Sorry — but Pope Francis is no liberal

Trendy commentators have fallen in love with a pope of their own invention

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

On the last day of 2013, one of the weirdest religious stories for ages appeared on the news wires. The Vatican had officially denied that Pope Francis intended to abolish sin. It sounded like a spoof, but wasn’t. Who had goaded the Vatican into commenting on something so improbable? It turned out to be one of Italy’s most distinguished journalists: Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder of the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica, who had published an article entitled ‘Francis’s Revolution: he has abolished sin’.

Why would anyone, let alone a very highly regarded thinker and writer like Scalfari, believe the Pope had done away with such a basic tenet of Christian theology? Well, since he took charge last year, Francis has been made into a superstar of the liberal left. His humble background (he is a former bouncer), his dislike for the trappings of office (he cooks his own spaghetti) and his emphasis on the church’s concern for the poor has made liberals, even atheists like Scalfari, suppose that he is as hostile to church dogma as they are. They assume, in other words, that the Pope isn’t Catholic. Last year few left-leaning commentators could resist falling for the foot-washing Jesuit from Buenos Aires. In column after column they projected their deepest hopes on to Francis — he is, they think, the man who will finally bring enlightened liberal values to the Catholic church.

In November Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland argued that Francis was ‘the obvious new hero of the left’ and that portraits of the Supreme Pontiff should replace fading Obama posters on ‘the walls of the world’s student bedrooms’. Just days later Francis preached a homily denouncing what he called ‘adolescent progressivism’, but people see and hear what they want to, so no one took any notice of that.

That is how the Pope has come to be spun as a left-liberal idol. Whenever he proves himself loyal to Catholic teaching — denouncing abortion, for instance, or saying that same-sex marriage is an ‘anthropological regression’ — his liberal fan base turns a deaf ear. Last month America’s oldest gay magazine, the Advocate, hailed Francis as its person of the year because of the compassion he had expressed towards homosexuals. It was hardly a revolution: Article 2358 of the Catholic church’s catechism calls for gay people to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’. In simply restating Catholic teaching, however, Francis was hailed as a hero. When a Maltese bishop said the Pope had told him he was ‘shocked’ by the idea of gay adoption, that barely made a splash. Time magazine, too, made Francis person of the year, hailing him for his ‘rejection of Church dogma’ — as if he had declared that from now on there would be two rather than three Persons of the Holy Trinity. But for cockeyed lionisation of Francis it would be hard to beat the editors of Esquire, who somehow managed to convince themselves that a figure who wears the same outfit every day was the best dressed man of 2013.

Some pundits have noticed the gulf between what you might call the Fantasy Francis — the figure conjured up by liberal imagination — and the actual occupant of the Chair of St Peter. James Bloodworth, editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward, recently urged his journalistic allies to show some restraint. ‘Pope Francis’s position on most issues should make the hair of every liberal curl,’ he wrote. ‘Instead we get article after article of saccharine from people who really should know better.’

Is Bloodworth’s remark a sign of a coming secular backlash against the new Pope? For a while, it seemed inevitable that the new Pope’s fans would come to realise he is not about to bless women bishops, condom use, gay marriage and abortion — and then they would turn on him. Now, that seems unlikely. Having invented the Fantasy Francis, his liberal well-wishers may never want to kill off their creation.

Consider the Obama analogy. Like Francis, the US president was a telegenic figure who followed an unpopular predecessor with a promise of radical change. Like Francis, he rose to worldwide prominence with incredible speed, bringing a complicated personal history that could be read in multiple ways. And like Francis, he inspired an almost eerie consensus among the commentariat. The most influential media outlets decided he was essentially a decent guy and judged him thereafter on his intentions rather than his achievements, blamed his failures largely on his enemies and backed him whenever he needed it most. Francis is not, of course, the new Obama, but he enjoys the same charmed relationship with journalists. Yes, the honeymoon will end, as it did with the president, but this looks like the start of a happy, lifelong marriage.

There’s only one case I can think of in which the media would turn on Francis: in the unlikely event that his private character were dramatically at odds with his public persona. He would have to be caught, say, building a death ray in the Vatican Gardens. (Even then some outlets would present it in the best possible light: ‘Pope Francis develops radical cure for human suffering.’)

Journalists also have a clear economic motive for sticking with the Fantasy Francis narrative: people will pay to read about it. After all, he was the most discussed person on the internet last year. Post a cute photo of him hugging a child, or posing for a ‘selfie’ with young admirers in the Vatican, and you’ll see a satisfying spike in page views. Francis has become one of the world’s most reliable online commodities. What sensible hack would want to threaten that?

Actually, Pope Francis has already survived a secular backlash. Barely an hour after he first appeared on the balcony above St Peter’s Square last March, the editor of the Guardian tweeted: ‘Was Pope Francis an accessory to murder and false imprisonment?’ The answer was ‘no’, of course. But allegations about Francis’s behaviour during Argentina’s Dirty War featured in bulletins for the next 24 hours, before fizzling out. The backlash lasted one entire news cycle. The idea of a left-wing pope, who had come to tear down the temple he inherited, turned out to be a far better story.

Perhaps the real challenge for the Pope this year will come from a different quarter. In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis criticised ‘trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice’. In classic Vatican style, that was a mistranslation of the original Spanish, which rejected the theory that ‘economic growth, encouraged by a free market alone’, would ensure more justice.

Such nuances didn’t concern the American conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who accused the Pontiff of espousing ‘pure Marxism’. Clearly this was just another version of the Fantasy Francis — a misapprehension of the man and his message that the Catholic hierarchy has done little to correct. But there is a price to be paid in allowing such myths to grow — a price that may have been paid, for example, by the Archdiocese of New York, which may have lost a seven-figure donation. According to Ken Langone, who is trying to raise $180 million to restore the city’s Catholic cathedral, one potential donor said he was so offended by the Pope’s alleged comments that he was reluctant to chip in.

Under Francis, the church is deeply committed to what theologians call ‘the preferential option for the poor’. But in order to opt for the poor, the church has to court the super-rich. A few generous multi-millionaires, for example, fund most of the major Catholic initiatives in England and Wales (including a significant part of Benedict XVI’s state visit in 2010). If just one of them was put off by the distorted ‘Marxist’ image of Francis, the church here would be in trouble.

Of course if those who caricature the church as bigoted and uncaring are forced to take a second look, then Pope Francis can claim he is doing his job. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, says that Roman Catholicism had been ‘out-marketed’ by its Hollywood critics — but now Pope Francis is changing the tone, without changing the substance.

But while the Pontiff has succeeded in appealing to those outside the church, his boldness has upset some within it. The Vatican analyst John Allen describes this as the Pope’s ‘older son problem’ — a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the faithful brother gripes when his father welcomes back the wayward one. Allen writes that ‘Francis basically has killed the fatted calf for the prodigal sons and daughters of the postmodern world, reaching out to gays, women, non-believers, and virtually every other constituency inside and outside the church that has felt alienated.’ But some Catholics feel Francis is taking their loyalty for granted. ‘In the Gospel parable,’ Allen notes, ‘the father eventually notices his older son’s resentment and pulls him aside to assure him: “Everything I have is yours.” At some stage, Pope Francis may need to have such a moment with his own older sons (and daughters).’

You might think: why bother? The Pope should be focused on reaching out to the alienated, rather than on tending his followers’ wounded egos and stressing that he has not come to tear down Catholic teaching. But Francis needs an eager workforce if he is to realise his beautiful vision of the church as ‘a field hospital after battle’.

Catholics are having just as much trouble as everyone else distinguishing the real Francis. Just last week a devout, well–informed laywoman asked me if it was true that Francis had denied the existence of hell. It turned out that the Pope had overturned 2,000 years of Christian teaching at the end of the ‘Third Vatican Council’ — as reported exclusively by the ‘largely satirical’ blog Diversity Chronicle.

The true Francis will be moving fast throughout this year. The 77-year-old knows he must quickly finish the financial reforms launched by his predecessor Benedict XVI, overhaul the Roman Curia (which liberals and conservatives agree is in desperate need of reform), impose rigorous global norms on the handling of clerical sex abuse cases, continue to press for peace in Syria, nudge Israelis and Palestinians closer to an agreement during his Holy Land visit and oversee a contentious synod of bishops that could shift the Church’s approach to divorced and remarried Catholics.

Meanwhile, the Fantasy Francis will continue to throw out dogmas, agitate for class war and set trends in men’s fashion. But don’t be fooled: this is as much of a media-driven illusion as the idea that the Catholic church is obsessed by sex and money. What matters is what the real Francis says and does. And that should be more interesting than even the most gripping invention.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Luke Coppen is editor of the Catholic Herald.

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Show comments
  • Beverly Stevens

    I really DO hope you are right. VERY well-written. At Regina Magazine, we cover the Pope very gingerly because it is really hard to tell who he IS, and what he is SAYING.

    • FrankieThompson

      He’s preaching the Gospel, Beverly.

      • Beverly Stevens

        Wow, man. How cool.

      • Rhoslyn Thomas

        Well, he is currently preaching parts of it. Some bits get emphasised more than others.

      • dan

        Amen, Amen, Amen

      • “The Gospel”, Frankie? In its entirety? Or just whichever parts of The Gospel are most socially expedient?

  • FrankieThompson

    Very good article.

    The” liberal left” are so unsure of their own creed( knowing, in their heart of hearts that their “ideology”, such as it is after being irradiated by the fall of communism, is a moral shell) they are attempting to co-opt the Pope , in a desperate attempt to acquire some moral and ethical sensibility, something they lack entirely.

    What the Pope is saying is very simple really. This Judaeo-Christian stuff, which has been around a while, tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves, endeavour to love our enemies, have faith, hope, and generally try to lead a decent life while not putting ourselves first all the time.

    “Liberal-leftism” tells us none of these things. There is no narrative of love in the materialistic worldview, other than the type of nonsense about love one can read in Dawkins’ excerable book The God Delusion. Hope you can forget, and as for faith, that is a swear word used only pejoratively. Those are the depths to which “The West” has plunged. And with no objective morality, what you end up with is the desperate wishful thinking about a Pope with the same substance as before, but with a different, and very engaging, style. It’s not surprise that style has triumphed over substance for this lot. Their whole worldview is predicated on such.

    • Bruce Lewis

      The belief in the inerrancy of the “market” to resolve all human problems IS a “materialist” ideology.The pope is as much against “neo-liberal economics” as he is against Marxism–as were his predecessors, going all the way back to Leo XIII.

      • FrankieThompson


    • Dan Josselyn

      I am a liberal/leftist and I have no idea what you are talking about. 99% of the people on the left are NOT communists therefore the fall of communism was meaningless to us. And most of us do believe in loving your neighbor and loving even your enemies, although like everyone else we fail to put that into practice as often as we should. I wasn’t feeling much love from you in this post, it sounded a little more like judgmental contempt. My apologies if I misread you, but I felt a little slandered. For some of us on the left, belief in God is the source of our sense of morality, for many others it’s the Categorical imperative as formulated by Kant, which is very similar to the golden rule. Kant was himself a deeply religious man, but he strove to find a non-religious grounding for morality, and he succeeded. Still others find a reason to love and be decent moral people through the teachings of humanists like Confucious, who also taught the Golden Rule. To say we are desperately trying to acquire some moral and ethical sensibility which we entirely lack may be true of the straw man liberal you have created in your head, but that caricature has little or nothing to do with me and my fellow liberals.

      • FrankieThompson

        I think you’re making my point very well.

        • Dan Josselyn

          If your point is that your post was sinfully judgmental, arrogant, and wrong, then yes, I did.

          • FrankieThompson

            Ach, you’re a poor wee soul. Imagine anyone being judgmental.

          • Dan Josselyn

            I love you

          • FrankieThompson

            Why ?

          • Dan Josselyn

            Because you are a living, thinking, feeling creature, just like me. And I feel bad for you, I think you need a hug.

          • FrankieThompson

            If that’s your reason, it is not necessary.

          • Dan Josselyn

            I know it isn’t necessary, that’s what made it such a beautiful gesture on my part!

          • FrankieThompson

            Loving another human being can never be a gesture, surely?

            I know you’re being witty but a serious point is raised. I am told to love my neighbour, as myself, both in the Hebrew Bible and by Jesus of Nazareth. My attempt to follow His teachings is why I love my neighbour as myself, or at least try to.
            Why do you say you love me other than because you think it might make me feel better?

            My initial post was not to impugn your integrity, although you seem to have taken it that way. The point was to say that your relativist philosophy, which is sui generis, allows you to love or not to love. I’m not allowed that choice.

          • Dan Josselyn

            Ok, first question: Loving another human can never be a gesture? It depends on how broadly you are using the word gesture, this sounds like semantics to me, but love is a lot more than the word gesture normally implies, so I’m not really disagreeing with you here, I’m not agreeing either, I’m just not interested pursuing it. Second question, There are several reasons why I love you, ONE of them is because the Hebrew bible and Jesus tell me to. I am a lifelong Christian, I go to an Anglo-Catholic parish, and just returned from a Society of Mary meeting, may faith is important to me. I do not see it as a pejorative swear, and I am certainly not the only liberal that has faith. You were factually mistaken about that. There are other reasons, including the one I already gave: you are a fellow living, thinking, feeling creature just like me. I have empathy for my fellow humans and empathy is a naturally occurring trait that most humans possess that has real evolutionary benefits. This is a biological reason to love you. I also love you because it makes good logical sense: we don’t live in a vacuum, we are part of a civilization that has been around a long time and has done amazing things, and as a people, we’ve done them together. I believe in the reality of human progress and believe progress is only possible if people extend to each other the same dignity and respect they would hope others would extend to them. This is a what Kant tried to get at, and he wanted to find a non religious reason for it, and he succeeded in the form of the categorical imperative. It’s hard to treat others the way you would like to be treated if you don’t love them, if you DO love them, it’s easier, and the world becomes a better place. Your stated reason for loving is because you were told to do so, and to me that doesn’t really sound like love, it just sounds like following orders. I think if you searched your heart, you would find even more reasons for loving others. It would be sad if you can’t. Finally, I would like to point out that you did impugn my integrity, and the integrity of other liberals with your initial post, that much is not open to debate. Re read your post, then re read what I just said about why I love you and ask yourself again if you think it was fair. It was not, you slandered the people you disagree with. If you loved us as you were commanded, you would not have done that. And I still think you could use a hug!

          • FrankieThompson

            I am not averse to hugs Dan, but I certainly don’t require one just now I can re-assure you.
            My initial post was in order to highlight the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of what I, perhaps wrongly called the “liberal left”. You , being a Christian ipso facto, are not part of what I was attacking. A more accurate description of my target would be “atheistic amorality” which seems to be the prevailing ideology, if you could call it that, of most of the writers on the broadsheets large swathes of the major political parties and the public services, people impressed by the juvenile scribblings of Richard Dawkins, people who think Professor Brian Cox is a real intellectual, people who find Mock the Week and Radio 4 comedy funny, people who think Stephen Fry is actually a very intelligent person,and people who think a right to choose, without defining what the choice is, is an actual, valid and enforceable right. That seems to be the extent of this ideology.
            Of course, the teachings of the Lord Buddha are substantial and of great moment. Of course the Chinese religions/philosophies are a source of great wisdom and insight. Of course the glories of India and the Hindu scriptures are awe-inspiring. Of course, the very best non-Marxist socialists, and social democrats, and liberals have contributed much to humanity.
            But the prevailing “ideology” in the society I live in now is one so solipsistic as to be meaningless. That’s not to say that all atheists are immoral or anything like it. But the stripped down “atheism”, so fashionable nowadays, is , as I said, a moral shell. And your assertion that love has some kind of evolutionary basis? I think we’d need more data for that!
            I don’t know whether you have ever read The God Delusion. If you’ve got it, turn to the pages where Dawkins writes about love. And see what an intellectual, never mind moral, mess it is.
            When Jesus tells us to love one another, to love our neighbours as ourselves, to love our enemies, to forgive our trespassers, to hope, to have faith, He is asking so much of us it can be very hard to bear. But try we must. The prevailing ideology in this society tells us what we think and feel, at any given time, must be right because we are thinking and feeling it. And that is how shallow it is.

          • Bruce Lewis

            I think you must be a very nice person.

          • Dan Josselyn

            Because you are a living, thinking, feeling creature, just like me. And I feel bad for you, I think you need a hug.

      • Kant’s non-religious ground for morality fails because moral relativism can’t have a right if it can’t have a wrong.

        Right and wrong exist regardless of who liberals want to get married.

        • @SarcasticSloth

          but inherently all moral outlooks are relativistic. Regardless if you acknowledge they are, are pressured by society into accepting them, or seriously believe an invisible skyman enforces them.

          And thus nihilism has prevailed once again.

          • No, not all are. Some are downright scientific.

          • Fernando Garcia

            I have learned for myself that your beliefs are not true.

            “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the
            work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies
            may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth
            boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent,
            visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till
            the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall
            say the work is done.”

        • Dan Josselyn

          You’ve never read Kant. He very definitely believed in right and wrong. He arrives at basically the same moral teaching you find in Confucius and the Sermon on the Mount: treat others with the same dignity and respect that you would want them to treat you with.

        • 90Lew90

          Moral relativism is shades of gray. What you describe is moral absolutism.

          • Moral absolutism is exactly what is reality. Shades of grey are just excuses for bad behavior.

          • 90Lew90

            No, reality of shades of gray. And what Kant offered was the categorical imperative — another formulation of “do unto others”. Not much different from your own Jesus’s formula.

          • Ethics are right or wrong. For everybody. Allow shades of grey, you WILL guarantee that actions that are evil will be committed.

          • 90Lew90

            If only the world was as simple as you make out. Ethics is not simply right or wrong, but recognises the complexities inherent in reaching the best possible decision on a given issue. If all things were simply right or simply wrong, there would be no need for the considerations of ethicists. I would have thought that was obvious.

            Take, for instance, the “trolley problem”.

            It’s a lovely day out, and you decide to go for a walk along the trolley tracks that crisscross your town. As you walk, you hear a trolley behind you, and you step away from the tracks. But as the trolley gets closer, you hear the sounds of panic — the five people on board are shouting for help. The trolley’s brakes have gone out, and it’s gathering speed.

            You find that you just happen to be standing next to a side track that veers into a sand pit, potentially providing safety for the trolley’s five passengers. All you have to do is pull a hand lever to switch the tracks, and you’ll save the five people. Sounds easy, right? But there’s a problem. Along this offshoot of track leading to the sandpit stands a man who is totally unaware of the trolley’s problem and the action you’re considering. There’s no time to warn him. So by pulling the lever and guiding the trolley to safety, you’ll save the five passengers. But you’ll kill the man. What do you do?

          • “If all things were simply right or simply wrong, there would be no need for the considerations of ethicists.”

            There is no need for the consideration of atheistic ethicists.

            Knowing God’s will is a bit harder.

            The trolley problem has a simple solution- jump in front of the trolley yourself.

          • 90Lew90

            Chortle. Yeah yeah. Nicely ducked. Not very convincing. The point of the problem is that you make a choice. You don’t have the option to jump. As if you would. Balls would you. I mean, imagine you saved an atheist. Or an abortion doctor.
            Anyway, nice chatting to you. Or rather it wasn’t. Even religious people in the UK can usually come up with something resembling a decent debate. You? Cuckoo. Quite depressingly stupid.

          • My point is, when faced with the Kobayashi Maru, change the rules.

            I’d gladly save ANY human being, because they are human. Too bad you can’t say the same.

          • 90Lew90

            What I say is that you’re full of shit.

          • What makes you think I care what a person advocating the murder of the unborn says?

          • 90Lew90

            Quote me where I advocated the murder of the unborn. You argue like a 13-year-old. If that’s not being unkind to 13-year-olds. Mad…

    • Zimbalist

      Excellent comment.

  • Boras

    Probably the best article about the Pope since he was elected. Great article!

    • $54737469

      Maybe, but if I was Pope Francis, I’d hire a food taster and not take tea and cookies before bedtime.

      • Boras

        I think eating in the canteen with the rest of the staff was a clever move on his part, even if not because of concerns for his safety. I’d love to see him lining up with a canteen tray, that would be hilarious. 🙂 The star wars video with Eddy Izzard springs to mind – youtube it.

    • Irishpol

      I don’t know; I think that if I’m going to read pure fantasy and joyfully engage in plain old wishful thinking, I would prefer something more on the order ofJ.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. Now that’s fantasy that you can believe in!

      • Anthony

        J.R.R Tolkien is Catholic

        • BlackJack007

          His mother who was disowned by her in-laws for being Catholic but she raised him in the Faith anyway. He later dedicated his Lord of the Rings Trilogy to the Blessed Mother.

    • BlackJack007

      The article is certainly the most realistic. I am posting this comment in May and the liberals continue to think the Pope is one of their own.

  • Bruce Lewis

    Article 2358 of the Catholic church’s catechism calls for gay people to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’.

    Treating the “same-sex-attracted” with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” should not include barring chaste homosexual candidates from the sacerdotal order because they are “intrinsically disordered,” as Benedict XVI tried to do. That way, the Church might never have had a Gerard Manley Hopkins, or, possibly, a John Henry Newman. Want to place bets on whether Francis I Bergoglio will enforce this misguided Ratzinger decision?

    • Rhoslyn Thomas

      What evidence do you have that Blessed John Henry Newman was attracted to other men? Oh, that’s right…none. And, given that Newman was totally straight down the line orthodox, I doubt very much that he would agree with you.

      When you’re on a diet, trying to avoid what you want but you know you shouldn’t have, do you spend all your time in your favourite café or restaurant, or do you avoid temptation?

      • Bruce Lewis

        Newman’s request to be buried with the friend who was the love of his life. Newman’s pejorative remarks about the connubial state as an impediment to spiritual development–and I never said that he acted on any one of his highly emotional same-sex attractions–as neither did Hopkins. However, the belief that Newman’s entire emotional life was “oriented” toward members of his same sex, and never toward women is standard, now, in much of the scholarship.

        • Chris Grady

          An intrinsically disordered Oratorian? Really?

        • Bruce Lewis

          Oh, and so long as you agree that Newman’s statement in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk that conscience takes precedence over the Magisterium in determining an individual’s moral judgement–he even said therein that to violate one’s conscience in order to obey certain decrees of the Roman Catholic Magisterium would be a mortal sin, IF one believes them to be erroneous or immoral (look it up)–then I agree with you about his “orthodoxy.”

          But, in truth, Newman is that chief Doctor of the Church from whom proceed the changes regarding the collegiality of bishops and the exoneration of the Jews of deicide–which, indeed, ARE “developments” of ecclesial theology. And that means that Newman was NOT “straight down the line orthodox,” in terms of the “orthodoxy” of HIS time–and “orthodox” in terms only of OUR time–and of the general direction of the DEVELOPING spirit of the Church.

          • Blessed John Newman is not a “Doctor of the Church” and did not develop any doctrine. Orthodox for his time is the same as orthodox for our time- because dogma does not change.

          • Bruce Lewis

            No, he didn’t “develop” any “doctrine”; instead, in a book called The Development of Doctrine, he pointed out that the Catholic and Apostolic Church had done so, and had the license from Christ to do so–unlike Fundamentalist and textual literalist Christian denominations. And if he ain’t a “Doctor of the Church” officially yet, believe me, he will be.

          • The title “Doctor of the Church” is reserved for those saints who actually do *develop new doctrine*. What he discovered in the development of doctrine in Anglicanism and Catholicism was well known for a good 1500 years before he wrote about it.

          • Bruce Lewis

            Not to Protestant Fundamentalists and ultramontane Catholics, it wasn’t.

          • I take it back, you’re right. Which I should have known, being a bit of an ultramontaine myself.


            The only requirements are: eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, Ecclesiae declaratio (i.e. eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity, and proclamation by the Church)

            But I’d still point out that Cardinal John Newman fails in Ecclesiae declaratio. And if he truly was homosexual, he may forever be a bit limited in that respect (there are many other men who have not been honored by the church due to personal failings).

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            I love Newman but I don’t pretend to know things that he never expressed or to know that he will be a Doctor of the Church. Let’s just go on what we actually do know: Newman was totally faithful to the teaching of the Church in its entirety. As he said, “A thousand difficulties do not make one doubt”.

            I’d like to look into what you said he wrote about the Magisterium because that makes no sense. If the Church teaches something which is not true, I.e. a lie, how can it possibly be the Church which Jesus assured us would not falter? Newman converted for a Church whose teaching authority is fallible? Right…

          • Bruce Lewis

            I am going to quote extensively from the Newman
            text in question, so that I not be accused of misrepresenting or quoting out of

            …Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness,
            nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and
            rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and, even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.

            …there is no scoffing of any Pope, in formal documents addressed to the faithful at large, at that most serious doctrine, the right and the duty of following that Divine Authority, the voice of conscience, on which in truth the Church herself is built.

            …Though Revelation is so distinct from the teaching of nature and beyond it, yet it is not independent of it, nor without relations towards it, but is its complement, reassertion, issue, embodiment, and interpretation. THE POPE, WHO COMES OF REVELATION, HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER NATURE. If, under the plea of his revealed prerogatives, he neglected his mission of preaching truth, justice, mercy, and peace, much more if he trampled on the consciences of his subjects,—if he had done so all along, as Protestants say, then he could not have lasted all these many centuries till now, so as to supply a mark for their reprobation.

            If in a particular case it is to be taken as a
            sacred and sovereign monitor, its dictate, in order to prevail against the voice of the Pope, must follow upon serious thought, prayer, and all available means of arriving at a right judgment on the matter in question.
            And further, obedience to the Pope is what is called “in possession;” that is, the onus probandi of establishing a case against him lies, as in all cases of exception, on the side of conscience. Unless a man is able to say to himself, as in the Presence of God, that he must not, and dare not, act upon the Papal injunction, he is bound to obey it, and would commit a great sin in disobeying it.

            …On the duty of obeying our conscience at all

            …I have already quoted the words which Cardinal Gousset has adduced from the Fourth Lateran; that “He who acts against his conscience loses his soul.” This dictum is brought out with singular fulness and force in the moral treatises of theologians. The celebrated school, known as the Salmanticenses, or Carmelites of Salamanca, lays down the broad proposition, that conscience is ever to be obeyed whether it tells truly or erroneously, and that, whether the error is the fault of the person thus erring or not.… They say that this opinion is certain, and refer, as agreeing with them, to St. Thomas, St. Bonaventura,
            Caietan, Vasquez, Durandus, Navarrus, Corduba, Layman, Escobar, and fourteen others. Two of them even say this opinion is de fide. Of course, if a man is culpable in being in error, which he might have escaped, had he been more in earnest, for that error he is answerable to God, but still HE MUST ACT ACCORDING TO THAT ERROR WHILE HE IS IN
            IT, because he in full sincerity thinks the error to be truth.

            Antonio Corduba, a Spanish Franciscan, states the doctrine with still more point, because he makes mention of Superiors. “In no manner is it lawful to act against conscience, even though a Law, or a Superior commands it.”—De Conscient.,
            p. 138.

            And the French Dominican, Natalis Alexander:—“If, in the judgment of conscience, through a mistaken
            conscience, a man is persuaded that what his Superior commands is displeasing to God, he is bound not to obey.”—Theol. t. 2, p. 32.

            The word “Superior” certainly includes the Pope; Cardinal Jacobatius brings out this point clearly in his authoritative work on Councils, which is contained in Labbe’s Collection, introducing the Pope by name:—“If it were doubtful,” he says, “whether a precept [of the Pope] be a sin or not, we must determine thus:—that, if he to whom the precept is addressed has a conscientious sense that it is a sin and injustice, first it is duty to put off that sense; but, if he cannot, nor conform himself to the judgment of the Pope, in that case it is his duty to follow his own private conscience, and patiently to bear it, if the Pope punishes him.”—lib. iv. p. 241.

            …if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink—to the Pope, if you please,—still, to Conscience
            first, and to the Pope afterwards.

            —JohnHenry Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk

            I and great numbers of other Catholics MUST NOT and DARE NOT–to paraphrase the Blessed John Henry Newman–act against our conscience when it tell us that the current teaching of the Magisterium, that a predisposition to same-sex-love is an intrinsic evil. Newman may be our authority in maintaining that our consciences are right and that the popes are, in this particular case, wrong in attempting to claim “jurisdiction over nature.”

          • Sue Sims

            Bruce Lewis: has it not struck you as you quoted at length from the ‘Letter to the Duke of Norfolk’ that the very extracts you quoted, when put into context, defeat your argument? For instance, one notes that you refrained from defining or discussing what ‘conscience’ actually is, something that Newman, an excellent philosopher, did not neglect. For instance:
            ‘…conscience is not a judgment upon any speculative truth, any abstract doctrine, but bears immediately on conduct, on something to be done or not done. “Conscience,” says St. Thomas, “is the practical judgment or dictate of reason, by which we judge what hic et nunc is to be done as being good, or to be avoided as evil.” Hence conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility; which is engaged in general propositions, and in the condemnation of particular and given errors.’

            Newman nowhere – NOWHERE – suggests that doctrine or moral teaching can be part of the remit of conscience: in fact, as far as his discussion goes, the ‘duty of disobedience’ when conscience demands is purely the duty of refraining from actions which a superior commands and which the subject knows to be sin. (This was, of course, one of the main points of the ‘Letter’, which was written to convince Gladstone and the British people that there was no contradiction between the newly-defined Papal infallibility and British citizenship.)

            Again, you carefully refrain from providing the examples which Newman gives:

            ‘Thus, if the Pope told the English Bishops to order their priests to stir themselves energetically in favour of teetotalism, and a particular priest was fully persuaded that abstinence from wine, &c., was practically a Gnostic error, and therefore felt he could not so exert himself without sin; or suppose there was a Papal order to hold lotteries in each mission for some religious object, and a priest could say in God’s sight that he believed lotteries to be morally wrong, that priest in either of these cases would commit a sin hic et nunc if he obeyed the Pope, whether he was right or wrong in his opinion, and, if wrong, although he had not taken proper pains to get at the truth of the matter.’ Are you suggesting, Mr Lewis, that abstaining from buggery is practically a Gnostic error?

            Your understanding of ‘conscience’ seems to be the precise one which Newman condemns earlier in the same chapter: “the right of thinking, speaking, writing, and acting, according to their judgment or their humour, without any thought of God at all.” What you are effectively saying is “I don’t think sodomy is wrong, so Catholic teaching is wrong.” That has nothing whatsoever to do with conscience as discussed by Newman, as should be clear from the quotations above, Magisterial teaching on faith and morals is not something which ‘the aboriginal Vicar of Christ’ can judge.

            Finally, you misquote and misrepresent the teaching of the Church in the Catechism, which never calls homosexual attraction ‘intrinsically evil’. The attraction is ‘objectively disordered’; the acts are ‘intrinsically disordered’. The word ‘evil’ is never used of any aspect of homosexual attraction or behaviour.

            So please, don’t try and recruit Blessed John Henry Newman to your cause. It doesn’t work.

          • Bruce Lewis

            For your information, I DO think the act of “sodomy” is as objectively wrong as, say, the act of heterosexual cunnilingus. I just don’t agree with barring candidates from the sacerdotal state on account of a “condition” that is no more “intrinsically disordered” than lusting after a heterosexual connection is. And, as for the semantics you play with the “duty of disobedience,” the “duty” is not to support, for instance, the sacking of a fine school administrator because he got married to a man–considering that the “marriage” is no sacramental marriage at all, and is only the piece of paper that confirms an American citizen’s right to the same serial monogamy that all the other Americans practise so that they might have legal and tax benefits and get the divorce that most of the rest of the “normal” Americans get–plus the “duty of disobedience” that is incumbent in pointing out the hypocrisy of a Church that would offer the poor vice principal reinstatement, if he would “divorce” his partner.THAT is the “duty of disobedience” that obviously falls under Newman’s definition.

        • Rhoslyn Thomas

          Did he say this man was the love of his life? Nope. Is it possible for a man to be sensitive without having same sex attraction? Yes. Does being buried with someone of the same sex mean that you were attracted to them? No.

          • Bruce Lewis

            It means you loved him. How can someone love someone without being “attracted” to almost everything about him or her?

          • If you’ve never experienced lust, then I know of no way to describe it to you.

          • Bruce Lewis

            You may be right: I have actually never experienced lust except in the context of love. I am incapable of “lusting” after someone I don’t already love. It’s a blessing.

          • Tridentinus

            Then you are a truly remarkable individual.

    • Gabriel Carranza

      As it turns out, you can be gay and in the Catholic Church. Its doing gay things and acting on the impulses that is barred.

      • Bruce Lewis

        Absolutely. That’s what I meant.

    • autdrew

      From my understanding, this was done because of the scandals. Despite the label pedophile priest affixed by the media, most cases involved gay clergy preying on teen or preteen boys. The label distracted from the actual problem. There is a segment of the gay male population who are attracted to pubescent boys and wish to introduce them, so to speak. This type of abuse was far more prevalent than true pedophilia (adult, pre pubescent child) & also, not anywhere close to the same number of girls having been abused. Female complaints were much fewer.
      Either way, it was obviously wrong and a sin. However, I think once the Holy Father had the #’s & evidence before him, he made the right if not popular, rule.

      • Bruce Lewis

        The “Holy Father” made a “rule” that would have the practical effect of keeping some of the best and holiest priests I’ve ever known out of the ranks of the sacerdotal. It would have kept Gerard Manley Hopkins out, and it would have kept Father Judge, the priest who gave his life for others on 9/11, out. It was a foolish and cruel over-reaction, and it affirmed the homophobic bigotry of many of the lay folk in the pews.

        • autdrew

          I have no doubt that there have been many fine, holy priests with same sex attraction that they deal with.
          If the Pope had the information that laid out the details regarding the connection between gay, adult priests abusing pubescent boys, what would you have him do? The Church was accused of not doing enough when they found out about all of the abuse. They were excoriated ( & still are) by anti Catholics and the press for “doing nothing”. The Pope did something the people were demanding, stopping the abuse of children by the clergy. What else could he do, given the evidence that this was going on for decades? If for some reason the evidence indicated that all the offenders (or most) were ginger haired, I’m sure he would exclude gingers from the priesthood to prevent more abuse. It is a very difficult situation and I do not envy him for having to make the decision.
          It isn’t even really possible to take it on a case by case basis because then a young person would have to be harmed in order to know.
          I do not agree with the comment about affirming the homophobic bigotry of many of the lay folk in the pews. I have not met every Catholic, as I am sure you haven’t either, and when we do meet, we do not talk about our sexual attractions ,much less other people. I concede that there are indeed bigots in the pews, as there are in all walks of life. Bigotry is not consistent with Christian values. There may be some who are indeed “homophobic” ( irrational fear of homosexuals), but I do not believe they are the “many” you claim.
          As we know, the Church has said that same sex attraction is not a sin. The sin is in how one deals with it. The Church has taught that sex is meant to be between a husband and a wife. All sex outside marriage is considered immoral and sinful. Jesus Christ gave us an even harder standard when he said that if one looks at another with lust, they have committed adultery. The Church has always taught that marriage is between one man & one woman. That does not equal homophobia (irrational fear of homosexuals) or bigotry.
          The lay people in the pews do not have an irrational fear of homosexuals and are not bigots because they believe what the Church has always taught. If those people started attacking gay people physically or hating them, they are committing grave, mortal sins. We are taught to love the sinner but we do not have to accept their sin. It is the immortal souls that the Church and the lay people care about, theirs and everyone in the world. If they admonish a sinner, it is supposed to be with love, not hate, or that person has to answer to God for that hate. Ad hominem slurs against those who hold a different opinion than what you deem correct does not help people deal with one another with love. Would that not be bearing false witness against your neighbor? Ones you don’t even know.
          No one is forced to be a Catholic and no one is forced to stay. We are also not meant to pick and choose which parts we like and dump the rest. That is Protestantism. If one chooses to join a Church, you are choosing to agree with the teachings of that Church. Agreeing with age old Church teachings & sacraments, as well as doing our best to live by them in our lives does not equal irrational fear of homosexuals nor does it equal bigotry. It is unfair and irrational to hate people period. I know and love dearly, many with same sex attraction as well as love in a different way, those I do not personally know. I do not agree with every act that every person does but that does not make me a bigot.

          • Tridentinus

            Brilliantly put!

  • Ryan

    Very well written. Not sure about the “unpopular predecessor”, but an impressive report on the the ‘true’ Holy Father.

    • RuariJM

      He was unpopular with the mainstream and with sections of the Church hierarchy, it is undeniable. But he wasn’t unpopular with me, not least because of his confrontation of ‘this filth’, as he called it. He did more than (I would venture) all of his predecessors in the 20th Century combined to confront and seek to root out sexual abuse.

      I thought Papa Ben was a great Pope, one who will be fully appreciated only with the passage of time.

      • 90Lew90

        Yes. The back passage.

  • LOL22

    “Whenever he proves himself loyal to Catholic teaching — denouncing abortion, for instance, or saying that same-sex marriage is an ‘anthropological regression’ — his liberal fan base turns a deaf ear”

    Right, just as whenever John Paul of Benedict proved themselves loyal to Catholic teaching with their critiques of capitalism, their conservative fan base turned a deaf ear. Benedict called for an international body to regulate the global economy and spoke out about climate change (even made the Vatican the first carbon neutral state) while John Paul’s views of capitalism weren’t much different than his views on communism. All of that got ignored by those on the right.

    You are right Francis is no liberal, but when people like Rush Limbaugh go on the attack over stances that are NOT new for the church, you know that Francis has, in the course of just a few short months, changed the whole nature of the conversation. No longer can the right in the church ignore social justice and focus only on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. Francis has said that we don’t need to talk about these matters all the time.

    • Folketribunal

      How very Nice that we dont have to talk of those matters all the time. But I find it likely that some people will keep talking and we shall have to respond.

    • Matthew Kilburn

      John Paul and Benedict critiqued capitalism. They never, however, made the wealthy feel unwelcome in the church the way Francis has.

      • Gio Andollo

        I recall another man who made wealthy people feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy, Jesus of Nazareth?

    • dan

      But the thing is, is that most Catholics never focus only on abortion, contraception and marriage. The truth regarding these matters and the philosophy need to be spoken.
      I am sure that if slavery were still legal, murder and theft were legal the church would have much commentary on these issues.
      I say to the author, lets talk about all the scientists, artists, musicians, and missionaries that the church has produced.

      • biochemists_are_sexy

        Did the church really produce these people, or were these people scientists, artists and/or musicians who happened to also be Catholic?

        • Veritas

          Sure. One example is Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar, who is considered the Father of Genetics.

          • biochemists_are_sexy

            I’m aware of Mendel and that he was a friar, I don’t see how that proves if the Catholic church didn’t exist, he would have not still been a scientist. The argument that science would be centuries behind if it weren’t for Christianity is a bit… problematic to say the least.

          • autdrew

            I look at it this way, most of the greatest scientific discoveries in the past 1000 yrs have come through western civilization. After the fall of Rome, Europe went into a period commonly called the dark ages. There was much fighting, murder, genocide etc as the Romans no longer able to provide basic security. The Church was the only stabilizing & unifying institution that was universal through nearly all of the west. They kept the old knowledge from lost forever during this time of chaos, and in doing so spread literacy. That eventually lead to our modern university system.
            In doing this, they spread literacy & charity with those on a local level. As the Church believes that God gave us reason, they observed certain laws of our natural world. Out of love of God, for many or mere curiosity for others, they began to explore and delve into these things. That has lead to a great deal of discoveries by Catholics. It can honestly be said that the Church did help further scientific (& other types) of discoveries. Had the Church not been around as an organized, stabilizing force through that time of upheaval, much ancient knowledge could have been lost forever rather than built upon by Catholic scientists. Had they not been there, we in the west likely would have gone back to our tribal beginnings as opposed to what we became. As it was, it took us a long time to accomplish and discover what we have. A number of Catholic scientists have declared in their writings their desire to know God through his creations. There have been quite a few scientists who were not only just Catholic but clergy, especially in the field of astronomy.
            So I do believe that had the Church not existed during that time of a power vacuum, science & scientific advancements would not have been as great as they have been. For examples, look at what happened in the islamic world after their conquests of countries with flourishing scientific communities. The knowledge of the science was absorbed into the conquerors culture but because of the notion that God can’t be known, he can arbitrarily change the laws of the universe and that the koran contains all knowledge needed for man, discoveries stagnated or the scientists were suppressed.

          • $54737469

            You seem to have forgotten the scientific contributions made by the Persians, long before Europeans decided to stop wearing bearskins for clothing.

          • The Elderking

            That would be the Aryan Persians! Not the subsequent Arab invaders…

          • 90Lew90

            Come off it. Idiot.

          • Christopher Lennon

            Mendel had the time and opportunity to pursue his research only because he was a monk. Had he not joined the community, he would have had to make a living as an individual and support a family.

          • stmaybe

            Would that swimmer kid who wom all those gld medals in the last olympics or so still be the world’s fastest swimmer if it weren’t an olympic sport? Would mohammed ali still be ‘the greatest’ if boxing weren’t a sport, let alone a paid one?

        • JoeMoney333

          The church is the largest supplier of education in the world and has been for quite some time. Most of these people obtained their education from a Catholic Source so I think you could argue it either way.

          However I feel the correct answer is. Does it matter? Science and the Arts are not separate from the Catholic Faith. They are all one in the same. A search for the true beauty and understanding.

        • dan

          Does it matter? Did my college produce me or did I just happen to go there? Many people have done wonderful things in response to God love.

        • stmaybe

          Both. The Catholic institutions still are better – in general, and by-and-large – than their secular counter-parts.

    • QAX3kFmH

      Great Comment LOL22. It is wonderful observation of the politics between left wing and right wing Catholics. the only bone i had to pick is your statement that “the right can no longer ignore social justice”. Because what i find interesting when it comes to Catholics is that the only dissent right wing Catholics have with the church is their views on economics yet the left disagrees with the church with almost everything on central doctrines and dogmas

  • Christopher Oxley

    Typical lefty-liberals with their intelligence, compassion and efforts to improve the quality of life for the poor and marginalized. Now they are glorifying the progress the Pope has made identifying and trying to address inherent bigotry in the church! They should be ashamed of themselves.

    • autdrew

      Inherent bigotry in the Church? Can you elaborate please?

  • Rocksy

    Almost at the moment of his election, when the media (usually left) were slobbering over his humility and lack of pomp, I felt uneasy, knowing how fickle popularity often is. I believed that his words and actions would be massaged to fit the wishful thinking of people and exploitative media. I also believed that if he made one misstep (according to the same press) that he would be dropped like a hot brick.

  • David Lindsay

    The media also made up versions of the last two, presenting them as supporters of capitalism, of never-ending global war in order to spread it, of America as its unquestionable leader, and of Israel as its plucky little outpost for which any price was worth paying.

    Across the board, all three Popes taught or teach exactly the same things. Of course.

  • Rhoslyn Thomas

    “The Vatican had officially denied that Pope Francis intended to abolish sin”

    This reminds me of,

    “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a
    lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the
    walls of his cell” – C.S. Lewis

    Do people actually believe this nonsense? Look, the Pope cannot just delete things out of existence. Even if Pope Francis had said that sin did not exist, it still would and we can all feel that it does because it is a law that is written on our souls.

    Also, Pope Benedict was not unpopular. Most days, someone says to me how much they miss Pope Benedict and I miss him too!

    • Rocksy

      Agree on all but especially on Benedict. I love Francis and miss Benedict.

    • mlj11

      … except sunlight can actually be perceived and measured. Sins and souls, not so much.

    • William Savage

      Extract from Paul Tillich’s sermon on sin and grace “You Are Accepted”, taken from ‘The Shaking of the Foundations’

      Have the men of our time still a feeling of the meaning of sin? Do they, and do we, still realize that sin does not mean an immoral act, that “sin” should never be used in the plural, and that not our sins, but rather our sin is the great, all-pervading problem of our life? Do we still know that it is arrogant and erroneous to divide men by calling some “sinners” and others “righteous”? For by way of such a division, we can usually discover that we ourselves do not quite belong to the “sinners”, since we have avoided heavy sins, have made some progress in the control of this or that sin, and have been even humble enough not to call ourselves “righteous”. Are we still able to realize that this kind of thinking and feeling about sin is far removed from what the great religious tradition, both within and outside the Bible, has meant when it speaks of sin?

      I should like to suggest another word to you, not as a substitute for the word “sin”, but as a useful clue in the interpretation of the word “sin”, “separation” . Separation is an aspect of the experience of everyone. Perhaps the word “sin” has the same root as the word “asunder”. In any case, sin is separation. To be in the state of sin is to be in the state of separation. And separation is threefold: there is separation among individual lives, separation of a man from himself, and separation of all men from the Ground of Being. This three-fold separation constitutes the state of everything that exists; it is a universal fact; it is the fate of every life.

      Full essay here: http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=378&C=84

      • TomAbell

        Ironic, this, coming from Tillich, considering his enthusiastic pursuit
        of adulterous recreations; ch. his widow’s memoirs (who herself joined
        in the same pursuits).

    • 90Lew90

      Do people really, “most days”, say to you how much they miss Pope Benedict?

      • Rhoslyn Thomas

        Yeah, you’d be surprised. Obviously, it’s normally Catholics but also non-Catholics. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of appreciation for Pope Francis but they’re so different.

        • 90Lew90

          I suppose I can imagine the odd hardcore Calvinist finding something to like about that particular pope.

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            Lol, not sure Calvinists would really like Pope Benedict? Bit laid back for them, no. I don’t actually know any Calvinists, mind.

          • 90Lew90

            I was talking about Benedict.

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            Yep, I just corrected myself. I think Pope Benedict is pretty laid back! Just because he loves beautiful liturgy doesn’t mean he is really serious all the time. There is a time and a place for fun and games though and it isn’t in the mass. I don’t know where this austere impression of Benedict has come from. He was forever smiling and kissing babies, just like Francis.

          • 90Lew90

            I take exception to being told that a fundamental part of my being is “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”.

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            I think the mistake is in making our temptations a fundamental part of our being. They’re not. They can be overcome because we are so much more than that. It’s ok to be tempted and it’s not something we should feel guilty about, but it is giving into to those temptations which is disordered, which drives God out of our lives.

            I think Benedict did a good job of emphasising that it is the act that is disordered, not the person. As Francis said after his infamous interview on the plane, when he says that he can’t judge, he is just reiterating what the catechism says which is that although giving into same sex attraction is always wrong, people who have that attraction should be treated with the same love and respect that we ALL need and receive freely from God. Francis rightly said that he cannot judge someone’s relationship with God but we can judge whether actions are wrong or right.

          • Bruce Lewis

            You are wrong; Benedict XVI said that the person’s natural inclinations were “objectively disordered.” That IS “the person,” because “the person” did not ask to be “same-sex-attracted.”

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            We are not defined by our disordered temptations precisely because we did not choose them. God has given each of us a cross which, when we accept it and keep close to God, it actually brings us closer to Him. But, it’s all about free will.

            I can choose to overcome my temptations or to give in to them and everyday, I make the conscience decision to make use of the sacraments and prayer to try to overcome them. It’s a daily struggle but it’s certainly not a miserable one.

            Sorry Bruce, but God gives us things to bring us closer to Him, not to mock us or make us suffer. It’s all about how we take it, that’s what defines us.

          • Bruce Lewis

            You know, I don’t disagree with you in any fundamental way. What I DO disagree with, however, is how the “heterosexual” folks’ “crosses” are valued as avenues toward grace, and how the “homosexual” folks’ “crosses” are held in public contempt by the institutional Church. Have you ever considered how much easier it would be for “gay Catholics” to live chaste lives if their struggles were celebrated–rather than dismissed to the shadows?

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            But why should any struggle be celebrated? Is my struggle celebrated? Is my struggle easier than theirs? How do you know? Only God knows and He will judge accordingly.

            Our job is to keep to the teaching of the Church whilst remain as humble as possible, hence the danger of celebrating anyone’s basic duty, that is, taking up our cross daily, no matter what it is.

            “The first virtue is humility, the second virtue is humility and the third virtue is humility. The saints thought themselves nothing and God gave them all they asked” – St John Vianney

          • stmaybe

            They are celebrated. The Catholic church isn’t (just) for the pure. Attending mass is the celebration of their efforts. Remember, though, they don’t hand out awards for attendance (like, say, public school or other equally intellectual endeavors) but you earn a reward for sincere effort.

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            Also, I don’t agree with you that the cross of same sex attraction is confined to the shadows. It is good and right that they should feel as much a part of the Church as anyone else but I do not support singling anyone out. We’re not here to congratulate ourselves. You don’t deserve a pat on the back and neither do I because the glory belongs to God alone.

          • Bruce Lewis
          • stmaybe

            Of course sexual nature can change:
            1) There are ex-homosexuals. At the least, this illustrates that in some cases it IS choice. The discovery of the gay gene will help to identify who is gay by choice and who has absolutely no control over their sexual preference.
            2) Look at all the sexual criminals that are released by compassionate courts daily. Surely they wouldn’t release dangers to society, would they?

          • 90Lew90

            There are no “ex-homosexuals”. There are abstinent homosexuals and there are bisexuals and there are homosexuals who feel obligated to go to women out of religious belief or whatever, but there are no more ex-homosexuals than there are ex-heterosexuals.

          • Jacob Israel

            For Christians, homosexuality is a sexual crime.Just as is all fornication.For non- Christians, they will be judged by their conscience. Homosexual behaviour is a choice, no one was born that way. The sooner people recognise this the better

          • 90Lew90

            I’m sure it must be great to think that just because you say something, that automatically makes it so. I wonder, what sane person, given the way we’re made up psychologically to *not* be or to like outsiders, do you think would “choose” exclusive homosexual orientation? What choice is there involved in the chemistry you’re exposed to prenatally, the configuration of your genes and the particular set of circumstances in your environment, the factors which, acting in confluence in the individual, bring about homosexuality?

            I might point out to you that it is Christianity which is a lifestyle *choice* and that it is homosexuality which is organic. If what trumps comes down to what is chosen and what’s not, then simply un-choose your Christianity, or at least stop using it to beat people around the head.

          • Jacob Israel

            Re your first point I could level the same to you. But I am a true Christian, and by definition that means I am an outsider. But what would you have me do- should I tippex out the parts in the old and new testaments which say that homosexuality is a sin? Sorry, I cannot do that. We are all sinners and we are all struggling with sin.The way out is belief in Jesus Christ. And the first step is to acknowledge that we have sinned.

          • 90Lew90

            Christians are outsiders? Don’t be ridiculous! Jesus said nothing about homosexuality — NOTHING! In the New Testament it was Paul, and he never even met Jesus. If you are to heed the Old Testament verses, then I expect that you do not wear clothes of mixed fabric and nor do you eat prawns, and I seriously wonder what your attitude is to women. No, we are not “all sinners”. That is just a poor excuse for bad behaviour by Christians, and it is not a contention that is found in any belief system outside Christianity. It is repugnant. The fact is that we are basically good but have the potential to make mistakes and to behave badly. That is nearer the mark. The whole concept of sin is nothing more than a tool to lock an individual into Christianity, which in this way, is an illness which prescribes itself as a cure. You bear this out in what you say. Whatever you believe, the sexuality of other adults has precisely NOTHING to do with you. It is NONE of your business.

          • Jacob Israel

            Hey, don’t shoot the messenger- I’m not the Judge, Jesus is. But let me reiterate. I am a true Christian and therefore that makes me an outsider. Do not think that the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, or the 300 million plus Trinitarian C of E protestants or equal number of pentecostalists, JW’s and the like are following Christianity!

            You show less than scant knowledge of the Bible, although you try and convince me otherwise. Paul never met Jesus? What about on the road to Damascus?

            1 Corinthians 15:3-8 KJV

            3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

            4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

            5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

            6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

            7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

            8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

            When a non-Christian or person claiming to be a Christian speaks falsely concerning doctrinal matters about my belief then it is my duty to educate. Concerning sin, have you never read and understood the meaning of “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone?”. Words spoken by Jesus. Jewish law permitted death by stoning for adultery. Jesus did not say adultery was ok, he implied that all men are sinners and guilty, and that punishment, if any, will be by Him who is without sin and at His discretion.

            Since you claim to have knowledge of the Bible, you must know that according to the Bible we are all sinners, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Blessed are those whose conscience does not condemn them.

            If you choose to be homosexual, that is your choice- and if you had read what I had written before properly you would see that is what I said – but do not fool yourself, or try and fool others into believing homosexuality is not a sin for a Christian, or that people are born that way. I know of a homosexual man who became a Christian, married a woman and had children by her. He confessed that homosexuality had been a lifestyle choice for him which he renounced. I suppose you will tell me his genes metamorphosed? Or perhaps pigs flew across the moon? Or maybe it was a solar flare?

            And you say ‘The whole concept of sin is nothing more than a tool to lock an individual into Christianity’.Really?? So for you, nothing is sin if you ignore Christianity? What is your moral yardstick then, your own personal morals? Where is the line drawn? Under your scheme of things, a serial killer, paedophile or rapist could claim that he has a moral right also- who are you to say he is wrong? He could deliver the same pathetic argument as yours.
            Listen, a Judgement is coming upon the world – God has offered His Salvation – take hold of it whilst there is still time.

          • 90Lew90

            Once again, a cop-out. “Don’t shoot the messenger”? To which I say, have the courage of your convictions. There is not a Christian alive who doesn’t think he is not a “true” Christian, so your claim to be a lone soldier doesn’t wash. The fact is that just by calling yourself a Christian you claim and expect undue privilege and undue respect which, by and large, you get.

            I know the Bible well enough. Paul did not meet Jesus on the road to Damascus, he had a vision. In all likelihood, Paul was either epileptic or psychotic.

            There is little point in your quoting the Bible at me since the Bible holds no authority for me. The Bible is useless as a guide to morals and it is useless as a source of history. I like the KJV as literature, but as a source of authority in my life? You might as well quote the Koran at me.

            Homosexuality is a condition of being. As I said, it is Christianity which is the lifestyle choice. It would be a lot easier for you to drop your Christianity than it would be for me to drop my homosexuality. Even if I married a woman (which I could) and had children with her (which I could) and claimed Jesus had made me heterosexual (which I could). A denial of self is not the most difficult thing to affect. Your anecdote counts for nought in this, and ex-gay “therapy” is illegal in the UK because of the recognised, recorded harm that it does. There is no need to affect a denial of self for the homosexual, and nor should there be, simply on the basis of proclamations in a book written more than two millennia ago, and whose basis in the case of the OT was a means of preserving Jewish cultural identity and in the case of the NT, Paul’s warped attitude to sexuality in particular and humanity in general.

            You cannot impute to me that since I recognise “sin” — rightly — as a Christian invention, that I must therefore be entirely without morals. Let me put it to you this way: If you think that without your god watching over you, you would be a thieving, raping, murdering scumbag, you speak for yourself. As a humanist, I am a lot more at ease with genuine human kindness than I am with that of the meddlesome Christian do-gooder with one eye on his reward in heaven. I find the notion of original sin utterly repugnant, since I am wholly convinced that we are inherently good, but with the vulnerability to do bad things.

            There is little evidence, either from among ourselves or our closest ancestors among the great apes that we are inherently bad. The evidence, as always, stands against you.

            You can bang on all you like about judgment. My sexuality has precisely nothing to do with you. Similarly, what you believe is precisely nothing to do with me. That is, unless and until you start interfering in my life, making it more difficult than it needs be, using your absolute codswallop beliefs as an excuse. At that point, you can fully expect me and those like me, and those who have rather more sympathy with people whose outlook on life is reasonable, to confront and challenge you. I find your knock-kneed response to this challenge (“we are all sinners”, “don’t shoot the messenger”) absolutely pathetic and contemptible. Believe all you want. Just keep it to yourself if you don’t want to be challenged.

          • Jacob Israel

            You have NO knowledge or understanding of the Bible, and believe me, it pains me to disagree with you when you claim that that your closest ancestor is an ape, especially since your rant seems to corroborate this- but the fact is, you have been brainwashed.
            You should be ashamed.Jesus, Paul and the Apostles endured horrendous torture and death for Mankind, for you.They are historical figures. They walked this Earth. Nations have founded their laws upon their teaching. You enjoy tolerance of your activities in this day and age because of them. Instead, you insult them and my God. Show some respect, you ungrateful wretch.
            I forgive your insulting remarks to me, but I do not have the authority to forgive your insults to my God and my Lord. Once you have calmed down, pray to them for forgiveness.
            Judgement is coming upon the world. God has offered His Salvation. Take hold of it whilst you can.

          • 90Lew90

            I enjoy tolerance of my “activities” because of them? What “activities” would they be? And no, the relative tolerance I enjoy is manifestly NOT because of Jesus and the churches built on his name; the spirit of tolerance is not a Christian virtue. The spirit of tolerance is an Enlightenment value and only came about when the inordinate power wielded by Jesus’s self-appointed “representatives” had that power wrestled from them and they were no longer able to dictate their version of reality to people. For the same reason you are tolerated. Don’t wear it out. You might want to learn your history from a reliable source instead of the frankly masturbatory stuff apologists pump out. The only reason your religion has any theological substance is because of the Greeks. What does that tell you. And if it wasn’t for them you’d probably be among a rabble watching me undergo an excruciating death.

            Respect is something which is earned. You have some nerve asking me to give you respect given that you started out our exchange by calling me a sexual criminal. You also seem to be a member of the lunatic fringe of creationists, which takes willed ignorance. I suppose the world is 6,000 years old in your head? What is to respect about you? I’d rather be the cousin of an ape. They’re not as stupid. Such beliefs come about when you’re a lone ignoramus sitting with a Bible in your lap making of it what you will. Maybe you should join a church?

            As I said, if you are going to make your beliefs political, which you do the moment you start mouthing off about gay people or anything else based on your beliefs, you can damn well expect to be challenged. Unfortunately for you, you no longer enjoy times when your announcing that you’re a good, true Christian is enough to shut people up. And thank goodness for that.

            It is a truism about Christians that the more they bang on about “humility” the more monumentally arrogant they tend to be. You wouldn’t know humility or compassion if they cooked and cleaned for you. I can’t remember who said it, but I’m with them: “Ignorance is to be pitied. Wilful ignorance is to be despised.”

          • Jacob Israel

            I think you have some friends at Spectator. My original response to your absolute piece of nonsense has not appeared. Instead, my response which I had previously given two days ago has been substituted. Strange, because I had not used any rude/foul language as you have elsewhere on this post.
            You refuse to acknowledge that you have no understanding or knowledge of the Bible. You have not answered my questions and create strawmen as a smokescreen to evade answering them. You can say that you ‘know the Bible well enough’ as much as you want- but your response only indicates your complete ignorance.
            You should be ashamed. Jesus, Paul and the Apostles endured horrendous torture and death for Mankind, for you. They are historical figures, they walked this Earth. Nations founded laws upon their teaching. It is only because of them that in this day and age people tolerate your disgusting activities.Instead of showing some respect, you ungrateful wretch, you insult them and my God.
            You speak evil of that which you do not know. And I will reject a lecture on morality from a homosexual who actually applauds homosexual sex- just as I would reject one by an unrepentent adulterer who applauds adultery. Your comment about Apostle Paul shows your warped mind.
            I forgive your insulting remarks to me, but I do not have the authority to forgive your insults to my Lord and my God. Once you have calmed down, pray to them for forgiveness.
            Judgement is coming upon the world. God has offered His Salvation. Take hold of it whilst you can.

          • 90Lew90

            “I think you have some friends at Spectator.”
            I think you are judging me by your standards. No matter how repulsive I find what you say, I would defend to the death your right to say it.

          • thoroughly enjoying your articulate, reasoned responses. As one of Francis’ self-proclaimed ‘honorable heretics’ preparing to bless our queer families when the Holy Father comes to US shores, your words have me measure my ‘recovering catholic’ postures and contemplate the virtues of a full-on retirement.

          • 90Lew90

            You never recover from being catholic. In my experience it took leaving it to realise how deeply I’d taken it to heart. It’s a bit like a bereavement but the upshot has been that in coming to terms with it I’ve been introduced to such rich history and human endeavour that I couldn’t possibly turn back. Being religious is its own reward. Leaving it? Much more so.

          • Jacob Israel

            Hey, don’t shoot the messenger- I’m not the Judge, Jesus is. But let me reiterate. I am a true Christian and therefore that makes me an outsider. Do not think that the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, or the 300 million plus Trinitarian C of E protestants or equal number of pentecostalists, JW’s and the like are following Christianity!

            You show less than scant knowledge of the Bible, although you try and convince me otherwise. Paul never met Jesus? What about on the road to Damascus?

            1 Corinthians 15:3-8 KJV

            3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

            4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

            5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

            6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

            7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

            8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

            When a non-Christian or person claiming to be a Christian speaks falsely concerning doctrinal matters about my belief then it is my duty to educate. Concerning sin, have you never read and understood the meaning of “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone?”. Words spoken by Jesus. Jewish law permitted death by stoning for adultery. Jesus did not say adultery was ok, he implied that all men are sinners and guilty, and that punishment, if any, will be by Him who is without sin and at His discretion.

            Since you claim to have knowledge of the Bible, you must know that according to the Bible we are all sinners, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Blessed are those whose conscience does not condemn them.

            Your last accusation is nothing but a strawman argument. If you choose to be homosexual, that is your choice- and if you had read what I had written before properly you would see that is what I said – but do not fool yourself, or try and fool others into believing homosexuality is not a sin for a Christian, or that people are born that way. I know of a homosexual man who became a Christian, married a woman and had children by her. He confessed that homosexuality had been a lifestyle choice for him which he renounced. I suppose you will tell me his genes metamorphosed -is that what you mean by ‘organic’? Or perhaps pigs flew across the moon? Or maybe it was a solar flare?

            And you say ‘The whole concept of sin is nothing more than a tool to lock an individual into Christianity’.Really?? So for you, nothing is sin if you ignore Christianity? What is your moral yardstick then, your own personal morals? Where is the line drawn? Under your scheme of things, a serial killer, paedophile or rapist could claim that he has a moral right also- who are you to say he is wrong? He could deliver the same pathetic argument as yours.

            Listen, a Judgement is coming upon the world – God has offered His Salvation – take hold of it whilst there is still time.

          • Jacob Israel

            I should clarify,for non- Christians who have never heard or read the Scriptures or the gospel of Christ, they will be judged by their conscience.

          • 90Lew90

            Sexuality is a “temptation”? No dear. It is an absolutely fundamental part of who a person is, whether heterosexual or homosexual, whether acted upon or not. You’re in no position to rehash what the pope said, which was that “the particular inclination of the homosexual person…is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

            Well, maybe in Pope land, but then popes aren’t known for keeping in step with the state of human knowledge. And clearly, he was not talking about “acts” but about the “inclination” itself. While I don’t like what Pope Benedict said, I can content myself with the fact that he is speaking from a philosophical position which hasn’t held any weight since the 18th Century, but he can’t do anything else because he’s boxed in by dogma. In other words, his view of homosexuality is as much a faith position as his belief in the trinity or the virgin birth.
            What makes me very angry indeed is that a lot of people, including the parents and close kin of some very vulnerable young people, believe the trash this man and his cohorts say, thus needlessly condemning those vulnerable young people to ostracism and suffering. That, I have to tell you, makes my blood boil.

          • stmaybe

            Well, I know I’ve been tempted by sexuality – and some rapists claim they have no capability to control their temptations, as do pedophiles, and anyone else seeking acceptance for their sexual choice / nature. Of course, I’ve been studying human nature on my own since I first became aware I had one.

            It definitely takes focus to fight your inclinations and, thankfully, in time nature will take over.

          • 90Lew90


          • stmaybe

            Sorry, Lew, I’m not sure what the ‘what’ was about, but my comment wasn’t all too clear / coherent anyway, I suppose. I was trying to express a thought in the terms we were using. I’d rather use ‘urge’ than ‘sexuality’ since that appears to be the manner in which we were using it in the post I was responding to.

          • 90Lew90

            Your comment made no sense, as you appear to see, so you’ll understand why I ended up scratching my head.
            You’re conflating homosexuality with the worst kinds of sexual crime. Excuse me?
            You make out you have some knowledge of what those criminals “claim” as though they all act in the same way and their crimes can be taken qualitatively as a whole. That’s plainly rubbish you’ve simply made up on the cuff.
            You’ve been studying (human nature?) on your own… That’s called subjectivity and is useless.
            You also seem sold on the idea of sex-as-‘sin’. Let me put it to you this way: if you feel that without your belief in your particular god you would be raping people at every opportunity, you speak for yourself. Most people’s personal morality is enough to make the mere thought of such behaviour utterly repugnant.

          • Bruce Lewis

            But he’s NOT “boxed in”; the Catholic Church HAS and will continue to contextualize its moral theology (NOT “dogma”), according to what science reveals. Please read the article from America magazine that I linked to below. Newman is the 19th century philosopher who best expounded why the Catholic and Apostolic Church is LICENSED (by the Petrine commission) to “bind on earth…and loose on earth.” It is indeed true that the “natural law” the Church is using in its understanding of human sexuality has been superceded by scientific information (and will probably continue to be superceded), but, believe me, the Catholic Church is better equipped philosophically to abandon these archaic notions that any other religious body–and someday she will USE that Petrine license to abandon them, just as she abandoned her views on slavery, just as she abandoned her views on the Jews, just as she abandoned her views on usury, just as she abandoned her views on the subordination of women, just as she is abandoning her previous views on capital punishment and on “just war.” (And before the ultramontane crowd weigh in: I am NOT saying that there will ever be “gay marriage” or that there should be; the Catholic marriage, unlike the Protestant one, is sacramental and cannot be changed–especially not for the promiscuously divorcing, serial monogamists of the Protestant world; and Catholic “gays” will realize the good sense of this, when they start viewing, on the idiot box, the “reality tv program” called “gay divorce”!) All the “gay” Catholics are asking for is respect, and, at the very most, acquiescence in “civil unions,” so that they may have the legal protections that, say, sterile couples who adopt children and want to save money for their educations, have. I predict that you will see no effort whatsoever made by Pope Francis to enforce the ridiculous Ratzinger ban against “same-sex-attracted” priest-candidates, and that should be the first sign to you that REAL Catholicism is rising from the Fundamentalist dead-end of the last two pontificates.

          • 90Lew90

            The thing about “real” Catholicism is that it is not for you to define. You must simply obey. I think you’ll find that your list of beliefs “abandoned” by the church have not in fact been abandoned at all. Set aside, perhaps. Conveniently ignored for now, perhaps, but not “abandoned”. Doctrine on all of those things is still sitting there on the shelves, ready to be picked up again at an opportune moment. The Catholic church is manifestly NOT a democracy, as you seem to think. That believers have a choice in what to believe has nothing to do with anything conferred by the church and everything to do with the fact that the grip of the church has been progressively loosened on society in modernity — the last three/four hundred years. I would point you to the Syllabus Errorum of Pius IX, which is, as per church doctrine an irrevocable and infallible statement. It remains, as it were, on the books. What you choose as a cafeteria catholic matters not one single jot. I’m sorry if that makes life difficult for you but the choice as to whether to remain attached to such a repugnant institution is after all yours.

          • Bruce Lewis

            I never said that it was a “democracy,” and I don’t want it to be a “democracy.” However, the Catholic and Apostolic Church is promised by her Founder that she will be ever led TOWARD the “Truth” through the time-space continuum in which all humans are constrained to live. That means that she will never permanently leave the path toward “Truth.” However, it also means that, being a human institution and only partly supernatural, she will NEVER be in full “possession” of the “Truth.” Only God is in full “possession of the Truth,” and for Catholics to sometimes ignorantly profess that their Church ALREADY IS in full “possession of the Truth,” is idolatrous–it’s to WORSHIP an institution that is as much fallible as it is infallible. This is REAL Catholicism, believe me, and these idolators of the papacy who are professing otherwise have been misled by two Supreme Pontiffs who, obsessed by excessive fear of the modern world, have been trying to “restore” a pre-Vatican II Church. They will fail in their efforts to “circle the wagons,” because Catholicism is not about “circling the wagons” against science, against scholarship, against KNOWLEDGE–it never has been, and this Jesuit pope will point it back, in the right and joyous direction.

          • 90Lew90

            Sorry, but that was a load of utterly illogical trash. “Time-space continuum”? Give me a break. “As much fallible as infallible”? Ditto. That’s an oxymoron. The catholic church professes itself to be in possession of the truth and to arbitrate the truth on behalf of catholics. This is non-negotiable.

            “Catholicism is not about “circling the wagons” against science, against scholarship, against KNOWLEDGE–it never has been, and this Jesuit pope will point it back

            This is plain ignorance of history, or at least a dishonest attempt to whitewash it. The church has a long and dishonourable record of suppressing knowledge it found inconvenient. Take Galileo for instance, who was condemned to life imprisonment for publishing his scientific findings by the Inquisition, which was run, by the way, by…? Jesuits.
            Come off it. I have far more respect for people who are not afraid to accept and defend the church warts and all than I do for people who would mealy-mouthedly try to pretend it’s something it’s not.

          • Bruce Lewis

            Your ignorance of what you would presume to criticize is truly phenomenal: the Dominicans were always in charge of the Inquisition–never the Jesuits. Although a Jesuit cardinal, Bellarmine, sat in on the proceedings, Galileo actually was championed by a number of Jesuit astronomers who knew he was correct. The real issue between Galileo and the Inquisition, moreover, was regarding physics, and how Galileo’s theory of “Transubstantiation” (a good Catholic, he believed in it) clashed with the officially sanctioned Scholastic one–it was a stupid misunderstanding from the beginning, but the ecclesiastics weren’t so much interested in the correctness of the Copernican system as later historians have tended to believe. What they DID care about, and deeply, was the “Real Presence” in the Eucharist. This mistake in the historic record, by the way, HAS been corrected by Italian historians, but not in the English-speaking (and viscerally anti-Catholic) world.
            And, by the way, I’m not about “suppressing” ANY of the malfeasances of the Church which you have mentioned; instead, I want them to be publicly acknowledged and remembered by EVERYONE in the Catholic world, which I believe is slowly but surely finding its way back to genuine Christianity.

          • 90Lew90

            I was raised in a catholic family. I do actually know what I am talking about. The Inquisition was run by the Jesuits in its most brutal phase. The dispute with Galileo was not over transubstantiation, and to claim so takes some effrontery. Galileo’s abjuration: “I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies” (heliocentrism).

            The full text can be found here: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/recantation.html

            Arguing black is white is pretty unbecoming. Even for a catholic.
            And arguing about “truth” while in the same breath arguing that a piece of wafer is literally a piece of Jesus’s flesh. Excuse me while I splutter into my coffee.
            Let me just say that I wouldn’t care a jot about all this baloney if it wasn’t harmful. But plainly it is. It is injurious to history and knowledge itself and it is injurious to the many people — children mainly — whose condition of being happens by accident of birth to be objectionable to the church which propagates this baloney. As such I find it abhorrent.

          • Bruce Lewis

            Sorry, but I am right, and you are wrong. In fact, the Holy Office used the charge of support of the Copernican System, in order to PROTECT Galileo against the far more serious charge of challenging the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Most of the high-ranking clerics were, after all, his friends:

            “In 1625 a complaint against Galileo’s publication The Assayer is lodged at the Inquisition by a person unknown. The complaint charges that the atomistic theory embraced in this book cannot be reconciled with the official church doctrine regarding the Eucharist, in which bread and wine are `’transubstantiated’ into Christ’s flesh and blood.”


            “There is another matter that could have landed Galileo in much hotter water than his support of Copernicus’ heliocentrism: and that was his atomic theory. Redondi argues in his book Galileo Eretico(1983) on the basis of a document G3 sent to the Holy Office in 1624 that Galileo was under investigation for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation, viz, the conversion of the whole substance of the bread and wine into the whole
            substance of the Body and Blood of Christ, with only the “accidents” or “species” (i.e., appearances of the bread and wine) remaining.

            Galileo argued in The Assayer (1623) that all reality was reducible to the effect of crude atomic particles upon one another and the senses, and that there could be no real distinction between ‘substance’ and ‘accidents.’

            ‘I think’, Galileo argues, ‘that tastes, odours, colours and so on as regards the object in which they reside are nothing but pure names and reside only in the feeling body, so that if the animal is removed all these qualities
            are taken away and annihilated.’

            Redondi was not given access to other documents about the Galileo affair, but in 1999 Mariano Artigas of the University of Navarra obtained access to another document from the Vatican Archives labelled EE291, dated 1631 or 1632, which repeated the same charge.

            The author, Melchior Inchofer SJ, was a member of a special commission set up by Pope Urban VIII to investigate Galileo. Inchofer writes: ‘It immediately
            follows from the opinion of [Galileo] that in the Eucharist the accidental properties do not remain without the substance of the bread.’

            But for some reason the Holy Office saw no grounds for proceeding against Galileo. To explain the lack of action on the part of the Holy Office, Redondi proposed a reinterpretation of the Galileo affair in which Pope Urban VIII, ‘a former friend and admirer’, had to face the accusation of Copernicanism, and not the more serious accusation of denying the doctrine of transubstantiation. Although there is no evidence that Galileo ever expressed an opinion on the Eucharistic doctrine of transubstantiation.”


            “New thoughts were an irritant, but two points seem more important. First, in the background of Church doctrine, starting with the second millennium, the issue of the
            Eucharist and its interpretation had become so dominant that it pervaded and controlled consideration of the
            nature of matter and its transformations.
            Indeed, the Church dictated the language that could be applied to the
            study of matter, beginning with Berengarius at Chartres, Angers, and Tours, in the early 11th century.This prevented any meaningful study of chemistry, or the physics of matter,until the science broke free of the Church in the late 17 and the 18 centuries.”

            * * * ** *

            “Redondi argues that the heresies charged to Galileo had nothing to do with Copernicanism, but much to do with atomism, and their importance was tied to timing and political pressures on the Pope


            However, you ARE correct regarding the larger role the Jesuits played in the trial of Galileo, because of the presence of Cardinal Bellarmine on the tribunal.

            As regards this:

            “…it is injurious to the many people — children mainly — whose condition of being happens by accident of birth to be objectionable to the church which propagates this baloney. As such I find it abhorrent.”

            I could not possibly agree with you more.

          • 90Lew90

            None of your googling detracts from my central point. At all. In fact, what you quote contradicts YOU, not me: “there is no evidence that Galileo ever expressed an opinion on the Eucharistic doctrine of transubstantiation.”

            Being perhaps the biggest controversy between science and religion ever, this history on this has been picked apart with a fine toothcomb and is settled. Whatever mincing of it apologists would like to make, Galileo was charged and convicted of saying that the earth both rotates and orbits the sun. That is just as simple as that.

            You seem to be arguing that because this was a lesser charge than claiming that the eucharist is not literally a piece of Jesus’s flesh that makes it alright. That’s outrageous. What you said initially, might I remind you, was: “Catholicism is not about “circling the wagons” against science, against scholarship, against KNOWLEDGE–it never has been”.
            The very fact that we’re having this debate gives the lie to that frankly laughable claim. While we’re at it, if that claim were true and Galileo never happened (not to let you off the hook), what would be the point of having an Index of Banned Books?
            You portrayal of the church as being a big friendly giant which is and always has been happy to go with the flow is just too incongruous to take seriously. And that’s putting it mildly. I don’t see how anyone can be so deeply in denial unless they are either ignorant or dishonest. Which is it?
            Once again, I would point you to (infallible) Pius IX’s (infallible) Syllabus of Errors. I’m afraid you’re stuck with it.

          • Bruce Lewis

            Your critical reading skills are risible: all of what I cited is what the Italian historian concluded–they charged him with heliocentrism for two reasons: a) he offended Urban VIII Barberini; and b), more importantly, they wanted to PROTECT him from the far more serious charge of denying the doctrine of Transubstantiation. And I never denied that the Church has been terribly obscurantist in the past–and only maintained that her SYSTEM is one of eventual self-correction. If it hadn’t been, it’s plainly obvious to most of her critics–those who are more objective and less hysterically antagonistic than you–that she would long ago have disappeared from history. She hasn’t and she won’t.

          • 90Lew90

            You said: “Catholicism is not about “circling the wagons” against science, against scholarship, against KNOWLEDGE–it never has been”.

            Then you denied that the Galileo controversy was about heliocentrism, claiming that in fact it was all about transubstantiation.

            Then, provided with the text of his recantation, you modified that argument to say that they were doing him a favour in charging him with heliocentrism, when they could have charged him with quibbling about transubstantiation.

            I say that in light of your initial statement, it makes no difference whether they were arguing that the earth is the centre of the universe or that the eucharist is literally a piece of Jesus. Both claims are ludicrous and both actions represent ‘”circling the wagons” against science, against scholarship, against KNOWLEDGE’.
            You quote a whole slew of stuff you’ve found on google which you don’t even appear to have read, which states that Galileo never expressed an opinion on transubstantiation and further that the influence of the church precluded any meaningful study of the natural sciences for centuries, as per accepted history.
            The church has not disappeared from history because religion gets undue political protection. That too is quite simple. It can be very expedient for politicians to indulge the beliefs of the masses. This is so obvious that I’m surprised I’m even having to say it.
            You say I’m not objective? Take a look at your own record of making outrageous claims, backtracking, clarifying and moving goalposts in this short exchange. Back. At. You.
            Hysterically antagonistic? All I’ve done is state facts. You’ve been making stuff up on the hoof just to have an answer at hand, and you haven’t even managed to produce anything that corroborates your own argument. If anything, what you’ve quoted corroborates mine. Could do better.
            Critical skills? It’s got little to do with critical skills. It’s simply a matter of martialling facts to make a simple point. For what it’s worth, I make a comfortable living doing that every day.
            So what is it? Ignorant or dishonest? I’m plumping for a bit of both, as is typical of religious believers. Against the entire secular consensus, which is the most trustworthy and the most fair, having no horse in the race but to obtain objective truth in all matters, you can’t quite swallow that the Catholic church is a pretty bloody beastly organisation. The problem, my friend, is yours. And I think you should feel ashamed. I know I wouldn’t be associated with it for a minute. And we haven’t even mentioned the industrial-scale child abuse.

          • Bruce Lewis

            Oh, what’s the use? You’re so full of hatred that it’s impossible to reason with you. Just this, for example:

            Galileo never expressed an opinion on transubstantiation

            You know perfectly well, from what I’ve quoted, that, to them, it didn’t matter that he never expressly contradicted transubstantiation: his theory of physics seemed to, and they RECOGNIZED IT..

            Their “circling of the wagons” was INEFFECTUAL, and because it was INEFFECTUAL, they have many times conformed, eventually to the “Truth.” And they will continue to do so.

            But, you know, come to think of it, I have to admit that there are good reasons for your hatred, and I admit them. I’m just sorry that you are consumed by it. However, Jesus loves you, whether you love Him or not. If that sounds smarmy to you, I apologize.

          • 90Lew90

            What’s the use in your trying to get me to come along with you for the ride on a bandwagon and say that the Catholic church is all about the pursuit of truth and knowledge both for its own sake and for the greater good of mankind? None. Because it is not true.

            I’m not motivated by hatred. I’m just not prepared to stand idly by and let a very powerful institution which purveys the most inane guff as “truth”, which refuses to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, which abuses its power at every opportunity, which is one of the great divisive forces among humanity, which opposes the advance of knowledge, which encourages the weak to rejoice in their weakness, which protects criminals; dare to say that a fundamental part of my being is ordered towards evil. Perhaps you expect that I should just bow my head and ask for forgiveness for this non-crime, or something? Perhaps I should be expected to make believe it’s not an abhorrent organisation? Is that it?

            In any case, as Pius IX points out, it is an error to suppose that “the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. That is a dictate from one of your own popes that you seem intent on not accepting. Fortunately for me, as an atheist, I’m under no obligation to heed the utterances of such people.
            Jesus loves me? The love of the living is good enough for me thanks. Someone should have told Jesus the one about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. I’m quite sure he’d been turning in his grave if he knew what he’d spawned.

          • Jacob Israel

            Matthew 7:15-23

            15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly
            they are ravening wolves.

            16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs
            of thistles?

            17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree
            bringeth forth evil fruit.

            18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring
            forth good fruit.

            19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the

            20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

            1 Timothy4: 1-3 1 Timothy 4:1-3 (King James Version)

            1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart
            from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

            2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

            3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath
            created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the

            Galatians 1:8-9 (King James Version)

            8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than
            that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

            9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto
            you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

            1 John 2:18-19 (King James Version)

            18Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist
            shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the
            last time.

            19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us,
            they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might
            be made manifest that they were not all of us.

            The papacy simply never existed in the New Testament and Peter never made the claim that
            he was infallible.

            Read Acts 15, together with Galatians 1 and 2 and you will find
            that James was in authority in Jerusalem and issued the ‘decree’ and that Paul
            publicly rebuked Peter for his behaviour towards the Gentiles. So much for
            infallibility being passed on to the papacy from Peter!

            Bruce, you are attempting to strain out gnats and are swallowing
            camels, which is why I suggest you look at Matthew 7:15-23, wake up, and
            seriously examine this ‘catholic’ faith of yours. This is not a word game, or a
            quiz or a puzzle, this is about Life and Death. We are in the last times of the
            world, prophecy is being fulfilled as we speak, and yet you carry on as though
            the Roman Catholic church has not been responsible for the death of millions of
            innocents over the centuries- lives you are conveniently shoving under the
            carpet- and whose souls are crying out for justice.

            Are you really, seriously, suggesting that the papacy through history has followed
            the teaching of Christ? It is not even following it now!

            Come, let’s look at the fruits of the Roman Catholic church over the past two
            millennia, it will be instructive for you.

            You need to concentrate on the bigger picture, i.e are your church leaders
            following the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ as per the Gospels and

            The Roman Catholic church and its Popes clearly are not- just look at
            its statements on Papal authority. These merely confirm Satan’s grip on the
            Roman Catholic church from the early pagan Roman emperors to modernity.

            How else can one explain the blasphemous titles various popes have given
            themselves, along with papal infallibility? Not to mention the unbiblical
            Inquisitions which murdered thousands if not millions of christians who opposed
            papal authority, the Crusades, forced celibacy on priests, Sabbath day worship
            changed to pagan Sunday worship, the institution of Easter, Christmas and Lent
            (with its restriction on meats), all three originally from pagan festivals, the
            ‘Hail Mary’, Rosary and elevation of Mary to being perpetually virgin and never
            having sinned and co-redemptress with Christ!!??

            And what’s with ‘Transubstantiation’? How did the Last Supper and its symbolism
            be transformed into the lie of the Roman Catholic Mass? And worship and prayer
            to Saints, Mary and Angels instead of our Lord Jesus? What of the other false
            and unbiblical doctrines such as Indulgences? The idolatry of statues and
            artworks of Mary, the Saints, Angels and our Lord Jesus? The confession box?

            What of the vain, lengthy and repetitive prayers?

            What about ‘Saint’ Augustine and his ‘Just War’ (or ‘War Only’) policy-
            overturning centuries of Jesus’ teaching on non-violence and passive resistance
            for christians?

            And addressing the pope as ‘Holy Father’ and priests as ‘Father’?
            (expressly forbidden in the Bible)
            How is it that Roman Catholics do not understand what Christ meant when He said “upon this Rock I will build my Church”? He meant upon Peter’s confession of faith, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God – not the nonsensical garbled mumbo jumbo of the Roman Catholic Trinity doctrine- unheard of by the Apostles and the early church of the first two centuries.

            Why else does Roman Catholism demand that Scripture can only be
            understood if explained by a Roman Catholic priest? Why did some early Roman
            Catholic priests object to early statements of papal authority as being
            antichrist? Why else did the Roman Catholic church ban the reading and sale of
            Bibles to the general public in the 16th century?

            Of course, what can I be thinking? How silly of me! This is exactly what
            Jesus, Peter and the rest of the apostles would have wanted- and is most
            assuredly a continuation in the age-old link, culminating in the almighty

            Bruce, how did you manage to overlook 1 Timothy 4?

            1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart
            from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

            2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

            3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath
            created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the

            ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to
            destroy, but to fulfil.

            For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle
            shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled. St Matthew 6:17-18

            One final point, No one can come to the Father except though Jesus Christ.
            Through Jesus Christ only. A priest is NOT required as a mediator.

            Take a look at this extract from Crossing The Threshold of Hope by Pope John
            Paul II:

            Ch 1(p 3) The leader of the Catholic Church is defined by the faith as
            the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is
            considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who “takes the
            place” of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.

            Ch 1(p13) The Pope is not the only one who holds this title. With regard to the
            Church entrusted to him, each bishop is Vicarius Christi.

            In Pope Benedict’s first statement, he claims that all popes are Vicars of
            Christ and that he is Peter’s successor.

            Right, well let’s see some miracles please- like raising the dead, and
            healing the sick, instead of a lot of flowery poppycock.

            The Roman Catholic church can be likened to a bucket full of holes…from
            a distance it looks good, but upon examination it is useless.

            Start READING and prayerfully UNDERSTANDING the Bible- in particular Daniel and

            From a Servant of the Lord

          • stmaybe

            Exactly, Rhoslyn. I don’t know about previous times, but today they are repeating the 70’s mantra: if it feels good, do it. It’s all fun and games until the recipient of the attention is undesiring, and it does not make an act any less or more sinful for the enjoyment of it.

          • Bruce Lewis

            I DO know Calvinists in Germany, and you are correct; they were very enthusiastic over Benedict XVI Ratzinger–far more enthusiastic than most German Catholics that I knew were.

          • Rhoslyn Thomas

            Good for those Calvinists! Being a Catholic certainly does not necessarily make you sensible.

          • 90Lew90

            That doesn’t surprise me at all. The most barking, rabid old crones do seem to appeal to Calvinists. The more bloodcurdling the better.

  • Mike McTighe

    This article just seems like it’s written by someone who is very bitter, about something, and I can’t tell as to what. To deny that Pope Francis hasn’t pushed the conversation to the left would be akin to claiming Reagan in fact represented the left due to his increased spending and expansion of Federal power.

    First and foremost, in a technical sense no foreign, non-US Government persona can necessarily be rationalized in terms of US politics. It’s what makes Hitler comparisons so patently absurd despite their widespread use. So, yes, in a certain sense if you’re on the right, you will find similarities with Pope Francis, just as the left does because he technically is neither, not either or. His beliefs stem from Catholic doctrines, not legal doctrines of the United States government.

    However as far as what Liberals care about; sensitivity towards minorities and special interests, the poor, denouncing the luxuries of the rich, and stinginess over lavishness, I think it’s pretty clear why Pope Francis resonates more as a left leaning Pope. And also why Benedict did not (as much – although I’d argue John Paul did, despite the scandal towards the end).

    I feel like this article is simply trying to bitterly remind everyone that the Pope is Catholic, and since Catholic is more conservative, the Pope thereby is not a Liberal Pope. But that’s trying to assign a political label to something independent of actual politics. There are plenty of Liberals in America who are also Catholic. The article just tries to peddle a conservative Catholic stereotype. Of course Liberals are attracted to his Liberal qualities, what else, precisely, would they be expected to extol? And it’s pretty clear he’s played right into this, and that he sees them as his pulpit, shifting the discussion in their direction. And of course he’s going to have beliefs that are privately his own, or not completely in line with that audience. I don’t think observing this though proves what this article has set out to prove.

    • Bill Hicks

      You’re an idiot.

      • Ike B.

        Welp, I’m convinced.

    • mindlessgeek

      >To deny that Pope Francis hasn’t pushed the conversation to the left would be akin to claiming Reagan in fact represented the left due to his increased spending and expansion of Federal power.

      Uh, wouldn’t the opposite of that be a better analogy? Claiming Francis is liberal because he has some liberal-leaning qualities would be akin to claiming Reagan was a liberal just because he demonstrated a couple of left-leaning qualities.

  • jameswhite15

    “Liberal” is a term that varies in meaning with each period in history. e.g. during Roman times a Liberal would be a Christian or Jew who wanted freedom to practice their religions. The Pope is going the Christ route. Same route as Ghandi. Same route as Mandela. Same route as St. Francis. It is the so-called Conservative Catholics and Christians who dislike him. They have to re-read the Gospels and follow the words of Christ. As Ghandi said “I like Christ – it is the Christians I don’t like”.

    • Two out of three ain’t bad. But I doubt rather than either Ghandi, who was a Hindu, or Nelson Mandela, who advocated the mass slaughter of the unborn, was following the path of Christ.

      • Ike B.

        …who advocated the mass slaughter of the unborn…

        Really? Are you sure that’s what he did? I don’t know that “advocate” means what you think it means.

        • http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/09/catholic-bishop-slams-nelson-mandelas-legalizing-unlimited-abortion-as-shameful/

          I refuse to vote for American politicians for such behavior, I see no reason why I should put up with anybody else doing so.

          • Ike B.


          • There is no reason to support a pro-choice politician for any reason.

          • Ike B.

            Okay, but I still don’t think you know what the word “advocate” means.

          • Did he or did he not advocate NGOs bringing abortion and contraception to Africa?

            He most certainly did. That makes him as much of a genocidal maniac as every other fake “pro-choice” politician.

          • 90Lew90

            “I refuse to vote for American politicians for such behavior, I see no reason why I should put up with anybody else doing so.”
            That’s excellent. You’re quite happy to exercise your own democratic choice, but you’ll be darned if you’re going to put up with anyone else doing it? Is that your idea of how America’s much-vaunted “freedom” should work?

          • I reject the American concept of freedom, because it more often produces evil than good.

          • 90Lew90

            Whatever of your silly notion of what American freedom is. What you’ve said here is that you want choice for you and no choice for anyone not like you. Who do you think you are?

          • No, what I’ve said is that the choice to murder is an irrational choice that should not be available for anybody, including Nelson Mandela. The fact that pro-choice politicians increase the error by defining abortion as something other than murder, is even more irrational, and I for one will not praise a genocidal maniac.

          • 90Lew90

            No, actually you said you wouldn’t vote for a president in favour of such choice and you don’t see why you should tolerate anyone else voting for him either. Perhaps you didn’t know what you said.
            And again you’re proffering simple-minded solutions to complex issues. Not lea calling abortion “murder”, which it just isn’t, for any number of reasons you’re not willing to contemplate because in your world all is black and white. Sorry my friend, but in the real world things aren’t that convenient.

          • I don’t tolerate people voting for choice, at all. As far as I’m concerned, people choosing to abort a child are genocidal maniacs. They are the ones proposing a simple-minded solution to a complex issue: Don’t “want” a child? Don’t have the resources to care for the child? Just KILL the child. That is what your “grey” world proposes, and I will always and forever try to stand in the way of such genocidal mania.

          • 90Lew90

            Ineffectually. Thankfully. I don’t know where you get off thinking it’s up to you or people like you to dictate what should and should not be a matter of informed choice. Particularly when you’re plainly not very well informed. Are you drunk? Do you wear hats made of tin foil?

          • Martin Luther King was ineffectual at the beginning, his niece Alveda King now stands with us, because she recognizes the bigotry against the unwanted for what it is.

            Informed choice, that’s a laugh. Your side fights against ultrasound machines, and you call it informed choice. Your side spreads misinformation about the relation between abortion and cancer, and call it informed choice. Your side lies about the poisonous nature of synthetic estrogen on human bodies and on the environment, and call it informed choice. Your side pays minority, brown skinned teenagers to take brainwashing classes, then pays them to get sterilized, and you call it informed choice.

            I call it like I see it: unwanted is the new negro, the new jew. The only good unwanted child to your side is a dead unwanted child. The only functional difference between Planned Parenthood and the KKK is PP does their lynchings in the womb.

          • 90Lew90

            My side? Sorry, but you sound like a paranoid loon. More black/white, them/us, good/bad false dichotomies, interspersed with a good dose of nonsensical propagandist trash garnered from one of those oh-so-reliable sites like lifesitenews or somewhere. And not even the capacity to imagine the damage your own self-righteousness does. As we say on this side of the pond: on your bike.

          • You are the one advocating for the murder of the unborn in this case, with your shades of grey so no unwanted child left alive simplistic thinking.

            Actually taking a stand is far harder- and far more courageous.

          • 90Lew90

            Advocated the murder — of anyone — where? Don’t bother. There’s no point. I’m afraid you’re too stupid to bother with. Bye now. And hey: grow up.

      • Sygurd Jonfski

        It’s “Gandhi”, not “Ghandi”, guys…

  • John Shuster

    It is my observation, based on 18 years in the system, that church leadership and their clergy are obsessed with sex and money, externally in their governance priorities and internally in the cloaked privacy of their double lives. The secret lives of priests comprise a reality that most believers who are still in the pews block out with marked consistency. The clergy relies upon this symbiotic illusional relationship to sustain their self-deception.

    • Qari

      Really? What have you been observing exactly?

    • Zimbalist

      The priests I know are humble men, for the most part with very few possessions.

    • Tridentinus

      I think, if you look around you, you will find that it is the world which is obsessed with both sex and money; look at the internet for example.

  • Alexander Verbum

    Pope Franics’ speech is ambiguous
    and highly imprecise at times, this is why the media hijack what he says – the
    media did not come anywhere close to do this to the last few Popes. Part of the
    problem therefore is the way he talks and even writes a phenomenon that we have
    witnessed in the Church for the last 5 decades.

  • Terence Hale

    Sorry — but Pope Francis is no liberal. Pleasure is something one should enjoy, but don’t. Sin is something you’re certain you shouldn’t but do. Pope Francis is a “Societas Iesu”, a “Jesuit” he should know.

  • icowrich

    “But in order to opt for the poor, the church has to court the super-rich.”

    By this standard, Christ failed to opt for the poor, since he didn’t successfully court the rich man in Mark 10. He had a perfect opening to court the man, and told him instead “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    The courtship failed, and the rich man “went away sad, because he had great wealth.” What a missed opportunity! If only Jesus had read this article.

  • Eddie

    What does it for Pope Francis is the contrast with the arrogant, self-righteous, corrupt popes that went immediately before.
    The Vatican is as corrupt as any Mafia wing but far less organised – utterly chaos, backwards practices, and that’s just the financial management.
    If one then looks at the rest: the endless child abuse and cover ups, the vast wealth of lazy arrogant priests as the people starve, the absurd moralising about condoms etc which ends up killing people – and really, the Catholic church has a lot to answer for – which is maybe why all Catholics I know ignore it and do not obey papal orders as once many did – and the Irish Catholics especially will never forgive (it takes a brave man to be a priest in Ireland these days).

    • honoring St. John, XXIII for initiating Vatican II and Francis for reviving it in the Jubilee year of Mercy of 2016. Let’s do keep close tabs o n the number of women theologians and savvy administrators he appoints to the Magesterium, so sorely lacking in that so obvious a corrective balance to egregious errors of the ‘old boyz network.’ and hip hip hooray for the enlightened and oh so sensible affirmation of the electorate in Ireland this spring–and those women justices in the US for marking a path to social and moral justice for all.

  • Bride Quinn

    In his suppression of the Franciscan Order of the Immaculate he is both ruthless and shocking, there is no love or mercy ,this wonderful order are being brutally ripped apart by this so called pope, because they adhere to tradition which he clearly is intolerant of . So while the media slobber all over this intolerant man he tramples this Franciscan order into the ground .

  • Iam mom

    I think Faithful Catholics are so used to the clarity of Benedict and JPII. Their clarity was such a blessing to me after such a lack in formation and catechesis. I still stumble over complex sentences of JPII and Benedict, but they are responsible for my generation’s conversion to love of Truth. Word is out on how Francis will affect the young of our culture. Only the God knows!

    • TheBlackCat13

      Which generation is that? The generation that grew up under JPII and Benedict are leaving the church in record numbers. Or at least they were until the Church made it impossible to leave.

      • ghiggins1958

        What does that mean, the Church made it impossible to leave?
        Is someone being held against his will?

  • Memphis Viking

    The left-wing media will continue to portray Francis as a left-winger to bludgeon conservative Christians with his supposed “enlightenment”.

  • samuelafugglas

    Thank God, he is not a commie, not even a socialist?

  • Persuasive

    Very good article. We need more like this. http://www.couragetolaugh.com.

  • CamilleFilarsky

    I do think that Pope Francis needs to be clear and explicit when he speaks or gives interviews. The Church has done a great job of recruiting holy, orthodox men to the priesthood in the last decade, due to the clear, orthodox teachings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It would be terribly awful, if young, orthodox men are no longer interested in the priesthood because of Francis’ ambiguous statements and his appearance of being unorthodox. The Church was just crawling out of the hole which Vatican II and its misinterpretations put the Church into. It would be sad, indeed, if Pope Francis were to push the Church back into the hole, and even more deeply.

    • TheBlackCat13

      Wait, you really think the source of the Catholic Church’s problems is that it isn’t reactionary enough?

      People are leaving the church in droves, and the primary reason is that it is far too reactionary.

      • Iam mom

        The point isn’t to be politically attractive or “tickle ears”. Jesus said “Will I find faith on Earth?” I would not want to be a part of a church in which people don’t want to be challenged or taught. Would you? Or do you like that ’60’s kumbaya, my lord stuff, hand holding around a campfire..? We need to know the point from which people are arguing from. Most 20-40 year olds don’t polarize themselves from the liberal or from the conservative, we just want Truth and that is Jesus the person and God. Trusting his words the gates of Hell shall not overcome, we are lovers of the Church’s teachings and the vicar on Earth

        • Bruce Lewis

          Pope Francis is far more “orthodox” than the last two papal supremacists who reigned from Peter’s chair. Newman would not have approved of the constant use of the “infallability principle” of either of them–of, for instance, one’s “knowing,” as an absolute certainty, that women might never be admitted to the sacerdotal state, and of his “knowing,” as an absolute certainty, that somebody without the sufficient number of miracles was a “saint”–or of the other’s “knowing,” as an absolute certainty, that “same-sex-attraction” was so much an intrinsically “disordered” condition that it should prove a permanent impediment to priest-candidacy. These decisions constituted not only a refusal to “think” with the “whole Church,” but even a refusal to “think” with the whole of the Church’s “tradition”–which is being Protestant fundamentalist-like–not Catholic. (I always felt that, in his deep-seated pessimism and tragic view of modernity, Pope Ratzinger was more German Lutheran in spirit than Catholic Thomist.)

      • Tridentinus

        The greatest exodus from the Catholic Church occurred after the liturgical changes attributed to Vatican II began to be implemented.

      • CamilleFilarsky

        Ridiculous! Prior to Vatican II, when the church was really “reactionary”, Mass attendance and vocations to the priesthood and religious life were at an all-time high. After Vatican II when the Church got all mushy and kept repeating the mantra, “God loves you no matter what you do or how you behave.” over and over from their pulpits, Mass attendance and vocations plummeted. I think the Church has forgotten that the Old Testament also exists and that our Heavenly Father, The Creator of the Universe, can become very impatient and very angry with this kind of heresy! As Jesus said: “I’m not here to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” Therefore, Jesus was not abolishing the very harsh Mosaic law, but was here to fulfill it because Jesus and His Father are one. Read the Bible and educate yourself.

  • Damian Thompson

    Great piece, Luke – one of the best on the subject, and there have been dozens. Francis is mysterious, though. His softening of emphasis on gay rights and women in the Church does not change teaching, but does it prepare the ground for a future Pope to innovate? We tend to take it as read that JPII’s ruling that there can never ever be women priests is (as he said) binding on the Church for all time. But do we accept that argument out of loyalty, because we’re Catholics? Might not an informed outsider say: hmm. Things can change, and what is Magisterium in one century may not be so in another?

    • 90Lew90

      The church is hidebound. It’s stuck with its own nonsense.

      • Bruce Lewis

        But it’s not; see above.

        • 90Lew90

          Sorry but it is. See below.

          • You two thinkers are truly engaged and have enlivened my morning meditations. Merci Buckets!

          • 90Lew90


  • TheRani

    People have been treating Jesus that way for centuries. I guess he’s in good company!

  • Rod

    I think part of this presentation of a false Francis is to alienate the average Catholic from the Church. It is no coincidence that whenever Francis proclaims an allegiance to Catholic teaching it is ignored. The average person will believe what is presented on TV and this is just a new way to attack the Catholic Church.

  • love the Esquire comment! 😉

  • callingallcomets

    Please, it’s bad enough having to read this sort of stuff in the Daily Telegraph. Am I the only person in the UK who couldn’t care less about the Papacy? For my money it’s failure to directly confront the Nazi regime over the death camps drained it of any moral legitimacy



  • Frank

    Way too much stuff about the Pope in the British press these days.

  • Bitter Cold

    Each of us should recognize that, in the fight for liberty, knowledge is our most potent weapon. Arm yourself: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Emerson_C

    In a recent analysis of the Pope’ recent Evangelii Guadium, a commentator showed that the most frequently cited source material was the writings of John Paul II followed closely by those of Benedict XVI. The third place was taken up by Paul VI who famously condemned contraception in 1968. The most cited theologian was the medieval St Thomas Aquinas; only two others were mentioned, Henri De Lubac and Romana Guardini–neither of whom would be regards as ‘liberal-progressive’. Not a single ‘new theologian’ or post Vatican II theologian was mentioned. As for so-called ‘liberation theologians’–not a peep. Enough said.

  • “Why would anyone, let alone a very highly regarded thinker and writer like Scalfari, believe the Pope had done away with such a basic tenet of Christian theology?”

    Because that’s what Moscow told him to write. For those of you still clueless on this subject, Moscow & Allies co-opted the Vatican at the top level with the “election” in 1958 of the man who would take the title John XXIII (Moscow & Allies had already breached the Vatican’s lower ranks), which is why several years later the Curia, now manned by non-believers, altered the policy on pedophile priests, from the old policy of ensuring the guilty priest is no longer in the company of Catholic children (at least not alone) to the now well-known policy where the offending priest is shipped off to a new but unsuspecting parish, ensuring that the the number of Catholic children sexually assaulted would dramatically increase, thereby weakening the authority of the church.

    Frances’ mission is to cause confusion within the church, witness his exhortation last September to not obsess over abortion (!), homosexual marriage (!) and contraception, contrasted with his recent utterance Sunday where he called abortion “horrific” and a symptom of a “throwaway culture.”

    Francis bows to political leaders, a fantastical betrayal of who the Pope represents on Earth, subtly telling the world that the Pope is no more important than, let’s say, the murderous Robert Mugabe, the first political leader he bowed to at his inaugural mass as Pope last March.

    Conclusion: Creating moral confusion, while advancing the perception that the Pope is no more relevant than a secular political leader is this Pope’s mission.

    • Alan40

      Sedevacantist conspiracy theory.

      • Yes, the Holy See has been vacant a legitimate Pope, and the date of vacancy would indeed be 1958 with the “election” of the man who would be John XXIII, the date most Sedevacantists accept, but Sedevacantists are unfamiliar with (1) the precise nature of the vacancy…Moscow & Allies, meaning the vacancy came from outside Church, not within; and (2) are further confused about the precise nature of the vacancy because the USSR is accepted to have collapsed, which is false, as the following proves…


        “Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for “Red Star”, the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper’s official designation is, “Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense.” Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin’s head! Those Soviet emblems and Lenin’s head can’t still be next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s newspaper due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution; the nations of the world constituting the Soviet Union!

        In addition, the KGB agent Quislings that controlled the Russian Orthodox Church before the “collapse” of the USSR are to this day still in control. They were never identified and thrown out of that institution after the “collapse” of the USSR. The same is true for all other religious institutions in the other 14 republics of the USSR, including East Bloc nations, proving not only co-option of those religious institutions, but that the “collapses” of the East Bloc and USSR were disinformation operations:


        My analysis, spotlighting the priest-pedophile scandal, (1) proves that the Vatican was usurped circa the early 1960s, since believers in Jesus would never subject Catholic children to pre-meditated sexual abuse; and (2) the longevity of the scandal, spanning five Popes, points to an outside source supporting the continued sexual abuse of Catholic children, and only one entity would have the (a) motive; (b) resources; and (c) manpower to pull off such a multi-generational operation would be Moscow & Allies.

        • Alan40

          I don’t think anyone doubted John XXIII’s validity until he started saying and doing things they didn’t like. The whole Russia stuff is pure fantasy.

          • “I don’t think anyone doubted John XXIII’s validity until he started saying and doing things they didn’t like.”

            Like initiating the new policy that encouraged the sexual abuse of Catholic children?

            “The whole Russia stuff is pure fantasy.”

            Meaning you can’t distinguish fantasy from fact, as the links provided proved that the collapse of the USSR was a strategic ruse, and that all the Christian denominations behind the Iron Curtain are still co-opted.

  • rtj1211

    Who ever said that a Pope was supposed to be liberal??

    I think what people warm to is his acts, not his words.

    Now if that turns out to be a PR stunt prior to becoming a Middle Ages-style Inquisitor, history will record it thus.

    You don’t have to be a catholic after all. If you don’t like him, you can always defect somewhere else……

  • Phillip Wilson

    By no means would our stress and discontent be eliminated under a collectivist system where authority’s orders replace liberty’s choices.

  • Jacob Israel

    The fact that the vatican feels the need to issue such a statement indicates the level of power the Pope wields amongst some of his fans- the pope actually believes he has this power, and his crackbrain fans do too.

  • joe

    I could be wrong, but my personal suspicion, at least so far as US media is concerned, is that the principle reason they are predisposed to look favorably upon Francis is that he is from Argentina. If everything about him was the same and he said all the same things but was from Europe they probably would have little interest in him.

    This was evident to me the day he was announced to the world as the new pope, and many US news outlet were excitedly declaring him “the first non-white Pope!” and “a milestone for Latinos!” and even Obama made remarks comparing Francis to himself as the first black president.

    Now, all of this is insane of course. Though born in Argentina, Francis is ethnically 100% Italian. Few Americans realize that unlike most countries in Latin America, the population of Argentina is overwhelmingly caucasian. The US notion of a distinct “Hispanic race” is a relatively recent and anthropologically meaningless invention. People from Latin America can be of any race or (as is often the case) mix of races. The US media piously characterizes all people from Spanish speaking countries as “people of color” whether they are black, Indian, mestizo, mulatto, or white Spaniards. Many of them inanely perceive Francis – or perhaps want to perceive Francis – as a sort of Jackie Robinson figure.

  • rodentx2

    The concept of religion, especially the Catholic Church, is inherently antithetical to animal dignity, let alone animal liberation from humanity’s organized exploitation. This Pope Francis is no exception. “Dominion” by any other name is still domination. “Stewardship” is still exploitation. It is a device repeatedly used to devalue, dismiss, deny, and harm nonhuman animals, our fellow Earthlings and evolutionary kin.

    From the book “Men, Beasts and Gods, A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals” (Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY 1972) by Gerald Carson:

    “The reflection that the lower creatures suffered, although innocent, troubled many consciences. But the official dogma stood firm that brutes had neither
    personality, ‘intellective soul’ nor future life. Their place in the
    universe was fixed forever in Genesis 1:28, that they lived and died for the
    convenience of man. As late as the middle of the last century, Pius IX
    refused permission for the formation in Rome of a society for the prevention of
    cruelty to animals on the grounds that it was a theological error to suppose
    that man had any duty toward animals.”

    Thomas Aquinas, thirteenth century Catholic theologian…provides an apt case study for why religious arguments for animal liberation are tenuous, even
    desperate…. His work still influences those entering the
    priesthood…. When it comes to Francis [of Assisi], an argument can be
    made that he encouraged kindness to animals, but he is only one of many
    Catholic saints, and his affection for animals and nature was certainly not
    influential enough to have any effect on Catholicism’s official stance on
    nonhumans…. Francis’s love of animals was secular, the ideas of one man
    whose compassion toward other-than-human animals was in defiance of his Church, not in collusion with it. On Aquinas and the popes, however, there is
    little room for debate.

    In “Catholic Exemplars: Recent Popes, Medieval Saints, and Animal
    Liberation,” Philosophy professor Judith Barad premises Aquinas as an
    “exemplar” because he concluded that animals and plants have souls, although
    they are not the same as human souls; he also acknowledge that animals have
    feelings. To counter such a depiction of Aquinas who embedded
    speciesism more deeply into Catholicism than it had been before, Aquinas
    declared “by divine province that non-rational beings should serve the higher
    species.” [“Service Animals Only”] Aquinas regarded animals as non-rational, an idea that in turn influenced centuries of Christian thought. AQUINAS DENIED NOT ONLY THAT ANIMALS ARE OUR NEIGHBORS, BUT THAT WE DO NOT HAVE ANY DIRECT OBLIGATION TO SHOW THEM KINDNESS. If Aquinas is one of the best “exemplars” Catholicism has to offer, there is no hope for nonhuman animals through the Catholic approach. Even other Christians can see that.

    I’m not religious for the reasons herein.