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The new anti-papalism

Ecclesiastics gathered at the First Vatican Council. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) — The conservative opposition to Pope Francis is boldly going to a place it once considered heretical.

The latest example is “The Case Against Pope Francis,” a National Review hit piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty that went online this past week. As a bill of particulars it doesn’t amount to much, but that’s beside the point. What’s significant is its readiness to ignore the very concept of papal authority.

Of course, there’s the dismissive rhetoric. Francis is presenting the vision of a God “who is not merciful but indulgent, even lazy, and indifferent.” He is instituting a religion of “good enough.”

But what really troubles Dougherty are Francis’ changes in church teaching — his opening the door to communion for the divorced and remarried and his declaration that the death penalty is now inadmissible. Harking back to the event most of us associate with the Church’s exaltation of the papacy, he suggests the opposite: “The first Vatican Council rejected those who claimed the pope can deliver new doctrines, saying that his responsibility was to protect and safeguard the existing truths of the Catholic faith.”

Let’s stop right there.

Pastor Aeternus, the dogmatic constitution establishing papal infallibility issued by the First Vatican Council in 1870, has this to say about new doctrine:

And the Roman Pontiffs, according to the exigencies of times and circumstances, sometimes assembling Ecumenical Councils, or asking for the mind of the Church scattered throughout the world, sometimes by particular Synods, sometimes using other helps which Divine Providence supplied, defined as to be held those things which, with the help of God, they had recognized as conformable with the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Traditions. For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by his revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles.

In other words, Vatican I’s supposed rejection of the claim that popes can deliver new doctrines is nothing more than an assertion that whatever has been promulgated by popes (with the help of councils, etc.) is in line (“conformable”) with the Church’s earliest teachings. Post-apostolic innovations (e.g., clerical celibacy or prohibition of slavery or embrace of religious pluralism) are by definition not new doctrines but rather ways the Holy Spirit enables popes to expound the apostolic faith.

A painting of the First Vatican Council, circa 1870. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

What Francis’ conservative opponents do is claim that such changes in teaching as he has made are inconsistent with apostolic faith and therefore illegitimate. While Protestantism is all about this move, it is hardly the Catholic way, particularly as articulated not so very long ago by themselves.

Take a look at, a premier site of the Francis opposition. It includes among its resources an exposition of “Vatican I and The Papal Primacy” written back when John Paul II was pope. Here are a few paragraphs.

We are, instead, speaking of supreme power and authority, of God’s will for us in regard to his governance of the Church through the Papacy; and his will is simply that in all things concerning this government and discipline, we are to correspond our will to his — in other words, we are to obey the Pope….

The third point made by this passage is that this power and authority of the Pope are “to this day, always,” thus eliminating any possible contention that this living, presiding and judging by Peter could conceivably fail in any given Pope….

It has always been the policy of schismatics to appeal to some other Pope or Council, past or future, against the decisions of a reigning pontiff. It has also been the constant tradition of popes to condemn such a position….

Every Catholic must submit to the Pope in his government and discipline of the Church. This is a dogma of the Catholic Church, the denial of which is a heresy and entails loss of salvation.

You get the picture. Obedience to the pope is a big deal. You don’t get to use some earlier pope or council to criticize a current pope. Submission to him is a dogma. You deny it at your eternal peril.

Since the Second Vatican Council, conservative schismatics have refused obedience to Rome because they believe that the post-Vatican II popes are illegitimate. They are called sedevacantists, a Latinate term meaning that they they believe the See of Peter is empty and thus that they are entitled to ignore what the Vatican says.

Francis’ opponents do not believe the seat is empty. They are only acting as if it is.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


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  • If one argues long and loud enough about the colour of unicorn flatulence how much time and energy remains for questioning the existence of the unicorn?

  • Yes, there are some who greatly reject the authority of PF. They cite such reasons as are stated here. What this article fails to address is whether or not those reasons hold any value. I believe a vast majority of catholics hold their nose with regard to papal authority whether they will admit it or not. We have seen this through out time itself, but it has become more vocal as the abuse crisis continues.

    To call conservatives anti-papists is outlandish. Just like all labels that come from liberal commentators in any perspective, social, political, religious, etc. it indicates a strong bias whose sole purpose is to continue to divide and ultimately separate. Instead, I would suggest the author and his sympathizers would simply address the issues devoid of personal leanings. Can we get beyond the left/right paradigm to discuss the topics of the day ? Each issue that faces catholics should be addressed in the long held journalistic practice of looking at the history of the issue, how it has been interpreted before and why the change has come about, how those issues are to manifest and if it is congruent to long held beliefs.

    If we are to take into account the current issues discussed in the article, communion for divorced/remarried, the death penalty, and even those on the horizon such as homosexual relationships, we must acknowledge that they in fact run counter to long held catholic doctrine. Any sane person will ask questions and perhaps even reject such changes in the light of what they have been taught and believe embodies the faith. There is no anti-papacy when such fundamental changes are being put forth. Even to this day we have catholics who struggle with the Immaculate Conception as well as the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

    When foundational changes in catholic doctrine are being presented, coupled with the current state of affairs with regards to the abuse crisis, the church’s perpetual lying, the deceit and behavior of our clergy/vowed members that not only try our souls but have actually destroyed many people’s faith it is easy to see why there are many critics of PF. In addition, the lack of willingness of PF to address these concerns outright, do what is right and just to abuse victims and the laity, hold people accountable and remove those who not only abuse but enabled them, there is righteous indignation coming from us, the laity, that is long overdue.

  • Thanks, Mark. Do you think liberals and progressives have been less dismissive of JPII and Benedict than conservatives and traditionalists have been of Francis and Paul VI?
    There’s an interesting essay by Arthur Jones at NCR today, in which he writes of the “irreconcilable duality of Paul VI.” Unfortunately, Jones seems to identify agreeing with him as good (social justice) and disagreeing with him as evil (Humanae Vitae), feeding into the tribalism that has become commonplace in contemporary church and society.
    I think Paul VI may have been the last pope willing to walk the tightrope between liberalism and conservatism, and wound up despised by both groups. Isn’t the role of “pontiff” to “bridge” the gap between us? I’m not sure any pope since Paul has even tried.

  • Monica, I don’t think JPII, Benedict, or F have been the ideologues some of their partisans (and opponents) have made them out to be. But the record suggests that liberals/progressives were in fact less dismissive of JPII and Benedict. Certainly we did not see anything like the outright challenge to their authority that we’ve seen from the likes of Cardinal Burke and others.

  • Thanks, Mark. I appreciate you willingness to engage here. I spent most of the JP years in Italy, and I’m not sure we’d say the opposition was less there for most of his years. It took him a good decade to silence the opposition from Genoa, Palermo, etc. But I agree that with the advent of mass media, opposition that once remained local has now gone global. Thanks again.

  • CORRECTION: “Sedevacantists … [DO NOT] ignore the very concept of papal authority.” “Let it not be said that the sedevacantist rejects the papacy, the primacy, or the Catholic Church. On the contrary it is because of his belief in the papacy, the primacy, the infallibility and the indefectibility of the Catholic Church that he rejects Francis and his Conciliar Church. For the sedevacantist, the Catholic Church cannot and has not failed. The great apostasy predicted by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Thessalonians has taken place … (2 Thess. 2:3-8).”

    Source: Mark A. Pivarunas, “Sedevacantism”, CMRI (Congregation of Mary Regina Immaculate).

  • “The conservative opposition to Pope Francis is boldly going to a place it once considered heretical”, from the author of a piece suggesting that the Pontiff could reverse his Church’s teachings, indicates that Catholicism and Catholic theology are not Dr. Silk’s areas of expertise.

    What really troubles Dougherty are Francis’ apparent attempts to change his Church’s teachings.

    The reason why that is troubling is that according to his Church’s teachings he can’t change its teachings.

    “And the Roman Pontiffs, according to the exigencies of times and circumstances, sometimes assembling Ecumenical Councils, or asking for the mind of the Church scattered throughout the world, sometimes by particular Synods, sometimes using other helps which Divine Providence supplied, defined as to be held those things which, with the help of God, they had recognized as conformable with the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Traditions.”

    But that must be read in context:

    “Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God Our Savior, the exaltation of the Catholic Religion, and the salvation of Christian people, the Sacred Council approving, We teach and define that it is a divinely-revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex Cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.”

    Infallible “ex cathedra” statements, as with all infallible teachings, are irreformable.

    So “Pastor Aeternus” affirms Dougherty’s position: once a teaching is taught, it cannot be changed.

    That’s why Dr. Silk muffed the authority of Francis’ opinion on capital punishment – if you don’t know whether the statement is an opinion, a discipline, a law, or a teaching, you can’t discern what is and is not “kosher”.

    “Every Catholic must submit to the Pope in his government and discipline of the Church.”

    Indeed, the Catholic Church believes the Pontiff IN HIS OFFICE possesses universal jurisdiction over matters which pertain to his office.

    His preference for Buick automobiles does not pertain to his office, and therefore he possesses no jurisdiction except in his personal choice of motor cars.

    If he chooses to take a position contrary to his own Church’s teachings, similarly he is no longer acting IN HIS OFFICE and his position is not binding.

    You get the picture. Obedience to the pope is a big deal, but it is NOT the only deal.

    You do, in fact, get to use some earlier pope or council to criticize a current pope if the current one tries to circumvent or nix an actual teaching of the Church.

    You are not required as a Catholic to follow the Pontiff to Hell.

    “Since the Second Vatican Council, conservative schismatics have refused obedience to Rome because they believe that the post-Vatican II popes are illegitimate.”

    Conservatives are never schismatics, which involves thumbing one’s nose at legitimate authority. They may call themselves “conservative”, but there is nothing conservative about schism.

    Those who believe the post-Vatican II popes are illegitimate are called “sedevacantists” – the Chair of Peter is vacant – and they are beyond zany. For example:

    Francis’ opponents do not believe the seat is empty, they only point out that at times Francis is not sitting in it.

  • Cardinal Burke did NOT challenge the Holy Father’s authority.

    He asked the Holy Father to exercise it in confirming the brethren, a role described clearly in Vatican II when it picked up where Vatican I left off.

  • No, the role of the Pontiff is not to bridge a gap.

    His primary role is one of teaching and as sign of unity as the head of the college of bishops.

  • It is richly ironic to see people like Mark Silk apply the term “schismatic” to those who hold firm to Tradition. Those in quantifiable schism call those clinging to ancient Tradition schismatic and Protestant. Amazing.

    Jesus Christ and the Sacred Deposit of Faith passed on from generation to generation are the beating heart and soul of the Catholic Faith. Normally, Popes guard this Tradition carefully and deliver the Faith intact to the Faithful. But in the case of Francis, no. And in the case of the Church he leads, also no.

    The Dubia presented to the Pope two years ago now were just five simple questions:

    1: May adulterers receive Holy Communion.
    2: Are there absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts.
    3: Is there such a thing as grave sin.
    4: May individual circumstances render a grave sin subjectively good.
    5: Does individual conscience override objective moral norms.

    Pope Francis never answered these simple questions. He left them, and the Cardinals who asked them, unanswered. Instead, he affirmed their opposite, and with them 2,000 years of Tradition; the clear words of God Himself.

    Not acceptable. No Pope has this authority. He does not get to do this, or any other thing he wants. He is constrained by Sacred Tradition and the clear Words Of Christ. He is a servant of Christ; a servant of the servants of Christ. He is Pope when he is aligned with Christ and all the other Popes aligned with Christ through the ages. He is schismatic, no Pope but antipope, when he acts against the clear words of Christ and Sacred Tradition.

  • Did Jesus establish the papacy and its Catholic doctrine and traditions ? First off, the word “catholic” means “all-inclusive, all-embracing”, denoting that the Catholic church is one that accepted pagan teachings and doctrines in order to be inclusive, to make every “feel at home”, so that Roman Emperor Constantine (reigned 306-37 C.E.), who was fearful that his empire was being splintered due to religious differences, could be “glued” back together with everyone being a part of the new “Christian” religion called Catholicism.(Note: this religious difference came to a head in 325 C.E. at the Council of Nicaea, that was to “settle” who God and Jesus were, with two opposing sides, Arius and Athanasius, both from Alexandria, Egypt)

    Jesus said that his genuine disciples would NOT have a clergy-laity class at Matthew 23:8-10, but all would be “brothers”. And when Jesus was arrested, did he stand out from the crowd with extravagant “religious” regalia ? At John 18, when the soldiers, officers of the chief priests and the Pharisees were looking for Jesus to arrest him, they stood right before him without realizing who he was, and then Jesus asked: “Whom are you looking for ?” to which they replied: “Jesus the Nazarene”.(John 18:3-5)

    Jesus thus wore what everyone else wore, so that he did not stand out from others. And the word “pontif ” is not from Christianity, but from pagan Rome. The first use the title of “Pontifex Maximus” (Latin meaning “greatest priest”) was Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in 12 B.C.E., for he was supreme over all religious matters.

    And of Peter (this surname [Greek petros] was given to him that means “a piece of the rock”, John 1:42), what role did he play in the Christian congregation ? As one of the apostles who had the privilege of “keys of the kingdom” that would “invite” others besides Jews as part of God’s Kingdom.(Matt 16:19)

    But he was NOT head of the congregation, but just one of the apostles took the lead in the first century, part of the first century governing body. When the apostle Paul was discussing his own apostleship, he does NOT place Peter above two other brothers he mentions, that of James (Jesus half-brother, not the apostle James who was beheaded in 44 C.E. by Herod Agrippa, Acts 12:2) and John, but describes them all as “pillars” in the congregation.(Gal 1:7-9)

    This is just a few details of the Catholic church, in which it is that which established the Trinity as official doctrine (which the Bible does not support, see John 7:16, 17; 8:28 and 14:28) and became the state religion of Rome during the reign of Roman Emperor Theodosius I (reigned 379-95 C.E.)

    Please consider the March 2012 Watchtower magazine online entitled: “What are the Marks of True Christianity ?” at JW dot org.

  • “Unicorn”? Oh that’s right:

    (1) “God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an UNICORN.”

    (2) “Joseph’s glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of UNICORNS: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

    (3) “Will the UNICORN be willing to serve Job, or abide by Job’s crib? Canst Job bind the UNICORN with its band in the furrow? or will it harrow the valleys after Job? Wilt Job trust iy, because its strength is great? or wilt Job leave his labour to it? Wilt Job believe it, that it will bring home Job’s seed, and gather it into his barn?”

    (4) “Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an UNICORN: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”

    (5) “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the UNICORNS shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.”

    Source: (1) Numbers 23:21-22, similar to 24:8. (2) Deuteronomy 33:17. (3) Job 39:9-12. (4) Psalm 92:8-10. (5) Isaiah 34:6-8.

  • Likewise, then, “the whole doctrine of INFALLIBILITY is what got [Philosophy & Hinduism] into trouble in the first place!” For “the answer to the issue of whether or not a human can be INFALLIBLE depends on the philosophical school. … Advocates of subjectivism claim that there is no objective reality or truth, and therefore anyone can be considered INFALLIBLE, since whatever is within a person’s consciousness is considered the real and the true. … In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna (Bg 15.16 to 15.20) ‘There are two classes of beings, the fallible and the INFALLIBLE. In the material world every living entity is fallible, and in the spiritual world every living entity is called INFALLIBLE. Besides these two, there is the greatest living personality, the Supreme Soul, the imperishable Lord Himself, who has entered the three worlds and is maintaining them. Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the INFALLIBLE, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person. Whoever knows Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without doubting, is the knower of everything. He therefore engages himself in full devotional service to Me, O son of Bharata. This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection.'”

    Source: Wikipedia, where else.

  • A Pope can be heretical (and they’ve existed) but probably not schismatic.

    Schism involves lack of communion with the Holy See, which would basically require the Pontiff to be out of communion with himself.

    Dr. Silk suggested in one of his comments that Raymond Cardinal Burke presented a “challenge” to the Holy Father’s “authority”.

    In fact Cardinal Burke called upon the Holy Father to do his job, which is to confirm the brethren in the Faith (Luke 22:32). This duty, which has been mentioned many times over the centuries, was particularly noted at Vatican I and II as the core role of the Petrine function. In fact St. John Paul II opened the 1998 Apostolic Letter “Ad Tuendam Fidem’ imposing revisions of the two Codes of Canon Law with:

    “To Protect the Faith of the Catholic Church against errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful, especially from among those dedicated to the various disciplines of sacred theology, we, whose principal duty is to confirm the brethren in the faith (Lk 22:32), consider it absolutely necessary to add to the existing texts of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions.”

    So, rather than challenging Francis’ authority, Cardinal Burke pointed to Francis’ authority and asked that he exercise it.

    Francis behavior in these matters is consistent with his behavior in Argentina, which left his relationship with his fellow Jesuits in tatters, and gave him the nickname “La Comadreja”.

  • Solid counter-argumentation & rebuttal.

    Too bad Silk’s op-ed’s aim to foment liberalism by any means necessary, means no solid counter-argumentation & rebuttal necessary.

  • I get the impression he got his Catholic education on the streets, the streets of the National (not)Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and so on.

  • Guess whose words these are:

    “In the ‘90s, the religious right looked like it wasn’t just a flash in the pan but those social issues engaging religious conservatives were going to be around for a while. … With the ‘Fox News’-ization of people’s understanding of the world, people tend to live in instantly-created or longterm silos of information. If all you do is get your news from Fox, you’re going to have a different view of the world than if you read the New York Times. It’s sort of a cliché to say so, but it would be hard to argue that the nature of information dissemination – how people get their news – has nothing to do with the candidacy of Donald Trump. … [Nonetheless] my sense is that we’re on the verge of a new era. For 40 years, religion in American public life has been dominated by the religious right and responses to changes in the culture on the part of conservative evangelicals and Catholics. This culture war is all but over. The coming decades will feature religious coalitions organized to address such issues as climate change and income inequality. The question is how influential those coalitions will be at a time when so many Americans are rejecting institutional religious identities.”
    – Mark Silk, September 14, 2016, Connecticut Jewish Ledger.

  • If you’re so keen to demonstrate the silliness of the Bible I’m not going to stop you.

    Current Biblical translators (ones with a bit more knowledge than the 16th century bishops who provided the base for the subsequent KJV) appear to try to avoid adding to the Bible’s built-in errors and inanities:

    22 “God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.

    17 “As the firstborn of his ox, majesty is his, And his horns are the horns of the wild ox;

    9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you, Or will he spend the night at your manger? 10 “Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes,

    10 But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;

    7 Wild oxen will also fall with them And young bulls with strong ones;

    Sometimes translators have to guess what a strange word means. The bishops had no clue about “Asherah” either – they decided it must mean a “grove” (cut down the Asherah) – we now know it was the name of Yahweh’s wife (represented by a sapling or branch set in a slot beside an altar to Yahweh) before the Israelite’s went monotheistic. (Thou shalt have no other gods before me – means, quite literally, have as many gods as you like but don’t make any of them more important than me – NB equal was OK – better was a no-no.)

    If the translators guess is wrong later, more knowledgeable, translators can correct the error.

    Mind you had the bishops known the word “dinosaur” they might have made the mistake of thinking that dinosaurs were around at the same time as people and put “dinosaurs in the Bible. Luckily (or was it a rare example of accurate divine intervention? – maybe not); luckily the bishops were active before the term was invented – otherwise they might have ended up with even more egg on their collective face – might’t they?

  • You beat me to it. I was gonna say to jaareshiah, You sure this is the right time to pitch for A&W® I mean JW® & JW’s “[not so] new anti-papalism”? Oh before you go, any 2nd thoughts on this article entitled, well, “The new anti-papalism”?

  • Well, you had me at “fl*tulence” paired up with “unicorn”. So I typed in unicorn atheist at search engine, then, like, what? “Unicorns in the Bible”, reads one atheist a-apologetics. Wow, KJV renders it as “unicorn”. But it’s f*rting unicorns I was after (with my WWI gas mask on, to be sure). Nada. So fill me in, man.

  • Don’t you know that Francis is above dogma, and even above the divinely inspired Word of God itself?
    “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is “free from disordered attachments.” Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.” -Father Rosica
    New anti-papalism? What a joke. How about faithful to tradition and faithful to scripture!

  • Agree with everything you say. A further clarification for my part.

    “Heresy is the post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with Divine and Catholic Faith.”

    “An apostate abandons Christ Himself”.

    What you say is so true, *normally*, since all Popes have always been in communion with the Deposit of Faith and the clear Words Of Christ, with minor, very rare exceptions. Never anything like this.

    And thus, the crucial importance of the unanswered Dubia. Very simple, very crucial, Dogmatic questions at the heart of our Faith and this current conflict. Yes or no. Simple. Instead, silence. And I must assume “No”, since that also matches the objective reality of the Pontificate and his clear intentions and actions. And so manifest sinners, adulterers, sodomites are offered our Lord in “Communion” with the encouragement of this Pope.

    Thus, the term “antipope” is legitimate, (which we laymen must personally judge for the sake of our souls and those of our loved ones) if he persistently, actively takes us away from what must be believed to be Catholic. I do not wish to be in union with such an antipope, because fundamentally I wish to be only to be in union with Christ and His Sacred Deposit of Faith, not Jorge Bergoglio and His strange leftist “worldly” ideas. It is *he* that has left the line, not the orthodox Catholic.

    I don’t necessarily think the term “schism” is important to apply here; heresy, apostasy and antipope more meaningful terms to me. But if there is a schism, it *must* be on his part.

  • The pope is to be obeyed when he teaches the deposit of faith as it was handed down to him. Francis has not done that; in fact he has made statements that are different than what Christ taught. A follower of Christ cannot accept that in conscience.

  • Apart from the doctrinal matters, let’s look at pope Francis’ record of covering up sexual abuse (even promoting sexual abusers like McCarrick and others). Corruption of doctrine always goes together with corruption of morals. It is a great pain, but indeed, it is as if the See of Peter is empty.

  • So glad that I’m not involved in this nutso denomination. I’m thinking Jesus wouldn’t recognize any of this craziness. What a horrible way to treat and speak about each other. Not a lot Christian about any of this.

  • There’s lesson learned here: Liberals & Progressives on the offense make Conservatives on the defense look good; just as Conservatives on the offense make LGBT on the defense look good. Being morally right or wrong – spiritually good or evil, even – has nothing to do with this unholy, if purely, political phenomenon.

    Mark Silk is being purely political here. Too bad. He has yet to learn that lesson.

    Jesus’ better way was purely evangelistic. Everybody should try that one of these days.

  • That viewpoint is precisely why the losers have been on a near two-year rant.

    They convinced themselves that the millennium had arrived, that traditional marriage was going to be replaced by strange geometric patterns of varying numbers and genders, that climate change was a new religion, and that it would be Progressives über alles forever.

    As it turns out, traditional religion is far from dead, and Americans for the most part remain Americans.

  • Pope Francis lost his authority with heretical writings and rantings. Very likely he is not even validly elected considering that his election was orchestrated by a group of far left Cardinals in disobedience to the rules for the election of popes.

  • I originally typed “unicorn f*rts” but thought that might offend the sensibilities of one or two of our more fundamentalist contributors. and I really don’t try to upset them, ever
    – well
    – hardly ever.

    The point I was hoping to make by my comment was merely that, when people obsess about detail they often don’t consider the big picture – can’t see the wood for the trees.

    Arguing about dogma (any dogma) is a way of diverting attention from the more basic debate – is the dogma based on something which is real. IMO discussing anything about god(s) is a waste of time and energy unless it is done as an acknowledged intellectual exercise (i.e. accepting it’s not about anything demonstrably real) or is the consequence of discovering the great proof of god(s) that I’m often told about and never presented with.

  • The critical commenters below (Bob Arnzen et al.) miss my point and make my point. My point is simply that the position on papal primacy published on is not the position taken by the opponents of Pope Francis. That seems to me inarguable, and it is telling that these commenters do not address the text, which makes a case for deference to whoever happens to be pope that goes well beyond what Pastor Aeternus has to say about ex cathedra papal pronouncements. There is of course a long history of Catholics opposing popes and their pronouncements, of which opposition to Francis is but the latest chapter. It seems to me that the commenters ought to concede that the position on papal primacy published on goes too far. But whether they concede that or not, it clearly does go too far for them.

  • Dr. Silk makes my point in stating, erroneously, that the position of James Larson on papal primacy is not the position taken by the opponents of Pope Francis.

    Larson makes clear that the Petrine role is that of the office, not the person, in fulfillment of the “promise to Peter of a primacy in matters of faith and morals, but also a primacy of what this document (Pastor Aeternus) calls ‘the jurisdiction of Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold.’” Larson does not suggest that Catholics are obliged to follow the Pontiff to Hell.

    There is, therefore, no need to “address the text”, but rather to address Dr. Silk’s misreading and misunderstanding of it.

    The article makes a case for deference to the office, not to “whoever happens to be pope”, in charity.

    “If a man becomes convinced that a reigning Pope is doing some dreadful things (and there certainly have been those who did such things), then he is under two obligations: to look in a mirror and try to understand why God might find it necessary to chastise the faithful (or not-so-faithful), and to pray with increased fervor and charity for the Pope and the whole Church.”

    The argument of many (not all) opponents of Francis has to do with his failure to fulfill the obligations of his office.

  • What this whole thing is really about is what it is always about— power, money, and dominion. Who gets to say “I’m am god’s BFFF?” Who gets to tell everyone else what to do? Who gets to deal with their own demons by pretending to deal with everyone else’s?

    It doesn’t matter what ecclesiastical drag they want to dress up this particular pig in. It is what trumps amErica is about. Tucker Carlson in his new book basically says as much. When the hyper conservative Baptists consolidated their power 30 years ago, liberal Baptists were told there was no room for them in the SBC. It was what Putee’s fornication with the Russian Orthodox Church is about.

    And bobobobobob’s comments—not that I’m going to read his drivel— does indeed make your point. It always does. It’s all about power and authority. That’s what the hyper conservative end of the church is really about: don’t question their authority.

  • I think Mr. Silk is not being purely political, but commenting on the purely political motivations of others. Otherwise, I agree.

  • Hardly a criticism that cannot be made of Benny, JPI, and Paul. The only one that was probably not in that mold only lasted for 30 days.

  • Perhaps you can tell us where Christ ordered no contraception, a mortal army, and loads of palaces, gold, lands, gold, and coverups. and gold.

    Your selective vision is highly revealing, and reviling. a two-for.

  • Faithful like “no divorce except for adultery, but if ya got the cash, we’ll call it an annulment?”

  • Right you are, and I, a born-from-above, fired-up and die-hard follower of THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation, a 100% agree with you, that all the following in this article is “not about anything DEMONSTRABLY real” – but all “[IN]DEMONSTRABLY [true]” – because not all truths are able to be PROVED or DEMONSTRATED as “real”, at least not all in the same way! And because what constitutes PROOF, and how to DEMONSTRATE it as “real”, is way different for God & Jesus and poor people than for brilliant atheists such as yourself. Take for instance:

    Acts 17:30-31 – “God … has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished PROOF [πίστιν = pistin = guarantee, certainty, assurance] to all men by raising Him from the dead.”


    Romans 3:24-26 – “Our being justified as a gift by God’s grace is through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth in advance to achieve a particular purpose [προέθετο = proetheto] as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was for the DEMONSTRATION [ενδειξιν = endeixin = the showing forth, the pointing out, indication, proof, significance] His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed. It was for the DEMONSTRATION [ibid], I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    That’s why in that sense, then, I concur that the following from Silk’s writing is, as you put it, “not about anything DEMONSTRABLY real”:

    (1) “The vision of a God ‘who'”. (2) “The Catholic faith.” (3) “Papal infallibility”. (4) “Divine Providence”. (5) “The help of God”. (6) “Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Traditions.” (7) “The Holy Spirit”. (8) “The Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles.” (9) “Supreme power and authority”. (10) “God’s will for us”. (11) “Dogma of the Catholic Church”. (12) “Salvation.”

  • Since your familiarity with Catholic doctrine is zip, and actual knowledge of the morals of any of them is also zip, the value of your assessment that “(h)ardly a criticism that cannot be made of Benny, JPI, and Paul.” appears to be zip.

  • Even if that were true (which I do not believe), it does not exculpate pope Francis. We know with certainty that he covered up sexual abusers. And we know with certainty that he tries to change Church doctrine. He is alive and still in office, so it is important to address him instead of speculating about his predecessors.

  • Perennially Anti-Conservative Mark Silk’s mistake was to troll Anti-Francis Catholics (and Non-Cats, like myself) by getting it all wrong about “sedevacantists”, then by lumping them and the folks over at “” together for calculated F/X – when, in fact, the latter have clearly spelt out their position in:

    (1) “Do-It-Yourself Popes: the Wacky World of Sedevacantists” by Michael Petek.

    (2) “Schismatic Traditionalists” by Matt C. Abbott.

    (3) “Sede Vacantism: A Conspiracy to Waste Your Time” by Jeff Mirus.

    (4) “My Journey Out of The Lefebvre Schism: All Tradition Leads to Rome” by Peter John Vere.

    (5) “The Interpretation of Vatican II and Its Connection with the Current Crisis of the Church”, by Athanasius Schneider.

    (6) “Splinter Catholics Have It Their Way” by John Burger.

  • Ditto “misreading and misunderstanding”.

    Comeback nicely done, “critical commenter … Bob Arnzen”, you.

    ArnzenBlockers, eat you hearts out!

  • I was a bit taken back.

    I cited very specifically the areas of misinterpretations and took the time to explain the Petrine function as the Catholic Church teaches it.

    It is NOT equivalent to the Presidency of the LDS, it does NOT provide direct revelation, it is NOT all-powerful and all-knowing.

    Oh well.

  • And I you.

    As that song “And You and I” by Yes renders it:

    Political ends, as sad remains, will die
    Reach out as forward tastes begin to enter you …
    In the end, we’ll agree, we’ll accept, we’ll immortalize
    That the truth of the man maturing in his eyes
    All complete in the sight of seeds of life with you …
    A clearer future, morning, evening, nights with you
    And you and I climb, crossing the shapes of the morning
    And you and I reach over the sun for the river
    And you and I climb, clearer, towards the movement
    And you and I called over valleys of endless seas

  • It’s simply not the case that Larson differentiates between deference to the office and deference to the person. Here’s the relevant passage: “Finally, it does not mean that within the limits of prudence and charity we are forbidden to try to show a Pope that he may be wrong in some course of action. It does mean (and we will see this fully substantiated in our examination of the next chapter of the Council’s teaching) that Christ always wills that we be subject to the Pope in his discipline and governing of the Church, and that we do not engage in any apostolic activity which is contrary to his expressed will.”

  • Natural law and the moral content of the Old Testament come into play.

    It’s for same reasons naked leapfrog is a no-no.

  • The article in question is actually from Homiletic & Pastoral Review, a former paper publication now web only primarily for Catholic clergy preparing sermons and seeking catechetical resources:

    and was actually part of an entire series.

    “Finally, it does not mean that within the limits of prudence and charity we are forbidden to try to show a Pope that he may be wrong in some course of action. It does mean (and we will see this fully substantiated in our examination of the next chapter of the Council’s teaching) that Christ always wills that we be subject to the Pope in his discipline and governing of the Church, and that we do not engage in any apostolic activity which is contrary to his expressed will.”

    The quotation does not contradict anything I have written.

    For example, you wrote:

    “Certainly we did not see anything like the outright challenge to their authority that we’ve seen from the likes of Cardinal Burke and others.”

    and I pointed out that:

    “Cardinal Burke did NOT challenge the Holy Father’s authority.”

    “He asked the Holy Father to exercise it in confirming the brethren, a role described clearly in Vatican II when it picked up where Vatican I left off.”

    which does not contradict Larson’s comments, which deal with a Pope’s ordinary prudential judgments.

    It is clear you lack a grounding in the Catholic theology of the Petrine function. In particular, you are not making any distinction between the person and office – they are distinct and separate and the charism of one do not impart those charisms to the other – and the Pope as successor to Peter and the Pontiff as just another man subject to erroneous opinions.

    I am not going to provide the necessary education in the comment section on an article.

    These two articles will provide some background for beginning to dispel some misconceptions, in particular that every single comment of the Pontiff must be given the same weight, and that pointing out that he may not be doing his job challenges his authority.

  • Good point. I know that everything we think we know is filtered through the lens of our own perceptions. I think wisdom comes from admitting this reality. We all like to think that we and we alone are in posession of the truth the whole truth and nothing but the TRUTH!

  • Here’s a rare find and a nice pairing for your consideration, of the word “INFALLIBLE” with “THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH”:

    “The Bible says there are ‘many INFALLIBLE proofs [τεκμηρίοις = tekmeeriois = fixed and sure sign-post supplying indisputable, unmistakable, irrefutable information]’ of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:3). In fact, it is one of the best documented events of ancient history. … Consider the candor of the accounts. … If men had made up the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, they would not have said that the women were the first to believe. In that day women had no authority in the eyes of society. They could not even testify in a court of law, except in rare occasions … The account of the women believing first is not something that would have been written unless it actually happened and unless the writers were committed wholeheartedly to recording THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. This striking candor is powerful evidence that the Gospels are true, unvarnished accounts.”
    – Milton Basil, May 2, 2013, West Ellesmere Community Church.

  • Wrong.

    Supporting the pope, also means supporting the decisions, teaching of prior popes. That’s part/parcel of Catholic tradition.

    That’s the rub with Francis.

    Your article is rubbish.

  • Awwwww, bob! bobobobobobob! Can I calI ya bob, bob?

    There ya go again, thinkin’ and thinkin’ and thinkin¡ yet again about my sex life.

    Ya know, ya really oughta get a room.

    As for the moral content of the Old Testament? The slaughter of the first born of Egypt, the Slaughter of everyone else, the broken promises, the lies, the slaughter of the entire population of the world, except for an old drunk and his family, including the little babies who couldn’t have sinned even if they wanted to.

    Yup, lots and lots and lots of morality there. But since you are the one talking about it, the level of morality of the Old Testament is pretty much what I would expect from ya.


  • You wish to redefine “proof” as whatever your preferred religious text claims is proof.

    Anyone can claim something unevidenced happened and then claim to prove it by making another unsupported claim. So what? It doesn’t matter whether there is one claim or many, it doesn’t matter if the claimant believes the claim(s) to be true.

    “Proof” does not mean something different when referring to things that can’t be proven just because of the absence of proper truth. No-one is allowed to claim their favourite third-rate solution is first-rate just because there doesn’t appear to be a first-rate one – it’s still a third-rate solution.

    I assume your 1 – 12 has some religious significance for you. Google didn’t recognise it. Going by the titles you use it seems to be a programme for countering any tendency to self-respect.

  • “The slaughter of the first born of Egypt, the Slaughter of everyone
    else, the broken promises, the lies, the slaughter of the entire
    population of the world, except for an old drunk and his family,
    including the little babies who couldn’t have sinned even if they wanted

    You’re obviously unfamiliar with the moral content of the Old Testament.

    Notable is your leaving out the Decalogue.

    In fact, all you really know about religion in general is you don’t like it.

  • A new interest of mine has developed as a result of our tit-for-tat: History of Evidence. This article may or may not shed some light on this subject: Lorraine Daston, “Marvelous Facts and Miraculous Evidence in Early Modern Europe”, Critical Inquiry, 1991, 18 (1): 93-124.

    “How did our current conceptions of neutral facts and enlisted evidence, and the distinction between them, come to be? How did evidence come to be incompatible with intention, and is it possible to imagine a kind of evidence that is intention-laden? It is my claim that partial answers to these questions lie buried in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature on prodigies and miracles. I shall argue that during this period prodigies briefly became the prototype for a new kind of scientific fact, and that miracles briefly exemplified a form of evidence patent to the senses and crucially dependent on intention. Both conceptions diverge sharply not only from current notions of facts and evidence, but also from medieval views on the nature of prodigies and miracles. Prodigies were originally closely akin to portent, divine signs revealing God’s will and things to come; miracles were more intimately associated with the private experience of grace than with the public evidence of the senses. Prodigies were transformed from signs into nonsignifying facts, and miracles into compelling evidence, as part of more sweeping changes in natural philosophy and theology in the mid-seventeenth century.”

  • “What Francis’ conservative opponents do is claim that such changes in
    teaching as he has made are inconsistent with apostolic faith”

    If those people trashing Pope Francis critics as schismatic or whatever could only ever come around to adress the actual issue:

    The conservative opponents not only claim that some things said by Pope Francis are inconsistent with apostolic faith, these conservative opponents actually think so after careful and extensive consideration of what Pope Francis says; they think that there is a – maybe not directly visible – logic contradiction between what Pope Francis says and what the tradition says; and all attempts at trying to render this somehow into continuity FAIL for them.

    In shorter words, what Pope Francis says is to them sounds to them as if someone said “2+2=5”. How would one be able to assent to the teaching “2+2=5”?

    One cannot. Its impossible to agree to such a teaching.

    And deriding people or calling them out as dissenters certainly does not help. Cause saying to someone what sounds to his ears as “Stop being so cold-hearted and rebellious and submit to the teaching that 2+2=5” cannot help in any way, then the person would only feel offended, cause he is given the choice to do something impossible – assenting to 2+2=5 – and being caled cold-hearted/rebellious.

    And it realy, realy didn’t help that one of the Pope’s allies admitted that some things in Pope’s Francis teaching might sound like 2+2=5 and deriding critics for being too stupid to get it.

    The only sensible approach when someone honestly thinks that some statement equals “2+2=5” is to carefully analyze where that person thinks contradictions arise and adress these points to show, how the contradictions are resolved.

    From my experience the ideal way would be to condense it into questions, which answers would resolve the potential contradictions one way or another, and then try to find answers to these questions.

    But of course, when Pope Francis critics tried to do that, it was evil, rebellious, cold-hearted, etc.

    How is schism to be avoided when one side obviously struggeling with a at least perceived contradiction is constantly offended for not simply gulping down the perceived contradiction and shut up?

  • Oh that one. Then you shouldn’t have specified just “a single attestation in Matthew’s gospel.” But rather “a [double] attestation in Matthew’s gospel” is more like it. Because here’s one, Matthew 16:13-20, and, thumbs up, you did cite “Matt. 16:18” for that just now:

    (1) “Jesus … was asking His disciples, ‘… Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’ Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.”

    But the other, which, thumbs down, you weren’t even aware of, much less privy to as to its similarities & differences vis-a-vis the Matthew 16 passage, is Matthew 18:1-3, 15-20:

    (2) “The disciples came to Jesus … and He said, “… If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.'”

  • Again the problem is in the history. Did your simple preacher man, an illiterate rabbi at best, establish a church? No, based on the lack of historical proof, e.g. “Thou art Peter” (Matt
    16: 18-19) passage only appears in one gospel.” Matthew, whoever he was,
    was therefore a part founder/”necessary accessory” of the Catholic
    Church, as was Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James his brother, Mary Magdelene, Mary,
    Joseph and another father if you believe the mamzer stories, the Apostles and
    Pilate. It was a team effort with Pilate being the strangest “necessary

    Peruse also and Professor Gerd Ludemann’s conclusions in his studies listed in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 198.

  • They were wrong – perhaps not surprisingly – but wrong.

    Properly used, evidence, like reason, is an arbiter – not an enabler.

  • I work for a living, am a parent, and, yes, go to Church. Most of the Catholics that I know do have opinions about their Church, but few think or really care about the internal workings of the Church. It’s a valid discussion to have, but we need to keep it in perspective.

  • The Reverend Fulton sheen stated that those who fear religion; fear it because it challenges their own consciences.

  • The reverend was wrong in the general case. As one notable exception, I don’t fear religion because of any challenge to my conscience; religion such as Christianity is pure nonsense, and presents no valid challenge to my conscience as a result. Instead, part of what I fear about religion is that it causes people to follow absurd dogmas instead of making rational decisions based on evidence and reason. Some of that religious dogma, such as the Christian and Islamic folklore, is both bigoted and violent, and should be rejected utterly by humanity.

  • The proper perspective. Most Catholics suffer from the Three B Syndrome, Bred, Born and Brainwashed in their very flawed religion as are all believers in angels , devils, atonement, resurrection and an afterlife.

  • For the sake of their sanity, it istime for US liberals to put the Catholic Church behind them. It is a breeding ground of nasty people and nasty politics.

  • The KJV translators did not know what later scholars discovered: the Hebrew word “re’em” translated by the KJV as “unicorn” was cognate with the Akkadian “rimu,” which meant the aurochs, the ancestor of present-day domesticated cattle. Aka a wild ox. It’s been suggested that the aurochs viewed in profile appeared to have one horn.
    I wouldn’t say the translators had *no* clue what Asherah meant. They correctly translated it as some kind of ritualistic tree. Unclear whether they knew Asherah was a deity. I’m sure they were unaware of the more recent findings of YHVH and Asherah as his consort.
    An even more literal translation of the commandment would be don’t have any other gods “in my face” (“al panai”).

  • The “liberals and progressives” “conservatives and traditionalist” shtick demonstrates the simplistic mindset that leads to nothing but more fog.

  • So these “sweeping changes in natural philosophy and theology in the mid-seventeenth century” rendered null & void – just like that – all the evidences used in ancient times or by the ancients? What you mean to say, then, “evidence, like reason, [has become a tyrannical, if atheistic] arbiter”! That won’t do, Dawg, no, not at all – not unless, of course, you’ve been craving for another Bloody French Revolution, whose Arbiter Is Reason Indeed.

  • It’s confirmed, then, RashOnAll: You weren’t even aware of Matthew 18:1-3, 15-20, much less privy to as to its similarities & differences with respect to Matthew 16:13-20.

  • Aren’t “US liberals … a breeding ground of nasty people and nasty politics”, too, though? Aincha1?

  • While Dr. Silk is most certainly “Perennially Anti-Conservative”, I don’t believe he saw himself as trolling Anti-Francis Catholics.

    His Ph.D. is in medieval history, not theology, and most certainly not Catholic theology.

    While he has written on feminist theology and new religious movements, feminist theology is basically political, and he consistently sees things in political terms. That’s compounded by the fact that he is, as you wrote, “Perennially Anti-Conservative”. As to hammer everything is a nail, so with that mindset everything is a battle between liberal and conservatives.

    As soon as you read “conservative opposition”, “conservative schismatics”, and so on you know every character in this political play will wear a white hat, or a black hat, and the script will have“liberals” and “progressives” wearing the white hats as universally smart, well-intended, kind-hearted – did I mention smart? – folks bringing enlightenment to the world; “conservatives” and “traditionalists” are black hatted knuckle-dragging troglodyte opponents of enlightenment and goodwill.

    Lay that on top of a complete lack of knowledge of the Petrine function in Catholic theology and you have the makings of just what was written.

    But it is not purposeful trolling: he believed every single word he wrote and every single misinterpretation of the Petrine role.

    The same script plays out regularly at America, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter, and other places and has since at least Vatican I, and those folks lack an excuse. Oddly those are the same people who were bitching about “creeping infallibility” when the previous Pontiffs were saying things they did not like to hear. Suddenly asking the Pontiff to do his job is an “outright challenge to their authority”. “What authority?” we ask, and we receive no answer because there is none.

    And we know his impression about an “outright challenge to their authority” came from America, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter, and other like places.

    You cannot be held accountable for ignorance until you’ve had it pointed it out and then refused to enlighten yourself.

    You may note that I wrote “The ‘liberals and progressives’ ‘conservatives and traditionalist’ shtick demonstrates the simplistic mindset that leads to nothing but more fog.” to another participant today.

    She exhibits the much the same problem and – no surprise, eh? – was an avid participant in Comments at National (un)Catholic Reporter until the Comments took on water and sank, leaving a slight slick progressive oil on the surface.

  • evidence is neither tyrannical nor atheistic.

    Tyrannical – “Exercising power in a cruel or arbitrary way” is what people sometimes do. Calling evidence tyrannical is like blaming the car for the fatal accident.

    Sometimes evidence leads to a conclusion so firmly that it cannot be challenged in logic ; it isn’t tyranny – it’s reality. If the conclusion is not liked the only way round it is to declare the evidence “inappropriate” for such matters. That is what some people try to do when “the supernatural” cannot be confirmed through evidence – claim that a lower, irrational standard (which, funnily enough, allows them to kid themselves that their belief is actual) should be applied instead of the one they expect in practical matters. And by “supernatural” I don’t just mean religion – there’s a massive environment of pseudo-science in areas such as healing through pain-relief to ageing-signs defiance, diets and motivational self-improvement which require “special pleading” in order to try to fit the facts to the claims.

    Atheistic? – no – evidence is incapable of belief – be it in god(s) or anything else. What evidence does do is fail to support claims made by religious people about god(s), souls, devils,d demons, angels, afterlife(s) etc.. Rationally the absence of evidence should lead to atheism; people, particularly frightened people, don’t always act rationally

    If someone chooses to believe without evidence to support that belief – OK – that’s faith.
    But when someone seeks to lower the evidential bar so that they can pretend, to themself or to others, that their belief is not belief but fact – they are admitting

    a) that they know of no valid evidence supporting their claim and
    b) that their belief is invalid without evidential backup.

  • “Nones are winning”?!

    DO THE MATH, Cortisone!

    Christianity 69% : 24% Nones.

    Source: Daniel Cox and Ribert P. Jones, “America’s Changing Religious Identity”, Public Religion Research Institute”, September 6, 2017.

  • Libs & Progs had thought they were winning the Culture Wars & Civil Religion. Knowing now they have to start all over again and from scratch, must be self-pitying indeed!

    Hang in there, Mr.Bob Arnzen.

    This, too, shall come to pass.

  • God & Jesus’ History of Evidence shall outdo and outlast Atheists’ History of Evidence.

    It is written, my child.

  • Cortisone – your A/C-ism is “[secularly] bigoted and violent, and should be rejected utterly by humanity.”

  • ARBUSTIN (“12 hours ago” and “2 months ago”): “I’m sure [translators] were unaware of the more recent findings of YHVH and Asherah as his consort. … [Nor of] YHVH as having characteristics of both genders to contrast with Babylonian gods and goddesses.”

    HpO: The Jehovah God of the Jews is both a Playboy and a Transgender, then? You’ve lost your way, my child. Be that way, who cares. You certainly don’t.

  • Yeah – right; everything written, wherever, whenever and by whom ever, is right – provided it supports your irrational belief. Not.

    Despite the weirdness of your response it is interesting – in that a possible explanation for your preference for unsupported belief over logic and reason emerges.

    If, as you suggest, you are old enough to be my parent it is extremely likely that senility has set in.

  • ATHEISTIC HYPOTHESIS: Before Atheism was born, Evidence never existed.

    ATHEISTIC TEST OF SAID HYPOTHESIS: No can do. No Evidence put forward to prove that before Atheism was born, Evidence never existed.

    ATHEISTIC CONCLUSION: Before Atheism was born, Evidence never existed.

  • CitizenWhy’s re-draft now reads:

    “For the sake of their sanity, it is time for US liberals to put [right wing Catholics in] the Catholic Church behind them [but not liberal Catholics. For on the one hand, the Catholic Church] is a breeding ground of nasty [right wing Catholic] people and nasty [right wing Catholic] politics. [On the other hand, the Catholic Church] is a breeding ground of [no] nasty [liberal Catholic] people and [no] nasty [liberal Catholic] politics.”

    And you call this “sanity” on your part?!

  • It appears you quoted someone and I was asking who you quoted. If you can’t answer that question, at least be honest and admit it.

  • How odd you have so much time on your hands to Disqus-stalk me over the course of hundreds of comments to lamely attempt to make a point. Also odd that you appear to have done so at 2am Eastern time. Almost as if you’re specifically employed in this regard somewhere far from the USA..
    You badly cannibalized my comments. I NEVER said that YHVH actually has characteristics of both genders, or that translators were unaware of this. I said that Isaiah could have used that language to portray YHVH as having both characteristics, to contrast with Babylonian deities that were expressly gendered. And it has nothing to do with translation, the feminine language is readily apparent from the Hebrew.
    As I noted before, I was citing the work of preeminent Hebrew Biblical scholar Benjamin Sommer of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Here’s part of the article I didn’t post before: Isaiah “seems surprisingly contemporary in suggesting that God is as much a mother as a husband—which is to say that God is neither man nor woman, and that whatever language we apply to God is always figurative, never literal.” – from “Would Our Mother Forgive Us?”, Aug. 3, 2018.
    What I’ve posted is firmly consistent with Jewish thought. Got a problem with that? Tough sh/t.

  • Yup – senility it is I guess – how else could anyone construct a text so silly, so sad and so stupid in so few words.

    Did you read it through?

    What made you think it worth typing out such an irrelevant non-response?

    How could you click the “Post as HpO” button knowing that it would be linked to you for ever? Have you no self-respect?

    Did you think you were being clever – or imagine it was a divine revelation?

    I mean – come on – a ridiculous straw-man argument a five-year old would see through? Really?

    That’s not just your best, but your only, shot?

    Throw the spade up here – you’re just digging the hole deeper.

  • “Disqus-stalk [you]” – what? This is a continuation of our “Disqus”-sion about your “YHVH” over at RNS, left off on August 2, 2018, in reaction to the article, “What the early church thought about God’s gender”! Not my problem that you can’t recall bringing up your transgender YHVH into that thread.

    Here’s a recording of that “Disqus”-sion:

    Arbustin: Serendipitously, the reading from the Prophets this Sabbath in synagogues is from Isaiah and contains several references to God as mother. Dr. Benjamin Sommer of the Jewish Theological Seminary noted that the “intensely monotheistic” author, writing to the Jews exiled by Babylon, might have used this language to portray YHVH as having characteristics of both genders to contrast with Babylonian gods and goddesses.

    HpO: “YHVH”? What’s that?

    Arbustin: A transliteration of the Tetragrammaton. What others refer to as Jehovah or Yahweh.

    HpO: “Tetragrammaton”? What’s that? “Jehovah”? What’s that? “Yahweh”? What’s that?


    HpO: Weird, innit. If Arbustin’s god is presumably all that – i.e. “YHVH … Tetragrammaton … Jehovah … Yahweh” – why doesn’t he wanna talk about her, when asked, What’s all that, then? Just ask Senor “Wikipedia” about that, Arbustin says. He’d rather not be bothered with such religious inquiry. She’s not important in his life? Dunno. Just weird, is all.

    Arbustin: I would love to talk about it, with someone serious. Not someone who pretends to be an evangelical Christian and never heard the terms Jehovah or Yahweh before.

  • “s.e.n.i.l.i.t.y.”? Let me see …

    sagacious – checked
    ebullient – checked
    neutralizing – checked
    immaculate – checked
    legendary – checked
    indefatigable – checked
    tenacious – checked
    yearning – checked

    Yup. All the above. Right you are, DoggieBag!

  • I do not need to “order” any tracts from a Roman Catholic website in order to grasp what Catholicism really is, for history bears out the egregious behavior and falsehoods that it has propagated. Have you considered the blood guilt of the Catholic church, from the Crusades to the Inquisitions (Roman and Spanish), or have you just casually cast them aside so as to not see the amount of blood shed in the name of Catholicism ?

    Former Catholic priest Peter de Rosa noted in his book, Vicars of Christ – The Dark Side of the Papacy (pub in 1988), that with the appointment of Tomas de Torquemada in 1483 by Pope Sixtus IV, that “in the pope’s name, [the inquisitors] were responsible for the most savage and sustained onslaught on human decency in the history of the race.”(pg 123) Of Dominican inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada in Spain, he says: “Appointed in 1483, he ruled tyrannically for fifteen years. His victims numbered over 114,000 of whom 10,220 were burned.”(pg 129)

    Or when Pope Innocent III (reigned 1198-1216 C.E.) sent monk Arnold Amalric with 300,000 crusaders to Belziers, France in 1209 and murdered some 20,000 men, women and children. Or of Pope Alexander VI (Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia, reigned 1492-1503 C.E.) bought the papacy by bribing one of his two main rivals with “four mule-loads of bullion”, as noted in the book The March of Folly by historian Barbara Tuchman, pub. in 1984), illegitimately fathered 7 children through two different women, held sexual orgies within the Vatican (and often attended by his illegitimate children), had sex with his own daughter and murdered several Cardinals (who paid Pope Alexander bribes for the position) with poison in order to bring more money into his “treasury”.(chronicled or first hand account by Catholic priest Johann Burchard [1450-1506 C.E.] who was Master of Ceremonies (1483-1506 C.E.) during Pope Alexander and four other popes while living in the Vatican)

    Or have read John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” ?(originally titled Acts and Monuments of the Church and published initially in 1554 C.E. that was republished in 1559 with an enlarged volume that chronicled the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children at the hands of the Catholic church, bringing to focus the deadly reign of Catholic “Bloody Mary” of England (1553-58 C.E.), whose five year reign saw the burning of some 300 men and women on the stake as “heretics”, while others [who were Protestant] died in prison)

    History has clearly documented the “blood letting ” of the Catholic church, and of which at Revelation 18, a voice out of heaven says this: “Get out her (the composite body of all the religions of the world called Babylon the Great, which Catholicism is one of its “daughters”, Rev 17:5), my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed clear up to heaven, and God has called acts of injustice to mind”.(Rev 18:4, 5)

    At Romans 10:13, the apostle Paul, quoting from Joel 2:32, says: “For “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved”. So, then, what does a person need to do in order avoid “sharing” in Catholicism’s massive sins and becoming a “casualty” ?

  • That is nice compendium of nonsensical silly anti-Catholic drivel.

    Peter de Rosa is known as writer of the British sitcom “Bless Me, Father” in the late ’70s. His qualifications as a historian are somewhat less than sterling.

    John Foxe was an English propagandist during Elizabeth I’s reign whose overblown account the sufferings of English Protestants and proto-Protestants – and silence about the persecution of Catholics – was widely read by English Puritans, and moulded British popular opinion about the Catholic Church for centuries. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica went so far as to accuse Foxe of “wilful falsification of evidence.”

    The facts about Abbot Arnaud Amalric are somewhat less one-sided and sizzling than your take

    but there is no doubt that he was a man of his times, and those were harsh times.

    But I can see “ordering” tracts from an anti-Catholic website (you should have checked the url rather than making an assumption and looking foolish) are not needed for you to propagate falsehoods.

  • The blood guiltiness of the Catholic church has been well established in history and John Foxe was one who wrote (in Latin) of the Catholic church’s deadly atrocities, publishing a 4th edition of some 2,300 pages (and 153 illustrations) in 1570 C.E., which in 1571, the Church of England decreed that a copy of Foxe’s book be installed alongside the Bible in all English cathedrals and in the homes of church dignitaries for the benefit of servants and visitors, shaping the way people viewed religion and politics in England for centuries to come.

    What about Jean Crespin (1520-72 C.E.), who also lived at the same time as John Foxe and also wrote (in French) another martyrologoy (also called Book of Martyrs, pub in 1554 C.E. and is a compilation of records of trials, inquisitorial proceedings, and eyewitness accounts, as well as testimonies written by the accused while they were in prison, which was a testimony to the controversy and intolerance surrounding the Catholic church) of the Catholic church, who witnessed the burning of Claude Le Painctre as a “heretic” in Place Maubert, Paris, France by Catholicism in 1541 ?

    Even he was accused of heresy by the Catholic church and had to flee France, eventually settling Geneva, Switzerland, whereby he gave up his legal career and became a printer, publishing religious works of Reformers (the Protestant Reformation began in 1517 C.E., with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and whose fight began against the sale of papal indulgences, which monies helped fill the papal treasury) such as John Calvin (who had Spaniard Michael Servetus [who exposed the Trinity as a lie] burned at the stake in 1553 and witnessed by Italian Laelius Socinus), Martin Luther, John Knox and Theodore Beza.

    And what about Ludwig Rabus (German, 1524-92 C.E.) who also wrote Book of Martyrs in 1557 C.E. ? Having three books all named the same by three different individuals who lived at the same time documented the cruel control of the Catholic church and shows just how egregious the moral conduct was of the Catholic church (and has not changed).

    Or of Johannes Buchard (1450-1506 C.E.), who personally saw the wicked and murderous disposition during four popes as a priest ? The corruption within the Catholic Church was indeed seeping down from the top. Historian Barbara W. Tuchman wrote in her book The March of Folly (pub in 1984) that the six popes who were in office from 1471 onward (starting with Pope Sixtus IV) carried on “an excess of venality, amorality, avarice, and spectacularly calamitous power politics.”

    And why was Mary, queen of England (reigned 1553-58 C.E.), called “Bloody Mary” ? Because she, as a Catholic, had some 300 men and women burned as heretics. And of Wikipedia, it is not an acceptable reference, for anyone can write it and make alterations to it. The Crusades and the Inquisitions are beyond successful dispute, showing the amount of blood that is placed at the feet of the Catholic church, but which you wish to deny.

    Can you deny the words of Jesus Christ (well you could, but that would not change God’s mind) at Matthew 23:33-36, when he placed the blood of Abel and Zechariah at the feet of the Jewish religious leaders, though Abel was murdered some 4,000 years previously at the hands of his brother Cain or that of Zechariah who was murdered by king Jehoash some 900 years previously ?

    He told them just days before he was executed: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of Gehenna (everlasting destruction) ? For this reason, I am sending to you prophets and wise men and public instructors. Some you will EXECUTE on stakes, and some of them you will SCOURGE in your synagogues and PERSECUTE from city to city, so that there may come upon YOU (the nation of fleshly Israel, with the Jewish religious leaders pushing for the death of any who condemns them or “gets in their way”) ALL the righteous blood spilled on the earth, from the blood of Abel (Gen 4:8) to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah (2 Chron 24:20-22), whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.(Jesus places the Jews as guilty of the murders of Abel to Zechariah [or all righteous people who died for speaking out against the corrupt Jews up to Jesus time in 33 C.E.] because they displayed the same wicked disposition as Cain who murdered Abel to king Jehoash who murdered Zechariah) Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation”.

    Who was responsible for World War II ? The Catholic church, for in July 1933, it gave its full backing to Adolf Hitler (establishing an agreement with Nazi Germany called the Reichconcordat or “peace treaty” and that is still in force today [the concordat required the Vatican withdraw its support from Germany’s (political) Catholic Center Party, thus sanctioning Hitler’s one-party “total state”]), throwing all its weight and support of the Catholic church behind him, that propelled him to start World War II at a cost of an estimated 55 million lives. What tremendous blood guilt this war alone has been placed at the feet of the Catholic church !

    The amount of blood shed at the hands of the Catholic church is beyond measure and therefore will be called to account, just as the Jews, who never accepted Jesus as the Messiah, was in 70 C.E.(Rev 18:4-8) Catholicism will never admit its massive blood guilt it built up over the centuries, for it will continue to say: “I sit a queen, and I am not a widow, and I will never see mourning”.(Rev 18:7)

  • Whoa! Awesome article! Thank you for it! I am 100% pro-family, 100% pro-marriage as it is intended by Almighty God, 100% pro-Ten Commandments, 100% pro-Church Teachings, and 100% pro-Pope Francis! ! !