Sunday, October 11, 2015

There's Something About Francis

Cover of New York Post
I recently received a comment from a Catholic who asked that I list some positive accomplishments of Pope Francis. It's kind of a surprising request as the majority of Catholics have a very positive opinion of Pope Francis. It is true that in the United States, his positive numbers have slipped slightly, as seen in the most recent poll released by Pew Research, HERE. According to the most recent poll, released on October 7, 2015,
Among the 97 Catholics interviewed who say they attend Mass at least once a week, 84% have a favorable view of Pope Francis – down since February, when fully 95% of regular Mass-attending Catholics expressed a favorable view of the pontiff. Mass-attending Catholics have not become significantly more likely to express unfavorable views of Pope Francis; rather, they are now more likely to say they have no opinion.
As seen in this poll, the vast majority of American Catholics have no problem with Pope Francis. But, of course, when it comes to Catholic traditionalists, most view Pope Francis as basically their enemy. That is not surprising because, like all good fundamentalists, they label anyone who does not share their views as a heretic. In the case of Catholic traditionalists, the litmus test is believing that the Traditional Latin Mass is the only thing that will save the Church and the world. According to traditionalists, if you don't believe that, you're most likely going to burn in hell.

One of the basic teachings of the Catholic Church is loyalty to the Pope. In fact, that very teaching has been the reason for much of the persecution endured by Catholics down through the centuries. Catholic teaching says that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, not a a politician that we can throw over if we don't like him. As Catholics, we look at whoever occupies the Seat of Peter as divinely led by the Holy Spirit. We see him as the literal personal representative of Jesus Christ on earth, and although we may disagree with the Holy Father from time to time, we, as Catholics, pledge our loyalty to him because we have been given a promise that, even if the Pope is the greatest of sinners, he can never mislead the Church.

Ironically, loyalty to the Pope seems to have been almost universally rejected by Catholic traditionalists, who nonetheless self identify as the most loyal Catholics ever. They feel free to voice any criticism and make any accusation that they deem fit against Pope Francis. I saw one blogger who represents himself as a deeply devoted, traditional Catholic who actually wondered if there was a way to muzzle Pope Francis for the rest of his papacy, and yet another who declared that it was not a sin to pray that the Pope would die a quick painless death. No protestant, atheist, or any other unbeliever is harsher and more critical of Pope Francis than these "most loyal" of all Catholics.

So, in answer to all of those thousands of Catholic blog posts which have nothing positive to say about Pope Francis, I offer a post in praise of Pope Francis. I know there will be those who will immediately accuse me of papolatry. So be it. When I look at Pope Francis, I see a holy man of God, and I will not apologize for that.

Despite the protestations of traditionalists to the contrary, we have seen very holy popes all throughout the past century. I can't think of any pope in the last 150 years who has not shown great marks of sanctity. Three of them have actually been declared saints - Pius X, John XXIII and John Paul II. Paul VI is a blessed. Pius XII is Venerable.  Even John Paul I - who served for a month - has been declared a Servant of God.  There is little doubt of the holiness of Pope Benedict XVI. His speeches and writings are filled with the love and wisdom of God. He has literally given his life to the Church. His resignation was one of the most courageous acts we have ever seen in a pope.

However, we have never seen a papal phenomenon like Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has galvanized almost the entire world. We thought we had seen this with Pope St. John Paul II, but Francis has had an even greater effect on the world. I saw this in spades in the Holy Father's recent visit here in New York City.

About an hour before the pope's arrival in Central Park in NYC, many in the crowd noticed
several rainbows appeared overhead, despite the fact that there had been no rain.
New Yorkers, by virtue of living in the unofficial capital of the world, have seen it all. All New Yorkers have long lists of celebrity sightings from just walking the streets of the city, going to restaurants, etc. One friend told me that she was with her son trying to catch a cab in the rain when a woman standing next to her offered to share a cab. That woman was Caroline Kennedy.

We are use to world leaders constantly coming to our city. I remember one Saturday night when I was walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn bridge, and was forced to wait as the presidential motorcade passed first.

New Yorkers are use to living in a media showcase.  New York City is basically one big movie set. Hardly a week goes by when I don't come across a TV show or movie being shot somewhere in the city. I have seen my own neighborhood more than once in the movies and on TV.

It takes a lot to shake a New Yorker. But New York City was shaken big time by Pope Francis. Midtown Manhattan - one of the busiest places in the world - was basically closed down for Pope Francis. People lined up in Central Park for hours waiting for just a brief glimpse of the Pope as he passed by. Entire streets were shut down as people lined up behind police barricades, hoping the Holy Father would notice them.

Tickets to his events such as the Mass at Madison Square Garden were literally the hottest item in town. Even though they were free, people were scalping tickets for hundreds and thousands of dollars. Media coverage was non-stop. The only time I have seen more media coverage of any event in this city was on 9/11.

Crowds in Central Park to see Pope Francis
Why would New Yorkers - who have seen it all - be so affected by the leader of what many in this secular city view as an archaic irrelevant church? Pope Francis is an old man who can barely speak English. There is nothing flashy about him. He doesn't even wear the red shoes.

So what's the deal?

When people look at Pope Francis, they know they are seeing a man who is real. It reminds me of how the world reacted to Blessed Mother Teresa. She was a physically tiny nun who lived in one of the poorest sections of the world. She was not physically beautiful. She had no special talents. Yet, she was beloved by the entire world because the world knew that she was for real. She truly cared for the poorest and most rejected of society. She was not concerned about impressing anyone or making a name for herself, and it was for that very reason that the world loved her.

Mother Teresa loved Jesus Christ, and she saw Her Savior in all of humanity. She knew that the best way to serve Jesus Christ was to serve people, and she quite literally poured out her life in service to humanity.  The world didn't realize it, but they were reacting to Jesus Christ who was living in Mother Teresa.

The same can be said of Pope Francis. The world sees a man with tremendous power and authority as head of a church with 1 billion members. He has relationships with the most powerful people in the world. And yet, he makes it clear that it is the poorest and most humble people of the world who receive his deepest respect and love.

New York Daily News
I watched the news coverage closely when he was in the States, and it was so obvious that his greatest joy was not in meeting the high and mighty, but on the contrary, he was happiest when he was among the "lowliest" in society, as when he visited and served the homeless in D.C. He had been invited by the top political leaders in Washington to have lunch with them. Instead, he chose those who don't even have a place to call home.

Pope Francis is greeted as he arrives at a lunch for homeless people
who are regularly fed by Catholic Charities, at St. Patrick's Church
in Washington. (Photo: AP)
As the Pew poll showed,
In addition to asking about views of Pope Francis and his impact on impressions of the Catholic Church, the survey asked respondents what “one word” best describes their impression of Pope Francis. Among the most commonly mentioned words were “good,” “humble,” “kind” and “compassionate.” Positive words like these were mentioned far more often than neutral or negative words (like “religious,” “liberal” or “socialist”). Indeed, of the words that could be coded as positive or neutral/negative descriptions of the pope, fully three-quarters (76%) were positive, while 24% were neutral or negative.
In an interview given in his first year as Pope, he was asked "Who is Jorge Bergoglio"? His answer was one that all of us can relate to: "I am a sinner." He demonstrated this when, in front of the whole world, he went to confession, just like all the rest of us sinners.

Pope Francis' biggest complaint about being Pope is that he can't move among the people as he used to.  Like Blessed Mother Teresa, he derives his energy from serving.  He refuses to live in the papal apartments in the Vatican where he is cut off from people.  He literally lives among those he serves. Pope Francis's love for humanity cannot be contained.  It flows out of him.

In response to the call for a list of accomplishments of Pope Francis, another reader, Alban, listed the following:
Sexual abuse crisis: Established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Cardinal O'Malley (not exactly a liberal)
- Laicised and excommunicated a pedophile priest from Argentina and not only laicised but placed on trial the now-deceased former nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
Financial corruption:
- Established a committee headed by Cardinal Pell (again, hardly a liberal) who has managed to raise the moral credibility of the 'Vatican Bank' which had been routinely used for money laundering.
Issued the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, and 2 encyclicals: the beautiful reflection “Lumen Fidei”and the challenging “Laudato si”. (Please resist the temptation to comment on these until you have actually read them.)
Granted SSPX priests the faculty to hear confessions during the forthcoming Holy Year, thus removing any doubt that they are not in schism.
Made the College of Cardinals more representative of the Church as a whole, all the while adhering to the limit of 120 voting members imposed by Blessed Paul VI, when he could have stacked the College with his 'favourites'.
These are all very good points.  But I think the most important part of Francis's papacy up to this point is his effect on people and on vividly illustrating the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.  And we have been given more than one sign of Our Lord's approval of Pope Francis.

When Pope Francis was in San Gennaro, Vatican Insider reported:
This is the first time it happened. San Gennaro’s blood had never liquefied during a papal visit to Naples before. None of the visits paid by Pius IX, John Paul II or Benedict XVI provoked the phenomenon. But the miracle was witnessed this afternoon, after Francis’ heartfelt address to faithful and clergy.

The Pope had taken the vial with the blood of St. Gennaro - displayed on the altar - in his hands and kissed it. Cardinal Sepe said over the microphone: “It is the sign that St. Gennaro loves Pope Francis: half of the blood turned to liquid.” The pronouncement was followed by a long applause from faithful. The Pope then replied: “If only half of it liquefied that means we still have work to do; we have to do better. We have only half of the saint’s love.” But the blood continued to liquefy until the whole relic had turned to liquid, with many faithful crying out as they witnessed this.
Pope Francis kissing the vial of San Gennao
I remember a post by Louie Verrecchio  in which he tried to dismiss this report.  Verrecchio is a true bomb throwing traditionalist who loudly and proudly proclaims his disdain for Pope Francis.  As he wrote in his post:
There has been no small amount of handwringing among some traditionalists (aka Catholics) over the events that took place at the Cathedral in Naples on Saturday.
This sentence alone speaks volumes about what is wrong with Catholic traditionalists.  First off, Verrecchio notes that traditionalists, instead of rejoicing at the miracle in San Gennaro, are "wringing their hands."  Why?  Because this miracle tells them that God does approve of Pope Francis, and they, the traditionalists, are not only wrong, but actually working against Jesus Christ.

Secondly, Verrecchio plainly states with the phrase, "traditionalists (aka Catholics)" that only traditionalists are real Catholics and everyone else is basically a heretic.

Verrecchio then quotes the Archbishop of Naples:
According to Vatican Insider, when Cardinal Crescenzo Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, noticed what had happened, he exclaimed, “It is the sign that St. Gennaro loves Pope Francis: half of the blood turned to liquid!”
That is exactly what traditionalists DO NOT want to hear.  God loves Pope Francis?  AAAACK!  Talk about handwringing!

So how does Verrecchio get around this so he can continue bashing Pope Francis?
Pope Francis, for his part, responded by saying:
If only half of it liquefied that means we still have work to do; we have to do better. We have only half of the saint’s love.
I can appreciate the attempt at humour, but let’s not kid ourselves.
When Pope Francis says “we have to do better,” all indications are that he means to say, “We have to redouble our efforts to fight youth unemployment, put an end to global warming, value same sex attraction, and welcome those in adulterous relationships to Holy Communion apart from any real remedy!”
So, long story short, you won’t find me wringing my hands over the events of last Saturday, and neither should you.
We know what our Holy Catholic faith teaches. We know when it is under attack. Nothing has changed.
At least not yet.
How much does this remind us of the Pharisees dismissing the miracles of Jesus by saying, "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." (Matt 12:24). Verrechhio takes the humble, self-effacing words of Pope Francis and twists them into something evil to suit his own purposes so that he doesn't lose his followers and can continue to bash Pope Francis. And Verrecchio also conveniently ignores the reports that said ALL of the blood liquefied, not just half.

Below is the kind of garbage comments that Verrechhio generated from his readers:
  1. Christophorus 67MARCH 24, 2015

This is precisely why I no longer identify with the traditionalist movement.

A Brooklyn girl who lost use of her legs earlier this year and was blessed by Pope Francis when he was here in New York is now saying she is on the road to recovery as a result of that blessing from Pope Francis. as reported in the Daily Mail:
A wheelchair-bound girl from Dyker Heights in Brooklyn believes that her miracle journey to walking again began right after she was blessed by Pope Francis at JFK Airport in New York last month.
Julia Bruzzese, a 12-year-old seventh grader from St. Bernadette School, began suffering from a condition that caused her to lose feeling in her legs in May and was left unable to walk by June.
Despite her condition, Bruzzese went to see the Pope when he arrived at the airport in New York.
Julia Bruzzese (right) went to JFK Airport to see Pope Francis and received his blessing 
Doctors were unable to determine exactly what was causing Bruzzese's medical condition and an initial diagnosis that the paralysis was brought on by Lyme disease could not be confirmed.
Bruzzese went to Kennedy Airport because she believed 'in a miracle', CBS New York reported.
The young girl, who played softball and soccer and sang in the choir before losing the use of her legs, was in tears after she kissed the Pope's ring and he touched her forehead and blessed her.

'It means that he's going to give me a miracle, to walk again,' Buzzese told NBC New York.

'I know I will walk again because of him.'
Five days after meeting Pope Francis on the tarmac at the airport, Bruzzese got some good news.
She said: 'The miracle has begun.
'I went to the doctor and for the first time they saw Lyme disease activity in my blood and that just shows a miracle can happen if you believe, just like I did.

'If you believe and pray everything can happen.'
Bruzzese friends at school have been supporting her by using a wrist hashtag that says 'pray for Julia' and a doctor offered to treat her free of charge after learning about her story.
The brave girl said the experience has made her wiser and taught her that life is precious.
There is also another miracle reported after an encounter with Pope Francis as reported by a Phoenix news station:
"The Pope healed our baby's heart."
Lynn Cassidy has no other words to explain what happened to her 3-month-old daughter Ave. Ave was born with Down syndrome, eye problems and hearing complications. Most concerning were the two holes in her heart.
"It seems like it was really meant to happen," Lynn said. "And it's as close to a miracle as we'll ever see, I'm sure."
In Easter of 2014, the family planned a Rome trip to see Pope Francis in person during the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII.
"It was raining," Lynn said. "We were told that if we stood on a barricade in St. Peter's Square, the metal fences in front, the Pope would come by in his 'Pope'-mobile."
The Cassidy family waited for hours at the barricade. When the motorcade turned into the square, Lynn's husband Scott held Ave up in the air.
"It was like the Lion King," Lynn said. "The secret service person, Johnny, stopped and took her from Scott and held her up to the Pope. The Pope asked my husband, 'How old is she? What's her name?' He told (the Pope) she has two holes in her heart. When we got home in May, we went back to the cardiologist for a check-up. One of the holes was completely closed and one was half the size."
A snapshot of the divine moment hangs on the family's wall. The Pope's hand over Ave's heart as he blessed the child. Lynn said the story may be incredible timing, but she believes it's divine intervention.
A portrait of Pope Francis kissing Ave hangs in the Cassidy's hallway. (Photo: West, Bryan)
"I mean it's possible that it closes just over time," she said. "But when you see the picture that the professional photographer took, his hand is here and he's a servant of God."
Ave is happy and healthy at twenty months. She underwent two eye surgeries and also received two hearing aids. Her heart is healthy and her smile is contagious.
If Lynn ever gets the chance to meet the Pope Francis again, here's what she would say, "Thank you for spreading the word that all life is precious. Even life that seems like it might have struggles like hers. She is as precious as anyone else. We just thank you for spreading that message, because people need to hear that."
There is also the report of a possessed man and his encounter with Pope Francis:

From the Christian Post:
The wheelchair-bound man that Pope Francis blessed in a controversial prayer many billed as a public exorcism earlier this month in St. Peter's Square, says the demons are still inside him.
Identified in a recent report only as Angel V., the 43-year-old Mexican father of two reportedly told Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo that the demons have withstood 30 exorcism attempts by 10 exorcists, including the Vatican's leading exorcist, Rev. Gabriel Amorth, who claims to have sent 160,000 demons to hell.
"I still have the demons inside me, they have not gone away," said Angel, while admitting that he is now able to walk since Pope Francis prayed over him on May 19 at the end of Mass.
The Vatican has maintained throughout media reports that the Pope did not perform an exorcism, which is the act of "casting out" evil spirits. What he did to Angel V., was the biblical practice of "laying on of hands" to convey blessings.
Angel V. lives in the Mexican state of Michoacán and is married. He claims to have been possessed by demons since 1999.
Popular Mexican priest, the Rev. Juan Rivas, who was with Angel V. in Rome when he met the Pope, confirmed in the El Mundo interview that he indeed underwent 30 exorcisms, but "the demons that live in him do not want to leave him."
A member of the Legionaries of Christ, Rivas recalled how Angel kissed the Pope's ring and fell into a trance instantly.
"The Pope then laid his hands on his head and at that moment a terrible sound was heard (from him), like the roar of a lion," said Rivas. "All those who were there heard it perfectly well. The Pope for sure heard it [but] he continued with his prayer, as if he had faced similar situations before."
Angel V. explained in the interview that the demons first took possession of him while he was on a bus in Mexico in 1999.
"I did not see it with my eyes, but I perceived it," he recalled. "I noted that it came close to me, and then stopped in front of me. Then, suddenly, I noted that something like a stake pierced my chest and, little by little, I had the sensation that it was opening my ribs," he said. It was like a heart attack, he explained. He thought he would have died.
His quality of life began deteriorating after that. "I could not sleep, and when I managed to sleep I had terrible nightmares connected with the evil one," he said. He started falling into trances during which he blasphemed, and spoke in unknown languages.
Both medical doctors and priests have failed to help him. He now lives in fear and feels "very dirty at the thought that there was an evildoer within me." He explained that some of his siblings thought he was mentally unstable.
The possession has also caused him to lose ownership of a publicity company and forced the sale of real estate.
He said during his suffering one night, he dreamt about Pope Francis. When he woke up and turned on his TV he saw the Pope celebrating mass and it sparked the idea that he should go to Rome.
Chief Vatican exorcist, Amorth, argues that Angel is undoubtedly possessed but his possession comes with a message from God on Mexico's abortion laws.
"Not only is he possessed, but the devil who lives in him finds himself obliged by God to transmit a message," said Amorth.
"Angel is a good man. He has been chosen by the Lord to give a message to the Mexican clergy and to tell the bishops that they have to do an act of reparation for the law on abortion that was approved in Mexico City in 2007, which was an insult to the Virgin," said Amorth. "Until they . . . do this, Angel will not be liberated."
"I did not see it with my eyes, but I perceived it," he recalled. "I noted that it came close to me, and then stopped in front of me. Then, suddenly, I noted that something like a stake pierced my chest and, little by little, I had the sensation that it was opening my ribs," he said. It was like a heart attack, he explained. He thought he would have died.
His quality of life began deteriorating after that. "I could not sleep, and when I managed to sleep I had terrible nightmares connected with the evil one," he said. He started falling into trances during which he blasphemed, and spoke in unknown languages.
Both medical doctors and priests have failed to help him. He now lives in fear and feels "very dirty at the thought that there was an evildoer within me." He explained that some of his siblings thought he was mentally unstable.
The possession has also caused him to lose ownership of a publicity company and forced the sale of real estate.
He said during his suffering one night, he dreamt about Pope Francis. When he woke up and turned on his TV he saw the Pope celebrating mass and it sparked the idea that he should go to Rome.
Chief Vatican exorcist, Amorth, argues that Angel is undoubtedly possessed but his possession comes with a message from God on Mexico's abortion laws.
"Not only is he possessed, but the devil who lives in him finds himself obliged by God to transmit a message," said Amorth.
"Angel is a good man. He has been chosen by the Lord to give a message to the Mexican clergy and to tell the bishops that they have to do an act of reparation for the law on abortion that was approved in Mexico City in 2007, which was an insult to the Virgin," said Amorth. "Until they . . . do this, Angel will not be liberated."



I believe these are the kind of positive accomplishments of Pope Francis that need to be highlighted. Another example are the showers he installed for the homeless in St. Peter's Square.  If you have ever talked to a homeless person or been homeless yourself, you know how difficult it is to get clean and stay clean.  There is no place for the homeless to wash.  This was an act of great kindness on the part of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has also taken in Syrian refugees into the Vatican, truly exemplifying the Good Samaritan and giving an example to the rest of us.

I was very impressed by the story from his first year as pope when Pope Francis invited a group of homeless men, including one of the men's dog, to celebrate the Pope's birthday.  According to the National Catholic Reporter:
The men, in their 40s, were from Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. They loaded all their belongings in [Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner] car; the dog rode in the middle.
When they got to the residence, they waited for the Mass to end, then greeted the pope. Together with Krajewski, they gave the pope a bouquet of sunflowers because they always turn toward the sun like the church turns toward its sun, Christ, the archbishop said. 
The pope invited the men to have breakfast with him in the residence dining room, where they talked and shared a few laughs. 
One of the men told the pope, "It's worthwhile being a vagrant because you get to meet the pope," the paper said.
Pope Francis talks with three men Tuesday who live on the streets near the Vatican. (CNS/Reuters/L'Osservatore 
I believe that we are going to see one of the greatest years in the history of the Church with Pope Francis's declaration of the Year of Mercy.  Pope Francis is acting in direct response to the command given by Jesus Christ to St. Faustina;
Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. (Diary 848)
I will be writing more about this, but I believe that Pope Francis is facilitating the mercy of God to wash over the entire world, making it available to everyone. God's mercy will be like an ocean during the Year of Mercy, cleansing anyone who is willing to say Yes to Jesus Christ. And as St. Faustina writes here, the Year of Mercy will be followed by the day of justice, when I believe all hell will literally break out upon the earth as a result of our sins and for those who refused to accept the Mercy of God when it was made so freely available, as stated in Diary 1588:
Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy
In Diary 1160, St. Faustina wrote:
When once I asked the Lord Jesus how He could tolerate so many sins and crimes and not punish them, the Lord answered me, I have eternity for punishing [these], and so I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation. My daughter, secretary of My mercy, your duty is not only to write about and proclaim My mercy, but also to beg for this grace for them, so that they too may glorify My mercy.
There is much more to say about this, and I will be posting on it in the future.

When Pope Francis appeared for the first time as pope on the balcony in St. Peter's Square, we all knew something different was happening.  Never had a pope looked as plain and unassuming.  

Pope Benedict XVI when he was first elected
Pope St. John Paul II appearing for the first time as pope
Pope Francis at his election
Pope Francis is not the least interested in the outer trappings of the papal office. His main goal is to save souls, and he believes the best way to do so is to directly connect with people. The papacy has been run like a monarchy for hundreds of years, and it has created a barrier between the pope and the people he serves. Pope Francis is working mightily to tear down those barriers. He tells us that he is a sinner just as we are. He struggles right along with us. He laughs with us and cries with us. He walks among us just as Christ Himself did. The Holy Spirit is working powerfully through Him. That was the message of San Gennaro.

I believe Pope Francis realizes the seriousness of the times we live in.  Billions of souls are at stake, the world is on the edge of many different major disasters.  Pope Francis is not your enemy.  He is the Vicar of Christ and the one person on earth you can count on NOT to mislead you.  The Holy Father warns us on a consistent basis who our real enemy is, as he said in a sermon from April 2014: "But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan." 

Pope Francis's greatest accomplishments are still to come.  Don't turn away from the Vicar of Christ, and reject anyone who tells you otherwise.



  1. Interesting reply, and lots of content. Thank you for responding to my request last weekend.

    But okay, in the interest of keeping it fresh and not "covering the exact same topics," let me ask a new question:

    What would a bad pope resemble? If Francis is great, then what is the opposite?

    No need to make an entire new blog post for an answer, the com box is fine. However, this question does provide content for another post if you need some.

    Thanks for everything. -Laramie

    1. I'm not sure why you ask "what would a bad pope resemble?" I'm sure you know we have certainly had bad popes in history, the shining example being Alexander VI, who fathered several children by different women. But even he did not spiritually mislead the Church, and neither has any other pope in the 2000 year history of the Church. The office of the pope is spiritually protected by the Holy Spirit, who doesn't need our help. It is not our job as laity to oversee and stand in judgment of the Vicar of Christ.

      The pope is not actually in charge of anything at all. He is more or less a puppet controlled by the Holy Spirit. However, that doesn't guarantee his salvation at all. In fact, because of all the special graces the pope is given, he is judged more harshly than any of us are.

      The stories in the bible show that God will almost always choose a weak and/or flawed individual. Remember our first pope - St. Peter. At one point he wanted to stop the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which resulted in our Lord calling him Satan. And then Peter, with all the other disciples, ran away when Christ was crucified, and Peter actually denied even knowing Jesus just to save his own skin. Can you imagine what the Catholic bloggers would do if such a man was elected Pope today? The accusations and attacks would never stop.

      The Catholic Church is not just a physical institution. It is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit. The physical head of the church - the Pope - is given infallibility in matters of faith and morals, and is also given many more graces. Only God can judge him, not us.

    2. "He is more or less a puppet controlled by the Holy Spirit." Seriously? Sloppy journalism is the kindest reply that can be said.

    3. Of all the things that I wrote, that is the only thing you can respond to? And I am not a journalist, I am a blogger. Further, tell me, is it possible for the pope to act against the Holy Spirit when it comes to his leadership of the Church? If it is, then Christ is a liar.

    4. That sentence that I chose to highlight is emblematic of the illiteracy (theological and otherwise) that is rampant on this blog.

      Although probably more honored in the breach than in actual observance, a blog should follow the conventions of journalism as taught in any good high school English class and not simply stream of consciousness typing.

      Finally, Our Lord did not constitute the papacy as a Delphic oracle of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Popes have made many regrettable practical mistakes in the government of the Church which were later rectified by a successor (e.g. the Fr. Maciel case). Infallibility only covers a very narrowly theologically-defined area of the papal ministry.

    5. Almost everything I write on this blog is backed up by links and authorities It is hardly streama of consciousness. I spend several hours on each post, looking things up and backing up what I write. Every blog I quote from - including your hero, Father Z - is done through streams of consciousness with a few minutes given to each post.

      You make many accusations against me, but they are all general and you give no specifics. And I am really tired of the tradtionailsts' sad argument that the infallbility of the pope is so narrow it is practially non-existent. Of course popes can make mistakes in day-to-day running of the church, and of course it happens. But I am talking about spritiual leadershsip, and you know damn well that is what I am talking about. No pope ever has or ever will lead the Church in the wrong spiritual direction.

    6. One other thing, Manny. Since you have made yourself an auhority on how blogs should be written, would you please visit other blogs and let them know the rules? Because they sure don't follow them.

    7. While I certainly enjoy many of Father Zed's musings, I am not a sycophant hanging upon his every utterance (e.g. I regularly skip over his ham radio posts). He varies his use of genre which may lead one to impute the charge of "stream of consciousness".

      Also, I never claimed to be an authority on how blogs should be written; I am simply making observations any properly educated and literate person was taught to make in English class.

      The descent into profanity in defense of your ultramontanism, while quite perturbing, belies a lack of grasp of the nuances of a highly complex topic.

      Speaking for myself, since I am active in several apostolic activities (in leadership capacities in a few), I am under regular spiritual direction.

    8. Well, Manny, since you think I am an illiterate theologically and every other way, and nothing I say has any merit, why do you keep coming here? There are thousands and thousands of other blogs for you to read. Why come here when everything I write is so illiterate and so wrong, and nothing more than an illiterate stream of consciousness?

    9. The educator in me needs exercise.

    10. You seem to forget, Manny, that I have an advantage on you. I once believed exactly as you do. I was once in total agreement with everything you say. I came from fundamental protestantism to traditional Catholicism I know your arguments backwards and forwards. There is nothing you can tell me that at one time I did not believe with all my heart and soul and which I have come to reject as being nothing more than the product of hubris. So the "educator" in you is totally wasted here.

      I listen to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. I have learned from hard experience not to listen to people who think they know it all, because they never do.

    11. I am, have always been, and with the grace of Almighty God, hope to remain a firm, educated and loyal son of Holy Mother Church.

      That, and one of my most dear mentors is a gay Quaker.

      So you have absolutely no concept of what my philosophical system is like.

    12. Interesting. You don't seem to care for someone making general judgment s about you. Yet you do that to me all the time.

    13. I am simply correcting your characterization of me as an ideological automaton.

      By enabling comments on your blog, anything you write is therefore open to critiquing.

    14. Absolutely. And critical comments are always more helpful to me than those who just agree. But criticism is not helpful if it is just ad hominem attacks, e.g., you're illiterate. And that seems to be mainly what I get from you.

      I find it fascinating that you tell me I don't know what I am talking about because as a Catholic, I say we need to show loyalty to the Vicar of Christ. You say you are a loyal Catholic because you don't show loyalty to the Pope but criticize him and say he is misleading the Church.

      Traditionalists certainly live in a confusing world.

    15. Not every single utterance of the Sovereign Pontiff is infallible and necessary for salvation. Not every document that he signs must be memorized. A Catholic may live blissfully for several years without any papal act or pronouncement positively or adversely directly affecting said Catholic.

    16. Do you denounce such bomb throwers as Louie Verrecchio? In case you want to claim you don't know who he is, I link to him in the post. If you refuse to answer this question, your non answer will be construed as a no, you do not denounce him.

    17. Re-direction and an ultimatum, both fine tools to use in debate. Mr. Verrecchio’s blog is not one that I frequent at all and I cannot recall any time, in recent memory, that any of his posts have come up in conversations with fellow “traditionalists”. Judging by the average number of comments per post, he is enjoying his little corner of the blogosphere with an active and numerically respectable traffic, to which I do not contribute nor do I intend to contribute.

    18. If I ever want to show someone an example of a "weasel answer", you have given it to me. You have just answered a question by not answering it. I know you're not a lawyer, but you have the makings of one, and I don't mean that as a compliment.

      You might be interested in knowing that at least two of your friends at Holy Innocents are Facebook friends with Verrecchio (there might be more), one of whom serves at the altar with you. Traditionalists love this guy. Verrecchio is a prime example of why I no longer call myself a traditionalist.

      It doesn't matter whether you read Verrecchio or not. You read my post, and you know the horrendous accusation he made against Pope Francis. Verrecchio was actually upset that a miracle was performed on behalf of the Pope, and he had to quickly assuage himself and his readers that there was no significance to the miracle. Verrecchio had to assure everyone that this miracle certainly didn't show divine approval of a heretic pope.

      And you, Manny, could not denounce that. However, because I urge loyalty to the Pope, you say I am illiterate theologically and in every other way.

      You call yourself a loyal son of the Church. I suggest you read I Cor. 10:12.

      You have absolutely no credibility here.

    19. You wish to compel me to undertake an action I have neither the interest nor the desire to do. I can impose neither canonical nor civil penalties on his exercise of free speech. If I do make the desired pronouncement, it will not compel Mr. Verrecchio to retract his statement or alter his editorial policy. Aside from yourself, no one's life will be affected by my condemnation or lack thereof. I am neither Mr. Verrechio's apologist nor his antagonist.

      Additionally, as I have stated on several occasions on this blog, in addition to frequenting the Sacraments, I am under quite competent priestly spiritual direction.

      Fortunately I am comforted in the fact that Cardinal Dolan has said of me, "Oh yes, I know him. Heard good things about him."

    20. So you have no problem attacking someone - i.e. me - who promotes loyalty to the Holy Father, but you refuse to say a word against a bomb thrower who promotes division and dissension by constant condemnation of the Holy Father.

      You not only have the makings of a lawyer who twists the truth every way he can, but you would make an excellent hole digger, because you keep digging yourself in further and further.

      As I said, you have no credibility here.

    21. Can't give what you don't got.

      You keep vigorously thumping your flag convinced in the security of your own fundamentalism, whether it be protestantism to traditionalism to ultramontanism.

    22. Ah, Manny, you're a broken record. When you can't answer, you just attack.

      You say Cardinal Dolan has said good things about you. I would think that you wouldn't really care one way or another what Cardinal Dolan has to say about you since you have so little respect for him. I have personally heard you call him a clown and say he wants to destroy the church in New York City. And don't try to deny it, Manny, unless you wish to admit it and then do a mea culpa. I would actually have very high respect for you if you did that.

      You say you have good spiritual direction. I really have to wonder about any priest who says it is okay to speak out against the pope and to go after anyone who promotes loyalty to the pope.

      I thank God every day that I no longer live in the world of traditionalism. It is a scary place.

    23. A point of correction: Cardinal Dolan was referring to me not to Mr. Verrecchio.

      And last time I checked, I am pretty heavily involved in and compensated by the "novus ordo" church.

      As for your slander against my director, I don't think he will lose any sleep over it.

    24. I misread your comment the first time around and as you can see, I corrected my response. Would you care to respond to this, or because you know what I say is true, do you wish to pretend I didn't correct my response?

      Yes, I know you work in the enemy "Novus Ordo" church, and I have actually admired what you have done there. But you are a traditionalist, and adhere to all of the basic traditionalist beliefs. Why else would you get so upset because I wrote a positive blog post about the Holy Father? Who else but a "Novus Ordo-hating" traditionalist would feel that way?

      I slandered no one. I merely stated your position, which is that it is fine to speak against the pope, but it is wrong to speak in favor of him, at least when it concerns Pope Francis. Anyone who speaks in favor of Pope Francis is illiterate theologically and in every other way. And I say that any priest who would promote such teaching has severe problems.

    25. In no particular order: My apostolic activities are not limited to one parish but span dioceses, religious orders, and institutions. My input is sought and appreciated among a wide swath of the institutional church.

      The original point that started my involvement in this thread was your ludicrous comment that the pope "is more or less a puppet controlled by the Holy Spirit". That, and not the positive post about Pope Francis, is why I made the allegation of theological illiteracy. In general, your writing style is meandering and tends to be full of syllogisms.

      I do not deny, nor do I retract, the comments I made regarding Cardinal Dolan. The Cardinal's public persona and private reputation among certain members of the clergy were the basis of the appellation. The comments were made at the height of the closure process and made with some inside knowledge of said process and individuals involved. I apologize that you were so easily scandalized.

    26. It is nice to be so impressed with yourself.

    27. A healthy self-image is the foundation of a well-rounded personality. A concise morning resolution and a detailed evening examen, with brief moments of reflection interspersed throughout the day, help maintain equilibrium between exaggeration and despondency. A steady and brisk walking pace along with moderate exercise keep the endorphins flowing. And, most importantly, having the game app at the ready.

    28. You're sure you're not an automaton?

    29. Nope! But there are times I have been accused just a tad bit Vulcan.

      Truth be told, Leonard McCoy has always been the character that I identify with most closely.

    30. We are actually in agreement. Spock lived by logic and sound reasoning. That is definitely not you. You live by attacking and accusing and belittling, always tearing down, always looking for ways to build yourself up at the expense of those you oppose.


    31. Fortunately, scores of students, servers, seminarians, clients, and catechumens would respectfully disagree with your myopic assessment.

    32. You just never stop, do you? Why do you feel the constant need to be patting yourself on the back and try to destroy anyone who doesn't agree with you?

      You have truly chosen an excellent name for yourself - Mr. Screwtape. Screwtape was a demon whose entire existence was all about destroying people. It seems you are doing your best at imitating him.

      Why don't you go to all those people who think you're the best thing since slice bread? I've given you more than enough leeway. I will allow you to take one more shot at me, and .any further comments by you will be deleted.

      You are a sad, sad person.

    33. This delightful diversion has been ebulliently entertaining!

    34. Any further comments made by you on this blog will be deleted. And if you try to comment under a different name and I suspect it is you, I will delete those comments as well.

  2. Hello again. I just wanna start off saying that I envy your residence (though, perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about!) An Oklahoma man, I've always been utterly fascinated with New York City, and I've been to Manhattan four times. The entire place is like some sort of a fascinating layer cake of humanity. Of course, I'm sure that being a visitor is a far cry different from being a resident. Nevertheless, cheers on that note.

    Well, okay, yes there have obviously been bad popes in history. The Borgia popes--of course. However, I was looking for a more theoretical reply.

    For example, when I ask what a bad pope would resemble, I'm asking you what a pope would have to do in order to displease you.

    What would he have to do in the areas of:

    -pastoral teaching
    -doctrinal teaching
    -liturgical teaching/guidance
    -his personal life
    -his public life
    -or any other category that I cannot think of right this minute.

    You asked me why I am asking this question. You are calling Pope Francis a papal phenomenon that is galvanizing the world, and you have a lot of positive things to say about him. So, surely there is another side of the spectrum. What does that side look like? If Pope Francis is great, then what is his hypothetical opposite?

    Also, one more thing. Is there a particular blog post you recommend that really tells me about yourself? I've only recently stumbled upon your blog.

    Thanks for everything, -LH

    1. I think the pope can be greatest sinner in the world - and some have been - but I don't think a pope can be a "bad" pope when it comes to misleading the church. He may not do much to help the church, but he wil never mislead the church. I also don't believe that we, as laity, ever have a right to sit in judgment of the Holy Father.

      In the first blog post you responded to, I wrote about Moses and how the children of Israel were punished severely by God for rebelling against Moses. If we really believe the pope is harming the church, then certainly we can take it in prayer, maybe talk to a priest or someone else, but we should never engage in open, public rebellion against the pope. I know it is exactly this type of thinking that turns so many against the Catholic Church, but it is the teaching of the Church.

      As for me personally, I use to have a description of myself on the sidebar, but I took it down because I don't think who I am is really of any importance. As I subtitle my blog, I am a Catholic searching for truth in a world gone mad. I was raised a Catholic, left the Church when I was a teenager, spent many years in a fundamentalist religion, and then returned 38 years after leaving the Church. I spent several years as a "traditionalist' and slowly came to the realization that there is little difference between Catholic traditionlalists and protestant fundamentalists.

      I'm going to steal a line from our pope when it comes to describing myself: "I am a sinner." I write this blog more to clarify my thoughts than for anything else. Since it doesn't cost me anything, I share it with anyone else who might be interested. I make no money from this blog, am not interested in making any money from the blog, and am not looking for a big following. I put it out there and let the chips fall where they may.

  3. I have been following Verrecchio for the past month or two. So far, I'm a fan. But, then again, I'm one of those Traditionalist Catholic bloggers that you describe. That being said, could you tell me why you don't like him? Is it because of his discussion about the blood miracle thing? Or is there a more definitive post of his (one that encompasses his style) which you do not appreciate?

    1. I'm sorry. I've been so involved with answering Mr. Screwtape (an apt name) that I didn't see your comment.

      Verrecchio, as far as I'm concerned, is among the very worst of the traditional bloggers. He constantly attacks Pope Francis, never having one good word to say about him. As I showed here, he had to quickly assure himself and his readers that the miracle performed at San Gennaro did not mean that Pope Francis had divine approval. Verrecchio twisted this event to show that Our Lord is actually very displeased with Pope Francis!

      Verrecchio hangs out big time with the SSPX and people like John Vennari, Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara. He use to be chummy with Michael Voris until Voris tried to separate himself from all the other bomb-throwing traditionalists by saying he will not attack the pope in public. Verrecchio and all the other traditionalists could not tolerate that - pope attacking is their main occupation. So now we have Voris on one side and all the other traditionalists on the other side.

      Here is just one example of the spiritual perversion that Verrecchio writes:

      "For my part, it seems that if nothing else is clear, it is entirely obvious that Pope Francis isn’t the least bit serious about performing the duties of the Office of Peter, at least not as they have been understood for nearly 2,000 years.

      He’s also a walking “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” operation in hypocrisy.

      He is a man who speaks rather often of “unity” while dividing like none other, who promotes “humility” while staging magnificent displays that call attention directly to himself, who trumpets collegiality while enforcing his will on the majority, who decries gossiping and name-calling while offering homilies with material that would make an insult comic blush, and so on.

      At the end of the day, I think the most accurate explanation for his unseemly behavior is simply this:

      Pope Francis hates the Catholic faith."

      You can read the entire post here:

    2. No worries about the tardiness. You and Screwtape carry on as you must.

      I am puzzled. Your conversion sounds like mine. And yet, you really seem to dislike "the SSPX and people like John Vennari, Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara." I do not see how you could dislike them if you used to be in the Traditionalist camp.

      When I was a young Southern Baptist, I was put out with how different churches preached different messages, depending on the preacher's whim. I wanted the historical Church--which is when I discovered Catholicism. But coming in, I knew the Church had problems. I came in at the height of the sex abuse media circus in 2001. Further, my sponsor informed me about liturgical abuses, and the fact that there was a lot of shadiness during Vatican II, and that Latin was the best and most universal way to worship God in a Mass.

      I went to Novus Or do Mass for a decade before discovering the TLM. Bogus Or do Mass always struck me as banal and emotional, somehow taking focus off of God. Then, a couple of years later, I stumbled upon the online Traditional Catholic community, and I discovered that these people had words and explanations for this discontented feeling I had. I can honestly state that I was not being as spiritually fed in the Novus Ordo community as I am now in the Traditionalist community. The clergy has faults, yes. But I understood that a priest can be a criminal, and yet still retain his priesthood. My faith did not waver in the Trad Movement, but it grew.

      How could this not have happened for you as well?

    3. Excuse the typos when I typed Novus Ordo. I'm on a mobile, and autocorrect did that.

    4. Even though I was brought up in the Catholic church, you and I do have a very similar background. I felt exactly as you do. I grew up with the Old Mass, and when I came back to the "banal Novus Ordo" Mass, I too went running to the traditionalist camp. You can ask Mr. Screwtape, who knew me in my traditionalist days. I was very vocal about the fact that I hated the New Mass. I felt like I couldn't pray at it. I hated the lack of silence. And also the lack of respect and reverence exhibited by the people.

      I was once very much a follower of John Vennari, Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara. I use to be a paid subscriber to Michael Voris, and thought he was the best. Why? Because these people said all the things I felt. The Church was a mess, and the answer was a return to tradition. The only real Catholics were the traditionalists. The rest didn't even know what they believed.

      What I didn't realize at the time was that even though I had come to re-accept the Catholic Church as the Church founded by Jesus Christ, and even though I accepted all of the teachings of the Church, I was still very Protestant in my way of thinking. Protestants really have no other choice than to be highly critical because they have no promise of infallibility in the teachings or leaders of their churches. To be a Protestant basically means every man for himself because we never can be 100% sure of anyone. Protestants say their ultimate authority is the Bible, but the fact is their ultimate authority is their own interpretation of the Bible, which is why there are so many thousands and thousands of Protestant sects.

    5. But to be a Catholic - to be a true Christian - is to deny yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to work within you. Unlike Protestants, Catholics are given complete assurance that the teachings of the Church can never be wrong. We truly can walk by faith and not by sight. This isn't to say that we must never use our minds. But it is to say that when we find ourselves in conflict with the official teachings of the Church, we must deny ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. As long as we are still calling the shots, still making judgments, the Holy Spirit cannot work within us.

      It was actually the writings of Pope Benedict XVI which helped me realize how wrong I was. Like most good traditionalists, I viewed Vatican II as the root of all evil. But Pope Benedict, who was an actual participant in the Council, always spoke very highly of it, as did his predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II. Because of my great respect for Pope Benedict, I listened to him with an open mind, and came to the conclusion that I was wrong.

      I found myself more and more uncomfortable around traditionalists. I could no longer tolerate their constant condemnation of anything post Vatican II. I became aware of the judgmental attitude that pervades traditionalists, and I knew I was just as guilty.

      I found myself going more and more often to the "New Mass." At first it was very difficult. I still hated it. But I decided to stop fighting it and to actually start praying with the Mass. Slowly, I found the New Mass was every bit as prayerful and sacred as the TLM. The problem was not with the Mass. I was the problem. I was imposing my own standards instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me.

      I now attend the "Novus Ordo" Mass every day, and I love it as much as I ever loved the TLM. I have also come to love the people. They may not be as "knowledgeable" as the traditionalists are, but there is a wonderful positive spirit among them.

      Our Lord gave us the Catholic Church and promised that the Church would never mislead us. The basic teachings of the Church can never be wrong. Our Lord made no promises about the human leaders of the Church. They are often wrong. But the one human being who cannot spiritually mislead us is the Vicar of Christ. It is impossible for him to be wrong on faith and morals. Certainly he can be wrong in other ways, but even then, we still need to listen to him. He has been given graces above and beyond every other human being on earth. He is the literal representative of Jesus Christ, and thus he demands a certain respect unlike that we would give to any other human being.

    6. This is getting way too long, and I'm not sure I've answered any of your questions. But maybe this will give you some food for thought.

      God bless you in your spiritual journey. There are many minefields out there, but we have been given many safety nets such as Our Blessed Mother, the Bible, the spiritual writings of the Church, the sacraments, and on and on. But we have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. That is the key.

  4. Another awesome piece you've written! I've actually had to deal with traditionalists on my Facebook TL (and the guy in charge of a Catholic blog-One Peter Five, to be exact-has actually tired to convince me that we're not supposed to listen to everything the Pope has to say-of course to no avail).

    One thing I told him (which I continue to think) is this: "When did trust and obedience become vices and cynicism and rebellion virtues?"

    1. That is an excellent point. You know the world has really turned upside down when those who self identify as the most loyal of all Catholics attack other Catholics for defending the Pope and the Magesterium of the Church. We are somehow heretics because we believe Jesus Christ;s promise that His Church and His Vicar can never mislead us.

      Satan is truly in his glory.


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