Disobeying the Pope

Fr. Ray Blake made some really interesting observations at the beginning of July regarding the lack of action currently on Catholic blogs. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said. “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

Fr. Ray's thinking is that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.” He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. Cardinal Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the Pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.” This makes quite a bit of sense to me in terms of strategic approach. The Pope, after all, is a very visible face of the Church. Most of the work should be going on at a diocesan level.

The Cardinal told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

John-Henry Westen suggests that Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues. He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.

Michael Voris is often criticised for not attacking Pope Francis, and so I was really interested to watch him respond on The Vortex recently. Interesting that he identifies the bishops as those responsible for suppressing the resurgence of orthodoxy so in evidence on the internet and at Catholic gatherings. Something about what he is saying here resonates with me especially when I consider the good new episcopal appointments we have had. I keep hearing great things about +Mark O'Toole and I was away in Lourdes last week with our own Bishop Alan Williams who is fantastic. Thinking about these appointments, Pope Francis seems to have been especially strong on appointing bishops from religious orders, and his rhetoric about bishops leading the faithful in a more de-centralised hierarchical model and one might even glimpse a cunning plan to rejuvenate the Church?

At Leigh-on-Sea's Vetus Ordo this weekend we had families who traveled from Suffolk and Frinton to attend Mass in the extraordinary form, demonstrating the desire for it. There are, however, few priests in our diocese who are able to say it, and the practice has not just been discouraged, it has been positively attacked! One has to wonder why this is the case, and why some feel so threatened by a resurgence of traditional Catholicism? As always, Michael Voris' speculation provides food for thought.


  1. The Catholic Church is Great Britain is extremely weak. There are several reasons for this and one is a long, long suspicion and even antipathy towards Rome, Even the Bl. John Henry Newman had to repent of not supporting infallibility at first.

    For the mostly uneducated laity to spar with the Vatican is simply ludicrous. Most people read or listen to sound bites and do not do real studies on sites which are not in English. I find that more and more of the laity want to take umbrage with their bishops as well instead of doing what the laity should be doing-creating saintly families, cooperating with God in raising up children who will be nuns and priests, and having a "domestic church".

    Some things are simply out of the expertise or scope of the ordinary Catholic. Few are as holy as St. Catherine of Siena. Until the Church in GB begins to really get serious and zealous about the Faith, stops contracepting, begins to home school, sees a real rise in vocations, Fr. Ray's advice is good. Just be quiet.


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