Vatican hostility against faithful Catholics deepens our internal schism

In former decades who could ever have imagined that such a title as the above would see the light of day on the Catholic blogosphere? But such is the general attitude in Rome at these times, that “faithful Catholics” – by which term we refer to those Catholics who defend the fullness of traditional Catholic teaching – are becoming increasingly marginalised. And frustrated too, at the lack of correction from higher authorities in the  Church towards these falsehoods aimed against them.

Pope Francis meets with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ.

By Rick Fitzgibbons, MD, on LifeSiteNews

As a psychiatrist, the recent false accusations from Rome against faithful Catholics reminds me of couples preparing to divorce.

False accusations of hostility, divisiveness and hatred occur not infrequently in marriages with high levels of conflict and with impending separation or divorce. When of an extremely severe nature, such anger can lead to demonizing a spouse in an effort to undermine the trust of the children in that spouse and to obtain their loyalty instead. This pathological behavior is referred to as parental alienation and is clearly psychologically damaging to Catholic youth, spouses and families.

Spouses who make false accusations against a husband or wife frequently have serious lifelong psychological conflicts often with excessive anger, a compulsive need to control and intense selfishness with an inflated sense of self. The goal of the accusations is primarily to control the spouse and children, as well as to gain custody of the children through divorce litigation. The origins of these actions are often from unconsciously modeling their presence in a parent or from giving into the pull of selfishness in the culture.

I have specialized in treating excessive anger for over 40 years, and have co-authored two books on the topic for APA Books (see here). A challenging aspect of my professional life has been offering expert testimony in regard to allegations of excessive anger against a spouse in divorce litigation and in annulment procedures.

Given this experience, I was deeply concerned by two recent articles in publications approved by the Vatican that levelled accusations of hostility, hatred and divisiveness against faithful Catholics.

The first, by Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figuero in the Jesuit-edited journal La Civilità Cattolic, focused on Americans. And the second, by Fr. Giulio Cirignano in the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, focused on bishops and priests.

Spadaro and Figuero level numerous accusations against Americans including:

• “An ‘ecumenism of hate’ exists between American Catholics and Evangelicals for their defense of the unborn from the horrors of abortion and their defense of marriage”;

• Opposition to the legalization of abortion and gay marriage represents “the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state”

• Reference to efforts at Muslim immigration restriction in both

America and Europe as a “narrative of fear.”
A week after the publication of the essay by Spadaro and Figuero, in the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Cirigano claimed in an essay, “Habit is Not Faithfulness: The Conversion asked for by Pope Francis,” that the Holy Father’s agenda for the Church is being put at risk because:

“The main obstacle that stands in the way of the conversion that Pope Francis wants to bring to the Church is constituted, in some measure, by the attitude of a good part of the clergy, at levels high and low … an attitude, at times, of closure if not hostility,” and “The clergy is holding the people back, who should instead be accompanied in this extraordinary moment.

“When the priest is too marked by a religious mentality, and too little by a limpid faith, then everything becomes more complicated,” Cirignano wrote. “He risks remaining the victim of many things invented by man about God and his will. “God”, according to Cirignano, “doesn’t tolerate being enclosed in rigid schemes typical of the human mind.” Immediately after describing unenlightened priests, he wrote, “Deep down, the Sanhedrin was always faithful to itself, rich in devout obedience to the past, mistaken for faithfulness to tradition and poor in prophecy.”

As with such accusations in marriage, it is important to attempt to evaluate these extraordinarily unusual claims, which most Bishops, priests and laity have never seen before from the Vatican. Regarding their credibility, it essential to examine responses to the accusations. I will cite only several of the numerous reactions that allege the accusations are odd, false, unprecedented and even irrational.

Archbishop Charles Chaput responded:

“So it’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true.”

Robert Royal wrote:

Taking this as the heart of the Evangelical-Catholic alliance is so delusional that a Catholic must feel embarrassed that a journal supposedly reviewed and authorized by the Vatican would run such slanderous nonsense.

Austin Ruse wrote in Crisis, “The True Ecumenism Spadaro and Figueroa Missed“:

Their essay can only be described as an attack against my friends and me and in my own pro-life and pro-family work at the UN, I work extremely closely with Evangelicals and other faiths, too, because we see a greater danger to ourselves than we see coming from each other. We see a war against God’s creation and all God’s children and must work together to protect his creation.

In Catholic World Report, Sam Gregg responded,

Nevertheless, the development of such views should be informed by careful reflection, a command of detail, and an accurate understanding of the history and development of a country. Regrettably, these are lacking in the Spadaro-Figueroa article — and it shows. The greatest damage, however, is to the Holy See’s credibility as a serious contributor to international affairs. And that benefits no one, least of all Pope Francis.”

Ross Douthat in The New York Times on August 3, wrote:

in his (Pope Francis) advisers’ essay, in their evident paranoia about what the Americans are up to, you see a different spirit: a fear of novelty and disruption, and a desire for a church that’s primarily a steward of social peace, a mild and ecumenical presence, a moderate pillar of the establishment in a stable and permanently liberal age.

Fr. Mark Pilon’s response at The Catholic Thing to Cirigano’s accusations against Bishops and priests in L’Osservatora Romano was:

In my lifetime, I’ve never witnessed this kind of hostility coming from the papal office toward those who are meant to be co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord. This has become a frequent refrain in the pope’s own comments, i.e., that many clergy are rigid, closed, and hostile when it comes to his innovative teaching and practice. Only the manipulations of the Synod on the Family and its results made it possible for these innovations such as reception of communion by those divorced without annulments to make their way into the pope’s exhortation.”

The weight of the evidence indicates that the major accusations in these two recent articles against Americans and Bishops and priests are false.

In my professional opinion, the authors demonstrate no small degree of difficulty with excessive anger and a need to control and thereby in thinking that distorts their perception of reality and just judgment of other people whom they imagine as being inspired by ignorance or dark motives. Such accusations, as in Catholic marriage and family life, are profoundly harmful both psychologically and spiritually. Let us hope and pray that excessive anger from the Vatican diminishes, that respectful dialogue increases and that such accusations cease, for the good of the Church.


Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D. is a psychiatrist in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, who has written on accusations against priests, Accusations against Priests and conflicts in priestly relationships The Resolution of Conflicts in Priestly Life and Relationships. He has served as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican.


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19 Responses to Vatican hostility against faithful Catholics deepens our internal schism

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    It’s sad that Pope Francis nurtures and promotes the divisiveness mentioned here. For my part, I will always be a Catholic. Being such does not oblige me to genuflect to him. I wish things were different, but the Church will survive this worrisome time, and the next one too, if it comes to that.


  2. Mary Salmond says:

    It sounds like personal encounter, intense dialogue, and a negotiator is in order to clear up this mess with the Pope and the people without any media! Words, misinformation, innuendos, defensiveness has caused too much discord that I don’t know who to believe.


  3. Roger says:

    The silencing of the Lambs.
    For me it is very simply to remain with the Faith of all time as handed to the Apostles.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    “The silencing of the Lambs.”
    A good turn of phrase, and sad but true.


  5. Mary Salmond says:

    Yes, keep the faith! Don’t lose it. The church has weathered worse turmoil through the centuries than this. She is assured victory with Christ as King.


  6. ebinn says:

    Johnhenryen summed it up for me. My source of comfort is the catechetical teaching, reference to the bible, prayer and readings from the past saints and seers who predicted these events and how to stay faithful to the one, true and catholic teaching. They got it right, and it’s a source of comfort in a world of division, false teachings and hatred.


  7. Roger says:

    Pope Pius XII He wrote this of Communism BUT this what the Church has taught and said for 2000 years
    “..When it is a question of defending the cause of religion, the truth, and justice and Christian civilization, we certainly cannot keep quiet….Doubtless we have condemned and rejected – as the duty of our Faith requires in witness to Christ demands – the false teachings which the instigators of errors teach, or which they do their utmost to propagate, for the greatest wrong and the detriment of the citizens; but, far from rejecting the wayward, we desire their return to the straight path of the truth. Even more: we have unmasked these falsehoods, which are often adorned with a semblance of the truth, because we love you with the heart of a son to their father and we seek your well-being. ..”


  8. geoffkiernan says:

    JH and MS, above….
    Sure the Church will survive…We have that assurances from Our Lord, so the question is not will the Church survive this present catastrophe but which Church will survive. That distinction is important. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ will survive but not that one that currently masquerades as Her


  9. Roger says:

    Remember the Church Militant is only a part of the Church which is the mystical Body Of Christ!
    Faith is the Light in these times and Our Lord indicated this when He said would He find Faith when He returned.
    The Fathers of the Church said that the Church (Militant) would recreate the Life Of Our Lord and this includes the Passion and Resurrection and Ascension. .Just carry on with your Catholic Life if you haven’t yet done so wear the Carmelite Scapular and use and carry the Rosary. These were the twin devotions that St Dominic was shown by Our Lady and told “One Day With These I Will Save The World”.
    We may not live to see the Triumph Of The Church that isn’t important but Charity is the Love Of God and Our Neighbour!


  10. It is good to know that there are so many faithful Catholics.

    No wonder Bergoglio is a victim of excessive anger.

    He must be very afraid of us – and afraid of the strength we find in the promise of Christ that not even hell itself will prevail against the Church.

    And perhaps one could add: even when that hell arises from the errors of an angry – and some might say, evil – pope.


  11. Roger says:

    “Cum ex Apostolatus officio” of Pope Paul IV
    “..Hence, by this Our Constitution which is to remain valid in perpetuity, in abomination of so great a crime (heresy), than which none in the Church of God can be greater or more pernicious, by the fullness of our Apostolic Power, We enact, determine, decree and define” openly that “even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal OR ROMAN PONTIFF, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, or incurred OR PROVOKED A SCHISM, the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless. ..”


  12. JabbaPapa says:

    Here’s one for toad and his neverending misunderstanding of the nature of evil and free will in God’s Creation :


  13. Mary Salmond says:

    Watched the video. Not sure what his (RockingMrE) credentials are, but he does a fair job of explaining God in dealing with good and evil. I appreciate his desire to explain God’s constant benevolence, but he doesn’t really say that God had the ability to foreseen all the complications with letting man have free will – or perhaps that a given. But MrE uses words like dilemma, chance, that describe God’s struggles and I don’t think God struggles. Or perhaps that is his concept of God’s process.


  14. JabbaPapa says:

    Mary, if you have a hard time understanding God’s struggles for us, simply kneel in His Blood before the Cross

    I do realise that the problem of evil is difficult to even partially comprehend, but also that it is best to entirely shun any such attempts


  15. toadspittle says:

    “The silencing of the Lambs.”
    Stopping their bleating?
    Easy. Just cut ther throats.

    “…but (the Rasputin Ripoff.) doesn’t really say that God had the ability to foreseen all the complications with letting man have free will – or perhaps that a given.”
    Very astute observation, Mary.
    Go on thinking for yourself. Don’t take anyone else’s word for anything.
    It’s good. (and surely what God would want.)


  16. Roger says:

    The Blood of the Lamb! Foolish because the Temple knew all about the Exodus and the Blood of the Lamb!
    The Blood that leads to the Promised Land!
    Free Will?
    But before Heaven Acts it always speaks through the Prophets! You either listen to Jonas or you don’t. Can’t complain if you don’t listen can you? Prophecy is always conditional and avoidable.


  17. JabbaPapa says:

    God’s foreknowledge of our actions is consequential from our actions, not causative of them.


  18. JabbaPapa says:

    God’s foreknowledge of our actions is consequential from our actions, not causative of them

    BTW a really good prayer to ask for from God is to ask Him to help us avoid our own bad choices, including against our own God-given Free Will if necessary. Against our desire, against our intellect, our deepest wishes if necessary.

    According to Your Will, Lord, not my own mortal will broken in Original Sin.

    Hid Answers to this Prayer are what led me to being not only a Christian, but a Catholic.

    It was the first Prayer I gave to Him in the minutes following my initial Conversion, on the Camino near Astorga.


  19. kathleen says:

    Sound advice, Jabba, and a profoundly beautiful prayer:

    According to Your Will, Lord, not my own mortal will broken in Original Sin.

    We should repeat this every day.
    When Our Lord’s Will for us is not what we, in our brokenness, would have chosen. When the whole world appears to be against us. When the Cross of suffering and contrariness weigh us down…

    Thank you for revealing to us that intimate moment of your Conversion. God bless you


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