Strawpope Frank Returns: A Fisk

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Battle of the Fisks!

This article was so horrible, it got not one, but two fisks here at The Catholic Geeks!  That has to be some kind of record.


Anything that the lamestream media says about Pope Francis needs to be checked, re-checked, independently verified, doused in holy water, and exorcised.  Or you could be smart and just not bother to read it in the first place.

HolyWaterCatholics everywhere are freaking out over Pope Francis being this horrible, liberal, crazy, bad pope, at the very least, or the Antichrist, at worst.  Unfortunately, those people didn’t get the above warning.

Which brings us to this wonderfully stupid author for the Washington Post, Anthony Faiola.  I don’t have a clue who he is, and I’d never heard of him before reading this trash article, but the content of said article is so completely asinine that this man will live forever in infamy.  He’s either gallactically stupid, or he’s one of the biggest liars in the lamestream media.

I already did one “calm down, people” article on Pope Francis, but apparently not everyone got the message, and another one is called for.  As per usual fisking procedure, the original is in italics, while my comments are in bold.

Conservative dissent is brewing inside the Vatican.

The title alone needs to be fisked.  This statement presupposes that terms like “liberal” and “conservative” actually apply to anything that the Church says or does.  There is no such thing as a “liberal” or “conservative” Catholic.  Sometimes, we use those words as descriptors because it’s easier to describe people who believe in a certain way with adjectives that most people understand.  Unfortunately, that’s a bad habit for us to get into, because it means that we allow the morons to dictate the argument for us.

Let me be perfectly clear here: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE CATHOLIC.  You either ARE Catholic, or you AREN’T.  When we say that Nancy Pelosi is a “liberal Catholic,” we’re perpetuating the problem.  Nancy Pelosi, because she publicly, repeatedly, and vehemently rejects basic Church teaching on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, is NOT A CATHOLIC AT ALL.  She may say that she is, but she is NOT, because she REJECTS CHURCH TEACHING.

If we continue to use words like that (and I’m just as guilty of falling into that trap myself, I’ll admit), we concede the point that there is more than one way of being Catholic.  In politics, being a liberal is (supposedly) just as good as being a conservative.  This is America; you can (theoretically) believe what you want.  That’s just your opinion, and you’re entitled to it.  Liberals and conservatives should all just “get along.”  We all want the same thing; we just have different ways of going about it.  Let’s be friends and find a way to work together.


There is only ONE WAY in the Catholic Church.  You either follow it, or you don’t, and if you don’t,  you’re not a Catholic, no matter how many times you say you are, or how much you think you are.  The Church is NOT a democracy, and the more we treat it like it is, the worse things are going to get, not just for the way people perceive the Catholic Church, but for those of us in it.  Remember my article on Liturgical Music?  Well, until someone puts his foot down and says that the Church does things THIS WAY, and NO OTHER WAY, because THOSE ARE THE RULES, that sort of crap will continue to spread, and weaken the Church.

Same thing here.  There is ONLY ONE WAY.  If you don’t like it, I’m sure the Baptists down the street would love to have you join them, because they don’t care for Church Teaching, either.

So, as it applies to the title of this piece of trash article: no, there is no “conservative dissent” in the Vatican.  “Conservative” implies that there are two sides vying to be in charge of something that can and will change with the opinions of the people in it, and that both ways are more or less equal in validity; the only difference is how many people believe in them, not that one is right and the other is wrong.

Wrong.  Wrong.  WRONG!

“Dissent” is a bad word to use, too.  If you “dissent” from Church Teaching, you are a heretic.  Period.  Like Henry VIII and Luther and Calvin and Smith and Mohammad, and all the other heretics in history (the Manicheans, the Jansenists, the Arians, the Protestants, the Mormons, the Muslims, and on and on and on and on).

So, no, there is no “conservative dissent” at the Vatican.  Are there some people who are a little worried about the things Pope Francis says?  Sure.  And they ask for clarification, and caution people about believing everything the lamestream media says about Strawpope Frank, as we like to call him.  If you want to talk about “dissent” in the Church, why don’t you call the heretics in the Church who want to change or dilute Church Teaching the “dissenters,” because that’s what they are.  They’re heretics, and calling them that is the only way to draw attention to the fact that, based on their words and actions, they’re not Catholics anymore.

On a sunny morning earlier this year, a camera crew entered a well-appointed apartment just outside the 9th-century gates of Vatican City. Pristinely dressed in the black robes and scarlet sash of the princes of the Roman Catholic Church, Wisconsin-born Cardinal Raymond Burke sat in his elaborately upholstered armchair and appeared to issue a warning to Pope Francis.

You know, moron, this is not a short story.  We don’t need you to make a pretty picture for us before getting to the point.  Stop trying to cloud the issue with bad, melodramatic descriptions, and say what you mean.

The only purpose behind a description like this is to make Cardinal Burke look and sound like some sort of tyrant, or hide-bound reactionary.  Yes, he wears “black robes” and a “scarlet sash” and he might be one of the “princes of the Roman Catholic Church,” but the only reason Anthony here draws attention to those aspects of being a Cardinal is to make the Low Information Readers afraid of him.  He’s scary!  Run to your mamas and hide!  A PRINCE of the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH approaches, and will steal your soft blankie and burn it!  He will take your candy away and make you eat vegetables.  He will stop all the fun and make you follow *gasp* RULES!


And that’s not a bad thing.

A staunch conservative and Vatican bureaucrat, Burke had been demoted by the pope a few months earlier, but it did not take the fight out of him.

Um, excuse me.  There was no “demotion.”  The Church is not the military.  Cardinal Burke was reassigned.  The pope has the right to put people where he wants them.  If he wants someone else to be Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, that’s his choice, and he’s welcome to it.  The Sovereign Military Order of Malta needs a good man, too.  Once again, the author is applying political terms to a Church issue, and making it into something it’s not.  Do I wish that Cardinal Burke was still in his previous position?  Yes.  Do I think that there’s some kind of conspiracy at work here?  Nope.  I have better sense than that.  And that’s my opinion.  Which is worth exactly squat when the Pope makes a decision.

Francis had been backing a more inclusive era, giving space to progressive voices on divorced Catholics as well as gays and lesbians.

LiarThere’s no other way to put it.  This is a bold-faced lie.  There is “space” for sinners of every stripe in the Church.  We’re supposed to “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” and that applies to divorced Catholics, gays, lesbians, alcoholics, angry people, post-abortive women, men who’ve encouraged said abortions, liars, cheaters, thieves, and murderers.

Does that mean we approve their behavior?  Nope.  Not a bit.  Never ever.  We “give them space,” meaning we don’t drive them away from the infinite mercy of Christ and His Church.  That doesn’t mean we tell them that their actions are acceptable.  Sin doesn’t become okay just because somebody had their feelings hurt.  Sin is still sin.  How we treat people shouldn’t depend on what sin they committed.  That would be, oh, another sin: an offense against charity.

In front of the camera, Burke said he would “resist” liberal changes — and seemed to caution Francis about the limits of his authority. “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope,” Burke told the French news crew.  Papal power, Burke warned, “is not absolute.” He added, “The pope does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”

First: where’s your source, you sorry excuse for a reporter?  Show me where Cardinal Burke said that.  No?  I guess I’ll have to find it myself.  Oh, here we go: when he used the word “resist,” he was speaking hypothetically.

DECEIVER!  Cardinal Burk was NOT talking TO Pope Francis!  He was warning US, you idiot!  He said that papal power is “at the service of the doctrine of the faith, and thus the Pope does not have the power to change teaching, doctrine.”  That is absolutely true, but he wasn’t telling Pope Francis that; he was telling US that.  Francis knows what he can and can’t do (more on this in a moment); average people watching an interview may not, so clarification was necessary.  Cardinal Burke would not EVER presume to tell the Pope what he can and can’t do.  That would be a direct violation of his vow of — you guessed it — OBEDIENCE.  Just because other rabid heretics question the authority of the pope, or blatantly disregard it, that doesn’t mean that Cardinal Burke is guilty of similar disobedience.

And, for the record, everything Cardinal Burke said was absolutely true.  So quit trying to make him sound like some kind of foaming-at-the-mouth radical dissenter.  He isn’t; you and your ilk are.

Burke’s words belied a growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives, exposing what is fast emerging as a culture war over Francis’s papacy and the powerful hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church.

Go get a dictionary, idiot.

Belied: (verb, used with object). 1.  to show to be false; contradict.  2. to misrepresent.  3. to act unworthily according to the standards of (a tradition, one’s ancestry, one’s faith, etc.).  4. archaic, to lie about; slander.

DictionaryYou used that word without even bothering to look it up, and it makes your statement about Cardinal Burke not make a lick of sense.  Cardinal Burke did not contradict “a growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives,” according to your own words; he actually confirmed it, in your mind, at least.  So, why should we listen to you when you don’t even have command of the English language?

Moving on, and addressing what you were trying to say, and not what you actually said, he didn’t expose the so-called “culture war” over Francis’ papacy.  Yes, there is a culture war.  As the Church goes, so goes the world, and when the Church isn’t standing behind her own teachings, allowing most American Catholics to believe whatever the hell they want, rather than holding a hard line against the approach of evil, yes, we get a culture war.  But the arguments in the Church are a symptom, not the cause.  Human beings are fallible, even the ones in a holy organization like the Church.  And yes, I think they’ve royally screwed up over the last sixty years or more.  This isn’t even newsworthy; this fight has been going on at least for this entire century, if not for the whole history of the Church.  Do you know how many major heresies have been stomped by the Church over the last two millennia?  Lots.  We weren’t even out of the events recorded by the New Testament when heretics started piling up everywhere.  This is not new.  The only question is: will Holy Mother Church slap the heretics down, or not?

The question isn’t whether or not the heretics are actually right; the question is how hard is the Church going to reject their heresy?  Is She going to call another Crusade (I might not oppose that in the Middle East, actually; if the First Crusade had been completed, we wouldn’t be in this mess with ISIS now), or just issue yet another public statement reaffirming Her teachings, and let people use their God-given free will to choose whether or not to listen to Her?

So far, Francis has been doing the latter — reaffirming long-standing Church teaching, and letting people choose.  He has a different style from the hard-line Benedict XVI, and that’s fine (more on that in a moment), but he hasn’t and does not intend to change Church teaching, even if he had the authority to do so.

This month, Francis makes his first trip to the United States at a time when his progressive allies are hailing him as a revolutionary, a man who only last week broadened the power of priests to forgive women who commit what Catholic teachings call the “mortal sin” of abortion during his newly declared “year of mercy” starting in December.

Yes, abortion is a mortal sin.  Yes, it carries a latae sententiae excommunication, but only under certain circumstances.  This is another misrepresentation of what Francis has said and done.  Abortion is always a mortal sin, but does NOT always carry the excommunication penalty.  There are certain circumstances under which the penalty is not applied.  Canons 1323 and 1324 describe exactly what circumstances qualify:

The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:

1. a person who has not yet completed the sixteenth year of age;

2. a person who without negligence was ignorant that he or she violated a law or precept; inadvertence and error are equivalent to ignorance;

3. a person who acted due to physical force or a chance occurrence which the person could not foresee or, if foreseen, avoid;

4. a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

5. a person who acted with due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

6. a person who lacked the use of reason, without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 1324, §1, n. 2 and 1325;

7. a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in nn. 4 or 5 was present.

The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:

1. by a person who had only the imperfect use of reason;

2. by a person who lacked the use of reason because of drunkenness or another similar culpable disturbance of mind;

3. from grave heat of passion which did not precede and hinder all deliberation of mind and consent of will and provided that the passion itself had not been stimulated or fostered voluntarily;

4. by a minor who has completed the age of sixteen years;

5. by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience if the delict is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

6. by a person who acted without due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another;

7. against someone who gravely and unjustly provokes the person;

8. by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present;

9. by a person who without negligence did not know that a penalty was attached to a law or precept;

10. by a person who acted without full imputability provided that the imputability was grave.

  • A judge can act in the same manner if another circumstance is present which diminishes the gravity of a delict.
  • In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.

How many abortions are performed under those circumstances?  There have been studies done on how many of them are coerced, and it’s a lot of them. That lessens the penalty, as shown above.

Said no pope EVER, least of all this one.

Said no pope EVER, least of all this one.

Also, Pope Francis didn’t actually do anything new.  The bishops in the United States have already given the authority to priests to lift that latae sententiae excommunication.  Only a bishop can remove excommunication, period; however, they can delegate that authority due to grave reasons.  The number of abortions in the United States I think qualifies as a grave reason.  The idea has always been to make it easier for those people who have committed that particular sin to receive absolution and return to Holy Mother Church.  Basically, Pope Francis’ announcement removes any misunderstanding or official rigmarole.

And once again, your argument is based on misrepresentation and is completely invalid.

On Sunday, he called for “every” Catholic parish in Europe to offer shelter to one refugee family from the thousands of asylum seekers risking all to escape war-torn Syria and other pockets of conflict and poverty.

And what’s so extraordinary about that?  He’s encouraging people to act on those Corporal Works of Mercy, like “feed the hungry,” and “harbour the harbourless.”  He’s being the pope.  He’s looking out for the material needs of his flock, as well as their spiritual needs.  Nothing unusual to see here, folks.  Just someone exercising some Christian Charity.

Yet as he upends church convention,

He didn’t.

LiarFrancis also is grappling with a conservative backlash to the liberal momentum building inside the church.

Once again, you’re applying political terms to a Church issue.  They do not apply.  There is Catholic backlash against heretical momentum inside the Church, certainly, and there should be.  We just want to be Catholics; we’re sick of people making us look bad, and trying to change the Church into just another fluffy Protestant denomination.  But again, there’s nothing new here.  Any idea how many good Catholics wrote treatises against Arianism?  How many of them petitioned the Church to act?  Saint Athanasius wrote a whole book against them (a good read; I recommend it highly).  Or, even better, Saint Nicholas (the real one) actually punched Arius in the face!  Or, how about those against the Manichees?  Saint Augustine wrote a lot more than the Confessions.  Again, nothing new to see here.

In more than a dozen interviews, including with seven senior church officials, insiders say the change has left the hierarchy more polarized over the direction of the church than at any point since the great papal reformers of the 1960s.

PicardFacepalmThose people weren’t “papal” reformers, you idiot.  Your command of the English language is slipping again.  The papacy was not “reformed.”  The Church instituted some reforms, yes, but if you’re judging Vatican II by what some American churches look like today, you’re not seeing Vatican II; you’re seeing how it was implemented badly and perverted by the heretics.  Go read the complete Vatican II documents, and then come and talk to me.  You’ll see that there is nothing “liberal” or “progressive” or even remotely heretical about anything Vatican II said.  The heretics came out of the woodwork after the fact, and used Vatican II as their excuse (don’t listen to the Rad Trads, either; they’re just as wrong as the fluffy heretics when they say that Vatican II was “invalid.”  But that’s a topic for another post).

Facepalm PopeThe conservative rebellion is taking on many guises — in public comments, yes, but also in the rising popularity of conservative Catholic Web sites promoting Francis dissenters; books and promotional materials backed by conservative clerics seeking to counter the liberal trend; and leaks to the news media, aimed at Vatican reformers.


I don’t see any links or proof here.  Where’s your proof?  I know of a few Rad Trad websites, but that doesn’t prove your point.  There are heretics of every stripe, and Rad Trads are just as bad as the Fluffy Horde.  You can jump off the deep end and into heresy from two different directions, after all.

Those books and promotional materials backed by “conservative” clerics trying to counter the “liberal” trend are actually the good Catholics trying to stem the tide of heresy.  So shut up and leave them alone.

What leaks to the news media?  I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, and given that you have no links, no proof, you probably don’t, either.

In his recent comments, Burke was also merely stating fact. Despite the vast powers of the pope, church doctrine serves as a kind of constitution.

Oh, look at that.  You said something accurate.  Somebody stop the presses!

And for liberal reformers, the bruising theological pushback by conservatives is complicating efforts to translate the pope’s transformative style into tangible changes.

In other words, you think our constitution is like the American constitution, and can be amended if enough people think a certain way.  Here, let’s get a 2/3 majority of Cardinals to say that abortion is no longer a mortal sin.  We’ll call it the First Heretical Amendment.

THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!  Just because a lot of people are heretics doesn’t mean that the Church is going to change her ways for them!  Just because they managed to make some changes in the way the Church does things (see my post on the Liturgical Music problem) doesn’t make the changes acceptable, and it sure as hell doesn’t make them right.

“At least we aren’t poisoning each other’s chalices anymore,” said the Rev. Timothy Radcliffe, a liberal British priest and Francis ally appointed to an influential Vatican post in May. Radcliffe said he welcomed open debate, even critical dissent within the church. But he professed himself as being “afraid” of “some of what we’re seeing.”

Well, if you’re quoting that heretic, we know you aren’t saying anything good.  Plus, yet another example of how terrible a reporter you are, because you won’t say what sort of position he has.  He was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  I’ve never heard of it.  I wonder if Pope Francis pulled an “Ambassador to the UN” with this guy.  You know how all the worst politicians in a country — the ones you can’t get rid of because of their money or family connections — get appointed as Ambassador to the UN, so that they won’t cause any more trouble at home?  This is what that sounds like to me.  Or, maybe it’s a case of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Who knows.  So far, he hasn’t done anything spectacularly heretical, and he hasn’t written any more books, so I call that a win, for the moment.

And another thing: go ahead and debate all you want.  Even Arius was able to speak his peace in front of the Council of Nicea.  We’re all practicing Christian charity, remember?  Go ahead and talk.  Then when Holy Mother Church says, “sorry, you’re wrong,” nod and say, “yes, ma’am,” like a good little Catholic, get over yourself, and correct your theology and behavior.  Because, yes, mama knows best.  She has two thousand years of experience and knowledge, while you only have, what, fifty?

So, yes.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Heresy should scare us.  It’s seductive and dangerous.

Testing newfound freedom

Oh, you’re so far gone, even your subtitles need fisking.  There is a difference between “freedom” and “license.”  Freedom is the ability to choose the good.  License is choosing to do whatever you please.  There is no “newfound freedom” in the Church.  She has always wanted Her children to be free to choose that which is good.  What you want, on the other hand, is license.  You want to do whatever the hell you want, with no one telling you that you’re wrong.  That’s not freedom.  That’s slavery to sin, and God help you, and anyone who believes what you say is true.

JPIIRather than stake out clear stances, the pope is more subtly, often implicitly, backing liberal church leaders who are pressing for radical change, while dramatically opening the parameters of the debate over how far reforms can go. For instance, during the opening of a meeting of senior bishops last year, Francis told those gathered, “Let no one say, ‘This you cannot say.’ ”

Oh, great, you linked to the National Catholic Reporter, and that confirms your status as a heretic.  If you want to know what the actual Catholic Church teaches, read the National Catholic Register instead.  Half the people who write for the Reporter aren’t even Catholic, no joke.  And a few of them are open lesbians (by their own admission).

So he told people to talk.  As I just said, even Arius, one of the most infamous heretics of his day, for whom one of the great heresies was named, was allowed to speak at the Council of Nicea!  Go ahead and talk all you want!  We talk so that we can reach the truth.  Say what you think, but then do what Francis said in the other half of the quote, you know, the half you failed to mention: “And, at the same time, you should listen with humility and accept with an open heart what your brothers say.”  So, if your brother is right, and you’re wrong, have the humility to admit that.  If Holy Mother Church listens patiently, as all good mothers do when their child is throwing a temper tantrum, and then tells you that you’re still as wrong now as you were before, that’s when you say “yes ma’am,” and get over yourself.  Francis is not siding with heretics; he’s listening patiently while they throw their temper tantrum.

What Klaatu sees during that conversation.

What Pope Francis sees during these “debates.”

Since then, liberals have tested the boundaries of their new freedom, with one Belgian bishop going as far as calling for the Catholic Church to formally recognize same-sex couples.

Uh-huh.  Just like every spoiled child has done from the beginning of time, testing those boundaries.  Well, they’re going to be brought up short in the near future, I’m sure.  Just because you say “no, there aren’t any cars out there!” doesn’t mean that one of them won’t actually show up and flatten you if you run out there without looking.  Whining doesn’t change reality.  So go ahead, scream and whine all you want.  Mom is not going to give you that cookie.

Conservatives counter that in the climate of rising liberal thought, they have been thrust unfairly into a position in which “defending the real teachings of the church makes you look like an enemy of the pope,” a senior Vatican official said on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.

Well, that’s just how the world works.  We’ve been persecuted almost continually since the day Christ ascended into heaven.  Anybody who thinks we’re not in for more of it is a fool.  Besides:

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:10-16).

ClearingTheTemple“We have a serious issue right now, a very alarming situation where Catholic priests and bishops are saying and doing things that are against what the church teaches, talking about same-sex unions, about Communion for those who are living in adultery,” the official said. “And yet the pope does nothing to silence them. So the inference is that this is what the pope wants.”

And that’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s time to freak out quite yet.  If that toddler in the grocery store is throwing a temper tantrum, and we look at the parents and think, “why the hell don’t you correct your kid?” that’s a reasonable thing to wonder.  But what we don’t know is what happens to the kid after the parents take him home.  Maybe he gets a firm talking-to.  Maybe he gets a spanking.  We don’t know for sure, and it’s not for us to say.  Maybe, on the other hand, the parent is trying to teach the screaming toddler through experience.  That toddler might look around and go, “wait, this isn’t getting me what I want,” and adjust his behavior.  I wouldn’t worry about that toddler until I saw the parent encouraging the temper tantrum.

Silence is interpreted as consent, as we all know, but there’s a big difference between saying nothing and agreeing with the heretics.  In this case, I think we need to let Francis parent the unruly members of the Church in his own way.  That’s his job; he can do as he likes.  Until he actually comes out and says something that is 100% pure heresy, I’m not going to worry about it.  And no, he hasn’t done that yet, no matter how many times the alarmists claim that he is the Antichrist.  Calm down.

A measure of the church’s long history of intrigue has spilled into the Francis papacy, particularly as the pope has ordered radical overhauls of murky Vatican finances. Under Francis, the top leadership of the Vatican Bank was ousted, as was the all-Italian board of its financial watchdog agency.

Overhauling the Vatican Bank has nothing to do with Church Teaching of any kind.  This is a nonissue, and once again, you’re trying to confuse the Low Information Readers with yet another Strawpope Frank.  Stop it.  Bureaucracy needs reform sometimes, and yes, even the pope has to deal with earthly matters of organization.

One method of pushback has been to give damaging leaks to the Italian news media. Vatican officials are now convinced that the biggest leak to date — of the papal encyclical on the environment in June — was driven by greed (it was sold to the media) rather than vengeance.

So why mention it at all?

But other disclosures have targeted key figures in the papal cleanup — including the conservative chosen to lead the pope’s financial reforms, the Australian Cardinal George Pell, who in March was the subject of a leak about his allegedly lavish personal tastes.

Where’s your link, jerk?  This is the first I’ve heard of anything said against Cardinal Pell recently.

More often, dissent unfolds on ideological grounds. Criticism of a sitting pope is hardly unusual — liberal bishops on occasion challenged Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Yeah, and that was okay with all of you lamestream media jerks.

But in an institution cloaked in traditional fealty to the pope, what shocks many is just how public the criticism of Francis has become.

Well, moderation isn’t something Americans are good at, especially now when they’re scared and angry.  If you want to blame someone for all the criticism, blame the lamestream media for making up half the things that Francis says and does.  Hardly anyone but the Rad Trads would be upset if the media told the truth about what Pope Francis says.

In an open letter to his diocese, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., wrote: “In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, countercultural, prophetic voice, one that the world needs to hear.”

Well, he’s right about that. The Church can’t change Her ways to suit a passing age, because Her ways are eternal and universal.  Trying to change them only leads to more problems, as we can see.  But what did Bishop Tobin say in the rest of his letter, hmm?  Any links?  Nope?  Well, who’s surprised?  Not me.

For his part, Burke, the cardinal from Wisconsin, has called the church under Francis “a ship without a rudder.”

That might be a trifle alarmist, but Cardinal Burke is entitled to his opinion as well.  I never saw anything in Church teaching that says that being worried about what the pope is up to is a mortal sin.  We can all be concerned; maybe we should be.  But again, until Pope Francis actually comes out and says something definitively against Church teaching, everyone needs to take a breath.  Calm down.  This instant-news crap isn’t helping anyone’s blood pressure.

Even Pell appeared to undermine him on theological grounds. Commenting on the pope’s call for dramatic action on climate change, Pell told the Financial Times in July, “The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.”

Maybe so.  But did Pope Francis decree anything in his encyclical that was against Church Teaching?  Nope.  Can Cardinal Pell criticize the pope’s emphasis on certain issues, because that emphasis leads people to believe that others (like abortion, etc.) are less important?  Sure.  That’s a criticism of his strategy, not his doctrine.

In conservative circles, the word “confusion” also has become a euphemism for censuring the papacy without mentioning the pope. In one instance, 500 Catholic priests in Britain drafted an open letter this year that cited “much confusion” in “Catholic moral teaching” following the bishops’ conference on the family last year in which Francis threw open the floodgates of debate, resulting in proposed language offering a new stance for divorced or gay Catholics.

Yes, Pope Francis has a bad habit of not being clear.  But we’re spoiled.  Almost every pope this century has been exceptional, at the very least.  Most of them have been canonized!  We seem to forget that it is possible to have a bad pope, without signaling the end times.  Calm down, people.  He didn’t say that we should adopt a new stance, and his words elsewhere have indicated just the opposite.  When he was still Cardinal Bergoglio, he said this about an Argentinian bill that would give gay couples the right to adopt children:

In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. . . . At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.

So, yeah, he had a complete personality shift once he was elected pope.  Yeah, right.  He’s unclear; not heretical.  Not yet, anyway.

That language ultimately was watered down in a vote that showed the still-ample power of conservatives. It set up another showdown for next month, when senior church leaders will meet in a follow-up conference that observers predict will turn into another theological slugfest. The pope himself will have the final word on any changes next year.

You’ve completely misrepresented what is going on.  This isn’t a political conference trying to decide what taxes to implement.  This is the Church; not Congress.  It’s not about who has more political power; it’s about right and wrong, and those things are still objective realities, contrary to what you might believe.  Yes, the pope will have the final word, and I think he’s going to come out with the greatest, subtly-strong condemnation of those heretics the world has ever seen.  He’s been listening to them talk for years now. He’ll know exactly what to say to shut them up once and for all.

Conservatives have launched a campaign against a possible policy change that would grant divorced and remarried Catholics the right to take Communion at Mass. Last year, five senior leaders, including Burke and the conservative Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy, drafted what has become known as “the manifesto” against such a change. In July, a DVD distributed to hundreds of dioceses in Europe and Australia, and backed by conservative Catholic clergy members, made the same point. In it, Burke, who has made similar arguments at Catholic conferences, issued dire warnings of a world in which traditional teachings are ignored.

Yeah, what’s wrong with that?  We should all be afraid of a world in which traditional teachings are ignored.  And Cardinal Burke never sent that to Francis, did he?  No, he’s trying to teach US.  He wants the plebs to know what’s going on, and why this is so important.  You keep talking about what Francis is going to do, what the bishops are going to say, blah, blah, blah.  But what about what the ordinary Catholics think?  What about changing their minds and hearts?  Isn’t that important?  That’s what Burke is up to; leave him alone.  He’s doing his job, and doing it well.

But this is still the Catholic Church, where hierarchical respect is as much tradition as anything else. Rather than targeting the pope, conservative bishops and cardinals more often take aim at their liberal peers. They include the German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has suggested that he has become a substitute target for clergy members who are not brave enough to criticize the pope directly.

Criticizing Cardinal Kasper doesn’t mean that people don’t dare criticize the pope.  It means that Kasper painted a big target on his own back, and that what he says and does needs to be addressed and denounced.  And there’s only one pope.  He has no “peers.”  There are bishops and cardinals all over the place, and yes, the pope is the Bishop of Rome, but there is only one Pope.  They are not his equal.

Yet conservatives counter that liberals are overstepping their bounds, putting their own spin on the pronouncements of a pope who has been more ambiguous than Kasper and his allies are willing to admit.

Oh, look, you just summarized my whole fisk.  Maybe conservatives are more willing to believe that the pope knows what he’s doing than you are.  Maybe you’re just mad that we’re not falling for your bad reporting and outright lies.  Get over yourself.  And there is all kinds of spin.  All you have to do is look at what the lamestream media reports that Francis says, and then go look at what he actually said.  I’ve already done one fisk on that subject. So tell me again that the “conservatives” are overreacting.  Go ahead.

“I was born a papist, I have lived as a papist, and I will die a papist,” Caffarra said. “The pope has never said that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to take Holy Communion, and yet, his words are being twisted to give them false meaning.”

Good for you, Caffarra!

ApplauseSome of the pope’s allies insist that debate is precisely what Francis wants.

Like I said, let the toddlers scream, and then make your ruling.

“I think that people are speaking their mind because they feel very strongly and passionately in their position, and I don’t think the Holy Father sees it as a personal attack on him,” said Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, considered a close ally of the pope. “The Holy Father has opened the possibility for these matters to be discussed openly; he has not predetermined where this is going.”

I think this guy is misinterpreting Francis’ intentions.  He’s letting you talk; he’s not promising change.  It might be that this pope is much sneakier than we originally thought.  Letting everyone talk lets him know exactly who stands where and why.  Maybe he’s filing all that information away somewhere.  Maybe he’s marshaling all his counter-arguments, so that he can address the issue all at once and shut them up permanently.  We won’t know until he says something substantial.

Stop freaking out, already.  This Faiola guy is just another idiot in the lamestream media trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.  Are there strange things going on at the Vatican?  Probably, but how is that new?  We’ve had bad popes before, and we’ve had corrupt clerics before.  Human beings are fallible; they don’t change.  There will always be bad apples in this basket of humanity.  But Christ promised us that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, so stop acting like we’re already at those gates.  We’re not.  He promised, and I believe him.  CREDO.  Period.  Full stop.

Nothing terrible has happened yet.  I doubt very much that we’re approaching the end times.  The end of an era?  Certainly.  I don’t think the United States as we know it is going to last much longer.  Why?  Because the people in it are just as fallible or more so than the fallible people in the Church.  People screw up, societies fall, and yet the Church is still here.  She will always be here, and She will be the one to pick us up out of the massive hole we’ve dug for ourselves, and lead us home where we belong.

So stop doubting Her.  Stop listening to these stupid media propaganda artists.  They’re not even taking the trouble to be subtle about their lies anymore.  Ignore them, and follow your Mother.  That’s something that all parents teach their kids: don’t talk to strangers; don’t listen to them; listen to me instead.

She won’t lead us astray, even if the one currently occupying Peter’s seat is a little unclear and unsteady.  Our Holy Mother Church wouldn’t give the keys to the car to someone who would drive us off the cliff.

lsbFollow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.

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3 Responses to Strawpope Frank Returns: A Fisk

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