Is it right to criticise the Pope?


There's no doubt that we Catholics are in an unenviable mess right now, a mess caused directly by the person elected to guide us and speak clearly about the faith which was deposited by Christ and His Apostles.

But given the doctrines of Papal Primacy and infallibility, can we criticise the Holy Father? Perhaps Steve Skojek answered this question more eloquently and expansively in May 2015 after Pope Francis made the deeply questionable appointment Timothy Radcliffe to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Of course things have got a good deal worse since then, but his words are just as valid, especially that: "Being afraid to speak the truth in times like these is a very dangerous thing indeed."

It strikes me as a most common Catholic reaction to ignore problems, especially problems like this. Perhaps we think that God will take care of it? Or that to admit there are issues somehow damages the Church? Personally I think this is not a healthy attitude or any sort of way to resolve problems. We must confront problems like this, especially problems this important!

With respect to our current predicament, we must remember that some Cardinals are making Chuch teaching clear, despite the fact that others deliberately attempt to obfuscate settled teaching. With respect to this matter, Cardinal Müller has made it clear, nobody, not even a pope, can change Church teaching on Marriage. Today Archbishop Chaput said Pope Francis cannot contradict John Paul II on Communion.

Why are they saying this if there is not a serious issue? If the pope is not pushing for the contradiction? The direction of travel for this papacy is clear. We are no longer arguing over whether the pope is trying to change doctrine or not. He is. We are arguing over whether he can or not. He can't. We have to choose whether we accept the direction the Pope is deliberately pushing. A direction which contradicts settled Church teaching on Marriage, a moral imperative given by Christ Himself and the consistent teaching of moral theology about relativism, most definitively laid out in Veritatis Splendor. So can we criticise the Pope for taking a direction which plainly contradicts the teaching of Christ Himself? I would go further and say that we have a sacred duty to criticise the Holy Father or our priests and bishops if they teach error. If we don't, we undermine the very nature of revelation.

But if the Pope can be wrong, who do we go to for truth? If the Pope can be wrong, so can other Cardinals. It could just all be about opinions, right? Wrong!

We can recognise error by means of the main sources of Catholic revelation: Scripture, Tradition & the Magisterium.

Canon 212 sec. 3 states:
the laity has "the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons."
From Scripture we have precedent also:
"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned"
Gal 2:11

Everyday the clamour grows, yesterday, The Times of London reports that even pro-Francis voting Cardinals want him to stand down now:
A good number of the majority that voted for Bergoglio in 2013 have come to regret their decision,” one expert on the Vatican said, “but I don’t think it’s plausible that members of the hierarchy will pressure the Pope to resign. Those who know him know it would be useless. [He] has a very authoritarian streak. He won’t resign until he has completed his revolutionary reforms, which are causing enormous harm.
The Tablet, the awful liberal, pseudo-intellectual progressive magazine in the UK suggests:
Pope Francis has made mercy the overriding theme of his papacy but he’s coming under fire for including abusive priests in his vision for a Church that offers forgiveness to all sinners.
It leaves the Pope open to accusations that he is soft on abuse or, as survivors are arguing, he simply “doesn't get” the problem. His critics say that when it comes to crimes against children, its justice rather than mercy that should be the priority.
The perception that Francis is not on top of the abuse problem has been reinforced by a recent story by Nicole Winfield of Associate Press, who reports that Francis has overruled the advice of the Vatican department calling for priest abusers should be defrocked.

Rather than defrocking - or laicising - the priests, the Pope has sentenced them to a lifetime of prayer and penance and removed them from public ministry, which victim groups and some of his advisers believe is too lax a penalty.
And in The Catholic Herald, Father Alexander Lucie-Smith comments that:
The Pope's commission has failed to deliver. Marie Collins's resignation is just the latest example.
This really is unprecedented in all of history, as Phil Lawler commented on Monday.
For over 20 years now, writing daily about the news from the Vatican, I have tried to be honest in my assessment of papal statements and gestures. I sometimes criticized St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, when I thought that their actions were imprudent. But never did it cross my mind that either of those Popes posed any danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith. Looking back much further across Church history, I realize that there have been bad Popes: men whose personal actions were motivated by greed and jealousy and lust for power and just plain lust. But has there ever before been a Roman Pontiff who showed such disdain for what the Church has always taught and believed and practiced—on such bedrock issues as the nature of marriage and of the Eucharist?
Phil concludes his piece:
if I am right, and the current Pope’s leadership has become a danger to the faith, then other Catholics, and especially ordained Church leaders, must decide how to respond. And if I am right—as I surely am—that confusion about fundamental Church teachings has become widespread, then the bishops, as primary teachers of the faith, cannot neglect their duty to intervene.
But perhaps the most important article I've read this week was written by Pete Baklinski and posted on Lifesite News. He draws together all the pieces of the puzzle we have heard in separate accounts regarding the strategy used to elect Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis I, and he provides a summary of the 'achievements' of this papacy:
The oneness or unity of the Church in her submission to Christ as head, in her doctrinal integrity, and in her confession of one faith has been obscured and undermined in various ways under Francis’ pontificate:
  • He has called for a “decentralized” Church, and allowed individual bishops’ groups to determine for their own “regional” churches what is moral and right. In this way, it is supposedly permissible for adulterers to receive Holy Communion in Germany while across the border in Poland it is gravely sinful.
  • His ambiguous speeches and especially his papal writings have turned cardinal against cardinal, bishop against bishop, and lay-faithful against lay-faithful.
  • He has refused to answer Church leaders earnestly begging for clarity on points of contention.
  • He has allowed Catholic doctrine to be minimized in the name of religious “dialogue” with other Christian denominations with a history of hostility towards Catholic doctrine on marriage, the Eucharist, and the papacy. Under his leadership, the Vatican has even hailed Luther, the founder of Protestantism, as a “witness to the gospel.”
  • The holiness and sacred reality of the Church as the bride of Christ has been obscured and undermined in various ways under Francis’ pontificate:
  • His writings have been used by those closest to him to promote evil practices such as adultery and fornication as legitimate moral choices.
  • His writings have also been used to defend the sacrilegious practice of giving Holy Communion to those living in objective grave sin (here, here, here, and here). Bishops and cardinals have defended this sacrilegious practice based on the Pope’s own arguments in Amoris Laetitia that emphasize “pastoral care” and “mercy” to the detriment of doctrine and truth.
  • He has denounced “restorationist” orders bursting with young people and has destroyed one traditional order.
  • He has resisted the traditional Latin mass and called the young people who love it “rigid.”
  • He has accused Christians of “cowardliness” who zealously follow the Ten Commandments.
  • He has consistently used coarse and degrading language to criticize and vilify those with whom he disagrees (here, here, and here).
  • He has allowed St. Peter’s Basilica, a sacred Church building, to be desecrated by an occult light show projected on its facade.
  • He has allowed sexually provocative dance troupes to perform on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • He has allowed the desecration of the Sistine Chapel by renting it out to the Porsche car company for a corporate event and has allowed it to be used as a venue for U2’s guitarist ‘The Edge.’
  • The Catholicity or universal mission of the Church to ceaselessly toil for the salvation of souls has been obscured and undermined in various ways under Francis’ pontificate:
  • He has oriented the Church’s mission towards worldly goals such as combatting climate change and reordering the world’s economic system.
  • He has called Catholics to have an “ecological conversion” and to repent of “sins” against the environment.
  • He has allowed the sworn enemies of the Church to openly exert their influence on her policies and programs (here, here, and here).
  • The apostolicity of the Church where the deposit of faith is authentically handed down from the apostles through their successors the bishops and cardinals has been obscured and undermined in various ways under Francis’ pontificate:
  • He has elevated openly heretical bishops and cardinals who do not hold the unchanging faith as handed down through the ages from the Apostles.
  • He has demoted and silenced high-ranking voices of orthodoxy within the Church.
  • He has created an environment that allows bishops and cardinals and other prominent Church leaders to openly depart from perennial Church teaching and moral absolutes.
It is time to stop pretending that everything is alright and to choose which side you are on. Modernism, relativism and the destruction of the Church of Christ, or Christ's side. It is now that we need all our priests, bishops and Cardinals to stand up for Christ and to assert the teaching of the Church. If our bishops stood up for what the Church teaches there would be no crisis.



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