"Can one be critical of the Pope" by Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by lynnfiat, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. lynnfiat

    lynnfiat Fiat Voluntas Tua

    Question: I have difficulty with some things this Pope has said and with modern issues he has failed to address. For instance, when he came to the US he did not address the freedom of religion issue or Kim Davis. He said, “Who am I to judge” gays, and the media has taken this as a personal endorsement of their licentiousness behavior. Now he is asking us to welcome forced Muslim refugees who do not believe in Christ. Is it wrong for me to be critical of this Pope?

    Response: The office of the Papacy that alone enjoys infallibility (a dogma formally acknowledged at the Vat. I Council) on matters pertaining to faith and morals is distinct from the ordained man who fulfills this sacred office. While it is said that this Roman Pontiff does not enjoy the status of theological doctoral alumnus like many of his predecessors, one cannot argue that this makes him less holy than them, and yet, some argue that it impacts his theological and political views. As long as Satan is “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31: 14:30; 16:11) and “the ruler of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2), those secular media outlets that are knowing or unknowingly working for him will continue to spin to the advancement of their varied political agendas the Pope's off-the-cuff and unrehearsed comments that may require theological qualification.

    Despite the dark forces that plague this world where the darnel and wheat must “grow together” until harvest time (Mt. 13:30), God always provides for his Church, even in the face of the opposition of the secular media. Let us recall that God has pre-ordained for the office of papacy this Pope as He has every Pope before him. As illustrated in my publication, “Can a Pope Become a Heretic” (posted on my website), not one validly elected Pontiff in 2,000 years has contradicted or changed one article of doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. This is quite an amazing achievement, and it testifies to the infallibility of the Pope on matters ex-cathedra pertaining to faith and morals. Now, apart from faith (doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and articulated by the Magisterium) and morals (what is “good” over what is “bad”), the Pope may remain tacit or not choose to emphasize this or that issue pertaining to ethics (what is “right” over what is “wrong”), and this, sometimes on account of socio-political motives. Now, in answer to the question of whether one may be critical of the Pope in the arena of ethics, so long as one, in being critical of his advice, never loses sight of the fact that he is the Vicar of Christ on earth who possesses the charism of infallibility on matters ex cathedra pertaining to faith and morals, and whose non ex cathedra teachings on faith and morals are to be respected,1 it remains one’s prerogative to be so. Otherwise put, we are to walk the fine line Christ demanded of us when he spoke to his disciples in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt. 23:3); we must respect the Roman Pontiff in all things pertaining to faith and morals, while we may reserve such allegiance re. his advice in the arena of ethics which does not pertain to faith and morals. 1 "The bishops, when they are teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to the divine and catholic truth... The religious assent of the will and intellect is to be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Pontiff even when he is not speaking ex cathedra" (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vatican Council I, vol. II, op. cit., pp. cap. II-IV, p. 869). No less important to said allegiance or lack thereof is the intentionality and transparency of this Roman Pontiff that accompanies his faith and moral teachings and ethical advice. If few dare to make the baseless assertion that this Pontiff is deliberately seeking to mislead others in the political arena, many more will attest to the genuine nature of his love for the poor and simplicity and, as such, he and his teachings and advice should be viewed. To demand of this Pope the same theological exactness and precision with which we were endowed under the tutelage of the brilliant Pope Benedict XVI (the greatest papal theologian in Church history) is to do him a disservice.

    As to the approach of one openly badmouthing the Pope for his teachings on faith and morals or his advice on ethics, such an approach is contrary to God’s advice to his mystics whose writings are approved by the Church. I here recall God the Father’s advice to St. Catherine of Sienna on the approach all Christians ought to adopt in this regard:

    “[It] is My intention that Priests be held in due reverence, not for what they are in
    themselves, but for My sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these Priests fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my Priests are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of… My Son’s Body and Blood and of the other Sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good... [Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not My Will because they are My Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I
    have given them. You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy… You ought to despise and hate the Priests’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears. Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for
    them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to Me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them.” (Catherine of Siena; The Dialogue, translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., New York: Paulist Press, 1980, pp. 229-231).

    Cf. also the following link: http://www.hprweb.com/2007/03/the-danger-of-criticizing-bishopsand-

    In sum, God demands of his flock a genuine respect to his anointed, especially the Roman Pontiff, despite their imperfections. To correct the Pope in a respectful way is admirable, but to openly and publicly belittle his mistakes and encourage others to turn away from his papal teaching authority is nothing short of schismatic. For what pious child who sees his father not speaking when he ought or saying something that is incorrect (though the father believes what he says is correct), runs his mouth to the father or runs off to inform the other siblings of the father's mistake to his embarrassment? Would not the child, if he is pious, while acknowledging the father’s imprudent silence or incorrect speech with no disregard to the 4th commandment, question his father in a filial, and not a contemptuous, tone? Such ought to be our attitude toward every Roman Pontiff. Yes, it is a fine line we are asked to walk, but let us not forget that Jesus had already asked us to walk it.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Joseph
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
  2. CrewDog

    CrewDog Guest

    I will say again!! I have come to believe for a myriad of reasons ... News, Scripture, Seers, 60+ years of Human Experience, smart-n-trustworthy friends and .......... SHTF is here ... NOW!! ... and that may well mean ... Very Soon .... that you will have to depend upon The Faith instilled within you and a grassroots coalition of fellow believers/survivors ..... of all denominations if you live in The Bible Belt! The Pope and Bishop/Cardinal Whats-his-Name will be of no significance to you/your band..... Except that you may find time to hope-n-pray that they, like you, are doing their jobs, somewhere, to save-n-bring many to Christ!
    I know, I KNOW!!! Who wants to think about SHTF when we can do discourse on any number of other, less unpleasant, topics?

    Beth B, Julia, Sam and 1 other person like this.
  3. miker

    miker Powers

    Thanks for sharing this. I think it is spot on ! It reminded me of something that happened in my house with my oldest child. I handled a situation with her very poorly. I really was at that moment not being a good father. And she really threw it back in my face. And my wife stepped in, but not in an angry way, and said to my daughter- that no matter what, I was her father and always had her back. And even if this was a mistake, an error, she owed me respect because of my role and my position. She reminded my daughter that she could honor me not by berating me, but by praying for me and focusing on the good that I do. I think my wife has such wisdom. The pope is our Holy Father and I guess despite his human weaknesses, I love him and will honor him. Peace.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
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  4. lynnfiat

    lynnfiat Fiat Voluntas Tua

    Thank you and God bless you for this response. I will send your comment to Fr. Joe.
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  5. miker

    miker Powers

    Thanks and if can slip in a quick Hail Mary for me and family that would be so awesome :). Will pray for him too.
    Heidi and Infant Jesus of Prague like this.
  6. Fatima

    Fatima Powers

    For Mass this morning we had an old Irish priest, Father Funny:(. I don't know what is with some priests who seem to make fun of everything. Made fun of children going to confession and taking their time naming sins. Showed a picture of a nun in habit and called her an old goat. Then he thought we should all give money to his favorite charity. It reminded me of Garabandal's point in another thread where Pope Francis made fun of a young person holding his hands in prayer. What is going on is nothing less than an attack on piety, honesty, innocence and in some cases orthodoxy.

    I agree CrewDog, we are in the fight for our faith. I feel badly for those that don't know their faith well enough at this point to hold on to it through it all. I pray for Holy Father in every daily rosary as well as our Bishops and Priests, but it will be very difficult for many to hold on to their faith as the darkness grows ever darker around us.
  7. lynnfiat

    lynnfiat Fiat Voluntas Tua

    Miker, I sent Fr. Joseph your comment and his reply was "Amen!"
    I will include you and your family in a Rosary today. Please pray for Fr. Joseph's eyesight - he is having troubles and has much to do for Our Lord. God bless you.
    miker and Julia like this.
  8. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Perhaps you might mention Pope Liberius to Fr Joe, he might be interested Pope Liberius was the gentleman who excommunicated St Athanatius for heresy:


    'The infallibility of the papacy was therefore preserved even under Liberius' weak leadership. But Popes are not infallible when making excommunications, or any disciplinary judgment, for they are limited by the information they have on the individual or situation in question. They are only infallible in making doctrinal pronouncements ex cathedra. It is vitally important always to remember that the Pope has two kinds of authority, magisterial (when he is speaking ex cathedra, that is, in a way intended to be binding on the faithful), in which he is infallible; and administrative, as head of the Church appointed by Christ to govern it (which would include excommunications).'

    Liberius by the way was the first of the Early Popes not to have been canonised.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
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  9. davidtlig

    davidtlig Guest

    I think it is only fair to copy the following from the same EWTN website regarding this matter:

    It is true that St. Athanasius was condemned by Pope Liberius though he was the leader of the defenders of orthodoxy against Arianism at the time. Pope Liberius was a weak man (the first Pope after St. Peter never honored as a saint) and he was imprisoned and probably had been tortured to force him to support the Arian heresy, at the time he condemned St. Athansius. He was therefore obviously acting under duress, as St. Athanasius pointed out when he refused to accept the validity of the excommunication. Though Pope Liberius did condemn St. Athanasius under heavy pressure from his captors, he refused to sign a clearly Arian statement of faith, but did sign an equivocal statement which could be interpreted either in an orthodox or an Arian sense. The infallibility of the papacy was therefore preserved even under Liberius' weak leadership.​

    I've just noticed that the above is actually the first paragraph in Padraig's link. Nevertheless, I think it is worth pointing out that this case is almost unique and applies to a pope widely accepted as weak. Pope Francis can hardly be viewed as weak or wordly for that matter. That is why the current opposition to him is so disappointing to see.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2015
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  10. padraig

    padraig New Member

    'The infallibility of the papacy was therefore preserved even under Liberius' weak leadership.'

    Of course. I never suggested otherwise. You miss the point.

    There has never of course been a heretical Pope in the sense that he spoke ex cathedra heresy. That would be impossible,as it would be against the Doctrine of Papal Infallibilty. But there have been bad weak and wicked ones.

    Liberius is a very good example of a weak one. For instance in releasing an Encyclical excommunicating St Athanasius; who was of course perfectly Orthodox and a great saint. I am trying to indicate that a Pope is not infallible in everything he does.

    There seems to be some confusion between what a Pope says ex cathedra and what a Pope says otherwise.

    No one to the best of my knowledge has ever suggested that Pope Francis has released ex cathedra heretical teaching. That would be a nonsense of course.

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
  11. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Grant me a little knowledge of theology.:)
  12. DeGaulle

    DeGaulle Powers

    One of the best things I have ever read. God bless Rev. Joseph.
    lynnfiat and miker like this.
  13. kathy k

    kathy k Guest

    I don't believe I've heard anyone on this forum question the freedom to disagree with the Holy Father. What's distressing is the name-calling and bashing; declaring that he has evil intent or is seriously flawed in some way. Why would anyone thinking of converting do so, in light of some discussions here?

    St. Catherine of Siena spent so much time trying to reason with unreasonable Popes. She is a trusted guide in the arena. And I trust Fr. Joseph and his wisdom on this topic.

    We have a BIG God who is perfectly capable of perfect judgement and perfect justice. We all have a mission, and judging the Pope is not on the list!
  14. Mac

    Mac "To Jesus, through Mary"

    The big arm of our big God may soon be felt by all...and it wont be to give us a hug...

    St. Catherine of Siena

    “We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.”

    Pope Felix III

    “Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and indeed to neglect to confound evil men when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.”

    Pope Leo I

    “He that sees another in error and endeavors not to correct it, testifies himself to be in error.”

    Pope St. Pius V

    “All the evils of the world are due to lukewarm Catholics.”

    Pope St. Pius X

    “All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easygoing weakness of Catholics.”

    1 Timothy 5:20

    “When they sin rebuke them in the presence of all, that the rest also may have fear.”

    Proverbs 17:15

    “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, both are abominable before God.”

    Let us invoke the intercession
    of the Holy Saints in these “Last Times”.
  15. kathy k

    kathy k Guest

    Careful, Mac. The word of God is a double edged sword.
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  16. Julia

    Julia Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

    Just wondering, hearing criticism of Holy Father. The Bible tells us that if someone offends us or in this case says or does something we believe to be wrong or against our Faith or understanding. We are instructed to speak to that person and let them know what our problem is with them, so they can defend themselves. :(

    How does that work with the Holy Father. Or is he just a punch bag for our frustrations, while we await in joyful hope the coming of the Lord. :notworthy:
  17. Mac

    Mac "To Jesus, through Mary"

    I am trying to be careful Kathy. Very careful.

    “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, both are abominable before God.”

    If I breach this I hope you will let me know.
  18. Joe Crozier

    Joe Crozier Guest

    Hi my good friend,
    I wonder is these holy people would be happy with the way their words are being used?
    Old Hot head.
    Mac likes this.
  19. Mac

    Mac "To Jesus, through Mary"

    I would never suggest a punch bag. At the same time I can see members getting sick and tired of trying to defend the indefensible. Every week a new speech from Pope Francis causes confusion. Here is the latest one...http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/11/pope-francis-orders-no-conversions-in.html
    little me likes this.
  20. Mac

    Mac "To Jesus, through Mary"

    Of course they would be happy Joe.
    That is why you dont see Cardinal Kasper and his mates using them.

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015

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