Papolatry and Progressive Privilege

“Progressive” forces dominate the Roman curia now, and they seem to think that they are instruments of the ineluctable forces of historical progress.

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 1, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Bemused?  Befuddled?  Puzzled?  What word do I use to describe my reaction to the recent media consensus that the U. S. bishops on their ad liminia visits to Rome will (and indeed must) fall all over themselves to “reassure” Pope Francis that they in no way stand in opposition to him?  I am puzzled because I am wondering where this hard-and-fast rule was when John Paul II was pope.

I came into the Church as an adult convert after John Paul II became pope.  One of the first things I noticed as a new Catholic was how much dissent there was in a Church that, from the outside (as the “spiritual-but-not-religious” Moralistic Therapeutic Deist I was) seemed such an impressively unified body of beliefs and believers. In my first years of graduate study in theology, I found deep divisions over how to read the Bible, interpreting the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the nature and binding character of traditional magisterial teaching, the role and authority of the Pope, the provisions of Catholic moral teaching, and much else.

John Paul II was insistently proclaiming that a new spirit should blow through the Church, one in continuity with the great traditions of the past, and it was in accord with them that the Second Vatican Council should be interpreted.  But he was also employing in exciting new ways the resources of contemporary philosophy, especially phenomenology, to help clarify classical theological formulations.  No one who knew anything about history could say this was a papacy “stuck in the Dark Ages.”  It was new, yet steeped in the old, and exciting.

But there was dissent everywhere.  I had a professor who announced one day before class:  “I had to pull my daughter out of the Ursuline Academy.  They are bad mouthing the pope every day.  I am putting my daughter into public school.  They won’t bad mouth the pope there.  They wouldn’t dare.”  And they didn’t.  But the Ursuline sisters did.  In fact, a lot of Catholic clerics and religious did.  Pretty much all the time.

I thought, “Wow, this Church really means it when they talk about allowing dissent.” As a newly minted Catholic, I was surprised not only by the constant drumbeat of dissent, but also by its self-righteous stridency. I soon grew accustomed to it.  But it continued to seem strange to me that, although my friends and I had gotten opposition for our “Catholic” views at the secular humanist institution I had attended as an undergraduate, I found the opposition much worse at Catholic institutions.  It was rare to go more than ten minutes in a class without hearing, “Peter was never in Rome.”  Or “the empty tomb was not really empty.”  Or “the Exodus event never happened.”

It was a time when Hans Küng had become wealthy (a Catholic priest-professor informed me with no little satisfaction) giving lectures on Catholic campuses around the world after the publication of his book questioning papal infallibility.  Charles Curran was a celebrity for dissenting from the Church’s moral teaching on contraception and Richard McBrien was the face of Catholicism on television.  It was well known that you couldn’t get a decent teaching post in theology at a major Catholic university if you weren’t a Catholic dissenter.

“Papolatry” was the Jesuit’s phrase during those years for those who took the Pope too seriously.  It was taken to be a serious threat to the Church; indeed, for some, it was the most serious threat to the Church.

In their 2003 book Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits, Peter McDonough and Eugene Bianchi recounted the comment of a then-fifty eight year old Jesuit sociologist who bragged that: “The Society has not sold its soul to the ‘Restoration’ of John Paul II.”  Another Jesuit, a church historian, complained: “[He’s] probably the worst pope of all times,” then corrected himself: “He’s not one of the worst popes; he’s the worst. Don’t misquote me.”  They didn’t.

“There’s a cutting off of dialogue,” this Jesuit continued, “a listening to one side, at least that’s the impression he gives. Control, not listening.”  A constant theme of that book was the irritation these men felt at what they saw as a failure of “subsidiarity” in the institutional Church.

Things were in such a state across the Society that the redoubtable Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J., would, upon the death of John Paul II, write: “Over the course of 28 years in the Society of Jesus, I’ve watched Wojtyla-hatred turn into one of the principal sub-themes of Jesuit life.”  Mankowski told the story of fellow Jesuit Fr. Cyril Barrett saying of the failed assassin Mehmet Ali Agca, “in a bellow that filled a London restaurant”: “The only thing wrong with that bloody Turk was that he couldn’t shoot straight!”

“The reason for these Jesuits’ Wojtyla-hatred,” wrote Mankowski, “is no mystery. His fiercest adversaries have always been liberal-apostate Catholics: those who, in flat contradiction to the logic of doctrine, press for that doctrine to change. Women may become priests, and approval may be given to contraception, but the institution that enacts these innovations ipso facto has ceased to be part of the Catholic Church.”  And, he adds:

The dreams that progressivists surfaced during Paul VI’s pontificate — of a congregational, sexually emancipated, anti-sacral ‘picnic’ catholicism — were frankly infantile. Yet Catholics over 50 will remember the emotional mist of auto-suggestion that ‘the next pope’ would move with the times and make these dreams come true. Not all Jesuits got smitten by this vision, but the majority did, and was stunned when Wojtyla failed to act out its fantasy. Many left the Society to seethe outside it; others remained, and seethe within.

It seems the seething is over. The Jesuits now have their pope.

But given the previous generation’s insistence on the overriding importance of “subsidiarity” within the Church and the value they placed on “dissent,” why, if it isn’t too indelicate to ask, are the American bishops, each of whom has his own apostolic authority, now being expected to trundle off submissively to Rome to assure the Pope and his minions that they are absolutely not dissenting in the least from the current pontiff?  The narrative has certainly changed: from Charles Curran’s “dissent” as an expression of “creative fidelity” to Austen Ivereigh’s screed against those who have “wounded” the “shepherd,” Francis, the “Great Reformer.” It is almost enough to make one think there is a bit of double-standard going on here; that many of those who demand papal obedience now were the fiercest critics of “papolatry” in the past when John Paul II was pope.  Is this a principled position or simply a two-faced expression of ideology — the sort of ideology the great Czech dissident Vaclav Havel perceptively described as “a specious way of relating to the world”?

There is an old saying:  “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”  Not any more, it seems.  This is a problem infecting not only the Catholic Church.  One finds it throughout contemporary politics and culture.  When certain more “conservative” parties are in charge, their authority is repeatedly brought into question.  “Resistance” and “dissent” are taken to be high virtues and important priorities, enough to trump other concerns for traditional order and peaceful coexistence.  When such “conservatives” are replaced by more “progressive” forces, this becomes the cause for tremendous celebration, as though the “will of the people” has finally triumphed and the tyrants brought low.

But then when a more “progressive” party takes power, principled dissent is taken to be a betrayal of the general will and a violation of the common good.  The very thought that such “progressives” might be asked to surrender control to a more “conservative” party forces tremendous soul-searching and often requires a painful act of will.  Indeed, there is often a certain kind of dangerous “illegitimacy” attributed to “counter-revolutionary” forces that does not apply to noble intentions of the progressives.  Progressives hold onto power, it seems, by a certain “right” — the right not to be opposed by those who don’t really understand the needs of the people and simply aren’t as caring.

A serious dialogue about the needs of the people and the requirements of the common good would certainly be worth having.  But a true dialogue would depend upon both parties agreeing not to use emotivism to obliterate “any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations.”  In After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre describes the difference between the two as the difference between relationships “in which each person treats the other primarily as a means to his or her ends and one in which each treats the other as an end.”

“To treat someone else as an end,” says MacIntyre,

is to offer them what I take to be good reasons for acting in one way rather than another, but to leave it to them to evaluate those reasons.  It is to be unwilling to influence another except by reasons which that other he or she judges to be good.  It is to appeal to impersonal criteria of the validity of which each rational agent must be his or her own judge.  By contrast, to treat someone else as a means is to seek to make him or her an instrument of my purposes by adducing whatever influences or considerations will in fact be effective on this or that occasion.

“Dialogue” is not a competition to see who can manipulate the audience’s emotions more effectively.  It must be a non-manipulative process wherein each party is unwilling to influence the other except by reasons which that other he or she judges to be good.  What, then, can we say about tendency among many progressives to refuse even to consider or respond to the arguments of their opponents?  What about Pope Francis’s repeated refusal to reply to his critics other than by questioning their good faith?

John Paul II was a dynamic figure and exuded a powerful public personality.  I never much cared for the “cult of personality” that surrounded the pope, but my concerns were tempered by the fact that both he and Benedict XVI followed a long tradition in the Church of addressing the concerns of contemporary men and women with principled arguments and reasoned exhortations, producing solid teaching documents that bore continual fruit upon repeated readings.

Francis, however, seems devoted to vilifying those who question him and gathering together “committees” by means of which he can manufacture a certain kind of “consensus” to support what everyone knew he wanted to do when the committee was convened.  In this, he resembles nothing so much as the kind of academic bureaucrat that faculty members in colleges and universities everywhere are increasingly forced to endure, under whose enlightened despotism true “collegiality” has been replaced by corporatism and faux “consensus building,” and where “progressivism” is not only “empowered” but privileged.  These are places where Havel’s greengrocer would feel as though he had never left home and where the watchwords are “Don’t make trouble. … Don’t be trouble.”

“Progressive” forces dominate the Roman curia now.  They seem to think that they are instruments of the ineluctable forces of historical progress.  I prefer to take the long view.  Changes in the partisan parties that control human institutions are like shifting winds.  Such changes are to be expected and can be, often enough, beneficial in a fallen world where all parties need continually to question their most basic principles and fundamental convictions, always remaining open to correction from others who disagree.

But respect is due only to those who agree to eschew the stratagems of emotivism and engage in non-manipulative dialogue.  It is far too easy for fallen humans such as we are to get trapped in our own historical meta-narratives:  “them” vs. “us”; the forces of historical “progress” against the forces of repressive traditionalism.”  Indulging such fantasies blinds us to the corrective dialogues we need to be having with those with whom we disagree.  For Christians, there is only one defining meta-narrative; there is only one that does not end up empowering some at the expense of others.  That is the narrative of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His continuing presence in the Church guided by His Spirit.  Letting some other narrative obscure this one can only lead to dire consequences for Christians and for the ultimate good they hope to offer the world.


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About Dr. Randall B. Smith 38 Articles
Dr. Randall B. Smith is a full professor of Theology at a Catholic, liberal arts university. His book Reading the Sermons of Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide is available from Emmaus Press. And his next book, Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the Scholastic Culture at Paris: Preaching, Prologues, and Biblical Commentary will be available from Cambridge University Press in the fall.

46 Comments

  1. Dr. Smith is far too demure in saying: “‘Progressive’ forces dominate the Roman curia now.” No, the blunt truth is rather that the the Roman curia and the papacy are dominated by apostates, heretics, and homosexuals who hate and despise the traditional and orthodox Catholic faith. Archbishop Vigano is absolutely correct in publicly proclaiming only days ago that Bergoglio uses his authority “not to confess but to deny; not to confirm but to mislead; not to unite but to divide; not to build but to demolish.” Indeed, ““[w]e’ve been poisoned by a false magisterium for over six years now.” The time for demure and polite euphemisms for such evil is long past.

      • Good for you Gato. Well said. Have you read the messages of Our Lady to her beloved priests, Father Stefano Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests. It is all there prophecies and all for our times. Heaven’s messages to her seers and victim souls are faultless without any human contamination, should be read and lived. A sure path to Heaven. Orthodoxy and Tradition is the foundation of all that Jesus and taught us. The Holy Spirit continually reminds us of that.

  2. “…they seem to think that they are instruments of the ineluctable forces of historical progress.”

    We’ve had over five decades already to see how this movie ends, and it’s always the same: The only historical progress the progressives bring is toward empty churches.

  3. It is no surprise that the Jesuits, having abandoned Thomistic Theology for the likes of Rahner and Jung, had no use for St. Pope JPII. It is also no surprise that the current Pontiff demands total allegiance, given his somewhat Peronist idea of governing.
    The root cause, as we were so warned by Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, is and will continue to be modernism coursing through the veins of Holy Mother Church. Until this is rejected completely, or divine intervention, this comedy of errors will continue.

    • Jung is so passé that I can’t imagine any progressive even reading him anymore. Did you mean Kung? And the J and K are, of course, adjacent on the standard QWERTY keyboard.

  4. Agree 100%.

    “Jesuit-ism” as diagnosed by the truth-telling Fr. Mankowski, has manifested itself as narcissistic idolatry. It has its highest expression in the Pontiff Francis, who is a brazen agitator, who orchestrated and directed idol worship in Rome in October 2019.

    “Jesuit-ism” exists to groom the egos of the Jesuit clerical cult, and infantilize every young adult tragically entrusted into the grooming of the Jesuit narcissistic cult.

  5. Thank you Dr. Smith, for a well written and thoughtful article. I appreciate especially your comments on “non-manipulation” and avoiding “emotivism” in dialogue. It is very perceptive to note, that the justification for dissent during the time of John Paul II, for some reason has ceased to exist in the minds of progressives today.

  6. Great article. Most of those who are very keen on defending Francis are from the heterodox crowd and/or have left leaning politics, although these usually go together. As such their new found status as super pope defenders is phony and they are doing so because Francis is implementing their agenda. (This is a strong proof in itself of where Francis lies, when this crowd sees him as one of their own. This is another reason it is so silly so claim problems under this pontificate are being manufactured by “rad-trads” or rich American conservatives.)

    An increasing phenomenon is also found, however, among the few folks who are rah rah for Francis but trying to be orthodox- they are supporting the heterodox folks, even they know the latter’s support is phony, as they really couldn’t care less about papal authority & the magisterium except as a tool of power. It then becomes clear the litmus for these people is whether someone externally voices support for Francis, even if it’s phony. But if you’re orthodox and truly care about the papacy and magisterium but have any criticisms and are not rah rah for Francis, then you’re bad and are labelled as a dissenter and schismatic. (A noted example here is a few American theologians and others labeling cardinal burke or ewtn at large as now being “schismatic.”) This really is a bizarre cult-like personal allegiance to Francis.

  7. “It is almost enough to make one think there is a bit of double-standard going on here; that many of those who demand papal obedience now were the fiercest critics of “papolatry” in the past when John Paul II was pope.”

    There is no double-standard. It is just mission going back to the Reformation: to conquer Rome and to gain control over magisterium.

  8. I don’t find this article to be logical. To state that the US bishops are expected to be in lockstep with the Pope is simply not true. Simply witness the forced adoption of the new lectionary which the current Pope refused to use in his country. US bishops seem incapable to finding the backbone to stand up the curia and develop our own translation or use the ICEL translation that is a lot more accessible.

    Calling JP II progressive is an insult to women the world over. And to the clerics. The imposition of a loyalty oath that throws back to God the gift free will sent the Church back to the dark ages.

    • Forced? How about those of us who suffered under previous ICEL translations that grated on the ears and were less then faithful to the original? St. John Paul the Great was the greatest pope of the 20th century. Sure he wasn’t perfect, but none are. And his encyclical on women was beautiful. Frankly we should bring back the oath against modernism, we stopped using it too soon.

    • Nancy – You need some perspective. Here’s the deal. At Vatican II the conservatives” (of whom Cardinal Ottaviani was emblematic)lost and the “liberals” won. There were two strands of the liberal victors. The Concilium group were essentially radicals who saw the Council as a firm break with everything that came before (e.g., Kung). The Communio group were also liberals, but they thought the Council must be interpreted in continuity with the past (e.g., Ratzinger). From the perspective of 1960, Ratzinger would have to be considered extremely “progressive” if not even “radical.” The labeling of St. JPII and Ratzinger / BXVI as “conservatives” is a laughable joke that, in my opinion, could only be put forward by someone with essentially zero historical perspective. The reality is that with the exception of rad-trads who reject the Council in toto, we are “all progressives now.” St. JPII was FAR, FAR closer to Francis in their overall outlook than they were to the likes of Ottaviani and / or, for example, Le Febvre.

    • “Calling JP II progressive is an insult to women the world over.”
      Why in the world you think that your opinion represents all women? What am I? A side dish? That’s quite a presumption!

    • Nancy Stephani:
      Thank you for providing a perfect example of the mindless conformity of progressivism, even at the very moment of chest-thumping about free will. A failure to conform to the expectations of what progressives are told to demand of a Church, while acting as intolerant secularists, and acting only from the privilege of Catholic baptism, is clearly not what the Church’s hated and crucified founder had intended. Progressivist hatred, reflected, for example, in the attitude that all women must agree with feminist ideological tyranny, might target a saint like JPII, who had a profound respect for the dignity of women, but it should not lead to such preposterous travesties of thought as to think that a loyalty oath, a simple act of self-evident human honorability, could possibly extinguish an innate faculty of existence like free will.

  9. Thank you, Dr. Smith, for a highly insightful and “on the money” article which so clearly expresses what I, for one, have believed since the beginning of this papacy. The parallels in secular society are absolutely the same. Hopefully the Holy Spirit will inspire prelates to see things in a way similar to yours, and in the next conclave, which will not be too far away, make course corrections.

  10. Non abbiate paura. The revolutionaries have secured the palace 40 years too late. They are, ironically,quite naive about how the papacy functions. John Paul The Great was so fruitful in his labors precisely because he directly imposed very little. He left room for the Spirit to act as He would. Today we are just beginning to experience the fruits of Vatican II and of its papal interpreter.

  11. If Pope St Paul VI can reform the liturgy then a future Pius XIII or John Paul III or Francis II can wipe out anything the present Holy Father does these days short of him issuing an ex cathedra decree.

    So don’t worry about it.

  12. Thank you, Dr. Smith for converting to Catholicism. We need you. And thanks for comparing it to the politics of today in the USA. It is hard to ignore the hypocrisy of the left in both governments i. e. Nancy Pelosi. I think your article crowned Nancy P. and I define “crowned” as clobbered. Between the article, Pope Francis’s Candid Views on Sexual Morality by Richard A Spinelllo, Crisis Magazine, 2/12/2019 (Are not sins of the body sins of the sins of the spirit, too?) and the additional article by David Carlin, German Bishops Commit to “Newly Assessing” Catholic Doctrine on Homosexuality and Sexual Morality, The Catholic World Report, 12/12/2019, I am despondent. And, too, there is the Pachamama idol glorified by the Vatican. (Why isn’t the BVM of Guadalupe enough for the Amazon?) The sacraments are under assault. I just read about the Arian heresy, Constantine, St. Nicholas and St. Athanasius and the First Council of Niceaa 325AD. Arianism wasn’t wiped out in Europe until the 6th and 7th century and reemerged at the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. None of the present dissension will be resolved in our lifetime. But defend we must.

    • Joanne, it is the same in the UK and parts of Europe. In the U.K. the illiberal “liberals” have control of the (recently heavily defeated) Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, the BBC, the Universities, schools, the Climate Emergency organisations etc. They all scream when their certainties are challenged but engage in a never ending hate filled diatribe against conservatives. For me Laudato si is the clearest indication of this Pope’s intellectual limitations and overall inadequacy.

  13. “both he and Benedict XVI followed a long tradition in the Church of addressing the concerns of contemporary men and women with principled arguments and reasoned exhortations, producing solid teaching documents that bore continual fruit upon repeated readings.”

    Only a few centuries long, not that long for the patriarchate of Rome, much less the Church Universal. The cult of personality is a consequence of the development of Rome’s claims and actions, and not alien to them.

    • Tell me, Sol, is there someone from the Latin Rite on an Orthodox site who posts and posts and posts and posts and posts whining about how awful the Orthodox are every chance he gets, and this is your way of getting back at him?

      Or is it just that you have a dawning realization that the Orthodox were wrong to go into schism and you’re trying to convince yourself otherwise?

      CWR could post an article commenting that the weather was particularly pretty today and you would start ranting about “patriarchate of Rome!” “Latin-rite Church bad!”

      • This is the only response you will get, Leslie. This is “Catholic World Report” not “Roman Catholic World Report” and the webzine is open to Catholic writers of ALL ecclesial traditions and to readers of ALL ecclesial traditions, and guess what, not all Catholics agree nor are they bound to agree with Latin claims about the bishop of Rome. The issues with Francis are directly tied to Latin claims about the papacy and how the bishop of Rome has attempted to exercise his office in line with those claims. Until you have something substantive to say other than “It’s the Latin tradition,” there is no point in responding to your posts. Just because Latins believe it doesn’t mean that it is true or part of Sacred Tradition. We Eastern Catholics are here to remind you of this fact.

        • I didn’t say you couldn’t read or comment on this site. I was simply fed to the teeth with the constant whining and insults, sneers, and general contempt you show for the Latin rite.

          “Just because Latins believe it doesn’t mean that it is true or part of Sacred Tradition.”

          Hmmm. And if someone on here said “Just because Eastern Catholics believe it doesn’t mean that it is true or part of Sacred Tradition,” or even “Just because Eastern Catholics don’t beieve it doesnt mean that it’s not true or not part of Sacred Tradition,” doubtless we would witness a flailing, frothing meltdown from you.

          “We Eastern Catholics are here to remind you of this fact.”

          Mr. Olson, who, if I recall correctly attends an Eastern Catholic parish, contrives to present the Eastern Catholic perspective without feeling it necessary to carp about the Latin Rite.

          • Leslie,

            You may want to read Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book:”The Day is Now Far Spent”.
            The Cardinal has some telling comments on how the Eastern Orthodox Church, specifically, in Russia, got very busy after the fall of communism. They rebuilt/reinstated/renewed what communism had destroyed and/or corrupted. Cardinal Sarah writes that”The Russian Orthodox Church has to a great extent resumed its role as the moral foundation of society. This arouses political opposition, but also a deep hatred on the part of the post-Christian elites of the West…”. He later states that “The most destructive persecution of Christianity is unfolding in the Western democracies”.

            Cardinal Sarah repeatedly points out that the West has lost its way. Its churches are being turned into gymnasiums and other uses. Russian Orthodox churches are thriving.

            The Catholic Church in the West is lamenting and shocked by the sexual abuses by clergy. They are looking at a myriad of profane solutions i.e. reorganizing, restructuring, organizational development, every solution appears to escape them, except the right one. Where did Christ get his strength from? What actions did he urge the Apostles to take? The answer is prayer. If the clergy had faithfully and faithfully followed this prescription, it is likely that we would not be going through this present period of scandal and heartbreak. Cardinal Sarah models what he sees as answer to the sexual abuse scandals. He repeatedly directs the clergy to do what they are supposed to do…pray without ceasing. He states that they should “go to the monasteries”, which are places of prayer. That prayer will drive away Satan and the satanic abuses. Priest are people of prayer. They are NOT fundraisers, entertainers, architects, sportsmen, coaches etc. etc.
            They are not of this world. They are in it but not “of it”.

  14. “Francis, however, seems devoted to vilifying those who question him.”

    The author does not document this vilifying charge.

    “and gathering together “committees” by means of which he can manufacture a certain kind of “consensus” to support what everyone knew he wanted to do when the committee was convened. In this, he resembles nothing so much as the kind of academic bureaucrat that faculty members in colleges and universities everywhere are increasingly forced to endure.”

    Now this is ‘two fer one’ vilification: swatting the Pope, also academics.

    As one would say in Castilian: mala leche, la de este doctor Smith.

    • There are plenty of examples of Pope Francis attacking and vilifying various people. One especially egregious example was his overt slander of Chileans angry about failures to address abuse scandals. For a cataloguing of his insulting, scolding language, see this compilation.

      “Now this is ‘two fer one’ vilification: swatting the Pope, also academics.”

      I suspect that Dr. Smith, himself an academic for many years, knows exactly what he is talking about here. How, exactly, is his observation “bad milk”? Especially when just about any professor will vouch for the truthfulness of his qualified observation?

  15. Richard M :

    “We’ve had over five decades already to see how this movie ends, and it’s always the same: The only historical progress the progressives bring is toward empty churches.”

    **************
    That’s exactly right. It’s hard to believe that liberal Christians (Jews too)don’t see that process happening. Or perhaps they see it & approve?
    If someone’s heading over a cliff & encourages others to follow them, you have to wonder about their awareness or intentions.

  16. Good overview. Amazing how much Catholic progressives have with American liberals.

    One statement that seems questionable is this: “…a new spirit should blow through the Church, one in continuity with the great traditions of the past…” How does a “new spirit” blow in continuity with the past…? Plus, why would JPII or anyone call for a “new spirit” don’t we have just one Holy Spirit?

  17. One observation: Pope Francis wanting worship for the OFFICE of the Pope would be Papolatry, but he is looking for worship of HIMSELF and his every word and ideas, which is IDOLATRY. This is way, way, way over any “cult of personality”, which is repulsive yet not fully idolatrous, as in the case of Francis demanding absolute obedience right from the highest religious office in the world. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI NEVER asked for any papolatry or idolatry, but faithful obedience to Authentic Catholic Teaching, never demanding a big fat kiss on their ego’s rump. Faithfulness to God is being “schismatic” only to those committed to self-idolatry.

    Francis directly substitutes and demands the place that belongs absolutely to God alone. Let’s send our prayers for the Church in that direction and pray for the good prelates that must pretend before thay can defend as it happens under a tyrannical ruler. Short of repentance, Jorge Mario Bergoglio must go.

    • Thank you for the compilation, Carl Olsen. This Pope is shameful. He is not of a standard to be a secular ruler, let alone a religious leader. When he abuses people by saying that they suffer from ‘‘cophraphragia’, he is revealing himself as vicious, and not a holy man. I am steadfast in my belief that the consequences of these ghastly people who claim to be reformers have to be apparent fully in order that the Church be purified. (I live in hope anyway).

  18. If anyone should believe that dialogue is not competitive and manipulative on the part of progressives they should talk with a traditionalist Episcopalian who lived through the years of “dialogue and moving forward together”.

  19. I was pretty much raised by Benedictines. This article brings back memories of one of the monks who taught me religion and ethics as a high school student in the mid 60s. He was constantly reminding us that the end never justifies the means. As often as not after this verbal reminder he would mumble’ “unless you’re a Jesuit.”

    Another thought on this is that Catholicism has always been “steady by jerks.” All of the various Church councils over the centuries and the Protestant schism remind us of this. However, every Easter Vigil I walk to the baptismal font surrounded by holy men and women asking all of our saints from long ago to pray for us. Once i reach the font I observe the newest Catholics give witness to the truth of Jesus and to the beauty of our Catholic faith.

  20. I don’t understand many things but I clearly understood that JPII and BXVI both understood the requirements and responsibilities of their Holy Office.
    As for Francis, well, I have zero confidence in him or his inner circle. His actions have demonstrated he has little regard for his responsibility to defend the Faith. Francis agenda is to change the Faith. Bet on it.

  21. Anomaly actually isn’t relative to Progressive despotism, although as Randall Smith’s essay demonstrates we would expect greater liberality toward conservative dissent. In fact the opposite as he describes is true as has occurred during this papacy. Progressive ideology by nature repudiates moral permanence, Rules that do not change because they are perceived to oppress Liberty, whereas conservatism, traditional Christian thought perceives reasoned dissent even if wrong as a necessary expression of free will. The author quotes Alasdair MacIntyre’s morally workable premise to address wrongful dissent as an end rather than “a means to his or her ends”. As an end we seek to convince with right reason otherwise we seek to dominate. The latter the sole option of progressives who by nature of their amoral ideology have jettisoned right reason.

    • Insofar as reasoned dissent to Humanae Vitae dissent was and is not only wrong but contrary to obligatory Church doctrine and thereby subject to sanction by the Church. Paul VI taught the doctrine on contraception universally and definitively declaring it grave matter. Author Smith is correct in his disfavor of the wide dissent. That dissent has had serious repercussion within the Church. Benedict XVI when drafting the Doctrinal Commentary to Ad Tuendam Fides considered it infallible in line with Lumen Gentium 25. That is the reason many including myself are objecting to the Pontiff’s initiative to reconsider Humanae Vitae. That initiative is a continuation of the injury to doctrinal integrity caused by progressive privilege.

  22. …both he and Benedict XVI followed a long tradition in the Church of addressing the concerns of contemporary men and women with principled arguments and reasoned exhortations, producing solid teaching documents that bore continual fruit upon repeated readings.

    Converts often romanticize a church that does not exist, wishful thinking in their own mind, then, like Dwight Lonergan and Scott Hahn, become polemicists like Savonarola

    St JPII was and continues to be my hero. I attended Mass where he presided both in Miami and New Orleans. As a refugee from a communist country, my family looked to him as an example of living under adversity, turning to our Faith and striving towards freedom. Benedict XVI was a hero too with his formidable writings during his years as Prefect of the CDF. Many of us welcomed his “Ratzinger Report” and successive books on the post-conciliar Church

    They turned a blind eye to clericalism (Theodore McCarrick, hiding Bernard Law in the Vatican, et al), ignored victims of abuse by priests like me, wrote documents that few Catholics read including priests, and parishes closed across the world (e.g. Europe is a cemetery of empty churches) failing to do what Pope Francis does all too well: accompanying people.

    Intellect, publishing countless scholarly ecclesial documents, carrying on with pomp and teflon cappa magna makes some in the Curia feel good (about themselves), but the Church has been collapsing across Europe and beyond since the 1960s. That is on our church leaders for being as sinful, as human, as clueless as the rest of us

    That you and many of the holier than thou bloggers exemplify the hubris of Hans Kung that we all back then denounced is instructive.

    Faith, hope and love are key. Christ, as Son of God, lived Humility from day 1 in a stable till the bitter end of dying on the Cross though sinless

    You have a lot to learn about showing the smelly sheep the love of Christ. Thankfully people like you exist only on the internet. The sick, the dying, the hungry, the refugee wouldupset your acedia

    • “the Church has been collapsing across Europe and beyond since the 1960s. That is on our church leaders for being as sinful, as human, as clueless as the rest of us”

      The Church has been collapsing where it has been trying to fit in with worldliness, to be “relevant” and with-it.

      “You have a lot to learn about showing the smelly sheep the love of Christ.”

      One does “smelly sheep” no favors by assuming that they’re too stupid to read or understand the truth, and I remind you that Christ is Truth.

      “Thankfully people like you exist only on the internet.”

      Your grasp on reality appears to be somewhat tenuous. People like whoever it is you’re insulting (the author only? Those posting comments?) very much exist in real life. The Internet is only where they state their opinions.

      “The sick, the dying, the hungry, the refugee wouldupset your acedia”

      Not as much as they upset your smug self-satisfaction, I’m sure.

  23. My conversion to Catholicism from atheism was gradual but inspired when JPII became pope. A man who suffered under atheistic ideology. I knew I had a lot of rethinking to do. My earlier skepticism had been fortified by observing the stupidity of dissident Catholics, mostly Jesuits. As an atheist, who already studied much philosophy, I was able to make the commonsense observation that there could only be two philosophies, where everything else is essentially derivative. Either God, if God exists, is a fool, or we are. Were it the first, there could be no such thing as objective truth or rationality. If we are the fools, then we obviously have a passionate interest in lying to ourselves a lot, every day, especially if the concept of sin is true. We are especially prone to lie to ourselves as intellectuals. The second philosophical proposition corresponds to reality. Thus, the human condition is imperfectible, and utopianism to be orchestrated by elites is vanity, a vanity boringly repeated in a history marked by oceans of blood and mountains of corpses, from which intellectuals seldom try to learn.
    Knowing of the existence of junk theology going on in the Catholic Church was an obstacle to my faith. Where was God protecting His Church? In the seventies, there were pro-aborts with Roman collars starting to flex their confidence. Others were utopian evolutionists, process theologians, or “mobilists,” or relativists. Just plain sophistry preaching a phony mercy for the God-given guilt feelings of sinners, while remaining oblivious to the victims of sin. Ironic to now have a pope who projects an insult of original sin denying Pelagianism, a heresy which he seems to presuppose at times, onto his orthodox Catholic critics who don’t believe it. Utopians are people who have abandoned objective history, even if they are churchmen.
    When I first read Karol Wojtyła’s book, “The Acting Person,” the most important illumination I appreciated was the subtle anti-elitist tone of his philosophy. God is as involved in revealing Himself in the lives of the simple as much as those with degrees in philosophy, a message no humble mind, theoretically religious, ought never to have overlooked.
    Atheism is not an either/or proposition. Truth is by definition immutable, a reflection of the perfect mind of God. To reject immutable truth is to undermine understanding God even if a man thinks he is religious. Francis gives indications of process theology. To respond to God, is to have a level of faith even if one thinks he is a non-believer, such as the late pro-life Nat Hentoff. With inspiration from JP II, and others, those decades ago, I no longer allowed the stupidity of bad priests and prelates be my stumbling block to faith. I had been a pro-life atheist, and, under John Paul’s pontificate, I became a pro-life Catholic.

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