Monday, December 16, 2013

The Contagion of Catholic Scorn for Pope Francis.

It isn't just so-called 'liberals' who can be accused of trying 'to build a wall between Francis and Benedict'.

Catholics who dislike Francis are accusing the Pope of 'snarky comments' during his homilies at Mass.  They wonder who he is talking about? 
He fills his own daily fervorini with snarky comments about hard to identify groups of people.

Other critics are compiling lists for The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults.

Others say he 'makes digs' at people and economic systems.

Commenters on blogs actually question the Holy Father's sanity and intelligence.
I do seriously wonder if he has dementia. "Rambling" is the kindest one can say about some of the utterances.
Reminds me of something I read elsewhere:
How the Devil works to undermine and reduce the priest and priesthood (and papacy)!  People are all to willing to do the Devil’s work when it comes to this sine qua non of our salvation and God’s plan.
+ + +
Sometimes we may not know of what spirit we speak.
Worse than that, sometimes we do, insisting we have a right to do so.  Over the years I've known many devout Catholics who knew more than the Pope - some even boasted they were more Catholic than the Pope.  I encountered such people during the reigns of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.  Some of them were priests and religious, and some of them abandoned their vows, frequently because they knew more than the Pope.
Many more were laity.  Well educated in theology and dogma.  One friend left to join a Protestant group.  I remember how surprised I was after he wrote to me how wrong Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin was.  At one time the poor man claimed contemplative graces from God in prayer - and he was most likely correct.
Another woman I knew - exorcised from demons, she claimed - a faithful follower of a rather charismatic, albeit strictly traditionalist, deliverance priest, she too abandoned the Church.  She studied and knew all the encyclicals and especially the Syllabus of Errors - nearly by heart - she 'searched the documents for eternal life', and used what she found to condemn those who didn't measure up.  She condemned Pope John Paul II as a heretic.  She told people who didn't measure up to her standards that they were going straight to hell, with all their protestant relatives.  She literally wore her religion on her sleeve, draping herself in medals and crucifixes and scapulars, etc..  She had a big orthodox voice online at one time.  Then one day - she blew it all off and returned to her old religion, Wicca.
I've known guys who have gone in and out of the SSPX like a revolving door.  I've know great defenders of the faith, who condemned every misstep of the clergy and the bishops, even going so far as to attribute to themselves the Pauline boast "I opposed [Peter] to his face" - who have fallen away. 
Most of the people of whom I speak have fallen away.  Some went to Protestant churches, some went to the SSPX or another Catholic break-away group.  A couple went to the Orthodox, and some simply returned to the vomit of paganism and their former way of life.  At some point in their zeal, they likely scandalized ordinary, faithful, Catholic believers, as well as those just beginning to believe.  Then their 'lights' went out.  Like foolish virgins they went to get more oil, and never came back.
Be careful. 
We ALL have to be careful!  As St. Paul cautioned:  If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. [1 Cor. 10:12]  We can not only scandalize others and drive them away, or cause them to join in our negative criticism with their own snark, we can even fall away ourselves.  We need to examine ourselves ... every day.
Have my words, actively or passively put down God, the Church or people?   Have I inflicted wounds on the Body of Christ by showing disrespect, dissent or disdain?  Have I mocked online the leadership of the Church—whether it’s my pope, my bishop or my pastor? - Deacon Kandra, Examination of Conscience

I'm guilty.  Christ have mercy. 


  1. I don't think I ever thought of myself as standing strong, but I fell anyway. I hope I didn't pull anyone else down with me, since I don't have any idea what comes next.

  2. One reason people become disillusioned is because the Church seems no different than secular governance. Reward your friends/punish your enemies. In politics, when the new regime comes in they sweep out the old administration's people and replace them with their own. The same thing happens in the Church: Burke, Piacenza, Bagnasco dismissed from filling bishoprics while Nichols and Wuerl are in. The flourishing, traditional FFI are suppressed while dying Franciscan orders and Jesuits carry on with their heresy and filth. If I hadn't been given the gift of faith, I would have left the Church just based on things I've seen and heard from Franciscans and Jesuits in both Michigan and Oregon.

    1. Scott - that's it - the gift of faith. I can say the same thing. People ask me all the time - how can you remain Catholic - because of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Mass, Our Lady and the saints, and the Pope - not this one or that one - but the Vicar Christ chooses.

      Put not your trust in princes - God alone.

      Prelates come and go, the earth revolves, the cross stays the same.

      The Church seems no different than secular governance because we measure and evaluate it according to our standards - not God's standards.

    2. Like you, my heart is troubled over people like Laurence--one of the bloggers you allude to above. For readers who don't know, he is a young man struggling with same-sex attraction who has built his life around the church, her sacraments and the old mass. For whatever reason, there are always many chaste men like Laurence at old mass parishes. It pains me to read his comments on Pope Francis because whatever merit some of his criticisms have, it clearly comes from sin--both his and from the devil. He's young in the faith (unlike some of the pope's acidic critics), and I wish the pope would stop giving fodder to those who are suspicious of him. I am grateful for the pope's many gifts, but then there are things like today's news. It just further divides the Church.

    3. Thanks Scott! Those struggling with SSA tend to be acerbic and rash. Unfortunately they are the most precarious in the spiritual combat because they battle on so many fronts, and the external battlements they depend on never hold up when the supports are removed.

      Humility is so necessary for all of us - the devil can do nothing when the soul is humble. Which is why I think God allows us to fall, so that repenting we are more humble and receptive to his grace.

      I don't want to contradict you Scott, but I'm convinced the problem is not with the Pope, what he says or does - but with those who interpret his words and actions and issue dire predictions of what is coming or speculate on the politics which may or may not surround him and conspire against him.

      These attitudes can threaten the faith of ordinary believers and those thinking about entering the Church.

    4. Humility is so necessary for all of us - the devil can do nothing when the soul is humble. Which is why I think God allows us to fall, so that repenting we are more humble and receptive to his grace.

      Yes - exactly!

  3. I'm guilty too - mea culpa. Great post Terry. Scott with respect I think you're missing the point.

  4. When Jesus referred to Peter as satan, should we be surprised that those who follow Jesus are tempted to contradict him, or thwart his mission, even today?

    It’s about carrying our cross, always has been and will be. There is always the temptation to try and lay it down or place it on the shoulders of someone else.

    Most of the time we don’t recognise this, or if we do, we forget. Accepting our cross with joy is a most beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit. And we should pray every day for the gift of joyful acceptance.

    Faith grows through the cross. If we have the gift of faith, then it comes with a cross, and it is the greatest sign of God’s love. It’s the perfect way. If it wasn’t, then Jesus would not have been crucified to redeem us.

    When we leave the womb, we enter the world bearing our cross, the desire to love and be loved, a desire that is never fulfilled in this life. No one escapes the cross but when we learn to carry it, even for others, then we can begin to share fully in the joy of Jesus.

  5. Terry, I feel like you are reading my mind. This is exactly what I am going through. I look on past posts on my blog and I'm appalled at the judgmental things I wrote. I realize now that the most important thing in following Jesus Christ is obedience and humility. As soon as we start thinking we know better than everyone else, we have lost it, especially when we start looking down our noses at the hierarchy of the Church.

    I come from a Traditionalist background, and we are most definitely the worst, because we actually do know a few things, just as the woman you gave as an example. "Let he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

    As far as the "snarky" comment in regard to Pope Francis, I was taken aback by that one myself, considering the source. But I think he was playing to his base, which is Traditionalists, and they, unfortunately, would eat up a comment like that.

    1. I don't know how guilty you feel or really are, but your posts always seem to me to be very good at raising questions about these types of discussions and they also help us see the dangers in endorsing the wrong opinions.

  6. When folks are full of themselves and put their self-interest and self-importance above all else, well, what can one expect? Surely, fairness and benefit of doubt will be missing as will be prudence and charity. Every time the current Holy Father does or says something, someone, somewhere, is going to be unhappy, indignant and unkind.

    I begin to understand more and more my desire to move on from the Catholic blogosphere for these very reasons. A sad reality that only proves to be true as time presses on.

    Terry, you are to be commended. On your blog I encounter the Lord and our Lady along with our brothers and sisters, the many Saints.

    Thank you!

    Viva Cristo Rey!

    Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

    Nothing changes. Many are transformed while many more are lost. May our gracious and most merciful Lord have mercy on us all.

  7. Terry, it's good to come here and find grown-up speak. Thanks for this.

  8. I'm with you, Terry.

  9. God is Everything. Following our Lord Jesus in His Church is the only meaning in life. I do so poorly in living my calling, I can't begin to criticize anyone, esp. those in authority.

  10. Are there only two extremes?: To be a critic without reverence or to just be quiet, "pray, pay and obey?" Wasn't that the false alternative that gave rise, in part, to the clericalism that Pope Francis deplores?

    Consider some words from Dietrich von Hildebrand’s The Devastated Vineyard:

    "One of the most horrifying and widespread diseases in the Church today is the lethargy of the guardians of the Faith of the Church.

    I am thinking of the far more numerous bishops who have no such intentions, but who make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship.

    the fight against the spirit of this world has been replaced with swimming along with the spirit of the times in the name of “aggiornamento.”

    it is most especially infuriating when certain bishops, who themselves show this lethargy toward heretics, assume a rigorously authoritarian attitude towards those believers who are fighting for orthodoxy, and who are thus doing what the bishops ought to be doing themselves!

    what is fitting at a time when no heresies occur in the Church without being immediately condemned by Rome, becomes inappropriate and unconscionable at a time when uncomdemned heresies wreak havoc within the Church, infecting even certain bishops, who nevertheless remain in office. Should the faithful at the time of the Arian heresy, for instance, in which the majority of the bishops were Arians, have limited themselves to being nice, and obedient to the ordinances of these bishops, instead of battling the heresy? Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop? It is not precisely by virtue of their obedience to the revealed truths which they received from the Magisterium of the Church, that the faithful offer resistance? Are the faithful not supposed to be concerned when things are preached form the pulpit which are completely incompatible with the teaching of the Church?"


    When you consider what is happening to the FFI, as Scott pointed out, all the while we're told of how we're to be so open and understanding of those who may differ from our belief, to reach out to the atheist, to not judge the homosexual, you name it, it amounts to being a reduction of the Faith to several principles that are popular today. One such is a false sense of "mercy", an unprincipled form of "love" which treats never "judging" as an absolute that forces us to deny reason, our own Catholic common sensibility and what that teaching has actually meant, formally and in practice, to saints for thousands of years.

    The Church is not to be an NGO, and yet the Apostolic Exhortation just published is, for the majority, a piece that has a "this-world" concern. As Terry said some posts back, most Catholics can't 'discern' their way to Sunday Mass and yet the CDF tells us the new Mass is a great tool for evangelization. The prior Pope, I doubt, would agree.

    What is the meaning of all this confusion in the Church? What is its origin?

    1. More from DvH, prophetic considering what's happening today:

      "The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated: the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should be all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace……This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops’ failure to use their authority."

  11. Terry - did you see this post by Dom Mark at Vultus Christi? This was very good. It came after the news, and after people started falling on their swords.

    1. "Some are called not to much speaking,
      nor to conversations about the Church,
      but, rather, to a deep silence
      and to a life hidden in the heart of the Church,
      far from wrangling tongues, from speculations, and discord."

      I visited the link you posted Diane and found it soothing and comforting. How I would like to live such a life but mine is meant to be lived amid the noise and discord of my own home and that requires much patience.

      There are days when I just don't have it.

      The thought came to me that like all of the Holy Father's predecessors, he is aware of the critics but presses onward for the greater glory of God.

  12. Maybe nothing to do with your post, I follow your blog daily from the UK , my mother tongue is Spanish. We speak differently, express ideas from a different angle, the English Speakers and the Spanish. When I read some of the critics to Pope Francis about what he just said..I often think:' There goes another English speaker annoyed about this way of talking' (I mean, the 'rambling' ) partly it is a cultural issue. In Europe, for instance, we have to get used to the idea of an 'american' pope and there are more things like that...enough to make a fuss?

    The same applies to anyone's parish priest (mine is from Jamaica) or Bishop...if you don't understand what he is saying..pray first.

    B t w, your blog helps me enourmously with my own communication skills in English , thank you!.

  13. Thanks Mrs. Wells - as a blogger I have to remember that as well. I'm glad you enjoy my blog. God bless you.

  14. FINALLY A POST I CAN RELATE TO.. I have been very troubled lately especially because I have read sooo many posts insulting the Pope that I just thought it was super sad... but I am not going to go on and on... but I agree with you sooo much and I thank you for this. Thank you for reminding that I do it too and I don't even realize... as I prepare for priesthood I pray that I am a well balanced, prayerful, holy priest following my pope and loving till the end.

  15. You might like:

  16. Anonymous9:53 AM

    As usual you are correct in your assessments, Terry, and your attitude of kindness has always been impressive to me as well. It is possible to be both truthful and loving, in fact our Lord commands it. Just so you know I am back, and to stay, within the Church our Lord Jesus Christ founded, and no looking back again--not ever. I think by now I would be turned to a pillar of salt if I did! this time!! But I wanted you to know and thank you for your prayers. What you say above is true, but how you live your life is ever more so. I admire that. God bless!

    1. Hi Richard! So good to hear from you. I want you to know I keep you in my prayers and always wish you well. God bless!

  17. Terry! You can't say no one reads your blog anymore:

  18. When you have the Patheos crew commending you, something is not right.

  19. Good post.

    I'm an old Christian, but a new Catholic, so I am always curious about how Catholics behave and how they treat various issues, etc. I do find it interesting that a lot of the criticisms of Pope Francis seem to be variations on the theme of "this Pope is making my life hard because he said this or that" etc. I don't know what or how the Pope should speak, but I like what he says and how he says it. And maybe I'm just too new to the Church to have gotten myself entrenched in any particular idea, group, expectation, or strand. I have no interest in manning the barricades if it's Christians against Christians. I'm even wary of Christian vs. non-Christians (God has no enemies, and we should love all). Having been a Protestant for nearly 50 years I no longer find pleasure in division, nor do I relish even the idea of attacking the Vicar of Christ. Though I do know he is a man who is a sinner and certainly can be and do wrong. Therefore I expect wiser and more mature men and women than I to lovingly enter into relationship with him, face-to-face, as true brothers and sisters in Christ, offering him wisdom and insight for his growth in faith and for the burden he caries as head of the Church. I, on the other hand, have not been given that role, jurisdiction, or calling to judge or "correct" or publicly complain about the Pope. Having a FB account and blog also does not give me the "right". Nor does being a free American who is used to criticizing his leaders give me the "right." As I understand it, my role is to seek faith, to love others, and when it comes to the Pope, to actively pray for him. If what he does or says challenges or bothers me, perhaps I need to examine myself first. Anyway, this is a long comment, and I am enough of a sinner to know everything I wrote can just as easily be the product of my vanity and hubris, but as a new Protestant I must say I love having a Pope. I never had one before. Sometimes I think Catholics who complain don't know how truly special it is to have a Pope.

    God bless.

    1. I should have said, "but as a new Catholic" - perhaps some kind of Christian version of a Freudian slip

  20. "As St. Paul cautioned: If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall."

    Yes, this needs to be part of our daily prayer.
    I recall a statement from Martin Luther King commenting on the human condition...that we are a mix of light and dark, of good and of hypocrisy, and we have a human tendency to need to feel superior to someone look down on an other.

  21. Well...i do know I am not strong enough. That is why I want our shepherds to help instead of spread dangers and confusion.

    I did suffered him when he was the archbishop in Buenos Aires, but i had Benedict on that days to give me strenght against his errors and his ambiguities. Now that he is the one in command, i pray hard to be strong enough.
    And by the way I am not a lefe, nor even a trad. I went to my parish NO Mass today. There is no Extraordinary Form in Argentina. Just guess why is that.


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