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What is the end goal of Pope Francis’s governance?

Pope Francis’s insistent, even programmatic, conflation of the office and the man has somehow affected not only perceptions but hermeneutics.

Pope Francis presides over Mass for the Congolese community in Rome in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican July 3, 2022. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

There’s a scene in Brian De Palma’s 1987 classic, The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, with Sean Connery as Chicago police Sgt. James Malone, which has been on my mind of late.

Malone is alone in the kitchen of his Chicago row house, when an intruder – one of gangster and bootleg whiskey kingpin Al Capone’s henchmen, or rather a henchman sent by Capone’s smarmy, drippy bodyguard and lieutenant and eventual real-life successor, Frank Nitti (brilliantly portrayed in De Palma’s film by William Burroughs, in art Billy Drago) – makes to assault the street-smart veteran beat cop with a switchblade.

Malone has the intruder made from the get-go, however, and wheels on him, holding a double-barreled (side-by-side) sawed-off shotgun.

Isn’t that just like a wop,” says the 1860s-vintage Irish-American Malone to his erstwhile assailant, “[he] brings a knife to a gunfight.”

Malone chases the fellow down the hall and into the back alley behind his house. Nitti is there, waiting for Malone, Thompson submachine gun at the ready. Nitti opens fire and riddles Malone’s body with bullets.

I thought of all that again after Pope Francis published Desiderio desideravi, an Apostolic Letter on the liturgy and liturgical formation offering “some prompts or cues for reflections that can aid in the contemplation of the beauty and truth of Christian celebration.”

Bringing Denzinger to a gunfight

People criticizing the doctrinal and theological imprecisions in the pope’s thinking, in other words, have not so much come to a Chicago-style gangland brawl carrying a trusty Enchiridion, as they have chased the knife-wielding bogeyman into the alley with the sawed-off Denzinger they keep in the warming oven. You remember what happens next, right?

Having made his decisions regarding the liturgy, Pope Francis is now discharging his mind more fully. There’s nothing wrong with that. Recognizing it does help toward building a proper framework for understanding the moment we’re living in the Church from the top, down. The Church is a polity – a societas perfecta – which means (I’ve said this all before, and noted it elsewhere not too long ago) “she has all the powers to order lives and regulate conduct necessary and conducive to a flourishing human community.”

How Pope Francis or anyone in Peter’s chair uses the power of the office to direct change or effect it or retard it or thwart it outright is always going to be fair game, but let’s talk about what we’re talking about.

This is, in other words, a political moment in the life of the Church, which one may fairly characterize as a constitutional crisis, because the “trick” to the business is figuring out how to reform the Church without falling afoul of her divinely given hierarchical constitution. “Put the laity in charge!” cuts no ice, but “Welp, there’s nothing to be done,” is false on its face. Whatever else the Church is or may be, she is a power structure. At least, she has a power structure – divinely given, at that – inevitably.

Getting through this moment may require us to “get [our] hands dirty” – Pope Francis has told us it will – and to get nearer the knuckle than perhaps we have been. To say that this is a political moment, however, is most emphatically not to say that it isn’t a theological moment. It means, rather, that we need more of the “right” kind of theology. We need the right theological method, and getting that requires the recovery of theology’s proper objects.

Talking about what we’re talking about

Pope Francis is most certainly correct when he says, “The problematic is primarily ecclesiological.” Ecclesiology is the study of the nature and purpose of the Church. It wants to know who and what the Church is, in history, which means in real life. The proper object of ecclesiology – of all of theology, mutatis mutandis – is not primarily the musings of theologians, so much as it is the Church herself on pilgrimage in time, through history and into eternity.

History is always happening, and almost always messy.

I suppose I had begun thinking of that Untouchables sequence in light of high-level ecclesiastical doings no later than August of 2019. That was the month in which Pope Francis juridically destroyed the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and established the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in its place.

It was a purge, and everyone knew it. The pope was in a fit of pique over the reception of his post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris laetitia, and everyone knew it. Few in or around the Vatican, if any, were willing to say it. Still, that’s what it was.

That’s fine, by the way. The pope can do what he wants with his stuff. Good sense and good manners would have that he say plainly what he’s doing, or at least not say that he isn’t doing the thing he is plainly doing. In fairness to Pope Francis, he left that ugly work to his lieutenants. In any case, it is the height of bad manners to point out another’s bad manners. So, let’s not do it.

Right from the get-go, Amoris came in for a good bit of flack, most of the theological variety. Frankly, very little of that interested me. Apostolic Exhortations are official encouragements, not instruments of governance. Pope Francis said, in words, that he only wanted to start a conversation with the document. “At bottom,” I wrote in a piece for the Catholic Herald a few years back, “the exhortation was a call to think together and publicly about challenges to contemporary family life in search of ways to harness the precious resource that is the family for the good of society and the cause of the Gospel.”

Only, various Church jurisdictions around the world basically skipped the part where we have a conversation, and jumped straight into the part where we get special legislation “implementing” whatever it is that the implementers think Amoris wants them to implement. It’s like we did things backward – and Francis encouraged his favorite implementers and watched as his cheerleaders in the chattering class painted “dissenter” on just about everyone with a question regarding the business.

Truth and Method

Something similar has happened with Desiderio, only the theological reflection Pope Francis would like the Church to undertake isn’t so much in view of a conversation about the liturgy, so much as it is to be over the decisions he has made of late in those regards. “Tiè!” say the Romans, frequently with the left wrist in the crook of the right arm, forearm tense and outstretched, right fist balled. “Take that!”

Amoris, it’s fair to say, generated more heat than light – it continues to smolder – but Desiderio’s light is incandescent heat. With Amoris, the questions were:

Why does a post-synodal exhortation require pastoral guidelines? Why does any apostolic exhortation require implementation by any means, especially ones that amount to special legislation, even when they are not formally couched as such? How are excessive formalism and legal rigorism effectively combatted by more legislation or quasi-legislation?

A major difference between Pope Francis’s decisions regarding the liturgy and those he has taken in regard to the JPII Institute is that the liturgy is not his stuff. The liturgy belongs to the whole Church. The questions one has regarding both Amoris and Desiderio broadly considered are similar. They arise from the desire to know the end of Pope Francis’s governance, with a view to understanding his application of the means available to him for the government of the Church.

Here, US history offers an interesting object lesson, fairly applicable to present ecclesiastical circumstances.

In 1790, the fledgling United States were on very shaky financial ground. George Washington’s treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, had a plan to solve that problem by means of a national bank. There was some question regarding the constitutionality of Hamilton’s scheme, so Washington solicited opinions from Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, his Secretary of State. Jefferson pinned his opinion against the bank on his close parsing of the term, “necessary” – as in, “[Congress shall have power] to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof” (Art. 1 §8) – and argued that necessity is not reducible to mere expedience.

Congress, in short, could not erect the bank that was the cornerstone of Hamilton’s proposal, because a bank was not strictly necessary and the new Constitution did not grant the power to erect such a thing to Congress in words.

Hamilton, for his part, urged that “[e]very power vested in a Government is in its nature sovereign, and includes by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite, and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power.” The limits, Hamilton explained, are only that the exercise of sovereign power be neither “immoral” per se, nor “contrary to the essential ends of political power.”

In the Dogmatic Constitution, Pastor Aeternus, on the Church of Christ, the Fathers of the first Vatican Council taught that the Bishop of Rome has direct, immediate, and supreme authority over the whole Church, all the Churches, and all the faithful. They also taught that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex Cathedra – when he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church – in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, he is by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.

All of that is true, but none of it means that the Church, or the Churches, or the faithful are destitute of rights he is bound to respect. The pope is sovereign. He is the lawgiver – the Legislator, as the canon lawyers say – and the limits of his authority are those of law, itself.

Only, what are those?

Respect for the office – whatever office it is or may be – requires a critical stance toward the officeholder, whoever he is. Pope Francis’s insistent, even programmatic, conflation of the office and the man has somehow affected not only perceptions but hermeneutics. To parse not only this pontificate, but the present moment in the life of the Church, we need a political heuristic. Part of building that heuristic will be recovering the core of theology as an essentially political enterprise, that is to say, one that is of its very nature necessarily concerned with “the things of the city” that is the Church.

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About Christopher R. Altieri 196 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. Alas, mine appears to be the first comment. I had hoped others might offer some insight because I struggle with the point. What is it that you are saying? If nuanced, I confess I have missed it. The title is intriguing. Can anyone help?

    • You are not alone. I wasn’t quite sure what the main point of the article was. I was waiting for the different sections to develop into a central idea, but it didn’t quite work.

  2. I was hoping this type of writing was, like the morning mist, vanished, something of the past…alas not.

    Such lines and conclusions that fail holiness, godliness, virtue, as this, to the children of God and a godly Institute: “That’s fine, by the way. The pope can do what he wants with his stuff”, are devoid of the Christ and His Gospels morals and moral compass, there is nothing fine about such things, or written lines, no one can simply do want they want with his or her stuff. Objectively speaking there are mortal sins and after mortal sin, nothing find about that doing or reality either.

    How can so much be so wrong so readily and written with such length? So disappointingly frustrating. Blessings, Chris. Sia Lodato Gesu` Cristo.

  3. Interesting, “The problematic is primarily ecclesiological.” Ecclesiology is the study of the nature and purpose of the Church”. The problematic it seems is primarily theological as the ecclesiological is prescinding it – who is God, and what has He done and said about His Liturgy, ‘doing it by the Heavenly Pattern, not deviating to the left or right, etc’…. The Church, or Ecclesiological, receives His Liturgy and ‘is the dispenser not determiner of His Liturgy and mysteries’.

    Right now it seems we are moving away from the Heavenly Pattern for one’s own pattern deviation, we are the designer and establisher, no longer the receiver and dispenser, of God’s Divine Liturgy. We think we are the object study of Theology, not God, we do not want ‘His divinely establish celebration of His Sacred Liturgy as we do not wish to give silent and eloquent testimony to Love of Him and His Liturgy’ (cf Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n 2; Redemptionis Sacramentum nn 31, 169)

  4. We read: “It’s like we did things backward…”, as in “ready, fire, aim!”

    Altieri refers to the First Vatican Council. Somewhere in that mix, Pope Pius IX blurted, “I am Tradition!” And here we thought that the Second Vatican Council fine-tuned that, a bit—the lack of clarity and the self-referential conflation of the man and the office…

    T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) detected a similar predisposition among the Bedouin followers of Islam: “Sometimes inconsistencies seemed to possess them at once in joint sway; but they never compromised: they pursued the logic of several incompatible opinions to absurd ends, without perceiving the incongruity” (The Seven Pillars of Wisdom).

    The cognitive dissonance of such conflation (or maybe only the staccato-rhythm of a personality-type in the wrong place?) is that now Pope Francis seems to conflate even the First Vatican Council’s polarities (Gallicanism versus Ultramontanism) “without perceiving the incongruity.” As in “governance” by decentralization conjoined with opposing edicts and signals. And, with the “mess” left for others to untangle—in possibly new and good ways, or not. Or to simply exploit as in Germany, and likely under Cardinal Hollerich and his word merchants of synodality in 2023.

    Altieri’s concludes by calling for more of a “political heuristic.” How about this: incongruity in governance = the “hermeneutics of discontinuity.”

  5. I’m with St. George above. I’m looking for clarity and succinctness. Not sure why I persevered to the end of this article.

  6. I am starting to think Altieri and Beaulieu are the same person. I have come to the point of not being able to follow either of them, if, indeed, they are two separate individuals. I am doubting that at the moment.

    Can we dispense with the needless flourishes, endless adjectives and erudite citations … just get to the point, but make sure you have a point to make. Unless, of course, you are being paid by the number of words; in that case, let us know up front. Otherwise, I will save myself the frustration and just pass over your babble.

    • Thank you!!! Thank you for saying what I have been thinking. Make your point clearly and succinctly in a way that moves the conversation forward. Attempts to sound intelligent or profound are generally ego driven. We honor truth by being concise and precise in our writing.

    • Not the same person. Never met. Not paid. Not an academic.

      And not responsible for your accusing doubts expressed on an international website. As for “needless flourishes,” the confusion today needs the precision to both make a point while not generalizing into broad-brush slander. Not easy to do.

      I find your charge of “ego” gratuitous, distracting, offensive, and unjustified. But who am I to judge? I am not even a theologian, just a layman who is both functionally literate and attentive to significant detail. And who has been in the trenches for well over half a century. I do agree on the need for conciseness, but propose that necessary precision can call for detail and extra words. Yes?

      Example: the “erudite citations” well-selected from the explicit Magisterium of the Church on morality (bright-lined from the much longer Veritatis Splendor). Can’t help it if such concise precision falls short of your lofty gaze.

      Inquisitive and thoughtful reading of CWR articles and comments sometimes helps. But, will also keep trying at this end. Thank you, I think.

      • “Falls short of your lofty gaze”
        The sarcastic ad hominem is gratuitous, Peter.

        By the way, is T E Lawrence magisterial material?

        • In answer to your question, T.E. Lawrence noticed something about the Islamic and non-Christian mind. It’s willingness to entertain genuinely contradictory propositions. The parallel to papal formal declarations alongside of informal signaling (not denying, but setting aside) objective morality, is probably self-evident.

          Not magisterial (Lawrence), surely, but more fundamental as a violation, in human thought, of the non-demonstrable first principle of non-contradiction. Again, not “magisterial,” but something more basic about universal human logic, and, which is being compromised under cover of theology.

          Instead, the Islamic “principle” of the double-truth—the accommodation that something can be both true theologically and not true philosophically (side by side). The Sufi mystic, Al-Ghazali, and this famous double-truth; a century or two before the greater clarity and coherence of the Christian Aquinas. The premise of Islam can come in a collar as readily as in a turban, as when we insinuate a legitimate wedge between moral truth and “pastoral” contradictions.

          Without overstating this parallel, might it cause at least some of us to wonder, too, about the possible double-meaning of “fraternity” (the co-signed Dubai Declaration, 2019—holding/suggesting/insinuating that all religions are equivalently “willed” by God, rather than merely “permitted”)? In this world of “dialogue,” does anyone really care any more about contradictions?

          At the great risk of “needless flourishes,” we might consider Pope Benedict who had this to say about the Muslim self-understanding as compared to fluid and generic Christianity:

          “I am urging people to realize that a war has indeed been declared on the West. I am not pushing for a rejection of dialogue, which we need more than ever with those Islamic countries that wish to live in peaceful coexistence with the West, to our mutual benefit. I am asking for something more fundamental: I am asking for people to realize that dialogue will be a waste of time if one of the two partners to the dialogue states beforehand that one idea is as good as the other” (Pope Benedict XVI, “Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam,” 2006, p. 45.

          As for my sarcasm and ad hominem remark matching your own…Yes, I overreacted. I regret not waiting for better wording. And, thank you for your question—a real question!—about the relevance of T.E. Lawrence.

          • In all sincerity, Peter, I am impressed with your wide range of references, seemingly available at your mental fingertips. But piling on the references doesn’t add clarity; it is often an obstacle to communication. I imagine you really do want readers to read your comments, that you want to bring them along in your thinking things through, and that you might even want to persuade, perhaps even equip your readers with usable material in their own thinking things through and conversations with still others. Obviously you have the right to express yourself as you determine, but it might be helpful if you considered efficient and effective expression. I probably should not submit this. My intention is certainly not to offend. I often appreciate your insights when I can find them; alas, sometimes I cannot.

          • A correction, and a relapse into more “ego-driven flourishes” (!). Not Dubai, but the Abu Dhabi Declaration (another and the capital of the seven United Arab Emirates).

            The single wording questioned by critics is the apparent conflation of differences race, for example, with differences in (equivalent?) religions: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

            Straining at gnats (?), given the weighty truth and urgency of the entire Declaration. But, is there a pattern?

            Going all the way back to the silent response to the dubia (the formal request for clarification filed in response to Amoris Laetitia)? Within the Church, is there a repeated blurring of objective morality (vs the Catechism and Veritatis Splendor), not only to recognize mitigating circumstances in individual cases, but to carve out entire categories of cases where objective morality pastorally no longer applies (while still being affirmed). What does it mean when the synodal Cardinal Grech explained recently that the intent is only to expand the existing grey area? As if celibacy is required of unmarried heterosexuals, but not devotees to the homosexual lifestyle?

            The embarrassment to the establishment is that the synodal Marx, Batzing and Hollerich have departed from the script of ambiguity and grey expansion, by announcing together and through the magisterium-media that the Church’s teaching on sexual morality is in need of synodal reversal. Kumbaya!

      • Thanks for the reply, but I remain convinced that ego is involed here at some level, unfortunately. The posts often read like attempts to sound profound or erudite, but they do not actually produce that result. Having read thousands of pages of undergraduate and graduate writing at this point in my career, I can discern the subtle differences between substance and appearance fairly accurately. People are experiencing your posts differently than you might intend or realize. Something to think about.

        • Thank you for “something to think about.”

          But, contrary to your thousands of pages of reading experiences, it’s not about ego at any level. Simply trying to figure things out in my own mind, usually in response to points raised by others. It would be a lot easier to just walk away from this stuff. Probably more egocentric, too. No risks.

        • Been thinking about your conviction that “ego is involved here at some level.” Still pondering. Could be true “at some level” and simply beyond my sight, but one apparent level at which ego actually is not involved goes something like this…

          I sign my stuff, rather than not. A convention I learned in a junior high school art class when I was rebuked (gently) for not signing my name at the lower right corner of a painting. Pseudonyms and anonymity are probably more conventional on websites, but I choose otherwise, and to take full responsibility. As one Western theologian explains: “go ahead, make my day.”

          And, second, the added specificity of using my middle initial (ego?) is driven by the fact that without the middle initial I have been confused (some years back) with a monsignor by the same name, 3,000 miles away in New England I think. Absent the initial our emails were being misdirected. So, the middle initial.

          Which brings us back to the suspicion that I and Mr. Altieri might be the same person using two different names. I humbly apologize to Altieri for any insult he might have suffered.

  7. So, I’ll turn the tables on Pontiff Francis and apply to him the same standard he’s always so eager to apply to everyone else and I’ll ask: “Is Pontiff Francis’ governance PASTORAL?”

    • Yes. As a priest he was, and so also as a bishop. People in the slums said so. And now, as the Vicar of Christ (a title he never gave up as some want us to believe) he is reminding us of this Christian duty.

  8. Learn from our Holy Mother. What a man believes about everything is measured by one thing. It is not measured by what he claims to believe or even what he thinks he really does believe about truth, or philosophy, or eternity, or history, or God. What a man believes flows entirely from what he believes about evil, the nature of evil, and his own complicity in evil because this is the matter to which we lie to ourselves the most, and it affects how we need to form our beliefs about everything else. If a man has a need to depersonalize and externalize his own awareness of evil, he might very well form his belief system along the lines of a political revolutionary, believing that evil in the human condition can be eliminated once and for all once the correct elites are allowed to control all systems of governance throughout the world, even dictating to the Church, what its mission should be. At Lourdes, Our Holy Mother did not say that which offends God are our failures to be good administrators or good philosophers or the best politicians or the best scholars or the best theologians. She told us plain and simple that it is only our sins by which God is much offended. The Church doesn’t need to be “led’ by a Pope to any place new. It simply has to cease abandoning its mission, its only mission, to save souls.

  9. The honorable author is stating that we need to recapture a theology that places in context the extent of ecclesial authority. The author is saying that it is possible for (certain) ecclesial offices to conflate the duty and power of the office with the personal whim of the person occupying the same.

    • The difference between the office and the office-holder is an abstraction and a distinction of no consequence. The office might set limits and expectations, but in reality the office-holder defines the office. There is no escaping that. And with an absolute monarch such as the papacy, there can be no checks and balances. For good or for ill, and, oh my, has Bergoglio shown us the latter, we must endure the office-holder until God or he decides it is time to check out.

    • We must, of course, never forget that this particular office was established by the Founder of the Church with an assurance that whatever he would bind on earth would be bound in heaven, and that he was given the keys to heaven.
      Do we trust Jesus on this? I do.

  10. I fail to see why there is such confusion about Mr. Altieri’s article. His point is a very simple one that is nonetheless devastating: Bergoglio has throughout his horrendous pontificate grotesquely abused his power of governance as though he were a Mafia crime boss.

    • I agree, Paul.

      Because Big B holds the position he does, his self-serving, deceiving sins of gratuitous “non serviam” have done egregious damage. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary Triumph, sooner rather than later.

    • Thank you. Therefore, the end goal of Francis’ governance is to… change the Church through the abuse of power because he believes the “spirit of Vat II” has arrived to finally get the Church on track after 2000 years?

  11. “Part of building that heuristic will be recovering the core of theology as an essentially political enterprise, that is to say, one that is of its very nature necessarily concerned with ‘the things of the city’ that is the Church” (Altieri’s bottom line).
    First mention of the Church as the City of God is found in Pope St Clement I [88-97] bottom line in his letter to the Corinthians. “For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Thus have they acted in the past and will continue to act in the future who live without regret as citizens in the City of God”. Heuristic, a hands on approach to learning is regrettably in process by this pontificate as if the Kerygma didn’t exist. Altieri of course addresses this although vaguely, at least not sufficiently accenting it in his essay. Politics within the Church cannot be separate from politics within the world insofar as design of a Mystical Body necessarily within the world.
    Pope Saint Clement did perceive the Church as that shining city in the world as the exemplar for the world, whereas Francis’ design of the major impetus for Church renewal is an ongoing hands on Synod that is designed to reflect more of the world than Christ.

    • Actually, first mention of city of God may be attributed to King David Psalm 87, On the holy mountain is hi city cherished by the Lord…Of you are told glorious things O city of God. The image given in the psalm as a model and ‘Mother’ to all nations. Again reference to the Church as an example for the world, not an appendage of global secularism the path we’re apparently on.

  12. I am not certain what the author is trying to say. But after a solid decade of Pope Francis’s consistently inconsistent comments it is by now undeniable that he is trying to change the Church into something it is not – and he is blasphemously trying to change the very Word of God into something it is not saying.

    I am publicly saying what I believe – and I wish that Pope Francis had the honesty to do the same.

    • Thank you, Father, for saying publicly what needs to be said. I ask you, though, to reflect on what logically follows regarding a man who “after a solid decade . . . .is blasphemously trying to change the very Word of God into something it is not saying” since it is difficult to consider that such a man can be among “ómnibus orthodóxis, atque cathólicæ et apostólicæ fídei cultóribus.”.

    • And Father John, I am publicly saying that Pope Francis is the disciple and the Vicar that is very Christ-like. All the confusion is simply in the minds of his detractors who want things to go their way,

      • So your version of Christ would be sufficiently indifferent to the mass crushing of unborn lives to the point that He would leave their fate to the “conscience” of heads of state exercising political caprice? Just to touch upon one of dozens of issues regarding your idol.

        • If you had read Pope Francis’ views on abortion you would have known that the Vicar of Christ has repeatedly condemned abortion. He sees the face of Jesus in every child. He does not only hate abortion but also the indifference that is shown to starving people, including children. His pro-life views are not restricted to abortion. In case you do not yet know, Catholics are expected to discuss their problems with their priests and bishops.

          • “In case you do not know” (to repeat your patronizing verbiage), “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” So, beyond “discuss,” what is the purpose? To actually “teach, govern and sanctify,” perhaps?

            In one of his earlier and better moments (2009), even the now-Cardinal Gregory got this right:

          • Is that why he endorses United Nations population control policies that promote abortion throughout the world? Is that why he enthusiastically supports the Chinese tyranny and their compulsory abortion policies? Is that why he welcomes the world’s most fanatical abortionists to lecture the former Pontifical Academy for Life? Is that why he suppressed any criticism of burying children alive at the Amazonian Summit? Did he see the face of Jesus in these terrified children buried alive?

  13. [The Church is a polity – a societas perfecta – which means (I’ve said this all before, and noted it elsewhere not too long ago) “she has all the powers to order lives and regulate conduct necessary and conducive to a flourishing human community.”]

    Not De Fide, even if it is a preferred theological opinion of some. Ecclesiology taken as dogma is the underlying problem.

  14. My goodness – people are awfully cranky on this thread! Maybe the site being down for a couple of days has caused this testiness. Personally, I am used to Mr. Altieri’s style by now, so I am not particularly bothered by his work, even if I am usually somewhat underwhelmed by the conclusions he comes to. He seems to be a nice enough guy. As for Mr. Beaulieu, I’ll repeat the praise I offered a while back: I typically learn at least as much from his comments as I do from the articles to which they are posted. I won’t hold the credence he seemed to attach to climate change ideology a couple of weeks ago against him too much. No one bats a thousand.

    • Thank you, Tony W.
      To clarify, I do not attach credence to “climate change ideology,” but do acknowledge the shift from ideological “global warming” to a very plausible “climate change” with both natural and anthropocentric causes.

      Over the years I have changed my views. Most of my professional career had to do with human urbanization within natural ecosystems (Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning). Stated in less than its 43,000 words, I think the message of Laudato Si is actually a cultural warning that the liberal economic trajectory—on how to solve or outrun the human situation through the economics of abundance widely distributed—is in some ways a potential box canyon. That while the goodness of God is infinite, the goodness of nature is not. Extraction and dumping do get tangled up with system feedback loops and tipping points. The first law of ecology: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

      Thinking terrestrially and inter-generationally (JP II as well as Francis), we have this finite spaceship earth on loan from our descendants. What, then, does this mean in terms of our legacy for both the current generation and those who come after?

      I propose that ideological environmentalists can be given some margin, but at the same time that moral absolutes, as affirmed by the Magisterium and explained in Veritatis Splendor, must not be marginalized or dismissed by trendy voices within the Church, in the name of some supposedly larger picture of proportionalism and consequentialism. Cupich’s disdain for the “rabbit hole” of abortion.

      I would like to have more confidence that a new dicastery of Evangelization will have a two-fisted grip on such matters.

    • The End Goal: apparently to flatten governance into the mold of exaggerated synodality, and in moral theology to defer to subjective conscience and pastoral accommodation; and (as he has said very recently) to retire when called by God, not in Argentina (where his defense of convicted sex-abuse Bishop Zanchetta is still remembered), but rather in history’s former Eternal City as the “bishop of Rome” and nothing more.

    • Pope Francis does give us many clues. He said that no matter what problems we might have faced, or how low we might have gone we can always count on the mercy and grace of Jesus because he “wants to bring us to the most beautiful place that exists. He wants to bring us there with the little or great good that has been in our lives, because nothing is lost”. He did come to find the lost sheep, to heal the sick, and to redeem mankind.

  15. The article and the comments are….well true I guess. But let’s say it plainly: Pope Francis is a modernist, who is more in line with World Economic Forum thinking than he is with Catholicism. He is ambiguous, but one thing he has stated clearly: we need to be a different Church. Not just the Pope of course, there are many who want a different Catholic Church (both Catholics and non-Catholics). For me the questions is how are we to respond? We are bound to obedience is what I hear on one side, and on the other, I hear that obedience has its limits. I suppose we can be obedient while we watch the Church being secularized. Is it possible to be both?

    In the meantime, Secularization is the new religion, and the Pope is fully onboard. He wants to be friends with those who have priorities of LGBTQRSTUVW+ rights, climate change, identity politics and so on. Meanwhile he plays a coy game of not publically endorsing those like the German Church who want to fundamentally turn the Church into a nice little club where people come and get some kind of wafer and then afterwards talk about how nice it is to be accompanied on their journey towards God knows what. And all of us are struggling with just how are we to think and respond in this unfortunate reality. The last thing we need when we have an ambigous Pope is to have an ambiguous response.

    • A modernist? So someone who wants to take us back to the early days of tyhe Church is a modernist? Jesus gave us two parables on how we should live our “business” lives. In the Parable of the tenants, he tells us that the two workers who worked honestly and efficiently were praised, whereas the third one who did not was reprimanded. Then in the Parable of the Landlord (there are different names), this man goes about hiring laborers to do some work on his property. He pays them a decent wage. He does this throughout the day, even at the eleventh hour. He pays all of them the same decent wage. Why? These workers too had to support their families and so the Landlord, out of his generosity, paid them a living wage.
      In other words, Jesus was telling us that regardless of the economic policy in place, the dignity and status of landlords and servants, bosses and workers, must be respected, and that love, care and concern for the others must reign in these relationships. Pope Francis says the same thing.

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