PopeWatch: Clericalism

Share on facebook
Facebook 0
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn 0
Share on reddit
Reddit 0
Share on delicious
Share on digg
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon 0
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print



The Pope had a field day this week, accusing his opponents within the Church of clericalism as he mangled revelation:



The Pope directed his attention to Jesus, who in the day’s Gospel turns to the chief priests and the elders of the people, and focuses precisely on their role. “They had juridical, moral, religious authority,” he said. “They decided everything.” Annas and Caiaphas, for example, “judged Jesus,” they were the high priests who “decided to kill Lazarus”; Judas, too, went to them to “bargain,” and thus “Jesus was sold.” They arrived at this state of “arrogance and tyranny towards the people,” the Pope said, by instrumentalizing the law:

But a law that they have remade many times: so many times, to the point that they had arrived at 500 commandments. Everything was regulated, everything! A law scientifically constructed, because this people was wise, they understood well. They made all these nuances, no? But it was a law without memory: they had forgotten the First Commandment, which God had given to our father Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” They did not walk: they always stopped in their own convictions. They were not blameless!

The people discarded by the intellectuals of religion

And so, the Pope said, they had forgotten the Ten Commandments of Moses”: “With the law they themselves had made – intellectualistic, sophisticated, casuistic – they cancelled the law the Lord had made, they lacked the memory that connects the current moment with Revelation.” In the past their victim was Jesus; in a similar way, now their victim is “the humble and poor people who trust in the Lord,” “those who are discarded,” those who understand repentance even if they do not fulfill the law, and suffer these injustices. They feel “condemned,” and “abused,” the Pope said, by those who are vain, proud, arrogant.” And one who was cast aside by these people, Pope Francis observed, was Judas:

Judas was a traitor, he sinned gravely, eh! He sinned forcefully. But then the Gospel says, “He repented, and went to them to return the money.” And what did they do? “But you were our associate. Be calm… We have the power to forgive you for everything!” No! “Make whatever arrangement you can!” [they said.] “It’s your problem!” And they left him alone: discarded! The poor Judas, a traitor and repentant, was not welcomed by the pastors. Because these people had forgotten what it was to be a pastor. They were the intellectuals of religion, those who had the power, who advanced the catechesis of the people with a morality composed by their own intelligence and not by the revelation.

The evil of clericalism can still be found in the Church today

 “A humble people, discarded and beaten by these people.” Even today, the Pope observed, this sometimes happens in the Church. “There is that spirit of clericalism,” he explained: “Clerics feel they are superior, they are far from the people”; they have no time to hear the poor, the suffering, prisoners, the sick”:


Go here to read the rest.  The Pope seems to confuse the Sadducees, the temple priests, with the Pharisees.   The Sadducees contended that they held strictly to Holy Writ, while it was the Pharisees, their adversaries, who added to Scripture such novelties as the resurrection of the body.  The Pope could use one of his swear words, fundamentalist, more accurately against the Sadducees, rather than accusations that they twisted the Law for their purposes, which is the accusation that Christ made against the Pharisees.  In regard to Judas, I assume that the Sadducees would have been puzzled since from their viewpoint Judas did nothing that required repentance.  He had aided them in capturing a man who claimed to be God, and no greater blasphemy was imaginable to almost all Jews.  PopeWatch assumes that the Pope will always bash his adversaries within the Church, but it would be nice if he could keep his mitts off a history he clearly does not understand.

More to explorer

Brightness to the Sun

  This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. We are met to celebrate this day. Washington

Hate Crime

News that I missed courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a statement to D.C. police given Tuesday, senator and presidential

PopeWatch: Cardenal

  Hattip to commenter Greg Mockeridge.  Pope John Paul II shaking his finger at Ernesto Cardenal, Culture Minister for the Sandinista government


  1. . Typical is that he thinks the hundreds of OT laws for the Jews were not from God but made up by the Jews themselves. No…..here is Aquinas in his essay saying the opposite of Francis:

    ” I answer that, The Law was given by God through the angels. And besides the general reason given by Dionysius (Coel. Hier. iv), viz. that “the gifts of God should be brought to men by means of the angels,” there is a special reason why the Old Law should have been given through them. For it has been stated (Articles 1 and 2) that the Old Law was imperfect, and yet disposed man to that perfect salvation of the human race, which was to come through Christ. Now it is to be observed that wherever there is an order of powers or arts, he that holds the highest place, himself exercises the principal and perfect acts; while those things which dispose to the ultimate perfection are effected by him through his subordinates: thus the ship-builder himself rivets the planks together, but prepares the material by means of the workmen who assist him under his direction. Consequently it was fitting that the perfect law of the New Testament should be given by the incarnate God immediately; but that the Old Law should be given to men by the ministers of God, i.e. by the angels. It is thus that the Apostle at the beginning of his epistle to the Hebrews (1:2) proves the excellence of the New Law over the Old; because in the New Testament “God . . . hath spoken to us by His Son,” whereas in the Old Testament “the word was spoken by angels” (Hebrews 2:2).”

  2. This is tiresome. Everything is political, every homily, speech, and interview an occasion to malign his opponents, real and imagined. What kind of man behaves this way?

  3. Excellent comment, and illuminating comment (re. Aquinas and the source of the OT law), Bill Bannon.

    “A law scientifically constructed, because this people was wise, they understood well. ”

    When P Francis attempts to mock law and tradition, he inevitably falls into unconscious self-mockery. Do you mean, Papa Francesco, “a law ‘scientifically constructed'” by man, such as “global warming” (or is it “climate-change”? Or is it “global-freezing”, as Paul Erlich threateningly intoned in the 1970’s?),to which you offer obeisance? The Pharisees and Scribes of today fill the Halls of “Science”, even in the Vatican (Hans Schellnhuber, Jeffrey Sachs, and the rest of the Order of Knights Environmental).

    And where is Christ in all this? No room at the inn.

  4. Of course, Marcion of Sinope (d. 144) was the heretic that discarded the entire OT Scriptures and only believed in the all-forgiving God of the NT. Sound familiar?

  5. Where are these deficient priests? I have never met them. All of the priests I have known have worn themselves out in giving themselves to our parish. While they all had different gifts and weaknesses, they are loving and work endlessly to be there for us. It seems like Pope Francis is always talking about priests who are cold, mean and uncaring. I have never met one that I considered to be that way.

  6. Steve,
    Augustine’s original group, the Manicheans, also saw the OT God as evil himself. Moderns like Francis solve the dilemna by attributing much of the OT to man rather than God. Late in life both St. John Paul II and Benedict did the same thing around OT violence issues but only did so in somewhat buried written moments away from media ( see Benedict subtly denounce the OT massacres as human sins in Verbum Domini 42 ( a few were…others were ordered by God clearly))…( see St.John Paul II disparage the OT death penalties of the Law in section 40 of Evangelium Vitae…also clearly ordered by God). Quite simply…at some point after Vatcan II and not it’s fault, Catholic clergy almost to a man in the West…began reading exegesis that was Protestant derived but also imitated greatly by Catholic biblical scholars like Fr. Raymond Brown who tried to be as demythologizing as Protestant scholars. There was a point to some of it but there was and is intellectual viruses attached. Just read the footnotes of the NAB Bible at the usccb website and you’ll see the pandemic damage of scholars repeatedly ashamed of the OT…try Sirach 25 and it’s panicky footnote seeking to disparage it on women.
    What’s new with Francis is that he goes verbal in sermons with this politically correct crap and all other Popes after Vat.II were hiding it in written subtle moments only. Francis is the Trump of modern bad exegesis…he weekly burps out this stuff whereas Benedict literally hid it in VD42.

  7. wow-I’ve just read one sentence: “They had juridical, moral, religious authority,” he said. “They decided everything ”
    oh my gosh did you hear what he said there!? It shows his mindset…which I am afraid is a secular one,
    Bill Bannon is 100% right.
    Pope seems not to realize authority comes from the Author. This is why he thinks we decide what is right when we form our conscience. No! Our conscience is a herald of the truth– Truth that pre-exists us… we don’t make it up. Clerics decide only to apply known revealed truth.
    poop is trying to make paradise on earth if we can just get it right – economically, socially, politically, environmentally.

  8. Anzlyne,
    Lol….you spelled Pope…poop….second to last line. The subconscious mind is powerful. He’s the Pope…his ideas are often poop.

  9. I wasn’t even sure where to start, but now I am. I feel that it is a Marxist viewpoint to assume that the wealthy are sinful and the poor are virtuous. Yes, the gospel requires us to look out for the innocent and the defenseless. Who is more innocent or defenseless than the unborn? Surely one is not innocent by being poor or being a migrant, but through the grace of God. This seems like repackaged class warfare rather than the Gospel.

  10. 🙂 The pope is Luther redux.

    I looked for this quote that I had read a long time back and I think is SO important. It is from Cardinal Avery Dulles -may he rest in peace..

    ” St. Bonaventure spells out this relationship more explicitly. In a text quoted by John Paul II he writes: “Conscience is like God’s herald and messenger; it does not command things on its own authority, but commands them as coming from God’s authority, like a herald when he proclaims the edict of a king. This is why conscience has a binding force.”

    The pope not only doesn’t listen to Authoritative church teaching, he thinks the Church has no authority to teach or – Clericalism.
    He is not just saying a person may consult their conscience and decide against Church teaching, the pope is also saying the Church should not be teaching .. Each person can just decide for themselves,
    … “those who understand repentance even if they do not fulfill the law, and suffer these injustices.”

  11. I take it the Pope is referencing the behavior of the four rigid Cardinals who insist upon the literal and uncharitable interpretation of Christ’s teaching. Not only are these Cardinals rigid but they are compared to the temple priests who bribed Judas to sell out Jesus. And even worse these four Cardinals implicitly have such hardness of heart that, like the temple priests, refuse to give absolution to a repentant sinner. Bottom line: The four cardinals are evil. And conversely Pope Francis is wonderfully saintly, even better than Jesus in some ways.

    I wonder how many in the pope’s audience agree with him.

  12. I have had times that I prayed to the Lord about someone heinous, like Madelyn Murray O’hare, and asked Him if I should utter a prayer of “Conversion” for that person. I speak of the prayer revealed to Saint Faustina. And I felt strongly that the Lord did not wish it ! So I abstained from doing so.
    My son asked me once if I thought it was appropriate to pray for those in Hell. I told him to ask the Lord.

  13. Anyone wishing to get a handle on where I’m coming from, can check out my new
    book, title : “Wings held up by Hope” by me Timothy Reed. Halo publishing.

  14. Michael Dowd.

    Your right….how many of his audience feels like that? My guess..the majority.
    Luther and Francis.
    I wonder if Francis feels himself to be a New Luther in a sense. He’s going to right the wrongs of over 2,000 years of teaching.
    His audience will wildly applaud.
    More “Deplorables,” will be lashed at verbally.

  15. Regarding praying for those who evidently and obstinately reject the Faith (I am not talking about P Francis here), like Madelyn Murray O’Hare — or recently in another discussion lately, some of the New Agnostic Catholic Church were trying to get people to pray for the now-room-temperature Castro—yes. The best discussion I have yet found is in the 1904 Catholic Encyclopedia by Fr. J. Toner, STD, the points of which I have drawn on:

    Fr. Toner states persons may in fact privately pray for the dead, some of whom may in fact turn out to be damned.

    In at least one recorded case, a certain priest who violated serious canons was forbidden to have prayers after death for his soul: “No offering might be made for his repose, or any prayer offered in the Church in his name” (Ep. LXVI, Patrem Latinum, IV, p.399).

    However, S Thomas Aquinas considered it “rash and unfounded” (In Sent. IV, xlv, q. ii, a. 2): So, we may reasonably conclude praying for an utter reprobate like Castro (or Stalin; or Hitler; or Robespierre), the lives of whom a rational and informed assessment tells us never ever sought any reconciliation with the Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is scandalous and absurd.

    “There is no restriction by Divine or ecclesiastical law as to those of the dead for whom private prayer may be offered — except that they may not be offered formally either for the blessed in heaven or for the damned.”

    I think the best take-away is Aquinas’ view — to intentionally pray for the damned is “rash and unfounded.”

  16. Steve Phoenix: I think the best take-away is Aquinas’ view — to intentionally pray for the damned is “rash and unfounded.” That is certainly true but how can we know who is or is not among the damned? Even a Hitler may have been insane. I think one would almost have to be insane to countenance such evil acts. Otherwise, I hesitate to strongly opine on matters I so weakly understand. God have mercy on us all.

  17. A huge part of the problem, pertaining to Humanity, is the fact that we just cannot comprehend the notion of Eternity. We are born into a World that seems to be designed around the infamous Zero-sum Game. Ten minus three always equals seven, and so forth.
    But if the Zero-sum Game is etched into concrete, as all atheists want us to “believe”, that
    etching has been put there by flawed, limited humans, not by God.
    Whenever we limited Humans witness an event that flies in the face of the Zero-sum Game,
    we timidly try to write it off. We grasp at straws in an effort to find a “real” explanation, any explanation, even stupid suggestions, anything that will help ease us back into our “comfort zone”, solidly smack in the center of our beloved Zero-sum Game solution. Even “devout” Christians try to keep God in a box, so that they can control Him. An example of
    this principle is when we hear someone say, “We’ve tried everything but prayer”, as if prayer should always be out last resort.
    The result forms our beloved equation for Life : Everything we see, as marvelous as it is, is actually a result of Chaos. We cherish our Nobel Prize winners, when they tell us to NEVER use the terms “Never” or ” Always”. It’s not the Universe that is in Chaos. It is US !
    We use the term “coward” to describe those that will not stand up to bullies. The real definition should be applied to those who flee from Truth !
    Timothy Reed

  18. Acknowledgements to comments of Mr. Walsh and Mr Reed. Considering the question of final perseverance and praying for the *faithful* departed, absolutely.

    However, the panegyrics that recently erupted, at least on the Left Coast, with the moving concern by the Catholic Left and their martinet-style instruction that “we should pray for Castro’s soul” left me cold. Absolutely not.

    It not only represents the New Agnostic Catholic Church, where nothing objective can ever be known; it tries to sanctify a man as heartless and murderous as Castro, who never ever for a split-second in his life evinced a half-spark of regret, sorrow, remorse, should be considered as possibly gaining heaven by some unknown, unperceived, unfactual last moment of “perfect contrition”. (Remember that ‘lost teaching”?)
    Prayers for his victims, yes; not a half-Ave for a devil incarnate from hell

  19. And then there is this, related to “what we used to believe” about “perfect contrition”:

    S. Alphonsus Liguori quotes S. Bernard: “”The heart that has been obstinate in sin during life will use its utmost endeavors to excape damnation, but will not succeed, and overwhelmed by its own malice, will end life in the same state.” (“Considerations on the Eternal Maxims,” VI)

    [Sound like Castro to you? It does to a reasoning, sane person, that believes a reasonable assessment of objective facts can relate to a reasoning, just God’s ordering of the universe.]

    S Alphonsus —and he would know, I expect—-even goes further and also teaches contrition by necessity alone is insufficient: “He who is left in sin before he himself leaves it, does not condemn it by his own free will, but by necessity.” He is virtually blunt in saying that the obstinate sinner cannot repent at the end (my paraphrasing: you have to read his full context. “Preparation For Death”, some of the sermons of S Alphonsus Liguori, captures his force and exposition, re-published by TAN, now St. Benedict Press, Charleston SC)

    Yes, we should pray for all those who seemed to be seeking reconciliation with God at the end, so many friends and acquaintances, whose lives were imperfect like mine and yours. But praying for Castro, his lieutenants, his rotten brother—spare me, I beg of you.

    As for Ted Kennedy, I cannot bring myself to pray for that man. I commend him to God’s mercy and justice.

  20. S Alphonsus would not nor should we counsel anyone to rely on a deathbed last gasp attempt at eternal life. Yet even the judge who issues a death penalty sentence might intone, “And may God have mercy on your soul”. Such is a prayer on its face. God desires not the death of the sinner but that he be converted and live. Then there is Sister Faustina and the Divine Mercy private revelations. There may be something about Our Lord confronting the perhaps hardened sinner with a final choice, and pulling them in over the finish line at the least sign of repentance. About this I am not well versed. More than that I am not qualified to say.

  21. Steve,
    St. Alphonsus could have been in a time frame that was outraging him about hardened sinners but I don’t see how his comments square with the good thief frankly not only being saved but getting a plenary indulgence from Christ and keep in mind that he was prior …denigrating Christ at the beginning of their crucifixion according to Mark 15:32…” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.”
    That detail bespeaks exactly a hardened crimnal not a newbie to the thief trade or one who robbed out of dire necessity. Sounds like he was a longtime thug until he changed as the crucifixion pain brought death closer and closer.

Comments are closed.