Why are there mutterings of discontent within the Catholic clergy towards our Pope?

Our Holy Father, whose well being and intentions I try to pray for everything every day, is unguarded when he should be cautious and confusing and vague when he should be clear. He has shown a distressing tendency to play favorites. There are SERIOUS questions how he handled the Mckerric (?) case. He relies too uncritically on sources (such as VERY liberal Imam regarding Islam and jihad) that may be biased in the extreme. The shut down of the US Bishops actions on the abuse crisis and as both heavy handed and unnecessary.

( I will say this explicitly; I love and honor our Holy Father, but like St Catherine of Sienna, I say these things with love and honor)

Oh, how easy it must be for you to say that.

The People’s Republic of China is a maleficent force that has made it quite clear that they despise religion, and see it as a threat to their might and influence.

There is a reason why Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI didn’t do this when they were attempting to find whatever relations might be able to be established and whatever microscopic level of common ground might exist between the PRoC and the Vatican.

What, so now they can game the deal until the Holy Father is forced to pick some heretic who is the lesser of two evils? Fantastic.

How, again, is this better than the previous situation of having a faithful underground Church and a lukewarm, not dedicated sham State Church?

I’m not defending China in the least. I’m defending the Pope’s decision. Christians in China have been persecuted mightily since the establishment of the PRC, and I don’t expect even this deal to end that persecution of Catholics. But as I’ve demonstrated, the Church has done deals with tyrants and non-believers before, either because it had no choice, or because it took the long view. I think it’s very premature to declare Francis’s deal with China a mistake. At the very least, it won’t be any worse than some of the ill-fated agreements the Church has struck in the past.

The PRC is not going anywhere. It isn’t going to be toppled, and certainly not by the Catholic Church, and any group it sees as a threat to its control (think Falun Gong) is going to receive the full weight of its malice. This, just maybe, buys Chinese Catholics some breathing room, and hope for a day when Catholics in China can practice their faith without any limitation or regulation. I think Francis is acting pragmatically, and only time will tell how it works out.

There is a great, wise maxim that we ought to remember in cases like this:

Do not assume malice when ignorance is just as likely.

Believe it or not, I think that Pope Francis made this decision out of naïveté. Mind you, I say that with all due respect. Now, I know that that sounds absurd, as he is our Holy Father, but to put it simply: I believe that he assumed good faith when the subject in question has proven every step of the way to be acting in bad faith. That was a mistake, and the people who live within the People’s Republic of China will have to pay the price for it.

That is very unwise, and I hope that some day, Pope Francis looks back upon that decision and admits that hindsight has shown that it was a mistake to have made that decision. Our Holy Father is a great man, and two things that he certainly is not lacking in are humility and charity.

I just hope that the havoc wroke by the PRoC on faithful Catholics isn’t catastrophic with regard to Catholicism in China by the time that this is finally admitted to have been a mistake. Remember what a previous Chinese government once did to “fix” the opium-addiction epidemic. And, with regard to the present Communistic government, remember Tiananmen Square as well.

Xi Jinping is, to all intents and purposes, a Mao Tse-tung wannabe. They aren’t exactly the same, obviously, but Xi Jinping could probably be fairly said to be essentially a contemporary “practical Communist’s Mao Tse-tung”. He is a dreadful man, and represents all that is wrong with the PRoC, in a nutshell.

Oh ye of no faith, have you forgotten the events leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union? Or has that fact that I always note by saying “If one truly desires with all of one’s heart to not believe something, one will find a means of not believing it” reared its ugly head once again?

I can answer this, as could most Catholics if they thought of it. First, eliminate the loaded rhetoric and “what if’s.” Then the question is what is to be gained by allowing a controlling regime some say in clergy. The answer is, the Mass, the Summit and Source of the Catholic faith, the presence of Jesus in a place where he is needed, and a Sacrament of grace for all who receive. Jesus is more important than politics. He is more important than temporal power. The Mass is not a sham. The Church is not a sham, regardless of politics.

Do not assume malice when ignorance is just as likely.

Maybe this should be the lead to every thread here.


From someone on the outside, it strikes me that attacking Francis for trying his best to protect Chinese Catholics is not only off base, but deeply uncharitable. As I said, it’s hardly the first time the Church has accepted the realities that one of its national churches faced. In the East, during the Islamic Conquests, Patriarchs and bishops were in a situation where taking a position that would have lead to open conflict with the Muslim rulers would not only have lead to their own deaths or imprisonment, but likely to the conquerors attempting to extinguish Christianity. There is still a patriarch in Constantinople, still a Syriac Church and still a Coptic Church (as beset as the latter are these days) because the Orthodox leaders accepted that resistance would have been catastrophic.

Catholics in Mainland China have been persecuted for decades precisely because they were viewed as people whose first loyalty was to Rome. The Church is well aquainted with how the narrative of divided loyalty has caused Catholics in some countries great suffering, so Francis and his diplomats found a solution that gave China some of what it wanted, a degree of secular legitimacy in China, while still allowing the Pope some power over the appointing of bishops. It isn’t a perfect solution, any more than a new Patriarch of Constantinople having to pass muster with the Sultan was. But it is a solution that at least to some measure protects Christians.

As a person who politically, and theologically disagrees with much of what Pope Francis says and struggles with it, I really appreciate your post. It reminds me that I need to be charitable even when it is hard to do so.
But by the same token, I think we owe the same charity to the good clergy who may be confused by the Church, the Pope, or the media or not even confused but find themselves intellectually opposed to some of it. Many of these priests are good men, in the trenches of pastoral work or theology and they are being asked to explain some pretty confusing things in a time of division and confusion.
The last two popes have given us a level of instability that many who are youngish have never experienced. JPII was a long serving stable and constant Pope. I think we are in a very polarizing time. And it isn’t just the Church. It is the entire world.

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X[quote=“IdaCatholic, post:29, topic:565695”]
I think we are in a very polarizing time. And it isn’t just the Church. It is the entire world.
Good time for prayer then . We have a whole battery of brothers and sisters in Heaven eager to help us. And it’s amazing . Our Church is amazing .

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For me, the most troublesome comments the Pope has made were those last year, after Archbishop Vigano released his letter implicating Card. McCarrick and several other clergy in abuse and cover-ups. The Pope seemed to dismiss these accusations flippantly, and furthermore seemed to imply that any faithful Catholic seeking the truth about the sexual corruption scandal was working for the “father of lies.” His recent comment about being “honored” that Americans criticize him also came off as uncharitable. To be quite honest, America as a country has been doing more to fight against abortion than anything the Vatican has done over the last few years, from what I can tell. And actually, what should be more embarrassing for the Church, is that high-Catholic population states like NY, NJ, and IL continue to pass pro-abortion laws while the more Protestant states have enacted laws to protect the unborn.
I think he has a problem with the way we handle immigration, but quite honestly we have accepted millions and millions of immigrants over the years; he seems to have the impression that the US is full of well-off white folks standing at the border with pitchforks to ward off the migrants. He is either unaware of or perhaps just ignores the implications of allowing thousands of people flooding into the country every day with loose restrictions.


I haven’t heard any clergy near me expressing any discontent with the Pope.

I’m sure that priests have preferences for Popes and policies just like any other employee would take an interest in what their CEO was doing, but the vast majority of priests have the common sense to not be badmouthing their superiors to the laypeople in the pews. I imagine if you worked closely with the priest as a deacon, parish admin, or other staff then he might share some of his personal thoughts about the Pope. It’s also entirely possible that priests who are up to their necks in just dealing with the challenges of serving their parish don’t have much time or brain space to sit around and critique the Pope.

Meanwhile, actually being able to find a pious bishop in China will become increasingly near-impossible over time.

The PRoC doesn’t want Catholics to have any of the things that you mention. In fact, it is illegal in the PRoC to practise a religion if one is under the age of 18.

Catholics in China, who are actually experiencing the situation, are not happy about this at all, and are very concerned (to say the least). I think that they know better than we do about their situation.

The “Patriotic Church” in China is directed by the anti-theistic and communistic government of that country. So the homilies may well be sham-esque in many cases, and the actual loyalty to the faith of clerics is also not guaranteed at all in the “Patriotic Church”.

So, actually, it is a much worse situation than you seem to think.

Frankly, this sounds like right-wing talking point stuff. We need to be Catholics before any potential political affiliation that we might have (I personally have no political affiliation, but others may choose to have one).

Church teaching on immigration has been fairly consistent. If ideologues and those who listen to ideologues have a problem with that, that’s their problem that they have to deal with. The same goes for people who are ideologues on the left. If they don’t believe Catholic social teaching, that’s their problem.

I’d rather not put it so bluntly, but when I hear fellow Catholics say that our immigration system was perfectly fine the way that it was and needs no changes, and that there is no injustice whatsoever going on when it comes to the subject of immigration, I cringe just as I do when I hear fellow Catholics claim that there is nothing wrong with breaking the covenant of marriage, or with contraception.

Political tribalism is an element of identity politics, and it really is causing great harm today, because people all over the political spectrum are accepting it with open arms.

I’ve been blessed to have never heard a priest badmouth Pope Francis in a homily. I hope that I never will hear such a thing at Mass.


This is a trick question isn’t it?

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You will always find someone who is unhappy. Tomorrow the Pope could speak on the theme “God is good.” and you will find someone who is complaining about the “heretical pope.”


I believe humans are imperfect.
On the other hand, I pray that the Pope is correct.

The Apostles loved Jesus very much even Judas did. But they didn’t always agree on everything.

So I believe your bible verse is incorrect here.

Pope Francis was not a conformist by nature.
A Pope who blandly recapitulates the non controversial will proceed barely noticed.

A Pope should be a conformist. That should be the number one qualification.
Most of the objections to the Pope are political. I dont really care about the Pope’s politics. He comes from a south American worldview which is vastly different in terms of what the right and left represent. If the Pope is at odds with a government over immigration, or tte death penalty or capitalism, it doesnt affect me, especially if the Pope is handicapped in power. JPII effectively played a part in the defeat of communism in Europe.
My concern and caution is theological in nature not political. When the Pope talks of acceptable use of condoms in Zika areas (what a ball of nothing that turned out to be) or when he backs communion for serial adulterers etc that is when I have a hard time dealing with his off the cuff theological teachings. People attack trump for his tweets, and perhaps rightly so, but that seems to be similarly ineffective to airplane pressers and interviews with atheist reporters who pride themselves in not documenting the conversation. Populism comes in a lot of forms and it is quite fashionable right now.


When you become a Cardinal, keep that in mind. Until then, Popes will decide what Popes should be and Cardinals will choose Popes according to their ideas.

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The Saint who he derived his name from as Pope, was no conformist. Had he been, he would have been an obscure, and the church would have been worse off for it.
I am telling the truth when I say that your entire post represents talking points for one side of American politics. That doesn’t make it right or wrong. But it does make it recognizable.
I think if you look closer, the true picture is more even handed.
Catholic social doctrine, strait out of the catechism, is at odds with widely held beliefs of Capitalism and economics. That’s just a fact. I am not sure if in practice, that section of the catechism is optional. Optional, because much opposition by Catholics to this Pope fails to consider that the Pope’s comments are as orthodox and in conformity with the catechism as you could hope for. On those issues he is a conformist. He also is educated in economics so he is aware of his conformity. Not the ( throat clearing) South American with " their " views. I speculate that if Catholics ever read the catechism on issues like property ownership and economics, their heads might explode.
On the border wall issue, what the Pope said could not have been more in conformity with Church doctrine. Matthew 25, discusses welcoming the stranger in what I think is the only Gospel discussion that expressly talks about Jesus judgement to heaven and HELL. Pretty significant and express. The catechism of course is once again the direct support for his position.
This isn’t obscure. God speaking to the Hebrews admonished them that they must do the same. Something about once being strangers I another place. ( Oh yea, Jesus Mary and Joseph themselves were political refugees seeking asylum)
And of course but for the Egyptians taking in an infant Jew and his family. Letting Jesus reside there, Herod might have had a better shot snuffing the Prince of Peace as an infant.
The CRITICISM is in this Pope not remaining silent in these areas he definitely should be speaking out on.
Which forces me to make a correction. When I used CONFORMIST, I intended to describe silence on matters of faith that ruffle feathers. ( Maybe a stronger statement about Fish on Friday rather than Catholic Doctrine, is closer to what I intended).
Frankly , he apparently enjoys speaking about Catholic ethics and doctrine and doesn’t care about certain Americans that are in conflict.
Sex of individuals is not the only issues a Pope should speak out on.

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