Wednesday, May 28, 2014


As I have consistently written and completely stated my support for the Vicar of Christ and the respect due the person in office, no matter what, I have indicated that Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are on the same page in so many things.

What is different is the style and personality of the two popes. Pope Benedict, the academic and the intellectual, measured in his speech (but not always, a few gaffs alone the way) and Pope Francis, far from an academic intellectual who prefers the simple faith of grandmothers and mothers of my mother's generation, her mother's generation and her grandmother's generation, speaks and acts in symbol and gesture and loose lips sometimes. The very thing that Pope Francis criticizes, he participates in and foments.Pope Francis is as good at "chiacchiere" as the best of them. 

But Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are on the same page as it concerns the Church being only preoccupied by the hot-button social issues of the day to the detriment of other important teachings of the Church. Pope Francis stated his case differently from Pope Benedict, but both basically said the same thing!

The same thing about the LCWR and now about marriage, Pope Francis upholds what Pope Benedict taught and wrote. And as Pope Benedict, with a great deal of push back from the supporters of the Legionaries of Christ, was not afraid to investigate that order and reorient it, so too Pope Francis with the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate who have tended toward schismatic sympathies with the SSPX is being investigated and purified. Good for both popes showing some muscle!

And now on his return from the Holy Land, the Holy Father held up Pope Benedict's teachings about marriage and divorce and family life in face of ridiculous predictions concerning the upcoming synod on the family.

But this article by Kevin Cotter of Lakewood, CO, who serves FOCUS as the Director of FOCUS Equip and the Director of Web is excellent.  Previously, Kevin served FOCUS as an on campus missionary at Benedictine College. Kevin holds a BA degree in Religious Studies from Benedictine College and a MA degree in Sacred Scripture from the Augustine Institute. Kevin currently resides in Denver, CO with his wife, Lisa, and their children.

This is his article from a post HERE!

I read a lot of news articles on Pope Francis. Lately, there have been some really good ones. See:
Martians? Antonio Banderas? It’s hard to make these up! I sometimes wonder why such strange articles are written, but then again, you probably clicked on them. Don’t worry, I waited for you. Are you ready to continue?

One of the more interesting stories of the month is on the Vatican’s recent statement to the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCRW). I find this story to be an apt reflection of both the secular media’s reporting of Catholicism and the current battle within Catholicism here in America.

Here’s the background as quickly as possible.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (known as the CDF) has an ongoing evaluation and critique of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCRW) because of theologians and stances they have promoted that the Vatican deems outside of Church teaching. Many, but certainly not all, American sisters belong to the LCRW.

Here’s the spin.
Both the secular media and many within the Church have made this situation political. LCRW’s outspoken support of President Obama and the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare) probably aided this. Particularly under Pope Benedict, there was a critique that the Vatican and the USCCB was against helping the poor and only cared about doctrine and abortion.

Enter Pope Francis.
With the election of Pope Francis, the idea from some was that, unlike Pope Benedict, Pope Francis would be quick to promote and defend the sisters. Recently, Cardinal Muller, head of the CDF, issued a statement reaffirming the Vatican’s position against the LCRW and eroded the fact that Pope Francis would defend the LCRW.

A sample of headlines on this issue include:

American nuns at rough end of Pope Francis’ mixed messages

Cool Pope Francis Not So Cool When It Comes to American Nuns

Pope Francis is throwing nuns under the bus for sharing his own beliefs
: The pontiff’s silence, while nuns are censured for not focusing on abortion and same sex marriage speaks volumes

A picture of a crying habited nun who must certainly doesn’t belong to the LCRW was also included in the article for good measure.

The Truth

From the article headlines (and their content as well) you get the impression that the Vatican and Pope Francis are against the LCRW because they serve the poor and all the good work that the sisters are doing. This isn't true.

We must emphasize: Some sisters are doing good work, especially in their service of the poor. But, Pope Francis and the Vatican aren’t arguing this. Instead, the sisters are supporting theologians that are promoting beliefs contrary to the core of Christianity and the Catholic faith.

Here are samples from Cardinal Muller’s statement:

“For the last several years, the Congregation has been following with increasing concern a focalizing of attention within the LCWR around the concept of Conscious Evolution. Since Barbara Marx Hubbard addressed the Assembly on this topic two years ago, every issue of your newsletter has discussed Conscious Evolution in some way. Issues of Occasional Papers have been devoted to it.

“The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.”

One thing I have emphasized in the past is the request for folks to read texts for themselves, whether it be something that Pope Francis has said or something someone else has.
Read the text carefully yourself.

The Conclusion
Archbishop Muller isn’t someone who is upset because the sisters are pushing for a specific doctrine to evolve or have a specific style of Catholicism that he doesn’t like; rather, he is questioning – are these ideas outside the boundaries of what it means to be Christian? Are they leading you outside of what we believe about Christ and his Church at a basic fundamental level?
I think the answer is easily yes to both questions. It’s important to agree on this before the issue is lost in the media spin that sweet nuns who are trying to help the poor are being criticized because they are a little progressive. It isn’t about whether we should serve the poor or trying to eliminate abortion. This isn’t a progressive/conservative debate. This is about the very heart of Christianity.
Let’s at least agree on this.

I have dozens of friends who passionately live out their Catholic faith who I interact with in person and online. Do you know how many of these friends have brought up the Vatican’s issue with LCRW over the last two years? None. Zero. Zilch. I like this topic because it reveals media bias and a current battle within the Church. It needs to be addressed because the media confuses people. But let’s be clear, this battle is for an older generation. My generation is moving on. There are too many souls that need Christ and too many souls that need to be helped to be invovled in a fight that distracts and deteriorates from the faith.


Anonymous said...

Francis telephoned a woman he didn't know. A woman living in adultery. Francis told the woman she was not committing a sin and was free to go to Holy Communion without benefit of the sacrament of Penance. The woman's "husband" said Francis told the world this is what happened. The Vatican never denied it. Francis did not uphold the teaching of Christ and His Church but encouraged this woman in her sinful situation. Francis is hardly on the same page as Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict never encouraged sacrilege.

And I'm just putting this question out there. If Francis believes that a person in objective mortal sin does not need to confess but is free to receive Communion without contrition and amendment of life, one could argue that is heresy. If Francis held these beliefs as a Cardinal was his election valid? Can a heretic be validly elected pope? It's just a question.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Did you read a transcript of a private conversation provided by the pope or are you quoting ideologues and lobbies who reported what was supposedly said and did you yourself throw in a lie or two about the pope telling someone not to go to confession. You broke the 8th commandment, still a mortal sin my friend.

Anonymous said...

#1-Who are you to judge?

#2-Is it a "minor" mortal sin (a concept you made up, so you are a heretic) or a mortal sin as defined by the Council of Trent and the CCC?

#3-Criticizing the pope when he is wrong or heretical is a good, it's called a Spiritual Work of Mercy? It's called admonishing the sinner. And I believe Francis called himself a sinner.

#4-As usual you are never able to argue in the classical sense. The Vatican when questioned REFUSED to answer. Silence gives consent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, my advice to you would be to never read any news articles on Pope Francis. None, nada, zero, zilch.

This will be best for your spiritual life. (I hereby resolve to try to practice what I preach, despite temptations to stray from the straight and narrow.)

Supertradmum said...

The pope has said nothing ex cathedra except one encyclical, which did not contradict any doctrines.

He has been used by the anti-Catholic media with glee. It is about time adult Catholics see that he is a good man from a different, less sophisticated culture than old Europe, who was chosen by the Cardinals to lead the Church at this time.

Comparisons are useless. like comparing Pier Giorgio Frassati with Francis of Assisi.

Thanks, Father, for this post. I have tried to do the same on my blog, but as you are a priest, your words and ideas, of course, carry much more weight than mine.

Anonymous said...


I've stopped reading news stories on the Pope. All they do is depress me and lessen my regard for the office. Things are bad enough without having to read such disheartening information every day.

MR said...

I generally agree with your take on Pope Francis and the media spin. The only thing that really gives me pause is that so much of this controversy and confusion would be so easy for him to stop.

For instance, if he took literally one minute to say this one sentence: "Those who are remarried cannot receive communion, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, the Church's teachings on contraception are not changeable, and I'm not going to change the discipline on celibacy", 99% of all of this turmoil would instantly go away.

So it raises the question, if it would be so very easy to stop the turmoil, why not just do it? It's something I really don't understand.

Steven Surrency said...

Read only what the Holy Father actually says. No heretical information there. As the Angelic Doctor says, "Better to think well of someone doing bad than bad of someone doing good."

John Nolan said...


I would be grateful if you would either provide evidence that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate tended towards 'schismatic sympathies' with the SSPX (whatever that may mean) or retract what appears to be a gratuitous and unfounded slur on an orthodox and successful order. Recently the Sisters affiliated to the Order (who have a convent in England at Lanherne, Cornwall) have been given the same iron fist treatment.

In 2008 and as a result of Summorum Pontificum the Transalpine Redemptorists, who had been affiliated to the SSPX were reconciled to Rome, although it took another four years to achieve full canonical status. If as a result of crude bullying, very reminiscent of what was meted out to Marcel Lefebvre forty years ago, the FFI move in the opposite direction, who could blame them?

Gene said...

…and Mahmoud Abbas is a man of peace...

Anonymous said...

the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate who have tended toward schismatic sympathies with the SSPX

I now believe this statement to be patently false--that neither the FFI as an order nor any significant number of members of it have "tended toward the FFI" nor toward "schismatic sympathies"--and that anyone who repeats it is objectively guilty of calumny.

Among all religious orders today, the FFI--the order itself with its individual members--is exemplary and almost singular in its steadfast order to Church, Pope, and Magisterium.

It is now pretty plain that the FFI is being investigated by a radically progressive administrator simply because of the complaints of 5 (out of about 500) of its members, those 5 being radical progressives who resented the order's loyalty to Pope Benedict and to his continuity with tradition.

Anonymous 2 said...


“For instance, if he took literally one minute to say this one sentence: ‘Those who are remarried cannot receive communion, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, the Church's teachings on contraception are not changeable, and I'm not going to change the discipline on celibacy’, 99% of all of this turmoil would instantly go away.”

You are probably correct. And if he said it just like that, 99% of those whom he is trying to reach with the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ would probably instantly go away as well.

Unless I am seriously mistaken, Pope Francis expects us to stay with him, behind him, and join him in his efforts to evangelize the world. We need to get with the program, which should not be hard as it is all nicely laid out in Evangelii Gaudium.

Gene said...

Anonm 2, If the Church begins by walking on eggs around possible converts or heretics, the game is already lost.

MR said...


What we're talking about here is the notion of refraining from mentioning certain parts of the Faith because of what people would think.

An honest question here: If that does not qualify as being "ashamed of the Gospel", what does?

Anonymous 2 said...


No, we are not talking about that. At least that is not what I am talking about. Perhaps it is what you are talking about.

I try to be very careful with my words, also on this Blog. So, please recall that I said “And if he said it just like that,” which is quite different from not saying it at all.

MR and Gene:

Do you or do you not agree with the approach to evangelization of Pope Francis set out in Evangelii Gaudium? That is the approach I try to reflect in my own efforts and interactions with non-Catholics, believers and non-believers, heterosexuals and homosexuals. It is fine, I suppose, if you do not agree with his approach. But please do not fault me for trying to follow the lead of our Holy Father. And if you think I have misunderstood this approach, then please explain how.

In my view we are losing “the war of the wor(l)ds.” And we are losing precisely because many Catholics are fighting it using old methods that will no longer work, such as saying in one minute what you suggest MR. Pope Francis understands this very well, and the sooner we get with his program the better in my view. He has asked specifically for the help of the laity in this work. Perhaps you are happy to see the Catholic Church in the West slide into obscurity and irrelevance, behind ramparts occupied by just a few “true believers” who are convinced of their superiority and that that everyone else is going to Hell in a hand basket (the “purer, smaller Church”). I am not.

And remember: I am not talking about denying or being ashamed of the Faith but about how it is presented. It is not a question of content but of style. If you want to attract, you have to be attractive. First evangelize, then catechize. I have to live this every single day of my life, at home and at work. Your approach is doing me no favors in this effort but is making it much, much more difficult because it is alienating others and driving them even further away from the Church and this includes those in my own family. Thanks a bunch. The person who is helping me the most is Pope Francis.

Here endeth the dispatch from the front lines. =)

MR said...


You said "... which is quite different from not saying it at all."

That is precisely my point; these things have not been said at all. The issue is not whether the Pope has presented these things well, or poorly, the issue is that they have not been presented at all.

You said "It is not a question of content but of style."

It is precisely a question of content. Certain parts of the content of the Faith have been omitted (not presented poorly, simply omitted).

And while I would prefer a large, pure Church to a small pure Church, I would most definitely prefer a small pure Church to a large lukewarm Church.

Anonymous 2 said...


I will let Pope Francis answer you. Please read Evangelli Gaudium, especially sections 34 to 39. And remember that Pope Francis has said the following in his the interview with Father Spodaro in August 2013:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

Here is a link to the translation in America magazine. See especially the section on “The Church as a Field Hospital” for the proper context:

So I beg to differ. These things have been said. Some people just do not want to hear them. Or perhaps they are so used to stridency, perhaps indeed they even prefer that key, that they cannot hear things in a lower key.

Again, I am with Pope Francis. How about you?

Gene said...

Anon 2, your slurs against devout Catholics do not follow from the concept of a smaller, purer Church. It is like me saying all lawyers are sociopaths….

Anonymous 2 said...


No slur of devout Catholics was intended. But there seem to be some in the Church who do feel this way. I do not believe you are one of them. My statement was tentative (“perhaps”) and intended to draw your attention to the danger I see (and that Pope Francis also seems to see).

It saddens me deeply to have read so many anti-Catholic statements these past days. And many of those are very vitriolic and highlight the sex scandal in the Church. We need to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves if we are to get through current troubles without alienating many more people.

MR said...

He is the successor of Peter, so in that sense I am "with him", but I strongly disagree with his approach to evangelization and governance, as laid out in Evangeli Gaudium and other places.

Again, none of the teachings I mentioned have been stated, even once, in over a year. I don't mean vaguely referring to the catechism, I mean referring in any way to the Church's teaching on communion for the remarried, contraception or homosexual acts. I'm not being unfair, I know full well that he has stated that abortion is immoral, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that he has said no to women priests.

Anonymous 2 said...


I understand that you disagree with Pope Francis’s approach, which, if you don’t mind my saying so, is why I am glad Francis is Pope and not you. =)

I suggest that we all need to have some patience and trust. The Church does not operate according to our timetables, especially in this era of frenetic social media. It never has and I don’t suppose it ever will. And thank God for that!

Православный физик said...

I do not agree with what Pope Francis is doing. As has been said, it's not that what has been said by Pope Francis is wrong, or heretical, it's the fact that he's so unpredictable, so ambiguous at times it's extremely frustrating to not know what will happen next...(Insert phone call, who am I to judge, neo-pelegian comments here)

I was turned off towards Pope Francis by two things, one the dropping of the moezetta, and two the Cardinal Mahony tweets...It'd be one thing if he dropped it over the course of a year and decided not to wear it, but doing it on hour one to me showed a ton of arrogance and not humility. And when someone who's practically destroyed an archdiocese is cheering, it makes one question.

The above said...I read Pope Francis in Spanish, and while the language is clearer, sometimes there's still a language issue.

I really don't see abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia being talked about often in the average parish, we talk so often about the Love of God that the former is ignored.

While most certainly the Truth of the Church needs to be taught in first needs to teach the Truth's of the Church in order for that to begin.

It is most certainly possible to teach the teachings of the Church in public, and privately think something different, lest the last 50+ years be a reminder of that I don't entirely buy the "son of the Church" card...there were many modernists (not accusing the Holy Father of such) that gave public assent to the Church's teachings and privately thought differently....

Kyrie elison

John Nolan said...

Ah, Evangelii Gaudium. It has some striking passages but is too long, too diffuse, and in many cases lacks clarity of thought and expression. One should be able to read an Apostolic Exhortation without continually asking oneself 'what's the old boy on about?'

Six months on and there is still no official Latin version; I suspect they're still struggling with it.