Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

Many of Francis’ pronouncements do not have the binding authority of obligatory teaching; i.e., they are not “magisterium” in the proper sense of the term—people are free to listen and pay attention or not, free to let themselves be challenged, motivated, or convinced. The Holy Father’s language touches the hearts of many, perhaps more than their minds—and presumably this is precisely the pope’s intention. He does not offer refined analysis, carefully weighing all aspects in order to arrive at affirmations that are beyond criticism. What he wants to do is surprise, challenge, provoke, or reassure, console, and support.

To appreciate the words of Pope Francis, it helps to remember the essential distinction between doctrine and theology. No theology can claim for itself the authority of the magisterium. Conversely, the magisterium cannot act as a substitute for theology. The distinction between doctrine and theology, however, is not clear to many who represent the pope’s pronouncements to the public. This is a problem, whether we and the pope like it or not, mostly because we are not used to making this distinction when reading papal pronouncements.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard composing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now Francis tells us: the Catechism is not enough. This is certainly true, but people make it sound as if he intends to abolish the Catechism altogether. All Christians, and the Church as a whole, are called to proclaim the faith truthfully and to live it authentically. We all know that there is never a perfect harmony between the precepts of the faith and how the Church and its members act; the solution to this problem is not to formulate a compromise—repentance and true reform has the aim of bringing our practice closer to the demands of the faith. This is where Francis puts his focus.

All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit. But even more importantly, Catholics need to appreciate the enduring and radical difference between Christ and his deputy: The pope is here in order to ensure that no one and nothing else takes the place of Christ until the Lord himself returns. The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ, and needs to rely on his special assistance (what we call “grace of state”); he is the first of “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith” (Missal, Roman Canon).

At the same time, the pope represents the Church before the world and before God. Pope Francis does not seem inclined to cover up disagreements within the Church. In many respects, he wants to be more in the Church than over it. When Pope Benedict declared his resignation, he did so acknowledging that he no longer had the strength to be pope. Did he have to step down because we failed to help him carry the heavy burden of the Petrine ministry? And are we now ready to step up and support Pope Francis in the way and to the degree he needs it? We need a pope in order to be Catholic. But conversely, he needs us. An Italian journalist once put it very succinctly: “Dobbiamo amare il Papa—we must love the Pope.” According to the Bible, this love must be “without dissimulation,” literally “unhypocritical” (see the Greek of Rom 12:9). It is this spiritual authenticity that Francis wants us to acquire.

Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions. The pope is part of the living tradition of the Church, which is a tradition in the making. The Supreme Pontiff is affected by our inconsistencies, confusions, errors and doctrinal defects, in a double sense: his ministry cannot overlook these issues, and he is himself touched by them. To believe that all popes must be perfect and saints, theologically, is donatism, and historically, madness.

So what does it mean to look at Pope Francis SJ as the universal spiritual director? First of all, it does not mean doubting whether he really is the pope. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is Benedict XVI who can help us find an answer. Already as cardinal, and even more explicitly as pope, he underlined the difference between Church doctrine and his own theology and exegesis: “Everyone is free to contradict me.” Compared to a theological teacher and his student, a spiritual director generally has even more authority over the individual who entrusts himself to his care; at the same time, it remains even more up to the directee what to do with his director’s advice or whether indeed to seek it in the first place. In many cases, this is how Pope Francis seems to understand his own approach. Whether this is the best way of “being pope” remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without its merits. In any case, it comes with a price and has limitations. Indeed, we can be sure the pope himself is aware of these limitations, and we can trust that as a good spiritual director he also lets himself be challenged by others, resisting his own tendency to moralize and spiritualize issues that are in fact doctrinal.

Saint Paul reports the famous episode when he had to point out to Saint Peter how some of Peter’s practices were incoherent (Gal 2:11-21)—not that Paul would not have suffered from similar inconsistencies (Acts 16:3). The way Pope Francis acts seems to invite a similar kind of criticism, at least from people who can offer it sincerely and seriously. He is an approachable pope, thus Catholics need to drop the fear of approaching him, even if they approach with something other than praise for his actions. He speaks in his own way to the faithful, very different from his predecessors. Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks. If Francis does not want to be as august as some of his predecessors, we should stop trying to force him.

As we learn from Benedict XVI, we are often free to contradict the pope, because there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality, even if it is the pope’s theology or spirituality. We even may not be impressed by his personal style, preferring to wait and see whether his disarmament of papal ceremonies is the best way. Or in Francis’ language: Do not “divinize your leaders!” What is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, clergy and popes included, is the faith, its doctrine and tradition. Authenticity and truth are not the same thing, but certainly they are related, and the Church needs both in order to be truthful and credible: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor 4:1-2). This pope is different, and therefore papists can and need to be different, too.

(Photo credit: Stephen Driscoll / CNA)

Msgr. Hans Feichtinger

By

Msgr. Hans Feichtinger is a priest of the Diocese of Passau, Germany. He holds an STD from the Augustinianum in Rome and an MA in Classics from Dalhousie University, and was an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2004-2012. He is now working on a doctorate in philosophy while administering a parish in Ottawa, Canada.

  • lifeknight

    Waiting to comment more on this article, however this statement seems to sum it:

    “Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks.”

    We have to sort through his comments to be sure of their meaning and relationship to the Magisterial teachings. Seems like a lot of work for the poor pewsitters.

    • phranthie

      It’s been downhill all the way for 50-odd years, and now it seems to be accelerating. We’re being asked, in defence of Pope Francis, to take all he says with a pinch of salt. Where’s that Church gone where we could find moral and social guidance?

  • GG

    Well, at least the author did not say the usual… no, no, no it is the media’s fault. I thank him for that.

  • Nel

    Thank you for this. I’m prayerfully trying to have some sympathy with Pope Francis personally (I mean sympathy for who he is as a person, not sympathy for his office or his heavy burden, etc.). I pray for him, but I just find him so personally unappealing and ‘lightweight’ in what he says, that I find it really hard to pay attention to him at all. Truth be told, I kind of ignore him, don’t look up his homilies, etc. I watched one in the Philippines, that was recommended by OSV as being great, and thought it just totally lacked content and meaning. It said nothing to me except, ‘I dunno why you’re suffering. Look at the cross and uh, be silent and uh…’ I find him simply ineffectual as a teacher, and isn’t a Bishop supposed to be a teacher?

    Also, when it comes to thinking of him as a ‘spiritual director,’ to me he seems more to harangue people in a way. It’s like he’s got these ‘gripes’ with people somehow (these are too clerical; those ‘divinize’ their leaders) and he’s already ‘at you’ to stop being that way without stopping to think or consider (it seems to me) the needs of Catholics who are faithful, understand their faith, live their faith – often with great sacrifices – and love the Church. To mix metaphors, sometimes the ‘new broom’ that wants to ‘sweep clean,’ throws out the baby with the bathwater. Why alienate people who are the backbone of the Church because of certain hobby-horses of your own? That’s how he comes across to me: parochial, narrow, fixated on certain things that he doesn’t like, but not really aware, somehow, that the Church is catholic – there are a lot of other people in the Church besides the materially poor, ambitious clergy and pew-warmers.

    I found Pope John Paul II far more of a spiritual father or spiritual director. Pope Francis puts me off by his ‘hail fellow, well-met’ demeanor. I find such people shallow: eager to talk, not so eager to listen. St JPII struck me as someone who was always deeply listening to people, not just with his ears, but with his heart and soul, like a good confessor. Pope Francis… he’s a talker.

    My take: I’m disappointed in him, but I hope that I will force myself to try to read something more of his and find something worthwhile in it. So far, I’m not struck by anything I’ve heard or read – apart from his gaffes, of course.

    This article helps me to try to understand him, but really, I can’t help thinking there’s something ‘missing’ in a pope who talks so much and is understood so little.

    • GG

      I want to thank you for such an insightful and charitable comment. I think you nicely sum up what so many are experiencing.

      People are confused and concerned. I am talking about thoughtful and serious people. I think any honest commentator would have to admit there are problems and the solution is not what we here so often which is convoluted logic that claims nothing has changed.

    • Don

      I’m in Nel’s camp. I appreciate this article and it is helpful. Yet I find myself wondering whether I have a home in the Catholic Church . . . whether the Church has pushed me aside. I won’t ever leave Her, but I feel my orbit is growing much more distant and Pope Francis has no gravity to pull me back.

    • publiusnj

      He seems to hate most of his fellow priests, and to pity all those stupid Catholics who believed what his predecessors had to say.

      • fredx2

        No, that is what the media would like you to believe. Remember, their dearest wish is to use the Pope to make believe that everything must change in the Catholic church. The Pope has never advocated for a single change in any doctrine. As to priests, when he spoke, for example, of “little monsters” as priests, the left and the media instantly seized on it to claim that what he was talking about was “JP II” priests, the new, faithful ones the seminaries have finally started turning out. In fact, he was talking about a problem they have in Latin America, where it is possible that priests are too clerical, too harsh, too convinced of their own superiority. We almost never have that problem in the US, but the dissidents and the media (same thing) seize on his words to drive division. Don’t let them get away with it.

        • publiusnj

          Even if you are correct, anyone who uses a term like “little monsters” to describe any priests is being profligate in his giving of scandal. He needs to grow up and act like the leader of a multilingual, world-wide, 1,200,000,000+ member organization.

          • GG

            Yes, and it is not the media’s fault. They are what they are.

            • fredx2

              If people unfairly report things, yes, that is their fault. Being dishonest does not get you off the hook simply because one has always been dishonest.

              • Did the press corps suddenly change two years ago? I remember when Benedict XVI became Pope; some looked into his background of having been conscripted into the Hitler Youth and tried to say “gotcha”.

                There were those that excoriated John Paul for inconveniencing them with the sight of an old man so publicly afflicted with the infirmities of old age.

                Popes are men. Men in general are frail and finite. Add the onerous responsibilities of leading a flock (and fellow shepherds for that matter) that seems to be afflicted with extraordinary wanderlust in a time when an already hostile world is coming under the lash of secular statism and Islam and you require a man who has the instinct of a doctor-first, do no harm and in some cases, the good doctor needs to keep his thoughts to himself, because he realizes he’s dealing with a hyperventilating and hyperagitated patient.

                The problem I see is inconsistency. This Pope tells us its wrong to associate violence with Islam, but sees no problem with finding evil in every commercial transaction.
                The press is hostile and eager to twist every word to the service of of an agenda that is diametrically opposed to things we value, but they haven’t changed.

                • fredx2

                  Yes, but Pope Benedict had harsh words for unfettered capitalism, as did JP II, as did Paul VI, etc.

                  • GG

                    Sure, but guess what? No one ever claimed Benedict was heterodox or open to heterodoxy. The difference is vast.

                    Who read the media when he was Pope and believed that Benedict was a Nazi? Who thought he would support New Ways Ministry? Who would have said gee he is open to transexuality?

                    • fredx2

                      You point out that the media has tried to use this Pope’s admittedly loose language to advance their usual agendas. You have not pointed out that the Pope has changed one bit of Catholic doctrine. Your concern is about the media treatment of the Pope.

                    • GG

                      You keep blaming the media. The Pope has said some impenetrable things. That is undeniable. The Vatican has had to, on several occasions, clarify what the pope intended to say.

                      Then you give us the usual thing about no doctrine changing as if that is proof all is well. Yet, many think doctrine can change and that is due to all that is allowed to go on that you call messiness.

                    • Jacqueleen

                      Why then is the Pope manipulating the composition of the Synod of Cardinals by removing a staunch traditionalist, Raymond Cardinal Burke and then filling the empty seats with liberal cardinals from third world countries (Socialists)? He would like the outcome to be what he wants it to be….remember, it was written at the time of his election that Cardinal Bergoglio was very much into Liberation Theology (Social Justice, aka Socialism/Communism). Try to find any of those article on the Internet now. They have all been removed after Pope Francis denied his involvement. However, between the Pope and Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State at the Vatican and arbitrator in the Cuba deal with Obama….they are far too cozy with Obama. Re-distribution of wealth, fundamentally transforming the USA and the emphasis on doing more for the poor and anti-capitalism…is far too similar. Pay attention!

                    • 1crappie2

                      Vatican II also changed not one bit of doctrine–nonetheless its spirit nearly destroyed God’s Church. Is there any who doubt some of Satan’s smoke hasn’t entered the synod?

                  • sweetmusic

                    Where in the West is capitalism “unfettered”?

                • GG

                  The media did not change one iota. The Pope changed.

                  I almost forgot the standard rejoinder. Nothing has changed. Just the emphasis has changed. Meaning the pope has not publicly proclaimed heresy so therefore there is no problem at all.

                  Now, I ask you what simple-minded person would accept that facile explanation as proof there is no serious problem?

                • Marcelus

                  well his next saint will be a businessman . No kidding,

                • Marcelus

                  This Pope tells us its wrong to associate violence with Islam, ??when??

                    • Marcelus

                      I thought you were talking about that piece please read carefully the Pope does not state that . he said:
                      They (Muslims) say: ‘No, we are not this, the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace’.”

                      They say!!!!

                    • Oh please. He also said “All religions have these little groups.”

                    • Marcelus

                      Don’t they? WHo are we to judge?

                    • Any religion that hasn’t spawned an ISIS, a Hezbollah, a Hamas, a [INSERT RELIGION HERE] “Brotherhood”, A Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf..but has given the world hospitals, soup kitchens, orphanages.

                      Islam has a long and sordid history of violence, oppression and conquest.

                    • Marcelus

                      He means diehard fanatics…

                • David Raineri-Maldonado

                  “[Francis] sees no problem with finding evil in every commercial transaction.”
                  That may be because he’s a Distributist, in the mold of Chesterton and Belloc.

                  • GG

                    Chesterton was wrong and I doubt the Pope is a distributist.

                    • David Raineri-Maldonado

                      How was Chesterton wrong? On Fascism, see my other response, infra . Also, your only reason Francis can’t be a Distributist is an implied, “he’s Pope,” which is a nonsequitur-his position has no effect on non-dogmatic areas of disagreement.

              • GG

                Come on. The press is not changing. To blame them is absurd. You must think Burke and Muller, and all the smart people in Rome are credulous.

                • fredx2

                  Nobody ever said the press was changing. You keep bringing that up for some reason. I don’t understand your point about Burke and Mueller. Do you think they believe the Pope is a bad Pope? You certainly will not find any such statement from them. The supposedly worst thing that Burke has said is that the Pope should clear up confusion when it arises; he also said that some people came to him and complained that the church was like a ship without a rudder, which the media promptly changed to “Burke said the church is like a ship without a rudder”. None of that indicates that they are credulous, I don’t know where you got that.

                  • GG

                    Your argument relies on the press as the boogeyman as if these men who oppose Kasper and are not happy he is allowed to confuse people simply rely on the papers to form their opinion of the state of affairs in regard to the pope. You take the tack of a lawyer really.

                  • sweetmusic

                    Yes, I believe they believe this pope is a bad pope–but for the sake of Church unity both cardinals will keep their opinions to themselves. But the muttering is everywhere–especially on the internet. But also wherever there are serious Catholics practicing their faith. I’m sure Hollywood and the media likes the Pope–but how many practice the faith? Not that the Pope seems to care. Francis is a charismatic. He confuses his feelings about doctrine with the inspirations of the Holy Spirit–but that’s the same confusion that gripped the Church following the close of the Council. We need to get back to basics, not go out on a further limb. .

              • sweetmusic

                He hasn’t been unfairly treated in the press. Just the opposite. What’s apparent is he’s not doctrinally well trained and he is often out of line–for instance with that “rabbits” wisecrack. Like Obama, he’s way over his head but doesn’t seem to realize it..

                • It is an unfortunate condition of humanity that there is much we do not know, and we do not know what we do not know.

            • sweetmusic

              I agree. He’s popular generally, but not with practicing Catholics–which is strange. He’s very hard to like.

              • GG

                Yes, and Fred’s remark about being endearing to the common man is not a defense. If the common man likes insults that is not helping at all.

              • Idler

                Even Jesus had to put up with this nonsense.

                “When they found all the publicans and sinners coming to listen to him, the Pharisees and scribes were indignant; Here is a man, they said, that entertains sinners, and eats with them. Whereupon he told them this parable: If any of you owns a hundred sheep, and has lost one of them, does he not leave the other ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders, rejoicing, and so goes home, and calls his friends and his neighbours together; Rejoice with me, he says to them, I have found my sheep that was lost. So it is, I tell you, in heaven; there will be more rejoicing over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine souls that are justified, and have no need of repentance.”

                Most of the whining I read on this site and other Catholic sites sounds more like the older brother in the prodigal son parable then people rejoicing in one who was lost and is now found.

          • fredx2

            I agree. He has issued a lot of unnecessary insults which can be easily taken out of context. However, that is Pope Francis. This easy speech actually endears him to the common man, who talks like that too and resents politician-like behavior where every word is carefully measured.

            In fact, in one interview, Francis actually said something along the lines of “don’t rely on what I say or what you hear I said in the papers, rely on what I write”. So even he understands the problem. Again, this would not be such a problem if the media carefully and fairly reported both sides of what he says, but instead they report the “pro-progressive” side only. For example, most never even reported that he said “What they are proposing is not marriage!” They simply ignored it, since it would have ruined their carefully constructed false narrative that “Francis is a flaming liberal”.

            Father Z has reported that people tell him this is simply the way Argentinians talk – with a lot of exaggeration for emphasis. Apparently down there, people understand that and discount things a bit. But it does cause problems, that much is certain.

            • “But it does cause problems, that much is certain.”
              So it isn’t just the press.

            • William Murphy

              If we follow Pope Francis’ advice to “rely on what I write”, we are in even deeper trouble. An imprudent off-the-cuff soundbite could be excused as the result of exhaustion or confusion when talking under pressure to insistent journalists. But a major document such as “Evangelii Gaudium” could be revised and edited in minute detail after careful discussion with expert advisors. It has to be correct – it will be out on the public record indefinitely.
              Yet we find incredible ideas such as in Para 32 where the notion of devolving doctrinal authority to bishops’ conferences is suggested. This would obvious quickly lead to the disintegration of the Church into multiple sects. In para 253 he describes Islam as a religion of peace. This has given rise to instant derision from several writers and even reservations from a Vatican expert on Islam. I suspect Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Kenya, Nigeria, etc will be less than respectful.

            • Marcelus

              He speaks like a 78 year old argetine. That is correct.

              • Nel

                Toto, you’re not in Argentina anymore. You haven’t been for two years.

                • Marcelus

                  Boy …you are in for a treat then- Loved the Lone Ranger:

                  From last week’s interview:

                  As for how the Pope talks, and whether he will bite his tongue from now on?

                  “I’m going to keep on doing the same thing. And I will talk like I talk, like a parish priest — how I like to talk; I don’t know. I have always talked this way. Always. That way, is it a defect? I don’t know. But I believe the people understand me.”

                  • GG

                    Like Kasper and Marx and dissenting Catholics understand. Hmmm. Got it.

                    • Marcelus

                      yeap. maybe these two and 1.99 billion..

                      Leaving anyone aside?

            • Nel

              As a teacher, I would question whether carefully measuring one’s words – to be sure that one does not confuse or mislead one’s listeners – is not the same as a politician carefully measuring every word.

              A politician is trying to avoid coming down on any particular side, so he can always land on the side of whatever is popular. He doesn’t care about truth.

              A bishop should be carefully measuring every word in order to make sure that every word is clear, correct, and upholds the faith and cannot possibly be misconstrued by the faithful or twisted by the enemy. (That’s not to say he WON’T be misunderstood by some or some of his words will NOT be twisted. It is saying that clarity, clarity, clarity should be more important than pleasing the audience.)

              As a college instructor of 23 years’ experience, I have learned to weigh everything I say quite carefully, to treat words the way a brain surgeon would treat a scalpel. You don’t wield words willy-nilly when people are depending on you for sound and reliable information, because teaching is a kind of verbal brain surgery. If students are listening, if they are engaged, you are changing their minds even as you speak (this is backed up by research on the brain: our brains actually change as new ideas ‘hit’ our awareness). Whatever you say could be misconstrued or misinterpreted and lead the student astray. You can’t make a direct transfer of information from your brain to the student’s brain, but you have to make things so clear that it can only be the student’s fault (inattention, stupidity, deliberate misunderstanding) that your words were not understood.

              I figure that if 95% of my students clearly understood what I said and are not confused, then the 5% who are confused have some problem themselves. It seems that Pope Francis’s ratios of non-confused to confused are not so good.

              • polistra24

                WELL said. Another piece of teacher analogy: A teacher needs to start out by defining rules of behavior and kicking out the students who don’t behave. If you don’t start that way, the good students realize you’re not on their side. Francis is like an instructor in a Fire Safety course who starts out the first day with “Hey hey! I see we’ve got some arsonists here! Welcome, arsonists! I love you more than I love these dull firefighters!”

          • Nel

            Amen! I get the sense with Francis, that his whole attitude is, ‘It’s about me.’ I LIKE being surrounded by a lot of people who smile all the time and make me feel ‘up’ so I won’t live in the papal apartments. I LIKE blabbering away, unconscious of the effect I have on my listeners, so I’m not going to change my style just because I’m the vicar of Christ. I like being the most popular boy in class, and being Pope isn’t going to change that. I am who I am – hurray for me.

            Jesus told Peter that he USED TO fasten his belt and go where he wanted, but that later he would be led where he didn’t want to go. There are sacrifices in every vocation – including the call to the papacy. I don’t see Francis sacrificing anything: he’s just being himself on a much bigger ‘stage.’ I know it’s uncharitable to feel this way, but I’ve just read another article in that new genre of ‘Francis-Apologetics’ in which the author tries to show that Pope Francis really is a good pope, really is a loyal son of the Church, really cares deeply about the good of the Church – and I just couldn’t buy the argument.

            I’ll keep praying for him and for me.

            • GG

              You are not alone.

            • sweetmusic

              These apologetic pieces are designed to quiet widespread uneasiness about this pontiff. He’s not up to the job–people can sense this. It goes beyond whether he’s traditional or not. It’s about whether he is sufficiently prudent and circumspect or whether he’s actually foolish. That “rabbits” remark was foolish, unbecoming for any serious-minded Catholic prelate, let alone a pope.

            • sweetmusic

              He keeps smiling like any other celebrity–except when he’s in a scolding mode. What we don’t get is gravitas.

              • Bill Beckman

                Read Pope Francis’ homily for Easter Vigil 2014 and tell me you don’t get gravitas.

          • pbecke

            Imagine the scandal the seemingly ‘self-appointed’, indigent, itinerant preacher, Jesus, created in lambasting the positive wickedness of the Synagogue leaders of his day!

            • publiusnj

              The difference is that Jesus was saying his creature Moses’s rule on Remarriage after Divorce was wrong while Kasper (and maybe Francis?) are saying that Jesus, the Living Lord of the Universe as well as Itinerant Preacher, is wrong. Moses was a mere man but Jesus is God; Kasper (and Francis?) ought to understand that difference.

              • pbecke

                No. That was a tiny, though significant, piece of he Mosaic Law, and they were the custodians of the whole of the Law… for dereliction of the spirit of which, in favour of a rigid legalism (which, as Paul made clear, they could not themselves faithfully observe, ‘Christ castigated them.

                “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

                I’m not supporting Kasper’s position, as I find it a dangerous relaxation, particularly in the relativist context of modern secular society, as Benedict remarked, when he changed his mind on the matter.

                Moreover, I’m not sure the potential gain is worth it. As Francis pointed out, Japanese Catholics survived in fine fettle for 4o0 years, ‘without benefit of clergy’.

                This is ultimately about mercy in terms of the degree of allowance to be made – in accordance with God’s will – with regard to sincere, if deficient observance of the faith by embattled members of the laity, in the context of an often callous, degenerate, even criminal*, institutional church, bequeathed to us by the Tridentine dispensation.

                * The Vatican Bank’s playing ‘footsie’ with the Mafia, to give just one example, evidently the fruit of long centuries of corruption, which had very deleterious ‘knock-on’ effects for the Italian state – now a byword for corruption, throughout the rest of Europe.

                • publiusnj

                  It’s not clear what you meant to say by: “No. That was….”

                  • pbecke

                    ‘The difference is that Jesus was saying his creature Moses’s rule on Remarriage after Divorce was wrong….’

                    That is wrong.

                    ‘Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.’

                    Clearly, Jesus was not criticizing or reprimanding Moses, here. Rather the sense is that Moses was continuing to perform his role as God’s faithful spokesman, God, not Moses, having made the decision to temporarily indulge the people’s spiritual waywardness.

                    • publiusnj

                      So,pb goes with a partial quote out of context. Jesus went on to say: ”
                      “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.
                      “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
                      ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
                      and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.
                      Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate….
                      Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
                      And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.””

                      ANYONE inclludes those that Moses’s law would permit to divorce. IOW, Jesus said “No Divorce,” in direct contradiction to Moses’s “Divorce.”

                • emer83

                  I can’t let a few of those comments stand: sorry. The Commies had nothing on the second commandment; in fact, they were worse than the Fascists because they hid behind their so-called altruistic concern for the “workers” but when they seized power,they had no problem seizing the wealth that went along with it. Witness the “new” South Africa or Putin or Stalin and, of course, no one was, is worse than Stalin, no one, if one can measure true depravity. Pinochet was hardly worse than Allende who immediately captured, imprisoned and tortured his opponents. How many dopey college kids have walked around with a Che shirt on knowing little of his cowardice and cruelty. A thug is a thug is a thug and the ridiculous perch where the left has put itself for decades has to be addressed. I agree this Pope is far more sympathetic to the left than the last, who was more sympathetic to the West but since there is little difference between leftists tyrannies and right-wing ones, my hope is that both of them as men and citizens of the world had little tolerance for either.

              • pbecke

                No. This is precisely where you folk have the Christan faith so utterly, utterly wrong. We are ‘other Christs’ by adoption; one great big family, each one of us loved with the infinite love only God could bestow and evidently does. No less than if we, as an individual, were his sole creation.

                Moses was not a mere man. He was appointed by God as someone very, very special, and God spoke to him in a very intimate and privileged way as He did with no-one else.

                ’11Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend….’ – Exodus 33:11

                It seems that only King David, of whom God said that he was a man after his own heart – an extraordinary compliment, even by the standards of the Patriarchs’ merits in God’s eyes – could compete with him for glory.

                However, St Paul in one of his epistles, writes:

                ‘9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. 12Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13and
                are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the
                sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading
                away.

                – 2 Corinthians 3:9-13

                As the Pope, elected by those cardinals, who, as it transpires, would almost all, de facto, have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, Francis occupies the chair of Moses, under a dispensation immeasurably higher than the Old Law. (One day, of course, St Moses and St John the Baptist will be inserted into their proper hierarchical pre-eminence [not absolute, of course]).

                ‘…. but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

                – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

                You should all be asking yourselves, were Jesus’ own parishioners, who tried to throw him over a cliff, for very similar reasons to the ones for which you vilify Francis, forerunners of yourselves?

                Bear in mind that those parishioners would probably have been, not worse, but more pious than the parishioners in other synagogues in Israel. Appropriateness is very much a feature of God’s workings.

                As for those who call Francis the anti-Christ, let’s hope they are not guilty of the eternal sin.

                • publiusnj

                  This is a pointless rant. If you had something on point to say, you failed to say it.

            • GG

              Imagine another false analogy.

          • pbecke
          • emer83

            I try to be a faithful Catholic but many of those priest were and are “little monsters” some are quite big monsters. The clergy holds a privileged and, at one time, respected status. They need to behave accordingly. JP II looked the other way and that is an ugly truth.

            • GG

              Ah, here is the new face of the Catholic left. Out and proud. This is what the revolution is bringing. Is this the media’s fault?

              • emer83

                You couldn’t be more wrong; not that it adds anything to the argument but no one who knows me (and this can be verified from my “Disqus” comments) would call me a leftist. But what would that matter? if the poisonous partisanship promoted (alliteration?, thanks Sister Mary Vincent) reduces each argument to a personal not forensic attack, we’re all diminished. The Truth will set us free and the truth is the Church brought much of this calumny on itself.

                • sweetmusic

                  Yeah, the cardinals elected a bad pope.

              • pbecke

                You should be skulking and addressing your betters, cap in hand, eme: ‘Begging your pardon, Guvner, but might I say somefing?

            • publiusnj

              Oh stop it. I bet there is a lower incidence of bad conduct among priests than among just about any ethnic group. Can you imagine the complaints if Francis had called a particular ethnic –or heaven forfend, racial–group “little monsters” even if he tried to justify that view with evidence of what he considered to be a heightened level of bad conduct? Oh the horror! But say it about priests and all of a sudden it is perfectly okay.

              • emer83

                No anger necessary: it would be sad to think we couldn’t have different ideas without attacking each other. First: priests are not a mere collection of people with a similar genetic pool; they have chosen (or were chosen) to live a sanctified life not one marked by criminality. The people who were chosen to be their superiors were to secure their and our safety. Neither of these things happened. I agree that both the press and the public at large has been unfair in their reporting but not in their charges, for the aforementioned reasons. “People quarrel because they can’t argue.” G.K. Chesterton.

                • publiusnj

                  So now this discussion is morphing into the sins of priests instead of the stupid remarks of the Pope? I’ll beg off that discussion because it is not what we have been discussing and I have no illusions that it is possible to convince an invincibly anti-priest person that generalizations about groups other than ethnic groups are equally invalid. So I won’t go down this detour.

                  • emer83

                    This isn’t a detour since I was commenting on your dismissal of the “little monsters” comment that was substantive to the article. And it was a “detour” you were happy to make when you thought you had a point. Nothing I have said would leave a dispassionate observer, or better, listener to think I was anti-cleric.
                    Your anger is poisoning proper discourse: this site and this publication deserves better.

                    • publiusnj

                      As I said, this is about the Pope’s unfortunate habit of being an unrelenting scold who thinks he can say anything he wants. You go one step even further. You can read minds…supposedly. To repeat: I am not going to get off the subject of the Pope to defend priests against your generalizations.

                    • emer83

                      Since you create your own arguments, refute what hasn’t been said and defend what hasn’t been attacked, you’re a legend in your own mind. Congratulations: you win and i’ll recede.

                    • pbecke

                      Legend in his own lunch-time, eme.

                  • sweetmusic

                    I suspect this papacy may well see a further reduction in vocations. Alarm bells are going off in a lot of places. He’s not up to the job–and this gets more obvious by the hour.

                  • pbecke

                    You seem to resent that it is rightly considered that racism is a particularly vile form of ‘supermarket justice’, as meted out to the miners by the corporatist puppet, Thatcher.

                    • publiusnj

                      Huh?

              • pbecke

                Priests are not an ethnic group, Publiusnj, they are spiritual leaders, appointed to be Jesus’ right-hand men.

                • publiusnj

                  IOW, vicious generalizations about priests can be made that would not be tolerable if said about others? Sorry, but the Pope’s stupidity was just that.

            • pbecke

              I believe he came to rather bitterly regret it. For such a heroically devout man, they were extraordinary derelictions, with extensively dire effects on the victims of the powerful and, inevitably, the Church.

              Although politically, he was only continuing the Church’s historical, political stance. Anything but Communism, which was, itself, a standing disgrace to the Church. All the stranger in that he could scarcely have seen the evil of the far right from closer quarters.

              • emer83

                I’m pretty sure few consider Communism a “far-right” political stance and that was his bete noire. While I agree he was a devout man, his reluctance to take painful steps was damaging. Sometimes moral courage looks ugly to the uninformed but it is imperative to a ethical stance.

                • pbecke

                  I hadn’t considered that his curious derelictions might reflect a lack of moral courage. That is interesting. At the moment I’m inclined to think that his inaction on the abuse issue was due to excessive clericalism, involving that curious Tridentine valorising of the institutional church over individuals, even children, the undiscriminating identification of the institutional church with Holy Mother Church.

                  As regards his political derelictions, I suspect the inhuman dimension of European Communism and probably its leading lights will have played a part, though surely Pinochet’s and Hitler’s more fiery, satanic regimes were arguably even worse than the cold depravity of the former. At least the Commies had a front in the Second Commandment.

                  Perhaps, most influential of all – often little personal foibles explain idiosyncratic attitudes – was his apparent adulation of Cardinal Sapieha, a Polish aristocrat, who ran the seminary in which John-Paul was trained. Admittedly its a conjecture.

        • pbecke

          I don’t know about your interlocutors, fred, obviously, but I suspect that the noses of a lot of priests’ parents have been put out of joint, and, perhaps, not without a certain prescience, they suspect ‘the worst may yet be still to come.

          • GG

            There noses may be out of joint because they are faithful and care about the salvation of souls.

          • sweetmusic

            If schism is what this pope wants, it’s schism that he will get. Catholics are not going to abandon the faith handed-down to them from antiquity for the sake of a lot of recently concocted novelties. The Pope has no authority to teach novelties.

            • pbecke

              You have it the wrong way round. He will remain the Roman Catholic pope, and you will be the schismatics. He’s just excommunicated someone. And probably not before time.

              Do you think perhaps God will give that authority to a schismatic leader you and your like-minded people designate as pope? I can’t see it.

        • Ivyredneck

          I agree heartily with Msgr. Feichtinger, but I do not blame the media for the fact that some refuse to listen to Francis with open hearts. As a doctrinally and liturgically conservative Catholic, I love Francis’ style and substance, and have no difficulty with literally anything I have heard or read Francis say. In fact the media seems scrupulously fair in reporting on him. Francis is all about spiritual warfare against the Enemy. He is pursuing Christ’s mission, as directed by Christ, to save the world from the Father of Lies. He wants to save prostitutes and homosexuals, and will gladly go to them, just as Christ dined with tax collectors to the great scandal of many. Never has Francis diluted or diminished a scintilla of the Magisterium. Let’s consider whether we are like those who were scandalized by Jesus’ desire to save those who flaunt their sins and not only those who hide them.

          • GG

            Such nonsense. Cardinal Burke, as one example, is not about rejecting any sinner. Quite the contrary. The problem is confusion. There is no need to show authentic mercy to each person and confuse in the process.

            Point of fact, the many who heartily endorse the confusion very much reject Church authority. That says it all.

            • Ivyredneck

              Glad you brought up Burke. Last year he described his reassignment to Malta as a demotion. That says it all. There is no confusion about doctrine under Francis. This is about the nature of the church. She is not an institution run by careerists. She is a militant community.

              • pbecke

                Bravo!

          • sweetmusic

            If you have no problem with his style or substance you haven’t been paying attention. He rigged the recent synod by muzzling conservative bishops and approving a fake midterm relatio that pretended to be what the synod fathers had discussed, but which had been written before the synod opened. In other words, it was a blatant hoax–and the pope was in on it.

            Besides this ruse, his right-hand man, Cardinal Baldaserri, set up a press conference to which only Kasper and a few other progressive prelates were invited to answer media querries during the synod break. (It was Baldaserri, btw, who intecepted the mailed copies of the scholarly book that had been written as a rejoinder to Kasper’s radical notions about the divorced and remarried–so that the synod fathers never received their copies.)

            The pope is also blatantly heterodox–such as when he recently claimed the Magisterium had rejected capital punishment. (Historically it had done just the opposite, sanctioning the state’s right to impose the death penalty as a form of retributive justice.)

            He was flat-out wrong when he scolded that mother about to have her 8th child by caesarean section, calling her irresponsible–when, in fact, a woman may risk giving birth under such circumstances rather than use NFP or abstention. It has never been Church doctrine that she must avoid risk, though it allows her to do so by natural means. And so with so much else.

            These flaps by the Pope are alarming–and should be to you also. He insults a lot of people–wrongly and unjustly–as though being Pope somehow gave him the right to be uncharitable, calling practicing Catholics nasty names such as “bead-counters” or “narcissistic” or “little holy cards” Faithful Catholics wonder–when is he going to show them the same degree of consideration he shows gays and Muslims?

      • Max

        You are absolutely right.

      • Bill Beckman

        When I see 15 “likes” for this post, I realize how much the readership of CRISIS has changed from its days as a print magazine. How urgently do we need to pray for Church unity.

      • Bill Beckman

        When I see 15 “likes” for this post, I realize how much the readership of CRISIS has changed from its days as a print magazine. How urgently do we need to pray for Church unity.

    • Senhorbotero

      Good heavens that was a well written comment. You have expressed exactly how i think of this pope. I too have tried to pay attention to him and find him terribly uninteresting. Sadly i must say i feel as i did when, being a young man i saw my first hootenany mass. It seemed as if the church had lost authority. Pope Francis does exactly the same thing to me today. Where i once hung on every word of Pope Benedict, i now don’t even bother with Francis. For 30 years i was away from the church because of VII. John paul pulled me back toward it, Benedict insured my solidity in it and Francis is driving me away. Again i feel like the church is losing itself. I truly wish Francis would read your comment and seriously consider it. Thanks for writing.

    • fredx2

      The mistake that many make is they accept the media’s interpretation that Pope Francis is criticizing conservatives. He usually is not. However, the media drops those quotations where he goes after the left, and you never hear them, unless you read his speeches yourself. Then, you come to reaize that 1) often he is criticizing things that exist mostly in the Latin American churches, such as excessive clericalism, which can occur down there, 2) He makes a really valid point that carefully balances a contempt for both extremes. But the media only reports that “Pope Francis hates conservatives” This simply is not true.
      By the way, Today Cardinal Kasper has a piece in Commonweal (see RealClear Religion) where he sounds suspiciously like he himself is backing off the “Kasper proposal” for the divorced and remarried. Given that Pope Francis has consistently refused to give any public support the Kasper proposal, I think even Kasper is carefully backing away from it. He says something like “In my speech to the consistory, I barely touched on the matter of divorced and remarried, and I only urged that the issue be studied” I think this is the end of the line for that particular proposal.

      • I’ve never seen Commonweal do anything other than promote sexual libertinism. After Kasper’s remarks about black people, I don’t trust a word he says.

        • GG

          It is a propaganda journal. That is why Kasper goes with them.

        • fredx2

          And note the media completely gave him a pass on that, even though he first denied that he said any such thing. And then it was found that a recording had been made. And Commonweal is pretty useless, true.

          • Buy a parrot or a mina bird, you’ll find a use for Commonsqueal.

          • GG

            The Pope could pull him back in a NY second.

            • fredx2

              The Pope wants the church to talk about and discuss these hard issues, in all their full blown messiness. In the process, everyone gets an education about what the church believes and why it believes it. In the end, despite the mess, this creates a stronger church.

              • GG

                Where is this “education”? Stronger? You have undermining. You have mis-perception. You have politicking. You have cardinal opposing cardinal. You have endless columns trying to explain what is going on.

                • fredx2

                  And no doctrine of the church has changed. But everyone understands a lot more about their church, and why she takes the positions she takes.

                  • GG

                    Who believes that aside from you ?

                  • Glenn M. Ricketts

                    What’s the basis for that comment? Explain please?

                    • GG

                      Good question. It is the usual spin. No doctrine has been “changed” so no biggie. Nonsense though. Just because there is no formal change does not mean very serious harm has not been done. It is a legalistic way to view the truth.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      No, they aren’t changed; we just go silent on teaching them, as we’ve done with Humanae Vitae.

                  • I’ve heard of grey clouds in silver liinings, and mking silk purses from sow’s ears. Telling me a sewer of confusion is a rose garden of wisdom is simply a bridge too far.

                  • Phil Steinacker

                    Not everyone, fred2x. There is more confusion than ever about Church teaching. People are being told Church teaching must change and that under this pope it will. Expectations are being created which cause a disaster of one kind if they are not met (I lived through the fallout from poor handling by Paul VI on Humane Vitae; millions left the Church because they falsely believed he would liberalize Church law on contraception), and an even worse disaster if they are.

                    Besides, it is too early to say whether doctrine will change effectively. If the upcoming synod were to change praxis while preserving doctrine – the sleight-of-hand proposed by Kasper and his cronies – then we know from history (the drop in belief in the True Presence due to 45 years of receiving Communion in the hand, standing) that change in practice will bring about change in belief in doctrine.

                    Wake up, man. Ditch the kool-aid.

                    • Elizabeth

                      I fear Fred2x is too far gone.

              • This is Marxist dialectics. Nothing good comes out of compromising the truth by mixing it at the same level as lies. Only Marxists couldn’t care less about it, since their goal is perennial conflict, not the search for the truth.

                • GG

                  Right! What is next? “Healthy” debate on sodomy?

              • sweetmusic

                The same issue of divorced Catholics who remarry receiving communion came up under JPII and was rejected; it came up under Benedict and was rejected. Why bring it up for discussion again? Ditto with gay orientation. Why introduce it in a Synod supposedly focused on the family?

              • Glenn M. Ricketts

                Actually Fredx, I think it onby creates a mess, and leaves a confused, demoralized Church as its result.

              • Phil Steinacker

                Nice theory. but completely false.

                If it way such a good approach and effectively builds up the Church, why don’t we see it exercised by the Church Fathers? In the early Councils? In the writings of great popes and saints?

                We don’t because human nature is such that many wouldn’t survive such an approach, instead falling prey to the crazy, insane, goofiness which passes for theology praxis.

                The favored pastoral nonsense is a good example. Why convene a synod to give voice to a view whose real intention is to dismantle Church teaching put into practice?

                This is very dangerous, and therefore, it would be a terribly stupid idea to do it intentionally for the reasons you state, fred2x. I don’t mean you or the pope are stupid but that the idea itself – framed as you did – simply opens the doors to more mischief and destruction than it can overcome. There are forces waiting for those doors to open, as we saw last October.

                Meantime, the errors in perception of what the Church is doing have been mounting, although there is also mounting evidence that the Left is finally realizing that Francis won’t budge on women priests, same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception. They are beginning to openly criticize him for these positions, and that tide is turning against him.

                The whole thing is a mess, unnecessary in the making. Past popes have not shared this pope’s enthusiasm for “making a mess.” They knew better – far better.

              • pbecke

                Also, unfortunately, a certain number of ‘nervous Nellies’.

        • “After Kasper’s remarks about black people, I don’t trust a word he says.”
          You know I forgot about that. Thanks for the reminder of that man’s moral decrepitude.

          It seems an odd remark coming from a man who seems to pale (no pun intended) in comparison with Cardinal Arinze or Cardinal Sarah.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Perhaps not intended, but it makes it all the more funny!

      • RACHEL VALENCIA

        Just the FACT that it was brought up by KASPER and supported by Pope FRANCIS is good enough for me. The CREDIT of them BACKING OFF goest to CARDINAL BURKE, NOT THOSE TWO! I amSTILL UPSET that THAT PROPOSAL even came up!

        • fredx2

          Who said the following, at the meeting with the parish priests of Rome?

          “Another priest raised the topic of Communion for the faithful who are divorced and remarried. The Holy Father answered him as follows:

          We all know that this is a particularly painful problem for people who live in situations in which they are excluded from Eucharistic Communion, and naturally for the priests who desire to help these people love the Church and love Christ. This is a problem.

          None of us has a ready-made formula, also because situations always differ. I would say that those who were married in the Church for the sake of tradition but were not truly believers, and who later find themselves in a new and invalid marriage and subsequently convert, discover faith and feel excluded from the Sacrament, are in a particularly painful situation. This really is a cause of great suffering and when I was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I invited various Bishops’ Conferences and experts to study this problem: a sacrament celebrated without faith.

          Whether, in fact, a moment of invalidity could be discovered here because the Sacrament was found to be lacking a fundamental dimension, I do not dare to say. I personally thought so, but from the discussions we had I realized that it is a highly-complex problem and ought to be studied further. But given these people’s painful plight, it must be studied further.

          That was Pope Benedict in 2005. Pope Francis is doing exactly what Pope Benedict said to do – study the issue again, to see if there are any changes that might need to be made. My reading of the situation is that they have come to the conclusion, once again, that they can’t take communion, but other things might be done to ease the situation.

          • The “other things” being? That’s the crux of the issue.

          • GG

            None of that has much to do with the last Synod. In fact, if Benedict ran the Synod the problems we have now would not be present.

            • fredx2

              The point, of course is that Benedict realized that this particular Problem IS a problem and SHOULD be studied, which is what Pope Francis has done.

              • GG

                The issue is not studying some problem. The issue is confusion and endless politics.

                • fredx2

                  And you only see that confusion in the media, and in politics. When you read the synod documents, the Pope’s statements, the confusion does not appear. Look, it is true this Pope has allowed the media to position him as the anti- Benedict. You certainly can blame him for not correcting some statements.

                  • GG

                    The documents are part of the problem.

                  • sweetmusic

                    No, the media senses he’s one of their own–and it’s pumping him up to make him a superstar. He may seem orthodox enough in his prepared statements, but off the cuff he’s on the same page as the media–Cuba, Planned Parenthood, global warming, the gay agenda, etc..

                  • Glenn M. Ricketts

                    Sorry, but I see it in the Pope’s own random equivocations.

                  • Phil Steinacker

                    Where have you been? The synod document story is one of subterfuge, sneaky preparation of pre-determined position statements, and the high-jacking by Cardinal Baldiserri of 200 copies of the 5 Cardinals book dismantling the Kasper and Forte arguments, which was mailed to all the synod members.

                    Worst of all, there is the post-synod reinsertion BY FRANCIS of the offending issues after having been voted down by the bishops at the synod. By pre-established rules, those votes were to determine what is on the agenda at the next synod. What more proof do you need that we cannot look to the synod docs for truth?

                  • Elizabeth

                    It’s NOT THE FRIGGING MEDIA. Goodness gracious.

                    • GG

                      They have to take that tack. It is how they reconcile what is vague and impenetrable.

                  • sweetmusic

                    No, the confusion is not in the media. It’s in the Vatican. And it may not even be “confusion”. It may be deliberate and malicious.

              • sweetmusic

                If Francis was interested in free discussion he would not have muzzled the synod fathers and then rigged a press conference midterm to which only liberals headed by Kasper were invited to answer queries by the media. He would not have appointed a committee of progressive clergy to compose a midterm relatio that shocked Catholics around the world but to which he gave prior approval. The idea he wants open discussion is simply a lie put out by the Vatican. He suppressed opposition to Kasper. Even the book written expressly to oppose Kasper and to support the traditional view on the indissolubility of marriage was intercepted by the cardinal controlling the synod process–so that the prelates never received their mailed copies. This is not open discussion, it is thuggery.

              • What makes you think he was so unaware?

              • Phil Steinacker

                This is not study – this is a free-for-all; a real mess, which this pope wrongly believes appropriate.

              • sweetmusic

                No, he hasn’t done what you say–that the issue should be studied and discussed. What he did was try to rig the synodal process. He read and approved the notorious midterm relatio that pretended to be a summary of the synod fathers’ actual discussions but which had been pre-written before the synod even opened. Francis had appointed Baldaserri who muzzled the bishops so that their opening speeches would not be published–something that had never been forbidden in previous synods–and then secretly arranged a midterm media extravaganza to which only Kasper and other progressives were invited; they alone got to answer media questions about the issues raised in the relatio. The whole manipulated mess caused Cardinal Pell at one point to protest by banging his fist on the table–and caused conservatives to finally rebel by holding a press conference of their own to reveal the behind-the-scenes manipulations. Later it came out that Baldaserri even intercepted copies of a book on marriage that opposed Kasper’s thesis. Copies had been sent to synod fathers but had been seized from the mails and destroyed. So much for the free and open discussions promised by Francis.

          • That fist marriage would likely be found to be null if the parties would bother paying between $0 and $400 to find out. How hard would it be in order to return to the Eucharistic table? Isn’t one seeking pearls of quality sell everything to get an exquisite one?

          • Glenn M. Ricketts

            Isn’t that a somewhat different audience than a synod of the world’s bishops?

          • Phil Steinacker

            Benedict called for it to be studied further, yes, but he DID NOT suggest doing so at the synodal level, which is semi-public. Papal instruction to study an issue is carried out privately, so the issue can be studied in depth and dispassionately. Liberals always want to bring in laity to share their angst over how haaaard it is to be a Catholic.

            That’s what happened at the commission to study contraception. The initial vote was overwhelmingly in support of preserving Church law, but then several lay couples included on the commission gave impassioned testimony on the difficulties they face and the vote flip-flopped because the clergy members fell for it.

            No, study means authentic study – not an occasion for publicly thrashing about over the emotional preferences of people affected by it.

            Great quote but terribly wrong application.

      • The only clericalism that I’ve seen in Latin America was to push down our throats Liebration Theology, still a cancer that forms many priests poorly and tempts the faithful into apostasy.

        • Oh, its not limited to Latin America. Unnamed variations exist in places like Stockton, California and Chicago, Illinois.

        • pbecke

          I love that line in the breviary, don’t you Augustine:

          ‘O Lord, end the rebellion in our hearts and make us willing to share.

      • BXVI

        Kasper also believes that many of Jesus’ miracles were made up by the evangelists after the fact and did not actually happen. Walking on water? Made up. Feeding the 5,000? Made up. Calming the storm? Made up. Look it up if you don’t believe it; its in black and white. Kasper is a modernist of the worst kind. I find it hard to believe anyone takes this man seriously as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He had been properly relegated to serve out his days in shadow before Pope Francis plucked him from obscurity to make him the front man for the synod. It tells us one of two things: either Pope Francis buys Kasper’s theology or he is a man of incredibly poor judgment. Neither one is good.

        • Jacqueleen

          I read that Kasper and Bergoglio were best of friends in Argentina…for years. In my humble opinion, Pope Francis is allowing Kasper to do his dirty work….and manipulating the composition of the Synod to be sure of the outcome. God help us..Lord have mercy on us poor sinners.

          • Marcelus

            Best friends in Argentina? I don’t think Kasper was ever here..

            • Jacqueleen

              You surprise me. The boys club know each other very well. Also, where do you think Germans go for vacations?

        • Marcelus

          All this he said in a 1976 book .And still some pope made him cardinal…

          • GG

            Politics in every papacy for sure. But, he was kept in line until now.

            • Marcelus

              Ohhh so that was it!!Politics then it was called of what kind?? Maybe Benedict and St SP2 knew better why they made these people Kasper Dolan Marxs and could go on allll day, cardinals, But as you say, Kasper’s “Jesus thee Christ” where alll of this comes from was printed in 1976!!!, knowing this he was made cardinal? give me a break..

              Thank you for clarifiying.

              Worst kid of bllind man is the one who refuses to see they say.

        • pbecke

          Is that really the case? How sad. He sounds like an Anglican, .or a sixties/seventies seminary lecturer.

      • pbecke

        Interesting about Kasper. Thank you.

    • John O’Neill

      I agree completely with your sentiments and reactions to Francis. He is a figure who sows more confusion than understanding. It is very difficult to get meaning from his many diverse opinions and yes he seems to be more interested in castigating practicing Catholics and people who are struggling to maintain the basic Faith and morals of the traditional church in a world which despises these very ideas. I was introduced to his media rock star status by a priest who was giving a sermon after Francis was elected and going overboard on how wonderful he was. This priest who is a friend of mine opined that Francis was on the cover of Time magazine as if that were the final basis of theological probity and waxed enthusiastic over the fact that he wears plain beat up shoes rather than the papal red shoes which symbolize the blood of martyrs. His reasoning was so shallow that I was embarrassed for him but struck by the fact that these opinions are shared by the majority of Americanized priests. I find my Faith renewed by the treasure of writings that Benedict XVI has left us; his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth is superb especially this time of year. His short sermons on the Fathers of the Church is most edifying and dozens of his works will provide manna for those of us now lost in the desert of a media rock star pope.

    • James A. Sullivan

      The style is the substance, said Pirandello. The office of the papacy is not a theological post, despite Monsignor Feichtinger’s attempt to allow all sorts of private, personal room for papal conjecture. The pope leads the Church militant or People of God, this is what he was elected to do. In theological terms, he may have been a personalist; his morals may have slanted toward consequentialism; his liturgical stance may have been low Church with a soupcon of anti-rubricist thought; all of which may have defined Jorge Bergoglio. It doesn’t matter. As pope he needs a Talmudic zest for the Church’s teachings. He is no longer a private doctor, even in a plane. In fact, in a plane he needs to be more pope than in a Ford Focus since he’s closer to Christ at 30k feet.

    • Alexandra

      I feel the same, thanks for sharing it. On the other hand I make a point of following this pope because I want to know him better. I read his homilies and messages, etc. But I feel as you do: I pray for him because he is the pontif, but I find him uninteresting, shallow and unfit to teach as a pope.I also loved St JPII and love the Holy Father Benedict XVI. I cannot stand when he bashes faithful Catholics who try at no little sacrifice to abide by the teachings of Christ, and in the name of misguided mercy may cause great damage to the Church.

    • Marcelus

      No offense but: who are these people you mention?:

      Why alienate people who are the backbone of the Church because of certain hobby-horses of your own?

      • Nel

        They are the people I know. For example, they are humble, hard-working and totally orthodox Franciscan priests here in Poland who at first were overjoyed to hear that a pope had chosen the name of their founder. Then the ones who had spent time as missionaries in South America began to cool… They would not say anything ‘negative’ about him: they are too discreet and too obedient to the Church. But there were some comments about what we might call in English a ‘rah-rah priest’ if such an expression existed: one who is very charismatic with audiences but has little substance or reliability. I help some of these priests weekly with homilies in English, and have been doing so for 8 years now. And it is very interesting to me to note that while John Paul II (naturally – this is Poland) and Benedict XVI came up often in their homilies, I’m hard-pressed to remember more than one reference to Pope Francis in a homily. These are priests who read a LOT and who often cull inspiration from a great many writers, but they don’t seem to be looking to Francis for substance in their homilies. It’s a curious omission.

        The other people I’m talking about are a wide variety of people who I would describe as the backbone of the Church: homeschooling mothers of multiple children who are carefully inculcating the faith into their children’s hearts and minds; a doctor who volunteers her time helping the poor with medical care in the parish church and training NFP teachers; young couples who are as much in love with Church teaching on marriage and family as they are with each other; middle-aged people who have gone through many difficulties and trials, borne many crosses with ever-deepening faith and love for Christ and the Church; church musicians who ‘pray’ every Mass they play, and who feel that their role is to make the Mass sound as heavenly as it is, without drawing attention to themselves; dozens of people who volunteer in the Church in a variety of capacities – including relieving the poor; hard-working husbands and fathers who show their children a daily example of what it means to be faithful son of the Church; couples who have opened their homes to adoptive children; elderly daily communicants (who read and care to learn about their faith); catechists (such as myself), who find riches in the writings of Popes John Paul and Benedict but who find something flabby and nothing really ‘meaty’ to hold onto in Francis’s writings (when I do google some issue + Francis, it just doesn’t seem to have anything to SAY that inspires or that I can use or build on).

        I’m deeply involved in the life of the Church. I consider the Church to be my true home and family on earth. I’m a daily communicant and – as I said – sometime catechist. I work closely with priests on the Mass and on other projects. I’m surrounded by people who love and practice their faith. And while I hear them talk with great enthusiasm and joy about something they read in Benedict’s writings; or while I see the love in their shining eyes and hear the stories of how their lives were changed by Pope John Paul – I don’t hear or see any enthusiasm for Francis. I’ve yet to hear any of these people saying, ‘I love Pope Francis!’ or ‘I really feel like Francis loves and cares for me the way I felt with Benedict or John Paul.’ And I’ve certainly never heard any of these people say – as they did with the previous two popes – ‘Francis makes me feel proud and happy to be a Catholic.’

        I’m looking around my very faith-oriented ‘circle’ and it’s like Francis is just a non-entity, while Benedict and John Paul were clearly much loved and greatly revered, read, quoted and blessed.

        Those are the people who are the ‘backbone’ of the Church in my corner of the world.

        The others who seem to be alienated are many of the people I follow online who do great work – often at great cost to themselves, certainly with sacrifice – to put their talents at the service of the Church as musicians, for example, or as lay catechists or apologists, as teachers and promoters of natural family planning, as pro-life advocates. Either they are not mentioning Francis at all – because, I guess, he seems to have nothing to say to them – or they feel marginalized and forgotten – ignored – by Francis. He’s all about something else.

        Maybe it’s ‘elder son syndrome’: that these people have worked very hard for the Church and now feel like Francis is all about the wayward sons, ignoring the faithful ones who do their utmost to spread the Kingdom of God according to their abilities. But if they feel like he either devalues them, ignores them or simply shoves them aside, something is missing in his pastoral care of the whole Church. Parents who focus all their energy on the one delinquent while ignoring the several children who are well-behaved and a credit to them, hurt the other children. And the Holy Father is meant to be a Father to all Catholics, not just to a few who somehow have something to do with how things were in Argentina or whatever it is he is hung up about.

        • Marcelus

          “And it is very interesting to me to note that while John Paul II (naturally – this is Poland) and Benedict XVI came up often in their homilies, I’m hard-pressed to remember more than one reference to Pope Francis in a homily.”

          “I see the love in their shining eyes and hear the stories of how their lives were changed by Pope John Paul – I don’t hear or see any enthusiasm for Francis. I’ve yet to hear any of these people saying, ‘I love Pope Francis!’ or ‘I really feel like Francis loves and cares for me the way I felt with Benedict or John Paul.’ And I’ve certainly never heard any of these people say – as they did with the previous two popes – ‘Francis makes me feel proud and happy to be a Catholic.'”

          “ignoring the faithful ones who do their utmost to spread the Kingdom of God according to their abilities. But if they feel like he either devalues them, ignores them or simply shoves them aside, something is missing in his pastoral care of the whole Church.”

          I agree.with you the Church is divided and I could say the same thing from over here in SouthAmerica with regards to former Popes.

          As you know,50% of the world’s catholics reside here and love and respect PF madly.

          Just yesterday I was reading Clarin, a mayor Argentina NP talking about Willliamson (ex SSPX) who is well known here, as one of the biggest mistakes in Benedicts papacy (lifting the excom. on him) and went on to talk about about how vatileaks overrun him. Right ? wrong ? depending on where you stand.

          I do not know, but I do see the small % of traditionalist who directly hate him, more or less, but at least,like here they are clear in their position. Schism will follow sometime I suppose.

          You state:”ignoring the faithful ones who do their utmost to spread the Kingdom of God according to their abilities. ”

          In all honestly, what makes yoou think trads, I assume you are referring to this sector are the only ones who are faithfull and not the rest of the world? This is a usual line here and around traditionlist sectors, only contributing to isolating themselves.I believe it may be only elitist and omnipotent,even if to some extend it may be true, to think “we are the real faithful”.

          Then there is like a 70 % of common catholics in the world who wil certainly will not agree with this wiew of PF nor with Kasper’s and the rest.

          And then you have the libs who feast on disagreement like this.

          As for quoting PF, I don’t know,, I can only saywho may have to go around and see,. I can tell you priests in many places do, here in Latam and around the world. and also St. JP2 and BXVI.

          Honestly I can only say traditionalists will find peace when PF dies , resigns or go into schism. PF will be around a few more years and after him, there may be another quite similar, I do not see another BXVi being elected after this hurricane. Doubt he will find support from continents outside NAmerica and Europe. That is why I see schism near.

          But I agree, I would not expect anyone from the traditionalists to pay atttention to PF or much less quote him as the rest of the world does find at least some of his words inspiring. Still , is a part of the Church,a small but important part.

          • Nel

            You brought up ‘traditionalists’ – I didn’t. I’m not even sure I know who to label a ‘traditionalist’ and who not. I don’t follow that whole… thing, movement, whatever it is. I can certainly see that if they want to restore the Latin Mass (is that a ‘traditionalist’?) and if they are hypersensitive to anyone who doesn’t seem sympathetic to that, then they would be disappointed in Pope Francis, but any group that focuses on one narrow ‘slice’ of the Catholic pie is going to be disappointed.

            In Poland, there is not ‘traditionalist’ or ‘Latin-Mass’ movement that I’m aware of. We have the novus ordo, in Polish, and nobody – including priests – messes with it. I am in the third-largest city in the country, and I know of one Latin Mass on Sunday somewhere in the city. It’s not an issue where I live.

            But a deep and unwavering love of the Church and loyalty to the Holy Father has characterized Poland for as long as I’ve lived here (since 1992). Naturally, Poles loved their ‘native son.’ But there wasn’t even a blip when Benedict became Pope: he was welcomed with as much enthusiasm and love almost as John Paul II. Francis, however, doesn’t seem to be inspiring any great love or enthusiasm here. I’m quite involved in the Church (the Catholic Church, not some splinter group), and I’m just not finding a lot of popular enthusiasm for Francis as there was with his two predecessors.

            • Marcelus

              Again.you”sound” traditionalist and that is a good thing- at least what you state goes hand in hand here. Reinstate the TLM wrongly called? it already has been (SP by BXVI) At least the right to celebrate it. SAme over here in LatinAmerica: these movements oor divisions,ttrads and libs and all, if you will do not exists. Nor do these battles fought iin the first world; Exactly like Africa. St.JP2 was an exception, but the same happened here un fortunately with Benedict who went by, sorry it is sounds bad “unnoticed” to the average catholic or the mayority-

        • GG

          Another excellent and intelligent post. Thank you!

    • jacobum

      What’s missing is “There is no “Peter is this Pope”

    • pbecke

      ‘ there are a lot of other people in the Church besides the materially poor, ambitious clergy and pew-warmers.’

      You imply that you are not ‘pew-warmers’, yet you are all so needy, and declamatory about your neediness, demanding the kind of affirmation from the pope that a young child needs and demands. Yet you are adult Catholics, who should pursue the course of your interior life, as best you can, on your own, or, if you must, with a ‘personalized’ confessor.

      Yet, you appear to clam to be mature and adult in your devotion. Otherwise, I cannot grasp what it is you are claiming about yourselves. Relatively to the poor to whom Francis adverts, you cannot be poor in material possessions, besieged by a criminally selfish, affluent world of Haves.

      If you understood this article, you would realise that your ceaseless role as a Catholic, nay, as a Christian (although the Catholic church understands the interior life better than any other) is to develop, to deepen you own interior life. You do NOT need affirmation, or SHOULD not need affirmation from the Pope’s homilies or obiter dicta of any kind. The poor and afflicted DO.

      The interior life is very, very solitary, and in that sense requires a thoroughly adult relationship between ourselves as individuals and God. Moreover, you should expect your interior life (growth in holiness, as Dom Augstine Baker pointed out, requires a grorwth in introversion) to become more and more painful, while your spirit becomes more and more continually peace-filled and joyful.

      You disparagement of Francis’ homilies, gentle though it is, does not speak well of your spiritual understanding. Francis ‘ predecessor, holy though he was, had very significant lacunae of dereliction, most notably concerning ‘getting a grip’ of the child abuse (one child is worth more in God’s eyes than the institutional Church, which he can remake ‘from the stones’); and the satanic political regimes in South America, such as Pinochet’s (which were more satanic than either Hitler’s or Stalin’s)

      Ever notice how the less than rambunctious attitude towards Hitler and Mussolini of Pius XII has continued since WWII towards the fascist regimes so oppressing the poor elsewhere in the world, such as Spain, Portugal, South America?

      How much more difficult a time of it would Pinochet’s murderers and torturers have had, if John-Paul had fiercely denounced them, instead of fixating on Communism, alone. No wonder Communism has managed to take hold in such places.

      Personally, I don’t find Francis’ extravagant ‘bonhomie’ attractive. I prefer understatement. Not to see men wearing their heart on their sleeve. Yet he was the ‘bouncer’ and I am a nerd! Who’s the more manly? Yet I’m thrlled that so many people who DO NEED AFFIRMATION are finally getting some from the very source they always should always have.

      • Nel

        I’m not asking for affirmation, and please don’t psychoanalyze me, a stranger. You’re not my confessor. I’m saying that as a thinking person and a well-educated Catholic (a catechist, even, when the need arises), who has been studying her faith deeply for more than 20 years and who had a bishop as a confessor for 14 years: I find Francis unappealing, confusing, and lacking in substance.

        It DOES bother me that he seems to have certain hobby-horses that he rides that tend to alienate people who are sincere, faithful Catholics. I am deeply involved in the life of the Church, as a daily communicant, catechist, and what you’d call in the US, probably, a ‘liturgical minister’ or some such pompous-sounding title (I have no title: I simply work closely with English-speaking priests on the Mass and on pastoral outreach to English-speakers in Poland). I do not find any priests among my acquaintance who are enthusiastic about Pope Francis. They don’t reference him in homilies; they seem at best to be taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude toward him (after 2 years, still ‘waiting to see the fruits’?). I don’t see the love and admiration, the inspiration that was in people’s eyes and conversation and bearing toward Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.

        My ‘day job’ takes up less of my time than my involvement in the Church, so I am certainly in contact with a wide circle of faithful and devoted Catholics donating their time and energies to the Church in a variety of ways, whether as lay people or as parish priests or in the formation of novices in religious life or indeed, as bishop. The response to Francis is decidedly muted and unenthusiastic.

        It is quite strange when people who deeply love the Church and devote much of their time and even their lives to the service of Christ in the Church have no interest or enthusiasm for this Pope, while people who hate the Church think he’s great and cool.

        That’s not ‘asking for affirmation.’ That’s the sheep wondering where the shepherd has got to, and whether he’s ever going to return.

        • pbecke

          He’s left the sheep – they’re supposed to be well-trained in spiritual self-help – to look for the scattered, often hapless lambs. A natural instinct to prioritize the care of the vulnerable, lost and downtrodden over the self-confident and ‘organized’.

    • Marcelus

      “I’m going to keep on doing the same thing. And I will talk like I talk, like a parish priest — how I like to talk; I don’t know. I have always talked this way. Always. That way, is it a defect? I don’t know. But I believe the people understand me.” PF

      • GG

        Apparently Kasper understands. That says it all.

        • Marcelus

          EVer looked bellow the ecuador line? There maybe catholiscs too . WHo knows…..

          • GG

            So confuse half and please half? And those who are pleased are happy to be affirmed in their sin?

            • Marcelus

              Assuming everyone else is sinful. Ahhhh..

              But, since you put it that way… What halves are you talking about.. More like 90 /10 it seems..

        • Marcelus

          as I said, maybe Kasper and 1.199 billion too.

    • Matthew

      I think that he is “understood so little” because he speaks the language of someone who is not “of this world.” I think he’s a wonderful Pope. The most influential anti-abortionist in the world was declared Time magazine’s person of the year. JPII and Benedict XVI were brilliant in teaching the Faith to fractured Church. I see Francis as spreading the Gospel to the people in the world who very much need to hear it.

    • Tito of Tacloban

      The homily that you watched was given in our part of the Philippines, in Tacloban, a city that is just recovering from the devastation of a super typhoon that left thousands of people dead and indescribable suffering and destruction in its wake. Most of the people listening to our Holy Father in that airport tarmac were victims of that apocalyptic event and it was to them that Pope Francis was speaking heart to heart. He had laid aside his prepared homily and spoke extemporaneously in his native Spanish the better to convey his thoughts to people still trying to make sense of what happened to them. A number of my close relatives, including my daughter and a number of her cousins and friends were there and they told me that they cried and wept along with the thousands of people around them at hearing the words off the Holy Father. I watched the whole thing on tv and noticed that reaction myself. Every time I read comments like yours regarding pope Francis, I am always reminded of the prayer of our Lord recorded in Mt 11:25 thanking His Father for hiding certain things from the wise and prudent and revealing them to little ones.

  • russell snow

    Very well said.

  • Keith Cameron

    I miss John Paul II.

    • fredx2

      Everybody misses John Paul II

      • He’s a Saint – he’s still with us!

      • Elizabeth

        Well, no. Not everybody by a long shot.

  • As a spiritual director, with me he is a faulure. I have never experienced this level of doubt about the Church. Not even when I was young and tempted away from her teachings and even away from weekly Mass attendence, I always knew there was wisdom in the Church

    I now have grave doubts that the Church as I knew her, growing up in the wake of Vatican II, can survive to see another Christmas. Year of Mercy and God of Surprises yields year of atheism and men of sin that deny they are sinning to me.

    I am tired of having to apologize for being a straight white male in a society and a Church that only seems to honor gay and lesbians.

    • fredx2

      We are just not used to a Latin American Pope, where exaggeration is a normal thing. He exaggerates to make a point. We have to be humble, accept that we may not be living up to a high standard that he calls us to. We need to calm down a little, remember the media distorts virtually everything the guy says in order to serve their own agenda, and remember that he is not talking about changing a single doctrine. He is advocating a shift in emphasis, that is all.

      I find it tremendously helpful to ignore the media and read his speeches myself. I find he usually makes a really profound point, entirely divorced from what the media said.

      The sad part is that he excited the entire church at first, talking about how we all should be evangelizing more. Then, he allowed himself to be used by the media to push forward their causes (gays, divorced and remarried, etc) I think he is slowly learning how to be Pope, which I think he was a little unprepared for. At any rate, I have always find that Pope’s don’t really become the Pope until after the first two years.
      His recent trip to the Philippines, where he stood by Catholic Doctrine resolutely, shocked the liberals to no end. They are slowly getting disenchanted with him. Give him another year, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

      • GG

        I knew the media nonsense would show up. It is not the media that is the problem. The media has not changed and is not going to change. To think serious Catholics take their cue from the media is insulting and silly. Do you think Cardinal Burke is influenced by the media?

        There are so many elements revealing confusion that to claim it is the media is to deny the obvious.

        • fredx2

          It shows up because once you read what Pope Francis really says, and compare it to what the media says, you find serious differences.
          No, I don’t think Cardinal Burke takes his cues from the media. But once again, when you read what Cardinal Burke actually says, rather than rely on what the media says, it is usually very inoffensive and well thought out. He has never “attacked” the Pope in the slightest, rather he has only said some very common sense things.

          • GG

            No one here is saying Burke attacked the Pope, but we have to be honest and mature and not play Pollyanna.

            You are the one drawing this comparison between the media and the Pope’s words. That is not the issue. It would only be the issue if some person was relying on the secular press which they are not.

            • fredx2

              I suppose you will have to point me then, to some words of Pope Francis that are objectionable, when taken in context.

              • GG

                He has said several things many, many find troubling. Start with the who am I to judge remark. Now, the first thing you do is to read it in context. Even in context you need to break it down so the average Joe can get it. But the phrase he used is very common and consistent with moral relativism. Why on earth use that particular phrase in that particular way?

                Do you think that was helpful?

                Can you blame the media in that instance? This was on a plane not a doctoral dissertation at some University.

                • Marcelus

                  Why on earth kiss a qran?? why on earth apologize to the muslim?.. and on and on-.

                  • GG

                    How is that related? And who is defending it?

              • Elizabeth
            • Marcelus

              Oh he did,.

              whatch the French video and think it over. Listen to it rather.

              • GG

                It was no attack. He pointed out the obvious.

                • Marcelus

                  “If the pope continues to push this agenda what will you do?”

                  That is exactly what the journalist asked.

                  Answer:” I shall resist. There is nothing else I can do”

                  What’s hypothetical? Or where is the hypothesis there?

                  Clearly he states or accepts the pope is being the agenda by answering that question.

                  Had he not wanted to say that. A proper answer would have been: “I do not think the Pope is behind any agenda (even if he thinks otherwise which he does), but if that happened, I would resist,..”

                  I know you stand by the good cardinal but he is also requiring clarification and the now famous “I did not mean that…”

                  Clarification Just like Francis.

                  • GG

                    What is to clarify? He was asked a question and gave a proper response. You want him to add more details that were not in question.

                    • Marcelus

                      Well on clarification:

                      There has not been a single Burke interview where he did not come out at a later period, stating: “well , that is not what I said” or “I did not attack thhe Pope” or the now infamous ” The media wants to portray me as opposed to the Pope”

                      The media….

                      On the question itself:

                      “What is to clarify? He was asked a question and gave a proper response”

                      Open your mind for a second: He then accepts the Pope is behind the agenda??

                      For he clearly answers based on that assumption.

                      Nothing hypotetical

                      You or me can think or say the Pope is behind the divorced or gay agenda as people uphold here,

                      But not a Cardinal and openly. Even if he despises his boss or thinks he is scheming for it.

                      And then said: Ohh it was all pretend. Hypothetical.

                    • GG

                      You want the Cardinal to affirm your agenda. The Cardinal is a man of faith. He does not speak in vague terms and in an undefined manner.

                      Perhaps in South America you play games and speak in riddles, but in the rest of the world we speak clearly.

                    • Marcelus

                      No, I’d like him to speak clearly. Not “hypothetical” I guess you are not getting my point , maybe it’s me.

                      I don”t have an agenda.

                      But hey.it all goes to show how divided the Church is and not between libs and trads.

                    • GG

                      Everything is bashing to those who are unprincipled.

          • sweetmusic

            Do you really think any cardinal is going to go all-out and blast a pope? That’s not how prelates operate. If you took notice, right after the dust-up between Francis and Burke, Benedict publicly praised Burke as a great prelate. That was sending a message to Francis: don’t push harder than you should.

        • RACHEL VALENCIA

          EXACTLY, I’ m with GG, there is only so much you can blame the MEDIA for, the rest are FACTS!!

      • I’m not so worried about him, or even how he is put forth in the media, as the Cardinals he is enabling. Cardinals Kasper and Marx talk like they’d like the Baron Bomburst from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and rule over a “Vulgaria”/Bavaria with no children. If those two had their way, the entire concept of lifelong vocation would be removed from the church- along with the two sacraments that go with it.

        • fredx2

          Go read Cardinal Kasper’s piece in Commonweal today. Aside from a misleading headline from the editors there, the piece, I think, is Cardinal Kasper’s first attempt to back away from his own proposal, since Pope Francis has repeatedly refused to endorse it. I think Pope Francis understand that Kasper sometimes has valid points to make – that does not mean Kasper’s view will triumph, but that taking his points into consideration will result in a more robust and healthy conclusion in the end. I think that is why he includes them. Marx worries me more than Kasper, who after all was included by JP II and Benedict on various commissions, etc.

          • I see anything Commonweal publishes as propaganda for the Libertines. I don’t see Kasper backing away from the proposal in that article- instead he redoubles his efforts and practically claims that the end decision WILL support divorce and remarriage- thus ending the concept of a lifelong vocation as we know it. With that will come the end of both marriage and holy orders, for they will no longer be permanent, but only temporary. Which is exactly what the sexual libertine eugenicists want.

            • fredx2

              In the article, he says that “he barely spoke about the divorced and remarried , and he only said it should be studied. I take that to mean that he is slowly backing away. Time will tell.

              • In the article Cardinal Kasper also said “With these and many other statements in the pope’s daily homilies, it appears that the pope has laid the groundwork for allowing Christians in irregular situations, such as divorced and remarried individuals, after examination of their respective situations, to the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist.”

                And

                ” The question that awaits an answer, however, is: What does truth mean in the sense of the biblical truth of divine faithfulness (emet, in Hebrew) in a concrete situation. As many recent exegetical investigations show, this issue cannot be resolved merely by quoting the words of Jesus (Mark 10:2–12 and parallels), which were transmitted differently already in the New Testament.”

                The humble middle between those two exceedingly strong points (that the Pope has “laid the groundwork” for the change and that we should ignore the words of Jesus) is just rhetoric and propaganda.

                • fredx2

                  True, I expect Kasper to remain Kasper. I think he is dreaming again on the irregular situations stuff. All he is saying is that Kasper INTERPRETS Pope Francis’s homilies to mean that “irregular situations” should take communion. But that is a silly interpretation, sort of the dreamy NCR interpretation of everything.

                  He can’t say that Pope Francis says this stuff, only that he interprets Francis’ homilies that way.

                  What I found intriguing was his attempt to say that he was not pushing the Kasper proposal, he was just saying that it should be studied. I find that bit of dissembling interesting.

                  • Normal politics- especially when bracketed by the points of ignoring the direct words of Jesus, and referring to Evangelii Gaudium in support of his point.

          • “Kasper sometimes has valid points to make ”

            Name one.

            • fredx2

              1) Simply that some people feel that being divorced and remarried is the same as being excommunicated, since they cannot receive the most important sacrament. Some feel this goes overboard in punishing sin. Why treat divorce and remarriage as worthy of exclusion from the sacraments, but not other serious sins?

              2) That in today’s world, too many people take marriage too lightly, and they get married too easily, and may have never entered into a serious sacramental marriage, in which case an anulment may be possible. It depends heavily on the particular facts.

              As I said in my post, this does not mean these are points that win the day, but consideration of these arguments will lead to a better and stronger final conclusion. You always want your final position to be able to stand up to all criticism, and unless you take that criticism into consideration, your final position may be weaker than it needs to be.

              • GG

                This is not a debating club. Church teaching is well understood. It is Kasper and his allies who are sewing confusion. People in perpetual adultery cannot receive communion because they persist in sin. Full stop. Other sinners repent and try to stop doing it. The difference is large and obvious.

                The decree of nullity is another seeming farce and Burke has addressed it to a degree. We already have too many decrees as both JPII and Benedict has said. This idea of some big problem is not one in the USA. Too many get one now. There are not too many obstacles, but too few.

                • fredx2

                  Yes, it is Kasper and his allies that are sowing confusion. But to the extent that they represent millions of Catholics and Non Catholics that don’t understand why the church does what it does, they represent a real world problem in perception that the real church faces and should attempt to deal with. Face it – millions of Catholics are getting an instruction during this process about what their church believes, why it believes it and why the rules that are in place are necessary. That largely uncatechised Catholics who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s are receiving their first real education on this matter, by way of this debate.

                  • GG

                    No, sorry not buying that at all. Yes, people are not formed in the faith. No surprise. The answer to that is not what we have now. What we have now is throwing gasoline on a fire. It allows people to mistakenly think “mercy” is to keep committing sin because all that matters is that you may be sorry without changing your behavior. Not the right message at all.

                    Kasper was kept in check for decades by the last two Popes. Now, he is given center stage. That gives hope to the heterodox. That is not evangelization.

                    The constant teachings, which are the will of our Lord, are seen as changeable and up for grabs depending on who is Pope.

                    • fredx2

                      Once again, your problem is with the perception that some have gotten through the media’s misstatement of what Pope Francis really says. And the dissenting Catholics, who have a real art to distorting what the Pope says for their own uses. Again, you are really objecting to the media confusion, not anything the Pope has done. The Pope, in his statements is clear that mercy is only there for those that accept their sin.
                      That his statements are used and abused by those who have agendas to push is undeniable.
                      The Pope has repeatedly confirmed that the constant teachings of the Lord will be upheld.

                    • GG

                      No, it is not the media. Pope allows Kasper to go out on tour spreading his heterodoxy. You cannot deny that or claim it is the media. And, so far I have only been talking about Kasper and the synod. I have not even brought up other troubling facts.

                      Also, if the masses get their info from the media, which you claim is the real culprit then the Pope should do things to clear that up.

                    • fredx2

                      So your problem is that a Cardinal of the Catholic church is allowed to propose changes to church practice. Sorry, I can’t help you there. If Cardinals want to go out and make fools of themselves, that is their business. It seems to me that the debate was ultimately healthy for the church. The Five Cardinals seem to have won the debate, and we all learned a lot.

                    • GG

                      That is not the only problem I see, but it is one out front. The “changing a practice” is disingenuous. It is much more than that and I think you know it.

                      It is not healthy at all. In fact, it is a sickness.

                    • If Cardinals want to go out and make fools of themselves, that is their business.
                      No, it’s the business of the Church. Perhaps he can be assign to a diocese in Africa.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Members of the president’s cabinet are not free to “go out and make fools of themselves;” they’ll be quickly out of a job if they do. Princes of the Church, with the solemn teaching responsibilities that their office confers, cannot be free to do so either. At the moment, it seems that they are, and I can’t for the life of see what’s good about that.

                    • GG

                      There is nothing good about. The Left wing know they have a free hand and are going full speed ahead.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      Yes, the shepherd seems to allow the sheep to run wherever they please.

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      GG is quite correct. St. john Paul II demonstrated how to do this when he shut down the Kasper proposal without discussion at the first Synod for the Family in 1980.

                      This pope allowed Kasper to present his proposals at a consistory in February, and openly encouraged him by expressing favorable comments regarding his keynote speech where he first floated them.

                      And there is NO WAY you can spin the fact that Pope Francis resurrected his proposals – and the one by Archbishop Forte to normalize homosexuality in the Church – after having been voted out by the bishops.

                      You cannot spin your way out of this, fredx2. Catholic – and not secular – media reported that Cdl. Baldiserri reported this himself.

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      Fredx2, you are ignoring the mounting problems with what the Catholic media gets right about Poe Francis. You persist in blaming problems with the pope’s statements on poor or even dishonest reporting by secular outlets, but I for one do not read, much less rely upon, secular news outlets for anything Catholic. I can’t speak for others here, but I sense they’d say the same thing.

                      Our difficulties come from his words as reported by Catholic media, and the frequency of the need for the Vatican to “clarify” when oftimes that doesn’t help and sometimes makes it worse.

                      These problems are real, as described by many here. Nel especially speaks for me and so many others. You, OTOH, fail miserably at getting past your boilerplate excuse to hear what others are saying. Your repeated insistence that we are stupidly failing for secular news “reporting” has become insulting, to say the least.

                      It appears you unwisely have planted your flag on this particular hill, and now you seem ready to die defending it – also pretty unwise. Perhaps you should take counsel by the fact that you are the only one who maintains this position despite numerous credible refutations of your first position.

                      You are wrong, brother, and I sympathize with how tough it is to do the big public back-down.

                  • Kasper does “represent” millions of Catholics and Non Catholics that don’t understand why the church does what it does, he represents heresy.

                    Here’s a question for you- the Pope removed that German Bishop for his extravagance-I’ll accept that. Kasper however, represents a greater threat to the Church and keeps on truckin’…in fact he’s a “clever” theologian.

              • “Why treat divorce and remarriage as worthy of exclusion from the sacraments, but not other serious sins?”
                What are you talking about? The way you return to a state of grace is through Sacramental confession, and that includes a firm purpose of amendment.
                You might as well make the person conclude the confession with ” and with the help of the grace, to continue sinning”.

      • RACHEL VALENCIA

        His TANGO MASS in the VATICAN IS NOT an EXAGERRATION, he HAD IT !

        • fredx2

          He did not have a Tango mass in the Vatican. No matter how many caps you use. It was in Argentina, and from the looks of it, the Tango stuff occurred before the mass, not during it.

          • RACHEL VALENCIA

            It is still a SCANDALOUS DANCE for him to PROMOTE, regardless!

            • Marcelus

              Promote???
              Exactly on his birthday at St. Peter square, some people danced tango (Rachel you definately should try it) as a present? to Francis.That was that

            • Marcelus

              When Queen Maxima was married,they played a tango too. Quite moving. Take it you do not like these sort of music?

          • publiusnj

            A Tango Mass? Seems inappropriate in a Catholic Church. Didn’t Christ say: “Noli me tangere?”

          • John Albertson

            Sorry, there was indeed a Tango dance much to the Pope’s pleasure – on his birthday, in St.Petr’s Square. Your can Google many videos of it. Now that you can see clear proof and cannot deny it, I suppose you will pretend that the Pope did not know what was happening.
            http://www.nbcnews.com/…/latin-passion-mass-tango-vatican-pope...
            VATICAN CITY — Thousands of well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday” and danced a mass tango on Wednesday to celebrate the 78th birthday of the first Latin American pope.

            • Phil Steinacker

              There is a difference between a tango Mass and a mass tango. Which is it?

              Although, I agree the tango is a scandalous dance in any setting.

              • Marcelus

                None .is called a “birthday present” Some people do that. In the square

            • Matthew

              What’s so offensive about people doing the tango at the Vatican? How is this scandalous? They were all wearing winter clothes. I wonder if people danced at the wedding at Cana.

              • Marcelus

                Nothing but apparently Valencia above does not seem to be familiar with it or much less approve it

      • What typically a Latin American yearns for is friendship, more so in Brazil, less so in the Spanish speaking countries. It’s not uncommon for friends to back off when a truth upsets a friend, even compromising the truth for the sake of the friendship in the worst cases. As any good trait, empathy can also be abused and turn into evil. In particular among public persons, this praising of friendship and attuned empathy often becomes the seeking of praise, the striving to be liked.

        Bergoglio is the typical Latin American bishop, especially of large cities with influential media. How many bishops have I seen rise to a large city and become enamored of the camera as soon as he realizes that certain things generate criticisms and others, praises.

        After years of listening only what they agree and not be challenged in their worldliness, the when an orthodox bishop is risen to the chair of a large city proclaiming the Gospel in good times and bad times, he is met with more than criticism, but outright revolt.

        https://padrepauloricardo-staging.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/imagem/imagem/390/dom-odilo-scherer.jpg

        I offer this example of Card. Odilo of Sao Paulo, being booed and harassed in an act of reparation for blasphemies committed at the Pontifical Catholic University (it has always to be in a Catholic university). His predecessors allowed the university to become the cradle of dozens of Socialist and Marxist politicians and, now that the bishop, the great rector of the university, tires to bring it back to the Gospel, the students and faculty shout for a “lay PCU” and “out with the Church” (again, only at a Catholic university could this happen). To them, the university should perhaps be renamed Pontifical Marxist University.

      • Nel

        I hope so.

    • Matthew

      I’m sorry, but if you believe that the Church only seems to honor gay and lesbians, then you’re reading the wrong publications. Or maybe I am. I just don’t see the Church honoring gays and lesbians. I might feel that way if that’s what I was focused on.

  • JP

    Early on, I thought Pope Francis has the heart of a parish priest. As a matter of fact, I’d love to have him run our parish. He’s warm, a straight talker, and I’m sure he has the ability to get things done at the parish level, or even at the chancery level. If I had a spiritual problem, I’m sure Francis would set me straight. We need more priests with his personal skills.

    However, Pope Francis is not just a priest. And his style, which may have worked in a Jesuit house or a metropolitan chancery do not work as a Vicar of Christ. And we should be reminded that while the Early Church may have had a style of leadership that was “wide open” doctrinally, there existed disagreements that eventually came close to destroying the Church. Do we really wish to relive those decades? Do we dispense with 2000 years of hard work in order to justify the theological incoherence of the current Pope?

    If Catholics cannot depend upon the Pope to clearly defend and enunciate long held Catholic doctrine, then who can they depend on? Pope Francis, IMHO, has fallen into a trap of his own making. He enjoys the accolades of Heterodox Catholics, non-Catholics, and atheists alike. Proponents say this is just his style of casting a wide net. Yet, after 2 years I don’t see a stampede of converts (or reverts). Nor will we see any. The modern style of Catholicism has not worked well in Latin America. Outside of Pentecostalism, Islam is the only growing religion in Latin America. And speaking of Pentacostalism, in Houndarous, Catholics have fallen from 90% of the population in 1970, to 48% in 2010. Pope Francis may have been a great friend to the poor and disadvantaged in Argentina. But, his pastoral style didn’t lead to a revival. From what I can see, it did quite the opposite.

    Yes, I will continue to pray for him. But, it has become to difficult to understand his incoherence.

    • Jean-Francois

      JP, I think you hit on major point, the lack of conversions or reversions. Sure many people who are “on the fringes” like him but we aren’t seeing the conversions and this “pastoral” approach has failed miserably in South America. People like Francis because they feel that they can continue to live the way they have without guilt or feeling a need to convert. What happens when the next Pope comes along and speaks more forcefully about the need to uphold and accept the teachings of the Church? Most likely they will be right back where they were criticizing Church teaching and that new Pope.

      • fredx2

        But in fact, Pope Francis always speaks about the need to repent, to be contrite etc before the mercy process can begin. He never says “ignore doctrine”. I found this out by reading his speeches myself. i would never have known this had I just read the media. There, they make him sound like a bleeding heart liberal who just goes around confirming people in their sin. He is far from that.

        • He never *says* ignore doctrine, he just tells individuals that their sins are not sins.

          • fredx2

            No, he does not say that. Here is what he told the parish priests of Rome in 2014:

            Let us return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It often happens that we priests hear our faithful telling us they have encountered a very “strict” priest in the confessional, or very “generous”, i.e., a rigorist or a laxist. And this is not good.

            It is normal that there be differences in the style of confessors, but these differences cannot regard the essential, that is, sound moral doctrine and mercy.

            Neither the laxist nor the rigorist bears witness to Jesus Christ, for neither the one nor the other takes care of the person he encounters. The rigorist washes his hands of them: in fact, he nails the person to the law, understood in a cold and rigid way; and the laxist also washes his hands of them: he is only apparently merciful, but in reality he does not take seriously the problems of that conscience, by minimizing the sin.

            True mercy takes the person into one’s care, listens to him attentively, approaches the situation with respect and truth, and accompanies him on the journey of reconciliation. And this is demanding, yes, certainly. The truly merciful priest behaves like the Good Samaritan… but why does he do it? Because his heart is capable of having compassion, it is the heart of Christ!

            We are well aware that neither laxity nor rigorism foster holiness. Perhaps some rigorists seem holy, holy…. But think of Pelagius and then let’s talk… Neither laxity nor rigorism sanctify the priest, and they do not sanctify the faithful! However, mercy accompanies the journey of holiness, it accompanies it and makes it grow…..

            • What he tells the priests to do, and what he does himself especially in the company of Protestants, are two entirely different things. He is a fine practitioner of the Jesuit Charitable Interpretation, to a fault, even when it means interfering in the jurisdiction of subordinate priests and bishops.

            • Phil Steinacker

              You are cherry-picking, and doing so avoids what he often says which contradict his words above. He sows confusion in the minds of Catholics, as well as non-Catholics.

              And we’re talking about what is reported by Catholic media.

              Then the Catholic Left exploits his lack of discipline and focus in making offhand comments in ambiguous language. They put their own spin on his words according to their agendas, and run with it. The Vatican routinely doesn’t deny these interpretations, which adds to the confusion by passively giving cred to the Left’s take.

              • GG

                Very accurate. Fred, like many, insists that the media is the culprit. The media is what is and has always been. The denial of the obvious is simply absurd.

            • pbecke

              Wow! That nailed it.

          • Elizabeth

            Like the phone call he made to the divorced and remarried woman to find a priest who will give her Communion, since her local priest wouldn’t. Just off the top of my head.

        • He also speaks more about Satan than any other Pope that Jack can recall.

      • GG

        You have hit on a central point that concerns so many. If people think conversion is simply being polite, but not growing in holiness then why convert? If we can keep sinning and say all is well, what is the point?

        If we say no change in doctrine but we are in perpetual adultery and can receive communion how on earth does that not contradict the principle of non contradiction?

        We say there is truth, but ignore the truth and keep fulfilling our illicit desires.

    • fredx2

      This is the most valid criticism of the Pope. He keeps telling parish priests that they have to do more and more for people – to walk with them, to take time to understand them, etc. However, a lack of vocations means that priests typically don’t have time to do all the things that he wants. So he really should emphasize the fruits of orthodoxy, which are more vocations.

    • But, see, Francis liked the work in Honduras by Card. Maradiaga that he chose him his close advisor!

    • Nel

      Exactly what I’ve been thinking, as I read through these comments. A ‘who am I to judge’ attitude does NOT lead people to conversion, since conversion is a ‘turning away from sin.’ First you have to preach the TRUTH – in charity, but preach it – and then the person’s soul has to be touched. Now ‘the world’ has simply dismissed him as ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ and harmless and goes on its merry way – contracepting and sodomizing itself into hell, while no doubt feeling that they are OK because they buy fair-trade coffee which puts them ‘in’ with Pope Francis.

      Francis seems oddly out of touch with how people actually come to conversion. They convert to Christ when they realize they need a savior, not when they cheerfully come to the conclusion that ‘even the pope thinks my lifestyle is OK.’

      • GG

        I think the “Who am I to judge” remark was the turning point for most folks. Up until then they played the Fredx2 spin that the media was the problem. But, once people started to look deeper they saw confusion and impenetrable remarks. Then, you have essays like the one here that constantly try and reinvent new ways to look at what is going on.

        From the start I have wondered why more professional Catholics, the public writers and thinkers, have not spoken up more in a charitable way. Instead of spinning and spinning they ought to honestly say there is a serious problem of perception going on and it is not the media’s fault. We even have a US bishop claiming the synod was not contentious at all and everything is fine.

  • Vinny

    I’ll mention this opinion again. Pope Francis assumes that the lay faithful, and probably many priests, are much more inculcated in the faith than they really are. We need much better formation first and then we would be able to pick up from where Pope Francis is now.

  • publiusnj

    The author argues: “All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit.” WRONG.

    If this Pope walks away from Christ’s clear command that Remarriage after Divorce is Adultery by going along with Kasper’s proposal, then his exercise of his ministry will cause grave scandal. While he may bring back some Catholics who walked out on the Church because they didn’t like that “married for life” thing, he will likewise make anyone who stayed with her/his spouse out of regard for 2000 years of consistent teaching look like a fool. As importantly, he will make each of his predecessors, who have consistently taught that message, look like liars or at best “too rigid” to be pronouncing on something as important as his version of morality.

    He will also be trashing the Catechism’s clear teaching to the contrary (Section 1650 et seq.) and he will teach the whole Catholic World that there are NO RULES. Go to Church on Sunday? Why. there is a lot less specific biblical warrant for that commandment than there is for Remarriage being Adultery. Or maybe we are supposed to believe the Go to Church on Sunday commandment because Kasper and Francis haven’t trashed it? Maybe that will have to wait untilo his successor?

    • dave

      Sorry father. I am not convinced at all. He is throwback to the seventies. Kumbaya.

    • fredx2

      Don’t worry. He has never endorsed it, and he has specifically started talking about alternatives to the kasper proposal. Rest easy.

      • All the alternatives are in ignorance of the concept of sin, though. That’s the problem with the Jesuit Charitable Interpretation.

        • fredx2

          No, all the alternatives are not. Even Pope Benedict advocated for some of them, or at least said we should explore if there are any ways. Honestly Francis in many cases is doing what Pope Benedict advocated for.

          • It doesn’t matter who advocated for it. Doing so requires rejection of divorce as sinful.

            • fredx2

              Absolutely. And nothing he will propose will allow divorce to be considered allowable.

              • Any attempt to allow communion for the divorce and remarried, will eventually be interpreted not only as allowing divorce, but downright endorsing it. It will bring shame and ridicule on any couple attempting to live lifelong monogamy.

                • fredx2

                  I agree, To allow communion would, of necessity be a “We don’t really mean what we say” thing. There are other ways to allow them to receive “spiritual communion” as Pope Benedict put it, rather than actual communion.

                  • GG

                    Yes, and the spiritual communion is not the same as when saints speak of that. It is not a full communion at all.

          • GG

            Benedict corrected his youthful opinions.

            • fredx2

              What you are referring to was his position in 1972 where he thought that divorced and remarried could possibly receive communion. He corrected that. We are not discussing that, we are discussing alternatives to giving them communion. These were opinions that Pope Benedict had as Pope, and has not retracted them.

              • GG

                Benedict spoke clearly as head of the CDF. The internal forum is not a solution. We have an answer to the problem now. The problem is the answer is not wanted by too many people.

                • fredx2

                  He spoke clearly as head of the CDF in 1998. He spoke clearly as Pope in 2005, after the eucharistic synod. The question is whether there are things to do around the margins that could make things better for the divorced and remarried, things that will not violate any doctrines. Benedict advocated that they be fully integrated into the life of the church, (apart from communion) and any unnecessary unkindnesses be removed. Is it necessary to say that they cannot be godparents? I don’t know that it is.

                  • GG

                    That is not what is playing played up by the cardinals at all. The 5 who wrote the book are not worried about godparents. Burke did not publicly ask the Pope to clarify teaching on godparents.

                    You must know this is a type of political game used by the left within the Church to change teaching even while claiming no teaching wold change.

                    • fredx2

                      The five who wrote the book wrote the book before the synod, before any formal discussion took place, etc. They seem to have won the day. It was only after the synod that Pope Francis was interviewed several times, and each time, he refused to endorse the Kasper proposal, but instead started talking about other things that we could do to ease the situation, things that would not cause doctrinal problems. Again, this is the same tack that Pope Benedict did, with his approach that included spiritual communion rather than actual communion.
                      Had the Pope endorsed the Kasper proposal, yes that would have been a problem, a change in doctrine would have been achieved while denying it all the time.

                    • GG

                      They wrote in response to Kasper. Yes, before the synod but because of Kasper.

                      The pope could solve the problem in one minute. Kasper was given center stage. Benedict did not do that.

                    • fredx2

                      Kasper was not given center stage. He was allowed to speak on the topic of his book (Mercy) at the February consistory of cardinals, seven or eight months before the synod. His speech consisted of five parts, only one of which dealt with the divorced and remarried. At the synod, i am not even aware that Kasper was given the floor to speak. Perhaps he was, along with everyone else.
                      The Pope never endorsed his proposal. Once again, your perception that Kasper was the main attraction is driven by media reports that such was the case. in fact, when he was returning from Israel, the Pope spoke of his displeasure that the media had made the whole synod into a thing about divorced and remarried Catholics, when it was about the family.

                    • GG

                      Oh come on now. The media was used by folks like Kapser but the media is not the problem. That is like blaming Watergate on the Washington Post.

                      The Pope endorsed Kaper’s book early in his Pontificate. Kasper was allowed to take off as he did. You can characterize that any way you want, but the result is he spread heterodoxy.

                      The down playing of what happened at the synod is absurd.

      • publiusnj

        Fred,
        There has been so much duplicity on the Kasper Proposal that I shall rest uneasy until the end of this man’s Papacy or at least until he categforically rejects the Kasper Proposal in favor of existing teaching.

        There is no reason for “alternatives to the kasper proposal.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Exhortation Familiaris Consortio are pastorally sensitive already. This Pope needs to say that the Teaching of the Catholic Church is true and will be applied in a pastorally sensitive way as called for in the cited documents. PERIOD.

        • fredx2

          No, the alternatives are things like: letting divorced and remarried serve as godparents, for example. Things that would tell them they are still part of the church, things that can be changed with no doctrinal implications, etc. There may be no need to go overboard and give already hurting people that really would like to be part of the life of the church the idea we hate them when we really don’t. I think that is as far as Pope Francis’ inquiry goes: What can we do, consistent with doctrine, to remove barriers that keep people from returning to the church? Perhaps we have set up some things that don’t need to be set up. Entirely consistent with Familiaris consortio, etc.

          • publiusnj

            I suppose the godparent thing is not too much of a pandering cave. On the other hand, I object to the presumption in a term you use:”already hurting people.” Maybe some are but others are the ones who just walked out on their spouse and family to pursue their bliss and now want approbation for their sins (kinda like insurance for a guilty mind). Let us never forget that adultery is only part of the harm they often have done. They often broke up a family too.

            • fredx2

              True, but in the Christian sense, even the lousy spouse who has walked away from a family is “hurting”, in that they are deeply ensconced in sin and denial. There are a lot of people like that who will refuse to consider they have sinned, because the consequences of realizing what they have done is so tremendous – therefore they blame the church for its “harsh rules” not themselves. Pope Francis, I think, wants to reach that person as well and see if he can coax them back into the church, and make them realize that they have done wrong. And maybe heal it a little. Something I read yesterday by Francis said that those who are hurting are impervious to certain approaches. Like logic and facts. Only being granted mercy gets through to them, breaks the shell of denial. Only then can they let down their guard and admit they have sinned.

              The fact remains, our secularized, screwed up society has created a bunch of hurting people, and it even reinforces the idea that they have done nothing wrong.

              • publiusnj

                His callous aproach to us Catholics who have taken the Church’s teachings seriously up until now makes us equally “hurting.” Yet this Pope acts like some leftist who thinks anyone who believed what had been taught prior to his teaching was either a boob or at least too devoted to “formalism.” His primary duty is to the faithful and he needs to act like a Pope not like a theological bull session participant..

                • As Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

                  • publiusnj

                    As Christ, but not Happy Jack realizes, people who take the Church’s teachings seriously are NEITHER “righteous” nor NOT sinners. So this is just the silliness people come up with to avoid a serious issue.

                    • What a judgemental comment. Happy Jack knows full well we are all sinners.

                    • publiusnj

                      Then yours was an irrelevant comment.

                    • pbecke

                      No. Jesus was killing two birds with one stone; sarcastically addressing the potential ambiguity of sinfulness, while making the more normally-understood point.

                      He made no secret of the fact that he considered the self-satisfaction and judgmentalism of the formally righteous, made them worse sinners. Well quoted, Happy Jack.

                    • GG

                      Jesus said to do exactly as the Pharisees tell you to do. But, do not act as they do because they are hypocrites. The Pharisees did not believe as they taught. They were phonies. Like today’s liberals.

                    • pbecke

                      No. The Liberals are the exact opposite of the legalistic Pharisees of yesterday or today. For the Liberals, ‘anything goes’, and that’s what they like to teach. Cheap popularity, the line of least resistance to the canons of this World is their ‘ethic’. Relativism is the order of the day. But you are right: They are both phonies.

                    • GG

                      The liberals are the ones who claim to represent Jesus but they reject His law. That fits being a Pharisee.

                    • publiusnj

                      If you had a point to make you failed to do so. If you have a point to make about the Kasper Proposal, please connect it up to that in some less cryptic way. Otherwise, I don’t know what you or Happy Jack are trying to say.

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      No, not judgment but fraternal correction, lest you spread error.

                • fredx2

                  But the Pope has never said anything that said he dislikes Catholics who take the Church’s teachings seriously. HE takes church teaching seriously. What he objects to is a formalism that drains Christianity of its lifeblood, of its attractiveness.
                  The media and the liberals promptly jumped on his comments, saying that the Pope was referring to orthodox Catholics in the US, and that he was referrring to Pope Benedict, but he was not. True, this Pope can be confusing at times, but most of the problem comes from people being told he is talking about conservative or othodox Christians when he really is not.

                  • GG

                    Can you tell us where this formalism is exactly?

                    • fredx2

                      734 Main Street, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 44987.

                    • GG

                      I have no idea what that is, but does it warrant the Pope mentioning so often for the universal Church?

                    • GG

                      Again, how big a problem is this in the Church exactly?

                  • publiusnj

                    We have been over and over this. Over and out.

                  • pbecke

                    A babyish dependency on the Pope in their pursuit of a devout life is a very ancient and very sad heritage of many of the Haves in the Catholic church.

                    Having said that, Benedict’s visit to the UK was a brilliantly successful occasion for everyone. He just radiated peace and wisdom. Apparently, even the protestors were ‘small beer’, compared to what he was used to.

                    I don’t think anyone was more stunned by the enthusiastic reception he received than Benedict, judging from media reports of his return flight. And remember… he is on Francis’ side!!!

                    One man who appeared to be well ‘out of the loop’, when Benedict visited New York, was a taxi-driver, whose cab was caught in a long tailback. In quite an awed voice, he was reported to have said to his passenger: ‘Wow! This guy must have connections…!

                  • Phil Steinacker

                    He makes loosely conceived statements without focus and discipline which are often loaded with ambiguities. And, yes, he often appears to slap at faithful Catholics by suggesting they are filled with pride.

                    First, that is stereotyping of a sort used by the Left to criticize faithful Christians, so Francis gives aid and comfort to those seeking to marginalize those in the trenches most directly combatting the advances of an agenda of evil. Second, a true spiritual father or shepherd attends to ALL his sheep – not giving solace alone to certain ones.

                    Brother, you surely have drunk the ultramontane Kool-Aid.

              • Phil Steinacker

                Take it from me as a long time sinner estranged from the Church; engaging in weak PR moves billed as token concessions for the sake of faux mercy will only bring people back under false pretenses because it voids any requirement to change.

                Such failure amounts to a huge back-down by the Church and subsequently, a de facto endorsement of sinful living. People crave approval without change, and faux mercy allows them to think they’ve received it.

                The sad truth is that the road before all of us is narrow and winding, it is fraught with obstacles and they are ALL hard. In fact, this road is IMPOSSIBLE to navigate WITHOUT surrender to Jesus and His Holy Spirit. Devotion to Mary provides a major boost in that effort, since she is an expert on total surrender to the Divine Will.

                Until a person is ready to do that, all the rest is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

          • Phil Steinacker

            If we wish to preserver the Church’s position that godparents agree to take responsibility to teach the faith to their godchildren in the even of the deaths of both parents, then we cannot allow divorced and remarried folks to act in this role for what should be very obvious reasons.

            However, godparents actually fulfilling this specific role when the situation unfortunately calls for it has become quite rare. To be a godparent is to accept an honorific and little more. Should the Church capitulate completely on this point just to make people feel welcome and part of the Church when they are in abject mortal sin?

            These concerns play to the self-obsessed nation of neurotics we have become. Can you imagine the early Church Fathers making such decisions? Catholics in the early Church had a much clearer understanding of where they stood with the Lord resulting from their sin because the Church didn’t equivocate, even to the point of martyrdom. That practice persisted until modernism took root.

      • JP

        The Pope forced the Synod to re-insert paragraphs 51-52 despite the fact they did not reach 2/3rds majority. He did that during the closing day commenting that those issues have not been decided (which in fact they were by floor vote). The end result is that the 2015 Synod can use paragraph 52 as guidance for their final report.

        It is very doubtful that if the Synod produces a document that allows for “probationary” absolution (all in the name of Mercy and the theory of Gradualism), as well as new “pastoral language” concerning gays that the Pope will disagree. He has gotten what he wanted during the 2014 Synod. Again, he will talk orthodoxy to the press but push for heterodoxy in his actions.

  • Miketom

    The removal of Cardinal Burke and the most recent Synod make it very clear what this Pope believes in.

    • GG

      A good point.

      • tom

        If Cupcakes Dolan is the spear point of the American Church, Islam’s looking better. God help us.

        • GG

          Well, include the new ab in Chicago and a few others and ask how many decades will this set back the Church in America?

    • lovestulips

      Scarey!

    • Phil Steinacker

      No, not actually – and I am a big Burke supporter.

      There are at least two ways to be a member of a synod. One is usually elected by the conference of bishops for each nation, and those prelates serving as prefects of the various congregations or dicastaries usually attend. Beyond that, the pope may appoint others, I’m sure.

      Cdl. Burke was retired from his prefect position and many claim he was removed because he so effectively opposed the Baldiserri/Forte/Kasper agenda there. In point of fact – and you can look this up – it was announced some time prior to the synod that he was being removed. Furthermore, the average term served in Burke’s position – indeed, for MOST prefecture positions – is 5-6 years. Check the record – Burke had served 6 years.

      Cdl. Burke could not be elected to the Syunod because he is not a member of a bishop’s conference, so the most usual path was closed to him.

      However, I agree that he was demoted but not from his last prefecture position. The demotion lies in that he was not appointed to a new one. Rather, he was exiled into a sub-marginal position reserved for old, feeble cardinals past voting age.

      This correction is important. We traditionalists often fire from the hip with incorrect information and to be found clearly wrong diminishes what little cred we can mount throughout the Church.

  • This confuses Happy Jack: “there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality”.

    Surely dogma and doctrine flow directly from one’s theology – one’s understanding of God and His purposes – and should be reflected in one’s spirituality – one’s way of approaching Him? Or is Jack misunderstanding all this?

    Can someone please clarify these distinctions?

    • Augustus

      Here’s my answer: Everyone does not have to be a Thomist; everyone does not have to embrace Franciscan spirituality. But EVERYONE must accept Catholic dogma which is the ground or foundation upon which all authentic theologies and spiritualities are based. In other words, the author is saying that we don’t have to accept every theology or spirituality of every pope, including Pope Francis; but we do have to accept the doctrine of the Church which does not necessarily play favorites among the various competing theological schools and spiritual traditions of the Church. In a nutshell, take what is valuable from Francis and ignore the rest. Just make sure you remain faithful to the essentials of the faith which the pope can not alter. Does that make Happy Jack happy?

      • JP

        The problem with that approach (the lightweight, social-worker, We are the World, pastoral approach) is that it eventually runs against core Catholic beliefs (i.e. Doctrine). In the short time Pope Francis has been elevated, we’ve definitely seen this friction. In reality, this “pastoral” approach makes Catholic Doctrine a dead letter. As long as we are “loving”, “merciful”, and opened to the “God of Surprises” all is well.

        The Pope appears to play both sides of the street. On Monday he praises large families; on Thursday he scolds a Catholic Mother for having too many C-Sections (it’s a good thing Ethel Kennedy wasn’t in the group); on Tuesday he pow-wows with Climate Change Alarmists; but on Friday, he excoriates society for not producing enough inexpensive energy to allow the poor to keep warm. Like I said, Pope Francis is in many instances incomprehensible.

        • fredx2

          Apparent inconsistencies are often not inconsistencies at all. He approves of large families, but nothing in Catholic Doctrine forces women who have had eight C sections from having another child. She could have always used NFP to avoid further pregnancies. That was his entirely Catholic point, a point made in the Catechism. But once again, if you rely on the media, you would get a bad impression of the guy. I suppose, that women came to him claiming that she could do nothing to avoid further children, when in fact Catholic doctrine allows some flexibility.

          He is weakest in his economic statements, because he is familiar with a South American Capitalism that has left thousands of poor to live in vast shanty towns at the edge of their great cities, while rich people make deals with the government for special favors. It is the sort of thing that we in the Western World have fixed about a hundred years ago. Apparently it still goes on down there.

          • JP

            The Pope singled out a mother who had 8 C-sections and scolded her in public. BTW, NFP is also intended to increase the chances of getting pregnant. It is not like the RCC in most of the world is awash with mothers have 10-14 children. Most Catholic women have less than 2; in most European and North American countries, Catholic women average 1.2-1.6 children.

            I read about the Pope’s comments from the Vatican Press Office, which provided the translations and original language. The woman who had 8 children via C-Sections did so willing and knew all about NFP. You do not know how offensive his remarks that day were to women around the world.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Fred, no one had to make so many excuses for past popes. You conveniently ignore that this pope is responsible for his own failures to clearly communicate.

            In fact, there is no way to determine that your spin is not merely just a defense of the indefensible.

      • It does, thank you. Jack recalls a teacher once telling him that the arguments behind an established dogma or settled doctrine are not necessarily infallible but the end product is.

        However, take Genesis for example, the way we theologically understand this has implications for the whole of our faith. It’s the same with the Atonement of Christ. Liberal progressives attack these theological foundations in order to dismiss and undermine the teachings of the Church. We also hold to God given reason as a means of understanding God’s revelation.

        It’s not so easy to separate theology and dogma, is it?

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Bl John Henry Newman put it very succinctly: “Theological dogmas are propositions expressive of the judgments, which the mind forms, or the impressions which it receives, of Revealed Truth. Revelation sets before it certain supernatural facts and actions, beings and principles; these make a certain impression or image upon it; and this impression spontaneously, or even necessarily, becomes the subject of reflection on the part of the mind itself, which proceeds to investigate it, and to draw it forth in successive and distinct sentences.”

  • tom

    Look to your parish priest or local bishop to lead. They’re the weak link in the Church, now, not any pope. Most are lazy lefties dragooned by the feminist in every parish. If they’re registered “Democrat”, they even oppose the fundamental truths of Christ, but frown upon a 40 hr. week elsewhere.

  • Benedetti

    Sounds like there are a lot of weak-kneed, whining Catholics out there.

    • Senhorbotero

      What rubbish. It speaks to seriuosly shallow understanding of people, community and committment to truth…

      • Benedetti

        Christ is the Truth. Ignorantly attacking the Holy Father because you feel that you have some special competency in understanding how the Church should be run is not commitment to truth and it certainly has nothing to do with community if by community you are referring to the Body of Christ.

        • Senhorbotero

          Do you think i am being ignorant. Are all these other commenters being ignorant. Is it not possible that they see something you may not. i may have no special competence in truth but i have studied the church writings and i feel that they are pretty clear and in my life i have found no reason to disagree with what has been told to me as foundational to the churchs ideas and these ideas are the result of two thousand years of hard work. So who i ask is being ignorant and arrogant? We are in a battle here and we need allies not disrupters. Francis has not appeared to me to be an ally. What i am seeking is a staunch defender of the heritage of the church and as well the civilization in which i was raised. I am uninterested in having the church torn apart any longer. We have a legacy of ideas, none have been proven insufficient to make a culture function and in yielding a path to God’s intended way for us. Also i may add that i am uninterested in a church that refuses to take the side of the people on its side in this situation. If this is the church that is materializing then it is no longer necesssary to have an alliance with it because whatlies ahead will be tragic for all…

          • Benedetti

            So you don’t want to follow the Church if it leads in a direction of which you do not approve? You don’t want the Church torn apart but you side with those attacking Christ’s Vicar, the center of unity for the Church on earth. You and your perfidious allies are in no position to lead a Church whose first principle you do not understand.

            • GG

              Is this Cardinal Kasper or Marx?

            • Senhorbotero

              You would be correct but my approval is not the issue. I base my thinking on what i consider the wise ideas of others, the long time thought of the church and those who came before me.
              I do not consider the peop,e or the ideas of the past to be wrong. There is either truth or there is not. If this church cannot state boldly what it considers to be true then it is by default claiming that what has been before is possibly false. In which case it is admitting error. One of the foundations of the church is scripture. If the churchs position deviates from that then it is as well claiming that God also has made an error. If in the end these two statements are true then either there is no God or there is no church. At that point I would find it of no value.

              Another elemet that I think is very important and which appears to be often ignored is that the church is on this earth. It is thus responsible for its action to man as a historical being. If it truly beleives in the culture it once helped create then it must defend and support it. It is unwise and damagng t all when it relinguishes its role as guide. It should stand aside from present thinking and provide the counterbalance that keeps mankind from unraveling as we have been now for several hundred years…

            • Phil Steinacker

              There have been 30 antipopes, some espousing heresy at least passively. Fortunately, none tried to impose their heresy upon the Church in any way resembling papal infallibility.

              Others were just weak, lazy or even rotten popes. All of them put the Church through touch times.

              You bet we won’t follow a leadership trying to high-jack the doctrines & dogmas of the true faith by diluting or changing the practices put into place to protect them. We are, in fact, called to do so. Past popes and many saints have said so.

              Besides, why has there ceased to be any mention by liberals of the so-called “supremacy of individual conscience?” As applied by progressives, it was a bogus concept out of the gate but it certainly applies to any pope or other cleric who attempts to undermine the integrity Church teaching. – even if unintentionally. I say that last remark because I hold hope that Francis is merely incompetent; unable to rise to the responsibilities of his office.

    • GG

      Sounds propaganda from the left.

    • Yes, we are a church of sinners. That’s the whole point of being Catholic- to have something greater than our own weak knees to hold on to.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Pope Francis was ‘demystified’ for me right at the beginning when he openly insulted a GIFT of a spiritual bouquet of rosaries and ridiculed those who gave him the gift. If it had been an inadvertent and unfortunate comment to an intimate friend that had gotten out it would not have been so bad it was spoken before a group of people who were strangers to him, it was said in public in such a way this ridicule of the gift would clearly get back to these Catholic well-wishers. My childhood Polish cleaning woman, fairly devout, not terribly literate would not DREAM of insulting a gift or the giver no matter how ‘clumsy’ the gift.. Neither would my nominally Jewish parents nor my friends in prison. I wish it had never happened and that I could forget it but I think about it EVERY DAY.

    • GaudeteMan

      Actually, its a golden opportunity to defend the doctrine of papal infallibility. I cant imagine St. Peter would have been less offensive had we followed him around Galilee.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        Huh? Your non sequitars have non sequitars.

        • GaudeteMan

          This pope is bad.
          Other popes have been bad.
          s;vbkr0boc,klos;’s cleaning woman is good

          • fredx2

            Therefore, s;vbkr0boc,klos;’s cleaning woman is Pope

          • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

            I am talking about the half-remembered NORMS of ORDINARY Catholic laity. Norms of common decency.

            • GaudeteMan

              Sorry if this seems indecent but it is sequitUr…not sequitAr. God bless!

        • GG

          noticed that.

    • fredx2

      It’s important to understand where the Pope’s supposed “quote” came from. This was yet another report by third parties of what the Pope said. Many times these third parties go into meetings with the Pope and some people hear what they want to hear. In this case, it was a meeting with a Latin American group that represented Religious. (CLAR)

      Someone who was at the meeting prepared a report on what was said during the meeting, According to John Thavis, the report contained numerous eliipses that indicated that much was left out. The actual question asked was left out, and many nuances and qualifications the Pope said were left out.

      CLAR subsequently issued a statement saying “CLAR deeply regrets the publication of a text regarding the conversation held with the Holy Father Francis on June 6. The conversation developed upon the questions asked of the Pope by those present (at the meeting).”

      The group added that “there was no recording made during the conversation but shortly after a summary was made based on the memories of the participants. This summary, which does not include the questions posed to the Holy Father, was intended at (helping) the personal memory of the participants and in no way for publication.”

      People often hear what they want to hear. They mishear. They remember things that were not said.

      I would not allow this “telephone game” report cause me to lose sleep. Focus on what the Pope says publicly.

      • Elizabeth

        I laugh out loud at some of your comments. Or I harumph at some of your comments. But I’m really now beginning to be a little concerned for you, Fredx2. Truly.

  • GaudeteMan

    Stop looking to the Pope to do the dirty work in the Church. Roll up your sleeves and get involved. Good thing Catherine of Siena didn’t sit around and wait for her Pope to get off of his duff and fight the good fight.

  • This pope does nothing but upset me. He is the antithesis of what I have found in the clarity of the faith. He confuses and misleads. Woe to him.

  • RufusChoate

    I wonder why many in the church expend so much time and effort explaining the Pope rather than the faith to the fallen world. The day will come when this Pope is dead, gone and forgotten but the opportunity to preach the truth will be lost because Pope Francis was incomprehensible in deeds and his words except on the most superficial level by the faithful and only understood by the faithless.

    God bless Pope Francis but he isn’t as important as his supporters or critics believe to distraction of all else.

  • orientstar

    You quote Pope Francis saying that we should not “divinise” our leaders – that’s right. Let’s stop trying to justify his every “off the cuff” remark – they are often not well thought out and they are frequently problematic. As all of the responses so far indicate, there really is a problem. Good intentions are just that, let’s not have Kasper do to Pope Francis what Bugnini did to Pope Paul VI – it certainly is starting to look that way. It has taken us 50 years to even begin to repair the damage. Let’s not waste another 50. He is a good Christian I am sure and would probably be a good pastor at the parochial level – but Pope? “Who am I to judge” has been taken as the leitmotif of his papacy – but he does have to teach, pastor, and lead and this can involve justice as well as mercy.

  • Rusty

    In reading this column and the comments that have been made, I am brought back to the story of the prodigal son. Much of the criticism of this Pope comes from those who are anchored deeply in the faith, and who fear (yes, fear) that Francis is watering down or changing the truth that has been handed down to us.

    Those who express such fears, and understandably so, will continue to hold to the faith that they have received. Francis has not abandoned you, as he knows you are always with the Church. However, he is trying to reach people (non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics) where they are, and to invite them to the same truth that we already have.

    This means acknowledging that not everybody is able or willing to accept the Catholic faith from where they are now. If the Church is a field hospital, and we (as Catholics) must bind the wounds before addressing high blood pressure, it is accepting that for most people, the Holy Spirit acts on us over time – conversion is often a life long process towards holiness, not an instantaneous event. Belief in God and Christ may be instantaneous, but learning about the Faith and repentance is a life-long journey.

    It is too easy to slip into Donatist attitudes towards those who are not orthodox in their thoughts and beliefs, but we must engage them with the truth, not use the truth as a cudgel. The truth will win out in the end, but the manner in which it is disseminated can and must be sensitive to the sinner, and to what the sinner (in their imperfection) can receive. As St. Paul tells us, “…When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways…”

    I am not a cradle Catholic, I am a convert. I did not suddenly spring fully formed as a Catholic, I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me towards the Truth that is taught through the Church, but it has always been an ongoing journey of learning, repentance and obedience. We must not fear Francis’s determination to reach out to people where they are – he is clearly a son of the Church, and has not brought the Church to unorthodoxy.

    Either we believe the Holy Spirit has been efficacious in putting Francis in St. Peter’s shoes, or we do not. If we believe, we must not be so nervous about where the Church is headed. We must not fear the synod, as there will be no change that substitutes “mercy” for the clear teaching of our Lord on marriage. However, by having the discussion, it will reveal and name the unorthodoxy that exists, and it can be expunged. If there are novel approaches to the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics that can be brought to bear, the Holy Spirit will guide the synod there. Have faith.

    • GG

      First, the Holy Spirit does not choose any Pope. Cardinals choose the Pope. Cardinals can work with or against the Spirit when voting. That was said as recently as Cardinal Ratzinger.

      Secondly, it is very possible the Holy Spirit is calling Catholics to speak out against confusion and doubt sewing. Cardinal Burke is one such man who is holy and intelligent. What he has said about the Synod is not what you are implying here.

      Lastly, meeting people where they are is fine. Allowing them to think the Church was wrong and will change the truth is not good or consistent with the will of our Lord.

      • Rusty

        True, the Holy Spirit does not choose a Pope, but does the Holy Spirit not work through the Cardinals in choosing a new Pope?

        There have been disagreements and disputes on theological issues since the inception of the Church. I agree that the truth will not change, and that misleading others about that truth is not appropriate. I don’t believe that is what Francis has done, I believe others have chosen to interpret his words in ways that were not intended.

        • I know for a fact that Pope Francis has allowed others under his command to mislead the people about the truth. What Cardinals Kasper and Marx have said about marriage and parents and black people is heresy.

          • Rusty

            When we make incorrect assumptions (i.e. that there is complete orthodoxy within the clergy), is it not appropriate to shine a light and identify any unorthodox beliefs? Would you not shine a light in dark corners? Would you not drain a swamp to find the rocks below the surface? It seems to me that making pronouncements may speak to those who wait for pronouncements, but inviting discussion and shining a light on error will engage far more people in the exercise. In the words of St. John Paul II, “Be Not Afraid”.

            • I do not believe we are at the bottom of the slippery slope yet; the secular world has yet to declare heterosexuality illegal, just fine it hundreds of thousands when it is defended.

              If the Church will no longer defend lifelong heterosexual monogamy, then who will?

              • fredx2

                Oh, they will never declare hetersexuality illegal. They will just tax it heavily.

                • They already have begun to do so with the mandatory contraception rule in the United States. Just a few more twists of the HHS Mandate, and chemical contraception will be a required free prescription for every woman between the ages of 12 and 60, unless a parenting license is applied for (and of course, such will only be granted to politically correct people willing to make sure their children also contracept or are homosexual).

                • They already do.

            • JP

              And if your brother asks for bread, would you hand him a snake? Christ created the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. Not Saint Paul nor Saint Peter, nor Cdl Kasper. The Church has been down this road before. It spent the better part of a millennia thinking about Christ’s words concerning marriage. As recently as the 1980s, Pope JPII wrote extensivley about it. But, when it is all said and done, you either accept what Christ said about marriage (it is indissoluble), or you don’t. If you don’t then you have a big problem.

              What is being said in hushed conversations is a change in the practice of allowing divorced Catholics who are living with someone other than their spouse to receive Communion. Pope Francis has already tipped his hand on this. Yes, speaks all of those wonderful words about marriage and family. But, it is his actions that matter. Those who want to admit sinners to the Eucharist wish to make the indissolubility of marriage a dead letter. If that is the case then the Church in fact is feeding its parishioners a snake.

              • Rusty

                And people of different generations need to keep re-learning the same lessons, over and over. We live in a media age, where memories are very short. Let the lessons be taught, and learned.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Francis as a spiritual director? Honestly? Since when is a spiritual director so “enigmatic” that his words and gestures need to be “demystified?” Thanks, but no thanks. I know several holy priests who are every bit as wary of Francis as I am. They have told me so in the confessional!

    • GG

      Well, according to some posters here the priests you mention are simply influenced by the media. They are not bright enough to read what the Pope really said.

    • I’ve had the same experience, in a different dark box.

    • Deacon_Augustine

      Ditto! I thought I would get a right lecture in my last Confession, but the priest appeared to be more angry with the Pope than I had been.

  • Jake Rabas

    Wow, Crisis commenters really don’t like Pope Francis. I would have never reverted back to the Catholic Church if it wasn’t for him. And, no, it isn’t because I don’t want to be orthodox or practice strictly or anything like that. His humble approach was attractive to me and opened up my heart to the Church. It allowed me to see the warm side of the Church from the outside. From outside the Church, the Church can look hard, intimidating, and unwelcoming (a bit like the comments section on Crisis!). Only when inside do you see what treasures are there, and that leads a lapsed person forward into a more full understanding and practice of the faith. I understand that the Pope’s approach might be difficult for strong and faithful Catholics, but for the lapsed, the route to Pope Benedict is through Pope Francis (at least in my case). From where I stand I see signs of new energy in the Church.

    • Your personal experience aside, show me confession lines that are long and joyfully tolerated, pews splintering under the weight of too many butts (ditto for kneelers and knees, only more so) or collection plates overflowing, Christianity being recognized as an ascendent force to be accomodated like Islam.

      These are my ecclesiastical KPI’s (key performance indicators).

      These things may happen, but they have not yet happened.

      • GG

        And if by chance people actually went to confession what would they confess? Perpetual adultery? Homosexual acts? Or, being a pepper faced Christian?

        See, if we have wide spread mis-perception and nothing is done to address it and we keep doing the same thing how is that evangelizing or is that too solemn nonsense?

        • Jake Rabas

          Respectfully (and I mean this) What solemn nonsense are you talking about? It seems as if you are putting words in my mouth. I don’t think that what committed Catholics believe is solemn nonsense. I simply think that an accessible figure helps disarm people (or at least I pray it does to others as it did for me).

          • It’s a reference to one of Francis’ more infamous phrases:

            “proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”

            • fredx2

              And of course, that was from a Scalfari interview, where the 89 year old atheist took no notes, did not make a recording, and I think he even admitted that he put quotes in the Pope’s mouth that he did not say.

              • Perhaps one shouldn’t be granting interviews to male fide actors.

                • fredx2

                  Actually, reading between the lines, I think that the Pope merely agreed to meet with Scalfari and talk to him. That’s why Scalfari did not take notes or record anything – because the Pope had not granted him an interview, he just wanted to reach out and talk to him man to man. And of course Scalfari then ran out and publicized his “interview”. That is just my surmise, though.
                  And if I recall, I think I heard that this bore fruit in some way – that Scalfari’s family wanted to become part of the church in some way.

                  • GG

                    There was more than one interview with him. First the Vatican put it on their website, then took it down after people started asking questions. Then it went back up.

                    Of the many problems with allowing the interview the one you mention is most troubling though. The ends never justify the means.

                  • GG

                    By your standard there is no reading between the lines, right?

                  • ForChristAlone

                    “Actually, reading between the lines, I think that the Pope merely agreed to meet with Scalfari and talk to him.”

                    I wonder whether the Pope would agree to sit for an interview with one of us here on Crisis. Why not – at least we’re practicing Catholics (perhaps that’s why not).

                  • Phil Steinacker

                    Fred, Francis met with him twice, if not three times.

                    NO EXCUSES.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Only if he’s running for office should he give these interviews.

            • Jake Rabas

              OK. Maybe I am just making excuses for Pope Francis, I’m open to this possibility as I am a newbie. But, I would interpret that as Francis speaking from the position of someone outside the Church and their perception of what proselytization sounds like. I can only speak from my experience (since I am new) and don’t have all of the background that you do. But, perhaps such a perspective is not altogether useless even for people such as yourself (I am assuming you’ve been a part of the Church and committed to its teaching for a long time, and I have great respect for such people). The Pope’s talk rings true to me in that proselytization might not be the best approach, but that people have to be led by the heart and the mind will (hopefully) follow. At least that was my course. But perhaps proselytization works better in terms of quantitative statistics in attracting converts, I have to claim ignorance here. All the best.

              • fredx2

                I think the Pope also makes a distinction between proselytism, which he views as being forced and having an element of compulsion, and evangelizing, which is OK and entirely a free choice.

                • I’ve seen gyroscopes spin less.

            • ForChristAlone

              Yeah, notice all that proselytism that is going on…Catholics on every street corner in America and Europe tossing rosary beads at people and strong-arming them to come to the next EF Mass. The Pope speaks nonsense because there are no empirical referents to much of what he chooses to comment about. He can be sure that it’s not the Kasperites who are proselytizing

          • GG

            DE answered for me. I was not trying to address your post. I wanted to point out that the confusion is not helpful. If the orthodox think the Pope is confusing and the heterodox think the Pope is on their side in changing teaching, then how is that good?

          • Phil Steinacker

            Jake, any conversion depending on that will struggle when face to face with truth.

            • Jake Rabas

              True, but we need the eyes of faith to see clearly when we do come face to face with the truth. The Holy Spirit hasn’t failed me yet 🙂

        • fredx2

          As a pepper faced Christian, I resemble that remark.

          • GG

            Cardinal George, not a traditionalist, questioned the Pope’s ideas. Was he influenced by CNN?

      • Jake Rabas

        Yes, and they have not happened for a long time. Were your KPIs being met during Benedict’s tenure? Perhaps the fruit takes time to ripen. Respectfully, it seems to me that Christ did not think of things this way. Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”

        • I know four converts very well. Three converted during John Paul’s reign, but in each case a spouse was the principal instrument.

          The fourth convert made the trip during B16’s Papacy-my wife, who very well may have converted in spite of her spouse-but who always commented on the constant presence of Priests at the hospital where she works as a nurse.

          If you are going to leave the ninety-nine, you don’t disquiet them before you go to find the one.

          • Jake Rabas

            Ok. As a newcomer, I will admit that I am not privy to all of the indignities faithful and long-term Catholics such as yourself have suffered under Pope Francis. I will keep an open mind and try to understand what the forces that people more experienced and stronger than I have labored under.

            • Phil Steinacker

              Thank you for that, Jake. That sort of humility is rare in the comment boxes. There are a number of other sites you should frequent which can help you in your understanding. I’d suggest Father Z’s Blog and OnePeterFive for openers. There are many more, and you may see some of them on Father Z’s blogroll to the side of the page (I forget which).

              • Jake Rabas

                That you Phil. I will check these out. I’ve been on Catholic Answers Forums quite a bit. Seems to be a good resource for new Catholics with questions on doctrine, practices and other things. All the best.

          • Nel

            If you are going to leave the ninety-nine, you don’t disquiet them before you go to find the one.

            Amen. Still less do you (seem to) insult or deride them or alienate them and potentially scatter them. The shepherd loves all the sheep; more, he devotedly protects them all.

            • Insult,deride and alienate are better verbs here.Thanks.

        • ForChristAlone

          I would hope that you have returned to the Catholic Church because Christ lives! He lives in the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church because He told us that He IS the truth.

      • ForChristAlone

        I do not remain a Catholic because of some Pope or bishop or even some parish priest. Neither would I ever consider leaving on account of the same.

        I chuckle when I hear people say they are no longer practicing Catholics because of something some long deceased priest once said or did.

        • Nel

          Don’t chuckle. Shed a tear and pray, pray, pray. I’m sure our Blessed Mother prays for each fallen-away child of the Church. Her Son suffered so and died for them…

        • Phil Steinacker

          Exactly – on both counts.

      • Phil Steinacker

        All true, and I’d underline your last point by suggesting that in the next conclave, the probable backlash to the Francis pontificate will produce a Bishop Athanasius Schneider or a Cardinal Burke who would bring clear certainty about Church teaching. Orthodoxy will return to the Vatican.

        Anyone who joins the Catholic Church because of the misplaced emphasis upon welcoming and mercy will face a huge challenge: will I stay or will I go?

    • Strife

      Actually, I’ve seen just the opposite effect. The modernist liberal/progressive parish I’m forced to attend just bullied away a wonderfully humble orthodox priest. And they did it all in “The Spirit of Francis!”. And the priest’s crimes? He was “hateful” and “intolerant” and “unmerciful” because he gently preached the moral doctrines of the faith: ie the intrinsic evil of homosexuality, gay-marriage, birth-control, abortion …. etc….

      I’m sorry, but your own polished account seems contrived.

      • Jake Rabas

        I’m sorry that this happened in your parish. That is wrong. I’m not sure, however, what you are sorry about in regards to me. That’s quite an accusation. I can tell you I’m not lying, but how would you believe me? So, I’ll just leave it at that.

        • Strife

          Maybe one day – you’ll actually taste the REAL Catholic Faith.

          • Jake Rabas

            Please pray for me that it will be so.

            • Strife

              I will. Please pray for me that I’m not swept away in despair and desolation…

              • Jake Rabas

                I will.

                • Well, Happy Jack understands your perspective.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Strife, I don’t know that making your suspicion known directly is either necessary or charitable. You are quite possibly wrong without having any way to know it.

        Make your own decision about exploring this with a priest, but if you are right it seems you may have engaged in detraction, and calumny if you are wrong.

        • Strife

          Phil, if I’m incapable of reading my own heart and motives, which you are clearly implying – then what makes you think you can read my heart when you don’t even have any first hand knowledge of the incident cited?

          Physician – heal thyself.

    • I do hear about people finding themselves attracted to the Church because of Francis. I wish I heard it more often.

      I hope that our concerns about the life of the Church do not put you off about the Faith. It it does, let it be over our heads and do not hold it against the Church or the Faith. Protect the Church and strengthen your Faith.

      Welcome home!

      • Jake Rabas

        Thank you. I understand that I don’t have all of the institutional memory that others have, and I may not understand what you’ve all been going through. With time I’m sure I’ll learn. I was taken aback at being called a liar, that my conversion story is not genuine (not by you) as if it is impossible for anyone to be converted under this pope. But, I’m blessed with a strong faith community here, I’m not going back just because a few barbs are tossed my way. Best wishes and God bless.

        • Phil Steinacker

          Jake, I take your story at face value. I am a revert after 31 years in the wilderness.

          Some of my traditionalist brethren fire from the hip, but one thing to understand is how long Catholics of our persuasion have been persecuted. Now, under Francis, it is open season to openly attack tradition, the Traditional Latin Mas, orthodox doctrine and dogma, the devotions, and much more.

          As a result, stress ensues, resentment rises, and the tendency to become combative increases. We await the full onslaught which is now only beginning. By that time many otherwise faithful Catholics will see what we have been warning them about.

          Meantime, please pray for charity to be preserved in our heats, and for us to develop an effective understanding of how to evangelize our understanding of the True Faith to the rest of the Church.

          • Jake Rabas

            Hi Phil. Part of the “problem” (not a real problem, but in understanding what traditional Catholics are facing) is that I live in a small town and attend Mass at a country parish. Not too many liberal firebrands that I’m aware of there (I’m sure they exist and I’ll meet them soon enough). The biggest problem for us just seems to be sloth more than anything. However, when I was secular I went to Marquette University and I basically felt like it was no difference than being on any public university campus. Oh, well they did have a statue of Mother Teresa, that was nice. But, it didn’t feel very Catholic that’s for sure, and yes, many of the Church’s teaching were actively suppressed at a “Catholic” university, so if I went back there now, I’d probably feel it for sure.

          • Jake Rabas

            Just wondering…how much do you think is Francis himself versus people taking advantage of where they think the Church is headed under Francis and the perceptions that are out there? I.e. perception versus reality. In effect it makes no difference, but just curious. And if it is perception then I’ll grant you that leaders must seek to be understood clearly and not let misperceptions fester.

    • Nel

      I’ve tried to read every comment (well, every ‘main’ comment; the side-discussions began to get wearying) and while I’m very happy to welcome back a revert (praise be to God!) I can’t help noticing that I’m way down the page and you’re the first Pope Francis revert to weigh in.

      One and counting?

    • Phil Steinacker

      I reverted after 31 years, and Francis had nothing to do with it. I tell you now I might not have come back to a Church which looks like where this on appears to be led.

      It would not have been worth it to return to a Church that compromised.

      Returning to the Church or entering it from another tradition or even no faith at all is – must be – an act of humble submission. If it is not, then problems will ensue unless/until on falls to one’s knees in that submission.

      Trying to attract people in abject mortal sin by making them feel good about how they live will lead only to their feeling their behavior is accepted – implicit in the demand the Church be more welcoming.

      The catch phrase to market this surrender of Church teaching for years has been “God loves you just the way you are.” Scott Hahn wisely added this necessary addendum to the original: “And He loves you too much to leave you that way.”

  • RACHEL VALENCIA

    The removal of CARDINAL BURKE from the SYNOD, PROVES to me that SINISTER THINGS are going on and that CARDINAL BURKE should have been the BEST person to have REPLACEd POPE BENEDICT, I PRAY for POPE FRANCIS, but I am SCARED of what he has already PROPOSED, which look HERETICAL to me !

  • Aliquantillus

    Instead of de-mystifying, this piece of nonsense is actually mystifying the Papacy of Francis by trying to let it pose as Catholic. Well, the man is as Catholic as my shoes, and his Papacy only exists in his white cassock and zuchetta. When one analyses the public utterances of Francis, it can easily be seen how shockingly superficial and essentially anti-Catholic anti-Christian they are. Why does an orthodox Catholic websites publish this rubbish? Francis a spiritual director? My foot! I wouldn’t entrust for a moment the religious eduction of my own children to this Pope. That’s the real state of affairs of the Church of today. The Pope cannot be trusted to be a Catholic.

    • Elizabeth

      Amen to that.

  • Strife

    When a pope requires this degree of mental-back-flipping-14-level-spiritual-chess deciphering, then there is a problem…. with him.

    He has one duty: To preserve the settled Doctrines of the Church – and NOT to unsettled them in a mystifying fog of ongoing confusion.

  • Dan

    I remember seeing John Paul II for the first time at a Wednesday audience in Rome. I was there with classmates and we were all overjoyed to be in the presence of this great Pope and leader. Then a priest who was with us reminded us that we met God Himself, receiving His body and blood, in Mass that morning. How infinitely more wonderful is a single Mass than being in the presence of a great Pope! The Lord is with us! He continues to guide the Church though He appears to be sleeping while the waves toss the ship from side to side! He turns to each of us and asks, “Where is your faith?” The Lord will not abandon us or His Church! He will bring great good out of this turbulent time! Do not let your hearts be troubled!

    • Nel

      Thank you. I’m trying!

    • Phil Steinacker

      Great insight!

  • After Jack read Pope Francis’ “Address to Communion and Liberation Movement” he started to understand him and this article has helped too. It was these particular passages that moved Jack:

    “Everything in your life, today as in the time of Jesus, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all others, but, at the same time, different. We think of John’s Gospel, where he recounts the disciples first encounter with Jesus (Cf. 35-42). Andrew, John, Simon: felt that they had been looked at in their depth, known intimately, and this generated surprise in them, a wonder that made them feel immediately bound to Him … Or when, after the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15), and Peter answers: “Yes”; that yes was not the result of will power, it did not come solely from the decision of the man Simon: it came first from Grace, it was that “primerear,” the preceding of Grace. This was the decisive discovery for Saint Paul, for Saint Augustine, and so many other Saints: Jesus Christ is always first He “primereas” us; He awaits us. Jesus Christ precedes us always, and when we arrive, He is already there awaiting us. He is like the flower of the almond tree: it is the one that flowers first and announces spring.

    And this dynamic, which arouses wonder and adherence, cannot be understood without mercy. Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy really knows the Lord. The privileged place of encounter is the caress of mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin. And it is because of this that you have heard me say sometimes that the post, the privileged place of the encounter with Jesus Christ is my sin. It is thanks to this embrace of mercy that one feels like answering and changing, and from which a different life can flow.

    Christian morality is not the titanic, willful effort of one who decides to be coherent and who succeeds, a sort of solitary challenge in face of the world. No, this isn’t Christian morality; it’s something else. Christian morality is an answer, it is a moved answer in face of astonishing mercy, unforeseeable, in fact, “unjust” according to human criteria, of One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me anyway, esteems me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, expects from me. Christian morality is not ever to fall, but to get up always, thanks to his hand, which takes us.

    And the way of the Church is also this: to let God’s great mercy manifest itself. In past days I said to the new Cardinals: “The way of the Church is that of not condemning any one eternally; to spread God’s mercy to all persons who ask for it with a sincere heart: the way of the Church is, in fact, that of going out of her enclosure to go and seek those far away on the “peripheries” of existence; that of adopting integrally the logic of God,” which is that of mercy (Homily, February 15, 2015). The Church must also feel the joyful impulse of becoming a flower of the almond tree, that is spring, as Jesus was or the whole of humanity.”

    Reading this caused Jack to reread some of Pope Francis’ homilies and to understand a bit better where he is coming from.

  • Strife

    Since when does the Deposit of Faith require a mystifying pope? We already have 2000 years of settled doctrine. So why all the mystification all of a sudden?

  • gaeliclass

    I am grateful for some of the comments here and I see and hear the ‘worry in the tone’.. but we must remember The Church is not a sinking boat – The Barque of Peter has survived through all terrible times over 2,000 years — The Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity- Jesus Our Lord and Saviour – paid for the Church with His Most Blessed Body and Blood – the Church will never die.
    Popes will come and go — we have been blessed in the last years with outstanding and holy men of God – all willing to suffer white martyrdom and they did (I’m sure red too if need be)…

    The Laity must become holier, more educated in theology and the Catechism – take positions in parishes and ‘instruct’–
    There is no easy answer here – God will take care of His Church.

    The Pope, any Pope, cannot change doctrine or Tradition – he just can’t, and God wont let him

    So we should take courage and hope in this and push forward as true soldiers of Christ..

    • Strife

      This pope will attempt to indirectly change Doctrine by changing its praxis. That’s his entire cunning point to his Synod of The Family. Will the Church survive? Yes. BUT, will many struggling faithful Catholics? Maybe not. And therein is the concern. This is spiritual warfare – and faithful Catholics are beginning to feel ostracized by the Church itself. These are unprecedented times of evil.

      • gaeliclass

        thanks Strife … you are right – I know what is happening … I am well aware of what happened at the Synod and the ‘inner games’ being played but dont forget that there have always been true followers of Christ and ‘non’-

        Yes it is spiritual warfare because the devil is out like never before and his minions of bad angels – but we must stand firm in Christ in every moment of every day and say the Rosary also 3 times a day– we the laity – are being called to a collective sanctity – as never before and yes we are being tested.
        Will some leave – they may and God help them. That is exactly what the devil wants –
        Faithful Catholics and many went to martyrdom to give us the Faith will remain and fight – each of us will need to decide which camp we will march in.
        Christ leads us and we are not on a Sinking Ship== remember!
        He will protect us no matter what.
        Error can come but it will be destroyed and those who perpetuated it – similarly.

  • John Albertson

    This is the first pope in long memory who can be called vulgar: in his insults directed toward faithful Catholics and his mockery of priests, and so forth. Too sad. Perhaps vulgarity is idiomatic of Argentinian culture, but it is unworthy of the world’s highest office.

  • hombre111

    Excellent If you are from Germany, I congratulate you for an astonishing mastery of English.

    • ForChristAlone

      I had a similar thought…quite articulate

    • bonaventure

      MA in Classics from Dalhousie University… He is now working on a doctorate in philosophy while administering a parish in Ottawa, Canada.

      Your admiration is not for the author’s English, but for his University-of-Steubenville-like spin on Francis. Amazing, isn’t it, hombre, that some of your best allies in the world of blind ultramontane allegiance are the Steubenville crowd?

      Wonder how long before you turn against them (or Francis, for that matter) and stab them (him) in the back with your liberal-fueled hatred of all things Christian and Catholic?

      • hombre111

        Just read the article again, and could not discover Steubenville lurking between the lines. He just made a lot of common sense, a person who knows how to speak in shades of grey, threatening those who see in black and white. If I am surprised at anything, I am surprised to see this carefully balanced article in Crisis.

        • GG

          Spin is not balance. Gray is your color.

          • hombre111

            I heartily agree. Grey is my color, because the world is not black or white. Those who try to maintain that dualism have to expend huge effort to erase from their awareness anything that might challenge their view. Typical, for instance, the literalists who believe the world is six thousand years old. They have to ignore all the evidence of a world with a history billions of years long. Not an easy thing, for instance, when you go to the West, as I have just done, and see geological layers hundreds of millions of years old.

  • jacobum

    Msgr. With all due respect, you are clearly in denial about who Cdl Bergoglio was and is as Pope Francis. Unfortunately, his actions, statements and pronouncements clearly and unmistakeably reveal a modernist prelate fully intending to double down on the man-made Church disaster called Vatican 2. PF is rearranging deck chairs but is cementing all the abuses implemented i/n/o “Spirit of Vatican 2”, The demolition of the FFI is a clear signal that the man-made and man-centered banal “Protestant-Lite” liturgy called the “Novus Ordo Mass” will be his liturgical focus despite it being responsible for emptying the Churches. Now he intends to complete the job by allowing/leading the demolition of doctrines through the device of changing the meaning of “words”. All of it is being justified i/n/o “Mercy’ (w/o Justice) and “Pastoral Care”. It’s the old modernist doubletalk of ” emotions and feelings over faith, tradition and objective truth”. It’s is nothing more than the Catholic adaptation of the Protestant heresy of, “private judgement”. Rather than defending the Faith, PF seems to be running from it or ignoring it which is causing ongoing in-your-face scandal. His hero, the late modernist, progressive, “Cdl Martini SJ, would be extremely pleased. To quote an anonymous priest…”He (PF) is more vainglory and cunning than charitable and humble. I am very disturbed and concerned for the Church”. He speaks not only for himself but millions of other Catholics including priests and religious. Two years of PF actions confirms his intentions. May the Lord help us and Mary protect us and keep us faithful to the One True Faith.

    • Elizabeth

      Well said.

  • ForChristAlone

    Has anyone noticed that the two topics that elicit the greatest number of comments here are those about homosexuality and Pope Francis? Yes, I do understand that correlation does not mean causation.

    • RufusChoate

      Alas I believe it is the same result on every site. A tiny minority of people troll the net looking to defend the first issue while everyone has an opinion about the second person.

  • John Albertson

    This pope is the first in history to be so consistently caustic and vulgar in his comments. Perhaps this is the diction of a coarser Argentinian substrata but it is not edifying. Our Lord humbled but he never humiliated. Or, to invoke the Holy Father’s own description, I just may be a “Self-Absorbed Promethean Neo-Pelagian.” Whatever that means. I suspect the Pope does not know what it means himself. But he seems to like the sound. Not everyone does.

  • Schrödinger’s cat

    If many of you commentators had been the scribes, Pharisees, elders, and members of the Sanhedrin, good Jews all, to whom Christ delivered these seven woes, you would no doubt have preferred your traditions, history and practices to this irritating itinerant Rabbi named Jesus. Compared to Him, Francis is a diplomat and hardly the radical you seem to believe .

    13“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14]b
    15“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
    16“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
    23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
    25“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
    27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
    29“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
    33“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

    • Strife

      On the contrary, the scribes and pharisees were always parsing the law to their own personal advantage – just like the liberal/progressives are relentlessly doing. And if you doubt that, then look no further at their confrontation with Our Lord over marriage and divorce. It was the pharisees who were looking to further dilute the original intention of marriage by parsing out more and more exceptions for divorce. But it was Jesus who brought down the heavy hammer of orthodoxy and reinstated the original Sacred Tradition of the Sacrament:

      He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” – Matthew 19:8-9

      • Schrödinger’s cat

        Your presumptuous assumptions about what you fear Francis “may do” are duly noted. Here is what he actually said during his recent trip to the Philippines.

        “The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage,” the pope said Jan. 16, hours after warning that Philippine society was “tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.”
        “As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture,” he said.
        http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1500200.htm

        • ForChristAlone

          It’s just best for Francis to say as little as possible & consign his teaching to infrequent writings. He’d do better.

          But before publishing anything he writes, he should have them reviewed beforehand by Cardinal Burke for orthodoxy.

        • Strife

          Uh-huh. And that was a scripted pre-written message. But you see, I’m quite familiar with the working mode of operation of Jorge Bergoglio, and as many Argentinians will tell you – he was always famous for making contradictory statements in front of different audiences for political advantage. So then, I’ll see your Bergoglio citation and raise you THIS ONE from just YESTERDAY. And it’s completely unscripted in all its unvarnished Bergoglio splendor. Behold his real motives. In short – he fully intends to allow people in unrepentant mortal sin access to the holy Eucharist in the name of “mercy”:

          “A man, a woman, who feels bad at heart, sad, who has made so many
          mistakes in life, at a certain moment feels the waters move, it is the
          Holy Spirit who moves something, or he hears a word, o, “Ah, I would
          want to go!” … and he gets the courage and goes. And how many times,
          today, in the christian community he finds the doors shut: “But you
          cannot, no, you cannot. You have made a mistake here and you cannot.
          If you want to come, come to Mass on Sunday, but remain there, don’t do
          anything else.” And that which the Holy Spirit is working in the heart
          of these persons, Christians with the mentality of doctors of the law,
          destroy”.

          https://fromrome.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/pope-francis-twists-scripture-to-promote-heresy-of-false-mercy/

          • GG

            It’s just the media.

            • Strife

              I’ll take that tongue and cheek. 😉 The source I cited is actually from Rome and they are fluent in Italian. And they actually posted the Italian transcript as well as the English translation. But of course – the established Catholic media will ignore this inconvenient little story – as always. And they will remind everybody to “Pay, Pray, and shut up!” Because no one is more “catholic” than the Pope! Not even Christ and His outdated Sacred Traditions – which are bad because they are so hurtful, intolerant, and merciless!

              Rinse and Repeat.

              • GG

                Yep, I read that blog today too. Another point is that politics and intrigue are not new at this level in the Church. Yet, today even in the face of a mountain of evidence many simply refuse to acknowledge that.

          • Schrödinger’s cat

            The hypothetical Christian world you speak of is one in which all Catholics follow the rubrics of receiving the Eucharist “worthily” in obedience to church teaching and so as not to subject themselves to condemnation. All of which is right and scriptural.

            The actual world in which we live is a little different than that. There is no “worthiness detector” whereby our priests can refuse Eucharist to this one and that one, as each stands before him to receive the precious body and blood.

            Every Catholic who believes that – SS marriage, the practice of homosexuality, abortion/contraception, and sexual relations outside of a valid marriage – are acceptable practices, should be denied Eucharist according to cannon 915.

            Currently, NO Senator or Congressman from one of our parties and a growing number from the other party, are eligible for Eucharist and thus, it should be denied to them. If that happened it would be a clear message to all that the Church is serious about it’s teachings. Reality – never gonna happen.

            Moving beyond high profile Catholics who openly support the aforementioned practices, there is the rest of Catholic laity. Every poll I can find shows Catholics under the age of 65 to be 51% – 85% in favor of accepting homosexuals and SS marriage. None of these should be participating in Eucharist.

            Your argument seems to be that Francis wants to “water down” Church practice re Eucharist. That’s laughable. The Church has rendered Cannon Law moot in these matters through it’s inaction.

            • Strife

              Oh Brilliant. So now your justification for Pope Bergoglio’s heresies amounts to a downward spiral of bargained doctrinal acceptance of abuse. Because apparently, when faced with an entrenched systemic abuse, one should simply pacify the abuse rather than engaging in the hard work of reinstating the original purity of the Law.

              That’s so idiotic and contrary to the Gospels it actually brought the collective IQ of this entire thread down by double digits. You’re not even Catholic are you. Obviously not.

              “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” ~ G.K.Chesterton

              “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
              not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:18-20

              • Schrödinger’s cat

                Justification of Francis? Having trouble following a thought? What illogic do you practice that allows you to formulate a position
                that posits Francis “might” do X, which “might” result in the Eucharist being given to persons who should not receive
                it when you know there has been no denial of Eucharist in the Catholic Church for over 50 years! As you so aptly phrased it, “… theological acrobatics, since we are incapable of perfection we should just sanctify sin and be done with it.” That is apparently just what the Church has done vis-a-vis Eucharist.
                Denial of Eucharist has been brought up regarding Pelosi and Biden a few times and a hand-full of priests have talked about it, but otherwise – nothing.
                Your argument would be coherent, if in fact the Church had been vigilant and diligent in denying Eucharist when warranted.
                Railing against Francis decades after what you fear he might do, has already been done, is merely a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

                • Strife

                  Do you understand anything I just posted to you? Do you actually understand the difference between illicit abuse of doctrine and the official acceptance and sanctioning from the papacy of the illicit abuse? Your entire rationale reeks of the rot of liberall/progressivism – probably because you ARE a liberal/progressive. And an unbelievably dense individual. But I repeat myself.

                  • Schrödinger’s cat

                    Keep the day job, mind reading is not your gift. Whining about something you think might happen serves what purpose? Builds up who? Maybe you should think along these lines:
                    1 Cor 19-23 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

                    • Strife

                      And apparently discernment of Scripture is beyond your elementary abilities. I’ve heard libtards of your ilk cite that passage before in defense of this heretic pope. But tell me – where does Paul state that he ever made all lies true to all men? Cite that for me.

                      Speaking of which, to the very point of the topic at hand – here’s Paul’s instructions pertaining to the Eucharist:

                      “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.” – 1 Corinthians 11:29-30

                      Now tell me, what does Bergoglio think he knows that the Apostle Paul, and St Augustine, and St Thomas Aquinas didn’t know?

                      Riddle me that?

                    • Schrödinger’s cat

                      Stop whining and play the man, if that is possible for you.

                    • Strife

                      You’re a waste of time.

            • GG

              You are confused. Holding immoral views is not evidence one should be denied communion. They may be culpable, but the issue is public scandal and manifest sin.

      • ForChristAlone

        Now THAT’S a comment worth reading. Thanks

    • ForChristAlone

      Comments that exceed the length of the original article are not worth reading.

    • GG

      Look in the mirror first.

    • BXVI

      Yeah, we’ll, Pope Francis ain’t the Messiah, just his vicar. To the extent he deviates from the the teachings of Our Lord and his prior vicars, it is he that fails to recognize Jesus.

    • SnowBlossoms

      God bless you for this!

  • sweetmusic

    I don;’t buy it. A spiritual director must first of all be rooted in sound theology. Teresa of Avila put intelligence before even holiness as the quality she sought in a good spiritual director. Francis seems thoughtless and careless about doctrine. He seems convinced he’s directed by the Spirit–but wasn’t that what we thought after Vatican II. It turns out the Spirit of Vatican II that blew through the Church was not a blessing from Heaven but a Hellish catastrophe. Personally I think he’s dangerous.

  • William Murphy

    A huge problem with this style of Papal communication is that people have problems distinguishing what is solid Catholic teaching from the Pope’s personal opinions. Check out the wickedly funny cartoon “Frank the Hippy Pope” on Youtube for a merciless, but much deserved comment on some of his more bizarre remarks. And that includes only a few of the stranger stories up to late 2013. I hate to think what the satirists would make of the “Rabbitgate” fiasco.

    But it is not just imprudent off-the-cuff verbal soundbites, which might be desperately excused on the grounds that he is confused or exhausted at the end of a long day. What on earth are we to make of written statements such as Para 32 and Para 253 of “Evangelii Gaudium”, where there was presumably ample time to think about and revise every sentence before issuing the document to the world?

    Para 32 suggests devolving doctrinal authority to bishops’ conferences – which would plainly lead to the instant disintegration of the Church. Cardinal Muller pointed this massive problem out, but who cares about Cardinal Muller, even if you have heard of him? He is only the head of the CDF and knows what he is talking about.

    Similarly with Para 253, describing Islam as a religion of peace. This has lead to instant mockery from several commentators. Is the Vatican seriously going to accept this evaluation as part of its international diplomatic strategy?

    “Evangelii Gaudium” is out there on the Vatican website. It is even on the shelf of my local secular bookshop, here in Protestant/post-Christian England. How do we defend such drivel, unless we end up sounding like Protestants ourselves – that we accept some Papal teachings, but not others?

  • Deacon_Augustine

    Its nice to see that Mgr Feichtinger finds it so easy to make distinctions between the Pope’s magisterium and his “doing theology” at Santa Marta.

    I am not altogether convinced that the Pope sees those same distinctions: “Look, I wrote an encyclical, true enough, it was a big job, and an Apostolic Exhortation, I´m permanently making statements, giving homilies; that´s teaching. That´s what I think, not what the media say that I think. Check it out, it´s very clear. Evangelii Gaudium is very clear”. (Interview with La Nacion 7th December 2014)

    His latest outburst at Santa Marta, in which he castigates 2,000 years of Church discipline with regards to the reception of Holy Communion, may or may not be part of his magisterium, but it certainly provides evidence of what he thinks. And it is very concerning that somebody who thinks in such a blasphemous way is the supreme legislator of the Catholic Church.

  • FreemenRtrue

    Read “Jesuits” by Malachi Marin S. J.. You will understand the pope very well then. He is a knee jerk liberal tainted with de Chardin heresy. This silly German priest says it’s all good, just don’t believe your lying ears.

  • RaymondNicholas

    I’ll say it until I am blue in the face: Church leaders have yet to grasp the impact of the Internet on the reporting of news and commentary. There has been a growing liberation from the traditional secular gatekeepers, who once dictated what was to be disseminated
    to the people. Now, citizen reporters and opposition groups present the facts more
    openly and with differing assessments as to the impact on society. The people win when they are more fully informed of the facts.

    There is a similar liberation unfolding in today’s Church. No longer can bishops, priests, and nuns hide their strategies in secretive meetings and prevent individual scandalous behaviors from being made public. No longer can they hide behind the notion of subsidiarity. Scandal in one part of the Church is scandal for ALL parts of the Church. The laity does not like it, and they do not like being ignored when they protest.

    For example, why should I believe what a German bred and educated priest says, when he comes from a Catholic system that is bloated in wealth due to a tax on its citizens, and their higher ups live as aristocrats, thwart basic Church teachings, and oust the lower
    ranks from their positions when they make attempts at reform?

    Why should I believe the intentions of a Jesuit in any leadership station when it is disclosed that the order is populated with gays, and they repeatedly write opinions supporting the gay rights agenda and in many instances, contraception and abortion? It is not good enough that some Jesuits remain true. A house divided does not make sense.

    In the same vein, why should I listen to the likes of Dolan, O’Malley, and Wuerl? Dolan is an active supporter of the gay rights movement, props up active gay’s churches and closes down traditional churches; the abortion-loving Kennedy family financially supports
    O’Malley; and Wuerl sends off to Siberia a priest who would not give communion
    to an active lesbian Buddhist. These actions are cowardly and defy Church teachings.

    The shepherds defy the law of non-contradiction continuously, and they expect the sheep to go along. Just how stupid do they think we are?

  • JohnE_o

    A most sensible article – too bad it will be lost on those here who are convinced that Pope Francis is the Antichrist or somesuch…

  • SnowBlossoms

    I love how Pope Francis speaks in such a natural human way and ignores the Press who act ridiculous, running crazy with every comment he makes. He has yet to say anything, when read in context, that was crazy or harmful. He is very comforting and easily understood if one doesn’t try to complicate matters. Some people want to judge him and so the media feeds them well.

    • GG

      So, all the articles written about confusion are what? They cannot see what you see? Is Cardinal George confused?

      • SnowBlossoms

        I was never and am not now confused by Pope Francis’ statements, they all made perfect sense to me. I am more confused by people who fear him.

        • GG

          Well you and Cardinal Kasper have much in common.

          • SnowBlossoms

            I’ve read some things Cardinal Kasper has said and I don’t agree with him. In fact, I don’t agree with the German Bishop on almost everything I’ve read…Marx is another I disagree with.

          • SnowBlossoms

            Pope Francis picked the name Francis- Jesus said to St Francis, “go and rebuild My Church, which you see falling into ruins.” We all know what the Blessed Virgin said in Fatima about the corruption and smoke of Satan reaching to even the highest places. How else can Pope Francis get to the root of the problems unless he allows for discussion? He listens to them and encourages discussion, he learns where each Bishop stands. Time will tell… they may be taking him for a fool, they may be bad, they maybe trying to find solutions to modern day problems.. but he’s no fool, he is the Vicar of Christ. We’ll see what happens.

            • GG

              And you think imputing such subterfuge to the Pope is reasonable? Very strange.

              • SnowBlossoms

                A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

                • GG

                  Not at all. I have stated why such confusion exists. I have never stated the Pope has ill will or has some devious plan.

    • Strife

      “Pope Francis speaks in such a natural human way” – In other words, he openly contradicts settled Doctrine and confirms for everyone that the world is right and the stuffy ole Catholic Church has been wrong.

      Of course, this completely contrary to Our Lord’s intentions. Christ said He came to divide the world, and yet He prayed that His Church might me united as one. Which is the exact opposite of this Pope’s obvious intentions. And you find comfort in that.

      “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” – Matthew 7:15-16

      • SnowBlossoms

        He is the Vicar of Christ, validly elected and you should understand that however you treat him is how you are treating Jesus Christ. He has never openly contradicted Doctrine, nor even hinted at changing anything, which is why I stated what I did about the crazed media…and, I might add, the false hopes of deceived individuals who would twist what he says into fitting their own sick and twisted agendas. Bishops have voiced opinions, namely German Bishops..and all Pope Francis did was allow discussion. He has stated very clearly that he stands with the Dogma’s and Doctrines of the Church, which can not be changed- go read for yourself on the Vatican site. When I said he speaks in a very simple or natural human way, what I meant was he speaks from his heart, he reminds in many ways of Peter and Jesus. He has a special love for the poor and maligned in our world- again, very much like Jesus. God bless you!

        • Strife

          On the contrary, he may be the Pope, but his papal fallibility is extremely limited. And Christ is in everyone, including the least of our brothers. Christ’s presences is just as valid in everyone. But in the Church’s long history, there have been numerous popes who have fostered heresy and apostasy. But why should this a surprise? Even the Apostles were prone to such sinfulness:

          “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?”
          – John 6:70

          And if Pope Francis is truly not trying to alter settled Doctrine – the what EXACTLY is the purpose of his Synod on the Family?

          And if you think he is not trying to change the Sacred Doctrines of the Eucharist – then explain his homily from only yesterday:

          “A man, a woman, who feels bad at heart, sad, who has made so many mistakes in life, at a certain moment feels the waters move, it is the Holy Spirit who moves something, or he hears a word, o, “Ah, I would want to go!” … and he gets the courage and goes. And how many times, today, in the christian community he finds the doors shut: “But you cannot, no, you cannot. You have made a mistake here and you cannot. If you want to come, come to Mass on Sunday, but remain there, don’t do anything else.” And that which the Holy Spirit is working in the heart of these persons, Christians with the mentality of doctors of the law, destroy”. – Pope Francis 3/17/2105

          Oh and, the “doctors of the law” that this pope castigates would include (but not limited to) The Apostle Paul, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, and a host of others over the 2000 year history of the Church, including the Deposit of Faith itself.

          • SnowBlossoms

            Stop being so fearful, Jesus stated absolutely that hell will never prevail against His Church. Pope Francis is allowing discussion, period. People do this, they discuss things. The quote above is fine.

            • Strife

              You’re clearly delusional.

              If you think that wayward popes can’t mislead souls – then Dante wants a word with you.

              And the point of his Synod on the Family is discussion? Discussion about what exactly? The Doctrines are settled. And the “praxis” or application and practice of the doctrines cannot be changed either – because Doctrine IS Praxis. So what’s to discuss?

              And his homily that I cited from yesterday is fine? What are you smoking? Perhaps you can explain for everyone just who and what he was talking about if not the changing of doctrines for the reception of the Holy Eucharist?

              • SnowBlossoms

                He is not a wayward Pope, I’m sorry for all of you who so easily spread calumny and by doing so, harm the Church. I’ll pray for you.

                • Strife

                  And I’m sorry for easily-swayed gullible people like you who clearly never understood the vast vast limitations of papal infallibility – much less the unvarnished mess of Church history. I would suggest you actually take the time to research Blessed Cardinal Newman’s grave reservations about the doctrine of papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council. He did ultimately accept it as a valid doctrine – BUT ONLY with cautious reservations. In fact, the very things he feared have come true with this current pontiff. Newman warned that ONLY an educated laity (educated in proper Catechesis) could protect against the inevitable heresies that the doctrine would surely allow. Newman knew that the bishops and cardinals were very very prone to intellectual arrogance and selfish ambitious pride. They always have been and they always will. But look, I appreciate your prayers. I honestly do. And I thank you, most sincerely. I’ll pray for you too. *sigh* And let’s both pray for this pope and the Church. *sigh*

  • mike4life

    I continue to be amazed at how creative Pope Francis’ apologists can get in trying to give a rationale for his ongoing disastrous statements and nefarious manipulations. I have been Catholic for eight years and was blessed to enter the Church during Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Even if Catholic life at the local level was weak and sometimes discouraging, and the trumpet seemed to give an uncertain sound, still we had a strong voice in Rome. Losing that voice was an emotional punch in the gut. Yes, I pray daily for Pope Francis, specifically that he will become what he currently is not–a worthy spokesman for our Most Holy Faith.

  • M.J .A.

    Happened to read , in one of the earlier comments , the reference to the ‘ self absorbed Promethean neo Pelagianism ‘ – unsure if some one has responded to same ;
    had not realized that it has been a phrase that drew such attention before ; now wondering if that phrase too might be about the Holy Father’s deep desire to see more results , in what his predecessors have been hard at work , in the area of Church unity , himself being a witness to the effects from divisions, which very likely tear at his heart .
    The clue might be the term ‘Promethean ‘ , like in the miracle of the holy fire , said to be claim to fame, esp. among the Greek Orthodox ..and the other two terms thus might go well with same …is the Holy Father wanting those at Mt.Athos to make mercy more accessible to those that need same , by fulfilling the Lord’s promises ,from unity , for
    a world that believes ..
    and the disdain about the Holy Father’s words and intent , may be in ignorance …hope that too works well … seeing a grandpa like figure being derided by his own, might even elicit enough compassion , to move hearts away from long standing animosities and contempt – for The Spirit to get enough room , for the fire of truth to burn away all that is redundant !
    Who knows if those words and the grieving that goes with it even carry the weight and power of deliverance and that things could have been worse, if not for such grievings and the un doings of knots that come with same !

  • Joan

    With respect, hasn’t anyone considered that the confusion in the Church was all prophesied to happen prior to Christ’s return?

  • Guest_august

    Another piece from Germany???

    .
    Well a serious warning has been issued to Germany, (and to Italy for that matter)
    Read more: http://www.popeleo13.com/pope/2015/03/07/category-archive-message-board-274-a-high-price-to-pay/

  • profling

    I prefer the Dutch Catechism. It is much more evangelical and inclusive.

  • Michael_Brennick

    I believe Bergoglio was elected to consort with the World and to massage the decadent Western and globalist cultures. In this way he makes life easier for the world’s bishops. Yes, a cynical view, but one that fits the situation on the ground. God is not mocked and the results of this coddling of the world have yet to be seen.

  • Marcelus

    From the latest Papal interview(long one):

    “But there are some that say, “No. I want to take Communion, and soon” Sort of like a ribbon award. A merit badge?. No. Oh, you know, re-integrate yourself! ”

    “Because the family is in crisis. Not perhaps the more traditional crisis of infidelity, or like they call it in Mexico, “the little house” and “the big house.” No, no, but it’s a more basic crisis. You see the young people don’t want to get married; or they live together. And they aren’t doing it to protest anything, but they express these things this way. After a long while, some get married, others get married in the Church.

    “Oh, you know there is a family crisis inside the family, and from this point of view, I believe that what the Lord wants is that we confront this: marriage preparation coming to those who live together, coming to those who get married; and those who bring their family up well; coming to those who have failed their family and have made a new union. Preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony; they are not prepared. And how many marriages that are social occasions! They are null! Because of the lack of faith.

    …”Well, the family in crisis. How to integrate families in the life of the Church that are “replay families”, no? That is to say, those families of a second union that at times result, the phenomena … that it was a failure. How to reintegrate them, no? For they will come to the Church, then each one… [he trails off].

    “They simplify it and they say, “Ah, they’re going to give Communion to the divorced.” With this, one solves nothing. That which the Church wants is that you integrate yourself into the life of the Church.

    But there are some that say, “No. I want to take Communion, and soon.”Sort of like a ribbon award. A merit badge?. No. Oh, you know, re-integrate yourself!

    “There are seven things which those who are in a second union cannot do, according to the actual legislation. I do not agree on them all, but one is that they are not to be godparents for Baptism. Why? And what testimony is it going to give to the godchild? “Look, dear one, I messed up in my life, now I am in this situation. I am Catholic. The principles are these. I did this and I accompany you.” A testimony of the truth. But a mafioso comes to you, a delinquent, one that has killed people, but as he was married in the Church, he can be a godparent. Oh, you know, these contradictions

    • GG

      What? Talk about confusion. There is much to decipher but the last part is a doozy. Why compare perpetual adulterers with hitmen? Both are mortal sins. This is like the relativists who say I am not a sinner. Only murderers are sinners.

      Do you actually think hitmen are godparents more than adulterers? That is the standard? Wow.

      • James of Clan Scott

        Well I would rather live next door to an adulterer than a hit-man.

        Just saying……

        Peace be with you.

        • GG

          What a standard.

          • James of Clan Scott

            It’s common sense. An adulterer is one thing, a sin done behind closed doors on the wrong side of the sheets. I’ll pray for him or her.

            The hit-man takes peoples lives and is dangerous. I don’t want him near me.

            • GG

              But, that is not the issue. The issue is drawing a comparison and claiming canon law is being used to stop adulterers from being integrated into Church life. First, do you thing people are bring turned away from being godparents in the USA? I mean give us a break. It is laughable.

              Secondly, how do people who reject Church authority model good Catholic teaching?

              The comparison is used to draw people into thinking there is some great injustice being done. Not buying it given most Catholics do not even go to confession yet alone observe Catholic moral theology to any great degree at all.

              • James of Clan Scott

                I guess South American & other places in the world are a little tougher on who gets to be a godparent?

                Rather it seems more likely the Holy Father is complaining about how hit-men and others of that ilk conceal their crimes behind a facade and become god parents on a technicality where as the person in an invalid marriage at least has no guile and is open about their sins.

                >Secondly, how do people who reject Church authority model good Catholic teaching?

                I guess it’s not so much they “reject” it rather they are suffering from weakness. Not being able to maintain their first marriage and falling for someone else romantically whom they prefer.
                They may still believe their relationship is wrong but they are too weak to give it up.

                I love my one and only wife but I sometime imagine what a horror it would be to have to choose between her and being in good standing with the Church and God? My head tells me go with God and the Church but I don’t know if my heart would follow?

                • GG

                  ++Rather it seems more likely the Holy Father is complaining about how
                  hit-men and others of that ilk conceal their crimes behind a facade and
                  become god parents on a technicality where as the person in an invalid
                  marriage at least has no guile and is open about their sins.++

                  That is not a canon law issue. That is an issue for priests. To equate these two things seems bizarre. Do you think there are good priests that overlook murder but deny adulterers Church participation?

                  Canon law is at the service of truth, not some legalistic game.

                  ++

                  I guess it’s not so much they “reject” it rather they are suffering
                  from weakness. Not being able to maintain their first marriage and
                  falling for someone else romantically whom they prefer.
                  They may still believe their relationship is wrong but they are too weak to give it up.++

                  Perhaps, but no excuse. The murder may be too weak as well.
                  ++
                  love my one and only wife but I sometime imagine what a horror it would
                  be to have to choose between her and being in good standing with the
                  Church and God? My head tells me go with God and the Church but I
                  don’t know if my heart would follow?++

                  God is clear about this. We must place God above any other thing. And, no one has said in each case one must separate. What is required is no illicit sex. Orgasm has become our god today.

                  • James of Clan Scott

                    >Do you think there are good priests that overlook murder but deny adulterers Church participation?

                    By definition how could they be good priests?

                    >That is not a canon law issue. That is an issue for priests. To equate these two things seems bizarre.

                    He is likely making some sort of social commentary.

                    >Canon law is at the service of truth, not some legalistic game.

                    True but the letter of the law kills.

                    >God is clear about this. We must place God above any other thing. And, no one has said in each case one must separate. What is required is no illicit sex. Orgasm has become our god today.

                    Of course but I can’t help feel for those who have trouble doing that.

                    >Perhaps, but no excuse. The murder may be too weak as well.

                    Without circumstances I can’t comment.

        • One sin does not justify another sin. One irregularity does not justify another irregularity. If a murderer gets away with being a godparent (when he may or may not have repented–who knows?!) does that permit the Church to permit another irregularity? Or to legalise irregularity? God can forgive both the murderer and the adulterer–but ought the Church to enshrine irregularity in its laws and statutes, or what is worse, to condone sin?

          • James of Clan Scott

            Well in one sense all sin is equally offensive to God but in another sense some sins are worst than others.

            In the later case Murder is worst than adultery.

            Thought an un-repentant adulterer is likely going to Hell vs a truly repentant murderer.

            • You miss the point: one sin does not justify another sin.

    • Here goes Francis delving in fallacies… Why not say that Hitler could have been a godparent? According to him, and apparently with certainty, a church wedding for social reasons is invalid, but a godparent for social reasons is fine? It’s interesting that the scandal given to the child is deferred to appeasing adulterers.

      • GG

        Right. Aside from the strange comparison why is there this great necessity to have godparents not living the faith? Is the role of the godparents to teach the faith or just to be social?

      • papagan

        “…a church wedding for social reasons is invalid, but a godparent for social reasons is fine? It’s interesting that the scandal given to the child is not as important as appeasing adulterers.”

        First, are you trying to suggest that marrying in the Church for social reasons exclusively isn’t invalid with respect to the sacrament? Second, did Pope Francis say that the godparent need not be a practicing Catholic?

        • First, Francis’s words not mine. Second, since an adulterer is not a practicing Catholic, that’s what he said indeed.

          • papagan

            As regards what you say Pope Francis said, it would help if you could provide verifiable citations.

            • GG

              Read what Marcelus posted.

              • papagan

                Unsubstantiated hearsay.

                • GG

                  Nope.

                  • papagan

                    I found nothing that would lend support to the hasty opinion that Pope Francis made a problematic statement related to Church teaching http://www.news.va/es/news/los-primeros-dos-anos-de-la-era-francisco-en-entre. Can you substantiate the opinion that, with respect to the interview in question, Pope Francis made a heretical statement?

                    • GG

                      I did not see where someone called it heresy? The view expressed is troubling and unusual.

              • papagan

                See my reply to Augustine.

            • Read the comment to which I replied. It helps to find out what it’s been talked about before trying to join a conversation. It’s also a courtesy.

              • papagan

                That’s hearsay, not a verified citation. If you wish to make assertions based on unsubstantiated hearsay, that’s your choice.

                • That’s not hearsay, it’s a recorded interview by Francis to a newspaper:

                  “¡Y cuántos matrimonios que son hechos sociales, son nulos! Por falta de fe.” (v. http://bit.ly/1Ey6O98 )

                  Before uncharitably throwing accusations, you should substantiate them.

                  • papagan

                    Okay. Thank you for that link http://www.news.va/es/news/los-primeros-dos-anos-de-la-era-francisco-en-entre. (It would have been better had the link been supplied at the very outset.) Here is the relevant excerpt:

                    “O sea que hay una crisis familiar dentro de la familia y desde ese punto de vista creo que lo que el Señor quiere es que enfrentemos eso: preparación al matrimonio, acompañamiento de los que conviven, acompañamiento de los que se casan, y llevan bien su familia, acompañamiento de los que han fracasado, en la familia y han hecho una nueva unión, preparación al Sacramento del matrimonio, no todos están preparados. ¡Y cuántos matrimonios que son hechos sociales, son nulos! Por falta de fe.” (Emphasis added.)

                    What is stated above is not problematic or inconsistent with authentic Catholic teaching as I understand it. It seems to me that the negative criticisms directed at the passage in question suggest a lack of understanding of the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of matrimony. One shouldn’t be surprised that the Roman Pontiff is much better informed theologically.

                    Those who lack advanced theological formation should proceed with extreme caution when they are tempted to criticize the Holy Father on questions pertaining to Catholic faith and morals.

                    • Ja wohl, Herr spinmeister! First, you yourself recognized that making of the wedding ceremony has little to do with the sacrament and doubted that Francis could have said such inanity. Now, before the evidence, you bless it as orthodox. Week, it isn’t. The vow of fidelity from one to another is what binds husband and wife. Suggesting that only the initiated may interpret Francis is pathetic, if it weren’t so problematic itself.

                    • papagan

                      “First, you yourself recognized that making of the wedding ceremony a social event has little to do with the sacrament and doubted that Francis could have said such inanity. Now, before the evidence that he did say it, you bless it as orthodox. Indeed, it isn’t.”

                      Wow! What remarkably different interpretations. Our interpretations are so different, in fact, that it isn’t obvious that we’re talking about the very same text!

                      Pope Francis is talking about the lack of proper marriage preparation (I’m very glad that he’s emphasizing this critical problem) and faithlessness as impediments to entering into a valid sacramental marriage. He is pointing out that there is a serious problem when many baptized Catholics fail to grasp the important difference between a civil marriage ceremony and the sacrament of marriage, especially when so many people today take it as self-evident that the matrimonial bond is not indissoluble. Given such misunderstandings, choosing to marry in the Church for purely external reasons is not, according to Pope Francis, sufficient for the valid exchange of matrimonial vows in the sacramental sense. Pope Francis wants us to understand that a valid sacramental marriage involves much more than a civil marriage recognized, and frequently dissolved, by the state and its judicial system.

                      “The vow of fidelity from one to another is what binds husband and wife.”

                      You completely miss the actual point that Pope Francis seeks to convey. If either the bride or the groom does not understand the true meaning of sacramental marriage, or that the matrimonial bond is indissoluble, there is an impediment to the valid exchange of matrimonial vows. In such cases, the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities can issue a formal declaration of nullity, which must not be confused with a decree dissolving the matrimonial bond, which is indissoluble. The Catholic Church recognizes legitimate cases of separation from bed and board, or even separation of dwelling-place, i.e., limited divorce (divortium imperfectum), but not absolute divorce (divortium plenum). Unlike the latter, the former leaves intact the matrimonial bond. (I’m quite aware that there are some Catholics who do not recognize marriage annulments, i.e., formal ecclesiastical declarations of nullity, but that indicates only a problem in their religious formation.)

                      “Suggesting that only the initiated may interpret [Pope] Francis the Sphynx is pathetic, if it weren’t so problematic itself.”

                      I was suggesting only that laymen who lack advanced theological formation should proceed with extreme caution when they are tempted to conclude that the Roman Pontiff, guardian of the deposit of faith, has deliberately contradicted official Catholic teaching on faith and morals. It is much more likely that it is his critics who have gone astray.

                    • GG

                      Exactly. It is not intellectually honest.

  • Peter Verkooijen

    Rerum Novarum -> Benito Mussolini -> Juan Perón -> Pope Francis

    • papagan

      “[1] Rerum Novarum -> [2] Benito Mussolini -> [3] Juan Perón -> [4] Pope Francis”

      That’s a highly peculiar concatenation, although a reasonable person can see that Rerum Novarum and the teaching of Pope Francis are connected.

      • Peter Verkooijen

        If you understand the Rerum Novarum connection, what is so highly peculiar about it?

        • papagan

          The suggestion that Benito Mussolini, Juan Perón, and Pope Francis were cut from the same cloth is rather simpleminded.

          • Peter Verkooijen

            Rerum Novarum shaped Italian fascism which inspired Peron and that is the world Pope Francis grew up in. Pope Francis ideas on the economy, social justice, the role of the state, etc. are from that tradition. Explain what is simpleminded about that.

            • It didn’t really as much shape Fascism as Rerum Novarum was shaped by it, since Pius XI nurtured sympathies and a friendship with Mussolini and his ideas.

              • Peter Verkooijen

                Rerum Novarum was from 1891, when Mussolini was 8 years old.

                • You’re right. I confused Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum with Pius XI’s Quaddragesimo Anno. The latter is chockful with regurgitations of Fascism ideology.

                  • David Raineri-Maldonado

                    So you might as well call Distributism Fascism, because it’s one of the politico-economic system’s founding documents – which is a reductio ad absurdum .
                    P.S. Don’t bring Chesterton’s like for Fascism into this discussion, either, as that’s an argumentum ad hominem based on a misunderstanding-debate the actual hypothesis.

                    • Pius XI furthered the tripartite corporatism, the economic system of all fascist governments. This was straight out of Mussolini’s writings and manifestos.

                      And, in practice, distributism can only exist if the state determines how much property one may have and how much trade one may engage in. In other words, in practice, distributism is a pious communism.

                  • papagan

                    “I confused Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum with Pius XI’s Quaddragesimo [sic] Anno. The latter is chockful [sic] with [sic] regurgitations of Fascism [sic] ideology.”

                    The assertion that Quadragesimo Anno contains propositions endorsing, whether explicitly or implicitly, fascist ideology is unsubstantiated and irresponsible. The assertion, in fact, reflects a paucity of theological acuity.

              • papagan

                “It didn’t really as much shape Fascism as Rerum Novarum was shaped by it, since Pius XI nurtured sympathies and a friendship with Mussolini and his ideas.”

                Is that so? Pope Leo XIII published Rerum Novarum, and Italian fascism surfaced decades later. Furthermore, on what grounds do you base your assertion that Pope Pius XI was sympathetic toward Italian fascism?

                • I corrected my confusion between Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno.

                  So far, you have demonstrated to have no desire to learn from others, just to summon your arrogant ignorance to question others. In other words, you are a troll. I have no time for trolls.

                  • papagan

                    “So far, you have demonstrated to have no desire to learn from others, just to summon your arrogant ignorance to question others. In other words, you are a troll. I have no time for trolls.”

                    You lack sufficient grounds to draw such (hasty) conclusions. In addition, I’ve questioned certain comments you’ve posted concerning statements made by Pope Francis, and you haven’t yet shown that my probing questions are unwarranted. You prefer to label me a “troll” and then run. That’s your choice. In any case, I didn’t expect the you would be able to supply an adequate response.

                  • papagan

                    “I corrected my confusion between Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno below.”

                    As regards Quadragesimo Anno, the suggestion that this papal encyclical is a spawn of Italian fascism, not a rational and faith-inspired response to observed social disorders, is a breathtaking instance of misunderstanding!

            • papagan

              Rerum Novarum shaped Italian fascism…”

              Really? How exactly did you reach that conclusion?

              “Pope Francis ideas on the economy, social justice, the role of the state, etc. are from that tradition.”

              Which tradition? Are you referring to Italian fascism? Or are you referring to Catholic social teaching going back to Rerum Novarum?

              “Explain what is simpleminded about that.”

              My answer to that question would depend on how you answer the questions I posed earlier in this post.

              • Peter Verkooijen

                > Really? How exactly did you reach that conclusion?

                I made it up just now! That was sarcasm.

                It is not a conclusion I reached on my own; it is generally accepted that Rerum Novarum shaped Italian fascism. You may disagree or be in denial about that, but don’t pretend I am saying anything new or far-fetched here.

                > Which tradition? Are you referring to Italian fascism?

                Catholic corporatism; Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, Peron in Argentina, etc.

                • papagan

                  “…it is generally accepted that Rerum Novarum shaped Italian fascism.”

                  Generally accepted? If I may ask, in what circles do you travel? The opinion that Rerum Novarum justifies Italian fascism is a howler!

                  “You may be in denial about that, but don’t pretend I am saying anything new or far-fetched here.”

                  You’re begging the question.

                  “Catholic corporatism; Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, Peron in Argentina, etc.”

                  The comparison is misleading.

                • Marcelus

                  My friend you are fighting alone here. They bring Peron in now.

                  They may have forgotten Che.

            • Marcelus

              Oh so that was it? thank God !!!

    • Marcelus

      Peter …you are getting into a territory you may not be familiar with.+
      Peron????????

  • Rod8

    “The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ,”
    This statement is certainly true. The January 2015 issue of Inside the Vatican explains how Pope Francis conducted a “secret” negotiation for US recognition of communist Cuba. Inside the Vatican published a photo of Pope Francis shaking Castro’s hand to seal the deal.
    A few things come to mind:
    The pope overruled American sovereignty to decide her foreign policy.
    He discarded opportunity to secure civil rights guarantees for the Cuban people.
    He failed to require a military agreement, for example, no nuclear weapons on that island.
    As for being bound to the example of Christ,
    Christ never made a deal with the Devil, nor did he shake the Devil’s hand
    Christ never put tyranny on the same footing with freedom.
    Christ never sought a role as international negotiator or diplomat. Christ confined his ministry to evangelizing, healing the sick, and speaking out against injustice.

    • Marcelus

      I recall Paul vI with Idi Amin and JP2 with another Castro???? or am I wrong?

      ANd more?

      Ohh it was Francis then it is righ go after him

  • ithakavi

    All excellent points. However, one could wish that Francis be more discreet in his public utterances. Neither the secular press (generally hostile to the Church under normal circumstances) nor the lay faithful find it easy to distinguish between what this Pope says and what this Pope means. He sows confusion, and by confusion compounds error.

    • papagan

      “Neither [1] the secular press (generally hostile to the Church under normal circumstances) nor [2] the lay faithful find it easy to distinguish between what this Pope says and what this Pope means.”

      Regarding 1, perhaps the secular press bears much greater responsibility for confusion than some are willing to acknowledge. Regarding 2, perhaps the confusion in the minds of certain believers, to the extent that they are truly confused, stems more from inadequate catechesis at the local level. Finally, the consistent failure (which in at least some cases may be rooted in ulterior motives) to employ the principle of charity when interpreting the statements of others may help to explain the perpetuation of confusion!

      • GG

        Denying the obvious is not charitable or consistent with the truth.

        • papagan

          Apparently not all agree as to what is and what isn’t obvious.

          • GG

            Speak with Cardinal Burke and all those who are the signing the petition about the Synod.

            • papagan

              “Speak with Cardinal Burke and all those who are the signing the petition about the Synod.”

              The petition about the Synod? Really? You believe that that is how Catholic doctrine and discipline are decided by the College of Bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff?

              • GG

                It is signed by prominent and faithful Catholics. Apparently the serious Catholics who started it are very concerned. Yes, it is very appropriate given the confusion that reigns now.

                You want to read what the Polish bishops have said.

                • papagan

                  My advice would be to avoid interfering in the work of the College of Bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff. Backseat drivers are not helpful. Let the College of Bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff do what they need to do. Hotheaded laymen fomenting unrest and division among the laity is not constructive.

                  • GG

                    It is not interference. To call it that is dishonest.

                    • papagan

                      Fomenting unrest and division among the laity qualifies, I think, as interference, at least indirectly. It would be disingenuous to deny that.

                    • GG

                      Such nonsense. It is the work of faithful people who love the Church. The Truth divides.

                    • papagan

                      “Such nonsense. It is the work of faithful people who love the Church. The Truth divides.”

                      Truth can also expose those who are not what they pretend to be, including those who, claiming to be loyal and faithful Catholics, obstinately resist the Magisterium of the Church.

      • ithakavi

        I have no argument with what you say. However, you overlook the fact that both the general hostility (or incomprehension) of the secular press and the inadequate catechesis of much of the lay faithful are givens – simple facts that any Pope must consider when making public statements. Prudence requires that a Pope be no less thoughtful when answering questions from the press than when he delivers a homily. This is because the press doesn’t know (or care) about the difference; and because faithful Catholics pay close attention to everything the Pope says. The papacy is a unique institution – unlike any other in history. It ill becomes the Holy Father to be seen making it up on the fly (the “rabbit” comment is a particularly egregious example; the “who am I to judge” another).

        I am an adult convert to the faith and I spend a considerable amount of my time learning as much as I can about both Church doctrine and history. I try very hard to examine my beliefs in an attempt to avoid heterodoxy. I do not take stories from the popular press at face value, and always search for context when some particular statement of the Holy Father appears in print. What he says is uniformly orthodox in context, but you have to search very deeply to find the context that renders his statements orthodox. Most people will not expend that level of effort, and I very much suspect that Francis knows this.

        And finally, during the last Extraordinary Synod I found it disturbing that the Vatican Press Office seemed to have assumed a more authoritative role in articulating doctrine than that accorded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I agree that we must all be charitable in interpreting the statements of others. But charity does not imply credulity.

        • papagan

          “I am an adult convert to the faith and I spend a considerable amount of my time learning as much as I can about both Church doctrine and history. I try very hard to examine my beliefs in an attempt to avoid heterodoxy. I do not take stories from the popular press at face value, and always search for context when some particular statement of the Holy Father appears in print. “

          In that case, I’d recommend that you turn to responsible and reliable theological and historical sources to grow in the faith, and avoid the secular press!

          “What he says is uniformly orthodox in context, but you have to search very deeply to find the context that renders his statements orthodox. Most people will not expend that level of effort…”

          I’d give them the same advice I offered earlier: If you want to avoid heterodoxy, avoid the secular press, unless you have the appropriate level of training to skirt all of the ideological land mines prepared for the unwary.

          “But charity does not imply credulity.”

          Agreed, but lately I’ve observed much credulity.

          • ithakavi

            If you live in this world you cannot avoid the secular press. I don’t rely on the secular press (or for that matter the “liberal” Catholic press) to guide me in doctrinal matters. Nevertheless, the world views this Pope through the lens of the secular press and Francis is well aware of this. He can not not know that when he makes an equivocal statement it will be spun in favor of the materialist relativist zeitgeist. Given such understanding, his continued off-the-cuff remarks are inexplicable. When Elton John and “The Advocate” hail Francis as a defender of “marriage equality” something has gone very very wrong with message control.

            There is a very good reason that the adjective “Jesuitical” is not a compliment.

            • papagan

              “If you live in this world you cannot avoid the secular press.”

              That doesn’t mean one must always listen to the secular press, let alone place trust in what the secular press communicates on religious matters.

              “Nevertheless, the world views this Pope through the lens of the secular press…”

              Caveat emptor! Do not trust the secular press on religious matters. Christians shouldn’t be credulous.

              “He can not not know that when he makes [a] … statement it will be spun in favor of the materialist relativist zeitgeist.”

              All Christians should know that, and they shouldn’t be credulous. You’ve probably heard it said, “The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” Similarly, agnostic reporters can cite popes for their secularistic purposes.

              “When Elton John and ‘The Advocate’ hail Francis as a defender of ‘marriage equality’ something has gone very very wrong with message control.”

              A pope cannot realistically avoid altogether the secular press, nor should he attempt to do so. Moreover, we cannot control what agnostic reporters present to those who choose to listen to their reports, whether distorted or otherwise. Christians can make choices, however, as regards the sources they follow and which sources to trust. Believers need to take responsibility for what they choose to accept as true.

            • papagan

              “There is a very good reason for the fact that the adjective ‘Jesuitical’ is not a compliment.”

              I know several very fine Jesuits!

              • ithakavi

                So do I. However, it is a fact that to call something or someone “Jesuitical” is not a compliment.

                • papagan

                  So, to whom were you applying the adjective? Anyone in particular?

                  • ithakavi

                    The adjective need not be applied to a person. It is more often used as a description of a statement or argument. But in either instance it means “practicing casuistry or equivocation; using subtle or oversubtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing.” The word is apropos to this discussion because: 1) Francis is, in fact, a Jesuit; and (2) the topic is his undeniable equivocation when speaking to the press.

                    I note in passing that there is no similar descriptive derived from the Franciscans or the Redemptorists or the Dominicans.

                    The Jesuits have produced many saints. Their missionary efforts are legendary and heroic. But there is most definitely a darker side to the Order. As one example, they have made a complete and very deliberate hash of Georgetown University and Boston College – to the point that the local ordinaries really ought to demand that they stop representing themselves to be Catholic at all. The Jesuits have come very close to being suppressed, and for good reason. John Paul II took the extraordinary step of appointing his own Superior General rather than allow the Order to elect its own. Benedict found it necessary to remove the editor of “America.” It is not uncharitable to take notice of these facts.

                    • papagan

                      I’m well aware of the internal difficulties you mention. Those internal difficulties have nothing to do with what I’ve stated previously.

                    • ithakavi

                      Every religious order has difficulties – internal and otherwise. Every religious order includes a highly remarkable mix of personalities. Not every religious order has its own unique pejorative adjective. If there is one adjective that can fairly be applied to the enigmatic public statements of this Pope, Jesuitical is as good as any.

        • papagan

          “It ill becomes the Holy Father to be seen making it [sic] up on the fly (the “rabbit” comment is a particularly egregious example; the “who am I to judge” another).”

          When you (or others) make such critical remarks, are you employing the principle of charity in your interpretation of another person’s comments? Or are you giving the comments in question the worst possible interpretation? What message was he attempting to convey in each case? Was he really trying to say that having many children is necessarily bad? Was he really trying to say that it is always wrong to draw moral conclusions about free agents and human acts? Too often the principle of charity is not employed.

          • ithakavi

            My point is that one cannot easily say what the Holy Father meant. He is the Pope, and when he speaks people pay attention. If he can’t speak with clarity, he ought to keep his mouth shut. Moreover, if he intends his comments to be equivocal (and I and many others believe he does) then he is deliberately sowing confusion). Was Jesus lacking charity when he called the Pharisees hypocrites?

            • papagan

              “My point is that one cannot easily say what the Holy Father meant.”

              There can be various reasons why one cannot easily say what another person intends to communicate. If one wishes to ascribe blame to the speaker or writer, one should be sure that the charge is objectively warranted.

              “He is the Pope, and when he speaks people pay attention.”

              There is good reason to do so.

              “If [one] can’t speak with clarity, [one] ought to keep [one’s] mouth shut.”

              If that were enforced universally, there would be very little verbal or written communication in this world! Defective communications are legion! Defective interpretation is another problem, and so is defective translation.

              “Moreover, if he intends his comments to be equivocal (and I and many others believe he does) then he is deliberately sowing confusion.”

              That’s unwarranted and uncharitable!

              “Was Jesus lacking charity when he called the Pharisees hypocrites?”

              Strange question. Can the divine source of caritas be uncharitable? As regards the charge of hypocrisy, do you mean to insinuate that Pope Francis is a hypocrite?

              • ithakavi

                The Pope is not just anyone – he is the Vicar of Christ. Much more is expected, and clarity of expression is pretty basic to the job description. Moreover, in Francis’ case the confusion very much arises from the words chosen and their manner of delivery. A papal news conference is scripted – questions are approved in advance. The obscurity of some of his responses is designed.

                It would be uncharitable to assume that Francis’ equivocation is deliberate if there were only one or two instances of it. Sadly, that is not the case. When a man this intelligent and this articulate habitually speaks like the Oracle at Delphi, one has to assume it is intentional.

                Charity is but one of seven virtues. Another is prudence. I merely observe, on firm empirical grounds, that much of his public speech is imprudent.

                • papagan

                  “The obscurity of some of his responses is designed.”

                  You really don’t know that. If you did, you should be able to prove it.

                  “It would be uncharitable to assume that Francis’ equivocation is deliberate if there were only one or two instances of it. Sadly, that is not the case.” (Emphasis added.)

                  That begs the question.

                  “[1] When a man this intelligent and this articulate habitually speaks like the Oracle at Delphi, [2] one has to assume it is intentional.”

                  Regarding 1, not all share that opinion. Regarding 2, again you beg the question.

                  “Charity is but one of seven virtues.”

                  It isn’t on a par with the other virtues; it is the form of all the virtues.

                  “I merely observe, on firm empirical grounds, that much of his public speech is imprudent.”

                  You’ve made the point that you don’t favor his style of communication. Others do. In any case, that supplies no good reason to impugn his motives, nor have you established the hasty charge of imprudence.

                  • ithakavi

                    1. His deliberate obscurity is fairly inferred. The alternative is mental debility and that is not plausible.
                    2. It is not begging the question to describe many of his public utterances as equivocal. “Begging the question” means to assume a conclusion as its own premise. A mere description is just that – it may be right or it may be wrong, but it cannot “beg the question.”
                    3. Equivocal: “having two or more possible meanings; not easily understood or explained. If much of what Francis says is not “equivocal” then why did the author bother to write an article entitled “Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma” and why are we having this conversation?
                    4. I have no idea what “the form of all the virtues” might mean. However, in order to practice the virtue of Charity one must also practice the other six. Imprudence impedes charity, just as surely as injustice or despair or a lack of faith.
                    5. I said nothing of his motive. Neither you nor I (nor Francis) can judge motive in another human heart. But we can judge intentionality (which is quite a different thing).

                    I’m not sure what you expect of me. I find his statements equivocal – as do a large segment of faithful Catholics who pay attention. I observe (without fear of intelligent contradiction) that he his statements have caused a great deal of confusion among the faithful. As a personal preference, I am not fond of confusion. I also note in passing that he is fond of talking about subjects of which he knows absolutely nothing (e.g., economics and the physics of climate). He has also encouraged a theology of “liberation” that St. John Paul and Benedict spent decades suppressing. The debacle of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family is still fresh in everyone’s mind, and his role in that debacle is not yet known. The Church awaits the results of the Ordinary Synod with not some small degree of trepidation.

                    Do I love his Pope? Of course. Do I pray for this Pope? Of course. Do I understand this Pope? Not at all. Do I have absolute faith that this Pope will leave this Church stronger than when he assumed the See of Peter? No; but I have hope.

                    • papagan

                      “I also note in passing that he is fond of talking about subjects of which he knows absolutely nothing (e.g., economics and the physics of climate).”

                      Now we appear to be getting closer to the very heart of the matter. Many, including libertarians, are terribly disturbed by his strong emphasis on Catholic social teaching, including the notion of human ecology, not to be confused with the “physics of climate.” The modern approach to economics is much more quantitative and non-moral. The classical approach is inherently humanistic. According to the latter approach, economics is necessarily ethical in nature, which means that the Church’s Magisterium is eminently qualified to address economics questions. Pope Francis is perceived as a serious threat to the modern approach to economics, and those who favor the modern approach are extremely displeased with Pope Francis.

                      “He has also encouraged a theology of ‘liberation’ that St. John Paul and Benedict spent decades suppressing.”

                      Straw man. You are terribly misinformed if you truly believe that Pope Francis is moving in a direction contrary to the social teaching of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. There is no “hermeneutic of rupture” in play here. What is in play is a “hermeneutic of continuity” with respect to Catholic social teaching and Pope Francis.

                      “The debacle of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family is still fresh in everyone’s mind, and his role in that debacle is not yet known. The Church awaits the results of the Ordinary Synod with not some small degree of trepidation.”

                      Red herring. Let’s not divert attention away from the real issue of Catholic social teaching. (Regarding the Synod on the Family, I would not encourage anyone to play backseat driver. It should be left to the College of Bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff. The rhetoric of fear and suspicion in relation to the Synod on the Family is both unwarranted and divisive.)

                      “Do I understand this Pope? Not at all.”

                      To help develop one’s understanding of Pope Francis, one might consider reading The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, by Austen Ivereigh http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Reformer-Francis-Radical/dp/1627791574. I haven’t yet read that book, but it was very enthusiastically recommended by an outstanding Catholic priest whom I admire, and I’ve heard only good things about Ivereigh’s book.

                      “Do I have absolute faith that this Pope will leave this Church stronger than when he assumed the See of Peter? No; but I have hope.”

                      Theological hope depends on theological faith. The object of both of those theological virtues is God. God has placed Pope Francis at the helm of the Barque of Peter. God will not allow the Vicar of Christ or His Church to sink. Be at peace!

                    • ithakavi

                      1. It is uncontroversial and unremarkable to acknowledge that Catholic social doctrine requires concern for the poor and unstinting charity (in the narrow sense of alms). Every social encyclical since Rerum Novarum has rightly criticized capitalist excesses and reiterated the truism that all social action (including business and trade) must be carried on with Christian virtue, including Charity (int the broad sense). However, it is also true that every social encyclical pays lip service to the truism that the Church lacks the expertise to proscribe economic policy, but each then (without explanation) proceeds to do exactly that. Even Caritas in Veritate contains statements about the nature of free market exchange that would cause a first semester Econ 101 student to blush with shame (and I say that as someone who reveres Benedict XVI) and prescribes redistributive structures that would end in planetary economic collapse. It is not exaggeration to say that “Catholic Social Doctrine” is an incoherent mess to the extent that it aspires to be or to describe a civic project.

                      2. Francis, however, has taken this to an entirely new level. He has described “money” as “devil’s dung” – failing to distinguish between the love of money (idolatry and a sin against the First Commandment) and money per se which is merely one material good among many. Similarly, he says that human labor is not a commodity (an asinine statement), as if a human being and human labor are the same thing. Again, we have the same old problem of equivocation that has plagued Francis from the first day of his Pontificate. It is not exaggeration that Francis simply hasn’t the faintest idea of how a real-world economy works. He wants prosperity and simultaneously condemns the very things that create prosperity. That degree of ignorance ill beThe scary part is that he is blithely unaware of his ignorance.

                      3. In the same vein, the notion that men are made are stewards over the earth is as old as Genesis. However, Francis has made statements to the effect that the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is proven and that coercive global action is necessary to combat it. I defy anyone to find anything in Francis’ background that would remotely qualify him to make such a judgment. I anticipate his upcoming “environmental” encyclical with trepidation. That Peter Cardinal Turkson is a major contributor to the expected document (a man combining astonishing degrees of arrogance and ignorance with self-righteousness) is not a source of reassurance.
                      4. The debacle of the Extraordinary Synod is not a red herring. The Vatican Press Office deliberately leaked the interim relatio in a successful effort to spin the public narrative to be that the Church was about to change its doctrines respecting homosexual activity and the indissolubility of marriage. Cardinal Baldisseri has publicly stated (without contradiction) that this was with Francis’ approval. The Synod Fathers were then required (with force, and at some personal cost) to push back and produce an orthodox final document. Since when did the Vatican Press Office gain doctrinal authority?
                      5. The book you cite does not initially seem reassuring. I am not fond of words like “revolutionary” and “radical” in such a context. However, I may buy the book. I have already read Robert Moynihan’s “Pray for Me” written shortly after the conclave. And despite Dr. Moynihan’s quite obvious admiration for Francis, “Inside the Vatican” has published some pretty biting criticism of Francis’ unique style of communication.

                      6. If you say as theological (ecclesiological) truth that God made Francis Pope, then you must also say the same thing about Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI), Giovanni de’ Medici (Leo X) and Giulio de’ Medici (Clement VII). In the latter instances, you must then conclude that God works through corruption, avarice, and bribery (a conclusion to which I am reluctant to admit). I will accept as truth that the Church will always provide to its faithful and that the Church will preserve orthodox belief to the end of time. It is not necessary to the theological virtues that we uncritically believe that no conclave can err.

                    • GG

                      Excellent. You go to the head of the class. You are not a liberal prelate, that is for certain.

                    • papagan

                      “Even Caritas in Veritate contains statements about the nature of free market exchange that would cause a first semester Econ 101 student to blush with shame (and I say that as someone who reveres [Pope] Benedict XVI) and prescribes redistributive structures that would end in planetary economic collapse.”

                      Can you substantiate that unsupported assertion?

                      “It is not exaggeration to say that ‘Catholic Social Doctrine’ is an incoherent mess to the extent that it aspires to be or to describe a civic project.”

                      Again, can you substantiate that unsupported assertion?

                      «2. [Pope] Francis, however, has taken this to an entirely new level. He has described “money” as “devil’s dung” – failing to distinguish between the love of money (idolatry and a sin against the First Commandment) and money per se which is merely one material good among many.»

                      First, he did use the term “devil’s dung.” What point, however, did he intend to convey?

                      Second, money per se is not a material good bearing intrinsic value. Properly understood, money qua money lacks intrinsic value. As Aristotle observed, money qua money is nothing but a means of exchange. That’s the classical view. One could say that money qua money is credit. With respect to commercial transactions, just imagine a scenario in which all payments were made electronically…

                      «Similarly, he says that human labor is not a commodity (an asinine statement), as if a human being and human labor are the same thing.»

                      Apparently you’re unfamiliar with an important social encyclical by Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (LE) http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens.html. If you were familiar with LE, you might then discern what Pope Francis intended.

                      «Again, we have the same old problem of equivocation that has plagued Francis from the first day of his Pontificate.»

                      Jumping to conclusions. Not a good way to proceed.

                      «It is not exaggeration that Francis simply hasn’t the faintest idea of [1] how a real-world economy works. [2] He wants prosperity and simultaneously condemns the very things that create prosperity. That degree of ignorance ill becomes the Bishop of Rome. [3] The scary part is that he is blithely unaware of his ignorance.»

                      Regarding 1, the “real-world economy” may “work,” but it isn’t working well for far too many people! Pope Francis is drawing attention to that scandalous fact. Reform is needed desperately. The way things are is not always the way things ought to be.

                      Regarding 2, what many understand by “prosperity” is not equivalent to the common good of society. Pope Francis’s vision is far more comprehensive than that of authors such as Adam Smith. It isn’t evident that you appreciate that fact.

                      Regarding 3, the irony is palpable.

                      «[1] I anticipate his upcoming “environmental” encyclical with trepidation. [2] That Peter Cardinal Turkson is a major contributor to the expected document (a man combining astonishing degrees of arrogance and ignorance with self-righteousness) is not a source of reassurance.»

                      Regarding 1, I believe the forthcoming encyclical will be about the notion of human ecology, which is far more comprehensive than the empirical idea of climate.

                      Regarding 2, the statement appears to be based on misguided bias.

                      «4. The debacle of the Extraordinary Synod is not a red herring.»

                      I think it is.

                      «…the Church was about to change its doctrines respecting homosexual activity and the indissolubility of marriage.»

                      Those who believe that those doctrines will be reversed should prepare to be disappointed. I think it’s truly silly to believe that Pope Francis may try to change those irreformable doctrines.

                      «6. If you say as theological (ecclesiological) truth that God made Francis Pope, then you must also say the same thing about Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI), Giovanni de’ Medici (Leo X) and Giulio de’ Medici (Clement VII). In the latter instances, you must then conclude that God works through corruption, avarice, and bribery (a conclusion to which I am reluctant to admit).»

                      Being omnipotent, God can bring good out of what isn’t. God doesn’t approve of moral corruption, avarice, or bribery, but He certainly permits such defects, which could never frustrate divine providence. Those who believe otherwise hold a radically flawed conception of God. In a mysterious way God works through human weakness. Finally, the Adversary and father of lies shall not prevail against Christ’s Church led by the Vicar of Christ. Christ will not allow his Church to be led by any pseudo-pope.

                    • ithakavi

                      1. Caritas in Veritate states twice (in Nos. 35 and 37) that a free market exchange is an exchange of goods of equivalent value. In fact, if the goods were of equivalent value there would be no exchange at all. An exchange of goods takes place when the parties value the goods differently. Value is subjective – and thus the to even speak of goods of “equivalent value” is a non sequitur. In No. 42 it calls for international structures of wealth distribution – interesting in theory but invariably disastrous in practice; think of a world that looks like Venezuela. Benedict XVI is a living saint. I had the great privilege of attending one of his Wednesday audiences and cried like baby as he drove by not ten feet from where I stood. But he is not competent in economics.
                      2. If you really want to see what Catholic “Social Doctrine” would look like in practice, imagine what life would be like had the Church continued in its prohibition of lending money at interest. The various encyclicals are lovely documents expressing human solidarity and charity. But to the extent that they prescribe policy (i.e., a civic project) they are beneath intelligent consideration.
                      3. It’s comical to hear someone claim that money has no intrinsic value and at the same time bitterly complain that the poor don’t have enough of it. And such an argument is doubly absurd when one is asked to send a large check to the Bishop’s Appeal. One ought to demand a higher standard of argument from the Bishop of Rome. Money is a medium of exchange and has value because of its acceptance as such. To suggest that it has no intrinsic value is the same as saying a warehouse receipt for a ton of wheat has no intrinsic value. Please do not bore me with Aristotelian misconceptions of monetary theory.
                      4. Asking what Francis “intended to convey” is often a fool’s errand.
                      5. Prosperity may not be sufficient for the “common good” but it is necessary for the common good. Those who constantly whine that “inequality” as being a terrible evil ignore the fact that capitalism (as ‘unfair’ as it may seem) has delivered more people out of poverty than anything in the history of the world. So much so, that people from nations firmly committed to “equality” (including Peronist Argentina) are breaking down doors to find opportunity in nations retaining the vestiges of free markets. The irony is palpable.
                      6. I stand by my statements regarding Peter Cardinal Turkson. The man is a menace.
                      7. We will know what the encyclical says when we read it. The advance hype suggests that Francis has accepted the alarmist AGW view. I will pray that my fears are unfounded. However, Peter Cardinal Turkson is lurking in the shadows.
                      8. Do you really contend that the Extraordinary Synod was not an unholy mess? Do you deny that Cardinal Baldisseri engaged in outrageous chicanery when releasing the interim relatio? Do you deny that he has publicly and without contradiction stated that he had the approval of Francis in doing so?
                      9. I did not say the doctrines (prohibitions of homosexual conduct and adultery) would be reversed. I do say that some very highly placed prelates went to extraordinary (and dishonest) lengths to give the world the impression that they would be reversed. Please do not distort what I have said – you are in the habit of doing so and it reflects badly either on your intellect or your morals.
                      10. God has allowed his Church to be led – at times – by libertines and criminals (as noted). It is certainly possible that in this instance he is allowing it to be led by someone we can charitably describe as less than optimal. I am not a sedevacantist – please do not put words in my mouth.

                    • papagan

                      1. Caritas in Veritate states twice (in Nos. 35 and 37) that a free market exchange is an exchange of goods of equivalent value. In fact, if the goods were of equivalent value there would be no exchange at all. An exchange of goods takes place when the parties value the goods differently. Value is subjective – and thus the to even speak of goods of “equivalent value” is a non sequitur. In No. 42 it calls for international structures of wealth distribution – interesting in theory but invariably disastrous in practice; think of a world that looks like Venezuela. Benedict XVI is a living saint. I had the great privilege of attending one of his Wednesday audiences and cried like baby as he drove by not ten feet from where I stood. But he is not competent in economics.
                      2. If you really want to see what Catholic “Social Doctrine” would look like in practice, imagine what life would be like had the Church continued in its prohibition of lending money at interest. The various encyclicals are lovely documents expressing human solidarity and charity. But to the extent that they prescribe policy (i.e., a civic project) they are beneath intelligent consideration. LE is also high-minded claptrap. Labor is no less a commodity than the products of labor. It is embarrassing to note that the Church has retained the labor theory of value long after it has been jettisoned by Marxists. Such a theory implies that a hole dug with a tablespoon is worth more than a hole of equal size dug by a shovel. The notion is an absurdity.
                      3. It’s comical to hear someone claim that money has no intrinsic value and at the same time bitterly complain that the poor don’t have enough of it. And such an argument is doubly absurd when one is asked to send a large check to the Bishop’s Appeal. One ought to demand a higher standard of argument from the Bishop of Rome. Money is a medium of exchange and has value because of its acceptance as such. To suggest that it has no intrinsic value is the same as saying a warehouse receipt for a ton of wheat has no intrinsic value. Please do not bore me with Aristotelian misconceptions of monetary theory.
                      4. Asking what Francis “intended to convey” is often a fool’s errand.
                      5. Prosperity may not be sufficient for the “common good” but it isnecessary for the common good. Those who constantly whine that “inequality” is a terrible evil ignore the fact that capitalism (as ‘unfair’ as it may seem) has delivered more people out of poverty than anything in the history of the world. So much so, that people from nations firmly committed to “equality” (including Peronist Argentina) are breaking down doors to find opportunity in nations retaining the vestiges of free markets. The irony is palpable.
                      6. I stand by my statements regarding Peter Cardinal Turkson. The man is a menace.
                      7. We will know what the encyclical says when we read it. The advance hype suggests that Francis has accepted the alarmist AGW view. I will pray that my fears are unfounded. However, Peter Cardinal Turkson is lurking in the shadows.
                      8. Do you really contend that the Extraordinary Synod was not an unholy mess? Do you deny that Cardinal Baldisseri engaged in outrageous chicanery when releasing the interim relatio? Do you deny that he has publicly and without contradiction stated that he had the approval of Francis in doing so?
                      9. I did not say the doctrines (prohibitions of homosexual conduct and adultery) would be reversed. I do say that some very highly placed prelates went to extraordinary (and dishonest) lengths to give the world the impression that they would be reversed. Please do not distort what I have said – you are in the habit of doing so and it reflects badly either on your intellect or your morals.
                      10. God has allowed his Church to be led – at times – by libertines and criminals (as noted). It is certainly possible that in this instance he is allowing it to be led by someone we can charitably describe as less than optimal. I am not a sedevacantist – please do not put words in my mouth.

                      In view of the foregoing response, not to mention its tone, I seriously doubt that you and I could reach any significant meeting of minds, at least not for several years. You seem absolutely committed to certain views which uncritically presuppose an anthropology inconsistent with the Christian theological anthropology upon which Catholic social teaching depends.

                      Good luck to you.

                    • Guest

                      delete

                    • ithakavi

                      I note in passing that you offer no substantive arguments in opposition to anything I write in that post.

                      I agree that we must agree to disagree. I categorically deny that my views are opposed to Catholic anthropology (by which I mean the Church’s understanding of what a human being is). I agree with Dr. Woods that there are areas of human endeavor to which the authority of the Magisterium cannot reach and which will remain forever open to honest and loyal dispute. Please remember that in his entire public ministry Christ Jesus said not a single word on the political issues of the day. Indeed, when the Scribes and Pharisees tried to entrap him into doing so he made fools of them. He also very pointedly said that the poor would always be with us and
                      scolded his disciples for their criticism of a sinful woman who anointed
                      Him with costly oil rather than give the equivalent money over to the poor. He never condemned money per se, but merely said it was Caesar’s and not God’s. And even Jesus paid the Temple Tax – with a coin miraculously obtained from the mouth of a fish.

                      The Church is a Divine Institution given over to the governance of sinful men. That it has survived and will continue to survive to the end of time despite the fallibility of the hierarchy is the best evidence of the Power of the Holy Spirit that one can imagine. The infallible teaching authority of the Church is a negative charism. It does not guarantee that Popes and Prelates will not say or do stupid things. It merely guarantees that the Church cannot teach error on matters of faith and morals. It most certainly does not say that the Pope can’t make a fool of himself while chattering with the press or display his ignorance when attempting to speak of practical means for achieving “social justice.” I will continue to pray for Pope Francis and for his intentions.

                      Good luck to you as well.

                    • papagan

                      The libertarian writings of Thomas E. Woods, Jr., are based on a seriously defective anthropology, not on a sound Catholic theological anthropology. His defective anthropological views help to explain his published dissent from Catholic social teaching. (Regarding the question of philosophical anthropology, that’s my area of professional expertise.)

                    • ithakavi

                      One does not have to be a libertarian (and I am not) to agree that the labor theory of value is pure malarkey. Moreover, you cannot make “Catholic Social Teaching” part of the deposit of faith. You cannot, with a straight face, accept Benedict XVI’s description of a free market exchange as an exchange of “equivalent values.” I love BXVI and treasure his writing. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a living saint. But he knows nothing about economics. Zero.

                      If you claim to have expertise in Catholic theological anthropology, then tell me where I’ve gotten mine wrong. There are papal pronouncements about which faithful Catholics can disagree. Astronomy is one. Economics is another.

                      Purely for informational purposes I am not a libertarian because libertarianism, as a philosophy, relies upon the notion of self-ownership. I do not believe that we own ourselves. Free will is not about ownership.

                      I note, again in passing, that your posts are devoid of substantive argument. Ipse dixit does not count.

                    • papagan

                      “If you claim to have expertise in Catholic theological anthropology, then tell me where I’ve gotten mine wrong.”

                      First, I was offering a passing comment on the questionable libertarian writings of Mr. T.E. Woods, Jr. If others wish to follow his lead, that’s their choice.

                      Second, there is much to say about the complex underlying anthropological issues involved, including freedom, and this certainly isn’t the proper forum for such a lengthy discussion. In this case there simply isn’t a “quick fix.” One must invest no small amount of time http://www.dspt.edu/files/S15_PH2040_Dodds.pdf , and in an electronic age of instant gratification, such an investment just isn’t something many are prepared to make.

                      Finally, based on several of your previous comments, I don’t believe that you’re prepared at this point in time to benefit from anything I may have to say on questions pertaining to Catholic theological anthropology. In any event, if you grasp the ethico-theological deficiency of libertarian thought (a brief hint of which deficiency is given in Centesimus annus, 42), that’s a valuable step in the right direction.

                    • ithakavi

                      That is, in the vernacular, a cop-out.

                      The fact that Dr. Woods has gotten some things very wrong does not imply that he has gotten everything wrong. To the extent that Social Doctrine provides policy statements (and much of it does despite protestations to the contrary) those policy statements need to make sense in the real world, and much of it does not. I have pointed to two glaring errors. In passing, I do not consider CA 42 to be addressing libertarianism but merely describing the social and moral framework necessary to make free markets work.

                      In my humble opinion, the Church very often makes unwarranted assumptions about human expertise. In particular Caritas in Veritate assumes that human expertise exists to allow governments and supra-governments to equitably (and of necessity coercively) “redistribute” prosperity without destroying prosperity (needing only the proper moral disposition to do so). I defy anyone to find in any of the social encyclicals an argument for that assumption; it is merely and always stated as if it is a necessary truth. The assumption absurd – as demonstrated by the horrific examples the various socialist revolutions of the 20th century. It is also an assumption shared by such luminaries as Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and Chavez.

                      Nevertheless, good luck and have a nice day.

                    • papagan

                      «That is, in the vernacular, a cop-out.»

                      Call it whatever you wish.

                      «The fact that Dr. Woods has gotten some things very wrong does not imply that he has gotten everything wrong.»

                      No one gets everything wrong.

                      «To the extent that Social Doctrine provides policy statements (and much of it does despite protestations to the contrary) those policy statements need to make sense in the real world, and much of it does not. I have pointed to two glaring errors. In passing, I do not consider CA 42 to be addressing libertarianism but merely describing the social and moral framework necessary to make free markets work.

                      «In my humble opinion, the Church very often makes unwarranted assumptions about human expertise. In particular Caritas in Veritate assumes that human expertise exists to allow governments and supra-governments to equitably (and of necessity coercively) “redistribute” prosperity without destroying prosperity (needing only the proper moral disposition to do so). I defy anyone to find in any of the social encyclicals an argument for that assumption; it is merely and always stated as if it is a necessary truth. The assumption [is] absurd – as demonstrated by the horrific examples of the various socialist revolutions of the 20th century. It is also an assumption shared by such luminaries as Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and Chavez.»

                      Interestingly, that’s precisely the sort of misleading rhetoric employed by advocates of libertarianism. Libertarians simply cannot tolerate Catholic social teaching, because CST flatly contradicts the politico-economic worldview of libertarians. Some even employ the following line of reasoning: (1) Catholic social teaching is opposed to libertarianism. (2) Socialism is opposed to libertarianism. Therefore (3) Catholic social teaching is in accord with socialism. Such reasoning, however, is deceptive. For Catholic social teaching and socialism are mutually incompatible, although both reject libertarianism.

                      Christians shouldn’t be deceived. They shouldn’t invite a Trojan horse into the City of God, and libertarianism certainly is a Trojan horse.

                    • ithakavi

                      I’ve made no such argument and I have rejected libertariansim. Are you autistic? One does not have to be a libertarian to know that much of Catholic Social Teaching is simply wrong on the facts. I admire GK Chesterton, but his Fabian Socialism was, in fact, socialism (and inane). Every distributive scheme is, by definition, socialist. And every distributive scheme, in fact, creates poverty over time.

                      Please cite to any historical example of a successful society built on coercive redistribution of wealth. That is, after all, the same sort of populist stupidity that formed the backbone of the regimes of both Juan Peron and Hugo Chavez. Some success they’ve been.

                      If you can produce a single authoritative source that remotely suggests that the social encyclicals (beginning with Rerum Novarum and continuing to whatever this Pope produces on “ecology”) are dogmatic I’ll eat my hat.

                    • papagan

                      «I’ve made no such argument and I have rejected libertariansim. Are you autistic? One does not have to be a libertarian to know that much of Catholic Social Teaching is simply wrong on the facts. I admire GK Chesterton, but his Fabian Socialism was, in fact, socialism (and inane). Every distributive scheme is, by definition, socialist. And every distributive scheme, in fact, creates poverty over time.

                      «Please cite to any historical example of a successful society built on coercive redistribution of wealth. That is, after all, the same sort of populist stupidity that formed the backbone of the regimes of both Juan Peron and Hugo Chavez. Some success they’ve been.

                      «If you can produce a single authoritative source that remotely suggests that the social encyclicals (beginning with Rerum Novarum and continuing to whatever this Pope produces on “ecology”) are dogmatic I’ll eat my hat.»

                      Thou doth protest too much, methinks.

                    • ithakavi

                      And I think you have yet to produce a single substantive argument in this entire conversation. Ipse dixit does not cut it.

                    • papagan

                      “1. His deliberate obscurity is fairly inferred. The alternative is mental debility and that is not plausible.”

                      Incidentally, thank you for supplying that memorable example of defective reasoning. I’ll restate the fallacy with slight modifications.

                      “Either (D1) he’s guilty of deliberate obscurity, or (D2) he suffers from mental debility. D2 is implausible [true]. Thus, one may reasonably infer D1 [not really].”

                      The logical fallacy in question is known as false dichotomy http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/fallacies/false-dilemma.php. You assume (incorrectly) that D1 and D2 are the only two alternatives.

                      “2. It is not begging the question to describe many of his public utterances as equivocal. ‘Begging the question’ means to assume a conclusion as its own premise. A mere description is just that – it may be right or it may be wrong, but it cannot ‘beg the question.'”

                      Wrong again. You beg the question by taking for granted that a pattern of equivocation characterizes Pope Francis’s public utterances. Sorry, but I don’t share that opinion.

                      «3. Equivocal: “having two or more possible meanings; not easily understood or explained.” If much of what Francis says is not “equivocal” then why did the author bother to write an article entitled “Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma” and why are we having this conversation?»

                      Why write the article? What does Msgr. Feichtinger say?

                      «Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions.» (Emphasis added.)

                      Where does Msgr. Feichtinger support the audacious accusation that Pope Francis engages in deliberate equivocation?

                      «Do you consider it to have been “charitable” for Francis to have described Catholic parents with large families as “rabbits?”»

                      Quoting out of context. Please don’t do that! What point did he intend to convey? Remember the principle of charity?

                      “5. I said nothing of his motive. Neither you nor I (nor Francis) can judge motive in another human heart. But we can judge intentionality (which is quite a different thing).”

                      Well, you don’t exhibit much skill vis-à-vis discerning another person’s intentions. See my previous comment.

                      “I’m not sure what you expect of me.”

                      What should one expect? At the very least, if you really want to gain a better understanding of Pope Francis, you could read Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.

                    • ithakavi

                      I’m sorry, but you are becoming obscurant yourself:

                      1. I know what a false dichotomy is – and I didn’t construct one. You demonstrated that by the fact that you have not supplied a third alternative. You do not argue that his statements are not obscure (for purposes of this argument that is a given). Either his obscurity is intended or unintended (there are no third choices). If unintended, he is mentally confused – which I reject. Ergo his obscurity is intended.
                      2. You can disagree with my characterization – but a simple unambiguous statement (even when wrong) cannot beg the question. Begging the question means to assume what you purport to prove. I’m not attempting to “prove” that Francis makes equivocal statements – I state that as self-evident fact. A review of the Catholic literature from across the spectrum will find many respected and knowledgeable people who agree (Raymond Cardinal Burke, for one). It is, of course, possible that I am wrong, but if so, I am in good company.
                      3. The title describes Francis as an enigma: “something puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable.” The author then explains this “enigma” in terms of personal style and a distinction between what the Pope publicly utters and what the Church teaches magisterially. He attempts to draw a parallel between Benedict XVI’s non-magisterial writings and Francis’ press conferences – unsuccessfully. It is one thing to write “Jesus of Nazareth” as a personal debunking of the modern historical-critical exegetical method, and quite another to make equivocal statements suggesting (to some) that homosexual conduct or adultery may not be mortal sins after all.
                      4. The quotation is not out of context, and his use of “rabbits” was quite deliberate. There was no question of whom the word was directed. I say without ambiguity that Francis’ use of the term to describe parents with large families was uncharitable.
                      5. Intentionality is not the same thing as intention. I am accustomed to use words very carefully, and I would prefer that the people with whom I argue do the same.
                      6. As I said, I may read the book. You have admitted that you have not yet done so; thus you are not in a position to tell me that it would be edifying. From the review, it appears to try to explain Benedict via biography – the notion that a person is explained by his experiences. I don’t share the view. However, I do believe that people are shaped by culture. I have quite a bit of experience of Latin American culture, and that might explain a great deal (not all of it good). Suffice to say that the worldviews predominant south of the Rio Grande are not easily understood by English Speaking Peoples nor even by Western Europeans generally. Conversely, Latin Americans don’t understand the rest of the world very well either.

                    • papagan

                      «It is one thing to write “Jesus of Nazareth” as a personal debunking of the modern historical-critical exegetical method, and quite another to make equivocal statements suggesting (to some) that homosexual conduct or adultery may not be mortal sins after all.»

                      No one has established that Pope Francis has declared or suggested that a contraceptive (including sodomitic) act may be morally licit in some cases, or that an adulterous act might not be objectively disordered in certain instances.

                      «4. The quotation is not out of context, and his use of “rabbits” was quite deliberate. There was no question of whom the word was directed. I say without ambiguity that Francis’ use of the term to describe parents with large families was uncharitable.»

                      Since I don’t believe that you’re illiterate, I’m beginning to believe that either your reasoning skills are highly undeveloped, or you find it inordinately difficult to apply the principle of charity in your interpretation of the words of others. If the latter is the case, perhaps you’re predisposed to distort what Pope Francis actually intended.

                      «5. Intentionality is not the same thing as intention. I am accustomed to use words very carefully, and I would prefer that the people with whom I argue do the same.»

                      Interestingly, although you denied that intentionality is equivalent to either motivation or intention, you remain silent as to the particular sense in which you employed the term “intentionality.” In any event, when one seeks to interpret the words of others, one ought to endeavor to discern the meanings they actually intend to convey, and carefully avoid distortions, especially intentional distortions.

                      «As I said, I may read the book. You have admitted that you have not yet done so; thus you are not in a position to tell me that it would be edifying.»

                      I haven’t read it yet, but I do trust the priest who read it and enthusiastically recommended it to me. Obviously that alone does not suffice to persuade you to select Ivereigh’s book to help you gain some understanding of Pope Francis. Whether you would be edified by the book is a separate question. Justified edification presupposes accurate understanding.

                      «From the review, it appears to try to explain Benedict via biography – the notion that a person is explained by his experiences.»

                      If you actually believe that you can understand a person without knowing anything about his personal history, then that alone would suffice to establish that you and I have radically different perspectives.

                      «However, I do believe that people are shaped by culture.»

                      So do I, but I do not believe that one’s time or culture absolutely determines one’s apprehension of truth. I’m not an advocate of historicism.

                      «I have quite a bit of experience of Latin American culture, and that might explain a great deal (not all of it good).»

                      I’m sorry. Hopefully the bad experiences will not prevent you from apprehending certain important truths.

                      «Suffice to say that the worldviews predominant south of the Rio Grande are not easily understood by English Speaking Peoples nor even by Western Europeans generally. Conversely, Latin Americans don’t understand the rest of the world very well either.»

                      That shouldn’t prevent anyone from striving to understand other persons with different cultural experiences.

                    • ithakavi

                      1. Francis’ statement of “who am I to judge” was sufficiently vague as to give the world the impression that homosexual conduct would be tolerated by the Magisterium. If he didn’t understand that such a comment would be spun in that direction he is naive (and I don’t believe he is naive).
                      2. He used the word “rabbits” deliberately. He even apologized for its use (knowing it would offend). Deliberate offense is a sin against charity. Please don’t be naive.
                      3. Intentionality means intentionality. It does not mean motive and it does not mean intention. You have access to the world’s English dictionaries at your fingertips. I used the word precisely and correctly. Please do not be obtuse.
                      4. I will consider the book. As a general rule I am not impressed by people who use the words “radical” and “revolutionary” as compliments.
                      5. I didn’t say that one need not know about another person’s experiences. Please keep in mind the difference between necessity and sufficiency.
                      6. Culture embodies a unique way of looking at the world. Cultures both divide and unite. Sometimes the divisions are insuperable.
                      7. I did not say my experiences of Latin American culture were bad or unpleasant. I enjoy Latin America; but I despair of the fact that Latin Americans cannot recognize that the inequality and poverty that they rail against is deeply embedded in the way they view the world. The harder they struggle the worse they make things. Stable self-government (with the notable exception of Costa Rica) seems forever beyond their grasp.
                      8. Trying and doing are often two very different things. Francis is, by admission, a man from the “ends of the earth.” Unlike most Jesuits, he is not widely traveled and spent most of his life in one country. I’m not confident that he adequately understands that he is speaking to a wider audience that does not share or appreciate the very narrow worldview that Argentina represents.
                      9. On a positive note, Francis appears to be doing a pretty good job of cleaning out some of the darker recesses of the Curia – including the financial intrigues of the Vatican Bank.

  • rayster

    The pope is no longer “in” the Church, like sitting on the back porch BSing or talking in a coffee shop with some buddies.
    He’s got everyone confused, and you cover for him by excusing his street corner style musings. Perhaps this pope doesn’t understand his office or the serious leadership it entails.
    I know, pray for the pope.

    • Marcelus

      that is ok, No need for you to pray for him. do not worry

  • Ree

    I was expecting to read a “but…” about halfway through this piece, after the author did a very good job of laying the foundation describing the kind of pope we have today. However, that did not come. While the writer did a pretty good job of reminding me not to be so critical of our Pope (how he frames what he says, unfiltered, it seems) I couldn’t help think that those people who might benefit as well, if not more so, from this article are those who misunderstand what the Pope says, because they don’t have the benefit of, or avail themselves of, the CCC and other resources that will “set the record straight” about Catholic teaching and beliefs. It’s like, there’s this very lengthy disclaimer (this article) that needs to be attached to everything the Pope says.

  • Marcelus
    • papagan

      Thank you for sharing that link. Very good!

  • It seems that most of the controversial moral issues surrounding Pope Francis converge on this one issue: the question of sin. What is it? Does sin exist? Do we still need God’s forgiveness in today’s world? Which sins can God forgive? And which sins must we just put up with?

    God forgives the greatest of sins but never condones even the smallest of sins. What kind of mercy is the Church now offering to souls? True mercy that says, “Turn away from sin and let the love of God embrace you and save you” or a false mercy that says, “Stay where you are and God will embrace you and doesn’t expect you to give up your sin”? It is not clear which of these two approaches some Church prelates are advocating. Pope Francis is certainly showing tendencies towards the latter approach, though he has not come right out and said it. That is why many Christians are alarmed. That is why the world applauds the Pope. Which side of the fence is the Pope going to take? Francis needs to show the Church, clearly and definitively, that he is committed to the first approach.

    The Son of God became Man in order to call all of us sinners back to holiness and communion with God. Jesus Christ certainly mixed and associated with sinners and the rejects of society–but it was to invite them into His friendship, not to encourage them to remain in their sin. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, but He also added, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11)

    I am all for the mercy of God. The Divine Mercy is greater and more wonderful and far more powerful that we can ever imagine or hope for. The Divine Mercy goes out in search of all of us sinners, including those who have rejected God, and who no longer think of their own well-being and salvation, and lays down His life for them. Divine Mercy shall certainly save the world, not through an obstinate desire on our part to adhere to our own human errors and faults and standards, but through a sincere and heartfelt confidence and trust in God’s goodness and love. Note our Lord’s words to Saint Faustina, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the fount of My Mercy” (Diary of St Faustina, 699). Not a human idea of mercy that wants to keep our sins (and consequently our miseries), but the true Mercy of God that washes away our sins and heals our wounds and restores us to the true life that Jesus came to give us. Pope Francis needs to show us that he is committed to this truth that Jesus Christ and His Apostles and His Church have taught for 2000 years. Come on, holy Father, we are all counting on you. I pray that the holy Mother of God will inspire you to do the right thing by her Divine Son and His Church.

  • Marcelus

    Interesting:

    Who Are Pope Francis’s Critics?

    By ROSS DOUTHAT

    MARCH 12, 2015

    1. Traditionalists. These are Catholics defined by their preference/zeal for the Tridentine Rite Mass and their rejection of (or at least doubts about) various reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Some attend mainstream parishes that offer the mass in Latin, others are affiliated with orders specifically organized around the old rite, others are connected to parishes run by the (arguably; it’s a long argument) schismatic Society of Saint Pius X. There’s lots of variation within traditionalist ranks (my friend Michael Brendan Dougherty, cited by Bruenig, is a “trad” of a different sort than, say, this fellow), but the important things to emphasize are first, that their numbers (in the American context and otherwise) are quite small; second, that their concerns are not usually the same as those of the typical John Paul II-admiring conservative Catholic (traditionalists were often not admirers of the Polish pope); and third, that their skepticism of Pope Francis was probably inevitable and pretty clearly mutual.

    For instance, Bruenig notes that Rorate Caeli, a traditionalist site, greeted Jorge Bergoglio’s election by describing him as “a sworn enemy of the traditional Mass.” But what she doesn’t mention is that as Francis, he has often vindicated those fears: He has demoted the traditional mass’s most prominent champion within the Vatican, cracked down on a prominent traditionalist order, and frequently singled out traditionalist tendencies and practices for criticism in his remarks. Traditionalism has, it’s fair to say, a paranoid streak and then some, but even paranoids have enemies, and since the Tridentine mass was essentially suppressed in much of the church for a generation and more, Francis’s moves have not exactly been calculated to reassure Catholics of this persuasion about their place within the church.

    This doesn’t mean traditionalists are “right” and the pope is “wrong.” (If you want to understand where Francis might be coming from, consider that the SSPX seminary in Argentina during his years as archbishop of Buenos Aires was run by this charmer.) But it means that the conflict here has very specific contours, and the stakes involved are distinctive and not particularly influenced by, say, Francis’s social and economic vision (which some traditionalists find entirely congenial; see this Rorate Caeli post for an example). Which makes it very different from my second case study …

    2. Catholics who are economic conservatives or libertarians. These are Catholic writers and personalities who have publicly disagreed with the pope’s statements on the economy, capitalism and (pre-emptively, regarding his looming encyclical) the environment; in its crudest form, their criticism proceeds from the same premises as the (not-at-all Catholic) Rush Limbaugh’s famous suggestion that Francis is “preaching Marxism” when he critiques the global economy’s rapacious side. But it’s noteworthy, I think, that the loudest voices here are not usually figures particularly known for their Catholicism. Bruenig quotes Stephen Moore of Heritage, for instance, whose religious affiliation I was unaware of before he invoked it while criticizing the pontiff on green issues, and Sean Hannity of Fox, who’s more publicly pious but is also perfectly comfortable playing the cafeteria Catholic on … well, watch this clip. And her other examples of conservative writers who have gone hard after Francis’s forthcoming green encyclical are (meaning no disrespect) relatively obscure. Figures of greater prominence have been much more circumspect (to my knowledge, Michael Novak and George Weigel aren’t co-bylining essays denouncing the pontiff as a socialist), and the “Francis is too anti-capitalist” critique has no purchase whatsoever that I can see within the institutional American church.

    Instead, on a range of what get labeled social justice or “seamless garment” issues (the death penalty, immigration, etc.) it’s hard to find much daylight between what the press considers the conservative flank of the U.S. episcopate (an Archbishop Charles Chaput, say) and the pope. And examples like the recent joint editorial on the death penalty by an ideologically-diverse group of Catholic periodicals suggest that among lay Catholics, too, there isn’t all that much pro- or anti-papal polarization going on around social justice issues.

    Which is not to say that there isn’t a lively debate about the church’s social teaching (I have my own doubts about that death penalty editorial, and you don’t have to look hard to find critiques), or that Francis hasn’t influenced that debate. But it’s still mostly a new version of a very old discussion among American Catholics — one that goes back to the Eisenhower-era controversy surrounding William F. Buckley Jr.’s criticisms of the encylical “Mater et Magistra” and extends through Reagan-era arguments about economic policy — about how to apply Catholic social teaching in the American context, and whether that teaching can or should be reconciled with what you might call Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

    Under John Paul the balance in that debate (arguably; it’s a long argument) tipped a little bit more in democratic capitalism’s favor than had previously been the case; under Benedict the papal perspective arguably tipped back in a more explicitly social democratic direction (to some overt criticism from neoconservatives in the United States); under Francis it has taken on a more developing-world, Latin-American flavor, which has tipped things leftward in certain ways and also put a new complexion on the discussion. So too have various non-papal developments: For instance, cultural trends in the United States have encouraged a modest revival of skepticism among self-consciously orthodox Catholic thinkers about the faith’s compatibility with both political and economic liberalism … though at the same time, those same trends have complicated Catholic support for and cooperation with social programs and provided grist for Catholic skeptics of the welfare state.

    Where the debate will go I’m not sure, but for now I would stand by what I’ve written on the subject, both soon after Francis’s accession and then a little over a year ago: These discussions are healthy, it’s good for conservative Catholics in the U.S. to be challenged to do some hard thinking on these issues, there’s nothing threatening to church unity about that challenge, and to the extent that “movement conservatism” as a whole turns explicitly anti-papal over Francis’s economic pronouncements (and I don’t expect it will) so much the worse for the movement. Which differs dramatically from my read on the pope and …

    3. Doctrinal conservatives. These are conservative American Catholics whose Francis-era anxieties center around the issues raised during last fall’s synod on the family, and particularly around Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to admit Catholics in second marriages (which the church does not recognize as marriages at all) to communion — an issue I may have written about from time to time. Many of them are also economic conservatives and likely Republican voters, but not all, and notwithstanding that overlap they mostly regard the stakes in the Kasper/divorce debates as much more theologically significant than the stakes in, say, the pope’s forthcoming environmental encyclical. As with the economic debate, the more prominent the commentator, the more circumspect they tend to be in directly criticizing Francis on these issues: The tendency, instead, is almost always to separate the pope from the Kasper faction, critiquing that faction vigorously while reassuring readers that no doctrinal change is in the offing. (My own approach hereis distinctive, and perhaps imprudent.) But at the same time, the pattern in which the debate has proceeded, I think, leaves little doubt that if Francis were to adopt Kasper’s proposals or others like them there would necessarily be much more open opposition from this group.

    And crucially from the perspective of church politics, the doctrinal-conservative view of the stakes in the synod debates is shared by many Catholics around the world who are not at all American-style conservatives, and who have no real problem with and may even be enthusiastic about Francis on economic or ecological issues. (As is the case, for instance, for some of the African and European cardinals on the doctrinal-conservative side in the synod clashes.). Which is why analyzing this debate mostly through the lens of American movement conservatism (I’m pretty sure Limbaugh would be fine with the Kasper proposal!) and American politics, or conjoining the two the way Bruenig’s essay sometimes does, misses the bigger picture for this pontificate and the future of the Catholic Church.

    That picture — coming around to the point of this rambling taxonomy — is simply this. A future in which Francis’s “radicalism” (a term that would require yet another post to unpack, so I won’t) is defined by his approach to the social gospel, globalization and the poor is one in which the tension with traditionalists will remain intense but not high-profile, in which the tension with free-marketeers and libertarians will percolate in interesting ways, and in which conservative doubts about this pontificate will remain a particularly American phenomenon and a mostly elite-level tendency overall. And it’s a future, at this point, that I would welcome, since I’d be very happy to spend more time arguing with Bruenig aboutthe church’s historical relationship to the welfare state and less time arguing about German cardinals and divorce.

    But a future in which this pope’s “radicalism” extends to moves that look like an implicit change of doctrine around communion and/or marriage … in which it’s not just Hannity but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that’s in conflict with the throne of Peter … well, in that future the economic issues would become a sideshow, and the pope’s existing conflict with traditionalists would become the template for a doctrinal conflict that’s wider, global, and essentially unknowable in its results. And it’s that future, for reasons that I believe are more Christian than “conservative”, that I’d very much prefer the Catholic faith be spared.

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