15 February 2018, The Tablet

Pope Francis hits back at those who cry 'heresy'

Failure to accept Second Vatican Council is at heart of resistance to pontificate, says Pope

Pope Francis hits back at those who cry 'heresy'

Pope Francis has criticised those who make accusations of heresy and believe they possess the Church’s “true doctrine”, stating that it is not possible to dialogue with them. 

In remarks made in a question and answer session with fellow Jesuits during his recent visit to Chile and Peru, the Latin American Pope said he is willing to have discussions with those resistance to his pontificate but has decided simply to pray for people accusing him of being a heretic. 

Following the publication of his family life document opening the way for divorced and re-married Catholics to receive communion, there are those accusing Francis of breaking with church doctrine. Last September a small group of priests and theologians even accused him of allowing the spread of heresy.  

“When I perceive resistance, I seek dialogue whenever it is possible, but some resistance comes from people who believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse you of being a heretic,” explained Pope Francis. 

“When I cannot see spiritual goodness in what these people say or write, I simply pray for them. I find it sad, but I won’t settle on this sentiment for the sake of my own mental well-being.”

The Pope also explains he does not read internet sites that pursue what he described as a “so-called resistance” against his pontificate in order to protect his “mental health”.

Fellow cardinals are among the critics of Pope Francis’ moves to give communion to remarried Catholics. Some issued a series of questions, or “dubia” – Latin for doubts – for him to answer. Up until now the Pope has refused to meet with the concerned prelates, led by the United States’ Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is based in Rome as Patron of the Order of Malta, and discuss their concerns. They have put questions demanding "yes" or "no" answers from the Pope and that centre on interpretations of his Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia”. 

The vocal criticism faced by Francis is unprecedented for the papacy in recent decades. Cardinal Burke has even threatened to issue the Pope with a correction if he does not respond to the dubia. 

Talking to the Jesuits, Francis said he was saddened to see a person join a “campaign of resistance” arguing the heart of those opposed to his pontificate are those who have not absorbed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The 1962-65 council set forward the blueprint for contemporary Catholicism. 

“Sometimes we ask: but that man, that woman, have they read the Council? And there are people who have not read the Council. And if they have read it, they have not understood it,” said Pope Francis. 

“The famous ‘this has always been done this way’ reigns everywhere: ‘It has always been done this way, why should we change? If things are the way they are, they have always been done this way, so why change?’ This a great temptation that we all faced in the period after the Second Vatican Council. The resistances are still present and try to tell us to relativise the Council, to water it down.”

Pic: Pope Francis poses with Jesuits of Chile during a Jan. 16 meeting at the Shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado in Santiago. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

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