Saturday, March 02, 2019

Thin ice Catholicism

A fixture of the Roman Catholic apologetic is the necessity of the Magisterium, in contrast to the (alleged) instability of sola Scripture. The need for a referee. The need for certainty. Avoiding the "30,000" denominations. 

But how committed are Catholic conservatives to the Magisterium? Here's a bellwether: last year the president of Ave Maria U attacked the conservative critics of Pope Francis: 

You can read his original statement here:

Well…actually, you can't read his original statement because he scrubbed it. That's because the backlash was so intense that he immediately began to backpedal:

Evidently, he's one of those elite leaders who's so out of touch with the base that he couldn't anticipate the predicable reaction:

And it looks like his damage control efforts failed: 

Point being: many Catholic conservatives love papal authority in the abstract. They just love papal authority…right up to the moment when they disagree with the pope. They love papal authority so long as the pope is on their side. 

I'm guessing many Catholic conservatives are hoping against hope that the next pope will reverse direction. They are holding out to see what happens at the next conclave. Or they are waiting to see if Pope Francis or the next pope crosses a line of no return–say on homosexuality. 

To some degree their seemingly nonnegotiable commitment to the Magisterium is in reality contingent and fragile. In the past, it wasn't put to the test. But now things are coming to a head. 


  1. I haven't even heard Catholics try to defend this from Pope Francis:


    Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.

    1. The best that they can say is, "well, that wasn't infallible; it was his 'private judgment'." That is their last, best hope. I don't think any future pope will ever say, "by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that ... [whatever] ... Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith."

      So in this sense, there will be two "Catholic Churches" (at least): one which will become something like what the Latin language is now: a dead language, a thing, to be sure, but it will have been frozen at 1958-levels; and of course, a string of popes who are blown around by every wind of contemporary Godless thought. This second one will be the official "Catholic Church", and the rest of them will be just like the dead-letter Latinists. I think that's the best that they will be able to hope for.