Father Zed answers a reader who is thinking of leaving the Church. Father says 'Run for the hills. Good luck with that. I will not run.' And nor will I! Francis cannot drive me out of the Church!
From Fr Z's Blog
From a reader…
Now, to the point: How can I remain a Catholic when I UTTERLY reject Jorge Bergoglio as a false prophet of the devil? I can in no way continue to acknowledge him during Mass. Going to TLM doesn’t alleviate my doubts. My conscience absolutely forbids me from ever again listening to or acknowledging that man.
This is quite a dilemma for me. I am seriously considering heading to the Orthdox Church or finding a conservative evangelical church.
Hmmm. That seems like a “No” vote for Bergoglio.
I am not going to get into the arguments for or against Francis as pope or antipope. For what I have to say to the idea of leaving the Church because of him, one way or another, I don’t have to get into that controversy.
Why? Holy Catholic Church is indefectible. This is one of the three attributes of the Church, along with authority and infallibility.
Your question holds two possible implications. First, “I don’t like Bergoglio, so I’m going somewhere else.” That’s just whining, like a kid who doesn’t like broccoli and goes hungry.
Otherwise, your implication is that if Francis isn’t really the pope, the Vicar of Christ, then somehow the Church is now defective and you might as well go some place else.
No. And NO! And HELL NO!
If we believe Christ’s promises – and I sure do – then we hold that the Church will not fail even to the end of the world when He returns to take all things to Himself and submit them to the Father.
The Petrine Ministry is part of the fabric of the Church as the Lord designed. Somehow, until the ending of the world, the Church – and hence the papacy – cannot fail, even though we don’t know how.
As necessary as the papacy is, a pope is Christ’s VICAR, not Christ himself. As the sardonic Latin acrostic puts it, a VICARIUS is Vir Inutilis Carens Auctoritate Rare Intelligentiae Umbra Superioris, that is, “A useless man, lacking authority, rarely of intelligence, the shadow of his superior.” That’s every pope, compared to Christ.
It is dangerous to place too much emphasis on any pope.
Look, friend, popes come and popes go. There have been long periods of time between popes. There have been long periods of time when there was terrible confusion about who was the real pope. Even saints got it wrong and backed the wrong guy. For centuries people had no idea who the pope was, even his name, and they lived good Catholic lives, minding their own business and trying to be holy in their vocations.
Popes can be good. Popes can be bad. Popes can have short or long pontificates. Popes can be talented or doddering. Popes can be charming or jerks. Popes can be holy of sinful. Popes can be important or insignificant.
Only one this is clear about popes, and the Romans get this right: Muore un papa se ne fa un altro… A pope dies, you make another. We make another until Christ returns. Somehow that’s the way our Church will always be even if we don’t like the choice.
As for your chicken-livered notion about going outside the Church, I’ll offer what Lumen gentium 14 teaches:
14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.
Refuse to enter or refuse to remain in the Church knowing that the Catholic Church is necessary? Bad odds.
These are hard times. Confusing. Fearful. Dangerous. But these are the times into which God called us to live. That means he offers us the graces we will need to live our vocations well. It could be that you have to completely tune out of the larger churchy news and put your nose to your personal grindstone and live your vocation well.
God didn’t call us into existence at random, but rather with a plan and a purpose for every one of us. He called YOU, friend, into this life HERE and NOW, not at some other time and place. These are the circumstances of our lives. We are the soldiers of the Church Militant God wants NOW. Are you suffering? Embrace it. Offer it in reparation. Are you afraid? Throw yourself at the feet of the Mother of God and beg her protective mantle. Clasp onto St. Joseph, Defender of the Church.
Fast. Give alms. Pray. But don’t be a coward.
Either pick up your Cross and your sword and get your ass back to the lines or go crawling off somewhere. We’ll do your duty along with our own. Run for the hills. Good luck with that.
I will not run.