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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Can We Criticize the Pope?

The blogosphere is buzzing with the question of whether it's okay to criticize a pope. I'm not going to answer that question. Rather, I'm going to post here the beginning of a talk given by Dr. William Marra several decades ago. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Marra speak only once before he died, but he was an authentic voice of truth and reason. Please pray for the repose of his soul and meditate on his words. And consider the silliness of saying, "We can never criticize the decisions or imprudent acts of a pope in office, but it's perfectly fine to condemn the acts of previous popes." Now isn't that a head scratcher? 

By Dr. William Marra Ph.D.

Belief and Obedience
My great teacher, Dietrich von Hildebrande wrote four outstanding books on the present crisis in the Church. Recently, his latest book, The Charitable Anathema was published. I wish we could mail a copy to Rome. A chapter in this book contains one of the most important lectures he ever gave to the Roman Forum. It concerns the difference between belief and obedience. He called it the critical difference. It was masterful.
The point is this: if there is a problem on a question of truth, and there’s a big dispute, and finally Rome speaks (invoking its infallible authority) and says, “This statement must be believed de fide”. Then this is the end of the dispute. Roma locuta causa finita. Rome has spoken, the case is finished. That is the end of it. Therefore, we owe assent of belief to statements of truth.
However, practical decisions of Churchmen, even the highest authorities; the Pope, bishops, priests are something quite different. We do not say, for example, that a command of a Pope or decision of a Pope to call a council is true or not. We can say that it is wise or not ... it is opportune or not. Such a decision in no way asks us to assent to its truth. It asks us to obey the command or commands that pertain to us. This is what von Hildebrande meant by difference between belief and obedience. And we Catholics are never obliged to believe that a given command, or given decision of anyone, including the Pope, is necessarily that of the Holy Ghost.  (Read more here.....)


Ann H said...

Mary Ann, there is a statement in the piece that nothing in V2 was declared de fide. However, the Pope ratified the documents of V2 and V2 was an Ecumenical Council and therefore is an authentic teaching of the Bishops and the in unison and qualifies as infallible I think. Will stand ready for correction.

Anonymous said...

Paul VI was asked what degree of certitude are the documents of Vat II. Answer: ordinary pastoral teaching (unless repeating already infallibly taught teachings) Thus they are not infallible.

pete salveinini

Anonymous said...

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Dr Marra.
As Catholics we have not only the right but the responsibility to speak out when the Pope ,Cardinal or any Bishop or priest is quoted or states something that is directly contrary to the Faith or misinterpreted in this manner.
M Voris tells us we should write directly to the Pope rather than doing so in public.However, it is a fact that thousands have written to the Vatican and to their Bishops in the past decades and know that there is rarely a response or even an acknowledgement.
We also do not have to obey any cleric who would instruct contrary to the Faith.
Personally, I found it an affront to all Christians when Pope John Paul 2 kissed the Quran ,no matter what the apologists explained as an act of hospitality, because the book clearly repeats an AntiChristian view of religion that denies the Divinity of Jesus.
I also object to this Pope's answer when asked about sodomite clerics.
"Who am I to judge" will remain a statement in legacy that denigrates not only the authority of the Papacy to interpret Scripture but also to condemn sin.