Pope Francis laughs during his visit to the All Saints' Anglican Church in Rome on Feb. 26, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Is Pope Francis really facing a coup? Or just ‘fake news’?

(RNS) As Pope Francis marks the fourth anniversary of his revolutionary papacy, the pontiff apparently finds himself besieged on all sides by crises of his own making: an open “civil war” in the Catholic Church and fears of schism, mounting opposition from the faithful and a Roman Curia so furious with his reforms that some cardinals are plotting a coup to topple him.

And those are just some of the more noteworthy threats to the church and his authority, at least in the view of various right-wing Catholic websites and pundits who have been criticizing Francis almost since the day he was elected four years ago on Monday (March 13).

Now, as the anniversary approaches, their claims have grown increasingly insistent and eye-popping, often migrating into mainstream media accounts as well.

Pope Francis talks during an audience for Christmas greetings to the Curia in the Clementina Hall at the Vatican on Dec. 22, 2014. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Andreas Solaro/Pool

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Yet if you talk to senior churchmen in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as advisers to the pope, Vatican officials and veteran church observers, these reports are also dismissed as increasingly outlandish and often driven by an anti-Francis agenda that is so hyperbolic that it is obscuring the genuine reservations that some might have about the direction Francis is taking the Catholic Church.

“I certainly don’t see plots. I don’t see all this seething behind the cassocks of prelates all over Rome,” said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of Francis’ main U.S. advisers. Wuerl is frequently in Rome for meetings and has wide contacts among the global hierarchy, and he said he sees wide support for what Francis is doing, often more so in other countries.

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“I think there are a small number” of opponents, Wuerl said, “and they are the ones you see quoted over and over and over again – the same quotes, the same words, in the same publications.

“It really is a concern of a few people in a few locations that is amplified by the megaphone of the media that support them.”

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was personally picked by Francis to head the Archdiocese of Chicago and sit on key Vatican committees, has also characterized the pontiff’s foes as a splinter group. “They are not as much large as loud,” Cupich recently told Italian Vatican-watcher Andrea Tornielli.

'A lot of this is pure or impure speculation'

Several curial officials, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, readily admitted they see what they described as “concern” among some in the Vatican, and perhaps more than the usual amount of bureaucratic resistance to the structural overhaul Francis is pursuing.

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But as for serious, organized opposition, as one senior Vatican official put it, “I think it’s just wishful thinking by some people, to be honest.”

Even some Catholic conservatives are growing impatient with the narrative of unprecedented crisis that is swirling around.

“A lot of this is pure or impure speculation,” said Robert Royal, head of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington and a regular visitor to the Vatican. Royal cautioned that “there is a lot of turbulence in Rome these days.”

Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Feb. 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Max Rossi

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But, he said, “some Catholic conservatives assume there is a coordinated network of liberals waiting to take over the church. I don’t, but I think (Francis) has given an awful lot of fuel to critics who want to see some bad things.”

Indeed, the claims are hard to ignore. Traditionalist websites and canon lawyers are openly debating whether the pope is a heretic – and what can be done if he is – while others wonder whether Francis is leading the church into schism, or if such a split has already happened.

Many of these conservative opponents have rallied around American Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic of the pope who was a senior Vatican official until Francis moved him into a largely ceremonial role at the Rome-based charitable Order of Malta – where he recently was involved in another uproar over the ousting of a top leader there.

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The pope wound up intervening in the situation, providing another opportunity for Burke’s allies to denounce Francis as an “authoritarian” who is mercilessly crushing his foes.

Some group or individual even plastered anti-Francis posters last month around Rome  – a city where such manifestations are part of the daily discourse – leading some Francis critics to proclaim it proof that opposition to the pope was “spilling onto the street.”

In fact, Francis seems as popular as ever (he just made the cover of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine) and in the U.S. polls show his approval rating among Catholics actually increased to near 90 percent.

READ: Pope Francis’ popularity among Americans goes from high to higher

That hasn’t stopped conservative Catholic media from regularly declaring that the church “is now in a full-blown civil war” or calling the church “drifting and directionless” and the pope akin to a “pathological” father, as Phil Lawler, editor of the Massachusetts-based Catholic World News site, has done.

“But has there ever before been a Roman Pontiff who showed such disdain for what the church has always taught and believed and practiced?” Lawler wrote in a widely shared post titled “This Disastrous Papacy.”

Then this month The Times of London ran a story citing a right-wing Italian commentator’s claims that several cardinals in the Vatican who once supported Francis have turned on him and are leading a campaign to persuade him to resign so they can install the pope’s No. 2, Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The article was echoed by other outlets.

A caricature of Pope Francis for the cover of The Spectator. Image courtesy of The Spectator

“That was a crazy piece,” said one Vatican official, a view echoed by numerous other churchmen in Rome and the U.S.

So, what’s really going on in Rome, and the rest of the Catholic Church?

Part of the explanation is that Francis has welcomed open debate in the church – certainly one of the biggest changes he has made in his four years.

That “has allowed deep-seated tensions within the church to surface,” the Rev. Russell Pollitt, a South African Jesuit, recently wrote. “Tensions have always existed – even though some would never dare to admit this. The difference is that under Francis’s leadership these tensions have not been pushed under the proverbial carpet.”

The complaints of the conservative critics, however, are also magnified by the fact that so much of the conservative opposition comes from the U.S. and Great Britain, and from a core group of Italian traditionalists. That means their critiques are amplified by a media industry dominated by, and geared toward, the English-speaking West. Catholics and churchmen in the rest of the world often scratch their heads at the debates that inflame the faithful in North America.

“This has all the qualities of what you would call an ‘in-house’ story,” Wuerl said. “But that house is located primarily in the United States and it has some participants in Rome. I think those are the only two places I heard any of this. Everyone else seems to be moving along with the church at this very exciting time.”

Three sources of opposition

In addition, different constituencies in the church are upset for different reasons, and they don’t necessarily overlap.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke leads a Mass in the chapel of the Vatican Governorate to mark the opening of the Judicial Year of the Tribunal of Vatican City at the Vatican on Jan. 11, 2014. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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For some, such as Burke and the handful of cardinals and others aligned with him, the chief concerns are about holding the line on traditional doctrine; they worry that Francis’ shift to a pastoral approach focused on mercy could water down the rules and dilute orthodoxy to the point that the church is teaching heresy.

Others are political conservatives who are upset with the pontiff’s focus on the poor and marginalized, on caring for migrants and refugees, and on elevating economic and social justice concerns to the level that sexual morality has usually held in the Catholic agenda. The populist right in Italy and in the U.S., for example, is not at all happy with Francis, and through alt-right-promoting news sites such as Breitbart and the like its advocates are not at all shy about getting those views out there.

Still another camp would be the Vatican bureaucrats and employees who have been directly affected by the unprecedented overhaul of the ancient curial table of organization that Francis has been pursuing.

Resistance to those changes emerged most dramatically this month when Marie Collins, the lone victim of clergy sexual abuse on the commission Francis established to combat that crisis, resigned in frustration over what she said was opposition to change by the Curia.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, then German bishop of the Regensburg, looks on during a religious conference at the Vatican on March 11, 2010. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Tony Gentile

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Collins singled out for chief criticism the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is headed by German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, a holdover from the reign of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

But church sources said the CDF – the guardian of orthodoxy that has long enjoyed status as the premier department in the Vatican – is in many respects an outlier because it has had its wings clipped under Francis and is not happy about the shift.

“It is not a civil war. It is an insurgency by people who find change difficult,” said an American bishop with extensive contacts in Rome.

Francis himself recognizes that there is resistance. He frequently upbraids curial officials for enjoying their perks and privileges too much and exhorts them to remember their chief calling as pastors of souls.

Another aspect of the issue, Royal said, is that Francis has set up his own kitchen Cabinet of advisers and he often makes decisions on his own, circumventing the usual channels and offices. That has created “confusion” even among “loyal foot soldiers” in the Vatican who feel they are “just treading water” even though the pope often criticizes the Curia for careerism.

How will it all play out?

What winds up happening is that all the varying laments and real outrage in these different groups get rolled up into one grand narrative of crisis. Royal said that there is “a fairly large number of people who are nervous about the pope” and noted that he himself has often criticized things the pope has said or done. “But I don’t consider myself an enemy or opponent of the pope.”

That does not mean that the opposition to what Francis is doing may not have an effect on Francis’ papacy and beyond. It all may be, as veteran Vaticanista Robert Mickens wrote in Commonweal magazine, “really just a storm in a sacred chalice.” But the people who hold chalices in the church are influential, and the pope critics are especially numerous in the U.S.

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 5, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Tony Gentile

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Royal estimated that about 40 cardinals out of 225 total around the world – 119 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote if a conclave were held tomorrow – “don’t like what they’ve seen” from Francis, and some may be those who voted for him in 2013. But the idea that they are banding together in any organized way doesn’t hold water.

Several U.S. church sources privately estimated that the level of opposition is higher in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, where perhaps a third of the bishops are opposed to what Francis is doing, about a third are “on the fence,” as one American churchman put it, and a third are strongly supportive of the pope.

Still, how this will all play out is unclear. The longer Francis goes on, the more cardinals and bishops he can appoint, which will likely increase the number of those who think as he does and decrease the size of the opposition still further.

Then again, the smaller and more embattled the opposition feels, the more vocal it may become, which could create an even greater sense of crisis.

Vatican observers such as Italian journalist Marco Politi have suggested the public protests against Francis are about positioning before the next conclave – creating an air of uncertainty and chaos so the cardinal-electors will opt for a different, safer and more traditional path than the one set out by the current pope, who is now 80.

But that approach could also backfire.

The serenity and good humor with which the pope has spoken about the critics and the criticisms could cast his opponents in a negative light, by way of contrast. And Catholics in the pews don’t seem averse at all to the Roman Curia and conservative hierarchs getting a bit of comeuppance.

“I don’t think this has all done the pope any harm,” said one Vatican official. “When people hear that some bishops are against Francis, it plays to his credit.”


  1. Your opening paragraph was the prime example of what it means to be “disingenuous” and it was a “hook” to get people to read what you wrote. You get an A+ from the journalistic gods. But get an F- for this literary game (whose goal is understanding, enlightenment, truth). What followed was an interesting and a fine analysis. But surely you knew that many, many people will stop and repeat ad nauseam your first paragraph. I wish you had somehow integrated (or at least intimated) your concluding paragraphs at the top of the story in the first paragraph…. but then it would have been less exciting to read.

  2. To whatever degree sexual morality is a traditional and grave concern for the hierarchy of the RCC, they have done a poor job of policing those within there own ranks; no credible source denies this.

  3. The pope and all his men are “conservative”. Unreported by the US media, Pope Francis has led the worldwide movement to deny healthcare to women, human rights to LGBTQ persons and contraception to prevent AIDs, Zika and other diseases. The Vatican and every single US prelate stated they are ready to work with Trump in guaranteeing their ability to work against women and LGBTQ persons with gov’t funding and gov’t funding of their schools, hospitals and charities. Not a single US Catholic official has offered sanctuary to immigrants but all have promised to “respect” Trump’s immigration laws. Pope Francis continues to protect sexual predators leaving them free men to continue to rape children and acting by this example for all his men around the world.
    And Gibson and every US reporter has made all of the above possible.

  4. “The serenity and good humor with which the pope has spoken about the critics…” Is this a joke?

  5. If it makes you feel better, no religious group has done even an adequate job on that front. But that never stops them from trying to dominate and control sexual behavior of others.

  6. Saying that political conservatives are upset with the pontiff’s focus on the poor and marginalized and on elevating economic and social justice concerns needs further explanation. There are two basic problems:

    1) A church leader’s focus on the poor should be about the spiritually poor.

    What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
    Matthew 16:26

    2) The “social justice” that the pontiff elevates is socialism. Calling for governments to redistribute wealth is contrary to God’s command.

    You must not steal.
    Exodus 20:15

  7. But corporate welfare is just ducky. That isn’t wealth redistribution. It’s holy.

    And trillions of dollars of spending money that we don’t have is ok as long as it is republicans doing it.

    Luke 6:29 also comes to mind. So does matthew 19:21. But as always when it comes to a certain class of so called Christian, whenever the Bible says something inconvenient, it must mean something else entirely.

    On the other hand, the idea that helping people in need is theft is so outrageous as to bring poe’s law into the equation.

  8. There is a schism already. Kasperites (or Bergoglians) are not Catholics. That is a fact. The point is how many Catholics are in the world. Guess we are not more than 10 millions, in an optimistic assessment.

  9. More flinging of the theo-poo by Christians at other Christians for not being exactly the same sort of Christian they are.
    jesus and Paul would be so proud of all of you.

  10. I got the clear indication of your intent. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  11. The following quoted from this article is very confusing to me: “In fact, Francis seems as popular as ever (he just made the cover of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine) and in the U.S. polls show his approval rating among Catholics actually increased to near 90 percent.”

    The Vicar of Christ is not evaluated or guided by opinions and/or polls! He is to be guided by the Holy Spirit in reference to all of Church history, the Bible and Tradition. He is a man of prayer along with all of the magisterium. Populism is not a Chrism of the priesthood! A number of popes of the past were not understood or particularly popular during their time in the Seat of Peter. But the truth they put forth has strengthened the church and the people over the years.

    The teaching of truth is necessary for all people, the redeemed and those still needing to accept redemption. Those who sow confusion, doubt, unrest and or misdirection are agents of darkness, on purpose or unknowingly, and only those surrounded in prayer and open to the true proddings of the Holy Spirit will counter balance this false type of doctrine or practice and lack of faithful leadership within the Church and of the Church.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us; Saint Joseph Protector of the Church, pray for us; Saint Peter, pray for us; Saint Paul, pray for us, Saint Stephen Brave, strong, holy and willing to speak, pray for us!

  12. What good is the good word if you can’t afford to eat? If you are impoverished and some rich fellow tells you “it’s okay you’ll be taken care of when you are dead.” it’s not holy, it’s greedy.

  13. “In fact, Francis seems as popular as ever (he just made the cover of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine) and in the U.S. polls show his approval rating among Catholics actually increased to near 90 percent.”

    Katy Perry is popular too, and a Satanist.

  14. Interesting points made. Are we reacting to a media that just likes conflict , seems to focus on conflict (as if everything is a movie script) and seems to be only capable of reporting on conflict. So what we get is an awful lot of rehashing of a few conflicts, or always pointing out the conflicts without really pointing out what is being accomplished?

    I think there is some truth here. I also think that we notice disagreement within the Church now since Francis allows it and the previous two (and more?) popes squashed it relentlessly. There was an illusion that there was agreement where there was not – on a lot of issues. Just look at the acceptance of the majority of Catholics for birth control, or look at the discussions now going on about married priests and women deacons. JPII and BXVI put a lid on a boiling pot but did not put out the fire. Francis has taken the lid off the pot and the trapped gasses are escaping and the furious boiling will take some time to react to not being trapped.

    We are seeing a truth revealed – there is not all that agreement on everything that JPII and BXVI pretended was there. Let the discussions continue.

  15. Thank goodness Pope Francis has found a new and merciful way to deal with sexual predator priests. Rather than defrock them, the way Benedict did, he lets them stay, and just moves them to a different location.

  16. well…Im just saying they are not Catholics. Adjectives are put by you, my friend.

  17. Nope. They say they’re catholics. They go to catholic church. Therefore, they are Catholics, just not YOUR sort of catholic. Do you have a letter patent signed by god that empowers you to decide who is catholic and who is not? Especially when “there is none righteous. no, not one.”

    Not that it makes much difference to me. I’m an atheist. But I do enjoy watching the holy-holies both proclaiming their righteousness and damning everyone else, exactly as Jesus instructed them not to do.

    Except for the ones the Jesus instructed to do just that, of course.

  18. Ben: I wonder what you call “Corporate Welfare”. Millions of dollars wasted on favored companies eg, Solyndra, or letting them keep more of the money they earn, eg. depreciation allowances. Or do you see the diff.

    But, being that you are from Calif, I doubt that you have looked beyond the clamor of your associates.

  19. The French coined the term “bigot” a thousand years ago, before there were any Protestants or Protestant Reformation, to describe overly zealous fanatics who thought it was their job to judge others for Jesus. Obviously, that sad tradition continues in Catholicism as well as among “holy roller” Protestants. Too bad.

  20. I think if you google “examples of corporate welfare” you will have better things to do with your time than insult me.

  21. That has been going on for 1000 years.
    At least.

  22. This pervert need to be booted out on his butt. Past Popes have turned over several times in their grave.

  23. Next you’re gonna tell us he’s fleeing to Avignon.

  24. This Pope has never place God above his leftists politics in his life and is an utter charlatan. Pope’s should not be involved in routine secular politics, but that is what this Pope spends all of his time doing. Personally, I can’t stand the man. But then again, I have not been a Roman Catholic for many years.

  25. Corporate Welfare is a great example of how the Left corrupts language to gain political end. Corporate Welfare doesn’t actually exist. What does exist is the Regulatory State that corrupts the free market to the disadvantage of the poor and middle class It is the interjection of State power into the free market to the advantage or disadvantage of an industry or group of investors by the alteration of either tax liabilities or regulatory oversight to encourage economic activity that the Regulatatory States deems beneficial to the Left..

    The Left believes that everything in a society exists solely for the benefit of the state even the free market.

  26. Papal audiences are at all time lows and sales of Bergogolio’s written works pre and post Papacy are non-existent and He is simply not read or listened to by anyone unlike the previous two Popes who still produce best sellers.

    In the Marketplace of Ideas, Bergogolio is a 1970’s rehash of every failed and silly bromide of the Left.
    Regressive in every sense of the word. Once he shuffles off to his eternal judgement, his legacy will be buried in the same grave.

  27. Yet he is still Pope, chosen by the faithful, inspired by the Holy Spirit, so I do not doubt his invaluable role God has chosen for him.

  28. He wants to do for the world what socialism has done for such places as Cuba, North Korea, and China. No thanks.

  29. Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. I am a fan of teaching and not giving.

  30. For a group of people who have supposedly chosen a life that shuns material comfort and possessions it sure seems like the upper echelon of the Church is doing ok for themselves. The word hypocrite comes to mind….

  31. I can’t help it that he reminds me of Obama.
    And the Catholic church is one thing: The clerkly and the Catholics.
    And what I hear from many Catholics, they don’t like the obvious politics in his speeches. Especially not the critical announcements against a certain political sides.

  32. Wow! This is about as bad as fake news gets. You mainly cite Jesuits, Cardinals Wuerl and Cupich, and unnamed “sources,” all appointees and/or pals of Jorge Bergoglio. On display here are all the usual tactics we’ve come to associate with the likes of CNN and Washington Post-level “journalism.” The piece is peppered with editorial comment masquerading as news, ensconced in phrases like “a handful” and “people who find change difficult” (referring to Francis’ enemies, naturally). Only when we read selected quotes from Robert Royal or Phil Lawler do we get a peek at the enormous distance between this pope and authentic Catholic tradition and teaching, and sense the turmoil his horrendous papacy has thrust upon the Church. Confusion and bitterness reign everywhere, but RNS assures us nevertheless of “[t]he serenity and good humor” of this pope, a portrait itself belied by numerous reports from Vatican insiders who really know Jorge Bergoglio and have seen him in action behind the scenes. Regardless of what lap dog Church reporters may say, those with eyes that see and ears that hear know Phil Lawler is completely correct when he says this is a “disastrous papacy.” Our only hope is it will end soon so that we can begin to rebuild what Francis has demolished.

  33. Yeah, sure. Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and brother John, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and a host of other notorious frauds also say or said they are Catholic. We swallow their malarkey about as easily as we do the gruel you dish out here.

  34. Ahh no, he was elected by the College of Cardinal which is an unelected and unrepresentative body, I will get back to you on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the “invaluable” role he was chosen by God at a future date but for the present let’s use the “by his fruit you will know him” criteria to discover that he is an intellectually incurious polemicist with Peronist idée fixe that he is incapable of alteration based on the super abundance of evidence contrary to what he wants to believe.

    Your ahistorical, heterodox and untheological ultramontanism is quite exhausted. He is no more worthy of special regard than any given Borgia.

  35. Nearly 40 years of subsidizing corporate interests have done little except for the public except make markets less open, let infrastructure crumble, destroy quality of life for most, undermine the middle class, and make government more corrupt.

  36. None of them are socialist. Dictatorships are crap regardless of economic guiding theory.

    But the democracies with the highest quality life are the ones which recognize a need for a social safety net.

  37. Government / Private Sector cooperation is always fraught with a certain level of background corruption but don’t underestimate the immense waste of funds on the host of non-government or non-profit enitities for every public works project. Environmental impact studies, minority preferences, union coercion and legal delaying actions.

  38. You do realize that benedict resigned over the shame of having spent his career covering up child sex abuse? (And John Paul was worse).

  39. Supply side economic practice encourages corruption as normal business practice and as a right.

    Regulations exist to provide the public a measure of power against groups which have the literal power to buy their way out of responsibility and lawful behavior.

    I don’t find discrimination, unsafe work conditions, monopolistic trade, rampant fraud, and pollution to be things worthy of being promoted by government actions. A representative government serves public need.

    The rich getting richer do not benefit us all. There is the tendency to hoard money at the top or lock it up outside of consumption. Middle and working classes however are the ones who stimulate the economy when they have more money to spend.

    “Trickle down” is more akin to being whizzed on.

  40. Your big words show you have little to say and much to hide. Why comment on this thread if you’re not Catholic?

  41. As I said…

    Flinging Theo-poo at other Christians for not being the right sort of Christian.

    I’m starting to wonder why you are all so very very very very very very very angry.

  42. For a group of people who value humility, love, service, kindness, and good will to all men, the people here make me feel like I need a bath.

    Funny how their religion works, innit?

  43. In other words, the poor pay the rich to keep the poor flat on their butts. If you want the corruption of words, you need only look at what you wrote.

    And I say that as a relatively rich person.

  44. You responded with greater precision than I did.

    Libertarians! JUat like regular liberty, except for ignoring the complexity of the world in favor of their own benefit,

  45. Easy, Ben, because there’s a whole lot of lying going on that calls itself journalism. Don’t bother answering. I’ve met too many syncretists now to bother with them any longer.

  46. “A church leader’s focus on the poor should be about the spiritually poor.”


    “social justice” that the pontiff elevates is socialism.”

    Wrong again. He’s preaching exactly what Jesus taught. You sound like a sociopath. You should beg Christ for forgiveness. You have no love or charity in you heart, only hatred and judgement. You’re not a Christian.

  47. It’s nice that you’re a fan of that particular saying, but it’s neither a biblical nor magisterial one, so it’s difficult to see why the Church should care.

  48. Of course, the Real Catholics are those who openly despise Peter’s successor and call for his overthrow. Perhaps we should come up with a name for these Real Catholics to distinguish from the Papists, something that signifies Protest…

  49. I can tell you’re trying to say something, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.

  50. There is a difference what the clerkly want and what the Catholics in general all over the world want. For example, the Pope remarks about populism is very critical and obviously he doesn’t approve it, but populism is the concerns of ordinary people. That’s an elitist remark and attitude.

  51. Populist politicians are elitists who managed to convince populace that they are not elitists.
    Trumpee comes to mind.

  52. I’m talking about populism, ordinary people.

  53. He IS a Christian. One of the biggest problems of Christianity today is the flinging of Theo poo by one group of Christians towards others they deem not to be Christians.

    I’m an atheist, so I have no horse in this race…

    To the bottom.

  54. Absolutely. My reference to a horse was simply about using religion as a weapon against others.

  55. Unto Caesar does the Pope seem to lean. He pontificates a laundry list of leftist proposals. The left sought to replace God with the state and that led to nearly a hundred million deaths in the 20th Century, more in imprisonments, and eugenic policies that are anathema to Christian teaching. That Alinsky influenced factions of the U.S. clergy or followers of Liberation theology praise Pope Francis should come as no surprise. He talks their secular talk and walks the walk into secular politics.

  56. He is “the coup.” Actually he’s just a very obvious mop-up man for the coup which the enemies of God achieved in the 1960’s.

  57. Jesus and Confucius are good friends and should have a moving dialogue around their aphorisms!

  58. “clerkly”? Are you trying to say “clergy”

  59. All three, except that…

    Atheism is not a belief system or a religionn despite the claims of religionists that it is. Of course, their own statements about atheism being a religion and therefore not credible simply undermine their own assertions about their own religion.

    And a non believer is just another name for an atheist.

  60. Would that I were joining a “discussion”. Most of the comments I have read so far conjure up in my imagination a tennis match played with clichés as balls and prejudices as rackets. it is a game in which neither side wins. As for those who presented honest, open-minded and charitable opinions, I salute you.

  61. Frankly, I don’t know a single person that the Pope is popular with anymore among my relatives and acquaintances. It seems over this past year especially some of what we suspected came to light.

  62. There are certain “de fide” doctrines. If you do not believe them, then you are not Catholic, despite what you may believe yourself to be. Deny the Trinity, or The Resurrection, for example, you are not Catholic.

  63. A real Catholic is faithful to the teaching of the Lord and the teaching of nearly 2000 years of the Church’s magisterium. Most Catholics that I know that are not fond of some of the things (not all) that Pope Francis says or does are not calling for the Pope to be overthrown. They are praying for him to preach clearly timeless Catholic doctrine preached by his predecessors. St. Catherine of Siena, for example, understood that the pope whom she advised, and you could say respectfully admonished, was the validly elected pope. Faithful prelates, including those who sent the dubia, are not openly despising Pope Francis, nor is there talk about trying to overthrow him. Granted some may wish that Pope Benedict XVI had never resigned. They do state the obvious, however, we must not obey even the pope when it goes against the Lord’s teaching.

  64. I think too much is being discussed. Many bishops had found it scandalous that certain things that were clearly against Catholic teaching were even discussed at the synods in 2014 and 2015.

  65. The pope is protected by the Holy Spirit from preaching error when he declares that he intends to teach something infallibly. The Holy Spirit does not choose the pope, men do, although many cardinals hopefully pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in making their choice. He does protect the one that sits on the Chair of Peter from preaching error for example, in ex-Cathedra statements. A pope cannot contradict the magisterium of his predecessors, or the Lord’s teaching in the Holy Scriptures. Thankfully, Amoris Laetitia, is not infallible teaching. Also, the Holy Father does not answer the dubia, if he answered the dubia in contradiction to the almost 2000 years teaching of the Church, Pope Francis knows that it could go poorly for him. Most of the popes were saintly men, but some were just pure scoundrels. Pope Alexander, a Borgia pope, for example, had a mistress and used his office as pope to try to legitimize the children he had with his mistress during his reign. Was it wrong for the Catholics in the day of Pope Alexander to be scandalized by such a pope’s behavior? It would have been wrong not to be scandalized! That the Pope has fired the entire staff of the Pontifical Academy for Life, except Cardinal Paglia, the one who commissioned the homo erotic fresco in his cathedral church, to site just one example, is scandalous to me. Yet, Pope Francis is our pope, and the Holy Spirit will protect him from preaching error in an official way. It does not mean, however, that he cannot do harm to the church. Not everything done by a pope is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The saintlier the pope, the more he is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Some popes would seem to be infrequently inspired. Don’t be an ultramontanist, and don’t idolize the popes. Place your faith firmly in the Lord Jesus! Look to the scriptures and to nearly 2000 years of the Church’s magisterium.

  66. Taxation to support people illegally entering your country isn’t theft?? You are then taking money to support criminal acts.

  67. So if I break into your house and take your money and your food it’s ok because I need a helping hand while your children starve? Yes that sounds logical. Please give me your money because I have given all my charity through my taxes. Sounds like communism which is from the devil. But that’s ok with you.

  68. You make a very valid point and maybe misread my statement, the Pope is inspired by the Holy Spirit and he was chosen by the faithful. Luckily for us our current Pope inspires the faithful by living as he preaches with Christ as his Shepard.

  69. One thing I have noticed is the words and requests from the Blessed Virgin Mary often go in the opposite direction of what the leaders of the church do. For example: At Fatima (and other apparitions) she asks for fasting on Wednesday and Fridays, she asks for more prayer, so what does the church do? she eliminates (not officially) all weekly Friday penance (by leaving it up to the individual) and she moves many Holy Day masses to Sunday thus eliminating prayer. I understand private revelation is not obliging on the faithful but when they are “recognized” by the church, it means the “church” believes in them, and if she does, then one would think the church would heed what Mary says, and not do the opposite. This has been happening (by some bishops) since Vatican II, but Pope Francis is taking it to a whole new level. The hierarchy seem more concerned these days about worldly comfort than they do eternal salvation. They plead “mercy” but is the mercy for the body or for the soul. I think we should take the advice of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and become more faithful to church Tradition, not less so.

  70. There are always plots against the Pope. Jesus said, “No disciple is greater than the master.” Jesus was plotted against and killed due to hatred and false testimony.

  71. How so? The government squanders a lot of the money it collects in taxes and apparently without consequence. IMHO, if more families took care of their own needy, which would be more “Jesuslike” than having others care for them, I would say we are doing God’s work. And, for those who can’t, there would be more help available.

    However, these days, many people would rather depend on others to do their work for them.

  72. I’d say that this author has mainly spoken to Modernists to bolster his meme that Francis is doing just fine and only ruffling the feathers of the stuffy conservatives. Francis has said many good things for our prayerful consideration, but he has also shaken the very heart of the Church by his subtle OK of communion to adulterers and his fundamentally transforming the body of Cardinal-electors into an increasingly Modernist-dominated body. This is the stuff of the apocalypse, frankly. Only divine intervention can save us at this point, unless a new conclave happens very, very soon. So pray, pray for Pope Francis to reconsider his approach.

  73. Shame on you for your judgment here, Ken. Socialism is indeed condemned by the Church. It benefits no one but makes everyone poorer and less free. Now, to the Tabernacle with you! That’s where I will go today, too.

  74. No, he was killed because THAT WAS THE PLAN.

  75. Enemies of god!!!!

    What does god need with enemies. What could they do.

  76. I
    BaalTyranny, I “surfed” over to the WWW site you mention. (Its host is known to be safe!) But what are you trying to use this to point out? Reasons that Christians may suffer? (“Unless you understand His goal and believe He’s working for your good, you’ll think He’s cruel.”, quoted from the devotional.)

    Please state your purpose and please also state the heart of god’s will in making the choices He has made. It’s not just an academic exercise for me, nor one that can be resolved alone by a few lines on a BBS. I’d really like to hear back from you.

  77. If you are a true disciple of Jesus, you are going to experience the types of suffering in your life that he experienced; that is what this quote means. But at the end of Jesus’ suffering there was the resurrection and the opening of Heaven.to Mankind. Pope Francis is a holy man following Jesus. So it is apparent that he is suffering what Jesus suffered. False accusations; distortions, persecution and eventually death to be followed by a resurrection and eternal reward.

  78. Throughout church history many popes have been slandered, persecuted and martyred as Jesus was. Jesus warned the apostles that they should not be surprised at receiving the same types of treatment that he received in his life on earth. “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you.” It takes a lot of faith and courage to follow Jesus the way Pope Francis is following him.

  79. Hi Tom,

    When I read the devotional yesterday, I initially applied it to myself. I thought of how Ken had said that I am not a Christian. And I thought of how the devotional says that though none of us want to go through horrible situations, God uses adversity to purify our faith.

    Then God prompted me to post the link. I thought maybe it could be used to explain a little bit to Ken what it means to be a Christian. As the devotional says, God uses adversity in our lives to shape us into His image.

    While I’m on that subject, let me mention that the “social justice” that Pope Francis advocates detracts from the loving way the Lord deals with our character. Supposedly, if the pope had his way, the federal government would take away the adversity we are talking about. But the “socialism” advocated does not really supply peoples’ needs. It fulfills the desires of socialists/crony capitalists in government.


  80. “He IS a Christian” I guess that depends on what one means by “IS”. Baal Tyranny certainly is not a follower of Jesus; he seems quite opposed to the teachings of Jesus.

  81. The word populist has been used in vastly different ways over the past century and a half. The politicians that the news media is calling populist today are nothing like the populist movement my grandfather, a poor dirt farmer, was a part of 120 years ago. No similarity at all.

  82. So are many Christians. What’s your point? ?

  83. To Christians who use the term non-believer or unbeliever, it means non-Christian. Objectively this is not the same as atheist, but to them it may as well be.

  84. It shouldn’t be confusing. The line you quoted means exactly what it says: the Pope’s popularity — his likability, whether people approve of him or not, is as high as it’s ever been, among those identifying as Catholic and not. Whether that means anything is a separate question.

  85. The comments crystalize several points, two of which were made by the article itself: (a) this all may be a tempest in a teapot; (b) any legitimate criticism of the Pope tends to be overshadowed by hyperbole at best, prayers for his death at worst, and (c) the papal conspiracy theory cottage industry is alive and well.

  86. I guess I’m just not very smart, but I do not understand how anyone opposed to the teachings of Jesus can be considered a Christian.

  87. No, I’m sure you’re a very smart person. But if you want an answer to that question, you’re going to have to ask other Christians. Some will show you where Jesus said not to judge, others will show you where he said to judge away.

  88. They’re drinking the Kool-Aid while I get drunk having to do shots every time they mention The Left, Soros, Alinsky, or Valerie Jarrett.

  89. There is a difference between judgement (as the word is used in the gospels) and discernment.

  90. BT, (May I call you that?) I could not edify Ken by adding 1 more
    rebuke to his burden, so I won’t try. I don’t know if – but doubt that – he has
    read any of these notes.

    Your notes certainly have edified me! Thank you.

    Now to specifics:

    1. I don’t represent the RCC nor does she represent me – but I can read and ratiocinate.

    2. I have, historically, lots of trouble getting
    across, even with “open book Q&A”, a topic like “if God is good, how could He
    allow one of His Chosen to suffer? Too weak?”

    Good find, that.

    3. I could “write a book” about suffering. Suffice
    it to say that I don’t know why I am in this wheelchair since 2005.

    If you want to continue this conversation, may I suggest doing so at [email protected]?

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