The passive-aggressive pontificate continues—and the Synod approaches

Pope Francis and company make it clear, in the end, that any and all criticism is motivated by some irrational, ideological, political, and unCatholic hatred of Francis.

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Antananarivo, Madagascar, to Rome Sept. 10, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Update (Sept. 11, 2019): A full CNA transcript of the in-flight papal press conference from Madagascar is now available.

Almost six years ago, in October 2013, I wrote my first piece critical of Pope Francis—a CWR editorial titled “Pope Francis: The Good, the Baffling, and the Unclear”. Among several other things, I made the following observations:

At times, especially in his interviews and more impromptu remarks, Francis has shown a tendency to use language that is muddled and unclear, even undisciplined. There are also those moments when he seems to have a particular audience or group of people in mind, and yet never makes it evident who they might be, creating an ambiguity that, far from being “challenging”, is simply confusing. …

And what has become even more bothersome to me is the reactionary quality of these sort of statements from the pontiff. As I wrote to one friend as we discussed the two papal interviews, there seems to be a passive-aggressive quality at play which belies the image of the energetic, broad-minded pope who is above the fray of personality clashes and “office politics.” On the contrary, my impression is that he lets his annoyance with certain people or groups—from Argentina? in the Vatican? elsewhere?—dictate comments that are uttered without reasonable clarity or proper context.

I harkened back to those reflections as I’ve pondered some recent remarks by Pope Francis, made both immediately prior and following his week-long visit to three southern African nations.

The first two remarks came on the flight to Africa. After being presented with a copy of book titled How America Wanted to Change the Pope (available only in French at this time), written by Nicolas Seneze, who is a reporter for the progressive French newspaper La Croix, Francis said he considered it “an honor that Americans attack me.” Soon afterward, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had to clarify, as CNA reported, “that the pope’s remarks were directed at critics, and were not intended to insult American Catholics.” Francis, Bruni insisted, meant to say he “he always considers criticisms an honor…” That’s an understandable bit of spin. But it isn’t convincing in the least.

The news websites of the German and Austrian Bishops’ Conferences reported that Francis also stated, in response to a question about Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the former prefect of CDF: “He has good intentions, he is a good man, the pope likes him, but he is like a child.” That was, even for a pontiff known as a prolific master of colorful insults, rather surprising. One cannot imagine previous pontiffs talking publicly about a cardinal in such a way. After all, it was just this past June that Francis lamented a “culture of insults”.

Cardinal Müller, of course, has been openly critical of various progressive German bishops, telling CWR in a June 26, 2018 interview that in Germany being “popular in public opinion is nowadays the criterion for a supposedly good bishop or priest. We are experiencing conversion to the world…” He also stated in the same interview:

To many bishops, the truth of revelation and of the Catholic profession of faith is just one more variable in intra-ecclesial power politics. Some of them cite individual agreements with Pope Francis and think that his statements in interviews with journalists and public figures who are far from Catholic offer justification even for “watering down” defined, infallible truths of the faith (= dogmas). All told, we are dealing with a blatant process of Protestantizing.

I suppose one could engage with Cardinal Müller’s various statements. Or you could just liken him to a child, while heaping on a bit of condescension—”the pope likes him”—for good measure. Take your pick. Fast forward to earlier today and to Francis’ return to Rome from Africa. It was, in many ways, a repackaging of his greatest clichés, with references to rigidity and ideology, all with a strong hint of the same old passive-aggressive quality that has, alas, become a steady hallmark of this unsteady pontificate:

Referring to a “dry morality” imposed upon “the morality of the People of God,” the pope expressed concern about any ideology that is “so Pelagian” that it leads to rigidity. “Today we have many, many schools of rigidity within the church that are not schisms but are pseudo-schismatic Christian ways.”

Pope Francis concluded: “When you see Christians, bishops, priests [that are] rigid, behind this there are problems. There is not the holiness of the Gospel. For this we must be meek.” Of those who are rigid, he said, “They are going through a problem, and we must accompany them with meekness.”

There is rigidity and there is rigidity—as in the continual and reflexive recourse to tired tropes and broad brushstrokes that tell us very little about Francis’ enemies, real or perceived, and much more about the pontiff. Francis doesn’t help his case with this approach:

Francis also praised those who criticize him to his face, “having the honesty of saying” their objections out loud. “I don’t like it when criticism is done under the table… when they smile and then stick the knife from behind. This is not loyal.”

Criticism, he insisted, can be a constructive tool. When a person issue a criticism that isn’t fair,  the pope said, he or she should be ready for a response and to dialogue about it.

On the other hand, Francis said, a critic who cloaks his or her objections behind a façade is “an arsenic pill, a bit like throwing a stone and hiding your hand. This doesn’t help, and it comes from closed [minded] people who don’t want to hear the answer.”

When it comes to criticizing the pope, he said, “saying what you don’t like, writing an article and asking for a response, this is loyal. This is loving the Church. Instead, voicing a criticism without dialogue [and] without wanting an answer, is not loving the Church … [it’s to want to] change the pope, make a schism.”

First, yes, let’s readily admit that Francis has critics who are outrageous, emotional, strident, and even slanderous. So did his predecessors, even if the current criticism has been amplified because of the internet and social media. Criticism comes with the territory, and being thin-skinned, snarky, and even petty about it is not a good look, especially for a pope.

But, secondly, there have been respectful and reasonable concerns—some expressed in critical but not outrageous ways—that Francis has pointedly ignored. The famous dubia submitted by four cardinals (two of whom now deceased) is an obvious example. The dubia were submitted in writing, the cardinals asked respectfully for a response, and they wanted an answer. None came, and none will, I’m convinced. As I noted in June 2017: “I’ll be shocked—and I don’t use that term lightly—if Francis agrees to meet with the four cardinals, or if he formally responds to the dubia. I believe Francis is content to create the mess that is currently spreading throughout the Church, and even, at times, to encourage it even more by way of dubious assertions.” (For more thoughts on the dubia and Francis’ silence, see my November 2016 essay “The Four Cardinals and the Encyclical in the Room”.)

Thirdly, while Francis makes distinctions between good and bad critics, he and his closest collaborators (not to mention his defenders on Twitter, who are equal parts passive and aggressive) rarely, if ever, really address or consider good criticism in a mature, pastoral manner. In many cases they misrepresent it or attack those who put it forward in good faith. Put another way, Francis and company make it quite clear, in the end, that any and all criticism is motivated by some irrational, ideological, political, and unCatholic hatred of Francis. They would rather stonewall, deflect, and even insult rather than actually dialogue. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it several dozen times.

Some of the key signs of passive-aggressive attitudes, according to Psychology Today, are the silent treatment (“refusing to answer any questions from the person”), subtle insults, and stubbornness. I hope we can all agree that these are not good qualities for anyone to have; they certainly aren’t what we hope to see in a pope. But I don’t think we will be seeing any changes. The die is cast; rigidly so.

And, unfortunately, matters might even get worse. I have, over the past few years, expressed many serious concerns about what Francis has been trying to achieve through the past Synods (as well as via Amoris Laetitia), and I have the same fears about what he and his German friends hope to accomplish in the coming Synod. And I think this October in Rome could be about as confusing, ugly, and depressing as things can be. I’m certain that I’ll be writing many critical things. In doing so, however, I will continue to be as direct, respectful, and reasonable as I can possibly be, not resorting to insults, innuendos, and passive-aggressive double-speak. Because that, frankly, would be childish.

(Note: The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of other CWR contributors or of Ignatius Press.)


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About Carl E. Olson 1120 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.

71 Comments

  1. Thank you Mr. Olsen. I hope others in the Catholic media (some who have been silently just letting things go) will follow your example and speak out. We are in dangerous waters. It’s time for all of us to do something, anything, to help Mother Church. First: prayer, prayer and more prayer. Too many just sitting in the pews – the small percentage left, that is – and ignoring what is coming from Rome. It’s not good. And I am sad, and angry too.

    • This is what Jorge Bergoglio said, prior to his election as pope, in regards to same-sex sexual relationships, and thus same-sex sexual acts, ipso facto, separating himself from Christ, and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, and he is acting accordingly:

      “If there is a union of a private nature, there is neither a third party, nor is society affected. Now, if the union is given the category of marriage, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help shape their identity.”- Jorge Bergoglio, denying The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and the fact that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage.

      “1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121
      1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125”

      “Reflecting on the new permissive attitude of some bishops toward homosexuality, Fr. Murray condemned homosexual acts in blunt terms.
      “A relationship based on sodomy is intrinsically evil,” Murray said, and I would add, abusive. “You don’t sodomize someone and do a good act. That’s an immoral act”, and I would add, because of its abusive nature, an act that is always devoid of Love.

      “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. “

  2. Here’s an important word I would add to this sobering essay: manipulative. Not an insulting characterization, but an additional clinical term that applies to Bergoglio.

    Another term is ego centrism, narcissism (which is really a given). It is now clear, as the plagiarizing Rosica rejoiced, that Bergoglio sees Bergoglio as the “Magisterium.” This also partially explains his history of collecting clerics and bishops who were damaged goods/transgressors who could ONLY be loyal, indebted to him and see their own narcissism idealized in him. If they themselves were (and are) narcissists…they can also contribute to Bergoglio’s “catty charity” and characterizations of enemies.

    No, Bergoglio is not “like a child” but his choice of “like a child” towards Cardinal Muller is an “interesting” word choice by a man heading an Institution long plagued by corruption and crimes and cover ups of pedophilia, the molestation of “child” in the plural. It is indeed a rhetorically adept, desensitized, textured, word choice (“We’ve moved beyond all that.”) to “be free” to characterize/attempt to neutralize a Catholic priest and a Cardinal who is 71 years of age in public as “like a child.” It is truly demeaning and sick. It also of course first references senility…when someone is “like a child” again. It also anticipates the spiritually “immature” who might criticize Bergoglio. Family members who actually believe what the Church teaches can now be dismissed this way by their impious relatives. One can “grow up” and become like the grown up Hegelian German bishops…even if you’re an American or Filipino. But what about Muller is “like a child?” His “rigid” adherence to Church Teachings? Does a reporter ask Bergoglio what about Muller makes him “like a child?” No. Because for Bergoglio, it’s really the spiritual yearnings of an ex-Catholic, not practicing Catholic that are the most mature, genuine. This includes even the paganism of the Amazon. In Bergoglio’s copy of the Gospels, Jesus never really says, “Sin no more!” It’s more like “Yeah! You’re the ones who actually got it!” Bergoglio then (manipulatively, effortlessly) re-imagines practicing Catholics as a kind of fringe group (which of course, coincides with the media, the world and yes the “symbolic” devil). He does not consider that makes such a move so easy for him is despite all his worries about “Pelagianism” a non-reliance on Grace, a belief that we really cannot keep the commandments (a condemned belief, a world weary cynical substitute) Does Muller accept the Kingdom “like a child?” Historically this “innocence” apparently applied to someone like Thomas Aquinas…isn’t a belief in the Magisterium itself “childish” and any aspiration to be faithful to the Church’s Teachings…EXCEPT those pertaining to climate control, immigration and the death penalty?

    But here’s the deal, and this is what manipulators, and passive-aggressive types in particular do: your “enemy” response to them, whatever it is…now makes THEM the victims. They were responding to enemies all along! They were always the victims!

    Yes, the more mature, discerning Bergoglio no longer hindered by inordinate attachments (like the actual Magisterium) can so freely relate “scandal” and “fake news” (his enemies really, not simply “the media”) to coprophagia in December 2016. A proud moment for me as a Catholic.

    On one hand, one can look at Bergoglio as “calculating” but really all this comes to him like breathing. He grabs whatever he has to.

    As for “Pelagianism” (and to partially rip off Edward Feser’s characterization of the New Atheists when it comes to their knowledge of metaphysics)…Bergoglio wouldn’t know a “Pelagian” from a “pelican.” But really…imprecision serves him.

    Prayer and fasting.

    • Great observations, well said, by Carl Olson and Joseph.

      Remembering Jesus’ words that we must become like little children in order to enter His Kingdom, I’m glad that at least on one occasion, Francis (inadvertently in all likelihood) spoke truth.

    • An excellent analysis. I recalled the story about St. Thomas Aquinas and how a fellow Dominican brother told him that there was a flying cow outside. The saint went to the window to look and responded that he would rather believe that there was a flying cow than think that a brother would lie.

  3. For an old man in his eighties, our Pope is disturbingly immature, childish and utterly unable to take criticism even when it is intended in charitable manner (as Cardinal Muller clearly intended). Pope Francis does the Petrine Office a massive disservice whenever he lashes out against his critics (real or imagined). He doesn’t need “Right Wing Americans” conspiring to discredit him because he is doing a very good job by himself.

  4. Correction/edit:

    He does not consider that what makes such a move so easy for him despite all his worries about “Pelagianism” is really a non-reliance on Grace plus a belief that we really “cannot” (but do not need to really) keep the commandments (a condemned belief plus a world weary cynical substitute).

  5. But for a nail a horse was lost; but for a horse, a rider; but for a rider, a battle and a kingdom; and but for steadfast ecclesial leadership, the remnant of Christendom.

    And, BUT FOR fatal divisions within early Christianity, Islam would have been stopped in North Africa and Anatolia (not Tours and Vienna). And BUT FOR the earlier power vacuum and military exhaustion between Byzantium and Persia, fledgling Islam would have disappeared in the desert sands (like all the other thousands of unknown “prophets” of early Arabia). And BUT FOR the decision by Mohammed’s small inner circle (after his death) to re-pacify the unraveling tribal coalition still in Arabia—-rather than not—-again Islam would be less than a footnote in world history.

    And, today, BUT FOR a conflicted pope—-a needed champion of the “periphery,” but indifferent to formal schism at the center—-the Church and Europe might be less vulnerable to a blindside and catastrophic “paradigm shift” from the border. That is, a real-time and synodal and choreographed (?) Germania fondles (an apt term) pseudo-questions of sexual morality, etc. …while an historic and convinced Islam lusts toward Europe as its ITS OWN periphery.

    BUT, in yet another unexpected twist of history—-at the next conclave might enough suddenly wide-awake cardinals, now largely from the Church’s periphery, NOT vote for a Francis clone after all? Emeritus Pope Benedict’s long-term hermeneutics of “discontinuity WITHIN continuity”?

    The Barque of Peter salvaged by the Holy Spirit?

      • Tomorrow is the feast of the great St. Teresa of Ávila. We need more saints like here, like St. Cathrine of Sienna, St. Bernard to prevent the bark of Peter not only from capsizing but from going aground. We have to confide in the fact that the Lord will not abandon his Church and right now He may be preparing some such great saints to put her back on course.

  6. Sadly this Pope Francis is a flimsy reed.Unable or unwilling to see the viscous attacks against Christianity and Catholics around the world.Especially in Africa and the Middle East.It is much more important for him to be PC and loved by the secular MSM.Then to lead his flock in the Truth.As for Germany? My ancestors from Neustadt Germany would be so saddened to see what Merkel has done to their Fatherland.Along with the progressive Catholic clergy.

  7. La Croix is an independent Catholic daily newspaper published in Paris. By French standards, its coverage is moderate. Though this might be considered progressive by American standards, La Croix is hardly a bastion of the left.

    • Nonsense. La Croix is a very much left wing organ. I would say it is run by homosexuals, because it gladly took in the outrageous homosexual Robert Mickens when he was fired for desiring the death of Benedict by the leftist Tablet.

  8. On this anniv. date of 9/11 , interesting to read this column …
    Is the Holy Father that difficult to understand ..or is it that the Holy Spirit allows these concerns , to help bring his message more into focus , through the attention that need to be paid to the heart ..the heart of the issues as well as our own
    hearts , often afflicted by spirits of fears and all else that can come with same , like that of a child even at times ..
    and our Lord allowing that too may be , for the oneness He wants , in the hearts of the Fathers as well…who thus would hear better , the cry from the millions of children , their parents as well, from the deep wounds of our times ..and that grieving too being like an aroma of prayer , that rises up ..
    A Pope who often enough talks about who our real and common enemy is ..who runs to The Mother , to thank her after every papal trip , who has talked about letting St.Joseph the Father handle issues in peace , a silent St.Joseph , a sleeping St.Joseph too , who was holy enough to be open to the angelic messages , in trust ..
    That trust and its patience might get misunderstood for many things ..just as The Father Himself too has been ..
    On this 9/11 anniv., how about a better project ..exhorting families to come together ,even if only in their hearts , in their family rooms, for the
    ‘remembering ‘ of the Bar Mitzhva occasion in the life of our Lord ..
    going beyond time , to be around 11 y.o , see all our families and friends around too, with our Lord , the Holy Family .. 🙂
    and do the steps of the Jewish dances , seeing in trust that the Holy family have in their hearts , our brothers The Muslims too ..
    and dream of someone staring such a campaign world over ..
    to also undo what might have come into many realms, esp. any carnal spirits and fears , through yoga and such too ..
    and the act of Consecration to St.Joseph and St.Michael which our Holy Father did , would bear more fruit too , let us hope .
    Blessings !

  9. Sigh.

    All too true.

    And Carl Olson is being very charitable toward this papacy. I too often fail in having that necessary quality of dispassionate thinking in regard to this pontiff.

  10. Carl, I love your last lines: “I’m certain that I’ll be writing many critical things. In doing so, however, I will continue to be as direct, respectful, and reasonable as I can possibly be, not resorting to insults, innuendos, and passive-aggressive double-speak. Because that, frankly, would be childish.” Well said!

  11. “There is rigidity and there is rigidity—as in the continual and reflexive recourse to tired tropes and broad brushstrokes that tell us very little about Francis’ enemies, real or perceived, and much more about the pontiff.” Exactly.

  12. Are psychological digressions of personalities, based on no less than the “insight and wisdom” of “Psychology Today” well above any personal attack and innuendo? … Catholic World Report, heal thyself!

  13. Re. the comments by the Pope regarding schism, I found them remarkably cavalier. Perhaps the Pope has mentioned before that schism is a possibility. Is it now becoming thematic for him?

    These recent comments in any case beg the question: who will have been the agent of schism, should it occur? He has now claimed to pray that it not occur, but isn’t this like praying for something not to happen that is entirely in one’s own power to avoid, ‘lo foment?

  14. I consider it the greatest crisis of the Church because all the evil attacking the truth of Christ comes from within. The merciful love of the Sacred Heart of Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph.

  15. Catholic journalism should be as careful and correct as Mr. Olson attempts so well. But prophetic Catholicism can only groan out loud. Some kind of awful judgment comes.

  16. Although I wanted to respond earlier I held back effort bordering on heroic virtue. Besides Carl Olson said everything [virtually] I wanted to say probably more tactfully. Self satisfied I point to ongoing pontifical duality described elsewhere [S Skojec] as a kind of two step dance one forward one back and so forth and how to assess. “The pope specifically warned the Church in Germany against pursuing any course which aimed at ‘simply adapting to the spirit of the times’ and urged them to preserve the sensus ecclesiae of the whole Church on the faith’” (CNA). Nothing could be more orthodox. Have we heard this song before? We all recall when Cardinal Marx outrageously proclaimed the ‘German’ church would not wait for the Vatican to catch up and will begin changing the rules independently. Likened to anemones the Pontiff warns the Cardinal retracts the Cardinal [in his own good time] resumes the Pontiff withholds comment. Amazonia another comparison of Pope Francis’ warnings to retain ecclesial consistency applaud for breaking new spiritual ground drawn from the very ground of nature worship head dressed as a grinning headhunting Jivaro [hyperbole?]. Humorous yet deadly foreboding of direction. The issue raised is schism, which defined is rejection of pontifical authority and doctrine. The problem is whether it is schism since nowhere is there a definitive doctrinal pronouncement refused rather objection and unanswered questioning of ambiguously written policy. It’s malpractice of the faithful, appointment to high position of convicted reprobates that directly or by implication contradict the Deposit of Faith – tolerated and suggested as God’s merciful will that eminent Hierarchy Laity particularly one hazardously outspoken archbishop call more aptly Apostasy. The agonizing dilemma for many myself included is whether his punitive accusations of rigidness have merit and whether the Pontiff is forcing needed change to loosen up and be more compassionate toward the disenfranchised. The quite orthodox words indicative of where he really stands. How to assess? I look to the words of Christ for guidance. We judge a tree by its fruit.

  17. Francis obsessively repeats his insult of Pelagian to describe critics with no sense of irony, and he throws around theological terms inaccurately to convince ignorant reporters he’s a deep thinker. How much more Pelagian can a mind be that promotes globalist government as a path to perfecting the human condition, the denial of the imperfectability of man being the core premise of Pelagianism.
    “Sterile morality” is an encapsulating term for his irrational thought that views truth not as the immutable reflection of the unchanging mind of God, but, as his uncatholic process theology would have it, truth is in perpetual flux, which he tries to paint as benign by associating it with the desires of “the people of God” as though sinners always know better than God. But what can we expect from a mind that preaches “mercy” purely in terms of finding ways to attenuate guilt, while remaining oblivious and merciless towards the victims of sin.
    Atheism is not an either/or proposition. If you believe truth is fungible, you’re an atheist, even if you’re able to lie to yourself and live with a contrived abstract notion of God. If you believe truth is eternal, a reflection of the omniscient mind of God, you are willing to be humble before God. Francis has made it clear in a thousand different ways that he rejects immutable truth and moral absolutes. It serves no purpose for anyone to deny the Emperor has no clothes, that we have an ungodly man sitting in the Chair of Peter because the consequences are life and death. His lip service against abortion has not supported the Church’s witness. It has been heavily damaged by the schismatic-in-chief’s mixed messages condemning moral absolutes before the whole world, which says to the world, go ahead, have your abortion, only the obsolete, “rigid” attitudes of the few are still “obsessed” by such matters. When will these reporters develop enough testicular fortitude to tell Francis when he is being a fool? The mass-murdered unborn deserve better.

  18. Mr. Olson,

    I am a simple Catholic who reads and learns.

    Since his election, I noticed something odd about Francis and his statements/documents: to put it mildly, he is a dishonest person who has his own agenda. And a long time ago, I decided not to sit idly by and wait for the destruction of Christ’s Church — I have fought and I am still fighting for Her.

    Thank you for your summary article, and may God bless.

    • Yes RIGIDITY in namely the Divine Saviour changing your name from a floppy reed (SIMON) to a rigid rock face (Peter), ever seen an unrigid rock? Fairly obvious he doesn’t like his job description! Count me in.

  19. False prophets and muzzled apostles! These ‘apostolic’ bureaucrats and fascist autocrats have destroyed the Church. May these presiders over this culture of pederasty be fixed to their crosses at the gates of Hell for their betrayal. Don’t expect donations.

  20. P.S. am I right that the Pope’s comments specifically about schism have not garnered much attention in the Catholic press? This is serious stuff. I wish someone would trace the history of this Pope’s comments about schism. It might prove to more of a footnote than might seem at first, as one more sociological barometer (among others) of the rifts emerging under this pontificate.

  21. “His Forgetfulness of Argentina” long ago ceased to be a Catholic man.

    He is the friend and protector of parasitical sex abusers and coverup artists across the Church.

    He is an apostate, and a coward who enjoys abusing the powerless, and who hires other cowards to abuse and persecute faithful priests and sisters like the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in Italy, and the Sisters on Mary Mother of the Redeemer in France.

    He is secretive and narcissistic and arrogant.

    And oh yes…as Austen Ivereigh (who suggests that Jesus had homoerotic fantasies), also mentions that we should all know that “His Forgetfulness” is famous for being humble (it’s in Wikipedia).

  22. Bergoglio has succeeded in making everything about whether a Catholic or the Church is “rigid.” No need to answer previous questions. No need to clarify.

    The one “rigid” thing he would be adverse to making less rigid? The “rigid” traditional canon law (now long outdated?) which permits him to make a mockery of the teachings of the Church and Our Lord and to mock his “enemies.” In this regard, Bergoglio is indeed correct in one of his cheap characterizations of the faithful. With this type of canonical protection/immunity, the faithful laity and those sincere priests who do indeed believe in the Magisterium… are reduced to and regarded as “dummies” despite doctrinal errors…with no recourse? Almost no recourse?

    Something along the lines of Aidan Nichol, OP’s proposal of revision of canon law to identify papal errors needs to be enacted. We have no problem making the Church “synodal” almost overnight. But that would be impossible? “Oh, we need to be careful what we say. Oh please be careful. That would make things worse.” Are we reduced to idiots?

    Have things accelerated? since the unanswered (except mocked) Open Letter towards heresy, apostasy and maybe schism (which Bergoglio doesn’t fear BTW because that’s part of the history of the Church)?

    Yes, Bergoglio loves that particular “rigid” canon law and would never encourage the faithful to grow up? and say, “Enough is enough.” But herein lies the rub. He also of course relies on an increasingly secular view of “being faithful” among Catholics as more and more Catholic themselves become less faithful, lose their faith really (ex. “real presence”) more secularized…and would seek making THAT a new magisterium..that will also continue to change…which of course would be a short lived fading new church…since over time…when almost anything goes..what’s the point? St. Paul today might write: “Consider the Episcopalians…”

    In the end the “new faith” will not simply be heresy but ultimately “accompanied” unbelief.

  23. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” NEVER ENTER. Satan is the Impostor Master inventing impostor versions of all the good things of God and also of all that Jesus did and said. The true original diamond here is: “Be child-LIKE and obey God your Heavenly Father!” That’s Cardinal Muller. The satanic impostor here is: “Be child-ISH like your father (John 8:44) and aggressively PROJECT it to others when you are found out”. That’s Pope Francis.

    His childishness, passive-aggressiveness, narcissism, weaponized ambiguity, total rejection of criticism, total lust to please the sinful world system and receive its rousing applause, lust for power and total control, preaching of false extreme pacifism and submission, total stubbornness, his lust to include and elevate those at fault of grave sins especially those that attack our true sexual identity in God, when all come together in one person point only to one thing: today’s ever growing influence of hybridization homosexuality.

    Sexually active homosexuality is a hybridization mental disease long before it becomes a sexual sin and it exists in the highest and lowest intellects, in any economic, racial, cultural or social class. It is not the most grievous sin all by itself but it empowers, enables and justifies all sins infinitely more than any other sin ever can. Sinful as it is, the gravest danger is not from those physically/sexually homosexual, but the larger number of mentally, emotionally and spiritually homosexual (M.E.S.H.). It is that M.E.S.H. that meshes good and evil, virtue and sin, morality and immorality, creation and destruction, light and darkness as one highly deceiving, incredibly attractive to our sinful nature, monstrous hybrid of good and evil, that infects society, the Church, theology, liturgy, pastoral approaches, and everything it touches, and it touches all.

    We must reject this satanic hybridization strongly and loudly in ourselves, inside the Church and everywhere, just like our saintly ancestors who were never hybrids, even if we are persecuted and tortured by the hybrid sinful world. “Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”, (2 Corinthians 6:14). Pray, obey, trust God and act like our Church’s life depends on it because it does!!! Don’t give up, give in or surrender, even if our Church is being readied to be crucified and killed. Be filled with Jesus’ Invincible Joy (Hebrews 12:2). Resurrection awaits!!!

  24. The Amazonian Synod will proceed and it will succeed.

    Success, not gaged by the advancement of the ordination issue (which as always been a loss leader topic), but by the enfolding of the synod’s *hermeneutics* (the goals and methods of its worldview) into the dogmatic architecture of the Church.

    The synod fathers, in consort with Pope Francis, will embed their *working* – their way of “doing* – into how the Church “does” theology, ethics, and worship. By November, 2019, the Overton Window will have slid the Apostolic patrimony almost into the occult. This is the malevolent subterranean danger. All else is misdirection.

    When it occurs (succeeds) the Church will be utterly revolutionized. It will take several generations – maybe even centuries – to undo.

    Ironically, with his canonization being intoned in the midst of the synod, John Newman’s Development of Doctrine will be weaponized to advance and anchor the synod’s ends.

  25. Isn’t it time that faithful and concerned Catholics march on Washington, D.C. and insist that Monsignor Rossi be suspended until a legitimate investigation of his wrong doings is commenced and completed. And, an investigation of Archbishop Gregory and Cdl. Cupich. I know I sound like a far-out rigid Catholic, and I don’t care. What I do care about is our beloved Church that Jesus Christ instituted. The laity should march on Washington, D.C., Cardinal Dolan’s diocese in New York, and last, but not least by any stretch, Rome and the Vatican. It’s time, way past time. We have had enough. Let EWTN, a network that is watched by millions of Catholics, and some non-Catholics, lead the way. We need a few good men and women to get this started.

  26. All criticism of Jorge Bergoglio is motivated by our Love for Christ, as evidence by the fact that we are witnessing Bishop v. bishop, Cardinal v. cardinal, Pope v. pope.

    “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost; For It Is, “Through Christ, In Christ, And With Christ, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, that Holy Mother Church exists.

  27. Make no mistakes, there is simply no place for orthodox catholics in the Church of Francis. And in the future the small niches of orthodoxy will either be forced to change their minds and become liberal, or be expelled from the Church. There will no hiding place. Either deny your catholic faith and remain, or uphold it and get expelled. The Pope recently revealed 13 new cardinals. All liberals. In Catholicism there’s only a future for modernists.

  28. Francis’ personal failings (though they are many) are not the main problem with his Pontificate. The main problem is the lack of sound Christian teaching coming from his office.

  29. There is rigidity and there is rigidity …

    And there is heresy.
    Jorge Bergoglio is a heretic.
    He routinely and persistently casts doubt on truths of the faith, and surrounds himself with queens and malcontents who will do his bidding.
    And he is hellbent on stacking the next conclave with fellow heretics to resurrect his regime of filth when he finally sheds his mortal coil.
    At this point, schism is welcome.
    It would have the virtue of clarity so that the faithful could get on with destroying this evil, vile pontificate directly.

  30. I wonder if the Pope would think that those Catholic martyrs who stood firm for the faith and did not waiver were being too rigid as they went to their deaths?

  31. Aside personal traits, strengths and weaknesses the underlying basis for Pope Francis’ actions should be considered here as well.

    Pope Francis is a not too untypical Argentine. Argentinians feel superior to all and are generally envious of the US. They were the equal in all respects to the US in 1900, but they then chose the wrong path with Peron and socialism. Therefore many Argentines including Pope Francis reflexively dislike the US.

    Pope Francis was also influenced, perhaps indoctrinated, by Liberation Theology which is an ideology that first took root in a serious way in the Church in Peru. He is a lefty through and through and his actions speak as much.

    Pope Francis, like many clergy, is also poorly educated and misguided on what a free market is. This is lamentable as it was friars and Dominicans who first formulated free market concepts and theory in the 1500’s in the Catholic University of Salamanca, Spain.

    He confuses capitalism with cronyism. He does not see that as government increases so does cronyism.

    Yet he also defends some core principals of the Church. He laments the separation of families due to migration and defends the right to migrate in search of a better life. He is pro-life, has a strong love of the Virgin Mary and has a genuine concern for the poor. These are all very Latin American Catholic feelings as well.

    Pope Francis is mix of things. Liberation Theology is a mix of things. And a mix of things engenders confusion and disorder.

    • It has long been my contention that Pope Francis speaks very deliberately when he makes these vague, seemingly “off-the-cuff” remarks. He chooses his words very carefully, knowing full well what they imply and convey, shaping them to precisely communicate his true meaning, while at the same time being able to claim that he was misunderstood. The secular and liberal Catholic press take his spoken words, apply the intended meaning innocently or with a wink, and promote them to show that Pope Francis is modifying this or that Church teaching or discipline. A few days later, there is the requisite “correction” or “clarification”, always made by a lower level Vatican apparatchik, that states that the Pope has NOT changed anything. The lasting result, though, is the original message which the Pope intended all along, which is reinforced by additional informal remarks, recirculation of the original remarks by sympathetic media outlets or theologians, or restatement by his allies. To me, it is clear that the Pope has used this technique to effectively change Church teaching and discipline while at the same time denying that he has done any such thing. It is this kind of jesuistry that has earned for the Jesuits in general and Pope Francis in particular a reputation for or at least a suspicion of double-dealing and hidden agendas. I believe Pope Francis intends a schism as a means by which he can achieve his doctrinal and social program.

      • Mike, You might be right in saying that Pope Francis intends a schism. He is the only one as far I know that is talking about it. If he is trying to engineer a schism we must deny him the schism. I think the faithful clergy and lay should just ignore his initiatives and pray that this too will pass.

    • Miguel, you hit the nail right on the head – Pope Francis is a man of the Left! That is exactly why he also does not dialogue when criticized but “would rather stonewall, deflect and even insult”. Another trait of the Left is victimhood. I agree though that Francis is a mixture and he deserves some credit too – but what a big let-down from the excitement I felt on day of his election as Benedict’s successor. I loved Benny’s ‘rigidity’.

  32. I liken the position of Pope Francis to an NBA coach has been around too long. The players stop listening and start doing their own thing. The team fractures and performance deteriorates. Finger pointing follows. But in the end, the buck stops with the coach and he/she is sent away. For good or ill, Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation has opened the door for Francis to make a courageous exit and to allow someone else to occupy the Chair of Peter. Like it or not, for many Catholics, Pope Francis is a non-entity; his exhortations have no power. And that has eroded the prestige and authority of not just the papacy but of Christ’s Church as a whole. What Pope would want that as his legacy?

    • Unlike, say, Pope St. Peter, Pope St. Leo the Great, or Pope St. Gregory the Great, or Pope St. Nicholas the Great, Pope St. John Paul II, etc., etc., etc. Snort. Your historical knowledge seems to go back about 15 minutes.

  33. When Pope Francis speaks on a plane I believe he is speaking “ex-oyxgen” — thankfully not “ex cathedra”. When he is more than a few inches off the ground he engages in what I call “thin-air theology” and what he utters in those states is nonsense. My problem with Pope Francis is what he says and does when his feet are firmly planted on the ground anywhere on earth. Down here he has proven himself to be an inept spiritual leader who confuses faithful Catholics (and the watching world) and feeds his flock with ideological blather instead of the food of — and that is — Christ. I pray for our Pope every day and hope he does not leave too many spiritually-starved sheep in the pasture, some dying of starvation, some being dragged from the fold by Satan, many suffering martyrdom, before his pontificate is over.

    • From https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/pontifical-chic

      SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
      Pontifical Chic
      FR. GEORGE W. RUTLER

      “There is also the peril of over-exposure. A pope now is even expected to give freewheeling chats while on airplanes, and this has led to off-the-cuff remarks that the Holy Father’s communications staff subsequently redact into a benign and coherent form. Jochen Hinkelbein, president of the German Society of Aerospace Medicine, has warned that the air pressure on a jet airplane can match that atop an 8,000-foot-tall mountain. This can cause hypoxia, reducing the oxygen in blood by up to 25 percent; this is particularly harmful to the elderly and those with breathing difficulties. Pope Francis is an octogenarian and has only one lung. Without careful monitoring, say experts, this can affect the ability to think and speak clearly.”

  34. Well said, Mr. Olson. It appears to me to be an act of heroic virtue to honestly critique this pontificate without being reduced to crude pejoratives.
    Catholicism is presently enduring a host of mortifications, but I can think of none — and I mean that, none — that are worse than observing this man do his routine. It is simply unbearable to behold.

  35. Every day I wake up half expecting Pope Francis impromptu comments to the media on a flight to Timbuktu to go something like this:
    “Well, I’m not so sure about the actual Resurrection. Christians should not be so rigid as to believe in the Resurrection as an absolute fact. We can all have opinions about it — and every religious viewpoint is just as valid as another — but rigid belief in the Resurrection clearly comes from the American Catholics who will wave the Gospels in your face while asking ‘what about this or that account?’. This is not normal Christianity, but we must treat them with humbleness and respect in their misplaced theological rigidity.”

  36. My brother suggested I try out Catholic World Report because “they seem to take a balanced view of things.” This is the first article I’ve read.

    The author dismisses a clarification of a remark the Pope made about Cardinal Muller as “an understandable bit of spin.” He then proceeds to comment about Pope Francis:
    1) “a pontiff known as a prolific master of colorful insults”
    2) “a repackaging of his greatest clichés”
    3) “a strong hint of the same old passive-aggressive quality that has, alas, become a steady hallmark of this unsteady pontificate”
    4) “reflexive recourse to tired tropes and broad brushstrokes”
    5) “being thin-skinned, snarky, and even petty about it is not a good look, especially for a pope”
    6) “the mess that is currently spreading throughout the Church”
    7) “passive-aggressive attitudes”

    He then assures his readers that he “will continue to be as direct, respectful, and reasonable as I can possibly be, not resorting to insults, innuendos, and passive-aggressive double-speak.”

    It’s difficult to sustain much worthwhile comment about this article – partcularly its final assurance – except to say hubris is followed, inevitably and inexorably, by nemesis.

  37. After seeing the mess the Catholic Church is constantly in, with the homosexual rape of children by priests, its cover-up by enabling bishops and cardinals, and Pope Francis’ antics, I’m glad I left the Catholic Church of my youth to become a Bible-believing Christian.

    • Catholics believe in the Bible. We should; it’s a Catholic book, written by Catholics after the Church was founded. I’m sorry you decided to leave the Church that Jesus founded to go to one created by mere humans.

  38. Given the oppressive moral debauchery and blasphemy inflicted upon us , the notion that the Catholic Church is plagued by “rigid priests” is laughable on its face. Where are they? When you find one, please let me know.

  39. Voices like yours (and Cardinal Raymond Burke’s, et al) are misguided at best and possibly destructive at worst. “To live is to change, and to change often is to become more perfect.”― St.Cardinal John Henry Newman, “Conscience, Consensus, and the Development of Doctrine”. If your intellect can’t understand this, pray for guidance. The Holy Spirit will enlighten you. God Bless!!!–Jim

    • ““But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the governor. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”

      ““I have seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it `Going Bad’ in Narnia.””

      Note that St. John Henry Newman said *often.* Clearly, that doesn’t mean *always.*

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