Last weekend, Ines San Martin of Crux reported that Pope Francis “has vowed in a new interview that he won’t be slowed down by resistance from ‘ultra-conservatives’ in the Church who ‘say no to everything,’ insisting, ‘I’m going ahead without looking over my shoulder.’”
Good Catholics everywhere cheered the words of the Holy Father, the Successor of St. Peter.
You see, they readily understood that a handful of far-right ideologues do not get to determine the course of Christ’s Church. It doesn’t matter if those ideologues represent semi-schismatic enclaves or write popular blogs. Christ the Lord has empowered the Church’s Magisterium in communion with the Successor of St. Peter to lead the People of God. Not them.
Nonetheless, sometimes it can be instructive to read these far-right ideologues. Doing so, reveals some things worth noting about the signs of the times; and, taking stock of those things, helps us to perform better the work of the New Evangelization.
Just what do these blogs reveal?
At first brush, it would seem that there has been a shift in the tectonic plates. At the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Francis, only a small minority of ‘radical traditionalists’ teetering on the edge of schism opposed the man ‘from the ends of the earth.’ Middle-of-the-road ‘conservative Catholic’ types withheld judgment about him, biding their time as he got to know his new flock. Since then, the climate has changed and the sands have shifted.
As a variety of far-right or ultra-conservative Catholic writers make clear, now the ‘in thing’ among their number seems to be to ‘distrust and vilify’ the Pope, not to ‘trust and verify’ him. Thus, far-right Catholic writers get their Catholic ‘street cred’ by maligning the Pope as a chief plotter against the faith.
That this is their modus operandi becomes clear after a moment’s inspection of the kind of blogs where they tend to gather on-line. They never seek to read the pontificate of Pope Francis through the lens of charity. Their first instinct is to punch first.
Thus, they eschew charity and ecclesial union, preferring division and animosity. That does not bespeak a Catholic ethos.
This surfaces a second point: The far-right has radicalized. A small number of blogs have sent a direct signal to no doubt well-meaning ‘conservative Catholics’ that it is now open season on Francis. In effect, these blogs have allowed themselves to become little more than sleeper cells of ‘ultra-conservative Catholic’ ideologues, sounding the alarm to arise and take up arms in a bitter civil war where victories are won only by way of resisting the Pope.
Scripture tells us that we will know Christians by their fruits. Yet so often the fruit of reading the blogs of far-right and ultra-conservatives Catholics is anger, not peace, sadness, not joy, and ecclesial division, not unity in Christ’s Spirit. Aren’t these the marks of the Evil One? Certainly, they’re not the traits of spiritually mature Catholics.
Thirdly, all this effectively means their program of radicalization is carried out in an extra-ecclesial context. On the frontlines of this new battle for the soul of Catholicism, self-appointed gate-keepers of Catholic orthodoxy fill the ether in concerted attempts to marginalize the voice of the Church’s duly appointed pastors. Lacking episcopal consecration and any claim to Apostolic succession, they constitute among themselves a sort of ‘parallel magisterium’ that determines for itself the prerogatives of the Pope, the content of authentic Catholic teaching, and the future direction of the Church’s pastoral ministry.
None of that is Catholic. But it might well be deeply Congregationalist.
Of course, they carry on their war against the ‘Francis Revolution’ while claiming to launch their missives from the secure tactical ground of established Magisterial teaching. But, ironically, they balk if you point out that they lack the credentials, rank, and profile to command their territory.
Cherry-picking the bishops to whom they adhere, and dividing the Church into political parties, they profess a libertarian ecclesiology that selectively adheres to the Church’s authority when it serves their spiritual preferences. Thus, far-right Catholic agitators entirely side-step serious theological questions about the nature of Catholic tradition, the definition of heresy, the extent of the Church’s canon law, the balance between doctrine and pastoral practice, the prerogatives of the pope, the meaningfulness of ecclesial communion, and the need for continental and lay consultation, opting instead for simplistic political drama.
Instead, they deal in innuendos, slander, and calumny. Those are their trademarks, not respect for the hierarchy of the Church and reverence for the truth.
And so, the fourth point: With their radicalization and de-ecclesialization comes their de-rationalization. They eschew the heavy-lifting of theology in preference for the sensationalism of political theater that finds no place for the common dialogue of parrhesia. Against any kind of synodality characterized by mutual listening, the discernment of spirits, or pastoral accompaniment, they opt for something Pope Francis has termed ‘declarationist nominalism’ – a form of political resistance theater to the ‘culture of encounter’ by way of a monologue in the form of one-dimensional pious platitudes.
When Pope Francis calls for a synodal Church that leaves no one outside the warm embrace of mercy, they envision a new Siege of Masada. They take on the guise of militants, perceiving themselves as the last defenders of Catholicism. Yet their war cries and battle slogans leave them sounding like un-catechized Catholics in great danger of slipping into Protestant forms of thinking.
Let us pray for them even as we continue to pray for His Holiness Pope Francis as he pursues the course the Holy Spirit reveals to him.
Posted by Ben Yanke on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 11:29 AM (EDT):
Let’s never forget: this is the same author who said “this is very deeply disturbing” when faced with a poster that said: “Christian Marriage: one man, one woman, one lifetime.” Shouldn’t have expected much more from him here.
Then he comes here and uses the false guise of “charity” to attack Faithful Catholics.
Let’s not forget Christ exercised perfect charity as he beat money changers with whips, and called the leaders a brood of vipers. So let’s be done with this false equivalence between “charity” and “nice”, as well as the idea that “nice” is a virtue.
It’s a true shame that the NCR is allowing this screed to be published.
Posted by Todd Shaffer on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 11:20 AM (EDT):
If simply following the Catechism makes me an “ultra-conservative” Catholic so be it. The fact that you would apply such a title to one such as me is telling. It seems that the church has been affected by the same disease that affects our entire culture. Rules and laws no longer matter. Only how we feel in the moment matters.
Posted by Carolyn Schuster on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 11:08 AM (EDT):
One question but with a need for a specific answer. Who are “they”? Any time that word is trotted out and used it needs a clear description in order to not be just a useless and vague pronoun behind which slander runs amok.
Posted by Jose on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 11:03 AM (EDT):
Dear Mr. Shiemk, go join some of the Jesuits in Central and South America.
Posted by Frank H on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 10:51 AM (EDT):
Have pity on Mr. Shimek. He is a product of he Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Posted by Richard M on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 10:11 AM (EDT):
I am pretty sure they should not read blogs authored by writers who publicly dissent from the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality and homosexual acts, such as Mr. Shimek, who has been saturating social media with his advocacy for both in recent months. And I am *profoundly* dismayed that the Register has seen fit to give a platform to such a person.
Posted by Jordan Miller on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:55 AM (EDT):
This article lacks the Christian charity it accuses others of failing to show.
You set up the vaguely-defined straw man of ‘right wing’ bloggers. You then proceed to lump in together anyone and everyone who raises any kind of critical questions about the teaching of Pope Francis, failing to make any adequate distinction between those who criticize from a standpoint of loving obedience to the Pope, and those who treat the Pope as an enemy (there is a chasm of difference between these positions).
Your accusation is that anyone who is not enthusiastically behind every word out of the Pope’s mouth is that they are not “good Catholics” (because “Good Catholics everywhere cheered the words of the Holy Father”, so implicitly those who did not cheer are not really Catholic). These pseudo-Catholics, you contend, have a bitter, angry hostility toward the the successor of Peter; they have sinned by lacking charity.
But your response consists entirely in bitter, angry invective, and very clearly lacks charity (the “let us pray for them” at the end of the article is not charity, but drips with condescension).
The whole article engages in self-righteousness. Taking myself as an example: I have filial obedience to Pope Francis and pray for him, and I recognize most of the things he says as orthodox and often challenging the status quo in a good way; yet I am very concerned about his teaching on marriage, based on AL and various other statements of his. So I’m not a “good Catholic” because I am concerned, because I don’t cheer every word that comes from his mouth?
You make the ridiculous claim that those who are critical of Pope Francis “eschew the heavy-lifting of theology.” That must be why so many theologians who are faithful to the Pope have raised concerns.
These are just two among many examples of Catholic theologians and philosophers raising serious questions, not on the basis of “political drama” but on the basis of the theological foundations of the Church’s teaching on marriage, on the Eucharist, on the relationship between object and intentions in moral action. There are certainly people saying very angry, bitter things on the internet; but not everyone who is critical of Francis’ words can be lumped in together as a monolithic faction.
I was excited about the election of Pope Francis. I spent 2013 and 2014 defending him by interpreting away various confusing statements. But his words and actions at the two synods, and the text of AL, do not yield a good interpretation and have given rise to serious concerns. I remain obedient to him, and I love him as Peter; but when his words about marriage conflict with the explicit words of Christ, this is an objective problem that must be faced and not ignored.
I would suggest that you give some further thought to the difference between a healthy filial trust in the Pope, and ultramontanism. I would also suggest further theological research on Petrine infallibility, which is far more limited in scope that is generally recognized.
St. Paul was not wrong to challenge Peter to his face (Gal 2:11) when he knew that Peter was in danger of going the wrong way. God used Paul’s challenge not to undermine Peter, but to protect the office that he had entrusted to Peter. There is a huge difference between raising critical questions about the Pope’s words because you love the office, and raising critical questions because you think you can replace the office with your own wisdom.
Posted by Roger on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:46 AM (EDT):
Is this the National Catholic Register or the National Catholic Reporter?
Posted by Kurt on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:41 AM (EDT):
There is a certain element in the Church that is still bitter over the exoneration of Captain Dreyfus. They are not helpful to the Church’s pastoral mission.
Posted by RJ Chavez on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:41 AM (EDT):
Woefully amateurish article that I’m shocked the NCR would even consider running. At least THIS NCR, that is.
Posted by Michael on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:34 AM (EDT):
If was to claim Our Lady said “Lies I was deceived at the cross”, said my statements might be heretical, and allow sacrilege of Our Blessed Lord against 2,000 years of the faith how would I be treated by faithful Catholics? Now when the Pope does this he gets a free pass?
I always wondered how hordes of people could be so easily controlled historically, now I see how it is possible. People blind themselves out of respect for authority when respect is for the ideas they hold and their office, not the mere title.
Those ultraconservative blogs do the work you obviously fail to grasp at where the faithful have to hold the faith despite their leaders. Let us pray for the hierarchy, but let us never deceive ourselves.
Posted by Ann Malley on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 9:27 AM (EDT):
“Good Catholics everywhere…”
Sorry, Mr. Shemik, but only God is good. Our Lord Jesus Christ said as much.
So the next time you want to bamboozle the crowd and cater to egos in order to get Catholics or anyone else to do your bidding, to include shutting eyes and ears to the poisoned fruits which we are called to judge, think again.
For all of this “good” Catholic talk the premise here seems to be supporting the person of the Pope, not the Catholic Faith. That, Mr. Shemik, smacks of the cult of personality and being a respecter of persons. Something Our Lord Jesus Christ was not.
But thank you very much for taking off the mask of feigned Catholic practice. Sadly, there are many who wear that costume, having been inured to believe that Simon-Says-Now is the name of the Catholic game.
“...Let us pray for them even as we continue to pray for His Holiness Pope Francis as he pursues the course the Holy Spirit reveals to him.”
Let us pray for ourselves that we seek truth and understand that not everything a Pope does, especially that which shows itself to be working against the Spirit, is the work of the Holy Ghost. For the Holy Ghost does not, contrary to human respecting opinion and fear of facing reality, work against Himself.
Wake up, Sir.
Posted by Michael on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 8:01 AM (EDT):
This gentleman needs to read Fr Hunwicke on the development of doctrine:
This might help him, by approaching the subject rationally, mind, to understand the outrage.
I have to agree with another comment that the argumentation and execution of the article was sophomoric. It seems like the papal apologists have run out of real talent to exploit.
Posted by Nicolas Bellord on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 6:20 AM (EDT):
This article seems to be long on opinion but quite devoid of any evidence in support of what is being alleged.
Posted by Pionono on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 5:25 AM (EDT):
This article is an excellent example of the Protestant caricature of the papacy at work in the Catholic Church. The Pope’s will is law, full stop.
Fortunately, great doctors of the Church such as Robert Bellarmine have refuted this nonsense. So did Pope Benedict XVI when he declared at the outset of his papacy that “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. *He must not proclaim his own ideas,* but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to *adapt it or water it down,* and every form of opportunism.”
With Francis, however, we have a Pope who incessantly “proclaims his own ideas” and demands adaptation and watering down of the Church’s teaching on marriage and procreation, attacking even the teaching of his own immediate predecessors on the impossibility of Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” who do not commit to live chastely.
Articles like this demonstrate why the Church is in crisis: the abuse of authority is defended by a nominalist commentariat that has no idea what the papacy really is.
Posted by Nathan E on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 11:51 PM (EDT):
This was a really strange article. The author seems pretty uncharitable towards some traditional minded Catholics and very oddly in denial about Pope Francis. I have love for both and still know neither is perfect. Sometimes we need to be challenged. After all the Holy Father will have a lot to answer for when he meets Jesus and we want him to be an able to give great answers and get to heaven.
Posted by J. Chrysostom on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 11:33 PM (EDT):
Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the ancient posture in the Mass where the priest faces the tabernacle along with the congregation, rather than facing the people. He asked that the posture be adopted by Advent of this year, which begins November 27.
The announcement was immediately recognized by Catholic Herald deputy editor Dan Hitchens as “the biggest liturgical announcement since Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gave greater freedom for priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.”
Posted by Sean on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 11:23 PM (EDT):
NCR editors must be grasping for writers.
This is high school level stuff. Pathetic.
Cohabitation anyone? I promise fidelity, really,
I promise to do my best.
Posted by gsk on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 11:16 PM (EDT):
@Ashpenaz: apart from the question at hand (about traditionalists) it is essential to note that the pope is not the standard of Church teaching, but merely charged with guarding the deposit of faith. That deposit is the standard by which his words must be judged. When he speaks with a lack of clarity, his words cause confusion for the faithful who listen to him. If he errs in his comments or suggests ideas incompatible with centuries of settled theology, we must dismiss his comments as personal conjecture. To suggest that his comments hold more weight than that magisterial inheritance is unCatholic, and borders on idolatry. Continuity matters, and is part of an authentic standard.
Posted by A.S. on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 10:17 PM (EDT):
I was reading the Fathers of the Church, and suddenly I realized that they are sleeper cells of ultra-conservative Catholicism. Not to mention St Paul, that bigot.
God bless them.
Posted by joe schmo on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 10:02 PM (EDT):
In the not too distant past I regarded this NCR as orthodox and the other one heretical. Now it appears they are one in the same.
I thank God for the blogs that I’m guessing the author is referring to. They provide much needed company as we navigate they darkness of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
Posted by Vera Schraa on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 8:42 PM (EDT):
Amen to every comment so far!
Posted by Steady State on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 8:36 PM (EDT):
‘Cherry-picking the bishops to whom they adhere’
That’s the problem right there. There wouldn’t be any need to cherry pick if they were all on the same page. However we have liberals within the Church and they need to be called out otherwise it will affect the Faithful.
Yes, you can the same about pretty much anyone in the Church. What do you do when a bishop with legitimate authority contradicts a pope? The current pope doesn’t just get to make things up. He’s also subject to the Church through time. Pope John Paul II as a priest and bishop completely disobeyed the authoritative teaching of Pope Pius XI to whom he was subject. Then he became pope and promoted the same disobedience, so now we’re supposed to accept JPII’s disobedience as authoritative Church teaching? That’s just absurdity. The SSPX is right, there is a complete crisis in the Church. The frustration of so many “ultra-conservatives” is evidence of that. They aren’t the real problem, the crisis is the problem.
Posted by john on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 7:30 PM (EDT):
Perhaps a better question would be should good Catholics read Pope Francis? More and more are tuning him out.
Posted by RFB on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 7:25 PM (EDT):
“Thus, they eschew charity and ecclesial union, preferring division and animosity. That does not bespeak a Catholic ethos.”
Exactly what is charitable in this post? How are you fostering harmony and goodwill? You, like Pope Francis, accuse others of the same conduct you engage in. Pope Francis has vilified various groups in extremely harsh language because they disagree with him on climate change or communion for the divorced and remarried or capitalism. You vilify those who question him on these issues. Where is your mercy, charity, and common decency to those who have served the Church for decades down in the trenches?
Who made you the arbiter of what is good and right in the Church? Pope Francis has made zero infallible statements since he has been pope. Therefore, his comments can be taken or left by Catholics as they choose. We can read them respectfully but we are not bound to accept them. His encyclicals are not infallible, nor are his comments to reporters on an airplane. His opinions are his own, not those of the Church. Catholics are free to disagree with him, as he himself indicated in his own statement about the issue. Many “conservatives” have simply pointed out statements he has made that do not jibe with previous infallible teaching. Are their questions illegitimate? He is our pope and deserves respect but Francis himself welcomes disagreement and debate. You should do the same.
I read many conservative Catholic blogs and sites. I have seen no one calling for schism as you imply. Instead they encourage prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. They also encourage continuous prayer for our pope. What crazy talk from a bunch of radical agitators!
Disagreement within the Church is the norm, not the exception. The process of discerning truth has often been a painful one. I’m sure it will continue to be so. Is Pope Francis a good or bad pope? It’s too early in his pontificate to tell. I pray for him daily. We all should.
Posted by James on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 7:16 PM (EDT):
“Good Catholics everywhere cheered the words of the Holy Father.” Really? Perhaps those cocooned in their safe-space, immune to Holy Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium. Apparently at the Washington Post.
Despite your intention your commentary serves only to magnify the inadequacy of the current pontificate underscoring the need for much intercessory prayer, for Pope Francis, the ecclesiastical aberrance that elected him and those presently subsumed in a personality cult as a substitution for authentic reverence for the Chair of Peter and its occupant.
It is presumptive to assume that those who challenge Francis’ perspective can be characterized as a fundamentalist or rigorist but it is never to be unexpected. The sanctimonious fraudulent academic posturing of those presently enjoying their day in the sun are given to this defense as to mother’s milk. It would appear that you and those to whom you render your ear are possessed of the fundamentalism of heterodoxy.
Unquestionably all Roman Catholics, and those who regard themselves as Christians, give recognition to the fact that we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, True God and True Man. He is the revelation, the substance of God Himself. That revelation ceased to be conveyed with the death of the last apostle, Saint John the Evangelist. The role of the Holy Father is to …”guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.” [Dogmatic Constitution “Pastor aeternus” of Vatican I.]
Deference rendered by ambiguity to gender ideology and situational ethics is not of the mind of Christ. We stand on the door step of eternity but for a moment. There is no happiness here unless it is found in the will of God. The purpose of our temporal existence is to know, love and serve God in this world, and to be happy forever with Him in Heaven. To serve is to embrace His Will by lovingly conforming to His commandments and to love our neighbor as our self. His Will itself is our only and deepest and joy and reward.
Posted by Larry Northon on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 6:55 PM (EDT):
The author seems to have the maturity of a 17-year old high school senior who thinks in sweeping generalities and believes the world is composed of two kinds of people: those who agree with him, and those who are evil. He also seems to lack the maturity to understand that coherent, compelling argument involves naming names and giving examples. At the end of this diatribe, you’re left without the slightest idea whom he is attacking or why he is attacking them. Who knows? If I knew names and quotes, I might even agree with him. At least I would know whether or not he’s attacking me and my beliefs. Very bad job, and very poor decision by the editors to allow this piece.
Posted by Ashpenaz on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 6:24 PM (EDT):
When traditional Catholics say the Pope isn’t orthodox, what source of orthodoxy are they using for comparison? If the Pope isn’t the standard for Church teaching, then what is? It can’t be the Catechism, since that was written by a Pope.
Posted by James on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 5:50 PM (EDT):
From the Editorial page of the Washington Post, July 2, 2016:
“This ‘Francis’ revolution in the Catholic Church is unexpected but welcome. It is long overdue. The old order of doctrine, tradition, and unchangeable moral principles can gradually be set aside. This new freedom and scientific understanding of the Catholic Church are what we now witness in the memorable words of this Argentine pope. They come from the last place from whence we might expect the long-awaited modernization of this venerable but stubborn institution.”
Can more be said?
Out of the mouths of secular materialists the truth in seventy-three words. What more need be said?
You can tell a lot about an individual by their friends.
Posted by Nancy D. on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 5:17 PM (EDT):
“When Pope Francis calls for a synodal Church that leaves no one outside the warm embrace of mercy…”
“Penance, Penance, Penance.”
One must be willing to repent and orient themselves to The Word of God, in order to become transformed through Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.” - Rev. 3-19
Posted by Ken on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 5:10 PM (EDT):
Altough I mostly agree with this piece I would agree with another poster who questioned why no attention was paid to the left wing Catholic blogs that advocate for abortion, same sex so called “marriage”, and just plain flaunting of Church teaching.? A little balance would be appreciated.
Posted by D.E. Meikle on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 5:05 PM (EDT):
“Far-Right Catholic” blogs? I sumbit there is no such thing.
There is CATHOLIC and there is not. Orthodox vs Heterodox.
What is “Catholic” is easily found in Sacred Scriptures and the doctrinal Councils of the Church. All necessary and important elements can be easily accessed in both the Roman Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Any teaching contrary to this may be “Roman Lutheranism” or some variant of modernism but it is not Catholic. No matter how esteemed the source of dissent.
The excellent website “Denzinger Bergoglio” is written by pro-Vatican II diocesan priests who have identified over 140 points of incongruence between Francis and the Magisterium.
Does this make the Holy Father a modernist/heretic? The author is right to point out this is not for a layperson to authoritatively judge. It is however for either a future Council or Our Lord Himself to judge.
We’ve had a number of bad popes before, however they were “bad” because of personal vice and failing. This papacy is the most extraordinary example of a pope messing with the faith itself (at the very least via confusion).
Have we Catholics been so deprived of the Holy Spirit that we’ve gotten it so wrong for two millennia? Or is it more likely that the past 50 years have been less faithful than the centuries preceding it.
Pope Francis.. God Bless him, and protect him: is not the seed of the problem.
Posted by Nancy D. on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 5:05 PM (EDT):
Catholics recognize that any Baptized Catholic who condones the act of abortion and/or same-sex sexual acts, and thus denies that God Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage, has excommunicated themselves from Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Being Catholic is not a matter of degree; either you are with Christ or you are against Him.
Posted by Andrej on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:56 PM (EDT):
Really sad this editorial got past the editors.
Posted by Colleen on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:44 PM (EDT):
Well, this is a mess of innuendo and name-calling, isn’t it? But no name-naming, I notice…
Posted by Brian Fackler on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:37 PM (EDT):
Jesus wasn’t very joyful and peaceful toward the apostate leadership of the day. I guess He was a first century version of our hateful “far-right” bloggers today.
Posted by Stephen on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:21 PM (EDT):
Lost opportunity here. There is room to criticize those who sloppily use or misuse theology to create a wall of noise against Pope Francis, who think sarcasm and derision are the proper response of a faithful Catholic at this time.
But in indulging this impulse the author ignores the context of the question answered by Pope Francis. Pope Francis was responding to a question about ‘ultra-conservative’ bishops and others in Rome who raised legitimate questions about the synod and Amoris Laetitia. It wasn’t about bloggers. He responded that he doesn’t like to cut off heads, that’s not his style, that he’s going to ignore them. So it was specifically about “conservative” (orthodox) members of the curia, and Pope Francis said he would ignore them.
A faithful and reasonable Catholic can be very disappointed with the Holy Father’s answer, which, again, had nothing to do with bloggers and did not challenge the reporter’s premises. He accepted the mischaracterization and politicization of those who raise questions of doctrine, and said that they only “say no.” This is nonsense. Many of these bishops are not bomb throwers, but think that doctrine on marriage (just to name one issue of recent contention) is not “uncompassionate”, as the pope’s appointees tend to argue.
You do your readers a disservice by ignoring the context of the question, lumping legitimate doctrinal questions raised by those with proper authority (to whom the reporter was referring, in a premise unchallenged by the Holy Father) in with the rantings of a few bloggers. It is bad form to criticize others’ intellectual failures in precisely the same argument that includes its own intellectual failures.
Posted by MG on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:16 PM (EDT):
Thank you for this. I too have noticed the shift and sense the opening floodgates that allow for radical criticism on anything our Holy Father says. There seems to be such little charity and paltry search for the Truth in the things Pope Francis says. I sense more of a sinister seeking for anything bad to attach to all that Pope Francis says. I wonder at the point of it all too. Nothing more can come from it that “I told you so” at best and at worst it displeases our Father in Heaven so very much. Let us love, pray for and give the benefit of the doubt to(at the very least) our Pope and Vicar of Christ Himself.
Posted by johnnyc on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 4:09 PM (EDT):
‘Cherry-picking the bishops to whom they adhere’
That’s the problem right there. There wouldn’t be any need to cherry pick if they were all on the same page. However we have liberals within the Church and they need to be called out otherwise it will affect the Faithful.
And speaking of liberals I notice the article did not warn against reading their blogs. Maybe there is cherry picking going on in the liberal left also?
Posted by Will on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 3:57 PM (EDT):
Good summary of so-called orthodox Catholic blogs I have visited. The bottom line is that some of these blogs are negative and nasty if you disagree with any point.
Posted by Luke on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 3:50 PM (EDT):
This is the most absurd article I have ever read on the Register. Does Mr. Shimek consider Raymand Arroyo part of the “far right” as he has consistently given coverage to many of this pontificate’s most troubling aspects? What about Robert Royal or Carl Olson or Fr. Gerald Murray?
“Against any kind of synodality characterized by mutual listening, the discernment of spirits, or pastoral accompaniment, they opt for something Pope Francis has termed ‘declarationist nominalism’ – a form of political resistance theater to the ‘culture of encounter’ by way of a monologue in the form of one-dimensional pious platitudes.”
Talk about the definition of a pious platitude. When I hear “mutual listening”, “discernment”, “accompaniment” I am taken back to my days as an Episcopalian. How did that work out?
Posted by Paco on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 3:22 PM (EDT):
Says the ultra left wing Shimek.
Posted by Timothy O'Rourke Jr. on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 3:14 PM (EDT):
I, for one, am angry at the Pope. I am deeply saddened, as well. His approach brings creditability to those who have no intention of adhering to the truth. From my perspective, it is ironic of you to claim that because I am angry with him that I do not adhere to the truth when it is the Pope’s comprising of the truth by embracing those who have intention of adhering to it that makes me angry and sad. The synodal church about which you write, the kind that Francis wants, seems to me to be Congregationalist and not the reactions of those therefrom. Your thesis also reveals a flaw of logic. Merely being angry and sad at the Pope is no reason to be excluded from the synodal church about which you write if the Pope and those who would protect him really valued all viewpoints. It sounds to me more like the triumph of relativism. Let us not forgot how the Pope publically disrespected the bishops with whom he disagreed at the synod. No degree in theology needed to see that cherry-picking. Also, one could claim that anyone who writes about the Church is looking to sustain their meal ticket. I am here reminded of a book that is about to published by the former editor of the Catholic Register. You seem to share a similar viewpoint with him. People do have viewpoints, you know. Like referring to those who have traditional values as being in sleeper cells, which is tantamount to calling them terrorists. That’s an innuendo, no? If it is a matter of conscience, people ought to be allowed to speak without the claim that they are not good Catholics. That’s above your pay grade, too. That requires me to focus my mercy on you, which I am happy to do, brother, as it seems you may be being uncharitable, too. I took the Popes comments personally. I wasn’t aware that we was addressing the radical bloggers that you didn’t even name. The point is that there are far more than “radical” bloggers that are being critical of the Pope. There is real problem here. His approach minimizes the truths of our faith. We can be missionary by presenting the truth fist, you know. I, however, will continue to smile despite my pain.
Timothy O’Rourke Jr.
Posted by AH on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 2:57 PM (EDT):
This article is kind of funny and ironic. Although the author doesn’t name names he’s guilty of doing the exact thing he’s accusing these other people of. I’ve actually thought many of the critics of Francis have been very careful to try not to be uncharitable and have done a very good job of sticking to the issue and highlighting why they think there is a problem when he says something that is either unclear or not in keeping with the traditional teachings of the church. This author does not do that. He resorts to name calling and dividing “good” catholics and “ultra right wingers” without ever addressing the substance of the concerns. Good grief. How did this get past the editors? What’s even more funny is the idea that somehow those who abandoned the church and her teachings long ago are somehow now the good and charitable folks, just by being willing to turn around and call “conservative” catholics names. Ok. Whatever. Not sure how that works.
Posted by Kurt on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 2:56 PM (EDT):
This is a very thoughtful piece.
Posted by Connie on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 2:46 PM (EDT):
Liberal “cafeteria Catholics” should not determine the course of the Church, essentially turning it into the first church of anything goes.
I respect the Papacy and Pope Francis, but three years of ambiguous, off-the-cuff comments that the secular media distort according to their agenda and back-tracking by the Papal spokesmen—not to mention the synod on the family—have taken their toll on me.
I left my geographically assigned parish for another one that proudly proclaims the Splendor of Truth—not politically correct versions of the Gospels that I consider harmful.
Posted by Pat on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 2:32 PM (EDT):
Wow, do they eat babies too?
I wouldn’t have thought that calling people Pharisees and animals was the height of charity, but who knows?
Interesting how loyalty to the pope all of a sudden is a mark of true Catholicism now.
Posted by Charles M Wilson on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 2:03 PM (EDT):
A thorough analysis and critique of your post would take a lot more the 400 words, so I will have to limit my comments to just a few things that jumped out at me.
In the first place, your post is loaded with terms that have their origin in secular politics rather than Catholic theology, such as: “far-right ideologues radical traditionalists far-right or ultra-conservative Catholic writers.” Such terms have little use when applied to Catholic orthodoxy or heterodoxy.
Second, and most important, you do not identify a single source of the attitudes you so deplore nor do you give a single example of an actual statement by one of these sources.
If you knew my views, which are not the subject of my response, I have little doubt that you would include me on your list of offenders. Just for the record, I do not have a blog, have not intention of getting one and comment only rarely on the blogs of others.
Posted by James on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 1:40 PM (EDT):
I wonder if Mr. Shimek is aware that most of his piece seems to delve into the same “innuendos, slander, and calumny” he professes to abhor. It seems that the pot is calling the kettle black.
It’s also a useful strawman to equate all criticism of the Pope, with the sedevacantist/schismatic blogosphere, because you therefore undermine all their arguments. That’s not to say there isn’t an ultra-traditional sedevacantist/schismatic opposition and it can be especially virulent, but perhaps Mr. Shimek is aware that the Ultramontanist side can be equally so.
It is of course not intellectually honest. It is easy to cast all opposition or support in the most unfavorable light (hence anything right-wing becomes fascist, anything left-wing becomes socialist/communist), but it isn’t charitable, it isn’t correct, and it isn’t Catholic.
Too bad Mr. Shimek doesn’t abide by the same rules he holds others too. He is also aware that the National Catholic Register has also published individuals who have taken issue with various statements/actions of the Holy Father ... therefore, does that mean that Mr. Shimek advocates our not reading the Register?
Posted by R.C. on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 1:33 PM (EDT):
John Paul Shimek:
I would be more comfortable with your characterizations if you would offer evidence of them.
Here is why: If you were to offer examples of the types of blogs, writings, et cetera which you have here characterized as far-right radicalism, I would be able to make my own judgment about whether you are characterizing them fairly.
Off the top of my head: Is canonist Ed Peters a far-right quasi-schismatic in your view? How about philosopher Ed Feser? Or Father John Zuhlsdorf? Anthony Esolen? Jeffrey Tucker? Marcellino d’Ambrosio?
I ask, because there are people who’ve characterized each of those men as “ultra-conservatives” or “far-right ideologues” or “radical traditionalists,” et cetera, and yet I would not categorize any of the above in the same group as, say, Bob Sungenis, who seems a bit of a whacko. These men whom I’ve asked about are not whackos. They are on the tradition-loving side of things, it seems to me; and specialize in touting the glories of the Church in history. They blog, or most of them do. But so far as I have ever observed, they do not deal in “innuendos, slander, and calumny.”
So if that is the kind of man you have in mind, then I will have to reject your characterization of them.
But perhaps that is not whom you have in mind!
Perhaps you mean some entirely different crowd, of whom I am entirely unaware. (My unawareness is not a denial of their existence; it is merely a statement that I haven’t encountered them, either because of some peculiarity of my own browsing habits, or because their blogs just aren’t very popular.)
Mr. Shimek, unless you offer examples, you leave readers open to invent them.
If you do not wish to list names or link to the relevant blogs or blog-posts or articles, then perhaps you could disguise the names and include excerpts of the writing/opinions you have in mind?
Without that, without at least that, your own opinion-piece reduces itself to vague dark suggestions of wrongdoing against a vaguely-defined category of persons.
And while that may not be calumny or slander, it isn’t very far from innuendo, is it?
Posted by justmaybe on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 1:06 PM (EDT):
While I am far from the Far Right—and far from the Far Left—I never, ever, would tell anyone NOT to read or write Right Wing blogs or anything else. To pre-censor, to a priori blacklist, to assign a “Legion of Decency” ranking, to create syllabi of errors, to forbid reading, to hand out scarlet letters, etc. is to participate in anti-intellectual and un-American activities that have been proven throughout history to be very, very dangerous. A blog burning is no worse than a book burning. The Catholic marketplace can withstand error. If we are fearful of dissent, error, and confusion, we are inadequately confident in our beliefs. To “Ban a Blog” from the Right or from the Left might in itself be a sin. To close minds is to close doors. Challenge Don’t Silence. Don’t call ideas “forbidden.” Don’t call content unworthy of debate. And please, let us TRUST our fellow Catholics to discern, to weigh, to analyze, to debate, to learn and unlearn, and to search without fear of reprisal or intra-Catholic name calling. Please don’t succumb to the frightening traditions of “error has no rights.” Error has a right to be aired—and found wanting, inaccurate, childish, unproven, or silly. If we are to support a fortnight for religious freedom, we must—MUST—support religious freedoms to be wrong or else our freedoms to be right will be taken away. And should be. If “confusion is of the devil,” then prescribed certainty soon can be too. If we want to silence Fr. Z and Bill Donohue, then we set the stage for silencing Fr. Reese and Fr. Kung. And vice versa. GUARANTEED. If we are complicit in banning films and blogs, we are complicit in banning Bibles and Korans.
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 12:42 PM (EDT):
Two marks of spiritual immaturity are overgeneralization and innuendo. Your post gets check marks for both.