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THERE are many emotions sweeping through the Church in these days of confusion and trial. What is of primary importance is that we remain in communion with one another—being patient with, and bearing one another’s burdens—including the Holy Father. We are in a time of sifting, and many do not realize it (see The Testing). It is, I dare say, a time to choose sides. To choose whether we will trust Christ and the teachings of His Church… or to trust in ourselves and our own “calculations”. For Jesus placed Peter at the head of His Church when He gave him the keys of the Kingdom and, three times, instructed Peter: “Tend My sheep.” John 21:17 Thus, the Church teaches:
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 882
Perpetual means: until the culmination of human history, not until the times of tribulation. Either we accept this statement with the obedience of faith, or we don’t. And if we don’t, then we begin to slide on a very slippery slope. Perhaps this sounds melodramatic, for after all, being confused by or criticizing the Pope is not an act of schism. However, neither should we underestimate the strong anti-papal currents rising at this hour.
So here are some of your letters and my response in order to, hopefully, bring more clarity, and put our focus back where it belongs: on The Counter-Revolution, which is Our Lady’s special plan to crush the prince of darkness.
As a priest, I have become increasingly alarmed at the Holy Father’s ambiguous statements, homilies, poor theology, and actions… The problem as I see it with your last reflection about “God’s Anointed” is that it seems to imply any criticism of the Holy Father’s poor theology, dubious pastoral actions, and changes to long-standing tradition are unacceptable.
Dear Padre, I understand the frustration of having to clarify the Pope’s words—it’s kept me busy too!
However, I have to respectfully correct your statement that I implied “any criticism” of the Pope is “unacceptable.” In Striking God’s Anointed One, I began by referring to “irreverent and crude criticism” and then said: ‘I am not speaking of those who have validly questioned and gently criticized the Pope’s often colloquial approach to dogmatic questions, or the prudence of cheerleading for the “global warming” alarmists.’ I would place you in this category. In fact, I have also openly disagreed with the Pope’s stance on climate change for the fact that it is not a matter of dogma, but science, which is not the Church’s expertise. cf. Climate Change and the Great Delusion
Lack of clarity!
The Pope, any Pope, should speak with clarity. There should be no need for neo-Catholic commentators to write “The ten things Pope Francis really meant.”
This is good advice—advice that Jesus ignored. His ambiguity and “unorthodox” actions and words ultimately led to him being accused of being a false prophet and insubordinate. It is true: Pope Francis doesn’t seem to care much about precision, at least in the spontaneous moment. But that he hasn’t been clear over the course of his pontificate is not quite true. As papal biographer, William Doino Jr. points out:
Since being elevated to the Chair of St. Peter, Francis hasn’t flagged in his commitment to the faith. He has urged pro-lifers to ‘stay focused’ on preserving the right to life, championed the rights of the poor, rebuked gay lobbies who promote same-sex relations, urged fellow bishops to fight gay adoption, affirmed traditional marriage, closed the door on women priests, hailed Humanae Vitae, praised the Council of Trent and the hermeneutic of continuity, in connection with Vatican II, denounced the dictatorship of relativism…. highlighted the gravity of sin and the need for confession, warned against Satan and eternal damnation, condemned worldliness and ‘adolescent progressivism,’ defended the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and urged Christians to carry their crosses even to the point of martyrdom. These are not the words and acts of a secularizing Modernist. —December 7th, 2015, First Things
Christ’s ambiguity at times left the Pharisees enraged, His mother puzzled, and the Apostles scratching their heads. Today we understand Our Lord better, but still, His edicts like “Do not judge” or “turn the other cheek” require greater context and explanation. Interestingly, it is Pope Francis’ words that also deal with mercy that are creating controversy. But unfortunately, the secular media and some careless Catholics are not taking the time to research and reflect both on what the Pope said and what he means. See, for example, Who Am I to Judge?
You might also recall that Benedict XVI’s pontificate was also marked by controversy, with one seeming public relations blunder after another.
Francis is mean!
Jorge Bergoglio continues to slander people and call Catholics unkind names. How many times does he chastise those such as me who “will not change.”? Who is he to judge?
The bigger question here is are you and I not changing, and thus deserving of exhortation? It is the role of the Holy Father, in part, to not only feed the sheep, but to lead them away from the brackish waters of worldliness and the cliffs of apathy and sloth. After all, the Scriptures say:
Exhort and correct with all authority. (Titus 2:15)
That’s what fathers do. Besides, I recall John the Baptist calling the unrepentant “a brood of vipers” and Jesus calling the religious of his day “white-washed tombs.” The Pope has been no less colorful, for better or worse, right or wrong. He’s not personally infallible. He can say edgy things like you and I. Should he? As the head of my own home, there are times when I have opened my mouth when I shouldn’t have. But my kids forgive me and move on. We should do the same in the family of the Church, no? We want the Pope to be perfect in every single communication, but fe w of us hold the same standard to ourselves. While the Pope has a much more serious responsibility to be “clear”, we can see at times that not only is Peter “rock” but also a “stumbling stone.” Let it be a reminder that our faith is in Jesus Christ, not man.
The interreligious video of Pope Francis definitely gives the impression of Indifferentism (see Did Pope Francis Promote a One World Religion?), which is that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation. The job of the Pope is to protect and proclaim clearly the Morals and Dogmas of the Catholic Faith so as to protect the sous of the faithful so there is no chance for confusion.
As I stated in my response, cf. Did Pope Francis Promote a One World Religion? while the images are somewhat misleading, the words of Pope Francis are consistent with interreligious dialogue (and we simply don’t know if the Pope has even seen how his videotaped message for “justice and peace” was used by the production company that produced it.) To infer that the Pope was saying all religions are equal or that he was calling for a “one world religion” is an extrapolation that is completely unfounded—and the kind of judgment that requires a defence (even if one is not a fan of the video, and I’m not.)
Regardless, the role of the Holy Father is not limited to echoing “Morals and Dogmas”, as you say. He is called, above all, to incarnate the Gospel. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Christ said. Is the Pope exempt from this dogma?
Defending the dignity of another
Is the gist not this: You are not defending Pope Francis at all—you are defending Christ. You are defending what Christ said about the Church and how Hell would not prevail against it. Is that not what you are doing?
Of course, in the first place, I am defending the Petrine promises of Christ and His guarantee that the Church will endure. In that regard, it doesn’t matter who occupies the Chair of Peter.
But I am also defending the dignity of a brother in Christ who has been calumniated. It is our duty to defend anyone who is falsely misaligned when justice demands it. To sit in judgment and obsessive suspicion of everything the Pope says or does, immediately and publicly casting doubts upon his motives, is slanderous.
Political correctness has silenced many pulpits and Christian lay people. But there’s a faithful remnant who will not bow to PC. So Satan attempts to deceive these Christians in a more subtle “spiritual” way—that is, through what I call “spiritual correctness”. And the end goal is the same as that of political correctness…. censor and silence free expression of thought.
It is one thing to disagree with a comment or action of the Holy Father—it is another to presume his motives are evil or to make rash judgments, especially when due diligence has not been undertaken to understand his motives. Here is a simple rule: whenever the Pope teaches, it is our obligation to understand it through the lens of Sacred Tradition by default—not spin it to fit anti-papal conspiracies.
Here, the Catechism provides invaluable wisdom regarding the often unfounded murmuring against the Vicar of Christ:
When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity… Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
– of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
– of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. —Catechism of the Catholic, n. 2476-2478
Again, I am not censoring proper and just criticism. Theologian Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi has penned two solid documents on criticism of the Holy Father. See On Criticizing the Pope. See also, Can a Pope become a Heretic?
Do we pray more for our shepherds than we criticize them?
Sensing the times
You must sense what we all sense. Can you not see what is happening here?
I have over a thousand writings on this website with the underlying purpose to help the reader prepare for the trials that are here, and the glory that is coming. And that includes preparing for economic collapse, sociopolitical upheaval, persecution, false prophets, and above all else, a “new Pentecost.”
But the conclusion being drawn by some that a validly elected Pope is the false prophet of Revelation who will lead astray the faithful is heresy. It’s so simple: it would mean the rock of the Church has turned to liquid molten, and the whole edifice would collapse into schismatic sects. Each of us would have to choose which pastor, which bishop, which cardinal, which claim to “true” Catholicism is the right one. In a word, we would become “protestants.” The whole genius behind the Catholic Church, as Christ has established it, is precisely that the Pope remains as the perpetual and visible sign of unity and the guarantor of obedience to the Truth. Gales have blown against her, revolutions, kings, queens and dominions have shaken her… but the Church still stands, and the truth she teaches the same as it was 2000 years ago. For the Catholic Church was founded not by Martin Luther, King Henry, Joseph Smith, or Ron Hubbard, but Jesus Christ.
In prayer I have been reflecting. It seemed at the beginning that these criticisms of the pope were legitimate concerns based on Pope Francis’ style, the media etc., but now I’m beginning to see that there may be specific demons assigned to this. Demons of schism, suspicion, accusation, perfectionism & false judgement (“the accuser of the brethren” [Rev 12:10]). Before, when the legalists and those without a deep ear to God’s Spirit were trying their best to follow God, in His mercy, He gave them the benefit of the doubt & blessed them. Because they were trying & attending Mass etc. Now, in a restrainer-lifting-kind-of-way, God wants them purified and to have right faith and is allowing all hell to break loose on them (Francis saw their flaws too and in a sense led the way).
These demons have been released on them and the Church. What did we think a sifting looked like? How did we think a remnant of a remnant would be formed? By a lottery at a dinner party? No, it would be painful, nasty and a schism would be involved. And there would be a debate in it on truth (as it was with Jesus—”What is truth?” Pilate asked.)
I think there is a new call in the Church: for serious intercessory deliverance prayer that God would give the grace of wisdom and revelation and unity and love to all of us in the Church, lest there would be no one left. This is a warfare issue. Not a semantics issue. It’s about a battle. Not better communication.
I really think you have grasped something here that few comprehend: that the confusion, division, and endless speculations are a ruse from the enemy. He wants us to argue and debate and judge one another. Since he cannot destroy the Church, destroying her unity is the next best thing.
On the other hand, Our Lady is calling us to deeper prayer, recollection, conversion, fasting, and obedience. If one does these latter things, the Pope’s foibles will begin to shrink back into their proper perspective. Because our hearts will begin to love like hers.
Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 1:4-8)
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