Getting Francis Wrong

Over at First Things I saw a piece called Five Myths About Pope Francis by William Doino Jr.

What are those myths?

1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.”
2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.”
3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.”
4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.”
5. “Francis Loves the World.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr AJ says:

    6. Pope Francis hates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

  2. eben says:

    7. Pope Francis loves Rolls Royce Limos.

  3. Priam1184 says:

    I don’t know. A lot of what people ‘know’ about Pope Francis comes from the spin machine that operates both within and without the Vatican. It is a hazard of this age of the world that so much information is flying around at the same time that man has lost the ability to judge between truth and falsehood. In any case deeds and not words show the true character of the man, and he hasn’t really done anything yet.

  4. jm says:

    Doino’s piece, hardly convincing. AS Catholics we are obliged to give the Pope respect and deference. AS for what he does, how on track he is, etc., the job is that of leader and manager, so let us see how well he does. He could be the greatest, most well-intentioned guy in the world, or no… What matters is how he handles the Church. All the certainty that he is just this Amazing + Perfect Synthesis and Reformer… I don’t think he has done much of anything yet, other than do some glad-handing and preach a few nice sermons. Can’t we let him prove and define himself?

  5. Sword40 says:

    Time will tell soon enough. Until then he is our Pope. May God Bless him.

  6. Hank Igitur says:

    He is yet to reveal himself to us, so far we know little.

  7. Well, he may not be the anti-Benedict, but the reduction of the papal Liturgies doesn’t help.

  8. Allan S. says:

    Hmmm. The comments over there are not exactly supportive of the article. Openly hostile, sure…..
    I think the jury’s still out on a lot of this while the rest of us pray and offer whatever deference we can muster.

  9. MikeM says:

    For a Pope, words are more often than not actions. Pope Francis released Lumen Fidei… and whatever Francis may have added/changed, it’s the most Benedict of all of Benedict’s encyclicals. That says kind of a lot, doesn’t it?

  10. Gratias says:

    Myths? I wish.

  11. Cosmos says:

    If you want to understand Pope Francis, I think you read Fr. Cantalamesa. But if I had to try to describe him, in music magazine review-style, I would say:

    – He he buys into the VII worldview which is that Catholicism is true in its essential teachings, but has to be represented to the modern world in a way that is appealing;
    – While he rejects liberation theology, he has really bought into its categories, and believes Christianity is a third-way between the excesses of greed (oligarchy and capitalism) and the excesses of socialism;
    – He has a stripped down Jesuit vision of liturgy and Church;
    – He is very influenced by the Charismatic movement as a grass root movement of the Spirit that is capturing hearts and minds, revitalizing certain populations, and open to the poor.

    So, in a nutshell, a liberal, but not progressive Jesuit who has fought to hold the line on orthodoxy, and tries to follow the movements of the Spirit (for which he looks especially to the poorer masses).

  12. onosurf says:

    8. Pope Francis believes and teaches the infallible Catholic Dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

  13. jhayes says:

    Onosurf, note that the Catechism says:

    “847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

  14. acricketchirps says:

    Top myths about onosurf:

    1. He’s a Feeneyite

  15. onosurf says:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” has been three times defined by the Catholic Church. The most explicit and forceful of these three ex cathedra pronouncements is from the Council of Florence under Pope Eugene IV.

    “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church” … yes, I agree. How many people fall under this category today? Surely, none of the religious leaders that have met with Pope Francis. Ah, what the heck, let’s just charge ahead with the celebration for that heretic, Martin Luther, planned in 2017.

    acricketchirps – The next page in the playbook is the charge of sede, yes?

  16. acricketchirps says:

    “Charge”? Hey, you make your own myths–and dispell ’em if you like; I’m just keeping score.

  17. transparent2one says:

    “Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry – this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy,” said Pope Francis. “There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation,” he added.

  18. jhayes says:

    Onosurf, this issue has been discussed many time over the years and those discussions are readily available online and in libraries, so I will not repeat them here. The issue is not whether the Church teaches extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (it does) but what that means.

    On 8 August 1949, the CDF (then the Holy Office) issued a letter explaining the teaching :

    “Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

    However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church….

    [T]hat one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

    However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.”

    Later, this was explained in more depth in Lumen Gentium and the Catechism. “Invincible ignorance” doesn’t mean that you don’t know that the Church exists, but, as Catechism 846 says (quoting LG) , not “knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God [for salvation]”

  19. onosurf says:

    I never argued against invincible ignorance, jhayes. Why did that even come up?

    Besides, invincible ignorance is rare. Why the focus on very infrequent outliers?

  20. jhayes says:

    Onosurf wrote: invincible ignorance is rare

    I guess that’s where you differ with Francis.

    And with J-P II:

    “3. The Holy Spirit is not only present in other religions through authentic expressions of prayer. “The Spirit’s presence and activity”, as I wrote in the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, “affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions” (n. 28).

    Normally, “it will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their own conscience that the members of other religions respond positively to God’s invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour (cf. Ad gentes, nn. 3, 9, 11)” (Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue – Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 19 May 1991, n. 29; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 July 1991, p. III).

  21. Geoffrey says:

    Re: “Francis is the anti-Benedict”.

    I was watching World Youth Day live on EWTN earlier today. There was a moment when Pope Francis mentioned how it was Pope Benedict XVI who invited the Catholic youth to meet in Rio de Janeiro. At the mention of the Pope emeritus’ name, the nearly million strong multitude began cheering and applauding, and soon the traditional cries of “Benedetto” began. Soon after, Pope Francis himself joined in, saying “Benedetto!”. Beautiful moment.

  22. onosurf says:


    Yes, we agree. I don’t believe Pope Francis or JPII’s teaching on this falls in line with Tradition, scripture or dogma.

    Related, I watched a video today on papal infallibility — thesis is that sede’s and liberals are simply different sides of the same coin. Tradition does not define papal infallibility the same as those two groups. This vid is 5 min. and very worth watching.

    Now, just because the statement is coming from the mouth of Bishop Williamson, it may automatically be dismissed. It shouldn’t. If a smoker told you smoking was bad for you, would you dismiss it as an inaccurate statement simply because he is a smoker? Of course not, the truth stands on its own regardless of who is saying it. I think the same goes for this video:

  23. onosurf says:

    Here is a great sermon from an FSSP priest on Extra ecclesiam nulla salus that does get in the weeds about invincible ignorance. I would say in the USA/EUROPE, that number very is tiny.

    What is being promoted, and has been promoted for the last few decades is religious indifferentialism. This is essential reading:

  24. cl00bie says:

    Pope Francis doesn’t love the world? I thought that was a criteria for being pope?

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