Upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that some of my posts have been too critical of the Holy Father. My mission is to clarify for Catholics just what are the teachings of the Church. I consider many people today – and not only today, but in the past several decades – to be confused about the actual teachings of the Church. This in the end is what is important. All we Catholics are called to embrace these teachings. Since clarifying what these are and what these mean is my mission, I thought it would be good to clarify certain (very few, but well known) papal statements that people receive in ways that lead them astray, to various degrees, from these teachings.
However, the problem is often the way the media takes these statements, which are issued in one context, and broadcasts them in another. Perhaps one might even say they remain problematic. However, there are those who are authorized to make criticism, and there are the rest of us. I will return to my mission of simply clarifying what the teachings are, and defending them, etc.
A blog is a public forum. Not everyone who reads it is well formed. I have had in mind people who are robust in faith and well formed, but still perhaps not entirely clear about various teachings. However, if my posts have hindered anyone’s confidence in God or the faith or the Holy Father or the Church, I have totally contradicted my mission. I apologize if that is the effect of any of my blog posts. I will have to answer for it on the last day. To stir confusion or doubt was not my intention; however, actions must conform to good intentions; if actions do not embody good intentions, they are wrong. I have cleaned up some previous posts. I will be doing so to others continually as I re-read past posts.
God is in charge. He has already taught us the truth. We can be confident in the truth. If someone point blank asks me, “What about statement X,” I will answer frankly. However, such questions come person to person; my answers will go person to person. The public nature of the blog is better for clear statements of truth.
We all do need to be “manly” in our faith. That means we realize that a man who is pope can state things that do not conform to the faith. It won’t last for long; it won’t be a regular thing. However, it can happen. It has happened in the distant past, various times. However, perhaps if a statement in the past 100 years fits such a bill – a pope stating something that is odd, unhelpful, or even in tension with the faith – it is best just to ignore it and let it be forgotten. We know that it is possible for such statements to be made. The only statements that are protected from all error are the “ex cathedra” statements of popes and the infallible pronouncements of Ecumenical Councils. (And not everything in an Ecumenical Council is infallible.) In this respect, I do think we need to be manly. However, letting things drop is probably the best way in most cases.
If the secular media wants to repeat a statement, then a clarification of what we have held, do hold, and must hold is called for. I can do that. In order to do that, it is probably not necessary to draw up a list of the original problematic statements for the public.
Further, there is often enough a way of seeing the positive intention behind such statements. One can still consider that the statement was not well framed. But often enough if you look at it enough, you can see a positive intention. You can disagree with its framing, and think of perhaps a better one. One can even recognize the harm objectively stemming from the statement. Nevertheless, at the same time, hopefully, one can see the reason why it would be made. And then one can speak about that, emphasize the positive, and move on to state the full truth oneself.
At any rate, few people always put things in the best way, even when they have lots of time to do so. But when remarks are made off the cuff, it is easy to put things in a way that isn’t the best.
God has given us Peter. We do not need to run to a guru. Our Peter is Francis. Let us pray for him, as he serves us. I apologize for having marred my own reception and anyone else’s reception of this great gift of God to us. I thank God for good example of other public theologians doing the same. I repudiate all schism. Without Peter, no salvation (Boniface VIII). And I thank God for the marvelous sacrament of Confession, which is valid only if offered by those priests who are in full communion and regular canonical situation with Rome and the particular church, whereby my foolishness can be brought back into the charity of the fold.