Fr. Z: Can the Pope Be Criticized?

From Father Z's blog:

Are Catholics now too dazzled by the Pope? Can Popes be criticized?
Posted on 9 May 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Do you remember the scene in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited when Rex Mottram is being given his catechism lessons before he can marry Julia?  The priest and Rex have this exchange:

Quote:“Yesterday I asked [Mottram] whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

Vox Wrote:Yes, it's spiritually raining, and if only we trads would accept the challenge offered by the Pope's saying it's raining when it's not raining physical rain that a meteorologist would be talking about then we, too, could have real faith!

Back in the day, to "challenge" someone was confrontational. "I challenge you to a duel!"  Merrian-Webster's defines that word like this:

Merrian-Webster Wrote:chal·lenge
verb \ˈcha-lənj\

: to say or show that (something) may not be true, correct, or legal

: to question the action or authority of (someone)

law : to question whether (someone) should serve on a jury
Full Definition of CHALLENGE
transitive verb
:  to demand as due or deserved :  require
:  to order to halt and prove identity 3
:  to dispute especially as being unjust, invalid, or outmoded :  impugn
:  to question formally the legality or legal qualifications of
a :  to confront or defy boldly :  dare
b :  to call out to duel or combat
c :  to invite into competition
:  to arouse or stimulate especially by presenting with difficulties
:  to administer a physiological and especially an immunologic challenge to (an organism or cell)
intransitive verb
:  to make or present a challenge
:  to take legal exception

And for a Pope to "challenge" the "masses" (average IQ=100) is not a very "good shepherdy" thing to do. While I most defintely think that scholarly, bookish Catholics should not be expected to be satisfied with Penny Catechism answers (and I think the pre-Vatican II era of the Church let that type of Catholic down in a big way, treating their intellects with way too little respect), most Catholics need exactly that. They don't need to be "challenged," which would only end in confusion; they need simple answers they can understand.

This scene figures in a piece written by Michael Brendon Dougherty for The Week:  “Catholics must learn to resist their popes — even Pope Francis Too many are becoming party apparatchiks”.

The writer makes the point – in a nutshell – that since the advent of rapid communications and a far greater familiarity and presence of Popes in our lives, many people now venerate them too much.  They go beyond respect for the office, and give adulation and hero-worship to the person.  On the other hand, in ages past, before this “papalotry” (my word, the writer’s) developed, people felt far freer to criticize a Pope’s actions.

Is he one to something or is he off the rails?  This is clearly something that many über-trads have bandied about in the last few decades of their defiance of authority.

I suggest that you read the article and then discuss.  I repeat: read the article first.  Don’t just jump in without thinking or looking.

Another quote:

Quote: Catholics were reminded at the Second Vatican Council of a doctrine with a foundation in the early church fathers, in St. Vincent Lerins, that the whole body of faithful Catholics in their cultivated sense of the faith, are one of the guarantors of the church’s teaching authority. Sometimes, the duty of a faithful Catholic is not just to rebuke and correct those in authority in the church like St. Catherine of Siena, but to throw rotting cabbage at them, or make them miserable, as we once did, with the connivance of worldly authorities, during the deadlocked papal election in Viterbo.

For now the members of the Catholic Party are cultivating a kind of denial, saying that Pope Francis cannot possibly endorse the line on divorce and remarriage suggested by Cardinal Kasper when very clearly this reform is being actively debated within the highest reaches of the church, and seems to have been implemented in one phone call. If adopted, it will be time for members of the Catholic Church to reach for the rotting produce and give our prelates a taste of the sensus fidelium.

That proposed, let’s us remember that the Pope has an office with a defined role.  Not everything any Pope says or does is infallible or perfect.

Rich terrain for discussion here, if people will a) think before posting and b) think before posting.  I don’t want to have to step in too much to remove comments that were just tossed out with little consideration.  Treat the question with respect and thought.

Just as Fr Z said, this has to do with the fact that we are now living in a post communication world. We know what the pope is doing 24/7 (or at least almost 24/7)

I think that this means that we have to be the worst NSA Agents :LOL:

We talk about how bad the government is with its NSA spying but are we not doing this to the Pope himself? I know it is not the same thing. We are not doing it intentionally out of malice as the NSA but it is the same concept. Neither am I saying that the pope should not be seen either, but simply that if we follow every single thing the pope does or says we will do nothing but overwhelm ourselves.
It's true that in todays world a pope can't hide, he's constantly scrutinized and things that Catholics in previous ages never would have known about are, in todays world, at the worlds fingertips in real time. That being said,I think we all have to ask ourselves, when is enough enough when it comes to things these modern Popes do and say? When are Catholics being no better than cult followers in making excuses for and or buying as "orthodox" certain words and deeds and when are they being genuine? As for myself,I have to put my foot down somewhere. If to be a loyal Roman Catholic I must make excuses for and defend everything that John XXIII through Francis says and does even when it goes against my sense of  the faith garnered from traditional catechisms, the church.fathers, the canons of councils, traditional prayerbooks, traditional theology texts etc than I don't want anything to do with it. I love the Faith, love Latin, Gregorian chant, the rosary,Eucharistic adoration, traditional devotions etc but it seems to me that todays popes are speaking and acting in ways that make my hair stand on end, that appear to flatly contradict (in some cases) what the Church taught before the Council. What is a Catholic to do in times like these when the very men who ushered in this apostasy from tradition Roman Catholicism are being canonized? What is a Catholic to do when there seem to be only a handful of bishops who actually act as if they believe in the Catholic faith? Is it wrong for me to say that I can't blame someone for becoming sede,Orthodox or hanging out in SSPX.chapels or even burying ones head in the sand with indult groups just in order to maintain some sort of sanity and listen to what ones conscience is saying?

If I have to adore Francis and actually look to him to lead me in my Catholic faith as if he's the mouthpiece of God than I'm better off western rite orthodox or sedevavantist.
The following was an "off-the-cuff" remark I transcribed by Br. Francis, MICM during his talk on the Acts of the Apostles. I think it is a good explanation of Catholic obedience. Not all cases are clear cut and the Holy Father must be given the benefit of the doubt and his comments placed in the best light possible, but, despite this, when there is a contradiction of authority, we go with the higher authority.


4:19 But Peter and John answering, said to them: If it be just, in the sight of God, to hear you rather than God, judge ye.
4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

St. Vincent de Lerins
"But what if some novel contagions try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.

"What is Catholic obedience? All obedience is obedience to God.

"We obey men because God has put men over us as superiors and [has given] them rights to command us. And when they command us, in the name of God, what continues the authority of God, we must obey to be saved. But when a man becomes disobedient to a higher authority, he cannot be obeyed.

"Very simple. That is the Catholic principle [of obedience]. When they place themselves under a cloud of heresy and lack of responsibility, neither protecting the faith of the children or the morals, allowing all kinds of immoral practices to take place, we become very wary and then we have to obey God and protect the law of God and the Faith of God and the way of salvation. And we say to our superiors that we admit you, our superiors, have rights and when you act in the name of the authority vested in you by God you will find us the most obedient children you have.

"But when you ask us to cooperate with you in the demolition of the Church, its Faith, its traditions, and its morals, we are not going to obey. We cannot. Non possumus! We must obey God rather than man. That is Catholic obedience. And anybody who is preaching any other kind of obedience is not preaching the Catholic Faith as Our Lord taught it or Catholic obedience that is known as the saints knew it.

"Catholic obedience never becomes tyranny and dictatorship and absolutism because, "You shall know the Truth and the Truth will make you free." And the truth is eternal and the truth does not depend on the word of any living man. The only living man who can reach that height of authority that the Church possesses is our Holy Father the Pope and it's only when he uses that authority [that] we are guaranteed by our Faith that he could never contradict what his predecessors and the councils have taught right from the time of Our Lord and the apostles. But as a person, popes have taught heresy and have caused scandal and when they are doing things that are obviously in contradiction with the Tradition of the Church and its Faith, [although] we cannot rise in rebellion, Catholics can never rebel, we can say, "Non possumus! We are unable! This kind of order contradicts a higher authority that we must obey. We seem to be disobedient because we are obeying a higher authority that cannot be ignored."

Br. Francis, MICM

I am outrageous when the pope is talking about Martians. Perhaps because he's a Jesuit and the Jesuits are looking forward that ETs can come to save humankind.

I don't want to let out my anger here, but what's happening is just disgusting. I have to hold myself so as not to vomit.  :possess:

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