The democratic mentality and criticism of a sitting Pope

The norm in public discourse in America and the west more broadly is that if you dislike something a leader does, you publicly lambast them for it.

This is, of course, a fool’s errand (and democracy is supremely foolish). But as terrible as this is for civic discourse, the effects on discourse in the Church are even more harmful. The Pope (and the bishops generally) is a monarch, and this form of critique is anathema to the type of government which is proper to the Church. The problem with democracy, or democratized monarchies, is that lambasting authorities doesn’t build them, but rather just tears them down. Want to endlessly criticize everything the government does, you’ll get a weak-willed cowardly President. Want to be a hippie who hates the Church authorities? You’ll get a hippie Pope.

More fuel on the fire, is still not going to put it out.


4 thoughts on “The democratic mentality and criticism of a sitting Pope

    • Lambasting dead Popes is also problematic, but not for precisely the same reason.

      Lambasting past Popes tends to degrade the Church (just as criticism of the crusade does). Lambasting current ones tends to degrade authority.

      I’d also note that simply saying “I think X action was less than prudent” or the like isn’t so much problematic as “Pope Francis is ruining the Church/going to give communion to adulterers/etc.”


  1. McLaughlin says:

    I agree wholeheartedly AR. No matter how deserving of criticism the Holy Father may be, in discussing Bergoglian slips with non-Catholics (and cultural Catholics, for that matter) I am always at pains to couch any criticism in “softer” tones for fear of confirming the listener’s anti-Catholic prejudices.


    • Exactly. There is a selfish tendency among some Catholic bloggers to view public discourse as nothing but a vehicle for venting their spleens. What you say demonstrates the folly of this, you wouldn’t (hopefully) lambast the Pope like that to weak/non-Catholics in private, so why would you do it in public?

      Liked by 1 person

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