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Saturday, January 12, 2019

IS IT HEALTHY OR UNHEALTHY FOR CATHOLICS TO BE CRITICAL OF THE POPE OR A PAPACY?


I have to tell you, when I entered the liberal seminary I attended from 1976 through 1979, I was shocked that liberal seminarians were so critical of Pope Paul VI because of his "intransigence" on women priests and married clergy. You can only imagine how Pope St. John Paul II was criticized by this same liberal cabal.

I was also very angry at liberals for their denigration of Pope Benedict XVI especially on liturgical left-leaning blogs like Praytell.

But since Pope Francis was elected, in fact since the very first night, so-called traditional, orthodox Catholics and Catholic blogs haven't stopped with the criticism of the current Holy Father. It seems with the shoe on the other foot, these traditional Catholics have taken to what liberal Catholics have always done but with even more gusto in terms of papal critiques and even the ugliness associated with it.

But on either side of the paradigms, is it unhealthy? Yes and no. If we are speaking about orthodoxy, unity, and fidelity to God, and someone in the Church is creating havoc, disunity and infidelity, it is good to raise one's voice and name the sin(s).

Think about orthodox Catholics who refused to criticize priests and bishops even when they were doing stupid things. In the past we would have cut too much slack to those who took too much interest in our children, abused them, the liturgy and us. Not any more. This is good.

But when the right or the left become like gestapo, and live lives of criticism of those in the Church and create guilt by association of every priest and bishop in the Church, then, Rome, we have a problem.

But with that stated, what do you think of this article which has just appeared in First Things?

I print the title which you can press for the full article, but I include a soundbite below the title as a
 tease:



The current regime in Rome will damage the Catholic Church. Pope ­Francis combines laxity and ruthlessness. His style is casual and approachable; his church politics are cold and cunning. There are leading themes in this pontificate—­mercy, accompaniment, peripheries, and so forth—but no theological framework. He is a verbal semi-automatic weapon, squeezing off rounds of barbed remarks, spiritual aper├žus, and earthy asides (­coprophagia!). This has created a confusing, even dysfunctional atmosphere that will become intolerable, if it hasn’t already.

13 comments:

Fr Martin Fox said...

I was offended when one very traditional blog attacked Pope Francis, as you say, on the very night of his election. In my judgment, they had no basis.

Over the term of his papacy, I have become concerned about many developments, but I believe it is fitting for a priest to be judicious in any criticism of his bishop and of the pope. It's not that a pope or bishop is above criticism; not so. But I want to set a good example, and not feed the wrong sort of approach. We must always have charity and filial devotion, even if we find fault. Charity means trying to interpret actions in the most favorable way, subject to reason. This has been my policy to this point.

After all, I do not flatter myself to think that the world is waiting with bated breath to hear my pronouncements. So that raises another consideration. Is there necessity for me to offer criticism.

In my mind, recent events have changed that calculus. All of us, all the world, has reason to be shocked and angry about the way many, many (too many) of our bishops have conducted the Church's business. What changed? In a word, McCarrick. This fiasco not only implicates an uncertain portion of bishops, but it implicates the Vatican (note, I did not specify Francis). So now, I think there is certainly a necessity for me to speak out. The faithful -- everyone -- needs to know that they aren't crazy in the things they see and conclude. They are right that something is very wrong; and my speaking out can serve to reassure them.

Plus, to be very candid, at some point it occurred to me: what must people think of me? Do they think I operate this way? Maybe it is a little self-serving to speak out, then; but more than that, people want to believe in their priests. I am a sinner, but I want to be someone they can believe in. I think speaking up serves their interests, too, even when it helps my own credibility (if indeed it does).

Father, you posted the other day about the rumored Protestant-Catholic intercommunion. I've thought about that. If that were to happen, the criticism and conflict that will be unleashed will be nothing like you have described. I am praying that the Holy Father won't give it a thought; but if he does, I hope sensible people around him will warn him of the terrible consequences.

Dan said...

I would say it is unhealthy to abide in a state of cognitive dissonance caused by knowing what the Catholic Church has always taught and what is currently being promoted by Francis and friends.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FR. Fox, McCarrick and Wuerl are major turning points. I feel sad for the Church but have hope that God will pull us through as there have been worse times in the past, especially in the early Church.

Henry said...

The significance of this article stems from the fact that First Things is almost as far from traditionalism as Praytell. Though in a quite different direction, given First Things' status as the so-called neo-conservative (Novus Ordo) establishment journal of loyal opinion. Its referencing a "failed papacy" might be tantamount to the K of C doing so, except that this will never ever happen.

Henry said...

"there have been worse times in the past, especially in the early Church."

My reading of the early heresies does not suggest that they were as deep and pervasive as the present smog of heresy and unbelief--the "smoke of Satan"--that had descended on the Church from top to bottom and a seeming majority of parishes and dioceses, even before the disasters of the current "failed papacy".

John Nolan said...

You need to read the article in its entirety. Reno is an outstanding example of a conservative American commentator - well-informed, restrained, yet hard-hitting, and gifted with a memorable turn of phrase. Many who have studied the Bergoglio pontificate have reached similar conclusions; few have expressed them with such cogency and eloquence.

In short, a tour de force.

rcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I wonder if anyone has had the guts, apart from Cardinal Burke, to confront the pope. Yes, a peer has to do it and the dubia cardinals did but to what avail. Archbishop Vigano did and to what avail?

When Archbishop Vigano called Cardinal Wuerl a "shameless liar" I thought to myself that such hyperbole, such rhetoric from one bishop to another would simply place a fraternal spat in the public domain.

What we have lost in our common Catholic culture is righteous anger with Vigano expressed although a bit too emotionally in his first launch.

It is very sad that we're dealing with such a major scandal in the Church that has opened the eyes of Catholics to the putrid smell of actual corruption in the hierarchy and Catholic's misplaced trust in the bishops and priests who are called to be good shepherds.

I think we could have dealt with this scandal, the reality of the facade, the hoax that has been foisted upon the Church by such corruption if we had the solid truths of the Catholic Faith with a solid liturgy to back it up.

But Vatican II, its spirit, a recovery of the 1970's in the last six years and now a failed papacy have created the perfect storm that is either preparing us for the collaspe of the Catholic Church or the Second Coming.

rcg said...

back to the question posed in the original post: Harping and whining are bad for the soul because they can tempt one to loss of Faith and several other sins, some mortal. On the other hand we owe it to each other to make fraternal correction. I may be Pope Francis' brother in Christ, but am no where near his peer in the hierarchy. So folks like Bishop Schneider can do that, and should. He might not listen to them. This goes to the other question Henry addresses. as time has gone by alternatives to the Church that claim to be Christian have proliferated. So walking out and remaining Christian is at least possible in the minds of some.

My greatest concern is that we move to think that the Church is, in some way, a democratic institution. This must NOT be allowed and would be a true victory for evil.

(Left out the key word) (Face palm)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

OR an authentic restoration. I still believe that having two popes of polar extremes living at this particular time to be some foretelling of future outcomes.

DJR said...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said... "I feel sad for the Church but have hope that God will pull us through as there have been worse times in the past, especially in the early Church."

Father, these times are far worse than any in the past, and it can be demonstrated with one word: abortion.

Never in the history of the Church have so many baptized Catholics... and we're talking in the millions and millions... participated in, had, agreed with, advocated for, or performed, abortions in such outrageous numbers. Never.

This is something totally new in the Church.

Add to that the open rejection, by multitudes of self proclaimed Catholics, including many clergy and religious, of Christ's teaching regarding birth control, chastity, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and these times easily qualify for the worst times ever for the Catholic Church.

And never in the history of the Church did Catholics have such things as "puppet Masses," "polka Masses," "LGBT Masses," et cetera.

The Arian crisis did not include such things, nor the Protestant reformation, nor any other time of upheaval. Our era stands apart for that.

On a side note, AP headlines: McCarrick accuser cooperates with NYC prosecutors on abuse.

https://apnews.com/14b8b1bec8f34ec89d240ece2cd1ca28

Anonymous said...

The attacks on Benedict XVI and John Paul II by Praytell and like elements were inspired by revolutionary sentiments among those wishing to deconstruct biblical teachings and 2000+ years of traditions. On the other hand, criticism aimed at Pope Francis is inspired by defenders of the Faith. From time to time, the critique in this cased too may be somewhat sharp but it it is hardly undeserved. I hope there is no false equivalency implied. We should aim to be charitable if possible. Unfortunately, the behaviors by members of some in the hierarchy today provoke condemnation that seems to be well justified even when it is aimed at the Holy Father.

TJM said...

People of Faith need to be careful where they contribute their money. I no longer will give a dime to the Archdiocese of Chicago, while Cupich is in power, and I make it very clear that HE is the reason. Sadly, money is probably the only language these lefties understand.