Saturday, June 18, 2016

“‘Pope Francis’ Should Resign”

“His papacy has been a litany of confusing statements for the faithful on the most sensitive and delicate topics.”

That’s not a bad track record for a man who, as a “Successor of Peter”, holds a divinely ordained and protected office and who, “under certain conditions”, can “authoritatively interpret the ‘sources’ by which divine revelation is transmitted to us”.

Now Adam Shaw, who apparently is a Fox News political reporter, has called upon “Pope Francis”, with the message that he should resign. To borrow the words of one modern-day prophet, “‘ats funny right-dere”:

“Pope Francis” is not going to resign at the behest of a Fox News reporter. “Pope Francis” believes he has been called to effect the changes he's had in mind since before he was elected. In fact, he has said “I have the humility and ambition to want to do something”.

What is also funny is that the potential for such a “litany of confusing statements” is the very reason why C.S. Lewis gave for why he never became a Roman Catholic: “to accept your Church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces.”

To be sure, “Pope Francis” is becoming the new heart and soul of a “new and improved Roman Catholicism”.

Still, here is the complaint of Adam Shaw (and it's funny to see these words leveled about a pope):

After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his reputation as an unconventional character who put himself on both sides of an argument with vaguely worded pronouncements.

From his “Who am I to judge?” statement on gay people that seemed to offer a hint at a change in church teaching, to his fumbles on contraception, to his recent claim that Donald Trump is not Christian, his off-the-cuff remarks cause headlines across the globe, often followed by some sort of “clarification” from the Holy See Press Office.

His papacy has been a litany of confusing statements for the faithful on the most sensitive and delicate topics. While clear on political topics dear to his heart, but where Catholics can legitimately hold differing opinions, such as immigration, economics and climate change, on matters of doctrine, Francis muddied the waters to an extent that many well-meaning Catholics feel they no longer know where the Church stands on issues of faith.

Most recently, in his latest off-the-cuff ramble on Thursday, he was asked about marriage. He said:

“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”

To say that the “great majority” of Catholic marriages are null, or invalid, is a statement that is neither true, wise, nor fair. The Vatican has since toned down his remarks in the written transcript to say “a part of our sacramental marriages are null,” in apparent recognition of the damage Francis’s statement might cause.

For a “pope of the people” he certainly doesn’t give Catholics much credit. For a Catholic marriage to be valid all that is needed is the freedom to marry, consent from both parties, and the intention to marry for life and be open to children. That’s it.

Over the years, some clerics have used an interpretation of canon law to suggest “emotional immaturity” can be a reason for not understanding the responsibilities of marriage, and therefore as invalid and open to annulment. But marriage is not hard to understand, and the Catholic rite of marriage, as well as the preparation couples go through beforehand, makes clear what marriage involves.
Whatever Adam Shaw thinks that Roman Catholicism is, or used to be, he has a “divinely appointed” pope, who is doing what he thinks are “divinely appointed things”. Such is the malleable nature of having an “authoritative interpretation” at any given moment. Instead of calling for “Pope Francis” to resign, Adam Shaw should get used to this sort of thing if he wants to remain a Roman Catholic.


  1. There are many canonical lawyers and theologians who doubt the validilty of the election of Francis, since it is well known that a small group of liberal bishops known as the "St. Gallen" mafia lobbied hard for his election at both the 2005 and 2013 conclave. Many where even involved in vote canvassing and manipulation to get their man in office.

  2. I know the conservative Roman Catholics will say that his statements off the cuff are not ex cathedra and therefore not infallible; but what good is their claim of a "living voice" when the "living voice" keeps making statements like this?