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Michael J. Matt | Editor


"During the post-Vatican II upheavals in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, conservative Catholics developed a mental architecture that told them that even if their parish priest or local bishop was lax, immoral, or even vaguely heretical, there was practically a living saint in Rome, whose unassailable orthodoxy, personal charisma, and good works were taken as the living sign of the indefectibility of the Church." 


Catholics must learn to resist their popes — even Pope Francis

Too many are becoming party apparatchicks


by Michael Brendan Dougherty

(Founder and editor of The Slurve, a newsletter about baseball. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Slate and The American Conservative.)

Pope Francis has a funny way of naming and shaming certain tendencies in the Church, using insults that are inventive, apposite, and confounding. His ear is finely tuned for the way the Catholic faith can be distorted by ideology. And I'd like to imitate his example when I say this: Most Catholics are completely unprepared for a wicked pope. And they may not be prepared for Pope Francis either. They are more loyal to an imagined Catholic party than to the Catholic faith or the Church.

Between Pentecost and the launch of, most Catholics did not have access to the day to day musings of their pope. The Roman pontiff's theological speculations have been of almost no interest to Catholics throughout history, and never became so unless he was a great theologian already, or there was a great controversy which the authority of the Roman church might settle. To the average Catholic living hundreds of miles from Rome the Faith was the Faith, whether the pope was zealously orthodox like St. Benedict II or a sex-criminal like Pope John XII.