Hard views of Pope Francis from Spectators

I bring to your attention a couple hard-hitting pieces not for the purposes of depressing you, but informing you.

I’ve advised elsewhere that if this pontificate, or perhaps “parenthesis”, is getting you down, then stop paying so much attention to the news.  That said, some of you who are tough and well-balanced – not likely to fly off the nearest window ledge at the mention of turmoil in the Church – should know what is being said.  On the one side there is the rah rah rah from the catholic libs who think that Pope Francis is the 7th Apparition of Vishnu (whom I believe they may prefer to worship rather than the true King of Fearful Majesty) and those who are boo boo boo Pope Francis is bringing on the eruption of Mount Doom.

I am trying to take the longer view.  I remind myself that each pontificate is a parenthesis in the long history of the Church and of our Salvation.  This parenthesis will close one day and another will open.

That said,…

You might want to look at a piece by George Neumayr at American Spectator.  He is not a fan of Pope Francis.  My emphases.

The lack of charity for which he condemns them was on sad display in his own remarks.

The scandalous synod on the family skidded to a stop last weekend in Rome but not before Pope Francis got in a few more licks at conservatives, whom he caricatured in his final remarks as heartless.

The speech was notable for its nastiness, displaying the very lack of charity he routinely assigns to conservatives. The synod, he said, had exposed “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”

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

Under the lightweight leftism of Pope Francis, the question “Is the Pope Catholic?” seems less and less rhetorical. Previous popes, reading the remarks above, would conclude that the speaker held to the theology of liberal Protestantism. They would find the false contrasts between divine law and mercy, upon which Francis habitually relies, pitiful in their shallowness, and they would find his constant resort to straw-man fallacies and motive-mongering against traditionalists to be an unsightly blot upon the papacy. With a pope like this one, orthodox Catholics don’t need enemies.  [Harsh stuff, but there is one point to make: it is often hard to know to whom the Pope is referring when he talks about all these horrible people in the Church.  Who are they?   I’ve never encountered such creatures.  Are they indigenous to Argentina?  Then maybe those comments should be made in Argentina.]

All the tortured throat-clearing from pundits about the “nuances” of Pope Francis is very unconvincing. He is not nuanced at all. He is an open left-wing Catholic, perfectly comfortable with the de facto heretics within his own order and inside his special cabinet of cardinals. Cardinal Walter Kasper, whom Pope Francis has identified as one of his “favorite” theologians, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, who is one of his closest advisers, stand to the left of Martin Luther.

Well, say the pope’s desperate propagandists, Francis may not possess a deep mind but at least he has a big heart. If so, it seems to bleed for everyone but orthodox Catholics, whose fidelity to the faith under secularism’s ceaseless encroachments is treated with contempt.

Like many modern Jesuits, Francis often sounds like he loves every religion except his own. Could anyone imagine him every talking about imams, rabbis, or even a feminist witch, in the same caustic style that he disparages Catholic traditionalists? If he did, he would have an “ecumenical” crisis on his hands.

Early in his pontificate, video footage captured him teasing a blameless altar boy for holding his hands together piously. Were they “stuck” together? the Pope asked the bewildered boy. That is what passes for humor in the liberal Jesuit order. Visit almost any Jesuit college or school and you will soon encounter similar instances of anti-Catholic gibes presented as “reform.”


There’s more there. As I said… he is definitely not a fan.

Then there is a piece from Damian Thompson at The Spectator:

Pope vs church – the anatomy of a Catholic civil war
His scattershot reforms and wild statements make him look out of control to ordinary conservative Catholics

Last Sunday, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica carried an article by Eugenio Scalfari, one of the country’s most celebrated journalists, in which he claimed that Pope Francis had just told him that ‘at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask [to receive Holy Communion] will be admitted’.

Catholic opinion was stunned. The Pope had just presided over a three-week synod of bishops at the Vatican that was sharply divided over whether to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacrament. In the end, it voted to say nothing much. [Thanks be to God.]

On Monday, the Pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said Scalfari’s report was ‘in no way reliable’ and ‘cannot be considered the Pope’s thinking’.

Fair enough, you may think. Scalfari is 91 years old. Also, he doesn’t take notes during his interviews or use a tape recorder. Of course he’s not ‘reliable’. [Why does His Holiness keep going back to Scalfari?  Does he want the chaos that always ensues?]

But that didn’t satisfy the media. They pointed out that the Pope knew exactly what he was letting himself in for. This is the fourth time he has chosen to give an interview to a man who relies on his nonagenarian memory. In their last encounter, Scalfari quoted the Pope as saying that two per cent of Catholic priests were paedophiles, including bishops and cardinals. Poor Lombardi had to clean up after that one, too. Last time round, Catholics gave Francis the benefit of the doubt. This time many of them are saying: never mind Scalfari, how can you trust what the Pope says?

We’re two and a half years into this pontificate. But it’s only in the past month that ordinary conservative Catholics, as opposed to hardline traditionalists, have started saying that Pope Francis is out of control.

Out of control, note. Not ‘losing control’, which isn’t such a big deal. [Out of control, like a loose cannon on the deck of a pitching ship: it can pitch down a hatch, through the hull, and then everyone goes down to Davy Jones’ locker.] No pontiff in living memory has awakened the specific fear now spreading around the church: that the magisterium, the teaching authority vested in Peter by Jesus, is not safe in his hands.

The non-Catholic media have yet to grasp the deadly nature of the crisis facing the Argentinian Pope. They can see that his public style is relaxed and adventurous; they conclude from his off-the-cuff remarks that he is liberal (by papal standards) on sensitive issues of sexual morality, and regards hard-hearted conservative bishops as hypocrites.

All of which is true. But journalists — and the Pope’s millions of secular fans — get one thing badly wrong. They assume, from his approachable manner and preference for the modest title ‘Bishop of Rome’, that Jorge Bergoglio wears the office of Supreme Pontiff lightly.

As anyone who works in the Vatican will tell you, this is not the case. Francis exercises power with a self-confidence worthy of St John Paul II, the Polish pope whose holy war against communism ended in the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

But that’s where the similarities end. John Paul never hid the nature of his mission. He was determined to clarify and consolidate the teachings of the church. Francis, by contrast, wants to move towards a more compassionate, less rule-bound church. But he refuses to say how far he is prepared to go. At times he resembles a motorist driving at full speed without a map or a rear-view mirror. And when the car stalls, as it did at the October synod on the family, he does a Basil Fawlty and thrashes the bonnet with a stick.

I am sure that many of you have formed your opinions and that it will be tough to move you from them.  I bring these two pieces to your attention to inform, rather than to budge.

I advocate the long-term view.  Pontificates are parentheses.  Some are short, some are long.  Some are important, some are not.  God opens them and closes them according to a plan we cannot see.

I’ll turn on comment moderation especially for those of you without a filter.

Meanwhile, examine your consciences and…



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Francis, GO TO CONFESSION, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jfk03 says:

    I remember my first reaction when I learned that newly-elected Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit. It was a big “Gulp!”

    That said, I have resolved not to focus too much on Vatican and papal news, which I don’t particularly like, but rather on my own faults as a sinner. The Lord said not to pick at specks in someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own eye. The Church (with a capital “C”) is much bigger than any one pope or any one bishop. It will survive whatever imperfections exist in the current occupant of the See of Peter.

  2. Amateur Scholastic says:

    “But it’s only in the past month that ordinary conservative Catholics, as opposed to hardline traditionalists, have started saying that Pope Francis is out of control.”

    This mad hardline trad has noticed this. ‘Ordinary conservative Catholic’ New Advent is currently linking to a piece by Bp Schneider… on Rorate!. The times have indeed changed.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I saw those earlier, but this is the Spectator, which is anything but impartial. [Why does a journal of opinion have to be impartial?]

    I can empathize having had my own share of discontent during the previous two papacies. The pendulum is coming back to the center. [I doubt many will accept your premise. Most will hold that we were far closer to the center than the Left wants to admit. The pendulum is swinging away from the center and to the Left.]

    These are just growing pains … the sky is not falling.

  4. Priam1184 says:

    Everyone is harping on that closing address of the Holy Father at the Synod and how mean he was to so called ‘conservatives’, though what that word means in the context of the Church I have never been able to figure out. BUT did anyone listen to the homily the man gave at the Mass that opened the Synod? Anyone? Because I never saw an ounce of media coverage on it. But it was remarkable.

    Here are some samples: “Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense. For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.”

    He then quotes with approval this line from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite”

    Does this sound like some raging heretic, or a flaming Kasperite libertine? I think not. I will post the link here, with Father’s permission, because everyone should read it before they pass judgment on the man: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20151004_omelia-apertura-sinodo-vescovi.html

  5. Lavrans says:

    I’m just a Catholic man trying to make it in a hostile world, community, workplace, and at times, family. I try to pray everyday, remain in a state of grace, and frequent the Sacraments. I am a “re-vert” following years of wandering in dissimilarity and atheism. The tremendous truth and wisdom of the Church brought me to the door, and the beauty of the liturgy and worship of the God I rediscovered kept me in. When His Holiness denigrates those who adhere to truth, orthodoxy, and pious practice, he hurts me directly. I do not believe I deserve such treatment, but I endure it out of love for Christ and His Church. I need to pray more for him, which is hard to do lately. I long for Benedict, but I live with what I have.

  6. Amerikaner says:

    Perhaps a parentheses. But one potentially with long-term, problematic footnotes attached.

  7. Rob in Maine says:

    When asked what I thought of “the new Pope” my reply was, and still is, “Jesuits are like a box of chocolate; you never know what you are going to get.”

  8. AngelGuarded says:

    Thank you, Father Z, for your sober and reasoned explanation. I find myself swept along in a maelstrom of confusion when reading certain blogs. I remind myself constantly that the Holy Spirit is in charge and Jesus knows what “Peter” is up to. Prayer allows me to stay calm and wait. A short review of Church history reveals what is happening now is not really new ground. This sort of thing has been happening for thousands of years yet He has not let the gates of hell prevail. And He won’t. Holy Church will survive and so must we. Thank you thank you thank you for the reassurances. I have friends who have to be calmed down and your columns help a great deal in that endeavor. Yes, a parentheses. While I am just a space in a sentence in a very long paragraph in a book that never ends. And I’m going to Confession tomorrow. God bless you Father Z for all you do!

  9. I happen to agree with pretty much everything Damian says there, and not long ago I would have been outraged – but no more. Now I am determined to simply keep pray diligently, go to Mass (and Confession, of course!) and focus not on the controversies, but on my own salvation. God knows I have a lot of work to do there, and that is where my energies need to be focused.

    Sure, I still follow the goings on (after all I am here commenting) but only at a safe distance. I think it is wise to avoid allowing these things to eat at me. The way I see it, either the gates of hell will prevail against the church or they will not, and there is little I can directly do about that – beyond prayer that is. That applies no matter what happens in Rome. No amount of wailing and moaning about the matter will change it one bit, so it’s best to just pray, and pray, and pray.

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’m with Lavrans.

    My head tells me to keep giving Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions, but my gut keeps giving off vibes like having gulped down a bowl of 5 Alarm chili. And I need to trust my gut more, a lot of times it turns out to be correct more often than my brain.

    But, as Lavrans stated, I need to pray more for the Pope, also.

  11. Katherine says:

    FWIW, my response to people who bring concerns to me about Pope Francis is this:

    We moderns have become accustomed to popes who are saints– John Paul and Benedict, over recent decades. Saints! But throughout the history of Holy Mother Church, having a saint for our pope is more of an anomaly. The history of man’s relationship with God is a long story of God using treacherous men to accomplish his Holy plans.

    I believe we have a pope who is not a saint, in Pope Francis, and he also happens to be a singularly imprudent man. Mother Church has survived much worse than imprudence in the human beings God has generously provided for our Vicars.

    In the end, Francis is the pope God wants for us right now, so have peace that God is on his throne in Heaven, and pray for Pope Francis.

  12. mcgarveya says:

    Pray, pray and pray some more is all I can say to this. That, and speak the truth to others at all times, even if you’re ridiculed for it.

    P.S. love the Fawlty Towers reference, watched it on VHS with my Grandparents growing up all the time. Still love that show

  13. frahobbit says:

    “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”
    This sounds like it’s for those that want the “issues decided in the confessional”, not the orthodox. That’s what’s weird, you can’t tell what he means.

  14. Adaquano says:

    It is hard not to be discouraged at times and question who Pope Francis is aiming his remarks toward. I think I may have once encountered a priest that needed to be a little more merciful in his words. Yet, I agree that it remains important to continue to focus on my own personal sanctification, through daily prayer, frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist. Yes, it is discouraging that many within the Church are seeming to encourage people to accept Christ on their terms instead of His, but that shouldn’t let us deviate from continual prayer. Yes, the gate is narrow but if we don’t focus on our struggle we can’t help others get through the gate as well. Thank you Father, for your continual insight and measured insight.

  15. MrsMacD says:

    I started to see a huge change against the tide of abortion when the 40 days for life was implemented. I concluded that prayer does much more than a lot of talking/debating.

    I wonder what would happen if everyone had one Mass for Pope Francis or one rosary. I wonder if we stopped judging our Father and started praying for him if we might start to see a saint, after all isn’t that what we would want our children to do for us?

    It looks bleak but with God all things are possible, the dead rise, the lame walk, the deaf hear, walking on water, moving mountains…

    Father Z could you start a massive spiritual bouquet for Pope Francis?

  16. Stevetop815 says:

    These are difficult times indeed. But remember, they who hunger and thirst for righteousness WILL be satisfied.

    Despair is the worst thing we can do right now.

  17. anilwang says:

    I’ll turn on comment moderation especially for those of you without a filter.

    A good general policy for sanity in these times, especially when applied to what’s coming out of the Vatican these days which is either troll-bait, unfiltered verbal diarrhea, or true gems but they’re surrounded with so much cruft that it’s simply not worth the effort.

    As serious as everything going in is, IMO, most of it is a demoralizing distraction that will neutralize any potential saint by keeping us focused on “their faults” and “why is this happening to us?” rather than our own failing and what can be done for the glory of God to spread his kingdom. Yes, it would be nice if we didn’t have to fight both people of importance in the Church and the world as St Athanasius did, but Jesus didn’t offer us the prosperity gospel, he offered us the cross. Thankfully, we have much more than St Athanasius did. Among other things, we have 2000 years of history, the Catechism, the Pope Benedict XVI’s strengthening of the liturgy (including correct Roman Missal, SP, UE, and Anglicanorum Coetibus), the youth who have seen the damage “the Spirit of the 60s” have done to the world and long for something better, and strong blocks of support outside the Western world, including Ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox (which would balk at Rome if prelates go too far, as the Anglicans have).

  18. MrTipsNZ says:

    Personally, I think (and this is just my own opinion being the scholastic peasant I am) that the whole drama needs to be viewed in the light of the history of the Church, especially with respect to the Church being a faithful bride to Her Spouse, Our Lord. Any faithful spouse goes through what the other does and the Church must suffer as Christ suffered, and succeed as Christ succeeded.

    The Innocents were slaughtered at the birth of Christ and the martyrs were slaughtered at the birth of the Church. Many disciples left Him in John 6 and many left the Church in the reformation under the same reason. In His public ministry Christ was feted, then flogged for exposing many of the leaders of Gods chosen people, the Jews, as “vipers and hypocrites”. We should expect the same of many our leaders, but the Church will not break – that doesn’t mean Rome will survive. Jerusalem didn’t.

    If you consider the encounters of Christ in the Gospels, it is the story of creating succession through the Apostles and the Church, but also the beauty of the outcast and left field, secret operators like John the Baptist and Nicodemus and even Mary herself, who remained untouched by the authorities.

    The next twenty years won’t be pretty, but then, it never was for Christians was it?

  19. the little brother says:

    Pope Francis ‘performs exorcism’ ORIGINAL!

    “Rev.Gabriele Amorth, exorcist, diocese of Rome, performed a lengthy exorcism of his own on the man Tuesday morning & ascertained he was possessed by four separate demons. The case was related to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City. “That was a true exorcism, Exorcisms aren’t just done according to the rules of the ritual.” ” RAI state radio

    23All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” 25And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.… Matthew 12:23-25

  20. Robbie says:

    Father Z wondered why the Pope continues to speak with Scalfari given the chaos that has ensued with each previous conversation. Well, let me offer this theory. Francis the politician has decided to use Scalfari to float trial balloons. In other words, Francis is testing out views he may like to promote through Scalfari and see what the ensuing reaction is. And since Scalfari is a known atheist who doesn’t use notes, the Vatican can easily deny anything he writes on those grounds.

    I also think it’s important to view this papacy, like any other, as a parenthesis. In other words, it’s just a moment in time. We have good popes, we have middling popes, and we have bad popes. That said, I’m worried about the current state of things. And while papacies come and go, they still shape the future through their additions to the College of Cardinals.

  21. Paulo says:

    I did read yesterday the letter by Bp. Schneider, and his position supports and augments commentary that can be found elsewhere these days (indeed, recent Ross Douthat’s pieces on Hell’s Bible pretty much said much of the same, in less words). In that sense the issue raised by George Neumayr is very relevant: Pope Francis has identified Cardinal Walter Kasper as one of his “favorite” theologians. Again, is instructive to read a piece titled “Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal” in lifesitenews (June 11 2015): “I get a lot of agreements, but also a lot of critiques, and there are tensions there,” Kasper acknowledged. “Now I propose to those who prepare the Synod to prepare a text which can get the agreement of the whole, of the great majority. It’s the same method also we had in the Council.” He later repeated, “My suggestion is to find now a formula where the great majority can adhere.” (…)Kasper’s reference to the “Council,” is a shorthand expression meaning the Second Vatican Council”. (…) Still referring to the Second Vatican Council, the text goes on: “many items on the agenda of the ultra-liberal French and German bishops, a faction known as the “Rhine Group” which was supported by Pope Paul VI, were accomplished by the use of often vague, ambiguous and even apparently conflicting language that seem to have appeased both sides. These expressions were later referred to as “time bombs” [see Bp. Schneider’s letter at Rorate] which some theologians were able to exploit following the council for the purpose of undermining the Church’s traditional teachings.”

    In the movie “The Matrix” (one of my favorite movies of all-times), the decisive moment occurs when Neo, the protagonist, is offered a choice, in the form of a couple of pills: by taking the blue pill, Neo would wake up in his bed and believe whatever he wants to believe; by taking the red pill, he would be shown “how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” Like Neo, I have the distinct impression I was offered the red pill, and I took it.

  22. Prayerful says:

    A Jesuit Pope is acting as a Jesuit, a modern Jesuit. While he might not be trudging through the mountains with Marxist guerrillas (a few Jesuits did), he is aggressively, if ineptly pushing for the old 70s Jesuitical People’s Church. There is an urgency as clerical revolutionaries are getting really old. I see him doing some damage to the Church, but mainly to his own causes. If future generations think of a liberal leaning Pope, they will have their minds the Bergoglian low speed, slow motion, trainwreck. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful to the Holy Father, but he is making a mess. There are orthodox minded Jesuits, I think of Fr Bernard McGuckian SJ, but too many of his Order still won’t snap out of it.

  23. Matthew Gaul says:

    Abstractly, any given bad pope may be Providence’s way of reminding us to not put too much trust in princes, even of those the Church.

    Especially if any given pope came after a long period of idolized popes.

    Note I’m not saying this particular pope is a bad pope.

  24. jacobi says:

    Well Neuymayer has certainly delivered a Judgement on the Pope. Now I don’t think I would as yet . As already said, such things come with great discomfort from someone of my pre-Vat II generation.

    But speaking as, apparently, a Promethean Neo-Pelagian, ( we never covered that genre in Apologetics classes in 1954 ), I have decided that the time has come to adopt a somewhat more blunt, open and honest defence of the Teaching of the Catholic Church, starting, for instance, with what it is not possible to permit without stepping over the line into heresy.

    An example of that is Holy Communion for those in a state of mortal sin.

    Now there are many examples of mortal sin that could be cited. But the one under discussion at present is that of people who are divorced, remarried and living as a married couple. They are adulterers. End of story.

    As such they may not received Holy Communion without incurring further mortal sin. End of story.

  25. laurel says:

    To quote the British economist, John Maynard Keynes, regarding just patiently waiting for the long run to see things play out…..”In the long run we are all dead.”

  26. JARay says:

    Well I certainly pray for Pope Francis but I do not pray that he may have longevity and robust good health, which are attributes which I do pray for Cardinal Pell.

  27. donato2 says:

    Far from depressing me, pieces such as these are for me morale boosters — they articulate what I observe, and give voice to my concerns.

    The truth is indestructible. Pope Francis has the power to throw the Church into a very serious crisis. He does not, however, have the power to permanently obscure the truth. This is what I remind myself when I feel despair about the present pontificate.

    I knew Pope Francis was an out and out liberal from the time, just a couple of weeks into his pontificate, that, in blatant disregard of liturgical rubrics, he washed the feet of Muslim and other women on Holy Thursday. The sentimentalism underlying such a gesture is a sure sign of a liberal/leftist mentality.

  28. Geoffrey says:

    “We’re two and a half years into this pontificate. But it’s only in the past month that ordinary conservative Catholics, as opposed to hardline traditionalists, have started saying that Pope Francis is out of control… No pontiff in living memory has awakened the specific fear now spreading around the church: that the magisterium, the teaching authority vested in Peter by Jesus, is not safe in his hands.”

    I’m afraid to say I think I now fall into this category. For years I defended St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and even Blessed Paul VI, against liberals, progressives, and hard-lined traditionalists. Suddenly I feel as if I’m on the other side of the fence. And I don’t like it.

  29. Jean-Luc says:

    In French we say : God draws straight lines with our curves. If Francis regularizes the SSPX, as it seems that he is committed to (although probably not for the best reasons), the meaning of his out of control pontificate would become clearer : only Francis could take such step as only Nixon could go to Beijing…

    Then let Francis step down and leave his seat to a new Gregory the Great like our present prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship so that the Holy Sanctuary may be rebuilt.

    Francis could then be remembered as the “Great Excavator” who would have made possible the restoration of faith, morals and liturgy over the heap of ruins he will have left behind.

  30. iPadre says:

    frjim4321 thinks that the pendulum is swinging to the center. I don’t agree, but wait to see how far it swings to the so called left next time.

  31. Aquinas Gal says:

    I think we are living in times when the devil has greater power and is more active in the world.
    I believe he is playing his final gambit before being shut up again in the abyss of hell: to try and lead the most faithful Catholics out of the Church. What better way than to use an unpredictable pope to stir up angst and anxiety to the point where some will jump ship? But it is a temptation. “This too will pass.” We have to hold fast and never let Satan lead us out of the Church, even by seemingly devout and pious reasons.

  32. JamesM says:

    frjim4321 says:

    “I can empathize having had my own share of discontent during the previous two papacies. The pendulum is coming back to the center.”

    Fr. Jim, as our dear host has already stated, few will agree with you.

    I would just like to point out that surely our focus should be on Our Lord Jesus Christ and his teachings? Unfortunately, as far as I can make out, the pendulum is swinging away from Christ and towards man. Maybe you are happy with that, I have no idea.

  33. Sword40 says:

    Good responses here today. Carolina Publican sort of sums up my thoughts.

  34. The Astronomer says:

    The gyrations of the current Holy Father on various topics, including his uncharitable and consistent verbal animosity towards orthodox Catholics (not to forget the FFI debacle) make this regular Joe Catholic grip his Rosary tighter and pray…

    All I want to do is die in the state of sanctifying grace, with the Apostolic Pardon in my ears and Viaticum on my tongue….

    The rest is noise.

  35. KateD says:

    Basil Fawlty at his finest:


    It’s even funnier if you’ve ever been an innkeep!

  36. HeatherPA says:

    “… Francis often sounds like he loves every religion except his own.”

    This sums up exactly in a few words the unsettling, disturbed feeling I have had about Pope Francis since his pontificate started and he began speaking “off the cuff”.

    As a great admirer of Father Hardon, a Jesuit, I held out hope that Pope Francis would be like him and told myself that Fr. Hardon was proof that all modern Jesuits aren’t cringeworthy. ??

    We pray for our Holy Father’s intentions as we are to do, but other than that, we do not follow the Pope or his interviews or his off the cuff statements any more, and we have restored the peace in our hearts. If something is disruptive to one’s peace, it must be examined and eliminated, if possible.

    The Church is eternal. This papacy will be over soon enough.

  37. Charles E Flynn says:

    From What Comes After the Synod, by Janet E. Smith, for First Things:

    How disappointed am I by these setbacks? Very. Am I despondent or despairing? No, not at all. We are much better situated to fight and win this battle than we were to fight the troubles that came after Humanae Vitae. We now have very good materials and resources, brave and good bishops, highly trained and well-placed academics and a considerable army of lay people who are seasoned soldiers ready to man their posts.

  38. Kathleen10 says:

    Due to the risk of being a serious downer for some, I’m censoring myself.
    Suffice to say I can’t decide what’s the worst part of this, the Parenthesis, the Protestant Cardinals, the ugly politics, the horrible Synod, the rampant confusion. I think it might be the Cardinals, because I for one held them in high esteem prior to this papacy and the Synods. That’s all done now. Many of them don’t seem to even like Catholicism. You can get an errant parenthesis but how can we hold up under all these heretic Cardinals?
    I fail to understand why an entire region of people should be subjected to heresy and error. Why should all the people in Germany be led astray. It’s not right.

  39. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The gamemaster of my local gaming group is a very nice, very intelligent guy. The problem is that he always has some vision in mind of how we will role-play, or how we will solve the puzzles he makes up. He also thinks that he can transfer this vision directly to us, and that we will carry it out for him perfectly.

    The vision may not be very clear, even to him, but it’s always very clear to him when we aren’t doing what he thought we would. So he gets disappointed easily, and often announces an end to a gaming campaign that we have just started, and which we are enjoying and playing in a perfectly valid way.

    Pope Francis, OTOH, gets actively angry when other people don’t play out his scenarios “the right way.” He also tends to make comments about people who are somehow missing the exact tone and style that he thinks proper. He wants people to get his vision telepathically, and to empathize perfectly with him. This is the way he talks, too — he assumes that everybody is able to exactly follow his train of thought and association.

    So possibly he finds his “allies” simpatico because they do understand his allusions and ideas (or pretend well); and orthodoxy or traditionalism, or lack thereof, is not even part of the story.

  40. Jason Keener says:

    I must admit I’m growing tired of this pontificate even though it hasn’t personally disturbed my own faith life. The Church has suffered through lackluster pontificates before and will again. The next thing we have to look forward to is the Pope Francis interview book coming out in January. I can only imagine how much confusion and upset that will bring to the Church. We’ll probably be hearing and talking about the book’s controversies for months. If Pope Benedict’s interview book caused a stir, I can only imagine the train wreck ahead. I hate to be so pessimistic, but people have to start waking up to the reality that this really isn’t turning out to be a good pontificate, and certain sectors of the Church are being extremely naïve when they continue to defend every gesture and word uttered by Pope Francis.

  41. benedetta says:

    Well, one thing is for sure from my vantage: those who hated on ordinary Catholics just going about their lives in illegal and menacing ways under the previous pontificate seem happy to continue to do so and are even somewhat emboldened now. FWIW.

  42. CharlesG says:

    Thanks for the needed pep talk, Father. You can count me among those depressed at the state of the Church under this papacy. As a convert of 20+ years, I have always been enthusiastic in the practice of the faith. I have been trying for several years to be faithful in reading/singing Readings/Morning/Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Recently, however, some days I find I just want to go on strike against the current leadership of the Church and don’t bother with daily prayer. I know this is the wrong attitude and is only harming myself, but I can’t help mixing up Christ and his Church with the current shepherds, and lash out in anger at the former based on my feelings for the latter. And I do feel rather angry at the modern hierarchy, especially as demonstrated by reported interventions at the last two Synods. So many seem to want to overturn the Church’s moral teachings. And I can’t help but feel perplexity at the Pope, who seems to favor Kasper, Marx, Cupich and Bonny and their heresies, and who thinks doctrine is a dirty word and those wanting to protect it “pharisees” and “doctors of the law” — it is his job to protect the deposit of faith! The arrogant contempt in trying to reverse the clear teaching of St. John Paul II and the Catechism, not to mention Our Lord, about divorce, remarriage and the Eucharist, as well as the effort to “de-sin-ify” homosexual activity, just weakens my confidence in the Church. Yes, the Church did dodge a bullet with an ambiguous final report of the Synod that did not facially overturn St. JPII’s teaching, but what will the Pope do in his Apostolic Exhortation? Where will this ominous bruited doctrinal decentralization to bishop’s conferences leave us? I have always thought traditionalists rather tiresome when they constantly found fault with the last two Popes when on the whole those two were on the whole good for the restoration of sanity and orthodoxy in the Church after the “Spirit of Vatican II” craziness in the late 60s and 70s. And I have never thought the Vatican II documents themselves that bad if interpreted according to an hermeneutic of reform in continuity, as per Ratzinger. However, I have gained some appreciation for what the traditionalists must have gone through in the years of craziness when it appeared that everything might be up for grabs. I have to think that all the good work of the last two popes will bear fruit in the long run and cannot have been in vain. As someone else said, we have to ride out the storm of this papacy, and hopefully any errors that might be enacted are corrected in future.

  43. frjim4321 says:

    “[I doubt many will accept your premise. Most will hold that we were far closer to the center than the Left wants to admit. The pendulum is swinging away from the center and to the Left.]”

    I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

    Mine is that the imposition of the 2010 Vox Clara product on the English-speaking Catholic Church will be far more damaging in the long run than the relaxation of restrictions on communion. Last one out, turn off the lights!

    [You couldn’t be more wrong about the long-term effect of the change of translation.]

  44. Tantum Ergo says:

    I can’t help but wonder about the “filter” surrounding Pope Francis. It’s hard to believe that he’s fully aware of the desperation of so many in his fold. What is fueling his animosity for conservatives? Is it his own Jesuitness, or is he only exposed to those who’ve been sharpening their knives for traditional Catholicism?

  45. FrHorning says:

    I have blessed to be a priest during the end of St. John Paul’s pontificate, during Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate, and now during Pope Francis’ pontificate. This might seem simple and naive, but I know that everything is going to be OK because our God is powerful and Jesus’ words are true: “The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.”
    I have learned a great deal from Pope Francis and, God willing, will continue to do so. I want to encourage all of us to holiness, to prayer, to sacrifice – each of us living our part in the mystical Body of Christ.
    I thank Fr. Z for helping us to understand and focus on what the Prayer Really Says and what Pope Francis Really Said or didn’t say.

  46. Paulo says:

    Tantum Ergo brings a very important topic: the filter.

    The more responsibilities you have, the more you have to delegate. Jesus himself delegated the governance of the Church to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19 (“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” ). Being the Vicar of Christ does not make you the all-knowing Christ, so you need to rely on further delegates to inform you, to keep you abreast of what’s going on with the flock.

    And that’s where things get complicated: the information you get from your delegates will always, always be somewhat tinted by the bias they have. For example, I KNOW that Michael Sean Winters is a venom oozing liberal writing at the National Schismatic Reporter. Sure, I have been told that by a cleric (nudge, nudge), but also I have had the luxury of time to verify that on my own, and I am satisfied that Michael Sean Winters is a REALLY a venom oozing liberal writing at the National Schismatic Reporter. Now if I could not verify that information by myself, I would have to rely solely on my trust on the cleric that informed me so.

    I am sure that this, in part, is the situation that Pope Francis finds himself in. A 78 years old man, set in his ways, with the biggest flock he ever imagined to have, surrounding himself with those he believes or hopes can be most valuable in providing useful information to carry out a “rebuilding” of the Church on a shape that fits “modernity”. Those surrounding him are the filter.

  47. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Forgive me if previous commentators already made some of these points.

    Couples get divorced for many different reasons. But should the husband who leaves his longtime wife for a younger woman (and is NOT sorry about it) really be allowed to receive Communion?

  48. JabbaPapa says:

    The ideologies of factionalism seem to have been rather worryingly reinforced by the media circus that surrounded the recent Synod.

    Orthodoxy is not a monolith of sameness in every last detail, and disagreements among Catholics do not destroy it — but calling people to gather into camps and to fight “wars” against Catholics who one defines as being in an “enemy camp” is the direct promotion of a will towards schism. Of a hermeneutic of discontinuity.

    A certain degree of in-fighting is normal, but what I’ve been seeing over the last few weeks goes way too far.

  49. FrJim “the sky is not falling” . . . As a father to 7 children I beg to differ. We live in a world where nation after nation is adopting gay marriage and accepting sodomy as a legitimate practice; multiple states in America have set up laws where underage girls can have abortions against their parents will, without parental knowledge of the act, and on the parents’ own health plan; this is also the case for teenagers seeking a sex change; schools have become shooting galleries for the mentally unstable, or demonically possessed; nations are being overrun by radical jihadists who have plans to take over the world; cathedrals are being assailed by radical violent feminist groups with no religious leader insight; priests are being murdered in cold blood in their rectories; those of us in the trenches standing up for Christ’s Teachings are being met with increasing hostility; and you just shrug your shoulders at the lack of spine our Church is demonstrating against these flagrant and bold attacks on the family? That position is part of what got us to this point to begin with.

  50. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Happy thoughts: Perhaps within the lifetime of many people now living, the OF will have fallen into complete desuetude; the Synod will have been abolished; national bishops’ conferences will have been abolished; the Muslim invasion of Europe and North America will turn out to have been for naught, because of the glaciers.

  51. juergensen says:

    After seeing so many heretic wolves come out of the woodwork at the synod, clamoring for schism if not apostasy, with nary a word of correction from any authority figure, I am starting to think that perhaps the Lord has kept Benedict around and healthy for a reason.

  52. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Whilst I agree that we may be able to regard this papacy as a parenthesis and in the meantime pray like mad I wonder what would happen if in an Exhortation Pope Francis were to say that those in unrepentant and unabsolved adultery were eligible to receive communion or that valid sacramental marriages can be dissolved. Would not this bring into question the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope on faith and morals? What would happen if this were to occur? I cannot see that it would be just something that one could say “Ah well he won’t be here forever”.

    I suppose we have to have faith and hope that this will not happen. But should not senior Cardinals be making very sure that it does not happen?

  53. Sonshine135 says:

    While always being charitable to Our Holy Father, I am more and more concerned that he should have taken the name Don Quixote. Neumayr’s article hits it on the money. It is similar to the statements: “Our church needs to be more Pastoral.” and my personal favorite, “Our church needs to be more welcoming.” Who here has a church that is openly hostile to sinners? Did we really need a pronouncement from the chair of Peter on climate change? I didn’t know the Holy Father was a climatologist.

    Windmills everywhere!

  54. DonL says:

    (I can empathize having had my own share of discontent during the previous two papacies. The pendulum is coming back to the center”)

    Where in the world did we ever accept the “center” as the right place to be? The center of the road is where skunks get run over.
    The reality is that Christ and the Apostles did not become martyrs because they were in the center. Quite the opposite, the center is where those dreaful luke-warm Catholics go to obtain their plastic halos.

  55. Kerry says:

    “Hold Fast” to Christ, (the parenthesis which does not close).

  56. The Egyptian says:

    I’m a bit late on this BUUUUT, the vision of Francis thrashing the daylights out of the synod as Basil Fawlty, is a scream. I closed my eye and just envisioned Francis white robes flapping, jumping up and down in his “proper” black shoes, letting out a a stream of words in spanish, swinging a leafy branch had me laughing. if only I could do animation.

    Alas I pray for our church and its leader

  57. pelerin says:

    There is another excellent article by Damian Thompson on the Catholic Herald website today entitled ‘Can Bad Catholic Music be stopped?’

  58. monknoah says:

    Eugenio Scalfari is held to a very different standard than Sandro Magister. Why is that?

  59. LarryW2LJ says:

    Looking at a minor bright spot. Thanks be to God for the Internet, and for being able to communicate. Being part of this group makes me realize I am not alone. I do run across so many people who love the fluffy, bunny rabbit, grandpa, everything-is-wonderful image of Pope Francis. When it comes out that I am not as enamored as the rest of the group, I often get looked at like I have three heads.

    I wonder how Vatican II would have turned out if there had been Internet back then? Makes one wonder.

  60. Benedict Joseph says:

    I read the Neumayr and Thompson critiques when they were published and found them utterly reliable and ruthlessly on target, and a relief – to see the truth of the situation clearly outlined.
    Douthat, Neumayr and Thompson. God reward them amply.
    Recently Fr. Hunwicke commented that the clergy are notoriously unwilling to “raise their heads above the parapet.” This is quite true, and very understandable. Not only because they are prone to a vindictive retaliation for which they have little defense, but also because many of them are at the heart of the problem. One recalls the hubbub that surrounded Pope Benedict’s proposal to make Saint John Vianney patron of all priests. How possibly in this day and age could the heterodox raise their heat against such a seemingly benign and appropriate proposal? It is because the Cure is everything they are not, and a real threat to their hubris. I recall a “womenpriest” nun darting her eyes to the ceiling when Saint Therese was recognized as Doctor of the Church. The “Little Way” is not the way of the feminists among us.
    These people hate the Roman Catholic Church and they are legion. Their interior disposition is often masked and their lives a masquerade, the depth of their aberrance from the Truth of the Gospel, the Roman Catholic faith unfathomable to most laity. They see the Church is “their” oyster. They will stop at nothing to wrestle the façade, the pedigree, the treasure or the Church to their purpose. They come in all vesture, all rank. Their exhortation to a blind obedience, their claim to superior insight, their adoption of new forms of “virtue” (ah, the “open mind”) are their mark. We need recognize and reject vigorously the reptilian masquerade.

  61. Gerard Plourde says:

    I tend to take the writings and observations of professional analysists (both Left and Right) with a huge grain of salt. They make their living by extrapolating from known data and speculating on what will be. Because this exercise mimics the first stages of the scientific method (fomulating a hypothesis) with no means for testing its validity extra caution is called for. The professionals on the Left were convinced that St. John Paul and Pope Benedict were going to eradicate the directives of the Second Vatican Council and restore the fear and defensiveness that some exhibited and that could be called the “Spirit of Trent” in the same way that current excesses are claimed to be the “Spirit of Vatican II”.

    It seems to me that what we are called to do is pray as Fr. Z counsels. Our prayers should confidently ask Our Lord to guide and support Pope Francis and all of those in authority withn the Church. They have a difficult task and must be subject to trials as much if not more than we are in our lives. We have God’s assurance that our prayers will be heard.

  62. Patti Day says:

    I find myself in the pessimists’ camp regarding this papacy; however, some recent news in the secular area has buoyed my spirit enough to somewhat offset discouragement. In Ohio, the people defeated a well-funded attempt to legalize marijuana use. In Texas voters defeated an “equality” ordinance that would have allowed males who identify as female to use women’s bathrooms. Kentucky elected a new Republican governor who backed Kim Davis, the woman who refused to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. I’m praying that parents especially, and all taxpayers in Illinois, will call the bluff of the Federal government’s threat to withhold funding of Chicago public schools if a male student who identifies as a female isn’t allowed to use girls’ showers. This after the school system’s offer of a gender neutral facility was rejected by the student. I know these are tangential to what’s happening in our Church, but I see some movement, however small, of people awakening to the insane demands being made to “tolerate” every sort of degradation from the left. These days, you take your encouragement where you find it.

  63. frahobbit says:

    I wonder if FRjim is a troll-baiter?

  64. Br. Laurence says:

    Jean-Luc wrote:

    “In French we say : God draws straight lines with our curves. If Francis regularizes the SSPX, as it seems that he is committed to (although probably not for the best reasons), the meaning of his out of control pontificate would become clearer : only Francis could take such step as only Nixon could go to Beijing… ”

    I just read this earlier post on the SSPX – https://wdtprs.com/2015/10/ask-father-is-it-okay-now-to-go-to-sspx-chapels/ and I see a comment posted by Papabile in which he now feels safer going to the SSPX than he did prior to Pope Francis granting temporary faculties to SSPX priests to hear confession during the Year of Mercy. I too am tempted to visit an SSPX priest.

    So what happens when people start to investigate the SSPX and discover that they like what they see? That they prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the beauty of the liturgy and the music, the reverence, the traditional Catholic teachings – etc. Perhaps they will then decide to frequent the SPPX more often. Perhaps they will stop attending their local parish. And then perhaps, at the end of the Year of Mercy, they will stay with the SSPX, even though the temporary faculties will no longer be in effect, thus in effect leaving the church. (Or am I misunderstanding things – would they still be in the church?)

    I do not know Pope Francis’ reasons or motivations for what he does. But this strikes me as a very risky situation.

  65. Supertradmum says:

    Number One: not all Jesuits are heretics, as some commentators think. I remind people of the great John Hardon and James Schall. I also hear that the newer ordinations of young Jesuits are more conservative politically and theologically.

    Number Two, recall my interview just after the Pope was elected with his press secretary from Argentina on my old blog. This priest told me and others that Pope Francis was absolutely NOT a man who did things spontaneously but thought through even his seemingly spontaneous actions

    That from a man who worked closely with Francis for at least 12 years.

    Number Three: I wrote also about the Jesuit way of doing things–top down obedience. I am convinced that the Pope’s inability to clean out the Vatican from top down was halted by those who are entrenched–the Marxists and gays.

    Number Four: I do not believe any media coming out of the Vatican or Italy, as the newspapers were taken over by progressives and even Marxists years ago. St. John Paul II was undermined by news sources in Italy and even undermined in the Vatican, as was the Pope Emeritus.

    Number Five: Why expect great holiness from those priests, bishops, cardinals, who came out of the same “mess” we all did in the past forty years. There are way more liberal Catholics than traditional, so why not way more liberal leaders? Families and so-called Catholic institutions created the bad leadership we see. Who is to blame? All of us, in some ways.

    Number Six: I do not trust in men, but in God. Period. Whatever happens in Rome is either God’s perfect will or His permissive will. We can all choose to become saints now, as there is no middle road.

  66. TNCath says:

    I keep believing that the Holy Spirit is still working in the Church, perhaps to expose the Evil One that seems to infiltrating the hierarchy. At the same time, I find myself remembering what then-Cardinal Ratzinger said about the role the Holy Spirit plays in the election of a pope:

    “I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope…I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.”

    He then went on to say, “There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!”

  67. Benedict Joseph says:

    Am I wrong to see the opening developing between the pope and SSPX as a tactical move to give the faithful a rock to hide under while the cabal has control over the steering wheel and thus the whole car? I pray the SSPX retains its integrity and withholds from taking the apple.

  68. The Masked Chicken says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this post, but not commenting. I know little about Vatican politics and I don’t use terms like liberal and conservative. I want truth and I don’t care if it comes even from the mouth of a donkey (I’m not using the more colorful term for Balaam’s ride so as not to set off WordPress’s moderation algorithm). The thing is that at least the conservative position, more often than not, has been tried and tested, whereas, often, the liberal position has not.

    In any case, prolonged commentary is likely to lead to my sinning, so, I will abstain. I, did, however, want to say, “Welcome Back,” to Supertradmum. Hope all is well. Regarding your points, you wrote:

    “Number Three: I wrote also about the Jesuit way of doing things–top down obedience. I am convinced that the Pope’s inability to clean out the Vatican from top down was halted by those who are entrenched–the Marxists and gays.”

    When IBM can hand pink slips to thousands of people in a day and escort them out the door, why can’t the Pope? There is the Vatican Guard, you know. I’m just asking.

    The Chicken

  69. Augustine says:

    As a Brazilian (Card. Humes confirmed me when he was my bishop), I can attest to Francis being the typical Latin American bishop of the last half century. Far from such animosity having being learned in Argentina, quite the contrary, it was probably learned recently in Rome, when, perhaps for the first time as a bishop, he encountered faithful bishops. Evidently, Francis did not delight at making their acquaintance. Rather, he’s used to his class of bishops who oversaw the decimation of the flock in countries whose population was typically over 90% Catholic until 35 years ago, but which are now barely majorly Catholic. The reaction now being experienced by the faithful Catholics worldwide is very much what Latin Catholics have experienced: those not practicing the Faith, felt affirmed in their choice; those practicing the Faith, found themselves being vilified for it, some of which defected to Evangelical sects. I expect nothing more from Francis, but in a world scale, than what he’s done in Buenos Aires: Mass attendance fell from 25 to 20% and dwindled vocations to the sacrament of Marriage and Holy Orders.

    “May his days [in office] be few; may another take his office.” (Ps 109:8)

  70. Benedict Joseph says:

    Augustine, I appreciate your South American perspective. My incredulity regarding the current situation only grows, when I thought by now there might be either a corrective or I would have some context for the chaos. I am at a loss. Perhaps this small sandbar called “Disgust” is God gift, and will provide adequate shelter until He provides another possibility for harbor. There is no hope for the current debacle.

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