Thursday, January 18, 2018

Msgr. Charles Pope: Love Without Kindness?

As I have written many times on this blog, the great division in the Church is between the law-and-order traditionalists, who believe that showing people their sins and judging them is the most important duty of the Church, and Pope Francis, who believes that the true mission of the church is bringing people to salvation in Christ by preaching the mercy and love of Our Lord without condemnation.  Pope Francis believes Our Lord's statement as recorded in John 3:17:  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The traditionalists, by their words and actions, have shown that they reject this teaching.  They believe their job is to condemn the world, and that this condemnation will somehow save the world.

This attitude was shown clearly in a recent post by Msgr. Charles Pope, a traditionalist who has often criticized Pope Francis and other members of the Church hierarchy.  In his recent post, Msgr. Pope tells us that "Kindness Is Not Love."

Msgr. Pope feels that kindness is not love because the ultimate purpose of kindness, as Msgr. Pope sees it, is to help people escape suffering.  How is this opposed to love?  Msgr. Pope believes that truly loving others will paradoxically result in less kindness because, contrary to kindness, love actually desires the suffering of others.  Why would we desire other people to suffer?  Because suffering can be salvific, whereas kindness allows people to become even more sinful.

Where does Msgr. Pope get this idea of kindness? From definitions of kindness given to us by CS Lewis and by Peter Kreeft. CS Lewis defines kindness as "the desire to see others happy. . . .Kindness, as such cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering." Peter Kreeft defines kindness as "sympathy, with the desire to relieve another’s suffering."

Msgr. Pope sees kindness as "an aspect of love but it is necessarily distinct from it" because kindness, in Msgr. Pope's definition, means never saying "no."  Kindness means caving in to all the demands and desires of others, whereas love means allowing others to suffer so that they will be saved.  It would seem that for Msgr. Pope, another word for kindness is "enabling."  But is that true?
Msgr. Pope expounds on these definitions as follows:
Kindness generally seeks to alleviate suffering and negativity, but love understands that suffering often has a salvific role. My parents disciplined me out of love. Had they been merely kind to me, I would likely have been spoiled, undisciplined, and ill-prepared for life.
Paradoxically, the more we love, the more we see mere kindness diminish. Consider how kind we can be to strangers. We may sometimes give money to strangers with no or few questions asked, but if our children ask for money we want to know why. And even if we give it to them, we may lecture them about being more responsible with their money. The interaction may be less kind, but it is more loving because it seeks to solve the underlying problem rather than merely relieving the symptom.
I personally have never used or seen these definitions of kindness.  CS Lewis's definition of kindness makes no sense to me because how can it be kind to allow someone access to anything that we know will harm him or her?   As I said, that is not kindness.  That is called enabling, and contrary to this definition, kindness and enabling are very distinct from one another.  

As far as Peter Kreeft is concerned, his definition of kindness is actually that of compassion, as shown in the Cambridge Dictionary:  "a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people’s suffering or bad luck and a desire to help."  And that is bad because . . .?  As you can see, the problem with Msgr. Pope and the quotes he uses from CS Lewis and Peter Kreeft are that none of this is about kindness at all.  As I said above, Msgr. Pope is actually talking about enabling, and trying to equate that with kindness.  I always thought one of the stupidest definitions of love is "never having to say you're sorry."  I also think one of the worst definitions of kindness is "never having to say no."  In fact, Ps. 141:5 defines kindness as this:
Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
So what is true kindness?  The Cambridge Dictionary offers this definition of kindness:  "the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality."  Generous, helpful and caring.  That is certainly not how CS Lewis, Peter Kreeft or Msgr. Pope see the act of kindness.

Msgr. Pope does not use any quotes from the Written Word of God.  That should always be our go-to source, and I think it is very telling that Msgr. Pope, a Catholic priest, completely ignores the Bible.

I guess Msgr. Pope doesn't care for St. Paul's admonition to us in Ephesians 4:32:
 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  
Or I Corinthians 13;4, in which St. Paul tells us that kindness is an integral part of love:
 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 
St. Paul also wrote of the importance of kindness in Colossians 3:12:
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
St. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 that kindness is actually a fruit of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
St. Peter tells us to be kind in I Peter 2.  Like Msgr. Pope, St. Peter makes a distinction between love and kindness, but unlike Msgr. Pope, St. Peter feels that kindness is just as essential as love:
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
And how does the Great God of the universe deal with sinful human beings?  Isaiah 54:8:
In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.
According to Msgr Pope, since Our Creator has chosen to have compassion on us "with everlasting kindness", He doesn't really love us at all.

The true subject of Msgr. Pope's post is the traditionalists' war with Pope Francis.  Traditionalists believe that you cannot be kind to sinners.  The only way to deal with hardened sinners is to show them their sin, tell them that unless they repent, they will go to hell, and then leave them to deal with it.  Traditionalists are always complaining about the "mercifulness" of Pope Francis.  They call it "faux mercy."  They feel Pope Francis is just too lenient, too forgiving, too kind, too compassionate.  To the traditionalists, love means saying no, and saying it all the time.  Compassion, mercy, and now even kindness, are just not a part of their vocabulary.

The traditionalists hate Pope Francis.  This is from an article in the Guardian entitled, "The War Against Pope Francis":
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.
But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”
The traditionalists truly are the Pharisees of our time, and just as the Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus Christ, they traditionalists want to rid the world of Pope Francis.  The priests are among the worst because most of them will not say any of this publicly, as quoted above, but almost everything they write and say has this undertone, constantly swiping at the Pope.

That is why I reject the traditionalists.  I pray for them and hope they will realize the dangerous road they are on.  But they are basically becoming their own church.  I prefer to stay with the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  And like Jesus Christ, I hope I will always show kindness and compassion to others.


  1. No offense, Catholic in Brooklyn, both Msgr. Charles Pope has participated in various episodes of "Catholic Answers Live." I do admit, however, that Michael Voris effectively praised Msgr. Pope in at least one episode of "The Vortex."

    1. EWTN is no barometer anymore of true Catholicism. They are starting to lean far right, and often sound like many right wing rad trad blogs. EWTN does nothing to help me grow spiritually.

      C.S., do you believe Msgr, Pope is correct when he says that kindness is not a part of love? When we are kind to others, is that only allowing them to continue in their sins? If so, why do you think kindness is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit? Why does God’s Word tell us to be kind to one another?

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, keep in mind that "Catholic Answers Live" isn't just available via the EWTN Radio Network. The show was recently dropped by Relevant Radio because TPTB couldn't reach an agreement with Catholic Answers. Relevant Radio has also dropped "The Terry and Jesse Show" as well as Mother Miriam's "Heart to Heart" show.

    3. Good for Relevant Radio. When I look for media that can really help me spiritually, I look for orthodox Catholic teaching that doesn’t have any agenda other than preaching the Word of God. I always had problems with Mother Miriam, even before she became a nun. There was an attitude of pride that always put me off, and the fact that her order got kicked out of their own diocese speaks volumes.

    4. Catholic in Brooklyn, can you give me an example of Mother Miriam's pride?

    5. It has been years since I have listened to her. I can’t remember any specific examples. It was more of a feeling than anything else, and I interpreted it at the time as just a personal thing. I never heard her say anything that was against church doctrine. But I know now that she is close to Voris, and that is enough for me.

    6. Catholic in Brooklyn, keep in mind that Relevant Radio recently merged with Immaculate Heart Radio. No offense, but why do you think the secular-sounding Relevant Radio is used as the on-air branding?

    7. Sorry, but I really don’t know anything about this subject, so I cannot respond. But I will say that using a more secular term might draw some people to hear the truth of the Gospel who otherwise would be out off by a more *churchy* name such as Immaculate Heart Radio.

  2. Catholic in Brooklyn, are there any EWTN programs besides "The World Over with Raymond Arroyo" that you think lean too far to the right?

    1. I have pretty much stopped watching EWTN, first of all because of The World Over, so it is hard for me to comment. When I do try tuning in, I find their programs to preach a very idealistic view of Catholicism, not based on living in the real world. Their attempts to be *hip and happening* with the young are really pathetic, I hate the music on most of their shows. I am afraid the days of people like the late Father Groeschel are gone forever from that station. Now we have also lost Father Apostoli. Fr Pacwa is acceptable and has some interesting shows. But shows like Women Of Grace drive me crazy. It may be more of a personal thing than anything objectively wrong, and as I said, I don’t really watch them anymore, so I really can’t give a good judgment.

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, you have found "Life on the Rock" to be pathetic, right? What kind of music do you generally like? I remember renting "The Da Vinci Hoax" from Hollywood Video back in the day. I didn't watch it all the way through in the proper manner, but what Fr. Mitch Pacwa said at the end made "The Da Vinci Hoax" worth renting for me! :D

  3. Where does Msgr. Pope get this idea of kindness? From definitions of kindness given to us by CS Lewis and by Peter Kreeft. CS Lewis defines kindness as "the desire to see others happy. . . .Kindness, as such cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering." ...

    CS Lewis's definition of kindness makes no sense to me because how can it be kind to allow someone access to anything that we know will harm him or her? As I said, that is not kindness. "

    You should have looked up the whole Lewis passage. It is easily found.

    "By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness—the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?' We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all'. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that, God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

    might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that even the love between the sexes is, as in Dante, ‘a lord of terrible aspect’. There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object – we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering..."

    1. CS Lewis was not Catholic and he certainly wasn’t God. I will take the Bible before CS Lewis.

  4. Miraculous Prayer to the Holy Spirit

    Holy Spirit, you who makes me see everything and shows me the way to reach my ideal, you who gives me the divine gift to forgive and forget all the wrong that is done to me and you who are in all instances of my life with me. I, in this short dialogue, want to thank you for everything, and affirm once more that I never want to be separated from you no matter how great the material desires may be. I want to be with you and my loved ones in your perpetual glory. To that end and submitting to God’s holy will, I ask form you… (mention your favour). Amen

    This prayer should be said for 3 consecutive days. After the 3rd day, your sincere wish will be granted no matter how difficult it may be. Promise to offer thanksgiving by sharing it and expressing it on granting of your favour. The idea is to spread the wonder of the Holy Spirit.


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