Fishwrap’s Call for Papal Yes-Men

Over at the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap), Michael Sean Winters attacked Bp. Tobin for saying that he (Tobin) is disappointed that Pope Francis hasn’t spoken enough about abortion.

Winters wrote:

Lastly, a note to the nuncio. Unless you want to spend the next few years defending Pope Francis in the face of such criticisms from bishops on your own, [!] the ternas for new appointments must include men who “get it,” men who understand what the Holy Father is trying to do, to change the conversation the church was having with the culture, a conversation the church was losing, and renew the proclamation of the Gospel by being more humble, less quick to condemn, more engaging with those with whom we may disagree a lot and, especially, by getting out of our sacristies (or our diocesan newspapers) and letting ourselves be re-evangelized by encountering the flesh of Jesus in the wounded flesh of our broken humanity. Pope Francis is achieving such a powerful response because he has captured the excitement of the Gospel. Bishop Tobin remains stuck in the tired and boring culture wars. Still, it is stunning to see such a clear, precise criticism of the pope by a bishop.

Okay, let’s think about this.

NSR wants lots and lots of collegiality and influence from below, right?

But, no! Apparently not.

NSR wants only the sort of bishops who will like and say YES to everything that Pope Francis says or does.  No criticism is allowed for their new Dear Leader!

Were the Michael Sean Winters types in charge, the college of bishops around Pope Francis would look like a meeting of North Korea’s Communist Party.

No independent thoughts are allowed?   No one should be appointed bishop unless he agrees with everything the Holy Father, the Supreme Pontiff, says or does!

Don’t worry, Michael Sean.  Pope Francis is a big boy.  This isn’t exactly his first rodeo. Francis has shown that he welcomes input.

You don’t have to protect Popes from criticism.

Goodness gracious!  How do the guys at The Fishwrap walk straight into it like this?  C’mon!  You’re making this too easy!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. anna 6 says:

    Did you ever think that you would see the day when NCR was upset that someone was critical of the Pope?

  2. Gratias says:

    I thought that Pope Benedict XVI should have had appointed only Cardinals that offered both forms of the mass but that did not happen. Even a few independent bishops can make a big difference to the Church, e.g., Bp. Rey from Toulon-Fréjus in Southern France. This points to the main problem with national episcopal conferences: we get a homogenized product that looks just like the MSM. Now the Franciscan idea is to devolve power to bishop synods, while it would be preferable to just let the bishops be pastors.

  3. jflare says:

    I read the whole article; I noticed in particular how Winters emphasized how Pope Francis has offered such a message about the dignity of a person. Honestly, I was slightly surprised when MSW didn’t continue with his usual bit about government aid programs and how His Holiness has emphasized such a rapport with the impoverished.

    On the whole, I guess I’m not real surprised. Fishwrap and MSW REALLY don’t like the “rough stuff” of Catholic faith, when we actually call a sin a sin, a scourge a scourge, or refer to evil as..evil. They never seem to cotton to that.

  4. Faith says:

    Think about it. The pope embraces a child with cerebral palsy. If that doesn’t speak volumes about abortion, then I don’t think anything would convince you.

  5. Tradster says:

    Embrace and enthusiastically support all of the Pope’s changes, eh? Hey, Fishwrap, wouldn’t that extend to the LCWR too? {crickets}

  6. AnnAsher says:

    it’s interesting to me that you refer to Pope Francis as “their Dear Leader” not “our” not “my/your” but “their”.
    Myself, I am more and more concerned with his rhetoric on the poor. I think the Church should feed and clothe and nurture and instruct the poor … and keep out of social activism. God did not design a society of equals – He designed a Monarchy – He elected that the poor would always be with us. We can not change people’s circumstances for them nor change the will of God but we can walk with them and help to make their circumstances more tolerable. If Francis wants to sell the Vatican’s treasures to feed the poor – I am for it. But his blathering which is hedging ever closer to praising liberation theology of which we were told he stood against… is giving me qualms.

  7. Pingback: Hooray for Bishop Tobin! | Vox Nova

  8. inexcels says:

    Good to know tens of millions of children being murdered in their mothers’ wombs is “tired and boring.” Thanks for your enlightening contribution, MSW.

    Ugh. Time to go do something else. Sometimes my only protection against extremely uncharitable thoughts about people is to not think about those people at all.

  9. Jackie L says:

    The hypocrisy at the NSR never ceases to amaze me. Who can forget them asking the Bishops to continue to suppress the wishes of the people when it comes to the EF, then asking the Bishops to submit to their wishes for womenpriests in the next article.

  10. Johnno says:

    If Winters thinks Pope Francis is going to a-ok priest actresses, gay fornication, and promote terrorism against the unborn, then he’s in for a surprise. The best he can hope for is that Pope Francis keeps quiet about all those topics and continues to teach in V-II pastoralese so that his words at face value can be interepreted any which way we like according to modernist definitions.

    I wonder if he’d change his tune if the yes-men were someday under the authority of a reunited-SSPX Pope rather than a Jesuit one. What Mr. Winters of discontent actually means when he says ‘Pope Francis’, actually means ‘Pope Mr. Winters.’

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I just rewrote this first sentence, because it had an insult in it for Mr. Winters. Must stay calm. It’s hard.
    If Mr. Winters opened his door one day, and found a box with a small form in it, and when he pulled back the covering, discovered the tiny, inanimate body of a once-alive, now dead infant fully formed, but grotesquely damaged from the abortion he or she had just suffered, then perhaps he would realize that in this tiny body, so perfect but for the broken bones and blood, the “encounter with Jesus in the wounded flesh of our broken humanity” that he is looking for and advising the Bishop go out and find. It is beyond bizarre, and hypocritical to the intolerable maximum, that there are so many who wax poetic about the homeless, the poor in some far off land, minorities, alcoholics, drug users, anybody anywhere, but can’t find that same compassion for a small baby, who’s neck was just broken in an abortion, or appendages pulled off. Imagine, Mr. Winters, you, gazing down at that box containing that precious little being, who, if just left to finish his or her time in the womb as you or I did, would be smiling, laughing, and cooing, like every other infant, at you even. Imagine it. Can you find no empathy in your heart for this little person? I assure you, if you are truly looking for Jesus, you can find nothing that will come closer to “broken humanity” than this small child. But you are likely looking for the broken humanity that is not inconvenient at times, so you must look elsewhere. But must you chide those who cannot look away? Are you prepared to take moral responsibility for encouraging even one person to minimize this reality? To instruct a Bishop, a Bishop, that he is being a “downer”. Yes, he is being a downer, and not joining in the parade of excitement over Pope Francis! How dare Bishop Tobin rain on your parade!
    The Bishop, is doing exactly what he is supposed to do. He is wondering about a perfectly legitimate question, why do we not hear more about abortion, since we are hard-pressed to find anything more evil than a mother destroying her baby. Yes, Mr. Martin, to you it may be a “boring culture war”, but the church is not losing that war. There are more pro-life people now than twenty years ago. We see the ultrasounds. We hear the heartbeat. We know the gestational life of an infant and we see very clearly that it is a massacre of the innocents.
    If you imagine a Jesus who does not care about this massacre, you and I are not looking for the same Jesus.

  12. Scott W. says:

    Bishop Tobin remains stuck in the tired and boring culture wars.

    This the language of dissenters in losing mode. Whenever they are winning, their rhetoric is “ride the wave or be crushed by it”. Whenever they are losing, it’s “O why do we need these limiting labels like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ and ‘culture wars’?”

  13. The Cobbler says:

    For some folks obedience or collegiality, monarchy or democracy, the voice of the people of the voice of God are all just means to an end, and the end is whatever they have decided is right. For they shall be like gods, knowing good and evil.

  14. Athelstan says:

    In case it isn’t obvious – and I can see why it might not be, given the stance of most at NCR on abortion rights – Michael Sean Winters is pro-life, or at least claims to be ( I am happy to take him at his word).

    What MSW does not approve of is most pro-lifers, or at least how they conduct themselves. Too confrontational, it seems. Never mind the profusion of abortion restrictions at the state level, or the general movement in polls over the last two decades ( due in part to the growing use of ultrasounds, to be sure). The idea he seems to have is that the pro-life movement is failing, because it strikes the wrong tone – and that (he thinks) Bishop Tobin exemplifies this.

    No doubt he’s well intentioned. But Winters is, I submit, simply naive about the motivations and persuadability of most of those most active in the cause of abortion rights. No amount of humble gestures or silence by the Pope on this subject (and he has not, in fact, been silent on abortion), is going to shift the “conversation” on abortion in the kind of way he hopes. The Abortionpalooza we saw at the DNC (and the protests we saw in Austin this summer) demonstrate what we’re up against. We must exercise charity, but we cannot be silent about the evil of abortion – an evil that costs souls.

  15. robtbrown says:

    Athelstan says:
    In case it isn’t obvious – and I can see why it might not be, given the stance of most at NCR on abortion rights – Michael Sean Winters is pro-life, or at least claims to be ( I am happy to take him at his word).

    I hear that claim a lot, but I wonder whether it is little else than a personal opinion. Is it a deal breaker, preventing someone from voting (or supporting) a candidate who is pro abortion?

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  17. afzamarro says:

    Sorry to be late to the disco, but on Twitter Father James Martin, S.J. had tweeted a link to the MSW article with the teaser, “Bishop Tobin of Providence ‘disappointed’ in Pope Francis”. Martin has positioned himself as a ‘Progressive Lite’ saying lots of things that are pleasing to the Catholic left, without being too extreme. Part of this image is using the language of “culture war” to paint your opponents as uncaring and/or overtly political.

    Call me naïve, but it’s pretty heart-rending to see people – Catholic people, people respected by establishment Catholics – using new media tactics to advance a progressive agenda. I would, in fact, call out conservatives for doing the same thing. But it strikes me as deeply uncharitable to resort to “scare quotes” and stretching the interpretation of the bishop’s words so violently to score political points.

    It’s a real son-of-a-gun.

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