After Pope Francis delivered his ecological speech before President Obama, you asked me to comment upon several subjects:
- What do faithful Catholics think about Pope Francis?
- How did we get to this point in the current crisis in the Catholic Church?
- Why is God allowing this to happen? (This latter question wasn't asked for explicitly but I want to explain why God is allowing this to happen as that question naturally follows from the other two points)
On Criticism of the Pope It is never a comfortable subject for Catholics to speak about the "nakedness of their father" (see Genesis 9:21). Like the two sons of Noah, any faithful Catholic would rather cover the shame of their father in silence. However, when a father (in this case the Holy Father, i.e. the Pope) becomes drunk and lays shamefully naked in front of the whole world and then presents his actions as in accord with good morals, then it becomes necessary for his sons, for the sake of souls, to charitably speak against what their father has done and to demonstrate that his actions are not in accord with good morals.
In accord with the saints who have publicly rebuked previous Popes for their sinful actions, I believe it is necessary to respectfully speak against what the current Pope is doing. Disclaimer As a disclaimer, what I am about to say in no way means that I think Pope Francis is not the validly elected Pope. Nor should it be taken to mean that I do not believe every soul should be in communion with the Holy Father, for the sake of their salvation. In fact, I believe, as it is an infallibly defined dogma of the Catholic Church that it is necessary for all souls to be subject to the Roman pontiff, for the sake of their salvation.
Lastly, I don't want to give the impression that I don't believe the Pope deserves the utmost respect for the office he holds. As the spiritual father of all Christians, and earthly successor of Christ, he deserves the highest form of respect due to the office he holds, in the same way that Obama deserves respect for the office he holds (but definitely not for the wicked man that he is). What Do Faithful Catholics Think About Pope Francisl Of course, I have no authority to speak on behalf of other Catholics, as I am merely a layman. However, as a Catholic who is very well informed in regards to Catholic news and blogs, I can say that the Catholics who take the faith seriously are generally very concerned about the current pontificate.
Some are concerned but try to put the best spin on what the Pope is doing, others are concerned but think that there must be some mistake in the translations of the words of the Pope or merely chose his words poorly in an "off the cuff" speech. These Catholics simply haven't come to terms with the idea that a Pope can be a material heretic or can do something harmful to the church.
Others are very concerned and are speaking publicly against what the Holy Father is doing. I am in the last category and I have been very critical in regards to some aspects of this pontificate. Thus, my comments will be from this perspective, i.e., that it is morally certain the Holy Father is doing harm to souls and should be publicly contradicted, and even resisted when he asks Catholics to do something that is contrary to the faith, though he should be obeyed when he asks something in accord with the faith (e.g. if the Pope asked me to pray for the starving children in Africa then I will obey, but if he asks me to deny that the Virgin Mary is free from all stain of original sin, then I will resist). Though it may come as a shock, I believe the current Pope is probably the worst Pope in the history of the church. Granted, the current Pope is not like some of the Popes in the Middle Ages who were, at times, sexually deviant and even blood thirsty men. Though the current Pope may be good in those aspects, his teachings and discipline of wayward clerics leaves much to be desired.
Concerning the first aspect, this current Pope doesn't appear to have a very good theological formation, and this is even admitted by Fr. Lombardi, the current spokesman for the Holy Father. Thus, his homilies and writings aren't very theologically adept and sometimes appear to contain material heresy.
In this regard, the current pontificate is reminiscent of Pope John XXII, who taught heresy in his homilies in regards to the beatific vision (fortunately, he was rebuked by various theologians and recanted before he died). Not only do his homilies and writings leave much to be desired, but he often focuses on very minor issues and neglects to speak about the "weightier matters of the law" (i.e. he often speaks about care for the planet, but rarely about the necessity to repent of sins and believe in Christ, or against abortion, sodomy, contraception, etc.)
Pope Felix III once said "Not to oppose error, is to approve it, and not to defend truth is to suppress it." This seems to be one of the greatest problem with this pontificate so far. Additionally, the current Holy Father not only fails to discipline woefully deviant bishops and priests, but even promotes some of them to key positions in the Church. Some say that his advisors are simply misinforming him as to the nature of these bishops and priests, but it is morally certain in some grievous cases that he knows better. At this point, I believe according to saints and theologians who have studied the issue of a harmful Pope, Pope Francis should be rebuked by the cardinals, or an imperfect ecumenical council for heresy and if he were to maintain heresy then he should be declared by them to have been deposed by God. Once this is done, they should elect a new Pope. However, for various reasons, this probably won't happen and this means we are most likely stuck with Pope Francis for the long haul. I have no doubt that once sanity returns to the church and a good Pope is elected in the future, Pope Francis, if he continues in his current trajectory, will be anathematized, all of his acts will be reversed and he will be declared a heretic by a future Pope (this happened to Pope Honorius I merely for failing to squash the monothelite heresy, so it is not without precedent). This wouldn't touch the doctrine of papal infallibility as this is limited only to teachings made by the Pope on matters of faith and morals which expressly bind the universal church and is manifestly clear to be an infallible definition.
Pope Francis hasn't done anything to violate papal infallibility, but he has said things that appear to be material heresy. If he were rebuked by the said authorities mentioned above, and maintained heresy, then he would be automatically deposed by God and the said authorities would then have the duty to declare him deposed and elect a new Pope. How Did We Get to This Point in the Current Crisis in the Church? Like any other crisis, the current crisis in the Catholic Church is multifaceted. 1. We know according to Pope Pius X that the Modernists (early 20th century heretics who denied all dogma but maintain orthodox language so they couldn't be easily identified as heretics) infiltrated the clergy. They were nearly impossible to spot since they maintained orthodox language and deliberately lied when they swore the Oath Against Modernism (e.g. they would say they believed in the dogma of the resurrection of Christ but they meant something completely different by those words than what Catholics have always meant by the resurrection of Christ). Thus, since the early 1900's we have had heretics in the clergy.
Eventually these heretics were elevated to important positions in the church and they, as well as others, managed to sabotage the documents of the Second Vatican Council (which took place from 1962 to 1965) by implementing ambiguous language into the documents, which could be interpreted in an orthodox or heretical fashion.
Once the council was over they began to implement the reforms of the council according to a heretical interpretation of the documents, rather than according to an orthodox interpretation in accord with the traditional Catholic faith. Thus, they wrecked the liturgy, destroyed Catholic vocations to the clergy, eliminated anything in the church that was distinctly Catholic or offensive to non-Catholics and sabotaged anyone who maintained orthodoxy. 2. We know that the Freemasons wrote a document called the Alta Vendita in the 19th century that laid out their plan to infiltrate the highest parts of the Catholic Church in order to radically change it from within. An extreme amount of evidence indicates this happened, with cardinals who were identified as masons, and maybe even some modern Popes. 3. We also know in part of the 20th century that the homosexuals were deliberately placed in key positions, such as over seminaries, in order to reject all orthodox candidates for the priesthood and they deliberately selected only sexually deviant men for ordination (thus the pedophile scandal in the church). 4. Catechesis after the Second Vatican Council plummeted and most Catholics were either not taught the faith sufficiently, or were deliberately taught heresy. 5. The liturgy was deliberately protestantized (and feminized) by Archbishop Bugnini and his Consilium (a group of "experts" in liturgy and theology), who were placed over the reform of the Roman Liturgy after the Second Vatican Council. Bugnini deliberately eliminated anything that would indicate the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ and anything that would indicate Christ is literally present in the Eucharistic species (i.e. transubstantiation).
He explicitly stated that he wanted to make the liturgy as acceptable to Protestants as possible. With the precept that the law of prayer is the law of belief (lex orandi, lex credendi), we know that this change in the liturgy influenced a lot of Catholics to abandon the Catholic faith and believe a more protestantized version of Christianity.
The reform of the liturgy also attempted to desacralize the mass, which led to numerous Catholics no longer seeing the Mass as something sacred, but rather, as something common. As a result, many became disinterested in the Mass and by extension Catholicism (after all, if the liturgy is just as common as what I do in my private prayer life, why go to Mass?) This has led to many in the church who identify themselves as Catholics but are really protestant at heart, or nominally Catholic at best. 6. The post-conciliar church (wrongly) began to avoid any kind of message that would offend the world, in order to enter into "dialogue" with the world. This led to compromising basic elements of the Catholic faith and to a neutered message that doesn't challenge anyone to repentance. Hence the reason Pope Francis was silent in his speech before President Obama about abortion and sodomy. 7. In 1968, Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae, which explicitly condemned the use of artificial contraception and demonstrated that this is a definitive teaching of the Ordinary and Universal magisterium of the Church (i.e. it cannot be contradicted or overturned at a later time and is necessary to be believed in order to be saved).
Liberal bishops and theologians thumbed their nose at this and told the people in the church that it was okay to dissent from this teaching and still be a good Catholic. Many "Catholics" were already practicing artificial contraception at this time and chose to believe the dissenting bishops and theologians who tickled their ears, rather than the Pope who told them this is a grave sin. This, as previously stated, led to the majority of Catholics thinking that it is okay to dissent from the definitive teachings of the Church and the Pope and remain a good Catholic. 8. A false sense of "mercy" began to be promoted in the church ever since the opening speech of Pope John XXIII at the Second Vatican Council. The clergy began to see "mercy" as in opposition to exhortation or even excommunication and this led to a distorted view of "love", "mercy" and also to the lack of disciplining heretics in the church. 9. A dichotomy between doctrine and practice was introduced into the post-conciliar church, which says it is acceptable to teach one thing while doing something that completely contradicts that teaching in practice. This is especially being promoted by the "Kapserites", led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, and next month at the Ordinary Synod on the Family (I call it the synod against the family), this dichotomy may lead to a major schism in the church. 10. A false understanding of ecumenism pervaded the church after the Second Vatican Council. This mentality is practically universalistic and led to neglecting the preaching of conversion to Christ and His Catholic Church. It was replaced by the preaching of endless "dialogue" with other faiths and essentially leads to the "I'm okay, you're okay" mentality so pervasive today. 11. Also a false understanding of religious liberty was introduced into the post-conciliar church and this effectively weakened the temporal power of the Pope and also enabled people, including Catholics, to think it is okay to believe whatever they want in the name of "religious liberty". 12. The theology of the insane heretic Teilhard de Chardin has become popular in certain quarters of the church as of late. He basically taught that everything, including humans, animals and inanimate objects are all evolving to the "omega point", which is Christ. This view is a form of universalism that sees everything as moving towards God and results in universal redemption. Part of this theology has infected the teachings of the current pontiff (e.g. this can be seen in the recent papal encyclical Laudato Si) and results in what I call the "vegetable gospel", the message currently being preached by Pope Francis. The view that everything is going to be redeemed in the end leads to a neglect of the real Gospel of repentance and faith and to the promotion of temporal ecological matters that have recently been made front and center by the current pontiff. 13. We know according to a vision Pope Leo XIII, of blessed memory, received after Mass that Satan was given permission by God, for 100 years, to wreck the Catholic Church. We are currently seeing the consequences of that. 14. We also know according to Sister Lucia, one of the seers at Fatima, that Satan specifically decided to attack "consecrated souls" (i.e. clergy and religious) in order to ruin the souls under their care. We are currently seeing this taking place. 15. Most of the clergy have very poor theological training and know more about business administration than Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. 16. The orthodox clergy, as a whole, are too afraid to speak the truth and to discipline those under their care. 17. Karl Rahner's mentality of discontinuity with anything before the Second Vatican Council (i.e. the view that basically says a new church has been created since the Second Vatican Council and dismisses anything pre-conciliar) permeates in many quarters of the church. All of this, and more, paved the way for someone like Pope Francis to be elevated to the Papacy. Pope Francis is the product of some of these problems, and he even seems to maintain some of these errors (especially #'s 5, 6, 8-11). Additionally, all of what is happening was prophesied to occur by Catholic prophets of old, so it doesn't come as a surprise for the theologically adept Catholic. For these reasons, the city of God (i.e. the Catholic Church) lies desolate and is like a widow who was once queen among the provinces (Lamentations 1:1). For these reasons, "All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish" and "Her foes have become her masters" (Lamentations 1:4-5). Because Catholics have sinned greatly, pagan nations entered her sanctuary (Lamentations 1:10), her enemies and foes entered her gates (Lamentations 4:12) and "All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion" (Lamentations 1:6). Why is God Allowing This to Happen? There is a teaching in the Catholic Church, going back to Sacred Scripture, and highlighted in the works of St. Augustine, that the Catholic Church relives the life of Christ (i.e. what is done to the head of the body is also done to the body itself). Before the Church can share in the joy of His resurrection, it has to share in His sufferings, especially His crucifixion.
As we know Christ was betrayed by Judas, an Apostle and this is why the Church too is currently being betrayed by a successor of the Apostles (i.e. Pope Francis and other bishops like him). Our Lord was publicly humiliated and spat upon, and likewise the Catholic Church is being publicly humiliated by having a negligent Pope and devious bishops/priests. The Lord was rejected by the covenant people, and in the same way the Catholic Church is being rejected by many of the new "covenant people" (i.e. nominal and liberal Catholics). The Lord was beaten and then crucified by the Romans and the Jewish authorities, and likewise the Catholic Church is currently experiencing this long, agonizing destruction of the Catholic Church at the hands of evil men inside and outside the church.
However, just as the Church shares in the sufferings of Christ, she too will share in his resurrection and glorification. Then, when the Church rises from the apparent death that she is currently undergoing, all the nations will know she is divinely established by God. Much more can be said here, but I hope for now this will suffice to answer what do faithful Catholics think about Pope Francis, how did we get to this point in the current crisis in the Catholic Church and why is God allow this to happen.
Magister Athanasius has not one but two articles in the new print edition of The Remnant. Have you subscribed yet? Please do, and help us keep this website active and free of charge.