Sunday, September 22, 2013


I read a few of the progressive Catholic periodicals, papers and blogs. They all have one thing in common, they despised Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II. They didn't believe that the Holy Spirit guided any of their decisions during the time they were popes except those they liked.

I have always believed that authentic Catholics accept the papacy and our local bishops andnever disparage   them publicly.  In the areas of faith, morals, and Church discipline we owe them obedience and respect. Let me underline respect.

I am a product of a very liberal seminary education and formation program from the 1970's. I know that progressives, especially the academic ones, despised Rome and its leadership even back then. They felt them knew better and of course they had to agree with whatever the pope or Rome said before they would acknowledge it as of the Holy Spirit.

I see now with some comments on my blog and at other more traditional minded blogs that traditionalists, conservatives are just like their progressive  brothers and sisters. They like the pope as long as the pope agrees with them and does it their way.

I happen to love Pope Francis. First of all, the Holy Spirit helped guide those who elected him just has the Holy Spirit guided those who elected all other popes, some saints, some sinners, some scoundrels, yet the Holy Church survives.

This pope is needed at this time and will change the course of Church history just as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. There will be other popes who will do things in other ways. But, folks, we are Catholics, not Protestants. The mark of the true Catholic is fidelity to Rome, our pope and the bishops in union with him in the areas of faith and morals.

What Pope Francis is doing is sharpening the pastoral theology of the Church. He might well make it into a doctrine. How do we bring the message of Christ to those whose lives are irregular? How do we minister to the gay person, who converted from a promiscuous lifestyle and nowis monogamous    with one person and before it is all said and done is living chastely with that person?  We cut heterosexuals a lot of slack in terms of their sex lives and public relationships. Can't we be as charitable toward sinner homosexuals too?

Pope Francis in his pastoral theology continues to call all of us to go to confession and he wants priests to be good confessors. That means that those going to confession must examine their lives in light of the Church's teachings in Scripture and Tradition as well as canon law. They need to know what the CCC teaches and confessors need to help them in this regard. The pope has not thrown out common sense in this regard. He is trying to reach out to a broken society. Where sin abounds, God's grace is even greater. Oh happy fault of Adam, Oh necessary sin that gained for us so great a Savior. Do we believe this or not?

Are we Catholic or not. This pope is Catholic! The question to those who read this blog is "are you?"


Your Brother, A Sinner said...

It is good that you love Pope Francis, and I do not disparage you for doing so. I will not say that I dislike or hate him, but I must say in all honesty that he disappoints me.

If those of us who are too traditional can be accused of immediately loving Benedict, it is because as soon as he was elected, we knew what we were getting. We have been forced to take a wait and see attitude with this pope because he is largely an unknown person to us.

I have read of saints who intimated that superiors of religious orders were elected who did not please God and they were elected because those who elected him did NOT listen to the Holy Spirit. Is it not possible that the same thing could happen in a papal election? It's no accident that for the last 500 years, so few of those elected to the chair of Peter have been canonized as saints.

In REDEMPTOR HOMINIS, Pope John Paul II, wrote:

"There are people who in the face of the difficulties or because they consider that the first ecumenical endeavors have brought negative results would have liked to turn back. Some even express the opinion that these efforts are harmful to the cause of the Gospel, are leading to a further rupture in the Church, are causing confusion of ideas in questions of faith and morals and are ending up with a specific indifferentism. It is perhaps good that the spokesmen for these opinions should express their fears."

He goes on to disagree with such an opinion, but nonetheless HE ADMITS THAT IT IS GOOD THAT THOSE WHO DIFFER WITH HIM EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS.

The pope is only guaranteed infallibility when speaking ex-cathedra on faith and morals and the same holds true for councils.

In the 15th Century, the Council of Florence was called to bring about a permanent reunion with the Orthodox churches. IT FAILED. The Second Council of Constantinople was supposed to deal with the Monophysite heresy. IT FAILED.

Popes and Councils can make prudential decisions about directions of ministry, ways to approach the Church and be wrong. Vatican II has at least given us its own escape clause for when we finally admit its failure: IT DEFINED NO NEW DOGMAS.

We will not see admission of its failure in the next decade nor probably in our lifetime. Too many people have publicly embraced it and pride prevents those who did so from admitting their mistake.

Your Brother, A Sinner said...


As far as Pope Francis goes, we do not know with certainty whether he was elected by the will of the Holy Spirit or in spite of it. I trust his charism to teach without error when defining dogmas or making ex-cathedra statements on faith and morals. That does not mean that I cling to every utterance that falls from his lips. We worship God, not the pope. And if you'd ask me to compare this attitude to my attitude toward Pope Benedict, I would assert the same position. Pope Benedict did not speak and act with perfect infallibility around the clock and also disappointed me at times. I am not calling my sense of disappointment infallible either. I am simply cautioning anyone who believes popes use the infallible charism around the clock that it is not how that works.

You are convinced that Pope Francis is "sharpening" the pastoral theology of the Church. Maybe you are right. However, some of us do not think so. We may be right too. I won't claim infallibility, but I would point out that we've had two or three pontificates now that have used the permissive model of Church discipline and it did not stop the spread of false teaching, defiance of Church law and countless other practices that have damaged the Church. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see how it's going to be different this time in a world so much more comfortable with calling various social sins matters of "personal choice."

I propose that it is possible, just possible, that the Holy Spirit did indeed pick Francis as the pope to punish the Church for her members' laziness and complacency. I believe that his style of governance (or non-governance) will hasten the public persecution of Catholics.

I'm not infallible, but the record of previous easygoing popes suggests that we tighten our belts and fasten our boots.

Your Brother, A Sinner said...

P.S., Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos.

Dr.WL said...

Well said!!!!

Bobby said...


The problem is twofold. There are Catholics on both sides, at least here in the US , who think they are Protestant in the sense that their own conscience dictates what they should ultimately believe whether or not they have a clue what the Church has actually teaches and why. So, they ultimately decide THEY are pope , both the conservatives and the liberals, because they think they are the ultimate arbiters of truth. Part of this mentality, I believe is the due to the heresy from Protestantism. But the other component is an absolute arrogance in this country, perhaps the entire generation that believes it is smarter and wiser than 2000 years of Christianity and human development in general. And for the most part when you dissect the argument of the average person it full of ignorant suppositions and faulty reasoning. One reason I think most "liberals" in the Church are happy to agree with the personality of Pope Francs is that I think by definition they are simply nominal Catholics only who are really secular at heart or in reality secularism and relativism are their true religion. Thus, instead of simply admitting they really are not Catholic thy try to walk the fence between both wolds due to either family or some affinity for cultural Catholicism. But in reality they have rejected their faith. Therefore because they are cowards to cowardly to admit their actual departure from the Church they have no conviction or even ability to oppose what they have adopted from the world as truth and of course no ability or desire to stand up to the reality of what the Church teaches.

George said...

Padre Pio-Feast day Sept 23

At one point in his life,due to what turned out to be false deteminations as to his faithfulness to his vows, he was prevented from publicly performing his priestly functions, such as hearing confessions and saying Mass.

Pope Pius XI ordered the Holy See to reverse its ban on Padre Pio’s public celebration of Mass. The Pope said, "I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed." He was again allowed to hear confessions.

Pope Pius XII,his successor encouraged devotees to visit Padre Pio.

Under Pope John XXIII restrictions were again imposed on the Padre.

Subsequently,Pope Paul VI, in the mid-1960s firmly dismissed all accusations against Padre Pio and lifted the restrictions.

Here was a person of great sanctity who was the victim of false accusations with restrictions
imposed on his ministry from the Vatican yet he did not complain or murmur or react in any
other way but humble charity and obedience toward the Holy Father and other Vatican officials.

The apostolic administrator appointed by Pope Paul VI later stated that the Holy Father John XXIII
had listened to those below him who had come to false conclusions about the Padre.

Paul said...

"Where sin abounds, God's grace is even greater".

Very true!

Henry said...

Might the true extent of one's devotion to the papacy be measured by the extent of his sadness when a pope seems unable to meet the demands of the office?

WSquared said...

How do we minister to the gay person, who converted from a promiscuous lifestyle and now is monogamous with one person and before it is all said and done is living chastely with that person? We cut heterosexuals a lot of slack in terms of their sex lives and public relationships. Can't we be as charitable toward sinner homosexuals too?

I suspect that again and again, it's about friendship with Jesus Christ. Two men can't ever marry each other and be a "couple" in that sense. But in your scenario monogamy is the first step, as is chastity. Baby steps in the right direction. It will also involve not dealing with homosexuality as a separate issue but within the larger framework of the Church's teaching on love, responsibility, and sexuality.

The Pope-Francis approach that I'm seeing realizes that conversion is a daily call and commitment and is ongoing. "Meeting people where they are," he realizes, is not "I'm okay, you're okay." Meeting others where they are also means knowing where to direct them. It's a tireless invitation to stand on firm ground; in the Catholic understanding, the work of God is slow, patient, rigorous, and exhilarating, building and rebuilding a person from the inside out on both micro and macro levels at once.

Dogma and doctrine can't be the only thing on the table in our dialogue with others, but far from ignoring them, we must be grounded in them: dogma and doctrine are crucial and not at all opposed to friendship with Christ, because they tell us Who He IS. Without that grounding, we presume to reach out to others with nothing. "If I do not have love, I have nothing" is far more nuanced than we realize.

Also, Pope Francis is charitable to sinners, but notice that he doesn't cut them any slack, either. He invites them to get back on track, which is different; our cutting heterosexual sinners some slack by contrast has more often than not meant diminishing the sense of sin. It's not a matter of cutting homosexual and heterosexual sinners some slack, but that there are right and wrong ways to do it, and in this country, we've largely gotten it wrong because our focus is wrong.

In conjunction, we must re-learn that even and perhaps especially for married heterosexual couples, a marriage is first and foremost about Jesus, anyway. Though we must defend marriage, a more effective defense of marriage while ministering to homosexuals might involve de-centering it: Catholicism does not see marriage (and/or sex) as the ultimate or standard in love for anyone. Gays don't want to be singled out or left out. Even single Catholics who are not gay point out that their parishes cater primarily to married couples, and there seems to be nothing that reaches out to them. A false sense of inclusion stems from false standards.

Love is ultimately not primarily or exclusively about "finding your special someone," but about Someone. The only way in which absolutely anyone at all knows this is to engage Him. The message needs to be "come and see!" If we remember that Love is always and everywhere about living through, with, and in Christ, gays miss out on nothing, and are invited to participate in the life of the One Who gives them everything, no more or less than anyone else.

This must be absolutely clear when we minister to heterosexual couples, also-- especially those who are cohabiting and contracepting. For the engaged or married heterosexual couple, love seems more "tangible" with the presence of a flesh-and-blood human being directly at one's side. Therein lie pitfalls, too. I'm not sure that many heterosexual Catholics realize this. Also, marriage involves one man and one woman, period; it says nothing about sexual orientation, which means that marriage isn't just for straight people, just as celibacy isn't just for gay people.

WSquared said...

Any Catholic discussion that does not bear in mind that celibacy and marriage are complementary, not opposed, precisely because love is more than the the emotions and sexual satisfaction between two people, ends up stunting the Church's witness. None of this is to denigrate marriage, but rather to pointedly question the pervasive assumption that marriage is All About Us and our warm fuzzies. This kind of sentimentalism needs to be called on the carpet for the crap that it is, which is what Sean Cardinal O'Malley did in a follow-up to World Youth Day (if I remember).

Single Catholics, gay and straight, actually have an opportunity to cut right to the Christological chase in our materialistic age. Gays also need-- and deserve-- to know that the Sacraments will enable them. We often say that we don't hear many sermons about sin and Hell. But related to that, we also don't hear many sermons about how the Sacraments enable us to live what is supposedly "too hard." This applies every bit as much to contraception and cohabitation as it does to living a gay lifestyle.

Moreover, missing from all of our conversations about homosexuality is that the Church's prohibition on homosexual acts (not persons) applies to heterosexuals also: getting off on two people of the same sex making out and more is still gravely sinful, regardless of what anyone claims as their sexual orientation. It also begs the question of what human sexuality is actually for, which is independent of sexual orientation. This is all the more reason why we cannot afford to ignore Humanae Vitae any longer.

To complicate matters, we live in a largely faux-Christian culture that does not understand or respect celibacy. It arguably does not largely respect virginity, either: "saving yourself for marriage" is meaningless if in your marriage you disrespect your spouse by not practicing chastity that involves properly integrating your sexuality more fully into your person so as to better make a gift of yourself. Lust in marriage is still sinful and selfish, even if monogamous, and having a wedding ring on your finger does not make it okay.

Chastity is deeper than propriety and respectability, and repentant sinners who were once unchaste are not "used goods" or beyond the reach of God. Francis's offering to baptize the baby of a single mother who chose to give birth instead of having an abortion is a case in point, as is his admonishing the staff of any parish for putting the costs of getting married in the parish church before concern for the couple, especially when that couple is poor. Christianity isn't about respectability, propriety, and doing the right churchy things; it's about equipping people for Eternal Life. In addition, our faux-Christian culture has forgotten that the Church is not a club for saints, but a hospital for sinners. And Francis is right: she is a field hospital.

WSquared said...

No Catholic has any business thoughtlessly picking up what our culture throws down: a culture that ultimately denies the Incarnation (any Jesus-blather notwithstanding) will also get the relationship between matter and spirit wrong. A culture that disrespects celibacy is not only cruel to homosexuals, but to heterosexuals also: it goads people that unless they're in a romantic relationship, they're weird and that nobody loves them. Moreover, among many Christians, it seems that the only alternatives are a lessened sense of sin or gay-bashing in the name of Jesus. Worship and liturgy that puts more focus on the congregation also ultimately demands not conformity to Christ but conformity to a Christ made in its own image, which exacerbates those two alternatives. It also denies His power, because it obscures it and will not tap into it.

This has to be a multi-front approach because these issues are all connected and come down to one thing: Love forever. Or not. And God is Love. It's why Benedict's Communio theology matters, and why the Eucharist matters (and can we even imagine how powerful "Lumen Gentium" and "Lumen Fidei" are when anchored and rooted in "Summorum Pontificum"? And we can go one step further than simply reading Francis through Benedict: read Francis through the EF).

WSquared said...

"Are we Catholic or not. This pope is Catholic! The question to those who read this blog is "are you?""

I hope that I am and have been. And if I have not been, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I love Pope Francis, too, and I like his pastoral style. But it's also true that loving Pope Benedict and the EF has enabled me to do so (in fact, learning to love just one of them can open you up to loving all of them: I didn't "connect" with John Paul II as much, even though he was Pope for most of my life. But loving Benedict enabled me to rediscover John Paul II. And also John XXIII, Pius XII, Paul VI, Pius X, and Leo XIII).

Fr. Robert Barron recently said something very important about World Youth Day: no matter who shouldered the burden of the Petrine Ministry, the young people responded enthusiastically not specifically to the man, but to the person of St. Peter. The Pope, whoever he currently is, isn't just the latest in a long line of successors of St. Peter, but he participates in the person of St. Peter. If the man occupying the chair of Peter is receptive, God can use him in that specific capacity. And as Benedict once pointed out: the Holy Spirit at least stops things from being a complete disaster, or words to that effect.

First of all, the Holy Spirit helped guide those who elected him just has the Holy Spirit guided those who elected all other popes, some saints, some sinners, some scoundrels, yet the Holy Church survives.

So with Fr. Barron's way of looking at things, perhaps every time we get hit with the usual "Bad Popes" anti-Catholic cliches, we might better see the scoundrels we've had as the times the person of St. Peter had a bad day? ;)

Gene said...

This Pope views doctrinal truth as "small-minded rules." I would say that is a problem, wouldn't you?

Pater Ignotus said...

WS - I don't know that any pope "participates in the person of St. Peter."

He certainly stands in the line of popes that began with Peter. He shares the office that Peter was given. He is the "first among equals" as Peter was.

But I don't know how or why we would say a pope participates in the person of St. Peter.

Could you say more about this?

John Nolan said...

"Can't we be as charitable to sinner homosexuals too?" Not if that sin is sodomy, one of the four sins that "cry out to heaven for vengeance". This would apply also to a man who sodomized his wife, and presumably to the wife if she consented to the act.

Anon friend said...

Your comments are among the best that I have ever read on this blog, and I have been following it from its inception nearing 4 years now. Thank you and thanks to Fr. for posting them. God bless you both.

Gene said...

W Squared, I agree with Anon Friend. Very good observations.