How To Criticize Pope Francis

Here is the apparent methodology used by most papal critics today:

1. read what the Pope has said
2. assume that the Pope is incompetent and unfaithful
3. assume that his teachings have no help from the Holy Spirit
4. interpret his words with severe bias against him
5. consider that your own understanding of Catholic teaching is infallible
6. then, if his words conflict with your understanding in any way, denigrate his words, his office, and his person with your very loud public criticism of him

Yes, that’s how it’s done. You can see plenty of examples of this type of condescending, self-exalting, short-sighted criticism of Pope Francis over at CatholicCulture.org and LifeSiteNews.com and quite a few blogs.

The arrogance of these modern-day Pharisees is astounding. They have decided that their own understanding of Catholicism is infallible. They have decided that Pope Francis is their opponent, and that they should resist him at every turn. They truly believe that the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, has no help from God when he teaches and is entirely incompetent to teach and correct them. They see themselves as judges over the Vicar of Christ, as if the charism of infallibility were individually present in each of them.

And one more thing. Even if a papal critic happened to be right, on some particular point of controversy, the arrogance with which they speak about the Vicar of Christ is still gravely immoral. It is a mortal sin.

But what if a Catholic is humble and faithful, considering Pope Francis to be his teacher and shepherd? Is it then possible to criticize the Pope? Yes, it is.

1. read what the Pope has said
2. believe that the Pope is competent and faithful
3. believe that his teachings have ample help from the Holy Spirit
4. interpret his words with charity and a willingness to learn from him
5. consider that your own understanding of Catholic teaching is full of failings and ignorance and error
6. if his words conflict with your understanding in some way, assume that he is probably right and you are probably wrong, and seek an understanding of his words that is consistent with Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.
7. Only then can you go on to disagree, humbly, to a limited extent, with the Pope in a personal theological opinion, in a decision of discipline (excluding dogmatic facts), or in a non-infallible teaching.

But non-infallible teachings are not outright fallible. The non-infallible teachings of the papal Magisterium have the help of God and so they admit of only a limited possibility of error — never to such an extent that they would lead the faithful astray from the path of salvation.

And every Roman Pontiff has the gift of truth, so that he can never teach material heresy, and the gift of a never-failing faith, so that he can never commit apostasy, heresy, or schism.

For the Roman Pontiff is the representative of Christ on earth. And Christ our Lord will not approve of the arrogant papal critics, who denigrate and oppose His servant, Pope Francis.

{7:21} Not all who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{7:22} Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and perform many powerful deeds in your name?’
{7:23} And then will I disclose to them: ‘I have never known you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.’

Liturgical Reform

I’ve already explained what I think Pope Francis meant by liturgical reform being irreversible. It took me a few minutes to read over his comments, and reach that understanding. It’s an understanding that holds Pope Francis to be correct in saying that the Magisterium can teach that liturgical reform, defined by its doctrinal foundation and not its changeable points of liturgical form, is irreversible.

We are quickly advancing toward a confrontation between Pope Francis and conservative papal critics. At some point, Pope Francis will formally teach a doctrine that is contrary to the assumptions and opinions of conservatives, and they will assume he is wrong. They will accuse him of teaching heresy. And they will declare that Pope Francis has been removed, by committing heresy or by teaching heresy, via automatic excommunication. And they will be guilty of formal schism for that declaration.

It will happen, perhaps as soon as later this year (2017). The conservative papal critics have shown no humility, no obedience, no willingness to be taught or corrected by Pope Francis. They are just like the Pharisees, who assumed that their own understanding of religion cannot err, and that anyone who disagrees must be in grave error.

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

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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4 Responses to How To Criticize Pope Francis

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    They will accuse him of teaching heresy. And they will declare that Pope Francis has been removed, by committing heresy or by teaching heresy, via automatic excommunication.

    There are “Catholics” who teach that all Popes from John 23rd on are antipopes.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, the sedevacantists. They broke away after Vatican II. And next there will be another wave of conservative schismatics, who seem mainstream, who used to seem faithful to each Pope. I don’t know what to say. It’s just the sin of pride. They refuse to be taught or corrected by a liberal Pope.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The non-infallible teachings of any Pope have the help of the Holy Spirit, to limit the errors possible. So the charism of infallibility is really a charism of truth and guidance in truth, both that a Pope can teach with no possibility of error, sometimes, and that he can teach with limits to the errors, at all other times. It is not the case that a Pope is sometimes teaching infallibly, and the rest of the time teaching with unlimited errors. God is always helping the Pope teach, in one way or another. Pope Honorius was not a heretic, as I have discussed repeatedly in other posts.
      https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/was-pope-honorius-i-a-heretic/

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