Ten Ways to Respond When You Disagree with Pope Francis

If you disagree with Pope Francis in his personal opinions, his prudential judgments, his official decisions on matters of discipline, or his non-infallible teachings under the Magisterium, how should you respond?

1. Consider your own sins and failings. You are not a Saint. In all likelihood, the Pope is holier than you are.

2. Consider your limited qualifications to decide what is true doctrine and what is prudent discipline. You are not a Doctor of the Church. In all likelihood, Pope Francis has better qualifications than you have, even apart from his role as Supreme Pontiff. His judgment is better than yours.

3. Pray for humility. It is pure arrogance to assume that every opinion, judgment, or teaching of the Pope, contrary to your own understanding and judgment, must be an error. Is it not possible that you are the one who has erred? Or do you think yourself to be infallible?

4. Admit that your own understanding of Catholicism is limited and may include false assumptions, incorrect conclusions, oversimplifications, and misunderstandings. And just because you have found a bunch of people on the internet who agree with your, it doesn’t mean you are right.

5. Examine your conscience to see if you have replaced the teaching authority of the Pope and the body of Bishops with the collective opinion of a subgroup within the Church, such as traditionalists, or conservatives, or liberals, or some other group. Give up your membership in that group, and live as a member of the one true Church, led by the Pope and the body of Bishops in communion with him.

6. Stopping setting yourself as the judge over the words and deeds of the Pope. You have no such authority. The Supreme Pontiff has authority from Christ over doctrine and discipline. Whatever he binds on earth is bound even in heaven. You have no such ability.

7. Stop reading those authors who undermine the authority of the Pope. Read what his supporters have to say.

8. Change your assumptions and relinquish your personal conclusions, when these are contrary to papal teaching. Your point of view is not correct merely because it is more conservative than the Pope’s point of view. You are not more Catholic than the Pope.

9. Read what Jesus says to the Pharisees in the Gospels. The Pharisees were conservatives, and the Sadducees were liberals. Yet our Lord has more criticisms of the Pharisees. And He intends His words in the Gospel to apply to every age. Jesus sharply rebukes the conservative Pharisees of today. Depart from their company.

10. Stop identifying yourself as a traditionalist, or a conservative, or a liberal, or something else. Be a faithful Catholic who humbly accepts teaching and correction from the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Peter, the Supreme Pontiff of the one true Church.


Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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