On Resisting Pope Francis To His Face…

On Resisting Pope Francis To His Face…

Pope Francissmiles

The article below is taken from the website of The American Conservative – click on photo of Pope Francis to read original.  Comments invited.

Here’s a powerful column by Ross Douthat, in which he says Pope Francis is pushing the Catholic Church to a precipice.  Here’s the gist of his piece:

But going beyond such a welcome to a kind of celebration of the virtues of nonmarital relationships generally, as the synod document seemed to do, might open a divide between formal teaching and real-world practice that’s too wide to be sustained. And on communion for the remarried, the stakes are not debatable at all. The Catholic Church was willing to lose the kingdom of England, and by extension the entire English-speaking world, over the principle that when a first marriage is valid a second is adulterous, a position rooted in the specific words of Jesus of Nazareth. To change on that issue, no matter how it was couched, would not be development; it would be contradiction and reversal.

Such a reversal would put the church on the brink of a precipice. Of course it would be welcomed by some progressive Catholics and hailed by the secular press. But it would leave many of the church’s bishops and theologians in an untenable position, and it would sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents — encouraging doubt and defections, apocalypticism and paranoia (remember there is another pope still living!) and eventually even a real schism.

Those adherents are, yes, a minority — sometimes a small minority — among self-identified Catholics in the West. But they are the people who have done the most to keep the church vital in an age of institutional decline: who have given their energy and time and money in an era when the church is stained by scandal, who have struggled to raise families and live up to demanding teachings, who have joined the priesthood and religious life in an age when those vocations are not honored as they once were. They have kept the faith amid moral betrayals by their leaders; they do not deserve a theological betrayal.

Here’s the bomb Douthat drops:

[Theologically orthodox Catholics] can certainly persist in the belief that God protects the church from self-contradiction. But they might want to consider the possibility that they have a role to play, and that this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him.

Call it the Galatians 2 Option. Here is St. Paul:

When Cephas [St. Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? …

Read the whole Douthat column. The point he raises is necessary but incendiary: that the Catholic faith is not Catholic without the Pope, but it is also not what the Pope says it is. That being the case, it is conceivable that those who want to be faithful to the Truth must stand up to the Pope — even to his face.

UPDATE: The traditionalist Catholic priest Father Richard Cipolla explains why the pope’s behavior in the Synod is such a big deal. Excerpts:

There are many of us who have been perplexed and upset by what happened at the first session of the Synod on the Family in Rome the last two weeks.  Quite apart from the synodal procedure itself which the Bishop of Providence called a Protestant way of doing things, where one votes on the truth, what was most upsetting was the very real attempt to railroad through propositions dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion, and with gay unions, that depart from the clear and unambiguous teaching of the Church throughout her history, which teaching is affirmed as late as the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI and in the Catholic Catechism itself.  Amidst this confusion and pain among those who love the Tradition of the Church there is also a sense of euphoria that the necessary two/thirds majority to pass these propositions as the sense of the Synod was not achieved.  But, as I have said elsewhere, there remains the fact that over 50 percent of the Cardinals and Bishops at that Synod voted in favor of the propositions which included openness to giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, to affirm positive aspects of cohabitation and civil unions, and to affirm positive elements in gay unions.  This should astound us.


But it is this question that is a denial of truth in matters of morality that lies at the heart of this drive to change the Church’s moral teaching in the name of more merciful pastoral practice.  A writer for the Italian version of Huffington Post—I know, that gives one pause—lamented the failure of the Synod to carry out the “October revolution”. And they failed, he says, because they could not find a bridge that would lead from the indissolubility of marriage and the Church’s teaching on those sexual acts that are a part of gay unions to that pastoral practice that would give Holy Communion to divorced and remarried persons and to the affirmation of the goodness present in gay marriage.  He laments this deeply because, he says, the Pope gave them the bridge.  The Pontifex, the bridge builder in Latin, gave them the bridge, showed them how to get from one to the other, in the form of the question:  Who am I to judge?  This is the way to affirm doctrine and then adopt a pastoral practice that denies it.  And it is the way, except the bridge leads to at best liberal Protestantism or at worst the individualism of secularism.

Comments (81)

  • Athanasius


    This is disgraceful behaviour, though not in the least surprising. This is precisely how the Modernists operated at Vatican II. Pope St. Pius X prophetically describes the ruthless and determined methods of the Modernists in Pascendi. Catholics need to read at least the introduction of that great Encyclical if they would understand what is now transpiring.

    October 30, 2014 at 11:21 am
  • editor

    DominieMary, sometime blogger here, emailed me this report – I’ve not had time to read it all but looks very interesting.

    October 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm
  • Athanasius


    This report puts me in mind of Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s comments some months ago about a possible schism in the Church, though he didn’t go into detail on what exactly he meant by that statement.

    The guy who wrote the article linked above is a typical liberal. The information he provides is, as we would expect, stacked in favour of liberals. It’s actually the conservative bishops, not the liberal ones, who are in the majority at the moment.

    While on the subject, I read a short report in today’s Scotsman newspaper on Elton John’s call for Francis to be canonised. This really should tell any Catholic worthy of the name that there is something unorthodox about Francis’ Pontificate.

    October 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm
    • editor


      I’m interested that the author of the Guardian article is a “liberal” – as I said, I haven’t yet read beyond the introduction. If they’re hoping that the “conservatives” will go off into the sunset, they can think again.

      Your closing comment is spot on: ” I read a short report in today’s Scotsman newspaper on Elton John’s call for Francis to be canonised. This really should tell any Catholic worthy of the name that there is something unorthodox about Francis’ Pontificate.”

      October 30, 2014 at 5:10 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    30 October 2014, 1551hrs GMT: The official English translation of Synod’s Final Report has appeared suddenly on the Vatican website: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0770/03044.html

    This is report on the Voice of the Family website

    October 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm
  • Athanasius

    What about this report from Zenit News Agency? Absolutely shocking heterodoxy.

    Pope Francis to Ecumenical Group: Don’t Wait for Theologians

    Encourages Them to ‘Walk, Pray and Work Together Now’

    VATICAN CITY, October 30, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Pope Francis is telling those committed to Christian unity that they should pray and work together now, and not wait for theologians to reach agreement.

    Vatican Radio reported that the Pope said this during an Oct. 10 private meeting with the Ark Community, which was founded by his late friend, Tony Palmer.

    Palmer was recognized globally as a friend of the Pope when he facilitated the recording of a papal message sent to Kenneth Copeland Ministries in February.

    Palmer died suddenly in July when he was in a traffic accident.

    Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis thanked Palmer’s widow and the new leader of the community, Archbishop Robert Wise, for carrying forward the dream of walking together in communion.

    “We are sinning against Christ’s will” the Pope said, “because we continue to focus on our differences,” but “our shared baptism is more important than our differences.”

    While the devil, the “father of lies” divides us, the Pope added, we are called to preach the Gospel in every corner of the earth, with the certainty that He is with us. “We each have in our churches excellent theologians,” the Pope said, “but we shouldn’t wait for them to reach agreement.”

    The Holy Father noted that denomination does not matter for Christians who are suffering the same persecution in places such as the Middle East or regions of Africa.

    Now, here are just two examples of pre-Vatican II Magisterial teaching to show just how deviant Pope Francis’ ecumenism is.

    Mortalium Animos, Pius XI

    “…Nevertheless, when there is a question of fostering unity among Christians, it is easy for many to be mislead by the apparent excellence of the object to be achieved. Is it not right, they ask, is it not the obvious duty of all who invoke the name of Christ to refrain from mutual reproaches and at last to be united in charity? Dare anyone say that he loves Christ and yet not strive with all his might to accomplish the desire of Him who asked His Father that His disciples might be “one”? (John 17:21). Did not Christ will that mutual charity should be the distinguishing characteristic of His disciples? “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35). If only all Christians were “one,” it is contended, then they might do so much more to drive out the plague of irreligion which, with its insidious and far-reaching advance, is threatening to sap the strength of the Gospel. These and similar arguments, with amplifications, are constantly on the lips of the “pan-Christians” who, so far from being a few isolated individuals, have formed an entire class and grouped themselves into societies of extensive membership, usually under the direction of non-Catholics, who also disagree in matters of faith. The energy with which this scheme is being promoted has won for it many adherents, and even many Catholics are attracted by it, since it holds out the hope of a union apparently consonant with the wishes of Holy Mother Church, whose chief desire is to recall her erring children and to bring them back to her bosom. In reality, however, these fair and alluring words cloak a most grave error, subversive of the Catholic Faith…”

    Quanta Cura, Pius IX

    “…For you well know, Venerable Brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of Naturalism, as they call it, dare to teach that “the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.” And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that “that is the best condition of civil society in which no duty is recognised, as attached to the civil power, of restraining with enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as the public peace may require.” From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an insanity, that “liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society…”

    October 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm
    • Confitebor Domino

      While the devil, the “father of lies” divides us, the Pope added, we are called to preach the Gospel in every corner of the earth, with the certainty that He is with us.

      I think we are seeing here the obvious endpoint of wacky ideas about religious liberty – not only must assorted heretics and schismatics be allowed to disseminate their perversions of the Gospel they are actually called to do so!

      Now it may be the case that we can’t prevent them from spreading their poisonous errors but surely there is no possible reason to encourage them. In fact it’s difficult to imagine a crazier thing to do.

      October 31, 2014 at 3:23 pm
    • joannesromanus


      should we be surprised?

      We know at least since last July that Pope Francis’s relations with major Evangelical organizations are going currently through a veritable “global warming”.

      Remember the Pope’s speech at the Evangelical church in Casserta? And especially the Pope’s confidential three hour meeting back in July with a group of Charismatic Evangelical VIPs, led by the late Tony Palmer?

      According to Brian Stiller (World Evangellical Alliance, WEA), Pope Francis told the participants:

      > “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

      The authenticity of the above statement was never denied by the Holy See.

      And here’s what Tony Palmer had to say:

      > “Pope Francis agrees with me when I say diversity is divine, but division is diabolic.”

      > “Pope Francis is very clear in stressing the unity we are speaking of is a reconciliation of diversity”. (this is an allusion to the Protestant concept of “reconciled diversity”, introduced by the Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullman)

      > “We met Pope Francis; we are accepting his call and trying to put an end to division.”

      (for details, please see: bccatholic.ca/component/content/article/1-latest-news/4029-pope-francis-is-following-the-holy-spirit-in-reaching-out-to-evangelicals-evangelical-bishop)

      I very much doubt that Mr. Palmer, when he spoke these words, had cultural or ethnic diversity in mind. Rather, he was referring to (irreconcilable) doctrinal differences.

      As traditional Catholics, we can only answer Mr. Palmer with the words of Pope Pius XI (Mortalium Animos, 9):

      > “[S]ince charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith. Who then can conceive a Christian Federation, the members of which retain each his own opinions and private judgment, even in matters which concern the object of faith, even though they be repugnant to the opinions of the rest?”

      Another participant at that meeting, Thomas Schirrmacher (WEA), declared for the Protestant website “pro” (pro-medienmagazin.de/gesellschaft/kirche/detailansicht/aktuell/evangelische-allianz-zu-gast-beim-papst-88423/):

      > “He [the Pope] has promised to collaborate more closely with us. Surely, some of those common actions, that were discussed or are already planned, will be made public in the near future.”

      Well, dear Athanasius, I fear that the moment of the “great announcement” Messrs. Schirrmacher and Palmer were hinting at – a sort of proclamation of “unity in diversity” – is at hand.

      May I be proven wrong!

      November 1, 2014 at 2:32 am
  • Athanasius


    Sad to say, I don’t think you will be proved wrong. Pope Francis is definitely set on ‘unity in diversity,’ that’s why he continually preaches a misinterpretation of Our Lord’s word’s “that they may all be one.”

    It is actually a great sin for the Pope to suggest that the Church of Our Lord is wounded by a division of Christians into different denominations. Those who have separated themselves from the Catholic Church, the only true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, do not by their apostasy diminish that Divine Institution, which cannot be divided by any human means.

    In actual fact, the Protestant denominations are in the same position as those in the Gospel who abandoned Our Lord upon hearing that they must eat His body and drink His blood if they would be saved. These were the first Protestants, the first deniers of Transubstantiation, and Our Lord did not run after them begging dialogue and pleading the case for ‘unity in diversity.’ No, He let them cut themselves off from the body of believers and merely turned to the remaining disciples for a confirmation of their belief in Him. It’s an interesting scene where Our Lord asks those who remain: “Will you leave me also?” To which PETER responds “And to whom will we go, Lord, for thou hast the words of eternal life.” Religious ‘unity in diversity,’ then, is a doctrine of demonic origin that seeks to replace the true Catholic religion with a new Tower of Babel.

    November 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm
  • editor

    Within the next couple of days, I will be closing all the October threads, so be sure to post your comments, if there is anything you’ve left unsaid.

    I have just found this report at the Catholic News Agency, and it has left me speechless. Not something that happens a lot. Is there any heretic or schismatic of whom the Pope disapproves?

    November 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm
    • Fidelis

      ” there are many areas in which Catholics and Old Catholics can collaborate in meeting the profound spiritual crisis affecting individuals and societies,” the Pope said.”

      He really does not believe that the Catholic Church is unique. I think it is a scandal even to use the term “Old Catholics” just as it is a scandal that he uses the word “gay”.

      November 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

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