A roundup on Francis and “schism”

Like chimps flinging their own poo, the screeching papalatrous catholic Left have been launching the word “schism” at their faithful and concerned Catholic targets.

Here are some thoughts from smart observers about the latest jaw-dropping PPP (papal plane presser).  Transcript HERE

First, Rod Dreher (former Catholic – not a smart move, that, and reversible) has a blistering examination of the PPP, during which Francis himself used the word “schism” and tried to explain what it meant.

A few excerpts from Dreher:



To criticize without wanting to hear the response and without dialogue is not wanting the good of the Church. It is to go backward to a fixed idea, to change the pope, to change the style, to create schism, this is clear no? A fair criticism is always well received, at least by me.

[Dreher] Oh, brother. It has been years, but he still hasn’t answered the dubia, which were formal requests, made through the Church’s system, for theological clarification. And he has not explained in any detail his role in rehabilitating Ted McCarrick, or answered any of Archbishop Vigano’s pointed, detailed criticisms. The media have allowed him to get away with it, of course, but it is impossible to take Pope Francis seriously when he spites his Catholic critics while ducking legitimate criticisms and questions they offer (and yes, some of them are in bad faith).


That pretty much nails it.




And also there is the behaviorist ideology, that is, the primacy of a sterile morality over the morality of the People of God, who even the pastors should guide, the flock, between grace and sin. This is evangelical morality.

Instead, a morality of ideology, such as Pelagianism, to put it that way, makes you rigid and today we have many, many schools of rigidity inside the Church. They are not schism, but they are pseudo-schismatic Christian paths that in the end finish badly. When you see rigid Christians, bishops, priests, behind them are problems; there isn’t the holiness of the Gospel. For this we should be meek, not severe, with people who are tempted by these attacks, because they are going through a problem, and we should accompany them with meekness.

[Dreher] Yes, Holy Francis, meek and mild. The man brutalizes those he sees as his enemies. He’s eviscerated the John Paul II Institute in Rome. And now the new team will include an Italian priest and moral theologian who favors contraception, and who has recently said that sex within gay relationships can be a moral good. Even if you agree with that position, you have to be honest enough to admit that it is very nearly a 180 degree reversal from what the Catholic Church has authoritatively thought since forever.

Yet theologically conservative American Catholics are the ones fomenting schism? Wow.


Moving to another writer, Catholic World Report Carl Olson offers thoughts on Francis’ style.


Thirdly, while Francis makes distinctions between good and bad critics, he and his closest collaborators (not to mention his defenders on Twitter, who are equal parts passive and aggressive) rarely, if ever, really address or consider good criticism in a mature, pastoral manner. In many cases they misrepresent it or attack those who put it forward in good faith. Put another way, Francis and company make it quite clear, in the end, that any and all criticism is motivated by some irrational, ideological, political, and unCatholic hatred of Francis. They would rather stonewall, deflect, and even insult rather than actually dialogue. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it several dozen times.

Some of the key signs of passive-aggressive attitudes, according to Psychology Today, are the silent treatment (“refusing to answer any questions from the person”), subtle insults, and stubbornness. I hope we can all agree that these are not good qualities for anyone to have; they certainly aren’t what we hope to see in a pope. But I don’t think we will be seeing any changes. The die is cast; rigidly so.


Then there’s Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture:


“I am not afraid of schisms,” Pope Francis told reporters during his latest airplane press conference.

Well, I am. And I’m afraid of any Roman Pontiff who isn’t afraid of splitting the universal Church.


“First of all, criticism always helps, always,” the Pope said. At the outset of his African voyage, a papal spokesman had said that Francis is “honored” by criticism. Now the Pope himself told Horowitz, “I always benefit from criticism” and “a fair criticism is always well received, at least by me.” Really? Having covered Vatican affairs throughout this pontificate, I cannot recall a single instance in which Pope Francis made a gracious public response to any critic, on any topic. But I can easily recall dozens of occasions on which he lashed out as his critics—characterizing them as Pharisees and hypocrites, “doctors of the law,” rigid and uncharitable.

“To criticize without wanting to hear a response and without getting into dialogue is not to have the good of the Church at heart,” the Pope continued. But it is he who refused to respond to his most famous critics, the four cardinals who submitted the dubia.


At the same time, a writer for the catholic Left at The Bitter Pill (aka The Tablet, aka RU-486), Christopher Lamb, offers his own incredible view of that same PPP.

This is exemplary!


On the papal plane returning from Madagascar, Pope Francis offered something similar to his opponents, found largely in the Roman Curia, wealthy groups in the United States and traditionalist networks.

Speaking to reporters, the Pope made an appeal to those opposed to the direction of his pontificate: make constructive criticism in a spirit of dialogue, and not “criticism of the arsenic pills” where stones are thrown by hidden hands.

He is perturbed by “under the table” knifings from those who “smile at you, letting you see their teeth and then they stab you in the back.” These attacks, the Pope stressed, are driven by an “ideology detached from doctrine,” and an “elitist separation” from ordinary Catholics (the vast majority who support Francis). The result is schism.

“The schismatics always have one thing in common: they separate themselves from the people, from the faith of the people of God,” he pointed out.


It was Francis who demolished the John Paul II Institute and appointed a guy who thinks that contraception and homosexual acts are okay.   Why would any of the faithful object to that?  How dare they raise concerns!  They must be “schismatics”!  The Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Goat Rodeo … errr… Synod on the Amazon obviously has Francis’ approval.  Hence, they will talk about the spirituality of bugs and trees and embrace of pantheistic syncretism.  But don’t scratch your head or even suggest that that doesn’t seem very Catholic.  If you do, “YOU’RE SCHISMATIC!”  Wasn’t it Francis who said that, since “there is already unity” among Christians, then we shouldn’t have to “wait for theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist”, and that those who interpret Amoris laetitia to admit adulterers to Communion are right?  Do NOT, however, even think to raise your hand and ask how that’s consistent with Catholic dogma.


Despite being on the receiving end of a brutal and sustained guerrilla war from his opponents, Francis is not trying to shut down those who disagree with him. He is the one who has opened up a free-wheeling discussion inside the Church and who calls on bishops to talk to him and others with “parrhesia” (the Greek word for speaking frankly.)

This is a Pope who does not seek the security of old modes of the papal office, where the temptation is to stamp out any dissent but seeks his leadership authority from witnessing to the Gospel, which includes the humility to admit mistakes.


Christopher Lamb, ladies and gentlemen, graduate of the Baghdad Bob School of Journalism.

Of course he is writing for the sort of audience that still reads The Bitter Pill.

BTW… If I recall correctly, wasn’t it Francis who upbraided Catholics in Chile who were complaining about that corrupt bishop?  “There is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?”  As it turns out, it wasn’t slander.

Lamb goes on with the expected cliches by bringing in EWTN, Tim Busch, Card. Burke, Card. Müller.  They’re bad people and, of course, SCHISMATIC!

It’s Bizarro World on the catholic Left.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “When you see rigid Christians, bishops, priests, you know there are problems there,” he (Pope Francis) said. “We need to be gentle with these people and accompany them.” Francis suggested that some of those who attack him may have psychological problems and should be treated kindly.

    Rigid ??? =
    Pope Emeritus Benedict
    Pope St John Paul II
    All the Saints

  2. John V says:

    There are lots of people being played like a fiddle here, indeed played like a Stradivarius. And you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. But it’s Satan sitting in the concertmaster’s seat and their all playing his tune, whether they realize it or not.

  3. Sometimes I think HH just likes hearing the sound of his own voice, and answers questions posed to him in the manner which he may believe/intuit/imagine the enquirer wants to hear.

    It’s a subtle ability (no doubt reinforced and forged in the crucible of SJ indoctrination) to do so: you hear politicians and other limelight hogs do it all the time.

    That the ‘reflections’ are in no way are consistent on the surface from one day to the next, or even with settled dogma, tradition, or practice is not surprising.

    Of course, being fully engulfed in the Liberation Theology zeitgeist from the 70s and 80s in the southern American hemisphere, I sure native antipathy towards the anglo-saxon world (Faulkland debacle for Argentina, anyone?), and his distaste for the trappings of the office (but not the obsequious court around him…), it can be no other way.

    I’m sure I’m broad-brushing this. But more than a few more intelligent than I have noted the same. YMMV.

  4. e.e. says:

    I keep trying to keep in mind a verse from the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”:

    Though with a scornful wonder
    Men see her sore oppressed,
    By schisms rent asunder,
    By heresies distressed,
    Yet saints their watch are keeping;
    Their cry goes up, “How long?”
    And soon the night of weeping
    Shall be the morn of song.

    ‘Mid toil and tribulation,
    and tumult of her war,
    she waits the consummation
    of peace forevermore;
    till with the vision glorious
    her longing eyes are blest,
    and the great church victorious
    shall be the church at rest.

  5. William says:

    The attacks are driven by an “ideology detached from doctrine”? I thought during the AL debates it was an ideology “detached from mercy” and clinging too strongly from doctrine.

  6. William says:

    *too strongly to doctrine.

    Mea culpa &c.

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    Pelagianism … makes you rigid

    This is a nonsense — Pelagianism is the Heresy teaching that Divine Grace is non-existent, and that by default all are saved …

    It leads to every manner of multi-variable DIY “christianity”, AKA the diametric opposite of the “rigid”.

    And that seems all too often to be what the Roman Pontiff keeps on encouraging BTW …

    I really really hope and pray that the Roman Pontiff will not commit one of the very few offenses that are attainted with an automatic excommunication, but I’m increasingly worried about the risk that he will.

  8. RLseven says:

    “And he has not explained in any detail his role in rehabilitating Ted McCarrick.” Pope John Paul II acted similarly, when he appointed Cardinal Law to a basilica in Rome, after he fled the US before he could be held accountable for his role in the Boston clergy abuse scandal. Just saying… no pope is without flaws. The incessant attacking of Pope Francis gets tiring.

  9. MitisVis says:

    If I may speak with “parrhesia.” It is well to discuss the right from the wrong of these statements, but these statements are nothing more than preparation and labeling to initiate a preemptive attack at expected opposition. Much like “clericalism” uttered in a constant mantra, “schism” and “rigid” imply a separation and division of a more serious and critical nature. I believe discussion and analysis of the various statements and positions are vital and catechetical at times, but we should also prepare by taking to heart Christ’s church and a determined faith for what these statements lead to. We may be asked to do great things.

  10. Jacques says:

    And during this PPP, there was not a single journalist daring to ask Francis why he didn’t reply the “dubia letter” nor did he bestow the audience it’s writers begged, THREE years ago ?
    Were the questions carefully selected beforehand ?
    Is this the way Francis is considering a frank dialogue with his critics?

  11. JabbaPapa says:

    Pope John Paul II acted similarly, when he appointed Cardinal Law to a basilica in Rome

    No, he was appointed to a tiny 2-room flat and every time he tried to act as the Parish Priest of that church, he was forcefully reminded that he was basically persona non grata

    He passed the end years of his life basically under house arrest.

  12. Charivari Rob says:

    Regarding Cardinal Law (briefly) – there are a couple of canards that really need to be laid to rest.

    One is the whole “promotion/reward/prominent assignment/cushy assignment to Saint Mary Major” narrative. He was radioactive at that point – so hot as to be toxic for almost any public ministry assignment, and even residing in any stateside diocese would have been a distraction. They put him someplace where everyone knew where he was and where he could be of some use to pilgrims & tourists.
    (That isn’t to say there weren’t problems or questions)

    Another is the “fled the country” bit. He wasn’t facing charges, he wasn’t refusing to return, the Holy See wasn’t refusing extradition. News flash – he came & went between US & Rome occasionally in those years.

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    Indeed, Charivari Rob — Cardinal Law only left Boston after the Judge looking at his case made the determination that insufficient evidence existed against the Cardinal to secure a conviction, and so dismissed all charges against him.

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Great points by Rod Dreher, Carl Olson, Phil Lawler and Fr. Z.

    As for Christopher Lamb and Baghdad Bob, maybe they’re the same person:

    “They fled. The Schismatic louts fled.”

    “We have retaken the JP II Institute. There are no Schismatics there. I will take you there and show you. In one hour.”

    “Listen, this schism does not frighten us any longer. The schisms do not frighten anyone. We are catching them like fish in a river. I mean here that over the past two days we managed to shoot down 196 rigid schisms before they hit their target.”

    “When we were making NuChurch and when we were writing the Amoris Laetitia and the Laudato Si, Burke and little Muller were scratching around in caves.”

    “I blame EWTN – they are marketing for the Schismatics!”

    “We defeated the Rigid Ones yesterday. Allah willing, I will provide you with more information.”

  15. maternalView says:

    I’m not a trained psychologist but I’m a mom so I often play one in real life. And I think based on the personality traits the Pope displays we’re in for more of the same. This is not just about being his theological training in a particular way or having experienced a certain political atmosphere. There’s a certain personality that thinks it’s never wrong and rather than step back, reconsider and perhaps acknowledge mistakes actually doubles down on it’s point of view no matter the harm caused. You can not get to these type of people. They do not want to change. Nothing we say or do changes their minds. It is only through a true conversion of heart is there hope for them. He has an agenda and that with his personality means more rocky times ahead.
    Pray and fast for the Pope.

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