Saturday, October 19, 2019

You’re not Helping

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the anti-Francis movement within the Catholic Church, who often—whether out of ignorance or malice—make false accusations about the Pope, misrepresenting what he says or intends to do. They are responsible for a lot of confusion in the Church. Unfortunately, this is not the only problem group in this dispute. 

The other side are those Catholics who also (and just as wrongly) believe that the Pope is changing Church teaching on a subject or becoming more lenient with something the Church once strongly condemned. The difference is this second group either thinks this “change” is a good idea (and accuse those standing up for what the Church teaches as “rejecting” the Pope) or else is misusing what the Pope actually said to push an agenda, thinking they can pressure the Church into changing a teaching§. They are also responsible for a lot of confusion in the Church.

If we are to properly support the Pope, we must not attribute to him things that he did not say or do. If we do, we will cause double confusion:
  1. By falsely encouraging those Catholics at odds with Church teaching to think their sins are not sins.
  2. By giving the anti-Francis Catholics “proof#” that the Pope is a heretic.
Obviously, we can’t do anything about what the “other side” does except trying to charitably try to explain how and why they went wrong. But we can also cause scandal by misrepresenting what the Pope says and does just because it benefits our causes.

And charitably is a key word here. I’ve seen certain Catholics use abusive language against those who politically disagree with them, committing rash judgment and/or calumny. Then, when they face consequences for their rhetoric, they complain that they are being “targeted.” That does not help defend the Pope from false accusations. Yes, guilt by association is a logical fallacy. But the Pope is still harmed by our bad behavior if we who champion him are behaving shamefully in our defense of him, or if we treat those who attack the Pope in the same way that we condemn when they act the same towards us.

If we profess to be Catholics, especially if we think those opposed to us have gone the wrong way, we must behave in a charitable way in our defense. Otherwise, we’re not helping.


(§) People have been anticipating the overturning of Humanae Vitae for over 50 years. It hasn’t and will not happen.

(#) You might laugh, but the media misrepresented the Pope’s “Who am I to judge” to mean that homosexuality was okay. The anti-Francis Catholics still believe this while those with same sex attraction felt “betrayed” when the Pope later said things confirming he opposed “same sex marriage.”

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