One of the things that the anti-Francis Catholics use as a defense is that the Pope is “unclear” or “confusing.” Therefore, they say, it’s not their fault if they think he’s in error and accuse him of heresy. He should just speak clearly and there wouldn’t be this sort of problem. They claim that his predecessors never had this problem with being misunderstood, therefore it must be his fault.

I find that claim bizarre. Catholic apologetics frequently deal with anti-Catholics who misinterpret or take Papal statements out of context to justify their attacks against the Church. However, whether it’s because these anti-Catholics sincerely repeat the false accusations made in the 16th century, or because they are willing to lie themselves, these people could search out what the Popes really did say, but did not [§].

Every group that has broken from the Catholic Church has begun with misrepresenting what the Church has taught and portraying what individual sinning churchmen have done as the sanctioned teaching of the Church. Even before they broke away, these groups used this misrepresentation to justify their own disobedience by way of claiming that the Church herself has gone wrong while insisting that they hold to the real truth.

If one searches, they can find sins and lamentable judgment in the behavior of any saint, let alone everyone else. They can find people deliberately twisting the words of a Pope to justify sins instead of focusing on the good. But one should consider the words of St. Francis de Sales in this case:

But if, instead of making your profit of these examples [#] and refreshing your minds with the sweetness of so holy a perfume, you turn your eyes toward certain places where monastic discipline is altogether ruined, and where there remains nothing sound but the habit, you will force me to say that you are looking for the sewers and dung heaps, not the gardens and orchards. All good Catholics regret the ill behavior of these people and blame the negligence of the pastors and the uncontrollable ambition of certain persons who, being determined to have power and authority, hinder legitimate elections, and the order of discipline, in order to make the temporal goods of the Church their own. What can we do? The master has sown good seed, but the enemy has oversown cockle.

(The Catholic Controversy, Part II, Article III, Chapter X)

If you deliberately look for failure, you’ll find it. But that doesn’t mean that the Church caused that failure by the teaching of Popes. This is where the anti-Francis Catholics need to ask whether they’re going in the same direction as those who previously broke with the Church. There are Catholics out there who confused discipline and doctrine and hate the Church because they think she “changed” teachings. They are taking soundbites—without reading the full transcript or document—and using their out of context interpretation of these soundbites to “prove” their suspicions are true.

Their behavior dangerously parallels that of the past cases of leaving the Church. If they’re not willing to remember that God protects His Church from error, they may find that they make themselves enemies of the Church under the claim of defending her.


[§] Reading Calvin and Luther, I’ve seen them make vague undocumented assertions about what “popes” say, making it impossible to identify if it was really said, who said it, and in what context. Anti-Catholics seem to repeat their vague assertions as if they were proven facts. Anti-Francis Catholics tend to do the same.

[#] St. Francis is contrasting actual religious life with the occasional corruption used to attack the Church.

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  1. Avatar Terry says:

    While it may be true that the Church is protected from error, I don’t believe it means that every Pope is a good one. I admit that this man leaves me greatly scandalized, and I’m not leaving anytime soon.

    • Avatar Anne Lastman says:

      Terry “this man” you speak about is Peter the rock and wherever Peter is there is the Church. That coterie who have led the dissent have caused the confusion not Peter.
      There have never been been more “theologians” in the church until this papacy

      Pope Francis has not spoken anything that could be considered error and no there is no confusion in his words or writings he is the first of the 7 popes i have lived through who has left the papal palace and went looking for those far.
      He has attempted to clean out curia of their comfort and asked them to be shepherds who are so close to the sheep that they smell like them. He has proffered the church as a field hospital where all those unwell are welcome.
      The only confusion Im suffering with is emeritus pope BXVI There is no emeritus pope. Emeritus is an academic term
      The two visible popes are a cause for confusion because Pope Francis has the spectre of BXVI over him and all changes he might wish to make are gauged by what BXVI would do.
      The mandate of HH pope Francis is reform and bring the church and Jesus to all the nations “and remember I am with you all days even until the end of time”

      • Avatar jong says:

        Anne Lastmann
        Pope Benedict XVI was very clear with his resignation and purposely chosen the title “Emeritus”.Pope Benedict XVI even explain it further thru his addressed to the Clergy in 2013 and even further clarified by his secretary Arch.Ganswein in several interviews and articles..
        The title “Emeritus” clearly means he did not intend to abandon God’s Will but embraced the Wisdom of God in serving the Universal Church thru offering a life of prayer and sacrifices that were still attached to the Chair of Peter. If Pope Benedict XVI simply offer prayers on his own without the title “Emeritus” it will not have a Universal Effect because the Chair of Peter is where the power & authority of God emanates.
        Therefore, the title “Emeritus” is the Wisdom of God for him to lived up the meaning of his chosen name and to become a Great Intercessor for the Universal Church and a Great Prayer Warrior fully united to Pope Francis in prayer. (Matthew18:19-20)

      • Avatar jong says:

        Anne Lastmann

        Why my reply to Anne Lastman saying that Pope Benedict XVI purposely chosen the title “Emeritus” was not posted. I’ve commented twice but I never seen my post?

      • Avatar ONG says:

        @Anne Lastman

        Perhaps a new book for you (if it will be translated):

        NEW BOOK on the “Juridical Gap” of pope Benedict XVI’s *Emeritus* status:

        https://youtu.be/KCxzQeyTEv0

    • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

      Welcome Terry. We hope that, if you stick around and keep an open mind, our articles might make you reconsider your negative image of Pope Francis.

  2. Avatar carn says:

    “One of the things that the anti-Francis Catholics use as a defense is that the Pope is “unclear” or “confusing.””

    ” They are taking soundbites—without reading the full transcript or document—and using their out of context interpretation of these soundbites to “prove” their suspicions are true.”

    Problems regularly ignored at WPI:

    1. Pope Francis words are ambiguous, which is the polite way of saying unclear.

    Irrefutable evidence:

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-vote-to-follow-pope-francis-teaching-on-death-penalty

    (not the article; ignore it; the video starting at 3:50)

    Bishop Barron whose job it was to formulate the rewording of the US catechism in light of CCC2267 gets asked by another Bishop the question, what exactly “inadmissible” means; and Bishop Barron – the most qualified person in the US to understand what the Pope meant there (it was his job to study the matter) – answers that the Pope used “eloquent ambiguity” there and that he wouldn’t dear speak what the mind on that Pope on that is.

    Thereby it is proven that the Pope used ambiguous language there and did not clarify it in any other way so far, that the most qualified person in the US to offer further comment how that ambiguity is to be understood dared to offer such further comment.

    If you continue to deny that the Pope uses ambiguous or in other words unclear language at least sometimes, you are simply in denial of reality.

    2. While some people might start to dislike the Pope due to soundbites by certain media, a lot of people read the texts by the Pope in its entirety and THAT is what makes them distrustful.

    Irrefutable evidence at least for a single case:

    https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=1207

    “Something snapped last Friday, when Pope Francis used the day’s Gospel reading as one more opportunity to promote his own view on divorce and remarriage.”

    “For over 20 years now, writing daily about the news from the Vatican, I have tried to be honest in my assessment of papal statements and gestures. I sometimes criticized St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, when I thought that their actions were imprudent. But never did it cross my mind that either of those Popes posed any danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith.”

    Lawler is skeptical about the Pope due to listening to the Pope’s own words.

    For me personally it is the same; you want to increase my distrust of Pope Francis? Make me read/listen to him. Works nearly every time.

    And with lifesitenews and similar, they regularly link to entire texts or even cite entire texts verbatim by the Pope; in such articles the tone in the comment section is normally worse.

    Soundbites are not the core problem. And ambiguity is not only imagined but rather often real.

    If you want to effectively defend Pope Francis, you have to cope with these facts.

    • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

      And you will have to cope with the *fact* that many people (me included) simply understand what Francis is saying and do not think he is unclear or ambiguous.

      Also, you have not brought up facts or irrefutable evidence at all. You brought up Bishop Barron, quoted by LifeSiteNews and Phil Lawler. Who established Bishop Barron, LSN and Phil Lawler as authoritative referees of what is ambiguous or not?

      • Avatar carn says:

        “You brought up Bishop Barron, quoted by LifeSiteNews and Phil Lawler.”

        I did not bring up Bishop Barron quoted by LSN; i said verbatim “not the article; ignore it; the video starting at 3:50”, meaning i only offered the video as evidence. Unless you consider it possible that LSN faked the video, it is irrelevant that the video of Bishop Barron saying “eloquent ambiguity” about the term “inadmissible” is on LSN for establishing the fact that Bishop Barron said so.

        “Who established Bishop Barron … as authoritative referees of what is ambiguous or not?”

        His job:

        http://www.usccb.org/about/evangelization-and-catechesis/who-we-are.cfm

        “Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis
        Chairman

        Most Reverend Robert E. Barron Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles”

        as Chairman of the committee which has as one of two jobs to catechize the US catholics or in other words explain to them what is in the Catechism, which of course requires identifying and explaining any potentially ambiguous terms.

        You can of course maintain the argument, that although having a job for which he should be qualified to identify any ambiguous terms in the catechism Bishop Barron is still incompetent at that.

        But it is a pretty weak argument.

        And i guess you will not admit that.

        To explain the reason why i used the term “irrefutable”: i looked at it from legal perspective; if one were in court and the critical question were “Is the term ambiguous or not?”, i would advise my client at once that we are in an extraordinary weak/strong (depending upon which side my client is on) the moment i see this video of Bishop Barron, cause him being the chairman of the Committee of Bishop Conference would make him for most courts the most qualified expert on American soil to answer the above question.

        Legally, there would be nothing to do for the side up to then arguing that it isn’t ambiguous except to manage defeat as best as possible.

        But of course i know that you do not care about such a perspective.

        Regarding Lawler himself, there are only three possibilities:

        1. Lawler is lying about something snapping inside him due to Pope Francis homily.

        2. Lawler has some serious mental problem and cannot describe what happen correctly.

        3. Something snapped inside him due to Pope Francis homily, cause Lawler is the foremost world-best expert regarding questions, what happens in the mind of Lawler.

        Again that would be a done case in court, cause arguing 1. or 2. would be extraordinary difficult, due to Lawler’s past as long time Vatican correspondent; that nearly excludes 2.; and makes arguing 1. hard. So it would be 3. and it would proven in court that something snapped with Lawler due to Pope Francis homily.

        But i understand that you do not care about all these arguments.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        I’m sorry but I did not check the video for lack of time (and also for not wanting to give clicks to LSN)

        Still, my point stands. I do not find Pope Francis confusing at all. So I cannot agree with Bishop Barron, because as much as I try, I cannot view ambiguity where I see none

        Regarding Lawler, I do agree with you that what happened to him was option no. 3. But you just argue that as some kind of proof and leave it at that.

        But the fact that Lawler snapped is no proof of Pope Francis’ ambiguity. No. 3 may also happen because Lawler has an erroneous interpretation of what Catholicism is, and that makes him view Pope Francis’ clear statements challenging him as being fruit of doctrinal ambiguity.

        Either way, Pope Francis’ ambiguity remains to be proven. Bishop Barron and Lawler are not authoritative referees of what is ambiguous or not, as if them saying there is ambiguity would set this in stone

        Finally I would ask you to please drop the “I guess you don’t care for those arguments” line. I understand your frustration, but just because I don’t validate you viewpoint doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I do, but I’m at a loss as to how I can clarify things for you, given our past exchanges

      • Avatar carn says:

        “Finally I would ask you to please drop the “I guess you don’t care for those arguments” line.”

        Sorry for that, that was a mistake to say.

        “But the fact that Lawler snapped is no proof of Pope Francis’ ambiguity.”

        I did not intend to offer Lawler as proof for ambiguity of Pope Francis. I meant him as example that

        “They are taking soundbites—without reading the full transcript or document—”

        there are people who read full transcripts/documents and still end up being negative about the statements.

        Its a bit like having a partly false diagnosis and then prescribing the wrong medicine/treatment. If one wrongly thinks a patient is suffering/ill from having too little of something (e.g. here: too little of Pope Francis words, cause “patient” only gets soundbites) and to treat him accordingly by giving him more of that something (e.g. here: instead of only getting soundbites, critcis should read many texts and homilies of Pope Francis completely), it will not work, if the suffering/illness does not come from having too little of that substance; it might make things even worse (e.g. here: Lawler certainly did not lack reading/hearing full statements including all context; giving him more of that won’t “cure” him).

        Some people skeptical about Pope Francis will get less skeptical if they look beyond soundbites for context; and with some people this will not help or make even things worse.

        And with many “professional” papal critics one must assume that they are of the latter category, that they do read what Pope Francis says with the full context and still end up claiming that there is a problem with it.

        That is one thing i tried to bring across; and not in a sense that these people are right; but in the sense, that you (so WPI and allies) should understand that there are people whose skepticism about the Pope will not get better from going beyond soundbites.

        Context is no cure for quite a few.

        “Still, my point stands. I do not find Pope Francis confusing at all. So I cannot agree with Bishop Barron, because as much as I try, I cannot view ambiguity where I see none”

        But that doesn’t change that Bishop Barron sees ambiguity there and that other people see it as well.

        And just like you should for defending Pope Francis and for convincing his critics that he is mostly ok be aware, that some (and/or many; i have no statistics) critics will not get less critical by reading more from Pope Francis, you should be aware, that to some (and/or many; i have no statistics) critics some statements of Pope Francis which you consider to be clear are ambiguous – and that this is not in itself dissent, as Bishop Barron is to my knowledge not a papal critic.

        Also, just like you cannot see ambiguity where you see none, i cannot unsee ambiguity where i see some.

        “Either way, Pope Francis’ ambiguity remains to be proven.”

        What would you consider proof?

        After all, i would not consider my personal opinion that something is/isn’t ambiguous as sufficient evidence; cause maybe i am just dumb. Bishop Barron on the other hand is not some no-name; him suggesting ambiguity is not as easy to dismiss as my personal opinion.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        What would I consider proof? Tough to say, it would be like asking me what I would consider proof that I’m not typing an answer on my iPhone right now. I cannot unsee what I see.

        Of course I do understand that you are in a similar conundrum, but this just goes to show that instead of discussing whether Pope Francis is ambiguous or not (a futile discussion, since none of us is going to budge on this), why not try to open your mind to the explanations given by those that think Francis is clear, instead of dismissing them as mere “personal opinions”?

        As for the reason why I think you think Francis is ambiguous and unclear, I already kinda hinted at that in a previous comment about bias that you don’t seem to have answered. I cannot read your mind, for sure, but I can comment on what I hear you say and do. I think that many people were instructed on the faith based on commentators, that, though orthodox in some matters where dissent is widespread elsewhere, were biased with extra-Catholic ideologies and ideas that they, unfortunately, transmitted to those they were “guiding”.

        Even people who turned to papal writings as primary sources would, afterwards, read the commentaries from those pundits and start interpreting those primary sources through that lens.

        This means that a substantial portion of Catholics have ingrained thought-processes that they confuse with the faith, but which do not have anything to do with the faith

        When they are confronted with the faith as presented in a radical way (like Francis does) they get confused, since they observe a Catholicism whose thought-process contradicts the way they were taught to think about issues. They recognize the seed of the Gospel in it, but not the totality. Hence, they attribute it to “ambiguity”

        But other people who were not conditioned by these thought processes (not because they are better or smarter, but because they might have received insights on the faith that were not molded by these pundits because, for example, they lived in a small European country like Portugal) might read Francis and know exactly what he means

        As far as Bishop Barron goes, I have lots of respect for him, and do not claim he is disobedient to Pope Francis, but unfortunately I do not think that he’s immune to this bias, since he is immersed on that same apologetics movement responsible for this bias in the first place

        But I admit, this is just my opinion based on what I have been observing. If I’m wrong, please forgive me and try to correct me

      • Avatar Marie says:

        Pedro’s comment on how we were instructed on our faith made me think, and maybe my thinking is way off, but I do believe we are all a little predisposed to accepting a certain way of thinking, whether it be regarding Catholicism or life in general. We are complex beings, and we interpret the same things differently based on a lot of factors. I think we need to recognize our inclinations when we receive our faith. By that I mean, are we the type of person who is inclined to, for example, view someone with less than us with sympathy, or with thoughts of pull up your bootstraps? Are we someone who lives by the rules, whatever they may be, or someone who tends to bend them according to circumstance? Do we view our successes and failures as gifts or as strictly self driven? I do think there are common characteristics shared, not exclusively, but nonetheless very common among specific ideologies. It’s not necessarily a good vs bad thing, its just different ways of thinking. I may be completely wrong, but it has been my observation over the years, and I think self awareness can assist us when we try to understand our faith.

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Pedro Gabriel

        “bias”

        While i would another word, i would at least agree that it has to do with different people having so to say different lenses to look at things and thereby perceive them differently.

        As a i think rather obvious example, take ONG and me; he says that the question to Bishop Barron is about why the Pope made the revision. I watch the same video and i see someone asking for the meaning of the word and i cannot see what ONG sees there. ONG and i have rather different “lenses” to look at things.

        I also agree that the lens or lenses we use – probably often subconsciously – to look at things are shaped strongly by our experiences.

        So it can well be that due to certain conditions a certain “lens type” is rather dominant in the US; and if that lens type often makes Pope Francis words seem unclear or whatever, then there will be many people in the US puzzled about Pope Francis and criticism from the US will be louder than from elsewhere.

        But i think i see a few things differently:

        1. It is not only or maybe not mostly an issue of religious education, commentators, etc. I think a lot more things come into this, for example profession and the many other things shaping us in live how we approach issue.

        What i would see something which makes a “Pope Francis is unclear”-lens more likely is being a lawyer of any type, especially a US lawyer or something similar or someone with a lawyerly mindset. I think i can say that, cause i have to do in my work with both German, European and the US law; and US law is not well suited for nuances from what i can see; it sometimes seems to be to just add things together with little consideration whether they fit in that situation or whether the overall picture makes sense.

        This is btw not to mean it is inferior; sometimes German law can turn and turn around so much in nuances that in the end courts end up with decisions that any normal person would consider to be beyond crazy.

        But that less nuanced lens of US lawyers would in my opinion produce far more often an “unclear” with Pope Francis than the more nuanced lens of European lawyers, which again might produce far more often “unclear” than the lens of non-layers.

        So it is not only religious education or commentators listened to, but more a general thing influenced by the entire background.

        2. I am pretty free from being instructed by commentators, etc. Religiously so to say a loner. I stick with what i can understand from sources i trust, e.g. catechism, and that’s it mostly.

        So where ever i got my lens from, radtrads are not guilty.

        3. I see no excellent criteria for showing that some lens is superior or not; that the Pope’s word seem more clear is in my view a weak criteria; after all, papal infallibility does not guarantee that a Pope speaks with clarity. So we cannot say, that a certain lens is superior from that.

        4. The criteria i think would be the least faulty would be, which lens or so to say which mindset from which the lens arises is a mindset leading to holiness, God or at least to doing good works.

        That is a slight problem with me. Cause exactly that mindset that i think might be associated with me seeing some statements as unclear/otherwise problematic – this mindset of mine which looks at things, dissects them, reforms them, dissects them again, always hunting for contradictions or similar things – is the mindset that brought me back to the Church.

        And that i absolutely need to fulfill what i think i am called to do. Which might be a good work.

        So giving that up – even if it were possible (how to change the way on thinks?) – is not an option according to that least faulty criteria.

        “why not try to open your mind to the explanations given by those that think Francis is clear, instead of dismissing them as mere “personal opinions”?”

        Cause it would require removing that mindset/way of thinking that at least brought me some of the way along and which for all i know is requirement for continuing. Cause i shall use it (not against the Pope; but that i perceive the words of the Pope as i perceive them is a problem).

        Also, as said above, we have no objective criteria to determine which lens is the better one.

        Furthermore, while there are people thinking Pope Francis is clear, i think they might contradict each other regarding what supposedly Pope Francis clearly says.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        I will not be able to answer this comment of yours today, but would like to do a follow-up. For now, thank you for answering me, I really enjoyed this comment

      • Avatar Anne Lastman says:

        Absolutely we do understand what the Holy Father Pope Francis says.
        Those who choose to believe ambiguity will no doubt find ambiguity.

    • Avatar M. says:

      in·ad·mis·si·ble
      /ˌinədˈmisəb(ə)l/
      Learn to pronounce
      adjective
      1.
      (especially of evidence in court) not accepted as valid.
      synonyms: not allowable, invalid, not acceptable, unacceptable, unallowable, impermissible, disallowed, forbidden, prohibited, precluded; More
      2.
      not to be allowed or tolerated.
      “an inadmissible interference in the affairs of the Church”

      Doesn’t seem ambiguous to me….

      • Avatar ONG says:

        M.
        Here is the 5 mins’ version of the video.

        Both the question to Bsp. Barron, and his answer!

        The nature of the question was not about what the CCC’s revision meant (it obviously is saying *no* to the DP), but WHY Pope Francis did use *inadmissible*.

        Bsp. Doherty asks the question referring to a Catholic newspaper that in the last few weeks was puzzling on that word.

        Bps. Barron was smart and knew in advance that it was a tricky question! He did *not* fall into the trap of explaining what it exactly meant, and what was in Pope Francis mind. Bsp. Barron was clear about that.
        He reiterated that it just was his own assessment of why that language was used.

        LSN – 5 mins USCCB on *Inadmissible* in CCC 2267:

        https://youtu.be/B0cFnCeCbss

      • Avatar carn says:

        @ONG

        Maybe we have different youtoubes and watch different videos, but in my video the question is verbatim:

        “you might have com across an article in one of our catholic newspapers in the last few weeks that was puzzling over the word “inadmissible”.
        My question is not again to change what the Holy Father is asking and teaching, but i think the article raised a good point about what exactly does that mean … ah … on a topic that a lot of our people have an above average interest in”

        Now we had our discussions, no need to reopen them. But i am really completely at loss, how you can interpret a question “about what exactly does that mean” as a question that is asking for why something is done.

        It is verbatim a question about the exact meaning of something.

        Which “something”? The only candidate i see seems to be “inadmissible”.

        So how can you hear the word “what exactly does that mean” and then conclude, that this is a question about asking why something was done?

        There is not even the word “why” used in the question.

        (And i am sincerely not doing this to start a quarrel; i just note that if we two understand this from the number and complexity of words rather simple question DIFFERENTLY, that then it would be no surprise that we something completely different when looking at the dubia)

      • Avatar ONG says:

        @carn

        //So how can you hear the word “what exactly does that mean” and then conclude, that this is a question about asking why something was done?//

        Hermeneutics work in such a way that when one reads or listens against for a second, a third, fourth and so on times, each time one understands a little more that had escaped before. That’s why I earlier have asked you several times to reread what I had written in order to catch any new particular that you might have missed.

        You typed verbatim what Bsp. Doherty asked. I heard the same so it’s not another version of the video.

        (But in addition to verbatim, since he speaks it live, there is also tone of voice, rhythm, pauses, gestures and so on.) Although I don’t know which position that bishop holds towards Pope Francis, he appeared to me somewhat *embarrassed* of asking that question anyway, also for the fact that it was asked on behalf of readers/people out of some newspaper’s puzzling. (Why? Because we know what that word means already!)

        Now do the same [verbatim typing] with what Bsp. Barron says and see whether or not you can find something new in how and what he answers.

        I’ll wait…

      • Avatar carn says:

        “Doesn’t seem ambiguous to me….”

        Then i have a very simple question for you:

        Must every Catholic judge from now onwards recuse himself/herself from any case in which the state attorney is asking for death penalty, because a Catholic judge may no longer sentence someone to death because death penalty is “inadmissible”?

        The options for answer are only yes or no, as any complicated answer like “judge should discuss that with spiritual adviser” etc. is a “No”.

        Legally it is simple: a judge who for whatever reason is completely unwilling to consider some sentence the state sttorney asks for – for example due to someone in Rome stating that that type of sentence is “inadmissible” – must recuse himself/herself at once. Which is also the reason, why (likely) any complicated answer is “No”, cause if for example the judge is uncertain whether he may or may not sentence to death since the discussions with spiritual advisor have not yet taken place, he is not yet completely unwilling and therefore must not recuse himself/herself (that would change if the discussions with the spiritual advisor would end with the judge realizing that he may not sentence to death).

        But thanks for your post, cause it gave me the idea for this simple question.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        On my end I would answer that “yes”, that judge should recuse himself, in principle, from applying the DP. This is no difficult from the other professions that need to ask recuse for practicing the fullness of their profession across the centuries (doctors and abortion; soldiers in Roman times, etc…)

        Whether a catholic judge that does not refuse himself is culpable for discerning otherwise for a specific situation is something I don’t venture to guess. But be that as it may, his culpability does not change the objective fact that, morally, he should recuse himself

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Pedro Gabriel

        As we discuss “lenses” above, please be aware that what you wrote would make in my opinion be perceived by many through their “lens” as equivalent to saying that DP is intrinsic evil.

        The reasoning would be something like this:

        Actions that are not intrinsicall evil might be – even if they are often evil – in some circumstances licit. So before a judge would be required from recusing himself for being unwilling to commit the action “sentencing accused to X”, he would have to look into the details to determine – even if “sentencing to X” is often an evil action – if in this case “sentencing to X” would be evil (though there would be still the option beside recusing himself, to consider whether the law does anyway not open the possibility of avoiding the evil action).

        As the judge has to recuse himself no matter what the specific circumstances are when the action is “sentencing the accused to death”, “sentencing the accused to death” cannot be non-intrinsic evil. Accordingly it is intrinsic evil.

        This is just an attempt to outline the argument, so that you get aware how what you said would be perceived.

        But even from with my lens, this is a bit strange.

        1. This would mean, that this further development of doctrine, which as i understood is just about closing loopholes but has no fundamentally different effects compared to what JPII said, effectively would force potentially thousands of Catholics in various countries and in various job positions to choose between keeping their job and obedience to Church teaching in a similar way as in case of abortion (which you cite as similar example).

        While theological it might be a small change, for practical purposes it is a dramatic change. Especially, as while doctors not performing abortions are tolerated in many countries and clinics, judges, state attorneys, prison employees and similar playing an active role in helping bringing the complex process of death sentence to its end are unlikely to receive such accomendation, at least for the time being.

        So if Catholics were made fully aware about how this teaching is to be understood (at least how you view it) and were obedient, catholics in respective countries would have by the thousands either quit their jobs or act as that non-catholic Kim Davies acted in respect to gay marriage. (I do not think people will; abortion example shows that; but i argue that the teaching itself advocates for this in effect).

        And this is an effect of this teaching as can be seen best from:

        2. that what the CDF said 14 years ago is no longer correct:

        https://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfworthycom.htm

        (i checked multiple sources; this is the letter sent by Cardinal Ratzinger as head of CDF to US bishops; so it was what the Church taught in 2004)

        “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

        Which obviously would allow for Catholic judges, etc. to continue working even if it meant sentencing people to death, if that is what their conscious is ok with.

        So something which was ok according to CDF in 2004 is now no longer ok.

        This is not to mean that this is a problematic contradiction in itself; just that it means that something relevant changed, which in my view is a bit more than closing some loopholes.

        Telling 2004 people effectively, that it might be ok to work as a judge sentencing people to death sometimes and telling people in 2019 that now they have to quit respective jobs, is a relevant change.

        3. Abortion and other intrinsic evil things are forbidden.

        One can word that the following:

        Since the dawn of time and until the stars turn to dust under no circumstances a Catholic should decide for/carry out/etc. an abortion.

        Or the following:

        Since the dawn of time and until the stars turn to dust abortion is, was and will be intrinsically evil.

        How i understand your position:

        Since [official publication date of new CCC2267] and until [either another change of CCC2267 or untill the starts turn to dust] under no circumstances a Catholic should sentence someone to death/help in doing so/help in the execution (which might include guarding the to be exceuted in the time before the exceution).

        Which in my view one could word as such without changing the content of the statement:

        Since [official publication date of new CCC2267] and until [either another change of CCC2267 or untill the starts turn to dust] under no circumstances death penalty is to be treated by Catholics the same way as they would treat it if it were intrinsically evil.

        So in my view the practical differences between how you suggest death penalty should be handled/approached by catholics and how intrinsically evil actions should be handled/approached by catholics are neglible and the differences are mostly limited to nomenklatura and that with DP its only since 2019 and not since the dawn of time and that with DP there might be in the future a change.

        Meaning i fully understand, why someone might mistake your position for being “DP is instrically evil”, cause i at least cannot name any relevant practical differences between your position and the position of someone saying “DP is intrinsically evil”.

        I hope this helps understanding, why people might perceive the new DP teaching as if it were teaching that DP is intrinsically evil; cause if one does not recognize any relevant differences between two things, one often endes up thinking there is none.

      • Avatar M. says:

        @carn

        I am sorry I don’t have time to read the long post, I will try to find some time later. In the meantime, I will just say that yes, if the Catechism teaches that the DP is inadmissable, then a Catholic should not be part of any sentencing, and should recuse himself/herself. Seems very obvious to me, but I have gotten out of the habit of thinking things to death, and have started to try to simplify, because I have a tendency to scruple too much. will try to come back and read more comments later, in a day or so.

      • Avatar M. says:

        Ok carn, I had some time to read your response to Pedro. It really takes time and offort to try to understand it all for me, I am not that great at parsing out all these meanings and taking them apart, I am a person who reads language in order to a general sense of what the person is trying to get at, as a whole person. So this is very difficult for me. However I did try. So here goes: It seems like you are saying something like: /the death penalty used to be allowed for a certain set of reasons, as a type of state self-defense, etc. and now it is universally, across the board not allowed, and that is a change in doctrine, making something intrinsically evil which was previously not viewed as intrinsically evil. Therefore, the pope is kind of a bad guy because he changed a doctrine and was also unclear about its proper application, leaving many souls of lawyers and judges (traditionally known for their great commitment to scrupulously obeying truth 😉 floundering around not knowing what to do in their lives in order to avoid formal or informal cooperation with evil/

        Is that a correct interpretation of your words, or have I misunderstood you?

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        I don’t think that’s an exact assessment. What he seems to be saying is that saying that the DP is inadmissible, while previously it was not, may *sound* like it is intrinsically evil and so people might be excused for being confused on this

        I will try to address carn’s comment when I have more time

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Pedro Gabriel
        “What he seems to be saying is that saying that the DP is inadmissible, while previously it was not, may *sound* like it is intrinsically evil”
        Correct.

        “so people might be excused for being confused on this ”

        I didn’t intent to imply this. I just intended to explain, so you might understand. If that is excusing anything, would require further thoughts.

        @ONG

        You are aware that:

        1. repeatedly looking for new meanings of the same text can – sometimes – just end up seeing there what we want to see there?

        2. that two people repeatedly looking at the same text can end seeing different things therein, which makes your habit of telling me to read something again in expectation that i will finally see what you see there a bit strange?

        You behave as if you were the wise teacher who tries to help the student see something in the text, which the student still misses, with me being the blind student. Apart from that being a bit unnerving, it is also probably false.

        But let’s play along:

        “I’ll wait…”

        “(But in addition to verbatim, since he speaks it live, there is also tone of voice, rhythm, pauses, gestures and so on.)”

        Yes, i never had the idea to look for that, thanks for reminding me.

        “Although I don’t know which position that bishop holds towards Pope Francis, he appeared to me somewhat *embarrassed* of asking that question anyway, also for the fact that it was asked on behalf of readers/people out of some newspaper’s puzzling. (Why? Because we know what that word means already!)”

        Not embarrassment. Embarrassment would only make sense, if he considered the question stupid and was embarrassed to ask the question. But since he said “raised a good point”, he cannot think the question to be stupid, cause then the article would raise a stupid point and then he would by directly and intentionally lying, when saying “good point”; as we must presume that Bishops are not directly intentionally lying, we must seek an explanation other than embarrassment.

        And there is a likely candidate, uneasiness/uncertainty about walking on difficult ground. Bishop Doherty probably did not spent the last 3 years in Siberia and therefore is aware that the Pope was accused of heresy (not regarding DP) AND he is aware that there are at least some people arguing that its also heresy on DP AND he is aware that the Pope also got attacked for at least opening room for heresy by being ambiguous.

        Accordingly, we see a Bishop who tries to raise a point/question he considers interesting, but is aware that one wrong wording and people would count him among those who accuse the Pope of heresy/similar stuff; accordingly, he is uneasy, nervous, uncertain about how to choose the words to both get his question across but without mistepping.

        About Bishop Barron, on viewing it again, it is obvious for me, that Bishop Barron avoids the question cause he think it would be too dangerous to answer (cause again that issue of saying something wrong) and therefore he sidesteps by discussing the completely uninteresting and to be expected point, that they tried to stick close with to the wording of Pope Francis. Which is in a sense conceding that the meaning is unclear; cause that is what you do to avoid getting in conflict with a superior who says ambiguous things – you parse his unclear choice of words as closely as possible, cause then you do not do anything wrong.

        So you see, what i said above under 2.: On rewatching/rereading i still do not see the things, you think i should see there.. And another round won’t change that.

        @M.

        You misunderstood me.

      • Avatar M. says:

        Thank you Pedro. I admit to being confused by carn… I hope I also can be excused for that! 🙂
        (Just ribbing you a bit carn, I hope you know I mean no ill will)

      • Avatar carn says:

        @M.

        You could have avoided the confusion by taking the words as i wrote them:

        “that what you wrote would make in my opinion be perceived by many through”

        So my text was discussing what PPedro Gabriel wrote.

        You understand, that by saying something about Pedro Gabriel i am not saying something about the Pope, cause Pedro Gabriel isn’t the Pope?

        I ask this this bluntly, cause i sometimes have the impression the people at WPI mistake attacking what they wrote as an attack on the Pope or his teaching. But all what is written here, is just personal guessing how the Pope might mean things. Accordingly, attacking this is usually not attacking the Pope.

        My guess would even be on the Pope disagreeing with Pedro Gabriel’s suggestion, that all respective people might have to quit their jobs. But that is only a guess.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        @carn: just a quick note. The way you write can indeed be confusing, since you tend to create dichotomies and parentheses that make your writing style too dense to be understandable to many people. Not to accuse you, but if you feel the burden of feeling confused by Pope Francis’ writings, please consider extending some empathy to those who are actively trying to understand your concerns, but are unable to, because they find you confusing. Especially since I’ve noticed that many people around here actually empathize with you and, successfully or unsuccessfully, are trying to be helpful

      • Avatar M. says:

        @carn
        You could have avoided the confusion by taking the words as i wrote them:

        “that what you wrote would make in my opinion be perceived by many through”

        So my text was discussing what PPedro Gabriel wrote.

        Huh?? I literally have *no idea* what you are talking about. Whether I have reading comprehension issues, or just not enough time to pore through and study your and Pedro’s and others’ writings here, I don’t know. It may well be my fault, but for someone who insists on clear language and clear meaning and clear interpretation of yourself from others, I must say that you have a bit of work to do. On yourself- at least in that area, from what I have observed.

  3. Avatar Lazurus says:

    I remember the first year traditionalists were wondering why the pope was criticizing “good” Catholics who did all the religious things with zeal and diligence. Jesus criticized the Pharisees who, appearing outwardly devout because they kept laws with rigor, were not transformed internally. It was because the criticized them that they hated Him, and because they hated Him they viewed everything He said and did with suspicion, so much so that when Jesus miraculously healed a man on the Sabbath, they accused Him of breaking the law, not noticing what the miraculous healing says about the Father’s position of healing on the Sabbath. They called Him demon-possesed and constantly looked for ways to trap Him in His words.

    Now, the other day on social media one of the criticisms of Pope Francis was that he focuses on politics, climate change and economics, and not on religion. But they don’t see that it was Jesus who taught social justice. There is this idea that if you just sit in a corner doing your religious thing God will be a satisfied. He doesn’t really care about social justice. But the bible says that even miracle workers will go to hell if they do not do works of mercy.

    • Avatar carn says:

      “Jesus criticized the Pharisees who, appearing outwardly devout because they kept laws with rigor, were not transformed internally.”

      When did you receive the ability to know, whether some papal critic was or was not transformed internally?

      Cause if you do not have the ability, you cannot know whether your comparison of papal critics in general to internally not transformed Pharisees is accurate or a pure fantasy of your mind and whether you are legitimately papal critics in general or whether you are unjustly condemning them.

      I ask this, cause this was a mystery from a start. Somehow lots of people have perfect knowledge what internal state of soul/mind someone else has, whom they can observe only externally and that often only via a few texts/post.

      I have frankly no idea what goes on in the mind of some people i criticize; zil; nothing; i criticize what they say and what can be derived from that. Usually from texts the internal state of souls cannot be derived. So i am really at loss, how one could ever arrive at the point to be confident enough to call groups of people pharisees.

      “they do not do works of mercy”

      How on earth can you know that the person on facebook does not do works of mercy? Did he tell you so?

      Just because someone thinks the Pope talks nonsense about politics cannot in itself show that that person does not do works of mercy.

      Works of mercy are visible, when one sees a robbed injured man lying beside the road. Not when one is in or before the temple and voices criticism of how the priests teach.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        May i just point out that Lazarus never explicitly said that the papal critics do not do
        works of mercy. His point is about salvation and he used that sentence with a conditional on it

      • Avatar carn says:

        And you are aware that if the unknown person Lazarus uses as an example to make his point, would do more works of mercy than we all here together, that then Lazarus would be wrong to use him/her as example?

        Besides, that does not change that Lazarus presumes to have the ability to determine whether someone was transformed on the inside.

      • Avatar Lazurus says:

        I’m just drawing parallels, not calling people Pharisees, just showing that many are walking a similar sort of path. But there are indeed certain radtrads who gossip and slander, and generally behave as if they’re better people just because they follow the traditions of the faith. For example, their understanding of love thy neighbor and Muslim refugees.

        You can see the progression of events. Because they already don’t like Pope Francis or his criticisms of traditionalism they’re willing to believe any nonsensical accusation against him. First he’s accused of being confusing, then a subverter, then someone abetting sexual abusers, then a heretic. If they didn’t already suspect him they would probably more skeptical of unproven accusations, but they think it’s obviously true without doubt.

        I didn’t say they don’t do works of mercy, just that Jesus said He would judge people by the works they did, not by what religious rituals they did, no matter if they are exorcists or miracle workers.

      • Avatar Lazurus says:

        Also her very words tells me that she thinks social justice and Catholicism are separate things. I wasn’t judging whether she did works of mercy, only that she didn’t understand that social justice is a teaching of Jesus.

        But regarding discerning internal states, why would Jesus give us signs to know false prophets if we couldn’t probably know the inside from the outside behavior? Not that this has anything to do with my post.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        Just one point, Jesus could do things that we are not allowed to do, because He could read hearts and we cannot. So, I would be careful to say that, if Jesus had some behaviors and words regarding His critics, that means we are justified in having them too

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Lazarus

        Ok, so only pointing out parallels.

        “But there are indeed certain radtrads who gossip and slander”

        I agree that there are some gossipers among radtrads.

        “You can see the progression of events. Because they already don’t like Pope Francis or his criticisms of traditionalism they’re willing to believe any nonsensical accusation against him. First he’s accused of being confusing,”

        I agree that the more distrustful one gets, the more one finds to criticize.

        There is only one problem: That doesn’t show that all criticism is false.

        And its pretty hard to consider criticism of the Pope being supposedly confusing as nonsensical, when reading the words of the Pope yourself often results in a “What on earth is he talking about? That could mean A, B or C or something i have not yet thought of” and explanations what it means often result in a “That explanation is not conclusively showing that it must mean A”.

        “I didn’t say they don’t do works of mercy, just that Jesus said He would judge people by the works they did, not by what religious rituals they did, no matter if they are exorcists or miracle workers.”

        As far as i understand Jesus words, they only seem to say that “religious rituals” or similar alone are insufficient, and that works of mercy are also (!!) required. So that doing only works of mercy but skipping what is due to God could also result in damnation.

        “But regarding discerning internal states, why would Jesus give us signs to know false prophets if we couldn’t probably know the inside from the outside behavior?”

        Where is there a sign of a false prophet that is solely an outside behavior visible to all?

        The only thing i am aware of is good fruit/bad fruit; but that is a tricky one, as it requires identifying good and bad fruit. Is AL a good fruit or bad fruit? Are the reactions to AL good fruit or bad fruit and can they be attributed to Pope Francis? Is the declaration of truths or asking the dubia by Cardinal Burke a good fruit or a bad fruit? Are the reactions towards that good fruit or bad fruit and can they be attributed to Cardinal Burke?

        It seems to me that calling out false prophets is not that easy.

      • Avatar Lazurus says:

        @Pedro You are right. I wasn’t accusing anyone of being only a follower of the law without internal conversion. I was bringing up the reason that Jesus criticised zealous followers of the Mosaic Law, or so it would seem to someone at the surface at the time. People who seemed religiously knowledgable, devout, maybe pious to the average person.

        Jesus did give us signs to discern whether someone is a false prophet in times of confusion and divisive religious disputes, and it was looking for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life. We can’t be certain that we saw correctly, but we an approximate a good guess. To me it only make sense that true prophets must live a life of grace that colors their entire character. He only gave us the sign for false prophets though, who seem pious, faithful and knowledgable but are only that way externally. He probably gave us this advice because we are usually bad at discerning virtue and are prone to making mistakes in judgement of divine things.

        @carn

        “I agree that the more distrustful one gets, the more one finds to criticize.

        There is only one problem: That doesn’t show that all criticism is false.”

        You are right here. It doesn’t. But what is the reasonable end game here?

        The critics aren’t going to admit they are theologically wrong. The Church won’t undo Vatican I. When nobody deposes the pope, then what?

        Then they try to subvert the Church government and get a pope who is more in tune with ultra conservative politics. If God is on their side, they will win. But it is becoming more and more apparent that God is not (sign of the time that is only probably correct, not claiming this as an objective fact). Since He protects the Church they will likely fail to take control.

        If they can’t get the pope deposed, can’t take control of Church government, too proud to submit, what is left? Declare the Catholic Church to be a false church, form their own sect, headed by an antipope of their disposition.

        Critics (of the pope) don’t seem to care much about what the doctrine of papal primacy, and it constrains what the end goal they will have the ability to choose. If these are the options left it makes the growing oppositions and accusations of the pope suspect. I don’t have to debunk their criticism, they have to show non-circumstantial evidence in the first place.

        ‘As far as i understand Jesus words, they only seem to say that “religious rituals” or similar alone are insufficient, and that works of mercy are also (!!) required. So that doing only works of mercy but skipping what is due to God could also result in damnation.

        Yes, exactly. But even unbelievers are saved if they die in a state of grace. So it’s only normative that you have to do religious rituals. But God judges based on love. Whoever hates his brother cannot love God. We must be like the good Samaritan and not the Levite, even if the Levite was in the true religion. Now lets apply this. Wouldn’t this have consequences on politics and religion?

        “But regarding discerning internal states, why would Jesus give us signs to know false prophets if we couldn’t probably know the inside from the outside behavior?”

        “Where is there a sign of a false prophet that is solely an outside behavior visible to all?”

        His spiritual fruit, the only fruits the gospel talked about. These are signs that he’s living the spiritual life. Solve pretending to be sheep.

        “It seems to me that calling out false prophets is not that easy.”

        Why would a true prophet create a parallel magisterium?

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Lazarus

        “But what is the reasonable end game here?
        The critics aren’t going to admit they are theologically wrong. The Church won’t undo Vatican I. When nobody deposes the pope, then what?”

        Question based on wrong premises. Many critics aren’t theologically wrong and do not want Vatican II (or I) undone.

        As long as the Pope continues his way of teaching ambiguous things, there won’t be any official schism. Things will continue as now, with many going “recognize and resist”.

        And there is no planned endgame, as most critics do not act according to a plan, but just do what from their POV is morally right to do.

        “If they can’t get the pope deposed, can’t take control of Church government, too proud to submit, what is left? Declare the Catholic Church to be a false church, form their own sect, headed by an antipope of their disposition.”

        Continue trying to personally do no wrong but do what is right. A declaration as you suggest is not right, hence many critics won’t do that.

        “We must be like the good Samaritan and not the Levite, even if the Levite was in the true religion. Now lets apply this. Wouldn’t this have consequences on politics and religion?”

        False premise, nowhere it is said that the good Samaritan does not try to give what is due to God, nor that it would be wrong for the good Samaritan to shed his religious errors.

        It would have foremost consequences for ourselves, that we should try to help our neighbor AND give God what is due to him. Like the priest would be, as if he had helped like the Samaritan AND then did his service to God when and the way it would have been possible.

        As this parable is about personal behavior, the consequences for politics are limited. We should as many Christians have done in centuries past, work together with the good Samaritans of today, so formal followers of heresies and/or false religions who nonetheless show through their good works, that they know mercy.

        This might include polite attempts to help them realize the religious errors.

        “Why would a true prophet create a parallel magisterium?”

        While a true prophet has no reason to do so, the question is irrelevant as most critics aren’t creating a parallel magisterium, but just – according to their own knowledge – state what the magisterium teaches.

        “His spiritual fruit, the only fruits the gospel talked about. These are signs that he’s living the spiritual life. Solve pretending to be sheep.”

        That isn’t an answer to the question i asked.

    • Avatar Jude says:

      To say that Francis is Jesus and all the troubles are other peoples fault, false news, bad translators, or fussy old people not being holy enough is simplistic and naive. To contend that “making a mess” and encouraging others to “make a mess” does not result in confusion, and that confusion doesn’t result in errors, bad actions, despair and loss of faith is more than the objective mind can reasonably be expect to bear.

      • Avatar Marie says:

        Where is the making a mess? I don’t see that at all. The more I read about Pope Francis, the more I understand how faith, morals and social justice go hand and hand. When we separate them, we get in trouble. Together, their pieces form a beautiful puzzle. Separately, the view can be distorted. Every action, reaction, teaching and accompaniment must be done together, or someone gets lost in the shuffle. I really believe that, now more than ever.

      • Avatar Jude says:

        “Make a mess” is a Pope Francis quotable quotes. No doubt he has thought to apply it to himself now and then.

      • Avatar Lazarus says:

        Francis is not Jesus, but like Jesus he is the one God expects us to obey at the moment.

  4. Avatar Anne Lastman says:

    Well said Lazarus. As always. Well said

  5. Avatar M. says:

    Yes well said, Lazarus.

    Making a mess is easy to understand if you are of good faith. I had a professor in college who used to tell us to “throw some mud on the wall” rather than just sit there waiting to be spoon fed. He wanted us to make mistakes rather than just sit in class all afraid of messing up. Simirlar, Pope Francis wants us to stop being afraid of making a mess and try something rather than just sit here wringing our hands. There is a parable Jesus told about that too. Remember the buried talents? Lets not go that way!

    Great article David Wanat!