Monday, November 17, 2014


I've written this before and I'll write it again. Orthodox Catholics cannot and should not take a page from heterodox Catholics of the 1970's. They began what I consider a very heterodox, false position, loyal opposition to the Magisterium of the Church as well as papal Magisteriums. It was primarily directed toward Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae and His Holiness reiteration that the Church has no authority to ordain women. Pope Paul VI was despised by liberal Catholics beginning in 1968. I have to chuckle when  young Catholics today denigrate Pope Paul VI who was not the darling of heterodox Catholics at all except maybe because of his reform of the Mass which they did like, but nothing else.

Now it seems that so-called orthodox Catholics want to be loyal dissenters toward Pope Francis and what he seems to represent.

I would caution any priest or lay person from criticizing the Pope in the context of loyal opposition or loyal dissent. A cardinal can do it but he will pay the consequences. He is a member of the College of Bishops. Non bishops aren't and there is no parallel magisterium such as was promoted by heterodox theologians in the 1970's.

Pope Francis is promoting a pastoral theology. There is no doctrine in the Church that I know of that codifies pastoral theology. It can never become a doctrine let alone a dogma! There has always been a certain amount of flexibility on the local, pastoral level. The Commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is quite clear and doesn't need to be dogmatized, as it can't be. We know there are exceptions, such as self-defense and the just war theory. Thus there are exceptions to what sounds pretty dogmatic. As well, one could allow an aggressor to kill you if you don't believe in killing.

One cannot morally cause a direct abortion. However, one can decide on a treatment that might indirectly kill the child, such as chemotherapy or surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. A person could decide either way to have the surgery or not. There is flexibility. Some have gone so far as to say that a pregnant woman with a cancerous uterus could have the uterus removed to treat the cancer with the indirect killing of the child, not intended. The so-called "direct/indirect" scenario is precisely pastoral, but not a doctrine--it is a theology put forward by pastoral theologians of moral theology.

What Pope Francis is doing is speaking about pastoral theology which is new territory for a papal magisterium fraught with ambiguities and confusion. But what the pope is doing now has been going on since the beginning of the Church and even within Judaism. Why did Moses allow Jews to divorce? Because of their stubbornness of heart! It was a pastoral solution but repudiated by Jesus!

Finally, Michael Voris of the Vortex has some good advise for people who are as well-grounded in the Catholic Faith and fidelity to the Pope as Cardinal George. Voris may be overstating his perspective but it is a good one for all of us to consider. As I've said before, I'm Catholic and I'm orthodox and I'm sticking with the Pope in the areas of faith and morals and yes canon law. I am not a bishop or a theologian and certainly priests and laity do not form an independent Magisterium as heterodox theologians suggested of themselves in the 1970's to oppose Popes Paul VI and Saint John Paul II:


Paul said...

Objective theology or subjective theology?

An objective theologian knows the Truth while an objective theologian is never quite sure?

Is this what we have?

I try to keep it simple. Christ's Church is Christ's Church, the stewards may all be bad or mediocre stewards but there is nowhere else to go. So, instead of breaking off in search of something else that some *think* might be better, I would suggest to stay to help clean up our own mess. Anything else is doomed to be messier.

Rood Screen said...

This really isn't about loyal opposition on the part of priests and laymen, but about a perception that Pope Francis has become the loyal opposition to Saint JPII and Pope Benedict. Any priest who is a good shepherd will not take this confusion lightly. While we shouldn't add to this confusion, we also shouldn't pretend to know how to resolve it.

Jdj said...

Father, I have said it before here, but will risk repeating myself. The rise of Roman Catholic dissent in the U.S. of course jelled in July of 1968, but the seeds were planted much earlier with catholic theologians who thought they knew better than the Church. Men like Teilhard de Chardin who wrote books with many ambiguities and spoke against Catholic Doctrine (he was required reading in Philosophy 101, taught by a laicized Jesuit priest at my college in 1965). Edward Schillebeckx denied the true presence of the Eucharist; instead of transubstantiation he called it "transignification".

There were many more, and the dissent grew. It literally drove and cemented Rev. Hans Kung as a kingpin of dissent motoring into Vatican II. Rev. Charles Curran took up the clarion call in the U.S.

Nothing about Catholic dissent is new. It does, however create new martyrs in every generation.

Jdj said...

A very good article by chronicling the current version of Roman Catholic dissent:

Anonymous said...

Is a dissenter guilty of dysentery?

John said...

The dissenters are in charge most everywhere in the Church. The Catholic traditionalists, except sedevacantists, never dissented from the magisterium teaching the deposit of the faith. For example, traditionalist believers accepted the liturgical revolution of V-2 because they wanted to remain part of the Church!

They remain even when some of the best Catholics are unjustly ostracised; for example, removal of Cardinals Mindszenty and Burke just to mention some very prominent names. They are certainly not the only ones one might mention. A number of other cases have been the subject of blog discussions in recent times.

However, the anti magisterial homosexual lobby in the Vatican that Benedict XVI warned about and whose existence the present Holy Father acknowledged, still have not been identified and presumably are still lobbying in peace.

No Catholic should leave the Church because there are problems in the hierarchy. If they had left over the past 2000 years every time some cleric taught heresy, we might not be all here at all.

Anonymous said...

The more pressing problem now may not be the dissent of the faithful, but the fear or perception--difficult as it is for especially the most steadfast Catholics to cope with--that a pope is himself on the slippery slope of dissent from established Catholic doctrine, at least to the extent of ignoring its consequences in practice, even while maintaining lip service in principle.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Anon 11:01 is Gene wearing a ski mask.

There once was a blogger called Gene

Who believed his perceptions quite

'till his knickers he got

in a terrible knot,

and,alas, he was nevermore seen.

Anonymous said...

The Pope may express his opinions but they remain only that unless he pronounces them ex cathedra and so his opinions are non-binding on Catholics who have a right to dissent if they deviate from the Church's teaching - even a Pope can be wrong.

It has also to be distinguished that the dissent that Catholics expressed against Humanae Vitae and some of the Church's other moral teachings was dissent against truth.

To be Catholic a Catholic needs to assent to the dogmas of the Church. When the Pope says who is he to judge whether a homosexual is in sin or not or that atheists can get to heaven while presumably still not believing in God is only his opinion and Catholics can rightly dissent from that.

As Cardinal George points out - and why he would like to have a word with the Pope - is that his opinions are misleading Catholics. I think Cardinal George and Catholics in general have the right to point that out to the Pope.

Michael Voris is pushing a line that Opus Dei is pushing. In fact I have heard the sermon from an Opus Dei priest that we must tolerate things, even when they're wrong, for the sake of unity. And another person on a blog site said she was told by her priest that she must do what the Pope says, even it it is evil because from evil comes good.

I question: since when has the Church ever taught that the end can justify the means?

I think there are some very erroneous ideas being promoted in some quarters.

To the contrary the good Bishop Schneider has said now is the time for the laity to speak out for truth and he thanked those bloggers and journalists who did so during the synod.


George said...

"There is no doctrine in the Church that I know of that codifies pastoral theology. It can never become a doctrine let alone a dogma! There has always been a certain amount of flexibility on the local, pastoral level. The Commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is quite clear and doesn't need to be dogmatized, as it can't be. We know there are exceptions, such as self-defense and the just war theory. Thus there are exceptions to what sounds pretty dogmatic. As well, one could allow an aggressor to kill you if you don't believe in killing."

What you say above is true.

One example I offer up is the following: A car is speeding down the highway out in a rural area. Going over the speed limit as we know is illegal . A law enforcement
officer who sees this follows in pursuit and pulls the car over. As he goes up to the car (after running a check on the license) a woman rolls down the window and yells at the officer that her husband who is with her has just been bitten by a poisonous snake and she is taking him to the nearest medical facility. Now does the officer issue her a speeding ticket? No. He tell the woman to follow him to the nearest facility that provides medical care. In other words,there is a "pastoral-like" response on his part. Now because situations like this can arise, is there anyone suggesting that the law against speeding should be abolished? No. There is a good reason for this kind of law. As with God's Holy laws. But there can also be room for flexibility when the need arises. There can be no change in Church doctrine and dogmas since directly or indirectly they originate from God Himself.

I will say though that I am glad for the "loyal opposition" of some of the Cardinals at the Synod.

Православный физик said...

Here's a good blog explaining my thoughts on the manner. I didn't think it fair to copy and paste the entry, but it echoes what I think.

Jdj said...

Yes, Joe, a very thoughtful and solid piece. Thanks for the reference here as I would never have found that blog on my own.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jan - You characterization that Pope Francis was saying that engaging in homosexual acts is not a sin when he said "Who am I to judge?" is not correct.

The transcript of what was said, including the full quote, since "Who am I to judge?" is only half of a sentence he spoke, and the full context - an answer to a journalist's question about a "Gay Lobby" at the Vatican - is available here:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joe, for pointing us toward the first analysis of this issue I've seen that appears to me to hit the nail precisely on the head--the overriding moral dilemma posed for Catholics completely loyal to Church and Papacy, by the perception of a pope encouraging dissent in practice from established doctrine, thereby himself causing more damage than any extremists on either side.

Православный физик said...

No problem jdj and Henry

I've always translated the commandment of "Thou shall not kill" as "Thou shall not murder" which I think makes clear that killing in of itself isn't the problem, the shedding of innocent blood is.

Templar said...

If we dare not question the Pope we'd already all be heretics.

Check your history please. John XXII preached heresy, and was called out for it, and eventually changed his position because good Catholics, "charitable" Catholics, did the right thing and challenged the erroneous Pontiff. Francis deserves no better, or worse, treatment.

Anonymous said...

So Joe...If didn't know it was OK to replace words in commandments with others of your own choosing. I'm gonna "translate" Thou shall not commit adultery as Thou shall not commit rape. Yeah...that's better...

Anonymous said...

Killing, in (and)of itself IS the problem.

Православный физик said...

Anon at 1:33:

The Greek word φονος means to deliberately murder hence in the OT the verse in question

ου φονευεις would be better translated as Thou shall not murder. (Apologies if the Greek characters don't show)...It does mean to kill, but it is a specific type of killing.

I did not change Scripture by one bit. I don't have that kind of power.

It'd be wrong to change thou shall commit adultery to thou shall not rape because there's a completely different Greek word for rape and adultery ;)...

If killing in of itself is the problem, then killing animals for food would be wrong. War and the Death Penalty would become intrinsic evils...Our chances for survival would decrease if that were the case.

I hope you didn't think that I was translating from the English text....:)

Anonymous said...

Pater Ignotus, the Pope clearly said that if a person is gay and is searching for God with goodwill who is he to judge. The implication from that is if a person is searching for God, even if they are still living a sinful life, who is he to judge them. That is plainly wrong and misleading and in not judging them he appears to be saying that gays who are searching for God should not be refused Communion.

Our Lord did not condemn the woman at the well but he judged that she was a sinner when he said "Go and sin no more". That is where Francis needs to be clear in what he is saying because he is misleading people.