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There is a place for charitable criticism of prelates….. November 21, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, episcopate, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Papa, sanctity, Society, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

…..even at the highest levels of the Church.  So says a noted Italian Catholic below.

I posted earlier today on Michael Matt’s chastisement of overly critical traddies.  I wrote a response, but it was probably muddled.  Here, via Tancred (who has been bringing the gold of late), is a commentary from Mario Palmaro (he who received the papal thanks for criticism from the traditional perspective) on the subject of papal criticism and bad behavior of trads.  He sums up very well, even beautifully, my own feelings I could not articulate earlier today:

Whether people “like” the pope is completely irrelevant in the two thousand year old logic of the Church: the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and must please our Lord. This means that the exercise of his authority is not absolute, but subordinate to the doctrine of Christ, which is found in the Catholic Church, in Her tradition, and is nourished by the life of grace through the sacraments.   This means that the Catholics may be critical of the Pope himself and criticize under the condition that this is done out of love for the truth and that the tradition, the Magisterium is used as a standard gauge. [My sentiment exactly. And I think an excessive ultramontanism inculcated after Vatican I played a huge role in the success of the revolution after Vatican II, because Catholics had been taught to never, ever criticize.]  A pope who would contradict a predecessor in matters of faith and morals should be criticized without doubt.  [And failing to do so is a tantamount joining in the criticism of the predecessor?] We must be against both the secular logic and suspicious of a pope, assessed according to the good pleasure of the democratic majority, as well as to the temptation of a papolatry, according to a “the Pope is always right”. In addition, we are accustomed for decades to criticize destructively dozens of popes of the past, by applying the small historiographical seriousness of the day. So there is no apparent reason why the reigning popes should be immune from all forms of criticism. When Boniface VIII and Pius V is evaluated, why doesn’t that also go for Paul VI, or Francis?  [Yes! That was the point I tried to make in my post earlier today. I read and hear some folks just blasting traditional/conservative Catholics for expressing criticisms or concerns about the current pope, and yet many of these same folks will turn around and blast Alexander VI, Formosus, etc.  Why is it only the current popes, or at least the post-conciliar ones, that are above reproach?  Is there a time limit, because I read critiques and analyses of popes long dead, and yet we aren’t allowed to discuss the current pope?  Very convenient!]

[When asked about grouchy, uncharitable trads….]  The attitude of some of the individuals or groups connected to tradition is a serious problem and can not be denied. [I agree.]  One explanation advanced is that truth without love is a betrayal of truth. Christ is our way, our truth and our life, so we have to take Him as a model, who was unbeatable in the truth, always inflexible, and in love. I think the world of tradition is sometimes pointed and polemical for three reasons: First, because of a certain syndrome of isolation that they can be suspicious and resentful, and it is also expressed by problematic personalities; Second, because of the sincere scandal, the specific directions of contemporary Catholicism provokes in those who know the doctrine of the Popes and the Church well up to the Second Vatican Council; Third, because of the lack of love that is shown by the official catholicity towards these brothers on the day, who are entitled with a contemptuous tone as “traditionalists” or ” Lefebvrians”, in which one forgets, that in the Church they are definitely much closer than any other Christian denomination, or even any other religion. For the official Catholic media this reality of hundreds of  [traditional]  priests and seminarians isn’t worth devoting a line, while devoting entire pages to some thinkers who have not once said anything remotely Catholic.

I’ve beat you guys down with enough long posts today, so I won’t add anymore commentary.  I will say again, these are difficult times, and many people are going to have to make choices with respect to how they conduct themselves, always keeping within the bounds of charity.  There can be respectful disagreement on the best manner in which to handle scandal in the Church, especially when it comes from the highest level. Some may feel very powerfully that the only thing to do is to pray and practice mortification, but some may feel called to take a more active approach.  I would think there might be room, and a genuine need, for both.

But, then again, that could just be some self-serving thinking on my part.  But there is much of that to go around.


1. MMC - November 21, 2013

You can will the good for someone (the definition of love) and still identify and call out the evil they are promoting. Like the author noted, you don’t have to “like” the Pope…or trust him…and can nail him as a modernist…but in the end, you need to pray for his soul, forgive him for the evil he is advancing, fight against said evil (per St. Robert Bellermine), and will his good. Tough to do when he is attacking goodness and failing in his job…but it will mold us in the crucible to detach and choose to will his good…after our righteous and just anger is heard. May the Lord have mercy on us all and teach us authentic i.e. wise, distinctive, critical thinking based charity based on truth and not emotion. God bless~

2. Woody - November 21, 2013

Pray for him. What a responsibility he has upon his shoulders.

3. Don - November 21, 2013

Valid criticism is fine, especially when based on actual action(s) a prelate has done or has clearly proposed to do. Criticizing for something that hasn’t been done, something that is only rumor perpetrated by old whatshisname is not valid. Which is what has been far too often the case with Francis who has been the Supreme Pontiff less than one year and has changed nothing to date.

When I read the first comment on this thread I am amazed and dismayed at certain phrases. Are they directed at Francis? If so, for what reason?

In particular this line: “forgive him for the evil he is advancing”. At whom is this aimed? Which Pope? Francis? What “evil” is he advancing? If not Francis then who.



4. Mary Griffin - November 25, 2013

Who is to say what is valid criticism? I have gone through many evolutions in my life. I was at one time a liberal Democrat, living away from the Church, completely convinced that the Catholic Church was the great false Church. I completely rejected the idea of veneration of Mary and the saints. I am now very politically conservative, and as far as the Church is concerned, I say several rosaries every day and pray to the saints on a consistent basis, trying to attend Mass several times every week.

But back in my liberal, Catholic bashing days, I would have felt my criticism was thoroughly valid. The problem with so many who criticize the hierarchy of the Church, including the Holy Father, is they are completely convinced of the rightness of their position and would not consider for a second that they might actually be wrong, or maybe that they don’t see the whole picture and are judging from an improper view of the situation.

We are all limited, fallible human beings. To make up for that, Our Lord has given us His Vicar and the Magesterium of the Catholic Church. He has sent the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to guide and protect us. Can there be times when individual bishops will go off the rails? Absolutely. It has and will continue to happen. The Pope can be drowning in his own personal sins. But the Holy Father and the Magesterium of the Catholic Church can never lead us astray in spiritual matters.

It is not up to us as laity of the Church to correct the hierarchy whenever we think they are wrong. And when we feel that we absolutely must say something, we must do as directed by Our Lord – go to them in private. Voicing our criticism and condemnation of the hierarchy on the Internet is something we all will have to answer for.

I love the Traditional Latin Mass and all things traditionally Catholic, but “Traditionalists” scare me.

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