Pope’s rhetoric against ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics could help pave way for active persecution

John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

Editor’s note: This is part 3 of a series examining Pope Francis’ papacy over the last three years. See part 1 here and part 2 here.

June 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)

It’s one of the most frequent talking points of Pope Francis. It’s definitely part of his appeal for the media and simultaneously one of the most hurtful things for those inside the Church for whom the faith means everything. I’m speaking of the Pope’s penchant for castigating faithful adherents of the Catholic faith as “obsessed,” “doctors of the law,” “neo-pelagian,” “self-absorbed,” “restorationist,” “fundamentalist,” “rigid,” “ideological,” “hypocritical,” and much more.

The effect of the all-too-frequent barrage from the lips of the Pontiff himself is potentially deadly. It confirms the prejudice of the world against faithful Christians as the media constantly portrays them – as hypocrites and worse. Moreover, it permits the false categorization of adherent Christians with fundamentalist Islamic radicals who need to be suppressed to ensure public safety.

Who can blame the media for such comparisons when the Pope has made them himself? “Fundamentalism is a sickness that we find in all religions,” said the Pope in November while flying home from Africa. “Among Catholics there are many, not a few, many, who believe to hold the absolute truth,” he added. “They go ahead by harming others with slander and defamation, and they do great harm. … And it must be combated.”

Given the inordinate amount of time he spends condemning them, it would be ludicrous to suggest the Pope is only speaking of the infinitesimal number of practicing Catholics who do have a deranged puritanical bent.

It has now been freely admitted by Vatican authorities that there was an extreme liberal group of Cardinals known as the St. Gallen group who backed the papal election of Cardinal Bergoglio.  But even if Pope Francis has an ideological dispute with conservative Cardinals such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, his repeated public criticisms against Catholics who hold to the “absolute truth” is potentially a great danger to the faithful.

In addition to the fact that Pope Francis’ remarks along these lines contradict his predecessors (see end of this article), they are a grave danger because secular authorities are all too willing to crush freedom of religion for Christians with the excuse that they are stomping out dangerous fundamentalism. With the Pope’s own words they can equate Catholics who would hold to all of the Church’s teachings with Islamic or Hindu fundamentalists who employ violence and torture as means of conquest.

Recall the chilling words of Princeton Professor Robert George in his famous address, “No more comfortable Catholicism.” He noted that the world has no animosity toward a nominal Catholic who just goes to Mass, but it’s much different when it comes to one who “actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.”

He said that it is still possible to be a “safe” or “comfortable Catholic” today “if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them.” Professor George warned, however, that there are severe consequences awaiting those who will not yield to the pressure. “To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman,” he said.

It is exactly that distinction — between faithful and nominal Catholics — that the world is reading into Pope Francis’ regular haranguing of “fundamentalist” Catholics as opposed to others. The frequency is such that it is beyond the scope of this article to point to all the instances in the last three years of the pontificate. But these few should exemplify the point (emphasis added throughout):

– From the September 19, 2013 Jesuit magazine interview:  “If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing… Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists—they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.”

– Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) released November 26, 2013: “A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. … Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, it would be infinitely more disastrous than any other worldliness which is simply moral.”

– June 2014 interview with Spanish-language magazine La Vanguardia: “The three religions, we have our fundamentalist groups, small in relation to all the rest. A fundamentalist group, although it may not kill anyone, although it may not strike anyone, is violent. The mental structure of fundamentalists is violence in the name of God.”

– In his October 19, 2014 closing address to Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis spoke of “traditionalists” with their “hostile inflexibility,” and their failure to allow themselves to be “surprised by God.”

– In the January 2015 book-length interview, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis says “scholars of the law” are “the principal opposition to Jesus; they challenge him in the name of doctrine.” And he adds, “This approach is repeated throughout the long history of the Church.”

– In a September 2015 radio interview with Radio Milenium, Pope Francis said, “Fundamentalists keep God away from accompanying his people, they divert their minds from him and transform him into an ideology. So in the name of this ideological god, they kill, they attack, destroy, slander. Practically speaking, they transform that God into a Baal, an idol. … No religion is immune from its own fundamentalisms. In every religion there will be a small group of fundamentalists whose work is to destroy for the sake of an idea, and not reality.

– In his closing address to the Synod on the Family in October of 2015, the Pope condemned “the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”

– Pope Francis’ homily on January 18, 2016 reads: “Christians who say ‘it’s always been done that way,’ and stop there have hearts closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. They are idolaters and rebels who will never arrive at the fullness of the truth.”

– The official Vatican radio report on his homily of June 9, 2016 reads: “Pope Francis warned on Thursday against an excessive rigidity, saying those within the Church who tell us ‘it’s this or nothing’ are heretics and not Catholics.”

Pope Francis has himself recognized the increasing “educated” or “polite persecution” that seeks to restrict rights to freedom of religion and conscientious objection. What he evidently does not see is that his rhetoric against Catholics who he perceives as “fundamentalist” is providing fodder for the enemies of Truth to oppress faithful Catholics, even violently. Let us pray with urgency that Pope Francis might have his sight restored.

Quotes from Church documents and his predecessors that run counter to the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis (emphasis added throughout):

– St. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:14: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.”

– The canon of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form as prayed for over 1000 years noted that the Mass was offered the Church’s hierarchy and “all orthodox believers of the catholic and apostolic faith.”

– Speaking to bishops of Latin America in 1979, Pope St. John Paul II said: “To be watchful for purity of doctrine, the basis in building up the Christian community, is therefore, together with the proclamation of the Gospel, the primary and irreplaceable duty of the Pastor, of the Teacher of the faith. How often Saint Paul emphasized this, convinced as he was of the seriousness of the accomplishment of this duty (cf. 1Tim 1:3 –7; 18 –20; 4:11, 16; 2Tim 1:414). Over and above unity in love, unity in truth is always urgent for us.”

– In 1984 Pope St. John Paul II told bishops from Chile: “Our firmness will come from this solid foundation, since the Church today, despite all the difficulties that encircle it, cannot speak in a way different from that which Christ spoke. For this reason, the Church, especially the Pastors, should be united around the Absolute Truth, that is God, and proclaim it in all its integrity and purity.”

– Pope St. John Paul II wrote in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor: “An attitude of this sort (one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good) corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.”

– In a speech made in the Vatican Basilica on the eve of his election to the papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

– Under Pope Benedict, in 2007 the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught: “For a long time, the reason for evangelization has not been clear to many among the Catholic faithful. It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace.”

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24 Responses to Pope’s rhetoric against ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics could help pave way for active persecution

  1. Words like “majestic” and “formidable” should be applied to this brilliant, brilliant essay.

    Dear God, when will You bring an end to this dangerous, disastrous pontificate. We beg You: send us a worthy pope.

  2. John says:

    So, is Pope Francis an unworthy Pope then ?

  3. Magdalene says:

    And there is that little distressing thing Our Lord said: If you love Me, KEEP My commanndments!

  4. toadspittle says:

    “Dear God, when will You bring an end to this dangerous, disastrous pontificate. We beg You: send us a worthy pope.”</i.
    ..And Robert John's friend will tell us whether the new one is worthy, or not.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “…it would be ludicrous to suggest the Pope is only speaking of the infinitesimal number of practicing Catholics who do have a deranged puritanical bent.”
    ….It certainly would.

  6. toadspittle says:

    One thing the article does achieve is to clearly demarcate the playing field.

    “Who can blame the media for such comparisons when the Pope has made them himself? “
    …Virtually everyone on CP&S – for starters.

  7. Robert says:

    Rome has the Head that it deserves.

    The acid test for all the shepherds (hierarchy) is Obedience to Christ and Christ is Unchangeable. Now a Curia out to please the world, and the worlds morals, which are always based on shifting fashions, has turned its back on an Unchangeable God.

    Remember the question “Lovest Thou Me More Than The Rest?”

    I think we are seeing a painful sifting (harvest) in the Church where God will separate the sheep from the goats. It will not be pleasant!

    The Battle of Love begins.

  8. John says:

    And so Pope Francis is unworthy then ?

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    John Kehoe asks whether Pope Francis is an unworthy pope. John, the Franciscan statements quoted above (presumably verbatim and contextualized) are logical grounds for consternation – grief even – amongst the faithful; but to answer your jejune rhetorical – he is the pope, worthy or unworthy (of which latter, there have been a few) and for so long as he remains so, he must be accorded the indulgent, forbearing and kind respect due to holders of that office, which does not mean that the faithful are wrong to question, criticize and correct some/much/most of his opinions (take your pick, depending on how sympathetic you are of his opinions – personally, I’m in the some camp) or that they should be considered beyond the pale by the stuffed shirt faction.

  10. John says:

    Johnhenrycn My jejune question as to whether Pope Francis is an unworthy Pope was, if you will, inspired by the equally naive prayer of Robert at 15.34 : Dear God……….We beg You : send us a worthy pope’.
    The inference seems clear but I am seeking clarification. Is Pope an unworthy Pope ?

  11. Robert says:

    Think of the Trinity One God but Three distinct and separate Persons.

    The Papal Sacrament (Eighth) is Christ’s to Give and it remains as a sacramental mark on the soul for ever as does Ordination.

    However in the Church Militant there can be only One Pope recognised by Christ (Christ not Man)

    The trouble is two Popes. Our Lord said MY Kingdom is Not of this world. Emeritus is a Worldy honour as if the Pope was a worldy title which it isn’t!

    The Apostolic Church has one Pope (that’s Christs Vicar) not two. Two Popes means a schism. The Papacy cannot be delegated. So Is Benedict subservient to Francis? Or is Francis subservient to Benedict? Who is the Pope? Not Both! Cannot be shared!

    The confusion was created within Rome and I do not have the answer. Only Our Lord can tell you whom His Pope is Pope Benedict or Pope Francis?

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Good golly, Robert! You present an intriguing riddle. Come up here and sit in the front row. And take off that silly dunce’s cap. Seriously, if a pope cannot be elected except by command of the Holy Spirit, how can a pope resign unless by countermand of the Holy Spirit?

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Mr Kehoe (21:19) please note that I (20:57) knew that you (15:49) were using Robert John (15:34) as your cat’s paw. It was so obvious that you were seeking to lord your intelligence over him, which is why I called your remark to him jejune. But please also note: I did not call your remark a “jejune question“, which could imply an innocently childish or insipid one. No, I called it a “jejune rhetorical“, which implies something rather more bombastic. Blessings from Ontario.

  14. Robert says:

    No johnhenrycn
    The Apostles elected Mathais by lots (under the Holy Ghost)
    St Peter was appointed directly by Our Lord ( Papal Infallibility is Christ Gift) . The Papacy is Our Lord’s choice.

    What is more Peter chose His own successor (Papal choice)

    The sacramental of the Papacy the Conclave dates from 1059. But it is not the only way.

    In 1059, Pope Nicholas II succeeded in limiting future papal electors to the cardinals with In Nomine Domini, creating standardized papal elections that would eventually evolve into the papal conclave.

    There is nothing to stop a Pope choosing their Successor Is there? Peter chose Linus.
    St Peter was directly by Our Lord, Our Lord obviously can do this.

    The Papacy is Our Lords sacramental. His Vicar!

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    Robert (23:50)
    If all of the history you mention is true (and I only question – tepidly, not hotly – your knowledge, not your honesty), then all I can say is hand me that dunce’s cap!

  16. toadspittle says:

    “So Is Benedict subservient to Francis? Or is Francis subservient to Benedict? Who is the Pope? Not Both! “
    How about neither? No, that won’t do – it must be Francis. Rules are rules.

    Robert – Benedict quit the job. Told them where they could shove it. Put his feet up. Lit a cigar.
    He’s not the Pope any more. Ask him. New guy in there, kicking butt and taking names.
    Like at IBM, or wherever. Nothing unusual. Often happens in business.

  17. toadspittle says:

    As I’ve said already, this article has at least the virtue of spelling out the fundamental issues clearly.

    I’ve read Francis’s comments here and agree with all of them, bar none. It was this perceived fundamentalism that originally made me sceptical of the Church into which I was born, heavily indoctrinated, and grew up in.
    (Now my scepticism is based on more intellectual and logical (as I see them) considerations.)
    And finding said fundamentalism still alive and kicking, albeit feebly, many years later on CP&S – was what sparked me to actively participate in the World’s Greatest (and funniest) Blog.
    I find virtually every line in the article (apart from the Pope’s ones) questionable, biased and slanted. Nothing wrong with that of course; I’d do exactly the same in the writer’s shoes.
    But it’s so much slanted I’d have to write the same amount of text to put my arguments over. And then it would probably be censored to death, anyway, so I won’t bother.
    Nor would I regard such treatment of me me being persecuted. Just irritating and petty.
    Free speech, I suppose. Which means CP&S is free to cut off my speech. And frequently does, if it doesn’t suit.

    And all this talk of possible persecution ‘down the road,’ is probably paranoid.

  18. John says:


    The reluctance of Robert while praying for a ‘worthy pope’ to brand the present incumbent ‘unworthy’ reminds me of the memorable lines of Alexander Pope :
    ‘Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike,
    Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike’

    Oh and, Kathleen, don’t panic. This is not a quote from Pope Alexander VI, one of the ‘bad popes’ you have several times mentioned and from whose influence you gallantly strive to protect us.

    The Pope I quote was a staunch and loyal Catholic.

    Blessings from Dublin.

  19. Roger says:

    Hi johnhenry I’ll share the dunce’s cap!

    The Eighth Sacrament wasn’t given to the Apostles but to Peter. This over the Centuries has caused considerable issues!
    One Man and only One Man is Our Lord’s Vicar with Our Lord’s Authority.
    Look at the problems in the Past with uncertainty over whom was the Pope!

    It took the visionary St Catherine of Siena to tell the Pope to go back to Rome!

  20. kathleen says:

    John Kehoe @ 10:43 yesterday

    Funny that – your quote from Alexander Pope seems more attributable to you, rather than Robert John! Pots and kettles, tra-la-la, tra-la-lee…

    And, oh dear, Mr Kehoe, you may enjoy lording over everyone your superior academic achievements in letters, but your math is sadly lacking. Perhaps I can give you a hand…

    I mentioned Pope Alexander VI no more than ONCE when talking to another commenter a few weeks ago.
    To you (@ 20:45 on June 13), when pointing out the shortcomings of the papolatry* you appear to suffer from, I simply mentioned “bad popes” in general; there were more than just this Borgia Pope, Alexander, who were considered ‘bad’, you know!

    * Jabba gave you some kind advice about this problem, that you have obviously chosen to ignore.

  21. johnhenrycn says:

    “Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike…” says John Kehoe (10:43) in reference to our very best commenter Robert/Roger, whilst forgetting his (Kehoe’s) own words from yesterday (@ 07:50) on the Pope Francis: Most Marriages Today Are Invalid” post where I asked him to name names:
    “Johnhenrycn, you will easily find the persons I refer to on this page. If I name them directly the moderator will say I am being rude.”
    I don’t remember the “Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike…” poem by Alexander Pope which Mr Kehoe mentions, which is not to say that there isn’t one or that he is wrong or that I don’t have an excellent (19th C.) Frederick Warne and Co. edition of Pope’s Poetical Works on which a previous owner mentions this footnote on page 129 in connection with Pope’s use of puns:

    “Alexander Pope hath sent abroad into the world as many bulls as his namesake Pope Alexander – Let us take the initial and final letters of his name, – viz., A.P._ E. and they give you the idea.”

    …but the rest of the footnote is so anti-catholic that I doubt even Kehoe could countenance it.

  22. toadspittle says:

    “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
    The proper study of mankind is man.”

    That’s one slice of Pope worth bearing in mind – as we babble on shamelessly and aimlessly – about The Lord.

  23. John says:

    Johnhenrycn. If you think I made up the quotation then I would be most flattered. adding to the flaunting superiority [REDACTED] that I claim. To be compared with Pope !
    No, it is from Pope’s satirical poem ‘Atticus’ on the character of Joseph Addison, [REDACTED]

    A Moderator writes: Mr Kehoe, maybe the reason you have had a hostile reception here is because you resort to ad hominems too easily and generally act like a bit of a bruiser. Let us get to know you better before you throw your weight around. If this suggestion is not to your liking, perhaps you should go forth and multiply-off

  24. Robert says:

    “..A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism..”

    Narcissistic = Love of SELF

    Well Apoc 12 : 4 and He blames the fundamentalists .
    This is in accord with John Pauls homily 13 May 2000 in Fatima
    John Paul specifically refered Apoc 12 to Fatima.

    Simply really

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