July 18, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) – As with with most – if not all – Catholics who have reservations with many things related to Pope Francis, I have not come to my current position regarding this pontificate lightly, or without constant prayer. Many moons ago I wrote articles which appeared in the old Catholic Answers magazine, This Rock. These articles primarily dealt with defending Catholic doctrines related to the papal primacy and papal infallibility, rebutting arguments from the likes of William Webster and James White (see, for example, Guilty of a failure to teach, James White is Wrong, The False Decretals).
How then did I come to found and write for Roma Locuta Est in its present form? Actually, I had long intended Roma Locuta Est to be a site for general Catholic apologetics against Protestant and or atheist positions. At Roma Locuta Est, we do try to insert such articles (for example The Historicity of the Crucifixion Darkness) from time to time. However, it was the advent of Francis’s pontificate that would change the plan for what Roma Locuta Est was originally intended to be to what it would later become when it finally launched. From the moment I saw him on the loggia I had concerns, why I did so at that precise moment, I cannot fully say. I do know others have said similar things. Within months a priest I know with good sources in Rome was issuing warnings about Francis.
Later, like so many other Catholics, I tracked the synods on the family with great concern. Yet, familiar with John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortia, I was praying — and hoping — that Pope Francis would defy expectations and actually defend the teaching of Familiaris Consortio and the perennial teachings of the Church.
Yet, when Amoris Laetitia was finally published, I was shocked at what I read in it. I remember going up to my Pastor the Sunday afterward and expressing my deep concerns about the theology behind it. These concerns in 2016 continued to grow. By 2017, my original plan to have a blog to write on Catholic vs. Protestants/Atheists apologetics changed. As I write in my “About” (see here), an article by noted papolatrist Stephen Walford (see Summa Contra Stephen Walford) prompted me to get off my keister and enter the blogosphere:
“I had long toyed with the idea of blogging. This itch had been held firmly in check by the conviction that a blogger should be one of two things: either a very interesting person or at least someone with something very interesting to say. Ideally, one is both. Fearing myself neither of these things, I contented myself with wearing out my local archbishop, pastor, friends and family with my screeds over developments in the Church, especially during these past few years following the issuance of Amoris Laetitia. Yet, an article published in Vatican Insider on the La Stampa website prompted me – against my better judgment that I lacked both of the aforementioned qualities – to enter the blogosphere to comment on the events of our time with my initial blog article (see Pope Francis’ Predecessors come to the Defense of his Magisterium? Well–Yes and No, Mr. Walford).”
My archbishop at the time was Wilton Gregory (my apologies to the Catholics of Washington D.C). I wrote to him to oppose his allowing of Catholic support of the “Gay Pride” parade in Atlanta. I also wrote him about Amoris Laetitia. Yet, he never responded to the emails.
As I said, my past apologetic writings have focused on the papal primacy and papal infallibility. Thus, it really peeves me to read the silly defenses offered by the Francis apologists (such as those at Where Peter Is which might as well be more appropriately called Where Francis Is). It is not my rejection of the primacy or infallibility that prompts my “resistance” (ala Dr. Roberto de Mattei) to Pope Francis, but rather it is precisely my belief in them that does.
It is not lightly I have come to my opinions regarding Pope Francis. Thus, I can only roll my eyes at the insipid smugness of the likes of Mark Shea — known on Roma Locuta Est as “he who exudes the odor of sanctimony” — who titles an article “I do not understand people who struggle to understand this pope” and then immediately adds (emphasis added):
“I don’t really believe they find him “confusing”. I think they just don’t want to listen to him. Everything you need to know about him is summed up in the words, “He has preached good news to the poor.” His mortal enemies are people who either a) dislike the Church’s teaching on our duty to the poor or b) dislike evangelism because it brings people they regard as riffraff into a Church they want to make an accessory to their views on money and power and race and aesthetics and not face it for what it is: the body of the living Christ.” (Source: here)
We shall leave aside Mr. Shea’s persistent and tiresome propensity to cast the current crisis in the Catholic Church in political categories of left and right. But, for someone like Mark Shea, who has been involved in Catholic apologetics for quite some time, to say he doesn’t “really believe they (the Catholic “resistance”) find him (Pope Francis) “confusing”… I think they just don’t want to listen to him” is, itself, an unbelievable statement.
Such a statement is utterly absurd. Any Catholic reading Familiaris Consortio 84 and Amoris Laetitia 305 (n. 351), for example, can see the cause for confusion. Even Francis ‘defenders,’ such as Stephen Walford and Robert Fastiggi come to opposite conclusions (see Confusion at Vatican Insider?) on key aspects of Amoris Laetitia, but oddly enough we are supposed to still believe there is nothing confusing to be found here.
Thus, for Mr. Shea to trivialize this crisis and the concerns of so many sincere Catholics by suggesting by implication that those who signed or support the Dubia, the various filial appeals or corrections, and or the Open Letter only did so because “they just don’t want to listen” to Pope Francis is utterly absurd. Such a conclusion reeks of a lack of charity and of intellectual honesty. It is also a sign of intellectual laziness to the Nth degree.
It is very unfortunate some Catholic apologists in the blogosphere are so dismissive of the many Catholics who have real, honest concerns about this pontificate which arise — not from their own political leanings — but rather from their knowledge of and a heartfelt desire to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and to Jesus Christ. Until such apologists understand that much, they will continue to be rightfully dismissed as the apologetic hacks they are.
God bless them though.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a former intelligence officer. He and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, entitled Pia Fidelis, set during the time of the Arian crisis. The first book of the Pia Fidelis trilogy. The Two Kingdoms, should be out later this summer or by early fall 2019 (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).