That Pope Francis! Part III

Mark Mallett


FR. GABRIEL was unvesting after Mass when a familiar voice interrupted the silence. 

“Hey, Fr. Gabe!”

Kevin stood in the doorway of the Sacristy, his eyes beaming, a broad smile on his face. Fr. stood silent for a moment, studying him. It had only been a year, but Kevin’s boyish looks had grown into a mature visage. 

“Kevin! What—were you here at Mass?”

“No, I thought it was at 9:00 am, the usual.”

“Ah, not today,” Fr. Gabriel said, as he hung his vestments in the closet. “I’ve got a meeting with the Bishop this morning, so I bumped it back an hour.”

“Oh… that’s too bad,” Kevin said. 

“Why, what’s up?”

“I was hoping we could do breakfast. Well, I mean I wanted to go to Mass, too, but I was hoping we could have a little visit.”

Fr. Gabriel looked at his watch. “Hm… Well, I don’t think my meeting will go beyond an hour, at most. Why don’t we do lunch?” 

“Yeah, that’s perfect. Same place?” 

“Where else!” Fr. Gabriel loved the old diner, more for the comfort of its unchanged interior and artifacts from the 1950s than its unoriginal food. “See you at noon, Kevin. No, make it 12:30, just in case…”


Kevin glanced at his watch as he clung to a warm coffee mug. It was 12:40 and no sign of the priest. 


He looked up, blinking twice. 


Kevin couldn’t believe how much he’d aged since he saw him last. Bill’s hair was more white than silver and his eyes slightly more sunken. Always polite, especially to his elders, Kevin stuck out his hand. Bill grabbed it and shook vigorously.  

“Are you sitting alone, Kevin? What, did they kick you out of the seminary?”

Kevin let out a forced “Ha” as he tried to hide the disappointment on his face. He really wanted to have Fr. Gabriel all to himself. But the people-pleaser in Kevin, who could never say “no,” took over. “I’m just waiting for Fr. Gabriel. He should be here any minute. Have a seat.”

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all,” Kevin lied. 

“Tom!” Bill called out to a gentleman chatting by the till. “Come meet our next priest!” Tom walked over and slid into the booth next to him. “Tom More,” he said, holding out his hand. Before Kevin could even say hello, Tom glanced down at the cross around the seminarian’s neck and chortled, “Protestant cross, eh?”

“Um, what?”

“Just thought a seminarian would wear a crucifix.” 

“Well, I—”

“So what seminary do you attend?” Tom was clearly in control of the conversation. 

“I’m at Neumann,” Kevin replied, a proud grin on his face. But it quickly disappeared as Tom continued.

“Ah, the bastion of everything modernist. Good luck, kid.”

Kevin blinked twice, forcing down a surge of anger. St. John Neumann Western Seminary had indeed been a hotbed of liberal theology, radical feminist ideology, and moral relativism. It had shipwrecked the faith of not a few. But that was twenty years ago.

“Well, Bishop Claude cleaned a lot of that up,” Kevin replied. “There’s some really good profs there—well, maybe one who is a bit off, but—”

“Yeah, well, I’ve got problems with Bishop Claude,” Tom said. 

“He’s as weak as the rest of them,” Bill added. Kevin’s face twisted, shocked at Bill’s lack of reverence. He was about to defend the Bishop when Fr. Gabriel walked up to the table with a tight smile. “Hey guys,” he said, scanning the faces of all three. “Sorry, Kevin. The Bishop was also late. Am I interrupting?”

“No, no, sit down,” Bill said, as if he had gathered them all. 

Fr. Gabriel knew who Tom More was—a former parishioner. But Tom had left for a “Traditional” parish down the road—St. Pius—and he eventually took with him Bill and Marg Tomey. Bill still came to St. Michael’s from time to time, but rarely to daily Mass. When Fr. Gabriel asked him one day where he’d disappeared to, Bill simply replied, “To the authentic Mass in Landou County.” Those were fighting words, of course. A heated argument ensued until Fr. said it would be best if they dropped the matter. 

Fr. Gabriel knew the pastor at St. Pius, Fr. Albert Gainley. It was the only parish in the diocese where the Latin Rite was said every weekend. Fr. Albert, a spry priest in his early seventies, was a reverent and kind soul. His Latin was pristine and his mannerisms, though a bit shaky now, were calculated and dignified. Fr. Gabriel attended the Tridentine Rite there on one occasion several years ago and was surprised by how many young, large families attended. He sat there, soaking in the ancient rituals and rich prayers, deeply inhaling the whisps of Frankincense wafting above him. And candle smoke. He loved all that candle smoke.

Indeed, Fr. Gabriel loved and appreciated it all, even though he was born post-Vatican II. Moreover, he loved the devotion, modesty, and reverence the congregants had from the moment they entered the Nave. He watched with intrigue as one family entered, their hands clasped together in orans, the girls veiled, the boys wearing suits. They all turned toward the Tabernacle, and in perfect synchronization, genuflected, stood up, and proceeded to their pews like a well-choreographed troupe. “Nice to see young people,” he thought to himself. Being in a country parish, Fr. Gabriel’s congregation was older by default. There was nothing keeping the youth in the towns anymore as they flocked to the cities for jobs and education. But the two young adults who were still in his parish were very active in the choir and in youth events in the city.

He loved his quiet parish. He loved his Mass. It was simple, efficient, accessible to all. He knew intuitively why the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council felt the Mass needed updating with the vernacular and such. But as he admired the “drama” of the Latin Mass, he was saddened that the “reform” left his rite so—bald. In fact, so moved was he by Fr. Albert’s liturgy, that Fr. Gabriel went back into the Vatican II documents and rediscovered some of the elements of the Mass that the Fathers never intended to lose. He began to implement some Latin again into the Mass responses, including a bit of chant. He used incense whenever he could. He placed a large crucifix at the center of the altar and asked if he could have the beautiful vestments hanging in the rear sacristy at the neighbouring parish, St. Luke’s. “Take ’em,” said Fr. Joe, one of the old “liberal” guard on the way out. “There’s some statues in here too, if you want ’em. Was gonna throw those out.” Fr. Gabriel found the perfect spot for them at the rear corners of his own parish. And candles. He bought lots of candles. 

But when he asked the Bishop if he could slip in a bit of ad orientem by facing the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, the answer was a firm “no.” 

But it wasn’t perfect at St. Pius either, as it isn’t in any parish. Fr. Gabriel was dismayed, as was Fr. Albert, at a small fringe element that attended the Latin Mass. They were the ones who not only reserved the most scorching criticisms for Pope Francis, but fomented conspiracy theory after theory on the validity of his papal election and the resignation of Benedict XVI. They also attached the labels “False Prophet”, “heretic”, and “pervert-protector” to Francis—and whatever else they could muster in their angry diatribes. And it was all posted promptly on social media. But more and more, a few of Fr. Gabriel’s own parishioners were beginning to follow the growing negative trend. Bill had a lot to do with that as he had frequently, after Mass, handed out printed copies of whatever dirt he could find on Francis—until Fr. Gabriel asked him to stop.

And that’s why Fr. Gabriel grimaced when he entered the diner and saw Bill and Tom sitting in the booth. Nobody noticed his reaction—except the waitress. She glanced over to the booth, and then turned to Fr. again with a chuckle. She knew Bill and his “tirades” very well. Fr. Gabriel scrunched his face, a bit embarrassed, as he winked at her. As he slid into his seat, he knew what was coming. 

“Long time no see, Padre”, said Bill. “Good timing.”

“How’s that?” Fr. Gabriel asked. He already knew the answer.

“Well, Kevin’s here.”

Fr. stared blankly back at Bill, as did Kevin, awaiting an explanation.

“What else do we talk about when we’re together? Bergoglio!”

Fr. Gabriel smiled and nodded his head in resignation while Kevin failed to hide his displeasure.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to defend Pope Francis’ signature on that antichrist document with that Muslim Imam?” Bill taunted.

A proud smirk crossed Tom’s face. Kevin was a moment away from asking that, if they didn’t mind, he was planning on a private conversation with Fr. Gabriel. But before he could open his mouth, Fr. Gabriel took the bait.

“No, I’m not, Bill,” he replied. 

“Ah, well then, you’re finally starting to see the light,” he said, with a hint of mockery.

“Oh, you mean that Pope Francis is the Antichrist?” Fr. Gabriel dryly replied.

“No, the False Prophet,” said Tom.

Kevin looked into his coffee mug and muttered something indiscernible. 

“Well,” Fr. Gabriel calmly continued, “when I read that sentence in the Declaration—the one where it says…

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom… Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. —Abu Dhabi, February 4th, 2019;

“…my first thought was, is the Pope speaking about God’s permissive will?” 

“I knew you were going to say that!” Bill barked, a little too loud.

“But, Bill, hold on. The more I looked at it, the more I felt that that particular sentence gives the impression that God is actively willing a multiplicity of contradictory ideologies and opposing ‘truths’ in ‘His wisdom.’ I just think that Pope Francis has left too much unsaid, once again, and that, yes, this could cause scandal.”

“Could?” said Tom, throwing himself back against his seat. “It already has. Bergoglio is a heretic, and this is proof-positive. He’s destroying the Church and deceiving people en masse. What a pathetic excuse for a shepherd.”

Bill sat there, eagerly nodding, though avoiding eye contact with Fr. Gabriel.

“Oh, is he?” Fr. replied. 

“Oh yes, he is—” Bill began, but Kevin cut him off. 

“No, he’s not destroying the Church. I mean, yes, I agree with Fr. Gabe that he has been confusing at certain moments. But do you guys even read his daily homilies? He often says a lot of really good, orthodox, and profound things. One of my profs—”

“Oh, give it a break,” Bill blurted. “I could care less if he read the Catechism from the pulpit every day. He’s lying. He says one thing and then does another.” 

Fr. cleared his throat. “You don’t care if he teaches the Catholic Faith every day? Is that what you said, Bill?” 

“He says one thing…” Tom finished the sentence, “…and then he contradicts himself. So no, I don’t care either.”

On the one hand, Fr. Gabriel couldn’t disagree entirely. Pope Francis’ actions in China, his unfettered support of questionable climate science, some of the appointments he’d made of advisors and such who held openly questionable positions in opposition to Church teaching, and his silence, his unwillingness to clear the air… it was perplexing, if not frustrating. And this Declaration he signed… he believed that the Pope’s intentions were good and sincere, but on its face, it looked like religious indifferentism. At least, that’s how it was being interpreted by every Evangelical radio host and the majority of conservative Catholic media. As such, Fr. Gabriel sometimes felt like he was forced into being Francis’ apologist with those parishioners, friends, family, and even some brother priests who month after month produced a shortlist of papal “mishaps.” 

“Okay, first thing,” Fr. Gabriel said, leaning into the center of the table. “And I really mean this, guys… where is your faith in Christ? I love what Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement, said:

Christians should bear in mind that it is Christ who guides the history of the Church. Therefore, it is not the Pope’s approach that destroys the Church. This is not possible: Christ does not allow the Church to be destroyed, not even by a Pope. If Christ guides the Church, the Pope of our day will take the necessary steps to move forward. If we are Christians, we should reason like this.Vatican InsiderDec. 23rd, 2017

“Well, he may not destroy the Church, but he’s destroying souls!” Bill exclaimed.

“Well, Bill, I can also tell you, as a pastor and a confessor, that he’s also helped a lot of souls. But look, I’ve already said to you several times in the past that I agree: the way the Holy Father puts things at times could—and probably should—be said much clearer. But if you compare those statements—often twisted to mean something else by the media—to other things he’s said, it’s clear he doesn’t believe in, well, for example, religious indifferentism.” 

“Prove that,” Tom challenged. 

Fr. Gabriel flipped out his phone while Kevin excused himself to go to the washroom. “I want to hear what you have to say too, Fr. Gabe,” Kevin added.

“See?” said Bill, “even these seminarians know a wolf in sheep’s clothing when they see one.”

Kevin kept walking, but shot back, “Uh, not quite, Bill.” As he entered the restroom, words began to form on his lips. “What a bast—” but he held his tongue as the words of Jesus flashed through his mind:

…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well… (Luke 6:27-29)

“Well,” Kevin whispered to the Lord, “he’s not my enemy. But gosh, does he have to be such a jerk? Aw, Lord, bless him, bless him, I bless him.”

Kevin returned to the table just as the priest found his reference.

“Actually,” Fr. Gabriel said, “Francis has said several things on interreligious dialogue. But this first from a few years ago:

…the Church “desires that all the peoples of the earth be able to meet Jesus, to experience His merciful love… [the Church] wishes to indicate respectfully, to every man and woman of this world, the Child that was born for the salvation of all. —Angelus, January 6th, 2016;

“That’s a pretty clear mission statement,” he continued. “And that’s precisely why Francis has been meeting with Buddhists, Muslims, and so forth.”

“Well,” Tom objected, “where did he talk about Jesus with that Imam? When did he call him to repentance, huh?” If Tom had a holster, he would have put his smoking gun in it. 

“Tom, just think for a moment,” Fr. Gabriel replied, irritation in his voice. Just then the waitress arrived to take their orders. When she left, Fr. continued.

“Think for a moment. Can you imagine if Pope Francis had stood at the mic and said, ‘I call all Muslims to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God! Repent or perish in everlasting flames!’ There would have been riots all over the world. Christian villages would have been burned to the ground, their women raped, and their men and children beheaded. There is a gift of the Holy Spirit called ‘Prudence’.”

“Fine, so what’s the point of this ‘fraternal friendship’?” Bill interjected. “Where in the Gospel does Christ call us to be buddies with pagans? I thought the good Word said:

Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? …what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14-15)

“Oh, okay,” said Fr. Gabriel sarcastically. “So, explain why Jesus sat and dined with pagans, prostitutes, and unbelievers?” Tom and Bill stared blankly. So he answered his own question. “The only way to evangelize someone is to build some kind of relationship with them. St. Paul engaged the Greeks for days on end, often quoting the truth of their poets and philosophers. This ‘interreligious dialogue’ opened the door to the Gospel.” Glancing down at his phone, he continued. “Okay, so here’s that other quote. This is from Evangelii Gaudium that the Pope penned:

Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue is in first place a conversation about human existence or simply, as the bishops of India have put it, a matter of “being open to them, sharing their joys and sorrows”. In this way we learn to accept others and their different ways of living, thinking and speaking… What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from being opposed, mutually support and nourish one another.Evangelii Gaudium, n. 251,

Tom suddenly slammed his fist on the table. “I don’t care what this Bergoglio has said. This man’s dangerous. He’s joined the New World Order. He’s creating a One World Religion. He’s Judas, by God, and if you listen to him, you’re gonna end up in the same pit of fire as him.”

The tension was broken by the waitress approaching with a pot of coffee, a stunned look on her face. “Um, didn’t your momma tell you not to talk to priests that way?” she said as she flipped over Tom’s cup. He ignored her. 

Fr. Gabriel changed tactic. At this point, he felt obliged to correct the men in front of him, whether they listened or not. He put his phone away and looked Bill and Tom in the eyes for a few seconds each.

“Okay, let’s not quote Pope Francis any longer. Heard of Pope Boniface VIII?” Tom nodded. “This is what he said.” Fr. Gabriel knew it by heart (as he had ample times to “practice” with others over the past year):[1]“This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven‘ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1].” —POPE BONIFACE VIII, Unun Sanctum, Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302

…we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff. —Unun Sanctum, Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302

“I’m not submitting to no anti-pope if that’s what you’re telling me,” Tom snorted. 

“Um, sorry, Tom,” Kevin said, bracing himself. “An ‘anti-pope,’ by definition, is someone who has taken the throne of Peter either by force or through an invalid election.”

Fr. Gabriel jumped in, knowing the conspiracy theories Tom and Bill followed—from the “St. Gallen Mafia,” to Benedict being imprisoned in the Vatican, to the Emeritus Pope not really resigning.

“That’s right, Kevin, and before we debate what we’ve already discussed, Bill, I’ll just repeat that not a single cardinal, including Raymond Burke or any other ‘conservative’ cleric, has even so much as hinted that the election of Francis is invalid. And even if it was, it would take another pope and a canonical process to overturn it—not a Facebook post declaring it so.” He cast a glance at Tom; it was intended as a rebuke. Fr. Gabriel rarely read Facebook, but heard from other parishioners that Tom held nothing back in his vitriolic comments there toward the Pope. 

“So,” Fr. said, folding his hands, “You gentlemen have a problem. Christ said to His disciples:

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

“If you refuse to listen to the Vicar of Christ and actively undermine his authority, you are in material schism.” 

“Us? We’re the villains? How dare you.” Tom glared at Fr. Gabriel.

Kevin jumped back in. “Okay, Fr. Gabe, so let me be the devil’s advocate. You just agreed earlier that the Declaration the Pope signed is confusing. I agree. So, how are we supposed to listen to him when he seems to contradict the voice of Christ?”

“Exactly!” said Bill, pounding his own fist on the table.  

Fr. Gabriel placed his hands against the edge of the table and pushed himself back. He quickly uttered a silent prayer: “Lord, give me Wisdom—Wisdom and Understanding.” It wasn’t that Fr. had no answer—he did—but he was beginning to grasp the very depths of how powerful the Enemy was sowing confusion, how powerful the demons of fear, division, and doubt were growing. Diabolic disorientation. That’s what Sr. Lucia of Fatima called it. He glanced out the window and prayed again, “Help me, Mother. Crush the serpent beneath your heel.”

As he turned toward the two men across from him, triumphalism written all over their faces, he felt an intense and unexpected love well up within him. He felt the pity that Jesus once experienced… 

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Surprised by his own emotions, Fr. Gabriel found himself fighting back tears as he began to answer Kevin, whose own face betrayed confusion. 

“When Jesus declared Peter to be the ‘rock’ of the Church, he wasn’t declaring that this fisherman would henceforth be infallible in every word and deed. In fact, two chapters later, Jesus scolded him, saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ The ‘rock’ had suddenly become a stumbling stone, even for Jesus! But did that mean that everything Peter said from then on was untrustworthy? Of course not. In fact, when the crowds were walking away after Christ’s Bread of Life discourse, Peter declared:

Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:69)

“Those words have been repeated and prayed and echoed from the world’s pulpits for 2000 years. Peter was speaking in the Good Shepherd’s voice.”

A playfulness entered his voice. “But then what happened? Peter denied Christ three times! Surely, from that moment on, Peter was unworthy to ever speak another word on behalf of Christ, right? No?”

“On the contrary, Jesus met him on the shores of Tiberias and invited Peter three times to ‘feed my sheep.’ And Peter did. After the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, this Peter, the very one who publically denied Christ, then publically declared:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

“At that moment, Peter was speaking in the Good Shepherd’s voice. So, all’s good, right? It’s post-Pentecost now, so Peter, guided by the Spirit of truth, will never make a mistake again, right? On the contrary, the poor man began to compromise the Faith, this time pastorally. Paul had to correct him face to face in Antioch. He warned Peter that he was…

…not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel. (Gal 2:9)

“What an undressing!” Kevin blurted, laughing out loud. 

“Exactly,” said Fr. Gabriel. “That’s because Peter wasn’t speaking or acting on behalf of the Good Shepherd at that moment. But far from denouncing Peter’s authority, calling him names, and dragging his reputation through the mud in the Jerusalem Post, Paul acknowledged and respected Peter’s authority—and told him to live up to it.”

Kevin nodded while Tom stared cooly at the priest. Bill drew circles with his finger in a bit of sugar that had spilled on the table.  

“Now, here’s the thing,” Fr. Gabriel continued, his voice intensifying. “Peter went on to pen letters to the churches, beautiful letters that today comprise infallible Sacred Scripture. Yes, the very same man who continued to stumble was also continually used by Christ—despite. That is all to say that Christ can and does speak through His Vicars, even after they have erred. It is our role, as the entire Body of Christ, to take St. Paul’s example of both respect and also filial correction when necessary. It is our duty to heed the voice of Christ in him, and all our bishops, whenever we hear Our Lord speaking through them.”

“And how, dear Padre, will we know its Christ’s voice and not the deceiver’s?” Tom questioned. 

“When the Pope speaks in the voice of Sacred Tradition. The Papacy is not one pope, Tom. I think it was Benedict who said….

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and His word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

The waitress returned with their steaming meals. They sat in silence for a moment. Fr. Gabriel picked up his knife and began cutting his meat, while Bill stared sheepishly into his coffee cup. Tom slowly gathered his thoughts and then replied:

“So, you’re telling me I’ve gotta listen to Bergoglio? Well, I don’t have to heed this man. I’ve got a Catechism, and it tells me—”

Yes, yes, you do.” Fr. interrupted. “But I’m not telling you. The patron of your parish is telling you:

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth.  —POPE PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), June 29, 1943; n. 41;

“Oh, so I must obey the Pope when he tells me that every religion is the same? That’s ridiculous,” Tom spat. 

“Of course, not,” said Fr. Gabriel. “As I said—and it’s in the Catechism—the Pope doesn’t speak infallibly all the time—and that Declaration was not an infallible document. Sure, I wish things weren’t so confusing. I don’t deny that it’s doing some harm. At the same time, Christ is permitting it. And as you’ve said, you’ve got a Catechism. No Catholic should be ‘confused’, because our Faith is there in black and white.”

Turning to Bill, he continued. “I’ve told you, if Jesus didn’t think that He could bring good out of this, He could call Francis home today or appear to him in an apparition tomorrow and change everything. But He doesn’t. So… Jesus, I trust in you.”

He turned to his dish and took a few bites while Bill hailed the waitress for more coffee. Tom, visibly agitated, unfolded a napkin and placed it on his lap. Kevin began to eat as if they never fed him at the seminary.

“Men,” Fr. sighed, “we have to trust the Holy Spirit to help us through this present trial. Jesus is still building His Church—even when we hand him mud instead of bricks. But even if we had a perfect saint on the Throne of Peter, there is nothing that’s going to stop the Storm that’s passing over the world. Judgment began its course long before Pope Francis.” He looked out the window again. “We need to fast and pray like never before, not only for the Pope, but for the purification of the Church.”

Suddenly, he chuckled. “In some ways, I’m glad that Francis is making this mess.”

Kevin gagged. “Why, Fr. Gabe?”

“Because it’s taking the popes down from an unhealthy pedestal. We’ve had such theologically pristine popes this past century that we’ve begun looking to them to practically tell us what we can have for breakfast. That’s not healthy. The Church has forgotten that a pope can and does make mistakes, even to the point where his brothers and sisters need to correct him. More than that, I see Catholics sitting on their hands, waiting for the Pope to lead the charge as if he is responsible for evangelizing their neighbours. In the meantime, Our Lady is looking at each of us and saying, ‘What are you waiting for? Be my apostles of love!’ By the way, the sausages are great.”

“I can agree with that,” Bill said, ready to give up the debate—for now.

Tom took a breath to continue arguing, but Fr. Gabriel abruptly changed the subject. “So, Kevin, tell me, how it’s going over there at St. John’s?”

“Awesome,” he said. “I’m pretty sure this is my calling. Now, Fr.,” he grinned, “I’d like to eat blessed food if you’ll say grace.”

Fr. Gabriel chuckled realizing he’d forgotten. And with that, all four men made the sign of the Cross.



That Pope Francis! Part I

That Pope Francis! Part II


To whom did He leave the keys of this Blood?
To the glorious Apostle Peter, and to all his successors
who are or shall be till the Day of Judgment,
all of them having the same authority which Peter had,
which is not diminished by any defect of their own.
—St. Catherine of Siena, from the Book of Dialogues


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1 “This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven‘ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1].” —POPE BONIFACE VIII, Unun Sanctum, Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302