UPDATES: Former theologian of US Bishops Doctrine Committee on Church under Pope Francis


More updates to come… look below.

Originally Published on: Nov 1, 2017 @ 11:38

Read at Crux, the piece about Fr. Thomas Weinandy comments on what is happening under Pope Francis. Weinandy is the former head for the staff of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine and is a current member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. Inter alia:

While expressing loyalty to Francis as the “Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock,” Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy nevertheless charges that the pope is:
Fostering “chronic confusion.”
“Demeaning” the importance of doctrine.
Appointing bishops who “scandalize” believers with dubious “teaching and pastoral practice.”
Giving prelates who object the impression they’ll be “marginalized or worse” if they speak out.
Causing faithful Catholics to “lose confidence in their supreme shepherd.”
“In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew itself, and so continue to grow in holiness,” Weinandy wrote in the letter, which is dated July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the pope’s Jesuit order.

There is quite a bit more.  Read it there.


Sandro Magistero has Fr. Weinandy’s explanation:

“There was no longer any doubt that Jesus wanted me to write…”

by Thomas G. Weinandy

Last May I was in Rome for an International Theological Commission meeting.  I was staying at Domus Sanctae Marthae, and since I arrived early, I spent most of the Sunday afternoon prior to the meeting on Monday in Saint Peter’s praying in the Eucharistic Chapel.

I was praying about the present state of the Church and the anxieties I had about the present Pontificate.  I was beseeching Jesus and Mary, St. Peter and all of the saintly popes who are buried there to do something to rectify the confusion and turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.  I was also pondering whether or not I should write and publish something expressing my concerns and anxiety.

On the following Wednesday afternoon, at the conclusion of my meeting, I went again to St. Peter’s and prayed in the same manner.  That night I could not get to sleep, which is very unusual for me.  It was due to all that was on my mind pertaining to the Church and Pope Francis.

At 1:15 AM I got up and went outside for short time.  When I went back to my room, I said to the Lord: “If you want me to write something, you have to give me a clear sign.  This is what the sign must be.  Tomorrow morning I am going to Saint Mary Major’s to pray and then I am going to Saint John Lateran.  After that I am coming back to Saint Peter’s to have lunch with a seminary friend of mine.  During that interval, I must meet someone that I know but have not seen in a very long time and would never expect to see in Rome at this time.  That person cannot be from the United States, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, that person has to say to me in the course of our conversation, ‘Keep up the good writing’.”

The next morning I did all of the above and by the time I met my seminarian friend for lunch what I had asked the Lord the following night was no longer in the forefront of my mind.

However, towards the end of the meal an archbishop appeared between two parked cars right in front of our table (we were sitting outside).  I had not seen him for over twenty years, long before he became an archbishop.  We recognized one another immediately.  What made his appearance even more unusual was that, because of his recent personal circumstances, I would never have expected to see him in Rome or anywhere else, other than in his own archdiocese.  (He was from none of the above mentioned countries.)  We spoke about his coming to Rome and caught up on what we were doing.  I then introduced him to my seminarian friend.  He said to my friend that we had met a long time ago and that he had, at that time, just finished reading my book on the immutability of God and the Incarnation.  He told my friend that it was an excellent book, that it helped him sort out the issue, and that my friend should read the book.  Then he turned to me and said: “Keep up the good writing.”

I could hardly believe that this just happened in a matter of a few minutes.  But there was no longer any doubt in my mind that Jesus wanted me to write something.  I also think it significant that it was an Archbishop that Jesus used.  I considered it an apostolic mandate.

So giving it considerable thought and after writing many drafts, I decided to write Pope Francis directly about my concerns.  However, I always intended to make it public since I felt many of my concerns were the same concerns that others had, especially among the laity, and so I publicly wanted to give voice to their concerns as well.


The USCCB issued a statement


My emphases and comments:

U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops President On Dialogue Within The Church

November 1, 2017
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the nature of dialogue within the Church today.

Full statement follows:

“The departure today of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine and the publication of his letter to Pope Francis gives us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church. Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues. [However, personal opinions can be shown to be in keeping or out of keeping with the Church’s teachings.  Pastoral issues are another matter, since they often deal with contingent situations that allow more than one solution.] In more recent times, these debates have made their way into the popular press. That is to be expected and is often good. However, these reports are often expressed in terms of opposition, as political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II. These distinctions are not always very helpful.  [Look.  This statement clearly concerns what Fr. Weinandy wrote. However, I read the letter Fr. Weinandy wrote. HERE.  There is nothing “political” in Weinandy’s letter. Why bring in “pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II?”  That is irresponsible.  Are we to conclude that the statement is also a kind “declaration”… of something?]

Christian charity needs to be exercised by all involved. [Yes… all involved… which means the writers of statements.] In saying this, we all must acknowledge that legitimate differences exist, and that it is the work of the Church, the entire body of Christ, to work towards an ever-growing understanding of God’s truth.

As Bishops, we recognize the need for honest and humble discussions around theological and pastoral issues. We must always keep in mind St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “presupposition” to his Spiritual Exercises: “…that it should be presumed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it.” This presupposition should be afforded all the more to the teaching of Our Holy Father.  [And… what about to Fr. Weinandy?]

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a collegial body of bishops working towards that goal. As Pastors and Teachers of the Faith, therefore, let me assert that we always stand in strong unity with and loyalty to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (LG, no. 23).”



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. nine man morris says:

    I am stunned! This is huge. I’m stunned the Crux published it, and with a relative minimum of leftist sleights and detractions. My first thought was, “Wow! The bishop and priests are going to be unable to pretend they have no idea what I’m talking about anymore!” The letter writer is very bureaucratically mainstream, very circumspect in his criticism, and Crux actually delineated his misgivings and how they were overcome, showcasing the purity of his intention. This is pretty significant – something that really has the potential to catch the attention of the mostly unbelieving, avoidant and cowardly hierarchy.

  2. rdb says:

    Nine man morris is right. A former head of the doctrinal committee, a prof at the D-house and Greg, a member of the ITC. Fr. Weinandy speaks for many people, including seminary professors. To have this come out two weeks before the November bishop’s meeting is an added bonus.

  3. Vincent1967 says:

    I’ve just read this and firstly I am so pleased. Secondly, I’m impressed by the style of writing which is clear and devoid of any unnecessary superlatives. Its clarity is wonderful. It’s mostly, though, through the actual events that Father describes that I’m moved. I worry so much these days that too many things are out of kilter but I’m now reminded (thank God!) that He is with us always, to the end of time. As a Brit I haven’t heard of Fr Weinandy, but I thank God for him. I’ve just come home from Holy Mass for All Saints. A doubly good day.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Fr. Weinandy. THANK you, and may God bless you. Thank you for also sharing the circumstances of why you wrote.

  5. Christopher Meier says:

    Hm. He’s been “asked to resign”.

    Seems the hierarchy can respond quickly when it desires. It’s interesting to notice which stimuli get responses with alacrity and which don’t.

  6. majuscule says:

    In reading the USCCB statement I am reminded of the opening of a gathering of the bishops that I viewed online. During the opening prayer the camera panned around the room showing many of the bishops in attendance. Some were looking around (perhaps they were praying silently), some were talking to each other (sure didn’t look like they were praying) but some had their hands in prayer position and were looking down prayerfully, so I assume they were praying.

    So the bishops are to “stand in strong unity with and loyalty to the Holy Father” but they can’t seem to pray together to our Father in heaven.

    (My bishop was one who was praying.)

  7. rdb says:

    As I receive more information from friends around the country, my initial impression was correct. Nothing has awoken the bishops’ attention toward the current crisis in the Church like Fr. Weinandy’s letter.

  8. chantgirl says:

    Not puzzling- predictable.

    We need to do something for Fr. Weinandy…. maybe a gofundme or a spiritual bouquet. Every priest who speaks out on behalf of the flock should know that faithful Catholics have his back should the heavy hand of mercy fall on him.

    The time is quickly approaching when no priest will be able to keep his head down and wait this out. I wouldn’t be surprised if an oath of loyalty (contract of silence) was soon demanded of priests.

  9. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    How far we have fallen since the days of the requisite “Oath Against Modernism.”

    It is also notable that Dr. Weinandy’s post at the USCCB was coterminous with the pontificate Benedict XVI from 2005-2013.

    “’To teach with such an intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth,’ Weinandy wrote.” –I know Fr. Weinandy was trying to distance himself from the Dubia and the Filial Correction, but “sinning against the Holy Spirit” seems like fighting words.

    I agree with chantgirl. Somehow it needs to be communicated to both Fr. Weinandy and those that “fired” him that he speaks for many of us Mass-attending, tithing, praying, and reproducing Catholics who share his concerns about the current Pontificate.

  10. Uxixu says:

    Excellent letter. Praying for Fr. Weinandy. He seems most suitable for the care of souls as a bishop.

  11. thomas tucker says:

    Not surprising in the least. It seems pretty clear that the bishops and cardinals are afraid to express or countenance any criticism of the Pope. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. In the meantime they allow heterodox priests to spew their heresies at meetings, conventions and parishes all over the country, without a word of protest. Not surprising but very demoralizing.

  12. Ave Crux says:

    When will all the useless, meaningless blather by such as the USCCB about “dialogue” and “unity” end…..and this, while the entire universal Church has been thrown into total confusion and disunity by just such mindlessly repeated mantras?

    The USCCB statement amounts to collossal denial and irrational party line talking points, while the pogrom against faithful priests and prelates for speaking the truth continues.

    They seem to have not one iota of concern for the sheep, whose ranks have been sundered by this so called “perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity”…..such an ironic characterization of Pope Francis amounts to black humor.

    When they stand ALONE at their particular judgment before God they’ll see how useless “dialogue” is when it comes to explaining themselves to Him Who will come to judge the living and the dead, and how they will be judged harshly for having been “united” in defending the very errors which are leading souls along the path to perdition.

  13. Pingback: THVRSDAY CATHOLICA EDITION – Big Pulpit

  14. Richard McNally says:

    I read Father Weinandy’s letter and my first thought was “He has entered my mind and heart and written exactly what I would want to say to Pope Francis concerning the confusion arising from Amoris Laetitia, his way of exercising the Papal ministry and the state of the Church that is the result.”
    Father is being criticized for publishing the letter. I am a priest and religious. Many times I wonder if anyone is thinking what I am. Then someone as “mainstream” and theologically competent as Father Weinandy writes what he has. I am greatly encouraged.
    His being so well connected, I have been wondering how many of the bishops he is speaking for but who because of the atmosphere of fear in the Church (the USCCB “requested” his resignation) will not speak.

  15. Cornelius says:

    Even more significant than the the statement is the extraordinarily specific sign he got from Jesus to write it. That should strike holy fear in anyone.

  16. FrCharles says:

    I was fortunate to get to know Fr. Weinandy during a semester he taught at the Gregorian University a couple of years ago. Given my experience of him, I have no doubt that he has done this earnestly and with the best motives.

  17. Unwilling says:

    The accusation of “latria” in the term “papolatry” is technically an exaggeration. But it is striking how the statement ends by interpolating the name of a particular person into a theological consideration of the office. “Pope Francis, who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (LG, no. 23).”

  18. johnnys says:

    “an ever growing understanding of God’s ruth” ?

    What teachings of Jesus do we need a better understanding of after 2000 years? Are they all still up for debate?

  19. johnnys says:

    ‘an ever growing understanding of God’s truth”

    What teachings of Jesus do we need a better understanding of after 2000 years? Are they all still up for debate?

  20. Mike says:

    Not so very puzzling. The politicians and careerists at USCCB are hastening to close ranks around Bergoglio, and devil take the hindmost.

  21. thomas tucker says:

    Some bishops and cardinals thought the Pope actually meant it when he said that he wanted to hear open debate and opinions. I daresay that they have learned otherwise and are acting accordingly.

  22. LarryW2LJ says:

    St. Nicholas, ora pro nobis!

  23. Blog Goliard says:

    The alacrity of Fr. Weinandy’s dismissal is striking, and speaks loudly.

    When one looks at prior pontificates, how far back does one have to go to see this degree of punitive ultramontanism employed by lofty and powerful figures in the Church against those who, while not denying any of the doctrines of the Faith or the prerogatives of the Petrine office in any way, publicly expressed misgivings about a Holy Father’s choices of words and actions?

    This is an honest question; I do not myself know. None of the modern precedents that I can think of are true apples-to-apples comparisons, as they all involved the active undermining of doctrine and/or plain defiance of legitimate authority.

    (Hmm…when one recalls the typical speed and character of the response to those past cases, one might be forgiven for wondering if one or both of those elements actually served as mitigating factors.)

  24. pseudomodo says:

    And all this time I thought that the word “Parrhesia” meant something else.

    We now know that the word actually means “Slapdown”!


  25. Benedict Joseph says:

    Those responsible for the action against Father Weinandy have abandoned the faithful and have brought judgement upon themselves. Provided the gravity of their fault one might expect mercy to be less a commodity than they like to presume.

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