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Please, in this time of trial, do not let emotions get carried away regarding Pope Francis June 18, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Papa, Virtue.

All – let’s try to avoid blanket condemnations of the Pope’s character in the comments.  I am very comfortable with critically examining specific actions taken by the Pope and comparing any dubious statements/proposals he may make with our Church’s perennial Magisterium, but when we start to declare him a heretic, bonehead, jackass, or anything else, we’re leaving virtue and heading into something else.

I understand your anger and confusion. I am as outraged and scandalized as you are. But we have to maintain some sense of respect for the office of the papacy or our anger could start to corrode our faith.  So please let us be more careful in future.

I have been very tolerant in this regard for some time but some comments are approaching levels where I will have to intervene.  Please desist, yes we are all traumatized at present and the events of today certainly will not help but  let us maintain some sense of decorum for the OFFICE our Blessed Lord instituted.

I have no individual in mind.  I am not addressing anyone in particular, but it’s something I’ve noted generally over the past few days.


1. Mrs. Maureen Avila - June 18, 2015

Heresy, if called by any other name smells just as putrid.

Matt - June 18, 2015

This comment obviously is driven by base, evil emotions and I not the product of prayerful reflection.

Mrs. Maureen Avila - June 18, 2015

This is an attack on the person and not the content of the sentence, usually not permitted on good blogs.

2. Tim - June 18, 2015

Agreed, pray for the pope, respect the office, and ignore to the best of your ability the nonsense. “Climate change” is not a part of the Deposit of Faith, so NO ONE is bound by this document.

I respect the office of the President of the USA, but not necessarily the occupant and his opinions/policies.

Tradition is our guide, when our leaders stray from it, do not follow, but still pray for them…..Francis and the Bishops despite their failings are the only ones on earth who can consecrate Russia and spare a true global disaster. The devil works on them as well as you and I.

3. REX - June 18, 2015

I agree with the blogger. I think there are a couple of precisions in place though:

A) A Catholic should never ever diminish in any way the office of The Papacy.

B) Heresy in word or deed is never performed by The Office but by the person who occupies the office.

C) If the person that occupies The Office was a heretic before he actually took office, the office remains vacant because his election was null and void.

D) The heretic person does not retain the Faith and therefore is placed outside the Church. It’s contrary to common sense that somebody can be the head of club when he is not even a member of the club.

E) Saint Robert Bellarmine explains the possibility and consequences of a heretic Pope in great detail. I recommend his readings.

Tantumblogo - June 18, 2015

REX, your comment is excellent and I am glad you shared it. My point of view however is that I am far from certain we as lay people are the ones who can make this call. Only a body of Cardinals called in conclave for this express purpose and/or our Lord can properly judge the Pope. We can certainly point out that statements made or actions taken appear to be at variance with the established Doctrine of the Faith, but to declare him a heretic (or whatever else) is I think going to far.

Anyway, that’s my policy, that’s as far as I am willing to go, beyond that I will pray for him and trust in God’s mercy and providence to lead us through this time. I will not, so to speak, rhetorically wash my hands of him.

Woody - June 18, 2015

It was the body of cardinals who elected Francis to his current position.

Mrs. Maureen Avila - June 18, 2015

Yes, it was, and it seems that some of the appointments and dismissals by Pope Francis are setting the balance of power more in the erroneous direction. It seems a possibility we may at some point
have to choose against the majority but with the constant teaching of the Church from Scripture and Tradition so it is good to stay informed and prayerful so that
our choice will be with Christ and His Church, no matter how small the group of the Faithful.

Christopher - June 18, 2015

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but detect what seems to me to be, quite possibly, the same reasoning followed by Protestants as they remain apostate. “The Church was going the wrong direction, so we took it back in the ‘right’ direction.”

Where the (office of the) Pope is, there is the Church, and within that safe house, built on the Rock of Peter, will I remain.

Tantumblogo - June 18, 2015

Yeah, that is the danger I see. If we start making declarations either in our minds or publicly that this or any Pope is just a heretic and we can simply wash our hands of him, we are putting ourselves in a very difficult spot, spiritually. I do recognize that the circumstances of our time and the Church dot he same, but I think there is greater danger in making these formal declarations than trying to avoid them and simply praying and trusting in God. That is precisely why Michael Voris and others refuse to criticize the Pope publicly, they greatly fear souls will be scandalized out of the Church if the Pope is criticized. Maybe they were right to do so. This is an incredibly trying time and it is so difficult to know what to do, and so many temptations to cause us to fall.

4. Matt - June 18, 2015

I urge all to read the entire document, then pray in the same manner the Holy Father prayed for guidance on the issues raised. In my meditation I ask: “if given a blank sheet of paper, how would I have written on this topic after seeking prayerful guidance from Our Lord?”

5. TG - June 18, 2015

Agree with you. Thanks for the post. I’ve been struggling lately and don’t want to lose my faith or become lukewarm. Everything is just falling apart whether in the church or our country. I try not to think of either occupant of the papacy or presidency. It’s better for me. I agree about the name calling.

Tim Thunell - June 18, 2015

Remember our Faith is in Jesus Christ and His teachings, not in any individual pope, bishop or priest. They are human, not divine. We obviously need our priests, but we must hold their teachings to the standards of Our Lord’s teachings. When they err pray for them and correct them if possible. We need to concentrate on correcting our own faults and not get overwhelmed by the failings of others, which we have no control.

6. LaGallina - June 18, 2015

Did I miss something? I’ve been south of the border with no internet all week. NOW what did he do?

I am really struggling with this whole Pope Francis issue. BIG TIME. I mean I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that a few weeks ago he said that he was about to say something that may be heretical. He announced it! Then he went ahead and made the statement. HE DID NOT CARE WHETHER OR NOT THE STATEMENT WAS HERETICAL!!! If that’s not someone at the “top” calling the pope a heretic, I don’t know what is. But we are not supposed to mention it.

Meanwhile the damage that he is doing to the papacy, the Catholic Church and the souls following his lead!!!! And since I’m not allowed to criticize him OR cease to recognize him as pope, my children have to hear that the things this pope says and does are right and good — because he is the pope and the pope can not be wrong. The pope and the Church are infallible — but — I’ve heard a million times that the pope can say anything he wants and it doesn’t count as heresy unless it is in the form of a papal bull or something serious like that. Really? That seems pretty ridiculous when you look at the horrific things Francis has said.

I wish that more trads would seriously stop and consider what our options are IF the pope is a heretic. That is really something we need to consider. But even the trads won’t say anything. So meanwhile, we are all left to wallow in this massive confusion.

Sorry, Tantum. I don’t mean to be a name caller. But the attitude of “just pray for him and ignore him” is not healthy for souls or Holy Mother Church

Oh, Blessed Mother, PRAY FOR US!!

P.S. This issue shouldn’t cause anyone to lose his faith! It should just make us realize that maybe we are in the time of the fulfillment of some difficult Catholic prophecy. Apostasy anyone?

Tantumblogo - June 18, 2015

You have a point. As far as I know, that is unprecedented in 2000 years, a Pope saying, “well, this may be heretical, but what the heck, here goes!” That is a source of self-condemnation.

I try to walk a line that is not easy. I am open to more criticism than some, like Church Militant TV, who even today tried to say this encyclical was all due to manipulation of the pope by evil advisers. Please, there hasn’t been a kingly pope in a century or more, he hand-picks all advisers precisely because they say and believe what he wants.

But at the same time, I do feel that we have to maintain a great deal of respect for the office and try hard to avoid gratuitous judgments. I know it is not easy and this Pope certainly gives us much grist for criticism but I think there do need to be limits to how far we go. If we say the Pope is a formal heretic, we are saying the Church has no pope. And what are we then?

I’m not sure what we gain by making such formal declarations. I think we can point out specific problems and worrying trends but to say “this man is a heretic” is a huge temptation to both pride and anger. There has been a ton of both in the comments of late (not saying from you), with really strong statements and then hurt feelings and whole rows getting started. I think people are just about scandalized to death and I think when we make strong declarations that we’re only feeding that fire.

I think the best way I can put it is that I will only go so far. I see the Pope making many statements and taking many actions that certainly appear directly counter to what the Church has always believed and proclaimed, and people can draw their own conclusions, but I personally won’t form a final judgment in my mind that he is a heretic or jerk or anything else, not so much for his sake, but for my own. I don’t like contemplating where such judgments lead. Maybe long term my position with this Pope, or the Church as it collapses, is untenable, that you either have to be a cheerleader/apologist or become a full-bore opponent. I don’t know. I’m doing the best I can with the light of faith I pray I have in truly disturbing, scandalous, unprecedented times. But since this remains my blog I do ask that people keep the gratuitous judgments to themselves.

Tantumblogo - June 18, 2015

Covering some of your other ground – I’ve never said you cannot criticize the Pope. I just said try not to use formal, final type judgments, as in he’s a ………. And not of course not every statement a Pope makes must be taken as the Lord’s own Gospel and our mind bent around the numerous contradictions that exist between this Pope, the previous 5, and the ones before that. We would drive ourselves insane doing that – but there are Catholics who do just exactly that kind of double-think. I believe that to be very dangerous and not true faith, but a kind of unthinking obeisance.

Your statement “the pope can say anything he wants and it’s not heresy unless it’s a papal bull” is difficult to parse. Papal Bulls haven’t been used in over 100 years, encyclicals are the de facto now, more or less, and while an encyclical does make up part of the Ordinary Magisterium it is only binding on conscience in the areas of faith and morals. Commentary on scientific and public policy matters may be interesting and valid depending on your point of view but they are not binding on conscience and can certainly be disagreed with.

IF the Pope is a formal heretic (meaning he has been told by some authority capable of rightly judging him (a conclave) that he holds heretical views and he continues to hold them thereafter) some (sede vacantists) believe it means the pope is automatically excommunicate and we have no Pope. Most sede vacantists believe the material heresy (incidental heresy the pope has not been formally judged on) they see in post-conciliar popes amounts to the same thing and again we have no valid pope. We would be popeless. Others say that there may be material heresy or at least promotion of dangerous/disordered views and that since there has been no formal judgment of a pope by a conclave we still have valid if really bad popes of late. Mind, many folks, myself included, see statements and actions taken by ALL the popes since 1958 as at least exceedingly difficult to reconcile with the preceding Magisterium if not more damning than that.

There is another aspect. Many people, trads included, believe that saying a Pope has fallen into formal heresy at the very least puts Christ’s promise never to leave his Church at least in some doubt, if not a heckuva a lot of doubt. Even when Bellarmine and others speak of this matter, my remembrance is that they don’t say “OK you laity, you judge the Pope’s level of doctrinal adherence and YOU take it to him if you judge him to be deficient.” That way lies protestantism real fast. My reading of Bellarmine, and it’s been quite a while, is that he does say we can and must oppose error even from a Pope, but I think he’s looking for bishops and highly placed priests to do that more than the laity. At least that’s my understanding, and mind, the vast majority of Bellarmine’s writings have never been translated from Latin. One major reason not to start allowing ourselves to make these kinds of judgments is that history shows they tend to lead to schism. Most good traditional priests, who aren’t sede vacantist, believe in these matters we really must pray and do penance and fight through all the confusion, disorder and even error as best we can. I can’t recall any of them saying “OK, if he crosses this line, now you can go to war with the Pope!”

Look, these ARE incredibly confusing and trying matters. Eliot Bougis is brilliant and he’s been studying this matter to death for months and I don’t think he’s reached any clear conclusion. That’s because what we are going through is unprecedented in the history of the Church, with incredible confusion not only among the vast majority of laity, and priests, and bishops, but even among the last several Popes.

But I warn you, why do you feel compelled to say: “he is a heretic” and not simply “this is wrong, that is not in accord with the prior Magisterium, this other thing is not binding on conscience, etc?” What do you gain by doing so?

One of the signs of membership in Christ’s Church is communion with the pope. If you say the pope is a heretic, you are putting, can you not see some danger in that? Is there not in saying something like that a temptation towards arrogating to oneself what the Church is? I know priests who worry greatly over people scandalizing themselves right out of the Church. That is why I try to be very careful about only pointing out scandalous statements and setting the record straight about statements that appear erroneous (for the edification/good) of souls but I am very reticent to say anything definitive for all the reasons outlined above.

I guess my final question back would be, if you say the Pope is a heretic, even damning him with his own words, how do you know you are Catholic? Yes the Church is much more than Peter, but isn’t formally condemning him at least starting down the road of deciding for yourself what the Church is? Is there humility in that path?

7. LaGallina - June 18, 2015

This is why your blog is one of the best — because we can talk about this stuff. And it is a shame about those who are just name calling and not seeking truth. I appreciate your reply and the fact that you are willing to have the conversation. (btw, I was just joking about a Papal Bull. I was just making the point that the Patheos crowd etc. will make every excuse in the book for each troubling statement made by the pope.)

You make some good points. I don’t think it benefits me in any way to say the pope is a heretic! I literally pray on this EVERY DAY! (It is actually physically painful to go through all of this.) However, I cannot ignore the pope’s own statement. I am not condemning the pope. I am weeping because he called himself a heretic, and I don’t know how to make sense of that. Is it worse to harshly criticize a true pope, or to begin to wonder whether or not he is a true pope? How do we maintain the dignity of the Papacy?

I really don’t know what schism means at this point, Didn’t Cardinal Ottaviani say that due to the Novus Ordo Mass Catholics would have to choose between being obedient and being Catholic? If I stand with the Pope, am I upholding the true Faith? I truly, truly do not know. And I am like you — I do not want to cause scandal or lead people away from the Faith! My questions are absolutely sincere, and it is a relief to have this venue to be able to discuss them! They must be discussed.

I heard somewhere recently (I forget where) that the reason that Jesus gave us the promise that the Gates of Hell will not prevail was because things at some point would be so bad, that we would need to cling to that promise.

I do think some of the approved prophesies regarding the Church certainly make the case that the Church will appear to be all but defeated. (Rome will lose the Faith!) That has always scared me to death. But now that we are going through all of this with Francis, I find comfort in those prophesies. I don’t know where it ends, but I do trust that by continuing to sincerely trust and seek direction from Our Lord — with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Rosary and (Thank God) the TLM — God will keep me (all of us) on the right path.

Tantumblogo - June 18, 2015

My dear hen, I will try to reply tomorrow. I will be off work but this is important so I will try to get on to speak more of this. It is a huge subject. It is very confusing. Many great minds have stumbled on this topic. More tomorrow, God willing. God bless you.

8. Mrs. Maureen Avila - June 19, 2015

To use a parallel example, I think Cardinal Burke’s book, ” Remaining in the Truth of Christ” is
an example of spelling out the truth on certain topics with the idea in mind that if the Pope or Synod deviates and comes to opposing conclusions to Catholic Doctrine of the Faith , then how can any Faithful Catholic follow that ? The issues are not about kissing the Koran, probably intended as a sign of peace with the peaceful sector of Islamics, or Communion in the hand which was practiced in the early Church, but
things essential to faith such as the permanence of marriage, and the sinfulness of homosexual unions.

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