Ed Feser Explains Why This Time is Different

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Philosopher Ed Feser nails it:

The pattern is by now familiar.  Serious criticisms are leveled by serious people against the pope; the pope ignores them; and his associates and defenders disregard the substance of the criticisms while flinging ad hominem attacks at the critics.  This happened during the doctrinal controversies over Amoris Laetitia and capital punishment, and it is happening again in the wake of Archbishop Vigano’s astonishing testimony.  The pope refuses to answer the charges against him.  The Usual Sycophants try to smear the archbishop and his defenders as disgruntled reactionaries.  Among Uncle Ted’s boys, Cardinal Cupich leapt almost immediately for the bottom of the rhetorical barrel: “Quite frankly, they also don’t like [the pope] because he’s a Latino.”


This “ignore the message and pillory the messenger” strategy would be contemptible coming from a grubby ward politician.  It is, needless to say, utterly unworthy of the Vicar of Christ and his cardinals.  But from the point of view of cynical political calculation, it has its advantages.  It has, after all, seemed to work so far.

However, I don’t think it will work this time.  The conditions that facilitated it before don’t obtain in this case.  Large numbers of Catholics hold heterodox views on matters of divorce and marriage and capital punishment, not to mention many other topics.  They are quite happy with Amoris, the change to the catechism, and all the other doctrinally problematic statements the pope has made over the last five years.  Meanwhile, many orthodox Catholics, well-meaning but naïve, have been willing to put up and shut up as long as they can cobble together some far-fetched interpretation of the problematic statements that seems to preserve continuity with past teaching.  Then there are all the Catholics who aren’t even paying attention to these doctrinal controversies in the first place.  Under these circumstances, writing off the critics as a minority of cranks can be effective.

The current scandal is very different.  Even in the current low state of the Church and society, no one wants to defend predatory perverts and those who cover for them, much less take them on board as close advisors.  Nor are there theological nuances here that might seem to provide the guilty a means of finessing the gravity of their offenses.  The situation is easily understood, and, given its salaciousness, bound to draw the attention and disapproval even of people who ordinarily take no interest in Church affairs.  This isn’t some abstract doctrinal controversy.  It’s a question of what the pope and the cardinals closest to him knew about “Uncle Ted” and when they knew it.  Under these circumstances, refusing to comment except to smear your accusers only lends plausibility to the accusations. 

Go here to read the rest.  This pontificate has reached a crisis point completely of its own making.  Time for one of my favorite poems:



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  1. At one point Judas (a hand-picked by Christ bishop) was, along with Satan, a winner. He had his money, the apostles scattered, perhaps in shock, despair, and confusion, that this man who could raise the dead, and claimed to be the son of God, had indeed died–after committing a perfect hoax.
    Yes, for three days evil had succeeded….and then came the resurrection.

  2. The root of all Church evil: The subversion and subordination (to humanistic hokum) of its mission/raison d’etre: THE SALVATION OF SOULS.

    God’s only begotten Son by His life, death, and Resurrection purchased for His own the rewards of eternal life. Jesus and His Good News (Gospels) does not promise His people a temporal “rose garden.”

  3. Bergoglio, being Argentine and given his surname, is of no doubt Italian heritage (in fact, if there were any two old/new world countries that shared more ancestral heritage than Argentina and Italy I would be hard pressed to find such a pair – maybe the US and England?). To say Vigano, who no doubt shares the same ancestral heritage as Bergoglio hates him because he is “Latino” is like saying English Mr. Jones hates English Mr. Smith because he was born in America, and is therefore “Native American.”

    No, the truth is if Bp. Vigano hates Bergoglio, it is because Bergoglio has made a complete hash of the Church he was supposed to lead.

  4. Not only because he is a billionaire, now I am more envious of Bruce Wayne because he gets to slap Cupich upside the head!

  5. C Matt: Your last sentence, I disagree. The letter was about acts.
    I think Archbishop Vigano loves the Church (his motivation stated) and hates the sin of its current leaders, not them. The letter is an act of love for God and His people, sort of fraternal correction which is unacceptable to them. The Archbishop is a learned gentleman with a kind heart and great faith. It must have been a trial for him to protect what he saw being profaned.

  6. I saw this coming with Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si,” in which he makes judgments about unsettled science (the “truth” of Anthropic Global Warming) and invokes world control of economics (and of whatever else is required) to “solve” problems.

  7. That reminds me..

    You ever wonder how many of our bishops in their mundane life resemble ‘Mayor Adam West’ from Family Guy?

  8. PM, I said “IF” – I have no idea whether or not Vigano personally dislikes Bergoglio. But I am more than extremely confident that, IF he dislikes him, it is not because Bergo is Latin.

  9. The state ought to strip Theodore McCarrick, Cupich, and all of their citizenship as persona non grata. The victims may demand this action. The citizens may demand this action.

  10. “How about Ave Maria U carrying water for the pope and in the process putting the smackdown on Cdl. Burke:”
    Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

  11. “How about Ave Maria U carrying water for the pope and in the process putting the smackdown on Cdl. Burke:”
    Ave Maria U’s bucket has a hole in it. (big enough to turn Death Valley into a pasture)

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