Some Questions Cardinal George Would Like to Ask Pope Francis

At the end of September, Sandro Magister commented that the more conservative and traditional Catholics of the United States, “while still reeling from the news of the … removal of Cardinal Raymond Burke … [have] been dealt another blow with the appointment of the new archbishop of Chicago.”

Pope Francis’s selection of Archbishop Blase Cupich as the new pastor of the third-ranking diocese in the US, comments Magister, “has plunged this particularly dynamic component of American Catholicism into a profound depression, almost to the edge of a nervous breakdown … the more progressive segment of American Catholicism, historically hypercritical of the recent pontificates, has celebrated with enthusiasm the arrival of Cupich….”

One would in any case have surmised that Cupich’s immediate predecessor, Cardinal Francis George (who is described by the commentator John Allen Jr as “America’s Ratzinger”) must be wondering what on earth Pope Francis is up to. Magister comments that “Cupich seems to be bringing Chicago back to the heyday of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, George’s predecessor, a champion of ‘liberal’ Catholicism in the United States and the creator of the mountainous bureaucratic machine of the episcopal conference.”

Everything in the American Church, in other words, that Cardinal George fought (with considerable success) during his entire episcopal career to reverse. John Allen worked out that there was an interesting story here; and he hit journalistic paydirt: just before he handed over his diocese to the new man, Cardinal George gave Allen a fascinating interview on the Crux website about his attitude, not to his successor but to the Pope who appointed him.

Cardinal George is currently undergoing experimental treatment intended to stimulate his immune system to fight off the cancer spreading from his bladder, liver, and kidneys through the rest of his body. But even now, says Allen, as the cardinal fights for his life, his mind remains remarkably nimble. And one thing occupying his mind these days is Pope Francis. He’s puzzled: and what he had to say exactly mirrors, I suspect, what many of us too, have also wondered about. If time and health allow, says Allen, Cardinal George would really, really like to have a heart-to-heart with Francis.

“Aside from the sheer fun of knowing what one of America’s best Catholic minds wants to ask the Pope,” comments Allen, “George’s dream Q&A has political relevance because he remains a point of reference to the Church’s conservative wing. These aren’t just his questions, in other words, but what a large and influential Catholic constituency would like to know.”

He began the interview by telling Allen that he’d like to ask Pope Francis if he fully grasps that in some quarters, he’s created the impression that Catholic doctrine is up for grabs:

Does Francis realize, for example, “what has happened just by that phrase, ‘Who am I to judge?’”

Francis’s signature sound-bite, George said, “has been very misused … because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution, whom he knows well,” George said.

(Francis uttered the line in 2013, in response to a question about a Vatican cleric accused of gay relationships earlier in his career.) “That’s entirely different than talking to somebody who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness,” George said.

 “Does he not realize the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t,” George said. “I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds.”

“The question is why doesn’t he clarify” these ambiguous statements, George said. “Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear the burden of trying to put the best possible face on it?”

He said he also wonders if Francis realizes how his rhetoric has created expectations “he can’t possibly meet. I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds.”

“That’s what worries me,” Cardinal George said. “At a certain moment, people who have painted him as a player in their own scenarios about changes in the Church will discover that’s not who he is.”  At that stage, the cardinal warned, “he’ll get not only disillusionment, but opposition, which could be harmful to his effectiveness.”

Second, he said he’d like to ask Francis who is providing him advice—which, he said, has become the “big question” about this Pope. “Obviously he’s getting input from somewhere,” Cardinal George said. “Much of it he collects himself, but I’d love to know who’s truly shaping his thinking.”

Third, Cardinal George noted that Pope Francis often makes references to the Devil and the biblical notion of the end-times, but said it’s not clear how that shapes his vision and agenda.

Among other things, he pointed out that one of Pope Francis’s favorite books is The Lord of the World (1907) by Robert Hugh Benson, a convert from Anglicanism and son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury and a Catholic priest. The novel is an apocalyptic vision whose climax is a confrontation between the Church and a charismatic anti-Christ figure. If you’ve read it, you’ll also know that it’s hardly an accurate prediction of the way the twentieth century actually unfolded, either in the Church or the world: it seemed to me so remote from reality, in fact, that I personally couldn’t finish it. But many people I respect admire it. One thing is clear: Robert Hugh Benson was hardly a theological liberal, so it’s interesting that Pope Francis should be so fascinated and attracted by his way of thinking.

Cardinal George said he’d like to ask Pope Francis a simple question about the book’s apocalyptic vision: “Do you really believe that?”

“I hope before I die,” he said, “I’ll have the chance to ask him how you want us to understand what you’re doing, when you put [the end-times] before us as a key to it all.”

Perhaps, he went on, the sense that the end is near explains why Francis “seems to be in a hurry.”

So far, George said, he hasn’t been able to talk these things out with the Church’s new ruler: “I didn’t know him well before he was elected, and since then I haven’t had a chance to go over [to Rome] for any meetings because I’ve been in treatment.

“You’re supposed to govern in communion with the successor of Peter, so it’s important to have some meeting of minds,” he said. “I certainly respect [Francis] as Pope, but I don’t yet really have an understanding of ‘What are we doing here?’”

Cardinal George repudiates the idea that he is “America’s Ratzinger,” and insists he’s not of Pope Benedict’s intellectual calibre. All the same, says Allen, he is the closest thing to it on these shores. To that one can add that he is of a very similar caste of mind to Pope Benedict. This leads one to a question: if “America’s Ratzinger” doesn’t really have an understanding of “what are we doing here?” what is going through the mind of Pope Benedict himself?

Those questions of Cardinal George’s, “why … doesn’t he clarify these ambiguous statements?” and “why is it necessary that apologists have to bear the burden of trying to put the best possible face on it?” really do need answering. I feel this dilemma very personally, having tried for what seems like years (but it can’t be, he’s not been Pope anything like as long as it seems) precisely to “put the best face on” some of the things he has said and done. But it seems a long time now since it was always possible to “read Francis through Benedict.”

Editor’s note: This column was first published November 21, 2014 in the Catholic Herald of London and is reprinted with permission. Pictured above are Archbishop Cupich and Cardinal George during a rite of reception ceremony on November 17, 2014. (Photo credit: AP)

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.

  • Michael B Rooke

    At the beginning of Chapter V in Robert Hugh Benson’s dystopic 1907 novel ‘Lord of the World’ there is a list of newspaper headlines. (One of them read EX-PRIESTS AS FUNCTIONARIES.)
    Benson’s comment on this was
    “There it all was—gigantic headlines, and four columns of print broken by startling title phrases in capital letters, after the fashion set by America a hundred years ago. No better way even yet had been found of misinforming the unintelligent. He looked at the top. It was the English edition of The Era.”

    The (London) Times newspaper seems to be leading the charge into Benson’s Lord of the World dystopia. On 31 March this year it published an article entitled
    “We want morality-free, godless religion”.

    It might also be noted in the novel the last King of England is King William who escapes with his Consort to Italy for the protection of the Pope.


    • Jacqueleen

      Soon after Pope Francis’ election, EWTN’s Doug Keck interviewed an author on Bookmark and unfortunately, I did not record his name and the book title. Apparently, it has been removed from EWTN’s archives and You Tube because not EWTN nor I could find it. The book was about Jorje Cardinal Bergoglio and the fact that he was into Liberation Theology, friendly with Bishop Gutierrez, founder of L.T. and another couple also into L.T. The husband was an ex-bishop, now deceased and Pope Francis calls the wife on a weekly basis to discuss situations. The author gave accounts from the Argentinian newspapers about Bergoglio’s sympathetic compassion for gays. Then, the author explained that Bergoglio visited the Vatican often and ran up and own the aisles saying, “Make me Pope…Make me Pope!” As a result of EWTN not finding the article, I searched Amazon and even Ebay….it has been scratched. If anyone has knowledge of this and knows the book and author I would appreciate the info. Thanks.

      • Michael B Rooke

        @ Jacqueleen
        The attacks on Pope Francis are so formulated that it is difficult not to see them in the tradition of the carbonari and the alta vendita. The carbonari being a C19th secret society dedicated to the destruction of the Catholic Church

        “From Naples the Carbonari spread into the neighbouring territories of the States of the Church, and here also the society sought to overthrow the absolute dominion of the papacy. The Carbonari even promulgated a forged papal Brief which contained an apparent confirmation of the association.

      • Marcelus

        The author gave accounts from the Argentinian newspapers about Bergoglio’s sympathetic compassion for gays. Then, the author explained that Bergoglio visited the Vatican often and ran up and own the aisles saying, “Make me Pope…Make me Pope!

        All of the above is not true to say the least. Look for serious sources please. Not your fault though.

        It is a about a bishop who left the Church to marry.

        Written by the ex bishop’s wife.

        “Jerónimo obispo, un hombre entre los hombres; su vida a través de sus escritos .”

        • Jacqueleen

          How would you know whether it was true or not? This was a live interview on EWTN. You are not making any sense. Then, your referenced link is not in English….I guess you want to keep it a secret.

          • Marcelus

            The book you mantion is the one I linked. and yes it’s in spanish. As for your statements on PF being part or invoived with LT, gay simpathy as you say and campaining at the Vatican to get elected,? I can humbly say , not to blame though since you are probably outside Argentina, it’s all just stories,

            I can tell what was reported after the 2005 conclave,here in Argentina a much different story, let’s just say for now,Crdl Bergoglio had already submitted his resignation. before the 2013 conclave, expected to do his duty , elect a pope and come back soon as told by his sister, already selected a room, at the Flores retirement home for priests and more.

            But for now, clear as it is that for fact that you hate or do not like your pope , you would do yourself a favour not start believing all these fairy tales about him .

            If there was one man who kept Argentina’s young clergy at bay in the 70’s, particularly the jesuits from falling into the hands of the LT groups , it was teir provincial, Fr. Bergoglio,36 years old then. All of this in the middle of an urban guerrila war , between the state and the leftwingers, that also left a lot of innoncents killed in the process, including priests.

            • Jacqueleen

              Firstly, I resent your assumptions as to why I am asking about the book..Here’s what you wrote: But for now, clear as it is that for fact that you hate or do not like
              your pope , you would do yourself a favour not start believing all
              these fairy tales about him .
              Secondly, the fact that the book was totally removed from sight, makes one wonder and far more curious to read it.
              Thirdly, the book was in English…not in Spanish and it was not based upon an ex-bishop who left the church to marry.
              Fourthly, it is rather odd that during World Youth Day, Pope Francis paid Father Guttierez a visit and then more recently just prior to the Synod, Fr. Guttierez was invited to the Vatican for dinner with the Pope.
              Fiftly, Walter Cardinal Kasper is a personal friend of Pope Francis long before Francis became the pope.
              All this is very strange indeed and makes for interesting reading.
              So, if anyone out there knows about this book, please make it known Transparency is the way to go for everyone!

              • Marcelus

                ‘The husband was an ex-bishop, now deceased and Pope Francis calls the wife on a weekly basis to discuss situations.’

                I’m sorry but this is what you wrote, so is this not the book you are taking about?

                The other real autobiography is ‘ the Jesuit’ by Sergio Rubin.
                Kasper is not and was not part of PF circle. Friends seen to spring up like mushrooms for the Pope.

                Have you heard him speak lately about euthanasia abortion ssm men and women complementarity family and hell?

                If I find any info on your book I’ll let you know

                Why would he name Crdl Sarah for liturgy then?

                Do you know Crdl Napier will lead and organize the synod next year instead of Baldissieri?

                • Jacqueleen

                  You, along with Cardinal George, Emeritus and I have more unanswered questions for the Holy Father.

  • GG

    The fascinating aspect of this is that while Cardinal George publicly asks reasonable and intelligent questions most of the professional Catholic media keep spinning everything as if there is no problem.

    Will the spinners now attack Cardinal George too?

  • Dick Prudlo

    This may be very insensitive, but I don’t think the Bishop of Rome ever read a book. He may, perhaps, have read part of Benson’s work; certainly not all of it. His life is filled with bits and pieces nothing seems to be a whole. His comments today are this and then tomorrow the contradiction comes. He has not the mind capable of real thought. No evidence has yet come that he does.

    Looking for clarity from this man is, I believe, is a wish for the impossible.

    • Marcelus

      Not insesitive, Just plain silly?You gotta be kidiing.

      ” I don’t think the Bishop of Rome ever read a book”

      Hatred is making you blind sadly-.

      • Dick Prudlo

        Marcelus, can you not read what I said. You are correct that I think little of this pope, but hate is not it. He is a small minded man with small thoughts and an ideology that trumps the Religion He is supposed to be leading.

  • JP

    From my limited viewpoint it appears Pope Francis is fast becoming a boring scold. He rarely has anything positive to say to anyone outside his favored group – the Suffering Proletariat. Just yesterday, he addressed the EU in Strasbourg, and predictably he scolded Europe as being a tired old man that throws away food while millions starve. He mumbled some words about the sacredness of life, but he never really went beyond predictable cliches.

    I am no fan of the EU; but this is an organization that redistributes hundreds of billions of Euros each year from the “Haves” to the “Have Nots”. Of course it is a huge bureaucratic state. Europe is the State which socialists like Pope Francis dream of. The fact that it didn’t quite turn out like the Utopians expected, should if anything, force people like Pope Francis to re-think their long cherished ideas. Euthanasia Centers and well massive economic planning and redistribution go hand-in-hand. Europe’s historically low fertility rates are a product of the kind of redistribution which Pope Francis demands. Pope Francis is 77; he’s been around long enough to see the full cycle of political-economic history of the modern era. Yet, he is shocked, shocked I tell, you that socialism does not lead society to Christian Virtue; it’s quite the opposite. Instead of rethinking how a Catholic society can work within today’s Post-Modern Era (within the Administrative State), Pope Francis just hurls scathing homilies.

    • The link below is an account, with quotes, that Pope Francis gave to the world Congress of Accountants.

      With the exception of the last paragraph, the address is largely meaningless. Somehow, he seems to think accountancy is social work or political office.

      • GG

        Cardinal George’s questions go to your point I think. Because our Holy Father has offered so many vague and impenetrable words so many times that even when he speaks clearly or in a Catholic sense too many have concerns or cannot read his words as plain.

        And we are told his way of acting has opened many to the faith now. That I fail to see. What I have seen is that Liberals love him. Why? Because they want to submit themselves to Christ or because they feel they can keep acting immorally and no one will say they are on the wrong path?

        • “And we are told his way of acting has opened many to the faith now.”
          I see no evidence of that; no splintering pews, long confession lines or bursting collection plates.

          • Vinny

            Now, even more people can say they are Catholic.

    • bonaventure

      That the EU is socialist and redistributes hundreds of billions of Euros from hard working Europeans to the lazy and the illegals, is not enough for Francis.

      Remember when a few days ago Francis said that it wasn’t really a good thing that communism got toppled down?

      Remember when Francis said this summer that communists are closet Christians?

      It looks like Francis lectured the EU because they are not socialist enough, i.e., because they are not full-fledged communists yet. The question is: does Francis really want to bring back communism?

      Pope St. John Paul II must be rolling over in his grave.

    • publiusnj

      This probably captures my concern with Pope Francis better than anything I had thought through: “From my limited viewpoint it appears Pope Francis is fast becoming a boring scold.” At first he seemed to be a breath of fresh air calling for the Church to be more joyous and free of undue earthly attachments. Now, though, it appears that he just thinks poorly of almost anything traditional in the Church, and criticizes his fellow priests and bishops as hypocrites any chance he gets. Once in awhile he will make an obligatory bow in the direction of the Virgin Mary, admittedly, but that done he goes back to criticizing anybody and everybody else in the Church.

      Here is the type of thing he says: “What makes people hypocrites? They disguise themselves, they disguise themselves as good people: they make themselves up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen—they believe they are more righteous than others, they despise others.”

      So, he is as quick to judge apparently faithful christians as he is solicitous of the divorced and remarried. And he is a mind reader too! None of us, of course, is without sin, but what kind of church will we have if those who at least struggle to be something “like holy cards” at least most of the time are driven out of the Church to make room for people who never saw a church law they wouldn’t break and who might even be Communists whom he divines to be “closet christians.”

      The early rumors that Pope Francis was theologically conservative seem to be “greatly exaggerated.” And just about every time I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt on a questionable statement, he pushes the limits even further. Say prayers for the Church.

  • Daniel P

    A recently found manuscript reveals the following fragment of the Prodigal Son story:

    While the son was still living in prodigality, certain hangers-on at the estate asked his father about a group of nieces and nephews who remained on the estate despite deep-seated and socially reprehensible desires to live lives of dissolution. The father said kindly, “Who am I to judge them?” By this, the hangers-on — who were a dull bunch — understood the father to be endorsing lives of dissolution.

    Afraid lest the father be misunderstood, certain wise men (the older brother among them) urged him to clarify that dissolution WAS worthy of judgment. Knowing that his words would be publicized far and wide, and even reach to the ears of his younger son, the father remained silent. He remembered words he once read: “It is God who justifies; who is it that condemns?” Even though he knew that sin is deserving of judgment, he nevertheless did not want his son to hear distant words that rang of his condemnation.

    “Let him hear from his own conscience his own unworthiness,” the father said. “From me he will hear mercy!”

    • Lego Man

      Well it would be nice if the father invited them around the hearth for some loving affirmation and fatherly, authoritative guidance in living a truly human life after the example of Christ!

      • Daniel P

        Many people believe that Francis *is* giving fatherly and authoritative guidance. The sheep in the sheepfold sometimes are critical of him, perhaps justly critical of him. They do get left behind, as he searches out the strays. But the situation is anything but simple. The obnoxious are proved obnoxious by their response to neglect; the righteous are proved righteous by their response. I am proud of the way our bishops have respectfully advocated for the older brother — but I am not proud of the way some other people have elevated the older brother’s jealousy into a species of righteousness.

        I do have concerns about the clarity of Francis’s message, but every homily I hear from him works to allay these concerns. We need more people to hear things directly from Francis, and fewer people to listen to the hue and cry of the (Catholic or secular) media.

        • GG

          If your position were true, then Cardinal George would not have the questions he does.

          The conflicting words, and actions, give rise to concern. The usual “read his actual words” does not cut it at all. We are way past that stage.

          Take a look at what the African Bishops, Polish Bishops, Cardinal George, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Muller, Bishop Athanasius Schneider have said about various problems and then see if we can simply read a few homilies and claim there are no serious issues at play.

          • Daniel P

            I never said there were no serious issues at play. There are tons of serious issues at play. But preserving orthodoxy is not the only issue. The father of the Prodigal Son ought not change his house rules, yes — but keeping the rules the same, by itself, won’t be an invitation for his son to return. The bishops you mention have spoken out respectfully, and have clarified that they think *their* proposals are better positioned to reach out to the lost. They have expressed valid concerns that proposals alleged to preserve doctrine actually do nothing of the kind.

            That kind of feedback is good and productive. What concerns me is feedback which focuses exclusively on safeguarding the Church, and doesn’t seem to consider evangelism very important at all.

        • The purpose of searching out the strays is to bring them back to the protection of the flock and the Shepherd. He seems very good at searching out strays, I just don’t see a line headed back to the flock.

          • St JD George

            Maybe there is a church somewhere, but my perception is that the chattering class likes to chatter when they selectively hear a phrase that aligns with their filters, but they aren’t about to admit their sins and change their ways, just looking for something to give them affirmation. Maybe they should seek out Al Franken instead and ask him to lapse back into his SNL persona.

    • Roderick Blyth

      I like this very much, but the question revolves around the question of primal duties: yours is a very unusual voice, and it is a voice that calls fora good deal of patience, understanding, self-restraint and optimism. The Father’s attitude, as developed in your ‘fragment’ is consistent with the priority given to the mission to the ‘lost’ in such scriptural passages as Matt.10.6, 15:24, 18.11and Luke15.6). On the other hand, the task consigned to St.Peter – against the background of a well-remembered betrayal – was also to ‘feed’ the Father’s sheep’ who, in the context, are those within the fold (Jn 21:15-17). It’s getting the balance right that matters. Like you, I tend to be reassured by what rancid says in his homilies. but like others on this page, I do sometimes wish that our beloved Father would do more to avoid his tendency to make the kind of opaque, flaccid and sententious generalisations which smack too much of salt that has lost its savour (Mtt.5:13).

  • NE-Catholic

    A very wise, perceptive and eloquent man is Cardinal George.
    God help Chicago!

    • St JD George

      What is it about Chicago that gives us Barry, Rahm, Otto Kerner, Daniel Walker, George Ryan, Rob Blagojevich, the Daley’s, and on and on. It seems to me that they desperately need someone like a Cardinal George.

      • “It seems to me that they desperately need someone like a Cardinal George.”

        Or a Tunguska event. I’m not sure one man can properly disinfect the Windy City.

        Instead, they are getting a regular contributor to “America” (I wish the Jesuits that edit and publish that bird-cage liner would just be honest about their aspirations and rename their yellow rag “Amerika”).

        • St JD George

          That’s rather apocalyptic of you, I’d hate to throw the baby out with the bath water as I’m sure there are some decent folks who hail from there. Maybe with fore warning, and a modern day Lot to step forward to lead them from Sodom and Gomorrah … ha.

          • Valid point.

            Of course if some clerics become aware that Chicago is the capital of agricultural markets, the home of the CBOE and “speculation”; calling down celestial destruction may be considered a requirement.

            • St JD George

              Maybe our super-massive black hole (or Andromeda) could let out a burp and send some high energy cosmic ray particles in a targeted tactical strike, burning some neighborhoods but leaving churches and others untouched. Surely you aren’t suggesting Chicago has a lock on speculation. I thought their special identity was the brand of politics, corruption perfected to its highest and purest level.

              • Everybody speculates. If stock up on garbage bags as I intend to do; I am SPECULATING that $75 a barrel oil is pretty low and I expect that it will not be sustained long term.

    • RufusChoate

      Cupich not so much. Trite and banal are the operative descriptions that comes to mind. He will be a disaster. I suspect that Father Robert Barron will be marginalized and silenced.

  • St JD George

    I would love nothing more than for Cardinal George to have that meeting. Hopefully Pope Francis isn’t becoming what JP suggests and confiding only among his favored group or forming a tight inner circle. Experience has taught me that that’s what people who have dictatorial tendencies do, either lacking the self confidence to open themselves to others less they conflict their world view, or are enamored with power.

  • Florian

    I hope and pray that someone, somewhere can arrange a meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal George. I believe it would be a beautiful encounter…as for that phrase: “Who am I to judge:” – it continues to be taken out of context. Pope Francis said ‘who am I to judge?’ if a sinner – homosexual – is trying to live a good life…in other words, he was not speaking of someone entrenched in a life of sin but of one who was making a good effort to live a good life..we are all sinners and we all struggle to lead a good life, we fail, we fall, but we keep trying…P. Francis was speaking of those who are trying…

    • Lego Man

      The phrase was used in an ambiguous way. The most obvious interpretation by both the world and Catholics was a pass on homosexual sin. That phrase is not something the Pope should have said. Cardinal Burke has already spoken recently about that phrase.

  • Lego Man

    The saddest thing for me is that I still don’t know whether Pope Francis is a good Pope or not. Are his intentions good? I don’t know. All the statements, confusion, and strengthening of dissent in the Church. The dissenters are delighted with Francis. At the heart of it is this fact: good Catholics aren’t at all sure that this Pope has the Church’s best interests at heart.

    • RufusChoate

      Yes. Same here.

      • Lego Man

        Pray, hope, and don’t worry.

        • RufusChoate

          Yes, Pio always has the right view.

    • John O’Neill

      The Francis Church obviously welcome the Nancy Pelosi “abortion is a catholic sacrament” catholics and the Joe Biden ” I am all for homosexual marriage” and the faculties of nominally catholic American Catholic Universities who publicly have rejected the catechesis of John Paul II and Benedict XVI into his little church. He has spent most of his time castigating traditional Catholics, the treatment of Cardinal Burke is the tip of the iceberg. So it is fair to say that Francis does not want to have anything to do or say to traditional and conservative Catholics but true to his native Argentine liberation theology he wants the Church to become the leader of the Socialist worker catholic movement. To us traditional Catholics he is a sede vacante pope.

  • ColdStanding

    A good deal of the difficulty that we face comes from the upper echelons of the Church obtaining their training, if not directly from secular institutions, then from persons whose own formation occurred in secular institutions. Remember that a secular institution is, in its principle assumptions, operating on a false premise: religion, specifically Roman Catholicism, is false. Sorry, but there is just no way to escape the contagion with this “accepted practice.” The current practice in higher education centered around the peer-review process places far too much emphasis on currying, cultivating, and preserving human esteem.

    As a result, we must face the fact that our leadership is simply embarrassed to profess the Catholic Faith.

    It need not be the case, that they disagree per se with the faith, however their teachers and peers by and large do, and this sets up the loop of slow but steady distancing from the mode of Christian living. This condition can advance to such a degree that leaders in the Church feel it is their duty to save the faithful from the inclination that the lay faithful have to actually believe the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

    This phenomenon of courting human esteem from peers also shows up with great frequency in the ecumenical movement. I’ve seen the local bishop throw the Catholic faith under the bus even when there are no Protestants around. It is much worse when they are actually present. The latest Catholic-Evangelical release only confirms that he is CINO.

    Should you think that Cardinal George is suddenly a Trad Hero&#0153 look up the speech he recently gave to the Chicago chapter of the “elder brothers” in the faith of the Book he gave recently. There we see this currying of human esteem trumping the due worship of God in spades.

    • “As a result, we must face the fact that our leadership is simply embarrassed to profess the Catholic Faith.”

      One of the featured words today on is “pusillanimous”.

      • ColdStanding

        I changed my mind. Short it!

  • Michael B Rooke

    The addresses of Pope Francis to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe may be found via

  • littleeif

    I have increasingly been hearing Pope Francis’ statements as utterances of Chauncy Gardiner (formerly Chance the gardner): “Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare and look forward to the times when the tress will be bare and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.” (Being There, 1979). And any meaning you choose to give them – proves to be right!

  • pbecke

    Perhaps Francis is challenging people’s faith in him, in the same way that Jesus challenged the faith of his listeners/followers, when he told them they must eat his body and drink his blood: real food and real drink.

    For all they knew, he must have been talking about cannibalism. But while many stopped following him permanently, some remained, having put their faith in the man, himself; evidently believing that it would all be made clear by Jesus in due course. There had been no other indication that he favoured cannibalism, but a great deal to suggest his heroic love of fellows.

    • realist

      You’ve got one problem…Pope Francis is not Jesus Christ!

      • pbecke

        That had occurred to me. But it’s only a problem for those who don’t believe he is the Vicar of Christ on earth.

        • realist

          Not true, many catholics like me know and accept Pope Francis as the Vicar of Christ. It’s just that some popes have more sense than others.

          • pbecke

            That must be true. Differences of opinion relating to that are the issue.

            I was inclined to see the Pope more as the Vicar of Peter, and was convinced by the reaction of Messianic Christians and other Protestants that the title, Vicar of Christ, causes needess scandal to non-Catholics, and must have been a hideous insult to Christ when applied to the worst Popes. Never mind that they didn’t pronounce ex Cathedra.

          • Marcelus

            My point exactly and no offense , but the word LOVE is missing in your answer.And it is a gereral feeling around trads. We as cathoilcs are called to love the Pope. God bless

        • Marcelus

          tolerate rather.

  • It’s interesting to remember that the charismatic anti-Christ in Fr. Benson’s book was an unknown senator from Illinois who had become president of the US. I kid you not.

    PS: Benson’s novel takes place in the 21st century.

    • kellen2005

      Vermont actually

  • realist

    You can always waste your time and call up catholic talk radio and talk to professional spinmeisters like Patrick Madrid or Al Kresta and here all their lame excuses for the riddler Pope Francis–but never argue with the guy with the microphone you get nowhere and about everyone knows it.

  • James Scott

    Rather then stoke the fires of resentment and hostility. Rather then come off as a bunch of sole loser schismatics. Rather then generate hostility & division among Catholics by printing provocative articles denouncing Pope Francis.

    Some conservative Bishop should open a dialog with him.

    That would be more productive.