Should the Pope Resign?

CFN Blog

Should the Pope resign? Ever since Archbishop Vigano called for Pope Francis to resign in the wake of several high profile sex-abuse cover-ups, that has been a burning question for Catholics.

The chief objection to resignation is that it would create a dangerous precedent. Following closely on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, it would create an expectation that all future popes would at some point have to resign. Writing in The Weekly StandardJonathan Last suggest that “two abdications in a row would have the practical effect of breaking the modern papacy.” It would turn the papacy, he says, “into an expressly political office.”

Nevertheless, Pope Francis should resign. And he should heed Vigano’s call to accept the resignation of “cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses.”

Why? Because the gravity of the scandals—in the U.S., Chile, Honduras, Germany, England, Ireland, Australia, and elsewhere—must be matched with an equally serious response. And it’s hard to imagine anything short of resignation that would show a firm purpose of amendment on the part of the Pope.

Vigano’s accusations are of a radical nature, and, if they are accurate, then the response to them must also be radical. Vigano doesn’t merely criticize the Pope, he accuses him of colluding with evil. He refers to the “grave, disconcerting and sinful conduct of Pope Francis.”  He charges Francis with “multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick.” He adds: “And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church!” If Vigano’s charges are true, then, of course, the Pope should resign.

But how about the objection that two resignations in a row would turn the Church into a contentious two-party system? That’s possible, but it’s not inevitable. Moreover, that possibility has to be weighed against the reality that Pope Francis has already politicized the Church to an extent that few could have anticipated at the beginning of his papacy. As detailed by George Neumayr in The Political Pope, the pope’s political agenda is decidedly left of center, and he seems to have few qualms about imposing his brand of radical politics on the Church even at the expense of doctrine. Now that he is under fire, he might be tempted to accelerate the process of modernizing Catholic morals and teaching. As Peter Kwasniewski writes in LifeSite News, “One wonders if Pope Francis is worried about how many years he’s got left, and wants to make sure he changes as much as he can, as quickly as possible.”

In that light, Pope Benedict’s resignation should be looked upon not as a bad precedent, but as a providential one. For the good of the Church, Francis ought to resign, but without Benedict’s precedent, few would dare to broach the possibility.

More to the point, Francis himself would probably not consider resigning without that precedent as a goad. Although he cultivates an image of openness and flexibility, he is, as I have observed elsewhere, decidedly stubborn on many matters.  He may be humble in certain respects, but he seems to have no intellectual humility.  Rather, he is quite sure that he is right about the environment, global warming, capitalism, capital punishment, the benefits of Muslim migration, and a host of other issues. Moreover this stubbornness extends to his appointments. Francis is not taking any chances with the success of his radical agenda. As a result, his top appointments are men who are made in his mold. And once appointed, he defends them, as Archbishop Vigano puts it, “to the bitter end.”

Take for example two extremely significant global gatherings: The World Meeting of Families (WMOF) which was held in Dublin in late August, and the Youth Synod which is being held in Vatican City between October 3-28.

The WMOF included a number of talks which focused on sensitivity to the needs of LGBT individuals and their families.  One of the featured speaker was Fr. James Martin, S.J., a controversial pro-LGBT priest who wants Catholics to “see how normal it is to be LGBT.”

Other speakers included Cardinal Blasé Cupich, who is mentioned in the Vigano statement as being “blinded by his pro-gay ideology.” Vigano writes that “the appointments of Blasé Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of cover-up of abuses by the other two.”  Archbishop Tobin who was also a prominent participant, claims not to have known about McCarrick’s abuses, even though as Archbishop of Newark he should have known about the settlements that the Newark diocese had paid to two of McCarrick’s victims.

Cardinal Wuerl who is mentioned several times in the Vigano statement was also scheduled to participate in the WMOF, but was unable to attend due to the controversy generated by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report which implicated Wuerl for having covered-up several abuse cases. The organizer of the WMOF conference was Cardinal Kevin Farrell who is also mentioned in the Vigano statement.  Farrell shared a house with Cardinal McCarrick for six years but claims he had no idea of the abuses committed by McCarrick.

Another prominent participant in the conference was Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa who, according to Vigano, “had become the kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and United States.” Perhaps the Pope’s closest advisor, Maradiaga currently stands accused of covering-up widespread sexual abuse in Honduras’ largest seminary. Maradiaga’s talk at the World Meeting of Families was entitled “Pope Francis on the Revolution of Tenderness.”

When I read that, I couldn’t help but think of one of Frank Sinatra’s standards, “The Tender Trap.” If you’re not careful, warns Sinatra, you’ll find that: “you’re hooked, you’re cooked, you’re caught in the tender trap.” In many ways, the WMOF was an attempt to trap Catholics into believing that all forms of families are equally pleasing in the eyes of God.

Not coincidentally, another “tender trap” has been laid in Vatican City for the youth of the world. Most of the participants for the Youth Synod are chosen by conferences of bishops. But thirty-nine special delegates are appointed by Pope Francis. His choices include Cardinal Reinhard Marx who wants ritual blessings for same-sex unions, and—once again—Cardinals Cupich and Tobin (although Tobin has bowed out “as a result of the [sex-abuse] crisis that continues to unfold” in his diocese). Cardinal Farrell will also be present by virtue of his office.

If you’re beginning to see a pattern here, so are others. Several prominent Catholics have called for the Synod to be cancelled. They include Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and Dutch bishop Robert Mutsaerts who has pulled out of the Synod because “the whole thing will lack credibility.”  Others, such as George Weigel, have criticized the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the Synod, calling it a “bloated tedious doorstop full of sociologese but woefully lacking in spiritual or theological insight.”

More on that later, but first a little more on the delegates. Skipping over the German bishop who is accused both of covering up abuse cases and allowing teen LGBT love stories to circulate in his diocese, let’s focus on another of the special delegates personally chosen by Pope Francis to enlighten World Youth.

His name is Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. He’s is known in Italy for having commissioned a billboard-size homoerotic mural in his cathedral church.

Not content to merely commission the mural, Paglia had himself included in it, wearing his skull cap but not much else, and embracing a nude man whose private parts are covered by a floating ribbon.

To say the least, Bishop Paglia displayed poor judgement—but nowhere near the poor judgement exhibited by two pontiffs. The aging and often poorly-advised Benedict XVI appointed him as President of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2012. Under Paglia’s direction, the Council produced a sex-education program which, according to the Cardinal Newman Society:

“Makes frequent use of sexually explicit and morally objectionable images, fails to clearly identify and explain Catholic doctrine… and compromises the innocence and integrity of young people…”

Apparently pleased with his efforts, Pope Francis then shifted Paglia to the presidency of both the Pontifical Academy for Life and the renamed and re-booted Pope John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. Of related interest is that Paglia was replaced at the Pontifical Council for the Family (renamed as the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life) by the ubiquitous Bishop Farrell—the one-time housemate of Cardinal McCarrick who, like Paglia, was elevated by Pope Francis to high office despite his well-known proclivities.

You don’t have to study homoerotic murals to get the picture. Francis has surrounded himself with highly suspect people who, for the good of the Church, can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. Yet instead of demoting or dismissing them, the Pope keeps placing them in central roles. Why?  Because their progressive agenda is his also.

One major part of that agenda is to make peace with the sexual revolution. When the Paglia-orchestrated sex-education program was released, LifeSiteNews headlined the event as “Vatican sex-ed ‘surrenders’ to sexual revolution.” Significantly, that’s the way the Instrumentum Laboris for the Youth Synod is being characterized by its critics. George Weigel upbraids the authors of the IL for being “embarrassed by Catholic teaching” and for failing to challenge the world’s “fanatical commitment to the sexual revolution in all its expressions.” Likewise, an open letter addressed to members of the Synod by eight young Catholic priests contends that the working document “concedes too much to the sexual revolution, which has caused such great harm to young people.”

Should the Pope resign? His willingness to pack the WMOF and the Youth Synod with the men who are most deeply implicated in the sex-abuse cover-ups, suggests that he doesn’t take the scandals seriously. Either that, or he considers the success of his progressive agenda to be more important than the damage being done to the Church. In the face of all the destructive forces that have been unleashed against the Church from within and without, Francis seems determined to conduct business as usual—full speed ahead and damn the consequences.

Toward the end of his statement, Archbishop Vigano has this to say:

“Francis is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren.  Indeed, by his action he has divided them, led them into error, and encouraged the wolves to continue to tear apart the sheep of Christ’s flock.”

The man who led the sheep to the wolves is not the man to lead the Church.  He should step down.

Reprinted with permission from the author’s website,

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21 Responses to Should the Pope Resign?

  1. A very fine article by the intelligent and articulate Professor William Kilpatrick. Of course this pope should resign, unless he experiences a miraculous conversion and starts building up the Church, as St. Francis of Assisi did, instead of trying to destroy it.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    The author asks, rhetorically: “Should the Pope resign?”
    With the rather useless benefit of hindsight, 99% of orthodox, practising Catholics who actually follow church affairs (there being quite a few, especially older ones, who do not follow the news at all, and I wish I was one of them for all the good it does) rue the day Francis got hold of his papal Ferula, which now shares pride of place with a pagan inspired “Stang” as his staff of office; but as they say: the devil you know….If Francis is still alive when his successor is elected, we can expect a fix – a rigged election much like the last one – and more of the same destruction he is now visiting on we sheep, if not far worse. I hope he dies in office (not saying when) thus denying him any hands-on influence at the next conclave

    Liked by 1 person

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Does it do any good to follow closely church affairs unless you’re “a mover and a shaker” and thus able to influence the course of events? They say that people who follow the news with prolonged attention are more likely to be sad throughout the remainder of the day.
    Not only sad (if not depressed) but also inured to, habituated to undesirable things and no longer shocked or revolted by them.

    I wonder what benefits might flow if we little people would only read a summary of world events at the end of the year? What if, after the election of Francis in 2013, we’d simply spent our free time reading the Bible and the Catechism – either JP2’s or the Council of Trent – without ever concerning ourselves with Vatican News; and then, Rip Van Winkle-like, woke up to the revolution now taking place in Holy Mother Church? I think chances are we’d be much more alarmed, much more ready to grab our pitchforks and storm the battlements of our cathedrals and basilicas than we are now.


  4. Why the Novus Ordo religion MUST silence Vigano


  5. Maybe we can return to what REAL Catholic Popes were like before John 23rd


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    I say above: “I hope he dies in office…”, which I do believe preferable to resignation; but an even better solution to our crisis might be for our episcopacy to collectively ‘grow a pair’ and force his removal from the Chair of St Peter. Doing so would clear the air and make the next conclave a more welcome one – not perfect, but more welcome. If our bishops do not have spine, the Church will be riven by schism. There’s no way many orthodox Catholics are going to put up with Francis’s shenanigans much longer. There’s an SSPX chapel just a half hour drive away from me. Never gone there – don’t want to – but better that than the manure his henchman are spreading in our sanctuaries. Whatever may be our concerns about Archbishop Lefebvre, thanks be to God he lived.


  7. johnhenrycn says:

    Message to Pope Francis: A good name is better than… the day of death. Ecclesiastes 7:1


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    I received an invitation last week from an old acquaintance to his ordination as a sub-deacon of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (Byzantine Rite). Father tells me there’s no such designation (sub-deacon) in our Roman Rite, and I believe that is so. I also believe our Eastern Churches have no homosexual rites as there obviously are in ours. Homosexuals yes, but no homosexual rites.


  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Last comment: Why should people follow Francis’s exhortations? I’m not referring to his absurd political ones, nor to his destructive social ones, nor to his questionable environmental ones, but only to his dogmatic ones? He’s never said anything Catholics have not already been taught.


  10. Crow says:

    John Henry, why would you not go to the SSPX chapel? We have FSSP here and when we recently went away the only Latin Mass was SSPX, and I went there (a 2hour drive). It was a lovely liturgy.
    The more I see of the falling away of the Church, the Catholic Lite practiced by the majority and the empty churches, the more I become aware of the traditional liturgy being, not only a sacrament of great beauty, but a weekly catechesis, the more I wonder at the motives of those who introduced the novus ordo and suppressed the Latin Mass. Either the Church hierarchy were incredibly stupid, or they were diabolically clever.


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    Good advice from Down Under 🙂
    But I have this reluctance to leave my geographical parish, Novus Ordo though it is; and indeed, I believe doing so is still a canonical no-no for good reason. Nor do I wish to be an occasional SSPX tourist. Church shopping is a Proddie thing. In my stage persona as Will Parker, I once serenaded my fiancee, Ado Annie, in our 1969 high school production of Oklahoma! with this song:
    With Me, Its All Er Nuthin

    I hope you’re all set for some fine Spring Weather down there, Crow.


  12. “I wonder what benefits might flow if we little people would only read a summary of world events at the end of the year? ” asks JH.

    It is a view I have sometimes shared myself over the years, particularly as one who has sometimes spent prolonged periods in a monastic setting without receiving the news. For example, I was in Glasshampton Monastery near Worcester in December 1989 when the whole edifice of east European communism began to crumble and collapse, and we had no television or radio, It was frustrating just to have the news in the form of, “We pray for the people of Romania at this difficult time.” Difficult time! They were being gunned down by Ceaucescu’s secret police. (Were those monastic intercessions British understatement or liturgical gravitas? Discuss.)

    Should we engage with the news so much, and is it psychologically damaging? The theme is timely for me. I have just in the last half hour arrived home in Spain, on a British Airways flight from London, after taking part in the biggest popular street demonstration for many years: estimates of the numbers who marched from Hyde Park to Parliament Square ranged from 700,000 at the low end to 1.2 million at the more optimistic end. We are in a desperate race to save the United Kingdom – which will be ruined by vulture capitalism if Brexit happens – and many of the one million Brits who live in Europe flew in to London to take part.

    I came to this site to catch up with the Viganò latest, but this theme caught my eye first. No: “we little people” must engage with the news in order to act in the world because Christianity is above all an expression of God’s action in people’s lives. Christian social work, charity, reform; opposition to slavery, exploitation of children, business oppression of native peoples, etc. We have done this, along with people like Saint Francis helping to overcome prejudice against lepers in the 13th century. And it is in the NEWS, which we either listen to – word of mouth – or read, or watch on TV.

    A short summary of world events ant the end of te year does not help you act as a Christian, but simply pray for those who have been affected by forces you never actyed against. I’m with Thomas Merton here, in Contemplation in a World of Action: we have to regard the unsettling news as part of the challenge in our life of prayer. And no way is it psychologically unsettling if our prayer life is solid. And now I’ll catch up on Viganò, who is precisely an excellent example.


  13. johnhenrycn says:

    My friend Gareth writes:

    “I have just in the last half hour arrived home in Spain…No: ‘we little people’ must engage with the news in order to act in the world because Christianity is above all an expression of God’s action in people’s lives. Christian social work, charity, reform; opposition to slavery, exploitation of children, business oppression of native peoples, etc.”

    …to which I ask the following questions:
    1. Does not my comment deserve more than a mere half hour’s deliberation?
    2. Is not your sentence – beginning with “No” – a tautology, or as near as?
    3. Do we know if St Francis ever watched news or read newspapers?

    My submission is that regular exposure to “the NEWS” inures us to evil more than causing us to rise up against it. “I could be wrong”, as Toadspittle, our erstwhile contributor and ex-journalist used to say and usually was. But no – I do not think “the NEWS” is necessary to the formation of a good conscience and to a life of service. It is, in fact, inimical to such things.


  14. Ah, JH… I think there is great merit in what you suggest, and indeed I said I partly shared such a view, but I am not convinced. If everyone who responded to your view was required to spend more than half an hour considering the matter, that would be an excellent use of their time I am sure. And what happened to Toad here anyway – since you mention him? As one who has had to suffer him face to face in reality, I am sure I bear more scars than you!


  15. I would certainly concede that for an extraordinary soul, the news would not be necessary in order to do God’s work. For the Curé d’Ars – for example – the confessions would be the news. For lesser souls like me, the news provides a source for action in prayer.


  16. johnhenrycn says:

    Holy Mother Church is a better place since you became part thereof, Gareth. Say hello for me to your friends, although they spend even less time than you ruminating over what I write here.


  17. johnhenrycn says:

    …and Gareth, if the pension authorities ever play fair and give you a retroactive settlement of your claim, hop on a plane and come to NYC where I will treat you to a nice dinner at Carmine’s – my sister’s wife’s mother’s restaurant where you were once canvassed for admission to a United States monastery. Either the Times Square or Upper West Side locations are ok, but not the Atlantic City or Washington D.C. or Las Vegas ones. My 2005 4 cylinder Honda Accord automobile won’t have it.


  18. Ha ha, JH, indeed the Friars of the Atonement flew me to NY for discussions about joining them. I was quite surpriised to be wined asnd dined in a restaurant. Not the way that the Poor Man of Assisi recruited his followers… Your intelligence is very sound indeed.


  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Equus Africanus Asinus – worthy of our respect and you also for being so devoted to them. It must be a lot of work.


  20. They are hard work but totally lovable and when I was in London at the weekend with a million other protesters against Brexit, I just felt too far away from my donkeys and I couldn’t wait to get back.


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