Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Eight Pages Well Worth Reading!

Confused about some of the perplexing pronouncements being issued from press conferences in aircraft or even papal documents?  You’re not alone!

There has been quite a bit of “churn” over the past few years, and the tempo seems to be increasing daily.  What has the Catholic Church always taught about things like divorce, homosexuality, the legitimacy of other religions, or even the death penalty?  If you’re attempting to follow the news coming from Rome (whether through official press releases, established news organizations, or the blogosphere), it’s small wonder if you reach the troubling conclusion that doctrine is “up for grabs” and subject to modernization.

Well, it isn’t.  If you want some reassurance on that point, read on.

It’s only eight pages, but if the last few years have left you feeling confused or uncertain about the true teachings of the Church, you owe it to yourself to read   Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time.”

Read New ‘Declaration of Truths’ Affirms Key Church Teachings in the National Catholic Register.

 

Accusations of Heresy: One Perspective

Catholics, still reeling from the conflagration which devastated her beloved Notre Dame Cathedral, was rocked a few days later by the publication of an open letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church which accused Pope Francis of heresy, and requested that the bishops “take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation of a heretical pope.”

You can read the letter in its entirety at this link: https://www.documentcloud.o… It’s twenty pages, but twenty pages well worth reading regardless of your inclination to agree or disagree with its contents.

The Accusers.

Whether it’s a former papal nuncio (like Abp. Viganò), prominent on-line laymen (Michael Voris at Church Militant, et. al.), or the signers of this letter, there’s a natural tendency these days to immediately respond with an ad hominem hip shot branding the dissidents as judgemental/Pharisee-like/rigid/haters with an axe to grind.

Still and all, the signers are indeed on very thin ice. I’m not sure what the job market looks like for unemployed theologians these days, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that, as the saying goes in Hollywood, “you’ll never work in this town again!” Not only have they pulled the tail of the massive tiger that is the Pope and his loyal cardinals, they pretty much yanked it completely off! In much the same way as the signers of the Declaration of Independence put a figurative British noose around each and every of their own necks, so the signers of this letter have destroyed their standing among all those in the powerful Church hierarchy who have a vested interest in this papal agenda.

Descriptions you might see in other online articles branding these signers as petty and vengeful reactionaries are, I think, completely unjustified (as were those characterizations of Viganò’s motives months earlier). Right or wrong, it took guts to do what they did, and they believed enough in their message to be willing to take the consequences on the chin. So my recommendation for those trying to get to the bottom of this tragic turn of events is to not consider any base motivations, but rather concentrate on the message itself and the circumstances which brought it about.

Leadership Failures.

Why has it gotten to the point where regular lay people have to concern themselves with the terrifying question of whether Peter’s Successor is or is not promulgating teachings contrary to Church doctrine so egregious as to perhaps approach even the level of material (let alone formal) heresy? For that matter, why do we laity have to be subjected to the confusing and often false teachings of so-called “celebrity priests” who continually put forward ideas which stand in stark contrast to thousands of years of Judeo-Christian teachings or the progressive bishops seemingly more interested in educating us about the mortal dangers of plastics in the ocean rather than sins in our souls?

It comes down to bad leadership on the part of our priests and hierarchy. Even if it turns out that each and every one of the specifications in the open letter were simple misunderstandings and in no way heretical, each and every one of them represent a leadership failure when it comes to clearly teaching and restating the timeless dogmas of our Faith. And, in the case of throwing faithful Chinese Catholics under the bus by kowtowing to the brutal Communist overlords in Beijing, the leadership failure took on the additional aspect of burning a pinch of incense to Caesar (or Mao, in this instance).

More Leadership Failures: Amoris Laetitia and “Weaponized Ambiguity.”

This document was a disaster from the git-go. And before anyone says, “It’s perfectly clear and it’s fine. You’re seeing stuff that isn’t there when you try and read between the lines,” let me ask you why it’s now permissible to define adultery by zip code? Liberal bishops in Germany are saying “come one, come all!” When it comes to divorced & civilly remarried Catholics receiving the Eucharist, citing AL, while next door is (still) Catholic Poland, things are as they were before this document came out. Which is the true and authentic interpretation of Christ’s own words in the Gospel concerning marriage? For two thousand years, Catholics knew the answer. Now, it’s suddenly up for grabs.

This vagueness seems intentional in order to allow for the desired intent to surface without actually having to pull the trigger yourself. And yes, orthodox Catholics got upset by this. It’s no wonder that the “H-Word” started getting whispered for the first time when AL came out.

Francis is not considered to be a leading theologian, even by his supporters. And that’s fine; being a world-class theologian has never been a prerequisite for being pope, nor should it be. Having said that, it’s worth comparing the appeal to situational ethics to be found in AL with those writings of a man considered to be a rather accomplished theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Pope Francis seemed to downplay moral absolutes in AL, saying that a negative moral precept such as the one prohibiting adultery is good as a general principle, but “in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations” (par. 304)

Aquinas is a little more direct and uncompromising when he says that some human acts, “have deformity inseparably attached to them, such as fornication, adultery, and others of this sort, which can in no way be done morally.” (Quaestiones Quodlibetales, 9, q. 7, a. 2) This idea is backed up by Pope JPII in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor when he confirms “the absolute validity of negative moral precepts which oblige without exception.” (VS 76)

Call me a rigid traditionalist, but I’m going with the Big Ox on this one.

“If you adjust the lighting just so, squint through your left eye and stand on one leg, what the Pope’s writing seems OK.”

Authentic teachings on faith, doctrine and morals coming from the Chair of Peter shouldn’t be this difficult to interpret. It confuses the laity. It confuses more than a few respectable theologians and cardinals. Didn’t somebody in the New Testament say something along the lines of “Let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’ be no?”

If Francis wanted a liberalization of the rules (with its inevitable clash with the words of God Himself), why didn’t he just come out and say so? Instead, he throws together AL and waits to see how various groups of bishops will interpret it. He refused to answer the Dubia, which remains a set of honest questions posed by honest men, and instead kept mum until a bunch of South American bishops came up with the liberal/heterodox interpretation he wanted. Then he declared that those guys’ interpretation of AL was the correct and “magisterial” one.

Since when do we define doctrine and promulgate Church teaching by playing this kind of game? “I’m thinking of a number between one and twenty. Can you guess what it is? If so, you win a prize!”

Yet More Leadership Failures: The Sex Abuse Crisis and the Lavender Mafia.

We’ve seen the train wreck caused by our hierarchy’s handling of the clerical sex abuse crisis. If they weren’t participating directly, they were facilitating cover ups. And if they weren’t facilitating cover ups, they were trying to simply pretend the problem didn’t exist. Once they were called on the carpet, they solemnly assured us that the problem was fixed in 2002. Well, it wasn’t.

Theodore McCarrick. Cdl. Cupich “not going down that rabbit hole.” Cdl. Wuerl “not some massive, massive crisis.” The USCCB attempting to deal with the problem last October, only to suddenly be issued a perplexing “cease & desist” command by Francis, assuring them that everything (everything!) would be fixed at the Feb ’19 “Abuse Summit.” Cupich stepping forward mere seconds after the Vatican’s dictat had been announced, and assuming the role as papal cheerleader, almost as if he had advance knowledge of what was coming from Rome.

As had been predicted by many cynics (myself among them), the much ballyhooed February “summit” completely sidestepped the underlying problem of rampant homosexuality in far too many seminaries, rectories, and chanceries throughout the Church. The discussions focused on the abuse of minors, particularly those young enough to be considered victims of pedophilia, rather than identifying very significant numbers of post-pubescent males as victims of pederasty (which has definite homosexual implications).

To his credit, Pope Francis finally acted to oust McCarrick, and Canon law has been modified to raise the age of consent (which means that a much broader group of victims can be rightly identified as vulnerable minors). And, the pontiff has given occasional lip service to the incompatibility of homosexuality with the priesthood.

And yet, the Lavender Mafia continues to rein supreme within the hierarchy. Remember the fun-filled gay cocaine party at Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio’s digs over at his Vatican apartment? The party was so swingin’ hot that the police had to be called in to break it up. Guess who’s still a cardinal in good standing with the Holy Father?

“Yeah, but what about those other two Popes? They did it too!”

This isn’t an overly compelling argument. Failing to address this problem of clerical sex predation decades earlier remains just that: a failure (and one epic in its tragic consequences), regardless of who was at the helm. JP2 and B16 both let us down here as well. Francis, however, is the one currently leading the Church, and his continued promotion of men sympathetic to the whole homosexualist agenda is troubling and destructive.

Bottom Line: Confirmed Heretic or Just a Really Bad Pope?

I am not a sedevacantist. Neither am I in the jury pool for judging a sitting pope’s heresy trial (Spoiler Alert: NOBODY on earth is qualified to do that. The only man capable of judging a pope is a subsequent pope. That may indeed happen at some point in the future, but there’s nothing to be done about it at present. Might as well accept that fact.)

I am, however, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and as such, I am expected to be discerning. Discerning whether or not a cleric (be he priest, pope or cardinal) is talking nonsense is NOT a matter of judging them, but of remaining true to the authentic teachings of the Church which have existed for upwards of two thousand years.

Can we as good Catholics be critical of our priests, theologians, prelates, and even our pope? You bet! (Spoiler Alert #2: I checked GoogleTranslate, and as it turns out, the term “ex cathedra” does not translate as “from an Italian airliner at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic.”) Not everything a pope says must be taken as binding on belief. In a time where the average Catholic is woefully under-catechized or mal-catechized, that subtle distinction is often lost.

Is it a sin to call the pope out when he is engaging in teaching or enacting policies which are dangerous to the Faith? No. (Spoiler Alert #3: The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, NOT the mystical body of the pope—this one or any other!) We are to remain faithful to Christ even when our shepherds are not.

 So…do I declare Pope Francis to be a heretic? I do not. It’s not in my lane. Do I consider him a bad and ineffective pope who is doing more harm than good for the Faith? Yes, definitely, much to my sorrow and consternation. Should the bishops finally come to recognize the gravity of the crisis of faith which is escalating across the Catholic Church and formally address the Holy Father and correcting him where’s he demonstrably wrong? Yes, oh yes. Do I wish that he’d repent of his heterodox teachings, cease sowing confusion and ambiguity, and return to the authentic principles which have animated the Catholic Church since her founding by Christ Himself? With all my heart.

 Our Best Response? PRAY!

Whether you consider Francis the Number One Nicest Guy In The World Today, or something considerably less, we as Catholics have an obligation to pray for him. In fact, the graver your concerns, the more earnest your prayers should be.

 

A Prayer for Pope Francis

The controversies surrounding Pope Francis show no signs of abating. Agree or disagree on his policies, pronouncements, and actions, we must remember that he is nonetheless the man who is Peter’s successor. That’s no guarantee, however, that he will remain free from error in his each and every act. It doesn’t even mean that he’s automatically in a state of sanctified grace. What it does mean, however, is that he will be Number One of the devil’s target list, and that the prince of this world will be subjecting the Pope to powerful and never-ending spiritual attack. That last point is pretty much not debatable, I would guess (but net has proved me wrong time & again, so you never know…)

Regardless where we might fall on the spectrum of opinions regarding Francis and his pontificate, I hope we can all agree upon the urgent necessity to remember him in our prayers! This crisis won’t solve itself, no matter how many tweets, blogs entries, and DISQUS posts are made for or against this or that proposition. Only through prayer, the intercession of Our Lady, and by the intervention of Almighty God will the crisis be ended.

And with that in mind, I’d like to offer this short prayer for our Holy Father, taken from the 1962 Missal (Collect for the Pope):

O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, graciously look upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast been pleased to appoint pastor over Thy Church: grant, we beseech Thee, that by both word and example he may edify those over whom he is set, and together with the flock committed to his care, may attain to eternal life.
Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

OK, They Used the “H-Word.” Now What?

Red letters on black background which say "A Question of Heresy." Below that, yellow letters saying "Pray for Holy Mother Church"

They dropped the “H-Word” a few days ago.  It’s effect has been more like an H-bomb.

A group of prominent theologians and scholars (some of them priests) have issued a letter to all the bishops of the world outlining the case that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has committed multiple acts of formal heresy.

This is a big deal.  A terrifying deal.

Accusing Christ’s Vicar on Earth of heresy is one of those things that once said, is extremely difficult to retract.  The people who have done this have effectively ended their careers.  Think of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence:  in so doing, they all but put a British noose around their own necks.  Their signatures sealed their own death warrants.

No, I am not comparing this letter to the Declaration of Independence, nor am I comparing these theologians and scholars with the Founding Fathers of the American republic, so stop what you’re thinking.  What I am saying however, is that the signers of this twenty page letter have taken a step of the utmost gravity, which will have far-reaching consequences for them…and for us.

Back during the Cold War, a group of concerned scientists came up with something that became known as (among other things) the “Doomsday Clock.”  Whenever some incident between the Americans and Soviets served to increase tensions, the minute hand on clock (which was initially set sometime after 11:30 PM-ish) moved another minute closer to midnight, the idea being that once the clock reached midnight, WWIII would start and with it, of course, nuclear Armageddon.

If there is a “Schism Clock” counting down the minutes until a major disaster strikes the Roman Catholic Church, this letter surely must have moved the minute hand a notch or two.

The letter does not read like some sort of tinfoil hat manifesto; far from it.  The people who assembled it cited a series of specific incidents, documented them thoroughly, and provided excerpts from Church Councils, Holy Scripture, and other sources to demonstrate that each incident cited violated one or more critical aspects of Catholic Church teaching/dogma.

Can this document, in and of itself, convict a Roman Pontiff of heresy?  I’m not so sure.  It’s pretty much a given that the pope, being Christ’s Vicar and direct representative on Earth, is subject to the judgement of no man…only Almighty God Himself can sit in judgement of his actions.

And yet, these incidents–most of which I remember having been thoroughly amazed at when they transpired–do seem to directly contradict established Church teaching…or at least muddy them to the point where we laity are thoroughly confused.  A group of Cardinals asked Pope Francis to provide clarification (the famous Dubia of Cardinal Burke, et. al.) on some of the most troubling portions of his document Amoris Laetitia, but rather than providing the asked -for clarity, Francis made a point of completely ignoring them.  That tactic might have been considered a brilliant maneuver in the game of Vatican politics, but it didn’t do much to calm the brewing storm in the Church.  And that storm is reaching typhoon-intensity.

Correspondent Hank Igitur, the “Traditional Roamin’ Catholic,” shares his concerns in the following video, along with a set of recommended resources for those hoping to better understand the crisis which is upon us.

 

Pope Begs Sudanese for Peace

Pope Francis kisses the feet of a Sudanese peace delegate as a crowd looks on.

Every once in a while, we get a reminder of the tremendous potential of our current pontiff, Pope Francis.  CCM has been pretty forthright in its criticism of this man, but this video is quite touching and beautiful.  It depicts the Pope humbling himself before South Sudanese delegates at a peace conference.  He painfully drops to his knees, kisses their feet, while exhorting them to end the bloodshed which has plagued South Sudan for far too many years.

Despite what we may think of this man, let this video serve as a reminder of the power of his office.  Pope Francis still has the potential for being one of the truly great popes of these, the last days.  Shame on us if we fail to lift him up to our Lord and our Lady in daily prayer, despite how annoyed (furious, even) with each new troubling/outrageous development in this most troubling of pontificates.

Let us all renew our efforts in lifting up this man in earnest prayer before the Throne of Almighty God.  Let us pray for God to mold Pope Francis into the man God truly wants him to be!  Let us beg God for a transformation of the heart of Jorge Bergoglio, that he may repent of those acts displeasing to God and that he return to the true and authentic teachings of Holy Mother Church, those teachings passed down to us from the Apostles.  Let us pray that Pope Francis, along with the cadre of heterodox bishops and priests which surround him, abandon those false doctrines which have so beguiled them.  May they all be converted once more by the Holy Spirit, and lead our battered and wounded Church Militant back into the fray, once more fighting together under the banner of Christ the King.

Regardless of what you think of Pope Francis or the merits of his pontificate, he deserves our prayers.

Note:  The video used in this post originally appeared on the Rome Reports YouTube channel on 11 April 2019.

Did Pope Francis Wreck the Mass? No!

Three priests at altar performing New Mass. One has clown makeup.

The problems which plague the Catholic Church predate the rise of Bergoglio to the Chair of Peter by a generation at least.  Is the Latin Mass under threat?  Yes.  Is the Novus Ordo Mass beset with flaws and subject to all manner of abuse?  Yes.

Is it the fault of Pope Francis?  Nope.

Check out this very informative video by Michael J. Matt.  He lays out the problem very well…

Here’s the Gameplan for the February Bishops Meeting…

Chalkboard depicting a complex football play.

The Vatican is developed the bad habit of pre-engineering the outcomes of its synods.  There are never any surprises; the outcomes are pre-determined to a degree that would warm the hearts of any Soviet Party Congress.

It’s not really being called a synod now.  It’s billed as a meeting of the heads of the various bishops’ conferences…sort of a closed door meeting of all the power broker-type bishops.  Who knows?  We’re not sure it even matters who the cooks are; the results are going to be cooked.  That’s how they roll in this pontificate.

Based on statements from the Vatican and its most prominent cheerleaders, we can pretty much guess just what that outcome will be.  You can bet that they’re already rehearsing their end zone liturgical dance routines to celebrate the outcome.

But…just to be sure, we nabbed a copy of the Vatican playbook.  Watch the video…

What’s That Stang Thang?

Cartoon depiction of Vatican

Yeah, today’s Halloween.  It’s a special time of the year (except for the raccoons who come to visit me throughout the year; they show up each night expecting treats, and they’re always wearing masks, so every night of the year is Halloween for them, I guess…)

And apparently, even the folks in the Vatican are into dress-up this October.  During the Youth Synod, Pope Francis was seen walking around looking like he was preparing to play Quidditch.  His staff (called a Papal ferula) looked nothing like a traditional bishop’s crozier, and certainly nothing like the trademark Crucifix which adorned the top of St. John Paul II’s ferula.

Observers can be forgiven if they sensed some sort of Wiccan flavor to the staff he was carrying.  It looked far more like a stang of the type favored by those practiced in the dark arts than it resembled anything Christian.  “Not so!” we were assured by Vatican staff (the administrative sort of staff as opposed to the ceremonial walking stick sort of staff).  The new, avantgarde and oh-so-fashionable staff was a gift from “the youth.”  If you look closely (really, really closely) you can almost–if you squint just right–see what might look like a Y-shaped Crucifix.

Taking a shot or two of the local chianti might aid the identification process.

Not only are we laity having trouble with the funny-looking staff, the Papal staff is having trouble with the staff as well…

 

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