Michael Sean’s Cabal Canard

 Don’t like that pope? Read what he wrote.

Not to quibble too much but this diatribe doesn’t even suggest anything the Holy Father wrote.

Sep 9, 2019

by Michael Sean Winters Opinion

The whole world now knows that Pope Francis is more or less fed up with some of his critics. His comment about it being an “honor” to be attacked by conservative Catholics in the U.S. made that clear for all to see. Francis had just been presented with a copy of a new book by French author Nicolas Seneze, which catalogues conservative Catholic efforts, largely American, to influence this pope or to limit his influence and undermine his efforts. The fallout from the pope’s comment is kind of fun to watch. Last week, EWTN host Raymond Arroyo began his hour-long show with an eight minute “commentary” that pronounced the pope’s comment “troubling.” I actually found the pope’s candor refreshing.

Talk about refreshing! The Pope’s guys tried to turn the comment into praise for Americans even though most of us were a tad bit skeptical about that one. Who knew Michael Sean Winters and I would agree?! Of course, I can’t agree that the comment or the fall-out are fun to watch. Only a jerk would revel in such division, but I’d expect no less.

Arroyo referred to a “string of lazy articles.” He went on: “This is tired, and, frankly, a fact-free narrative.” He complained that it had been peddled mostly by “Europeans and progressive Americans” and claimed these critics “make the mistake of casting orthodox Catholics in America as right-wingers, players in a political plot to undo the agenda of Francis.” He countered this portrayal, saying, “The truth is much more simple. American Catholics actually believe what the church has always taught, and they’re loud enough and have big enough platforms to broadcast that belief.” Arroyo insisted that “all traditional Catholics have done is ask questions.”

Uh, yeah. Don’t you think that’s allowable, Michael Sean Winters?  As I’ve said before, people across the world have concerns. And Arroyo is right. We are a very blessed country and we have the freedom and ability to fight for everyone against liberal dissenters like Michael Sean Winters, NcR, America Magazine, etc. like no other country in the world. We’re good on the battlefield like that. And did I miss something? Are America Magazine, National catholic Reporter or Salt & Light Whatever penniless organizations? Please. And, by the way, as of now, I don’t get a paycheck. (Offers totally accepted.) I think we need to have “Je suis ETWN!” shirts made up because they’re just saying what a good chunk of the laity around the world thinks. Since Michael Sean Winters would never actually want you to see the interview he writes about (he could have totally linked to it), I will leave it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bPyFm1Aw20

Arroyo unwittingly confirmed the thesis he was trying to debunk when he concluded: “The truth is this is all a craven attempt to demonize and purge voices form the church who dare to question the radical changes that are under way and the brutal tactics used to enact them.” Radical changes? Brutal tactics?

Uh, is there any doubt about radical changes?  Apparently he didn’t get the memo from Cardinal “Synodality” Marx? Or America Magazine ? And brutal tactics? Maybe he missed what just happened at the John Paul II Institute? For goodness’ sake, Michael Sean Winters, even The Atlantic sees it. So, please, don’t act like those who are troubled are paranoid freaks. It’s real. “Nothing to see here but the usual papal stuff” isn’t going to fly.

To prove his claim to editorial balance, Arroyo played a tape of him of the night a year ago when he reported about Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in which he said, “I am a little squeamish about a pope resigning again.” Huh? Had a former nuncio publicly demand that Pope Benedict XVI resign? Why add the word “again”? He did, to his credit, acknowledge there had been criticism of Viganò, but one year later, on a show just two weeks ago, Arroyo and his papal posse, Robert Royal and Fr. Gerald Murray, spent more than half the show defending Viganò and arguing that most of his claims had been proven true, when in fact, most of them had been proven false.

Wow!  Which ones were those proven false?!?! The “just say it and it will be true” tactic doesn’t work here, Michael Sean. If you’re going to make an accusation, back it up.

Arroyo said: “Let’s not create silly conspiracy theories.”

Me thinks the pope touched a nerve. Arroyo’s rant sounded like nothing so much as the wild excuses a child makes when caught pilfering the cookie jar. To be clear, if I were in his shoes, I would be upset also. I would be upset if I thought my pals owned the church and someone had come along and taken it away from us.

Uh, my pals don’t own the Church. Raymond Arroyo’s pals don’t own the Church. And, just to be clear, nobody does. Maybe that’s the problem. You and your buddies, Mr. Winters, seem to think the Church is some kind of personal football while we believe God gave it to us as our guide to heaven. We also know darn well that it’s been foretold time and again that She will constantly be under attack from within as well as the outside. Congratulations on being a small part of proving that prophecy.

There is, indeed, a cabal among right-wing Catholics to undermine or minimize this pope and his teachings, and you could discover it merely by watching EWTN or reading its auxiliary media outlets. No one would have Cardinal Raymond Burke or German Cardinal Gerhard Müller on their show as an authoritative guest unless such undermining was the goal. No one would have Phil Lawler, who was the first guest on Arroyo’s show last week, on their show as an expert unless undermining the pope was the objective. The two men enjoyed themselves complaining about all the damage they think Francis is doing to the church.

Wow! Cabal and right-wing all in one sentence! Doesn’t this sort of make the open-arm narrative you’re about to put forward fall a little flat? (Hint: The answer is yes.)

Heaven forbid we have a Cardinal of the Church speak on a Catholic station! And heaven forbid Phil Lawler be disgusted by the abuse crisis and its handling.  Yeah, those guys are horrible. Geez!

Was EWTN undermining the Holy Father when they reported this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vovTX6bAI0 Or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxGj7Ztt1lU Or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqn3YYurIpE  Or even that evil Raymond Arroyo and the Papal Posse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J88_Fnz-UXU? Or all of Pope Francis’ big Masses? Sometimes they support and sometimes they scratch their heads and say “What is this?!” just like the regular folks in the world. And when someone’s job is criticized by a French writer and the pope seemingly agrees, why in heaven’s name would you not expect them to respond? I guess it’s because NcR, American Magazine, and Salt and Light never respond? (Yes, I am rolling my eyes.)  Heck, if you’re in the social media world, they simply ban you as they’ve done to so many. They don’t want to discuss it, and I should know since I’ve been banned by most of them for my critiques of their work. Talk about a cabal! At least Arroyo and the rest of the “evil Americans” are willing to continue the conversation and they try to see the good where they can find it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t comment and ask questions.

I’m really sorry that you don’t understand why people are greatly concerned and have concerns about some of the things Pope Francis says. I mean, that’s never ever happened in the history of the Church! (That was tongue in cheek, Sean Michael.)  I realize that everyone has totally forgotten about, say, St. Catherine of Siena, but this is hardly the first time there have been criticisms and questions of a pope. Was she somehow an elitist as you so like to frame people you’d rather dismiss? Was she part of a cabal?

I wish to send Arroyo and other conservative Catholics an invitation, one that I received a long time ago and from which I derived enormous benefit. During the more conservative pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, friends encouraged me to read their writings with an open mind, not to dismiss them because they were so conservative. Of course, in the area of Catholic social teaching, there has been enormous continuity, not only across the last three pontificates but stretching all the way back to Pope Leo XIII. But, when I read some of the writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from his early work Introduction to Christianity to the trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth that he wrote while pope, I not only learned a great deal, I had my faith strengthened by the insights he discerned. Here is the column I wrote the day after his resignation. I was not yet a writer when Pope John Paul II issued Novo Millennio Ineunte, but I remember thinking it was a magnificent document that made me stretch in ways I would not have done if I had simply stuck to my more liberal Catholic texts.

Dude!  You just suggested what my last clip from EWTN said.  Why don’t you give it a watch again? I’ll leave the link nice and visible! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J88_Fnz-UXU  Maybe don’t call people part of a cabal and you might get some conversation. The thing is, you might actually have to approach them with an open mind.  It doesn’t go one way and this is the problem I have with you and yours. Unless we buy everything you say we’re, somehow, part of this evil, right-wing, conspiracy to overthrow the Holy Father. Sorry buddy.  We want him to succeed but we have question when we hear things that sound like somebody just dragged a needle over our favorite album.

And one last thing, to suggest none of the faithful who are troubled have read Pope Francis is ludicrous. In fact, it’s because we’ve read and hang on his every word that we are concerned. What the Holy Father says is very important. That’s kind of the point.

So, instead of painting Francis in such a harsh and negative light, rather than poking fun at synods, or highlighting and even championing a score-settling text like Viganò’s “testimony,” I invite conservative Catholics to come to Francis and his teachings with an open heart and an open mind. I hope they might find, as I did with his conservative predecessors, an opportunity to stretch their faith, which always leads to an expansion and a deepening of that faith as well. It is a big church, and there is room for everybody. The alternative is the emergence of a sectarian, para-schismatic church in the United States. And, if a full-blown schism were to occur, its source would largely be found on EWTN.

And there it is.  The liberal, Catholic talking narrative. The hypocrisy is rather staggering. You knew it was coming. Honestly, was there a conference call?  Clearly there was. Maybe, the next time you want to float the idea that you are being uber charitable, calling others to open-mindedness, etc. you remove a HUGE log from you eye and not call them part of the schismatic cabal. Just saying. Until then, all the faithful should realize that the Winters, Reeses and Faggiolis of the world are just hoping you’re not paying attention and will fall for their pandering innuendos.

[Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.] Kind of not so much. Pretty much covers his own unsubstantiated, narcissistic viewpoints.

So my friends, I’ll see you all at the weekly schismatic cabal meeting. I’ll bring snacks! Oh shoot! I meant doughnuts…for after Mass. Same diff.

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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!