What’s a Catholic to Think?!

Well, that was a fun week in Catholicism. I’ve been very quietly sitting in my corner (or as quietly as I can) taking in all the commentary on the “heresy letter.” Dun…dun…dun!

First, let me say this. If you are a “Live Catholic or Die!” type of Catholic, you probably find Pope Francis, how should I say, problematic on most days. I’m sure “Ugh!” has gone through our minds on several occasions when hearing those lovely in-flight interviews, when a new document drops, or when we hear about “the Great Accuser.” It doesn’t mean that we are “alt-right” Catholics. (By the way, “alt-right” has now become synonymous with “Move along, people! Nothing to see here!”) In short, many have serious concerns. Generally, the people who are thinking “Oh, no!” on a regular basis are people of good will, whether or not you declare the pope a heretic.

So now this letter drops. Most of the people who just want to be Catholic without conflict at every turn are wondering what the heck they’re supposed to do with it. Do you ignore? Do you beg to sign it, too? Do you condemn the authors? Etc., etc., etc. Honestly, there are not simply two sides to this one, there are as many as the stars. It’s really complex and yet amazingly simple. For us, we need to educate ourselves as much as possible and follow our conscience. Form it and follow it.

To start, I would like to deal with some of the ridiculous opinions on this that I’ve seen. I suppose everyone wants to be on a team and have that team win and then they become super–fan-like. As a mom, it would just be nice to send them all to their rooms and tell them not to come out until they can get along.

“These are just a bunch of cranky Catholics who don’t like the Pope.” Really? Can it really be that simple? I’m pretty sure they are Catholics worried it might take years to undo the mess of ambiguity. Many are likely people with children and grandchildren and they worry about their suffering from the debacle the clergy, particularly the German bishops and many Jesuits, are making right now. Again, we might want to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are Catholics of good will. The things the authors point out may or may not amount to heresy, but they are super concerning at the least. I’ve had interactions with and like some of them. Sounds like everyone likes Fr. Aidan Nichols. The ones I’m familiar with aren’t those to simply be written off as fanatics who were bored.

“Those canon lawyers and theologians who say that the Pope’s actions don’t canonically constitute heresy are just being legalistic.” Uh, Canon Law is kind of important, people. You’d probably be the type that usually throws out a canon or two in defense of your position, anyway, so you’ve lost me with this argument. If it “technically” doesn’t amount to heresy, then it “technically” is not. Sigh. If you are championing a letter declaring heresy, defend it without whining, please. Also of note, most of the aforementioned canon lawyers and theologians are not cheerleading for Pope Francis. They still have great concerns. They’re just calling it as their Canon 212 duty tells them.

Following on that… ”The bishops who don’t back this letter are just worried about their jobs!” Again, really? Or could it be that they simply don’t believe it canonically meets the standards for heresy? Seems like just another hyperbolic argument. I’ve seen many bishops speak up for the dubia, the Vigano letters, the Weinandy letter, etc., yet they didn’t sign the “Easter Letter” and all of those previously held as heroes have been notably absent on backing the letter, too. Are we to assume they’re just worried about their jobs, as well? Or might they have the same take many others have?

“You’re going to hell if you’re wrong about this.”  I’m so glad you know the mind of God here.  Sigh.  Would somebody care to tell St. Vincent that? He literally picked the wrong pope to follow.  Yes, it’s a serious position to take and I’m glad I don’t feel compelled to take it but, geez!  You might, at least, wait until somebody’s excommunicated for something before you go there.

“Those who argue against this letter are trying to hide behind ignorance.” That’s my favorite. Yeah, all those people who argue against it are soooooo undereducated. Just deserves one more “Really?!” I wish I could think of something more clever but that’s usually my go to when people are just debating poorly.

Now what is my position on the actual letter instead of the hype around it?  Again, I think the authors of the letter had the best of intentions. They probably thought long and hard about it and they firmly believe it to be in accordance with the teachings of the Church. They did what their conscience dictated. Others have done the same and come to a different conclusion. Quite frankly, and this might run counter to others’ thoughts, but right or wrong, I think that the letter will only have a positive impact on the overall Church.

After reading and watching MANY commentaries on it, I feel that the canon lawyers who say it’s not heresy are probably right. This and this are probably the closest to my thoughts, although imperfect representations of them.

Why do I feel this way? Because I’ve read Pastor Aeternus (excerpt below, but please read it in its entirety) and Canon 212 many times. 

Pastor Aeternus
“And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, [12] and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, [13] and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. [14] Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.


Canon 212

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

  • 2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

  • 3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Nobody in this current debate ever seems to mention Pastor Aeternus. I feel Raymond Arroyo took the position of that document when he said the next pope is the one who will judge Pope Francis, which is exactly how it’s always been done in times of papal turmoil. That’s why I’m not going to get my knickers in a bunch over this or feel like I have to get entrenched on a “side.” Yes, we could get to a point of Fr. Fessio’s “What if…?” but let’s really hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s bad enough now.

Regardless of who is right or wrong (and even some saints have been wrong for parts of their lives), as Fr. Fessio pointed out, this letter is important because it shows the seriousness of the situation in our Church. It’s chaos. NOBODY can deny it. And as many have said, it should not be ignored, although I fear it will be, just as all the letters, corrections, dubias and testimonies so far. The old sticking fingers in ears and saying “lalalalalalalala!” seems to be their way.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to keep expressing my concerns in light of Canon 212 and my knowledge, competence and prestige (not that I have any of that). I’m also going to keep up my prayer of “May God open their eyes or close them.” I hope you will join me in this!




25 thoughts on “What’s a Catholic to Think?!

  1. What’s a Catholic to Think?!

    All Catholics should be uncertain about Pope (?) Francis legitimacy. There is sufficient evidence to support this point of view without having to go full Barnhardt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe but who do you think gets to make the call on that? Yup. Same scenario. Until then we’re in waiting. I’m just in good company.

      Just out of curiosity, what does a half Barnhardt look like? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Many disturbing action on the part of pur Cino.pope B. F. Sellout of Faithful catholics in china. Lutheran statues and stamps in the Vatican. Promoted advanced and protected deviant sodomite awful clergy. Like Grassi ,pardo ,pulia and Maccarone. In Arg. Alone . Involio ,Roisica and Martin of amer. Mgz. .Elsewhere. Plus wayward bishops like Sucunza ,Depaglia ,Zunchetta and Cocopalmeiro again in Arg.alone. Plus. Daneels farrell,,b oconner. Plus in.Usa. tobin of nj.,Mahoney ,Soto ,gregory, cupich and of course M cCarrick. Lastly demise of pontf. Acad. For life and B.. F. ,Barely sane rants on immigration, un. Gestapo muslims and homosexuals.. How didhe Bergoglio get through the seminaries or any jesuits like Msrtin and Bergoglio become a priest To begin with


    1. Yes to all of the above…… and let’s not forget the gigantic homosexual mural in Paglia’s cathedral, capped by Our Lord in see-through robe….. there is no shortage of blasphemy and Just Plain Bad Ideas. It wouldn’t be hard for the Muslims to invade the Vatican and knock down this house of cards, no?


  3. Many disturbing action on the part of our Cino.pope B. F. .Sellout of Faithful catholics in china. . Lutheran statues and stamps in the Vatican. Promoted ,advanced and protected deviant sodomite awful clergy. Like Grassi ,pardo ,pulia and Maccarone. In Arg. Alone . Involio ,Roisica and Martin of amer. Mgz..Elsewhere. … Plus wayward bishops like Sucunza ,Depaglia ,Zunchetta and Cocopalmeiro again in Arg.alone. Daneels farrell,,b oconner., Plus in.Usa. tobin of nj.,Mahoney ,Soto ,gregory, cupich and of course M cCarrick. Lastly demise of pontf. Acad. For life and B.. F. ,Barely sane rants on immigration, un.police state force , ,muslims and homosexuals.. How did he Bergoglio get through the seminarie or any jesuits like Msrtin and Bergoglio become a priest To begin with


  4. You are so right, One Mad Mom–it’s exhausting! All I can say is that, whenever I hear some new report of something PF has said or done, I find myself asking, hmmmmm isn’t that heresy? So I’m kinda happy when some other people wonder so too. And I think you are right in your position that the only one who can judge PF is the next pope–and God! I think all the bishops can do is go en masse to PF and beg him to stop the crazy once and for all. He is all about “synodality”, right? How about a little “synod” of orthodox cardinals (not the C9, please God!) to help him filter between his brain and his mouth?

    One good thing is I’ve never begged, “Come, Lord Jesus!” on such a regular and desperate basis. Personally I have theorized that “Pope Imbroglio” is our chastisement for generations of faithless Catholics; “You wanna be bad Catholics, okay, here’s a bad pope for you!” saith the Lord type of idea.

    Sigh…… I’d run away screaming from the Catholic Church right about now except for if I can’t have the Eucharist, might as well kill me now. “To whom shall we go, Lord? You have the words of Eternal Life”. But any time the Lord or Our Sweet Mother wants to intervene in this debacle, please go ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a glorious time to be in The Church. A time when we can prove ourselves to be like Our Lady and St. John who stayed at the foot of the cross!
    Figuring out if someone is a heretic is above my paygrade. I know the rules and I need to worry about me and mine sticking to them.
    Confession, communion and prayer. That’s where I’m at.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These bishops priests cardinals and the pope have been chosen by almighty god…but behind closed doors they operate a cesspool..and have been since Vatican two …the vandalism to our church’s holy communion given out like your queuing for the checkout..he apparently was chosen to sort the cesspool out …not to create another one…world meeting of family’s and a raving homosexual put in charge of it..even had a logo with a gay couple in it …sence day one of his pontificate he’s tried to undo humaie vita (excuse my spelling)…who am I to judge…you bl…y are who else..you are the teacher..leader of us ..set an example..an Australian rugby player has shown more courage than frankly…you might be one mad mom …but I’m raging!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It seems to me that calling for investigation of heretic teaching by a Pope is not against Pastor Aeternus or Canon212. Saint Paul did that, forcefully.
    The final DECISION – according to Pastor Aeternus – is up to the Pope, but the calling and the investigations are, or could be, legitimate.


    1. What I mean is that, being a rebuke to the Pope legitimate, the effort requested from the cardinals is not to replace the Pope in his powers, but to reflect and possibly unite in trying to speak with him in order to consider the issues again.
      Cardinals are not mere extension of the Papal authority, they are true successors of the Apostles deriving their proper authority directly from Christ, even if they can’t stand in opposition to a Pope’s definitive judgement.
      Consider, then, that the Pope has not given any such final judgement ex-cathedra, and he won’t do that (at least if he is a valid Pope).


    2. That was more like the filial correction, not the Easter letter.

      Also, St. Paul didn’t call out Peter on a point of doctrine. He called him out for setting a rule and then breaking it. Not doctrinal. That’s different.


  8. Sorry Mom,

    A person who leaves ambiguity when certitude is clearly needed, along with extremely specific guidance and standards, cannot occupy Peter’s See legitimately, even if all the rules were followed. It is understandable to defer final or stern judgment until a circumstance can be fully understood. But, leaving things nebulous, for long, is not of God. I do not need to have a PhD or multiple PhD’s in religious fields to see and make this judgment and if
    nit-picking interpretation of historical Church documents, regardless of their authority, can defend against common sense judgement of a charlatan, then I MUST QUESTION THE INTERPRETATION AND/OR THE AUTHORITY OF ANY OR ALL OF THOSE DOCUMENTS CITED.

    If there was a shred of decency in Jorge Bergoglio he would, long ago, have, intentionally, sought out those of us who are struggling to walk the walk. He has not, in any manner that is evident to the man on the street, tried to get the pulse of anyone other than his predetermined, likely, sycophants.

    He cares nothing about anything outside of his personal treasures.

    He is not simply, like me, a sinner. He is a scandal of historical proportions, not someone struggling to follow Jesus’ will.

    I cannot conclude other than believing that he knows exactly what he is doing and has no intention at all to understand or even care about the unprecedented destruction that his behaviors are causing, much less actually trying to truly imitate Jesus Christ, in any way shape or form.

    Such is PURE EVIL. It is not sinning from weakness or confusion.

    The Title of Heretic is incidental when compared to this PURE EVIL MAN.

    Christ, have mercy.


    1. I think you may have missed a few charlatans who have very validly occupied the papacy. Bad pope doesn’t equal illegitimate pope nor do the authors of the document assert so.


    2. “along with extremely specific guidance and standards, cannot occupy Peter’s See legitimately…” having said that what recourse do we have? Supreme Pontiff, possesses full authority over our Church, he’s in charge. What do we do? What can we do? We can have knee-jerk reactions all we want but unless God directly intervenes, you or I do not have anything we can do except pray. We cannot personally correct the Pope, it’s above our pay grade. And to those that call the Pope everything under the sun and describes him as such best watch themselves. We give account of our every stray word.


  9. Those in authority must be held to a high standard. They bear an implicit obligation for clarity. We are obliged to call them to righteous behavior, by pointing out their transgressions in public, especially if they have public effect, which is absolutely undeniable in these circumstances. If we do not do so we are part, intentionally, of the manifest destruction of Catholic Faith that is part and parcel to Jorge Bergoglio’s undeniable intent, based upon the public evidence.

    He is not causing division to bring souls to Jesus. He is a Pied Piper leading souls to Hell to serve Satan.

    Silence in the face of this is not golden.

    But yes, prayers, sacrifices and joining our personal crosses with Calvary are positive choices that we must make.

    I have fallen short in these latter things and for the reminder, comes gratitude.


  10. Pope St. Pius X declared Modernism to be “the synthesis of all heresies”. Read together and considered as a whole, the numerous accusations made by the authors would seem to make a decent case that this greatest of all heresies, is deeply embedded in this papacy. At a minimum, however they be defined, serious errors are being alleged which must be corrected by the bishops and cardinals, and the sooner the better.


    1. Agree with what someone said above. The turmoil in our hearts has brought me closer to the tenets set forth by Jesus. Previously, having a more nonchalant attitude in my faith. I have read the Bible cover to cover twice in the last 3 years. Not a presbyter more a carpenter. Catholic education grade school through college.
      Whenever I pull an “attaboy” always reply, “that’s why I go to Church on Sunday”.


  11. Okay, maybe I can clarify a bit on what we can do about a pope who may or may not be heretical. First of all learn your faith and the Truth. Read the Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Study it and know what it teaches in all it’s Truths. Learn everything in your faith and what the Church teaches. Pray. Now, we cannot get rid of a pope…at least I don’t think so. So we pray for him and for God to guide him. If and when a pope says anything contrary to Church teaching WE ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ACCEPT IT!. The Church can never force us to believe anything that is not true. If a pope tells us adultery is fine? Ignore it! What if a pope tells us it’s ok to take the Lord’s name in vain? IGNORE it! Yes, it’s difficult, yes it’s confusing many, yes it’s heartbreaking but hold to what you KNOW!What the Church has always taught. Discern all! We can wring our hands and break out in hives but the fact that a pope is not faithful and has been elected anyway is in God’s hands and it will be fixed in God’s time and in God’s own way. Pray.


  12. The real issue is not whether anyone can declare the Pope a heretic. The Cannon’s appear to prohibit that. The real issue that the critics of the letter and unfortunately the Mad Mom don’t address is the serious charges of heretical statements, writings or actions included in the letter as the basis of their charge. These 8 statements need to be addressed…some are more serious than others but if any of them are true, what are we to make of Francis.


    1. Been there, done that. And, I’d agree that they should be addressed which is what Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Fessio said. I totally have an opinion on Francis. I think I summed that up in my prayer at the end.


      1. There are two camps just like our politics….liberal left and conservative right. One side argues feelings; the other side argues facts. One side preaches love God and anything goes. The other side preaches love God then do what is right and not what is wrong…It’s not surprising that pushback is happening because we are divided in our hearts and in practice…In the end the Last Four Things apply…


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