Ask me about Pope Francis and the Schism

This post is for readers to ask me about the controversy over Pope Francis. I believe that a conservative schism is currently unfolding, and that it will get worse as time passes. Subsequently, under the next conservative Pope, many liberals will depart from the Church, leaving the Church much smaller, but also much holier.

Pope Benedict XVI once commented, prior to becoming Pope, that the Church might, in the future, become smaller but also holier:

“Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world — that let God in.” [NY Times ]

Archbishop Chaput made similar comments:

“Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church,” Chaput told a symposium for bishops and their staff members at the South Bend, Ind. campus.

“But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness.

“Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss,” he continued. “It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight.” [Crux Now]

I believe that this dual schism, in which first conservatives and then liberals — not all of each group, of course — leave the Church, is part of God’s plan to renew and purify the Church.

[Luke]
{12:31} Yet truly, seek first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added to you.
{12:32} Do not be afraid, little flock; for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

— Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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11 Responses to Ask me about Pope Francis and the Schism

  1. Mel says:

    Ron, what is your take on why our Pope Francis is not responding to the dubia. Not responding sows more confusion?
    At a recent interview of the Pope, the reporter missed an opportunity to query the Pope on the dubia?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think the Cardinals who posed the dubia just want to argue against what the Pope has already decided. They are not really seeking an answer. The questions are worded like thinly-veiled accusations. It is not a request for clarification.

      Conservative commentators compare what the Pope has decided to their own understanding, and they are “confused” as to why his teaching doesn’t agree with their own minds, for they arrogantly assume they cannot be mistaken. That is the source of the confusion: pride in their own understanding of Catholicism. They judge the Pope’s words and deeds by the standard of their own understanding, and as a result, they cannot be taught or corrected by the Pope. This outcry to answer the dubia is really just a demand for the Pope to change his decisions to match their understanding.

  2. Mel says:

    Pardon me saying this, wouldn’t assessment of the Cardinals’ intentions be considered judging IE not knowing the full facts?

    Also, there are many experts who have publicly showed concern on the dubia. Would we be questioning thier intentions?

    I agree a response is not expected for every query/petition. In this situation, more discernment, prayer and fasting is required by all the players. Love for each other should be paramount. All statements/actions should be done out of love. Our Holy Spirit is surely guiding our Church.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I am saying that their intentions are disclosed by the wording of the dubia. It is clear they are not in doubt as to what the answer to their questions may be. They are not proposing doubts (dubia) to be dispelled by papal teaching. Rather, they are criticizing his decisions and challenging him. IF you disclose your intention by your words and actions, that is not judging.

      The conservative Catholic subculture has fallen into the error of assuming that the majority opinion among conservative leaders must be correct, and that a liberal Catholic cannot possibly teach or correct them. Pride goeth before a schism.

  3. Mark P. says:

    What is the difference between “liberal” Catholics, who for example ignore previous papal teachings on topics such as abortion and contraception, and the current crop of conservatives who outwardly criticize the Holy Father? Are not both, in a way, refusing to submit to the Pope and in schism? I suppose that is where it can become confusing. Here in America, people are much more tied to political movements than they are to their faith. So liberal Catholics are very likely to also be political liberals, and seem to see the Church as a human institution that must adapt to the times. They seem to embrace the Church’s social justice teachings much better than conservative Catholics. However, they commit the error of viewing the Catholic Church’s support of what are seen as “left-leaning” social justice issues (immigration, health care, etc.) as implicit endorsement of other politically leftist stances such as support for abortion and same-sex marriage. Conservatives have the opposite problem. They view the Church’s stance on issues like immigration as matching the political left’s agenda, and therefore reject it out of error. However, they tend to more strongly adhere to the Church’s moral teachings. It is indeed challenging to separate political preferences for Catholic truth, especially in the US which is dominated by a two-party system. These problems exist because of poor catechism training and watered-down, generic homilies in my opinion. Just think what a difference it would make in a year if every priest could tie at least two paragraphs of the catechism to the day’s readings during his homily.

    • Ron Conte says:

      After the conservative schism, there will be a liberal schism. There is unfaithfulness on both sides. Many conservative Catholics have progressively chipped away at the teachings of the Church on faith, morals, and salvation. So it is not true, as conservative have long claimed, that conservative means faithful to the Magisterium. And God is proving that by His providence and grace, through Pope Francis.

  4. Theophanes the recluse says:

    Ron, what do you think is going to happen? https://twitter.com/aguernz/status/845424595528269829

    • Ron Conte says:

      Several Cardinals and Bishops will break away from the Pope, publicly declaring him to be a heretic. But I don’t think this will happen solely over AL. I think Pope Francis will teach on salvation theology, and that controversy plus AL, plus perhaps the ordination of women deacons, will cause many conservative Catholics to break communion with the Pope.

    • Theophanes the recluse says:

      I hope he is right.

      And i hope your predictions are wrong, concerning the schism and the next dreaded conservative Pope.

      I have a dream: that the Church, with Pope Francis, is undertaking a renewal that will be carried on by his successors.

      I want to believe that.

      Of course i would be loyal to the next Pope even if he will be a “Leo XIV” or a “Pius XIII” or a “Gregorius XVII”, but let me dream that this is not the future of the Church. :-)

  5. Theophanes the recluse says:

    The first sentence “i hope he is right” was referred to another comment that hasn’t, apparently, been published.

  6. Theophanes the recluse says:

    I’ve clarified because i don’t want the someone thinks that i agree with Cardinal Burke.

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