Will Pope’s Defense of Faith at Synod Ease Anxious Minds?

In my last piece I wrote “If Francis doesn’t soon make it clear that the synod can’t abandon Catholic teaching, his pontificate could spin out of control.” I didn’t, I fear, hold out much hope that he would; and nearly everyone seems to have taken it for granted that he didn’t, even those who, like John Thavis, claim to have read the Holy Father’s address closing the Synod, an address in which it’s quite clear to me THAT HE DID unambiguously and with emphasis make it clear that the depositum fidei had to be the foundation of everything.

And yet in all the many comments on the Synod’s end I have read, not one writer so far as I can discover noticed what the Pope actually said. Does nobody read (rather than just skimming through, half-blinded by prejudice or wishful thinking) what anyone says or writes anymore?

Of the Pope’s actual words, more presently: but this is what Thavis thought had happened by the end of the Synod itself: “The short-term result making headlines is that in the concluding report, the more conservative members of the Synod of Bishops on the family managed to pull back some of the amazingly open language regarding those living in ‘irregular’ unions, including gays. But I think the long-term results are more significant. Chief among them is that Pope Francis clearly placed the Church on a new path, toward an evangelizing style that is less focused on doctrine and more willing to invite people in, no matter what their ‘status’.”

Well, undoubtedly, it’s true that certain conservative bishops, notably Cardinals Burke and Pell, did manage to have some of the “amazingly open” (ie. utterly irresponsible) language of the concluding report struck out, largely because it was a complete distortion of what had actually taken place. But that the Pope placed the Church on a new path, less “focused on doctrine,” is just not the case, if what that means is that the Church’s teachings on faith and morals had been junked.

Certainly the Pope mentioned, among the various temptations of groups like the synod “a temptation to hostile inflexibility [trans: rigidity], that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. “From the time of Christ,” the Pope went on, “it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called—today—‘traditionalists’ and also of the intellectuals.” Well, there’s actually nothing there that a real traditionalist (rather than many of those so-called)—that is, someone wholly committed to the traditio, to the living and developing but also unchanging magisterium of the Church—could object to.

And the Holy Father makes THAT clear by the other temptations he then goes on to reject:

The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo: “self-righteousness,” maybe?], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4).

The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it].

All that, it seems to me, is a more than adequate response to Cardinal Burke’s entreaty, made last week: The Catholic World Report asked the Cardinal whether he thought the Pope should make “a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?” Cardinal Burke replied simply “In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue.”

Now, the Pope has made a full and emphatic statement which does just that. His words require the close attention which so far they have not had. In particular that reference to “the temptation to neglect the ‘depositum fidei’, not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]….” Isn’t that a profound and deadly accurate dismissal of the liberal mentality?

This Pope isn’t a liberal. But he has given the liberals their head; and it remains to be seen whether that particular genie can be got back into the bottle. At the next synod, some of those who just about saved this one won’t be there. Cardinal Pell will be: but the hero of this Synod, Cardinal Burke, is (in my opinion deplorably) being eased out of his influential post as head of the Vatican’s supreme court. And there are deeply disquieting rumors that Cardinal Gerhardt Müller’s days as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are numbered, too.

What will happen next? And what, for the matter of that, just happened? “Some,” as John Allen sums it all up, “believe the soap opera quality of the two-week gathering, with conservatives complaining of a plot to stifle their voices and liberals grousing about a lack of nerve, suggest Francis has let loose forces he can’t control. ‘I don’t think he’s much of a strategist,’ one cardinal told Crux on Sunday night. ‘I used to think there was a plan underneath the chaos … now I’m wondering if the chaos is the plan’.”

“I must admit,” says Fr Blake, “I still don’t understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh-air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?”

Well, I don’t think he’s THAT. He’s certainly more conservative than people think: but has he, as many undoubtedly believe now, let loose forces he can’t control, one thing a Pope should never do? That’s the question nobody seems to be able to answer.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared October 21, 2014 in the Catholic Herald of London and is reprinted with permission. (Photo credit: CNS)

Dr. William Oddie

By

Dr. William Oddie is a leading English Catholic writer and broadcaster. He edited The Catholic Herald from 1998 to 2004 and is the author of The Roman Option and Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy.

  • Minaya

    Having followed Pope Francis since his times as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I think that he is a master of communication. He has been hard, even rough, when politicians at his home country pushed iniquitous laws on abortion and fake marriages. But those were the topics of the day, which he did not choose.

    I guess that, after the fruitful pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, that very much reversed the course towards heresy within the Church and put youth catholics back in touch with the Church, Francis thinks that the priority is to reach to those outside the Church (or half-outside). Now, many unbelieving or indifferent people are at least willing to hear him. With the support of our prayers, I hope that many of them will also read his statements, understand them and hopefully act on them.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      I sincerely hope that you’re right about that. My great fear, though, is that such “outsiders” will hear what pleases them, and read only what the secular media attributes to the Pope, without looking at the fine print. See? The Pope is giving us a break.

    • C.Caruana

      Well, master of communication is a wee bit too generous. In fact one of the main problems I see in this papacy is that the substantial difference between being Archbishop of Buenos Aires and being supreme Pontiff of the universal Catholic Church has not yet been effectively negotiated. Let’s hope and pray it will, the sooner the bettet for us all.

    • jacobhalo

      He is the master of mis-communication. If he were a master of communication, we wouldn’t have to interpret his off the cuff remarks.

      • chanel3

        I totally agree. I think the time is long past when we can say that the Pope has been misunderstood, he didn’t mean this or he has been mistranslated on that. They say actions speak louder than words and the fact that he appointed six liberal bishops to write the mid-term report is what should be looked at – not what he said after. That is extremely serious and shows the mind of the Pope. Cardinal Kasper has said that his views on marriage conform with that of the Pope. The fact that Pope Francis allowed Kasper to speak to the consistory also shows the mind of the Pope.

        In his speech to the synod Francis also for the first time that I can recall stated that he was the Pope, the supreme teacher and to me because the bishops in collegiality did not liberalise Catholic teaching I believe this signals that the Pope could make such a change himself if the synod is not liberal enough next year. I also think the term “God of surprises” is an expression to be wary of because God does not surprise. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and it has been stated that the Pope has no authority to change Catholic dogma.

    • accelerator

      The few comments I have read from him about his time in Argentina make it sound like he leaned a bit more to the right then and now regrets it or has grown out of it.

  • FernieV

    One thing is clear to me: that we need to keep praying for Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, that God may give him the prudence and wisdom he needs to govern Peter’s Boat, and then to start praying for his successor, who is going to find a lot of things to change…

    • JP

      It is my hope that Pope Francis allowed personal opinions to get in the way of his better judgement. I really don’t think anyone could predict the reaction of the Synod members over the 3 paragraphs of the draft report. Since Blue Thursday it has been all damage control. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call.

  • I still fail to understand how a “God of Surprises” is compatible with the Deposit of Faith and my faith that God is the same today as he was in the burning bush. It is MAN that is Surprising, not God.

    • Doyle

      He will always be surprising because His Thoughts are not our thoughts. We are in His image, but we cannot plumb the depths of Him.

      • It is MAN who is surprising, not God. His thoughts are not our thoughts precisely because they are the same yesterday, todsy, can tomorrow. Our plan changes, God’s plan does not. One who finds that surprising, is not following the will of God, but rather the surprise of man.

        • musicacre

          God IS surprising, because we lack the imagination and big picture to know how he may use us for his plan. Mother Teresa was “surprised” that her real mission was so different than the one she was trained for, St. Francis was stunningly “surprised” when God had plans for him other than his own, St. Paul was taken by “surprise”, Humanae Vitae was a “surprise”, given the mood at the Vatican then…and on and on. We are tested when these surprises come along and I think that is what Pope Francis is reminding us of. He (God) may go beyond our own pre-conceived notions of Him and ask us to step out of our comfort zone.

          • “because we lack the imagination and big picture to know how he may use us for his plan”

            Our lacking imagination I don’t have a problem with. God lacking commitment I’d have a big problem with.

            Surprise, your spouse of 15 years is now gay, wants a divorce, and wants to raise your children in a single gender parented home, would not be a surprise I’d see coming from God.

            • musicacre

              You didn’t seem to comprehend the meaning of what I wrote. You have some idea that the word “surprise” can only have a negative connotation. How about, “Surprised By Truth” which is the title of a book by a notable Catholic.

              • That is my own post traumatic stress from being raised as an undiagnosed autistic; in my life surprises have been overwhelmingly negative, with only God to hold on to.

                Thus my extreme fear of God being described as a practical joking bully. I have known far too many of that type in my 43 years on this planet, I do NOT need God to be one too.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  “You have heard that it was said to them of old… But I say to you…”

                  As Pascal notes, “The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses. I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God disregarded [réprouvait] all the other things.”

                  • What does that have to do with describing God as a practical joking bully.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      It shows God as a “God of surprises” and many of the Jews were confounded by it, as witness St Paul’s battles with the Judaizers

                    • I guess I do not see man’s unfaithfulness as affecting God. What you describe is Humanity of Surprises. God was faithful despite man’s unfaithfulness.

            • Julia Soler

              Well, the spouse is “now gay,” and wasn’t before? Maybe a less fearful/condemnatory attitude to homosexuality would prevent people from deceiving themselves and their spouse by entering a heterosexual marriage they can’t maintain. This would reduce the number of such unpleasant surprises.

    • C.Caruana

      Sometimes God does surprise us, by showing how wrong we were. His surprises are not always as pleasant as is given out.

      • But once again, that’s us being wrong, not God being wrong.

        • Right. That’s all the pope meant.

          • Then that is not a God of Surprises, but a mankind of surprises. Or as I put it to my wife this morning, the closest thing I know of to the God of Surprises, is the Christopher of Surprises- my 11 year old in the back seat.

            I find him to be extremely surprising. In comparison, I find God to be faithful & steadfast.

            • Not sure why you’re getting so hung up on this particular turn of phrase. The pope wasn’t saying that God likes playing tricks on us. He was saying that we need to be open to the possibility that we don’t have everything figured out, that there is always room for God to surprise us.
              That is clearly true; God seems to be perfectly willing to let us persist in error for a time, and to cause his truth to unfold in ways that surprise us. He is a God who is willing to surprise us, just as he is a God who is willing to forgive us. That makes it possible for us to call him both “a God of forgiveness” and “a God of surprises.” His surprises are never mean tricks; they are surprising because what he gives us is so far above what we had hoped for.
              When he warned of a need to be open to these kinds of surprises, the pope was not talking to people who trust in God to be steadfast; he was talking to people who assume they already have God and his will all figured out.

              • It is because of my autism, and my experience with surprising people growing up. God has been the only one in my life I can fully trust, and for Pope Francis to claim we cannot trust God either, was extremely upsetting.

                Now who can I trust, if God too is nothing more than another playground bully?

                • Of course you can trust God. I don’t think the pope is saying he’s a bully, but if so he is wrong.

    • jacobhalo

      Pope Francis is preparing us for changing in the church teachings. That is what he means by “God of Surprises.” I don’t trust him with the magisterium.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Well in 1968, Humanae Vitae was certainly a very big surprise, but for all of the right reasons: it surprised the arrogant, the proud, the timid and the indifferent. So far, though, I haven’t been pleasantly “surprised” in the same way presently.

  • AcceptingReality

    Seems to me, whatever the Holy Father’s true disposition may be, it is camouflaged underneath competing media reports and agendas. The result has been a papal persona that seems to engender a furthering of a purely “pastoral” approach to the faith. Mercy and welcome without contrition. There is a scarcity of truth about the main moral issues of our day coming from the pulpits BECAUSE it wouldn’t be pastoral. Furthermore, and perhaps due to media distortion, distinctly liberal priests and prelates have been emboldened.

  • lifeknight

    On two separate occasions the homily of a “progressive” priest included words of the Pope and the “pastoral” approach toward the “LGBT” persons in the congregation. The worst part was that his comments were met with cheers and clapping in the congregation. This is what is happening without clear proclamations from the Pope.

    • ForChristAlone

      The protestant wing of the Catholic Church making up Church teaching out of whole cloth. It’s been going on since about 1964 when the “priesthood of the laity” went off its collective rocker.

      • jay

        I agree, but how do we correct this? I must say it’s been very challenging to me as a brand new Catholic. I guess faith isn’t supposed to be easy

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          It isn’t, you’re right. It’s just a bit more difficult than usual in the present circumstances.

        • jacobhalo

          There is one way to correct it and that is protest it. Have protests in front of churches. The Vatican will get the message.

          • Minnesota Mary

            Pulling in the purse strings is another way the Vatican will get the message.

          • musicacre

            That’s the human, political approach. Why do we not still believe in our biggest weapon that the unbelievers will never understand? Prayer.

            • jacobhalo

              just like faith without works is dead, prayer without action…

              • musicacre

                Prayer hasn’t been rejected out of hand by Catholics; it’s just never tried. Tell me about action: I’ve helped (my husband) run a pro-life group for almost 20 years, taught NFP and homeschooled 6 kids….instead of taking theology courses. I can tell you that prayer is still stronger and not been tried by enough Catholics. Perhaps praying the rosary isn’t “cool” anymore. I see the liberal nuns doing the protest thing and they don’t pray anymore……

                • jacobhalo

                  Both can be done. I’ve been praying since the disastrous Vatican II and things just got worse and worse. Did God want things to get worse? I took a couple of theology courses. What a waste!!

        • ForChristAlone

          Jay, it IS times like this that will test the gift of faith. Stay the course. We cradle Catholics need you converts around to keep us honest.

          The Church has had popes who were scoundrels. Not much different from the likes of the rest of us sinners. Do not fret, the next Pope will be the work of the Holy Spirit. He will be a Pope who means what he says and says what he means.

  • ForChristAlone

    Thavis is quoted as saying about His Holiness the Pope: “an evangelizing style that is less focused on doctrine and more willing to invite people in, no matter what their ‘status’.”

    Well, Satan does that pretty well without any outside help. That’s NOT the path Francis would be on.

    • JP

      What I find strange if not depressing is the narrative that with Pope Francis the Church finally has a Pope who is evangelizing, who is open to Sinners. And Pope John Paul II was not? Saint John Paul II was probably the greatest evangelist of the 20th Century. But, he was also a defender of the Deposit of Faith (like all Popes must be). To be an evangelist one must defend what he is pushing; otherwise, no one will take you seriously. Billy Graham certainly wasn’t shy about his beliefs. And millions of people were brought to Christ. The same held true for Bishop Sheen; he was a great expositor of Christian doctrine. And even Protestants were attracted to what he taught.

      I don’t buy that one must offer an empty, content free witness in order to “attract” followers. It makes absolutely no sense.

      • Daniel P

        I think you’re 100% right that JPII was open to sinners. Francis does have something JPII didn’t have, though: sinners relate to him. He is more vulnerable, in terms of personality, than any other pope in my lifetime.

        • Baldwin04

          I think the vast majority of Popes have been open to sinners. And just as humble.

          • Daniel P

            Again, it’s not his humility that people can relate to. It’s his personality.

            • DE-173

              Oh goody, we are now going to have….

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FKv5QLa8q8

              • St JD George

                I thought was going to end with the same line as in “Please to meet you, won’t you guess my name …”, same message though.

        • jacobhalo

          Yes, the past popes were open to sinners. This pope is open to sinners, but has a problem saying to them, “go and sin no more.”

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          The problem for me is WHY sinners might “relate” to him. In ordinary conversations at the parish level, many seem to think that they’re getting a free pass. If that’s not the Pope’s intention, he hasn’t done much to correct the impression.

          • Daniel P

            I don’t think people relate to his lack of precision, or his mercifulness — whether or not they properly understand mercy. I think people relate to his way of speaking and listening. He’s the type of person you would invite to your Thanksgiving dinner, and who wouldn’t at all seem out of place there.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              I don’t think we can say exactly what’s in others’ minds, although my own impression is that most of the folks I was referring to get their information from MSNBC, CNN, etc. They like what they see there, in terms of what I noted in my post. The diocesan press within my familiarity has also run rather uncritically with the mainstream media narrative. But Thanksgiving dinner aside, I did NOT like what I saw at the Synod, and I hope those unsettling impressions will be altered by subsequent developments. So far, they haven’t materialized.

            • Guest

              How is that helpful or good?

              • Daniel P

                I didn’t say it was good. It could be good or bad, depending — just as it can be with anyone else who has an endearing or magnetic personality.

          • douglas kraeger

            I believe it is self-evident that the devil wants confusion so he can convince the people that the Church has changed her stance or is going to, therefore they do not have to change their sinful ways in order to get to heaven. If the Pope’s comments lead to confusion, he is either inadvertently or deliberately aiding and abetting the enemy. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but people may believe they have and live accordingly. What all Catholics should do, liberal and conservative, is join in a public request to Pope Francis to explicitly repeat that doctrine is not going to change, it cannot change, and only repentant sinners, in the state of grace, having confessed all known mortal sins, may receive Holy Communion.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              Yes indeed. But unfortunately, I don’t see any indication at the moment that he is inclined to do that.

              • douglas kraeger

                Perhaps he needs “help” to do this explicitly? If thousands of lay people, students at truly Catholic schools (even grade schools) priests and bishops and Cardinals PUBLICLY ASKED FOR SUCH A STATEMENT, perhaps sooner or later, He would give it. And if not, well, would it not be that that would be between Him and God? And since God is in control, I trust Him. Is this something we all should do what we can to accomplish? A simple public request for the Pope to explicitly state unchanging Church doctrine that only repentant sinners, in the state of grace, having confessed all known mortal sins and who accept and who believe all that Holy Mother Church officially teaches, may receive Holy Communion (all other people are encouraged to make a contrite spiritual communion). If we can help promote such a statement and choose to let others do it with no help from us, (no clicks of the mouse), could God hold each of us at least partially responsible for the “delay” in such a statement coming forth because we chose not to do what we could easily have done?

        • DE-173

          ” Francis does have something JPII didn’t have, though: sinners relate to him.”

          Oh nonsense. Everybody is a sinner.

          If however you mean those whose sins are primarily against chastity, who remain unrepentant, and who demand that the Church accomodate their sins, that group mght “relate” more to PF than PJPII.

          Of course, this is principally because Pope Francis has an unfortunately tendency to garroulessness and inartful and imprecise language and so they expect him to be a revolutionary who arrogates the right to dispense with the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, well that’s a subset of sinners.

          • Daniel P

            Edited.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              How’s that?

            • DE-173

              What the hell is a “marginalized” sinner?

              • Guest

                Indeed.

      • ForChristAlone

        You might have hit upon something here – a week’s trip to Charlotte NC for Francis to stay with Billy Graham and be evangelized by him. Billy will also instruct him in how to say exactly what God intends to win sinners over to Christ. Then the next time Francis is hobnobbing with sinners in St Peter’s Square, he can do an ‘altar call.” Now THAT’s what I call evangelizing!

  • publiusnj

    Although he has been a loose cannon all along, I was willing to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt until that disgraceful “Interim Relatio” issued by his chosen editorial committee on Oct. 13, 2014, which did NOT reflect the Synod’s discussions but did reflect Kasper’s Remarried Communicants’ Proposal that Francis had come very close to endorsing earlier this year plus the very weird and perhaps mistranslated speculation about what gays could offer the Church. Did the Pope in his closing address say the balanced things the author notes that he said? Of course, but was it any more than Francis politically talking out of both sides of his mouth preparatory to stacking the Ordinary Synod?

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear both on the “objectively” improper nature of both homosexual acts and Divorced-Remarried persons’ receiving communion and on the need for the Church to be pastoral in its approach both to homosexuals and remarried people. Nothing new there and no need for Francis to do more than to point to the Catechism and say that we need to explore the pastoral approaches while staying true to the catechetical formulations put together by a committee working for the Saint who appointed Francis bishop, archbishop and cardinal. Instead, he lets go cryptic one-liners on the plane coming back from Rio and follows it up with others in interviews and calls to that Argentinean divorcee that create a lot more heat than light. Then once the editorial committee totally blows the relatio, he does NOT step in to clear up his intent to stay true to the Catholic Faith.

    Is he a “liberal”? That was not his reputation on the morrow of his election, but was that an accurate appraisal? Might Cardinal Bergoglio have been “the Manchurian Papabile”? Holding in his bosom all along some heterodox ideas? Until the Pope makes it clear that both subject conducts remain sinful, I have no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt any longer. He has the duty to make it clear that he is the chief pastor of the Church that holds and teaches the Catholic Faith that comes to us from the apostles and that very recently has been set forth in detailed, systematic fashion in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    • strickerm

      I couldn’t agree more and I do see him as a liberal. When asked a simple question about sinful behavior, rather than pointing out and confirming Catholic doctrine, the response was, “Who am I to judge”? That sounds more cunning than conservative!

      Further, if we have to parse through his comments with jaded opinions to make them work in a hopeful favor, then we’re not being completely honest even to ourselves.

      If the Pope’s true intent and meaning of his comments (Synod) were to keep us focused on doctrine, then he would have said as much. A genuine, “Hey, we’re talking Catholic doctrine here and that’s just not going to change as much as you’d like it to, no matter what,” would have been nice.

      Unfortunately, to me he sounds more like a politician than the foremost proponent and guardian of doctrine, and I will certainly pray for him.

      • Daniel P

        He was NOT asked about sinful *behavior*. He was asked about the “gay lobby”. He gave a long answer, which included comments about priests with same-sex attraction. He spoke Church teaching: that a person who has a sinful inclination and yet strives for holiness is not subject to human judgment.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          That was also my take on that encounter, after the initial media firestorm. I wish, however, that I did not continually have to scramble to understand what the Pope’s “real” meaning might be, and the recent Synod hasn’t done much to reassure me.

        • publiusnj

          As I said already, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at first…after all, who am I to judge? As the evidence mounts, though, the “burden of persuasion” is shifting. He needs to stop mumbling and should instead pronounce the Catholic Faith clearly and without trickiness.

          Oh, and by the way, I would disagree if you were to call me poorly catechized. I had 19 years worth of Catholic education including 11 with the Jesuit Fathers. back in the day when a Jesuit College required double minors in Theology (12 credits) and (primarily Thomistic) Philosophy (18 credits).

          • This Pope makes me doubt the usefulness of a Jesuit education.

            • publiusnj

              But you digress. The point I was making is that I certainly have enough catechesis to understand a Jesuit Pope. I wasn’t making some kind of “brag” (kudos to Jesuit St. Edmund Campion there) about Jesuit Education.

              In all events, there is so much confusion already being generated by Dr. Oddie’s attempt to square the Pope with the Faith that we ought to be focusing on all of Francis’s statements together and not look at one or antoher of them in isolation.

              • This Pope is also Jesuit trained. I place the problem on the deadly combination of “Tweet level theology”, that is, theological lessons in 140 characters or less, and the fatal flaw of Ignatian Spirituality, the charitable interpretation which leads lay people into indifferentism.

                Certainly looking at Francis’s statements together, as a cohesive whole, paints a far different picture than isolating them.

            • St JD George

              That was brought front and center again last week with the acceptance of a pagan student club at Loyola in Chicago. Christian student groups are being disallowed all around the country at public and private universities, and a Jesuit school embraces pagans. If that’s not upside down I don’t know what is.

            • painfullyaverage

              He never finished his doctorate.

              • DE-173

                I know plenty of non Phd’s who brag about their “Jesuit” education in a way that makes me think the whole order needs to be suppressed again.

                • St JD George

                  I guess they fell for the same pitch the ad men gave them about the effectiveness of reaching the wallets of alum that every other school in the country has.

                • musicacre

                  Like my husband’s late uncle Bishop Charlie sj,( of Gujarat) who worked hard for the poor Catholics in India til he died at 93 years of age. A great and close friend of Mother Teresa’s.

                  • DE-173

                    Nice person to be able call family.

                    • musicacre

                      Yes, we’re hoping he’s praying for us from heaven!

                • Glenn M. Ricketts

                  One thinks of Fr. James Schall, emeritus at Georgetown. Not many of that cut left, unfortunately.

            • MJK

              Really! hardly the intellectual, but possibly quite clever…

              • Never said he wasn’t clever. But many of the references given over the past several months have led me to doubt the methodology of some very basic Ignatian spirituality exercises that it appears the Pope has been using. Abused, these exercises breed a form of rather insidious spiritual abuse and a tendency towards indifferentism.

                When pressed, Jesuits will often refer to the tolerance of evil in Aquinas and Augustine as an excuse. I’m also unsure that is anything more than just an excuse.

                • MJK

                  totally agree with your assessment…you are spot on! never meant to convey that I wasn’t agreeing with you

                  • I’m hoping I’m not spot on actually. But I fail to see any other explanation for the apparent tendency towards Mercy without Repentance.

          • Daniel P

            I didn’t call you poorly catechized. But thank for your resume.

            • publiusnj

              I understood that. That is why I used the conditional: “if you were to call me poorly catechized….”

              My concern was that you had used this line :”I agree that his comments were somewhat unclear, in the context of many Catholics who were poorly catechized.” What he said, though, certainly had Catholics probably even more catechized than either of us concerned as well. I am sure you would have to agree that the Cardinal in charge of the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition (now called the CDF) [a/ka/ the Grand Inquisitor] and the Cardinal in charge of the Apostolic Segnatura are sufficiently catechized as to divine even the most subtle or ethereal theological distinctions. Yet they are yelling holy heck about the Pope’s handling of this “mess.”

              • Daniel P

                I think the well catechized objected BECAUSE the poorly catechized would misunderstand. I don’t think they objected because they disagree with what he actually said (at least not in this case).

          • MJK

            You’re poorly catechized according to this fellow because you don’t subscribe to the noxious tendency about certain folks that any criticism of the Popes is verboten.
            This sentiment of course is historically, doctrinally, and theologically unfounded and terribly detrimental to the faith…

        • To be exact, he was asked about the sinful behavior of a *single individual* who had since repented.

          • Bob

            To be even more exact – wasn’t the real reason for the question to the pope the fact that the “single individual” was in some sense being promoted into a Vatican position and the query was targeting whether or not he had been vetted (i.e. judged) for how his CURRENT behavior was – GIVEN his horrendous past behavior???
            To me, the pope’s ambiguous answer addresses the idea that the “single individual” was someone who had sinned in the past and had repented – so who was he (the pope) to “judge” him for that.
            Also to me, the pope never answered the actual important question of whether or not the “SI” was properly vetted for his current behavior. This “judging” IS the pope’s JOB and he was derelict if he did not do this.
            The worst part of all of the pope’s ambiguity is that the drive-by media ran with it and simply uses it to promote any interpretation they want.
            This ambiguity of his, whether he intends it or not, is very damaging to the Church.

            • accelerator

              And the official in question was caught having sex in an elevator. There are sins of weakness, and then there is brash stupidity.

          • Daniel P

            Citation?

              • Daniel P

                That article supports my point that Francis was saying: “a person who has a sinful inclination and yet strives for holiness is not subject to human judgment.” The questioner may have had Ricci in mind, but Francis didn’t. Francis seemed to be addressing the fact that there are gay/SSA priests, and recommending that they seek the Lord’s will in their lives.

                • It came right after a question on Ricci and the VOR. Why wouldn’t that specific example be in the Pope’s mind?

                  • Daniel P

                    The Pope was trying to distinguish the “gay lobby” from individual gay people. It was the individual gay people he wasn’t going to judge, so long as they were earnestly seeking the Lord’s will in their lives — which presumably means following Catholic teaching. He should have been more clear on this last point, certainly.

                    • Bob

                      Daniel – obviously the pope must have emailed you what he was “trying to distinguish”. Why didn’t you share it with us earlier – because there are billions of us who were not copied on it.
                      “He should have been more clear…” – ya think so???

                    • Daniel P

                      Pope Francis said: “Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay” . They say that they exist. I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. That’s bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said and says: ‘these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.’ The problem isn’t having this tendency, no.”

                      CLEARLY, he is there trying to distinguish “being part of a gay lobby” from “having homosexual tendencies”. There is nothing obscure about that. Now, the phrase “Who am I to judge” is unhelpful and obscure. But the distinction he’s making isn’t obscure at all.

                    • Guest

                      What if the person is not seeking the Lord. Should he “judge” then?

                      The use of that term is so loaded that even taking the time to parse it, which most will not, it was an unfortunate thing to state.

                      Any honest person interested in truth and common sense would view the entire incident as unhelpful to say the least.

                      So instead of trying to defend an unfortunate statement we ought to see it is an unintentional misstep not to be repeated.

                    • Daniel P

                      I never denied that it was an unhelpful turn of phrase.

                    • accelerator

                      “..The problem isn’t having this tendency, no.” Except the CCC calls it “intrinsically disordered.” That IS a bit of a problem.

                    • C.Caruana

                      However good the intention, it was an extempore ill judged remark, with devastating effects on a media manipulated environment, which no Pope can afford.

        • accelerator

          Priests who fail in their vows ARE subject to human judgement. Wasn’t he talking about a specific priest who had lapsed? Furthermore, on such a confused hot button issue, to loosed the chance to clearly articulate the Church’s take, in order to appear open… Well, in this case the upshot he was made the ADVOCATE’s Man of the Year!

          • Daniel P

            From my reading, I haven’t seen any suggestion that he was talking about a specific priest that had lapsed. Citation?

            • Guest

              That does not matter. What matters is the message received.

        • Marcelus

          His argument went:: Can a gay person be judged for seeking the Lord in good will? That is exactly it.

          To enter the Church a few things have to happen, repentance, etc, a whole different thing

          Does not mean anything else than that.

    • joelfago

      I agree. Half the truth is NOT the truth.

    • Minnesota Mary

      “Is he a liberal?” The question should be, “Is the Pope Catholic?”

      • chanel3

        This is the first time in centuries that we have had to ask that question. As someone pointed out that no longer can be used as a rhetorical question.

    • The Truth

      I have returned to the “Catholic church after a 30 yr. absence. It’s protestant now. good-bye

      • jacobhalo

        It’s been protestant since Vatican II.

    • Michael Newhouse

      That you refuse to give the successor of Peter the ‘benefit of the doubt’ speaks volumes as to where you place your faith.

      • The Truth

        I place my faith in the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic church.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          “ And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me?” [Acts 8 30-31]

          As Socrates said: “Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing. And every word, when once it is written, is bandied about, alike among those who understand and those who have no interest in it, and it knows not to whom to speak or not to speak; when ill-treated or unjustly reviled it always needs its father to help it; for it has no power to protect or help itself…”

          The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment. An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, “σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – they preserve a solemn silence.

          Thus, Cardinal Manning asks, “Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world?”

      • publiusnj

        I place my faith in the Holy Catholic Church, just as the Creed says. Francis’s predecessor, Saint John Paul commissioned a Catechism of the Catholic Church that JPII then approved. John Paul’s Catechism says this about Communion for Remarried Divorced persons: “If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that
        objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic
        communion as long as this situation persists. ”

        So why doesn’t Francis, who was made a bishop, archbishop and cardinal by Saint John Paul, give his predecessor “the benefit of the doubt”? JPII was not just a saint, he also was a “successor of Peter.” Or as Francis himself might put it: who is Francis to judge his predecessor’s Catechism?

  • JP

    “a temptation to hostile inflexibility [trans: rigidity], that is,
    wanting to close oneself within the written word (the letter) and not
    allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises (the
    spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of
    what we still need to learn and to achieve. “…, “it is the temptation of the zealous, of the
    scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the
    so-called—today—‘traditionalists’ and also of the intellectuals.”

    I think the Pope is pushing a straw man, here. Since the mid 1960s the Church rarely displayed a zealous or over scrupulous defense of Doctrine for Doctrine’s sake. By the 1970s, the Ottaviani’s of the Church were a dieing breed. Since then, the Church has shown a remarkable display of openness – especially during the papacy of JPII. And if defense of the Church dogma’s is too “traditional” or scrupulous, then it is Pope Francis that has a problem and not some small minority (which holds very little influence) within the Church. Did he insert the above paragraph just to appear moderate or reasonable? Or does he really believe that a defense of the deposit of faith by bishops is somehow rigid, unreasonable, and not showing enough mercy?

    What many people failed to realize is that many if not most of the problems the Church sees today is caused by 50 years of chaotic, helter-skelter heterodoxy pushed by the very same people who today say they have all the answers. The problem in the Church today isn’t too much zealous rigidity in the application of Church dogma. The problem with the Church today isn’t that it is too Traditional, or stuck in the past. The Extraordinary Synod of the Family was a perfect example of how far the Church has fallen since 1965. So, why is the Pope acting as if Traditionalists are part of the problem?

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      I agree with regard to the “straw man.” As I’ve noted several times over the past two weeks, I can’t see where there’s any sea change at all in comparison with what’s been going on for more than four decades since the conclusion of VII. Who has been hurling moral lightening bolts about contraception, homosexuality, etc.? The Church has not formally disavowed its teachings on these subjects, but there’s certainly been no shouting them from them from the mountaintops, either. So why do some – Cardinal Dolan comes to mind – speak as though we’re going to be less stern and judgmental and more welcoming to sinners than previously? What? The only thing I’ve heard consistently about being “judgmental” is that I shouldn’t be “judgmental,” meaning of course that we uptight traditional types should loosen up and not be so “judgmental.”

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      One still encounters those who hold that that the teaching of the Church is something to be searched for in the records of the past, rather than something to be heard and accepted in the living present.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        But Michael, to what “teaching” do you refer? What was “taught” by the recent Synod? That’s the question under discussion for many here: what “teaching” is to be discerned in the confusion emanating from Rome? Do you really mean to say that the Church exists only in the present. from which the past is completely detached? If you do, then it’s quite inconsistent with most of your comments here, which usually draw heavily on analogous situations of the past. I don’t really understand what you’re saying here.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Cardinal Manning, perhaps, put it best: “No Catholic would first take what our objectors call history, fact, antiquity and the like, and from them deduce his faith ; and for this reason, the faith was revealed and taught before history, fact or antiquity existed.

          These things are but the basis of his faith, nor is the examination of them his method of theological proof. The Church, which teaches him now by its perpetual living voice, taught the same faith before as yet the Church had a history or an antiquity. The rule and basis of faith to those who lived before either the history or antiquity of which we hear so much existed, is the rule and basis of our faith now.

          But perhaps it may be asked: If you reject history and antiquity, how can you know what was revealed before, as you say, history and antiquity existed? ‘I answer: The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour, is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening… The first and final question to be asked of these controversialists is : Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world?”

          As for the Synod, it taught nothing; what we have is a discussion document.

          • Glenn M. Ricketts

            Thank you but I’m afraid I’m now more confused than I was. You use the word “infallible” which has a specific usage in the Church’s Magisterium, but I don’t see what you mean here. And if the Pope does formally teach in a particular time and place, I don’t see how it is for then only, with no connection to the past or his predecessors, at least if that’s what you’re saying in your post.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              “ And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me?” [Acts 8 30-31]

              As Socrates said: “Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing. And every word, when once it is written, is bandied about, alike among those who understand and those who have no interest in it, and it knows not to whom to speak or not to speak; when ill-treated or unjustly reviled it always needs its father to help it; for it has no power to protect or help itself…”

              The only alternatives are the submission of faith to a living authority, speaking now, or a reliance on private judgment. An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, “σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – they preserve a solemn silence.

              • Glenn M. Ricketts

                Who exactly was exercising private judgment, Michael? On what topic? That’s certainly been the case over the past 40 years on such issues as contraception, abortion or anything connected to sexual morality. How does it apply to this discussion thread?

              • c matt

                So once Bergoglio is gone, we can ignore anything he has said? That is comforting.

          • accelerator

            Nonsense. The Church can fail to preach the Gospel. It often has. Then what good is listening? What authority is Manning? No more than Kasper. AND THE CHURCH *IS* BUILT ON HISTORY: THE GOSPEL. IT IS A HISTORY OF FACTS. FOUND IN TRADITION AND SCRIPTURE. The Pope cannot trump those, period. Living voice? What did Paul say? “If we, or an angel from Heaven, preach another Gospel…” The Bishops are the custodian of the Gospel, but it does not depend on them for its life. The Pope cannot formally define error as truth, make he can make a hash of things. As we are witnessing now.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              As Bl John Henry Newman argues, “Surely, then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words, is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility.

              Where then is this gift lodged, which is so necessary for the due use of the written word of God? Thus we are introduced to the second dogma in respect to Holy Scripture taught by the Catholic religion. The first is that Scripture is inspired, the second that the Church is the infallible interpreter of that inspiration.”

              By the same token, we need “a formal judge and standing expositor” of the past pronouncements of the Magisterium, when their authors are no longer alive to expound them themselves.

  • jay

    I’ve heard Kasper may not be at the 2015 synod.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Where did you hear it?

      • jay

        Correction. I saw it in an article, and I’ll try to find it. Isn’t Kasper “retired”?

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Thanks, I’ll be interested to see it. If Cardinal Kasper is “retired,” he’s enjoying, as they say, an “active retirement.”

          • DE-173

            I wish he’d restrict his activities to things like bowling and penitential reflection.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              He certainly rolls enough gutter balls when it comes to theology.

        • C.Caruana

          No, he has been brought out of retirement by Pope Fancis himself, and paraded in the global media like a primadonna. He is certainly basking in it.

    • jacobhalo

      he might not be at the synod, but his ideas will be there.

  • C.Caruana

    More than what a person says, it is what he does and what he has done or left undone that contains clues as to his real motives and intentions. The equidistant , ‘impartial’ judgements of the Pope’s concluding address should be measured against his words, silences, actions and inactions in the months leading to the synod. I find that his speech ‘protested’ too much, which does not of course stop me from praying for our Holy Father, especially that the Holy Spirit enlighten him with the gift of prudence.

  • LHJ

    “Does nobody read (rather than just skimming through, half-blinded by prejudice or wishful thinking) what anyone says or writes anymore?”

    This is a big problem that needs to be addressed! Many cannot discern what is written some purposely decieve. There seems to be no real meaning to statements. The media distorts,hardly any one reads the original statement some that do cannot understand. I have stopped reading any main stream media articles about what the Pope said it is a waste of time. Factions in the Church give different interpretations. One really needs to search and find and share good reliable sites. There seems a great need to have an analysis done of what is actually the meaning of what is said before commenting. I believe it would be hard to find many people who would understand and agree upon what was the actual meaning. It is very frustrating! Is there any one who knows what the Pope meant? Is there any hope for this mess?

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”

    “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
    George Orwell

    • St JD George

      I will confess some guilt there, particularly when it comes to MSM reporting and progressive rants. I can barely stomach getting past the headlines. For example, I saw a headline where Elton John hailed Pope Francis was a hero this week. Frankly I could care less what he thinks and that already is more than I want to know.

  • St JD George

    Professor Oddie, your thoughts resonate with my own. Not knowing much about him I am intrigued to learn more about his experiences and many here like Augustine have shared some of that which has been enlightening. I know he’s an intelligent man (on some things, maybe not so much on economics and government), but he has struck me as a Pope full of mercy and trying to find his way and voice, trying to bring more into a relationship with Christ without beating them over the head with doctrine first. He definitely seems to lead with that approach and then follow up with clarifications which seem to get lost in the noise after. I don’t know, I can’t read his mind and he doesn’t call me to discuss, so all I can do is watch and learn and speculate. I don’t really believe that he thinks sodomy is natural and he’s said as much, I think he’s trying to find a way to “welcomingly embrace the sinner while softly rejecting the sin” though he is creating confusion with statements sometimes followed up with corrections acknowledging doctrine. I don’t know, many disagree, but I guess I remain hopeful that he is being divinely guided in the legacy of the Chair of Saint Peter. Knowing the sordid history of some who have sat in though does test one’s faith. I guess we will all have to wait and see where this journey takes us, hopefully not on a path of bitter divisiveness.

    • Steve Frank

      “I think he’s trying to find a way to ‘welcomingly embrace the sinner while softly rejecting the sin'”

      If that is what the Pope is really trying to do then he is delusional. Does he or anyone else really believe that the Left (liberal Catholics, gay activists, the secular press) is only hoping for a “softer” rebuke from the Church against divorce and homosexuality? Is their only complaint just the Church’s tone and not it’s actual teaching? Does the Pope really think that if he couches Church teaching on these matters in “softer” language, that will satisfy the other side? Absolutely not. Sure people like Elton John are singing the Pope’s praises over his new “softer” tone on homosexuality. But the only reason people like him are praising the Pope is because they believe this is a first step toward complete change on these teachings. The left will not be pacified until the Catholic Church makes gay marriage a sacrament. Of course they realize that full sacramental gay marriage is a bridge too far today in time. Liberals understand that change comes slowly baby step by baby step, especially within an institution that they regard as so behind the times like the RCC. But their hope is that step by step the Church will come around on the issue. And as soon as it’s clear that the Church won’t budge any further left on the issue, the gay activists who are praising the Pope today will go back to calling him or his successor a bigot or a homophobe. Pope Francis will NOT remain popular with liberal Catholics and the press unless he continues to slowly liberalize the Church step by step until there is complete “marriage equality”. Once liberals believe that Pope Francis will go no further, they will turn against him. Unless of course, the Pope’s plan IS to to slowly change church teaching to accept homosexuality and divorce. If he does that, he has other problems like schism to worry about. But if it’s not really Francis’s plan to eventually change church teaching, he is wasting his time trying to soft pedal Church doctrine on sexuality issues. The left will eventually turn on him as soon as they think he has stopped “progressing” and he will have lost the support of conservative Catholics for bringing the Church so close to the brink.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        Yes, there is no fury like media moral vanity scorned. Perhaps the Pope will have to learn for himself.

      • St JD George

        I also believe that it is the cunning nature of Satan. He can lull you with faux praise when you show weakness, but he howls inside when you do because he never intends to give up on his hold over sin over you and knows that his lure is working. I think it’s at the heart of Jesus message when he says he will vomit out the lukewarm who have no compassion, and the crowd that screams for world peace only because they don’t want to be personally bothered.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    When I saw the title of this article, I assumed the question it poses was meant rhetorically, and asked with perhaps a touch of sarcasm. But as I continued to read, I discovered to my amazement that Mr. Oddie is serious. He actually believes that Francis issued some sort of transparently Catholic statements at the conclusion of the Synod. And then, he quotes the very passages he believes buttress his argument that Francis is a good, orthodox, albeit misunderstood, pontiff.

    Seriously? The sophomoric language, the wagging finger, the name-calling, the inscrutable allusions, the sweeping generalizations, the novel formulae, the contradictory assertions, the constant sneering at everyone… all of this is the writing of a defender of the faith, a great evangelizer? Yes, says Mr. Oddie! The Pope’s meaning is quite clear, but just twisted, distorted, taken out of context by a manipulative press. (Yet Mr. Oddie himself notes that some of the conservative voices who saved this Synod from disaster will not be around next time, by the express will of Francis, yet we are NOT to ascribe this to liberalism or Jesuitical machinations!)

    Well, all right then, maybe the fault is in me. I have no training in theology or canon law. I am just a confused Catholic, and Francis isn’t helping me any. So I reach out to people in whom I have confidence to help me understand what I am supposed to be gleaning from his ceaseless commentary. But lately, that isn’t helping either. One of my theologian colleagues told me recently that a catechetics paper written with the style and contents of Francis’ remarks would earn a “D” in his course. Two others told me they are praying that this turns out to be a mercifully brief pontificate!

    So let me ask a question or two: Why is it that only liberal Catholic journalism, the secular press and pop-culture media are celebrating this pontificate? Why is every traditional Catholic order on edge? Why do some of the leading orthodox cardinals and bishops in the Church appear no less confused than I am by the Pope’s performance at the Synod? Why does every single statement of Francis, regardless of the language in which it was issued, require a follow-up explanation, denial, clarification, and accusation that the
    press has falsified the words of the Pope? Honestly, the defenders of this pontificate are just trotting out a comical “Yogi Berra” defense: “Francis hasn’t said half the thing he’s said.”

    • publiusnj

      Besides the Media, Pope Francis is also being celebrated by pop-culture idols such as Elton John for his efforts at stamping out traditional Catholic teaching on homosexual conduct. Elton John at an AIDS benefit just last night called Francis his “hero.”

      Mr. John also took a swipe at more traditional Catholics, thusly: ““It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that’s what we need in the world today.””

      See http://pagesix.com/2014/10/29/elton-john-pope-francis-is-my-hero/

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        The “Elton John” endorsement…… wonderful.

        • JP

          As the saying goes, if you lost Elton John you lost the Church.

        • Guest

          And what does the “Elton Effect” do for anyone? Have they considered repenting? Or viewing the Church has a means of salvation? How has they understanding of the Catholic faith become more authentic?

      • ForChristAlone

        When I heard this report, I thought for a minute that Elton John had converted to Catholicism. Or Maybe, Elton found out that Francis’ favorite song is: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          It says a lot that this Pope can be the “hero” of someone who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Catholic church.

          • jacobhalo

            That includes many in the secular press. When the secular press likes you…

      • C.Caruana

        Praise from Elton John is not exactly a complement, much as I admire his melodic talent.

        • publiusnj

          I might even agree with you but I wanted to point out the “fruit” of the Pope’s welcome, for what it is worth.

    • St JD George

      Clever, I never thought I’d see the wit of Yogi brought into this discussion, but the defense angle is spot on. Funny too about the “D”.

    • Tamsin

      The recent Newsweek article was very illuminating. Let Francis’ actions speak louder than his words. I bet the article was mostly written up and ready to go before the Synod, and the reaction to the interim relatio.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Clarity is Charity. In a confused, tired world, we urgently need clarity- especially from our ecclesiastical shepherds. We the sheep need you to use your crosiers, bishops (including you, Pope Francis). A bishop’s crosier shouldn’t be just for decoration.

      • MJK

        Absolutely…Clarity is charity…charity shouldn’t be misconstrued for sentimentality humanitarianism. Unfortunately, much of the language used by Francis seems more akin to sentimental humanitarianism…

      • Buffalo

        Amen, brother. I thirst for clear, courageous, non-nuanced truth and leadership. Someone once used parables to clarify His teaching.

    • Guest

      Very well said. The Catholic press is a big part of the problem. Rather than stating the obvious they spin and say it was the bad old secular press, or a translation error, or say it is because of the Jesuit spirituality, or because the Pope is from South America, or, this, or that.

      My favorite is when they say ignore the press and just read the Pope’s own words. Most have and they are still confused.

      My point really is not about criticizing the Pope so much as it is criticizing the sycophantic spinners who appear to be intellectually dishonest and have no fear in insulting people’s intelligence.

      • MJK

        Yep. Popes can be wrong regarding issues of prudential judgment and discipline … many mistakenly believe that any and all criticism of the Pope is verboten; this is simply historically, doctrinally, and theologically untrue and incompatible with the Roman Catholic faith…

      • Marcelus

        My point really is not about criticizing the Pope .

        You have come to the wrong place then my friend.

        SSPX are month old babies compared to Crisis posters

      • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

        I was reared in Australia but I spent 30 years of my adult life in Uruguay a
        small country bordering Argentina. I’m not saying it can be an excuse for
        everything but there is some truth to the fact that his style is typical of
        South America, especially the southern cone, as they call it. Over there you can very rarely if ever find a priest or a bishop that will give a clear and unambiguous homily. The few that do earn themselves many enemies. Sometimes this goes against their work because they get completely cut off so no one listens to a word they say again. In South America it’s the kingdom of gradualism, “don’t rock the boat” phylosophy is king.You can’t give them too much truth in one dose because it makes them deaf and hard as a stone to any truth there after. I’m stating this with great experience. I said the truth too clearly and I got marginalized more than quick and it didn’t look like at least for now that it had any good result. That said I don’t regret it and I still think clear and truthful is the best. But you must take into account he was born reared and formed as a priest there. If he became a bishop there it’s not been for his capacity for being crystal clear strong and unambiguous.
        This said I am praying a lot these days and think we should all pray and do more penance. Things don’t look good and I’m not too sure he knows how to handle things.
        But people down in South America are very much mostly oblivious of most of the details and uninterested.

    • jacobum

      You have nailed it. There is no confusion. PF has proven to be a modernist Pope. What is being set up is one the favorite time tested tactics/devices of the modernist cabal. Namely, keep the “words” but change their “meaning”. Ultimately, what is left standing is the buildings without the faith. That’s is why “termites” is an apt description for them. Everyone should read/reread/study Saint Pope Pius X most famous encyclicals:
      Pascendi, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_x/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-x_enc_19070908_pascendi-dominici-gregis_en.html

      and: LAMENTABILI http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10lamen.htm

      They are MUST READING to understand the last +50 years.

      PS: Note the clarity of thought and expression by SPPX versus the convoluted confusion coming out of Rome, PF and his acolytes.

    • John O’Neill

      The more Francis talks the better Society of Saint Pius X looks. Francis and his apologists cannot cover up the fact that his papacy is becoming a disaster. Enough with the new Evangelization; it is being used to water down the magisterium of the Church in order to catch some Progressives or Liberals who believe that their anti marriage and pro abortion opinions are consonant with the Faith.

    • Marcelus

      “One of my theologian colleagues told me recently that a catechetics paper written with the style and contents of Francis’ remarks would earn a “D” in his course.”

      I hope you find it in your good and learned heart to forgive him.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        ??

  • M

    Pope Francis is trying to change attitudes, not doctrine.

    • publiusnj

      Then let him affirm the Doctrine, as in:

      “The position of the Catholic Church on Homosexual Conduct and Communion for Remarried Divorced persons is well stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am not changing that doctrine: Homosexual conduct is objectively sinful and so would the reception of Communion by a remarried person during the life of his or her spouse.

      The Catechism also says, though, that we should be welcoming toward those people if they are seeking God through the Catholic Church. I strongly agree with those two pastoral concerns, and therefore have asked the Synod to address them, but somehow we have gotten off track with Cardinal Kasper’s proposal. Clearly, we are NOT going to admit the still re-married to Communion if they continue to have sexual relations with their “second spouses” during the life of their first spouses, but we need to consider the practical issues that stem from particular persons’ particular situations. For example….”

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        It really isn’t all that complicated, is it? I wish that Francis were restricted to speaking from a teleprompter, and I would put someone like you in charge of the prompter.

    • Guest

      The result is the same unfortunately.

    • C.Caruana

      Doctrine does determine attitudes, and vice versa in a more subtle way. In practice, our everyday judgements and perspectives reflect our most profound belief and worldview and ‘gradually’ and substanially change them in the common mind, in spite of our protestations otherwise. This is also why any misguided change in liturgical and pastoral practice already indicates a doctrinal deviation in those pushing them. The dichotomy between doctrine and discipline is delusional, if not diabolical. It is the height of naivety for instance not to realize that the change in marital and communion practise that Kasper and co are suggesting spring from distortions in doctrinal interpretations based on flawed theological and metaphysical speculation. Both St John Paul and Pope Benedict were fully aware of these unorthodox elements in Kasper’s theology and pastoral proposals, that is why they corrected and sidelined them. Pope Francis seems to think differently. That is why he publicly praises Kasper’s book on Mercy, not St John Paul’s “Dives in Misericordia” or the revelations of Mercy made by Christ himself to St Faustina. This to me is problematic.

      • Guest

        Very true. We constantly read the spin that says: “well the Pope has not changed one letter of teaching”. So? That is disingenuous and reflects an incredible lack of understanding and honesty.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          I’m also not reassured simply because the Pope hasn’t changed any of the Church’s traditional teachings on sexuality and marriage. What alarms me is his failure to DEFEND and REAFFIRM them when there is so much doubt among the faithful and gleeful anticipation among the Church’s secular enemies.

  • joelfago

    The devil is in the details. Why did the Relatio Synodi leave out the sinfulness of homosexuality?

  • accelerator

    “Isn’t that a profound and deadly accurate dismissal of the liberal mentality?” Very simply, Nom not if in the next breath you are praising theologies like those of Kasper. We learned at Vatican II that heresy can be clothed in lip service to orthodoxy. If a Pope can so fail to define his identity tat someone can wonder, “is he greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ…?,” it hardly makes sense to say with confidence he is of course more conservative than we think he is! If you can’t tell where he stands — this is the Pope we are talking about — there is a serious problem.

    • publiusnj

      As I say: something is terribly wrong when the question “is the Pope Catholic?” needs to be asked seriously.

      • jacobhalo

        The pope is not Catholic as far as I am concerned.

  • Michael Newhouse

    I things “chaos vs. control” is the wrong lens to use. I think that reflects the “liberal”/”conservative” dichotomy that Pope Francis is trying to free the Church from. And not just him, every pope and every faithful bishop. We are not merely conservatively defending doctrine (control), nor liberally doing the good of a false mercy (chaos). He does like to create “messes”…not to be confused with chaos…because life is messy, we are messy, and when we are willing to jump in and do the dirty work of living and loving, God surprises us. Not with chaos or control – because God is in control and the chaos shall not prevail. Our job is not to withdraw into towers of self-righteousness or to peddle a false gospel, but to take the living Gospel, the love of Christ, out into the streets and alleys and favelas of those we are called to evangelize and serve.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Actually, I’d like to clean up the “mess” caused by sin, and I’d appreciate a bit more help from the Pope.

      • Michael Newhouse

        The “mess” the pope refers to isn’t sin. It’s the willingness to go outside our comfort and control in order to spread the Gospel. His ‘messiness’ is an antidote to sin…he is calling us all to live and share the Gospel better. That’s the help the Spirit is giving us all through him. Listen to Him.
        Remember: Jesus was messy. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He healed and ate wheat on the sabbath. He spoke to the unclean and foreigners and lepers. He touched corpses and women with issues of blood. That upset the religious ‘control’ party of his time (the Pharisees). They feared that his messiness meant chaos…yet Jesus was fully orthodox, was even stricter in his commands than Moses, supported and participated in Temple worship and practices, and insisted that not one dot of the Law would pass away. So Jesus was telling the Pharisees to not be so controlling…and everyone else to be more holy and adhere to God’s commandments.
        Just as Pope Francis is doing.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Jesus worked AGAINST the spirit of his times, with the aim of reconciling people to God. To many of us, Francis appears to be working WITH the spirit of our times, with a goal of reconciling Catholics to the world.

          • Daniel P

            Catholics have long been reconciled to the world. 90%+ using birth control, priests breaking their vows, grownups enthusiastically endorsing war, teenagers fornicating, and so on.

            SOME pope needs to bring people back. Obviously the methods of the past 40 years aren’t working.

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              The “methods” of the past 40 years – ambiguity, double-talk, laxity, false ecumenism, and the disparagement and persecution of tradition – ARE EXACTLY the methods of Pope Francis. We can safely expect the same result. In fact, we would be crazy not to.

              • Guest

                Exactly! How anyone can miss the obvious is incredible.

            • Guest

              Huh? the past 40 years have not worked because the last two Popes had to fight the 1970s libs. Now those same 70s libs are back on top and with a vengeance.

              The soft soap felt banner relativism is why we are in the trouble we are in.

              • Daniel P

                I’m not complaining about JPII and Benedict. I’m saying that the Church, as a whole, needs to find a way to make orthodoxy *motivating* for both the religious and the laity. It hasn’t done that, for the most part, since Vatican II. The changes wouldn’t involve changing doctrine, but they would involve changing methods. I don’t know how this can be done, but I’m hopeful that Francis does.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              Actually, the Pope seems to want to return to those aspects of the “past 40 years” which have produced our present predicament – our chief mistake seems to be that we abandoned the “spriit of VII.”

          • Michael Newhouse

            Don’t confuse speaking to the people of our times with working with the spirit of our times. The spirit of this world is the devil. Pope Francis knows that very well and constantly reminds us of it.

            • C.Caruana

              It is not the speaking that is the problem, but speaking with clarity, precision and above all prudence.

              • Daniel P

                Is the problem that he is speaking unclearly, or that he is speaking to the lost, and neglecting the sheep already in the pasture?

                I read blogs by the “lost”, and none of the people I have read think Francis is going to change Church teaching. In fact, one of them (Andrew Sullivan) has become more and more vocal about his own opposition to sacramentalizing gay marriages, since Francis began his papacy. These are hopeful signs, to me.

                (Note: This is not a comment on the Synod. I do think the way the Synod was publicized by the Church was confusing and unhelpful. I don’t know who is responsible for that.)

                • C.Caruana

                  In all fairness, I don’t think anyone can deny that on many occasions Pope Francis spoke at best vaguely and at worst ambiguously enough to cause confusion among the faithful and unfounded expectations among the ‘lost’. The disturbing truth about his speech patterns is that the extempore style of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires sits quite uncomfortably with the pronouncements of the Roman Pontiff, and the Bergoglian informality, however attractive in the right time and place, does not always suit the sacred formality required by the papal office. One commenter here spoke of an undisciplined mind, and though it is an exaggeration, there is enough partial truth in it to make it plausible with reference to the very special requirements of papal speech. This is in line with the other partial truth that Mcluhan once taught us -the medium is the message, to a limited extent of course.

                  • Daniel P

                    No doubt, Jesus was not qualified to the exalted role of Son of God, either, with the way he spoke! Don’t you think the Pharisees perpetually accused him of obfuscation, as he nimbly dodged their verbal traps? If you want a plain spoken and clear head of the Church, Jesus Christ is not your man.

                    • C.Caruana

                      Are you, by any chance, referring to the same Jesus who demanded of his disciples that their answers should always be yes yes or no no? If so you have a serious case of mistaken identity. And as far as I know, it was the pharisees with their verbal traps that were doing the obfuscation, while Christ was busy unravelling them with his plain and clear speaking . So well did the Pharisees understand the clear and unambiguos claims of our Lord that they crucified Him. And it is a cheap shot to equate loyal and respectful critics of the Pope’s mistakes with phariseeical obfuscations. You are not doing the Pope himself, or the Church, any good by refusing to acknowledge his human foibles, or perhaps you can’t even see them?

                    • Daniel P

                      Jesus didn’t even claim his words were clear: “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”

                    • C.Caruana

                      Yes yes, Jesus was a sphinx like obfuscator who spoke in riddles, and Pope Francis is only imitating him. You are right of course. Case closed.

                    • Daniel P

                      If you have read the gospels, and are willing to claim that “Jesus was plain spoken”, then you are being intellectually dishonest.

                    • Guest

                      You are setting up a false comparison.

                      The latest:

                      Burke: “There is a strong sense that the Church is like a ship without a helm”
                      http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/sinodo-famiglia-37234/

                    • Daniel P

                      I never compared Francis with Jesus. I simply said that a perceived lack of clarity is not necessarily a fault in a teacher. This is evidenced by the greatest teacher of all, Jesus.

                    • Guest

                      By that weird standard then the last Pope was not like Jesus.

                    • Guest

                      Seriously? I assume you are sarcastic.

                    • Daniel P

                      Yes, I’m being sarcastic. But would you claim that Jesus is plain spoken?

                    • Guest

                      In most instances, yes. Thousands walked away from Him. They did not like His words.

                    • Daniel P

                      Matthew 13:

                      10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

                      11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

                      “Though seeing, they do not see;
                      though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

                      14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

                      “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
                      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
                      15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
                      they hardly hear with their ears,
                      and they have closed their eyes.
                      Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
                      hear with their ears,
                      understand with their hearts
                      and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]

                      16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

                      The Gospel is a message that never sounds clear to anyone except a person who hears with ears of the Spirit.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Is there a distinction between the “secrets of the Kingdom” and the moral standards for those living in the present, then or now?

                    • Daniel P

                      And who wants to relax those moral standards? Not the pope.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      I hope not. That wasn’t my comment, though: Jesus seems quite clear in speaking about moral standards – no parable that I can see concerning marriage or the money changers in the Temple. The Pope, by contrast, hasn’t been clear at all, sowing confusion among the faithful and glee among the Church’s adversaries, who’ve taken him to mean precisely what you insist that he doesn’t. So far, he hasn’t done anything to correct those impressions.

                    • Daniel P

                      You don’t think it caused confusion to people when Jesus told the adulteress “Neither do I condemn you”? Surely that caused a great deal of moral confusion. But Jesus did NOT say that adultery was morally OK — quite the opposite. If people got confused, it was because of their own sin.

                      From what I’ve seen of Francis, he does not say that sins are OK. I do not know of a single statement from him that is soft on sin. He does, however, recommend changing the way we deal with certain types of sinners. I think that could be a good thing, but the jury’s still out. If I thought he stood for relativism, I would vehemently oppose him, pope or not.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Daniel, please read my post again. Nowhere did I say that Francis says sins are OK. How did you come up with that?

                      As for the “confusion” in the minds of those those present at the time of His remark to the adulteress, neither of us was there, so I can’t speak with any certainty about what precise reaction He elicited from immediate bystanders. There was nothing unclear at all about the status of adultery as a sin, in comparison to His allusions to the “secrets of the Kingdom,” which was the distinction I was drawing.

                      Whatever his intentions, Francis has given some people some seriously inaccurate impressions and, as i said previously, has not so far corrected them. Therein is my own unease.

                    • Daniel P

                      Sorry for exaggerating your view.

                      When I read Francis’s homilies, I see him constantly calling out the damage caused by sin: sins of selfishness, sexual sins, the abandonment of children, the sin of divorce, sins of pride and self-righteousness, sins of faithlessness, broken promises, and so on. And then I come on Crisis, and read comments to the effect that the pope is soft on sin. It puzzles me.

                      As for correcting false impressions, it may be that correcting those impressions may involve throwing people under the bus, or moral conduct that is otherwise unacceptable. (Suppose he rebuked the relatio, for example — this would lead to a whole new kind of confusion, since headlines would read “Pope says gay people not welcome”). So I’m imagining his position is delicate.

                      But I’m not critical of your unease, since I understand some of your frustrations. I would just encourage you to be hopeful. I don’t think God would honor Benedict’s resignation by putting a fool at the helm of His Church.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Nothing to be sorry about, I was just a bit perplexed, but thanks. As far as headlines go, the Pope – or any Pope, for that matter – will only be allowed a certain limit of delicacy. If he makes it clear that the Church’s moral teachings can indeed be re-packaged occasionally but not changed, then there will be quite a storm to weather. That’s exactly what happened in 1968 when, after a flurry of media speculation and encouragement from dissenters within the Church, Paul VI confounded the world by issuing Humane Vitae. I honestly think that Giovanni Batista Montini wanted to do otherwise, but Paul VI could nothing else. The reaction inside and outside the Church was literally savage. I hope that doesn’t happen with Francis, and I hope that he succeeds. But as Christians, we can never wholly get around the need to carry the Cross in some situations, and that may be the case in the near future. But in the meantime, we certainly will hope and pray and keep chatting at this web page – it’s a pleasure, and I hope you’ll come back often.

                    • Daniel P

                      Thanks for the thoughtful discussion, Glenn. God bless you!

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Likewise, brother!

                    • c matt

                      I thought the accusers all had left by the time He said “neither do I condemn you?” And frankly, there is nothing confusing about that statement. Humbling maybe, but pretty clear.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          It was the “mess” to which I was referring, though.

          As to other sort of “mess,” I don’t think there’s anything especially unique about this Pope in engaging it: think for example of Mother Teresa, Father Damian, St. Vincent DePaul, etc., etc., etc. Francis is the latest in a very long tradition, I’d say.

        • publiusnj

          Oh, the Vatican traditionalists represent the new Pharisees in Papa Francesco’s mind? What an original thought! I don’t know if that is what Francis is trying to say, but he is not saying that very clearly. Michael Newhouse hears what he wants to hear; so does Elton John; so does William Oddie.

          If that is what the Pope wants to say, there are simpler ways to get that through than his cryptic throw away lines on planes and in interviews and his incomprehensible closing speech at the Synod.

          Christ had another approach He offered up to all of us: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Matt. 5:37; James 5:12. IOW, say it straight out and stop playing games.

          • Michael Newhouse

            Please stop trying to shoehorn the Church into right/left partisanship. I don’t pretend to know the pope’s mind, but he’s not treating people as mere black or white partisans. We are prone to sin. In our current moral-political environment, we seem to favor two equally unChristlike extremes – retreating into a dry legalism or emptying the Gospel of all meaning. Pope Francis warns us against both.
            I don’t hear what I want to hear. Believe me, if I could write a script for Pope Francis, he would be saying some very different things. But I think that is good because he’s NOT telling us what we want to hear.,,but maybe he’s telling what we need to hear, i.e. instead of simply confirming our biases, he’s challenging us to leave them behind and to put on Christ in a radical way.
            The pope is not playing games. He’s is witnessing to Christ. Given how out of sorts yet riveted everyone is by his words…he might be doing so better than anyone realizes.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              I don’t really see him challenging advocates of making those in irregular marriages eligible to receive communion, nor has he thrown down the gauntlet to “progressives” in general. None of those folks, as far as I can see, has been challenged to be more “open,” only us stodgy, benighted defenders of tradition. As usual, “openness” seems to apply very selectively.

            • Guest

              It is not shoehorning and The Pope has spoken of these distinctions. Where is all this “dry legalisms”? Show us.

    • publiusnj

      “Towers of self-righteousness” or “peddling false gospels”? Quick, Papa Francesco, let him know: “who is he to judge?”

      In fact, Papa Francesco has made a mess of this whole issue and needs to clear things up. He is the Supreme Pastor of a 1.2 Billion Plus member Church, whose members have been taught to pay attention to what the Catechism teaches. He is not just a gadfly who can just ignore and make a mess out of what is clearly set forth in the Catechism.

    • Guest

      The Pope has said he is not a “right winger” in one of his first interviews. More recently he said he does not mind debating “conservative” bishops. I have yet to read the usual pedantic things about not using left and right as they are supposedly political terms. The Pope has not said he follows that logic.

      In fact, there is a left and right within the Church. Just see the last Synod as proof.

      • Michael Newhouse

        I think there is a left and a right within the Church because the Church is comprised of sinners…and our sinful nature always wants to draw up sides and play “us” against “them”.

        • C.Caruana

          Well there is a moral ‘left’ and ‘right’ for Christ the Judge, remember the sheep and goats on either side? These moral distinctions are and have always existed within and outside the Church. Distinguishing and judging between them is the preeminent office of the Vicar of Christ on earth. For someone who claims not to know the mind of Pope Francis, you sound pretty sure of his intentions. And not knowing the mind of the Pope is THE present burning question isn’t it?

        • Guest

          Nope. The distinction is one of logic and common sense. Why deny the obvious?

  • St JD George

    I will tell you what bothers me more than anything else. With all the confusion and turmoil that exists in the world today it seems to me that what we need right now is a leader of the faithful who can speak the truth boldly and clearly and over the chattering class, not one who confuses, and does not fear the trappings of this world. A Pope who can’t certainly reveals his humanity and frailties, and he is human after all. God knows how I long for a man who like Jesus would boldly state the truth to any man with confidence of conviction and especially to the Pharisees. I saw those qualities in JPII putting fear into the leaders of the Soviet States. I would love to see that again to rebuke the leaders of the secular world and to begin the dialog of dispelling the fallacies of Mohamed.

    • Hugh Lunn

      That’s not the secularist Bergoglio.

      • St JD George

        It is the season for bold colors and not pale pastels.

  • ForChristAlone

    Maybe it’s a function of social media and the rapidity of internet communication, but I cannot remember a Pope in recent history as having been such a divisive influence in the Church. It is around Peter that the Church remains as One. Francis needs to seriously evaluate his impact in such short order.

  • jacobhalo

    log on to the creative minority report and see what Cardinal Marx has to say about the synod and Pope Francis.

  • Michael P. Mc Crory.

    Yes to St JD George,
    Lets ” wait and see.” We don’t really know our Pope’s mind ( regarding his talk of changes needed. ) so why all this negative thinking about him.
    Sure we have had great recent Popes in John Paul and Benedict but the fact remains our Church has suffered a deserved black eye – our Bishops are weak men for the most part and are surrounded by weak employees and weak catholic media who just will NOT hold their ‘ feet to the fire’. The joy that we Christians ought to exude is not there- myself included. But it is present in Pope Francis and I am energised by that and, like him, am determined to hold onto catholic teachings while putting the best (Christ like ) face possible on all that I do. We need to find ways to come over as really good and loving people FIRST and FORMOST. Pope Francis is showing us how to do that; he puts ” flesh on the subject” in becoming all things to all people- better, I think than any Pope in my lifetime, including lovable Saint John 23rd.
    Let’s see if it works for him; I think it IS.
    I am so grateful that God has sent him to us.

    • Guest

      How many “fans” of this papacy see the plan as Christ-like in the authentic sense and how many see it as a softening of eternal truths so they may keep doing what they are doing while thinking God is fine with it?

  • chanel3

    I think that Pope Francis was forced to make what little statement he did to uphold Catholic teaching and what little he did say was a veiled attack on those good bishops who had stood up for the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis has broken with tradition on almost every front from the time he stepped out on to the balcony, including the washing of women’s feet, interviews given to atheists – and under him traditional orders, like the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been put under censure – no mercy there. No mercy either for the Bishop of Paraguay who had a flourishing seminary. Since this papacy began there has been a threat of closure from blogs to orders which have been visited and still are being visited. We have never seen the like under St Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict and never have we seen either of them be actually asked to uphold Catholic teaching. The fact that the Pope appointed six liberal bishops who prepared the mid-term report should be enough to sound warning bells to people like Dr Oddie – and I am sure in reality it does …

  • What is really amazing is that people continue to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. That articles continue to be published to defend his supposed orthodoxy and we continue to comment for or against is clear indication that there is confusion, that something is amiss. That in itself ought to be sufficient to give people cause for pause.

  • Caroline

    Since we have the Catechism, why do we even need a pope anymore? Couldn’t we just have a robot, a Mr. Data, speak out the Catechism? How did we ever get along without the Catechism?

    • publiusnj

      Interesting idea, but no more likely to work than having Scripture Alone. (I assume, though, that you are being humorous or sarcastic with the robot reference, right?)

      In all events, we need the Magisterium and it involves a bit of a dialectical process but it produces fruit as the Faith gets handed along. Right now, the Catechism is the most up-to-date embodiment of our 2000 years of Tradition put together through a systematic editorial process under a sainted Pope. Pope Francis has not identified any frailty with that Catechism on the issues at hand. indeed, the CCC touches on the pastoral issue raised both by homosexual conduct and by Remarriers’ Communion.

      And, before the Catechism, we had teh Catechism of the Council of Trent, btw.

    • C.Caruana

      Because we are not Protestants.

  • Hugh Lunn

    Mr. Oddie has firmly placed head in sand. I believe aptly named German Bishop Marx has stated exactly what Bergoglio intends.”The doors are open — wider than they have ever been since the Second Vatican Council. The synod debates were just a starting
    point. Francis wants to get things moving, to push processes forward. The real work is about to begin,” in Die Zeit

  • veritasetgratia

    I would be very concerned if the leadership evident during the Synod was rejigged. If it has been decided to conduct a Synod in the public eye, then transparency is necessary. We Catholics have been taught to associate the devil with confusion and chaos. We need to pray constantly for God to speak through the Synod.

  • Marsha Moore

    The fact that he has sown doubt regarding his defense of the faith, his attempt to question the inerrancy of Scripture has forced many to question his place of authority in the lives of Catholics.

    • publiusnj

      I also am concerned because the Papacy has been the rock. At times in the past, though, the pope needed some tough talking to by folks like St. Catherine of Siena (on a prudential issue, though) and Athanasius was the theological front-runner in the Fourth Century. Another poster has mentioned St. Cyprian, but I don’t know that bit of history. The Church, we are assured, is “indefectible” but that may mean the Pope needs some “tough love” from orthodox bishops such as Cardinals Pell. Muller and Burke. We need to be praying for the Holy Catholic Church, as an entity.

      • Marsha Moore

        The Church represents Christ. The Pope does not determine my faith in Christ or his Church. I agree, he does need tough love and a realization that HE is Not the Church, Christ is. IMO

        • publiusnj

          Christians have been going heterodox since the First Century. So, discerning what is Christ’s Church as opposed to a false church has been the key issue for the last 2000 years. Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History was very careful to describe the Apostolic Succession of the various sees because of the importance Christians have always attributed to staying true to the Faith once received from the Apostles. Given the difficulties of even bishops in Apostolic Succession as shown by the theological disputes of the first few centuries, communion with the Bishop of Rome has been the litmus test for what is Christ’s Church and what is not. That is what Irenaeus was saying in Adversus Haereses 3:3:2 way back in 180 AD. Certainly, the Pope needs to understand his role as a bearer of the Tradition and not as an inventor of New Doctrine.

          • Marsha Moore

            Exactly. You have stated the TRUTH.

  • ebergerud

    I’m sorry, but I’m not at all convinced that the Pope calmed the waters with his speech. He was responsible for the out of size position given to Cardinal Kasper and Kasper’s allies. He has praised Kasper’s theology. Judging from “Jesus the Christ” (1975) Kasper like so many churchmen intoxicated by the idea of furthering the “spirit of Vatican II” has sub-zero Christology. The New Testament he maintains is filled with myth and symbol. (I don’t see how he could say either Creed without crossing his fingers.) Now, please look at the first of the “temptations” Francis warns to Church to avoid:

    “One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to
    close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing
    oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit);
    within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we
    still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the
    temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of
    the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals”.

    I do not see what Francis considers the tempting “written word” if not the New Testament. This sounds very much like that would gain the approval of Roger Haight, Schillebeeckx, Martini and, unfortunately, many others.

  • bonaventure

    Dr. Oddie,

    Sorry to contradict you, but there was very little about the rich deposit of faith in Francis’ closing speech at the synod. However, there was a lot about his authority, and it was very self-serving. Anyway, the liberals’ sudden ultramontanism is NOT evidence of faith.

    And why on earth do you assume that no one reads anything anymore? Are YOUR conclusions, based on YOUR reading, infallible?

    Sincerely,

    Bonaventure

  • Rock St. Elvis

    buonismo = do-goodism

  • fredx2

    Is William Oddie the same Bill Oddie that appeared on an episode of Time Team?

    The thing that people have to remember is that the “amazingly open language of the synod” was not the language of the synod. Nobody approved it. A couple of cardinals at most allowed it to be released to the media, and when it was, the synod fathers basically went ballistic.

    So the church never made an amazing opening. A couple of lame cardinals did, and that is about it.

  • John Albertson

    A danger is this pope’s undisciplined mind. John Paul II was verbose and often obscure, but also consistent with the logic of the Faith. Benedict was one of the rare geniuses in the history of the papacy and marvelously lucid. Pope Francis clearly lacks their intelligence and nevertheless, or perhaps because of that, insists on daily pronouncements, many of which are stunningly wrong. (Most recently: “corruption is more evil than sin.” And then a condemnation, not only of capital punishment, but also life sentences ! )Regrettably, the plain case is that Pope Francis talks too much.

    • publiusnj

      He has been talking too much.

    • c matt

      Well, on the “God is not a divine being” it may in fact be a translation error (finally, one of the 500 alleged translation errors is actually true!). The word used was demiurge which IIUC is something like a craftsman. So maybe he was denying the “Divine Watchmaker” theory as opposed to saying God is not divine, i.e., God is divine, just not a divine Watchmaker.

  • Rosemary58

    That sentence, “The temptation to neglect the depositum fidei…” makes no sense whatsoever. Mr. Oddie, do YOU read what is there?
    “…not thinking themselves as guardians…” Who is “themselves”? Just who are these people he is talking about? The old “straw man” vehicle is so stale, and I wish the HF would stop using it. He uses it as a hammer to whack away at imaginary foes when the real ones are right under his nose.

  • Realist

    Guess we’ve all been spoiled by Saint Pope John Paul and even Pope Benedict who never spoke in riddles.

  • Dick Prudlo

    I am a little late to this, but Mr. Oddie has not yet arrived. Our pope has manipulated this process from the beginning and will continue to do so. His sense of the “depositum fidei,” as noted from above, is the manipulated questionnaire suggested by the resident expert on marketing. I do not believe as Mr. Oddie, that Cardinal Burke’s suggestion is without merit, asking for clarification on the final synod’s document. Where is the harm in asking a pope to provide the flock with clarity?

    • c matt

      Haha – the shepherd asking the sheep for directions. Pretty ironic.

  • BillinJax

    I highly recommend for those who are still confused or frustrated by all the chatter here and elsewhere within the One Body of Christ concerning the leadership of the good Pope Francis to add to your reading or debate the clear and in depth thoughts and spiritual analysis you can find in Mark Mallett’s almost daily readings at his website.I have found he has the ability to clear the smoke and remove the double vision so prevalent in the conversations today and allow one to grasp the truth of the times and the spirit of scripture revelation in this whirlwind of words blinding our senses. He is certainly a blessing to our faith.

    • Desert Sun Art
      • c matt

        Matt seems like a nice fellow, and is certainly trying hard. I am a bit skeptical with his take that Truth is in the service of Love. That seems to invert things a bit. Love comes from knowing the Truth; Love is a product of Truth, not its master as his wording suggests. That inversion can lead to confusion – that is, we know Love and Truth have a relationship, but it is important to know the correct relationship. This is why the Nicene creed is so important – it bears witness to the correct relationship of Being, Truth and Charity – Being begets Truth, and Charity proceeds from this begetting. Putting Truth “at the service” of Love, subjects Truth to Love. And thus, Truth is not measured by what actually is (i.e., Being), but becomes measured by how much Charity one has. I highly recommend the site War Against Being. Long, but worth it.

  • Desert Sun Art

    Pope Francis is a validly elected Pope. In spite of my own misgivings about things he has said or alleged to have said-some of it is hearsay- he is still the Vicar of Christ on earth. We have had bad Popes before, and even if Francis were a “bad” Pope, Jesus is still in control. Do we really doubt Our Lord’s own words that the “gates of hell” will NOT prevail over His Church? Hold fast to Christ and His Church, and that includes the Pope. When we are shaken by things that happen in the Vatican, we must still hold fast.

    St. Ambrose wrote: Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal. —St. Ambrose of Milan (A.D. 389), Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30

    I would also recommend this site: http://www.markmallett.com/blog/can-the-pope-betray-us/

    Mark Mallet is a faithful Catholic and a voice of reason during these confusing times.

    • C.Caruana

      I also firmly believe in the indefectability of the Church under the Vicar of Christ who is owed allegiance in his defence and promulgation of the one and true deposit of faith. I also believe that Pope Francis is a legitimately elected Pope, who should be loved, respected, prayed for and helped. Yet we must never blind ourselves to the human limitations and even mistakes that any holder of Peter’s chair is liable to, and we are in duty bound to point them out with respect, loyalty and above all charity when they can cause real harm to the faithful and may lead to the loss of souls. What I disagree with and disown is sheepish and opportunistic silence on the one hand and insulting churlish rebuke on the other.

      • Guest

        I would add the silly spin so many Catholics are doing is harmful. Instead of calling for better communication and less ambiguity they spin every single incident so that they appear intellectually dishonest.

        If they charitably pointed out the vagueness and impenetrability of the Pope’s comments that would be a service to Truth and really help the situation.

      • Desert Sun Art

        There’s been some petty and churlish comments regarding Pope Francis on this site which is why I commented to counter what I was reading. And to Guest below, we are all very much aware of what Pope Francis has said, what seems to be in many cases a rebuke to truly faithful Catholics. However, there are a lot of things attributed to him that are claims made by people who say he told them this or that. If we read his homilies, we may get a better idea of what Pope Francis is about. Ultimately, Jesus is in control, and He knows what He is doing.

        • Guest

          To deny there is a serious problem is dishonest. Jesus is always in charge but that does not mean we bury our heads and claim it is the fault of the press. Too much spin is not a virtue.

  • MJK

    Ironically, the long quote from Francis’ text that Mr. Oddie highlights illustrates perfectly Francis’ opaque use of language. Whatever label folks want to project on Francis, he has a rambling tendency that seems to want to please too many audiences.
    Don’t get me wrong, it seems to be a perfect communication style for this ADD culture, but for those not afflicted with this modern tendency Francis’ rambling homilies, exhortations, and “off the cuff” nuggets get tedious at best. It’s a style that appeals to many because there’s a tendency to give everyone his due while implied in the abstract, opaque language is a sentiment of permissiveness…an “I’m okay, your okay” or “we all have problems” type permissiveness cloaked in sentimentality…

  • Karee Santos

    While I do think Pope Francis’ remarks contain an equal opportunity slam for folks tempted to stray from mercy or justice, I disagree that the depositum fidei comment should calm everyone. As a conservative Catholic who tries to understand what liberal Catholics think, I’ve seen many liberals insist that sensum fidei is equivalent to the will of the people. As in most people’s sensum fidei thinks that birth control is just fine so the doctrine opposing birth control is clearly wrong. Three guesses how they’ll interpret depositum fidei. Probably the same way. Part of the divide between liberal and conservative Catholics is they read the same words and ascribe different meanings to them.

  • Karee Santos

    While I do think Pope Francis’ remarks contain an equal opportunity slam for folks tempted to stray from mercy or justice, I disagree that the depositum fidei comment should calm everyone. As a conservative Catholic who tries to understand what liberal Catholics think, I’ve seen many liberals insist that sensum fidei is equivalent to the will of the people. As in most people’s sensum fidei thinks that birth control is just fine so the doctrine opposing birth control is clearly wrong. Three guesses how they’ll interpret depositum fidei. Probably the same way. Part of the divide between liberal and conservative Catholics is they read the same words and ascribe different meanings to them.

  • Minnesota Mary

    Yes, God is a God of surprises. And the biggest surprise for me is that God allowed Cardinal Bergoglio to become Pope!

  • denis

    Dr Timothy. I was spitting feathers when I read Mr Oddie’s article , reading between the lines and his general tone of condescension ! Your comment is superb ….and deserves further readership ! Your questions are so relevant and pertinent .

    I couldn’t believe Mr Oddie was being serious . Who does he think we are ?
    It clearly indicates that traditional, legalistic, dualistic, rigid Catholics just do not get it .

  • Marcelus

    Apparently not, given Crdl Burke’s last interview:

    VATICAN CITY – American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the feisty former archbishop of St. Louis who has emerged as the face of the opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda, likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a fresh attack on the pope’s leadership.

    In an interview with the Spanish Catholic weekly Vida Nueva, published Thursday, Burke insisted he was not speaking out against the pope personally but raising concern about his leadership.

    “Many have expressed their concerns to me. At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,” Burke said.

    “Now, it is more important than ever to examine our faith, have a healthy spiritual leader and give powerful witness to the faith.

    So in the end, hitting on the Pope like this will unfortunately lead the traditional sector out of the chuch .

    One thing I can say, The libs are jumping up in joy today after this newstament-

    Just last week Burke came out and clarified his : “The Pope is causing the Church harm” wasn not meant as speaking against the Pope.Tha brought about some relief.

    But now, this new interview is not doing any good to the trad cause

    • Guest

      The truth makes the phonies uncomfortable. Too bad.

  • bender

    Does nobody read

  • Dave

    When I first read the concluding report of the Synod, I was taken with Pope Francis’ very fair and accurate analysis of both the conservatives and liberal sides of the issues. I did not feal he was taking either side and in fact felt his disertation spoke as a man on the horns of a delima dreading that he was to be the one to decide which side will prevail. My first thougth was this man needs our prayers not our criticisms.

    • GG

      Who were the conservatives and how did their actions in the Synod manifest themselves as the Pope described?

      • Dave

        He manifested both sides when he discussed the “temptations” of each side. It was the word temptations that got me thinking that Francis too was having temptations — major ones within.

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