Pope Francis

What to Think About Bad Popes

by Steve Ray on January 2, 2019

Written by Dave Armstrong and used with permission:

BAD POPES: REPLIES TO A SINCERE INQUIRER, by Dave Armstrong

God made an everlasting covenant with King David, even though he was an adulterer and murderer.

Dave writes: “As this was originally private correspondence, my correspondent’s exact words will be paraphrased, not cited. Her “words” will be in blue.”

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How can you believe in a succession of popes since so many have been terrible sinners?

It’s not based on sinlessness (that’s called impeccability) but on office. We believe that God protects the Church from teaching error, by His power (not the power of sinful men). How is this possible? It’s entirely possible because God is God and can accomplish whatever He wants. Secondly, it has already happened in greater measure in the inspired Scripture, which was written by sinful men like Moses, David, Paul, and Peter (murderers, adulterers, and people who would deny knowing Jesus). Yet it is inspired and infallible. Likewise, God uses sinful men as bishops and popes and protects the faithful from receiving false teaching.

Titus 1:7-9  “For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

If the pope is the head of all the bishops, wouldn’t he also have to (above all) be of this high level of character?

Most of them have been, especially in the last 150-200 years. This is the ideal, but you and I know full well that people don’t always live up to biblical standards (we need only look at ourselves, for starters). We see the tension between the ideal and the real, in, for example, 1 John 1:6-10:

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

All have sin, that needs to be confessed and cleansed; to deny one’s sin is to be a liar.

Thus, there have been some bad popes. This is not unexpected, based on Scripture. See my papers:

– Sins and Sinners in the Catholic Church
– Are Sinful Church Leaders a Disproof of Catholicism?
– The ‘Bad Popes’: How Many Of ‘Em Were There? How ‘Bad’ Were They?

Of what purpose is a bad pope who is still a true pope? You simply accept that and say that God has His reasons?

Yes, because He used King David and made an everlasting covenant with Him and made Jesus His descendant, even though David was an adulterer and murderer. Jesus called Judas to be His disciple, and Judas was called both a disciple and “elect.” The Bible shows how a successor was chosen when Judas killed himself. Jesus made Peter the leader of the Church, knowing that he would deny him three times.

I’m not trying to be contentious; I really want to understand these things. I feel somewhat led to the Catholic Church. I have heard that I must accept all Catholic teachings to do so.

That’s right, because it is a teaching passed down from the apostles. One doesn’t pick and choose and decide what they will accept, but rather, decide in faith that God has one true Church that He has protected all these centuries. God can do it. He has enough power to do that!

I have hope that I can better understand these things if they are explained to me. I don’t feel like I am a Protestant any longer. I think they have many of their own problems and have not figured everything out themselves.

I hope my answers have been helpful to you. God bless you as you consider where God might be leading you. Pray, pray, pray! The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, as the Bible says.

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STEVE RAY HERE: I would like to add three quotes to correct people’s idea that it is wrong or incorrect to criticize a priest, bishop or Pope. Any criticism must be done with great respect, integrity and deference. I think the case of Saint Paul confronting Saint Peter in the book of Galatians shows that no Pope is above criticism (Gal 2:11-14).

Remember also the strong rebuke St  Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory IX  and she was made a Doctor of the Church.

Consider these three quotes (which can be multiplied):

St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.” http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3033.htm

“Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weaken the authority of the Apostolic See; they do not support it; they subvert it; they do not fortify it… . Peter has no need of our lies; he has no need of our adulation.” – Melchior Cano, Bishop and Theologian of the Council of Trent

Code of Canon Law #212 §3. “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they [the Christian faithful] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

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Pope Francis recently fired him from his position as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and maybe now we know why!)

Here is part of the interview:

Cardinal_Gerhard_Muller_-_Getty_810_500_75_s_c1“In this discussion about the abuse crisis, Müller does not shy away from pointing out that the Church needs to address the problem of practiced homosexuality in the ranks of the clergy, saying that “homosexual conduct of clergymen can in no case be tolerated.”

“He states, however, that leaders in the Catholic Church still underestimate this problem.  The prelate states: “That McCarrick, together with his clan and a homosexual network, was able to wreak havoc in a mafia-like manner in the Church is connected with the underestimation of the moral depravity of homosexual acts among adults.”

“Cardinal Müller also challenges the Vatican for its lack of earnest investigations — early on — into the rumors concerning McCarrick, saying that a public apology is needed. He writes that “there should very clearly come out a public explanation about these events and the personal connections, as well as the question as to how much the involved Church authorities knew at each step; such an explanation could very well include an admission of a wrong assessment of persons and situations.”

“Cardinal Müller criticizes as a “disastrous error” the changes in Canon Law that have been made in the 1983 Code of Canon Law which, when dealing with priestly offenses against the Sixth Commandment, does not even mention homosexuality as an offense anymore, and which contains a less rigorous set of penalties against any abuser priests.

“Returning to the matter of the abuse crisis, the German prelate explains that in the Church, “it is part of the crisis that one does not wish to see the true causes and covers them up with the help of propaganda phrases of the homosexual lobby. Fornication with teenagers and adults is a mortal sin which no power on earth can declare to be morally neutral.” He calls the “LGBT” ideology within the Church “atheistic,” and adds, in light of the recent Youth Synod in Rome, that the “LGBT” term “has no place in Church documents.”

“Moreover, Cardinal Müller, in light of his stricter handling of sex abuse cases at the CDF, wonders whether there was a homosexual lobby in the Vatican which was glad to see him being dismissed: “But it could be so that it has pleased them that I am no longer tasked in the Congregation for the Doctrine to deal with sexual crimes especially also against male teenagers.”

“Discussing possible reasons for his sudden dismissal from the CDF – for which Pope Francis never gave him any reasons – Cardinal Müller comes back to his defense of Catholic doctrine on marriage with regard to Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He says: “Amoris Laetitia has to be absolutely in accordance with Revelation, and it is not we who have to be in accord with Amoris Laetitia, at least not in the interpretation which contradicts, in a heretical manner, the Word of God. And it would be an abuse of power to discipline those who insist upon an orthodox interpretation of this encyclical and of all the papal magisterial documents.”

For the whole interview, click here.

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ROME, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) —

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today issued a brief message to the U.S. Bishops, urging them to confront sex abuse as “courageous shepherds” rather than “frightened sheep.”

The U.S. Bishops are currently in Baltimore at their much-anticipated fall annual meeting at which they were expected to vote on concrete proposals to hold bishops accountable for their failures after the revelations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

044F4259-79C1-429A-A820-7CC10B83CAC2Today’s message from the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States (2011-2016) comes one day after the Vatican insisted that U.S. Bishops not vote at their fall assembly on two action items to prevent sexual abuse coverup: standards of accountability for bishops and the special commission for receiving complaints against bishops.

Here below we publish the official English text of Archbishop Viganò’s message to U.S. Bishops, dated November 13.

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Dear Brother Bishops in the US,

I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.

I am fasting and praying for you.

Arch. Carlo Maria Viganò
Your former Apostolic Nuncio

November 13, 2018
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Visit here to sign a petition in support of Archbishop Viganó

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She Wrote that She is Worried about the Church…

November 10, 2018

In response to a concerned convert to the Catholic Faith.  What to think about all the scandals and the confusion and the divisions in the Church under the current Vatican? Here is my short response… ********************* You’re not the only one distressed by what’s going on in the Church today all the way up to […]

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Are You a Schismatic if you Disagree with the Pope (e.g., Cardinal Burke)?

November 7, 2018

A note on the other kind of schism Canon Lawyer Ed Peters. November 7, 2018 Most Catholics correctly, but incompletely, understand schism as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff” (1983 CIC 751). Overlooked here—perhaps because it is much rarer than is typical ‘anti-papal schism’ and is harder to spot when it does occur—is […]

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Pope Francis Summation, I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

November 2, 2018

He has elevated immoral men in order to change the Catholic faith Just over five years ago, the Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio came out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s as Pope Francis. It is useful to recall the situation of the Church that he inherited. The sex-abuse scandals that had rocked the Church […]

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If you decide to follow the unfortunate Youth Synod… (NEW: Ouellette and Vigano)

October 3, 2018

UPDATE: The Catholic Thing has posted an update, especially of interest is the last half of the report regarding Vigano and Oullette HERE. If you intend to follow the ill-advised Youth Synod in Rome, I suggest you check in periodically with “The Catholic Thing” which has Robert Royal there for the duration. The conflicts between […]

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Maybe a Better Illustration for the Pope to Use

October 2, 2018

In some of his recent homilies and comments the Pope has suggested he is being like Jesus when he retreats to “silence.” When Jesus was at trial before Pilate he kept his mouth closed and was silent. Pope Francis has made it clear that this his position regarding the charges against deviant and sinful clergy, […]

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Archbishop Viganó’s New Earth-Shattering Letter. God Bless Him!

September 27, 2018

A month ago Archbishop Viganó exposed the secrets of the homosexual network in the Vatican and the Catholic Church. He called on Pope Francis to resign and all the bishops and Cardinals in the network to resign with him. Since Pope Francis has been silent (and unhappily Pope Emeritus Benedict too) Archbishop Viganó has released […]

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Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment

September 20, 2018

If Pope Francis were to teach that capital punishment is “absolutely” immoral, he would be contradicting the teaching of scripture, the Fathers, and all previous popes, and substituting for it “some new doctrine.” June 7, 2017 Joseph M. Bessette, Dr. Edward Feser  Editor’s note: This first part of a two-part article on Catholicism and the death penalty was originally […]

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Bishop Barron: Why Remain Catholic? Why Not Cut and Run?

September 5, 2018
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An Impassioned Appeal to the Pope & Explanation Why Our Patience has RUN OUT!

September 4, 2018

A friend and well-known commentator everyone knows, Al Kresta,  President of Ave Maria Radio, sent me this today. I said it captured a lot of Catholic’s sentiment and asked if I could share it. He said YES!  I think his comments reflect the heart of all of us good Catholics in America struggling to understand […]

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Really? The Pope has more important things to do ?!?!

August 28, 2018

When I saw this I couldn’t believe it. With the sex scandal raging, Cardinals exposed as perverts, young men, seminarians and priests abused and raped by clergy, men raised to Bishop and Cardinal while doing such despicable and perverted things, the Pope credibly charged with culpability — and Cupich of Chicago says there are more important […]

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Former Apostolic Nuncio to Washington DC calls prelates out — naming names and exposing corruption to the highest levels including Pope Francis

August 26, 2018

UPDATE Sunday morning:  Bishop Strickland of Tyler Texas responds to the letter below. A courageous Bishop… I hope other bishops follow his lead (write your bishop to do the same). UK Spectator aticle here. (Picture: Pope Francis greeting the perverted predator knowing what he was according to the letter below.) UPDATE COMMENT Sunday Evening: This continues […]

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Pope Francis and Capital Punishment

August 4, 2018

Excellent article by Edward Feser in First Thing Magazine that puts Pope Francis misstep in perspective … ********************** “In a move that should surprise no one, Pope Francis has once again appeared to contradict two millennia of clear and consistent scriptural and Catholic teaching. The Vatican has announced that the Catechism of the Catholic Church will […]

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Cardinal Burke Speaks on the Confusion in the Church and the Need for Bishops to Speak Out

May 7, 2018

Here is a real prince of the Church. God bless him. The following interview on current events in the Church with George Weigel is also excellent. You may also want to read “The German Church Divided” in the Catholic Thing. This regards communion for divorced and civilly remarried and communion for Protestants. Also Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s […]

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