes he gets over-excited during one of his mid-flight interviews and lets slip a remark that implies, accidentally, that he favours changes that he actually opposes.

For example: ‘Who am I to judge?[That phrase has caused a lot of confusion, hasn’t it?] The Pope was explaining that gay people who didn’t have sex or had repented shouldn’t be judged. But he was chatting away carelessly, so the journalists thought he was giving the green light to homosexual relationships.

The other thing they overlooked was the question Francis had been asked – about his friend Mgr Battista Ricca, a Vatican official who’d allegedly been trapped in a lift with a rent boy.

Ricca has been accused of many scandalous indiscretions. But he’s kept his job. Francis’s allies tend not to be ‘judged’ and, as a result, the Vatican stables are as dirty as ever. Shockingly, the Pope invited Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who had covered up family sex abuse by a Belgian bishop, to a Vatican Synod on the family last year.

That synod had the unenviable task of trying to clear up the biggest mess created by any pope for decades[whew] – over the ultra-sensitive issue of whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion.

Francis wanted to relax the rules. But, typically, he didn’t set out any theological arguments and the synod voted against change.

His response? A long document, Amoris Laetitia, which dodged the question but mused incoherently about mortal sins not being mortal sins. Asked about a puzzling footnote, Francis said he couldn’t remember what was in it.

Was he serious? We don’t know, but last week it was revealed that some of the most controversial bits of Amoris Laetitia had been lifted from articles written a decade ago by a third-rate Argentinian theologian, Archbishop Victor Fernandez, [a little strange] who just happens to be an old friend of Francis.

“Is the Pope a Catholic?” asked orthodox Catholics, only half-jokingly. To which the answer is, of course, yes: the former Jorge Bergoglio is a man passionately devoted to Jesus and Mary who, in his own eccentric way, is trying to be loyal to the Church.

The problem is that, although his beliefs are (relatively) orthodox, he is behaving like a befuddled Anglican Primate who is too busy charming the media with quirky quotes to attend to the duties of his office.  [ouch]

Or, to put it another way, the Pope may be a Catholic – but it’s beginning to look as if the cardinals made a terrible mistake when they decided that this particular Catholic should be a pope.

Okay, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from Damian.

However, I will interject a couple thoughts.

First, Popes can surprise, as Paul VI did – clearly guided by the Holy Spirit – in the matter of Humanae vitae.

Also, this Pope might be Nixon, to the SSPX’s China, if you get my drift.  He could be the one to reconcile them.  Why?  Because he is interested in what the SSPX will bring to the wider Church by their integration?  No.  Because… who knows why?  But it would be a huge feather in his cap.  If he can celebrate with Lutherans, he can celebrated with the SSPX.

Have I turned on the comment moderation queue?  You bet I have!

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59 Responses to Damian Thompson asks: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

  1. JabbaPapa says:

    I am getting really, really, REALLY sick of this nasty little game of I’m-more-Catholic-than-the-Pope-ism that’s been ongoing since the early days of the Pontificate of HH Benedict XVI at *least* …

    The CONSTANT undermining of the Petrine Ministry from certain quarters is deeply destructive of the Catholicity in its religious sanctity, and it helps constitute a diametric opposite of any or all proper Evangelisation of the World.

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    Instead of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will probably try to find the other parts of this series:

    Are you ready to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation? , by Reverend Know-It-All.

  3. majuscule says:

    This comment is about “celebrating” the Reformation, not about the Holy Father.

    Someone left a King James Bible on the church doorstep. (A “used” copy from the 1970’s.) One person suggested donating it to a Protestant church. Another person said that would be promoting heresy.

    I was thinking of burning it at the time of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I thought it would be a fitting way to “celebrate” and yet a respectful way to get rid of it without putting it into the hands of someone who might be damaged by it.

  4. Windswept House says:

    Hilaire Belloc lists the Reformation as one of the great heresies.

  5. dans0622 says:

    I wouldn’t/won’t “celebrate” the reformation, either. Nevertheless, Benedict XVI said this: “Thus, let us turn our gaze together to the year 2017, which recalls the posting of Martin Luther’s theses on Indulgences 500 years ago. On that occasion, Lutherans and Catholics will have the opportunity to celebrate throughout the world a common ecumenical commemoration, to strive for fundamental questions at the global level, not — as you yourself have just said — in the form of a triumphant celebration, but as a common profession of our faith in the Triune God, in common obedience to Our Lord and to his Word. We must give an important place to common prayer and to interior prayer addressed to our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of mutual wrongs and for culpability relative to the divisions. Part of this purification of conscience is the mutual exchange appraising the 1,500 years that preceded the Reformation, and which we therefore have in common. For this reason we wish to implore together, constantly, the help of God and the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to take further steps towards the longed-for unity and not to be satisfied with the results we have achieved so far.” http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2011/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110124_chiesa-evang-luter.html

  6. VexillaRegis says:

    Actually the Pope is coming to Lund, Sweden on oct 31 – nov 1 of THIS year, not 2017. The Catholic diocese of Stockholm (which encompasses all of Sweden) is heavily involved in the planning of the visit, and I am pretty sure they will make every effort to steer the event away from anything stupid or not mainstream Catholic, so tell me my Swedish friends, who know some of the diocesan people :-). On the nov 1 there will be a Mass only for Catholics in the nearby city of Malmö.

    But, as we know, the Pope might say or do something unexpected anyway.

    PS. Lund Cathedral, now Lutheran, is a very beautiful medieval church. Look it up on the internet.

  7. Windswept House says:

    Obviously Father you favor the theological virtue of hope: “Popes can surprise…” “…this Pope might be Nixon.” Would be comforting to have a shepherd that was a sure bet.

    Yet, I do find intriguing his emphasis on a particular type of evangelizing (smell like sheep), especially as a contrast to the methods of and the rising tied of Islam. That battle between Islam and Christianity will likely be waged again over the next century or two and will not be fought with armaments as was in the past.

  8. Mike says:

    I read THE GREAT REFORMER in a bookclub. It has whole paragraphs that pack in loaded terms that give a subtly slanted to the left view of nearly everything related to doctrine and this Pope.

    I wouldn’t recommend it widely.

  9. Nathan says:

    While I understand his sentiments, I’m tempted to tell Mr. Thompson, “Don’t hold anything back, tell us what you really think.”

    Perhaps those of us who aren’t publishing and writing on the Church for a living could benefit from a bit of Shakespeare, who had Cordelia tell Lear in Act 1, Scene 1 of King Lear:

    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
    According to my bond; nor more nor less.

    [I did recently tell a priest that I’m mellowing in my old age.]

    In Christ,

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    My recurring nightmare involves being trapped in a raging inferno at the Cineplex and there is this guy yelling, “Fire! Fire! Shut up and don’t anybody move!”

  11. greenlight says:

    For awhile now my thought process has been: Either 1) this is it, these are the end times and we don’t get another pope, in which case it doesn’t matter, or 2) our next pope is Francis 2.0, in which case we’re done for and it doesn’t matter, or 3) the pendulum swings back hard and our next pope is Burke or Sarah or someone like them, who tries to clean up the damage from this pontificate in which case there’s a mass exodus of the previously emboldened progressives and the poorly catechized who see the cleanup effort as going back to the Dark Ages and the Church becomes even smaller. Even #3, which seems like the best scenario, involves casualties too heavy to contemplate.

    I wonder if we need to start laying the groundwork (or prepping the battlefield) for how “History” might view this pontificate.

  12. Woody says:

    Old Vulcan proverb: Only Nixon can go to China.

    I paid a visit to the local SSPX chapel the other week, just went to the bookstore and then did Adoration there, as it was (the real) Corpus Domini. The people, including the priest, were very nice, not at all condemning my current sojourn with the Novus Ordo conservative crowd, interested to hear about the Ordinariate, at whose Cathedral I attend Holy Mass. It also seems that the real “Resistance” types have already hived off to a competing chapel, so although I did not get around to asking, I bet those who remain there are ready for the regularisation. One can only hope that (a) it occurs soon, and (b) the SSPX leadership will have been prudent enough to get a structure that will be able to withstand a lot of episcopal hostility.

  13. The Mad Sicilian Geek says:

    I have popcorn and am willing to share…

  14. wilky says:

    Are any other priests hearing people confessing their anger at the pope, or fellow priests suggesting a worldwide petition asking the pope to abdicate for the good of the Church?

  15. Clinton R. says:

    I agree with what Mr. Thompson says in his article. The Church has had saintly popes, good popes and very bad popes. We are not in the time of a great papacy, sadly. Is Pope Francis Catholic? Only God knows the answer. I pray very much for him, but I and many others I would wager, believe the Church has suffered under his pontificate. Celebrating the Reformation? I fail to see what good can come from it. As it is, post Vatican II, we are in a era of religious indifference. What about the martyrdom of the saints who suffered defending the true Faith against the Protestant revolters? Now to see the Pope extoll its virtues? What more novelties will the Bride of Christ have to endure? I shudder at the thought. Domine, miserere nobis. +JMJ+

  16. Phil_NL says:

    Short answer:

    “Yes, by definition.”

    Long Answer:

    Yes, by definition, but that doesn’t mean his stewardship is impeccable. Plenty of historical examples of that, alas. (I repeat my earlier point that, thusfar, Francis would still rate as an above-average Pope – simply because for centuries, the bar of church governance was set depressingly low; at least we’re not returning to excommunications as political weapons for petty feudal disputes).
    I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d say, 20 or 30 years hence, that something good (and important) was made possible by this papacy that we’d almost surely had missed otherwise, but for now, I wouldn’t have the faintest clue what that would be.
    I doubt the curia will be seriously reformed (still waiting for a massive return of curial officials to their home dioceses; not holding my breath). I doubt that the SSPX saga will go anywhere (sorry, Father) simply because the oddities of this pontificate would outweigh the direct need from them. They can wait 2 or 3 pontificates longer, in their minds. I doubt we’ll get anything but a free-for-all praxis regarding theological issues, starting with marriage.
    So I don’t know what it will be. Trust in the Holy Spirit and prayer, that’s all we have in these matters. In the meantime we might have much to endure, but endure we must.

  17. CatholicMD says:

    “Pope Francis is not a ‘great reformer’, as one sycophantic biographer dubbed him. ”

    Haha I actually googled “Austin Ivereigh” and “sycophant” after reading that book.

    “he is behaving like a befuddled Anglican Primate who is too busy charming the media with quirky quotes to attend to the duties of his office.”

    I can’t state more emphatically how this pontificate brings an ominous sense of de ja vu to those of us former Anglicans/Episcopalians.

  18. Mike says:

    Here’s one Catholic who won’t be celebrating the Reformation. I’ll be flipping to the back of my Missale Romanum for Votive Masses Pro fide propagatione, and ad tollendum schisma and contra persecutores Ecclesiae….

    We laity need to support any priest brave enough to proclaim and defend the Faith so openly. One suspects your numbers will not be legion, which makes our support even more vital than it already would be.

  19. Jacob says:

    Damian’s comment about an overly excited pope speaking off the cuff on airplane rides brings to mind the fact that Obamacare exists in the US right now only because Obama in his first campaign had a throwaway line in a speech about reforming health care. People remembered it and it snowballed on Candidate Obama.

  20. The Bear cannot confidently say which Catholic teachings Pope Francis believes. He seems to have his own take on everything, but one constant is downplaying religious differences nearly to the point of erasure. For example, on his watch we got Cardinal Koch’s magisterium of the photo-op separate-but-equal covenants that allow Jews to be saved without accepting Christ: the infamous “The Gifts and Covenants of God are Irrevocable.” Is the Pope Catholic? Well, at least Bears haven’t changed their habits, so there’s that.

  21. Kathleen10 says:

    Neo-Catholics love this ecumenical stuff, but what has it gotten us? Nothing I can see from here. To me it looks like a lot of foot kissing for no purpose. Maybe it’s intended to convince Catholics to go to the other side. There certainly has been no effort to convince anyone to become a Catholic. Well, that’s solemn nonsense anyway.
    Has anybody read any comboxes containing Protestant commentary about Catholicism or Catholic topics? Nothing but venom and insults, misunderstanding of Catholicism and admonitions from young pups about how we should only “worship Jesus and not Mary”. With all the dialoguing that is supposed to be going on you’d think someone might mention some of Catholicism’s real tenets, but whoa that’s asking way too much. Anyway I don’t see it making a dent. Honestly, with all that is going on in the world, with Christians being martyred in the Middle East, persecutions on the rise, the idea of this is crazymaking.

  22. JARay says:

    I used to enjoy reading Damian Thompson when he was a Correspondent in The Daily Telegraph (UK). His question “Is the Pope a Catholic?” is one which I ask myself many times on an almost daily basis. I do pray for Francis and my regular petition is for him to be gone. He has done some good things and indeed it is possible that he will be the one to open up the door closed upon the SSPX. If he does that then I will issue a sigh of relief and wish him God Speed on his way to South America.

  23. Ann Malley says:

    @JabbaPapa

    “…The CONSTANT undermining of the Petrine Ministry from certain quarters is deeply destructive of the Catholicity in its religious sanctity, and it helps constitute a diametric opposite of any or all proper Evangelisation of the World.”

    With all respect, the undermining of the Petrine Ministry and opposition to the proper Evangelization of the world is the result of confusing leadership and just plain confusion. STOP attempting to blame those who are coming to understand the problems that are there for creating the problems, please. Evangelizing confusion will help nobody save to transmit the message that Catholics no longer know the Catholic Faith or have any grasp on what it means. Translation: to deliver a false or confusing message is to work against the truth.

    The true “nasty little game” is ignoring real problems and pretending that all is well when it is demonstrably not. The true nasty little game is seeking to shame those who comment justifiably because others prefer to pretend that all is well.

  24. Maltese says:

    Instead of re-invigorating the Church, it seems we are watering it down some more. In the end, although our current liberal media may love this Pope, what does it portend for the long-term health of the Church. The Church was never meant to be part of the world, but apart from it.

  25. Ben Kenobi says:

    Father, I would love to see it, but I don’t see it happening. You see, SSPX believes they are right, we are wrong. Until that changes, nothing will happen. SSPX will go on doing their own thing. The whole ‘Year of Mercy’ has changed nothing. Now I hear “we have facilities” without ever acknowledging the damage not having facilities until now has done to their parishioners. They see the mercy as -recognition, affirmation of something that has been theirs all along and that finally the Catholics have caved.

    But of course, We won’t accept Vatican II. It is to be noted that every Council has it’s detractors. Some left after Nicaea. Some left after Trent. I suspect SSPX will just be another footnote on a very long and sad history of discord and division.

  26. Rescued Sinner says:

    Can a future Pope with GOD’s BLESSINGS” appoint a Patriarch over the Lutherans?
    With GOD’S BLESSINGS, lOO % YES!

  27. acardnal says:

    ” ad tollendum schisma”

    Aaah, the Mass to be rid of schisms. Recently, I have been listening to the recorded talks of Thomas Merton that he gave to novices and scholastics, and he mentioned celebrating this Mass. Interesting.

  28. acmeaviator says:

    I fear that the only reason the Pope wants to bring SSPX in o the fold is to have the full authority to shut them down.

  29. Joe in Canada says:

    a) let’s get rid of the “popcorn” thing;
    b) Pope Francis is a good Jesuit of his era.

  30. lana says:

    I can’t understand why the 99 of you can’t just stay quietly in your place and do something constructive like pray for the success of the Shepherd while he goes looking for the lost.

  31. organistjason says:

    -“He is behaving like a befuddled Anglican Primate who is too busy charming the media with quirky quotes to attend to the duties of his office.”-Amen!

    -“Or, to put it another way, the Pope may be a Catholic – but it’s beginning to look as if the cardinals made a terrible mistake when they decided that this particular Catholic should be a pope.”-Seriously? That was apparent from the minute Cardinal Bergolio first appeared on the Loggia, March 13, 2013 to anyone with common sense.

    Those two points say it all. Well, much, much more can and will be said. Next to Cardinal Burkes, “Resist” comment, two of the best made points since His Hilliness Pope Benedict XVI, moved into the shadows of Holy Mother Church.

  32. EeJay says:

    Fr Z.: “He could be the one to reconcile them (i.e. SSPX to Rome). Why? Because he is interested in what the SSPX will bring to the wider Church by their integration? No. Because… who knows why?”

    Answer, (a): Because the Pope’s beliefs are so wide ranging it doesn’t matter to him who it is (Lutherans or SSPX) as long as they proclaim Jesus as saviour.

    Answer, (b): Because he wants to swallow the SSPX and destroy them

    Answer, (c): Because he’s gone mad and doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Answer, (d): Because he really admires the SSPX and has had a change of heart and wants to make them the official CDF.

    [e) Because it’s the right thing to do. f) Because it would form part of his legacy – to bring about unity rather than allow a group over time to veer into schism.]

  33. JARay says:

    I strongly urge all of you to read the latest from Sandro Magister. It is simply stunning:-
    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351311?eng=y

  34. JabbaPapa says:

    Ann Malley :

    STOP attempting to blame those who are coming to understand the problems that are there for creating the problems, please.

    Damian Thompson has virtually turned Pope-bashing into a career, given that around 60% of his articles seem to constitute that activity.

  35. IloveJesus says:

    Lifesite posted a “greatest hits” compilation of quotes from our Dear Holy Father Francis. May Our Lady and her spouse the Holy Spirit guide and protect him from heresy!

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/confusing-even-the-elect-the-troubling-statements-of-pope-francis

    –It concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, “we pray for you, we ask…”, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…

    – In July 2013 when a reporter asked why during his trip to Brazil he failed to speak of abortion and homosexuality despite the fact that the nation had just approved laws concerning these matters, the Pope replied: “The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this. It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!”

    – In an October 2013 interview with La Repubblica, Pope Francis was reported to have said: “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old… the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.” In the same interview he said: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.” And also: “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation.”

    – The November 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium was similar to the Repubblica interview in that the Pope focuses on “two great issues” that, he says, “will shape the future of humanity.” “These issues are first, the inclusion of the poor in society, and second, peace and social dialogue,” he wrote.

    – In the 2014 book on Pope Francis, The Great Reformer, we learn from papal biographer Austin Ivereigh that Tony Palmer, an Anglican and long time friend of Pope Francis, spoke to then-Cardinal Bergoglio about whether he should become Catholic. Mr. Palmer described the then-Cardinal’s response as: “[Bergoglio] told me that we need to have bridge-builders. He counseled me not to take the step because it looked like I was choosing a side and I would cease to be a bridge-builder.”

    – In January of 2015 came the “don’t breed like rabbits” in-flight interview on his return from Manila. Speaking of a woman he knows who was pregnant with her eighth child after having the first seven by C-section, he said he had “rebuked” her, saying, “But do you want to leave seven orphans? That is to tempt God!” “That is an irresponsibility,” he added, “God gives you methods to be responsible.” Pope Francis then said, “Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits.” He added, “No. Responsible parenthood!”

    – In March 2015 came another interview with Repubblica in which the Pope seemed to suggest no person could go to hell, but if they fully rejected God they would be annihilated. The article says: “What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? The response of Francis is distinct and clear: there is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul. All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished.”

    – There was some controversy over Repubblica’s Scalfari interview. The Vatican would neither verify nor deny it in its specific parts, but nevertheless published it in the Vatican newspaper, and on the Vatican website. It was later deleted from the website, only to republish it again, then delete it again. Vatican watchers compared the most controversial part regarding the impossibility of people going to hell for all eternity to the statement from the Pope’s latest exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in which he said, “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!”

    – In a February 2016 interview with one of Italy’s most prominent dailies, Corriere Della Sera, Pope Francis praised Italy’s leading proponent of abortion, Emma Bonino, as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats,” comparing her to great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman. The Pope praised her for her work with refugees from Africa. Bonino was famously arrested for illegal abortions and then became a politician who has led the fight for the legalization of abortion, euthanasia, homosexual “marriage,” legalization of recreational drugs, graphic sex education, and more.

    – On February 18, 2016 on the papal plane returning from Mexico, the Pope commented on Donald Trump during the Presidential Primaries. “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. In the same press scrum, the Pope said he would not comment on Italy’s same-sex civil union legislation “because the pope is for everybody and he can’t insert himself in the specific internal politics of a country.”

  36. cwillia1 says:

    I have no doubt that Pope Emeritus Benedict thinks with the mind of the Church. I have no reason to doubt that Pope Francis is Catholic. There is a difference.

    Combine the personality cult that has grown up around the modern papacy with centralized governance in the Vatican and a succession of stellar popes in the living memory of every Catholic and we don’t know how to handle a problematic papacy.

  37. Augustine says:

    Majuscule, your comment is an interesting one given that,

    (a) the Authorised Version (“King James”) was produced as an alternative to Bibles like the Geneva version which, in their translation or in marginal notes, served explicitly to advance Protestant/Reformed polemics; and,

    (b) Father was perfectly happy to quote the Authorised Version on this blog only a few days ago. [And I followed up on the KVJ citation with the Douay.]

    Unless the particular edition you received had some wacky notes added to the text, I don’t think you’d have needed to worry about it promoting heresy, etc.

  38. Ages says:

    Lana wonders, “I can’t understand why the 99 of you can’t just stay quietly in your place and do something constructive like pray for the success of the Shepherd while he goes looking for the lost.”

    Attendance is down, confessions are down. His liberalism is not growing the church. [I’d like to see good statistics on this.]

    Those of us who are former Protestants know that this kind of thing doesn’t work. We have seen all of this before.

    He may be seeking the lost sheep, but he’s not calling them back to the flock that *I* recognize.

  39. LarryW2LJ says:

    I do have to admit that this has been the most confusing papacy of my adult life. I was just a youngster during VII and for much of Pope Paul’s reign. Pope St. John Paul II and Papa Benedict brought much needed direction. Sorry if this offends anyone, but to me, it feels like we’re drifting, again.

  40. Simon_GNR says:

    No-one should “celebrate” the Reformation – it is a matter that should prompt profound sorrow amongst all Christians. Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed that we all would be one. Human weaknesses have caused Christ’s believers to become disunited and this has done great damage to the Christian community over the centuries.

    To some extent, we should commemorate the Reformation just as we are currently commemorating the centenary of the Great War, deeply regretting the suffering caused by the conflict.

  41. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    The Good Shepherd, who left the 99 to go find the missing 1, left them in the wilderness. His Holiness seems to be intent on appointing wolves to be shepherds. The “99”, as you disparagingly call those who are distressed by His Holiness’ actions DON’T claim to be holier than others, merely utterly bewildered as to why a good shepherd would be willing to lay down the sheep to save his own skin. Sheep are stupid and need much guidance. (That about does it in my case). Sheep don’t know better than the shepherd. When this shepherd speaks, however, there are those who don’t recognize his voice — precisely because it sounds so much unlike what acknowledged true shepherds have said.

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    I wouldn’t question the Holy Father’s Catholicity. In my experience, there is always someone who is more Catholic than I am- whatever that means. To measure how Catholic a person is would require some objective standards by which to measure them against. To my knowledge, this is following the Commandments and Precepts at a minimum. Since we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God, we can’t use that as a measurement.
    You really can’t even ask if the Pope is qualified. Those who look through 21st century lenses might say he is unqualified, but if you look across the span of history, their have been many worse and more controversial Popes than our current Pontiff.

  43. Ann Malley says:

    @Ben Kenobi

    “…Father, I would love to see it, but I don’t see it happening. You see, SSPX believes they are right, we are wrong.”

    Outlining the issue as a we versus they is missing the point, Ben. The truth is either the truth or it is not. And with this latest offering of Ambiguity at the Catholic Cafeteria ala AL, more diners are realizing that there are other mystery meat offerings that prior to VII were considered poisonous and strictly forbidden. Like a dual salvation theory. (Messing with marriage – everyone’s favorite food – was a big whopper no, no. That got people’s attention whereas diddling up the obscure egg concoction most folks don’t even try let alone eat was a safer bet. Most wouldn’t notice.)

    One cannot legitimately reject the ambiguity of AL and then say one must accept the ambiguity of VII. It’s not consistent. For food to be “certified” healthy for human consumption, it must meet certain criteria in the real world. Otherwise the Health Inspector shuts you down. Why? Folks can and do die from food poisoning. And poisoning souls works the same way only with much graver consequences.

    Similarly, we are not as Catholics required to take the food that has a hint of taint just because we’re told we must. If we eat unknowingly out of obedience, that’s one thing. If we see and understand the evil, but eat anyway and lead our children to eat of the diseased offering, well, then we are also culpable because God gave us an intellect and a will. He told us to look to the fruits to discern. He also demonstrated what it meant to speak the truth despite the persecution of those in “authority”.

    That is why looking to the SSPX as the boogie man opposition is wrong. They are merely the donkey on which the message is currently being carried. If the donkey should die, a cat could take up the banner, a turtle. The SSPX is doing nothing more than looking to the truth and saying, “Hey, what about this.” That’s all.

    Time to cut the us vs them and look to the health of the Church and the transmission of clear, Catholic truth and teaching. All of it.

  44. louiseyvette says:

    lana: “I can’t understand why the 99 of you can’t just stay quietly in your place and do something constructive like pray for the success of the Shepherd while he goes looking for the lost.”

    Doesn’t he keep saying proselytism is solemn nonsense etc? Plus, maybe we think he is not actually doing his job.

  45. JabbaPapa says:

    cwillia1 :

    I have no doubt that Pope Emeritus Benedict thinks with the mind of the Church. I have no reason to doubt that Pope Francis is Catholic. There is a difference.

    An excellent remark, dear cwillia1

    We have been blessed in the persons of the truly great Popes John Paul I, Saint John Paul II, and Benedict XVI with men who have honoured and incarnated the Petrine Ministry unto our highest Catholic expectations, and Francis is our first “normal” Pope since the late 1970s …

    … which is not to dis any “normal” Popes, but merely to point out that we had three quite extraordinary ones over a generation and a half, and that it would be very wrong to view our current Pope’s actions in an overly negative manner

  46. chantgirl says:

    What is there to celebrate in the reformation? The cutting off of thousands from the grace of numerous sacraments? What kind of ex-cleric (Luther) would encourage thousands to “sin boldly” and then send them off on their merry way, to meet God after death without the benefit of confession or the Eucharist?

    It is disturbing to me that 500 years after Luther took thousands away from the graces of the sacraments by leading them out of the church, that we have many prelates inside the Catholic Church who are advocating practices which would cut off many inside the Church from the grace of the sacraments.

    As for the Pope, a lot of what he has said is simply indefensible, so it’s not surprising that people are asking questions.

  47. Someone brought up the Pope’s criticism of a group that offered 3,525 Rosaries for his intention, because they were so busy counting how many Rosaries they offered up. I have heard criticism of this sort before from people who think it is wrong to track one’s progress, or to follow “picky rules” in order to reap spiritual benefits like indulgences. Brings to mind Fr. Willie Doyle, the saintly and courageous “Trench Priest” of World War I — and a Jesuit — who did enough work for 10 people every day: giving spiritual direction by correspondence, authoring booklets to promote vocations, raising money for neglected children in foreign countries, burying the dead with his own hands, ministering to his soldiers under fire, performing hair-raising penances. He also recorded in his private journal that he reached the point of making 100,000 aspirations a day. Nobody knows how he managed to keep count of such a prodigious number of aspirations amidst his many other cares, but it seems not to have done his ministry any harm.

  48. BenjaminiPeregrinus says:

    @JabbaPapa – “The CONSTANT undermining of the Petrine Ministry from certain quarters is deeply destructive of the Catholicity in its religious sanctity, and it helps constitute a diametric opposite of any or all proper Evangelisation of the World.”
    I strongly disagree, pretending that popes are demigods who can not be questioned, undermines evangelization. We have had absolutely horrible popes, and aught to say so. That the Church survives such men is proof of her divine origin.

    @majuscule – The KJV really isn’t that bad. The text clearly bears the mark of the Vulgate. It was produced at request of but as a dig at the puritans, and with an interest in defending high church things they disliked, such as bishops.

  49. John Ed says:

    If they’re in schism why would it be the right thing to do? Is it the case then that they would need to change their ways before they were allowed in again?

  50. BenjaminiPeregrinus says: [P]retending that popes are demigods who can not be questioned, undermines evangelization. We have had absolutely horrible popes, and aught to say so. That the Church survives such men is proof of her divine origin.

    Agreed. And I think we lose credibility by desperate attempts at spin.

  51. un-ionized says:

    Nothing wrong with the King James bible.

  52. stephen c says:

    Anita Moore – thanks for the cheerful reminder. The mostly unknown history you are talking about – for example, the love for God that people like Father William Doyle (and those he prayed for) expressed in their lives on earth, is the real history of the world.

  53. PapalCount says:

    As for Pope Francis’ reforms…..I see only two thus far. The Annulment processed was streamlined and he abolished the title monsignor for priests until they are at least 65. Wow.
    He abolished the monsignorial title for diocesan priests to avoid or curb “careeerism” in the clergy. But, the changes do not apply to priests working the Vatican — the hotbed of careerism, if there ever was one!

  54. AnnTherese says:

    Some may think Pope Francis is not Catholic enough. Or does not emphasize the Catholic practices and beliefs they believe are most important. Other Catholics (who ARE just as Catholic…) are grateful to have a Pope who is focusing on what they consider to be the important Catholic pieces. A divided Church, indeed. In that respect, same as with other popes. Just as Fundamentalists pick and choose Bible quotes to argue their agendas, Catholics do this with Church documents. We’re no less guilty of having our agendas. Be honest.

    I am thrilled to have a pope who lives and breathes, teaches and practices mercy, compassion, and justice– like Jesus. God bless and keep Pope Francis!

  55. robtbrown says:

    St. Corbinian’s Bear says:

    The Bear cannot confidently say which Catholic teachings Pope Francis believes. He seems to have his own take on everything, but one constant is downplaying religious differences nearly to the point of erasure. For example, on his watch we got Cardinal Koch’s magisterium of the photo-op separate-but-equal covenants that allow Jews to be saved without accepting Christ: the infamous “The Gifts and Covenants of God are Irrevocable.” Is the Pope Catholic? Well, at least Bears haven’t changed their habits, so there’s that.

    I saw similar comments made in a Remnant video. I read the document, and it did not say what those from the Remnant claimed it was saying–either about the nature of the Old Covenant or the strategy toward the Jews.

  56. BenjaminiPeregrinus says:

    Anita Moore O.P. – Thanks, It occurred to me after my response that, one could argue that the holder of the office is the one most at risk of undermining the office.

    Also, I’m not entirely sure what was meant by “the Catholicity in its religious sanctity,” … the sanctity of the Petrine office is no guarantee of the sanctity of the office holder. If that was the implication?

  57. Hidden One says:

    In light of…everything, really, it’s amazing to me just how much of an effect the pope has NOT had on the Church and the world, and how easy it is to live day-to-day in the world as a Catholic without paying much attention to the pope’s words and works. Amazing, and consoling.

  58. Maineman1 says:

    Don’t you think that Francis’ participation in ceremonies commemorating the Reformation are just as damaging to Evangelism? What does Evangelism even entail in the modern Roman Catholic Church? Apparently it does not include the conversion of non-Catholics to the Faith. I don’t think Popes have ever preached such messages at these potentially scandalous interfaith, multireligious gatherings.

    Catholics are not meant to be mindless automatons for the Pope. He has earned his criticism.

  59. Ann Malley says:

    @AnnTherese

    “I am thrilled to have a pope who lives and breathes, teaches and practices mercy, compassion, and justice– like Jesus. God bless and keep Pope Francis!”

    Being thrilled is great, but that’s not what a Pope is called to elicit in the faithful. Fidelity to the truth is the order of the day. And while it may be exciting to attempt new and different, false advertisement may draw people to look, but will, in the long run, turn people off. Nobody likes to be lied to.

    And the faithful are being scandalized by all the game playing that makes it appear as if doctrine has changed when it most assuredly has not. That is the kind of stuff that erodes trust.

    But it is true that we “all” have agendas. Even Popes. But despite personal agenda we are all tasked with promoting and preserving the actual Faith, not passing down our own flavor of what parts of the faith should remain while other critical items (like Vitamins necessary for life) are left off the table or round filed.

    Fr. Rosica of Salt and Light up in Canada is said to have indicated that Pope Francis has so successfully navigated the business of “rebranding” that executives in the business world are now studying his methods.

    But seriously. Are we rebranding Catholic Faith now? Are we rebranding Christ? Are we stooping to give Holy Mother Church a face=lift as if she is some talking head on a news channel that must plump up her lips and get rid of the crows feet or else nobody will listen to the news anymore?

    Sorry, but that’s nothing to be thrilled about.