What’s good for the goose is good for the gander…
Ecclesial Civil War:
Pro Pope Francis Web Site counters Filial Correction Movement
In the Novus Ordo Sect, false principles are once again coming home to roost. If a number of conservatives in the Vatican II Church can correct the “Pope”, then there is no reason why a number of liberals can’t support him, and this is exactly what has now happened.
On Sep. 23, 2017, the now-famous “Filial Correction” went online, a well-documented study refuting various heresies and errors propagated by “Pope” Francis. It was originally signed by 62 clerics and lay individuals, most of them not very well known. As of today, Oct. 17, 2017, the total number of signatories has increased to 245.
The individuals behind the Filial Correction probably thought that their initiative could either get Francis to renounce his errors and change course, or else it would at least settle the matter doctrinally and prove Francis wrong. What they apparently didn’t consider is that if the Pope’s Magisterium can be “corrected” by a number of inferiors, then those inferiors can likewise be corrected themselves — certainly by the Pope himself, or even by other members of the Church.
In fact, to call their document a Filial Correction is itself problematic. Correction implies — perhaps not necessarily, but it does suggest — that its authors have the authority or ability to settle the matter in question. They correct an individual, and that is the end of it; similar to how a teacher corrects a student.
Since, however, the issues that pertain to the “papal” exhortation Amoris Laetitia are doctrinal in nature and the ultimate doctrinal authority in the Catholic Church is the Pope, they are in no position to correct the papal Magisterium. Rather, the papal Magisterium corrects them. At least that’s how it is in the Catholic Church:
…[I]t is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)
Perhaps our “filial correctors” would like to correct Pope Leo XIII as well? What, pray tell, should keep them from it in principle?
Back in August, Sedevacantist Bishop Donald Sanborn had pointed out the futility of any effort to correct the papal Magisterium on a matter of doctrine (and no, the case of Pope John XXII is not a historical precedent): “The very notion of correcting a pope in a matter of magisterium ruins the teaching authority of the Church. To which doctrine do we give assent? To the pope’s doctrine or to the correctors’ doctrine?” (“Formal Correction”, In Veritate, Aug. 25, 2017).
This is precisely the quandary that presents itself now, because although Francis has not yet publicly addressed the Filial Correction, a group of liberal Novus Ordos has decided to do more or less the same thing the correctors have done, just in reverse: They have published a web site with an open letter in support of Francis’s heresies and errors propagated in Amoris Laetitia.
In other words: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If correctors can resist the “Pope”, then counter-correctors can support him. As of today, there are 116 signatories listed on the web site, and a public petition has countless additional supporters (the total count is 2,125 at the time of this writing).
The web site is called Pro Pope Francis and is maintained by Fr. Paul Zulehner, an Austrian Novus Ordo theologian and sociologist. The site is available in an English and a German version:
The site opens with the following open letter to the “Pope”:
Dear highly esteemed Pope Francis,
Your pastoral initiatives and their theological justification are currently under vehement attack by a group in the church. With this open letter, we wish to express our gratitude for your courageous and theologically sound papal leadership.
In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus. Wounded people and wounded nature go straight to your heart. You see the church as a field hospital on the margins of life. Your concern is every single person loved by God. When encountering others, compassion and not the law shall have the last word. God and God’s mercy characterize the pastoral culture that you expect from the church. You dream of a “church as mother and shepherdess.” We share your dream.
We ask that you would not veer from the path you have taken, and we assure you of our full support and constant prayer.
In addition to Fr. Zulehner, other Modernist figures that are publicly supporting the Pro Pope Francis initiative include a good number of “bishops”, such as “Bp.” Miklós Beer of Vác, Hungary, “Bp.” Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, and the former auxiliary “Bp.” Helmut Krätzl of Vienna, Austria. The Jesuit Andreas Batlogg and the Benedictine Anselm Grün are also among the signatories, as well as many other non-Catholics, both (putative) clergy and laity.
As of this writing, the Pro Pope Francis web site does not attempt any theological justification of the heresies and errors of Francis, but that’s not even all that relevant. It isn’t all that relevant because others have already done so and because if Francis is Pope, then his Magisterium must be followed by all Catholics, since each Pope has exactly as much magisterial authority as any other Pope (yes, accepting someone as a valid Pope has consequences — imagine!):
Similarly, it is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)
And no, a Catholic is not allowed to reject an act of the Magisterium if he is personally convinced that what is proposed was not believed “always and everywhere.” The “always and everywhere” canard is a favorite tool used by the Semi-Traditionalists to justify their rejection of Novus Ordo errors while still recognizing their propagators as valid Popes, but it is based on a misrepresentation of the teaching of St. Vincent of Lerins:
Thus, it looks like the filial correctors are being beaten at their own game. Far from “correcting” any situation, the Filial Correction is accomplishing only one thing for sure: It is bringing out into the open what has been developing underground for a long time: an ecclesial civil war.
Too bad neither side is Catholic.
Image source: own composite using screenshot elements from pro-pope-francis.com and correctiofilialis.org
License: fair use