Msgr. Pope Writes Powerfully to Pope Francis on his latest comments on “rigid young priests”

by Steve Ray on September 13, 2019

A widely-recognized and respected American priest has responded to Pope Francis’ recent remarks on “young, rigid priests,” saying in a social media post addressed to the Pope that he must “honestly and painfully say that I am wearied from being scorned and demonized by you.”

Msgr. Charles Pope .  September 10 at 8:54 PM ·

MSGR._CHARLES_POPE_on_EWTN_Nov._8__2018_810_500_75_s_c1Papa Francisco says, “I would like to emphasize an attitude that I do not like, because it does not come from God: rigidity. Today it is fashionable, I do not know about here, but in other parts of the world it is fashionable, to find rigid people. Young, rigid priests, who want to save with rigidity, perhaps, I don’t know, but they take this attitude of rigidity and sometimes – excuse me – from the museum. They are afraid of everything, they are rigid. Be careful, and know that under any rigidity there are serious problems.”

“Santo Padre, I’m not feeling the love here, I don’t feel accompanied by you. Make room in your heart for me and others like me. I am not a young priest, but I know you don’t like my type of priesthood. Further, I am an American and this mere fact seems to also make me troublesome in your eyes. I am not afraid of everything you state, but I do have concerns for the ambiguity of some of your teachings and severity of some of your actions. Yet when we, your less favored sons, ask you questions you will not answer or clarify. In all this I am still your son and share the priesthood of Jesus with you. I await the solicitude and gentle care from you that you say I, and others like me, lack. Meanwhile I must honestly and painfully say that I am wearied from being scorned and demonized by you.”

Respectfully,  Carlo.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

PaulusFranciscus September 13, 2019 at 10:03 AM

I've always found Francis' complaints of rigidity puzzling. Puzzling and troublesome.

Of course the Church is "rigid". Doctrine is rigid and unchanging if you believe in absolute truth. Facts are unyielding, and so of course our doctrine is rigid.

If it bent and twisted with every passing social whim, what good would it be?

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks Paulus! Well said.

kathleen September 13, 2019 at 12:24 PM

Thank you, Steve, for your website and for posting Fr. Pope's remarks on the Pope's recent statements. Also, just want to let you know that I was so uplifted to watch you on Fr. Mitch Pacwa's show on EWTN a few weeks ago. Your witness was powerful and made me ask myself how much I appreciate the great gift we have – The Father's Gift – the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. I am a cradle Catholic and, sadly, I think I have taken so much for granted – the great gift of the Holy Mass and Holy Communion. All the Sacraments, teachings of the past 2000 years, Our Blessed Mother. I could go on. Just listening to you brought tears to my heart and soul. I told my friends about you, and what you said about the Papacy. You were very respectful and I remember what you said: that all Popes are constrained by their predecessors. Please God Pope Francis will keep that in mind. I pray for him every day and I know that's what God is asking of all of us. I hope EWTN will allow you to do a new series on your book. May God continue to richly bless you and all that you do for Him. Kathleen

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks so much Kathleen!

Michelle Clayton September 13, 2019 at 1:10 PM

Isn't the narrow path the most efficient path to eternity with God and the place he has prepared for each of us? I'm guessing staying on the narrow path requires following some beliefs, doctrines, and recommendations even, that could be characterized as rigid. Isn't that what makes the path "narrow"?

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks Michelle, well said and true!

sandi September 13, 2019 at 6:56 PM

I agree with Paulus, too. Rigidity for PF seems to mean following the Magisterium as it always has been and even the practice if piety (a gift of the Holy Spirit). It is our duty to question the teachings and practices that would cause us to stray from the teachings of Christ.

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks Sandi, well said.

James September 13, 2019 at 8:04 PM

Steve, I'm wondering if your mind has changed about so called traditionalists? I was weary of them after reading your opinion of them losing their joy. I found that statement to be accurate at times. I have also found that it's much easier to lose joy being an informed Catholic in the modern Church. I can't pretend to be joyful when I see so much brokenness in every single parish I visit that is not a Latin Mass parish. If the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, I guess I just think we should act like it, and when I see everyone else not doing that, it's hard to be joyful. Sure, I could ignore them and focus on myself only, but I left the me and Jesus stuff behind when I became a Catholic. It seems uncharitable, frankly, to let people persist in error…. communion in the hand and lack of reverent behavior at Mass comes to mind most prevalently. Like the father I saw last Sunday playing "red light, green light" out loud down the aisle with his kids to receive the King of the Universe…in shorts and a t-shirt. I visited an SSPX chapel expecting angry trads and instead I found incredibly friendly, large families that were excited to meet mine. And no one would dare behave that way at Mass. I won't regularly attend the SSPX for other reasons, but it's tempting.

I respect your opinion a lot and I would love to hear what you think about all this.

STEVE RAY HERE: James, thanks for your kind words and thoughtfulness. It is quite true that Pope Francis and the current Vatican is giving the Radical Traditionalists a lot of fuel for their fire, but it does not change my opinion in the least. Though I can understand their frustration I cannot accept their schism. Joy or no joy, they are in schism and that is a great evil.

They have had the opportunity to reconcile and I wish they had. Pope Benedict gave them a great “deal” and they could have continued with their Latin reverent Masses but they chose to stay in schism so I don’t consider them any more valid and acceptable than any other break away group. Sorry, but that is the fact of the matter as I see it.

Martin Luther also thought the Church had gone astray and look what he got started. They are in Protest every bit as much as Luther unhappily.

I just posted my radio show on Pope Francis and I hope it will encourage you. It is now on my blog.

Hector G September 13, 2019 at 10:06 PM

The fact that the firsr pope St Peter denied our Lord 3 times and then turned back gives me comfort. Can you imagine if a pope denies our Lord again? The Lord has given us a glimpse that a pope can do something scandalous yet He shows that He is in full control. The Lord says that worrying will not help. I symphatize with those were scandalized and left. The Lord may seem to be sleeping in the midst of the storm but He is in the boat. And as we continue to call upon Him He will rebuke this storm.

Janet M Prouty September 13, 2019 at 11:06 PM

I would like to address James’ comments about the Radical Traditionalists. They believe that if we still had the Latin Mass everyone would be reverent and follow the moral teaching. HOGWASH! I grew up with the Latin Mass and there were real problems within the Church (which is why St. John XXIII called the council). The abuse problem, the homosexual problem, the clericalism all predate the Vatican II Council. Of course, these problems accelerated in the 1970s, but not because the Latin Mass was not being said. Also, I will say my parish was one of the first in the Archdiocese of Washington to have 24 hr. Adoration (since 2002) and we are not a Latin Mass church. We have confessions available everyday. And we have a large daily Mass attendence. There is nothing “special” about the Latin Mass that makes it any more reverent than the Novus Ordo. And finally, some think we should bring back altar rails and make us all kneel to receive–which excludes many older people with canes, walkers, etc. and several disabled in wheelchairs (in my parish we have several faithful young in wheelchairs). I think it is more reverent when the young, old, healthy and disabled can receive together.

Michele September 14, 2019 at 1:43 AM

I thank you Monsgr Pope and all the “rigid” priest who faithfully serve with clarity and out of true love for us. It saddens me to here the pope speaks this way. I truly feel that it is that flexibility he alluded to that there are issues with in the church that divide and worse lead us to sin. The truth is the truth it may not always be easy but it’s hard for a reason. I don’t expect to feel at home in this world because we were meant for better and that is where I keep my focus even as I struggle.

Steve Ray September 14, 2019 at 5:17 AM

Thanks Michelle.

Steve Ray September 14, 2019 at 5:19 AM

Thanks Janet. And thanks for the historical perspective.

Steve Ray September 14, 2019 at 5:19 AM

Well said Hector. Thanks!

Bill912 September 14, 2019 at 9:10 AM

I daily pray for the Holy Father and for his intentions. I will continue to pray for him, but am wondering if I should continue to pray for his intentions. Any suggestions?

STEVE RAY HERE: Bill, I have been in the same quandary. Weird thing to worry about — can’t imagine this question with any previous Pope. I usually find out what his intentions are before praying for them. We live in strange times.

Diane September 14, 2019 at 11:54 AM

Bill912, I’ve wondering about that too!
Good question! Thanks Steve for responding!

James Anderson September 14, 2019 at 12:10 PM

Thanks for posting this, Steve. I agree with Msgr. Pope. The Holy Father's words on "rigidity" needs clarification, although I don't think that will be forthcoming.
When I was off work the first week of this month, I was able to meet one of our priests in Wichita for lunch, and let me say there is no "evidence" for "rigidity"!!! The Holy Spirit is really at work in these young priests, and our newly appointed parish priest, as well!

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks James!

kathleen September 16, 2019 at 5:39 AM

I don’t pray for the Holy Father’s intentions, instead I pray for him after I pray the Rosary, and at other times too, every day in fact. I have a friend who instead of praying for the Holy Father’s intentions after the Rosary, she prays for Our Lady’s intentions for the pope. Yes, strange times indeed. On another note: this weekend at all our Masses in my parish the new thing is to give a brief historical background, or introduction to the first and second readings by the Reader, or Lector, This weekend the Reader read the brief intro to St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy and stated
that the Letter to Timothy was written by someone other that St. Paul about 30 years after St. Paul died. I thought St. Paul wrote all his Letters and I am always edified when I read his writings in Holy Scripture. , Could you advise. Many thanks.

Bill912 September 16, 2019 at 5:04 PM

Rest assured, Kathleen, that St. Paul wrote all the letters attributed to him. He always dictated his letters to a scribe. His scribe on the Pastoral Letters (to Timothy and Titus) was almost certainly St. Luke (some scholars say they can recognize his hand. See Volume I of Warren Carroll’s “History of Christendom). In 2Timothy, he writes: “Only Luke is with me.” In 1Timothy, he gives Timothy good medical advice: “You should stop drinking water only and drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your ailments.” (1Tim 3:15). St. Luke was, of course, a doctor; “the good physician”, as St. Paul called him.

PaulusFranciscus September 16, 2019 at 6:17 PM

I'd like to respond to Janet M Prouty's comments regarding Catholic traditionalists, among whom I would count myself (albeit, hopefully, not overly radical).

Those more liberal than me are fond of saying that there were "real problems" before the Second Vatican Council, without ever stating what, precisely, those problems were. John XXIII's stated reasons for calling the Council were: (1) Principle Duty of the Council: The Defence and Advancement of Truth; (2) How to Repress Errors; and (3) The Unity of the Christian and Human Family Must Be Promoted.

It's difficult to see how Vatican II can be said to have been anything short of an abject failure on all three counts.

Would a return to worship ad orientum, with communion rails magically fix all the problems within the Church? I don't think anyone is saying they would, but I do think it's fair to say that in the face of research showing that only 28 percent of Catholics believe in the Real Presence, and that 37 percent of Catholics who regularly attend Mass believe the bread and wine are mere symbols, perhaps the greater reverence shown both in worship and in the administration of Communion at the Traditional Latin Mass might be in order. "Lex Orandi; Lex Credendi" has become a favourite saying in traditional circles, but the evidence from before Vatican II and after is undeniable.

The fact is that in most Novus Ordo masses, the bread and wine are not treated like much more than symbols: we might kneel during the words of consecration, but not much if at all before or after. Right after the transubstantiation, we're glad-handing with our pew-mates. On reception, particles of bread regularly hit the floor, and we just turn a blind eye.

As for the preference for having the elderly and disabled receive Communion with the congregation generally, I would agree, but we have many in Novus Ordo masses who cannot walk up the aisle and who receive separately as well. No one is excluded by reason only that they would be required to receive on the tongue.

I'm not sure go as far as Pope St. Pius X and recommend beating the modernists with fists, but a return to traditional Catholicism is certainly in order if we are serious about preserving the integrity of the faith.

STEVE RAY HERE: I understand the frustration with the liberal elements of the church and the lack of reverence at Mass. I understand why people want to go back to the traditions which I also am in full favor of. I too love a reverent Mass. However, when someone criticizes Vatican II and blames the problems on the Council then I fight back. If Vatican II was implemented the way that it was intended, we would be fine. But it’s a bunch of liberals who hijacked the council and claim the “Spirit Vatican II“ and that is where we get our problems.

Steve Ray September 17, 2019 at 5:17 AM

Kathleen, unhappily we had the same thing happen at our Mass on Sunday. The priest commented how Exodus was written 600 years before Christ and the letters to Timothy and Titus may have been written by one of Paul’s disciples. It infuriates me.

For 1900 years no one ever questioned the authorship of these books. Moses wrote Exodus and Paul wrote all of his epistles. To bring that into question because of some skeptical “scholars” infuriating to me. It is unnecessary and causes people to doubt. Plus, it’s just flat wrong.

Of course that letters were written by Paul. The Bible claims to be inspired. Therefore, we are to believe what it says. If the first few words are incorrect and Paul is not the author, then why should we trust anything else the book says?

John Collins September 19, 2019 at 2:29 PM

Fr Matthew Mary’s homily on 16th Sept on EWTN was outstanding: at last someone on the station other than the Papal Posse was tackling the …okay, schism — that Pope Francis himself is abetting, and tackling it well. Some consolation, enfin, for Mother Angelica. Watch it before it — and he — get pulled.

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