New papal document reads like a conclusion in search of an argument

When the new Motu proprio, titled Ad theologiam promovendam, is read through the lens of current theological debates, it’s clear that it privileges the long sought after dream of progressive theologians.

Saint Peter statue outside the Basilica, Vatican, Rome. (Image: Fr. Barry Braum/

Yesterday, Pope Francis released a “Motu Proprio” about how to do theology in the modern context. Titled Ad theologiam promovendam, it makes the case that theology must no longer be from a “desk” and must no longer be merely “abstractly re-proposing formulas and schemes of the past.” Theology must now be inductive and take into account the lived experience of believers and non-believers alike. Theology must not be “abstract” and deal in such lifeless constructions; instead, it needs to ground itself more explicitly “in the conditions in which men and women daily live…”

I do not think Pope Francis wrote this new document, although it was clearly issued with his approval, so it is now papal teaching. On the surface, its words are rather unproblematic and rightly express the need for theology to be creative and to engage the culture. Therefore, like all things Pope Francis puts forward as magisterial teaching, there is nothing on its face that should lead us to conclude there’s something heterodox going on here. In this regard, I agree with papal defenders who are always rushing into the breach to defend this pope’s orthodoxy against his most trenchant critics.

However, my problem with those kinds of defenses of this papacy is that they tend to focus on the surface level of what this Pope teaches all the while ignoring that his words are often redolent with connotations. And, in this case, connotations of much broader significance within the long arc of the history of modern Catholic theology.

For example, saying that “theological reflection is urged to develop with an inductive method, which starts from the different contexts and concrete situations in which peoples are inserted, allowing itself to be seriously challenged by reality” is not an idiosyncratic concoctions of this papacy. This sort of statement has an actual theological pedigree in the Church—a pedigree that is decidedly progressive in a liberal Rahnerian register. Therefore, we need to be aware, as we must be with all papal statements from all popes, that papal teachings are themselves contextual. And that the language of ecclesiastic-speak, so opaque and perhaps even dull for the average believer, is quite often a nod, no matter how subtle, toward one direction of that arc rather than another.

This Motu proprio also fits into that category insofar as it has different layers of meaning. On the surface it looks fairly innocuous, even boilerplate in its simplicity. But if you read it through the lens of current theological debates it becomes clear that it is privileging the long sought after dream of progressive theologians. And that is to do theology within the framework of a kind of populist understanding of the sensus fidelium, with a grounding in a theology of grace that conflates the concrete experience of “average people” with the movement of the Holy Spirit. There is very little emphasis in such an approach on the “testing of the spirits” (cf 1 Jn 4:1) against the backdrop of doctrine and Tradition. In fact, doctrine and Tradition are deemed to be “abstractions” and superstructures of alienation that distort lived experience by forcing it through allegedly rigid, ideological filters.

Synodal timing and strawmen

Seen in this light, the timing of Ad theologiam promovendam is not random. The theological vision it champions is right in sync with the Synod’s call for a “listening Church” that will do theology, for the first time, in a manner that takes into account the vox populi. Of course, there is also a great deal of romanticizing and essentializing of this “voice of the people” in the theologies of experience to which both the Synod and the Motu proprio are appealing. As we saw in the Synod, some voices are more equal than others and thus are worth listening to more precisely because they fit in nicely with the grand narrative of “Church as oppressor of common Catholics,” which is the myth of origin of so many of these theologies of experience.

As at the Synod, therefore, so too here. There is a book-ending of strawman caricatures. There is a caricature of who “the people of God” are on the one end, and there is a caricature of the “Church before Pope Francis” (B.F. for short) that mischaracterizes B.F. theology and B.F. pastoral practice as just so many out-of-touch abstractions, locked in a moribund paradigm of deductive metaphysical goo, that never took the radicality of modern culture or the subjectivity of believers into account.

But this is a ridiculous and sophomoric caricature of the history of modern Catholic theology. Indeed, if a student in one of my undergraduate courses had turned in a paper that made these claims, I would have given it no grade at all. I would have deemed it ungradeable in its insouciant disregard for facts (along with a note to “see me” in red ink at the top).

The claim that theology can no longer be content with merely repeating the shopworn formulas of the past directly implies that this is, in fact, what most theologians have been up to for the past century. And the claim that theology must now be inductive and avoid lifeless abstractions that take no account of lived experience in modern culture implies that theologians have been doing just that predominantly up to this point. The claim is clearly being made that this stuffy old theology of the past 100 years needs to give way to something altogether different and more in tune with “real people”. The document calls it a “paradigm shift” in theology (a necessary part of what Francis calls a “courageous cultural revolution”), which is another one of those coded, jargonistic, words that directly implies that theology up to this point—the Pope Francis point—has been part of an outdated paradigm that must be given the heave-ho.

This is all a strawman. Theologians, for many decades, have already been doing many of the things this document says they should do. Which leads any reasonable person to wonder if the reason behind the strawman is that the Vatican just does not like the theological conclusions those theologians have reached. In point of fact, the theological guild has already been hard at work doing all of the things mentioned in the document! Were Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as well as the theologians within the schools of thought they represented, merely “repeating the formulas of the past”? I think not. In fact, I know this is false. Demonstrable false and with extreme prejudice.

Why then this risible caricature? Because it serves the rhetorical needs of the moment, which require some kind of argument, no matter how transparently fatuous, in order to justify moving the Pontifical Academy of Theology in a constitutively different theological direction. This document reads like a conclusion in search of an argument. Even if the argument adopted is absurd it matters not, because the argument adopted has all of the usual pop psychological buzzwords about change, openness, dialogue, and grassroots this and that. It is a giant ecclesial dog whistle to the usual suspects.

Pope Francis himself should know better and most certainly does. In his graduate studies he was a student of the theology of Romano Guardini, which he clearly likes (as do I). Surely Guardini, who wrote extensively with an eye toward modern culture, is not guilty of merely repeating past formulas or of ignoring modern culture. And the Pope knows this. Neither were Bouyer, Balthasar, David L. Schindler, de Lubac, or even Garrigou LaGrange and Thomists such as Pieper, Gilson, Ulrich, and Maritain, for that matter.

Nor are a host of contemporary theologians, both young and old, guilty of such stale categories of thought. Creative and brilliant theologians and philosophers like Cyril O’Regan, David C. Schindler, John Betz, Matthew Levering, Emmanuel Falque, Jennifer Martin, Margaret Turek, Remi Brague, Keith Lemna, Jonathan Ciraulo, Jacob Wood, Bishop Erik Varden, and many others too numerous to list here, are in no way guilty of the theological deficits this document claims that theology up to this point has suffered from. I mention these thinkers simply because they are some of my favorites. But there are literally hundreds of equally gifted Catholic intellectuals out there doing precisely what the Pope is asking here—but in a manner I suspect the Pope does not favor because they do not serve his agenda.

An assault on the legacy of St. John Paul II

Again, this is a conclusion in search of an argument. And lurking behind it all is the clear desire to utterly dismantle the theological legacy of Pope John Paul II. People of a certain age simply cannot fully appreciate the depth of antipathy that the Catholic Left had for John Paul II. He was their great white whale and they did everything that they could to undermine his papacy. They loathed and hated him. Why? Because he had almost single-handedly put the brakes on their attempt to utterly Protestantize and secularize the Church. They hated Ratzinger/Benedict XVI for the same reasons. And so now we get the Motu proprio which reads like Tucho Fernandez’s revenge on what he probably views as the “anti-Vatican II” reign of terror of the previous two popes.

At this point my usual popesplaining critics will roll their eyes and say, “There goes hyperventilating Chapp again unfairly attacking the Pope.” But I would ask all of them to ponder a few simple questions.

Why was this Motu proprio needed at all? What motivated it? What problems in theological method does it really think are out there and in need of remedy? Exactly what kinds of theology is it really disinviting from the table and which kinds of theology is it inviting to the table? You don’t write Motu proprios without good reason. If this document is just a big “nothing burger” in total continuity with previous pontificates, why was it written at all? If there is “nothing new here so everyone can just keep moving along” then what is its point?

And if the popesplainers merely repeat the explanations given in the document, then they too will be guilty of an uncharitable and empirically false caricature of the theological achievements of the past 100 years and of the previous two pontificates in particular.

This is the Pope’s post-Synodal shot across the bow about what he wants to see happen before the next Synod in 2024. It is blunt and brutal in its own quiet, avuncular way. Kind of like the Pope himself. Tastes like honey. Laced with arsenic.

If you are still not convinced, it is instructive to look at two similar moves made by this pontificate in order to gauge where this is most likely headed. The Pope has already gutted the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome and replaced the theologians there who were all JPII/Benedict/Communio kind of professors with theologians who espouse proportionalism in moral and pastoral theology. He did the same at the Pontifical Academy for Life. He put Archbishop Paglia in charge of both—a man not known for his intellectual prowess, but instead most famous for having downplayed the normativity of Humanae Vitae and having to backtrack from public statements of support for legalized euthanasia in Italy. (Of course, he was quick to add that such legalization must come with all of the appropriate “safeguards” against misuse lest anyone think that the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life is in the wrong job.)

Given that these two Pontifical institutions had theologians more in tune with the theology of John Paul II and Benedict XVI—theologians replaced by those more prone to seeking accommodation with modern secularism—why should we presume that the change on the horizon for the Pontifical Academy of Theology will be any different? And if next year’s Synod ends up with a final document far more explicit in its call for the ordination of women to Holy Orders, the full moral legitimation of the sexual alphabet agenda, and a permanent “House of Commons” made up of lay people with co-governing powers with the “House of Lords” (made up of bishops whose authority will be effectively neutered by the pressure of populist public opinion), then rest assured that the new members of the Pontifical Academy of Theology will be called upon to give it theological cover.

Finally, I would like to point out that there are some “formulas” from the past that should be repeated without any or much qualification. The Creed comes to mind. And the Sacraments. And things like the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments from Scripture. I would also add to this list the writings of the Doctors of the Church and other benchmark thinkers of the Church’s tradition. Thinkers like Cardinal Newman, Chesterton, and even literary giants like Dante and Bernanos. Can we please “just repeat” these “tired old formulas” over and over and over until maybe, you know, they sink in?

If there are young theologians, or just young devout Catholics, whose theologizing and prayer takes them to the Summa, or to Augustine, or the Fathers, or mirabile dictu, to St. Pope John Paul II, are they guilty of an unpastoral Platonizing idealization of the faith at the expense of “real people”?

As a friend and highly regarded Communio theologian wrote to me this morning, “Has the Pope lost his mind?”

I doubt it. What we are seeing is something worse. We are seeing that this is his mind.

(Editor’s note: The English translation of Ad theologiam promovendam used here is unofficial.)

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About Larry Chapp 51 Articles
Dr. Larry Chapp is a retired professor of theology. He taught for twenty years at DeSales University near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He now owns and manages, with his wife, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm in Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chapp received his doctorate from Fordham University in 1994 with a specialization in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He can be visited online at "Gaudium et Spes 22".


  1. Bombshell. Violent. Would one be so bold as to suggest a focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ? That which fosters love of God, one another and self.

      • Fool,
        Full of fortitude, I took the fall, opening the letter and reading most of its sappy claptrap. The man boldly captioned his own photo as “Wine from the devastated vineyard of Bishop Wiesemann.” Then he dared bare his beer belly and his combed flat, gray rug. Ought such creatures be allowed outdoors?

        • Their soccer playing days are behind them
          Now, it’s feasting and sin yodeling, followed by strudel mit slag! 🍗🥨🍻🍨

          • Google Translate suggested another word for ‘slag,’ but I cannot write it for fear of censorship and for goodness’ sake.

            That pretzel icon took the prize.

  2. God help me but I have had enough of this Pope and his Synod on Synodality to “create a new Church that is Listening to the people while also promoting a ministry that is focused on today’s social and cultural mores” that frankly are devoid of morality, ethics or any sense of reason. Our Catholic Church will shrink because of this Pope with the original Church becoming smaller but stronger and his new church will lead down a path to destruction. IMO

    • I totally agree but the talk of a remnant church always brings up the question, “what happens to the apostolic continuity” of His Church? As bad as I think P.F. is for the Church, I hold fast to the promise that the Holy Spirit will guide it in Truth for all eternity. But, the road ahead is so fraught with diabolic danger that it frightens me, especially for grandchildren. I just watched the movie, Nefarious, and it is sobering to say the least. There are demons and they are Legion.

  3. Lo, a few years back, Pope Francis publicly confided: “I am not a theologian.” Indeed…

    And about his counsel about not “abstractly re-proposing formulas and schemes of the past;” now we know what was meant by one of the four pliable “principles” superimposed on parts of Evangelii Gaudium (2013): “realities are more important than ideas.”

    Where guru sociologists Auguste Comte, Max Weber et al simply ignored metaphysics, Pope Francis dilutes thought into unilateral empirical experience. If we thusly eviscerate theology, then it looks a lot more like marketable goat entrails! A certain “equality,” eh? And necessary, too, if one is to pre-emptively gut “backwardist” affirmations soon to be advanced in the coming year against the “forwardist” negations of ideological synodism.

    How is a “concrete” moral difficulty any more concrete than the historical event of the Incarnation, into Whom we are sacramentally incorporated–as concrete members of the Mystical Body of Christ?

    And, about “repeating” (horrors!) the thought of Bernanos, this:

    “The modern world will shortly no longer possess sufficient spiritual reserves to commit genuine evil. Already . . . we can witness a lethal slackening of men’s conscience that is attacking not only their moral life, but also their very heart and mind, altering and decomposing even their imagination . . . The menacing crisis is one of INFANTILISM” (Interview with Samedi-Soir, Nov. 8, 1947, cited in Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence” [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996], p. 457, caps added).

    • Two more desk thoughts, if such are still permitted…

      FIRST, we read: ““theological reflection is urged to develop with an inductive method, which starts from the different contexts and concrete situations in which peoples are inserted, allowing itself to be seriously challenged by reality.” Is such reflection now to replace the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) which, instead, is the application of the MORAL VIRTUES: courage, temperance, justice and especially prudential judgment?
      Now (CST = Compromised Socio-Theology)? Caesaropapism would be the historical precedent. How very traditional, or even a “backwardist” “scheme of the past”! (And, cross-culturally, the difference between Shari’a Law and Sur’real Theology is, what?)

      SECOND, where John Paul II became the “great white whale” to be harpooned by the Left, history will surely reverse these roles….The British author William Somerset Maugham proposes the alternative that the White Whale is the symbol of Good while its pursuer and avenger, Ahab, is really the symbol of Evil. Maugham writes:

      “Why should the White Whale not represent goodness rather than evil? Splendid in beauty, vast in size, great in strength, he swims the seas in freedom. Captain Ahab with his insane pride is pitiless, harsh, cruel and revengeful; he is Evil; and when the final encounter comes and Ahab with his crew of ‘mongrel renegades, castaways and cannibals’ are destroyed, and the White Whale, imperturbable, justice having been done, goes his mysterious way, evil has been vanquished and good at last has triumphed (W. Somerset Maugham [editor and introduction], “Moby Dick or the White Whale” [Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co. 1949], xxvi).

      So much for the “mongrel renegades, castaways and cannibals” and other papal handlers and ghost writers.”!

  4. But someone, may it be a theologian or not, must ask himself, why we do not see (yet!), after all of this and other little million things already written, said, done and/or undone by this very chap, with his state of mind, his firm belief, his words and his doings,… that this chap might be, another kind of a men who pretty unkindly usurps the most important name and job title in the world?

    The one with an unmistakeable prefix which leads the way to his supposedly, but nevertheless still by many, from some strange reasons, yet unquestionable designation.

  5. Our Pope is not an intellectual. That’s not a problem in and of itself. But the top Vatican influencers seem much more proficient in the political sciences than in philosophy, theology, etc.

    So here we are. Inductive Theology? Do we really need to start from ground zero—to essentially become pagans again—to rediscover in the world, within ourselves, and in the people around us Him whom countless exemplary real persons—saints—from the past truly knew something about (and wrote about it!) and now know face to face?

    In my lifetime I’ve seen a transition from religious works receiving the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur to a time when a mistaken application of “who are we to judge” enables every idea to be worthy of our serious consideration—except perhaps those that have those ancient seals of approval!

    Not everyone who’s written or learned a thing or two from a book printed in non-electronic form is a scribe or Pharisee.

    Anti-intellectualism has infiltrated more than just the Catholic Church. Feelings have replaced logic and the scientific method everywhere.

    I pray that Catholicism is not emptied of its substance, at least not until He comes again in glory.

  6. Ten years ago, Pope Francis’ Secretary of State said that he intended to have a paradigm shift in the Church; effectively moving, via the proverbial “Overton Window”, the Church’s objective morality based on Scripture and the Natural Law to a subjective morality based on personal experience backed up by the “soft sciences” of psychology and sociology. Add in a little inculturation via papamama-isms and you got yourself a Liberation Theologian’s dream church: one whose very DNA has been carefully CRISPRed and one which is, oh so modern too. Archbishop Vigano warn recently that if this was Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s intention prior to and during the conclave it may be enough to vitiate a papal election. Only Francis’ Cardinal electors may know more and so in any event, I suggest we pray.

    • Dear Fr., you are right.

      The conclusions of all this that Professor Chapp has laid out can be condensed:

      If the current chief clergyman (elected on behalf the Catholic corpus, past-present-future, as Defender of the Apostolic Witness to God revealed by our King Jesus Christ) demonstrates he will not, indeed never intended to defend but only wills to pervert classic scripture, ecclesiology, theology, & morality, then he has thoroughly vitiated his election & incumbency.

      This has been said again and again.

      The current pope & his clique have heard it again and again. They scorn it because they think our religion has no antibiotic against the infection they are fostering.

      Keep praying all you true Catholic Christians.

      Ever following The Lamb of God; love & blessings from marty

  7. Lord God, save us from this wretched, wretched man. He is destroying my faith, and that of many people I know. And I do not know a single person who has concerted or reverted to the Catholic faith because of him.

    We are soon going to have to make some hard choices. Can we continue to believe in and be part of an institution that fully conforms to his vision? I am not sure that I can. I know I should believe in the indefectabily of the Church, but my faith in that proposition is being sorely tested. I began to lose it with Amoris Laetitia and it’s been downhill from there. I try very hard to pray that he will know and do God’s will, and not to wish that God would just strike him down. I don’t always succeed in that. Strangely, most priests don’t seem shocked when I confess it. They either conceal or well or perhaps they have had the same thoughts themselves.

    • Remember that the Lord chose Judas for His inner circle. He is in control… Not today’s papacy, which will not be tomorrow’s.

    • We all know he’s not young. It’s no sin to wonder how much confidence Pope Francis has when he puts green bananas on the papal grocery list.

  8. And our “good” bishops have allows themselves to be boiled like frogs in a slowly heated pot. Our of misguided deference and/or fear they remained silent instead of identifying this goat for what he was and openly resisting him. Now it’s too late. He had masterfully arranged all the chess pieces and it’s game over. Check mate. He can sense that now that no one can stop him and he will drive his project to conclusion. We will be forced to choose between keeping the true faith and staying in the Church. See WE will be the schismatics because WE are the ones who won’t be able to stay in union with “Peter.”

  9. Unless I’m missing something, the latest moto proprio can be read in different ways depending on whether or not orthodox Catholic theology regulates and governs social theory (cf. Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory) or vice versa where there are points of contention. You can take it either way. So there’s something for everyone! It can be interpreted and applied in an orthodox way, so it can’t really be accused of modernism or whatever. At the same time, it can easily be interpreted and applied in a liberal way, so liberals can be happy too.

    • Bingo!

      Brendan Triffett, you’ve spoken true. Perhaps you could also answer: What other [set of] Magisterial RC Church document[s] bear this same linguistic/theologic imprint?

      HINT: They ain’t Trent’s “Anathema Sit.”

  10. In essence, the paradigm shift that has taken place, is one that claims that we can transform Christ, we no longer need Christ to transform us, we are free to question and presume that we now have been given the authority to declare what is good apart from The Word Of God Incarnate, and
    for all those who have chosen to create God in their own Image the paradigm has gone from being For Christ to one that is anti Christ. Apostasy is what Apostasy does, it ipso facto separates one from The One Body Of Christ which exists Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost(Filioque).

    • You are exactly right…the Pontiff Francis and “his team” aim to transform Christ, and use him to serve their “new way” franchise.

      • ND and Chris, is then not the same truth that also an act of kuran-kissing in the essence is the paradigm shift, which has taken place before, that is the one which claims that we can transform a whole teaching of Jesus Christ’s holy Catholic Church which has been handed down to us for centuries according to the unchanging truth traditionally from our Lord Jesus Christ through the apostles and all apostolic successors?

        • I absolutely agree with you that the Koran-kissing act by JP2 was utterly wrong. And I can only hope it was done out of sheer human foolishness…

          • You are being optimistic, dear ‘Chris in Maryland’.

            Catholics, both clergy & lay, are accustomed to kissing The Gospel, a sign of our devoted love of the texts that reveal the truth of Jesus Christ, who sets millions of us free from infernal deception.

            PF’s kiss expressed love of texts that bind millions in infernal deception.

            No Vicar of Christ, foolish or not, would do that.

  11. This papacy has rendered itself irrelevant to Christ’s indefectible Church. Now the Church waits for a better day when Christ is once again acknowledged by the Pope as the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Light.

    • If simple faithful folk for 2000 years can have a hope of salvation by way of the Gospels Life of Christ what need have we of ‘theologians’? Did not St Thomas Aquinas announce that all his grand analysis was just straw? And this after a supernatural revelation of some sort? And he never wrote again? It seems PF is just a straw man who employs the intellectual pride of heterodox ‘theologians’ to progress in his Teilhardian fantasy.

  12. Very sobering and measured essay which I believe draws the right conclusions however unfortunate, namely, this Pope for whatever reason doesn’t view the Faith and doctrine as divinely inspired and morally absolute. The real question is did the conclave know what they were were getting and proceed anyway?

  13. Thank You Dr. Larry your reaction though blunt but necessary as the labors of our heroes past are being thrown to dust by this Motu Proprio. If Theology takes a shift other than what it is today, it becomes something not theological. Perhaps sociological. The theology I know and have read in the last 30 decades of my life has captured and still capturing the real experience of people.

  14. To better understand what we are confronting, it is helpful to dispense with the mentality of “progressive” ideology (i.e., the ideology of the Pontiff Francis), and to employ instead, “the mind of Christ.”

    One might begin by framing Christian principles in terms of what is transcendent and what is transient, instead of the Team-Francis-mentality (hat tip to Austen Ivereigh) that insists on using “old versus new.”

    As Christians, we are under the district impression that Jesus, and the revelation given his apostles by the Holy Spirit, are eternal truth, and did not come with a “sell-by-date” on the package.

    When we pull that thread, the “mental-clothing” of “Francis-speak” unravels, and we see the naked contradiction of Jesus and the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

    We see that we are being asked to choose between two persons.

    We see the choice laid bare, in this essay from 2018, by David Warren:

  15. “It is blunt and brutal in its own quiet, avuncular way. Kind of like the Pope himself. Tastes like honey. Laced with arsenic.”

    In biblical-apocalyptic terms, it’s the beast with two horns looking like a lamb but speaking like a dragon… (Rev. 13:11)

    • Why does Chapp think the pope ever tasted like honey? Was it when Francis jerked his hand and papal ring away from believers manifesting traditional etiquette and honor for the pope’s position?? Did the pope’s words drip honey instead of venom when they left his lips in the delivery of forked tongue speech?? Please give an example!

      Aquinas believed that demons and evil human souls could distort physical objects so that observing humans would perceive illusions rather than reality. I don’t know that Did Aquinas deduced that demons or evil souls could cause bitter, bile, and ejestive items to taste sweet….

      If the Church can teach new things, perhaps Catholic believers can see new realities in old and evil men.

  16. Anyone familiar with the history of western intellectual thought since the 19th century and the teachings of all them modern popes knows and understand that the issue has been and is a modernist understanding of reality opposed to an understanding of reality based upon Divine Revelation. I have a PhD in Modern European history with a emphasis on Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, as well as two seminary educations, Anglo-Catholic and Orthodox. To embrace the world’s understanding of reality grounded in the teachings of the godless social sciences, etc., will be a disaster and will lead people further away from Jesus Christ and His teachings regarding the salvation of our souls. “No one comes to the Father accept through Me.”

  17. A bit of Peronism.
    True democracy is when the government does only what the people want and defends only one interest: that of the people. = Synodaling
    Peronism is essentially popular. Any political circle is anti-popular and for that reason is not peronist. = Pandering
    For the peronist, there is nothing better than another peronist. = Rupnik, Zanchetta, McCarrick, et al.

  18. The irreverence with which you speak about the Holy Father is sinful. You must feel that your academic credentials give you the green light to do so. Makes me wonder whether St. Francis of Assisi was right about the dangers of theology. Holding one’s tongue is so difficult. The intellectual virtues really are distinct from the moral virtues.

    “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3, 5

    What has happened to CWR? So bitter and stuffy.

    • TJ writes: “The irreverence with which you speak about the Holy Father is sinful.”

      From whence comes this newfangled anathema? Sin? Heaven help us! Is there such a thing in 2023? Even if it can be shown to be true, WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?

      We’re travelling a 2-way street, pal. Perhaps the evil eye with its beams led you to miss the signs.

    • TJ says: CWR is “bitter.”

      I say: Time to get the taste buds tested.

      Chapp has noted that Francis tastes like “honey.” What’s bitter about honey, sweetie?

    • for starters, he’s too liberal to be the Holy Father; he comes from a liberal part of the world, so it’s not surprising he’s not anywhere near conservative

      it’s not a sin to have an opinion

  19. Dear Catholics, don’t waste your time reading the new encyclical. Rather, return this volley with a good and prayerful reading of Pascendi Dominici Gregis of Pope Pius X. Within it, you will find the most suitable explanation of the faults and missteps of the modernists that have given rise to the hi-jacking of the most recent Council and the egregious shallowness of this current synod. The Church, infused with Modernists who have insisted on getting their way with her; who insisted on being in charge; are the same men now groveling to a laity inebriated with confusion for commitment and leadership. What a testimony to the failure of modernism and modernism’s heroes and masterminds. . . .all while the churches of the modernists hemorrhage attendees with each successive Sunday. I don’t know about you, but every time I’m lost, I return to the place I last remember NOT being lost. There, I find my way again. It’s time to return HOME to the Catholic Church and dispel this myth that progress is sanctifying and edifying – or even remotely satisfying. We’re now officially wandering Fangorn Forest. Time to find our way UP and OUT of this mess.

  20. This theology is not new. And it is not Catholic. It has a name: Situation Ethics or Relativism. I believe it has been condemned by the Church. But then, what do I know? I’m no theologian and certainly no pope.

  21. Famous quote from The Treasure Of The Papa Bergoglio, “Logic? We ain’t got no logic! We don’t need no logic! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ logic!”

    • “You know, the worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it’ll be before it’s happened.”

      Treasure of the Sierra Madre

      • I would say equating modern psychology and sociology (both among the most changeable of “disciplines”/compare what they taught 20-100yrs ago with today) with Divine Revelation is plenty bad enough, likewise holding up lemmings as worthy of emulation, as hard to get much worse than mass suicide of an entire culture. Every culture which seeks to excuse the inexcusable inevitably fails.

        Likewise, any theologian who strives to be original inevitably falls into heresy.

        PS-glad at least one person recognized the prior line.

      • of course, as in this case, it can be much worse than feared…..we have folk who could not find God with two hands and a flashlight, and unable to tell anyone else how to find God, telling us what the Holy Spirit wants….where last I checked, the Holy Spirit was God.

  22. Thoroughly analyzed by Chapp as setting up strawmen, first the Church ante Francis, then theology, followed by Francis’ messiahlike revised edition of the New Testament.
    Although, the strawmen find life. From Ad theologiam promovendam 3: Anche i buoni teologi, come i buoni pastori, odorano di popolo e di strada e, con la loro riflessione, versano olio e vino sulle ferite degli uomini. Good theologians smell like their sheep. Those sinful street folks [why His Holiness appoints so many admittedly convicted morally deranged to high position at the Vatican?]. They pour water and wine on their wounds. Existential Translation: the sacraments other than the sacrament of penance. Consequently. Openness to man as he exists in his concrete conditions is the true response, not reduction to crystalized tactics, rather to epistemological, methodological rethinking, as I [Francis] indicated in in Veritatis gaudium. Section 4 confirms this as the extolled new paradigm. What Francis says here is all contained in Amoris Laetitia, the new gospel of the new epoch.

  23. This Motu propio is released the day after Pope Francis’ latest interview. Both perpetuate a fragmented picture that we see at this time and the interview itself is published in pieces across different websites, hard to follow.

    The implication seems to be that everything is conspicuously the Holy Spirit. With respect to the Gaza situation, however, what will stop it is “human wisdom”.

    Sorry to be critical. Pope Francis is unable to develop the doctrine of celibacy the same time as he is promoting an emphasis on “intellectual charity “away from “desk-theology”. And somehow we are to be enabled to judge such persons while we are unable to judge homosexualists.

    Not only is he unable to develop the doctrine of celibacy, he says explicitly it is only a question of discipline. But in X a couple days ago he mentioned holiness.

    One thing that remains consistent for now is the emphasis on being pastoral. All well and good except for (I would say) the missing elements. There are other dimensions to the priest besides being pastoral in the paramount and exclusive sense that is being offered and stressed.

    What comes out clearly though is that the Holy Father makes his points within the paradigm -constraints- adopted in the “synod”; and tailors the points back into the constrained -paradigmed- “synod”. Within this arrangement he reintroduces his (someone else’s?) idea of “transdisciplinary theology”.

    As things stand today, that’s the best I can make of it.

  24. Dr. Chapp asks “why was this Motu proprio needed at all?”
    The same question, though, could have been asked of Pope Gregory XVI, who revised the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in 1838, and John Paul II, who revised the statutes of the Academy in 1999. Popes are free to encourage certain theological methods that they believe correspond to the needs of their times. Leo XIII did this by encouraging a revival of Thomism with his 1879 encyclical, Aeterni Patris. John Paul II, though, in his 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, made it clear that “the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one” (no. 29).

    Dr. Chapp interprets Pope Francis’s new apostolic letter, “Ad theologiam promovendam,” in light of his own concerns about the Synod and other aspects of the pontificate of Francis. In doing so, however, he fails to appreciate some of the valid insights of the document. For example, in no. 7 of the letter Pope Francis highlights the sapiential dimension of theology, which he finds in St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed Antonio Rosmini (1797–1855). As many know, there was a posthumous condemnation of some alleged errors of Rosmini by the Holy Office in 1887 (Denz.-H, 3201–3241) that was qualified by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2001 (Denz.-H, 5091). John Paul II spoke favorably of Rosmini in his 1998 encyclical, Fides et Ratio, no. 74, and Benedict XVI beatified the Italian thinker in 2007. Pope Francis affirms an important insight of Rosmini: “It is impossible to know the truth without practicing charity” (è impossibile conoscere la verità senza praticare la carità). For Pope Francis, theology cannot be merely abstract and ideological. Instead, it must be “elaborated on the knees, pregnant with adoration and prayer; a transcendent knowledge and, at the same time, attentive to the voice of the people (elaborato in ginocchio, gravido di adorazione e di preghiera; un sapere trascendente e, al contempo, attento alla voce dei popoli).

    I believe Dr. Chapp’s own theological approach resonates with the sapiential and spiritual dimension of theology that Pope Francis highlights. Unfortunately, Chapp’s overriding desire to criticize “Ad theologiam promovendam” obscures the valid insights the Holy Father offers to theologians of today.

    • Dear Mr. Fastiggi:

      The statement attributed to Rosmini, “It is impossible to know the truth without practicing charity” seems at its core to be the distillation of an infantilizing ideology dressed up in Christian costume.

      It seems to be an assertion engineered to deny the divine gift of free will and man’s moral responsibility.

      • Yes, Rosmini is only half right. The completing statement is, surely, “It is impossible to practice charity without knowing the truth.”

        Fastiggi et al seem to be offering a theology of circular Russian roulette, whereby all theologies are equal, but the most recent is more equal. Fastiggi, therefore, selectively quotes Veritatis Splendor thusly: ““the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one” (no. 29).

        Perhaps, to those not committed to selective blindness, there is some relevance to revelation—as above both philosophy and theology:

        “…the commandment of love of God and neighbor does not have in its dynamic any higher limit, but it does have a lower limit, beneath which the commandment is broken” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 52)… AND : “The Church is no way [!] the author or the arbiter of this [‘moral’] norm” (n. 95).

        As if to say, and clearly so, that any carve-out of exemptions from the natural law, if cross dressed as a new philosophy or theology, remain falsehoods.

      • Dear Chris,

        Charity, as a theological virtue, is the result of sanctifying grace. St. Paul says: “If I have faith great enough to move mountains but have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2). 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever is without love (charity) does not know God, for God is love.” These are not infantile statements. They are the words of Sacred Scripture. I think the saying attributed to Rosmini must be understood in light of these Scriptures. God is love and also the truth. Those without love or charity do not know God who is the truth. This follows from 1 John 4:8. I don’t see how an emphasis on charity (the greatest of theological virtues) denies free will and moral responsibility. On the contrary, the free choice to commit mortal sin deprives a person of sanctifying grace and the virtue of charity.

        • So, now we’re talking about both love and truth, after all? More than just a one-track “focus”?

          In which case, perhaps Fastiggi can ally with Chapp to critique “vos populi” theology in light of some “desk” theology of nearly a century ago…Perhaps a joint submittal to Synod 2024 in advance of the anniversary of both Nicaea (1700 years) and the 100 years since Fulton J. Sheen took on evolutionary theology in his “God and Intelligence in [vs] Modern Philosophy” (1925). He wrote:

          “It is worth observing that much of modern doctrine of religious experience [the motu proprio?] is founded on a confusion of the natural and the supernatural order [….]
          “…until the fifteenth century, nature and grace were regarded as SUPERPOSED, one being the perfection of the other. Then came the new notion, one of JUXTAPOSITION of nature and grace. A philosophy and a theology began in which nature was separated from grace, which was regarded as a sort of cloak thrown over corrupted nature. Descartes carried on the separation by making an inseparable distance between subject and object, and Kant between moral and objective knowledge, metaphysics and science
          “Such a juxtaposition, which never should have been admitted [“inadmissible”!], continued until biology offered the wearied philosophers an apparent solution, viz. THE IDENTIFICATION OF WHAT IS JUXTAPOSED. It is in this stage that we are now living. Evolution introduced flux into existence, and pantheism further introduced a flux in the conception of value. Nature and grace were fused into one, knower and known united in the ineffable intuition [!] of becoming [the synodal “endless journey”?], God and the universe dissolved into one organic unity [synodally, a Holy Spirit plebiscite?].”

          So, within our “throwaway culture,” just wondering how overly “dynamic” the inductive motu proprio of “courageous cultural revolution” (!) will be with regard to truth?

          Even evolution is not enough! Monism, anyone?

        • Dear Mr. Fastiggi:

          On the contrary, I believe it is a preposterous explanation to quote the reliable words of St. Paul and St. John, which are revealed truth, and then insist that the text quoted from Rosmini, one which can be easily employed to subvert revelation, “must be understood in light of these Scriptures.”

          It is overwrought and overreaching to send an ambiguous message, and then insist that responsible people, recognizing the ambiguity, “must” deny the ambiguity they recognize.

          The words quoted from Rosmini can obviously be used for underlying intentions counter to revelation, and as my previous comment pointed out, Rosmini’s words can be used to serve the purpose to deny the divine gift of man’s free will.

          This is especially of concern for Catholic people who recognize that the Pontiff Francis has appointed men to leadership like Cardinal Hollerich (who, for instance, publicly denounced as wrong, the revealed truth taught by the Church about the sin of homosexual behavior) and invited celebrities like Ms. (some call her sister) Gramick (who has devoted her life to the promoting a “new way” as a substitute for what Hollerich denied).

          What Christian men and women “must do” is to heed the voice of the Jesus the Good Shepherd, and be on guard against the voices they recognize, and rightfully declare, are not his.

          • Well put, dear ‘Chris in Maryland: “What Christian men and women “must do” is to heed the voice of the Jesus the Good Shepherd, and be on guard against the voices they recognize, and rightfully declare, are not his.”

            For Catholics who actually participate in Holy Mass. let’s always begin with a loud reading of John 10:27-30. Praise God!

    • A professor of theology who cherry-picks lines to posit a little overwrought point is like picking one’s nose to propagating a smear.

      Veritatis, section 29, contains lines preceding and following the cherry-picked line:

      “…within the context of the theological debates which followed the Council, there have developed certain interpretations of Christian morality which are not consistent with “sound teaching” (2 Tim 4:3). Certainly the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one. Nevertheless, in order to “reverently preserve and faithfully expound” the word of God, the Magisterium has the duty to state that some trends of theological thinking and certain philosophical affirmations are incompatible with revealed truth.”

      As St. JPII has clearly stated, not all theology is compatible with revealed truth. This is irrespective of how one cherry-picks rotten fruit from lowly lying branches.

      • Dear Merion,

        I agree with John Paul II that not all theology is compatible with revealed truth. I cited Veritatis Splendor, 29, and Fides et Ratio, 49, to show that John Paul II recognized that the Church does not have a single theological or philosophical system. There are various theological and philosophical systems that are compatible with revealed truth. I thought my point was pretty obvious. I am sorry you misread it. I also am sorry that you felt the need to engage in crude and silly sarcasm.

        • My style fit the circumstance. I well understood your less than kind smear of St. JPII, and I am not sorry for making HIS MEANING CLEAR him to CWR readers. Why apologize to me for your own crudity? Is there no mirror in your mind?

    • Robert you utterly miss the point of why I asked the popesplainers why the Motu proprio was written at all. I think I made myself quite clear so it is hard to understand how you could have missed my point. I am arguing against the typical tactic of the popesplainers to say that in any of these papal documents from Francis that “there is nothing new here so everyone should just move along now” or that “this is clearly in total continuity with the Tradition and JPII/Benedict and is saying things that have already been said, but now in just a new way.” The rhetorical tactic has been in almost every instance to act as if those who see in the Pope a significant rupture with the past are just being easily triggered hysterics who cannot see how there really is nothing radically new in the Francis papacy. And that is why I ask them to consider why the Motu proprio was written at all. What is it concerned with? What kind of theology, specifically, is it critical of and why? What kind of theology is it proposing and why? And if the Pope does not think there really is a problem with the theological guild then why the Motu proprio at all? If this document really is just a rehashing of things already said, then why say them again?

      You also say that I read the Motu proprio through the lens of the Synod and the entirety of this papacy. Well.. duh. Yes I do. Of course I do. Just as I read Veritatis Splendor and all other papal writings of JPII through the lens of the entirety of his papacy and its major theological themes. In other words, I am doing what the Pope in the Motu prorpio says we should do. I was contextualizing it. I do not understand why you seem to think that is a problem. I would think that any theologian who did not attempt to put the document in this broader context was being superficial. And since the MP was promulgated one week after the end of the Synod and sounds many of the same themes as the Synod (listening, experience, dialogue, etc.) I think it is altogether reasonable to view it as no coincidence and that this document represents a continuation of the synodal process. I think this should be self-evident and require no justification. But of course, what it is you are insinuating is that just as I have irrationally criticized the Pope and the Synod in the past, so too here. You are essentially saying, “this is just more of Chapp’s anti-papal drumbeat”. But that begs the question of whether or not my arguments about the Synod are true or not. And they are not just my arguments, but arguments put forward by scores of other reputable theologians and prelates.

      But you and the other popesplaining sophists rarely actually engage the arguments of papal critics like Cardinals Mueller and Zen, or theologians from all over the world, or reporting from seasoned journalists like Altieri and Condon. You choose instead to impugn their motives as not as pure as yours and to engage in superficial ad hominem attacks. And you are masters of deflection. For example, you say that I miss the good bits in the Motu proprio because of my “overriding desire to criticize” the document. How do you know what my desires and motives are?? What a cheap trick. And it is cheap because that game works both ways. I could just as easily say that you are defending the document and criticizing me because of your “overriding desire to defend this papacy at all costs”. You have no idea what my “overriding desires” are. None. Zippo. But you want to make it seem, as all of you popesplainers do with regard to the papal critics, that we are all just a bunch of easily triggered emotional types who have no real arguments and are just hell-bent on destroying this papacy for largely emotional and irrational reasons. We are just to be dismissed as “Pope haters” and that is that.

      But you could not be more wrong. When I first started my blog four years ago now what were my first topics? Criticisms of Taylor Marshall, Michael Voris, and Archbishop Vigano and defenses of Pope Francis. And whenever the Pope has said things that I thought were good I have said so, like just last month when he reaffirmed that we cannot ordain women to Holy Orders. I clicked my heals in joy and thanked the Holy Father for this. But if my desire were merely to destroy and tear down this Pope I would have found a reason to criticize even that. But I did not. I love it when this Pope gets things right. But hey, it serves your rhetorical argument to portray me as just someone who has an “overriding desire” to criticize this Pope and anything he writes. It conveniently gets you off the hook to actually engage my arguments.

      And yes, there are good bits in the Motu prorpio and you accurately point them out. Theology needs to be sapiential, and on one’s knees, grounded in prayer and adoration. But I ignored these bits because everyone today, other than some rad trad Neo-scholastic hold-outs, thinks that this is true. Who is out there in the circle of mainstream theology (either in progressive or Communio circles) that denies this and is not trying to do just that? Indeed, that is one of the main points of my essay, which you completely ignore. That this kind of sapiential theology is ALREADY being done and has been going on now for around 100 years or more. And even further back when you consider theologians like Newman and Scheeben. So excuse me for viewing his praise for sapiential theology as a red herring since he proceeds to set up a straw man caricature of theology as merely “repeating the formulas of the past”. Who in the hell is doing that?? Answer: very, very few. And what do such statements even mean? Which formulas are wrongly being repeated? Why? By whom? Which formulas should we repeat and which ones should we not? Or is it wrong to repeat all past formulas since it is the act of repeating as such which is bad? The whole document is riddled with this kind of rhetoric and it is just ambiguous to the point of incoherence.

      But you ignore all of that in your overriding desire to criticize my critique without ever paying attention to the arguments in my critique. And since theology has already been oriented to the sapiential what is it then that is different in the Motu prorpio? What is this paradigm shift that he calls for? Obviously he is not content with how things are now so we are thoroughly justified in asking the Holy Father (are we allowed to ask the Pope anything these days without recrimination?) what is it about the current state of sapiential theology with which he is displeased? And why? I would submit to you that it is because he wants a sapiential theology that begins with contextualized experience and then makes that experience normative for reinterpreting Revelation, whereas Communio theologians use the truths of Revelation to adjudicate what is normative and what is distortive in contextualized experience. And that is what JPII and Benedict called for as well. But Pope Francis views the use of Revelation as primordially superior in this conversation to be “a repeating of formulas of the past” apparently.

      We saw this at play in the Synod and in the lead up to the Synod. The rhetoric on the LGBTQ stuff from the likes of Hollerich and McElroy (to name just two of many) was all in this vein. The Church’s traditional teaching is grounded in an older and flawed set of understandings of homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality, queerness and so on down the alphabet, and must now be reinterpreted in the light of our current context and experiences which, by the way, are clearly superior contexts and experiences to those of everyone who came before us. Therefore, as the man who Francis put in charge of the Synod has put it (Cardinal Hollerich) the Church’s teachings on these matters are simply wrong and should change.

      This is the kind of theology that Francis wants even if he may not agree with all of its conclusions (as with Hollerich). It explains why Pope Francis favors these types even if he disagrees with some of their moral conclusions. And it is because they are articulating exactly the kind of theological methodology the Pope wants. A method that privileges contemporary experience over traditional doctrines.

      These are not idle concerns Robert and are not the hyperbolic fulminations of a gaggle of irrational pope haters. They are the sober observations of many theologians, myself included, and they give me absolutely no joy. I really, really wanted this pope to succeed. I was at one time one of his biggest cheerleaders and defenders. But I have reluctantly reached the conclusion that his papacy is a pastoral and theological train wreck. And I feel no hesitancy any longer in saying so. The Church has had many lousy popes in the past as even a casual reading of Church history will prove. I think Pope Francis is a lousy Pope. And I have offered reasons for why I think so.

      • Normally given to long contributions myself I can only say “bingo!”
        So well said Dr. Chapp. Your essays are always appreciated.

      • You critique the tone deaf who bethink themselves as proffering “clearly superior contexts and experiences to those of everyone who came before us.” C.S. Lewis’ “chronological snobbery” in cap and gown.

        And yet, butt for the spelling, Robert, Hollerich, Jiminy Cricket James Martin & Co. are correct to think of their predictable sycophantry “as whole.”

      • Bravo, Dr. Chapp. Your dismantling of the exceedingly unjust Fastiggi, in his false characterization of your article and your motivations, can serve as a superb template in defense of all those who sincerely and accurately criticize Pope Francis whenever he engages in harmful or potentially harmful actions revealed to be such by objective analysis.

        In fact, so very far off the mark is Fastiggi in his ongoing modus operandi of falsely gaslighting thoughtful and faithful Catholics like you by pretending that problematic Papal statements “are not the droids you are looking for” that, as they say in the scientific community, he is not even wrong.

        Indeed, as you also rightly point out, Pope Francis is a lousy pope, and perhaps even the worst pope in history based on his refusal and/or flat out failure to fulfill the basic obligations and responsibilities of any man elevated to the Papacy. The last time I checked, making a mess is not a requirement for the job, but this is precisely what Pope Francis continues to do to the detriment of our beloved Church.

      • Dear Larry,

        Thank you for your comments. I think you protest too much. I was not impugning your motives. I was simply being descriptive. Yes, you are correct that we need to understand papal documents within a certain context. I had read through the motu proprio on my own before reading your article. I understood it within the contxt of the Roman Pontiff wishing to give theological direction to a pontifical academy, which, as a pontifical academy, is under his direction. When I read documents from Pope Francis or any other pope, I read them as coming from the successor of St. Peter who, as the Council of Florence teaches, “is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, the father and teacher of all Christians” who has from our Lord Jesus Christ “the full power of feeding, ruling, and governing the whole Church, as is also contained in the acts of the ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons” (Denz.-H 1307). In other words I read Pope Francis’s motu proprio as a Catholic who respects the teaching office of the Roman Pontiff. In reading any papal document my desire is not only to understand but to learn. This is not “popesplaining” sophistry but the “reverence and charity” the Church asks the faithful to manifest towards their shepherds “who by reason of their sacred office represent the person of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 37). You are correct, Larry, that I do not know your motives, but your article comes across as quite critical. You even say that the Motu proprio “reads like Tucho Fernandez’s revenge on what he probably views as the ‘anti-Vatican II’ reign of terror of the previous two popes.” When a document comes from the Roman Pontiff I believe we have an obligation to read it with benevolence and respect and make an effort to appreciate the good points being made. This does not mean we cannot raise questions about the contents of papal documents. We should raise these, though, “with an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties” (CDF, Donum Veritatis, 1990, no. 30). I apologize if you believe I unfairly impugned your motives. That was not my intent at all. I simply wanted to note that there are some good and valid insights in the Holy Father’s new motu proprio. I was lamenting the fact that your critical reaction to the document failed to give proper attention to these good points. Pax Christi.

        • Actually no, I am not protesting too much. You were impugning my motives by claiming that I had an “overriding desire” to criticize the document. And, as I said, there is no way for you to know what my overriding desires are. You merely assume those motives based on the fact that you found my essay overly critical. And indeed it was critical. Because it deserved such a response. It is, quite frankly, one of the dumbest papal documents I have ever read.

          But thank you for this latest comment since it does get to the nub of the difference I think between the two of us. When all is said and done what it is you are really objecting to is the fact that I do not share your interpretation of the piety we owe to all Popes, apparently without regard to whether they are good popes or lousy ones. In many ways my essay was actually not critical enough.

          Your comment once again fails to engage a single one of my arguments in the essay. Arguments that are shared by many reputable theologians. I do not emphasize that last point in order to argue that therefore I must be right if many others agree with me. Rather, it is to underscore that the arguments are real ones and many others have noticed the same deficiencies in the document I have. Sadly, you do not address the arguments and chose instead to deflect. For example, you ignore the obvious and resort to saying, “but look at these few good things that were in the document!”

          I stand by every word that I wrote. Sorry if my deficient papal piety offends you.

        • If your discernment lacks a category for “bad pope”, your evaluation cannot be taken seriously in view of Pope Francis’ (unwise? Machiavellian?) actions and the disruptive effects of his “pastoral” permissiveness. No, thanks, I’ll choose St. Paul, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Vincent Ferrer, and Savanarola’s purity of heart and love for the unity of the Church over your hyperpapalist piety that would condone a failing pope’s betrayal of his office.

        • I find myself in agreement (!) with Fastiggi that the motu proprio must be read in context, but I also raise a question and “’with an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties’ (CDF, Donum Veritatis, 1990, no. 30)”.

          Considering TWO contexts, would Pope Francis’ proposed approach/redefinition (?) to theology be as it is if the document were not in the context of BOTH the pontifical academy AND synodality? Indeed, is even the academy within the context of synodality?

          Would the synod Synthesis Report be less impenetrable—less invertebrate—if it were less pre-Pope Galasius (A.D. 419-496)? That is, where Galatius introduced the “two swords” which, after fifteen centuries of shuffling, are articulated by the Second Vatican Council as two domains. Interrelated, but still more distinct than synodal (the profane or secular and the sacred)?

          WHAT IF synodality, from the beginning: (1) clearly distinguished what is a direct Church responsibility and what is the domain of those assigned the common good; (2) did not then confuse/conflate the legitimate consultation process with a possibly concurrent “synod of bishops” (prohibited early in the German “non-synod”); and (3) did not obscure/displace a reliable moral and ecclesial compass? (Instead, valuable but too much free-form communion, participation, and mission?)

          The Synod? Concrete engagement at the level of experience, and even front-end “listening” first, finds an early pioneer in Cardinal DANIELOU, “Prayer as a Political Problem” (1965). But, the final sentence then reads:

          “We do not seek to empty of meaning words like God, sin, religion, or to secularize them by giving them a sense which is entirely profane. On the contrary, what we try to do is to express their OBJECTIVE [caps added] content, starting [yes, a start only] from the experience of contemporary man.” I’m sure Fastiggi would agree. But other thoughtful minds, based on the past ten years, discern a glass more than half empty. So, where is THIS dialogue as between outcast “backwardists” and the self-validating mutual admiration society of “forwardists”? Ships passing in the night…

          The not-so-new theology of situation ethics, rather than situated morality?

    • I can’t agree more, Fastiggi. Perhaps Chapp me need to reread your response and also consider this example A classic example concerns Sir Isaac Newton’s paradigm of motion and
      gravity, and Albert Einstein’s more recent paradigm. Einstein’s paradigm does
      not suggest that the Newtonian paradigm is now useless; it is well established.
      School physics quite adequately use Newton’s paradigm. Einstein, however,
      addressed new questions which the Newtonian paradigm cannot answer. In
      Jauss’ language, we need a new paradigm to deal with new questions and
      answers within a new horizon of meaning. ttps:// Published online by Cambridge University Press

      • The paradigm-shift insight is appropriate to the natural sciences and, therefore, is misappropriated into moral theology, from Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962).

        Science has trouble dealing with the unique historical event of the Incarnation since God-made-Man is not replicable under man-controlled laboratory conditions. Instead, the singular and even alarming event of Christ is the center of all human history, and applicable to all human circumstances and questions, old and new. (Even the Mother of God proclaims, “from this day all generations will call me blessed.”)

        Some guy named Albert Einstein said it this way:

        “This is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors” (Albert Einstein, “Science and Religion” [1939], Out of My Later Years [New York: Philosophical Library, 1950], pp. 25-26).

        But, what the hell does Albert know; he never consulted synodally with guru Afu.

        • Peter B:

          Thank you for so deftly addressing this charade of the “Pontiff-Francis-Paradigm-Shift” first subversively suggested by the Pontiff Francis’ world-affairs-spokesman and chief agent Cardinal Parolin of the corrupted and corrupting “New-Ways-Vatican Secretariat of State.

          These men, Pontiff Francis and Cardinal Parolin, etc, etc, reveal with their very words their mind, not “the mind of Christ,” but instead, the mind after their decapitation of the Body of Christ: “the mind of McCarrick.”

  25. Pope Francis has a problem with what he calls a “desk bound theology”, yet he has no problem with a “seated synodality”. His theology is a straw man theology: he sets up his opponents in a field of unclarity and deception and sets them ablaze without any of the sympathy or dialogue which he supposedly holds so dear.

    • Love this comment! So perfect. And I would add that for all of the criticism of a “desk bound” theology, most likely this Motu proprio was written by someone at a desk, in a cushy curial office, and who hasn’t had any real pastoral contact with real people in a very long time. And talk about a mere “repeating of the formulas of the past”!! The whole thing reads like it was written by a theology grad student at Georgetown in 1975.

      • Thank you Dr. Chapp. My primary concern is that theology does not become only something of the people. There is of course “pastoral theology”, but just as the whole church cannot be Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, or Jesuit, so theology cannot be only pastoral. In progressive thought this type of theology is not about pastoring the people as mush as it is about “peopling” the pastors. If theology loses its meaning as “reasoning or discourse about the divinity” (St. Augustine) enlightened by faith (St. Thomas Aquinas) in the context of Sacred Scripture and Tradition it will lose its way. It will no longer sit or stand, but lay prostrate before the world.

    • Years back in theology class I heard von Balthasar quoted “Theology was once a occupation of the knees. It has become one of the seat of the pants.”
      While this reality has been in place for long, it has reached its saturation point during the Bergoglian Captivity.
      Lord, how much longer?

  26. For all the talk about “lived experience,” so much of progressive thought is essentially just Sadduceeism, in that it ignores that the four last things are real. It is damning, I think, that those parts of the Church most convinced that nobody goes to Hell were the most worried about people dying during Covid, in that this cowardice belied that they also believe that nobody really goes to Heaven.

    Catholic moral theology only makes sense if “lived experience” includes those parts of our lives we spend in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. I have a feeling that like Lazarus, there are several theologians of the prior century wishing they had the opportunity to warn their brothers of what is to come for them.

    Although one also imagines that such warnings would be impotent to those who believe neither in Moses nor the prophets nor in someone who rises from the dead.

  27. The Holy Father could have saved a lot of words by just saying:

    “There are no longer any acts considered to be intrinsically evil. Every act must be evaluated independently in its given situation and circumstance.”

  28. Yes, the Church needs to be engaged with people’s real lives in all the ways Pope Francis’ motu proprio talks about — and, as Dr. Chapp amply pointed out, there have been no shortage of theologians already doing exactly that for the last hundred years or more.

    But I think that Catholic theology loses something if that engagement were to become the primary focus or primary methodology; it waters down “theology” to mean nothing other than “whatever Christians happen to be talking about.”

    The dichotomy between a theology centered on academic pursuits (“desk theology”) on the one hand, and a theology centered on the people, that too seems to leave out a lot. As if those are the only two alternatives. Where is there room for a theology centered on God?

    • Dear Jared P., spot on – “Where is there room for a theology centered on God?”

      Pope Francis et al. – & most ‘theologians’ including Chapp – act as if the 27 texts by 9 Apostolic authors had no binding authority! They all loathe being told what was, what is, what will be and, most of all, what they MUST do to obey = love God!

      Neuroscientists tell us the human brain has been markedly shrinking. Readily confirmed by reading the wordy self-worshipping contorted innovations of so many so-called theologians and contrasting it with The Holy Spirit-anointed witness of: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, the author of Hebrews, James, Peter, & Jude.

      Those who hunger to be at one with King Jesus Christ know that immersion in and submission to The New Testament is indispensable.

      Hopefully, a kind believer will give Francis, Larry, and all of the others a Christmas present wall-plaque bearing the words of Colossians 2:8 –

      “Make sure no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some secondhand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ.”

      By grace, ever following The Lamb of God; love & blessings from marty

      • …“Chapp….act[s] as if the 27 texts by 9 Apostolic authors had no binding authority! They all loathe being told what was, what is, what will be and, most of all, what they MUST do to obey = love God!”

        This is utterly, completely, totally false about Larry Chapp. It is 180 degrees the opposite of what he believes. I am writing as someone who knows him and has read everything the has written over many years. I am appalled at this blatant lie. He is a completely faithful, orthodox, believing Catholic who has never once, ever, said or even remotely implied anything at all like what you said.

        • Thank you! It is idiotic comments like this one that cause me to usually just ignore the comment box. You just shake your head in disbelief in how risibly ignorant some comments are.

        • Dear N.W. Clerk,

          No one could doubt your familiarity with and passionate affiliation (even lodge members manifest the same). That is not what is in question.

          What was and still is being questioned is Professor Larry Chapp’s beliefs concerning the nature & authority of King Jesus Christ. Chapp is shy of openly stating who Christ always was, is now, and always will be; even when requested.

          In the current shambles in the Catholic Church, Matthew 24:24 strongly applies. As one famous philosopher put it: “Not everyone’s god is God!”

          True Catholics fearlessly witness to the unique & absolute authority of King Jesus Christ. Those believers who participate in Holy Mass will recognise how we always lovingly proclaim this as part of the Creeds of Catholicism.

          Many good Catholics are sick of those who foment distinctions (even though we might be impressed by their eloquence & academic party tricks).

          Deep faith in, trust on, and love for Who Jesus Christ Is – free of academic equivocations & of lodger subterfuges – is what brings unity in The Holy Spirit & so dissolves the malice of endless academic sniping.

          The wrong PF & cronies are working will be put right by deeper & more informed faith in The LORD Jesus Christ, not by answering PF with partisan cogitations.

          Ever in aspiring obedience to King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

          • “Chapp is shy of openly stating who Christ always was, is now, and always will be; even when requested.”

            Seriously? Good grief.

      • What in the heck are you talking about? Are you even remotely familiar with my theological works? You must be since you are making some bold claims about what it is my theology affirms. And apparently, according to you, my theological writings indicate that I do not believe in the absolutely primordial normativity of the Bible.

        This is just flatulent nonense. And what in my current essay could possibly lead you to believe that I do not believe in the normativity of Scripture? Simply because I agree that theology needs to pay attention to cultural context and subjective experience? My goodness, even the Fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, and every Doctor of the Church affirms that.

        And as to the charge that paying attention to such things does not put God first I can only say that this is wrong. Look at the titles of my first two books: “The God Who Speaks” (which is on Revelation) and “The God of Covenant and Creation” (which is on science and religion). In both books God is first in the title because God is main subject of the book. So get a clue before you spout off nonsense.

        One can affirm the importance of context and experience in theology all the while affirming the priority of God. It is actually not hard to do at all. Because God is the Creator and became Incarnate and seeks to involve his creatures in their own redemption, the categories of human subjectivity and experience are not only allowed within theology, but demanded by it.

        • Dear Larry – please see my response to N.W. Clerk, above.

          ps Your kind description of my crit: “This is just flatulent nonense.”

          Larry, say no more!

          Those who call on you to make clear your beliefs concerning WHO KING JESUS CHRIST WAS, IS NOW, AND ALWAYS WILL BE are sneered at as: “nonsense far*s”.

          As remarked by better Catholics than me: “Insults indicate insufficiency!”

          Ever in the grace & mercy of King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

  29. This is a manifesto for atheism, which is not limited to a denial of a divinity but includes anyone who believes that truth changes, even if such a mind lacks self-awareness.
    It is time to take the gloves off and recognize Francis as the man dedicated to evil that he is. If he is an evil man, that is for God to judge, but his commitment to moral relativism demonstrates a mind that has avoided sober consideration of damaging consequences to moral permissiveness with abusive concepts of indiscreet mercy. Francis can’t even make the logical connection between his tolerance of the sex revolution and abortion, which he claims to oppose. The most charitable explanation is that he hasn’t matured beyond the level of a sentimental adolescent, a product of submitting to temptations of vanity from decades of a dissident ecclesial culture never disciplined before it metastasized.
    Can we at least have those concerned about Our Church agree to refrain from calling him “Holy Father”.

    • Spot on, Edward, on the most charitable explanation. That sentimental adolescent received, likely as a Christmas gift, one very big chemistry set, and began to use it, intent on getting his name within the annals of ecclesial science.

  30. “[Satan] will set up a counter church, which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church … It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church but in reverse and emptied of its divine content…The false prophet will have a religion without a Cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit church.” –Bishop Fulton Sheen

  31. Dear Shawn Marshall: Theologically, “PF is just a straw man”. True, very true . . .

    But PF is also ‘A NUMBERS MAN’ who’s discovered how easy it is to rort the system.

  32. Your article raises many interesting points. I appreciate your question, what is the need of this motu prioprio? But to help attempt your questions, there is a question woven into the title of the motu prioprio, “why the promotion of theology needed? It is in attempting this question that your many questions would inadvertently be resolved. I find in this question an invitation to rethink our theologising.

    I have a lot of respect for bishop Varden, and for many of your theologians. But I doubt if there will agree with your reading of the motu prioprio as a conclusion searching for an argument. Perhaps, it is reasonable to admit to the confronting nature of the Motu Prioprio, and to identify with the reasoning it is advancing against a scholastic orientation that seemingly colours most theological schools. The Motu Prioprio is challenging a particular theological method, but isn’t it what every method and methodology do?

    Second, I understand you are scholar in Balthasar. I am not. But the little I have read about Balthasar is his emphasis on beauty as an evangelical virtue. He argues that beauty is more winsome. If my take on Balthasar is correct, then there is something about beauty that shift the focus away from the object of beauty to the subject experiencing the beautiful. This shift does not negate the existence and reality of the object of beauty. It simply asked the question of how best the object of beauty can be experience within a gift time.

    Finally, I find the rationale of the Motu prioprio to be consistent and recaptures the vocation of the theologian as a man and woman of prayer. He or she begins his theologising from the knees, praying to God and discerning in prayer what God is asking of him and testing that musing with the Scriptures and the available science. Discernment and conversion become an implied method of the theologian. In light of this, Francis Motu Prioprio as a invitation to do theology as a vocation.

    • Dear Afu, certainly reads as rationally meaningful. Until we notice that – like both the cronies of Pope Francis and most theologians like Larry – a blind eye is turned towards their Creator, Savior, Master, and eternal Judge.

      Saint Paul instructs, in 2 Corinthians 13:8, that it’s fatal to work against The Truth.

      For true Catholics, our every thought, cogitation, & action concerning God (that is our theology) has always to be framed thus:

      “Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other & advise each other in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms & hymns & inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in The Name of The Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God The Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17.

      When we hear Larry & other catholic theologians or PF & entourage doing THAT, then we might consider their words to be more than phatic self-congratulation. ? even lodge members set on occupying the airways of Catholicism. In contrast:

      “The Word of God is something alive & active; it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely; it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit; or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions & thoughts. No created thing can hide from Him, everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of The One to whom we must give account of ourselves.” Hebrews 4:12-13

      Can we find any among those many spruiking ‘theology’ who fear God?

  33. Came across this article rather ‘accidently’ -that talks about the almost precipitous drop in a European nation , in the # of persons who choose to even baptise the children anymore- to be fewer than 3%, how prosperity and seeing reasons Church attendance having been seen as primarily to maintain social connectons without a living faith as reasons ; the Arch Bishop who gave the interview has good points about the Synod too –

    Hoping that one of these days , theologians who are good at the Divine Will revelations would be able to decipher the connecting dots of much that has been brought into The Church in recent years through Vat 11, related teachinga during the recent Papacies as being pretty much all around same to a good extent, as efforts to bring better and deeper awareness of same produce marvelous fruits as the Reign of The Kingdom ..
    ‘Love others with His Love ‘ – unsure if that phrase used by the Holy Father as a blessing at the closing Holy Mass of the Synod is very much of the Divine Will grace and the ‘paradigm shift ‘ – that has the Rounds format of praise .. we get to love ourselves too with His Love 🙂 – -again as topics that seem rather beyond my grasp to a good extent for whatever reason .. yet, hoping that more help and its great graces are coming into these areas, thus to The Church as a whole , through the efforts and initiatives of those who trust that The Mother and the Holy Spirit want no less for our times and people ! FIAT !

    • Thanks for the Pillar article on Cardinal Eijk referring to Benedict’s answer (that a creative minority can still have a huge influence on society) based on Arnold Toynbee who concluded that the rise of a culture practically always comes about through the influence of a creative minority … who have answers to the challenges of the day. The little children of the Divine Will ! Fiat!

  34. Hi Prof Chapp,

    I can understand why people would consider you a critic of People Francis, and indeed an unfair one. Perhaps there is wisdom in this example.

    “A classic example concerns Sir Isaac Newton’s paradigm of motion and
    gravity, and Albert Einstein’s more recent paradigm. Einstein’s paradigm does
    not suggest that the Newtonian paradigm is now useless; it is well established.
    School physics quite adequately use Newton’s paradigm. Einstein, however,
    addressed new questions which the Newtonian paradigm cannot answer.” (ttps:// Published online by Cambridge University Press)

    • Dear Afu, nice try! Yet, think again, please . . .

      Newton wasn’t a Holy Spirit-inspired witness to the life & commands of the eternal Christ.

      Einstein wasn’t a disobedient pope & his cronies aiming to pervert The Lord’s crystal-clear instructions.

    • Thank your, again, for this posting as example of wind-up toy discourse, posted already on Nov. 4 at 10:43 a.m. At the risk of insulting real CWR readers who actually track postings on this site, I hereby repeat my ignored response time-checked at 8:33 p.m.

      REPEAT: The paradigm-shift insight is appropriate to the natural sciences and, therefore, is misappropriated into moral theology, from Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962).

      Science has trouble dealing with the unique historical event of the Incarnation since God-made-Man is not replicable under man-controlled laboratory conditions. Instead, the singular and even alarming event of Christ is the center of all human history, and applicable to all human circumstances and questions, old and new. (Even the Mother of God proclaims, “from this day all generations will call me blessed.”)

      Some guy named Albert Einstein said it this way:

      “This is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors” (Albert Einstein, “Science and Religion” [1939], Out of My Later Years [New York: Philosophical Library, 1950], pp. 25-26).

      But, what the hell does Albert know; he never consulted synodally with guru Afu.

    • At the risk of insulting the functionally literate, I repeat my ignored response to your identical comment posted at 10:43 a.m.

      REPEAT: The paradigm-shift insight is appropriate to the natural sciences and, therefore, is misappropriated into moral theology, from Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962).

      Science has trouble dealing with the unique historical event of the Incarnation since God-made-Man is not replicable under man-controlled laboratory conditions. Instead, the singular and even alarming event of Christ is the center of all human history, and applicable to all human circumstances and questions, old and new. (Even the Mother of God proclaims, “from this day all generations will call me blessed.”)

      Some guy named Albert Einstein said it this way:

      “This is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors” (Albert Einstein, “Science and Religion” [1939], Out of My Later Years [New York: Philosophical Library, 1950], pp. 25-26).

      But, what the hell does Albert know; he never consulted synodally with guru Afu.

  35. While it is undoubtedly true that progressives have moved against the Communio school in recent years, speaking as a traditional Catholic I can’t muster a whole lot of sympathy for the Communio school or its increasingly beleaguered adherents like Dr. Chapp here. For one thing, most of these progressives were promoted and later appointed by Communio school popes, including most conspicuously then Fr. Bergoglio. We know that JPII was perfectly capable of cracking down on those prelates he thought weren’t following his personal vision of VII (cf. Archbishop Lefebvre and Liberation theology to a lesser extent). Yet many of these progressives including individuals who we now know were seriously compromised figures like McCarrick were promoted and allowed to fester during the groaningly long pontificate of JPII. Maybe I am simplistic, but if JPII and the Benedict papacies had done more due diligence in their ecclesial appointments, I think many current crises we are dealing with today would have never arisen.

    I also feel like if we had a Pope John Paul III instead of Pope Francis, Dr. Chapp would probably still be occupying that “reasonable mean” between the progressives and trads today and would probably largely turn a blind eye to religious indifferentism, widespread liturgical abuses, declining church attendance rates and lack of discipline among the clerics that characterized the Church from the 70s to early 2000s because we had Pope who wrote long turgid encyclicals (that hardly anyone reads or digests) trying to wed Neo-Kantianism with analytical Thomism.

    Instead of laying the blame at abstractions like bourgeois-liberal modernity or the much maligned and powerless rad trads, Dr. Chapp might want to look at the failings of Communio itself.

    • Dear PseudoISE: “the failings of Communio itself.”

      Friend, ALL fail who are not immersed in & submitted in loving obedience to The New Testament & its Holy Spirit-anointed Apostolic witness to our Creator, Only Teacher, and uniquely redeeming Savior: King Jesus Christ.

  36. Thanks, dear Carl:
    “‘Chapp is shy of openly stating who Christ always was, is now, and always will be; even when requested.’ Seriously? Good grief.”

    Not a few agree: ‘Tis grievous, indeed. Cld be easy for dear Larry to address, but.

  37. excellent article by Chapp; seems to me, theology these days should still be based upon thinking in Dei Verbum, as mediated through Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Me thinks the thought of a council still trumps the ideas floating around during Synod of Rome / 2023. I can understand Chapp’s reference to the pope; I find myself trying to understand how someone can hold a papal office yet be unqualified to do so; will the Holy Spirit let loose at synod 2024? or will the Lord send us a new conclave in meantime?

    • Right. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” is as good an anchor for theology as it is for anything else in Christian thought and praxis. The best developments in theology are in the direction of being more Christological, and in so doing, they will be better at the service of the Church’s pastoral and evangelistic mission.
      Putting anything else at the center leads to false dichotomies such as “desk theology” versus theology of the people or whatever.
      I don’t think the desk theology quip is a strawman, either. But I yawn at the idea of a theology that tries to hard to be from my own point of view or be about me. I, non-theologian that I am, am already thoroughly acquainted with my own context. Show me Christ! Tell me something I haven’t heard before — especially when it is the Good News that I have heard all my life. That is what theology does at its best, and it does it by remembering who its talking to (the Pope’s point is already well taken) and by never forgetting Who it is talking about and on behalf of.

  38. I suggest y’all read the “Book of Truth”. In the beginning everyone was quick to call her a false prophet, but with hindsight we can see she had inside knowledge about the future, and we know that demons would never recommend 3 mysteries of the Rosary a day. That the warning didn’t happen yet doesn’t make her a false prophet, any more than the lack of doom made Jonah a false prophet. I won’t keep on arguing for her, but ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.

    We now have a pope who has recommended that bishops and priests give the blessing of Christ and the blessing of the Church to sodomy, which is one of the four Sins that Cry to Heaven for Vengeance. (The other 3 sins that cry to heaven for vengeance are murder, oppression of the poor, and defrauding workers of their just wages.) Furthermore, this practice of Catholic priests blessing this sin is already going on in several nations, and has been for a few years now, and no Catholic authority is even talking about stopping it.
    I think I speak for many Catholics who wonder what we should do now, now that the Pope (along most or many of this fellow Catholic bishops) openly approve of and encourage one of the darkest, deadliest sins? Nothing? Is that what we should do? Just accept it? Go with the flow? Just grouse, mumble, and complain a little, and write erudite theological essays that politely question certain aspects of the underlying theology of the blessing and encouragement of sin? And what about when the popes and his allied bishops approve of the installation of statues of false gods and saints (Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Ganesha, etc.) in our churches and tell us it’s okay to pray to them–do we just go with the flow of that, too? Is there no “red line” crossing that is a matter of going too far, that should prompt the faithful to refuse association with it? Don’t the faithful have some moral duty to do something significant, to stand up for the holiness of God and of God laws, even if popes and bishops and priests won’t? Has Rome fallen? Do we just give up and fall right along with it? Do we just go along with the infernal Big Lie coming from these practitioners of “renewal,” the “medicine of mercy,” “pastoral charity”? Do we attend mass at parishes with priests, deacons, and religious educators who go along with and openly endorse and encourage this now papally approved infernal lie of the serpent in the garden? Do we send our dear children to Catholic schools that endorse and encourage this sin-promoting lie?

    • Dear Frank Cannondale: truly a cry from the heart of a faithful & informed Catholic.

      Two matters come to mind. First, Matthew 23:33-35 shows us that the leaders of ‘the people of God’ are capable of being the worst enemies of God and of God’s servants. Today is not the first time outright blasphemous treachery has infected the Church. Maybe check out the life of Saint Peter Damien, and you’ll find that the battle against the evil spirit of Sodom has deep & dirty roots.

      Second, the furthering by the current pope & his cronies of anti-Apostolic corruption of The Church did not come out of the blue. The Catholic Church has long been the target for gradual infiltration by freemasons and other occultists. Why do they do this we might ask? Because the world spirit who they have accepted as their god binds them in subtlety to mock & pollute & destroy our witness to The LORD Jesus Christ.

      Satan has a party whenever a Catholic archbishop (one thinks of Arch. Duhig) secretly bows his knee to evil in freemason/witchcraft ceremonies; virtually guaranteeing lesser bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, & lay leaders will follow. There is then a long period of attrition, led by pseudo-history, pseudo-philosophy, & pseudo-theology. That’s what laid the groundwork enabling the present abominations to show themselves in public. This poisonous mushroom springs from a vast mycelium.

      King Jesus Christ instructs us: “I have set aside a remnant for Myself, who have not bowed their knee to evil.” So, let those of us who still worship Jesus Christ as our One & Only LORD, continue to study His Word, hear Him, loving obey, & follow Him.

      It could cost us our reputation, our income, even our life but we’ll rest secure because: “I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from Me.” John 10:27-28

      So, in answer to your question, Frank: “What are we Catholics to do?” The answer is – even if the whole Church gets stolen by Satan/Lucifer/the Devil – make sure YOU stay strong in Christ, from whom you can never be stolen. Filled with His Peace, humbly ask Him what you are to do in every situation that faces you.

      Ever in the grace & mercy of Christ Eternal; love & blessings from marty

  40. “It is a sin to accomodate an occasion of sin, and thus cooperate with evils.”
    There is only one thing we can do as a man who wants to accommodate sin and cooperate with evil has been elected to the Papacy even though he is obviously not in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, and thus cannot possibly be a successor of Peter. The election of Jorge Bergoglio to the Papacy must be declared to be invalid.

  41. Fastiggi your approach would be good in a context otherwise not so controversial.

    You took some hard hits on it: well done I’d say.

    All the same doubtful things do not resolve just like that.

    Why is a rule or permitted practice “allowing homosexual blessing”, “pastoral”; but a “disallowing” one “would not be pastoral”?

    • Dear Elias,

      Thank you for your note. I try not to take criticisms personally. I’ve been criticized on the left for defending Humanae Vitae, and I’ve been criticized on the right for defending the revised teaching of the Church on the death penalty. With regard to the possibility of blessings of homosexual persons, I think the CDF (now DDF) was absolutely correct to say “no” to blessing homosexual unions in 2021. I don’t see the recent comments of Pope Francis as contradicting what the CDF said in 2021. Pope Francis speaks of the possibility of blessing persons not unions. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and others have caused confusion on this issue. I agree with the way Dawn Eden Goldstein understands the position of the Holy Father: In this article, Ron Conte, Jr exposes the false reading of Pope Francis’s comments by LifeSiteNews:

      Blessings take on different forms. Scripture allows for the blessings of people even if what they are doing is wrong. In Luke 6:28, Our Lord says: “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In Rom 12:14, St. Paul says: “Bless those who persecute [you]; bless and do not curse.” If we can bless those who curse and persecute us, certainly individuals can be blessed when they request a blessing (in Pope Francis’s words) as “a plea to God for help, a supplication to live better, a trust in a Father who can help us to live better.”

      Peace of Christ.

      • Does it mean blessing mafioso too?

        Was anything mentioned about discreteness -being discreet?

        On another level, the publicity and freewheeling we see applied for this issue, is part of the formula? What will condition that?

        When a particular situation has a blessing for the sake of a reconciliation and it is then taking a wrong turn supported by more than one priest and an archbishop, what can be the form of intervention?

        Why format an issue only in a positive sense when you must address it in its entirety with its negative side?

        And so slow to acknowledge that is it always conditioned by other factors, its setting, its comport and its direction?

        The erroneous (and sinful!) lifestyle and presupposition with LGBTQ folks can lay impositions on others but are LGBTQ-inclined being caused to draw back from that? I do not see it taught anywhere.

        But when I say it (speaking about local particularity -I’m sure it happens elsewhere), the reactions I get are proving a disaster where I find the negativity generated being attributed to ….. me -which makes no sense.

  42. You know. Massaging in seemingly unwise innovations into definitive doctrine just might empty the pews a bit. Much smaller Church. Fewer Churches. Many unsustainable. Less funds for the Vatican. Why? Because the Church will not stand out from secular society. Nothing to challenge for the Gospel of Love.
    But tthen this may be the Way for the Holy Spirit really to act. Pope Benedict, of happy memory, may be correct. Ecclesial impressarios may be very more inconvenienced. We are already poor in spirit. The Church will become more poor in Body – which may be a good thing. Pray for Grace to eschew ambiguity, judgmentalism and arrogance.

    • Agreed. This papal mess is disrobing the Body of Christ for Golgotha – everything worldly will be auctioned off to pay the eternal debt of sin. Soon they sell the Vatican Museum, etc. The Church is being drained of the fallen desires for money, pleasure, honor, glory and fame. Like St. Paul, those who say Yes to Catholic vocations will have few reasons to boast about anything other than their love of Christ crucified and risen. Why receive a Sacrament when all is permissible in pastoral practice, unless the commitment is rooted in Christ? Even in Catholic circles, priests are increasingly considered pariahs; holy matrimony is belittled as unnecessary and old fashioned – even slavery; cloisters are called uncharitable – selfish mystics; prelates are suspect as pretenders, perverted, and/or politicians. We are being put to the test, detached from the world.

      Let it all be stripped away.

      Behold, Christ crucified, our Salvation.

  43. Pope Francis’s papal documents cannot measure up to the quality of his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Benedict’s writings were spiritually and intellectually nourishing, while Francis’s are about as painful to the eyes as a bottle full of tabasco sauce.

  44. You say, “The claim is clearly being made that this stuffy old theology of the past 100 years needs to give way to something altogether different and more in tune with “real people.'” Well, if Francis thinks the “old theology of the past 100 years” is so inadequate, what must he think of Augustine and Aquinas?

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  4. Larry Chapp: It's the connotations, stupid - California Catholic Daily
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