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Opinion: Benedict XVI, Cardinal Pell, and criticism of Pope Francis

The Church explicitly teaches that even popes can under certain circumstances respectfully be criticized by the faithful.  Moreover, Pope Francis himself has explicitly said on several occasions that he welcomes criticism.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney greets Pope Francis during his audience with cardinals March 15, 2013, at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

In the wake of the deaths of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell, it has emerged that each of them raised serious criticisms of aspects of Pope Francis’s teaching and governance of the Church.  How might the pope respond to these criticisms?  As I have explained elsewhere, the Church explicitly teaches that even popes can under certain circumstances respectfully be criticized by the faithful.  Moreover, Pope Francis himself has explicitly said on several occasions that he welcomes criticism.  It seems clear that the criticisms raised by Benedict and Pell are precisely the kind that the pope should take the most seriously, given the teaching of the Church and his own views about the value of criticism.

First, what are the criticisms?  In the case of Benedict, we know about them via the new book written by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who was the late pope’s longtime aide.  For one thing, Benedict had reservations about Pope Francis’s controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and in particular was concerned that “a certain ambiguity had been allowed to hover in that document.”  And he was surprised that Pope Francis never answer the dubia issued by four cardinals who were seeking to resolve these ambiguities.

For another thing, Benedict thought the restrictions imposed on the celebration of the Latin Mass by Pope Francis’s Traditionis Custodes were “a mistake” that “jeopardized the attempt at pacification” of traditionalists within the Church.  He also thought that Francis had misstated Benedict’s own intentions in giving wider permission for the Latin Mass in Summorum Pontificum.  Gänswein has said that Traditionis Custodes caused Benedict heartache.

Cardinal Pell was far more blunt.  In the last article he wrote before his death, he criticized the current Synod on Synodality’s working document as “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome,” a “toxic nightmare” full of “neo-Marxist jargon” and “hostile in significant ways to the apostolic tradition.”

But it has also been revealed that Pell was the author of an anonymous memo that circulated among the cardinals during Lent last year, critical of the current state of the Church.  Summing up teaching and governance under Pope Francis, the memo asserts that “commentators of every school, if for different reasons… agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe.”  It then goes on to address in detail various doctrinal controversies, financial scandals, failures to support loyal Catholics and human rights in China and elsewhere, and needless alienation of traditionalists and others within the Church.

As I document in the article I referred to above, both the tradition of the Church and the recent teaching of the magisterium show that the clearest sort of case where a Catholic might respectfully raise criticisms of some papal statement or action is when it appears to conflict with binding past teaching.  Pope Francis can hardly disagree with this, for he has expressed a willingness to hear out challenges even to Church teaching itself.  In particular, in the exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, he says that “doctrine, or better, our understanding and expression of it, is not a closed system, devoid of the dynamic capacity to pose questions, doubts, inquiries.”

Now, if the faithful can raise questions, doubts, and inquiries even where expressions of Catholic doctrine are concerned, then a fortiori they can raise questions, doubts, and inquiries where apparent conflicts with Catholic doctrine are concerned.  For example, they can do so with respect to the problematic “ambiguity” in Amoris Laetitia referred to by Benedict XVI.  How could this possibly not be permissible, by Pope Francis’s own lights?  That is to say, how could it be permissible to “pose questions, doubts, inquiries” about perennial Catholic teaching on marriage and the Eucharist, but not permissible to pose them about a passage in a recent exhortation that fails clearly to reaffirm that traditional teaching?

Pope Francis has also more than once explicitly said that he personally can legitimately be criticized.  In 2015, in response to criticisms raised against some of his remarks on economic matters, the pope said:

I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States.  I heard about it, but I haven’t read about it, I haven’t had the time to study this well, because every criticism must be received, studied, and then dialogue must be [sic] ensue.  You ask me what I think.  If I have not had a dialogue with those who criticize, I don’t have the right to state an opinion, isolated from dialogue, no?…

Yes, I must begin studying these criticisms, no?  And then dialogue a bit with this. [emphasis added]

Similarly, in 2019, when asked about criticisms raised against him by American Catholic laymen, churchmen, and media outlets, Pope Francis said:

First of all, criticisms always help, always, when one receives a criticism, immediately he should make a self-critique and say this: to me, is it true or is it not true, until what point?   Of criticisms, I always see the advantages.  Sometimes you get angry, but the advantages are there…

Criticism is an element of construction and if your critic is not right, you [must be] prepared to receive the response and to dialogue, [to have] a discussion and arrive at a fair point…

A fair criticism is always well received, at least by me. [emphasis added]

And through Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, the pope made it clear that “he always considers criticisms an honor, particularly when they come from authoritative thinkers.”

The reference to “authoritative thinkers” calls to mind canon 212 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which affirms the right of Catholics publicly to express their opinions about matters affecting the Church, especially when they have relevant expertise.  The canon states:

The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Now, apart from the pope himself, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Pell had about as much “knowledge, competence, and prestige” vis-à-vis ecclesiastical matters as it is possible for anyone in the Church to have.

Moreover, they had special expertise with respect to the specific matters they commented on.  Benedict was one of the most eminent Catholic theologians of the age, had been the longtime Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and, of course, had been pope himself.  He had also, in his younger days, flirted with the more liberal position on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried that some think is reflected in Amoris, only to change his mind about it.  His opinion on that particular theological matter thus carries enormous weight.  So too does his opinion about liturgical matters and Vatican relations with traditionalist groups in the Church, about which he also had a longtime interest and special expertise, and which he dealt with extensively as head of CDF and as pope.

Cardinal Pell, meanwhile, had a doctorate in church history, years of experience as an archbishop, and was a member of Pope Francis’s own Council of Cardinal Advisors.  He could be expected to know the current state of the Church, and how it compares to previous eras in Church history, as well as anyone.  He had also for years been Francis’s Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy.  Thus, no one could speak with more authority about the financial matters addressed at length in the secret memo which he has now been revealed to have authored.

In short, if ever there were criticisms that Pope Francis and his defenders ought to take seriously and consider prayerfully, it would be those leveled by Benedict and Pell.  Let us pray that the Holy Father does so.

(Editor’s note: This essay originally appeared on Dr. Feser’s blog in a slightly different form and is reprinted here with the author’s kind permission.)

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About Dr. Edward Feser 37 Articles
Edward Feser is the author of several books on philosophy and morality, including All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory (Ignatius Press, August 2022), and Five Proofs of the Existence of God and is co-author of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, both also published by Ignatius Press.


    • “Dialogue” is just another empty word that wholly politicized prelates use to convince themselves and everyone else they can fool that their dishonesty is honest. Francis has repeatedly displayed his disbelief in immutable truth oblivious to the implications that this is not only an inconsistency with Catholicism but essential faith itself.

      The real definition of atheism is the belief that truth changes. This applies even to those who think they believe in God.
      God will not be mocked. Truth is exclusively the reflection of the mind of God. Man does not create truth, any truth at all. Man only gives witness to truth, unchanging truth. Francis’ rejection of immutable truth, like anyone else, reflects his atheistic inclinations, regardless if it is conscious or not.

    • For 81 years and popes from Pius XII to Francis I have watched the arguments between conservative and progressive members as they go back & forth about doctrine, opinions, truth, etc. The conservatives seem terrified by change the progressives seem ready to move on. I have noticed that conservatives ( now calling themselves ‘traditionalists’ after express hostility toward those who are more progressive. Inability to entertain an opposing perspective without reacting emotionally is difficult and the more emotionally mature we are the better we get to be at it. Conservatives held most of the power in the church for centuries. Now progressives are no longer being deliberately silenced. The deeper problem is not the immutability of truth so much as the psychological immaturity of men who have not yet integrated their own emotions into their mental abilities to evaluate what is true and what is false. They, therefore, lack the ability to see deeper levels of truth and so are limited to projecting their own unconscious wishes for the emotional security of sameness. Change is the only real constant in an ever evolving universe of which we are a conscious part. The conflict between those of us who have grown internally and those of us who cling to concepts (however logical they appear to ourselves) as learned in childhood will remain. The hostility toward opposing points of view does not have to remain. Just use your heart along with your logic. Be Christlike.

  1. At “Pope Francis never answer[ed] the Dubia”, [Feser] indicated the purpose, at least by reasonable inference that what the four cardinals considered contrary to doctrine is correct. Although not necessarily meaning that the pontiff considered his positions in Amoris contra doctrine, rather a justifiable advance in favor of pastoral resolution.
    Insofar as resolution of the ambiguity of Amoris, uncertainty prevents a sustainable accusation of error. That’s because what Amoris Laetitia teaches for liceity of communion for, example divorce and unlawful remarriage [Dr Feser covers this well from the perspective of credentialed authority] depends on variable conditions subject to prudential judgment [that a priest discerns probable just cause for conferring the sacrament]. In effect, the objectionable premises answer themselves.
    Otherwise, a valid criticism may be made if it’s demonstrated that the arguments contained in Amoris Laetitia actually remove the permanence of moral principles. It is here that Amoris is subject to valid criticism one example Francis’ mistaken interpretation of Aquinas ST 1a2ae 94, 4 that we always find defects in the singular [a sacramental marriage], whereas Aquinas refers to the universal application of intrinsically permanent natural law principles – that some cultures abrogate natural law [example Julius Caesar’s observation that some German tribes judge stealing a natural right]. Another is the teaching on mitigation, as if mitigating circumstances absolve the penitent, whereas Amoris omits reference to grace as the resolution. The other is the formation of conscience and the disputed understanding of obligation to the truth as taught and revealed.
    Argument for valid criticism regarding all this finds basis in the ongoing German Synodaler Weg and lack of effective intervention, and the moral positions of Synod on Synodality Relator Card Hollerich SJ, as well as Card Grech.

  2. The Devil knows that criticism of the Church, the Pope, and other Church members, or the Church in its appearance in the world, instills a general disdain for the Church regardless who originates the criticism and what is said. The tone of the message is the message. Is this what Francis likes?

    • So, St. Paul was wrong to rebuke St. Peter in public? St. Catherine of Siena was wrong to take Popes to task? St. Thomas Aquinas lays out the conditions for when it can be right to rebuke a prelate, was he wrong about that too?

      When a prelate is bringing disdain on the Church through his actions, criticism can be an act of charity.

      • “Then when it is necessary let us apply discipline. Otherwise, the evil may grow by the relaxing of discipline.
        “If the sin is private, correct the sinner in private. If it is public and manifest, apply the correction in public so that the sinner may be led to betterment and others may conceive a salutary fear.” St. Augustine, New Testament Sermon No. 33

    • Speaking of the Devil, if Catholics were more willing to criticize their leaders and hold them accountable, the Church would be a physically safer place. We should follow Cardinal Pell’s good example, or the world’s disdain will prove well-earned indeed.

    • I believe Pope Francis has “la grace d’etat” for being Pope at this particular time in history. Neither Cardimal Pell nor former Pope Benedict has ” la grace d” etat”. I believe that for arrival Pell to call the reign of Pope Francis a : catastrophe” shows lack of respect and lack of humility. Former Pope Benedicts heartache about the continued use if the 1570 Tridentine mass really goes counter to the liturgical reforms of Ativan II. Also, you can be critical but respectful as well

      • For you to deny that the pontificate of Francis is a catastrophe shows a lack of respect and humility towards God, not to mention all the victims of Marxism from encouragement given to Marxist leaders, not to mention all the victims of sin given the redefining of “mercy” to eliminating God’s gift of guilt.
        And your comments about liturgy and Vatican II simply reflects a level of being misinformed on the matter. Vatican II mandated no such thing as the displacement of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Your point of emphasis that the Tridentine Mass being old is rather foolish. Truth never changes.

        • I agree, one of the funniest things I have seen in a while. For those who do not know, Ativan is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety amongst other things

      • What exactly do you mean? I looked it up and the only definition I could find was in the French version of Wiktionary, and Google kindly translated it as “Said of illusions attached to a condition and that make it bearable.” Andthe example provided translated as “Ordinarily the sick of the chest do not see themselves in as great danger as they are, it is a grace of state.”

        So what exactly were you trying to say? Apart from making silly comments about Pope Benedict and Cardinal Pell, of course. Nice that you know so much more about what Ativan II than did Pope Benedict, who (checks records) – was actually there as an advisor.

      • Pauline Fournier: Your AI program needs an update. A mere human would not possibly produce so many spelling, typos, grammatical, and downright factual errors; even the opinions have no basis in reality.

  3. The Pope is old and his time is running short. We must hold tight to the rails of the bark and ride out the present storm and await the next pontificate. May God have mercy on the next Pope.

    • One wonders who would even want to be the next pope, given the fact Pope Benedict XVI resigned because he couldn’t handle the filth in the Church. It is startling to note the criticisms hurled against Pope Francis, while very little or none has been said or written against Pope Benedict in spite of the clerical sexual abuses that came to light when he was Archbishop of Munich. He was also aware of the sexual abuses of McCarrick and did nothing about it. He also refused to apologize for the appalling conditions that prevailed in Residential Schools run by the Catholic Church, offering only his regrets to the Indigenous people and also for the abuses in Munich. Pope Benedict was more concerned about the image of the Church than for the victims. It was Pope Francis who travelled to Canada and offered a sincere and heart-felt apology.
      It was only on his deathbed that Pope Benedict offered his sincere apologies. Most of the arrows aimed at Pope Francis are coming from Traditional Catholics who have bluntly labelled Pope Francis as the Anti-Christ! They disagree entirely with the Documents of Vatican II — even though they have not read it!

      • I’ll leave it someone else to tally the exact number of lies you packed into your post. I’ll just concern myself with the one about McCarrick since it is put forward by many notorious Francis apologists. As the record shows, it was Benedict who imposed (admittedly, inadequate) sanctions against McCarrick. Francis, who knew about McCarrick’s crimes, lifted those penalties, and then made the fiend the point man in the negotiations with the CCP to betray Chinese Catholics. It was only after news of this monster’s deeds became public that Francis began the laicization process. In other words, Francis dumped him only when he became too hot to handle. It is a pattern that has repeated itself a number of times over the last decade.

        The shamelessness of people who try to re-write history when the evidence is readily available always astonishes me.

        • You clearly state that Benedict imposed (admittedly, inadequate) sanctions against McCarrick. Unfortunately, you do not give the reason/s for those sanctions. In case you are not aware, permit me, please, to tell you what they are. They were for the sexual abuses.
          Let me get this clear. Those abuses are clearly against the law of God and the law of the land — and all Benedict did was to impose sanctions! WOW! Benedict did exactly the same when sexual abuses against the clergy surfaced when he was Archbishop of Munich. Pope Francis did indeed lift those sanctions. He was questioned about it. He explained in detail that he was misinformed and reimposed those sanctions. By the way, it was not just Benedict who was aware of the sexual abuses committed by McCarrick. The saintly Pope John Paul II
          was also aware of it and did nothing — absolutely nothing!

  4. A priest, whether presbyter, bishop, cardinal [and the supreme pontiff] have a serious obligation to teach the truth of the faith. Whenever, for example, parish laity raise questions with the priest he is morally obliged to respond with the truth of the faith. Whenever there exists ambiguity on perennial doctrine inherent to Apostolic tradition, such as precepts prohibiting homosexuality, adultery, cohabitation the priest must respond in favor of that Apostolic tradition, and explain and defend that doctrine. If that ambiguity stems from the Roman pontiff, the priest must explain clearly and decisively the difference of non binding opinions, suggestions, informal statements of the pontiff from those that are formally pronounced to the entire Church specified by him as binding doctrine.
    Failure to do this likely incurs condemnation for himself, and responsibility for the loss of souls misled by said opinions, ambiguous statements. To criticize clergy, [or qualified laity] for carrying out this ordained commission to Christ and his commandments does a disservice to the priest and the Church.
    A prime example in this discussion is Pope Francis’ announcement that all that is required to receive the Holy Eucharist is the ‘garment of faith’. That remark repeats the error of Martin Luther who separated good works from faith in Christ. It putatively denies the necessity to repent.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, PhD: Vatican II has corrected this error of limiting the term “priest” to refer only to the ordained. The council has retrieved the biblical and patristic understanding that all the faithful are priests (Lumen Gentium 10). Priests here mean those called to offer living sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The 99% of the Church’s members are called royal or baptismal priests with the 1% called ministerial or ordained priests – called to serve as servants to the royalty (not the other way around as it is with clericalism-sacerdotalism). Both the royal and ministerial priesthoods participate in the one high priesthood of Christ. You’re right in using the term “presbyter” (which Vatican II retrieved and corrected) but wrong to limit “priest” only to the ordained. This Vatican II teaching is one that still awaits full reception and application after 60 years. The start was wrong with the English translations of the council documents (see translations of Optatam Totius, and Presbyterorun Ordinis, for example) returning to the old pre-Vatican II habit of referring to “priests” as limited to only the ordained without considering this Vatican II correction and return to the biblical and patristic sources about the priesthood of all believers.

      • Whenever I baptize I retain the ancient rite of anointing the infant, boy or girl, with chrism on the crown of the head. Chrism’s ancient use in the anointing of kings. And inclusive of the charisma related to baptism, priest, prophet, and king. That’s in reference to the universal priesthood pronounced by the Apostle Peter referring the us as a royal priesthood.
        Nevertheless Deacon, do not err, as if there’s an equanimity [an unfortunate occurrence in our time], by confusing the priesthood of the faithful with the ordained priesthood and its exclusive ministry in the Church as Alter Christus, and confection of the sacraments Eucharist, penance, ordination, anointing, and confirmation.

        • Fr. Peter Morello, PhD: It might surprise you to discover that although it has a long tradition (especially in the writings of the French School after the Council of Trent) of referring it the presbyters, official church documents like Vatican II and the Catechism never use “alter Christus,” to refer to the ordained. The wording rather is that the presbyter is “conformed to Christ,” or “acts in the person of Christ.” Again taking the royal priesthood of all the baptized, in fact, all Christians – not just the presbyters – are “alter Christus.” St. Cyprian of Carthage who first used the term rightly declared that all who are baptized into Christ are also “another Christ”.

          • Again Deacon you’re espousing an egalitarian ideology that reflects current Woke thinking. You do a disservice to the Church instituted by Christ as hierarchal. That there are levels of authority that not all share, since by necessity a true familial institution requires that leadership as it was with Christ and the Apostles, the institution the Apostle Paul of a hierarchy of bishops like Timothy, and elders or presbyters to share the Apostolic mission. Deacons share that ministry in submission to their canonical pastor. A priest.
            Priesthood is by necessity selective and contained within an ordered body that requires disciplined transmission of doctrine and stewardship regarding its practice. Your views would disassemble the flow of authority within the Body. Your presumed expertise is clearly selective. My advice is focus on what a deacon should be offering the Church, service and humble submission to Christ, recognizing your dutiful obedience to the priesthood in the same manner that I am to my bishop, and the bishop is to higher authority and the Roman pontiff. He in turn, elevated to the papacy to serve Jesus Christ and what Christ revealed, his eternal Word.

          • DD:
            The documents of the Church do refer to the ordained acting ‘in persona ipsius Christi.’ The words of the Church have higher authority than the words of its saints.

            CCC, paragraph 1548: “In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:

            It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).”

            Baptized persons comprise the Body of Christ. We are not per se ‘other’ Christs insofar as we lack His Head.

      • “The council has retrieved the biblical and patristic understanding that all the faithful are priests”

        Would you like me to hear your confession, Deacon?

          • Some of us are literate enough to construe written material properly, assuming its not some discourse into incoherence or idiosyncracy.

            You probably shouldn’t assume you are the smartest guy in the room (this or any other). It’s the sin of pride and often is the result of Dunning Kruger.

        • Above: Fr. Peter Morello, PhD: Check Vatican II and the Catechism. It’s not wokism. “Alter Christus” to refer to presbyters alone is never officially taught in any church document. It came as a tradition from the writings of the proponents of the French School of Spirituality but never taken as official church teaching. It has been handed down in spiritual writings and promoted in seminaries and consequently imbibed in the minds of presbyters not knowing it’s never an official church teaching. Vatican II has also corrected the hierarchicalism it inherited. The ecclesiology of the “People of God” is purposely placed before the “Hierarchy” indicative of the emphasis of the council fathers and as finally written in Lumen Gentium (LG 2 & 3). In the post-conciliar teachings especially the 1985 Synod Final Report priority and emphasis was made clearly of the church as “Communion” than as “Hierarchy.” Along this line John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992) also corrected the clericalism-sacerdotalism inherent in the “hierarchological” (term by Yves Congar) of the Church that made presbyters somehow think and act that they have to lord over the people as a matter of entitlement based on the mistaken notion of presbyters as “Alter Christus.” Discussing about the three offices of the presbyter, it is interesting to note how the Saint Pope somehow instituted a sort of de-clericalism and changed the terminologies for the third office. Instead of “kingly,” it is “royal service.” “Governing” (often lording over) is switched into “pastoral charity.”

  5. I look at the divide between those in the camp of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Pell and those in the the camp of Pope Francis as the differing ecclesiologies (theological vision and understanding of the nature and mission of the church). The ecclesiology of the dead Pope and dead Cardinal is that of a “Fortress” Church. It is the warrior mindset of a Church in constant battle with the wider world’s culture viewed as often contradicting its teaching and threatening its existence. Its stance with the world is to close in by walling itself and clearly demarcating who’s in and who’s out whether in doctrine or practice. The Church here is understood to be the remnant few in the midst of the multitudes of the unchurch and the nonchurch judged to be the unsaved. Contrary to the judgmentalism of the Fortress Church, Pope Francis’ “Field Hospital” Church’s approach to the world is one not of a warrior but of a caregiver, so in this spirit not judgment but openness and dialogue is the way of relating with the world recognizing that there is so much evil of woundedness in the world that need healing. The members of the Body of the Christ do not build walls around them but to go to the battlefield of the world and look and care for the wounded without discrimination. Seen from this ecclesiological perspective, clearly those in the Fortress camp criticize those in the Field Hospital camp as not fully and faithful Catholic, and vice-versa.

    • The ecclesiology of the dead Pope and dead Cardinal is that of a “Fortress” Church. It is the warrior mindset of a Church in constant battle with the wider world’s culture viewed as often contradicting its teaching and threatening its existence.

      That is a lie, pure and simple. Did you relish referring to both men as “dead”? What a vile, cowardly human being you are, defaming good men while hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

    • You have offered a false dichotomy and a naive worldview. At the present time, a good many people see Christianity as a disease to be eradicated (witness the annual assembly of misanthropes at Davos) rather that a physician.

      In this I am reminded of the account of an old friend who took Protestant orders somewhat late in life. Part of his training was chaplaincy services, and he had the account of walking into room of a seriously ill man.

      Before he could introduce himself and offer his services, the patient looked at his clerical attire and said “you can take yourself and your God and get the [expletive deleted] out of my room. There was nothing he could do for this man who seemed dedicated to isolation from God and man in his last days, despite being in a religious hospital.

      That’s the world we face-not a world where there are great populations of unevangelized or uncatechized; but a world that is dedicated to any of a variety of false gospels that make them not ignorant, but axiomatically opposed to the Church, Christianity or Theism.

      The pollsters that tell us that tell us the “nones” are the great rising demographic are wrong. The greatest rising demographics are the misotheists and Christophobes.

    • So, let’s tip our hats to stereotypes! From something including (inclusivity!) but larger than the “Field Hospital,” don’t we still remember, vaguely but also, something like this:

      “Though they differ from one another in essence and not only [!] in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated.” Interrelated, but not blurred or flipped?

      From whence commeth this citation? Oh, wait, it’s from the Body of Christ as articulated by the very same Second Vatican Council of which thou speaketh—indeed, from the very same Lumen Gentium 10!

      So, maybe Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Pell are not so “dead,” after all, as some so gleefully announce. And maybe the “Field Hospital [and-More!]” Church has something better to offer than a synodal plebiscite muddling and dismissing so much of what comes earlier than 2013. Yes, “service,” but not adulterated with the likes of Bats-sing’s and Hollerich’s disservice and more (or less).

      Missing today, might we both agree, is, first, the ability to hold more than one complementary truth at a time; and second, especially, and equally (equality!)—in our ideological era—some needed and essential precision—rather than slogans served (!) up by the “terrible simplifiers” (“terribles simplificateurs”—the prescient Swiss historian, Jacob Burckhardt, 1889).

    • Dear Deacon Dom:

      The church should be our “fortress” against evil. It should also be a “field hospital” to those who are hurting. We should have words of wisdom for those who have spiritual and physical woes.

      On the other hand, some view Papa as a n encourager of practices that are irreverent, while berating faithful priests and bishops that do their job and bring honour to the Church! We learn and grow and God gives us the tools we need to be a blessing to others when our hearts are open to His leading.

      Psalm 62:6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

      Psalm 31:2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!

      Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

      Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

      God bless you,


    • Did you ever wonder what causes a mind to seek refuge in a dichotomized worldview of caricatures? Perhaps you should study people influenced by the likes of Charles Manson or Adolf Hitler and you’ll understand your inclinations better.
      In your abuse of the Eighth Commandment in creating your dichotomy of caricatures, created to support your own self-accommodating fantasies of right and wrong and the non-tragic consequences of immoral behavior, you slander two saintly prelates who gave heroic witness to God’s immutable truths of the human condition, including innate divinely endowed moral imperatives, given by our creator to rescue us from our delusions, delusions that slaughter the innocent, encourage the eradication of conscience, and expand human tragedy, a witness you judgmentally judge as “guilty” of judgmentalism, devoid of any sense if honorable irony, in some baseless fantasy about their having isolated themselves from reality in some “fortress” for boldly stating these God-given truths about the human condition that all practitioners of evil (everyone) are naturally loath to hear, and given to persecuting the prophet who gives them such witness. These are truths that Jesus, when teaching us the benevolence of morality in the Sermon on the Mount, commanded His followers to go out to the world to give witness.

      And yet you find no fault in those who have isolated their minds from a rational sober assessment of what happens to deluded souls in this vale of tears world, abandoned to and encouraged in their own victimizing caprices and depravities, by these high prelates, where the highest of prelates can not even come to terms of what it means to be in denial of immutable truth and moral absolutes implicit in the negative precepts of the natural law, even when formally and reasonably questioned to do so, for the good of the Church and the good of sharing God’s truth for humanity, publicly, by brother prelates, where a failure to do so, could only diminish the Church’s only mission which is to save souls.

  6. “Pope Francis himself has explicitly said on several occasions that he welcomes criticism.” If Catholics can’t recognize Francis’ hypocrisy by now I don’t know what to say.

  7. During the so-called Covid pandemic the Catholic Church surrendered to the secular régime by closing churches, limiting worshippers at Holy Mass and giving support to the big pharmaceutical companies promoting their «cures».
    How different to the case during the many wars, famines and plagues of more faithful times when the Catholic Church was considerably less «prissy».

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