As you may
have heard, the Holy Father has recently stated that the Church owes homosexuals
an “apology.” In his three year reign as pope, he has also said many things that
go against Catholic dogma and has put homosexually-friendly bishops and cardinals,
who repeatedly make confusing anti-Catholic statements into key Vatican positions.
Recently, one of the pope’s closest advisors publicly issued a
disturbing statement saying that the Catholic Church must “apologize” to homosexuals
and that it is the duty of the state to give same-sex couples the same rights and
protections as marriage. When Pope Francis was asked about the statement he agreed
that the Catholic Church must apologize to homosexuals whom it has “offended.” In a
statement that has been seized upon by LGBT activists the world over, the Holy Father
even explicitly spoke against giving “theological” reasons for condemning
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Our Lord says that the time will come
when “Even the elect . . . will be confused.” Our Lady of Fatima warned that
the final battle against Satan will be against marriage and family. Thus, I understand
these things must come to pass (and the papacy is not immune to spreading confusion) but
in the meantime how is a Catholic to react when the pope himself is making seemingly
. . . Are we obliged to remain silent when the Pope is spreading errors that
are influencing the weak and vulnerable Catholics and non-Catholics among us?
. . . Aren’t we taught to admonish the sinner, as a charitable work of mercy?
I know that we are to focus on Christ and the Church’s Traditions at all times in the
Church, particularly when things get rocky, but I am presently very disturbed by all
this and not sure how to keep focused in this storm.
Next, how would you respond to a statement that although there have
been extraordinarily awful popes in the past, the Church not only survived but thrived,
and so the Pope should be above criticism?
n the great spiritual battle
against evil, Satan and evil spirits have the power of influence over
souls in this world. Nevertheless, it’s a perfectly fair battle. Although Satan has the
free will to tempt us to join him in hell, we have the
free will to accept his seduction or, through
faith in Christ, to reject all that would tempt us to our
Thus our salvation
depends on our remaining faithful to all that Christ taught us and commanded of
us and that has become formulated as Christian doctrine.
Christian doctrine is as old as Christ, and it has been preserved through the ages by
the Tradition of the Catholic Church. If we cling to the
Tradition of the Catholic Church, we have a solid rock to give us shelter from the chaos
of demonic insanity raging around us.
Therefore, as the chaos of apostasy and
heresy rages around you, and as demons are
snatching souls on all sides, your spiritual task is to
reject anything that contradicts the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Maybe the demons
are gloating now that they have snatched someone big,
but don’t let them snatch you. For the most part, your rejection of error must be done
silently in your living a holy lifestyle of chastity,
prayerfulness, and detachment from
the vanity and pride of the world.
If anyone challenges you, say, “You can
reject the Tradition of the Catholic Church if you want, but just remember that in
doing this you’re risking everything, even everlasting life, for the sake of nothing
more than your own personal convenience and self-gratification. If you are wrong, the
demons will gloat. But it’s your soul, not mine. Do what you want.”
The Office of the Pope
For the most part, whenever a pope speaks or
writes, he does so simply as a man giving his personal opinion. Like any man, such an opinion
is fallible. However, in special cases of doctrine (such as when the Immaculate Conception of the
Blessed Virgin was declared), a pope will make an official declaration ex cathedrathat
is, from the chair of the Pope. This means that the doctrine comes from the place
of the office, not the man, and so the doctrine is to be considered infallible and must be
accepted by the entire Church as an article of faith.
In all of this, we owe respect to the office
of the Pope, but, when the man filling that office is not speaking ex cathedra and, in
the course of his personal opinions makes errors, we need, for the sake of our own souls,
to admit that he is wrong.
Consider an example from
aviation. When aircraft fly in formation, the lead airplane provides direction to all
the other airplanes who must follow the lead in every maneuver. Sadly, though, in the
course of aviation history there have been many cases when the lead pilot became
disoriented and flew into the groundand all the aircraft in the formation followed
to their own doom. If any one of the aircraft had been able to recognize the danger
and break away at the last moment, however, it could have been
For the sake of our souls, then, each one
of us must take personal responsibility for avoiding
sin, regardless of who may be providing guidance to us. Even when
I give spiritual guidance to my clients I do not say, “Do what I tell you.” Instead I make
recommendations, and then I say, “Go and pray about it, and then do what you want to
do.”  Always
remember that when you have to stand before Christ in judgment it won’t do you any good to
say, “But so-and-so told me to do such-and-such.” Your judgment will be based on the fact that
you (regardless of who influenced you) of your own free will chose to do
Consequently, even though we know that the
Church can survive bad popes, the danger of papal error is that bad guidance can lead
myriads of souls into temptation and doom. Only when you
can say, “The Pope has departed from Church Tradition and is wrong about this matter, and
so I must not follow him to my doom,” can you avoid being led into temptation.
As for other souls, their salvation is their
responsibility, not yours—but your choice to resist temptation and live a holy life can
be a holy influence on them. Remember, it’s far easier to criticize someone for being a
heretic than it is to live a holy life yourself.
And it’s far easier to hate than it is to love.
Therefore, be careful that in your rejection
of error you do not fall into hatred for the person espousing the error. To hate someone
is to want harm to come to that person. Hate can take many forms, so let’s be clear about
what it is and isn’t.
hatred to say that behaviors contrary to Christian doctrine are sins. Nor is it
hatred to say that someone professing to be a Christian and who has strayed from Church
Tradition has fallen into heresy or apostasy. Nor is it hatred to warn someone that he or
she has strayed from Church Tradition. None of these things is hatred because the ultimate
intent is not to harm another but to correct error.
It’s also not
hatred to criticize publicly a person’s public performance, or to criticize privately
the behavior of someone such as a parent, so long as the intent is to state facts dispassionately
and not to insult the person.
hatred in the heart to wish harm to befall others. It
is hatred in the heart to curse others silently. It is hatred in the heart to fantasize about
committing acts of insult or violence. These acts of hatred are venial sins, and they can be
remitted through interior contrition. But if through lack of contrition they linger in the
heart, they become unconscious resentments that act like poison
in your own heart. Thus even though hatred in the heart only fantasizes about harm to others,
the harm to yourself is real.
becomes mortal sin when it becomes an outward act. To curse
someone, to insult someone to his or her face, to disparage someone’s character through social
media, to send hate mail, to spread lies, to assault others, to
incite violence or damage property as an act of protest—all these are
grave sins. They cause real harm to others, and they also poison you.
Real Christians renounce hate and want
only good for others, and to want good for others means only one thing: to wish their
salvation. Real Christians, in compassion
for sinners, pray for the enlightenment and repentance of
sinners so that the sinners can experience God’s mercy. Mercy is
for the repentant; it’s not something to hand out like candy even to those who have no
contrition for their sins.
Apologies on Both Sides
Nevertheless, through the ages many individuals
in the Church have forsaken compassion
and have fallen into hatred for those who commit sin. Hatred is wrong, period. If it becomes
mortal sin it requires contrition, confession, and, where possible, an
But the converse is also true: those who have
committed hatred against the Church, even if it’s because they were hated by individuals
in the Church, owe the Church an apology.
1. I say this, though, with the understanding that
clients will reject any “guidance” from their prayer that contradicts the Tradition
of the Catholic Church. Never forget that what we hear in prayer can be deception by
2. An exception here is a religious bound by formal
vows of obedience to a superior or spiritual director.
3.For example, if you curse a stranger in the street, when
you come to your senses it may not be possible to go back and apologize.