Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hurrah for Msgr. Charles Pope!

I have disagreed with Msgr. Charles Pope more than once.  He is a traditionalist with traditionalist points of view.  Father John Zuhlsdorf has praised him on many occasions and called him "friend", which is always a bad sign.

However, there are no words of praise from Zuhlsdorf for his "friend" this time.  Msgr. Pope has shown tremendous courage and integrity with a post regarding Pope Francis' change to the Church's teaching on capital punishment.  The post, entitled "Let’s Be Careful in Our Charges Regarding the New Wording of the Catechism on the Death Penalty", is a logical, cogent argument against all the charges made by conservatives and traditionalists proclaiming Pope Francis to be a heretic for changing the catechism regarding capital punishment.  Please read his entire post.

Msgr. Pope writes in part:
I have concerns that the reactions I have seen in the Catholic “blogosphere” have been too extreme. There are accusations of error, heresy, violations of Natural Law, and unauthorized changes to an unchangeable doctrine. There are calls to resist the Pope, to reject the teaching, and even to bring charges of heresy.
I think we need to be careful, slow down, and look more carefully at the wording. While I understand that there are legitimate concerns, I hope for a more respectful discussion among Catholics than I am currently seeing, at least here in the U.S.
I have yet to see any "respectful" arguments made against Pope Francis by the Catholic right on any subject, so so there is little doubt that Msgr. Pope's call for civility will fall on deaf ears. But I still very much appreciate that he has made this statement.

Msgr. Pope goes on to make three points in support of this action by Pope Francis
1.  I do not think the Pope or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has changed doctrine or teaching. 
2.  The circumstances of our times are such that there is a need for a pastoral strategy that speaks to the dignity of every human person.
3.  Some have said that the use of the word “inadmissible” is the same as calling the death penalty intrinsically evil. This seems a reckless charge meant to inflame. Had the Pope or the CDF meant to call it such (and it is not) they would have used the words “intrinsic evil”—but that is not the case. A more benign understanding is that the use of the death penalty is inadmissible due to the current circumstance.
The majority of people who follow Msgr. Pope are right wing conservatives/ trads.  One of the defining characteristics of this group is their hate for Pope Francis and anything he does.  Msgr. Pope has put his standing with this group at enormous risk, and he had to know it.  The comments left on his post show just how disgruntled his readers are.  Here are just a few of those comments:

Jmjt says:
Oppose the death penalty? One name: Osama bin laden… His son is out to “avenge” his father’s name… When one of them kills your sister, as they did to the sister of guys I know from 9/11…(her remains have never been found) … Then the question of the death penalty becomes personal, not a theory or a question about punishment, it is about the moral law & teaching of justice..
Larry Butler says:
Please read “Capital Punishment, the Case for Justice”, by Prof. J. Budziszewski, from First Things August 2004.
CCC2267 final two paragraphs are prudential judgements that only muddy the waters on settled church teaching.
Theo says:
I’m so tired of all the wordsmithing, the explaining away of confusing and contradictory statements from the Pope. You know a tree by its fruit, and this already has bad fruit in the anger and confusion of the faithful.
So let’s just call a spade a spade. And ask, why is it right that the Pope changes the catechism by fiat on a matter of long-standing doctrine? Surely this is a matter for a church council of bishops to discuss. If he changed this, why not change other things, too, due to “changing times?” This is moral relativism and I reject it.
Erin says:
Monsignor Pope, I love reading your words, and I always consider carefully all the wisdom you offer. However I truly cannot see this as anything other than testing the waters for greater “changes” to come, as well as an attempt at distraction from the shameful scandals bearing down upon the church. It may not be “required” to read this new wording as representing a break or reversal of past teaching on CP, but I believe it would be foolish not to read it as such, especially considering all the rest of the Pope’s words, actions, and appointments while in office. It would be foolish not to recognize this move for the not-so-subtle Trojan horse that it is – relativism masquerading as development. I can only wonder what teachings are next in line for “development”?
There were also some wonderful comments supporting Msgr. Pope's post.  Nonetheless, I applaud Msgr. Pope for his courage to submit a post like this.  He has shown that he is not just a bomb thrower but someone who is sincerely searching for the truth.

I am sure that I will once again disagree with Msgr. Pope in the future, but I have new respect for him now.  God bless Msgr. Charles Pope.


  1. I enjoy reading your blog very much I find myself like you wondering what is going on in the catholic blogosphere, it seems almost every blog but yours is some variation of a far right Francis hating, Trump apologist anti immigrant hating bile. I know many Catholics like me and you are truly in the middle of a sea of political and religious madness. Thank you for defending the Holy father and calling out those who seem to think Donald Trump is our pope or God.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I believe most devout Catholics are loyal to the Church and the Holy Father. But those within the Church who oppose Pope Francis are very vocal and very loud. They have a lot of self confidence. They, unfortunately, are a great danger to the faithful.

      It is amazing that these same people who will cry foul at every perceived transgresion and call for heads to roll, will at the same time support Donald Trump, a serial adulterer who has been accused of sexual harassment and even sexual assault, and who has devoted his entire life to the accumulation of wealth and power, The world is truly upside down,

    2. If one puts politics ahead of their faith they have serious issues. The truth is zealots of both the American "left" and "right" have it wrong. Our church doesnt condone socialism or laissez-faire capitalism as ways of governance.

      To me though the most saddening aspect of the rift in the faith is when priests and professional catholic apologists act more like Fox News hosts then actual orthodox catholics. EWTN is coming to the point where I don't watch alot of the programs anymore. Arroyo has been a huge disappointment for me.

      Thank you for also taking on Fr. Zuhlsdorf, I used to read his blog but then noticed he seems more concerned with mocking people and obsessing over the Latin Mass.

      Although to be honest the person that disgusts me the most lately is a priest from down near you, well across the Hudson to be exact.

      You might have heard of him, Fr. Peter West of the Newark archdiocese. His twitter feed looks more like Sean Hannity then a clergyman. He seems genuinely concerned about the horrors of abortion but this zeal seems to make him blind to other aspects of his minstry. He treats people left of him with mocking scorn and seems to really dislike immigrants.

      My hope is that he can abandon the scandalous twitter musings and focus on his priestly vocation.

    3. I use to be very political also. Now I think you are right. Both the Left and the Right are equally wrong. Jesus Christ never once got political. As He said, His Kingdom is not of this world. This world’s governments belong to the Adversary. Some of the saints, such as Maximillian Kolbe, spoke out against the great evils of their governments, but none ever got politically involved and took sides.

      I don’t know Fr. Peter West. But I have seen other priests on social media and the Internet, like Zuhlsdorf, become very political. Zuhlsdorf once called me a Donatist on his blog because I wouldn’t support Newt Gingrich. As far as I am concerned, Zuhlsdorf has no credibility. I respect the office of the priesthood, but I cannot accept anything he says.

  2. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following URL:


    1. Thanks, Christopher. Very well thought out podcast. Unfortunately, for those who live to condemn Pope Francis, all of these logical arguments fall on deaf ears. There are really very few people who are searching for truth. Most just want to push their own agenda.

  3. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following URL:


    1. Christopher as I have told this fine blogger the amount of "catholic" websites out there that attack the holy father and seem to be more keen on advancing one political party over another disgusting. Don't get me wrong, I used to be that myopic as well, but period starting with the golden escalator to now has opened my eyes wide, and what I see in far right catholic circles is disturbing to behold.

      As I have told Catholic in Brooklyn as bad as Fr. Zuhlsdorf is, the twitter account of Fr. Peter West makes his look like childs play. Mind you in our society everyone is entitled to an opinion and has freedom of speech but Fr. West twitter feed; where he proudly proclaims his being a priest and lists the parish he ministers is borderline scandalous in my opinion.

      Check his feed out @fr_pwest it is like a Alex Jones fan club.

    2. Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong considers LifeSiteNews to be "radical Catholic reactionary." In fact, Mr. Armstrong now considers Michael Voris to be "radical Catholic reactionary."

    3. I could not agree with him more. It is no coincidence that LifeSiteNews and Voris have worked together. They are the spiritual Taliban of Catholics.

  4. Catholic in Brooklyn, check this out:



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