Wherein Fr. Z apologizes and explains a response to a reader’s question

I need to explain something and to apologize if I caused wonder or confusion.

On 27 January I posted an response to a person’s question:


Given the rate things are going for this current pontificate, would it be sinful to pray that, if it be God’s will, that the pope either abdicates or dies and a new pope of a more conservative leaning is elected?

I RESPONDED on 27 January:

I get this often.

No.  It is not necessarily sinful to pray for the end of a pontificate, one way or another.

However, it depends on why and on your attitude.  I urge people not to have hate in their hearts for the person of the Holy Father.  He deserves our prayers.  That doesn’t mean that we have to like him or what he does.  We do NOT worship the Pope.  Popes come and go.  In our prayers, we can, without sinning, discuss with God about His time table.

Since I posted that, I’ve heard that some people thought – from what admittedly I wrote – either that it is okay to pray that the Pope should die (without any further qualification) or that they ought to pray that the Pope should die.

That was certainly NOT my intention.  I’m sorry if by my poor wording I gave that impression.

I tried to answer that question – which I have received quite a few times – in way that put questioners at ease, but also counseled care and judgment about their own attitude, their own motives.  It appears that I didn’t do that very well.

First, I tried to convey that one should NOT have hate in her or his heart for the Holy Father.  There is an old phrase: “Catholics love their Popes”.

Next, when I used the phrase: “discuss with God about His time table” I had in mind a situation like that which we witnessed back in 2005. The whole world watched the Holy Father, St. John Paul II, suffer so terribly in his last days.  I think that everyone will agree that, while it was heroic, it was hard.  In such a case, one can, I think, pray that God might bring a person – any person, a Pope included – who is suffering to the joy of heaven and offer that prayer without sin.  Everything depends on our own attitude.  Also, somehow it must have been in God’s time table for Pope Benedict XVI to resign.  Like his decision or not, he thought it the best thing to do at the time.  In that case, one pontificate ended and another pontificate began, again, according to God’s ineffable time table.

That said, if what I so clumsily wrote caused anyone to wonder or to be confused or angry, especially because it touches on the person of the Vicar of Christ, I sincerely apologize.

Finally, we Catholics, especially of a traditional leaning, frequently offer prayers specifically for the person of the Holy Father. Just the other day, during the Litany at the beginning of Forty Hours Devotion, we prayed for Pope Francis.  I trust that in offering these prayers, we are all sincere.

To make it clear what we should all happily pray for, and often…

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco.
R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector,
famulum tuum Franciscum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

V. Let us pray for our Pontiff Francis.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

Let us pray. O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church: grant him, we beseech Thee, that, by word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, he may attain everlasting life. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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