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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is it ever right to criticize a Pope?

There is a brouhaha brewing among some defenders of the Catholic faith as to whether or not a Catholic should ever criticize a pope.

Michael Voris of Church MilitantTV has produced a (what some are calling)  “manifesto” on his website declaring that Church MilitantTV would NOT criticize Pope Francis for anything he says because good or bad a pope is a pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth.  

Voris is apparently responding to the outcry from Catholics who are clearly worried about some of the actions and words of our current Pope.  The common consensus seems to be that if a mere Bishop said or did some of the things Pope Francis has said or done they would be fair game for Mr. Voris to rip to shreds on his Vortex show.  But because it is the Pope saying and doing these things, Voris is perhaps being hypocritical.  Is he?

Let’s take a look at what is being said by whom…

Catholic News paper “The Remnant” writer Christopher Ferrara criticizes the Pope…

“…Francis the Reformer seems to have noticed only one element of the Church in need of immediate, drastic reform: “the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.” (Evangelii Gaudium 94). In other words, traditional Roman Catholicism. Hence the Pope’s brutal dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on account of what his apostolic commissioner calls “crypto-Lefebvrianism and a definite traditionalist drift.” –end quote-


“What is one to think of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG)? In a document of 50,000 words spanning 223 typeset pages—straining the hortatory genre beyond all reasonable limits—one would naturally expect to find a good deal of orthodox Catholicism; and that is there. Francis is, after all, the Pope, even if he doesn’t like to call himself that and refuses to add the traditional pontifical “P.P.” to his signature on this or any other document.
Then again, in a document of this length one would also expect to find a good deal of what has made this Pope so beloved by the worldwide mass media: radical-sounding bombshells about how wrong the Church is and how much Francis must do to make it right, in all humility. That too is there—in spades. And no, I am not referring to EG’s emphasis on love of neighbor and concern for the poor, or its biting commentary on globalist capitalism and the idolatry of money. Such things may be pleasing to liberals of a socialist bent, but they are also entirely consistent with the social teaching of a long line of Popes before and after Vatican II. And please spare me the dudgeon of fat and happy faux conservatives who are just liberals of the bourgeois variety. They “have no problem with gays” or even abortion so long as it is legalized according to “states’ rights,” but utter a peep against capitalism and they begin barking like trained seals about capitalist abundance and Third World poverty, failing to notice that capitalist abundance depends upon Third World wage slaves, so that Third World poverty actually proves the Church’s point about the moral deficiencies of capitalist social order. To decry those deficiencies, as the Popes have always done, is not to advocate socialism.” –end quote-

John Vennari of Catholic Family news also criticized the Pope by calling him “The Martini Pope”- a reference to the late and very controversial liberal Cardinal Martini. Martini has a long list of “issues” that clearly go against official Catholic teaching, yet he was a darling of Pope Francis’ and that makes/made many Catholics nervous. 

Vennari quote:  “The media praised Martini as an “open-minded thinker,” one who “struck an original note in Church affairs.”[1]            What were some of Martini’s radical ideas?            In his last interview, which Martini asked to be published after his death, Martini said the Catholic Church is “200 years behind the times”.            Martini further said, ”Our culture has grown old, our churches and our religious houses are big and empty, the bureaucratic apparatus of the Church grows, our rites and our dress are pompous.”            Martini encouraged opening up reception of the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried Catholics, counseling against what he called “discrimination.”[2]            In the book Night Conversation with Cardinal Martini published in 2010, Martini insisted, “You can’t make God a Catholic God. God is beyond all the barriers and borders we create.”[3]            In the same book, speaking of dialogue with non-Catholics, Cardinal Martini said that once you talk frankly with members of various other religions, “You will even be glad that the other person is a Protestant or Muslim”.[4]            Martini acknowledged the German and Austrian Bishops’ dissent from Humanae Vitae, as “pointing to a direction that we could promote today.”[5]            Martini called for a more collegial and synodal approach to Church governance.[6]            In 2007, “when the 16th Century Tridentine Mass was introduced as an option for Roman Catholic churches, Martini said he would refuse to celebrate it.”[7]            Yet Pope Francis, on the first anniversary of the Cardinal’s death, publicly praised Martini as “a father for the whole Church”.            Francis went on to call Martini a “prophetic” figure, and “a man of discernment and peace” –end quote-

The Voris Church MilitantTV “manifesto specifically calls out these Catholics for criticizing the Pope and says (in part):

“Faithful Catholics need help in persevering through their anxieties and doubts, not continual reinforcement and encouragement of those troubling states. Less faithful Catholics form their judgments of "traditional Catholics" through the lens of perceived dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the Church and the Holy Father. Those who relentlessly criticize the Church, Her leaders, and especially the Holy Father, do immense harm to the Church Herself and discourage both potential converts and those struggling to stay faithful through the crisis that is all around us. The sad reputation of "traditional Catholics" as angry dissidents from virtually everything in the Church today is as well deserved as the reputations of those rightly described as modernists. A line must be drawn when it comes to criticism of the Holy Father, even when he says or does things that would invite appropriate criticism when said or done by those of lower ecclesiastical rank. Errant priests and bishops can be replaced. The Pope cannot. It may make us cringe at times but it always was and always will be true that ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia. There have been extraordinarily awful Popes in the past but, for all that, the Church not only survived but thrived. The Popes immediately before, during and after the Protestant Revolt showed little recognition or understanding of the catastrophe unfolding before them (not unlike the post-conciliar Popes of our own time) yet, from such unpromising soil emerged an astonishing number of great Saints, and the Council of Trent.”


This weekend, Louie Verrecchio of Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II (http://www.harvestingthefruit.com/ ) called Voris out on his apparent hypocrisy in a video but also did so in Catholic brotherly love as a correction, not an attack on Voris…

(Well done Louie, well done)


So is it hypocrisy?

On the surface it looks that way, but I don’t think Michael Voris is being a hypocrite at all.  Voris, with his Church MilitantTV Internet media outlet has clearly defined in their statement what they would and would not do.  They have drawn a line in the sand, saying the Pope is off limits because he IS the Vicar of Christ on earth and because they respect that position, they will not disrespect it by criticizing anyone sitting in the Chair of Peter.


From Church Militant website:
“ChurchMilitant.TV will not engage in public criticism of the Pope. Period.”


Fine.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Every Catholic knows there have been good and bad Popes throughout history. Voris and his team have decided their own perimeters are anyone in the world is fair game but the pope (whoever he may be) is off limits.  Voris will criticize Cardinals, Bishops, people within the Vatican and the running of the Vatican, but not the Pope.

By that same token, other Catholics have the right to decide who or what they feel comfortable criticizing.  These other Catholics (including myself) appear to have decided ANYONE and EVERYONE is “fair game” for criticism in the defense of defending the Faith.  If there is a bad pope, let him be criticized for his words and/or actions if they are in error or causing error to spread.

We’ve got a history of Saints who had no problem criticizing a pope and telling them what needed saying.  Namely Saint Catherine of Siena who wrote to Pope Gregory XI:


“Since [Christ] has given you authority and you have accepted it, you ought to be using the power and strength that is yours.  If you don’t intend to use it, it would be better and more to God’s honor and the good of your soul to resign….If I were in your place, I would be afraid of incurring divine judgment.”   Later in her letter she continued, “Cursed be you, for time and power were entrusted to you and you did not use them!” –end quote-


My suggestion to everyone: RELAX!

We all LOVE our Faith and want to defend it.  And we should!

I think ALL of these Catholic men are SPOT ON!  Ferrara and Vennari are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT in what they said.  They shared FACTS.  We don’t like those facts, but they are indeed facts. These things happened and are happening in our Church today.  The Pope has said and done things they have caused “issues” and fear to ripple through the Church.  Fact.  He’s not the first and he may not be the last one to do this. 

So Voris is no Saint Catherine of Siena, so what?  There are many GOOD Catholic voices out there defending the faith – support them, right?

Ahh… but there is the rub as Verrecchio pointed out.  Voris is calling OUT people who are criticizing the Pope.  Would Voris have called out Saint Catherine of Siena too?  My guess…yes.  Voris is clearly uncomfortable with people criticizing the Vicar of Christ.

SHOULD Voris point his finger at people who find criticism with a pope?

That is the real question here and it’s not an easy one to answer.  We have clear examples of Saints who have no issue criticizing anyone within the Church, even a pope.

"If the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public." -St. Thomas Aquinas

So what’s a Catholic to do?  Be careful; be very careful because we WILL be judged by not only our actions but our words.

Personally, I think Voris has personally decided to err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to the Vicar of Christ.  He is not willing to jeopardize his salvation or perhaps lengthen his time in purgatory to call out a pope.  If Voris’ conscience is telling him to “leave the Seat of Peter alone” then Voris is 100% correct in avoiding what might lead him to sin.

Catherine of Siena apparently had no qualms criticizing a pope.

God uses us all differently. 

Respect and recognize that fact, then love and defend our Faith in the ways you are called.  In the end, we will all be judged by our own actions, in-actions and words.  


In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

                                                                            


7 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

SELECTIVE "FAITH ONLY" SALVATION

FAITH ONLY BELIEVERS IN CHRIST DENY THAT THE NEW COVENANT PLAN OF SALVATION WAS NOT IN EFFECT UNTIL AFTER THE DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS. (THAT WOULD BE ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST) IN ORDER TO BE SAVED WITHOUT BEING BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS. (WATER BAPTISM) THEY PROCLAIM THAT THEY CAN BE SAVED LIKE THE THIEF ON THE CROSS. (LUKE 23:39-43)
IF MEN TODAY CAN BE SAVED LIKE, THE THIEF ON THE CROSS, THEN WHY CAN THEY NOT BE SAVED LIKE, THE RICH YOUNG RULER?

LUKE 18:18-22 A RULER QUESTIONED HIM, SAYING, "GOOD TEACHER, WHAT MUST I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?" 19 JESUS SAID TO HIM, "WHY DO YOU CALL ME GOOD? NO ONE IS GOOD EXCEPT GOD ALONE. 20 YOU KNOW THE COMMANDMENTS, 'DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.' 21 AND HE SAID, "ALL THESE THINGS I HAVE KEPT FROM MY YOUTH." 22 WHEN JESUS HEARD THIS, HE SAID TO HIM, "ONE THING YOU STILL LACK; SELL ALL THAT YOU POSSESS AND DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE POOR, AND YOU SHALL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN; COME AND FOLLOW ME."

WHAT WAS THE RICH MAN'S PLAN OF SALVATION?

The rich man's question was what must I do to inherit eternal life?

1. Do not commit adultery.
2. Do not murder.
3. Do not steal.
4. Do not bear false witness.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Sell all your possessions and distribute them to the poor.

Jesus said do this and you shall have treasure in heaven.

Can men today be saved by, the rich man's plan of salvation? OF COURSE NOT!

Can men today be saved by, the thief on the cross plan of salvation? OF COURSE NOT!

The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant on the Day of Pentecost.

THE NEW COVENANT PLANT OF SALVATION
1. FAITH: John 3:16
2. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
3. CONFESSION Romans 10:9-10
4. WATER BAPTISM: Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:1-7, Colossians 2:12-13.

(All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
.

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

I think the larger problem is Voris (or most likely some CMTV ghost writer) calling the writings of others "ecclesiastical porn" and the such. The CMTV missive made little logical sense, making me think it wasn't Voris who penned it.

Eric Hanson said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but St. Catherine of Sienna did not engage in public criticism of the Pope. She engaged the Pope in a private letter. I believe the issue is public criticism of the Pope. I'm not sure of any saint who publicly criticized the Vicar of Christ.

E. G. Lewis said...

Why is a Pope some how special? I realize that we're all ultimately answerable to God, but I see no reason to treat the Pope with kid gloves. Case in point: A study shows that (excluding the string of early "saint" Popes) the probability of any given Pope being canonized is a little over 2%. Yet the current regime would like me to believe that every Pope of my lifetime was a saint. For their sake, I hope these men all eventually get to heaven...and maybe they won't.

Co-incidentally, this group bookmarks Vatican II. How could anything connected to VII be wrong if it was all done by saints? Hmmm?

Me thinks we traded Benedict the Beloved for Francis the Foolish. It's up to him to prove me wrong. And I'm still waiting.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Hello Steve Finnell, welcome!
I am not sure I understand your comment in relation to the topic of 'criticizing a pope'. Would you care to share how it relates?


--------------------------

To Restore-DC-Catholicism hello!
So you believe it was the insulting reference that is the real issue here?
Hmm...you could be right, I haven't spoken to the parties involved. I can see where they might feel slighted and offended by having their opinions and writings referred to as 'ecclesiastical porn' when I believe they are sincere in their love for the Faith and wish nothing more than to defend the Faith they love.
You could be right. Thank you for sharing.

-----------------------------

Hello Eric Hanson and welcome!
You are 100% correct about the issue being about public criticism. What do you make of the quote given?...

"If the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public." -St. Thomas Aquinas

Honest question here, if a pope (any pope) made statements that caused mass confusion to ripple through the world- is that a case of "the faith in imminent peril" if Catholic suddenly believe a teaching has changed based on an "off the cuff" comment?

I honestly struggle to figure out the right judgement call in such a situation. I don't WANT to criticize anything a member of the clergy say or do, but I don't wear rose colored glasses either.

What would you suggest for such a situation?

Thank you for sharing.

-------------------------

Hello E.G. Lewis and welcome!

What makes the pope so special? He IS the Vicar of Christ on earth and NO ONE ELSE IS. That makes him special.

And that is the reason we all need to think long and hard about criticizing him while trying at the same time to defend the Faith when we feel a comment or two have fallen short of official Catholic teaching or have caused confusion in the world.

I do not think Pope Francis is foolish at all and I pray one day you don't either.



Thank you all for stopping by and sharing your opinions. I truly think about all you say.

God bless.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

Eric Hanson said...

Hello and thanks for the response. As to the Aquinas quote I would point out that he was referring to high ranking clergy under the jurisdiction of the Pope, and was not referring to the Pope himself. I think we have to trust the Holy Spirit with the Pope we are given. Rather than criticizing the Pope, we should always be ready to defend, articulate, and educate others on the teachings of the Church and the role of the Pope.

Unknown said...

Posted by a commenter on The Vortex at Church Militant regarding Saint Catherine of Sienna and the Popes just passing this on:


Excellent Vortex Michael - but then, I would have to say that, wouldn't I :-)

I received a timely email yesterday which contained the following quotes, some from the adopted patron saint of pope bashers:


"He is insane who rises or acts contrary to this Vicar who holds the keys of the blood of Christ crucified. Even if he was a demon incarnate, I should not raise my head against him, but always grovel and ask for the blood out of mercy. And don’t pay attention to what the demon proposes to you and you propose under the color of virtue, that is to say to want to do justice against evil pastors regarding their fault. Don’t trust the demon: don’t try to do justice about what does not concern you.

God wants neither you nor anyone else to set themselves up as a righter of the wrongs of His ministers. He reserves judgment to Himself, and He reserves it to His Vicar; and if the Vicar does not do justice, we should wait for the punishment and correction on the part of the sovereign judge, God Eternal.
(Letters, Vol. I. Letter No. 28).

He left you this sweet key of obedience; for as you know He left His vicar, the Christ, on earth, whom you are all obliged to obey until death, and whoever is outside His obedience is in a state of damnation.
(Dialogue, Treatise on Obedience)

For divine obedience never prevents us from obedience to the Holy Father: nay, the more perfect the one, the more perfect is the other. And we ought always to be subject to his commands and obedient unto death. However indiscreet obedience to him might seem, and however it should deprive us of mental peace and consolation, we ought to obey; and I consider that to do the opposite is a great imperfection, and deceit of the devil.
(Letter to Brother Antonio of Nizza)

St Catherine of Sienna"

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