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Do you really think it’s right for Catholics to publicly criticize the Pope and bishops?

I became a Catholic because I saw the miserable chaos of religion without authority.  “There was no king in those days; every man did what is right in his own eyes.”

I understand how crucial it was for there to be a visible head for the visible Church on earth and knew that the only possible candidate for that role was the Pope.

To find Catholics acting and speaking in opposition to the Pope and bishops, with the same arrogance as Protestants has been one of the most upsetting things in my Catholic life.

Watching Catholic men follow random men, many of whom are converts, in public criticism of the Pope and bishops is incomprehensible.

That’s what Protestants do.

The hear their justification for their behavior is even worse. The ignorance and irrationality in their responses is cringeowrthy.

“What about St. Catherine?”

If you think St. Catherine criticized Popes, you have never read the life of St. Catherine. She never did any such thing and refused to even offer advice to the Pope when he requested it of her. She had to be commanded by the Pope to offer him advice.

“What about St. Robert Bellarmine?”

You mean the same Robert Bellarmine who opposed Galileo because his scientific theories opposed the authority of the Church? That Robert Bellarmine?

“Yes, but he wrote..”

You never read Robert Bellarmine criticizing a Pope and if he did speak of the possibility of a Pope erring, it was only that: a possibility. None of your criticism is automatically justified because Robert Bellarmine said it’s possible for a Pope to err. Were the Protestants also right?


Why not?

Go ahead, answer.


  1. Matt N Matt N April 11, 2024

    What do you think is the appropriate response for well-meaning Catholics to some of the things coming out of the Vatican? I agree a lot of it is overblown or misrepresented and many of the loudest commentators on social media can be disrespectful or self-aggrandizing, but I also think its reasonable for well-intentioned, obedient Catholics to have concerns or difficulties with certain things that have happened.

    For example, what is one to make of the latest issue with the document saying human beings have infinite dignity? I personally would never go on social media and call the Pope a heretic or whatever else, and that is probably inappropriate for laymen, or even clergy, to do, but that statement does seem to have some philosophical problems, no? The arguments by some of the ‘trad’ commentators seem sound, and the attempts I’ve seen to defend or explain it away are weak, to say the least. I am very confident in believing that if the exact same things were said by any other theologian, no one would attempt to defend it.

  2. William C. Michael, O.P. William C. Michael, O.P. Post author | April 11, 2024

    You’re just repeating things others are making a fuss about, as Protestants do.

    Here’s the problem: the Pope has all authority in the Catholic Church. Therefore, if anyone contradicts him on any matter of faith or morals, ALL of the burden of proof lies on them and they are bound to demonstrate that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reconcile what he says with divine revelation.

    This is never done, meaning that all of this contradicting is simple insubordination, that is, sin–as if one of the disciples would contradict Jesus himself, you know, as Peter did when Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.”

    What the “trad” commentators are doing is contradicting the Pope on matters of faith and morals with PLAUSIBLE arguments that may also appear to reconcile with divine revelation. However, they have no authority and, consequently, this is not sufficient for their cause. This is EXACTLY what Protestants do and why all of their arguments are vain. The Pope is in the position of authority, like a father in a household. The father can express his will and the Scriptures says, “Children obey your parents.” and “Wives, obey your husbands.” Therefore, for a child or wife to disobey or contradict the head of the household, they cannot simply present another possible option as a justification for defiance. They must prove his will to be contrary to God’s will and impossible to reconcile with it.

    The “trad” Catholics are defying the authority of the Pope with merely plausible arguments, that is, they are disobeying God.

  3. Matt N Matt N April 11, 2024

    Do you consider it sinful disobedience for a Catholic to think in his mind, but not express it publicly, that the statement about all human beings having infinite dignity is odd coming from a Pope?

    • William C. Michael, O.P. William C. Michael, O.P. Post author | April 11, 2024

      No one would know if a Catholic was thinking if he kept it to himself. The Virgin Mary, on the other hand, kept her questions to herself because she, apparently, didn’t have the wisdom or authority of random “trad” Catholics.

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