Reading Pope Francis with both respectful docility and critical charity

Catholics frustrated with Pope Francis’ style and record of leadership ought not allow partial accounts to poison them against the Holy Father.

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 11. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As I said in my previous CWR essay on this topic, it is possible to receive the Holy Father’s Exhortation in a spirit of docility, and then to hear it saying things needful of our hearing, with a view to serious self-critical reflection and practical application. Gaudete et exsultate is an often challenging and complex document, written by an often challenging and complex man. Neither is beyond criticism, but both deserve our careful attention before we begin that work. Everyone reading the Exhortation will also do well to keep in mind that different readers will hear and receive it differently.

One of the persons available for comment following the official presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate, at the Press Office of the Holy See on Monday, was Mohammad Jawad Haidari, a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan who lives in Rome and since arriving has earned a Master’s degree in Religion and Cultural Mediation from the city’s storied La Sapienza university. The New York Times quoted Haidari as saying, “It was a surprise, and a revolutionary text with respect of the vision I had before of the Christian world.”

That is a welcome response. Though it ought not foreclose discussion of Pope Francis’ approach to evangelization generally or to the issues he raises in his Exhortation more particularly, it is a response that ought to be encouraging to Christians, whose creed is fundamentally missionary.

Whenever the Church says anything, in fact, she speaks both to her members (ad intra), and to the whole world (ad extra). An official encouragement from God’s vicar on earth is one mode of the Church’s speaking in which one might reasonably expect to find rather more attention to the former subject of address than the latter. Pope Francis does things his way, though.

Often he addresses his remarks to the faithful directly, even as he speaks or writes deliberately “within earshot” of the world, intending his message at least as much for people who are just “listening in” as he does for Catholics or even the worldwide body of the Christian faithful. This means that anyone attempting to hear his message needs to be aware that, despite appearances, the Pope may in fact be speaking with someone else in mind.

Nota bene. It cuts both ways. Catholics and Christians more generally need to be prepared to hear Pope Francis talking “past” them. People outside the fold ­— people not (yet) baptized and Christians who have fallen away from the practice of the faith and perhaps embraced the prevailing cultural ethos — need to be aware that the Pope — whoever he is, but especially this Pope — is speaking from a place and in a register, neither of which is at home in the world.

Crafting a message so it will be received well — i.e. understood in the way the sender intends it to be received — by all intended recipients, when the set of intended recipients is pretty much everyone, requires a keen sense of economy — I mean messaging economy — and a fine sensitivity to social, cultural, and political climates, as well as knowledge of recent cultural, social, and political weather patterns.

Even an experienced communicator with all the requisite gifts honed and practiced, who was an immensely gifted writer of disciplined power, to boot, would have great difficulty sustaining the kind of balancing act that writing simultaneously to diverse, overlapping, admixed and interwoven audiences is. Writing to such a conglomeration of audiences in a global theatre is not only exponentially more difficult owing to the size and composition of them, but genuinely dangerous owing to the global scope of the forum.

That any communicator should avoid spectacular failure on making any such attempt is commendable. That anyone should find qualifiable success at the end of any such enterprise cannot be too far short of miraculous.

Francis’ essay is, by any candid view and fair measure, a qualified success. In an upcoming piece, I intend to consider where it has succeeded and where it has not. Broadly and generally, its success owes itself to Francis’ ability to articulate something of Christianity’s adventure, and especially to the alacrity with which he alerts readers to the opportunities for the practice of holiness, which are lurking in what I called the suburbs and niches of everyday life — places crackling with danger and permeated by the Divine. In “The American Scholar”, Emerson wrote:

I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; what is Greek art, or Provençal minstrelsy; I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds. What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body;—show me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an eternal law; and the shop, the plow, and the ledger referred to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing;—and the world lies no longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order: there is no trifle, there is no puzzle, but one design unites and animates the farthest pinnacle and the lowest trench.

Emerson was a great writer, and a philosopher. Pope Francis is neither. While it would be wrong to judge his writing as though it were the work of a philosopher and a great writer, he is a pastor engaged in an undertaking that is eo ipso literary, and in the original sense of the word, philosophical. It would be equally irresponsible, therefore, to pass over those moments in which his pastoral ambitions outstripped his literary powers. Though they are few, those moments have wrought real hurt in readers, who understand that being chided is part of being exhorted, and are willing to receive chastisement, but who nevertheless did not perceive the encouragement they expected.

That encouragement is there, in the text, waiting to be found and sometimes hiding in plain sight.

The remarks here and to follow are offered in the hope that they might help readers struggling with this document (often because they are struggling with this pontificate) to discover the good there is in it. If you are one of these readers, these essays are for you. Readers who discover that encouragement more readily and easily than others (often because they are very enthusiastic about Pope Francis and his leadership) sometimes struggle to understand what all the fuss is about, and sometimes even adopt a more-or-less conscious attitude of suspicion toward anyone struggling with this document or this pontificate. If you are one of these readers, these essays are for you, too.

Certain passages were not only susceptible of partisan interpretation, but genuinely lent themselves to tendentious appropriation. Two in particular, with which Monday’s considerations dealt briefly and in slightly different context, have garnered significant attention from both the Catholic and the secular press. In sections 101 and 102 of the Exhortation, Pope Francis explains — rightly and trenchantly — that the duty to welcome the stranger comes from God and cannot be shirked except on peril of one’s soul, and that care for the weakest and most vulnerable of mankind is not only a duty with which Our Lord charged His Church, but the criterion against which the immortal soul of each and every one of us shall finally be judged:

The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mt 25:35)? Saint Benedict did so readily, and though it might have “complicated” the life of his monks, he ordered that all guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed “like Christ”, with a gesture of veneration; the poor and pilgrims were to be met with “the greatest care and solicitude”. (pars 101-102)

The writer of the Reuters headline announced, “Fighting social injustice as important as fighting abortion: pope”, which is transparently wrong and egregiously silly. Abortion is a grave social injustice — indeed the gravest, insofar as its violent destructiveness is always deliberately deadly, and its victims the absolute weakest and most vulnerable of our fellows in nature. This was, in fact, the point Pope Francis was trying to make, while also calling attention to the equally ineluctable fact that the lives of other weak and vulnerable persons are not less sacred than those in the womb. Instead of simply saying so, the Pope couched the point in terms of crass political opposition, which made the allure of controversy too strong for ignorant headline writers and the temptation to capitalize too great for partisans.

He then glossed over a point that, when he introduced politics to the discussion, became crucial.

There can be no question of supporting a legal right to abortion, which is not only prohibited by the faith, but contrary to reason and the essential ends of law and government, hence illegitimate. On the other hand, it is not only perfectly legitimate but necessary (and in fact one of the essential ends of government) to secure borders and regulate immigration. Christians, however, are called to welcome the stranger. So, the question becomes how to do so in a manner consistent with the natural ends of government and the good of society.

(I tend to favor borders as wide open as possible for my own country, the United States, but I do not think everyone who disagrees with me is a racist or a xenophobe. I also readily admit I do not think it easy or even always possible to know just how open “as wide open as possible” really is. I do know it is wider than they are now in the US, especially with regard to our southern neighbors and to the Mediterranean refugee crisis. In that last regard, we have all but completely lost a chance we will not get again to exercise real moral leadership in the world, and I think it is shameful.)

Too much of the initial reporting also missed the mark. The Reuters piece framed the story as one in which Pope Francis told Catholics, “[They] should not give ‘excessive importance’ to certain Church rules while disregarding others, urging opponents of abortion to show equal passion for the lives of the poor and oppressed.” One might quibble with the implicit reduction of the abortion prohibition to a mere rule. One ought to object to the elision of the Pope’s equally central point, which is that it works the other way, too. Pope Francis could not be expected to have made such use of his words impossible. He did not have to make it so easy.

Catholics tempted to use the Holy Father’s words ripped out of context — whether they are thrilled by the hurt of them, or by the sense of confirmation they elicit — need to pause, read carefully, and ask themselves whether they have really heard all he has to say. The desire to be right is powerful, but it requires discipline, which today can begin with the acknowledgment that, right or wrong, some of the brethren are genuinely hurt, even if they have not been wronged. The desire to be wronged is at least equally powerful as the desire to be right, and more dangerous to the soul, since it is a perversion of a perversion, one that takes root in a perversion of the desire to be right.

Catholics frustrated with Pope Francis’ style and record of leadership ought not allow partial accounts to poison them against the Holy Father. He is not beyond criticism. Sometimes he deserves it. When he is at his best, he acknowledges it. He and his supporters would do well to recognize that not every expression of hurt, frustration, or even indignation will be perfectly temperate or even civil. All of us need to remember that patient mindfulness of our fellows’ sentiments is a mark of charity. In any case, though Pope Francis may deserve no more, he certainly deserves no less in the way of respect or consideration than any other man. Whatever else this means, it means he deserves to be criticized for what he said or did. Catholics of every stripe can take comfort in the knowledge that the Pope — for all his flaws — is Catholic, too.

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About Christopher R. Altieri 179 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.


  1. Fair enough. Though some of us who don’t write for a living are in the trenches and have deeper concerns. A note of humor on the photos of Pope Francis on three articles the first “The temptation and the challenge of reading Gaudete et exsultate” shows a nondescript visage. The second “Pope Francis takes aim in Gaudete et Exsultate—and misses?” Pope Francis appears angry with threatening fist. The third this article “Reading Pope Francis with both respectful docility and critical charity” Pope Francis appears lovingly docile. Forms of pictorial propaganda supportive of content. I’m tempted to say how shallow but I won’t.

    • “Forms of pictorial propaganda supportive of content. I’m tempted to say how shallow but I won’t.”

      And, yet, I think you did. Propaganda? Naw. Fun? Perhaps. Diversified? Certainly.

      • But have you noticed Carl notwithstanding the humor that the scowling angry clenched fist Francis got twice as many responses as the docile nice guy Francis? Does it mean that people want to see only what they want to see proving C Altieri’s point? Nonetheless all results are not in and it will take some time as more positive posts keep coming in to decide who chose the better photo to enhance their article.

    • It is a sad day in the life of the Church when the Pope issues a document on holiness and many of us have no desire to read it because we don’t believe the Pope is sincere in his reflections and may not be practicing what he’s preaching. Whatever we might have thought about St. JPII or Benedict (and I loved them both), we never doubted their holiness…but who am I to judge. Today, with Pope Francis, the Church is like a family without father to lead, love and protect it. #FrancisAbdicate2018

  2. How would Pope Francis like it if he were treated with the same level of charity and open-heartedness that he showed to Fr. Manelli and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate? Or the same he showed to the head of the Knights of Malta? Or to the victims of sex abuse in Chile?

    Or the same level of charity voiced by his prime coordinator Cardinal Maradiaga showed to Cardinal Mueller, or the same level of charity that Maradiaga displayed when he blamed the sex abuse crisis on “the Jewish press?”

    What if we started all imitating Pope Francis’ vulgarity when ripping and tearing at “factions” he disdains, such as people who care about the integrity of Catholic culture and tradition?

      • True…lest the first evil beget a second.

        Therefore…in the matter at hand, we must instead follow the command of Jesus in Matt 5:44.

      • But we would be following Jesus’ golden rule, treating them as they desire to be treated….. is the golden rule on the Gospel?

  3. What if we all started showing the same level of regard for the truth that Pope Francis showed when he retained the services of global stage Lise Msgr. Viganò?

  4. Allow me to correct the auto-spell-algorithm:

    What if we all showed the same regard for the truth that Pope Francis showed us when he retained the services of the global stage liar Msgr. Viganò?

  5. What if we all showed Pope Francis the same respect for the laity and respect for financial integrity and truthfulness that he showed to the lay men and women who endowed the Papal Charity Fund?

  6. I read respectfully, as I did the others,and I still say no. Any Good, any Truth, in these exhortations & encyclicals of Pope Francis, are ood & true outside (in spite) of these documents. Truth & the Good are such by their nature. The statements of Truth & the Good in these documents are muddied in their presentation; they are sullied by the uses they are put to prop up contrary ends.

    In this fifth year of Francis’ reign one can almost see the point of the Dontanists of North Africa.

  7. Nice try. But the bishop of Rome cannot / will not ever pass up an opportunity to take a swipe at those Catholics who respect Tradition, doctrine, orthodoxy, solemnity and reverence in prayer and at Mass.
    Would it have killed him not to mention “rigid” Catholics, etc, etc in this document? Apparently, yes.
    It is sophomoric. It is beneath his position. And he could’t care less.
    A little poison here, a little poison there, so what?

  8. Much as I like some of what you said in this article, the “tablespoon of arsenic in a jug of milk” style of this Pontiff is getting tiring. It is possible to write a good encyclical if one wants to but the Pope doesn’t want to because he is at heart leftist.

    • The Pontiff doesn’t write these exhortations. His agenda driven ghostwriters are the actual authors. It would come as no surprise to learn that he probably has very little input into the composition other than planting a vague seed. I’d wager that he doesn’t even bother to proofread before publication.

      Quite frankly, based on his oft demonstrated foolish extemporaneous remarks, I seriously doubt he possesses the necessary acumen to produce a coherent document.

  9. “Catholics tempted to use the Holy Father’s words ripped out of context — whether they are thrilled by the hurt of them, or by the sense of confirmation they elicit — need to pause, read carefully, and ask themselves whether they have really heard all he has to say.”

    OK. If directed at the more extreme quadrants, sure.

    But its the folks who want to support Francis that are choking on his mix of politics and religion, and his jousting at windmills that simply are not there in our experience. He’s the pope, and he’s also a leader — he needs to act like one, and not like a Vatican version of Tony Soprano or Lucious Lyon or Rob Bell. An exhortation on holiness that equates immigration with being pro-life. Sorry, but its a boob’s argument, no matter who makes it. As for “rigidity,” in the American Catholic Church, hahahahaha… please, not in its clergy, for heaven’s sake. Nor in the crowd coming to fawn over James Martin’s “I know official doctrine but here let me give you a hug” trash tour.

    Normally I find trans over the top, but God bless them right now. They are the ones seeing clearly, and all the “Listen in Love” crowd is seeing an orthodoxy that will dissolve before there eyes if we don’t protest on its behalf. ‘Holiness’ without truth is morality, not godliness. And “being good” doesn’t save. Even Luther got that much right.

  10. “There is no need to be profane, my dear boy. I may not be very orthodox, in your sense of that word, but I do feel that these matters ought to be discussed simply, and seriously, and reverently.”

    –from The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

    This objection is lodged, of course, by the Episcopal Ghost, one of the lost souls. It is he who objects to his saved friend, Dick, coming straight out and calling things by their right names.

    It is not “docility” to permit oneself to be misled, nor “charity” to pretend that pernicious assertions are equally deserving of respect as doctrinally sound ones. To knowingly adopt towards the writings and pronouncements of Jorge Bergoglio the ideological and emotional posture advocated by this article is to be on the wrong side of Lewis’ divide; to stay in the “Grey Town” of engineered ambiguity rather than taking the “bus ride” up into the Light. Cherry picking the sections that sound good in and of themselves, and insisting that we wrench them out of context amd honor them as something they are not, constitites intellectual dishonesty at the very least.

    If Pope Francis wants us to offer him the obeisance due to the most august office which he wields like a weapon rather than serves, then let him prove himself submitted to the Commandments–especially, the Sixth–in the first place. For we must obey God rather than men.

  11. “I do know it is wider than they are now in the US, especially with regard to our southern neighbors and to the Mediterranean refugee crisis.”

    And how could you possibly know this, Mr. Altieri?

    “In that last regard, we have all but completely lost a chance we will not get again to exercise real moral leadership in the world, and I think it is shameful.”

    Not a problem if your premise is false.

  12. “Whenever the Church says anything, in fact, she speaks both to her members (ad intra), and to the whole world (ad extra). An official encouragement from God’s vicar on earth is one mode of the Church’s speaking in which one might reasonably expect to find rather more attention to the former subject of address than the latter. Pope Francis does things his way, though. Often he addresses his remarks to the faithful directly, even as he speaks or writes deliberately “within earshot” of the world, intending his message at least as much for people who are just “listening in” as he does for Catholics or even the worldwide body of the Christian faithful. This means that anyone attempting to hear his message needs to be aware that, despite appearances, the Pope may in fact be speaking with someone else in mind.”

    This is all assuming that a certain Latin conception of the papacy is correct. Unfortunately, the current exercise of the papal office has not caught up to ecumenical discussions with the separated Apostolic churches.

  13. If apostolic exhortations were understood as being only applicable to the Patriarchate of Rome, this last one wouldn’t be causing so much problems for Latin Catholics still trying to figure out the office of the pope with respect to the Church Universal.

  14. You can’t explain to people what is dishonest and insulting in the document without quoting it. And quoting IS to take words out of context.

    Of course, quotations can be dishonest. For examples of dishonest quoting of Thomas Aquinas, Lumen Gentium, and John Paul II, cf. Amoris Laetitia.

  15. Recently, when feeling queasy after reading saccharine ooze and palliative clichès, I am inexpressibly grateful to find that the commenters aren’t hoodwinked.

  16. Ethos, Pathos, Logos. These are the three marks of the persuasive communicator. Francis appears to possess only one, Pathos—a pathos of anger— and despite his many references to joy and mercy, he does not seem to embody much of either. Therein resides his problem of Ethos, he seems to be a frustrated man. Even if one were to assume his message was valid, the messenger is deeply flawed. As for Logos, Francis often reminds us he is not especially interested in consistency or clarity. A message without Ethos and Logos, is bound to fail.

  17. The relentlessly normalist view of Mr. Altieri in his apparently unending stream of articles is intolerable: “Catholics of every stripe can take comfort in the knowledge that the Pope — for all his flaws — is Catholic, too.” As so very many other commentators have noted both here and elsewhere, there are serious and indeed fundamental dogmatic and moral problems with virtually everything “magisterial” that Pope Bergoglio has written, most recently including Gaudete and Exultate. Mr. Altieri simply refuses to engage with these problems and their consequences to immerse himself instead in the fulsome, ambiguous, and misleading word salad which envelops them. Basta cosi.

  18. Whatever truth is in this, and other docs like Amoris Laetitia is veneer to disguise the lies and heresies. To say that an intrinsic evil is the same as a prudential matter violates Catholic teaching and the Truth. But humanism is what is being promoted here, under the guise of holiness.

    What prevents you from recognizing that? Papolatry?

    I didn’t expect this stuff coming from CWR. I thought I was reading NCR or America or La Civilta Catholica or similar.

  19. Gaudete et exsultate (GE)is much better than I thought. But, then Pope Francis still asserts: “Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence” (n. 41). In the Incarnation, and then the ongoing indwelling by the Holy Spirit (the heart of Tradition) this transcendent God has transcended his own transcendence! Might attention to this whole Mystery, in history, help explain (and even overcome) all of the familiar jabs at “rigid, bigoted, intellectuals” etc.(the new and despised “periphery”?). Accepting all that is intended in GE in its best meaning, why can’t there be, say, a footnote opening to actual dialogue with interlocutors (in the political realm, the “deplorables”)on recurring and tiresome rub points?
    G.K. Chesterton, a layman in the audience, offered this: “The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”

  20. Sol’s contention is our moral imbroglio is linked to the general assumption “that a certain Latin conception of the papacy is correct”. That contention is incorrect insofar as factual doctrine. For example papolatry is a common false notion defined by Bishop Athanasius Schneider as fawning, obeisantly rendering belief owed exclusively to God to every word gesture suggestion whim of the Pontiff. It is rendering to Cesar what belongs to God. Objectively the official Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff defined in the Doctrinal Commentary Prop 2 to Ad Tuendam Fidem when either binding or at its lowest level owed obsequium religiosum, religious submission [submission is not assent] of intellect and will [Lumen Gentium 25a] must be expressed sententia definitive tenenda [stated as definitively held]. Even the two letters included in Acta Apostolicae Sedis are not teaching because they do not contain teaching. Though thru them we know Francis’ mind suggestion is insufficient. There is nothing that rises to the level of Catholic doctrine that some attribute to Pope Francis that actually defines homosexuality, abortion, adultery as good. There is as Helen Weir so well describes the Pope’s creation of a “Grey Town of engineered ambiguity” that has misled a vast growing number of Catholics. Subjectively papolatry is moral blindness either actual or feigned for sake of a good argument. The latter has value if only to quell vitriol but never to defend the indefensible.

    • That was in reference to Mr. Altieri’s defense of the apostolic exhortation.

      But to the broader point — Latins can parse the differing levels of authority for papal documents but the fact remains that this is all based on certain expansive characterization of the pope as a universal teacher, rather than a limited one (i.e. head of an ecumenical council, giving assent or withholding assent from the definitions of the council). As I said before, those who see the apostolic exhortation as applying only to the Patriarchate of Rome will not have difficulties in ignoring what is problematic in its content.

      • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: “”Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millenium.”

        • Sol Ratzinger who is often highly nuanced in what he says believed in a form of plurality with the Eastern churches as sufficient for sake of closer unity. If you read Benedict XVI regarding his strong objections to prof Peter Hunermann’s inclusion in the Pope’s ‘books’, a person who previously roundly repudiated Vat I on papal authority and directly criticized Ratzinger’s positions on that authority as reason for refusing to endorse the Pope’s theological tracts.

        • Sol. It’s indisputable that the Filioque Clause was inserted initially at the 2nd Ecumenical Council Constantinople 381. That council was called by Roman Emperor Flavius Theodosius residing in Constantinople at the request of Roman Pontiff Damasus 1 with instruction to gather bishops. And it was initially implemented as binding. The clause was inserted to quell Monophysitism, the belief that Christ possessed one nature, divine. The physical body was simply a vehicle. Which is why St Cyril of Alexandria issued the anathemas against Nestorius who taught that the flesh and blood of Christ provided by Mary did not convey the divine nature. And why the Church proclaimed Mary Theotokos at Ephesus 431. What transpired insofar as causes and events is still debated.

      • Sol your understanding of papal authority understandably is generated from a conviction that the Eastern churches are correct and like the Orthodox acknowledge a primacy sans universal authority. The Roman Pontiff is the vicar of Christ and when he speaks on faith and morals it is not to a sectarian branch of Christianity. He speaks to the world. Whatever errors he promotes by whatever means they are universally propagated. If he errs he misrepresents not simply Catholicism. He misrepresents Jesus Christ to the world. Whatever truth emanates from the Chair of Peter is universal. For the world. The only true universal binding doctrine for the world inclusive of the East on faith and morals is contained in the Apostolic Tradition and affirmed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and not in the controversial ambiguity continued in the so called New Paradigm of Pope Francis.

        • Fr. Peter,

          The pope may presume to speak to the world; does he have any commonly agreed sanction to do so from the first millenium? This is all a presumption of the modern papacy. You may believe that this conception of the pope as universal teacher is part of Sacred Tradition — it is this point itself that is in question.

          • Sol the commission by Christ to the Church in union with the Roman Pontiff to teach truth universally is not dependent on whether a Christian branch or denomination acknowledges it. The understanding of universal authority was present during the first millenium when the Pontiffs promulgated the Filioque Clause infallibly adding two truths “God from God” and the Filioque Clause 381 Constantinople [2nd ecumenical council] and affirmed at Chalcedon 351 [4th council]. Also the doctrine of Christ’s two distinct natures divine and human introduced by Cyril of Alexandria in opposition to Nestorius Patriarch of Constantinople. Pope Celestine I as well as Cyril convened the council of Ephesus [431] and condemned Nestorius. At Chalcedon [451] heresy emerged again with diminution of the distinction of Christ’s two natures known as the Henotikon. The Henotikon was widely accepted in the East but unacceptable to Rome and the Western church. Byzantine Emperor Zeno Acacius who promoted the heresy was deposed (484) by Pope Felix III in an excommunication. That the East refused to fully accept Pope Felix’s universal authority regarding the two distinct natures or the Filioque Clause does not compromise the authority of the Pope. The lack of universal compliance is a fault.

          • Fr. Peter, you are still putting the cart before the horse.

            The Filioque is not binding upon the Church Universal (as evidenced by Eastern Catholics who neither need to profess it nor include it liturgically) and neither was it “infallibly” added by the Pope. You are presuming infallibility because you presume universal jursidiction.

          • Sol the history of “The acts of the Council of Constantinople were lost, but the text of its Creed was quoted and formally acknowledged as binding, along with the Creed of Nicaea, in the dogmatic statement of the Council of Chalcedon (451). Within less than a century, this Creed of 381 had come to play a normative role in the definition of faith, and by the early sixth century was even proclaimed in the Eucharist in Antioch, Constantinople, and other regions in the East (USCCB Washington, DC October 25, 2003). The Filioque was initially binding and you’re correct it eventually was omitted by Catholic Eastern Rite Churches post Vat II. It seems in my view that the Latin Church did not wish to continue the controversy as a point of contention to unity. My issue is the identity of Christ as true God true man.

          • Regarding the Filioque, when it was first introduced into the Creed, it was not accepted by Rome but was later. One of the arguments the Orthodox propose against the Filioque is that it was not in the original Creed of the First Council of Constantinople. That council was a regional, Eastern Council and was later accepted as ecumenical by Pope Damasus I if I am not mistaken. A council was not and is not ecumenical unless it is at least approved by the Pope. Besides, they had very little or no objection to it until Photius, who became Patriarch illegitimately after the expulsion of Ignatius from the Patriarchate by the Emperor, made it a casus belli in his struggle against Rome. If the Pope had the authority to proclaim the First Council of Constantinople ecumenical, then he also had the authority to add a clause to the creed it produced. It is also base on Scripture and held by not a few Eastern Fathers.
            AS for the manner in which the Roman Primacy was exercised in the first millennium, the real history shows that on very many occasions, the Popes intervened to save Orthodoxy from the arbitrary decisions of the Patriarchs, such as St. Martin I, whose feast it is today, against the Monothelite heresy, and later against the iconoclast heresy, Pope Gregory III excommunicated the iconoclasts. Ecumenical councils were normally presided over by the Papal Legates. What happened in the first millennium could hardly be an example for these days in many ways, due to the interference of the Cesarpapist Emperors in the life of the Church, to its great detriment, as the case of ST. Martin I clearly shows, not to mention the fact that St Maximus the Confessor, a fearless defender of orthodoxy had both his tongue cut off and his right arm amputated by the Byzantines. The fact that Eastern Christians may not consider that papal teachings are not intended for them does not necessarily negate the fact. When in need in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, when Calvinism was creeping into Orthodoxy both in Constantinople and in Kiev, some of their best theologians of the day had recourse to St. Thomas Aquinas to help defend true Orthodoxy.

          • “If the Pope had the authority to proclaim the First Council of Constantinople ecumenical, then he also had the authority to add a clause to the creed it produced. It is also base on Scripture and held by not a few Eastern Fathers.”

            The former hardly entails the latter.

            Second, just because the bishop of Rome is accepted as the last arbiter or judge for the good of the Church Universal does not mean that he is a universal teacher in an everyday way. The two functions are quite distinct.

            Again: regarding the filioque — it was not in the original text of the Nicene Creed, nor in the modified version given by the Council of the Constantinople — after all, the creed was promulgated in Greek! The filioque was not added until several centuries later by certain Latins and its inclusion was resisted by Rome for some time, until Rome capitulated later.

  21. What is so frustrating about the Pope, at least his public image, is that there is so much good mixed in with that which seems bound to confuse. Much of his positive material sounds to me like Peter Kreeft-esque talking points form ‘Ecumenical Jihad’ or ‘Evangelicals & Catholics.’ But whereas Kreeft takes pains to affirm conservative players and traditional doctrine alongside his progressive takes, the pontiff seems happy to joust at caricatures of conservatives. I think he must have been badly burned badly in Argentina by Church politics. Robert Royal writes,

    “…Amidst the good insights, the pope seems to be wrestling with a world that perhaps once existed, but not very much anymore. His constant pressure here and elsewhere to turn people away from ‘abstract’ theological knowledge or an excessively individual spirituality, towards an otherwise commendable love of God and neighbor, addresses, exactly, who these days? It would be one thing if Catholic universities, seminaries, chanceries, charities, hospitals, relief agencies, religious orders, lay groups, etc. were bursting with people rigidly and reductively clinging to bare theological formulas – as Francis often seems to suggest. The reality, as even secular commenters recognize, is that we’re living in a post-truth, profoundly chaotic world, and Church. To seek stable principles in order not to be swept away by the tsunami of secularism and heterodoxy is not ‘rigidity,’ but sanity.”

    • Joe M asked: “His constant pressure here and elsewhere to turn people away from ‘abstract’ theological knowledge or an excessively individual spirituality, towards an otherwise commendable love of God and neighbor, ADDRESSES, EXACTLY, WHO THESE DAYS?”

      Joe M: Is there really NO substantial number of Catholics today who tend to think that they are pleasing God because they, unlike Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx, Cardinal Kasper, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barach Obama, etc., speak up firmly and regularly against the abortion holocaust, even if they are all-too-often unforgiving and unmerciful in their personal lives, and even though they give no credence to the Social Doctrine of the Church? Is there NO ONE today who fits that bill?

      Yes, liberal Catholics, Trumpers, and Jordan Peterson are in a Post-Truth age. And yes, Pope Francis doesn’t seem bothered by Post-Truth-ism.

      But why deny that there are some Catholics who have fallen into a mindset that they can be saved by mere Theological Correctness and Liturgical Correctness.

      I don’t like Pope Francis. He’s been a terrible pope, in my view.

      But I don’t think he’s the devil, and everything he says or writes is not wrong.

      I myself confess that I ought to be more merciful to defeated enemies, more forgiving towards wrongdoers, more repentant and apologetic regarding my wrongdoings, and do more to heal breaches in relationships that I’ve caused.

      • Is there really NO substantial number of Catholics today who tend to think that they are pleasing God … even if they are all-too-often unforgiving and unmerciful in their personal lives, and even though they give no credence to the Social Doctrine of the Church? Is there NO ONE today who fits that bill?

        I am sure there are plenty. If Francis would point out we can err in either direction I would gladly accept the criticism. It simply seems one-sided and distorted to the point of losing sight of the important of truth as well as life. Much like I think Obama missed an opportunity to reset the race conversation by refusing to temper his zeal with a middle0-of-the-road approach, I think the same thing is happening here. Francis could easily woo conservatives if he would also acknowledge their strengths. I don’t see him doing that. He’s like the stepfather who unhelpfully plays favorites.

  22. The disconnect many see with the Holy Father’s concerns on the liturgy and adherence to doctrine is that the truth seems to be, objectively speaking, the exact opposite of what he perceives. The problem of “rigidity” or scrupulosity in these areas, I submit, is something of a rarity. Catholics in the pews are far more likely to find a lack of reverence at mass, and doctrinal sloppiness and in many cases out and out dissent from Catholic teaching, than anything approaching nit-picking scrupulosity.

  23. No one ever seems to point out that Muslim refugees from war & thuggery can be helped and supported by the people and governments of U.S. and Europe as the refugees resettle in other peaceful Muslim nations that have lots of space for more people (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, etc.).

    It’s just logical that it will be a better fit for Muslim refugees to resettle in a Muslim nation with Muslim laws and customs.

    Why isn’t this obviously superior option ever brought up, by either Conservatives or Progressives? I don’t get it!

    The Christian moral duty of people in Christian nations to help non-Christian refugees can be exercised as the refugees resettle in safe, peaceful, non-Christian nations. Isn’t this obvious?

  24. Unfortunately, Francis has poisoned the well too often and too deeply to expect childlike gratitude for anything he proffers. People don’t want to cringe every time they hear that the pope is going to issue a new document or speak to reporters, but they do because his track record is so bad and deliberate.

  25. If I were to simply a whole lot of what different thoughts with more eloquent wording than I can provide, it would be thus: We are here to love and to serve God. The first three of the Ten Commandments are about God and God alone.

    This particular pope seems to do nothing but go on and on and on about man. It would occur to me that he should be a lot more concerned about the souls of immigrants, for instance, than for their lot in life. He wants us all to be open with open borders, to provide material comfort, etc. I wonder if he wants to address how quickly immigrants to western nations immediately drop their respective faiths or the renewed hemorrhaging of the Catholic Church. He comes to the US and says “I come in my own name”. He is the Vicar of Christ on earth–he is to go everywhere in Christ’s name. But how often does he not even mention God no less Christ?

    As for the attempt to equate abortion with migration, I note that there is an estimate that 125,000 babies are aborted worldwide every day. How many migrants are murdered every day?

  26. A huge segment of the Catholic Church has NEVER accepted Catholic Social Doctrine as valid, relevant, correct, authoritative, or binding, and that is ONE aspect to all the negative reaction to Pope Francis.

    This is partly explained in this Wikipedia article: “Mater si, magistra no”,_magistra_no

    So, PART of the negative reaction to Pope Francis is simply the ongoing negative reaction to the Social Doctrine of the Church.

    The Social Doctrine of the Church is very well presented in a document that Pope John Paul II ordered to be written and published titled “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” See:

    I well realize that this is NOT the ONLY factor in the negative reactions to what Pope Francis does and says. There IS MUCH more going on, I see and admit. Pope Francis has said and done some things that it seems like no Catholic should ever do or say.

    But, in all the negative reaction to Pope Francis, I think it hard to separate out the anti-Catholic Social Doctrine parts of that reaction from the other parts. It all gets mixed together, usually.

    Is there any solution to all this?

    I do think many Catholics would be at least somewhat LESS disturbed by Pope Francis if they studied or accepted the doctrine taught in the John Paul II-approved 2004 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

    The Social Doctrine of the Church is on many points very different from the doctrine of the mainstream Conservative Movement. That’s the cause of much of the upset over what Pope Francis says and does.

    In the final analysis, I believe that the teaching of the Catholic Church is this: When doctrine of the mainstream Conservative Movement is incompatible with or in conflict the Social Doctrine of the Church, the latter must prevail in the hearts and minds of Catholics.

    But of course, William F. Buckley, Jr. famously disagreed with that view in the “Mater si, magistra no” affair in 1961, and so have many others in the political Conservative Movement ever since.,_magistra_no

    The deeper problem, to which I do not see anyone as having any solution, is that most or many Catholics, since the 1960s/1970s, along the whole of the spectrum (left, right, etc.), pick and choose what parts of the Magisterium they will respect and obey.

    Somehow order needs to be brought out of this 50-years-long chaos. That will happen, someday, I suppose, somehow. Lord have mercy!

    (P.S. For those that think Catholic Social Teaching was concocted by liberals at the Vatican II Council or by Pope John XXIII, check out how popes and bishops used Catholic Social Doctrine to lead Catholics away from Nazism and Communism in the 1930s and 1940s, and to publicly critique and condemn Nazi and Communist ideology and actions. In Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe, the Catholic Church was the only effective organized resistance to the Hitler government, and Catholic Church did create real difficulties for the Hitler government.)

    • Here is the social doctrine of the Catholic Church:

      Honor thy father and thy mother.

      Thou shalt not kill.

      Thou shalt not commit adultery.

      Thou shalt not steal.

      Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

      During the past 120 years or so, popes have issued a lot of statements to the effect that having a job is better than not having a job, having money is better than having no money, having a home is better than not having a home, etc. For some reason these less-than-Earth-shattering pronouncements have attracted considerable attention.

      • Bravo! Too often, Catholic Social Teaching is presented as very Socialist in content, however, the Church condemns Socialism. Socialism, Globalism, Marxism, liberation theology—none of these can be construed as Catholic teaching.

    • I think you’ve hit on something which is very important and needs to be addressed by a lot of us during several prolonged examinations of conscience: Is our first allegiance to Christ, with His commands and teachings promulgated by His Church,or is our allegiance first to political concerns then to Christ. (Note: it’s not a matter of “should our allegiances”, it is “are our allegiances”). If the answer isn’t Christ, one better try a lot harder.

      That also needs to be balanced by another concern, however, which is that Pope Francis has opened himself up to ad hominem fallacy because he says so many things that are not Catholic that he opens himself to it. If he were to retreat into a hermitage for the remainder of his papacy and only appear to say “God is great” and nothing else, people would probably–perhaps not unfairly–discredit it by wondering how he conceives God or what he means by God.

      He wanted a mess, to make confusion and now he’s got it. And he seems to get mad that some of the confused are quite squarely against him. Did he honestly think he would come in, throw into question several aspects of 2000 years of teaching and have everything workout in his favor? As if he was going to call into question everything and everybody would just look to him for answers and accept whatever he proposes? Frankly, I think he did and he seems to have difficulty handling the objections of those who think that relativizing the faith means the faith is dead because, if truth changes (as Pilate says “What is truth?”) then neither the Church nor any other entity can make truth claims….

    • yes, a revelation to many, Catholic social doctrine existed before Francis and even before Paul vi or Vatican II. It’s just that when it was Catholic, (i.e. before the seamless garment) it didn’t look like it was simply a regurgitation of DNC party platform.

    • Social Doctrine is not the same thing as Scripture or the Creed. And its application to contemporary dynamics is extremely subjective.

    • The Social Doctrine of the Church, based as it is on Magisterial teaching, is not problematic to most Catholics. However selective applications of it are. For example sec. 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church indeed speaks of the need to help refugees and those seeking to migrate. It also recognizes quite clearly limitations to the practice in practical terms and specifies both rights and duties of both host nations and immigrants. Yet, many in the “social justice” community push what amounts to an open borders policy. The Social Doctrine also has within its parameters, teachings on abortion. Yet for many within the SJ network, that registers as a matter of little concern. I think all Catholics should learn more of Catholic Social Doctrine as to its extent and its limitations, the rights it espouses and the duties it imposes.

    • Catholic Social teaching, due to the fact that it is a response to modern and contemporary social, economic and political realities, is more open to development than other areas of Catholic doctrine, as these situations tend to change often. However, the Church is not in favour of either capitalism or socialism, although these have evolved in the past 150 years. These come from the same origin, especially the theories of Rousseau and others. As for democracy, the Church has considered monarchy to be a better system and only recently, under John Paul II has it been in favour of it, in as much as it does not deviate from fundamental moral principles that govern society. These days, it seems clear that democracy no longer exists, if it did exist in the last century. It is no more than a camouflaged oligarchy. In any case, it is not the mission of the Church Magisterium to promote new social and political systems, although Catholic pay people can do so.
      I don’t see much coincidence between criticism of Pope Francis’s recent Exhortation and the reception of Catholic Social Teaching. The main criticism seems to be focused on the fact that he seems to use Magisterial texts to take swipes at those who don’t agree with him, which, it seems to me not to be wise on his part, as he is shutting of a large portion of Catholics, most of them well informed regarding Church teaching and failing to dialogue with them, as they see themselves as being insulted and called nasty names due to their efforts at defending Catholic Tradition.


    Pope Francis is at least justified in fighting the “Saved by Doctrinal Correctness” or “Saved by Liturgical Correctness” attitude among some Catholics.

    No one is saved by merely holding correct religious doctrine or participating in correct liturgical rites. That error is perilously close to the Lutheran error of “Sola Fide.”

    But, as some suspect, Pope Francis’ true agenda may be deeper and broader than merely fighting this “saved by doctrinal-liturgical correctness” view, which, in any case, certainly is NOT held by everyone in the Conservative wing or the Traditionalist wing of the Catholic Church.

    Yet, the temptation IS always present to think that we can please God by holding correct theology and participating in correct liturgy, even while we do NOT forgive our brother, or do NOT have mercy on an enemy who has harmed us, or reject the Social Doctrine of the Church as completely irrelevant and unathoritative.

    • It’s worth nothing that right doctrine makes it evidently clear that doctrine alone doesn’t save and rich liturgy demonstrates, in many ways, that simply participating in liturgy does not save. And yet we need right doctrine and rich liturgy. So…

      • Carl E. Olson’s good comment reminded me of this question: What EXACTLY IS the role of correct doctrine in Eternal Salvation? What EXACTLY is the teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue?

        This always leads us back to the whole matter of “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS)” and I think any honest person must admit that the Catholic Church’s teaching on EENS has developed (changed? evolved?) over the centuries.

        My vanity makes it hard for me to think of myself as obtuse. Still, I might be, and that could be my problem.

        Still, I have concluded, after much research into primary source documents and various commentaries, that the Church’s official teaching in this area is impossible to state precisely. I know what the official Catechism teaches, but on this matter it is quite vague, I believe.

        • There is a long answer to this good question, but here’s the short, short answer: “The Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes” (DV 8 § 1)” [CCC, 98]. Doctrine, of course, is teaching, and liturgy is worship. Without either, there cannot be a transmission of the Faith and the Gospel as Christ has handed it on to His Mystical Body and Holy Bride, the Church.

    • And yet this is a weird claim to make. How does Pope Francis know what the majority of Catholics who tend traditional do? How on earth does he know whether the TLM folks volunteer at food banks, walk down the street and give money to the needy when they see them, work at organizations that help migrants assimilate. He does not have one clue about what the majority of traditionalists do other than oppose NO innovations.

      If he doesn’t want people making sweeping accusations or forming assumptions devoid of any nuance about refugees then he may find the road easier to hoe if he follows his own advice and stops denigrating orthodox Catholics.


        Brain Walsh is correct. Pope Francis is being VERY UNJUST to Catholics who tend to be traditional.

        It really is a matter of JUSTICE not to slander people.

        Pope Francis should know better. I theorize he does know better, but just can’t help himself.

        We all know that when a left-wing dictator takes over from a right-wing dictator, it is usually “payback” time. The same is true when a right-wing dictator takes over from a left-wing dictator.

        So, I theorize that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who suffered all those years under the Conservative papacies of John Paul II and Benedict 16, feeling bottled in all those years, just can’t help himself. Some uncontrollable part of his psyche is pushing him to get revenge, and he’s getting it. This, at least, is a somewhat more charitable view.

        Also, deep in this heart, Jorge Mario Bergoglio thinks Vatican II was a fresh, comprehensive, new start and orientation for the Catholic Church.

        He thinks that John Paul II and Benedict 16 betrayed the “Revolution.” He views himself, as Pope Francis, as getting the Revolution back on track. Lots of his fellow bishops and priests share this view.

        I don’t share this view. And we all know that the impulse to revenge (which we all feel), should be resisted.

        Pope Francis is only human. I guess that’s what I’m saying, despite it being a trite truism.

        It is only Christ who is both fully human and fully divine.

        I guess we just have to accept that popes can be really awful, and can even teach false doctrine.

      • Even before Pope Benedicts Motu Proprio Summum Pontificium, Catholics has a right to take part in the Traditional Liturgy, as Pope Paul VI never abrogated the Bull of Pope St Pius V regarding the use of the Roman Missal. One of the problems with the Church since Vatican II is what is called “antinomianism”, an attitude contrary to law. An instance of that was the way Archbishop Lefebvre was treated when instead of being judged by an ad hoc commission which was clearly stacked against him, he asked that the case is heard by the CDF and he wanted eventually to appeal to the Suprema Signatura, the Church’s Supreme Court. Then-Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot, ordered the President of the Signatura not to hear the case. This is very serious matter as it involves an administrator interfering arbitrarily in a judicial matter. If Canon Law had been truly applied, the sexual abuse scandal would either not have come about or it would have been much less serious.

    • The point being that truth doesn’t matter? to Francis?
      We do seem to have come full circle today don’t we. In the 1500’s Luther devised the “faith alone” scheme, Now we are (for too many) at the opposite point of “works alone” i.e. Just be kind to migrants, what you believe doesn’t matter.


    Here’s an idea: How about the critics of Pope Francis hold a conference about the problems they see in the teachings of Pope Francis, and invite Pope Francis to attend and participate in dialogues and discussions at the conference?

    Pope Francis loves dialogue, right? He says that peace is the fruit of dialogue, right?

    This conference could be held a somewhat neutral place, like say, Malta, Iceland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, or Gibraltar.

    If Pope Francis chooses not to attend, the conference could go on without him, but the world would be left with the impression that Pope Francis isn’t really as interested in dialogue and peace, at least not as much as he claims.

    Golden idea? Or leaden idea?

  29. The Pope could clarify what he said, but he won’t. He never does and that may be on purpose. Is he Catholic? That isn’t very clear either. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but now I have my doubts. I tire of being bashed when I am one of the ones who has kept the faith despite attacks from secular culture and liberal dissenters. The Pope talks about mercy, but has none for me. That’s how I see it.


    I have a modest proposal: That the only Catholics who should be allowed to criticize or question the teachings of Pope Francis are Catholics who can honestly say and affirm that they don’t dissent from anything found in the 2004 John Paul II-approved Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

    • Such an oath wouldn’t be problematic to most Catholics but why stop there? Should we then also require all who voice opinions on any Church related matter to take the Oath against Modernism promulgated by Pope St. Pius X? Or at least an oath to faithfully adhere to all Catholic doctrinal teaching on faith and morals? Sad to say, many who speak in support of our Holy Father would balk at taking either oath, the first for sure and most likely the second also.

    • You make a basic mistake which reveals you don’t know your theology: social teaching, for the most part, does not technically involve assent or dissent because it is prudential, not doctrinal, in nature, as the document itself states: “in the social doctrine of the Church can be found the principles for reflection, the criteria for judgment and the directives for action;” “The document is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events that mark our time.” Furthermore, this is a straw man: that orthodox folks could care less about social teaching, as though they could care less about the poor, etc. That is ridiculous on its face and I don’t think you will find anyone like that. I think there would be a problem in the opposite direction, however: whether people claiming that Francis can’t be criticized can take an oath regarding doctrinal matters. It is these folks who actually take a rigid, problematic line: if you don’t agree with their particular opinion on such issues, e.g., support for this or that policy, candidate, you are “dissenting.”

  31. This horrific and appalling papacy has laid bare the ugly clericalism of Pope Francis and the members of what Austin Ivereigh calls “Team Bergoglio.”

    Do these men really believe that Catholic adults – who have bet their lives on Jesus – are going to allow this mockery of Catholic faith to persist?

    It is utterly nauseating to realize that the new (Francis-picked) leaders in the Knights of Malta have resorted to threatening members and encouraging members to spy on each other.

  32. I’ve read the Pope’s recent Exhortation and have decided that this will be my response: to take myself to the nearest monastery and make a silent retreat and spend the time praying for him.

  33. C Altieri’s point of docility and charity is certainly valid. Nonetheless it is peripheral to a valid “criticism” of Pope Francis’ latest Exhortation Gaudete. As usual Sandro Magister presents us with pointed criticism. Excerpts from “Is this the end of ‘Roman Catholicism’? from Roberto Pertici [Hist Prof U of Bergamo].
    1. At the present stage of Francis’ pontificate, I believe it is reasonable to argue that it marks the decline of this major historical reality which can be defined as ‘Roman Catholicism’.
    This does not mean, let us understand, that the Catholic Church is about to disappear, but that the way in which it has historically been structured and of which it has represented itself in recent centuries touches on its end. It seems obvious to me that this is the project pursued by the ‘brain trust’ gathered around Francis: a project that is both a radical response to the crisis between the Church and the modern world. a new ecumenical journey common with other Christian denominations and more particularly with Protestants. It is therefore especially in the Catholic world that this invitation to ‘deconfessionalisation’ is addressed. Kasper calls it a ‘rediscovery of original catholicity, which is not confined to a denominational point of view.’ To achieve this, it is necessary to finish once and for all the transcendence of the Tridentine ecclesiology and that of Vatican I. According to Kasper, the Vatican Council II opened the way but its reception was controversial and did not not been linear. Hence the role of the current Pope: Pope Francis has opened a new phase of this reception process. It highlights the ecclesiology of the people of God, the people of God on the way, the sense of faith of the people of God, the synodal structure of the Church, and with regard to the understanding of unity it has developed a new and interesting approach. He describes ecumenical unity no longer with the image of concentric circles around the center but with the image of the polyhedron, that is, with a multi-faceted reality, not like a assembled ‘puzzle’ of the exterior but as a whole and, since it is a precious stone, a whole that reflects a thousand lights the light it receives. In referring to Oscar Cullmann, Pope Francis takes up the concept of reconciled diversity. What kind of new ‘Catholic’ reality will it give birth to in Western societies?”.
    Any commentary on Pope Francis’ exhortations cannot realistically be isolated interpretations of this or that text as is the case here and was the case last night between R Arroyo, R Royal, and Msgr G Murray. We’ve reached the stage of an apparent inexorable transition.

  34. Pope Francis is just a post-Catholic Jesuit. He does not profess one, holy, catholic, apostolic faith as did the good Popes before him.

    He is culture-bound to his post-Catholic cult of Kasper…a dead fish cult Church floating downstream on the zeitgeist…for clerical careerists and their fellow sycophants.

  35. Again the phrase “in the spirit of. That’s the phrase used to twist what is many by a statement. I’m very tired of Pope apologists. When the Pope constantly attacks traditional Catholics how can we read his statements with the “Spirt of” when again he is bending what is taught in the Catechism and what has been taught for 2,000 years. Thank you but “in the spirt of” has flown away.

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