Saturday, August 2, 2014

Those Attempting To Whitewash Papal Gaffes Fall Flat On Their Faces

There's no other way I could have stated that headline.  The very attempts to whitewash papal gaffes and to silence concerned Catholics are inherently lacking in logic and common sense; those attempting to do so only succeed in throwing eggs on their own faces.  One of them is Michael Voris.  Generally I support his work whole-heartedly (I've the Vortexes on this blog to prove it), but this is the third time he's attempted to stifle well-founded criticisms of this blog and others.  The other is Father Dwight Longenecker of the patheos blog "Standing on My Head".  Normally I do not link to patheos blogs, but I will make an exception in this case; I think his logical flaws will be too glaring to miss.

First, let's look at yesterday's Vortex.  The gist of what Voris seems to be saying is that the pope's miscues are of no consequence and thus should not be criticized.  He says that the real culprits are the bishops, for they have frequently disobeyed the previous pontiffs' pronouncements.  He uses as examples the stonewalling on the part of so many bishops regarding the Latin Mass, and their refusal to obey Canon 915.  I fail to detect, however, any mention of an orthodox pronouncement of Pope Francis', that the bishops refuse to obey.

Voris also fails to mention how the pope's own questionable examples have lent de facto permission for the bishops to dissent.  A big "case in point" is the washing of women's feet during the Holy Thursday services.  That also is a violation of Canon Law.  While it is true that this edict has been flagrantly disobeyed in dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Washington by Cardinal Wuerl himself, the previous pontiffs have always adhered to the law in their own celebrations of Holy Thursday.  Not so Pope Francis!  During the two Lents that he has now sat in Peter's chair, he washed the feet of women during the Holy Thursday services - with great aplomb, I might add.  Just how would Voris suggest we raise objections to these bishops, when they are merely following the scandalous example of the Holy Father?  These situations continue to increase.

I also need to - once again - rebut a canard that he has been bandying about in these attempts to dissuade us from voicing our concerns.  He seems to think - or claims to believe - that if we bring these matters to attention, then we will drive otherwise good Catholics into sedevacantists sects or other nonsense.  Such a statement seems to indicate a condescending attitude towards those Catholics - most likely converts.  I assure all concerned that these Catholics are not oblivious bumpkins.  They can see what is happening.  What we hope to do is to assure them that they aren't incorrect in their perception of trouble, and that they don't have to leave the Church as they correctly infer that things are amiss with some of the pope's informal words.  We remind them that these erroneous statements do not constitute Church teaching and thus the Church is still true and need not be abandoned.  Voris is correct in stating that our comments have no impact on Rome (more's the pity), but we write more for the Church at large.

Now let's look at Father Longnecker's post.  He is calling conservative Catholics the "new cafeteria Catholics" because we question the sayings and doings of Pope Francis with the liberals who disobeyed (still do) solemnly proclaimed dogma and the Church's teachings on faith and morals.  Read the comments to the post.  Many of the readers correctly understand the comparison to be an "apples to oranges" comparison.  Of course Longenecker is unable to cite one example of where conservative Catholics have disregarded any defined teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  At most, all he can cite is differences in prudential judgment and our objections to off-the-cuff remarks that do cast doubt on the Holy Father's opinions of Church dogma; take his recent apology to evangelicals for "suppressing the growth of their communities", for example.

Ignored facts, false comparisons, etc are what Voris and Longnecker resort to, as they try to contort all logic and good sense in defending the indefensible in what the Holy Father is doing/saying.  I don't know what - or who - impels them to tilt their spears at windmills, but they should cease as they are accomplishing worse than nothing.


  1. I am not picking and choosing from any of the true teachings of the Church. However I do have concerns about our pope and that he is dancing on the edge of some of those teachings which is quite disconcerting.

  2. Voris' suggestion that the way for change to take place is from the bottom up might contain wisdom. Francis has shown himself capable of acting rudely and haughtily to those who are not in full agreement with him. It is very unlikely that Francis will make adjustments in his thinking to suit the perplexed faithful--barring strong divine intervention. For criticism to be fruitful it must be heard by someone with the power to make things happen. At this point that person is not Francis. Who then? We have one pope, but many bishops. Better to work on the consciences of dozens of bishops that to carp about one immovable pope. St. Athanasius said, speaking of the large numbers of bishops who had succumbed to the errors of Arius, "They have the churches, but we have the faith."

    1. Criticism isn't solely for the benefit of the one being criticized. In this case I do so to make clear that his miscues and missteps do not constitute Church teaching and that one is free to disagree with him in matters of prudential judgment. We are also no obligation to deny what our good sense is telling us - provided we have properly formed our consciences in conformity with the Magisterium. I do intend to continue to shine the light on misdeeds of bishops as well.


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