Professor John Rist, a convert from agnosticism to Catholicism, and one of the foremost Classicists of our time, is a signatory of the letter accusing the Pope of heresy. Edward Pentin interviews him about the letter:
How far has the letter achieved its goal?
I do not think the letter has achieved its goal — nor did I think there was much chance that it would, at least in the short run. That is because the Pope can always shelter behind silence, and there is a servile mentality among the episcopate (and many others, even conservative commentators), which is squeamish about criticizing a pope. Such commentators approximate too closely to reducing the sacred and unchallengeable dogmatic teachings of the Church to the utterances of a pope: the Father [Thomas] Rosica theory of the present papacy!
Why release the letter now, what prompted its publication, and how many people were asked to sign it?
I did not organize the letter so I cannot answer your questions. But I do know that there was considerable debate about the content. I was only involved relatively late on and agreed to sign because I thought the general approach was essential at this time. I doubt whether a document could be written in which everyone would agree with all the wording: that is, unless it were so bland as to be pointless.
What do you say to the various criticisms of the letter: that it represents an “extreme” and “intemperate” approach which “overstates” the case — as some see it — and this makes further criticism of this pontificate harder?
Criticisms of intemperance, etc., whatever their intent, can only have the effect of diverting attention from the main concerns: that the Pope is deliberately using ambiguity to change doctrine and that the attitude he adopts over appointments indicates that he is out of sympathy (to put it mildly) with traditional Catholic teachings on a whole range of subjects. Fussing about “extremism,” etc. seems like fiddling while Rome burns; what it shows is that even many conservatives do not want to grasp the gravity of a situation where the Pope seems bent on turning the Church into a vaguely spiritually flavored NGO.
Another criticism is that the signatories are not in a position to accuse the Pope of heresy, that only bishops can hold him to account for such a charge, and that the letter would have been better just calling on bishops to investigate the alleged heresies rather than accusing the Pope of them. What is your response to this view?
But calling on the bishops is precisely what the letter does! The signatories are not in a position to convict a pope of heresy; they are in a position to “prosecute” the charge, and we judged it was our duty to do so. The letter is primarily and immediately a challenge to the bishops to act rather than ignore or wring hands only.
Go here to read the rest. What an odd time in which we live. An open letter is written by notable Catholic scholars accusing the Pope of heresy. Most Cardinals and Bishops do not comment, but merely remaining silent. Their silence condemns both the Pope and themselves. The Lord hates cowards and the lukewarm, and we have endless amounts of both taking up space at the higher levels of the Hierarchy.