Pope’s Defense of the Faith Has Not Been Heard

I was recently upbraided by one of my readers for my “constant sniping” at Pope Francis: this I found disconcerting, even painful, since faithfulness to papal teaching (and to the reigning Pontiff himself) has always been one of my primary underlying objectives when writing about the faith. In my defense, another reader rejoined that the real problem was “trying to explain to someone who has not yet got it how and why some of the things that Pope Francis has said, done or left unsaid and undone have disturbed and brought disquiet in the minds and hearts of loyal practicing Catholics.”

There is no getting away from the fact that one of the most disturbing developments in the Church recently has been the growth of a tendency among Catholics who a year or two ago would have been considered papal loyalists to be so confused by the public statements of the present Holy Father that they have become either tacitly or even openly critical of the way he is conducting his teaching ministry.

Thus, when I refer to the current outcrop of apparent criticisms I’m not talking about the anti-papal attacks which for years have been perpetrated by the supposedly traditionalist anti-papalists (a contradiction in terms) who have, ever since the Council, attacked Catholic deference to papal authority in terms almost identical to the way in which it has always been attacked by the Protestants, and have been in turn anti-Pope Paul, anti-Pope John Paul, anti-Pope Benedict and are now anti-Pope Francis, dismissing them all as heretics who have actually abandoned the faith. These anti-papalists include the SSPX and others on the one hand, and sedevacantists on the other, all of whom consider the Novus Ordo as evil and harmful to the faith and think that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, far from being what Pope John Paul said it was, “a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine,” is on the contrary filled with doctrinal error, because it reflects the Vatican II teachings on religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality, the Church, etc.

Well, I consider myself to be a traditionalist. I don’t repudiate the Novus Ordo and I don’t repudiate Vatican II when it is properly understood, that is, according to Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity.” I accept the Catechism as a sure and authentic guide to the objective content of my faith. I accept that the Novus Ordo is just as much the mass as the usus antiquior is (even though I am drawn more to the latter when it is available). I am, in other words, a Catholic traditionalist.

And I consider the SSPX and the sedevacantists to be hostile to the traditio precisely because they don’t accept these things, and don’t accept the magisterium of the Church, as it is expressed in the Pope’s ordinary teaching authority as well as in any formal or infallible teachings he may promulgate.

For a true traditionalist Catholic, the Pope—the Pope we actually have, not some dream pope who isn’t going to materialize—is his guide. Catholics, when they can, obey their pope; and it is natural to them to love and revere him, too. So why do I now find myself in the position of being criticized for “sniping” at Pope Francis?

What I had written was that “the very fact of the existence of a corpus of writings like that of Pope Benedict, as pope, as cardinal prefect, and before that as academic theologian, is an implicit standing reminder to Pope Francis that smiling and personal attractiveness aren’t enough to sustain a papal ministry, that doctrine can’t be ‘up for grabs’ [a quotation from Cardinal Francis George], and that it’s part of his function to make sure that everyone knows that.”

I went on to say: “The real question is whether the two really do have intrinsically different attitudes to the Catholic Church’s possession of the absolute and objective truth about human existence….” Well, the answer to that is quite simply “NO THEY DON’T”: and the present Holy Father himself gave it in a little-noticed passage in the final address of the recent sessions of the continuing synod (sequel next year) on the family, with his clearly articulated confrontation with those who, as he put it, give in to the “temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God. The temptation to neglect the ‘depositum fidei’ [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it].”

The trouble is that this passage went largely unnoticed by the media (including the Catholic media). So the confusion continues: what is needed now is a sustained articulation of this theme, so that it becomes more widely understood that the idea that there is a major project under way to dismantle the teachings of the Church, beginning with its teachings on marriage and sexuality, is a pure fiction.

Unless this happens, the confusion will continue. Some months ago, I quoted Fr Ray Blake, who in his widely read blog contrasted Pope Francis with his predecessor. “There was a solidity and certainty in Benedict’s teaching,” he wrote, “which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood. Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty. Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church, today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

I have a feeling that what the Holy Father actually wants is what we now have: a period in which even the Pope himself can be questioned by loyal Catholics. Whether in the long run that will be good for the Church may certainly be questioned: but it’s what we now have. The problem is the uncertainty that has emerged (disquietingly reminiscent of pre-Ratzingerian times) about the objective content of the Catholic religion: that’s what some faithful Catholics would like to be, shall we say “clarified.” It was a problem that under Pope Benedict we all thought had been definitively cleared up. I am convinced that that’s what Pope Francis thinks so, too: so much so that he thinks he no longer needs to say so.

Quite simply, he does. His defense of the depositum fidei needs now to be reiterated. Again and again and again. If it is, this could, in the end, turn out to be one of the great pontificates.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared December 12, 2014 in the Catholic Herald of London and is reprinted with permission.

Dr. William Oddie


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

  • Salvelinus

    I’m having trouble, as a revert, with much of the actions and statements (or lack of defense ) by pope Francis.
    The SSPX are loOK ing very tempting, and it’s quite possible to begin agreeting with sedevacantist stuff. .. sad. The latter is looking less crazy fault. Regarding the former, I don’t know why there is so much disdain for SSPX All over, and some bishops have even tried to excommunicate some that attend their mass. .. yet “dialogue” is pushed with all types of heretics and hethans

    • bethannbee

      Dr Oddie is speaking “from the highest pinnacle of abject ignorance” when he links the SSPX with sedevacantists and ignores the historical facts of the decline of the Catholic Church with the implementation of the “ideology” of Vatican ll. I think, in speaking with Vatican ll apologists, that they have great difficulty understanding that Vatican ll is an “ideology” not the Truth of The Church that is built on the foundation established by Our Lord Jesus Christ. They continue to live in a “bubble” of thinking being surrounded by like-minded people. It’s like some of my relatives who immigrated to America, settled in an ethnic neighborhood and were afraid to go beyond the perimeter of that border until necessity compelled them to do so.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        The SSPX is one of those groups that litter the history of Christianity and that all share one principle – that the teaching of the Church is something to be searched for in the records of the past rather than something to be heard and accepted in the living present.

        Cardinal Manning refuted this perennial error long ago: “But perhaps it may be asked: If you reject history and antiquity, how can you know what was revealed before, as you say, history and antiquity existed? I answer: The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening.”

        He posed this question: “The first and final question to be asked of these controversialists is : Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world ?”

        • steve5656546346

          Truth does not change.

          • Harry

            A rule of thumb for remaining orthodox: If it’s new it isn’t true, if it’s true it isn’t new.

            • I wonder how they deal with the novelty of divorce foisted on the Byzantine Church by the emperor Constantine VI, the proto Henry VIII…

            • jeremiah_methusela

              That may or may not be true (I like it) but it is far, far better and easier to understand than anything I hear, read or see coming out of Rome. Do they (those, one in particular) in Rome not understand that ? We cannot rely on all our bishops for Heaven’s sake, can we ?

              • Harry

                There can be such a thing as legitimate development of doctrine, which is in a sense “new,” but it never contradicts the deposit of faith; it instead deepens our understanding of the old. Genuine development of doctrine is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into “all truth.” (John 16:13)

                Other than that, to claim that what is brand spanking new is legitimate doctrine, which has no foundation in what has already been divinely revealed, is essentially claiming that the Church had forgotten a doctrine that Christ had revealed to the Apostles, which would mean that Christ didn’t keep His promise that the Holy Spirit would be always be with the Church, reminding the Church’s Apostles of all that He had taught them. (John 14:16,26)

                So, if we believe that Christ keeps His promises — if we don’t then our belief in Him is no better than that of the demons (James 2:19) — then, we must conclude that in regard to Catholic doctrine, if it’s new it isn’t true, and if it’s true it isn’t new.

        • Tamsin

          excuse me MPS, but this looks for all the world like you are searching the records of the past for refutations you wish to be dispositive for the future.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            No, I am adopting their arguments as my own. The meaning of progress is that the past can instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control. Thus, I take Socrates remark about books literally, but I recognize that some scholars beleive he was speaking ironically. Alas! Socrates is no longer here to settle the question.

            • R. K. Ich

              Yes, but a madman can always say your senses are unreliable. Can you imagine the scene of our Lord and Thomas?

              “Lord, I will not believe unless I can touch your wounds.”
              “Here, touch my side where I was pierced.”
              “Okay, but you’ll have to tell me if I’m really touching your pierced side now.”

              My point is, the living authority must adjudicate on matters of doctrine and discipline where no clear word has been issued, or it has been issued but must be confirmed or explained. But no living authority may overturn or nullify doctrine or discipline unless that authority originated it. More than this, eternal Truth isn’t subject to amendment. It can only be explained and obeyed.

              • GG

                Very good! What you describe is post modernism. How do I really really know? It seems a form of narcicissim.

        • I do not believe that any longer. There seems to be only one voice being taught, and it’s not that of the Divine Person.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            I have yet to see any authoritative teaching at all – No Apostolic Constitutions, no Encyclical Letters, merely one Apostolic Exhortation and that not dogmatic.

            Likewise, there have been no changes in the Canon Law and very little of a general nature issuing from the Roman dicasteries.

            There have been homilies and a good deal of what an earlier age would have called Table Talk.

            • Exactly. No authoritative teaching at all from Divine Persons or even the delegates of Divine Persons. Thus only one voice left speaking to the people, and it’s not the voice of the Church or of God, it’s Kasper the Friendly Cardinal and his ilk, who seem dead set on utterly ignoring Canon Law and the Roman dicasteries in search of whatever sounds good and keeps the German tax dollars flowing.

              • jeremiah_methusela

                It is very difficult not to pay the Kirchensteuer . Catholics who do not pay are excommunicated, automatically. No wonder Kasper is so worried, he and his sacerdotal confreres stand to lose mnay euros.

                • The Spirit of Johann Tetzel lives on….and in many ways is far from Pope Francis indeed. It seems to me the one big reform Pope Francis wants in the administration of annulments, is a reduction or elimination of fees to the poor.

            • Kenneth M. Fisher


              I hope and pray that you are correct in your above writings, just wait and see, I have seen enough of P. Francis to highly doubt it!

              God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
              May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
              Viva Cristo Rey!

              Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
              Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

        • R. K. Ich

          Is there a general duty for Christ’s Church to be aware of her life and doctrine? How would we know if something is amiss? Tradition denotes a receiving in order to pass on, but what if (crazy thought, I know) the devil *really* detests apostolic faith and practice?

          The bigger question is this: does the Divine Person have a penchant for sending mixed signals?

          Still sorting these things out in my puny brain, but whatever papal infallibility means, it certainly can’t be a call to ignore Scripture and Tradition, as if they have an auxiliary function. The Canon is closed, so the post-apostolic successors must be faithful expositors of the deposit of faith. Adding or subtracting from this is a recipe for disaster.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            We must not confuse the Deposit of Faith with theological reflection on it.

            Bl John Henry Newman puts this very well, when he says, “Revelation sets before it [the mind] 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.” In this way, the Deposit of Faith is closed, whilst reflection and the ideas or notions this produces develop over time.

            As to interpretation, he says, “Doubtless, a certain interpretation of a doctrinal text may be so strongly supported by the Fathers, so continuous and universal, and so cognate and connatural with the Church’s teaching, that it is virtually or practically as dogmatic as if it were a formal judgment delivered on appeal by the Holy See, and cannot be disputed except as the Church or Holy See opens its wording or its conditions.” Note the proviso.

            • R. K. Ich

              And even Bl. Newman’s words can be applied broadly or narrowly, loosely or strictly, liberally or conservatively. My impulse is of the narrow, strict, and conservative frame of mind for reasons of principle and safety.

        • accelerator

          “…the teaching of the Church is something to be searched for in the records of the past rather than something to be heard and accepted in the living present.” NO, but the two are posed to match without smoke and mirrors. Manning would no more think Francis was teaching Catholicism than would Newman, so your quotes amount to naught. MORMONISM teaches a living prophet, not Catholicism. You are in the wrong Church.

        • Kenneth M. Fisher


          By your writings, you make it quite clear that you would have followed Pope Liberius I, and Honorious I into heresy and possibly Hell, and you would have called then Arch. Athanasius, now St. Athanasius the Great, Doctor of the Church a heretic! Pray and meditate on that!

          God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
          May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
          Viva Cristo Rey!

          Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
          Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Liberius excommunicated St Athanasius for contumacy, without pronouncing on his doctrine and when he was a prisoner under duress. Honorius’s views (however we construe them) were contained in a couple of letters to Sergius.

            These could no more be construed as dogmatic statements, any more than St Victor separating the Asiatic churches from his communion over the Paschal question or Gregory XIII, when he had a medal struck in honour of the Bartholomew massacre, or Sextus V when he blessed the Armada, or Urban VIII, when he persecuted Galileo. No Catholic would defend any of these actions, but no one would have been justified in breaking communion over them.

    • GG

      Do not be led astray by the confusion. Be certain that the strong men of faith, like some cardinals, would not lead anyone into schism or astray. In fact, those strong and bright men, if it came to this, would depose a heretical Pope rather than cause a schism.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Depose an heretical pope? Then what becomes of Canon 1404 – “The First See is judged by no one.” The principle, Prima sedes a nemine judicatur was first expressly enunciated by in a synod held by Pope Symmachus on 23 October 502 and has been recognised and adopted by every Canonist since.

        • GG

          The same thing that happens with canon 915.

          • GG

            IOW, the same way 915 gets ignored why should that not be a precedent to ignore other canons or interpret them in another way?

        • BM

          A fair look at this question was given recently here.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher


      As one that attends an Independent Catholic Chapel, Our Lady Help of Christians in Garden Grove, CA, let me say “stay with the Barque of St. Peter! That does NOT mean you must except everything the comes from the mouth or actions of the present Pontiff, but it does mean you stay with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Even St. Athanasius the Great, Doctor of the Church excommunicated by Pope Liberius I, never became a sedevecantist! Will it be hard, yes it already is, but stay the course!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!

      Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
      Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

    • bbrown

      I can only see liberal Mainline type Protestants wanting to convert at this time. This Pope has done untold damage to the legitimacy of Catholicism. Yes, I am aware that the Church can withstand bad popes, the gates of hell, etc.

  • Anne

    The thing is, now as in pre-Ratzingerian times, not everything about Catholic doctrine is clear. In fact, it was Ratzinger himself who, as a younger theologian, brought up the very same questions Cardinal Kasper and Pope Francis have raised about marital indissolubility and the practice of the Eastern churches. He was still wondering aloud about it as pope, but just never went as far as to ask the questions in a formal setting, as Pope Francis did via the synod.

    • GG

      Ratzinger reversed his position. He was the one who wrote the definitive teaching on this matter not that long ago. To attempt to draw a comparison is very inaccurate.

    • Murray

      Please pardon my abruptness, but so what? It would make no difference if even St Paul himself speculated about altering the indissolubility of marriage. As he wrote in Galatians 1:8,

      “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, were to preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema.”

      The indissolubility of marriage comes directly from the lips of Christ himself. It makes no difference what the Eastern Orthodox do, what Fr Ratzinger wrote 50-odd years ago, or what Cardinal Kasper would prefer. We know that the Pope Emeritus has recently retracted what he wrote on this matter, but even if he hadn’t, he’d simply be wrong.

      • JP

        True. The Gospel of Saint Matthew Chapter 19 is very unambiguous. We know exactly where Christ stands on the indissolubility of marriage.

        I read the Five Cardinals Book on Marriage (Remaining in the Truth in Christ), and the authors go into much detail on the history of marriage in the Church, as well as the accommodations the Eastern Church made.

        The heresies that Kasper offers up concerning, and which Pope Francis unofficially inclines to consider, are nothing new.

  • FernieV

    Lk 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”. This well-known quote is often forgotten by many readers of Crisis when applied to the Pope and many bishops. Sometimes you read authors who are mind readers and are able to know with certainty that what Pope Francis is interested in, really, is popularity, not fidelity to the Magisterium. It might be helpful to ask for light to the Holy Spirit to apply the quoted verse, because one thing is to read the intention of your nagging mother-in-law and another to be so bold as to publish your certain discovery of what is in the mind of the Vice Christ on Earth. I think we all need to criticize less and pray more for the Holy Father Francis.

    • GG

      I can not believe your position? Yes, pray but no one says not to do that. The writers at Crisis are among the few faithful who actually ask honest questions and defend the faith. The spinners and faux Catholics constantly nuance, redirect, obfuscate, and explain away so much confusion that it is dishonest.

      Please see the remarks of people such as Cardinal Burke and George, for starters, as they relate the true Catholic concern.

    • Luke 6:37 doesn’t mean that you get stuck in an epistemic funk.

    • Joseph

      Is Vice Christ an autocorrected Vicar of Christ?

      • FernieV

        I guess Vicar of Christ will be better… Thanks

  • Harry

    … what is needed now is a sustained articulation of this theme, so that it becomes more widely understood that the idea that there is a major project under way to dismantle the teachings of the Church, beginning with its teachings on marriage and sexuality, is a pure fiction.

    The Holy Spirit won’t let the official teachings of the Church be dismantled because He is the one speaking in them. Yet anyone even only slightly familiar with the history of the Catholic Church knows that God has let things just short of that happen multiple times. We have had scandalous popes. We had the majority of the bishops embrace the Arian heresy. We had all the bishops of England but Bishop John Fisher renounce the true faith. We currently have bishops and a pope who absolutely will not realistically respond to the contemporary assault on traditional morality where it relates in any way to human sexuality, even though that assault has taken the lives of billions of unborn children worldwide.

    Peter and Paul helped establish what the Church now meekly watches disintegrate. It didn’t get established in the first place by Paul addressing the topic of sexual deviancy with “Who am I to judge?” Nor by Peter welcoming to receive the Eucharist those who were blatantly, openly promoting the “right” to take the life of the child in the womb. Nor by the pastors of the Early Church smiling and giving a “No problem. Don’t worry about it.” wink to cohabiting couples seeking marriage in the Church.

    The Early Church understood that it would cost it something to be faithful to Christ and paid the price. They faced a world no less hostile to Christian morality than is ours. The good they brought into the world by paying the price, we are letting distintegrate. We don’t want to pay the price.

    • Idler

      Who am i to judge?

      Do not judge others, or you yourselves will be judged. As you have judged, so you will be judged, by the same rule; award shall be made you as you have made award, in the same measure. How is it that thou canst see the speck of dust which is in thy brother’s eye, and art not aware of the beam which is in thy own? By what right wilt thou say to thy brother, Wait, let me rid thy eye of that speck, when there is a beam all the while in thy own? Thou hypocrite, take the beam out of thy own eye first, and so thou shalt have clear sight to rid thy brother’s of the speck.

      Maybe you should listen to the Pope’s entire quote before you judge him. For more reference, check this out.

      • GG

        Oh brother. Please. Most everyone reading these comments knows the entire quote very well. That does not change the impact of the unfortunate statement on the faithful and all of the world.

      • Mary J. Nelson

        We are forbidden to judge a man’s soul…however, words and actions may certainly be judged as to how much they adhere to the truth.

      • Jacqueleen

        First of all we judge everyday…We judge right from wrong…We judge good from bad, etc. What Our Lord meant when He said not to judge…He meant NOT TO CONDEMN…ONLY OUR LORD CAN CONDEMN SOMEONE TO ETERNAL DAMNATION. So, “Who am I to judge?” You, Pope Francis are the leader of the Catholic church and are expected to know the answers. Relative to gay marriage or gay unions…it is quite clear what the church teaches on this subject….All he had to do was repeat the teaching! Plain and Simple with no confusion!

        • Something like: “homosexual acts are sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance.”

        • rita


          • Jacqueleen

            Satan has you by the throat…..Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand or roast forever.

            • rita

              How so?…Satan has me by the throat? I am not in his camp! the catholic cult is!

              • Jacqueleen

                By CRITICIZING THE WORK OF GOD, HIS DEVELOPED CHURCH, the Catholic Church…IS CRITICIZING GOD HIMSELF. Shame on you and every other Protestant, Atheist and Agnostic out there who condemn, gossip, defame and crucify Our Lord’s creation, The Catholic Church instead of calling them brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus! The sinless Protestants and others shall throw the first stone!…Lord have mercy on them.

                • rita

                  your in a freaking satanic cult!…this is the church of satan not the church of GOD!…you better pray to have your blind eyes open and for your brain to understand what the hell your in!

      • imabitterclinger2

        Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better
        for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea,
        than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to
        yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; Luke 17:1-3

        Rebuke to a knowledgeable person is a cathartic medicine that leads to repentance and forgiveness. It is taught by the Lord himself. To the fool, this is a stumbling block, because it contradicts what you have written from Luke 6:37. May I suggest that your premise is faulty?

      • Kenneth M. Fisher

        Have you not read that He taught and commanded us to “Admonish the sinner”? How the heck can you admonish the sinner if you first don’t prayerfully make a judgment that that person is indeed a sinner!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!

        Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
        Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

      • Pat Jones

        Why don’t you balance it with this text:

        “He who PERSISTS in sin, REBUKE him in the presence of all.” – 1 Timothy 5:20

        Judges make judgments all the time, DUH!

  • This Vatican puts too much emphasis on the human rather than on the Divine.

    This Vatican worries more and is concerned more with earthly matters than with Heavenly ones.

    This Vatican counts on humans to fix earth and church problems, rather than trusting God.

    This Vatican lacks faith in God.

    This Vatican, many within this Vatican do not believe in God.

    This Vatican is looking to satisfy and search the approval of humans, not God.

    This Vatican is worldly, not godly.

    This Vatican seeks to lead people to a comfortable earthly “green,” “social justice/communist-style” life rather than leading souls into Heaven.

    This Vatican is not Catholic.

  • hola today

    The thing is, Pope Francis is deliberately trying to be “all things to all people”…perhaps in imitation of St Paul, he thinks, – in this case with the Synod on the family etc, trying to please and yet rule over both the liberal reformists and the traditionalists – but it’s not actually really right, holy or honest…. Because in fact he IS an anti-traditionalist…he IS liberal reformist in his heart – that has been shown many times already in his own words and deeds. BUT he knows that he cannot just force through radical changes and risk quickly destroying the church. He hopes that his liberal reforms (which he deludedly thinks are from God) can be brought in more gradually and with lots of nice “persuasion”… But make no mistake about it: he’s on the liberal left-leaning side. He’s not traditional and he’s not “neutral” either… There is no neutral ground here. But he pretends to be between both poles, as he tries to both make changes and hold everyone together… But it is a false position…. And it has the effect of creating endless doubts and confusion…as he plays like a Machiavellian simpleton (another self-contradiction), trying to please all men – EXCEPT the radical traditionalists whom he hates the most. And who ends up being really impressed and satisfied with him?? Only people like Elton John and Jane Fonda… Great…well done, you “Bishop of Rome” (not “Pope” of the world)… You are fulfilling your destiny…of being the one who let the wolves in, who said “peace” and “communion” and “dialogue with our brothers” when there was no true peace, no valid communion and they are not true spiritual brothers (the Muslims) … But he’s inviting them all in….like that is Christ’s mission and plan for saving mankind…the broad road no longer leads to destruction, but now rather to supposed salvation. Which only shows that we are truly very close to the end.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher

      In even less words, you cannot profess to be opposed to sodomy and Communion for divorced and remarried persons that have no VALID annulment while at the same time promoting those who are in favor of those abominations and demoting those that stand strong for the Faith (Cardinal Burke)!

      The same can be said for Ordinaries that profess to be pro-life and anti-sodomy but pose for front page headline photos and articles in their own Archdiocesan RAGS (Newspapers) with politicians that support those abominations and still expect any thinking person to believe those claims! eg.: Arch. Gomez and others!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!

      Viva Cristo Rey!

      Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
      Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

      • rita

        God divorced Israel….Jeremiah 3:8…..so why do you folk act like it is a big sin when it is not according to GOD….more false teaching!

  • Murray

    Little-noticed? That section of his speech was widely remarked upon by all: neo-Catholics and liberals were gushing over the “third-way” approach the pope was taking, while traditionalists pointed out (correctly) that the pope was advocating for a third way between orthodoxy and heresy.

    It’s also a great example of the middle-ground fallacy (one of Fr Longenecker’s favorites): here is Side A and here is Side B, therefore the truth must lie at A and a half.

    Finally, let’s not forget that this speech you praise so highly came at the conclusion of a synod convened by the pope for the specific purpose of calling settled doctrine into question. The irrelevance of the final relatio to the actual problems facing families today is further evidence that the “synod on the family” is a mere shell to provide cover for the Kasperites as they pursue their main agenda.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      A speech in which the Holy Father reminds us that he is “by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and… enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).”

      • Murray

        Yes, I’m familiar with your apologias for relativism.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          And how are we to judge between orthodoxy and heresy? Is it by appealing to the writings of people now dead and who cannot explain themselves or is it by appealing to a living teacher?

          An appeal to the records of the past is always and inevitably an appeal to one’s own interpretation of them for, as Socrates says in the Phaedrus, “σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ” – they preserve a solemn silence.

          • Murray

            You’re setting up a false choice: either rely entirely on the words of dead men, or entirely on what a live man tells us the dead men really meant to say. And when a new live man takes the place of the current one, your theory happily accommodates even blatant opposition between the two about what the dead men really meant to say.

            The Church of Jesus Christ, headed by the pope, is the living teacher. Contrary to what you imply, she is pretty good at record-keeping, so it’s not exactly difficult to find out what she teaches on any given subject. You will surely be able to cut and paste some lengthy quote in an attempt to demonstrate that some teachings have had murky patches, but at any given time in history, the Church has been clear about the great bulk of her teachings, and about their unchangeable nature.

            What is the role of the pope? To preserve and defend the Deposit of Faith, given by Jesus Christ, and handed down by the Apostles and their successors.

            At which point you go right back into your sophistries: “Ah, but what is the Deposit of Faith, really? As Quentin of Timbuktu once said to his third mistress, [lengthy quote follows]…” No. Don’t be silly. You’re overcomplicating in order to baffle people into accepting a fundamentally absurd position.

            I don’t pretend to your level of erudition, and I don’t have a settled position myself about how we should respond to a wayward pope (whoever he might be), but I do know that orthodoxy is not a mere matter of robotically adopting whatever idiosyncratic position the pope happens to have come up with today, and then robotically adopting a contrary position when the next pope comes along. Since your position leads to precisely this kind of rank absurdity and relativism, and is in direct contradiction to St Paul’s writings on “another gospel”, it cannot possibly be correct.

            In the final analysis, we’re both just two guys bloviating in a combox. Your opinion is just that, as is mine. But I strongly suspect that Cardinal Manning would be thoroughly mortified to find his arguments used in service of the current chaos and disorientation in the Church.

            • GG


          • Jacqueleen

            Not all good writers of the church, the Popes, DEAD. Pope Benedict XVI is very much alive and had written much besides being the overseer of the Doctrine of the Church for Pope John Paul II.
            American Cardinals have been questioning why the Synod when all the Pope had to do was state the teachings of the church to Cardinal Kasper and the like who are voicing a change…We desperately are looking for leadership in the Pope not a mediator or a debater.

          • R. K. Ich

            My dear chap, I don’t trust your appeal to Socrates. Your interpretation must surely be off.

          • We call the writings of holy people now dead part of Holy Tradition.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Like the Tractarian satirized by Bl John Henry Newman, who imagines him saying, “And then I read the Fathers, and I have determined what works are genuine, and what are not; which of them apply to all times, which are occasional; which historical, and which doctrinal; what opinions are private, what authoritative; what they only seem to hold, what they ought to hold; what are fundamental, what ornamental. Having thus measured and cut and put together my creed by my own proper intellect, by my own lucubrations, and differing from the whole world in my results, I distinctly bid you, I solemnly warn you, not to do as I have done, but to accept what I have found, to revere that, to use that, to believe that, for it is the teaching of the old Fathers…”

              Bit like sola scriptura, only with more material to play with

          • Yankeegator

            ‘Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.’


          • bbrown

            It is by appealing to the writings of people now dead.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              And with as many interpretations of those writings as there are readers.

              • bbrown

                Not really, most of it is clear and straightforward; what Christians call ‘mere orthodoxy’.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  “most of it is clear and straightforward”

                  But the facts suggest otherwise. The Assyrians maintain that the rest of Christendom departed from the Apostolic teaching on the Person of Christ at the Council of Ephesus and they have maintained their own distinctive witness for fifteen hundred years. The Armenians, Copts and Ethiopians, whilst accepting Ephesus and anathematizing the Assyrians reject the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon on the Two Natures and they, too, have maintained their protest through fifteen centuries.

                  Why did those who anathematized Nestorius come to be regarded as orthodox, rather than those who still accept his doctrines? What is your test?

                  My test is simple: we have Rome on our side and they do not; that is sufficient to dispose of the question, without examining their tenets at all.

      • R. K. Ich

        What with all these appeals to writings, it seems we could just forego the whole mess and just begin with the blind presupposition: whatever comes out of the Pope’s mouth is ipso facto definitive teaching. After all, there is no reliability in our senses.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The Edict of Thessalonica of 380, which stands in pride of place at the beginning of the Codex of Justinian and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, did precisely that, by referring simply to “that religion… which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus…” The August Emperors, Gratian, Theodosius and Valentinian applied no other test.

          In the same spirit, Mgr Ronald Knox declared that “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. No doubt, in the long run this means the people who are so orthodox that Rome has seen no reason to excommunicate them, so that unity and orthodoxy still react upon one another… And in fact there can be little doubt that, in the West, our labelling of this party as orthodox and that as heterodox in early Church history comes down to us from authors who were applying this test of orthodoxy and no other.”

          Why did those who anathematized Nestorius come to be regarded as “Catholics” rather than those who still accept his doctrines? Isn’t the answer quite simply that the “Catholics” had the Bishop of Rome in their camp and the Nestorians do not? And isn’t what is true of the Nestorians true of every body which separated itself from “Catholic” unity?

          • R. K. Ich

            And hence why I am where I am. My argument isn’t against the necessity of the pope; it’s against some idea that whatsoever is spoken is of equal force and value in spite of Scripture and tradition. On the contrary, the pope can be wicked and heretical. Being for an institution isn’t the same as promoting abuse within the institution.

            • slainte

              But in your review of “infallible” papal teachings….are there any which you understand to be at odds with Revelation, tradition, or the deposit of the faith?

              I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit somehow manages to draw straight lines even with popes some might view as crooked.

              • R. K. Ich

                Give me the official list of infallible statements and I will tell you which ones I have a problem with. For the record I have no formal problem with the Marian doctrines as most recently defined. Whether infallible, that is the hanging question.

  • Vinny

    I agree with Dr. Oddie’s concluding statement. Those who wanted to be faithful catholics from Vatican II were fooled into not knowing what the Catholic Mass actually was. In recent years many good priests and Bishops have been teaching what the Mass is and the faithful are starting to understand that it’s worship and why we worship as we do. That teaching needs to continue a lot longer but the Pope is getting ahead of the laity. Once we’re all better grounded then we can better understand the faith he has because ours will be on rock too.

  • tjf

    The problem is this: everything that comes out of the mouth of HH Pope Francis is ambiguous and not overtly consistent with traditional Catholic teaching; to wit, the constant excuses of the whole world misunderstanding what was meant to be said, despite clearly what was said, and of course, if that doesn’t work, it was just an error in translation, silly!

  • publiusnj

    I agree that the answer does NOT lie in some splinter Traditionalist schism. I do not think, though, that the pope’s final address at the close of the Extraordinary Synod is anything but ambiguous.

    The Papacy ain’t beanbag. We need straightforward teaching, not a Jesuit theological bull session. Pope Francis needs to know that we Catholics are not being silly traditionalists who can be ignored simply because we take his words as seriously as we took prior popes’ words. Pope Francis needs his yes to be yes and his no, no just as do the rest of us.

    • And that’s the real problem to me. Jesuits have become famous for cheap grace and shallow thinking, and it appears that a Jesuit Pope is no different.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Just how lucid were prior popes’ words?

      Writing in 1874, Bl John Henry Newman had this to say:
      “As to the condemnation of propositions all she tells us is, that the thesis condemned when taken as a whole, or, again, when viewed in its context, is heretical, or blasphemous, or impious, or whatever like epithet she affixes to it. We have only to trust her so far as to allow ourselves to be warned against the thesis, or the work containing it.

      Theologians employ themselves in determining what precisely it is that is condemned in that thesis or treatise; and doubtless in most cases they do so with success; but that determination is not de fide; all that is of faith is that there is in that thesis itself, which is noted, heresy or error, or other like peccant matter, as the case may be, such, that the censure is a peremptory command to theologians, preachers, students, and all other whom it concerns, to keep clear of it.

      But so light is this obligation, that instances frequently occur, when it is successfully maintained by some new writer, that the Pope’s act does not imply what it has seemed to imply, and questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened.”

      “So light is the obligation” – These are words to ponder

    • fides249

      Jesus said in the Gospel:

      “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’;
      anything more than this comes from the Evil One.” (Mt 5:37)

    • Jacqueleen

      yes to be yes and his no, no Indeed, Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5:37.

      37 All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One.

  • BXVI

    Pope Francis is a radical progressive at heart. He is pushing his agenda as hard as he can. He knows he can only push so far without causing a schism and blowing the whole thing up. The first stage is to open up for legitimate discussion things that were verboten under his predecessors. He does not need to be the advocate – others will carry that water. He just needs to create an environment where essentially nothing is off the table. I think he expected resistance from the likes of Burke, but has been a bit surprised that his push for “reform” has not been embraced more widely by the bishops. I don’t think he has a clue what the “loyal” Catholics in the pews think of him. He only knows that he is told he is immensely popular with “the people”, which he takes as a sign that he is on the right path. He comes off as mean and vindictive as to anyone who defends doctrine and insists that the Church’s praxis conform to the doctrine. Clearly he despises Pope St. John Paul II and, particularly, Pope Benedict XVI. He hates the Church they built in the wake of the Council and he wants to radically transform it. Anyone who can’t see that is blind. His disgust for Benedict and his followers can be seen in many, many homilies, interviews, etc. Anyone who stands for the view that praxis must conform to doctrine subjected to the charge of “Pharisee!” Dare I use the word “hate”? Yes, it does seem the Pope “hates” many of us. Just the most recent example:

    For his part, in his homily at this morning’s Domus Mass, the Pope himself returned to the theme of teaching vs. practice, using the example of how Pope Pius XII “freed us from the very heavy cross” of the traditional Eucharistic fast, which for centuries was required from the midnight prior to one’s reception of Communion.

    “Some of you might remember,” Francis said, “you couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness.”

    In a line likely to further roil his ad intra critics, the pontiff added that “sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock — Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Savior. “Many times,” he said, “a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”

    • BXVI

      I should say what I mean when I say Pope Francis is a radical progressive at heart. I see two aspects of this.
      First is the notion that the Chuch should accept everyone as they are with no demands. He recently lectured a group of 100 bishops in Rome. He said “I beg you to resist the temptation to try to change people. You must accept God’s children as they are.” He has also repeatedly said the Church must stop trying to control peoples’ faith. In his worldview, the Church should state the doctrine, and then each man follows his own conscience and accepts or rejects as much of it as he wants. This may imperil the person’s soul, but that is between the individual and God. it is not the Church’s place to insist on anything. This is why he reacts with such visceral disgust at anyone who suggests that the Church should ever deny the Sacraments to someone, whether they are an abortion-promoting politician or divorced and remarried. He sees that as priests standing between the People and God, denying them access to his healing grace. This is a nice theology, but it directly contravenes the established Magisterial teaching of the Church. One of the most controversial statements of the first few months of his Papacy was that, essentially, the good or evil of an action is determined whether one follows his own concience, and that as long as one follows his conscience he can go to heaven.
      The second way he is a progressive radical concerns ecumenism. One of the first things he said after being elevated to the papacy was that the greatest failure of the Church since the Council has been its failure to fully pursue and fully implement its call for ecumenism. And, he said, he has the “audacity” to try to do it. He seems to believe that, essentially, all Christian movements are valid and led in some way by the Holy Spirit. He despises those who insist that we Catholics have the “right” way or, particularly, those who insiste that we have the “only true” way. He seems perfectly fine with all protestants remaining protestant. He is not seeking to convert them – he sees that as unnecessary and counter-productive. As long as they are seeking Jesus and following their consciences they should be left alone. This all comes down again to his visceral disgust at anyone or anything in the Church that “insists” or makes “demands”.
      In essence, then, he seems to me to be a personificiation of the “Dictatorship of Relativism.” That is, he says “This is the truth” (i.e., the doctrine). But, he says, each man can decide for himself in his own conscience whether to accept this as his own truth, and the Church must never insist or demand that people accept its truth as an condition of full participation. And, he has given the impression that he is willing to accept praxis that is at odds with doctrine because “mercy” trumps everything.
      That’s just how I see it. Of course I am probably wrong. I usually am.

      • “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (Jn 10:11-3)

        Francis’ advice is that the bishops be not good shepherds, but hirelings. This advice is from the devil. The Good Shepherd would rather have bishops who’d lay their lives down for the sheep put under their care.

        • While we’re using pastoral and ovine analogies.

          John 10:27

          “My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me.”
          Its worth noting that the sheep have been imbued with a sensibility to detect and discern the call of the Shepherd. Those that would lead the flock should make their call clarion.

        • Kenneth M. Fisher


          You are correct. Most people have bought the crap that he does not wear Red Shoes because he is so humble, well how about the real reason for the Red Shoes, the willingness to lay down his life for His Lord and Mother of His Lord?

          Red shoes may even be cheaper than black ones because black ones can be sold on the open market. Try selling red shoes!

          I don’t enjoy my perceived necessity to speak of the present occupier of the “Chair of St. Peter” this way, but feel it is necessary for the salvation of souls.

          God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
          May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
          Viva Cristo Rey!

          Kenneth M. Fisher

          • Pat Jones

            I though the red shoes symbolizes blood and the willingness to die for your faith.

            I’m glad you reminded me of this. Now we know what this Pope Francis is all about!

      • imabitterclinger2

        My goodness. I am looking for the transcript where he said “I beg you to resist the temptation to try to change people.” I am not finding it. If he did say this, then he is basically saying we need to back off from converting sinners or calling sin a sin. Do you have a copy of this transcript?

        • BXVI

          9/19/14, to a group of 138 bishops: “I also beg you to not let yourselves be deceived by the temptation to change the people. Love the people that God has given you, even when they will have committed great sins,” he said.

          • imabitterclinger2

            Thank you. I found it on CNS. That is a frightening call opposed to what our Lord asks of us. We are called to convert and repent and to go forth and sin no more. It is sad when the mouth of Christ speaks things that attack parts of His own body, and weakens the strong immunity to secularism and perversion. Pope Francis needs our prayers daily.

          • Pat Jones

            So forget about the GREAT COMMISSION???

            “Go and Baptize all nations……” – Jesus

            If this is true this Pope is terrible!

    • Marcelus

      Problem with trads is that they tend think PF just parachuted out of nowhere and took the office by storm!!

      They will have to come to terms with the fact that , unless schisms carries trads away, quite likely I think, PF will bbe around a while.

      It is a personal choice I guess.

      Take it from Benedict then (Frankfurter interview):

      “At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true pope” is, Bremer reported.

      Benedict encouraged the journalist to write about his desire, saying, “Yes, do that; that would help.”

      In their conversation, Benedict also spoke of his current relationship with Pope Francis, saying, “We maintain good contact [with each other].”

      “Francis has a strong presence, much stronger than I could ever have with my physical and mental weaknesses,” he observed. “To remain in my office would not have been honest.”

      Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-emeritus-just-call-me-father-benedict/#ixzz3M4xRq4I8

      • GG

        You have it backward. The more radicalized the Papacy becomes the more push-back from the orthodox bishops will happen. It is not about schism as much it is about denouncing heresy.

        Truth cannot contradict truth.

    • It’s the old progressive tactic: first, Francis makes the unthinkable, thinkable; then, the unreasonable, reasonable; the unacceptable, acceptable; the unlawful, lawful; the optional, mandatory.

    • JohnE_o

      deleted by poster

  • kmk

    I would like to share some paraphrased statements from Pope Francis’ weekly general audience given in November 2014;
    We are all called to be saints.
    Holiness is living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks.
    God communicates with you.
    Are you an unmarried baptized person? Be holy by doing your work with honesty and competence.
    Are you married? Be holy by taking care of your husband or wife, as Christ did with the Church.
    Always and everywhere you can become a saint.
    Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by teaching others to know and follow Jesus.
    Every state of life can become holy.
    When the Lord calls us to be saints, He does not call us to be hard or sad, it is an invitation to share His joy.
    Make life a gift of love for others.
    These small steps toward holiness can free us from selfishness and be better able to help others.
    I don’t know why people say they don’t understand Pope Francis. He is the most plainest person I’ve ever heard.

    • R. K. Ich

      If all he ever issued were pithy platitudes to keep us encouraged in doing good works, I’d have no problem. I’d still grimace at the saccharin moralism, but it’s far easier to justify than the media storm he has caused. Nobody attracts the world like moth to flame for only saying those things. No, no, no — the world loves Francis precisely because he strikes a chord, however slightly, with their fallen world view. *That’s* the problem.

      • GG

        Wow, that is exactly correct. Are people now saying I want to be Catholic because of the attractiveness of the truth or do they think now finally the Church is changing and we will hear no more of this legalistic morality?

        Meeting people where they are at is one thing, but leading them to think they are correct is another.

        • Of course, after two years, none of those people who think that Francis is swell haunted a church to enroll in RCIA or to reconcile with the Church.

          It was the same in Latin America, where Francis is merely the typical bishop: the cameras are always eager to capture some platitude by them, neither affirming Catholic teachings nor calling for conversion from sin. The result is there for all to see: in a generation the Catholic population was decimated from about 90% in general to about 70%, in some cases even below 50%. In Buenos Aires, mass attendance fell from 25 to 20% under Bergoglio’s tenure as its shepherd.

          If I sound as if I didn’t trust Francis is because I didn’t trust his generation of bishops either. And, no, I do not trust that Francis will do anything different from his past. I expect more of the same, which pains me to think such a disaster being now inflicted on the whole wide world, as if it hadn’t been bad enough in Latin America.

          • GG

            It seems a type of chastisement from our Lord. The disorientation is one thing, but the defense of the disorientation by so called faithful Catholics is worse.

            I really enjoy reading your posts. Excellent.

          • Does Latin America have its versions of Joe “this is a big f**king deal” Biden, Nancy Cruella Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, “Where’s Bobby” Casey and Andrew Cuomo.

            • When the absolute majority of Latin Americans were baptized Catholic, such types are the norm.

              • I’d give you a thumbs up, but it seems inappropriate when its shared misery.

          • JohnE_o

            Of course, after two years, none of those people who think that Francis
            is swell haunted a church to enroll in RCIA or to reconcile with the

            I thought Pope Francis seemed pretty swell two years ago and enrolled in RCIA six weeks ago, so instead of saying ‘none of those people’, you might consider saying, ‘only one that I know of’ has enrolled in RCIA.

            And if you’d send up a prayer that my faith be strengthened, I’d certainly appreciate that!

            I get that a lot of the long-timers have firm ideas about what a Pope should look like, but as an outsider making his way in, I’ve got to say – and call me naive all you like – that Pope Francis just talking and showing charity and love for those of us who are where we are at, seems pretty darned Christ-like to me.

            • That’s terrific! I sure am glad to learn about your coming to the Church, especially because of Francis.

              If you don’t mind, how did he touch you differently from BXVI? Did you form your impression about both popes from the Catholic or the secular media?

              Rest assured of the prayers by this sinner.

              • JohnE_o

                To be honest, Pope Benedict wasn’t even on my radar except for the secular media reports of him being somewhat dour. During the time of his Papacy I was agnostic about religious matters

                Pope Francis caught my attention with his letter to Scalfari in which he encouraged atheists to follow their conscience and join with believers in doing good works – so I think it could be said that my first impressions about Pope Francis came via the secular media.

                At the time, my wife and I were working on being certified by our State to take in children while their parents worked out unfortunate situations, so the idea of doing good works resonated with me.

                My wife is a cradle Catholic of very infrequent practice, but when we did find ourselves taking care of a child, she told me that we’d be taking him to Mass, lest her deceased grandmother reach down from above and swat her.

                So one thing led to another and here I am looking at what I need to do be become Catholic.

                Thanks for your prayers!

                • As you can see, Francis is portrayed in a better light than many faithful Catholics see him. With BXVI it was similar, but with the faithful seeing him in a better light than they did. This perhaps hints to you at the ineptitude in which the secular media reports on faith and that you’d do better by relying on the Catholic media instead.

                  However, as you can see in these comments, you’ll find many diverging opinions among Catholics. Yet, I hope that, instead of letting yourself be put down by our acting after our fallen nature, you can see our love for Jesus in the Church, whether His vicar is a holy theologian or a loving pastor.

                  Pax Christi

                  • JohnE_o

                    Yes, I expect that Catholic media would have a better grasp on the nuances of what the Pope says. I’d hope so, anyway.

                    Also, I’m not dismayed by the idea that a Church of a billion people would contain a great many opinions – often diverging. I’d be surprised if it were not so.

                    Funny story that you might appreciate – our parish, like most here in Texas, have separate English and Spanish Masses, one following the other. This previous Sunday, my wife and I, along with our young fosterling, were leaving the English speaking Mass and noted that there were many more folks than usual coming for the Spanish speaking Mass.

                    And the children were dressed very festively – and there was a mariachi band in the parking lot. It wasn’t until I spotted the procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe that I figured out what was going on.

                    I turned to my Latina wife, who was smiling knowingly to herself, and said, “I think we went to the wrong Mass today.” She said, “You’d better brush up on your Spanish, then.”

                    • “And the children were dressed very festively ”

                      What does that matter? Too many Masses are full of festivity, but lacking in solemnity.

                  • Marcelus

                    In all honesty my friend, I assume you mean you and the kind as “faithful cathoilcs” when you mention that?

                    Doesn’t that sound a bit omnipotent?

                    “Francis is portrayed in a better light than many faithful Catholics see him. “

            • R. K. Ich


            • *redacted* Nevermind.

          • R. K. Ich

            You get an upvote for using the word “swell” alone! The 1940’s is my favorite American decade of the 20th century.

      • On November 21, Pope Francis gave an address to the World Congress of Accountants, and while I don’t expect him to be a technical expert on accounting; if he wanted to provide something relevant, the biggest temptation to accounts is to lie about results. Most of the speech addressed things that were neither in our jurisdiction or competence.

        It was disappointing.

    • I thought that that’s what Hallmark cards were for. I for one expect more meat from Peter.

      • R. K. Ich

        I get more out of I & II Peter than 1000 encyclicals.

        • ColdStanding

          I shall see your exaggeration and raise you a literal reading:

          There are not 1000 (papal) encyclicals upon which to make the comparison.

          • R. K. Ich

            Touche, sir. That comment was not meant to say encyclicals are bad, invaluable, or should be ignored. It was, contextually, a little hyperbole to make a point. I’m no enemy of the papacy, just stupid and wicked popes.

  • kmk

    To those of you that say you cannot understand Pope Francis. Rather than just repeating what you heard after Francis became Pope have you tried to study Catholicism, or tried communicating with the Pope.
    I think Jesus wants us to be like lambs rather than sheep.

    • “I think Jesus wants us to be like lambs rather than sheep.”
      An excellent and enlightening decision.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      … and He wants the lambs to be led by the pastor, not the lupus.

    • GG

      If you studied more you would be concerned.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher


        You sure got that right! I know many highly educated priests that are very concerned!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!

        Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
        Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

    • C.Caruana

      Thinking lambs, I hope, not fideistic papolators.

      • That’s the point. Lambs follow the shepherd. Sheep wander thoughtlessly and follow thoughtlessly.

        • C.Caruana

          Wrong. Thinking lambs follow the shepherd as long as he leads them on the narrow path that leads to heaven. You apparantly missed the fideistic papolators bit.

          • R. K. Ich

            It’s hard to make this metaphor walk on all fours. 😉

            • C.Caruana

              Yep, especially since thoughtful lambs have the nasty habit of growing into thoughtless sheep 🙂

          • What are you disputing?

        • Kenneth M. Fisher

          Destroyer Escort 173,

          The Shepherd is Jesus Christ and those who follow His and His Apostles teachings, not those who try to change those teachings!

          God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
          May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
          Viva Cristo Rey!

          Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
          Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

          • I do not disagree.
            -USS Eldridge

    • Joseph

      I like the image of the lamb (baby/child) vs. sheep (older). It brings to mind “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Another Oddie-ous article full of obvious contradictions. The author excoriates the SSPX, falsely suggesting that to criticize current Vatican trends amounts to Protestant, anti-papalist views. Then, a few lines later, he advances EXACTLY the true SSPX position as his own: “Catholics, when they can, obey their pope.” I do not blame the author for his confusion. We are all confused in these lamentable days. But by thrashing about for “more traditional position than the traditionalists,” and searching for novel ways to defend the indefensible, Dr. Oddie is just having an argument with himself.

    • ColdStanding

      If you read some accounts of the council in question, a good many very influential council fathers did very little other than criticize, bash, denigrate, cause confusion, and fomenting revolution. Yet they get a pass as being loyal to the Pope.

      It helps that they got their man on the chair.

      The more I read of the council in question the more I prefer the prospect of watching sausage being made and eating it afterwards.

      • Do we need to amend Bismarck’s famous quote about Law and Sausages by adding Conciliar documents?

        Some of these cats seem to be looking gor a place on the spit next to Wolsey.

        • ColdStanding

          At least in a legislature or parliament has a history and, often, a set of procedures by which legislative documents are subject to scrutiny. This doesn’t stop altogether the prospect of a fixed outcome or PRoNK-style People’s Assembly result, but it helps. At the council in question, these controls were nonexistent because the “procedures” for deliberation were made up as they went along.

          Adum, it really does start to look farcical. It is not as if preparatory work was not done prior to the council getting underway. It was and these documents can be read and are very interesting, mostly because they are unambiguous. However, simply because Germans hate Latins, this work was dumped and they just started making stuff up.

  • ColdStanding

    The Pope’s program isn’t actually all that original. Here is an account of how the Pope’s approach was introduced into the Jesuit order after the council. I’ve posted this link before. It is an entry in a Jesuit journal. The author says that his superiors basically asked him (and all the other Jesuits), What do you think a Jesuit should be?


    It seems he’d been thinking along the lines of what was asked in the 33rd Jesuit congress prior to being asked.

    This is the council in question. The party for change, call them modernists, progressives, liberals, revolutionaries or what have you, at the council took the position “I don’t know what Christianity is really supposed to look like, but I am damn sure that it does not look like historical Roman Catholicism.” Perhaps it could be said that one is living out the council in question to the degree that one is moving away from Tridentine tinged Roman Catholicism.

    The problem is that Church is to be the teacher of mankind. That does not mean that the Church is to provide teachers for mankind, as if it were a private society that gets together to pay for the education of teachers where, provided that teachers were taking the field (teaching anything, I suppose), She’d be fulfilling Her mission. No, the people that give themselves to God to teach are to teach what God has, first through Sacred Tradition and second through Sacred Scripture, said should be taught.

    This signal from God, this body of teaching, remains constant. It does not develop. There are, here and there, an entailment adumbrated in the two sources that, when it suits the Holy Spirit to bring them forth, gives the appearance of change. That does not mean, however, that type of program articulated by Fr. Gelpi is possible.

    The reason why Fr. Gelpi’s program is not possible is because it is not Catholic. It is not Catholic because it is not universal. It is a particular, individual or personal program masquerading as a general program because everyone has been asked to do it. That does not fit the bill of being universal because it shatters the very possibility of universality. Not, mind you, forever, but certainly for several generations.

    If you can wade your way through Fr. Gelpi’s report (and come out with your faith intact!), see if it bares similarity to what Pope Francis is doing right now. It looks similar to me.

  • Jay

    Is anyone predicting a greater schism if the Pope were to change the teachings on remarried receiving communion? I don’t know about a formal schism, but I do think more and more will be drawn to the FSSP or SSPX.

    • Were Francis to break communion with the other 22 Catholic Churches, I for one would defect to the Maronite Catholic Church.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher


        Why wait, you can now be bi-ritual as both Roman and Maronite, as is Fr. Mitch Pacqua, S.J. and I!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!

        Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
        Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher

      The current occupant of the “Chair of St. Peter” could easily be seen as the best recruiter for the Sedevecantist their is!

      BTW, the SSPX are NOT sedevecantist!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!

      Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
      Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

  • Todd Flowerday

    “There is no getting away from … one of the most disturbing developments … has been the growth of a tendency among Catholics who a year or two ago would have been considered papal loyalists to be so confused …”
    Maybe a good number of Catholics didn’t have it right a year or two ago. Maybe everybody is a sinner, not just people who disagree with self-styled loyalists. Maybe confusion is a state that invites internal reflection, not public belly-aching. Maybe simmering silence is not quite as good as binding wounds, caring for the needy, and attending less to one’s own creature comforts.
    Over the past decade-plus, in observing numerous bishops and Catholic neo-celebrities who had the theology “right,” but who blundered badly over moral matters, I feel a great sense of relief having a pastor in the Chair of Peter who understands that being a pastor is more important than being a theologian.
    My suggestion to “confused” Catholics would be to reach out and find commonality with those of us who found the years 1978-2013 full of a deepening sense of discouragement as cronyism, secrecy, silencing, and bitterness seemed to overhaul too many of the people who should have been more faithful shepherds.

    • GG

      Arch liberals never got it right. Never. That is why the world loves relativism. One can do whatever one desires as long as they appeal to conscience and helping those they deem poor. 1972 will not die. Break out the bell bottoms and situation ethics.

      • Todd Flowerday

        Silliness. It too often seems a matter of blaming someone else. If not 1972, then 1989 or 313 or 1517. Too often it’s one someone else. Surely not me. 1972 was a great year, btw. Gene Cernan took the last human steps on the moon. Watched it when I was a kid. We had wonder back then. Now? No more helpings of cynicism, please.

    • imabitterclinger2

      “Maybe confusion is a state that invites internal reflection, not public belly-aching.”

      Confusion is a tool of the Devil. Read 1 Cor. 14:33.

      God is not a God of Confusion but of peace. Peace is found in the joy and discovery of simple truths and then conforming ones life to those truths and finding even greater joy. The confusion you allude to from 1978-2013 would be of people who wanted the church to conform to their beliefs, not the other way around. Sorry about that.

      • Todd Flowerday

        So … are you saying “faithful” Catholics who are confused have abandoned God for the devil? I wasn’t at all confused in the years 1978-2013. But confusion is the exact quality cited by the blog author. Are you really sure about calling out those Catholics who are honestly troubled today?

        • imabitterclinger2

          Nice try, but bait and switch won’t work on me sir. You are the one who said, “Maybe confusion is a state that invites internal reflection, not public belly-aching.” were you not?

          As to the source of the confusion, it certainly isn’t the confused. That’s a bit like contributing a murder to the victim is it not? So it would stand to reason that the Devil isn’t guiding the confused, but those who are creating the confusion. They are the sowers of weeds in the field of grain.

    • SO “cronyism, secrecy, silencing, and bitterness” were only occurring between 1978-2013?
      In other words, you didn’t like two Popes.

      • Todd Flowerday

        Not two popes. Many of the bishops they appointed who did very shoddy if not immoral work. Why did the last pope retire? He clearly had enough of the mess.

        • Or he was 86 years old and sensing a loss of physical and mental vitality that is normal for people who live that long. Maybe you can blame them for Arius and Wolsey.

          • Todd Flowerday

            Nice try, DE. Part of being a good pastor is having people you can trust in key places. Parishes. Dioceses. Universal Church. Pope Benedict was a fine theologian. He had five years’ experience as a pastor outside of academia and the curia. He was 86, as you say, likely out of his element.
            Congregation of Bishops has been in arrears since the early 90’s.
            Needless to say, for many Catholics, it wasn’t confusion. We can tell when a bishop presents himself as orthodox, yet bumbles basic morality when dealing with important issues. Discouragement pretty much sums up my sense with Rome since about the 90’s. I don’t have that problem now.
            Now seriously, how to deal with confusion? Do you consider yourself confused, DE? Angry? Disillusioned? Would you agree with Dr Oddie on the feeling?

            • Some of us don’t attempt to reason with emotion.
              What problem do you have now?

              • Todd Flowerday

                As I’ve said, I don’t have a problem with this pope, or his priority for mission.

                • But you clearly had problems with the last two, unless 1978-2013 is just a very coincidental time frame.
                  I asked you what problem you have now, (beyond the inability to answer a question as asked, rather than as you would like it to be asked) not to restate the scope of what is not problematic to you currently.

                  • Todd Flowerday

                    Another nice try, DE. I think we all realize that “cronyism, secrecy, silencing, and bitterness” happen often enough in human circles. The sanctity of two popes didn’t protect them or the Church from occasionally choosing bad people to serve.
                    As I said above, I don’t have a problem now. I’m commenting on the problems others have as reported by Mr Oddie. Would you like to respond to my questions of you, or has this discussion descended into adolescence on all sides?

  • Desmond

    There is a particularly nasty American activity of attacking everything we do not understand going on amongst the Crisis comment boards. As the article pointed out, the Pope has never contradicted Church teachings; he has only ever been guilty of saying too little. Perhaps if the laity lived their lives according to the Faith, he would have more confidence to say resolutely what he now trusts his hearers to go read. That is true of our Church as a whole, but especially in America. Most of our pews are filled with only nominal Catholics. We see that sad truth reflected in the public speeches of our prelates. Perhaps we should do some soul searching before throwing our shepherds to the wolves.

    • GG

      Crisis is a breath of fresh air. The faithful who speak without spin.
      Today’s confusion is not coming from places like Crisis.
      You read these articles and there is no need to call for clarification endlessly or spin non stop.

  • clintoncps

    “the idea that there is a major project under way to dismantle the teachings of the Church, beginning with its teachings on marriage and sexuality, is a pure fiction.”

    I don’t agree with the above statement; in fact, I think the “project” has been underway for 2,000 year.

    In my own life, while I was attending Catechism classes a few year ago, I was disturbed by one section of the Catechism more that any other: the one on homosexuality. It says of homosexuality that “its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained” (CCC 2357). How does it remain so? Does homosexuality proceed from the Holy Spirit? If not, then how can there be any question as to its psychological genesis? Its source, ultimately, is the father of lies attacking the Image of God in man by exploiting his fallen nature. Why, then, do we find this politically-correct, demographically-justified assertion about homosexuality’s presumably unexplained psychological genesis? If homosexuality as such does not proceed from the Holy Spirit, how does the “psychological genesis” statement in CCC 2357 proceed from Him?

    I think the Catechism is one of the most brilliant, insightful, and spiritually authentic documents I’ve ever read, and I consider it essential reading along side the Bible. But certain of its passages may be more coloured by a modernist or worldly view than we’d like to think, and the section on homosexuality most certainly is tainted by popular sentimentalism, international trends, and internal pressures of dissent.

    As I said above, the project has been under way for 2,000 years … so let’s please pray for Pope Francis and all the clergy in our own day.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    It all comes down to wait and see how the final Synod unfolds. Yet, as we wait what what is there to see?

    See Pope Francis replace the agitators who created the ruckus and (organized) misdirections at the Oct. Synod? Has he?

    See Pope Francis get hot under the collar that the topic of homosexuality overrode everything? Did he?

    See Pope Francis step into the middle of the square and make it clear to all that the “gay agenda” folks will not control the conversation at the final Synod next Oct.? Has he?

    See Pope Francis declare holy war against the captivity, by the Queer Theory Vanguard Brigade, of even the language used to frame this discussion. Has he? Will he? This grand conversation of ours – and we all slipshod into it – has yielded to the parameters and strictures of Post-Modern Gender/Queerism. Does Pope Francis have what it takes to read the lay of the battlefield? Is he armored up to fight the Queer Theorists?

    This article, or his prior one, Mr. Oddie has yet to reassure us.

    [From the BANKRUPT Diocese of Stickton]

  • Margaret O

    just witness the Pope’s latest rant about the change in the fast for Holy Communion … made by Pope Pius XII ………….

    • C.Caruana

      Yes, the hidden subtext being that fasting for twelve hours before communion was as much up for debate in its time as receiving holy communion in a state of objective sin is now. And those nasty neo-pelagian unmerciful tradtionalists simply cannot get it, you see.

      • GG

        Yes, and now we wait for the defenders of confusion to come and say that he did not change any Catholic teaching so there is no real problem.

  • imabitterclinger2

    I’m tired of apologizing to everyone about questioning things in the church. If I question the implementation of Vatican II, the Ordinary Form Mass, or the things that Pope Francis says, it doesn’t make me a heretic. Honestly, the people that are looking for the apology are typically the ones who never listened to Humane Vitae and derided Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict. I’m tired of playing games. I am a Catholic. I expect the church to be Catholic, and I will never apologize for wanting it to stay that way.

    • C.Caruana

      The real heretics are those who strenuously maintain they are preserving Catholic doctrine while surreptitiously evacuating it by ‘merely’ changing the discipline to which it is intrinsically linked. This is the acme of pharisaism. They have their useful idiots, the ‘normalisers’, who are ecstatic about the perfect orthodoxy of Pope Francis and hell bent on defending his revolutionary style. For these he simply can do no wrong, nor has he done any. Some of them verge perilously close to papolatry. To these we owe no apologies, nor shall any be forthcoming.

  • Now, will Cubans become Catholic or merely allowed to peddle prized cigars here?


  • jeremiah_methusela

    It disturbs me to read this article under the banner of Crisis magazine, in part it is very one-sided and is unfair, I won’t put it more strongly.

    You claim “I am, in other words, a Catholic traditionalist.” Fine, but that’s your own definition. It ought not to be necessary to define “what sort of a Catholic one is”, no priest has ever asked me that question ? But, should I try to define my Catholicity, I shun meaningless, simplistic labels and reply I am an orthodox Catholic, who believes everything he was taught, many years ago and does not follow those who call into question the ancient tested and true teachings and liturgy of the Church.

    Here I refer specifically to Walter Cardinal Kasper, whose near-heretical words have been specifically approved by Papa Bergoglio, although we only have the cardinal’s word for it and he is someone who has been publicly caught out in a plain “untruth”. That is the sort of behaviour which persuades some unfortunates to query the legitimacy of the present Bishop of Rome. It’s so sad and so avoidable.

    You let the SSPX have both barrels, but you are out of order to suggest they are anti-papalist, that is not so. They recognise the Pope and pray for him, it’s surprising you don’t know that. Maybe I don’t agree with some things you write, it doesn’t mean I am “anti” you, I call that slipshod reasoning.

    Let me remind you, if I may, the “Old Mass”, Usus Antiquior etc, TLM, call it what you like – I mean the one safely preserved, Deo gratias, by Archbishop Lefebvre and his priests, was never, ever banned. But our priests and bishops repeatedly lied to us for many years, that it was banned, it was forbidden, we must not attend it, until Papa Ratzinger eventually came round in Summorum Pontificum to admitting that it had never been proscribed.

    You make an outrageous claim that the SSPX “attacked Catholic deference to papal authority” – your scatter-gun approach is absurd, not to be taken seriously. You state “[SSPX] dismissing them all as heretics who have actually abandoned the faith”. This claim is ludicrous, what on earth are you thinking of ?

    It’s good to see you quote the doughty Father Blake, I read him and very rarely indeed find anything I don’t like or admire, certainly nothing which imperils or confuses my invincible faith. It’s different with Papa Bergoglio, his “technique” or strategy, as you imply, seems to be to break down before building up. This technique fell out of use in most modern, intelligent military forces ages ago and the Pope is way out of line if that is his papal intention, he would be playing with people’s faith.

    Is that the case ? How on earth would I know ? Firstly, we have no idea which of his sayings are reported and translated correctly and secondly, it seems to be non-stop confusion on every day’s menu as “plat du jour”.

    We all desperately need certainty in these desperate times and hope the Pope will provide. If not him, who ?

  • Mickey’O

    “…this could, in the end, turn out to be one of the great pontificates.” Don’t hold your breath…

  • RufusChoate

    For me I have one question about this post… “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church, today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

    Dr. William Oddie… How long have you been residing in my mind? Brillant

  • Pat Jones

    Well actions speak louder than words:

    1) Kasper shooting off his mouth with the “giving communion to adulterers is okay” speech YET Pope Francis doesn’t reprimand Kasper???

    2) Pope Francis let Bruno Forte write the infamous synod with the gays should be “welcome” and “value” in the Relatio.

    3) Cardinal Burke was demoted.

    4) I don’t know if anyone was aware of this, but the people Pope Benedict XVI put in the charge of for the renewal of the Mass were remove by Pope Francis and in its place Francis’ Novus Ordo gang.

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

  • Älter und weiser

    The first time you are misrepersented, shame on the media.
    After the tenth time, shame on you.