I thought I was used to it — after the rage that followed the publication of Dawn Eden Goldstein’s critical analysis of a devotional book with a devoted following (and a severely troubled author); after the disgusting personal attacks on me following a piece I wrote in America about the damage Pope Francis’s critics had done to family relationships; the brigade of Spanish Francoist Twitter trolls who attacked the moment Gareth Thomas suggested that depictions of St. James on a white horse slaughtering brown and black people aren’t the best devotional art — but I was wrong.

Attack the pope all you want, you might even win an award from the Napa Institute or EWTN. But if you dare to say anything critical about Scott Hahn, they’ll come for you. Write a less than 1,200-word article documenting evidence that Scott Hahn very likely harbors quiet opposition to Pope Francis, and you will face scorn, ridicule, cancelation, and all kinds of personal attacks. Nevermind that most of the people making these attacks openly attack the pope themselves, apparently what I did was very bad and I need to be mocked, condemned, and punished — apparently for noting that Scott Hahn is apparently one of them.

Imagine what our Church would be like if all this energy was expended on defending the pope, rather than a lay theologian at a tiny rust-belt Catholic college in Ohio. Or even how much better off our Church would be if that same lay theologian had lifted a finger to defend the pope back in 2016 or 2018 when the resistance against Pope Francis in the United States was beginning to reach the point of no return. For those who oppose the pope, the fact that Scott Hahn doesn’t support Pope Francis in any meaningful way is a good thing. For those who claim to support the pope but attack those who actually support the pope, this is most certainly a headache.

Sean Swain Martin, on the backlash against his book about Hahn’s biblical scholarship, American Pope, wrote:

Given Hahn’s popularity, I expected strong reactions to my announcement but as I had never experienced anything like this before, I had no idea what this kind of response might look like. Among the many comments, however, was one that I found quite unsettling. Surprisingly, it was not the private message that I received informing me that the writer was praying for my death so that I may soon experience the judgment of God. It was also not the comment that suggested that I was possessed, nor the one that raised the possibility that I was funded by certain liberal powers to take down faithful Catholics, nor even the host of retweets that assumed that I hated both God and the Catholic Church.

Instead, it was the comment to a supportive retweet, “I hope this author knows what he’s in for. This is going to get bad for him.”

I didn’t write a book about Hahn. I wrote an article. And I stand by every word. Martin also wrote, “Along with all of this, however, I also began receiving emails and private messages from people I had never met thanking me for writing the book.” My experience has been the same. People have shared their frustrations with his approach to scripture, the reverence with which he is treated, and stories about personal experiences with him that I cannot repeat because they are impossible to confirm. And a bunch of them used the word “courageous” to describe my willingness to write truthfully and candidly about someone who is apparently off limits to anyone who doesn’t want their name and reputation dragged through the mud by the US Catholic media establishment.

I honestly didn’t expect this kind of backlash — at least any more than when I’ve criticized Raymond Arroyo or Ed Condon or Eric Sammons or Cardinal Burke or Bishop Strickland himself. To me, Scott Hahn is yet another conservative US Catholic who has chosen ideology over the living Magisterium and the teachings of Pope Francis. It’s a disappointing yet predictable trend — Hahn is just the latest in a long line of them.

I’m not imposing a litmus test on him. He has free will. But it’s disappointing nonetheless that someone whom I admired since I was a child has succumbed to the ideology that threatens a schism in the Catholic Church. I don’t think it’s inappropriate or out of line to express that disappointment.

And if his endorsement of Strickland’s letter isn’t enough to convince you he’s bought into the anti-Francis narrative, his publication and promotion of Fr. Gerald Murray’s book Calming the Storm should put any doubts to rest:

That said, I do believe that the dialogue thus far has been less productive than hoped. I do think my article served its basic purpose — it alerted Catholics who seek to think with the Church and remain loyal to Pope Francis and his teachings that Scott Hahn has sadly been supportive of the opposition to the pope. This episode has also unfortunately exposed that the opposition to the pope in the US Church runs deep (something about which the pope is quite aware).

I do hope and pray that Bishop Strickland and Scott Hahn come to their senses before it’s too late. Sunshine is a great disinfectant.

Discuss this article!

Keep the conversation going in our SmartCatholics Group! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

Share via
Copy link