Fr. Finigan with a note to people who are upset

His Hermeneuticalness, my friend Fr Tim Finigan, has a good post which merits your attention.

Read the whole thing there, but here is a sample:

Popes may also teach privately. Such teaching would be expressed, for example, in sermons, interviews or books. When Pope Benedict published his book Jesus of Nazareth, he said:
It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search “for the face of the Lord” (cf. Ps 27:8). Everyone is free, then, to contradict me. I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding.
I mentioned this in a post three years ago and, I think reasonably, said that the same would apply to papal interviews with journalists.

Hence, if you are troubled by some statements that Pope Francis has made in his recent interviews, it is not disloyalty, or a lack of Romanita to disagree with the details of some of the interviews which were given off-the-cuff.

Naturally, if we disagree with the Holy Father, we do so with the deepest respect and humility, conscious that we may need to be corrected. However, papal interviews do not require either the assent of faith that is given to ex cathedra statements or that internal submission of mind and will that is given to those statements that are part of his non-infallible but authentic magisterium.

A good reminder. Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Mike says:

    I also suggest, if one has time, pour yourself a nice glass of ale, and read Newman’s “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk”. You will be reminded why the Petrine Office is such a gift. But like most gifts of real worth, it asks for humility to really appreciate!

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    Even the most disciplined, calculating, and polished public speaker will, from time to time, make a statement that later requires explanation or clarification. However, when one, time after time, makes statements, whether they are informal to a group of reporters or not, that require his subordinates to explain “that’s really not what he meant” there is a problem.

    I know that Holy Mother Church is protected and will prevail. Of that I have no doubt. But I also know that over the course of 2000 years we have had some less than Orthodox and less than stellar Popes. I fear this one, based upon not one, not two, but many statements is a Modernist and clearly not of the Traditional bent. Further, I believe he was elected by the majority of Red Hats who share his modernist views and knew he was “safe” to elect as he would not get in the way of an agenda that he, at least in part, shares.

    I fear his term as Pontiff will not be a particularly good one for the Church. In fact, I think it may well further divide the Church into an even larger group of CINOS with those of us in the Remnant being viewed as “the enemy”. I am already at that point where unless it is clear that he is speaking infallibly I am inclined to ignore what he is saying “off the cuff”.

    For those that argue that he is not being quoted accurately I would suggest that if that is in fact the case his advisors ought to caution him not to speak so openly and informally. I doubt he will stop, as contrary to those who gush over his purported humbleness, I read him just the opposite. I think he is basking in the attention he never got until donning the white hat.

  3. Sword40 says:


    I’m going to agree with you on this one. I have been hoping that I would not come to the same conclusion but I have.

    We are now “decentralizing” the church even more. That is a huge mistake. I can remember that when top management had a controversial decision to make they would appoint a taskforce to solve the problem. It then became OUR decision not management’s. Basically its shirking responsibility.

    Just a cross for us to carry for a time.

  4. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    To all those engaged in “Us vs. Them” thinking: placing persons into camps such as “Traditionalist”, “Modernist” and “CINOs”.

    The blogger at Disputations, Tom Kreitzberg, has written several times, “Avoid Us. vs. Them Thinking. It will kill your soul dead.” I’ve thought about it quite a bit, and I believe he is correct in saying so. Because when, in my mind, I place myself in one camp and place another person – my brother or sister – into a camp opposed to my own, I have essentially written that other person off. I have given up on him. He is – in a sense – “dead” to me. And the kicker is, when I mentally more or less give up on a person, I am no longer inclined to give to that person the love and respect that is his due in charity and in justice. Even though he be a stranger to me, I owe him love and respect. This is where I begin to fall into sinful patterns of distancing myself from another, of failing to think well of him, of refusing to give him the benefit of the doubt, of speaking respectfully of him wherever possible. I begin to fall into sins of commission and omission in my brother’s regard. And sin is what “kills my soul dead.”

    Look, Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies, only if they can’t hurt you, don’t annoy you, don’t bother you much.” He said, “Love your enemies.” My “enemy” can be a brother or sister in the Church whose words or actions don’t comport with what I believe to be right and true. I may disagree with some things, many things a brother or sister says, and I may say so charitably without making him or her into “The Enemy”; I may try to give them fraternal correction, if I am in a position to do so; I can use just means to work to keep them out of positions of authority within the Church if I believe they are presently unsuited to the those positions. However, once the Divine Providence of Almighty God the Most High places a man in a position, and he is beyond my reach through just means, I place my immortal soul in jeopardy by doing other than to say, “whereas the Holy Father the Pope remarked A., the Church has always taught B. Let us pray and fast for Pope Francis, that the Holy Spirit will mercifully assist him with a deeper awareness of the importance of B. for Holy Mother Church.” There’s nothing wrong with saying that. But to say other things: “he’s this, or she’s that” in a spirit of bitterness, of resentment, or in a partisan spirit, is nothing other than to clamber out a twelfth story window and stand out on a ledge 120 feet up, spiritually speaking.

    “Us vs. Them Thinking. It will kill your soul dead.”

  5. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    From a recent John Allen article:

    “Respected French Vatican writer Jean-Marie Guénois confirmed with Scalfari that he didn’t tape the interview, nor did he take notes, so the text was an after-the-fact reconstruction. Scalfari said he showed the text to Francis for his approval, but it’s not clear how closely the pope read it.”

    It is not clear if anyone recorded it, or took notes (as it would be sensible to do both on the Pope’s behalf), nor that the Pope vetted the result carefully (or that anyone in any position of responsibility asecertained whether or not he had), and none of what is now being said by M. Guénois and Fr. Thomas Rosica (“who assists the Vatican with English-language media”) was made clear immediately, nor, apparently, is it really clear in detail yet.

    This seems thoroughly bizarre.

    Are we glimpsing dizzying abysms of sloppiness and ineptitude? Or something else (as well)?

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The blogger at Disputations, Tom Kreitzberg, has written several times, “Avoid Us. vs. Them Thinking. It will kill your soul dead.” I’ve thought about it quite a bit, and I believe he is correct in saying so. Because when, in my mind, I place myself in one camp and place another person – my brother or sister – into a camp opposed to my own, I have essentially written that other person off. ”

    It’s not the placing of people into camps that kills the soul. Not to do so would be unrealistic. Even Jesus talked about those who were not with him, saying (Matt 12:30):

    ““He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”

    It is the lack of love that one shows towards those in the other camp that kills the soul. We are called to love our enemies (and, in fact, the Bible acknowledges that we may have enemies who are, by definition, in another camp), but that does not mean that we cannot be realistic about their state. In fact, we must be because that informs how we are to love them. It also means being realistic about their tendencies. It is charitable to love a CINO, but it is not charitable, by any means, to allow them to give a lecture on birth control as a good. We have multiple loves and multiple obligations and, sometimes, for the good of others to whom we are obliged, we must shun those in the other camp. In fact, the Church, herself, does this with heretics. While desiring their conversion, the Church, nevertheless, sequesters them. least they cause harm to the Faithful.

    According to Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one’s love may manifest itself by intolerance, as long as one is clear that the intolerance is always for the idea, not the person. It is not wrong to be upset at Modernists, for example – they can do a great deal of harm – and what friend would not try to shield another friend from it? The real question to be asked and it is glossed over too easily by some people, is, what exactly is love of enemy? How are you to love the CINO? Different situations call for different responses, including, in some cases, cutting oneself off from the other, but always with the hope that grace will prevail. How many times have I read of parents who have to not sanction their college-age son or daughter living in their house with another person to whom they are not married? Jesus said to try to reason with them, but, if they will not even listen to the Church, then to treat them as a tax collector. How were tax collectors treated? They were not accepted as a member within the group, but as someone who was to be sought after to return to the group. That is what love demands in these sorts of cases – the desire to return the other to the group. That desire can have many practical ramifications, from excommunication, to feeding them when they are hungry. There is no one size fits all approach.

    You can’t do any of this medicinal loving, however, unless you are, first, free to acknowledge that the other person is in another camp. So, divide away, but make sure you understand what you are doing in the dividing.

    The Chicken

  7. Janol says:

    I’m not most dismayed and disturbed by the substance of what the Holy Father says as it can be interpreted, sadly, in different ways, as he is not clear.

    What I find most troubling, and would find troubling in any leader, are the rhetorical/logical fallacies he makes time and time again, e.g. stereotyping, false dichotomies, and drawing conclusions/making assumptions for which there is no evidence (e.g. the Scripture passage in which he interprets that the disciples on the road to Emmaus were “complaining and complaining”).

    I find it likewise most troubling that the Holy Father, again and again, refers to the groups he has stereotyped, pejoratively.

    I would like our Holy Father to be, at the very least, respected by non-Catholics but wonder how thinking people will listen to someone who speaks in such a way.

  8. jacobi says:

    The Papacy in the past has undoubtedly created an aura of awe around itself, and it probably went too far. The present Holy Father is clearly trying to correct this and make the Papacy more available.
    That’s fine, but as always, there is the danger that the pendulum will swing too far. If the Pope wants to be just another one of the lads, sorry, the Faithful, he has got to expect that the lads, sorry, the Faithful, will treat him as such.

    What we have now is a reappraisal of the Papacy and it powers. Above all, we are seeing the limitations of the Papacy. The Pope cannot change anything that scripture, revelation, tradition and the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church has established. In using his undoubted power of infallibility, he can only define what has already been established as infallible. A theologian could have put that better, but I think the drift is clear.

    Communication via the press and atheistic thinkers, and use of “tone”, is fine, but he must expect something similar in return. Letters directly to him from disturbed members of the Faithful, perhaps even phone calls or emails or whatever? We have to move with the times after all.

    I suspect that Fr Finnegan, with his carefully judged and condensed assessment of infallibility, is anticipating this development, and properly preparing concerned Catholics for it.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. The words for “complain” and “lament” are very close in Romance languages. So I looked it up. Sure enough, the Spanish translation is not “complaining” but “lamentaciones,” lamentations; it’s not “complaint” but “lamento,” a lament. Once again, the English translation stinketh like unto a mackerel in Death Valley. The Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese versions all say “lamentations.”

    Based on the knowledge that the disciples had absorbed (and not the info that they hadn’t taken on board, which was the Resurrection after three days), the disciples were right to be sad. Jesus came to Emmaus to cheer them up (among other things). The Pope was not preaching against people registering complaints, but rather, pointing out that although being sad about sad things is natural, it doesn’t improve anything. You have to do something about the problem as well as being sad. He was again preaching a “fertile” Mother Church that does stuff. But he also preached that people have to listen to “the voice of pain” and not try to shut it off by anesthetizing themselves. This certainly isn’t “Shut up and stop moaning about it,” the way certain people apparently tried to interpret this speech. (And yeah, I kinda have to wonder who the heck is doing the English translations, and where he/she copped such an attitude.)

    2. Picturing the Gospel events as if you were there is standard Ignatian spirituality. Telling little stories about the Gospel based on your own contemplation or funny view of it — that’s ancient early Christian stuff. Read St. Ephrem’s sermons and poems, for example. Mother Angelica did that kind of stuff all the time in her interpretations of Scripture.

    This is the sort of technique that people only find offensive if the preacher or teacher already has their back up. Otherwise, it passes without comment, because it’s normal.

  10. Eliane says:

    “The Pope cannot change anything that scripture, revelation, tradition and the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church has established. ”

    No, but he could give implied wink-wink approval and create broad comfort zones for people who do want moral teaching changed, while impliedly insulting others by suggesting that they are hectoring sourpusses, indifferent to poverty and human suffering.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Eliane says:

    . . . .while implicitly insulting others by suggesting that they are hectoring sourpusses, indifferent to poverty and human suffering.

    I think that was no small matter, but I still think that reunion with the SSPX is still a real possibility.

  12. Cascade_Catholic says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but what does CINO mean?

  13. TimG says:

    Excellent article Fr. Z.

    I just started Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’ book a Life with Karol, a biography of his time with Blessed JPII. This has been out since 2007-2008, he writes about the schemes woven by the Communist regime to drive a wedge between Bishop Wojtyla and the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
    I am as concerned as most about the statements made by Pope Francis and the ease with which the MSM distorts them, I think we have to be very careful about this latest attempt by the evil one to weaken / drive us all apart.

  14. VexillaRegis says:

    Cascade_Catholic: CINO = Catholic(s) In Name Only.

  15. Cascade_Catholic says:

    VexillaRegis, Thank you.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    We have a clear teaching on infallibility for a reason.

  17. thank you Chicken.

    “According to Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one’s love may manifest itself by intolerance, as long as one is clear that the intolerance is always for the idea, not the person. It is not wrong to be upset at Modernists, for example – they can do a great deal of harm – and what friend would not try to shield another friend from it?”

  18. anna 6 says:

    Janol is spot on!!

    While I admire the mercy that Pope Francis advocates for those on the peripheries, he tends to stereotype in a very negative way, people already on the “inside” of the Church, emphasizing the extremes.

    Thus, I have sensed a growing division and an increase in the polemics to levels I have never seen before. It is disturbing.

    I think this could be helped if Pope Francis expressed more appreciation for the “workers in the vineyard”, starting with his immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI. It would go a long way towards healing these harmful divisions that ultimately will hurt the evangelization efforts that he clearly desires.

  19. mfm123 says:

    Unless it is faith and morals, it is his opinion. Just as good as mine!

  20. jacobi says:


    You’re right. It takes courage to hold out for the truth.
    Some people feel on the margins of the Church, such as active (but not chaste) homosexuals, and those in an adulterous second civil marriage. But they are there of their own choosing. Yes, life can be tough. They must be welcomed back to the Church and to the Grace they receive in the Holy Mass – but not to Holy Communion!
    You do people no favour at all if you substitute a “nice feeling”, for reform and repentance.

    If I remember right, this latter theme is dealt with in Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited”? Julia opts for, how shall I put it, a sinful life but with hope, rather than a life of sin without?

    ps I think I detect the Holy Father is already changing his mind a bit? He’s still very new in the job, you know.

  21. McCall1981 says:

    Out of curiosity, what makes you think he is “changing his mind a bit”?

  22. jacobi says:


    Do you always ask such awkward questions?

    I suppose the answer is intuition, backed up by the many “positive” things he has said. Most important of these is that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the memory of God” is the standard by which we must all abide.

    So if in doubt about anything said whether by him or anyone else, look to the good old CCC!

  23. Eliane says:

    “ps I think I detect the Holy Father is already changing his mind a bit? He’s still very new in the job, you know.”

    You grant him the benefit of assuming that he does not understand or foresee the true impact of his words and gestures. I have always presumed that he says exactly what he means and means what he says. I hope I am wrong and you are right.

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have just read the single most interesting analysis of the Pope’s customary ‘mode(s) of communication’ and what is problematical about them, that I have yet encountered, by an Italian who is both an academic theologian and an evidently commonsensical person, Professor Pietro De Marco, of the University of Florence and the faculty of theology of central Italy, courtesy of Sandro Magister (and Matthew Sherry, translating):

    (The Italian original is available for comparison by clicking for language selection at the post.)

  25. McCall1981 says:

    Sorry to be awkward, just wondering what you meant.

  26. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Masked Chicken, I think you and I are basically on the same page. Faithful adherence to the entirety of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, which is nothing other than loyalty and devotion to Jesus Himself, are essential among Catholics. And when faithful adherence to a key belief or teaching is absent, then it is right for the faithful Catholic to note such, to say something about it, and even to do something about it, such as, for example, to try to prevent those who dissent from Humane Vitae from teaching high school and college students in a Catholic setting.

    And naturally, no parent who is a serious Christian would permit a son or daughter to share a room with a guest of the opposite sex, in their home. Because it is an unsuitable arrangement, constituting as it does an almost insurmountable occasion of sin to the couple; by permitting such an arrangement, the parents make themselves accessories to the sin.

    Lawful ecclesiastical authorities, after due investigation may decide to pronounce a man a heretic, such as “a modernist.” The authority to make such a pronouncement is reserved to competent authority; layfolk don’t get to pronounce those kind of anathemas. Yes, we should avoid people who set a bad example, but we don’t avoid them because we’ve decided “they’re heretics” or “they’re scum”, but because they’re a bad example. When they cease to be a bad example, we would be happy to associate with them. That is a day we hope for and pray for.

    It isn’t a question of not calling a sin a sin, nor of being afraid to call error, error. It is a question of refusing to say of another person, “I’ve decided he’s one of the benighted them!”

    Love doesn’t do that. Love will admonish, cajole, reason, urge, . . . avoid, if it must, if it must, even punish, but will not place the other in The Camp of the Enemy.

  27. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    And yet… some(one) may be unjustly, benightedly inimical, and encamp (in various senses and degrees) against one. If one discerns that to the best of one’s ability, then is/are the other(s) not already decidedly of the benighted, in the camp of enmity?

    If “the authority to make such a pronouncement [of heresy and/or anathema] is reserved to competent authority” that does not seem simply to suffice in practice. If Pope St. Martin I was the “competent authority”, that did not deter those who abused him and hurried him to his death in the conviction that they were. And what of St. Maximus? He seems, not simply in concert with St. Martin, to have done more than “avoid people who set a bad example,” indeed precisely to have avoided them because so far as he could ratiionally and conscientiously discern “they’re heretics” or a sort of deadly enablers of heretics.

  28. StWinefride says:

    Yesterday, I came across this excerpt from a homily by St. John Chrysostom, early Church Father, on the Gospel of Matthew (Hom. 50, 3-4). It reminds me of Pope Francis and what he is trying to do:

    “Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: “You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.” (Mat 25:34ff) What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.

    Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honour Christ as he desires. For a person being honoured finds greatest pleasure in the honour he desires, not in the honour we think best. Peter thought he was honouring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honour, quite the opposite! Give him the honour prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

    Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the Church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honour? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?

    Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.”

  29. Janol says:

    Regarding Surbanbanshee’s claim that “complaining” was a mistranslaton and it should have been “lamenting, here is the coverage from the Catholic Herald, UK of April 4th. (Had a problem trying to find past fervorinos on the Vatican website. BTW, this complaining has been mentioned in at least a couple of the fervorinos. Apparently, from what I’ve read online the Gospel story of Emmaus is a centerpiece of the Holy Father’s ecclesiology as evidenced at Aparecida and so his interpretation of the story is not unimportant.

    Complaining frequently can become an obsession that obscures the presence of Jesus in difficult situations, Pope Francis has said.

    Celebrating morning Mass earlier this week with staff members from the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, a nearby residence and guesthouse for clergy, Pope Francis preached about the Gospel story from St Luke about the two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus after the death of Jesus.

    “They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid,” he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining. “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall,” the Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio.

    The disciples had had such high hopes that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said on Wednesday.

    “And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the Pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”

    When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognise him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognise him.”

    Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the Pope told the congregation.

    “Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said before adding that the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.

    Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”

  30. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    How general is this critique of the dangers of “complaining” (or even ‘lamenting”), and how even-handedly applied?

    Janol’s earlier observation comes again to mind, “I find it likewise most troubling that the Holy Father, again and again, refers to the groups he has stereotyped, pejoratively.”

    If there is such a (rhetorical) tendency both to stereotyping and subsequent pejorative reference (is there?), how freely, as it were ‘evenly’, distributed is that?

    Two of Professor De Marco’s points also come to mind. In the Scalfari exchange (as published), “Why avoid the theme of conversion by comparing it with ‘proselytism,’ a word loaded with a negative connotation?”

    And one of the “worrying signal” he sees: a “certain authoritarian inclination (“I will do everything to…”) in singular contrast with the frequent pluralistic propositions, but typical of the democratic ‘revolutionaries,’ with the risk of imprudent collisions with tradition and the ‘sensus fidelium’ “.

    This detail of the critique of “complaining” – ““Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure” – also reminded me of an observation of Professor De Marco about the danger of what may seem safer: “His is, at times, the conduct of a modern and informal manager, one of those who concede a great deal to the press. But this clinging to persons and things on the outside – collaborators [translating “collaboratori”], friends, press, public opinion, even the apartment in Santa Marta is ‘outside’ – as if the man Bergoglio were afraid he would not know what to do once he were left alone, as pope, in the apartment of the popes, is not positive.”

  31. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you for that excerpt from St. John Chrysostom! It seems characteristic of St. Francis, taken in the round, as well (I am thinking of Fr. Z’s recent extended quotation).

    If it is equally characteristic of Pope Francis and what he is trying to do, how similar are their styles of expressing this?

    St. John is so vividly, explicitly, emphatically ‘nuanced’ – “Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts…” and “Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments…” – for example. Is the Holy Father equally so?

  32. robtbrown says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    1. Christ says to love our enemies–he didn’t say pretend they are your friends.

    2. NB: There are many whose opposition to Catholic liberals (i.e., those who oppose doctrine, think it has limited relevance, or hate Latin liturgy) is not merely an abstraction, for which platitudes can be a salve. And they are not merely people who object to weekly silly, superficial liturgy at their parish or to homilies.

    Some have children whose minds were poisoned by libs in “Catholic” schools to the point of losing the faith. Others have been persecuted in seminaries or told they had no vocations. And there were others who were fired from teaching jobs at “Catholic” schools simply because they were faithful to Catholic doctrine. I have had personal experience with liberals–they don’t care about law (civil or ecclesial), truth, or fairness–they will do anything to anyone to get their way.

    Here is a video of E Michael Jones telling of his experiences”

  33. robtbrown says:


    Benedict XVI resigned the papacy. A few days later German bishops approved the use of the morning after pill (which has abortive effects).

    The latest German move is a policy of approving Communion to those in bad marriages (divorced and remarried without an annulment). This was a policy they first made public in 1994 when the SCDF (Cardinal Ratzinger) produced a document addressing this problem.

  34. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Robt Brown, I never said “pretend that (those who harm you or who perpetrate morally objectionable words or deeds) are your friends.”

    It would be folly to pretend that harmful or objectionable words or deeds have not taken place. The Master did not advocate folly or burying one’s head in the sand. I do not either.

    Hostile acts should elicit a response, a proper response. Depending on the circumstances and on our previous relationship, these may include any or all of the following (or none): to admonish that sinner, to go to the pastor regarding the issue; to shun that sinner, (perhaps to avoid them socially, or to refuse to read or listen to publications they write or produce); to exclude that sinner from positions of authority in the parish, and to persuade others to do so; to appeal to someone known to have the sinner’s confidence to persuade him or her to repent; even to recourse to the judicial system and the legal authorities, when necessary. But first and foremost, to pray, pray, pray for that sinner’s conversion. And even to fast for them.

    What I did say was, do not adopt an “Us vs. Them” outlook toward the sinner, meaning, do not in your own mind place another into an enemy camp opposed to your own. When I so place others, I make myself liable to mentally tuning out the humanity of a fellow human person, made in the Image and Likeness of God. Instead, I gradually begin to view them as a Being Other, as an Enemy, eventually possibly as a Demon, a Creature From the Black Lagoon. Once I have adopted views of that sort concerning the nature of those who harm or oppose me, it is easy to commit all sorts of sins against them with a deadened conscience. I cease to pray for them; I cease to acknowledge the good they do; I cease to treat them with respect, even in matters in which they do deserve respect. I allow wrath and even hatred toward them to gain a foothold in my heart, and to smolder against them.

    The smoke of smoldering wrath in my heart toward my neighbor is as the smoke of Satan which entered the Church. It is the very incense of Hell. And its noxious gloom pervades my very soul, if I allow myself to view a fellow human being, even against whom I have legitimate complaints, as some sort of Enemy Creature, not as a brother or a sister who has gone astray.

    I might view him or her as a straying sheep, but of my fold, sheep of the same shepherd. I don’t pretend he or she hasn’t strayed; I don’t pretend that the Shepherd has not proceeded far from the spot where they have lingered, and calls to them, and they seem not to hear. I add my voice to His, calling to them also. And I depart to run after the Shepherd, always calling to the straying sheep, hoping for his return.

    What’s bad is not to acknowledge that my fellow sheep has strayed; what is bad is to imagine in my own mind that he or she is in fact a wolf. Then my attitude and my behavior toward him will become very different, and very unChristian.

  35. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    And if someone else has harmed me and / or harmed the Church, I must do all that I can to work to oppose the harm and to correct the harm they have done, if I can. And if I can’t correct the situation in any apparent way, then it is for me to place the matter the matter in God’s hands; to say so is not “a platitude,” it is a sensible and humble acknowledgment of the fact that sometimes in life, bad things happen; people who shouldn’t win, win; and that things don’t always work out the way I think they should. It is for me to guard my hear from the devilish incense of resentment, wrath, bitterness, and fury which fume when I rail against persons and situations the correction of which God in His own wisdom, chooses to defer to a later time.

  36. robtbrown says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    I never mentioned a word about anyone being a sinner. That is an entirely different matter. Nor is it a question of lost sheep.

    And you make a common mistake by assuming that anger is a sin. Anger is a legitimate human passion that justly desires that a present evil no longer be present. It becomes sinful only when it produces a desire that someone be harmed (invidia, hatred). Love is wanting the good for another; the sin of hatred means wanting evil. I don’t wish evil for those who have been agents in destruction of Catholic life, only that they stop–or that those who have already stopped be discredited.

    There is also the aspect of Divine Providence, by which men are directed to their Final End. For more than thirty years I have been aware of the moral problems that have existed among priests, seminarians, and religious. Nothing having done by superiors to rectify the situation, I was happy when some of that scandalous behavior was finally made public. That is not wishing evil for enemies but rather rejoicing in Divine Providence–eventually, good is rewarded and evil punished.

    Another example is Hans Kueng, who recently said that he is considering assisted suicide. I cannot morally hope that happens. I can, however, think and say that if it does, it is a fitting (and Providential) end to the theological poison he has spread for years.

    I might also add that praying for one’s enemies is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that, if they are engaged in propagating evil, God wouldn’t effect a temporal punishment.

  37. robtbrown says:

    One other point: Like other Thomists I do not consider Justice and Mercy to be in opposition. Indeed, St Thomas says that in a certain sense Mercy is the Perfection of Justice.

  38. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    It is indeed a common mistake to believe that all anger is sinful. Although Saint Thomas indicates that an anger which consists of a just desire to see vengeance done and faults corrected is by no means sinful, anger that is inordinate is sinful, (ST II-II Q. 158) and when anger becomes habitual, it becomes a vice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers anger or wrath among these: “Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.” CCC 1866

    Saint John Cassian (quoted above) also wrote, “As then nothing should be put before love, so on the other hand nothing should be put below rage and anger. For all things, however useful and necessary they seem, should yet be disregarded that disturbing anger may be avoided, and all things even which we think are unfortunate should be undertaken and endured that the calm of love and peace may be preserved unimpaired, because we should reckon nothing more damaging than anger and vexation, and nothing more advantageous than love.” (Conf. XVI, Ch. 7)

    It is right to hope for reforms within the Church, in the priesthood, and in our seminaries, and to work for them, to rejoice when they come about, and to desire that those who have harmed the Church are justly punished. To do these things is not sinful; they are laudable and praiseworthy things.

    To place in my own mind, those whom I feel have harmed the Church into a category different from the category in which I place myself, to take an “Us vs. Them” approach in all these matters is a different concern. It is to set the stage for a simmering wrath or resentment, which is unwholesome both mentally and spiritually.

    Simmering, habitual wrath can never be considered a good thing by any Christian.

  39. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    You say, “What’s bad is not to acknowledge that my fellow sheep has strayed; what is bad is to imagine in my own mind that he or she is in fact a wolf”, a just and wise sense of which is apparent.

    Yet the Good Shepherd, Who is also the Lamb slaughtered (and characterized by wrath [“ira”]: Apoc. 5:12 & 6:16-17), speaks of false prophets as being ravening wolves (St. Matt. 7:15), in which He is echoed by St. Paul (Acts 10:29). In what way are we, and are we not, to discern such, and acknowledge that they are so?

  40. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Venerator Sti Lot asks: “In what way are we, and are we not, to discern such, and acknowledge that they (the wolves among us) are so?”

    By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to examine what is said and done by those around us. “Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:21-22.)

    Weighing words and deeds against what is good, is not the same as judging persons, an office that is reserved to the Righteous Lamb, spoken of in the Apocalypse, who with the wrath proper to the one to whom it is appointed, will execute His Final Vengeance upon those who deserve it. That kind of “‘Vengeance’,” however, “‘is mine,’ saith the Lord. ‘I will repay.'”

    That kind of wrath, too.

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae well says, “Weighing words and deeds against what is good, is not the same as judging persons”, yet He says (St. Matt, 7:15) “a fructibus erorum cognoscetis eos”, not ‘their fruits to be fruits’, or ‘their fruits to be wolvish’, but “them [to be ravening wolves]” – not to sit in final judgement or eexecute Final Vengeance, but “to know them”. (Wolves can be tamed, as He does not say, in so many words, but ravening wolves are not, yet, nor some sort of ‘ravenous occurring’.)

  42. The Masked Chicken says:

    I have been thinking about writing a Catholic science fiction story called, “The Jonah Project.” One really must wonder what the world would have been like if Vatican Council II, instead of shouting, “Open wide the windows,” had shouted, “40 years and the Church will be no more.” I wonder, would it have really hurt us to put on some sackcloth while the world was putting on silk?

    The Chicken

  43. robtbrown says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    What could be more us versus them than the phrase The People of God?

    Or, using a papal moment, speaking about THOSE people who count rosaries? Which of course makes me wonder whether the Pope also objects to the 30 day exercises every Jesuit must do twice it is lifetime. Why 30? Is that better than 27? Is it Pelagianism to think so?

  44. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Venerator Sti Lot, I’m not sure I quite understand your last post; pls. forgive me if my reply is not apt. I can say only that Saint Thomas Aquinas, quoting the Pseudo-Chrys, in the Catena concerning “ravening wolves” in Matt 7:15, observes: “Christians are called sheep, and the sheep’s clothing is a form of Christianity and of feigned religion . . . That the heretic might not allege that He here speaks of the true teachers which were yet sinners, He adds, ‘But inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ But Catholic teachers should they indeed have been sinners, are spoken of as servants of the flesh, yet not as ravening wolves, because it is not their purpose to destroy Christians.”

    It would appear that Saint Thomas distinguishes among several kinds of teachers: true and holy Catholic teachers; teachers who are servants of the flesh, and heretics, the latter of whom he calls the “ravening wolves.”

    Now it is given to competent ecclesiastical authority to pronounce that a person is a heretic, and the churchmen know the heretic, as you point out, “by his fruits.” However, while the power to observe and pronounce the bad fruits belong also to the laity, the power to adjudge the heretic as a heretic is not given by Christ to the laity, until the ecclesiastical finding.

    Therefore, we should by all means should seek good teachers, and avoid those, who, by their fruits, reveal that we ought not reside in them our confidence. We should work to promote and support good teachers in the Church, and see to it that teachers who do not pass on the Faith in its fullness are corrected or removed.

    But we should, nevertheless, not perform these actions with an “Us vs. Them” mentality.

  45. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Oops! Venerator, when I referred to your “last” post, I meant to refer to your 1:35 PM, and not to 2:07 PM

  46. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    What could be more us versus them than the phrase The People of God?

    I understand why you would say that. Perhaps the phrase “People of God” may be understood in a couple of different ways: it is the living body of the Church, made up of those now living on Earth, those in Heaven, and those in Purgatory, all of whom are under the Headship of Jesus Christ. And this understanding excludes those now living who are not yet under His Headship, putting them in the “Them” category (as in Us vs. Them). However, isn’t it true that Jesus Christ came “by His holy cross to redeem the world”? And so, although we know that not all men are saved, yet we hope that many now living, although not yet belonging to Christ, or else having fallen away from Him, may yet encounter Him in the Gospel, may come to repentance and attain to salvation before they die. And the numbers of the multitudes upon multitudes for whom these merciful things may yet one day come to pass, are unknown to us at present. And yet, in a sense, it may be said that persons who will one day embrace the Lord and win Heaven, presently belong to the People of God, and so are not excluded even at present.

    “Or, using a papal moment, speaking about THOSE people who count rosaries”

    I agree. At times, even the Popes have used infelicitous characterizations. I’ve been guilty, too, and probably will be again.

    If God has forgiven me for my moments, I can certainly forgive the Holy Father Pope for his, and overlook what he said as simply unfortunate and eminently forgettable.

  47. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    Thank you for the St. Thomas Catena material, and discussion of it!

    When you say, “we should by all means […] avoid those, who, by their fruits, reveal that we ought not reside in them our confidence”, that seems to me to include recognizing them as a kind of “Them” – not a “Them” we should not love, or utterly despair of, or ‘demonize’, but yet recognize as “ravening wolves” now, and not simply as possible future tamed wolves who if tamed will follow the Shepherd like sheep no longer straying or (to use a later, non-Holy Land image) sheep-dogs.

    I think you are right when you say (in an earlier comment) “do not in your own mind place another into an enemy camp opposed to your own. When I so place others, I make myself liable to mentally tuning out the humanity of a fellow human person, made in the Image and Likeness of God.” Yet it also seems to me that there is a proper recognition that ‘another is now in fact in an enemy camp opposed to your own’ which yet must involve your trying escape the dangers of “tuning out”.

    It seems to me that there is a proper form or ‘use’ of “Us vs. Them” thinking which must be preserved from ‘abuse’ into the form you describe so well.

  48. robtbrown says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    The People of God, which JRatzinger noted is an OT phrase, is by definition exclusive–there are also those who are not The People of God.

    Re the distinctions: I prefer the question of whether Christ is Head of all men.

    He is Head of those who now enjoy the Beatific Vision
    He is Head of those with Charity (in Purgatory and on earth)
    He is Head of those with Faith but without Charity (dead faith)
    He is Head of those who are in potency to have Faith (non believers)

    2. It’s not a matter of “forgiving” the pope. My point is that those remarks are wrong and unfortunately not unusual among contemporary Jesuits. The Society was founded in a By the Numbers era, a very mechanical approach. Now they often recoil at any mention of numbers or structure. They’ve gone from one extreme to another. I raised the Exercises because they often “forget” to apply their own criticisms to the Society. I had a friend in the STL cycle at the Greg who said that Frank Sullivan thinks there is nothing infallible about Canonization of Saints. My reaction was that St Ignatius can seem like not only a fanatic but also an anti-intellectual, so that, acc to Fr Sullivan we are free to think he is not a saint.

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