Pope Francis criticises ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics

During an inflight press conference on the way back to Rome at the end of his three-country tour of Africa, Pope Francis criticised “fundamentalists” within the Church.

“Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions,” said the Pontiff, according to the National Catholic Reporter. “We Catholics have some — and not some, many — who believe in the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil. They do evil. I say this because it is my Church.”

He said that “religious fundamentalism isn’t religion, it’s idolatry,” adding that ideas and false certainties take the place of faith, love of God and love of others.

“You cannot cancel a whole religion because there is a group or many groups of fundamentalists at certain moments of history,” the Pope said.


Ok. Is this papal relativism? If Catholicism does not have the absolute truth, then …where is it?

What is fundamentalism as regards Catholicism? Is it adherence to the fundamental doctrines handed down by the magisterium from age to age? I’m sure this cannot be what was meant by the term.

There is a transcript on the Catholic News Service, and this is exactly what he said.

I think again there is a problem with his words being lost in translation.

It is when we sit on self-made thrones saying that everyone is damned to Hell and that every other religious follower is evil that our religion stops being ‘religion’ and becomes ‘idolatry’. Our Lord did not sit on a throne when He came down from Heaven but took the form of a slave (though He spoke with Authority). It was the Scribe and Pharisees who were the ‘fundamentalists’. I’m sure we can all be a bit like this. This is a healthy reminder. It is not that we don’t have the whole truth - this is the where I think the translation has incurred problems - it is that we think ourselves superior because of we know the truth, or at least, we let knowledge of the truth cut us off from others and we build canyons instead of bridges. As for a certain religion specifically, then I see this particular religion as a bit for those who can believe what they want from it, and so in terms of him having friends who are categorised by their ‘…’ religion, I’d say they are just prayerful people who believe in love and find some good in their ‘religion’. I am not sure he is infallible on matters of Islam so it doesn’t worry me. But he is the Pope. The important thing is to trust that he spoke with authority, which he does, and if we find his words challenging then they will be good for us for he is here to serve us and shepherd us. He is right as far as he needs to be and is required to be. His words made me think. I am grateful he spoke them. What he is infallible over is Love Eternal. He speaks with love. In Love. And for Love.

St. Paul said that we should try to be everything for everyone whom we meet. How can we be everything to others when we assert ourselves with over-riding feelings of grandeur?

Thank you for posting this. Just today I found an article on a EWTN news site where someone was criticizing the US bishops while believing all the US government was saying about our response to refugees in need. I was thinking to my self, how many Catholics out there would jump at the chance for another crusade.

Even the Holy Father is not immune from such treatment, as evidenced by the phrase “papal relativism.” Just like Charity cannot deviate from Truth, so truth is not to be exercised without charity. Maybe this is one way to view liberalism and fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism typically denys Mercy, forgiveness, etc. It is typically based on personal/heretical understanding of scripture, doctrine, dogma, etc.

Fundamentalism is also typically a kind of idolatry where the individual or group places too much focus on one part of the religion and misconstrues or ignores the rest of the teachings.

Fundamentalism leads to Islamic Terrorists, Westboro Baptist Church, etc.

Fundamentalism often condones or commits violence and/or hateful language/acts against non-believers.

A few examples of potential Catholic Fundamentalists would be:
– Catholics who hate all Protestant and/or Orthodox Christians
– Catholics who claim Vatican II is not a valid council
– Catholics who claim all non-Catholics are automatically going to Hell
– Catholics who claim all baptised Catholics are automatically going to Heaven
– Catholics who refuse to socially interact or allow their children to interact with non-Catholics
– Catholics who believe Jews should be eliminated
– Catholics who believe the Holocaust is a lie.

Fundamentalism also leads some to take weird or nonsensical positions as well. Like people who refuse legitimate medical treatments out of religious objections to all medicine.

In regards to the Catholic Church, any one who is truly faithful to the Church is NOT a “fundamentalist”

I pray this is helpful.

God Bless

I loved this! Thank you.

As much as I do love Pope Francis, his words are misinterpreted over and over again. It must be noted that I don’t believe he refers to “fundamentalism” the same as proclaiming the Truth with clarity and mercy. After all, that is Eternal Love as Christ Himself was merciful as proclaiming His Truth, Way, and Life.

I tend to view fundamentalism as the exact opposite of this! Only telling people how things should be done, while that in of itself is good, but doing so in a way that is cruel.


The Catholic Church is the fullness of truth, but we do not have absolute truth. Not everything was revealed to man by God. But the Catholic Church contains the fullness of Truth.

The Pope was referring to people who claim we have absolute truth, yet they do not act like Christians. They act without mercy and without love.

As we are also product of our culture, I wonder if Catholics in America are influenced into a fundamentalist mindset by the existence of a large and powerful Fundamentalist Christianity. You mentioned Westboro, but they are only the “fringiest.” There are millions more.

You are certainly quick to judge and condemn, without knowing. Where is your Christian charity?

Completely unrelated to the topic, but this is why I have come to love the Church especially when the secular world tells you that there is no such thing as objective truth! Remind me if you have never heard this "Everything you do is permissible and what you do to your body minus killing yourself is a-ok!"

Why many are turned off by this, it baffles my mind as to why! It is illuminating for me and why yes very hard at times, I try to seek to live in Truth!

I like your definition of Catholic “fundamentalism”. Having said that, I don’t think I have ever encountered a Catholic who would hold such views. The Pope on the other hand seems to think that there are many. I wonder what he has in mind.


As to your question I believe my charity is intact, not that such a question should have been asked by a random internet stranger. I did not judge anyone. However, I do believe the phrase does not apply and cannot apply. You **did **ask.

Judging particular people is never acceptable. Judging actions is better, but can be dicey if we refer to a particular action without knowing a whole lot. Judging words, that is arguments, debate, etc., that is acceptable.


Keep in mind that in Argentina there were Catholics who do not agree with Vatican II, who were also anti-semites and didn’t believe in the Holocaust.

Let’s also remember that Argentina had a large number of Nazi loyalists from Germany migrate there before and after World War II.

We American Catholics have a bad habit of viewing the whole Church based on our American experience.

In 19th Century New York City, there were Catholic vs Protestant gang fights for years.

And in Ireland today, see what happens if you wear orange in a bar on St. Patrick’s Day.

I’ll invite you to the next family reunion. You’ll meet more than you ever thought could possibly exist :eek:

Sometime ago on CAF Fr. Grodin wrote the following in answer to the question, “Was Jesus unfair to the Pharisees?”:

"The main issue that Jesus had with some Pharisees in the Gospels is not the Law but how the Law was applied. What happened over the centuries was that the Pharisees had not just tried to apply the Law but built ‘a fence around the Law.’ For example, the Law simply said to avoid work on the Sabbath. The ‘fence around the Law’ decided by Pharisees and scribes then meticulously defined ‘work.’ These decisions of men were considered equal to the Law.

"There was also the matter of emphasis, not all laws are created equal. Jesus attacked the idea of following the ‘minutiae’ to the detriment of the greater good those smaller laws were ordered towards.

“And then there’s the issue every religion faces: enforcement of law without the context of love or true justice. This is essentially the hypocrisy of appearing to follow the law but our internal disposition is the exact opposite of the point of the law.”

So it occurs to me that Fr. Grodin’s answer might describe the Holy Father’s issue with Catholic fundamentalists.


I read the original.
It is the basics of conflict.
I believe I am absolutely right and you are completely wrong.
And that position causes much damage ,hurts .
He also mentioned he did nit understand very well but there seems to be a very violent Christian group there.
And he also says he orayed and met people from other rekigious groups peacefully ,on a very positive note.
I believe you get the idea of what he said now.
I can post it in Spanish if you wish.

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