Watch out Pope Francis: the Catholic civil war has begun

Uncertainty over how much reform the pope wants is splitting his church into factions

8 November 2014

9:00 AM

8 November 2014

9:00 AM

‘At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,’ said a prominent Catholic conservative last week. No big deal, you might think. Opponents of Pope Francis have been casting doubt on his leadership abilities for months — and especially since October’s Vatican Synod on the Family, at which liberal cardinals pre-emptively announced a softening of the church’s line on homosexuality and second marriages, only to have their proposals torn up by their colleagues.

But it is a big deal. The ‘rudderless’ comment came not from a mischievous traditionalist blogger but from Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura — that is, president of the Vatican’s supreme court. As it happens, Pope Francis intends to sack Burke, whose habit of dressing up like a Christmas tree at Latin Masses infuriates him. But he hasn’t got round to it yet. And thus we have the most senior American cardinal in Rome publicly questioning the stewardship of the Holy Father — possibly with the tacit approval of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Nothing like this has happened since the backstabbing behind the scenes at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. It raises the question: is the Catholic church in the early stages of a civil war between liberals and conservatives, fought not over liturgical niceties (the source of relatively harmless squabbles under John Paul II and Benedict XVI) but fundamental issues of sexual morality?

The October synod was a disaster for Pope Francis. Before it started, he had successfully tweaked the Catholic mood music relating to divorcees and gay people. The line ‘Who am I to judge?’, delivered with an affable shrug on the papal plane, generated friendly headlines without committing the church to doctrinal change. Conservatives were alarmed but had to acknowledge Francis’s cunning. ‘Remember that he’s a Jesuit,’ they said.

Then Francis did something not very cunning. Opening the synod, which would normally be a fairly routine affair, he encouraged cardinals and bishops to ‘speak boldly’. Which they did, but not in the way he intended.

The Pope’s first mistake was to invite Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s 81-year-old retired head of ecumenism, to set the agenda for the synod by addressing the world’s cardinals back in February. Kasper told them that the church should consider giving Holy Communion to remarried Catholics.

Even if Francis supports this notion — and nobody knows — his choice of Kasper was a blunder because the cardinal, in addition to being a genial and distinguished scholar, is leader of a German-led faction that represents, in Catholic terms, the far left of the theological spectrum. In 1993 Kasper, then Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, co-signed a letter by German bishops demanding that Catholics living ‘in a canonically invalid union’ should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to receive the Eucharist. The German church is a law unto itself: although its services are empty, it is rich, thanks to the country’s church tax, and arrogant. To cut a long story short, this faction — which had ruthlessly undermined Benedict XVI’s authority when he was pope –  tried to hijack the synod.

They messed it up. The synod’s ‘special secretary’, the Italian archbishop Bruno Forte, wrote a mid-synod report suggesting that the participants wanted to recognise the virtuous aspects of gay unions. In doing so, Forte — an even more radical figure — overplayed his hand. Most synod fathers wanted no such thing. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s finances, were horrified. They ensured that the final report kicked Communion for divorcees into the long grass and did not even mention homosexual relationships. ‘Synod rebuffs Francis on gays,’ reported the media — the last thing the Pope wanted to read.

To make matters worse, Kasper gave an interview in which he said that anti-gay African Catholics ‘should not tell us too much what we have to do’. At which point Cardinal Burke called him a racist. Kasper reacted furiously and is telling anyone who will listen that the church will soon drastically change its rules on access to Communion. This is wishful thinking.

And now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ‘I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ‘Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ‘He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’

Where does this leave Francis? Looking a bit like ‘the Hamlet Pope’, Paul VI, whom he has beatified. He supports some sort of reform, but uncertainty is breaking the church into factions reminiscent of the Anglican Communion. Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour. Meanwhile, Burke has emerged as leader of the hardline traditionalists. ‘He did not want this role but perhaps he sees himself as a St John Fisher figure,’ says one Vatican source, a comparison that casts the successor of Peter in the role of Henry VIII.

What should worry Francis is that moderate conservative Catholics are losing confidence in him. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who is no one’s idea of an extremist, believes that ‘this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him’. Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald, says that ‘Francis achieved miracles with his compassionate, off-the-cuff comments that detoxified the Catholic brand. He personifies optimism — but when he tries to turn this into policy he isn’t in command of the procedures or the details. The result is confusion.’

All of which suggests a far closer analogy than with Henry VIII. There is another world leader, elected amid huge excitement, who has surprised and disappointed the faithful by appearing disengaged and even helpless in moments of crisis. This is an awful thing to say, but we could be watching Jorge Bergoglio turn into Barack Obama.

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  • Rowland Nelken

    To an outsider it seems preposterous that anyone should imagine that eternal divinely issued laws are being discussed. All churches seem to do is drift along with the zeitgeist, albeit afew decades, generations or centuries behind everyone else. Although the pace of change increases I doubt that I will live long enough to see the all but inevitable day when the Pope of Rome is a married lesbian.

    • MenAreLikeWine

      Why would a lesbian want to get married? I thought lesbians were only interested in women?

      • Rowland Nelken

        Gay weddings in Catholic churches and a married priesthood will come along in time.

        • Athelstane

          Were that to happen, you’d see an open schism.

          • Rowland Nelken

            The whole Abrahamic set is a pile of schisms. If there is a God, and that God is the God of Abraham, it is both a lousy communicator and highly irresponsible. By definition it is omniscient, so must have noticed that there is no agreement on what its message to mankind is or what that message means. Even before Jesus came along there was hardly unity; Essenes, Sadducees and Pharisees were but three of the bigger sects. Since the Jesus sect split from the Jews completely unity there has never ever been even in that mega spinoff outfit. Paul’s Epistles alone make that clear. The Reformation and Great Schism with the East are but two subsequent shatterings. And then we have the ‘final’ revelation to Mahomet and a whole new set of Islamic factions.

            A responsible God would have noticed the anguish, strife and bloodshed that its muddled message has caused, would intervene and issue an update.

            Until then religious leaders would do best to acknowledge they are on their own with the rest of humanity and not expect their religious texts and traditions to be of any help.

            In other words, like the British Raj, the National Coal Board, the Achaemenian Empire, the Hellfire Club and the Court of the Star Chamber, to name but afew, it is time these religions shut up shop.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Maybe the strife is part of the plan? To sort the wheat from the chaff. Peace would be a stagnant swamp.

          • Rowland Nelken

            And who, in Paddy’s view, is the wheat? With real wheat, the chaff can be objectively defined. In this argey bargey there are probably competing messages from a range of ‘Holy Spirits’.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Only the Big man upstairs can judge the wheat from the chaff. All flesh is grass. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We are the blind led by the blind. The absolute darkness of our predicament is what we must realise and our helplessness to help ourselves in any fundamental way. That realisation is the beginning of the spiritual life, the germination of the wheat. Only God or the universal intelligence or the mystery beyond words and concepts can decide which is worth saving. I am only a tiny wheat grain not yet developed I can say no more than that. I could be totally wrong.

          • Rowland Nelken

            And with such an uncommunicative ‘Big Man’, we must acknowledge we can but rely on ourselves to devise civilised methods for co existence and co operation. Attributing our own notions to some God or other is not an ethical way to rule.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            No it isn’t. But my idea of religion is that it is not for the mass of people. The powers in charge are something other than God. The spiritual world is in opposition to the social/political world which rules the masses. In it but not of it. I don’t know how society functions, what laws govern it, how it develops or how it should be etc. That is beyond my understanding or capabilities. The view I gave of the wheat and chaff is my own personal view, subjective and personal etc. I cannot speak for others. I have no answer other than that. But you are right to question all these schisms and hypocrisies and contradictions.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Yes but is that not what the French Revolutionaries tried to do? Start again Year Zero no superstition. Reason as the ruling guide. But then human passions came in and everything returned, maybe in a reconfigured form but still the same. You could say the same for the Bolshevik Revolution or any Utopian attempt at reconstructing the society.

          • Rowland Nelken

            Revolutions have often, alas, demonstrated that binning a bad leader is one thing. Replacing it with something better is much more difficult. 1989 in Eastern Europe was a relative success story. Not much bloodshed, save in Romania and imperfect, but much better governance than in Soviet times thereafter.

            Iranians binned a Shah corrupted by his absolute power and became imprisoned under their present brutal theocracy, and ISIS hardly sounds an improvement on either of those monsters, Assad and Saddam.

            In Christendom, however, the power of religion is, largely, gently fading away into history. Maybe the Bishops will survive another go at Lords Reform. Will the Queen’s successor be, even nominally, defending any sort of faith?

            Certainly the Bolsheviks were but a Godless version of Abrahamic apocalyptic, their Garden of Eden, Marx’s mythical good old days of free working people, and the Day of Judgement the October Revolution. .

            We are fortunate in 21st century Britain in that our revolution, when religious fanatics were vying for power, was 370 years ago. Since then we have muddled along with relatively few interludes of extremism and violence.

            Biggish changes were made by Attlee and Thatcher without a shot being fired. Only in Ireland, where opposing God concepts kept the people apart, was there much bloodshed in the 20th century British Isles.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            You are very informed, probably more so than most of the journalists here. I don’t understand what drives societies to accept or reject regimes, mild or extreme. It is pretty unfathomable to me. I am still in the learning stage, looking at history and human nature in all its various forms. All I can say is we should be wary of extremes of passion which blind us and bind us to the manipulators of those passions. But I do come back to the notion that peace is a stagnant condition and human nature (or Western man) seems to be a restless fractious being who revolts against everything, even peace.

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            Father Zlatko Sudac – Visionary, Stigmatic


  • EnosBurrows

    Cardinal Ratzinger, going under the courtesy title of pope emeritus, is no longer pope.

    • mandelson

      Still is the Pope for me and many others.

      • James

        But not for the Pope Emeritus himself.

      • Lafollette

        Just as John XXIII is mine. I submit that we both may be delusional.

  • Uncle Brian

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, summarised the outcome of the synod in a pastoral letter released a fortnight ago (link below). Comparing what he says in the ninth paragraph of his letter, dealing with Catholics in second marriages or those who have decided to live together without marriage, with what he says about gays in the following paragraph, I think Nichols is sending out the same message as Argentina’s Archbishop Fernandez and Brazil’s Cardinal Damasceno: the two cases — unmarried/remarried couples and homosexuals — are quite different from one another and are not wrapped up together in a single reform package, despite anything that Cardinal Kasper may have said, or may have appeared to be saying, to the contrary. The curia is on course to get the rules changed next year for the first group, the remarried or unmarried couples, who will be readmitted to Communion, but there is to be no recognition of same sex “marriage”. We must learn to be nice to gays, but that’s as far as it goes.


    Cardinal Nichols: http://www.catholicherald.co.u

    Archbishop Fernandez:

    Cardinal Damasceno:

    • raffer

      no even if he were to do that he will have lead people into schism who follow him away from God and on the road to hell

      • Uncle Brian

        You’d better warn him not to do it, then!

  • johan marr

    Sorry this is a very sad and mischievous piece of ideological nonsense. The author is effectively acting as a ‘terrorist’ seeking to actively ferment disunity in the Church because of his extremist positions. He is trying to create the ‘chaos’ he is supposedly decrying. Clearly he hasn’t got pastoral ‘bone’ in his body and mistakes Francis’s care for ordinary people as some type of dangerous ‘liberalism’. There is a very personally nasty and vicious streak in his musings which are going to have a lot of people ask in the UK whether the Catholic Herald is any longer a Catholic publication As a director of this paper he is clearly influencing its ongoing undermining of Poe Francis. But what is worse in Thompson’s clear call for dissent against the Pope. Nothing like this would have been tolerated by his fellow travellers in the last pontificates of JP2 and Benedict XV1. Now after having declared for decades the centrality of loyalty to the Pope – they are reversing and arguing for loyal dissent. A joke and a farce coming from people who claim to be ‘orthodox’ It’s as if Burke or Pell are really their Pope! Sorry Damian – those two were not elected! The article finally is a piece of dissent. Its pettiness and ‘politicising’ of the church are a literal dis – grace.

    • Athelstane

      …whether the Catholic Herald is any longer a Catholic publication…

      If people are willing to grant this label to THE TABLET – which has yet to find a dissenting position it won’t endorse – it seems it’s fairly easy for a publication to grab and keep the title “Catholic.”

      • johan marr

        There is a middle way between the position of the Tablet and that of the dissenter Thompson. I abhor arrogance when it comes from the Tablet but they are nowhere near as vicious as the likes of Mr Thompson. He writes with a bitchiness I have only rarely seen. It is a text book piece usually written in the style of ‘savage old queens’. At least though he isn’t a ‘convert’ like so many others at the C Herald who spend the lives telling those of us who have been Catholic for 60 + years – how they are really more “Catholic’ than us…

        • Frank Hume

          Isn’t the Catholic Church about making converts, so why be so disparaging?
          Doesn’t Francis continually lambast those who want their faith neatly tied up in a parcel? Why shouldn’t Thompson or anyone else ‘make a mess’ a ‘lio’ as Francis told people a little less than ‘those of us who have been Catholic for 60 + years’ to do.
          Why rave with such anger?

          • johan marr

            Again you are defending an attacker of the legitimately elected Pope. If I were to have similarly attacked Pope John Paul 2 or Benedict I would also deserve anger. It is just to feel anger against nastiness and pettiness.

          • raffer

            St Paul chastised St peter the first pope when he was wrong.

          • Victor Victoria

            How often the moderates had used that line during the past two pontificates! How thrilling to see the shoe on the other foot for a change!

          • raffer

            yes they used it out of context

          • Victor Victoria

            They used it out of your personal context, you mean! Your egotisticalness is breathtaking!

          • raffer

            no I submit to the teaching of the church on all things not the whim of the day. anyone who tries to change dogma/ doctrine has declared themselves God. That’s what ego is.

          • Victor Victoria

            Even the previous pontiff didn’t expect you to do that (all the mindless, unquestioning submission, that is)!

            “Not every tradition that arises in the Church is a true celebration and keeping present of the mystery of Christ. There is a distorting, as well as legitimate, tradition … Consequently tradition must not be considered only affirmatively but also critically.” Joseph Ratzinger.

          • raffer

            hmmm you do realise there is two types of tradition in the church known as capital T and small t. above he is referring to tradition small t. you will notice he says celebration.but you have been on a role of being wrong on everything so far why stop now
            in terms on submission you will find that Jesus stressed the importance of that to many saints

          • Victor Victoria

            Wow! Such profundity is breathtaking. Can you please provide a citation which describes these two types of tradition/Tradition? I’d be most grateful.

            Your erudition takes my breath away, dear soul!

          • raffer

            wow how can you be commentating on church policy and not know.,google it and save your blushes

          • Victor Victoria


          • raffer
          • Victor Victoria

            Good for Bob Stanley … though I was expecting an official Church document.


          • raffer

            he quotes the bible I would have thought that was a church document.

          • Victor Victoria


          • raffer

            I have noticed in debates you never really have the follow the whole thing just go down to the post where a debater starts name calling to find the outcome

          • Victor Victoria

            It’s a good-humoured interjection, not a name that’s being called. That I even have to point this out is so very sad.

          • raffer

            again with the personal attacks. Its okay I realise you accept your wrong and didn’t understand what you were posting about.

          • guesto3

            How charitable. In everything, love.

          • guesto3

            And if it was anyone else you would have anointed it as “gradualism”!

          • raffer

            I never mentioned gradualism, you seem to be making straw man arguments all over the place

          • CMLD3

            When did the former Pope pen that line and in what publication? Of course – it begs the question of what he meant by ‘tradition.’ Sacred tradition is immutable so he can’t possibly have been referring to apostolic tradition and the moral law…..

          • Victor Victoria

            He penned it while still Professor Ratzinger, having recently served as a peritus at the Council, writing it in his article “The transmission of Divine Revelation,” which appeared in “Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II” (1969).

          • guesto3

            So who’s changing dogma? You so easily take the bait for some excused “minor” apostasy.

          • johnschuh

            “Moderates.”! Well, the term liberal fits better. Kaspar did not jump the rails like Kueng, but he has the smell of German idealism about him, the smugness of a biblical scholar without being one.

          • Victor Victoria

            If your avatar weren’t so cute I’d be tempted to take you down.

          • johnschuh

            Please do.

          • Victor Victoria

            No … it’s just too cute!!!

          • johan marr

            So Damian Thompson is St Paul now?? I thought he was just nasty right-winger who writes with venom about other Catholics and believes he is more orthodox than the Pope

          • raffer

            and I said that when? it seems you are unable to post charitable, A nasty right winger, someone is nasty if they are a right ringer what ever that is, I suppose it means practising catholic, like st paul was

          • Paul chastised him for being too uptight in his interpretation of revelation. If we want to use politicized contemporary categories then Peter got busted for being too conservative in his church membership policies.

          • raffer

            in your opinion not in the opinion of the people who wrote about it

          • CMLD3

            What a complete distortion of the reality! In fact, Peter was chastised by Paul for not upholding the very truth which he, Peter, had earlier defined i.e. the inclusion of the gentiles in the new covenant (Acts 10) because he (Peter) later wanted to please some Christian jews (who insisted upon circumcision) by not associating with uncircumcised gentiles…..Galatians 2:11

          • Donald Coppersmith

            chastised? where did you ever get this word! outdated! certainly archaic and draconian.

          • raffer

            I know heretics hate everything that is not of the minute.

          • Daniel P. Furey

            Yeah, and don’t forget about the fact that Paul’s promise to collect for the “saints” in Jerusalem may have helped Paul’s argument.

          • guesto3

            This guy is now compared to St. Paul? An olympic size jump for comparison for sure.

          • steve5656546346

            The primary attacker of the legitimacy of Pope Francis Pope Francis himself. Still, he is certainly the valid Pope (unless and until the Church were to determined otherwise).

          • johnschuh

            Yes, we cannot forget that we have had two and even three popes at the same time.

          • guesto3

            How is that?

          • Nicolas Bellord

            Johan marr: Why not discuss the substance of Damien’s article rather than making ad hominem attacks?

          • guesto3

            I don’t think this exactly fits the definition of “making a mess” intended by the Pope’s own example. He’s rather warning not to worry about offending some kind of domineering clericalism. Too much of that kind of fear to the detriment of true Faith and Love has gone on for too long.

    • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

      Don’t shoot the messenger.

      • johan marr

        Sorry Mr Thompson is not a’messenger’ He is delivering an anti Pope Francis piece of dissent disguised . Worst of all he is doing it with a venom that is simply not Christian

        • Rowland Nelken

          As if Christianity has not, in parts of its history, been characterised by venom.

          • BronxLady

            Doesn’t make it right

        • steve5656546346

          There is no venom that does not originate with the Pope himself: the master of insults which are both pointless and unjust.

          • guesto3

            Your example of such?

            Rather than “venom” shepherds are asked to reach out more to the confused and victimized in a world culture where the divide between the haves and have nots is like never before. It certainly is not venom to point out the hypocrites and the worldly climbers who separate themselves from their flocks and scandalize the faithful….placing burdens upon the poor without lifting a finger for same themselves. And it’s clear honesty to ask those who are responsible for the confusion of the past decades to take a good look at their own part in all of this and do something about it. That’s a true follower of Christ’s own demands.

            Be careful not to commit a sin against the Holy Spirit.

        • jenny

          well said…

        • EFPynn

          Tell that to Martin Luther. I seem to recall he had plenty of un-Christian things to say about popes.

    • raffer

      you seem to have little understanding of the church, it is the job of every catholic to resist any heretic no matter if he be a bishop cardinal or pope.
      indeed if a pope were to allow or promote a heretical idea he would cease to be pope. if a pope were to hold a heretical view when being elected his papacy would be invalid.Also pope honorius was excommunicated after death so your understanding of papal infallibility is flawed

      • johan marr

        I am resisting a heretic. Damian Thompson and people like you who fancy yourselves to be more ‘Catholic’ than Pope Francis are essentially deluded heretics. Give me a break!

        • raffer

          if someone is a heretic for holding true to church teaching, so is every saint that the church has recognised. if we are wrong now they were wrong then, if they were right then we are right now.

          • Victor Victoria

            So, raffer, to which of these Church teachings do you hold true, pray tell.

            The 1866 instruction of the Holy Office, signed by Pope Pius IX, which declared that “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery … . It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given.”?

            Or the teaching of Pope John Paul II who asserted slavery to be intrinsically evil and objectively disordered? [Veritatis Splendor #80].

            I wait with bated breath …

          • raffer

            you see this again is the problem with you, I subject myself to the authority of the church, not the whim of the day go and find out the official teaching of the church on any question and that what I believe. I don’t need to spend my time on wild chases for you. there is loads of people will have that answer for you. Go find them

          • Victor Victoria

            Stymied, are we?

          • EFPynn

            My, aren’t we smug in our self-righteousness.

          • Victor Victoria

            I suppose that you are.

          • Donald Coppersmith


          • raffer

            no I didn’t even read it I saw slavery and stopped, no interest, if you want an answer go an ask someone on catholic answers forum they will provide you with answers.
            do you really believe your the first one to come up with this and it has the church stumped, im afraid not.

          • Victor Victoria

            Now that’s a convincing argument if ever there was one!

          • Jon82

            you are. Grammar not your forte?

          • raffer

            that’s a pretty trivial point Jon. Did the thread in general go over your head.

          • Jon82

            Nope, got it all. HAHA. Just hate poor grammar.

          • giacomo729

            how sad indeed.

          • EFPynn

            Crocodile tears…

          • guesto3

            Well then you certainly were quick to take the bait from this apostasy tempter….which certainly qualifies for whimsical theory of the day. Ah, the self anointed. Pope Francis has the gift of sniffing out the hypocrites after a real life of living in the trenches with the poor as his Master showed him for example.

          • raffer


          • EFPynn

            1866 instruction? From 1861-1865 the law of the land in the United States allowed for slavery in certain states.

            The current law does not.

            To which would you adhere?

            Get some breath mints before you respond.

          • EFPynn

            1866 instruction? From 1861-1865 the law of the land in the United States allowed for slavery in certain states.

            The current law does not.

            To which do you adhere?

          • Victor Victoria

            What is the relevance of your post?

            I’m not a Yank, so I can’t be quite sure, but did the US ever lay claim to infallibility, or to possession of an immutable deposit of faith? My post is aimed at raffer’s claim that Catholic doctrine never undergoes development, and is absolute, immutable, and the fullness of Truth, requiring total and unquestioning assent from the faithful.

          • raffer

            no, I didn’t say that, I said it can’t be contradicted by future popes its one on the criteria of an infallible statment

          • Victor Victoria

            The Conciliar Documents of Vatican II are quite unambiguous in
            stating that “And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer
            willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and
            morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.” (Lumen Gentium #25). Infallibility is quite clearly and profoundly circumscribed … it goes no further than the contents of the deposit of faith.

            Such clear limits must always be acknowledged … no one can extend infallibility to ALL matters of faith and morals.

            Pope Benedict XVI himself alluded to this (rather significant!)
            limitation when he said in 2005: “The Pope is not an oracle; he is
            infallible in very rare situations, as we know.”

            ALWAYS bear in mind Canon 749 part 3: “No doctrine is understood to
            be infallibly defined unless it is CLEARLY established as such”
            (emphasis mine).

          • CMLD3

            You are comparing non-infallible statements of different Popes – irrelevant to the issue of infallibility or indeed the immutability of doctrine…(Incidentally, St Paul talks of slavery too, Colossians 3:22-25, and I don’t read outright condemnation. The blessed apostle talks of it as a relationship wherein one has authority and both master and slave have duties within that relationship involving justice and fairness, above all to He who is the Master in heaven – in this light, it seems to me that both Popes have a point but a different one perhaps, relating to different forms of slavery – just sayin’….or rather just pointing out that the matter is more nuanced than you suggest given the inerrant words of scripture).
            Catholic doctrine – the deposit of faith – does not undergo development in the way you infer – it is the immutable word of Christ Himself transmitted through His apostles and His Church through all ages and does indeed demand unquestioning assent from Catholics – to divine and Catholic faith as coming from God Himself. ‘Who is like unto God?’
            Not even the Pope can change it.
            “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth.” Vatican I Chapter 4.
            As Chesterton opined – the beauty of the Catholic Church is that ‘it spares a man from the degrading slavery of having to be a child of his age.’

          • Victor Victoria

            The Conciliar Documents of Vatican II are quite unambiguous in
            stating that “And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer
            willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and
            morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.” (Lumen Gentium #25). Infallibility is quite clearly and profoundly circumscribed … it goes no further than the contents of the deposit of faith.

            Such clear limits must always be acknowledged … no one can extend infallibility to ALL matters of faith and morals.

            Pope Benedict XVI himself alluded to this (rather significant!)
            limitation when he said in 2005: “The Pope is not an oracle; he is
            infallible in very rare situations, as we know.”

            ALWAYS bear in mind Canon 749 part 3: “No doctrine is understood to
            be infallibly defined unless it is CLEARLY established as such”
            (emphasis mine).

          • CMLD3

            Yes indeed – and matters under discussion at the synod are and have been infallibly defined…constantly taught by the magisterium (always and everywhere) throughout the history of the Church….and so it is the duty of any Pope to protect these truths and he who does not would be rightly criticised…..

          • Victor Victoria

            Could you please be a bit more specific … precisely which matters under discussion at the synod have been infallibly defined? Please also supply citations to the documents where they have been so defined.

          • CMLD3

            I think you know perfectly well to what I was referring. Communion for divorced and remarried catholics….JP II Familiaris Consortio to name but one…..not to mention the ‘sin which cries out to heaven’ (the inerrant word of scripture) which was snuck into the interim relatio….

          • Victor Victoria

            Neither of these are infallibly defined doctrines … if you claim that they are, then the burden of proof lies with you to show that they have been CLEARLY established as such by citing the relevant Church documents.

          • guesto3

            Pastoral outreach approach is “infallibly defined”??

            The tempters to apostasy are certainly jumping the gun. It appears that the rigid are the first ones to recommend anointing someone else more favorable to themselves as some mini-Pope without even the help of a legitimate and anointed conclave. What it’s sounding like today….once again….with particular choices of that Cardinal over the other one:

            1 Corinthians 1:12
            What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

            1 Corinthians 3:3
            You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

            1 Corinthians 4:6
            Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

          • CMLD3

            Not sure what point you are trying to make. I was talking about communion for the remarried and divorced and the ‘sin which cries to heaven for vengeance’ – homosexuality which was introduced into the interim relatio. The Church has always been pastoral in readmitting repentant sinners – repentant being the operative word. It is never pastoral to confirm people in sin.

          • guesto3

            And the synod’s open discussion was to find good ways to pastorally effect these among many contemporary problems that go begging for attention…for the masses. And except for a couple of anxious instigators the rest were cooperative for this goal. And such public agitators were attempting to divide their “constituents” into favoring this Cardinal or Bishop over another….throwing the Pope himself into their mix while he had announced from the start his intention of keeping quiet throughout the agreed upon process.

          • Shorny

            Bring the bloody Borgias back. You’re all bonkers.

          • johnschuh

            An instruction is not in itself a doctrinal statement; an Encyclical has more authority but both statements are a bit like an obiter dicta in a the Supreme Court decision. It depends on how “inferior” authorities take the statement.

          • Victor Victoria

            So glad to finally realize the full lack of authority of Ratzinger’s 1986 CDF letter “on the Pastoral (sic) Care of Homosexual Persons”. You’re a gem, you are! Good to have pals like you around when in a tight spot!

          • johnschuh

            Ratzinger was simply restating what Christians have been saying since the beginning. Homosexual sex is just a peculiar form of fornication or debauchery. I am remnded of the story of the two trappers in the Far North. The one came up to the cabin of a friend, knocked on the door, and then after waiting a while tried the door. Finding it open, he stepped inside, and his friend standing with a club over the body of the man he shared his cabin with. Why did you do it, the fist man asked? The second man replied because I caught him getting familiar with my board. The board being a devise with a hole lined with fur. You may blame him for not just choosing to have sex with his partner, but in what way could that be considered an act of love, and not jealousy.

          • Victor Victoria

            And Pope Paul V, in dealing with Galileo, was just restating what Christians had been saying since the beginning … geocentricity versus heliocentricity and all that.

            Science has moved on … if we are a Church of Fides et Ratio (faith and reason), then so should we.

            And we will … eventually …

          • Phil Steinacker

            Typical liberal, you clearly fail to grasp what the issue was with Galileo. He wasn’t disciplined because he contradicted Church teaching; most of the priest/scientists of the day openly agreed with the science used by Galileo. That was not his problem.

            His problem was that he applied his scientific findings to making public theological pronouncements on Scripture, which was outside his training, expertise, and authority.

            Of course, liberals have no clue about this because you all simply repeat the same talking points incessantly for years without reading any original sources. You think you know something that just ain’t so.

          • Rick Connor

            If I understand correctly, Pius IX is stating that slavery is not “intrinsically wrong.” There are situations where it might be acceptable. The instance that is usually given is what we consider indentured servitude instead of slavery. An indentured servant is paying off an actual debt. When the actual debt is repaid the period of indenture is over. That person is no longer a slave. The debt has been paid. Whether Pius and John Paul are contradicting each other depends on how each defined slavery. It appears that Pius include indentured servitude as slavery–but did John Paul use the same definition?

          • Victor Victoria

            The Holy Office’s 1866 instruction, which was signed by Pope Pius IX, answers questions raised by the vicar apostolic to the Galla in East
            Africa, Cardinal Massaia, who was concerned, inter alia, with the laws
            of Galla giving a master the right to kill a slave. This has absolutely nothing to do with indentured servitude … a scarlet sardine often raised by cunning apologists trying to squirm out of a tight corner.

            The Holy Office
            means precisely what is says when it replied that “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential
            nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law … It is not
            contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought,
            exchanged or given.” Pope John Paul II would later assert slavery to be
            intrinsically evil and objectively disordered (Veritatis Splendor #80). This means it was evil everywhere and for all time. The contradiction is clear and cannot be weaseled out of with sly semantics, smoke and mirrors.

          • raffer

            ah so you have gotten your answer before its just you don’t like it.point proven. now wouldn’t that have been a waste of my time to go and research it

          • guesto3

            You see, the Church has always responded to the culture of the time…..just what Pope Francis along with the guidance of the Spirit requires….reach outside of your limited safety zone for love of greater humanity. Ah, the rigid neo-pharisees of today…nothing new.

          • Elijah fan

            You are avoiding the intrinsic evil problem caused by sect.80 of Splendor of the Truth. If you agree with John Paul, these are not responses that differ with context. Intrinsic evils are never good in any context. But John Paul was incorrect. God gives perpetual chattel slavery to the Jews in Leviticus 25:44-46. It solves three dilemnas in nomadic prisonless cultures…war captives, criminals, and hopeless debtors. If the uncontacted tribes of Brazil (they have no prisons) are not using slavery for criminals, then they might be killing petty thieves as a solution. Slavery cannot be an intrinsic evil since in that context, it saves lives justly and mercifully.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Your arguments are specious. “Hard cases make bad law” probably applies here.

            The point is that beginning with St. Paul’s seemingly outrageous public declaration to his face that St. Peter was wrong, there have been sufficient similar occurrences to remove any obstacles to resisting a pope.

            Many popes and saints confirm this, either through action (Pope St. Leo II’s anathemization of his predecessor, Honorius I, for his views in the Monothelite controversy as tolerant of heresy) or statements.

            Here are several examples of the latter, beyond that of St. Paul challenging the first pope:

            – Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so it is licit to resist him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or, above all, him who tries to destroy the Church. It is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. – St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine

            – One must resist the Pope who openly destroys the Church. – St. Cajetan

            – If a future pope teaches anything contrary to the Catholic faith, do not follow him. – Venerable Pope Pius IX, who convened Vatican I which defined papal infallibility

            – Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and, indeed, to neglect to confound evil men — when we can do it — is no less a sin than to encourage them. – Pope St. Felix II

            Admittedly the latter does not address resisiting a pontiff but it is a pretty clear instruction on resising a pope who veers away, howover unwittingly, from traditional Catholic teaching. There are many more quotes from popes who state the same ideas expressed by Pope St. Leo II.

          • Watosh

            Well I believe as one of the apostles said, maybe St. Paul, but whoever, even returned a slave and a friend to his owner with the admonition that he be treated as a brother, I am not sure of the exact phraseology, some of you probably have a better memory than mine, but the idea is that by regarding everyone slave or free as a brother is perhaps more meaningful than just denouncing slavery per se. Which of course slavery as is popularly understood is very wrong and should be denounced. But if one treats a slave as a brother then slavery isn’t slavery in the evil sense. Also slavery in ancient times often led to high office in some cases, as Joseph was sold into slavery to an Egyptian and eventually became one of the most important man in Egypt. So when considering the many aspects of slavery, one should interpret statements by the church with that in mind, rather than putting them in the worst light. One the one hand, yes slavery is intrinsically evil, but if one considers, as the Catholic Church has always, that first of all we must regard ALL men (and women for the gender sensitive) are to be treated as brothers, then the seeming contradiction becomes resolved. These are two different levels of meaning here, that maybe are being confused, and this is understandable. Slavery as slavery is intrinsically evil, but today many, many people are in a situation today wherein they are in wage slavery, dependent on the whims and good fortune of their employer.

          • Elijah fan

            Look at Pius IX’s words…” several just titles of slavery”. Another was ” born to a slave mother”. Aquinas mentions it as being in the decretals in the Supplement to the Summa Theologica in the question on marriage then the article on the marriage of a slave. John Noonan Jr. ( US Federal Judge and Catholic historian) mentions another title extant in the universities of the Church for centuries …captured in a just war. When you try to harmonize all moral discrepancies, you are saying that morals are always infallible which Ludwig Ott opposes in his Introduction to Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma sect. 8 near end of section. We now have three Popes in a row opposing in fact verbally the death penalty which Trent’s catechism affirmed clearly while having more secure life sentences then than modern Brazil and Mexico ( the two largest Catholic populations on earth…both chaotic prison systems…no death penalty…and murder rates 20 times greater than unbaptised Japan).
            We don’t have to harmonize all these moral contradictions…they don’t fall under infallibility the way abortion does….everywhere and always condemned….and now sect.62 of EV which wording is the extraordinary magisterium. LG 25 conflated practically the infallble with the non infallible and the Profession of Faith turbo charged that conflation for largely profs and leaders. The result is that virtually all paid Catholics submit to the papal,mrecent anti death penalty position which is verbally different than ccc2267 (which is also odd) despite 6 Catholic countries with no executions being among the most murderous on earth…check the UN list at wiki…homicides by country.

          • HughieMc

            If you will take the time and go to the trouble of explaining to me how a papal signature to a dicasterial document involves an exercise of the infallible papal authority, especially and albeit that this was done before infallibility arose at Vatican Council I in 1870, then I might deign to take your comment seriously.

          • Victor Victoria

            If all we need to take seriously are the dogmas which have been infallibly defined, and indeed, if we only need to take dogmas defined post 1870 seriously, then I have to say you’re more liberal than any Catholic I’ve ever met before in my entire life!

          • Phil Steinacker

            You dodged HughieMc’s point completely. You are a slippery one, aren’t you?

          • Victor Victoria

            The Holy Office of the Inquisition, now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a mere dicastery???!!! Are you saying that we can ignore Ratzinger’s 1986 CDF letter “on the pastoral (sic) care of homosexual persons” as a mere dicasterial document? Thanks be to HughieMc! We really need friends like you when in a tight spot!

            From Wiki … “On July 21, 1542, Pope Paul III proclaimed the Apostolic Constitution Licet ab initio, establishing the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, staffed by cardinals and other officials whose task it was “to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines”. It served as the final court of appeal in trials of heresy and served as an important part of the Counter-Reformation.”

          • Phil Steinacker

            You keep digging yourself a deep hole.

            From the Vatican document on Apostolic constitutions:

            By the word “dicasteries” are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.


            I’ve seen you use this ploy before; you make an incorrect interpretation of a posted comment you wish to subvert by then misapplying that incorrect interpretation to set up a straw man to knock down. It’s a cheap way to con yourself into feeling you won a victory over someone else’s argument (one they never made, of course).

            You tried pulling this above with johnschuh, and he nailed your hide to the wall in his refutation of what you failed to do.

          • fredx2

            But Victor Victoria, why do you give a truncated view of the 1866 letter? You have only a very shallow understanding of the church’s view on slavery. In Latin, the word servitus means slavery, and it also means servant, and indentured servant, and prisoner of war, and several other forms of servitude. So, since in ancient times, people voluntarily became indentured servants and even slaves to better their condition (service in a wealthy roman house was better than starving in the ghettoes) the church of course could not condemn all forms of servitude. If they condemned the taking of prisoners of war as slaves, the only recourse the victor would have is to kill all prisoners. They could not feed them all and house them all, they could barely feed their own men. So you would have condemned all to death. But let’s return to the letter you quote. Let’s quote the whole thing:

            “The Roman pontiffs, having left nothing untried by which servitude be everywhere abolished among the nations, and although it is especially due to them that already for many ages that no slaves are held among many christian peoples, nevertheless, servitude itself, considered in itself and all alone, is by no means repugnant to the natural law, and there can be many just titles for servitude”

            Just titles for servitude are indentured servants. criminals. prisoners of war etc. So there are just title servitude and unjust title servitude. That which we in the modern world call slavery is unjust title servitude. The Popes have always condemned unjust title servitude.

            And notice how your translation chose, very obviously, to translate the latin word servitus into “slavery” not “servitude” which is much more accurate.

            Read Joel Panzer’s “The Popes and Slavery”

          • Victor Victoria

            That hoary old chestnut gets dragged up like a tired old saw … yawn.

            Kindly inform yourself by visiting Joseph O’Leary’s penetrating analysis … either Google “Joseph O’Leary Cardinal Avery Dulles on Slavery”, or wait for the URL to be released by moderators below …

          • Victor Victoria
          • stevem99

            It’s like you came into the room and in one fell swoop, scattered the rats. Where has Victor Victoria gone? Where is his rainbow-colored flag?

          • Phil Steinacker

            Neither of those decrees was issued ex cathedra, so what do YOU think?

          • Älter und weiser

            Great question.
            I’ll go with PJP II.
            I’m guessing your trying to point out a flaw in papal infallability.
            However, every statement a pope makes is not necessarily an “excathedra” statement. The pope pretty much has to specifically say that the teaching is by his apostolic authority, is a matter of faith/morals, binds the whole church and is immutable. The missing statement is probably “by his apostolic authority”.

          • Phil Steinacker

            The teaching you cite is a non-dogmatic and non-doctrinal teaching, referred to as “common teaching.” We are called to resist any papal deviation from doctrine or dogma, so certainly that applies to lesser common teaching as well.

            Popes can be and have been wrong when not speaking ex cathedra.

          • Donald Coppersmith


        • johnschuh

          Surely you have an ultramontaine view of papal infallibility. The pope is the keeper of the keys, which is to say, the grand steward of the Church. He is not, like the President of the Mormon Church, a visionary who is authorized to say that polygamy, once the doctrine of the Church, is now proscribed, or that blacks, once barred from the priesthood, is now to be allowed. Nor, I must add, all this talk about “gradualism,,” which seems to be a corruption of Newman’s theory of the development of doctrine.

          • Grej

            Popes can have opinions. An opinion from a Pope does not impute infallibility. Can anyone show that at any time slavery was included with doctrinal approval in the catechetical and magisterial teaching of the Church? It seems there are some who will dredge up some papal opinion or another and then use it as a cudgel to whip us poor papists into submission to their “orthodoxy”.

        • C.Caruana

          Thou dost protest too much. Papalatory is heresy.

      • abystander

        It is the job of every Catholic to rally to the Pope.

      • Dr Dyson

        ” … it is the job of every catholic to resist any heretic no matter if he be a bishop cardinal or pope.”

        Yes indeed; and it’s a thousand pities that Paul VI was not resisted at the time of the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae and the other heretical teachings that flowed (however unintentionally) from Vatican II. The Church lost certitude and direction fifty years ago; her troubles have comparatively little to do with the current pope and everything to do with the seeds of uncertainty and doubt that were sown then. Experience suggests that many people will share this view and many will not. I don’t want to get into an argument about it; but, as an old man who feels that he has witnessed the piecemeal destruction of the Roman Catholicism of his childhood, it’s a view that I hold with reluctance and great pain. Can anybody tell me anything produced by Vatican II that has actually done the Church any good?

    • Rowland Nelken

      How can you politicise an intrinsically political institution? It makes as much sense as oxygenating oxygen.

      • Donald Coppersmith

        oh, it is not a religious institution! ?

        • Rowland Nelken

          Don’t tell me you are not aware that religion and politics are utterly intertwined, especially where Popes are concerned.

        • raffer

          you should probably stop replying

          • guesto3

            Then set a good example yourself.

      • guesto3


    • Chris Grady

      Have you seen the blog that parodies the Pope-haters? It’s called “What Does The Priest Really Do All Day?” and takes to task people like Fr Z, Damian Thompson and many of the other people who’ve taken to cashing in their Ultramontanist membership cards and dissing the Pope instead. http://www.wdtprdad.blogspot.com

      • johnschuh

        Damien was hardly an untramontagne. He has never been one who thought much of the term, “Spirit of Vatican II.” Those who raised that banner made many mistakes. In Manhattan, the number of those attending mass has dropped from about 72% to about 12%, owing surely something to the failures of the reformers. Someone haswritten: They opened the doors of the Church wide open, and most of the people walked out. Not what Pope John had in mind when he talked about opening the windows of the Church and letting the fresh air in. Instead the smog crept in.

        • Rowland Nelken

          Surely it is the steady creep of reason. Churches, to their credit, have long sponsored education. Literacy is great for spreading the Christian message, but it also opens the door to enquiry. Without a stream of ready baptised kids imprinted early with doctrinal mumbo jumbo, the church is bound to be on steady and terminal decline. The Middle Eastern dictators face the same problem, To augment their wealth, and hence their power, they need an educated population. Educated people are likely to balk st being controlled by someone who presumes the right to rule purely by military force and/or heredity. Islamic dictators may appear to be on the ascendant just now, but they offer little beyond repression. If you are sitting on a load of oil and require no local expertise to enjoy its wealth you might be able to last a while longer. You mentioned the decline in New York Mass attendance. The US Southern States Bible Belt rising generation is not, it appears, following in the Bible thumping steps of its forebears. Religion, Catholicor otherwise, might disappear down history’s drain surprisingly quickly.


        • guesto3

          I’m afraid that smog had already been ready and waiting….just a bit more covertly and cowardly.

    • jenny

      well said….

    • Grace Ironwood

      “Shut Up” eh ?
      Concerned lay people and clergy are dismayed. They are being compelled to see the matter in terms of “Loyalty to the Pope or loyalty to the Church ? ” by the way events are unfolding. This is the Pope’s fault.
      The church itself is more than any man.

      Thompson is a journalist not a player. He doesn’t deserve your intemperate attack. He is not a terrorist for reporting on these significant issues.
      The obvious point is that the fate of the Anglicans was to be eviscerated by the secular political obsessions of the day.

      • guesto3

        He’s just a gossip like so many of the other opportunists. Nothing sells like gossip….obviously the duped’s daily diet.

    • Donald Coppersmith

      ” Its pettiness and ‘politicising’ of the church” and this is the Roman Catholic church was, now and the future!

      • CMLD3

        I take it that you are not a Catholic…..

    • CMLD3

      You, my friend, are the ideologue….Defending the faith is not dissent…You need to brush up on papal infallibility. Read the documents of Vatican I on this very subject.

      “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth.”

      if a priest, bishop or even the Pope departs from the faith, the duty of Catholic faithful is to – respectfully – resist.

      “Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so it is licit to
      resist him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or, above all,
      him who tries to destroy the Church. It is licit to resist him by not doing
      what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will.” St. Robert

      “One must resist the Pope who openly destroys the Church.” St. Cajetan

      • guesto3

        My my, another Olympian jump.

        • CMLD3

          I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Where have I jumped?

          • raffer

            that’s great thought it was just me, guesto3 comments everywhere on this make little sense

        • C.Caruana

          The words of the saints are undigestable to you are they?

    • Damian Thompson

      I shall ignore your ridiculous misreading of my article. But the claim that the Catholic Herald is undermining the Pope is a flat-out lie. It does nothing of the sort.

      • guesto3

        So be it!

    • gillibrand

      The real catalyst of disunity has been the factional nature of the Pope’s words and actions.

      • guesto3

        Truth is designed to cut like a sword when for too long the status quo was accepted with much of its subtle hypocrisy.

    • Brian F Hudon

      We are already in the middle of a Catholic civil war. The Pope is against Catholic Tradition and we must be against him.

    • fredx2

      You grossly misunderstand. People supported Benedict because he was fully in accord with Catholic doctrine. People would be perfectly correct in opposing Francis to the extent he opposes or tries to change Catholic doctrine. This is not about supporting the Pope, it is about supporting Catholic doctrine. So your snide attempt to claim there is inconsistency here is misplaced, to say the least.

    • Phil Steinacker

      Neither of the last two pontificates flirted so egregiously with error, friend. You do not know what you are talking about

      If you knew the Church and her teachings better you would be alarmed as we are.

    • Jorge Bergoglio is just a South American Marxist, not a Roman Catholic. He does not warrant respect or obedience. Like the old Jesuit said, “who am I to judge?” If people want to reject his subversive agenda, well, he already respects Atheism, Communism, Judaism, Protestantism, Homosexuality, so why can’t he tolerate a Sedevacantist like me?

    • callingallcomets

      Well said – Thompson would have fitted so comfortably into Petain’s regime in Vichy France which sought to restore the Catholic church to its pre 1789 position of dominance

  • Victor Victoria

    Bishop-emeritus-of-Rome Ratzinger’s resignation was probably evidence that the barque of Peter had become rudderless during, perhaps even before, his pontificate. The ultra-conservative prelates he and his predecessor appointed (yes, there was a checklist to measure doctrinal purity that had to be passed before they could be ordained bishop … including unquestioning loyalty to Humanae Vitae’s ban on artificial contraception, etc) are the very bishops who stacked the extraordinary Synod on the family, and that many of them should be antagonistic to the most minute concessions towards gays that the mid-term relatio expressed is hardly to be found surprising. Some would like to believe that the likes of Cardinals Burke, Pell and Napier hijacked the Synod, ruthlessly undermining Pope Francis.

    But what Damian Thompson and others of his ilk need to be reminded of is what is contained in Lumen Gentium 22: “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.”

    It is our beloved Pope Francis who will decide what the ultimate outcome of this Synod is … he and he alone. The synods under his pontificate appear to permit free and wide-ranging debate and dialogue, revealing the deep fissures that exist within this conservative college of bishops. This discussion will help inform the mind of the pontiff … but, as some have relished pointing out in the recent past, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and the ultimate outcomes of the synod rest with Papa Francesco alone. Thanks be to God!

    • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

      As it is the task of a bishop to defend and proclaim the faith of the Church, of course there should be a doctrinal check-list.

      • johan marr

        It is also the task of Bishops to pastorally care for the wounded. Good shepherds not savage their own flock with calls rigidity and a lack of compassion. Read Matthew 25 – I see no mention of ‘doctrine’ checklists at the last Judgement

      • Victor Victoria

        Silly me … I thought that it was well known that the authentic checklist was provided a very long time ago by the Prophet Ezekiel. I wonder whether the Burkeians would pass muster?

        Some bits and bobs from Ezekiel Ch 34: The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows … Shepherds ought to feed their flock … you have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the wounded ones … you have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost … on the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and violently … I am going to take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock … I shall feed them in good pasturage … there they will rest in good grazing ground … I myself will pasture my sheep … I shall look after the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong … I shall be a true shepherd to them … as for you, my sheep, I will judge between sheep and sheep … since you have butted all the weak sheep with your rumps and shoulders and horns, until you have chased them away, I am going to come and rescue my sheep.

    • raffer

      no, again you have no idea of what your talking about. the church is not about the fad of any particular pope. a pope who contradicts the church on matters as serious as this is simple wrong not infallible

      • Victor Victoria

        Sorry, raffer, but this ain’t about faddishness … it is about the much more serious (and agonizingly painstaking) business of discerning the truth.

        The Church can err in its moral teaching, and it can subsequently correct itself. It is a simple matter to demonstrate that there has been a definite evolution of moral teaching in Holy Mother on a range of issues.

        Permit me to quote from someone who I’m sure you will regard as a true authority: these are the words of Pope Pelagius II (words drafted for him by the man who was to become Pope Gregory the Great):

        “Dear brethren, do you think that when Peter was reversing his position, one should have replied: We refuse to hear what you are saying since you previously taught the opposite? In the matter [at hand] one position was held while the truth was being sought, and a different position was adopted after truth had been found. Why should a change of position be thought a crime … ? For what is reprehensible is not changing one’s mind, but being fickle in one’s views. If the mind remains unwavering in seeking to know what is right, why should you object when it abandons its ignorance and reformulates its views?”

        Our understanding about the truth of the homosexual condition has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few decades … isn’t it high time for the Church to abandon its ignorance and reformulate its views? Isn’t that what Pope Francis is attempting? Sounds like the stuff of the Gospel to me!

        • raffer

          so Jesus was wrong? when the pharises asked him can a man divorce his wife and now 2000 years he sent pope francis to the world to correct his mistake.
          srt faustina diary on the day pope francis was born is remarkable

          • Victor Victoria

            And when, pray tell, did Pope Francis state that a man can divorce his wife? Please give a citation, and quote the Holy Father’s precise words …

            It might be worth remembering that mendacity is a sin …

          • raffer

            see the peter paul example for an understanding, his lack of words is the same as saying it in the current situation which he created

        • CMLD3

          Talk about twisting what the Pope is saying without contextualising it at all.
          Even without knowing what the passage is referring to, it talks of an individual’s knowledge of truth not to the (impossible)changeability of truth which is what you are trying to draw from it in order to support your notions.
          Your suggestion that our understanding of the homosexual condition has grown over the last few decades is irrelevant to the discussion of whether homosexual activity is or is not a sin – a truth constantly taught by the Church. Homosexual activity has been around since the dawn of time! Besides, I think you have bought into the ubiquitous propaganda of the homosexual activists who have pushed their agenda over these last few decades and whose flag you fly.

  • I’m not an expert but before Humanae Vitae came out wasn’t there an expectation that the Church would sanction artificial contraception? There was also probably confusion. Pope Paul VI listened to the experts and in the end went against their recommendations. I have a feeling that Pope Francis will do the same. He is encouraging open discussion but in the end will make the correct decision.

    • Athelstane

      …before Humanae Vitae came out wasn’t there an expectation that the Church would sanction artificial contraception? There was also probably confusion.

      Yes, and yes – abetted by many clergy and theologians, who apparently hoped that building up such expectations would result in a reversal of the Church’s teaching.

      And that created a crisis, because it generated a great deal of blowback and resistance to Humanae Vitae. Even bishops’ conferences (such as in Canada) openly questioned it. And Paul VI, shocked by the reaction, proved unwilling to enforce it or preach on it.

      In this respect, past may be prelude as well – which is why the analogy you’re drawing is not a very comforting one.

    • James

      Yes, but there’s a lot of inside baseball about that.

      There was an expectation that the Church would change and this was pushed by a variety of people who wanted the change, including drug manufacturers and population controllers. While the majority of the commission wanted the change, they were divided among themselves on the what the change should be and the reasons why. The majority opinion was badly argued and rejected.

      The other problem is that there was a real pastoral crisis because fertility was up significantly due to better nutrition and decreased breastfeeding in the 1st world and the old rhythm method frequently didn’t work. Some women were having a baby a year, which is hard on the body, while complete abstinece is hard on a marriage.

      Humanae Vitae was heavily influenced by the work of Karol Wojtyla, but Paul VI didn’t fully develop Wojtyla’s views in the encyclical. Furthermore, I believe that Paul VI was optimistic that solutions to the shortcomings of the rhythm method would be quickly found, given the rapid scientific progress of the 1960s. He was, indeed, rather shocked by the reaction.

      • CMLD3

        I think you are mistaken. Fertility wasn’t up…quite the reverse – we just stopped dying so early….Families used to be much larger but mortality was higher…The problem was that people wanted sexual freedom…a modern phenomenon …and wanted the Church to endorse this. Not a pastoral crisis although it was presented as such by those who wanted change….as it is today!

        • James

          Overpopulation in the 1960s was a concern and some American Catholic women were having babies every year, which isn’t healthy.

          Anyway, when you take away economic, health, and social concerns, most couples want 3-5 children. I’ve seen this among Catholic couples, Protestants couples, secular couples, all sorts of couples. There are exceptions both ways, but this seems to be what most people want. Mathematically, that’s what is necessary to have a healthy rate of population growth.

          In the past, when infant mortality was higher, couples needed to have as many children as possible to get 3-5 to survive into adulthood. For example, Blessed Louis and Zeile Martin had 9 children, but only 5 survived to adulthood and St. Therése died young. Now, if a family has 9 children, odds are all 9 will survive to adulthood. Successfully rasing 9 children to adulthood is a difficult task, even for the best parents. It is heroic virtue.

          To have a more manageable number of children, couples will need to either delay marriage or some have some form of fertility control within marriage. Asceticism is always an option, but not an easy one. (Thus St. Paul’s warning “do not deprive each other, lest satan tempt you due to your lack of self-control”. Note that St. Paul does NOT specify how Satan will tempt you.)

          Nevertheless, having all your children survive to adulthood is a good problem to have.

          The Church rejects the idea (and rightfully so) that couples should have fewer children for the benefit of society. They also correctly see the problems caused by separating sex, marriage, and procreation. Still, the issue is not quite as simplistic as some people seem to think.

  • Frank Hume

    Francis in order to obtain what he desires will have to use his Papal prerogative. It would be sad if the one who noticeably styles himself ‘Bishop of Rome’ is forced to act as most Ultramontane Pope in history to achieve his ends. He will then end up by alienating many Liberals.

    It is worth noting that those bishops who support him are mainly older men, who reflect older, dying clergy. The younger bishops and clergy are those who take a notieceable JPII / Benedict XVI outlook, one that would follow Pell, Burke and Mueller, the last two are amongst the youngest Cardinals of the College and represent the younger bishops and clergy worldwide.

    The young are not aging hippies!

    • johan marr

      Ever heard of Cardinal Tagle????? A young compassionate and Gospel centred Cardinal. You can’t seriously believe magna cuppa Burke who reminds me of an old queen’ appeals to normal young people!

    • kag1982

      God help us all if the future is Ray Burke.

    • poltard

      “The young are not aging hippies!”

      Not all of us, not by a long shot, and I imagine any young progressives out there would stay far away from religion anyway. Believe me, the old idea of the cut of youth is exactly that: old. People are growing up now and seeing everything that their parents threw away and we want it back.

  • Mr Grumpy

    On the contrary, Ross Douthat is every liberal’s idea of an extremist, and they have been gleefully spinning the notion that he is trying to blackmail Francis with talk of schism. Calm, lucid and intelligent conservatives are the worst sort – cf. the Pope Emeritus.

  • HermitTalker

    Few have an sense of history and most journalists are as ill-prepared to discuss RC theology and the Bible as they are to critique brain surgery and Einstein’s Science.

    • Rowland Nelken

      I am not a journalist but theology, or the study of a range of figments of the human imagination is hardly a discipline that deserves any respect. I have, however, read the Bible, and as anyone, journalist, Cardinal, Pope or whatever should be able to see; that book is utterly useless as a guide to life. As a vehicle for studying history and literature it is fascinating, but it takes a mega delusion to imagine it might be of any use in devising rules and customs for civilised living.

      • HermitTalker

        feel sad for you not realising that WESTERN EASTERN and world civilisation were built on the Hebrew-Christian Bible. they refined the MORAL CODE that forbids murder, rape, theft, perjury and slavery – it took while but it happened for all and we are still working, f or example to get the USA to stop the death penalty . so called “liberals” reject that NATRUAL LAW and grant a woman a “right” to scald, poison, slice and strangle her unborn baby medically. your Humanities classes were a failure it seems. if you reject GENESIS by not realising the underpinning complexity of the BABYLONIAN MYTHS – and “believe” it as a fundamentalist Christian you are missing a whole lot.

        • Rowland Nelken

          I am perfectly well aware of the contribution of CHristendom to our civilisation. I am currently reading ‘Centuries of CHange’ by Ian Mortimer. 11th century England, and Europe generally had become much more peaceful through the rising power of the church. In addition the church enabled and inspired a rise in literacy and architectural and agricultural innovations and the virtual disappearance of slavery.. But institutions have their day. The notion that religions represent some eternal God issued morality and unalterable truths simply does not bear scrutiny. We have better methods of understanding and ordering humanity now.

          • guesto3

            And Christendom is what exactly?

      • johnschuh

        “Civilized living.” and precisely WHO determines what is civilized living and what is not? Certainly not you or me, with the petty knowledge we can acquire in our lifetimes under the influence of men equally limited. Ronald Reagan, or one of his speechwriters, once said of his political opponents: It is not what they do not know that is the problem, but what they know that is not so. From childhood onwards, people stuff out heads with information that may not be the case, and we seldom challenge that we have been told. The skeptic is seldom skeptical of his skepticism. We ought all, believer and nonbeliever, to work out our respective salvations in fear and trembling, but in full possession that we must in the end, choose sides.

        • Rowland Nelken

          The only people who can determine what constitutes civilised living are fallible humans. There is no other resource. That some old writings composed by fallible humans are ascribed to a God does not give us humans any greater authority than our collective selves. Of course Popes and Cardinals can chip in their two penn’orths, but we should not be impressed by any pretensions to divine election. I do not now what is meant by ‘choose sides’. There is only one human race.

          • CMLD3

            Ah – you’re an atheist then….I am afraid to say that you’ll find out what ‘choosing sides’ means and, for the sake of your immortal soul, I pray that you do on this side of eternity. Not sure why you feel the need to put your two penn’orth into this discussion, mind you…

          • johnschuh

            WHICH human beings? Collective selves? well if by that you mean a community, then I agree, and the community I choose is what we call the Church. As for the old writings, by which you must mean the Bible, I choose to read and profit from their wisdom. They tell a story ,which I think is true, about the proper relationship between man and nature, man and man, and man and God, man, as I think Dr, Johnson put is, embracing woman. We are all born, we live awhile and we die. We all want to know what it means, although there are those who give up on that pursuit, and just flitter away their lives,, like so many cattle grazing in the fields. No, at least they are doing what cattle ought to do.

          • Rowland Nelken

            Of the human family only some belong to the Christian Church, and of those only about half are Roman Catholics. It is very arrogant to imagine that those of us for whom the Pope is but a fellow human being and whose views on marriage, sexuallity ot indeed anything else are simply those of A N Other fellow human, are frittering away our lives in a thoughtless manner.

            I have spent a long time studying the Bible, Koran, Avesta, Bhagavad Gita and other ‘Holy’ works as well as many commentaries. It is clear to me that they are all man made writings, set down in times when far less was known about just about every aspect of life than is known now. In the Bible, for example, mental illness is attributed to an infestation of demons. We now know better.

            Giving up on ancient holy books and religions as a route to giving life meaning does not mean that life is meaningless or that we have given up. In my case, and millions of others, it means that life is much richer.

      • johnschuh

        “Civilized living.” and precisely WHO determines what is civilized living and what is not? Certainly not you or me, with the petty knowledge we can acquire in our lifetimes under the influence of men equally limited. Ronald Reagan, or one of his speechwriters, once said of his political opponents: It is not what they do not know that is the problem, but what they know that is not so. From childhood onwards, people stuff out heads with information that may not be the case, and we seldom challenge that we have been told. The skeptic is seldom skeptical of his skepticism. We ought all, believer and nonbeliever, to work out our respective salvations in fear and trembling, but in full possession that we must in the choose sides.

  • PaulOfTarsus

    This site was found via google search for Pope Francis. It is my 1st visit & likely my last after having read through this trash called an article.
    Since when is open discussion a cause of factions with the only end result a schism? That there is now open discussion is a breath of fresh air in the RCC not unlike Pope St John XXIII. That the outcome of the Oct synod was as close a vote with the many JPII & Benedict appointees speaks volumes about where many clerics stand on these issues.
    This is the opening round. Expect to see more clerics onboard in round 2. Discussions will occur over the next year & the initial shock of the outcome (a major setback for conservatives) will have settled. The Oct 2015 synod will likely more boldly speak to the issues as it will build on 2014. Some of the “players” such as Burke & Pell who have little pastoral acumen (Pell was a disaster in Australia & has found his niche counting euros) will likely be delegated to the sidelines.
    In the end Pope Francis will make the final decision. The papal centralization cuts both ways, something the conservatives were too arrogant to foresee.

    • raffer

      if this happens pope Francis will lead the church into schism away from the one true church.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        No there will be no schism. Think more seriously about it the RCC is in a depleted state under the conservatives – they have failed miserably & they know it yet, will never publicly admit it. They would never make it on their own. They yell, scream, and stamp their feet yet, in the end they will dance to the tune of the piper – Francis. Thanks for the comment. I’ll end it here.

        • raffer

          no you misunderstand, if someone follows a false teaching they are outside the church is schism. those that hold fast remain in her bossom

          • Victor Victoria

            And who gets to decide whether a reaching is false?

            You, yourself and thee?

          • raffer

            again the church has defined all this, I don’t need to redifne it. I simply submit to it

          • Mike Blackadder

            Indeed, who gets to decide that it is BAD to talk about certain undisputed doctrinal consequences (like the inherently evil act of abortion, and the sin of adultery as defined by Christ)? Who gets to decide that ‘judging’ is wrong when directed toward progressivism in sexual morality, while simultaneously judging others as unchristian if they don’t advocate for big government solutions to social issues and income redistribution?

            It’s far easier to defend preaching the entirety of what Christ and what the church holds as true. When you go about picking and choosing then indeed we have to ask, ‘by what authority’ do you decide which parts are good and which parts bad.

          • Victor Victoria

            I suppose Pope Francis answered your question in his interview with La Civiltà Cattolica: it is a matter of the People of God converging toward a consensus … especially when new insights have come into play.

            “The people itself constitutes a subject. And the church is the people of God on the journey through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks. When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. So this thinking with the church does not concern theologians only.”

          • Mike Blackadder

            I’m not sure that I’d attribute your conclusion to Francis, but your suggestion is that ‘the authority’ of theological conviction would be arrived at via ‘consensus’ of the faithful?

            That’s basically just saying that there is NO authority. That’s saying that the problem rests with those who claim that there is any such authority.

            Of course I agree with what Francis says. Thinking with the church and inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not something that only applies to bishops and theologians. And the faith of the Catholic church being Holy, of it’s infallibility in its mission, the marriage of the church to the body of Christ is not encompassed by the magisterium alone, but is inherent to the entire church. That’s what he’s saying about the church as a whole being infallible in matters of belief.

            Ironically, you interpret this as license to pick and choose and revise the church’s teaching when in fact what you quote from Francis is solidifying the argument for why you cannot do so. The infallibility of the church doesn’t rest upon the shoulders of the Pope or even of the magisterium. We believe in the ability of Christ to accurately speak to humanity through the church of what he means to reveal in revelation.

          • Victor Victoria

            We need to enter into a collective discernment. Theologians need to be able to ask awkward questions, and explore them no matter where they might lead … without the fear of being “dealt with” by the CDF, as happened under the previous two pontificates. Talk about stifling the intellectual tradition of the faith!

            The Council Fathers put it far more eloquently than I ever could: “The Church, as guardian of the deposit of God’s word, draws religious and moral principles from it, but it does not always have ready answers to particular questions.” (Gaudium et Spes no 33).

            As concerns contemporary moral issues, Vatican II cautioned of the need to be aware of “the changeable circumstances which the subject matter, by its very nature, involves,” and that it “happens rather frequently, and legitimately so, that with equal sincerity some of the faithful will disagree with others on a given matter” (Gaudium et Spes no 43).

          • Mike Blackadder

            Sure, but the whole point is that this point about the uncertainty of certain religious opinions doesn’t apply to all questions of the faith, but to certain questions. The legitimacy of theological disagreement as a reality among the faithful doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as heresy anymore! What Gaudium et Spes is discussing is distinguishing one from the other, not relativism.
            Again, returning to what Burke’s original criticism of Kasper’s remarks concerning communion for the remarried, if there are legitimate questions that ought to be addressed by the magisterium and if the point is that there ought to be discussion in that forum then what’s the justification for presenting to the world as a Cardinal the argument that the church ought to change its position without first conferring in that forum? It’s somewhat similar to Obama’s technique of negotiation with congress where he agrees to a discussion only under the pressure of a precondition of what the outcome is supposed to be. It seems that taking a question that ought to be honestly and faithfully explored and politicizing it where people are not taking into account the full consequences and nuances of the question is actually purposely sabotaging the process of theological discussion.

          • Victor Victoria

            So we, the ignorant masses, cannot be part of the process of discernment, or make a valuable contribution to the theological discussion? Sorry, but we were invited to participate from the outset, through the questionnaire on the synod. If there are legitimate questions, we want to be involved from the outset. We are not nearly as fragile and easily confused as you might wish! We want to be a part of the dialogue, we want our life experiences and faith stories to inform the process. Our collective consciousness is surely part of the magisterium of the church.

          • Mike Blackadder

            Thank you for such a perfect illustration of what unfolds (in such a short time) in the confusion of this ‘rudderless’ church. Now you actually think that the ‘authority’ of the church on matters of faith are established through questionnaires and by the mysterious mechanism of ‘collective consciousness’ of all who claim membership in the church? Obviously Cardinal Burke is right to show concern.

          • Victor Victoria

            Questionnaires can certainly inform the process, nothing more, nothing less … otherwise why bother with the exercise? Before the two Marian Dogmas were declared, there was widespread consultation … this is nothing new. Burke, of course, wants his opinion to count greatly. But here lies the rub … Lumen Gentium 22 is crystal clear, much to Burke’s chagrin: “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church.
            And he is always free to exercise this power.”

            Lumen Gentium 12 further explains that “the entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”

            Call it “collective consciousness” or the “supernatural discernment of the people” … whatever you prefer … it’s right there in the conciliar documents.

          • raffer

            ah your right the church doesn’t understand its own documents LOL your funny

          • CMLD3

            The magisterium has nothing to do with polls or collective consciousness – what rubbish. Modernism writ large. Why don’t you just admit that you want these teachings to change and that you are not going to assent to these or any other teachings unless you personally agree with it? That, I presume, is why you fly the rainbow flag. That’s called private judgement and it’s what protestants are stuck with.

          • Traditonal for life

            Plus remember Lefevbre wasn’t afraid. Neither are some of these cardinals. There are St. pius x /Legion of Mary seminaries all over the world . And let me tell you one additional thing-they don’t have one inch of trouble recruiting for the priesthood/or convent Z(the real convent) where sisters wear habits-and do not dissent. Mother Angelica-Robert Barron Catholics will endure.

        • Mike Blackadder

          The purpose of the church is to point to Christ, not to render him palatable so that more people will ‘like’ him. There should be no controversy in what you describe as the ‘conservative’ version of Catholicism espoused by the likes of Cardinal Burke. Francis is not the ‘authority’ of the church. Christ is the ‘authority’ of the church. Sorry if that upsets you.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            It does not upset me at all. Lies generally don’t as they are not the Truth. One can only pity the liar who knows they are lying yet continues to do so, unable to control their base human emotions rather than utilizing their higher faculties.
            Your “sorry” is disingenuous. It reeks of all the other platitudes conservatives learned at their hate seminar. It is seen too often across the internet – often used by racists, claiming all the while they are not, when complaining about minorities (minorities being anyone they don’t like). I’ll end it here.

          • Mike Blackadder

            Well done! Hilarious to accuse me of platitudes while as the typical progressive you somehow accuse me of being racist based on my comment! Other than my misuse of the word ‘sorry’ what exactly do you find to be wrong or untrue in my comment?

      • Rowland Nelken

        Every church, of the thousands that have appeared, has imagined it possesses some kind of truth. The really pretentious ones have also deluded themselves into thinking that their particular brand of truth is the only one.

        • raffer

          fine believe what you like but the catholic church remains the same no matter who would like it to change

          • Rowland Nelken

            That’s what churches do; pretend to stand for some immutable and absolute God given truth and morality, impervious to the fickle fashions of fallible man. In practice they change like the rest of society, albeit afew decades or centuries later. Married priests went, but may return. Limbo has gone and purgatory seems less evident. Can’t see any Pope summoning another Crusade any time soon. There’s no great call, so far as I am aware to interrogate potential heretics prior to torture and execution either.

          • raffer

            again believe what you like, your denial of God has little to do with the rift in the church being debated.

          • Rowland Nelken

            I was merely pointing out that what seems so weighty to a little inner circle is increasingly irrelevant to a world ever more disconnected from the God of the Roman church. It is c. 50 years since a pope made a big announcment on birth control. Even most Catholics of the world ignored it.

        • HermitTalker

          RT yiou have nit the slightest ide about what you say, LKEARN how the Bible was written by whom, and who interprets it, see the irrational insanity of the Dissidents who have no logic to back them. You are fighting a Straw Man. Excuse me Person to be PC in the culture

      • Traditonal for life

        YOu have that right.

  • UnionJihack

    Henry VIII established what is a Monarch-led state religion in Britain for reasons well understood at the time. What is its half-life?

  • BFS

    Mr. Damian Thompson article is a nice piece of fantasy that:

    either shows a profound lack of knowledge of what is going on in the church and what happened in the Synod that leads him to repeat theories that are perfectly in line with what the liberal left relativist press typically writes.

    or comes from a enemy of the Church inventing conflicts where they do not exist and end up fomenting desperation among unprepared Christians that may be disappointed at the church when reading this type of crap.

    Probably both.

    • James

      Also, Pope Francis warns about the devil all the time—far more than JPII or Benedict XVI ever did.

  • Paddy S

    I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • kag1982

    The saddest thing about this debate is that the laity and conservative clergy are willing to schism over a modest proposal to allow a few remarried divorcees to receive Communion. The lack of love and compassion for fellow Catholics and desire to exclude them from the Sacraments is such an un-Christian trait.

    • James

      Schisms are always over relatively petty stuff.

      There’s more diversity within Catholicism and Orthodoxy than there are differences between them. Yet the Great Schism has continued for nearly 1000 years. SSPX split (and remains split) primarily over political issues, not the Latin mass, contrary to popular belief.

      In the Episcopal Church, the big splits were over the new prayer book and ordaining women. Meanwhile a bishop publicly denies the resurrection and… Meh.

      • kag1982

        The SSPX split because they are anti-Semitic French monarchists.

        • James

          They didn’t like the outcome of the Second Vatican Council or the Second World War.

      • Milorad

        Actually the Catholicism – Orthodox split is really political too.

      • Uncle Brian

        On another website a commenter claimed that Bruno Forte is also a Resurrection denier, but I haven’t found a way of checking to see whether there’s any truth in the allegation. Apparently it has to do with something he wrote in his book Gesù di Nazaret, which hasn’t been published in an English translation.

    • poltard

      when the path is narrow a slight misstep results in a mighty fall

    • raffer

      so the church fathers were unchristian?

      • kag1982

        I didn’t know that you were St. Augustine?

        • raffer

          straw man argument

  • James

    St. John Paul II is a saint, but was also a rather authoritarian Pope and Benedict XVI an brilliant theologian and a German. Over the 35 years of their pontificates, the best way to advance your career was to imitate the Pope and it was hard to tell fidelity from flattery.

    Pope Francis has little patience for either flattery or careerism and has a more collegial idea of the Church than his predecessors. I honestly think many bishops don’t quite know what to do when asked to think for themselves.

    Combine this with the sheer incompetence of the the Vatican media office, the religious press, and the Vatican translation department and a lot of people are really confused.

  • Duke Woolworth

    Holy crap.

  • BronxLady

    Pope Francis is very popular among Catholics. The extremely conservative Catholics who oppose the Pope are a miniscule fraction of global Catholicism. I’m not to worried about a war- there aren’t enough soldiers to fight it.

  • Tobin Nieto

    this battle is not about liberal or conservative Catholics, it’s about orthodox vs. heterodox.

    • Aliquantillus

      Exactly! Those who favour Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried and homosexuals are the the victims or promotors of the gender ideology, which is essentially neo-pagan. Firmly upholding the biblical standards of sexual morality is a matter of to be or not to be of the Church. The scriptural warnings against those who don’t are terrible and the Magisterium of all the ages confirms this. According to all the traditional criteria, the mid-term Report of the Synod was blasphemous. If the Pope defects on this issue, his own authority — and the institution of the Papacy itself — is at stake. The Papacy derives its authority from its roots in tradition. If it fails to uphold the tradition, it will go down with it.

      • bdlaacmm

        “If the Pope defects on this issue, his own authority — and the institution of the Papacy itself — is at stake”

        Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG!

        The Holy Spirit, as guaranteed by no less than Christ Himself, will forever protect and preserve the Papacy. The “institution of the Papacy” is not now and never will be “at stake”. It is, in the most literal sense possible, impossible for it to fail, or to lead the faithful astray.

        Not gonna happen.

        • Phil Steinacker

          Balderdash! Repeating “Wrong” five times won’t make you right in any universe.

          The Holy Spirit is NOT a guarantor of the papacy which, by the way, is never capitalized except as part of a document title or something similar. Your ultramontanist slip is showing.

          The Holy Spirit will protect the CHURCH and NOT the papacy. The proof is in those instances where pontiff’s actually made serious mistakes. The excommunication of St. Athanasius by a pope (Liberius) with strong sympathies for the author of the HUGE and highly damaging Arian heresy is a prime example. Not only the pope but up to 80% of all the bishops subscribed to Arianism, although Liberius may have done so because he was a very weak pope under tremendous pressure from Emperor Constantius (son of Constantine who had considered Arius a heretic). Liberius restored Arius to full grace within the Church and ordered St. Athanasius to receive Arius in full communion, which the saint refused to do.

          Ultimately, St. Athanasius went to see the pope and, as we might say today, straightened him out. I’d like to have been a fly on that wall.

          In another instance of papal failure, Pope Honorius I was anathematised for his views in the Monothelite controversy as tolerant of heresy by his successor, Pope Leo II.

          A pope is ONLY protected from error when he speaks ex cathedra, which has happened in real time only once, in 1950. There are three prior occasions when papal infallibility is cited to justify after the fact a papal decree of dogma to be believed by all Catholics, but each of them took place before the Vatican I Council which formally adopted papal infallibility.

          Most of the time (well over 99.9% of the time) a pope is just as subject to error as you or me.

          It is demonstrably false to claim that the papacy can never “fail” of lead the faithful astray. It already has several times.

          It may interest you to know that several approved Marian apparitions have prophesied that there will by a final great apostasy in the Church reaching into the upper levels of ecclesial authority, including the papacy itself.

          In Her approval of any apparition, the Church does not require we believe in them or in the prophesies which spring from them. However, even there your bold but fallacious claims are refuted by Our Lady herself.
          You don’t have to believe any of those predictions, but you cannot refute the facts of past papal shortcomings.

          Not gonna happen.

          • bdlaacmm

            “Repeating “Wrong” five times won’t make you right”

            Ahhh… but I repeated “wrong” only four times – the fifth time was “WRONG”, and that makes all the difference.

          • Phil Steinacker

            Typical dodge. Yes, you’re right that you only repeated yourself 4 times.

            Lucky for you that I made a small goof, else you’d be right about nothing.

            The fact that you avoided responding to the substance of my comment is telling; in fact, it screams that you have nothing of substance to say except what I handed you.

            I can be generous in your defeat; I’ll grant you a technical point on your solitary response, but no more.

          • ADW


          • John Byde

            Are you a train spotter?

          • Annette Breathnachski

            All modernists know how to ply word games. We’ll see how that dubious skill serves them in the afterlife. Straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel is the specialty of the modern Catholic pope worshippers

          • geoffrobinson

            Good thing Athanasius relied on Scripture and not on the papacy to form his views about what was orthodox.

          • John Byde

            “rely” and “papacy” should never be in any sentence that a christian should read or write

          • TheWhiteLilyBlog

            “Your ultramontanist slip is showing.”

            I know any number of people who might fit that adjective who would never ascribe to such unfounded statements about the papacy. If the position taken by the commenter needs a category, ‘ignorant’ of Church teaching on the papacy is more accurate. To all readers, a small volume called The Papacy available from Angelus Press summarizes the traditional position well and briefly and clearly. In any world forum used to the terms, ‘ultramontane’ is the adjective one would use to classify their position. Meant as an insult, it has become a compliment.

          • Louis E.

            If Catholicism had followed St. Arius and not the Nicene Heresy it might have more credibility now…

          • Gwynn Ap Nudd

            Yes, this Pope teaches error so he is not a Pope. Sede Vacant – the Seat is empty. There have been a number of Anti-Popes. Francis is just one more.

          • James M

            It’s not empty. Popes remain Popes unless and until they are guilty of formal heresy, and heresy is only the highest degree of theological censure – there are several others, in a descending scale of gravity. All this can be verified by consulting pre-V2 manuals of dogmatic theology such as Ott or Tanquerey.

            And there is more to committing heresy than uttering a proposition than can be understood as heretical in meaning. If the error is not accompanied by stubbornness and refusal to be better instructed, the seeming heretic is not a heretic at all. A lot of what is called heresy may well be scandalous, but not all that is scandalous is heretical. And sometimes people are scandalised, not through any fault of the speaker or writer, but because they themselves are – for one reason or another – taking offence at what is not offensive in itself. To cut a long story short, it is not nearly as easy to be a heretic as is often supposed. Where there is no deliberate and malicious and conscious intention, there cannot be the sin of heresy – there may be some lesser fault, or no fault at all. We should not go looking for heresy, but should be grateful to God that what may seem like heresy is often not. There is something very wrong if we are disappointed that people are not as bad as we thought they were.

          • Gwynn Ap Nudd

            Legalism. As Rev Cekeda says, he was a manifest heretic before his election so it wasn’t valid to begin with. The Council rejected the Holy Spirit and elected a heretic. I grant you it would be more complicated if a Pope fell from grace while in office. But he didn’t fall, he never had it apparently – or at least since he’s been in the public eye.

        • Strife

          Christ only promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church itself. He never guaranteed that the office of Peter would be incorruptible. After all, Our Lord referred to two of His disciples as “Satan”: Judas… and Peter. And there have already been over 30 anti-popes in the church’s long history. That fact is irrefutable.

          “Christendom has had a
          series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died.
          Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a god who knew the
          way out of the grave.” – G.K.Chesterton

          • Phil Steinacker

            Thank you, Strife. I see our friend tacitly confirms the point I had just made to his retort to me by avoiding responding to your comment as well as the substance of my original response to his nonsense.

            The timing speaks volumes. He’s got nothing.

          • stlhdsal

            Jesus called Peter, Satan, as in, “get behind me, Satan?” Are you sure Jesus wasn’t rebuking Satan speaking through Peter?

          • Strife

            Well, unless Peter was possessed, he clearly spoke out of his own freewill…no?

            And there is no evidence in that passage that suggests Jesus was referring to anyone but Peter directly.

          • stlhdsal

            Possession? That’s a very strong and misunderstood state. Judas was possessed by Satan at the Last Supper, that’s scriptural, but Peter? No. Yes, he spoke of his own free will. We are all influenced by our emotions (worry, fear, etc.), the state of health, ignorance, and yes, by evil. We all say things that are not really true in the depths of our hearts. Peter was denying the will of God by denying the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. I can’t be certain, but perhaps Jesus rebuked Satan for influencing Peter’s very human reaction to the news the he would lose his Lord to crucifixion. As George Carlin said, “it’s a mystery.”

          • Strife

            I agree in whole. But back to my original point, Peter was corruptible and so is this current pontiff, only more-so. People do not seem to realize that the ultimate point of the very limited doctrine of papal infallibility is not to protect the papacy from error, but rather, it is to protect the Church from erroneous popes.

          • stlhdsal

            I agree with you, Strife, about the limited doctrine of infallibility. Yes, it’s to protect the Church from erroneous Popes. I tip my hand to a ‘wait and see’ attitude re. Pope Francis. In one year’s time we shall see what he says about all these issues and then we will know.

          • John Byde

            Amazing how much this pope is grabbing people’s attention. Instead of waiting with bated breath for a whole year to see what this irrelevant buffoon says or does, you could be studying the bible – the real source of christian belief.

          • Strife

            Uhm moron? The actual “Bible” was deemed canon, preserved, and painstakingly rewritten and taught for almost 1,100 years BEFORE Martin Luther ever took a spiritual dump by sh*tting out the heresy of protestantism. Besides that – what “Bible” were people even reading for the first 400 years of Christianity BEFORE anyone even knew which books where inspired and which were false (like the gnostic gospels)? And even then – for another 1000 years there was no printing press to supply everyone with a “Bible” – so they obviously had to be taught by oral Tradition.

            And besides that – the Bible itself does NOT say that all of Truth is ONLY contained in Scripture. Paul talks about the Tradition of the Teaching.

            *facepalm* …. idiots…..

          • John Byde

            My dear boy, I see why you’re called Strife! “uhm moron?” Not exactly Thomas Aquinas, is it?
            As I said before, you argue from emotion. Showing anger and using rude words just shows you have little to back up your beliefs with.
            Perhaps you need to read the Acts of the Apostles and compare your Church with what it’s supposed to be like.
            Good luck with the anger management.

          • Strife

            What part of Acts? The part where they were arguing over Judas’ replacement and they finally deferred to the obvious papal authority of Peter? Yeah, you should actually read that. According to Acts 1-2,10-11,15, St. Peter was the leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem. Jesus also instructed St. Peter to strengthen his brethren, i.e., the apostles, according to Luke 22:31-32. And I actually have intellect and historical accuracy to back up my beliefs. All you have is revisionist history and a misunderstanding of righteous anger:

            “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” – St Augustine of Hippo

          • John Byde

            You’re missing the bigger point: there’s no biblical authority for ANY pope. That’s why RCC pews are emptying in South America and most third and second world christians are going for protestantism. The jig is up!

          • Strife

            The actual “Bible” that you cite was deemed to be inspired Canon by the RCC at the Council of Rome in 382AD. Now, that’s almost 1,100 years BEFORE Luther ever bastardized Christianity with protestantism. Which by the way is continually protesting against itself with some 40,000 denominations and counting.

            But to the point – you protestants have so corrupted the actual passage where Christ handed Peter the keys to the pontificate – that your own interpretations actually rape any grammatical or logical sense whatsoever. And the same is true of John 6 with the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Heck, even the Lutherans and several other sects believe in the Real Presence.

            But see here’s the thing, no where in the Bible does the Bible actually state “sola scruptura” (by Scripture alone). You protestant clowns actually think that the original (AND TRUE) Christian faith is held only to Scripture. But of course that is laughable as a practical application.Because you see – there WAS NO SETTLED BIBLE FOUR CENTURIES. AND EVEN THEN, THERE WAS NO PRINTING PRESS AND NO WAY TO WIDELY DISTRIBUTE THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE EACH INDIVIDUALLY HAND WRITTEN. So guess what? People had to rely on THE WORD OF MOUTH ALONG WITH THE CONTEXTUAL INTERPRETATION. This is the TRADITION PAUL TALKS ABOUT.

            But of course – if the Bible does interpret itself like you protestant dimwits believe – then why do your churches have preachers, pastors, and ministers to “teach” you the scriptures?

            Here’s an idea – come back to me when you can actually trace your lineage back to Christ with some VALID HISTORICAL EVIDENCE. And I’m not talking about made-up revisionist fallacies of your origins. I want cited evidence of any protestantism before Luther.

          • John Byde

            Sorry Strife but your emotions are overcoming your logic here. The old testament existed a long time before Jesus was even born and what the New Testament we read today existed a long time before the Catholic Church so very nicely decided that it existed officially. The RCC also added lots of apochryphal books to back up its ludicrous and heritical claims about purgatory and Mary-worship.
            I’m not sure where you get the figure of 40’000 dénominations from but as I said, you seem to argue from emotion rather than logic. I have no doubt there are strong controversies in the protestant churches, but so there are in your Church – look at the title of this article. The real division is always the same: those who follow the bible and those who don’t; those who are guided by scripture and those who hide behind comforting traditions and the words of some Rome based hereitc.
            I hope that clarifies things and let me know if you want any more help understanding Christianity.

          • Strife

            You’re clearly an idiot with no lucid knowledge of history. Show me the historical evidence of the Christian Church from 33AD to the 16th century that wasn’t Catholic. And I’ll gladly cite for you the Didache that dates from the late First Century and its teachings which are clearly Catholic. I’ll also cite for you the oldest existing bible (the codex) along with the Dead Sea Scrolls – both of which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament with the so-called “apocryphal books” – which by the way originally meant “hidden” – not “false” like you protestant idiots like to claim. Oh and, the Jews could not even agree on a settled canon for the Old Testament until well into the first century – when the settled on the so-called “Hebrew” texts that intentionally omitted the Greek Septuagint version that Christ and the Apostles clearly were using. But then- the Jews had a vested interest in “re-interpreting” the Old Testament. Especially given the fact that numerous parts of it were prophetic of Christ as the Messiah. A salient fact that was leading to countless Jewish conversions to Christianity. But then – various new versions of protestant Bibles are actually including the original apocryphal books once again. You protestants can only trace your roots back to Luther. And that’s an indisputable historic fact.

        • bonaventure

          You’re deluding yourself.

          CCC 675:
          “Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

          Whether or not we are in these days, only the Father knows. But the lesson is, that the “religious deception” can very well take the form of the papacy. Otherwise it may not be a deception at all.

          • stlhdsal

            Bonaventure, what a breathtaking post of CCC 675. We must read the signs of the times.

          • John Byde

            Certainly, and return to the true Church of the gospel while there is still time.

        • Annette Breathnachski

          Sorry. It HAS happened and it is blasphemy to blame it on the Holy Spirit. Bergoglio is a heretic and so is Kaspar. A heretic cannot be pope. Don’t blame the Holy Ghost. Blame the “Spirit of Vatican 2” and that ain’tthe Holy Spirit, folks. Stop sprinkling fairy dust on the excrement of the modernists. Time to take the church back WITH the aid of the Holy Ghost. Christ said the gates of hell would not prevail but He didn’t say they wouldn’t try!!

        • Aliquantillus

          It has already happened.

        • Gaby Khn

          Wrong, wrong, we are in no way obligated to follow or obey a heretical antipope, the Catholic Church teaches us this with no ambiguity. The Church’s teaching on faith and morals cannot be changed by no one in authority even if he is at the very top.

        • American Conservative Democrat

          Do you also believe in Santa Claus?

        • Robert Fisher

          This is not the opinion of St Robert Bellarmine or even Popes themselves. Pope John XXII. It is possible for a pope to choose to depart from the truth in either private belief or official teaching. If he did all Christians would be absolved of obedience to him and he would be declared an antipope and deposed.Paul IV, published the Bull Cum ex apostolato officio in which he confronted the problem of possible heresy in a Pope (cfr. Bullarium diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum romanorum pontificum, S. e H. Dalmezzo, Augustae Taurinorum, 1860, VI, pp. 551-556).
          In it we read: “…even the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and Our Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith” and “if this should ever happen in some time (…) prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, he has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy or incurred schism, [then]: the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless.”

        • James M

          If the Papacy were obliterated tomorrow, a Pope could be elected from among the Faithful. There would be no cardinals or clergy to elect Popes, were there no Faithful. The Church is held together and united as a body by the Holy Spirit of Christ – not, primarily, by canon law or even by Apostolic Succession. The Petrine function Christ founded when He conferred “some part” of His Authority on St. Peter

        • larry

          It could disappear. Frankie is already redefining it and weakening the church.

      • Kennybhoy

        If you have not already read them then I think that you may gain some comfort from this interview with the aptly named Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan.


        It put me in mind of this passage by C S Lewis about the original Athanasius.

        ‘ St. Athanasius has suffered in popular estimation from a certain sentence in the Athanasian Creed. I will not labour the point that that work is not exactly a creed and was not by St. Athanasius, for I think it is a very fine piece of writing. The words Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly are the offence. They are commonly misunderstood. The operative word is keep; not acquire, or even believe, but keep. The author, in fact, is not talking about unbelievers, but about deserters, not about those who have never heard of Christ, nor even those who have misunderstood and refused to accept Him, but of those who having really understood and really believed, then allow themselves, under the sway of sloth or of fashion or any other invited confusion to be drawn away into sub-Christian modes of thought. They are a warning against the curious modern assumption that all changes of belief, however brought about, are necessarily exempt from blame. But this is not my immediate concern. I mention the creed (commonly called) of St. Athanasius only to get out of the reader’s way what may have been a bogey and to put the true Athanasius in its place. His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, Athanasius against the world. We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, whole and undefiled, when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those sensible synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.’

        C.S. Lewis from an “Introduction to St. Athanasius’ De Incarnatione Verbi Dei”

        • Bonkim

          who cares!

          • GaryLockhart

            Shouldn’t you be in a bathhouse in North Beach?

        • stlhdsal

          thank you for this post. It says it so clearly. The motivation to ‘move away’ from the truth toward “those sensible synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended” is very powerful in our social media age.

      • Rowland Nelken

        Biblical standards of morality, eh? Solomon had 1000 wives. The Gays of Sodom were burned to death. Fetching firewood on the Sabbath – another capital offence. Jesus said he was come to fulfil the Law (whatever tha means) though seemd sensible enough to be circumspect about the Sabbath and stoning adulterous women. Well that is if the internally contradictory gospels, set down a generation and more after the alleged crucifixion are remotely reliable. To use the BIble as a moral guide is plainly ridiculous.

        • raffer

          that’s why we have Tradition, scripture and the magisterium. The 3 legged stool. other christens sway with the times and the meaning of the language in the bible on any given day. Catholics don’t and won’t. there may be short periods of bad leaders, but the gates of hell will not prevail. which is different than make inroads at times

          • Rowland Nelken

            Reason and evidence make for a better foundation. The Law of the Catholic God led to Inquisitions, heretic burnings and crusades as well as anti contraception stuff that most Catholics ignore.

          • Strife

            Actually no. Specifically which inquisitions are you referring to? The much maligned “Spanish Inquisition”? Chances are your “knowledge” of the events is formed by a combination of protestant propaganda and Mel Brooks movies. The fact is, the worst of the punishments were actually administered by *secular* laws of the regions. Not Church doctrines. And Catholics suffered from public burnings throughout Europe as well. And the Crusades? Really? Apparently you’re not aware of the fact that Mohammed was actually born some 600 years AFTER Christ, and that it was *Islam* (based on fallaciously revised historical claims) that initially invaded the Holy Lands and began systemically torturing and executing Jews, Christians, and pagans in an effort to spread their murderous faith by the blade of the scimitar.

            But if you want to talk REAL human atrocities: Let’s address the tyrannical ideology of atheism which is responsible for some 100 million deaths through the Communist regimes of the 20th century alone. You can add up all the wars throughout history and never match that level of human misery and blood shed. So there’s that little inconvenient fact of course.

          • Rowland Nelken

            I am aware of the foul treatment administered by Protestants to Catholics and that Spain was only one theatre of religious violence during the Reformation. In Spain and its colonies, as in modern Ireland, church and state were very much intertwined. I have read the works of the Roman Catholic Bartolome de las Casas lamenting the genocide of Native Americans.

            Hitler was a Roman Catholic, and in Mein Kampf describes his mission as the fulfilment of God’s plan. He had centuries of Christian anti semitism as a basis for his murderous master race fantasies. Stalin and Mao were certainly atheists. Whether atheism per se was the driver of their horrors is, however, doubtful. Their ideology was their particular take on Marxism. Wiping out God was incidental as well as ineffectual. I currently live in Moscow and the churches seem fuller than they are in ENgland. I have even met Muscovites, schooled during the Communist era, who believe that Russia needs a return of the divinely appointed Romanovs.

            After shooting priests and demolishing churches Stalin realised the value of the church in building the patriotic spirit during WW2 so encouraged a small cadre of tame yes men type clergy.

          • Strife

            The American Indians were already practicing genocide long before the white man set foot on the American continent – not to mention their practice of torture and cannibalism in their ongoing wars with neighboring tribes.

            And Hitler was a fallen away Catholic, and Mein Kampf was filled with propaganda including Hitler’s fallacious religious justifications. “Hitler’s Table Talk” a collection of Hitler’s private converstations and remarks recorded by his inner henchmen Heinrich Heim, Henry Picker, and Martin Bormann reveal Hitler’s true feelings towards Catholicism. And He is filled with hate and resentment towards the faith – especially Rome.

            And according to Nobel Prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who personally survived the gulags of his Communist tyrants, atheism was central to the Communist ideology:

            “It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

            And Stalin only valued the Church as a domestic political asset in an effort to stave off the common threat of Germany. But of course, the suppression and persecution of the Church did not end after WWII. in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985, fewer than 7,000 churches remained active.

            Russia may currently have a more vigorous practice of the faith than the West. But that is only because the West has embraced the same atheistic secular ideology that fed the tyrannical suppression of Russia a century earlier:

            “The truth is that Irreligion is the opium of the people. Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world. And, by the very nature of the Bolshevist and many other modern
            systems, as well as by the practical working of almost any system, the State will be strongest thing in the world. The whole tendency of men is to treat the solitary State as the solitary standard. That men may protest against law, it is necessary that they should believe in justice; that they may believe in justice beyond law, it is necessary that they should believe in a justice beyond the land of living men. You can impose the rule of the Bolshevist as you can impose the rule of the Bourbons; but it is equally an imposition. You can even make its subjects contented, as opium would make them contented. But if you are to have anything like divine discontent, then it must really be divine. Anything that really comes from below must really come from above.” – G.K.Chesterton

          • stlhdsal

            “Hitler was a Catholic….” On his baptismal record only. He was a sociopath. Full stop.
            You paint with too wide a brush, RK.

          • ADW

            Communism was just another form of religion, replacing an unseen and unprovable god with an almost as amorphous concept of “the state”.

          • Strife

            It could be argued that Communism is somewhat analogous to an “ecclesiastical” ruling structure for the practical implementation of its ideological motive. And that ideological motive is undeniably the religion of Atheism itself. This fact has been repeatedly demonstrated across the annals of human history far too many times over the last century to ignore. The sheer ponderance of historical evidence is incontrovertible. The subsequent cycles of history have validated and entrenched the salient observations of Chesterton from some 80 years ago. His words have been repeatedly validated by the unprecedented misery and bloodshed that has “christened” this most unholy of ideologies. Because the basic philosophical tenets of atheism always organize human nature into the distorted antithesis of God’s human gift of freewill and mercy:

            “But the truth is that it is only by believing in God that we can ever criticize the Government. Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes the God. The fact is written all across human history; but it is written more plainly across that recent history of Russia; which was created by Lenin. There the Government is the God, and all the more the God, because it proclaims aloud in accents of thunder, like every other God worth worshiping, the one essential commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

            “…The truth is that Irreligion is the opium of the people. Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world. And, by the very nature of the Bolshevist and many other modern systems, as well as by the practical working of almost any system, the State will be the strongest thing in the world. The whole tendency of men is to treat the solitary State as the solitary standard. That men may protest against law, it is necessary that they should believe in justice; that they may believe in justice beyond law, it is necessary that they should believe in a justice beyond the land of living men. You can impose the rule of the Bolshevist as you can impose the rule of the Bourbons; but it is equally an imposition. You can even make its subjects contented, as
            opium would make them contented. But if you are to have anything like divine discontent, then it must really be divine. Anything that really comes from below must really come from above.” – G.K. Chesterton (1932)

          • ADW

            Atheism is not a religion. Religion is believing the unprovable, devoid of evidence, and indeed often against evidence. To the extent atheism is an absolute belief there is no god, then it is a leap of faith in that no one can prove there is no god, in the same way no one can prove there are no invisible fairies at the bottom of my garden. But it’s a bit of a fatuous comparison.

            Plato showed 2000 years ago that we judge ethics independently of religion – hence the church abandoning so many once fundamental tenets over the hears

          • Strife

            On the contrary, in the most primary definition of “religion” (a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe) atheism is most certainly a religious belief. It is a religious belief of pure nihilistic antithesis.

            Your confusion lies in the false premise of neo-atheism: Atheism does not disprove what it claims to “disprove” and it certainly does not prove what it insinuates because there is no scientific axiom that claims that all human experiences in life must and can be explained by empirical evidence. And of course your specious analogy of invisible fairies is most certainly true. “Invisible fairies” have never claimed a universal explanation for man’s transcendent existence.

            And of course, left to the ridiculous premise of it’s own rationalization there is no philosophy as fatuous as that of atheism: The unsubstantiated belief that there was nothing & nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason whatsoever out of sheer nothingness and created everything for no apparent reason and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself out of the void of nothing in a systemic ordered design magically governed by a magical template of discernible laws for no apparent transcendent reason whatsoever which then turned into dinosaurs.

            Yes of course. That certainly sounds reasonable. And you see empirical examples of it everyday…… nowhere ever.

            “It is assumed that the skeptic has no bias; whereas he has a very obvious bias in favour of skepticism….. No skeptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon…” – G.K.Chesterton

          • ADW

            Ignoring semantics, there are two questions religion has historically sought to answer. The first is unexplained phenomena, such as the origins of the universe and the origin of life on earth. The second is ethics.

            Over the centuries, scientific explanations have been found for more and more phenomena so no sensible person blames god for failed crops or believes in witches or whatever. But by the nature of things having a unified theory of the origin of the universe is a bit trickier. Even if you reject all current theories in toto, that leaves no reason to accept a religious alternative. The possible alternatives are limited only by your imagination. And I have to say that it is a cop out, a failure of imagination, to say “oh well I don’t believe in the Big Bang so therefore I’ll just go with random religion x”. It is surely far more interesting to explore different theories and ideas that have some rational basis, just as you do in every other walk of life. Ie if you lose your car keys you don’t go assuming god has punished you even if it is tempting by the frustration. And far better to test the theory about the earth going round the sun rather than assume the person saying it is a heretic. Same for the person who discovered circulation of the blood. Also, the something from nothing theory is relied on just as much by religion as anything else, so that objection gets you nowhere.

            As to ethics, look at the ethics of the church over the past two centuries. It has changed out of all recognition, along with everyone else’s. As Plato showed, if the true religion turned out to be one demanding the murder of all blue eyed babies, we would all reject it. Not because a priest told us so, but because our own moral sense and rational ethics told us so. Thus, religion can offer arguments in ethics, just as it can for natural phenomena like rainbows, but it’s arguments will be assessed like everyone else’s.

          • ADW

            Finally, the one religion that does try and hold on to its original ethics amd all it’s claims about he universe, oblivious to scientific advancements since, is the one causing almost all the trouble we get from religion nowadays. And the countries where it holds sway are all miserable hell holes, even those swimming in oil.

          • Strife

            You’re obviously not aware who the author of the Big Bang theory actually was. It was Georges Lemaître, a brilliant Belgian physicist and cosmologist oh and…. a Roman Catholic priest. The theory (originally named by him “the hypothesis of the primeval atom”) actually validated the premise that the intelligence that instigated the “Big Bang” existed outside of time itself. Because, when the equations of the theorem are reduced back to the singularity the mathematical definition of “time” is distorted to a point of nonexistence. Ergo “time” itself was created at the “moment” of the Big Bang. Ergo, an intellect beyond time itself created and propagated the entire chain of events.

            But again: back to the utter unreasonable nature of your fundamental premise, there is no scientific axiom that ever claimed that all of life’s experiences can be proven by empirical evidence. You’re simply citing a very unscientific “law” which is nothing more than your own unreasonable philosophical belief. Your own personal emotions are a prime example. But of course, like most atheists you lack any hint of self-awareness of introspection. Your arguments are all placed externally from any awareness of the transcendent nature of your own cognitive processes. Plato himself would find your fundamental belief to be utterly ridiculous in its unreasonable premise.

          • ADW

            I am quite aware many scientists have been religious, but they did not get their hypotheses from their religion nor did they ask a priest for validation.

          • Strife

            No actually, I think it is quite obvious that you did NOT know that a Roman Catholic priest was the author of the “Big Bang”. So please, stop pretending. And please, stop trying to draw a false dichotomy between scientific validation and the metaphysical.

          • ADW

            Secondly, no-one suggests that science has or even could answer every question going. But that gives no support to any religious position, at all. It just leaves you no-where, unhappily. I’d be the first to accept a religion if you could provide any justification for one, thus far you’ve offered none.

          • Strife

            That statement in and of itself is self-contradictory. You’re forced to admit that science is incapable of answering the motives and complete rationale of all of life’s experiences….. and then you turn right around and proclaim that unless the existence of God can be held to the limited axioms of science itself – He simply cannot exist. And of course, I’m not even arguing from a position of a specific religion at this point, I’m merely presenting the reasonableness of the metaphysical and the motive of the supernatural. You, on the other hand, seem to possess absolutely no self-awareness of the fact that your own most primary motives (emotions) lie outside of the realm of objective empirical evidence.

          • ADW

            You keep trying to make a virtue out of the fact you can’t advance a single reason to believe in ancient superstition. If you can point to things yet to be rationally explained that does not mean they never will,be, nor does it mean that religion has any form of validation at all. A short glance at the history of any religion will show you that they are all recent inventions, none make much sense on their own terms, and all can easily be explained by the need for rulers to justify their hold on power. I just find it defeatist and wholly lacking in imagination. If we’d all had that attitude, very little of modern science would ever have been discovered.

          • Strife

            Of course I didn’t advance any justifications for ancient superstitions – because I don’t believe in any. But I did, however, advance the ultimate reasoning for a supreme being: the origins of the universe and the systemic organized nature of all creation. But of course the evidence for such divinely inspired motives must start with personal introspection – and of course – you are incapable of such depths. And I find it quite amazing that you have such immovable faith in all things yet unexplained by science – when science itself has never ever held any such irrational scope of it’s own abilities, nor could it. And yet, you irrationally treat the discipline as if it were magical. In fact, you hold your imaginary religion of “scientism” to such a supreme level of unwarranted virtue more diligently derived by your own incoherent reasoning than any theist does about their own deistic beliefs. The irony is simply overbearing.

            If anything it is *you* who need to validate your own unfounded reasoning. And as far as actual scientific advancements, I can look back over centuries of discoveries by men and women of *theistic* beliefs who contributed invaluably to the field. For instance – the father of modern genetics: Gregor Mendel, a brilliant scientist AND a Catholic friar. And on it goes……

            But more to the point – you don’t seem to be able to discern a Catholic from a Fundamentalist. But then – you can’t even discern objective truth from wishful magical thinking when it comes to your own blind ideology. So it’s hardly surprising.

          • ADW

            You keep trying to paint me as the religious believer when the reverse is true. If you read some of the great scientific thinkers eg feynman you will realise the whole basis of science is doubt, openness to opposing views etc. but it also relies on observation, evidence, control tests and so on; you can’t just accept things on faith or on authority. And faith and authority are what Catholics are all about.

            The fact that various great scientists were or are religious is purely coincidental, and reflect the fact that science offers no emotional comfort and that there are always areas of doubt that it is unlikely we will ever solve, at least not in my lifetime. None of mendel’s writing says “and this genetic fact is correct because it’s in the bible or the pope says so “” and hence his religion was coincidental and gives no weight to his theories.

            But most of all I think it is a cop out to say that because we so far have no settled view on the origin of the universe, let’s put it down to some supreme being. How dull! And as if we would have achieved anything if we had taken that view from the start – which is why the Muslim world got so behind the west – they did not have the spirit of inquiry that the west was able to achieve by limiting the power of the church, which had done tis worst to make heretics out of early scientists.

          • Strife

            Not only are you an unwitting adherent to your own nihilistic religious beliefs, you’re not even aware of the irrational basis of your ideology. I spelled it all out for you quite plainly – and you thoroughly ignored it. Here it is again:

            And of course, left to the ridiculous premise of it’s own rationalization there is no philosophy as fatuous as that of atheism: The unsubstantiated belief that there was nothing & nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason whatsoever out of sheer nothingness and created everything for no apparent reason and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself out of the void of nothing in a systemic ordered design magically governed by a magical template of discernible laws for no apparent transcendent reason whatsoever which then turned into dinosaurs.

            And your profound ignorance of the mystical motives of the Catholic faith are breathtaking. In fact, faith – like science, is also based on doubt.

            “Doubt is but another element of faith” – St Augustine of Hippo.

            (BTW Augustine in the 5th century was the very FIRST human to ever suggest that time itself was created AT the inception of the universe.)

            The difference of course – is that faith realizes that we as mortal humans in this limited realm constrained by the elements of time, can never fully realize, much less realize fully understand the true nature of our existence.

            But backward “thinkers” such as yourself, fallaciously *believe* that your brand of imaginary science ie *scientism* can and will answer all things. And as I have pointed out to you repeatedly now – SCIENCE ITSELF MAKES NO SUCH CLAIMS – NOR CAN IT.

            And yet, do you ever stop and internally process the irony of that ridiculous contradiction of reasoned thought that you fanatically cling to? Well… no. Instead you march forward with blinders in place in a myopic vision of pure fantasy that is more unbelievable than any tales of garden fairies or flying spaghetti monsters.

            There is no contradiction or reasoned dichotomy between faith and science in Roman Catholicism. None. Even in (and especially in) the past conflicts of the two disciplines. And it is only out of blithering ignorance that you would ever assume such a ridiculous notion. But then, you’re not actually here to advance any sort of open process for the quest of Objective Truth. No no. You’re here as a fanatical fundamentalist of this current secular religion of Neo-Atheism and it’s new-age alchemy of doctrine founded in the imaginary self-delusion of “Scientism”!

            You spew out (“The fact that various great scientists were or are religious is purely coincidental”) uhm NO. No it’s not coincidental.

            The fact that their faith (based on their personal doubt and curiosity) was always seeking the fullness of God’s beautiful Truth in all things, led their brilliant GOD-GIVEN minds along the same path of discovery in faith AND science. Because in Catholicism one never fully “arrives” in complete understanding. This is why Paul refers to the fruits of the faith as “The peace that transcends ALL understanding”.

            But see, that’s your fanatical fundamentalist explanation for all things unexplainable – “It’s all coincidental!”

            Oh but wait! I thought your “scientism” explained EVERYTHING. No? Ah – but it doesn’t does it. Well no, of course not. But instead of embracing that uncertain element of reality you simply label it with the self-assuring *certainty* of “coincidence!” And so it goes.

            (You said – “But most of all I think it is a cop out to say that because we so far have no settled view on the origin of the universe, let’s put it down to some supreme being. How dull!”)

            Dull? Really? How so? Especially given YOUR inane theory, which is:

            “Uh…… stuff just sort of happened out of absolute nothingness for absolutely no reason whatsoever….yeah, that’s it”

            And at the same time you turn right around and proclaim with all the accents of Evangelical moral thunder and certainty – “But even though the origins and purpose are all pointless – we can absolutely no the point and purpose in all things that followed!” *facepalm*


            With all due respect, and at the risk of dire offense to you and offense to the Good Lord Who made you and loves you, – you’re simply too impenetrably ignorant to even realize the most elementary flaws in your own misguided reasoning.

            Seriously, at least make some sort of subtle attempt at introspection. You invoke the “spirit of inquiry” Really? How about internal spiritual inquiry? After all, how in the name of all things reasonable can you possibly hope to realize anything sustainable and transcendent of Truth in the universe when you steadfastly choose to remain so hopelessly ignorant about your own most inner being? All Truth must be processed by your own internal being. And yet you don’t even ask the most fundamental questions of reasoning – “Why should you even beware of a “Truth” to begin with? And why should you even be motivated to ask ‘why’ at all?” From whence do such things come in man?

          • ADW

            Your ranting abuse signifies how confident you are in your arguments – clearly not very.

            It’s not difficult to play at that game – I could easily take a few shots at a bunch of ridiculous old sexually inadequate old men peddling laughable old superstitions, outdated homophobia (painfully ironic in view of all the church’s sex scandals), pitiful sexism (apparently because the first few followers of Christ were men, all priests have to have a penis, it’s clearly beyond women, or at least that’s what the dusty old texts and the aforesaid inadequate old men like to think). Still bleating on that birth control is immoral, that condoms are immoral (and watching untold misery unfold in Africa as a result), even though most Catholics in the West breezily ignore them.

            And it’s ridiculously egotistical to think that your God chose to turn up and reveal himself a couple of thousand years ago to one small group of people, but to ignore the more advanced Chinese civilisation (and having ignored the advanced Egyptian society and then Greeks for centuries first), and then chose to ignore everyone and everything since, letting people slaughter themselves in the hundreds of millions over an argument about who has the best imaginary friend.

            And then to ignore the number of times the Church tried to make heretics of scientists who advance what we now know to be blatantly obvious – the earth going round the sun, the blood circulation system etc etc.

            And to claim that there is something of truth in the Biblical claims about the earth (or anything much within it), when even the farcical old men admit much if it is ‘allegorical’ i.e. codswallop, having tried for centuries to tell everyone that it was all literally true.

            Yes indeed the Christians have managed

            LOOK AT YOUR OWN HISTORY. Time and time again the Church tells us that certain things are immutably true, only to quietly or not so quietly let them go when evidence shows them to be bunkum, or when ethics move on and everyone decides that racism, sexism, slavery, homophobia, burning books or heretics etc etc etc isn’t such a good idea. Showing you quite clearly that you can’t believe a word they say about the earth’s origins or any of its natural phenomena, leaving you to grasp at your metaphysical straws. It’s just pathetic.

            People always look for emotional crutches. Made up stories called religion provide them. THe Catholic Church has been at it for centuries, L. Ron Hubbard managed it more recently. There’s no difference to speak of between them.

            Then, as I said, science advanced in the West in spite of the church, not because of it. In countries where religion held a tighter grip (and still does) i.e. our Islamic friends, who offer a variation on the Christian theme, the populations are mired in squalor and ignorance.

            I put my hand up and say I don’t know every complete answer to the origin of the universe. It would be quite staggering if I – or anyone else – did. We have only had a few thousand years of recorded history (as opposed to billions of years of the earth and the known universe existing), and are sitting on one small rock amidst billions and billions of stars. I think it is a total boring cop out to say it must be a sky fairy that was responsible. Maybe we will never know, in the same way that it is most unlikely ants will ever understand the human feet that stand on them for time to time. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a rational explanation, just as there is a rational explanation for the fate of the ants – just that they are too primitive to understand it. We may never advance our intelligence and our knowledge to explain all the universe and everything in it. That, to me, makes it more interesting to extend what we do know through rational inquiry, not to give up and revert to stories invented by men centuries ago who knew nothing of evolution, cosmology, or quantum physics or whatever.

            You stick to your popes, I’ll stick to the likes of Feynman, Hawking, Sagan, or Douglas Adams for that matter – at least Douglas Adams was funny.

          • Strife

            Perhaps you didn’t see this last bit. I went back and added it on later on. This is relevant as a starting point to our differences.

            Riddle me this: If there is no transcendent intelligence behind all of creation – then how is it that man can even discern any truth based on his own intellectual processes?

          • ADW

            Yes I did miss that bit. How man discerns truth is an interesting question, but I don’t think it needs any transcendentally intelligent creator. I’m no expert on evolutionary biology, but there are very sophisticated explanations about how cells evolved, then how complex creatures developed sight, smell, and other senses, and how human brains evolved better than those of other creatures. There’s abundant evidence for all of that.

            Of course, it was all very unlikely, as reflected in the fact that it took over 3.8 billion years since life first evolved for intelligent life to evolve, and reflected in the fact that there seems to be no intelligent life we have detected in outer space (which is not to say there isn’t any – the distances involved make it vanishingly unlikely we’ll manage to contact anyone though, so I await the proof on that one).

            You might disagree with all of evolutionary biology, though you will be going against a formidable weight of evidence and argument. Even if you succeed, though, it would just put us back to square one. It certainly wouldn’t provide any evidence for any counter-theory such as a benign creator of any description.

          • Strife

            I’m not asking how man discerns Truth – but *why*.

            Specifically, how is it even possible to discern Truth intellectually – unless that Truth was installed by an Intelligence?

            And I have no intellectual problem with evolution itself. I’m Catholic after all, not a Fundamentalist.

          • ADW

            I’m not trying to be unhelpful, but I don’t really think your question goes anywhere. It depends what you mean by ‘truth’. Truth of anything so far as possible – and I am no subjectivist – is arrived at by experience, observation, experiment, etc etc. There’s nothing to suggest that there needs to be anything installed by an intelligence. Even if it was, why would it need to be God, a God, someone else’s God, or just something we haven’t thought of or discovered yet?

            The CC wasn’t a fan of evolution, until the evidence became indisputable (it did better on that count than various other religions/offshoots, I would acknowledge).

            And that’s my point – over the centuries most religions have fought against major scientific discoveries or new theories, the CC v Galileo being the best known but hardly unique. Some still try it on today. Then, when they give up the fight, they simply shift the goalposts. So, having previously said scientist X is totally wrong, the right answer is Y; they then say ok we accept X, but the religion on that was allegorical all along, and didn’t mean anything really, and you still need religion to answer question Z …

          • Strife

            You don’t understand. Let me try again:

            Man has intellect and that intellect has allowed him to discern and understand a great many things about the systemic and ordered nature of the universe. Now how can it be that man should possess this intellect (unlike any other species) and that the *laws* of the universe clearly reveal an ordered and *intelligent* design in and of themselves?

            And you claim that you arrive at “truth” by experience, observation, experiment etc. All well and good. But, *Truth* still exists before (and independent of) your experience, observation, experiment etc. No? Objective Truth – in all it’s facets does not necessarily depend upon our discernment or understanding …no? And more so, science itself does not lay claim to the premise that all truth (or human experience) must be held to the proof of empirical evidence. After all, the metaphysical reality of infinity is hardly limited to our own comprehension.

          • ADW

            1. Evolution explains intellect. And it took a while – Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years, out of the 3.8billion years there has been life on earth, then you have the billions of years the universe existed prior to that. And despite all those incredible numbers you and the cc seem to think that some god created humans and waited another hundred thousand years or many more before briefly revealing himself and then disappearing for good.

            2. Yes, but that just shows there are forces of nature, independent of human subjectivism.

            Again, no need for a god in any of it and certainly no support for the cc idea of god

          • Strife

            And what laid the ordered and systemic ground work for evolution? And why does no other species come close to man’s intellect? Oh and, from where exactly did all this ordered design originate? And why any order, design, or systemic nature to begin with?

            (“2. Yes, but that just shows there are forces of nature, independent of human subjectivism.”)

            Forces? Unintelligent forces? Random sources? Sources that sprang out of sheer nothingness?

          • ADW

            Evolution was anything but ordered and systemic. The Dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid strike; if that incredibly small chance of a catastrophic event had not happened, then no homosapiens would ever have evolved, and instead the dinosaurs would still be around in probably not massively changed form now. We evolved by natural selection, with plenty of external factors (climate changes, for a start) influencing which species prevailed where.

            Neanderthals’ intelligence was not so very far off homosapiens, but they lost out because they weren’t quite as clever. Just as in countless other examples, the more adaptive rather than necessarily the strongest survived (Neanderthals were far stronger physically).

            No others have come close to humans because to evolve to the point of intelligence takes an enormously long time – remember the famous stat that if the earth had been around for just 24 hours we would arrive at about 2 minutes to midnight.

            Asking why we ended up with what we have now is like pointing to the puddle outside my house and saying what on earth was the chances of exactly 1.234523432523532 litres of water forming on this very spot at this very moment, billions of years on the earth’s existence.

            I’ve answered the nothingness point before. There are various theories of space/time that explain how you get something from nothing. They may be right, they may be hopelessly wrong. But as I said, isn’t it much more interesting to keep looking for the rational answer, just like we have for every other phenomena, rather than take some old story on trust? As every scientist in the field says, we may not get a unified theory, we may not find anything, or the answer may be out there, but way beyond our puny intelligence to understand.

          • Strife

            If evolution was not governed by the very laws of ordered and systemic natural selection, then our understanding of it would be nill. You keep missing that very basic and salient point. You seem to be laboring under the fantasy that our intellect somehow creates the very laws of nature that we continue to discover. And as far as the extinction theory of an asteroid is concerned – it is completely irrelevant to the ordered and systemic nature of evolution itself. If anything, the infintecimal odds that such a catastrophe of such magnitude would result in the responsive evolutionary processes that resulted in homo-sapiens is quite extrodinary in itself. So when you factor into evolution the seemingly *random* occurances of external factors, you automatically assume that it implicates nothing more than a larger realm of random happenstance. But on the contrary, it could more rationally be theorized that the ordered design of these observable natural laws are themselves governed by larger and larger universal forces of unimaginable Intelligence. But instead, you seem to want to limit the scope of it all to your own to “how” and never address the ultimate *WHY*.

            And there is no accurate way to truly gauge the intellect of the Neaderthals versus homosapiens. This is pure theoretical assumptions built upon numerous other theoretical assumptions. None of this has been factually verified. But if the DNA evidence indicates anything it is the distinct possibility that Neanderthals and humans actually share a common ancestor that lived some 800,000 years ago. So in other words, there is far more unknown about our evolutionary origins than what we actually know.

            (“Asking why we ended up with what we have now is like pointing to the puddle outside my house and saying what on earth was the chances of exactly 1.234523432523532 litres of water forming on this very spot at this very moment, billions of years on the earth’s existence.”)

            Well, I don’t quite follow your reasoning here. But if anything, you’re actually citing a very limited example with no relevance beyond itself. But if you really want to play the odds, then what exactly ARE the numerical chances that the Big Bang would randomly result in the intellectual development of our very beings, here and now? I mean seriously, wouldn’t it be much more rational to at least entertain the theory that perhaps an Intelligence beyond all of this was governing everything as opposed to the sheer chaotic happenstance of
            disorder that somehow magically spun itself into order?

            (“I’ve answered the nothingness point before. There are various theories of space/time that explain how you get something from nothing. They may be right, they may be hopelessly wrong. But as I said, isn’t it much more interesting to keep looking for the rational answer, just like we have for every other phenomena, rather than take some old story on trust? As every scientist in the field says, we may not get a unified theory, we may not find anything, or the answer may be out there, but way beyond our puny intelligence to understand.”)

            Wow. Really? You seriously entertain the possibility (as a plausible *rational* theory) that something can come from nothingness? Please tell me how you can even consider that to be in the realm of “rational” thought, and yet the possibility of a Supreme Being Who is beyond our full comprehension (or as you say “way beyond our puny intelligence to understand”) is somehow irrational.

            Rationalize that for me.

            And don’t you think it is a much more exciting proposition to consider the possibility of an unfathomable Supreme Intelligence? After all, how can all of this order and design spring out of random nothingness? Impossible. It clearly must have come from something Intelligent. No other explanation is even remotely rational.

          • ADW

            Natural selection is a perfectly obvious process which doesn’t require a governing intelligence. If you put some fish in a tank with a limited food source, the fish that adapts best to the environment will prosper and others will die off, without any outside intervention.

            It is not more rational to posit outside intervention. If there is an overarching intelligence out there, one wonders what he/she/it was doing messing around for all those billions of years before humans, if we are in some way important to that creator (never mind made in his image). It seems to me a bizarre sort of arrogance to assume that of all the billions and billions of stars, billions of planets/planetary bodies etc, that there is some particular significance for a life form that has existed for a hundred thousand years (and was ignored completely by the creator for the first 98,000 of those years, and even then he only showed up for a few thousand, and left others across the planet to their own devices). Then he ignored them thereafter, letting them slug each other out in his name.

            Have you actually read any theoretical cosmology e.g. Brief History of Time?

            The super intelligent creator thesis fails, because the creator must have come from nothing. And if you’re going to try and say ah but that’s all magic and doesn’t count, well, I’m not sure you can claim the rational high ground.

            Funnily enough, though, since unlike fundamentalists (and indeed unlike the RCC for much of its history), since you accept basic proven facts like evolution, the age of the known universe, the number of interstellar bodies etc, and are left to try and argue that God predates all that and was the instigator of the beginning (and then ignoring it all for billions of years as I mentioned, before the briefest of cameo appearances), then actually there might not be so much between us.

            The reason is this: back to the ant example. If a human foot stamps on an ant, then from the ant’s perspective it might as well be a god doing it. The ant has no possible way of understanding what is happening to it or why. It cannot begin to understand what the foot is, etc, and unless there are a few trillion years more evolution, no ant descendent will ever know either. So from the ant’s point of view the foot may as well be a God; the only difference being the ant has rather better proof of that god’s existence.

            Similarly, there might well be a rational scientific explanation for the beginning of time and the initial creation of matter, but it might be the case that we are nowhere near intelligent enough ever to find or understand it. That doesn’t mean it’s any more supernatural than the human foot which kills the ant, but from our limited perspective it makes no odds.

            Or to take another example. There are apparently a few ‘uncontacted tribes’ left – one or two in Papua New Guinea, the Brazilian rain forest, and I think in some islands in the Indian Ocean. Let’s say for argument’s sake that they are genuinely uncontacted. Now suppose we turn up and tell them that the moon isn’t a god after all, and that we’ve actually travelled there and back. We also show them smart phones, the atom bomb, the internet etc etc. It might well be that they would assume that we had supernatural powers, and they might run a council of elders who determine that we are gods, or messengers thereof. But we know that this is not the case, because we created all these fantastic machines by rational scientific enquiry. And, similarly, maybe some boffins at Caltech or Harvard one day will find the answers to the universe we have been seeking and it will shock us to the same extent that my hypothetical uncontacted tribes will be shocked.

            I guess therefore there are two points: (1) just because the origins of the universe seem fantastic to us with our present level of knowledge, doesn’t mean there aren’t answers to be had that will turn out to be rational after all, even if it requires an intelligence greater than ours by the same magnitude ours is greater than the ants to understand (and thus we will never find it; and (ii) what is complex or ordered or anything else is a matter of perspective. Just because we have ended up with the world as it is now, doesn’t mean it was always going to be like this or that it will be in the future. Natural selection could just as easily have led down another path, and may do so in future.

          • Strife

            Did the adaptive processes of Natural selection develop out of thin air? Well no. You say they’re perfectly obvious, but that is only because you are speaking from a perspective of several generations of acquired knowledge of the topic. But of course, you keep thinking that this entire process gave being to itself. But no, it originated from something.

            And you refer to “outside intervention”. What makes you think a Supreme Intelligence is necessarily confined to “outside” of this realm? It is quite rational to consider the likely possibility that it is integral to this entire existence. Including our own ability to reason. And what would “billions” of years possibly matter to a Being that exists beyond the limitations of time? And what would billions of years even mean in the expanse of infinity? And why would it matter when humans appeared in the context of this world? If anything speaks to arrogance, it is your own personal need to have that issue even signify any relevance to our limited understanding? Time and time again, your myopic premise is nothing more than:

            “If God cannot be understood in my own small and limited terms – then He could not possibly exist!”

            Seriously. Any Supreme Intelligence that we can fully comprehend would be nothing more than an equally small reflection of ourselves. And there is nothing supreme about that. The fact is, the concept of God irritates you because you cannot control it. There is the true arrogance in all of this.

            (“The super intelligent creator thesis fails, because the creator must
            have come from nothing. And if you’re going to try and say ah but
            that’s all magic and doesn’t count, well, I’m not sure you can claim the
            rational high ground.”)

            Not quite. Time itself was a product of the Big Bang. Ergo the Intelligence behind it did not exist in the realm of time. And it’s not all “magic” any more than the mathematical concept of infinity is “magic”. Can we conceive in our minds a general view of infinity? Well yes. But can we actually wrap our heads around it? Well no. Because it has no definable measurement.

            And God’s so called “cameo” appearance does not negate His interaction with the Jews thousands of years before Christ. No does it even take into account any possible interaction long before man’s written or even lost accounts of any incidences. And that includes peoples all over the globe and various times throughout human history.

            And your ant analogy misses several key points: First of all the human who left the footprint did not make all of creation including the soil, the earth, the sky, the universe and so on. But more so – the human did not make the ant himself. And even more to the point, ants certainly cannot reason now can they. Well no. No they can’t. And one more salient point: the beginnings of the “proof” of God’s existence – lies within the clues of your own nature. No other species asks “why”. No other species appreciates the sheer subjective quality of beauty itself.

            And what makes you think that the supernatural, the metaphysical, or even the mystic is somehow irrational? After all, what is “rational” about “love” – the most important and indomitably driving force in our entire human paradigm? What is “rational” about music? Or Art? Or a glorious sunset? And who wouldn’t sound utterly silly trying to rationalize any of those things? To do so would be an attempt to actually diminish them.

            And as far as your analogy of isolated tribes, I would counter with this: For all of our modern advancements – the best we can come up with to explain our universal origins is …… a whole lot of something MAGICALLY popped out of nothingness? Yeah. Those silly backwards knuckle-dragging troglodyte tribesmen sure are silly aren’t they?

            Some of the more modern advancements in cosmological theories: Multiple dimensions of existence. Yeah. I have no problem with that. I’m glad science is slowly adopting the unbelievably fantastic. Nor do I have a problem with a Supreme Intelligence that exist outside of our own limited confines and understanding of time. And any such Being would surely have no problem deriving a whole lot of something beyond our understanding of time itself. And again, the question “why” to all of this is never approached by your premise.

          • ADW

            Even accepting your arguments, which I certainly don’t, why the Christian god as opposed to one or more who bear no resemblance to him? There is no evidence for him anywhere else – you speculate that there might have been, but can’t point to any at all. Nor can you get past the fact hat the creator if he existis also came out of nothing. You can’t use logic when it suits and not when it doesn’t.

          • Strife

            No the Creator did not come out of nothingness – He has always existed beyond time, in infinity. And BTW, elements of that concept are not foreign to modern cosmology. And as far as God personified in Christ: Well first of all, Christ’s merciful and unfathomable loving nature and His intimate redemptive and sacrificial actions bared no resemblance to the *assumed* concept of God in the Old Testament – nor to any other concept of a deity anywhere else. But specifically, why Christ? There are many reasons. But let me give you the most poignant one for me personally – stick with it and let it sink in. BTW I’m a former atheist:

            “That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already, but that God could have His back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents forever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point — and does not break. In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in the terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

          • ADW

            Look I understand the emotional pull of religion but I’m afraid I can’t buy it, not without some evidence of some form or another. And I certainly can’t buy a benign creator when one sees how much brutality there is in nature. Not just the way animals kill each other – watching hyenas kill a zebra isn’t great for the stomach – but also things like the worm which has evolved to burrow through a child’s eyeball. Or the number of children killed by arbitrary events over which no one has any control. Then there is the bizarre crime and punishment regime, and the ludicrous egoism demanding reverence etc (though I suspect Jesus would not be much impressed by the cc as an institution).

          • Strife

            Ah yes. And now it all comes to a head. And I don’t say any of this out of schadenfreude or superior sanctimony. Far from it. But rather, I say it out of sympathetic recognition of an all too familiar past.

            Your personal revulsion at God is not born out of any rationalized disbelief. On the contrary, your revolt actually stems from the much more rational motive of all: a personal anger at God for all the misery and suffering in this world. And I’m right there with you brother. I’ve been there often. And of course, the fullest extent of this anger manifests itself in a rationalized effort to obliterate the very concept of God from our lives by denying Him the right ever exist as any “rational” precept.

            But what you don’t realize, is that God is actually calling to you personally *through* the very pain and disillusionment of your anger and fears towards Him. I keep reminding you of introspection. St Augustine noted that we (ourselves, our very being) are the specific instruments God gave us to know Him. We cannot know God until we begin to know ourselves. And we cannot know ourselves until we begin to know God. The two are inseparable as conduits to Truth.

            Now if all of this sound ridiculous to you – that’s fine. It always does to the soul who is in the most turmoil. That is the honest and paradoxical nature of our broken state in this existence. But realize this above anything else: what would your life be without love? What would your life even matter to you if you had not been touched by love, hurt by love, betrayed by love, and reconciled and ultimately comforted by love? It would be absolutely void of any sustainable reason for existence. All of these external things we are debating – do they comfort your broken heart when a loved one is taken from you by the indifferent forces of death? Of course not. Do they give joy to your soul at the sight of a long separated loved one? Of course not. You love because you were created to love. This is the beginning and the end of all your internal conflicts. This is the point to life. And it is never more poignant than at the loss of temporal love through death.

            And try to wrap your head around this thought, if only as a distant possibility of the most *sane* madness:

            Christ Himself hated death. When He received word that His good friend Lazarus lay sick and dying, He did not go to heal him. Instead, He seemingly ignored the pleas of Lazarus’ family, and He waited. He waited until Lazarus was not only dead, He waited until Lazarus had laid in the tomb for 4 solid days. That’s one day longer than Christ laid in the tomb. And when Christ finally did arrive to the tomb of Lazarus, scripture says that He was “perturbed” at the death of His dear friend. Christ hated death. It was His personal enemy. Christ robbed death of its finality, even in verbiage, by referring to it as “sleep”. Even as Lazarus’ sisters, friends, and loved ones wept openly and bitterly, Christ Himself wept *with* them. And with tear-stained eyes Our Lord raised His eyes towards Heaven and *Thanked* His father for hearing Him in the midst of this tragedy that Christ Himself allowed to unfold.

            What’s my point? This:

            Christ hijacks our death and sorrow. If we follow Him, He will breathe a life of joy into our hearts that can thrive even in the midst of our impenetrable suffering that no other mere philosophy or religion can come close to. None. Because no other mere concept of an impersonal deity ever redeemed us from the inside out through the very things that destroy our hearts.

            Look, I know I’ve said far too much to you already. And I apologize for getting in the way of my own point. I honestly want you to experience this peace. The peace that St Paul described shortly before his own martyrdom as “The Peace that transcends all understanding.”

            Do yourself a profound favor: Before you predictably respond to this out of a knee-jerk reaction of cynical scorn and arrogance – just stop for a while. Let this all sink in. Let it sink in like a beautiful song, or painting, or an experience of romance:

            Now just for a moment, stop looking at God as a distant entity of cold indifference , or worse; a malevolent puppet-master of cruel sadistic taunts. Consider for a moment that you should even know of love because you come from love; an ultimate love that Loved you into being. A Love that simply cannot stop Loving you unconditionally no matter what you ever say or do. You cannot make God stop Loving you – ever. Even if you reject Him for all eternity.

          • kittydeer

            Thank you for all you informative posts, I have really enjoyed reading them and have learnt much from them.

          • KAS

            And the god of reason brought us the atheistic orgy of slaughter known as the 20th century.

          • Rowland Nelken

            Stalin’s God was Marxism Leninism and its sacred texts. He abandoned reason, if indeed it had ever figured. DItto the Roman Catholic Hitler magnified the traditional anti Semitism of Christendom to horrific proportions and, in Mein Kampf, claiming to be fulfiling God’s will, carried out his own purging apocalypse. Mao’s God was the same as Stalin’s – marginally different take on the sacred texts.

          • KAS

            Your view, then, is that every anti-religious failure of reason is really a failure of religion (doubtless the same argument would be offered for the reign of terror that followed the French Revolution).

            In other words, reason hasn’t been tried and found wanting, it hasn’t been tried enough -an argument from silence.

            You, sir, are a fideistic rationalist.

          • Annette Breathnachski

            Roman Catholic Hitler? Come on!! Hitler regularly denigrated and mocked God and religion. Traditional anti Semitism of Christendom? My dear you are in over your head. Your ignorance and brainwashed mythologies are astonishing. If you hate God and Christians so much would you kindly go spend your time on an atheist blog? You are just wasting your time trolling here.

          • NelRow23

            I hate neither the non existent Bible God (or indeed any of the thousands of other proposed Gods) nor CHristians. I simply view that this God concept has served any purpose it might have had, and is now redundant and largely an impediment to human harmony and civilisation. I would not be a Taliban type or a Puritan should the God concept retreat into history. GIlded domes of mosques, like the wonderful heritage of CHristian music, art and architecture must survive to be enjoyed by future generations.

          • Annette Breathnachski

            Well thank God Christians are neither puritan n or Taliban. God and his artists interest you because they exist. Here’s a challenge…get “The Business of Heaven” by CS Lewis who had been an atheist….read it and let me know what you think. at and may Our Lord bless you. I’m going to bed!

          • KAS

            The god of reason gave us the atheistic orgy of murder called the 20th century.

          • ADW

            Carried out by the most unreasonable people who have ever existe

          • Annette Breathnachski

            Again, you may want to study a bit. A good place to start would be the lives and writings of Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot. Check out their number of victims. All Godless. Really you speak as someone with a public high school anf jesiut college education which means your head is full of anti-catholic mythology and modern cultural bigoted memes. Please just open your mind and study a bit! Write back after you study Joseph Stalin and atheism’s 100 million 20th century victims

          • Jude

            The Inquisition courts were better than the courts of the kings. People wanted to be transferred to the Inquisition courts.
            And how did the laws of that non-Catholic Queen Elizabeth work out for people?

          • NelRow23

            Oh Prots were at least as horrible as Cats, both in 16th century England and 20th century Northern Ireland. (to name but a couple of times and places)

          • michcatholic

            You have tradition because you think the bible makes no sense?? You make no sense.

          • raffer

            I didn’t say the bible makes no sense. here is 6 words ” I didn’t say you stole the money”
            stressing different words in that sentence gives it up to 6 different meaning. EG I didn’t SAY you stole the money has a different meaning than I didn’t say you STOLE the money.
            so how do you know which meaning is correct? you ask the people who heard the words, we do that by the Tradition handed down by the apostles, other denominations put todays meaning on yesterdays words.
            unfortunately people like bishop Kasper have taken this a step further by just putting their own meanings irrespective of even scripture. its just a gut feeling that they use to decide what Jesus should have said to agree with them.

          • Eli Odell Jackson

            If you knew your bible my friend you would have answers for this lost man, as it is you know not that he just spoke plain nonsense to you. Does the bible say Solomon had 1000 wives?
            Does the bible even say Solomon was saved? That he was Christian?
            Does fulfilled prophecy, not mentioned in the scripture date them to earlier dates than lost men suppose?
            How come there is no mention of the temple’s destruction in 70AD, fulfilling the very words of Christ, nor the deaths of Paul (63), Peter (66AD) ,nor Luke (64AD), yet while James (62AD) is mentioned.
            I would say that would date the book of Acts at the very least, there are ways to date the word of God my catholic friends, not based on the opinion of apostates or the world neither.

          • raffer

            how have you decided I didn’t know he was speaking nonsense, why have you decided that I don’t know the bible. its a bit arrogant to say the least.

        • Annette Breathnachski

          Ummmm….have you EVER read the new testament cover to cover? It might help you understand what you are criticizing. As for the old testament folks, Chri st wouldn’t have needed to come if they had got it right. Not sure why you are even reading this blog, but if your follow-up purpose is to destroy the faith ofc this crowd you are truly wasting your time. We actually HAVE read the bible and studied the historical contexts, etc. General disbelief from which you suffer is the realm of huffington post and susch. You may succeed in destroying faith there but not here. May Christ make Himself known to you.

          • NelRow23

            It is far more constructive to start from points of agreement rather than dish out antagonistic labels. Too many tragedies have ensued from the notion that the perfect society needs a purge of its vermin however conceived. Some of these envisioned worlds involve a divine purge, as at Judgement Day for the Jews under Greek rule, Frasho Kereti for the Zoroastrians and Armageddon for a range of Christians. Allah, in many Muslim minds is set to rid society of the infidel at the Islamic Judgement Day. Jesus in the Book of Revelation, selects a different set of folk to bin, and there is no agreement in Islam or CHristendom on who are the goodies and the baddies.

            There are also Godless creeds, some of whom indeed have trumpeted reason as their spurious foundation who have invented their own expendable groups.

            Added together, with or without a God, there can be no one on this earth who does not belong to a group that is, or has been branded as surplus to the perfect society’s requirements, and deserves annihilation or at any rate expulsion or enslavement. .

            Here’s afew: Infidels, Capitalists, Protestants, Catholics, Cathars, the Bourgeoisie, Gays, Capitalists, Aristocrats, Immigrants, Gypsies, Jews, Muslims, Cripples, the Mentally ill, or in the obnoxious cult which framed my childhood, all non Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            I am an optimist and would like to think that such monstrous and ridiculous notions are now abroad only on society’s fringes. Obviously if you are a Yazidi, CHristian or the wrong sort of Muslim trapped in the Islamic State of Isis, you do not have the luxury of seeing your home as on society’s fringes.

            If we are to live harmoniusly in this ever more crowded world we obviously need some rules and customs, some moral foundation to our behaviour. Maybe some of these mutually agreed rules will echo the rules that were long ago attributed to certain Gods and set down in writing.

            How many of us want to base our lives exclusively on the rules God is said to have dictated to Moses or Mahomet via the Angel Gabriel, or Ahura Mazda to Zoroaster I do not know. Then there are other Gods, like Vishnu, Thor or the God of Moses (or his son for the unitarians) named Jesus who also is reputed to have issued some rules for civilised living.

            Even selecting one of the above would not result in harmony even if it were possible to impose their code universally. The myriad sects within Islam and CHristendom for a start as well as divisions within those sects, the stimulus for this thread, make that impractical.

            In any event, the rules attributed to Gods as we grope our way to a world without violence, are likely to be marginal at best. I remain optimistic, however. Slavery was once universal. It has been, de jure at least, extinct for over 50 years since Saudi Arabia outlawed it. I acknowledge that slavery’s opponents as well as its advocates, came from Christendom.

            The UN and Geneva COnventions are both attempts, if not to abolish war, at least to avert some of its horrors. For centuries, however, in societies with and without Gods, war has been accepted and, in some instances glorified. In how many societies now, are the arts of war considered, as once was the case, core curriculum for every male?

            Gays were hanged in Britain until the early 19th century and execution is still penalty in some Islamic lands. How much of Christendom’s cruelty to gays we can attribute to Moses or S. Paul I do not know, Neither, however, has been remotely helpful in developing a more civilised attitude and better behaviour.

            Those who insist that society needs the guidance of a God in order for it to reform have to make their case. Almost always those who insist that a God is essential in maintaining and improving civilisation have only their particular God in mind, whether it is Allah who reputedly spoke to Mahomet, the Trinitarian CHrist who is aid to have appointed the Popes of ROme or the myriads of mutually incompatible and sometimes mutually hostile Protestant Gods.

            With or without our Gods the only common tool to work towards harmony and peace is reason.

          • NelRow23

            PS – Signing in weirdness means that I, Rowland Nelken, also appear as NelRow23

          • Annette Breathnachski

            Wow, Rowland. The way you think, you could be a Jesuit or a prominent “theologian.”! Apply to Pope Francis…he is your kind of guy! But as for your reply, let me simplify this for you. If you ate a cardinal or pope and you represent yourself to be Catholic, then you should be Catholic. Nobody is forcing people to call themselves anything they are not. Catholics who hate Catholic teaching can renounce catholicism and go be Unitarians, Rastafarians, Hindus, whatever. But if a man takes a vow and enjoy all of the benefits of his office and dresses and speaks as part of the hierarchy and is a phony and does not believe what he represents, he is the worst kind of hypocrite. Does that simplify things for you?

          • Annette Breathnachski

            ARE not ate. Stupid phone.

          • Annette Breathnachski

            the only ones in this world forcing other people to believe as they do with threats of violence, arrest, or persecution are the Muslims and the atheist-liberal political machine. Think about that Rowland.

          • NelRow23

            You are assuming that there is somethng absolute and unchanging about Catholicism, a representation of the immutable ways of God as opposed to the fickle fashions and fads of man. That is a delusion. Catholicism changes according to the ideas of fallible men, just as it was originally based on the ideas of fallible men. Ascribing your stuff to a God is no more than a wheeze (which some rule makers may actually believe) to give those rules more clout. Roman Catholics have had married priests, a ban on usury,weird notions like limbo and purgatory as well as invocations to armed crusades; all now flushed down history’s toilet.

        • michcatholic

          15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

          16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

          17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
          and you did not dance;
          we sang a dirge,
          and you did not mourn.’

          18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

          Matthew 11:15-19

      • roobydob

        I am divorced and remarried (abusive former marriage) and I no longer take Holy Communion. I do *not* expect the Church to change to accommodate me. If I were into that I’d become Anglican.

      • James M

        That puts Paul VI in his place. A Pope who replaces Tradition with his own ideas is destroying the authority by which he reigns as Pope.

    • Why not be honest? Jorge Bergoglio is a non-Catholic heretic. The Italian authorities need to raid the Vatican and arrest Bergoglio for encouraging illegal immigrants down in Sicily last year. This Argentine petty criminal should not be allowed to encourage illegal immigrants against the Italian Republic.

    • John Byde

      Nailed it!

    • mikewaller

      It about the question of whether sex-obsessed dinosaurs will continue to dominate the Roman Catholic church or new men and women with a liberal outlook come to the fore and start to promote Christ’s injunction to do unto others……

    • michcatholic

      No it’s not. It’s about who’s Christian and who’s not. Vast numbers of Catholics are not Christians, but rather they are members of a political entity that they’ve been born into. They think they own the Church like I own my car. But they don’t. God does.

    • Hope

      Yes Tobin, spot on. It is a battle between the Church and the anti Church. The anti Church is rebellious and humanistic, throwing Christ and all He stands for out of His Church. We have seen it and its fruits (rotten) in the Church over the last three or four decades. But there are good things now happening in our Church, fervent groups are rising up out of the ashes throughout the world. These are the faithful ones who will persevere to the very end. God bless them all and may God bless Cardinal Burke for his courage and loyalty and faithfulness to Christ, the Cross and the Church.

    • BFS

      Christian basic teaching: Love the sinner – hate the sin. It is the truth and impossible to go around it in the Church. Pope Francis is not changing a hiatus from the teaching. All discussions that are related by the press are pure fantasies and never happened inside the Vatican. Anyone can read what is happening.
      Open the Vatican Web site. Read the Observatore Romano. Ask your priest. Nothing of the sort that D. Thompson is speculating is taking place inside the church. Pope Francis is stricter against sins than anybody we ever saw.

      Just read what he says. Don’t be afraid of the truth.

    • James M

      And conservatives are not orthodox. Traditionalism is the orthodox position, though not all Traditionalists are orthodox. The so-called conservative position is unorthodox, because its principles, and therefore its results, are erroneous; for it separates the Pope from the Faith and absolutises the Pope, which implicitly puts the Pope on a collision course with the Faith. This has resulted in such deformations of practice as conservative attempts to defend the scandalous – because Protestantised – practice of Communion in the hand; and more recently, attempts to defend liturgical abuse committed by Pope Francis. If the Pope violates the Traditional Faith or praxis of the Church, he is as guilty of liturgical abuse as the least of parish priests would be.

  • steve5656546346

    A good, and accurate, article. This Pope is dividing us.

  • Annie

    “In the (Synod’s interim report) sections on homosexuality, sexuality, and ‘divorced and remarried’ – with their admission to the sacraments, the text represents a radical, neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope.” – Bishop Athanasuis Schneider, Nov. 4, 2014.

    • Hildegarde

      Oh dear. That remark seems incoherent, Annie.It is just unconnected to the main article. I have often wondered if you are an alcoholic.

      • CMLD3

        You obviously haven’t understood the post or the article or simply prefer to give insults rather than engage in the discussion.

  • chrisinva

    The Pope is a great man and Catholic truths of the faith will not change. Both of these statements can be true.

    His “mess” has outted a vocal minority of dissenters who are high in the ranks of the world’s prelates. Good. Now we know who they are (unlike those of the 80s and 90s who tried to keep their revolution against Saint John Paul under the radar).

    So Vival il Papa! – But also, ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

  • Julie

    ‘To be, is the answer’

    Giving due deference to Blessed Paul VI the ‘great helmsman’ and the venerable Cardinal Kasper, Francis I and Benedict XVI know that family breakdown and loss of faith among European Catholics is the greater jeopardy; that ‘troubling individualism which deforms family bonds’ leaving a void necessarily filled by Government, about whom Pope Paul wrote in Humanae Vitae:

    ‘careful consideration should be given to the danger of … power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law.’

    Recent controversies about pressurised sex ed. in secular English primary schools & etc.should address any prior lack of consciousness, resentment or misunderstandings in local parishes, regarding ‘directives from Rome’

    Pope Francis’ preferred metaphor of the Church as a field hospital, assessing and treating the wounded on the spiritual battlefield, includes damage to Catholic unity; ‘divisions,schisms,heresies and disputes,’ assuaged by the virtue of caritas.

    Jesuit practice is also to counter both tokenism, and narcissism- the seductions of control, power and success. Francis I:

    “A wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.

    The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.”

  • melanie statom

    ” Oh ye of little faith.”

  • hockeydog

    This Just In!
    Daffy Duck has Declared Civil War against Porky Pig!
    Cartoons or Window Licking Catholics.
    Both are Irrelevant.

    ‘God Is NOT Great’ by Christopher Hitchens.


  • Michael Dowd

    Precisely. Pope Francis is the new Obama. Let us pray he has more success.

  • AugustineThomas

    All of the demonic secularists are rejoicing at the thought of the Church being crippled after having been infiltrated by leftist wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    • Rowland Nelken

      How do you tell a demonic secularist from whatever other brands are out there?

      Are they anything like heretics?

      • AugustineThomas

        A true secularist is an apostate by my definition. Although I would admit that it’s hard to draw the line between heresy and apostasy. There are many secularists who still claim to be Christian and still go to church.

        • Rowland Nelken

          Should not these terms be now confined to history? It is usually considered sensible to change one’s view in the light of new information, evidence and experience. Only in the world of religion, in particular Abrahamic religion are pejorative words like heresy and apostasy applied to what is the application of good sense.

          • AugustineThomas

            The Church is able to adapt to any new logical or scientific findings. The teachings of the Church however are unchanging. Murder will never be right. Sin will never be good, no matter how much secularists want it to be so.
            You should really look into what the inerrancy of the bible actually means. It doesn’t mean that every sentence of the bible must be taken literally and proven true. You should consider the statement “Julius Caesar bought the farm when he was attacked next to the Theatre of Pompey”. If you took that statement literally, you could call it false. But it is, based on a proper understanding of idiomatic language, true.
            The bible teaches spiritual truths, not science or history. These spiritual truths do not change, even if we discover some fact about evolution or the laws of physics.
            You should also acknowledge the truth: Christian theology is the basis for modern science and Christians built all modernity. There would be no contemporary atheists or agnostics without Christian civilization, just a bunch of pagan heathens who would still believe the world to be untrustworthy and thus unable to be studied.

          • Rowland Nelken

            I am fully aware of the contribution of Christianity to education. In many ways that education continues to be the seed of Christendom’s destruction. The Catholic church tried, in the early years of printing, by horrific and violent methods, to prevent access by the common people to the Bible in the vernacular. As to this literal or allegorical interpretation, that is a pick and mix affair according to the morality of the day. Slavery is fine in testaments old and new. Is that considered allegorical now that slavery is universally outlawed, but was literal when slavery was the norm? Despite Paul’s injunctions for women to keep quiet and keep their hats on, many sects now have women priests. There is a Catholic move for the same. No doubt at the advent of the first woman Pope, the Catholic clergy will be well versed in ‘allegorising away’ all the women suppression Bible bits. Sure, every event has its consequences, and the ‘might have beens’ of history are pure speculation. Your assumption about a modern world with no Christian basis is thus insubstantial. You might as well declare that because the majority of EUrope is now democratic, that it required the monsters of Stalin and Hitler to precede it in order to bring it into effect.

          • AugustineThomas

            I completely disagree. The people of the West are getting less intelligent as they reject Christianity. I would argue that leftist beliefs inspired by Satan have made people love their sins more than the Truth and that’s the reason that the Church has less members in some places than it used to. (You should know that, worldwide, the Church is still growing.)
            You’re regurgitating an absolute lie. Most people couldn’t read when the Church wasn’t printing in the vernacular. The people weren’t asking for vernacular bibles at that time, they were happy to have things explained to them by the learned men who understood Latin and Greek. When the demand arose, the Church translated the bible into the vernacular as soon as any Protestants. Members of the Church, especially the clergy, went on to be the greatest catalogers and developers of indigenous culture and always started by translating the bible into the indigenous language. There is plenty of evidence of this. (You’ve been brainwashed by leftists into believing their revisionist history, which they propagate, not because it’s true, but because it supports their desire to destroy the Church and “liberate” man to celebrate his freedom to sin above all else.)
            Slavery has always been present among men. The bible doesn’t condone slavery, it teaches people that slaves are men, given the unavoidable fact of slavery in the history of man. Christians, based on the teachings of the Gospel, are the reason that slavery is no longer the norm.
            You’re going to have to quote St. Paul, because he never taught women “to keep quiet and keep their hats on”. (You hate the fact that men and women are different because, again, you’ve been brainwashed with the leftist fallacy that we should all be exactly the same and not complimentary.)
            Give me a break. You and all of the apostasy that is responsible for your brainwashing will be long gone and the Church will still be preserving the proper priesthood. Christ only promised the protection of the Holy Spirit to the Church, which is why only it has preserved the proper priesthood as the Protestant sects fall further into heresy.

            The onus is on you to prove from where and how modernity would have arose from paganism, which had been culturally stagnated for thousands of years, despite some interesting technological developments. History proves that Christianity is the unique force in history that caused men to rise above their barbarism. Your speculation is what’s worthless. The logic you’re trying to use is fallacious and very similar to “a million monkeys on a million typewriters would eventually type the bible”.
            The difference is that you can’t point to a single positive innovation that Stalin or Hitler brought. Like all the Godless, they simply stole from Christians, perverted it and turned it to evil, murdering more people in several decade stretches that bad Christians had over 2,000 years.
            Atheism, like Islam, brings nothing new that isn’t evil.

            God bless you!

          • Rowland Nelken

            De Facto slavery continues, but de jure it is now history. Your are full of anger, Augustine Thomas. These fantasy creatures upon which your whole Roman Church edifice depends , have a reality purely within your head. Satan? The Angel Gabriel? The Papal succession?

            They are as real as the djinns in the Koran. Do you still do purgatory?

            It seems that your whole sense of identity depends on retaining these bizarre notions. It seems to make you feel rather superior. Do you remember Jesus’s reported remark ‘Blessed are the Meek’?

  • conservative5

    I made this comparison several months ago.

  • Jimmydx

    Many times in the past we Catholics have had bad Popes. I believe we have one now. Where was his compassion when he refused a Catholic burial to the ex Nazi who presumably had been to confession and was going to weekly mass. He apparently “judged” then.

    • Mrs.JosephineHydeHartley

      But why should anyone feel the need to ask the Pope for a catholic burial ( whatever that is)? I should imagine it’s none of any Pope’s business really and should be taken care of at the local level.

  • guesto3

    This is an awful thing to say, but we could be watching Jorge Bergoglio turn into Barack Obama.

    Yep, one thing you got right….that is “an awful thing to say” as well as being incomprehensible for rational people.

  • Maurice O’Reilly

    Hardly an accurate summation of the Synod ! There was a clear majority support for change on the topic of Communion for those living in “irregular” marriages and the mid-synod report failed by only two votes to gain the two thirds majority to carry it forward. Further, the Synod documents are nothing more than “discussion papers” to be taken back to the Dioceses of the world for further study in preparation for next year’s enlarged Synod. The Pope is apparently undaunted and ready to take on “the peacock bishops”

  • Brian F Hudon

    We are already in the middle of a Catholic civil war.

  • Janet O’Connor

    I agree with the fact that the pope is causing a civil war in the Church itself. It can no longer be blamed on the Mainstream Media like it was claimed last year with the interviews he gave, Even non Catholics are confused by his statements and behavior. As for the comparisons with the American President that is true. The similarities of a huge new unknown figure personality Cult and than suddenly disappointment. I myself have been wary of him since the day of his election when I saw he was a Jesuit from Latin America. And Immediately all of the progressive Church dissidents were parsing him foe being the so called BREATHE OF FRESH AIR.

    • tolpuddle1

      The civil war in the Church goes back to 1962, even to the Modernists of 1880 or thereabouts.

  • hockeydog

    Michael Shermer interviewed the pope.
    Very amusing.

  • Hilary Bean

    Some of the things he says are quite irrational.
    Is he mad?

    • “Some of the things he says are quite irrational.
      Is he mad?”

      No, quite the opposite. He’s following directives. From whom, you ask? See my other comments to this thread for a summary of what’s been taking place around the globe while you slept…

  • The pope may be a heretic and Russ Douthat is a moderate. Hmm…. This is the problem with many blog discussions; they bring out the extremes from both sides. As for the synod, as Father Barron commented recently, let’s all relax just a bit. Hyperbole does not make for the best discussions and is not particularly persuasive to the undecided or the open minded. Let us serve God, per Saint Thomas More, wittily in the tangle of our mind. Let us proceed with reason, careful reflection, wit, and charity towards one another.

  • carl jacobs

    What Francis a doing is dangerous because it touches on the indefectability of the Magisterium and the entire Roman Catholic Church rests upon that sole foundation. I have already asked serious RCs what they are going to do if the Magisterium legitimizes something they know to be heresy. Their answer has been a uniform appeal to “It will never happen because it cannot happen.” They have to say this because they know they have no grounds to resist the authority of the Magisterium. They wouldn’t know whether to obey the Magisterium and legitimize evil, or resist the Magisterium and legitimize private judgment.

    And here is Francis tugging on that very thread. He’s like a child tossing a bottle of nitroglycerin into the air.

    • “They wouldn’t know whether to obey the Magisterium and legitimize evil, or resist the Magisterium and legitimize private judgment.”

      Two thoughts, Carl.

      If the Magisterium ever did change the deposit of faith, (which is impossible), then, by definition, it would no longer be an authentic Magisterium. That’s a fact; not a private judgement.

      Second, resisting heresy wouldn’t be a act of private judgement. It would be based on the faith we as Catholics have inherited and this can be readily accessed. We wouldn’t be “doing a Luther” because within the existing Church Fathers there would be a group who would resist. It would result in schism.

      What some see Francis as attempting is more invidious. Whether the accusation is true or not, some claim he is attempting to change practice without changing doctrine. Adopt a “pastoral praxix” that stands apart from infallible doctrine. The two cannot be separated in this way and, if this is what Francis is attempting, this is the nitro-glycerine being tossed into the air.

      Catholics are legitimately entitled, even obliged, to challenge such an approach.

  • Betsy Lou

    Pope Francis will die – as have all popes before him (except Benedict! :)) – just like the rest of us. As I’ve said before on this site, quoting Saint Thomas More, ““I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know this day living: for I know not where he may hap to carry it.” So many people in the press, and commenters on these articles, seem to put almost all their hope in Pope Francis. Our hope is in the Lord – and if we only like a pope because he appears to cater to our agenda – what happens when he dies and the the next pope comes along who doesn’t cater to our agenda? We don’t have to reinvent the Faith – we have a beautiful 2000 year tradition, instituted by Christ! And speaking of not re-inventing the Faith – I know I could benefit by remember the words of G.K. Chesterton on this matter: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.’ God bless the pope – and God preserve him from error!

  • Scoop Jaxson

    The primary purpose of the institution of marriage is to beget, protect, and raise children.

    • “The primary purpose of the institution of marriage is to beget, protect, and raise children.”

      Excellent! And the following explains the ‘why’, and identifies the saboteurs destroying the West’s social bonds…

      The purpose for marriage is to (1) socialize the child into the worlds of BOTH men and women; and (2) teach male and female children, via 24/7/365 sensory/visual absorption of opposite-sex parents’ behaviors, how to behave in civilized society towards the opposite sex when adults. As such, homosexual marriage is a ludicrous concept that will contribute to the destruction of Western civilization, which its Marxist intellectual proponents know very well.*

      Civilization is dependent on heterosexual marriages/unions, which is why civilization has always encouraged the integration of the sexes via male/female unions, not encourage segregation of the sexes via same sex unions.

      The conditioning aspect of heterosexual marriage for children is paramount for reasons that both sides to this issue not only refuse to debate, both sides fail to even see the issue: And the issue has to do with the primary purposes for marriage: The socialization of children into the worlds of men and women, and the transmission to the child of adult behavior patterns, to be mimicked by the child when an adult. A child reared in same-sex marriages/unions naturally lacks these critical sex-specific inputs.

      Children need the 24/7/365 interplay between the mother and father that only heterosexual marriages offer, which enables the child to (1) learn how the sexes are to behave towards one another; and (2) encourage children to want to associate with the opposite sex (there are those children that can go either way towards wanting to associate with the opposite sex when adults).

      There is no argument to the FACT that children are not born with genes that acculturate them into the civilized worlds of both men AND women, let alone a “specialized socialization gene” attuned specifically to adjust a child to the specific requirements for gender relations within Western Civilization.

      Consistent with the evidence we see in inner city neighborhoods, where a critical mass of fatherless homes is the norm, children are not pre-wired with a “civilization gene”, nor a “specialized socialization gene”. Children learn those skills from observing their parents 24/7/365. If children have same-sex parents, they learn less than half of the socialization skills necessary for the continuation of civilization.

      Civilization has a duty to encourage the integration of the sexes, not the segregation of the sexes, because segregation breeds disassociation, which is the breeding ground for hatred, hence homosexual marriage is not only contrary to civilization, it is nonsensical.

      Another Marxist-tasked sabotage policy that’s been pushed on Western Civilization that adversely affects children is easy divorce. Marriage is the most important institution for any society, so naturally when children see their parents divorce for the least of reasons, children naturally conclude that (1) Western civilization is a joke, since its most critical institution is seen to be a joke up close; and (2) people are nothing more than commodities, to be thrown away when they become an inconvenience to our base, narcissistic lifestyles. .

      Of course, not unlike same-sex marriage, children of divorce are deprived of the socialization process of watching and learning from their opposite-sex parents, where the child learns how both males and females are supposed to behave towards each other. This critical deficit for children culminates into sociopathic behaviors when adults, such as rape.

      *The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

      Notice that not one political party in the West demanded verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

      It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested and detained the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

      There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

      Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

      The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

      Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; and (3) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation.

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  • Paul Gerard

    The battle is for Catholic teaching, spanning two thousand years back to Christ Himself. No pope and certainly no crazy bishop like Walter Cardinal Kasper has any right to touch that teaching by one iota.

    Fair and balanced observers need just look at the wreckage these liberal, arrogant, profligate, heterodox German and Austrian bishops have wrought on their once proud Churches; these Catholic Churches are in ruin, and now these ecclesiastical failures want to export their doctrinal and moral “disaster” to the rest of the Catholic world.

    Neither do these men “walk their talk”, nor “talk the talk of the Church”; consequently they’ve driven the faithful out of the Church with their hypocrisy, lavish lifestyles and heterodox pronouncements.

    God save the Church from these “liberal” German speaking Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops.

  • The Vatican was long ago co-opted by Marxists. Somewhere around 1850, as identified by the (1) Papal announcement in 1854 of the Immaculate Conception, raising the mother of Jesus to the status of God; and (2) the claim of Papal Infallibility (1869), where the Pope is now on a level playing field with God. Both of those pronouncements came to us thanks to Pope Pius IX, whose pontificate was 1846 – 1878. In fact, the contemporaneous political world was already awash in embryonic socialist thought as observed by President Lincoln’s future Assistant Secretary of War, Charles’s Dana, where in 1848 the then editor of the socialist New York Tribune observed, “Socialism is thus not conquered nor obscured in France by [the turmoil] but strengthened. It is no longer Fourierism, nor Communism, nor this nor that particular system which occupies the public mind of France, but it is the general idea of Social Rights and Social Reorganization. Everyone now is more or less a Socialist.”

    It was in the early 1960s that the Vatican inexplicably changed its policy towards priests caught molesting children. The old policy was to remove the offending priest from the unsupervised company of Catholic children (if the priest wasn’t defrocked after his Canonical trial), which stopped any further abuse of Catholic children by the offending priest.

    But in the early 1960s the Vatican’s policy inexplicably changed to passing the offending priest (Canonical trail no longer performed) to unsuspecting new assignments/parishes, where the molestation of Catholic children could continue, vastly increasing the number of Catholic children abused. The policy shift also had the side effect of encouraging pedophiles to join the seminaries, in order to get some of the action their pedophile priest-friends told them about. The purpose for the pedophile operation and the attack on the family regarding divorce and homosexuality is to weaken the moral foundation of the Catholic Church, resulting in schism, which will further weaken the institution. However, when the split comes, the new-born entity that splits from the church will still be controlled by Marxists.

    If Believers were in control of the Vatican, naturally such a policy shift concerning priests who commit pedophilia would never have taken place, since Believers in Christ in the Vatican would never knowingly place Catholic children in harms way. Never thought about that, huh?

    We also have the incident where in 1998 Pope John Paul II tried to palm off on the Swiss Guard an East German Stasi agent for the position of Commander…


    Several hours after Alois Estermann is promoted to commander of the Swiss Guard by Pope John Paul II, Estermann and his wife (along with another Swiss Guard) are found dead in their Vatican apartment. Days later East German Stasi operations chief, Markus Wolf, and the European press affirmed that Estermann had been an East German Stasi agent since 1979. Wolf’s violation in speaking to this matter was for the purpose of damage control. By indicating great pride in having their man in the Vatican, Wolf was implying that Estermann was the Soviet Bloc’s only penetration of the Vatican, thereby aborting speculation of further penetrations inside the Vatican and the resulting investigative spotlights such speculations would produce.

    In fact, 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.

    Now take a look at the following article from Bulgaria on this subject of continued Marxist religious co-option behind the Iron Curtain…


    The Bulgarian Files Commission also caught Soviet era state security agents in control of the political parties, military, bureaucracy, press, and other institutions throughout Bulgaria…


    The Bulgarian government was politically forced into creating the Files Commission investigations due to the publication of a best selling book that noted the strange occurrence of Soviet era state security agents still on the government payroll. Otherwise there would have been no verification investigations, as is the case in the other nations that comprised the East Bloc, including those nations that comprised the Soviet Union.

    The same Communist strategy is taking place throughout the Soviet Bloc proving (1) the collapse of the Soviet Bloc was an obvious fraud; and (2) the West’s political parties/media were co-opted by Marxists, otherwise (i) the West would have ensured it verified the collapse of the Soviet Bloc; and (ii) the media would have directed our attention to the critical importance of verification.

  • For those who have read my earlier comments below, and are bereft, the following is a new wondrous discovery (by yours truly, in 2012) that will raise your spirits and have you asking, “How come I didn’t think of that?”…

    The reality of the Gospels and Acts narratives were known to be fact by Roman subjects outside of Judea and Galilee/Levant, otherwise Roman subjects would never have accepted the Gospels’/Acts’ narratives where (1) a Roman governor allows a charismatic figure such as Jesus (called rebels by Rome) to go about his business for three years with twelve disciples, attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles; (2) when Jesus approaches Jerusalem with the mob the governor refuses to stop what Rome called insurrection, and allows the mob to proceed into the city, even though the governor was in Jerusalem since the previous week to prevent just such an action pulled off by Jesus; and (3) after Pilate, the next nine Roman governors of Judea (37 AD – 66 AD, 66 AD being when the First Jewish Revolt occurred) refuse to arrest and execute Jesus’ apostles, who are still (i) attracting large crowds; and (2) claiming to perform miracles.

    Now you have proof, from an unimpeachable, unbiased source–gentile Roman subjects living outside of the Levant–that the Gospels narratives are indeed fact, otherwise the Gospel stories would have been known forgeries, and Christianity would never have existed.

    We assume what is today known as the New Testament is fiction, then using proper historical knowledge for how the Roman Empire operated, we prove that the New Testament stories are fact because the stories were immediately known to be true, otherwise the stories would have ended there because even the most ignorant of Roman subjects 40 years after the fact would have been laughing at the obvious laughable a-historical lies the New Testament was pushing; the behaviors of the ten Roman governors of Judea (30 AD – 66 AD) towards Jesus and apostles are a hoot, and those laughable behaviors also prove that those ten governors’ behaviors weren’t individual, ad hoc, stand down policies towards Jesus & apostles, but instructions from the Emperor in Rome!

    Let’s perform a modern times analogy using a post World War II scenario where Germany won the war and rules the Western hemisphere:

    Germany has won World War II, and German governors rule the Western hemisphere, the Waffen SS being the equivalent of the Roman centurion.

    Though the war is over resistance to German occupation continues, including the French Resistance.

    Now, in France the leader of the French resistance and twelve lieutenants move openly about France for three years preaching rebellion and the German governor does nothing. After three years the leader of the French Resistance enters Paris with his twelve lieutenants and a mob and again the German governor refuses to arrest the thirteen, and roundup the mob.

    Finally the French mayor of Paris arrests the leader, but not the twelve lieutenants, and hands the leader over to the German governor who still doesn’t want to execute the leader, but does after left no other option.

    Now, after the leader of the French Resistance is dead not only are the twelve lieutenants allowed to live under that particular German governor’s remaining term of office, but aren’t touched by the next nine German governors to take office. In fact, the French Resistance is increasing by tens of thousands each year and German authorities simply sit by and watch.

    Now when one of those French Resistance travels outside France to spread the word of the rebellion in France, he is believed because everyone KNOWS the otherwise ludicrous story he’s telling is true. END OF ANALOGY.

    The above also tells us that the Jewish authorities in Judea & Galilee knew who Jesus was and were waiting for a sign from Him indicating that it was time for His death. The sign came when Jesus entered Jerusalem with the mob, a not-to-be-mistaken provocation towards Pilate, who was in Jerusalem since the previous week to prevent just this sort of religious fervor, but, as usual, again Pilate refused to massacre Jesus & disciples along with the mob. To ensure Jesus was indeed signaling it was time for Him to die, the Sanhedrin conducted three night time Q&A sessions with Jesus (not trails, as under the Law of Moses trials can only take place during daylight hours, thereby also precluding any possibility of punishment). Jesus’ silence informed the Sanhedrin that Jesus was indeed ready to die.

    The above is a discovery I made in 2012, proving that Jesus was the Messiah as assessed (1) by a proper analysis of the Gospels and Acts narratives; and (2) by the fact that Roman subjects outside of the Levant accepted what would have otherwise been known to be laughably bad forgeries.

    The Roman Empire provided God with three necessary arrangements to fulfill His major objectives on this subject, those being (1) a scapegoat people, the Romans, that would be the pawns who carried out Jesus’ execution; because (2) God, being omniscient, knew that the Jewish authorities would never go along with executing the Messiah; and (3) the peculiar administration of Roman governors would provide the proof that Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be.

  • DaveTheRave

    Spooky – the date for this article reads November 8 – on my screen at least. Spooky, or… prophetic? Last time I looked it was the 7th.
    Anyhow, as for the article itself, and as this piece may be ahead of its time – remember Peter the Roman.

  • Peter Bird

    Veni, Sancte Spiritus,et emitte caelituslucis tuae radium

  • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

    This battle is about Christ and the Antichrist, the true Church and false church.

    We must consider that perhaps the False Prophet has arrived.

    • Seumas McCoo

      I thought that it was only nutters on our side of the house who thought that the Pope was the Antichrist

      • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

        I think you are mistaken in what Holy Scripture says.

        There are 2 beasts in the book of the Apocalypse the beast of the earth and the beast of the sea.

        The beast of the earth also referred to as the false prophet most likely will be a bishop but not just any bishop it has to be one of prominence to deceive so many people.

        The Antichrist is the beast of the sea a political leader.

        Christ holds three offices he is a Prophet, the True Eternal Priest and a King, The King of Kings.

        The devil cannot create that is why he is God’s monkey he imitates.

        He will have to have a prophet (for us in the Catholic Church would be most likely a Pope the Pope is a bishop who will be another Judas) and the king in the form of the Antichrist.

        Christ went through his passion, the Church will have her passion just like her master and this will be the final test that Christians will have to endure an attack on the Faith and therefore their souls as described in the Apocalypse the final war over souls.

        • Seumas McCoo

          Just enjoy yourself. In the documents of the Reformed Tradition in the 17th Century they wrote

          There is no other head of the Church but the Lord
          Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.
          Most people in the Reformed Tradition have got past that. We know the three offices of Christ. Your point is?

          • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

            Maybe that you are moron who is looking for a fight not looking into understand anything.

            The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible Head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the Apostles and the visible Head of the Church.
            “In Roman Catholic ecclesiology, Jesus is called the Invisible Head, while the Pope is called the Visible Head. Therefore, the Pope is often called the Vicar of Christ. Roman Catholic theology claims a close collaboration between christology and ecclesiology.”




          • Seumas McCoo

            You are enjoying yourself. I wouldn’t bother with a fight. I have no idea if there is a false prophet and not sure if I believe it. I probably understand what you are saying at least as well as you, just I don’t believe it reflects reality (if theology can ever reflect reality.) I would merely say that your first posting was to me rubbish, and that was what I was commenting on.

          • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

            Look english is my second language but I can write and read enough english to understand that you are calling the Pope the Antichrist.

            And I corrected you because it is obvious you are wrong not only in your understanding of the Apocalypse but on Christianity period.

            You didn’t like that I pointed your error and so now you are attacking me.

            Learn some humility and admit that you are wrong that is part of Christianity but I guess you follow one of the false prophets one of the many who fell for the Reformation/DEFORMATION after all Calvin is one who believes that if you have money is a sign that God has bless you in other words Calvin is the real founder of the prosperity gospel.


            Calvinism is one of the biggest errors there are that is why most of North America is in heresy and this belief has created a capitalism without a conscience.

          • Seumas McCoo

            I was not saying that the Pope is the Antichrist. I was saying that I thought that it was only nutters, that is people without understanding, in the Reformed tradition who still thought that.
            You then replied with some claims which reflected on how you understood Scripture which didn’t seem tolerably relevant to the issue.
            I than simply quoted Chapter XXV vi of the Westminster Confession. which is not scripture and has been rejected by most of the Reformed tradition. I your understanding is to me mistaken but neither of us really care what each other believes, that is between us and God.
            You however demonstrated that in fact you are merely taking a bigoted view of life with little understanding of what the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith actually is. I do not caricature Rome, Kindly do not caricature the Reformed Faith.

          • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

            THIS IS WHAT YOU SAID: “I thought that it was only nutters on our side of the house who thought that the Pope was the Antichrist”

            You are still a nutter since you know you are in heresy.

            Anyways I am not interested in Calvanistic orthodoxy.

            You want to sound smart but in reality you are only saying nonsense.

            The Catholic Church is the only true Church of Christ, no reformed tradition is valid. Again you said you are a heretic and you are right and therefore in error and error has NO RIGHTS.

          • Tim Morrison

            mmmm – calling people names – that is very Christian isn’t it? — having a day off from turning the other cheek?

          • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

            Don’t give me that line ok.
            Christ called the pharisees hypocrites.
            We Christians can call people stupid when they behave stupidly.

            Christ never said to turn the other cheek when confronting error.

          • Tim Morrison

            But he was claiming to be the son of God. You are a fallible human full of sin. As you judge me, so you are too.

  • HughieMc

    “And thus we have the most senior American cardinal in Rome publicly questioning the stewardship of the Holy Father — possibly with the tacit approval of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.” I go along with most of what you say here, Damian, but I simply do not accept this. Nor do I accept the linked construction you later place on Papa Ratzinger’s recent letters. It simply ain’t his style. If he had a point, or points, he wished to make he would make them to Pope Francis’s face. And he probably has.

  • Seumas McCoo

    I am finding this discussion fascinating. I am a heretic in Roman terms being of the Reformed persuasion. I may have a clearer view of what is happening than those who actually have a dog in this fight and whose own position is being affirmed or challenged.
    It seems to me that the Pope in what he is doing is seeking to go back to the fundamentals of the life of Christ. Of course in the maintaining of the institution which is the Roman Church it is necessary to refer to the foundation of 1700 of councils and dogma (I say 1700 as we are going back to Christianity becoming the religion of the Roman Empire and being defined in the councils of the Church from then on in.)
    One of the comments in this discussion which made me write in these terms was someone speaking about the Magisterium as being the only thing which the Church has. No the Church is the Body of Christ, the people of God. The Pope is merely, according to Church teaching, Christ’s vicar. If the Church is the Bride of Christ, the people of God with a special relationships with God which is given to them through the Holy Spirit and manifested in the Sacraments, then above everything else it is a pastoral organisation. The irony is that the majority of the Roman 7 Sacraments are clearly pastoral. The Sacrament of the Sick, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Marriage, Confirmation, and be argued as in part being about interpersonal relationships.
    Where the Roman Church has been failing for some time has been in interpersonal relationships, it has let Dogma get in the way of Charity, and that is what the present Pope is strong on. As a former Dogmatist and Canonist it became clear to me that Dogmatics and Law can, and often do, get in the way of the work of Christ which is reconciling God and Humanity and humanity to each other – in other words pastoral affairs.
    It is only when the Church – an by this I mean all the branches of Christ’s Church, recover pastoral concerns and develop relationships with other human beings that the Kingdom can break in. The tension lies in that we need a dogmatic framework to enable us to explain how our relationship with God “works” and we need Law to control how we do things. The problem is how we set the trinity of pastoring, dogma and law together to be Christ’s people. The Pope is pushing the Pastoral imperative, those who disagree with him are emphasising the other areas. Today if we don’t get our relationships right there will be no one around to get the dogma or the law. Most of the people contributing here don’t seem to have got that simple fact. As I keep on saying, God will not leave himself without a witness, just it may not be the institutions whom we are all a part of.

  • abystander

    The Catholic Church is not a political party.

    Ignore this silly article written in politico speech.

  • BonzoDog

    How can people take these clowns seriously in this day and age? Just imagine some old weirdo blokes moving into a house in your street. They all live together and dress up in gowns and they prohibit women and gays joining their group. They hand out leaflets campaigning against abortion and contraception and voluntary assisted suicide. And they call themselves God’s moral guardians on earth. And they worship a guy who was dead but they say came back to life and then floated into the sky 2000 years ago. What would you say about a group like this? Would you regard them as normal? Or would you call them Crackpots? At best, you might suspect they are some kind of Monty Python revival group aiming to put on comedy theatrical shows for your entertainment. But would you seriously follow their edicts and use them to guide you in the way you live your life? Would you?

    • carl jacobs

      I often wonder why people post a comment like this. What purpose does it serve? Certainly believers are not going to slap their heads in response and say “He’s right! I am a complete idiot.” But it’s total apologetic content is nothing more than “Hey, Christian. You’re an idiot.” So what is the point?

      There is something curious in the felt desire of unbelievers to constantly declare their unbelief in such a way – to publicly declare the ignorance of those who disagree with their particular presuppositions. Perhaps they think if they shout loud enough, they won’t be able to hear.

  • fredx2

    An awful lot of the “facts” in this article are not facts at all. So much hysteria.
    Burke did not say the church was a ship without a rudder.
    Burke said that people were telling him this. That is a big difference.
    Nobody knows what Benedict thinks about anything, especially an anonymous “Ratzingerian”. Who may exist, or not.
    This whole article is mostly hysterical gossip. But what are journalists for if not making controversies where there are none, or making molehills into mountains. Have fun getting your willies all juiced up.

  • David Tiffany

    “…decide for themselves whether to receive the Eucharist.”

    Yes. Decide for themselves. The Eucharist is not Scriptural.

    In his book The Faith of Millions, John O’Brien, a Catholic
    priest, explains the procedure of the mass.

    “When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of
    consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His
    throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for
    the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it
    is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and
    Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While
    the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a
    single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present
    on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand
    times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows
    His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.”

    Yet the Mass is in direct contradiction to the
    Scriptures. Didn’t Jesus say He laid
    down His life of His own accord, only to take it up again? Jesus is no one’s victim. And as far as the priest, or the Pope, being
    able to bring Christ down, the Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 6, “But
    the righteousness that is by faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, who will
    ascend into heaven (that is to bring Christ down).” And concerning Jesus being sacrificed a
    thousand times, the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews chapter 10 tells us that Jesus
    was sacrificed once.

    The Pope doesn’t represent Christianity. He represents a religious organization that
    contradicts Scripture and teaches a gospel of works. Though the Scriptures
    teach in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through
    faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works so that
    no man can boast.”


    • tolpuddle1

      Christ on the Cross was most assuredly a Victim !

      A voluntary self-sacrificing one, but Victim.

      The Mass is a re-offering, not a re-enactment (even symbolic) of Christ’s sacrifice.

      Regarding faith and works, the Catholic and Protestant positions aren’t that far apart. The Catholic position is simply that saving faith (as opposed to dead faith, that Protestants agree saves nobody) incorporates compassion (“If I have faith to give my body to be burned, but have not Compassion, it availeth me nothing”) and thus the works inevitably following upon compassion.

      Nowhere does RC teaching contradict Scripture. And by RC doctrine, it mustn’t.

  • as;ldf9a7f

    Francis wants to be kind and inclusive of gays. Fine, but the onus is then on them to turn from sin —- just as it is on all of us. Asking us to accept people while they practice a sinful position is wrong. Not just the gays but heteros who live together before marriage are wrong too. Francis is toying with the idea of perverting the sacrament of marriage out of a desire to “be nice.” That should be filed under gutless and wrong.

    • Tim Morrison

      So now that marriage is legal ….

      heterosexuals can have sex that is church approved – that is entirely closed off to gay men – our very existence makes us second class – at best disordered– at worst sinful …

      • tolpuddle1

        The Church’s opposition is not to gay people, but to gay actions and lifestyles.

        It is gay sex that is inferior, not gay people.

      • raffer

        everyone struggles with sexuality in terms of living to church standards. sex is permissible between a couple in marriage that is fully open to the possibility of children. that means no contraception masturbation, sex before marriage etc most will fall the. the church understands this but looks for everyone to keep trying. through the sacraments in the correct order, confession and the eucharist

      • Ummm … “heterosexuals can have sex that is church approved.” No. The Church’s moral teachings must be consistent with God’s revealed will.

  • Sanity Please

    “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.”

  • Jennifer Prestash

    People are a product of their own formation. The Holy Father is no exception. When he speaks against free market capitalism he is speaking only of what he thinks free market capitalism is (and, in Argentina, what they see as “capitalism” is really “crony capitalism” or “selective capitalism”.

    I’ve not seen the Holy Father advocate for changing any moral law that comes from Holy Tradition and Scripture. Instead, he seems to be trying to find ways to reach out to people who have failed in sin and bring them home. IMHO, he does this in a very clumsy manner and might in the end do more harm than good, but I don’t see him as in any way rejecting Catholic Teaching.

  • alfredo

    I’m afraid that the picture this article and many of the comments give of Catholicism is sadly distasteful. Not much of a feel of the Gospel about them, but rather reminiscent of the legalistic squabbling – and rivalries – of scribes and Pharisees, with the ultimate aim being the continued exclusion of as many as possible from that generosity of God which the Church should be showing forth to the world.
    And an unattractive and morbid preoccupation with sexual morality – largely a cultural matter – is in no way central to the NT; nor should it be with the Church.

    • Annie

      “And an unattractive and morbid preoccupation with sexual morality – largely a cultural matter – is in no way central to the NT . . .”

      “And a ruler asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him . . . ‘You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery . . .'” – Luke 19: 18-20

      It isn’t nice to call Jesus “unattractive and morbid”. Nor is it smart to compare Him to the “scribes and Pharisees” or to say that His aim is “the continued exclusion of as many as possible from that generosity of God”.

      God doesn’t contradict Himself. He can’t be ungenerous with His generosity. He is the Truth and the Church’s mission is to proclaim His Truth, not yours.

  • Älter und weiser

    I am neither liberal or conservative. I am an Orthodox Catholic.
    I can tell you that I never had confidence in Pope Francis, but I was willing to be convinced otherwise. I am now convinced that the Pope is out of his depth.
    The best thing that can happen now is for Pope Francis to do nothing. Absolutely nothing but pray. His logic is fuzzy and his grasp of the consequences of his actions is questionable.

  • paddyofurniture

    Ah, where to start…
    1) It’s not Pope Francis’s church; it’s Christ’s. The Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ.
    2) Do you care to offer corroborative evidence for your speculations on Burke and Pope Emeritus Benedict? Talk about reckless and unsubstantiated statements.
    3) Catholics do not worship at “services”; we celebrate the Mass. It’s important to understand what you’re reporting on.
    4) If you think we’re fragmenting like the Anglicans, then you not only fail to understand the Catholic Church but you also don’t understand Anglicanism!

  • johan marr

    Despite Mr Thompson’s refusal to answer my critique ….the truth remains. He continually in his diatribes on the Church for many years now – uses meaningless words, like liberal and conservative, progressive and traditionalist, orthodox and heterodox, loyal and disloyal. These really leech the life out of serious discussion about contentious issues in the Church and in society. Catholic people of belief, really agree about a lot of fundamentals, even though we may differ on some. Wedge issues which give strange joy to Mr Thompson simplify one’s thought process. The other guy is wrong, I’m right and there’s no reason to continue the discussion. Damian is always ‘right’ He needs a therapist and may be someone to love him out of his bitter sour loneliness.

  • Strife

    There can be little doubt at this point (at least for any clear thinking Catholic who is well versed in Church history) that the Holy Spirit simply allowed this wayward pope to be elected to remind the faithful that The Church was founded on the brokenness and weakness of a weak man. And that we must never place the fallible man on the same level as the infallible office itself:

    “When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have
    failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” – G.K.Chesterton (Heretics)

  • TimeEqual

    I see this battle coming as well. I’m glad I stepped off this boat when I did. Good luck folks. I hope all of the time spent discussing human rights, or restrictions on them, in the context of what Jesus would do, or more accurately, by folks who think they know better than Jesus, will be worthwhile.

  • michael mchale

    The “war” began with Vatican II. The Synod is merely the logical progression {regression?} of the Council’s leanings toward modernism.

  • balance_and_reason

    Just a quick reminder; whilst conceding in full the, on average, civilising influence of the church over the past 2000 years, it must be recognised by educated people that there is no God. How we reconcile the maintenance of a Church, and all its local positive influences, usually, with this lacuna in its raison d’etre is a problem…maybe we need a new story and then we could back all the church’s in and start again?

    • tolpuddle1

      Many (most ?) educated people don’t recognise anything of the sort.

      The only alternative story to God is Despair.

      And that’s true regarding this world, as well.

      • balance_and_reason

        evidence please

        • carl jacobs

          You have no answers. You could for example give no answer to my friend Gina who lost her first son to fetal wastage two days before he was to be born. You could not answer her question “Why?” You could not explain why she had to give birth to a corpse. You could not offer her solace in the presence of that little white coffin. You would have nothing useful to offer her at all beyond your impotent sympathy. I could multiply that example by the experience of millions upon millions of lives lived. You would have nothing to say to any of them.

          No doubt, you would say “But there are no answers. We cannot produce by fiat what does not exist. Life is objectively meaningless so we are left on our own to derive such meaning as we are able.” Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we are most certainly dead. But in so doing you admit the case you have challenged. For the lack of answers can lead men to only one destination – despair. That is what it means to despair after all – to be abandoned with no answers.

        • raffer

          an educated person would be able to reason that they are on the wrong thread on debating the existence of God.

          • balance_and_reason

            There is no ‘correct thread’ in the never ending battle to push back the legions of the superstitious and the ignorant

          • raffer

            so on this thread your simple a troll.

          • raffer

            I’m glad you realise it will never end as God will always be, in hell you can push with the legions of the dammed unless you, or for that matter anyone of us die in a state of grace

    • Annie

      ” . . . it must be recognized by educated people that there is no God.”

      “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” – Matthew 18: 2-3

      • balance_and_reason

        written by man, for man.

    • carl jacobs

      it must be recognised by educated people that there is no God.

      According to whom? People who define ‘educated’ as ‘disbelieving in God?’ In fact this statement is fatuous nonsense. It deliberately conflates presuppositions with knowledge so the certain presuppositions may be deemed “rational.” It thereby provides an oh-so-convenient illusion of compelled belief. But that is all it is – an illusion.

      • balance_and_reason

        God is an illusion my friend …no amount of pseudo presupposing can alter that;

        • carl jacobs

          You speak as if you have authority. But of course you have none. You are a finite limited transient creature making metaphysical statements waaaaay above your pay grade.

          • balance_and_reason

            whereas you speak sooth with the authority of …what?

          • carl jacobs

            I speak with the authority of the Living God who made me. And you, for that matter. I have no authority of my own. Accept it or not as you see fit. But it is the nature of authority to not require the consent of those under authority. You cannot remove God’s authority by denying it.

            In any case, you have no cause to call me uneducated simply because I believe in God. Your materialist faith system is not compelled. You choose it.

          • balance_and_reason

            No you don’t.
            I’m not saying you are uneducated, merely that you are deluded.

      • Ambientereal

        You see, even non-believers “believe”. “balance…” actually cannot avoid the existence of something in what to believe. In this case the supposition that “educated people recognise…” leads to the belief “I believe in education”

  • revolting ewe

    I hardly think we are in the early stages of civil war nor that liturgical niceties are “harmless” compared with the nitty gritty of moral law. Civil war has been bubbling under the surface since VII and it is dangerously close to blowing wide open. And we should not forget lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. By changing the way we pray in the liturgy, our way of believing has already been changed….it was only a matter of time before the way we live follows on from that. Ripples on a pond.

  • cestusdei

    The “liberals” see this as their last chance before they meet their maker. It will fail. They produce no vocations or vitality. It is the conservatives who are keeping the Church going. We will suffer, but we will win in the end. The gates of hell will not prevail.

  • tolpuddle1

    Damian – “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    Why are you trying to stir up and magnify conflict, and in the One True Church of Christ, into the bargain ?

    Are your articles likely to inspire people to become Catholics, or the reverse ?

    At the End, will you be among those who gathered with Christ, or among those who scattered with Satan ?

    • guest

      I sense he is trying to stand with Christ/the Truth/the one True Church (not a person) and lay out a cautionary tale lest we become victims of satan–blinded by infatuation, ignoring truth and reality–much as the adoring masses did when they were infatuated with our then-candidate now president that was pushed into the limelight from relative obscurity, hand selected for being just intelligent enough to be credible, but not too much so as to escape their manipulations, by academics with an agenda (the agents of change) that includes stacking the courts (and most importantly The Court) thus ensuring their “program” for “change” is not only implemented, but would be very difficult and lengthy to ever overcome.

      Hence the author’s line: “Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour.” To analogize to my above statement, I am not denigrating Pope Francis (nor our president) but am rather pointing out the similarities between the demonic/selfish actions of the “agents of change” and their creepy influence on the masses via the use of a credible body such as Our Pope and our president. (Although I must add a qualifier there–I cannot discount the possibility that our president does not go along with, nor disagree with, the agents intentions–to weaken democracy and limit freedoms to what they themselves feel is “best” for the little masses, versus Pope Francis, whom I have absolutely no doubt only wants authentic freedom, and at that the authentic freedom that can only be found through Christ and his Church.)

  • Maria

    The Holy Spirit will deal the final card….one to watch for…the Church will not fail because Peter fails to rule. Popes always have successors, not every Pope is God’s choice though God permits their appointment. We don’t know what went on in the conclave or how things came about in any Pope’s election. But one thing history does attest to is that God willed Pope John Paul II, God held Pope Paul VI in grace for the sake of the Church, God willed Pope Benedict…clearly for the consistent and true wisdom of all three, as philosopher/theologian and pastor manifest in their magisterial teaching. Only what is proposed as magisterial teaching is the test of consistent and an ever deepened disclosing of revealed truth. The Holy Spirit’s hand will be clear when the spirit of the world reacts (including those of the world in the Church -which is the most corrupt face of the world possible in this world because of its absolute hypocrisy proposing to represent God Himself in the Person of Christ while actually representing the spirit of the world) against what comes from the magisterial teaching of the Pope or the Church deposes the attempted magisterial teaching of the Pope….there will be no middle way. Meanwhile we remain confident, watch and pray.

  • LyndaOR

    I kind of like this Francis person. Has he made any infallible statements yet? I was under the impression that thus far, in public and in private, he’s been stating his opinions.

  • Zephyranth

    For some the battle is between rigid legalism that’s devoid of human compassion and mercy as personified by the Pharisees – or pastoral flexibility to show mercy and compassion as exemplified by Jesus’ life and teachings. Jesus welcome sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. in his circle – without harsh condemnations, but only forgiveness and mercy – because he understands the universal human condition of “brokenness”. But the self-righteous people of his time hated him (Jesus) for his inclusivity. It seems the situation is not much different now. The Church and the Sacraments are not just for those who deem themselves perfect, but also for those who have been marginalised and utterly discriminated by the righteous ones. In my humble opinion.

    • Being compassionate should not involve redefining sin as acceptable before God as some seem to want to. One doesn’t have to be perfect to receive Holy Communion. We do have to be free from mortal sin and have repented of any habitual attachments to such sin and do our best to avoid them in the future.

  • Gerbarnes

    This battle, exacerbated by a gleeful secular media, is between the fickle Zeitgeist and the eternal verities.

  • geoffrobinson

    I would like all of the Catholics who speak ill of Sola Scriptura to please issue an apology.

    • Uncle Brian

      Sola scriptura is unbiblical.

  • James Stagg

    Some should study the history of the Church and its councils (esp early ones) before they get so flustered over little bumps in the road caused by the openness of Pope Francis.

    Get a life.

  • Scheveningen

    Actually I would not describe Cristina Odone as either ‘moderate’ or ‘conservative’ but rather as part of the ‘loony left’ of the Catholic Church. A Tina Beattie or Basil Loftus sort of character.

  • balance_and_reason

    Long live the Roman empire!

  • AugustineThomas

    Your words are extremely offensive. Cardinal Burke dresses up like a cardinal at the proper Mass. I do understand though that this enrages all Novus Ordo heretics!

  • John Byde

    Gosh, you are quick on the uptake, Damian! Most orthodox catholics realised all this ten minutes after Magoglio was chosen to be pope. I’ll stick to the bible and not take too much notice of this fella from now on.

  • stlouisix

    Bergoglio’s false church trashes tradition while blasphemously blessing sexual perversion! I for one, as a Catholic, would attend a SSPX Chapel in a heartbeat if one was near. The SSPX defends the Faith as opposed to heretical apostates trashing it given where the most perfect Catholic prayer ever, the Tridentine Mass
    is found, the faith lives.

    AXIOM: Lex credendi, lex orandi is more than just a pithy phrase as “How we pray shows what we believe.”

    The entirety of Catholic theology was visible in the Latin Mass that wasn’t broke, i.e., it didn’t require fixing. When that Mass was suppressed, “the smoke of Satan entered into the Church” BIG TIME, a hypocritical admission by Paul VI who lamented “Satan’s smoke” while doing the work of Satan in suppressing the Tridentine Mass in favor of the Novus Ordo whose sole intent was to make non-Catholics comfortable with a Catholicism unrecognizable as Catholic – the rotten fruits of which are visible in the worldwide daily news!

    The Great Facade – Vatican II And The Regime Of Novelty In The Roman Catholic Church

    The SSPX is the Church of my youth before Vatican II decided to accommodate a world firmly in the grip of the devil instead of standing in contradiction to it, per the end of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Chapter 28 where Jesus told His disciples, in no uncertain terms, to convert the world to the ONE TRUE FAITH for salvation’s sake.

    [16] And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. [17] And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.
    [18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

    [19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

    “Conversion” is not a word in the vocabulary of Bergoglio’s false church which is unrecognizable as Catholic as Catholicism is reduced in a syncretistic indifferent lowest common denominator sense to being indistinguishable from the false secularist “anything goes” gospel which is a one way ticket to HELL!

  • Edgar Matouk

    There are not enough Cardinal Walter Kasper supporters! He speaks sanity!

  • Rosemary58

    Sadly, Damian, more than half the attending bishops voted to keep the paragraphs on Holy Communion for remarrieds and openness to gay relationships. Looks like the next year should be spent having the full complement of bishops attending the Synod next October studying the CCC or perhaps taking refresher courses and obtaining re-certification, which is usually required in the academy.

  • Eli Odell Jackson

    Arguing over vanities of tradition while their churchmember stumble into hell.

    Oh catholic friends, don’t you see the error of your ways?

    To place man, above the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (1 Peter 1:23), to anoint and exalt the vicar of hell, the man of perdition, above the Living God Himself.

    Vain religion, not the faith of the only-begotten Son of God.

    You’d like to talk about heresy?
    Well then let’s bring it close to home, how about the dogmas and traditions we find in the Roman Catechism.

    Let’s get to it, let’s use some big fanciful catholic words, only for to be spoken by the lips of the clergy, I guess regular catholics are just too dumb, they just can’t be trusted with these sacred traditions of men.
    I suppose I’ll name 37 of the most egregious:

    1 Salvation Through The Church
    2 – Salvation Through Works
    3 – The Church Forgives Sins
    4 – The One True Church
    5 – Baptismal Salvation/Regeneration
    6 – The Pope: Vicar of Christ
    7 – The Pope: Infallible (whether ‘ex cathedra’ or how you please)
    8 – The Sacraments Save
    9 – The Sin of Presumption
    10 – Infant Baptism (Pedo-sprinkling)
    11 – Degrees of Sin (Venial/Mortal)
    12 – Transubstantiation
    13 – Eucharist: Preserves from Sin
    14 – Eucharist: Helps the Dead
    15 – Mary Saves
    16 – Mary: Saved from Birth
    17 – Mary: Perpetual Virgin
    18 – Mary: Source of Holiness
    19 – Mary: The Intercessor
    20 – Mary: Recipient of Prayers
    21 – Mary: Queen Over All Things
    22 – The Mass
    23 – Purgatory
    24 – Praying to Saints
    25 – Praying for the Dead
    26 – Statues – Wicked, ungodly idolatry.
    27 – Confirmation
    28 – Confessing Sins to a Priest
    29 – Indulgences (Plenary or otherwise)
    30 – Interpreting God’ s Word
    31 – Catholic Prayer
    32 – Penance
    33 – Reconciliation
    34 – Celibacy
    35 – Last Rites
    36 – Universalism
    37 – Relics
    All of which are straitly refuted by the holy word of God.

  • Stephen Stewart Dippenaar

    It is sad to see so much anger in the debate up to now. We should think more on how out Lord would have responded to these important issues that the synod debated and less about the politics of the vatican. I also think that the bishops might find it useful to mingle with the crowd in St Peter’s square every wednesday at the Papal audience. They are the church.

  • Tanyi Tanyi

    A very beautiful article. It has made my day! Thank you very much.

  • john

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  • Davidh

    Why do Catholics spend so much time talking about s-e-x? They should spend more time doing it and less time talking about it. A much more natural state of affairs and they might then get on with doing some good in the world rather than worrying about who everybody is sleeping with and how.

  • desperatedan

    I wonder how history will portray Bergoglio if he gets his way, running with liberalism and the fads and fashions of the World is not what a church should be about.
    Personally, I think Francis is an imposter, imposed on the Catholic church by a deviant mafia within the Vatican. The same Mafia that pushed aside the real and living Pope,
    This imposter is going to legalise sin, to legitimise those who are the real problem within the Catholic Church.

  • FrankieThompson


    I think you need to calm down. You are intent on proclaiming some impending doom. We might see a sandwich-board avatar appearing next to your name soon.

    The Pope is not even two years into his papacy. The madness that gripped sub-intellectual circles( e.g. the horrible furore which preceded Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain) in the western world has largely disappeared mostly down to Pope Francis, and while the virulence says more about the sources of it, it was having a pernicious effect on the wider world.

    His visit to Brazil was a triumph, and his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Jerusalem truly profound and deeply moving.

    In the space of 20 months he has changed the perception of the Church in the world from a default position of scorn and ridicule, and he has done this by reminding the world, and us Catholics, what the essence of the Gospel of Our Lord is, and for that we should all, yourself included, be very grateful.

  • Oba Prophecy. “It will come when the Church authorities issue directives to promote a new cult, when priests are forbidden to celebrate in any other, when the higher positions in the Church are given to perjurers and hypocrites, when only the renegades are admitted to occupy those positions.” – Source: Catholic Prophecy | Yves Dupont

    @Damian Thompson Good article. Thank you!

  • ponerology

    Pope St. Pius V codified the Latin Mass IN PERPETUITY. No one, Not Even a Pope could touch the Mass as he codified it. Anything during and after Vatican II is a nullity. At some point the world will come to comprehend that. As to what’s happening with Mr. Bergoglio; it’s another divide and conquer and tactic – separate the Catholics from the non-Catholics. One is either a Catholic (as was practiced for 1950 years, or one is not a Catholic. There is no such thing as a liberal or conservative Catholic. Those are political terms best reserved for all false religions.

  • Callsign Viper

    Marxism, the ideological precursor of today’s liberalism, originated as a reaction against Christianity in early 19th century Germany.

  • as;ldf9a7f

    Jesus came to urge to turn from sin. Francis asks us to embrace sin, tolerate it and reward it.

  • Robin

    Francis is a false prophet. Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Fatima, St John Bosco, and St Padre Pio amongst others warned us all : ” Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the anti-Christ”.

  • Nutz4seabrook

    I think it is irresponsible to gin up a “civil war”. There is no such thing. The Church is finally talking about issues confronting the Church and how it should respond. Talking is not war.

    The reality is: It can keep its head in the sand and say – there is nothing wrong. But, what has this achieved? How about – Zero. Ministry to the broken is who we are and our calling. It doesn’t mean we are becoming Martians.

    And the notion that the Church is rudderles is also without evidence. We are in a process of discernment – an intentional and spiritual effort where we turn to the Holy Spirit for inspiration and guidance. If this is rudderless, than you have little faith.

    If you are fighting a civil war, go fight with yourself. You might win.

  • profling

    Tradition, my foot. That went out the window in 1969.

  • Jeremy Moore

    Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t agonise about how often he/we should go to confession (for instance) – he urges us to receive the tenderness of God’s love. He is a Catholic, don’t worry

  • jrpattz

    I’m orthodox and hope it doesn’t mean I have to change my 68 years of Roman Catholic changes to another orthodox catholic faith, I personally think that since Vatican two the church has changed immensely and not for the good. I hope our leader doesn’t make it worse!

  • Alan

    I am a bit surprised that I haven’t heard about the roots of the battle yet. Is that not Opus Dei as supposed replacement of the Jesuits? That has been the real failure. But it remains a mystery why the large majority of Cardinals chosen by Opus Dei friendly JP2 and B16 decided to choose a Jesuit successor. From their point it surely was to clean out the mess. But I rather suspect with the intent to take it back once cleaned or in safer waters. Then do not forget that there has been a Benedict Pope three times… Because the real mystery is why they allow for the continued suggestion that there still is ‘a pope in town’. By all means at most he could be an emeritus bishop.

  • Samale Matina

    So the spiritual leader of millions of Catholics got stumped by a little girls question about why God lets kids suffer. If he doesn’t know then who does ? All he could come up with was some lame comments telling everyone else to ‘cry’ and figure out the answer yourself. What a shame really….

  • Elle

    I am occasionally in contact with traditionalist Catholics. They are seething these days over Francis! I see them at church functions – the nerdy, sweaty husbands in pain because of their hidden cilices are cutting in, their dower, bedraggled wives toting a gaggle of kids around the parish halls. And Francis is up there, destroying their glorious fantasy of Holy Mother, the Church!!

  • brendankiwi

    I stand with the african bishops, as well as Pope Francis when he promised that he would resign from the chair before long. Our lady help of christians, pray for us!

  • Child of the True Church

    Watch THIS and tell EVERYONE you know!


    The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

    Physical Evidence of Jesus Christ #2: Shroud of Turin and Christ and the Sudarium.

    Science Tests Faith: Miracles of the Eucharist.

    The Star of Bethlehem PROVED – by Astronomers recreating with the aid of computer software – the positions of the Constellations to the relevant time

    Film about the Fatima Apparitions

    Fatima – 3rd Secret still not known by the world.

  • John Byde

    Wow, a journalist notices what most of us spotted a year ago – Orgoglio is turning into Obama!
    This man has no authority over anything. Stick to the bible and ignore him.

  • disputans

    The concern for the future of the Roman Catholic Church among the media is heart-warming. You really needn’t worry: if there’s one thing sure in this world it’s that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mathew 16:18).

  • Robert Fisher

    “Burke, whose habit of dressing up like a Christmas tree at Latin Masses infuriates him.” The way of dressing is dictated by custom. It is cultural and religiously symbolic. Are you saying Catholicism doesn’t and should have its own culture and customs full of meaning? It has a symbolic meaning. Is it better to be a few hundred years out of fashion than 5 years? If you made a comment similar to the is attacking an imam or ayatollah what would you expect to be the response?

  • larry

    I agree. Pope Frank is just fomenting what was already two Catholic churches. A quiet battle between both has been going on for years. Now it will be an outright battle. He better take refuge when the bricks and bats fly.

  • larry

    The gloves are on. The fight begins.

  • Scott O

    Wouldn’t the author be suprise today if they were to reread this?

  • savetheusa2

    For that last part, I was thinking the same thing. That Obama and our Pope are becoming so much alike. I’m afraid Pope Francis is surrounding himself with too many anti-Catholics. I read Pope Francis encyclicals and they sound beautiful, but it seems like he wants a one world order. He is scaring me. Mercy is beautiful to espouse all over the world, but he seems to be wishy washy with the Faith. It almost seems that he thinks all religions are the same.

    Sorry, but in some Muslim countries they are killing Christians, outlaw Bibles and destroying Churches. He doesn’t seem to see the real Islam. To go all over the world saying ‘cumbaya’ may sound Christian, but the Muslim culture and Western culture will not integrate because the Western culture, at least I hope, don’t want to live under Shari’h Law. It is not compatible with America’s Constitution and European Laws. Our Pope has forgotten why another Pope called on the Crusades. Nothing has changed. Muslims are looking for their Caliphate and ISIS is as cruel as Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Woe to us who don’t see this!