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Pope vs. dogmas?

English Spanish Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ Profile

Doctors must be patient with those who dare to diagnose illnesses and suggest treatment, even though they have not studied medicine. Something similar is happening now with Church people. There are plenty of amateurs who, in awe with Pope Francis, like to pontificate about the present and future of Catholicism.

Some seem more Catholic than the pope in their concern for the Church. The real pope is not concerned at all; he just makes sure that he serves the Church by fulfilling the responsibility of his Petrine ministry, aware that the Church is not in his hands, did not begin with him and will not end with him. That is a job for Another.

Some state that the Church must change because the world has been dealing with great scientific and technological advancements since it was established. They forget something that has not changed: human nature. Humans in the 21st century are the same as always. They remain rational, provided with an immortal soul and with a vocation to eternal communion with their Creator, a beatific state that can be achieved by the righteous exercise of free will under the breath of divine grace. There are those who say, “What was true yesterday, is not true today.” This may be the case in certain fields of knowledge, but not of humans. If this statement were accepted, we would fall into the dictatorship of relativism, so deplored by Pope Benedict XVI.

Certain pundits say that the Pope should free himself of the “spider web of dogmas.” Well, there’s no such web, nor are there any spiders. Actually, dogmatic definitions are scarce; most of them refer to Christology (Council of Chalcedon, year 451) or Mariology (Blessed Pius IX, 1854) and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Pius XII, 1950). This is the last one defined since the First Vatican Council proclaimed the pope’s infallibility in matters of faith and morals whenever he speaks “ex cathedra” (year 1870). It is clear that the Supreme Pontiffs have not considered it necessary to practice this charism frequently. The standard magisterium will suffice.

Usually, the Church limits itself to explaining, with different levels of theological sophistication, the faith beginning with the Creed; to stress morals based on the Ten Commandments; and to celebrate worship with the seven sacraments. To this, we could add the Liturgy of the Hours and devotions such as the rosary, Way of the Cross and novenas, which are renewed in tune with the culture and the concerns of every historical moment.

Another overused prejudice is to point out that the Church’s teachings are “inadmissible for human beings in the 21st century.” In which century, then, live the millions of believers who today practice the Catholic faith, morals and worship?

Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ
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Comments from readers

Angela - 10/03/2021 11:15 PM
Dear Fr. Barrios, I hope that this message finds you well. Fr., I respect the papacy, but I will never follow a Pope’s distorted opinion. Like the quotes Gustavo wrote, This is where my conscience comes in. This is where I draw the line. And I have a right to do so, because on judgement day, God alone will judge my soul, not Pope Francis. As Catholics we must respect the papacy, but if our dear Pope is confused, not aligned with God’s words, “dogma,” then we must not follow his lead. For he is first and foremost, a human man. Not a divine man like Jesus. Thus, he is more prone to sin than us, because of his position. More temptation placed before him by Satan. Popes are not infallible, the word of God is. They can make mistakes. Even Pope Francis knows this. He confesses like we do. He knows. He always says “pray for me.” There have been many Popes in the history of our church that have strayed and made up their own rules, their own opinions, for their personal agendas, while leading their poorly catechized flock astray. Thus, many souls have been lost.due to this. Because Fr. Barrios, there is a hell. But sadly, many priests & bishops rather not speak of hell, because t’s too scary, not fashionable. Also, no talks of the sins that will lead us to hell. Like abortion. Very little talk about this ongoing evil. This is what we need to hear! True Catholicism. Yet, much to talk about Covid-19 & the environment. The “stay safe,” & “wear a mask” mantra. Guess what? We got the message! We’re smart. So let’s move on. Many are done hearing this covid message from the pulpit. Catholics want more! More true Catholicism from our Pope, our Bishops & pastors. Then I guarantee you that the churches will get full. But no… looks like we’re going the wrong direction as a church. Lead by a very confused Pope who is easily being mislead by many he trusts around him. We continue to pray for our Pope, our faith & church. Long live Christ the king! The one & only true God.
Elizabeth Calero - 09/29/2021 04:11 PM
ANYINSAN - 09/27/2021 11:34 PM
Muy buen trabajo padre berrios,muchos sacerdotes y obispos Estan en contra del Papa,desobedeciendo y no cumpliendo con sus obligaciones en el dia en que tomaron sus votos y provecho esta oracion para resaltar que me he quedado frizado, este Domingo pasado en la misa que se celebro a las 6 de tarde en la iglesia Santa Catalina de Siena en Miami, el sacerdote que la celebro, se atrevio a decir que Cristo no habia fundado la Santa iglesia catolica,que debiamos de aceptar los distintos dones haciendo alusion a los hermanos separados,como que habia que aceptar lo que predicaban los protestantes, por un momento pense que estaba en presencia de un pastor protestante,y estoy Seguro que mas un hermano salio confundido de la misa,que no tenian comunicacion con el Papa, que los Papas pio 12 y juan 23 no habian reconocido ni canonizado a pensadores protestantes, lo que me falto para Levantarme e ir hacia donde estaba fue poco, me dije Yo mismo, esto que cosa es habrase visto semejante cosa,espero esto Llegue a las autoridades pertinentes, directamente Al Obispo de Miami, lo que me impresiono es que era un sacerdote Como se 60 años,es la edad que estimo,hermanos hay que revisar y denunciar estas cosas que no son propias de un sacerdote, una cosa es ser ecumenico (debatir, exponer nuestra doctrina siempre con respeto y otra cosa es decir que esta bien la doctrina protestante,la verdad es que senti que el sacerdote esta bastante confundido, por eso hay que hacer enfasis en la defensa de la fe, para eso esta la apologetica, Dios nos bendiga hermanos
Valli Leone - 09/27/2021 11:18 PM
Thank you, Father Eduardo, for the much-needed insights you shared in this article. To reiterate what Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said: “The Catholic Church is not behind the times; She is BEYOND the times.” The shallow, self-centered culture of instant gratification in which we live is doomed to perish unless we stay sober, alert and docile to the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and that not only did He come into this world to die and rise up for our salvation, but also to establish His family, the Church, on earth. Without this family, we live like orphans with nowhere to rest our heads and with no firm foundation of faith to give us hope. Yes, the one constancy in life is change; and the one truth which never changes is God‘s great love for us made manifest in the power of the Cross and in the stability of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which exists in order to evangelize. When we Catholics start to do our part to spread the Good News in unconditional love and joy, perhaps others will see Jesus in us – – as we also will see Jesus in them. Amen.
Gustavo - 09/27/2021 09:26 PM
Perhaps Fr. can explain how these Francis quotes can be reconciled with Church teaching. 1)“I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; I respect him… nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person… every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not." 2) Francis I response to open letter3 published Sep 2013: “First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that - and this is fundamental - God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience. In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil. The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.”3) interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica1, September 24, 2013: “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being.”4) Never fight! Let the theologians study the abstract realities of theology. But what should I do with a friend, neighbour, an Orthodox person? Be open, be a friend. ‘But should I make efforts to convert him or her?’ There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytize the Orthodox!” L’ Osservatore Romano, October 7, 2016, p. 115 5) Interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica25, Mar 28, 2018: When asked where bad souls are punished, Francis replied: “They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell.
Norma Sanchez - 09/27/2021 12:34 PM
Thank you Father Barrios for your wonderful and simple way to explain the mission of the Holy Father. As a practicing catholic in good standing with the church we are to pray for Our Pope and never criticize him, regardless of our personal likeness and feelings. A house divided cannot stand.
Rafael M. Calvo Forte - 09/27/2021 10:30 AM
De todo hay en la viña del Señor, pero lo que más me llama la atención en estos momentos, es el desprecio y la insubordinación a la legítima autoridad del Obispo de Roma. Me duele escuchar a clérigos referirse a Francisco con desprecio y aupando a laicos de escasa formación y todo este entuerto está basado en querer sublimizar un pasado desconocido. De espaldas al pueblo: les asusta ver al pueblo, prefieren tres horas frente a una custodia a una hora compartiendo con los necesitados de nuestro pueblo. El bendito latín ( que me gusta personalmente), pero que el pueblo no entiende y quienes celebran en esta lengua, la mayoría nunca ha visto la primera declinación. Y es tan grave el asunto, que por este gusto el Pueblo De Dios, no entienda ni se cuestione con la palabra. Los encajes y almidones, el hirripilante bonete, capas , guantes, manteos y los mohosos ornamentos “ guitarra”,hacen incomprensible la eucaristía, que es el pan que se parte, reparte y comparte, para que seamos pan para el pueblo,hambriento de Dios. El uso de los velos en desuso, las descafeinadas novenas y multiplicidad de jaculatorias ahogan la palabra viva y tajante como espada de doble filo. Esto es lo que hace despreciar la sencillez De Francisco, Obispo de Roma, Primus Inter Pares y profeta del siglo XXI.
Dina Lotz Gajdemski - 09/27/2021 10:06 AM
Muy veraz el comentario de Fray Barrios .Sencillo y puro como lo aprendimos en la niñez y lo llevamos dentro del Alma con toda la pureza de nuestra niñez Gracias preste y tantos otros mensajes que recibimos a diario


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