Papal Strategy/Style

On Pope Francis and Church Integrity

"The Church's practice always results from what she receives and contemplates in revelation. Pastoral ministry cannot be detached from doctrine."  ∼Robert Cardinal Sarah, Silent Action of the Heart (July 2015) I. In the Path to Rome, Belloc remarked that as one gets older he becomes more concerned with the human side of the supernatural Church. [...]

Thoughts on Some Papal Sayings

We have a different sort of pope today, one more interested in raising issues than settling them. He speaks informally, in ways that are often puzzling to those looking for a voice of steady authority rather than one of exhortation, dialogue, and immediate personal response. What he says is strongly grounded in his experience as [...]

This Pope Does Not “Do” Doctrine

If you are puzzled, even disoriented by the Holy Father’s conduct of his pontificate (and I stress at the outset that what follows is not intended as an attack on it) you may be reassured by an article in this month’s National Geographic magazine, which contains some possibly indiscreet remarks by the Pope’s spokesman, Fr Federico [...]

Docility in a Time of Dissolution

We are free but somehow not free. As Paul puts it, “the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.” The conundrum results from Original Sin: our will is turned against itself, because it is not directed as designed. We are social and depend on others, [...]

Fear Not, Faithful Catholics

Many Catholics, especially conservative ones, obviously aren’t thrilled with the pope’s new encyclical. I find myself once again spending a lot of time explaining to non-Catholics why the current pope is either not a Marxist or is being yet again misunderstood for the 999th time. Frankly, I’ve lost most of my credibility with these folks, who [...]

Mixing Up the Sciences of Heaven and Earth

A museum curator here in New York recently showed me some extraordinary documents and I touched them with awe, albeit with cotton gloves.  There was Benjamin Franklin’s annotated copy of the Constitution, and a long letter by Washington refusing to run for a second presidential term, because all he had to commend himself was his character, which was [...]

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic [...]

Irish Liberals Have Second Thoughts on Pope Francis

For the past year and a half many Irish commentators, especially those not known for friendliness toward the Catholic Church, have expressed great enthusiasm for Pope Francis. They have interpreted some of his often casual comments about not judging people, about the Church serving as a field hospital, about the need for Church leaders to [...]

Is the Left’s Honeymoon with Pope Francis Finally Over?

Okay, here we go. We finally have maybe the moment we’ve been waiting for. A major national case of gay marriage, specifically in the country of Slovakia, has prompted Pope Francis to come out firmly and actively against redefining traditional marriage as the Roman Catholic Church has long understood it. In so doing, progressives/liberals who [...]

Pope Francis Shocks Liberals on Same-Sex “Marriage”

In his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis once again defended marriage, and he again edged closer to a firm, unequivocal papal statement against same-sex "marriage." As Francis clearly continues to carefully move in that direction, liberals, both secular and non-secular, non-Catholic and Catholic, are going to feel a severe sense of betrayal and grave [...]

Don’t Lose Sleep Over Climate Change Encyclical

It’s official. Progressives love Pope Francis. Their magazines, from Think Progress to Mother Jones, are abuzz with excitement in light of the recent rumor that the pope is going to issue an encyclical on climate change sometime in the next few months. As a politically conservative American Catholic, I’m expected to throw a fit about [...]

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 [...]

A Note on Our Modern Celebrity Papacy

I’m getting a little tired of people asking me whether I “like” Pope Francis. I don’t want to be too sensitive here. But why are my personal feelings about the Holy Father so very important? Jane Fonda, Elton John and Patti Smith all apparently love Pope Francis. Does that really tell us anything significant? Maybe [...]

Is Pope Francis Duping Liberals on Marriage?

It’s no secret that liberals adore Pope Francis. The more secular the “progressive,” the greater the reverence for the new man in the Vatican. Liberals—which includes liberal Catholics and Protestants as well as secularists—see the pontiff as the long-awaited liberator of the reactionary Roman Catholic Church. And yet, if you think about it, there aren’t [...]

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 [...]

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

In my last piece I wrote “If Francis doesn’t soon make it clear that the synod can’t abandon Catholic teaching, his pontificate could spin out of control.” I didn’t, I fear, hold out much hope that he would; and nearly everyone seems to have taken it for granted that he didn’t, even those who, like [...]

On Advising the Pope: An Exchange

The truths of the Catholic Church do not change, but the world does—and the world tends to stray from the truth. Efforts must be made, therefore, to bring the Church to a world that has lost its way—and that may involve, as in the parable, leaving the ninety-nine behind. Pope Francis is a missionary pope, [...]

Pope Francis in South Korea: Three Things to Know

Hours ago, Pope Francis began his first Apostolic visit to Asia. After an overnight flight from Rome, which took the Roman Pontiff through Chinese airspace—a first in the chronicles of the acts of the popes—the man from the “ends of the earth” landed at Seoul’s Incheon Airport and met and addressed (in English) South Korean [...]

Is There Growing Confusion over Church Teaching?

I begin with a piece, spotted by Fr Tim Finigan and reported in his indispensable blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity, which had been published in Sandro Magister’s blog—not his English one, Chiesa, but his Italian language blog for L’Espresso, Settimo Cielo. A few days ago, Magister told the story of a parish priest in the Italian diocese [...]

Is a Period of Papal Reserve Now Overdue?

About a year ago, and thus in the early months of Pope Francis’s pontificate, Damian Thompson wrote a Daily Telegraph blogpost headlined “Meet Francis, the Chatterbox Pope.” “This new pontiff,” he noted, “is a media-savvy charmer in a way that none of his predecessors have been. Seriously, he could give Bill Clinton lessons in how [...]

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