Siding with Cardinals Burke and Sarah against the Pope

Many conservatives Catholics today are speaking out against Pope Francis, with varying levels and types of criticism. And they tend to use the names and reputations of Cardinals Burke and Sarah to bolster their opposition to the Roman Pontiff. But in truth, it is not faithful for a Catholic to side with any Cardinals against any Pope.

I will always support and side with the Roman Pontiff, whomever he may be, even if I disagree with his personal theological opinions or his decisions on discipline, and even if I think I have found some limited errors in his non-infallible teachings. For each and every valid Pope is:

* Our Holy Father
* Supreme Head of the whole Church
* Father and Teacher of all Christians
* Supreme Pontiff
* True Vicar of Christ
* Supreme and Universal Pastor
* Ruler of Christ’s whole fold
* Supreme Judge of the faithful
* Successor to Saint Peter
* Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church
* Rock on which the Church is founded
* Pilot and Helmsman of the Ark of Salvation

And no Patriarch, or Primate, or Cardinal, or Bishop, or priest, or deacon, or religious, or theologian, or popular Catholic author, nor any set of the aforementioned persons, has any of those roles nor any role equal to, or above, those roles.

Can an Ecumenical Council oppose the current Pope, or remove him from office, or refute his teaching? No, for a Council does not exist apart from the current Roman Pontiff as the head of the Council. A Council which opposes the Pope, is not a Council.

Why do some papal critics side with Cardinals Burke and Sarah, or with some groups of Bishops, priests, and theologians and against the Pope? I tell you, it is not because those persons have a certain role in the Church. For the Pope has the greater role. And it is not because those persons are particularly holy or scholarly or insightful. For there are always some leaders in the Church who are contend with the Pope. The papal critics consider Burke and Sarah and others to be holy or scholarly or insightful ONLY because those persons express the same ideas and attitudes found in the minds and hearts of said critics. If Burke or Sarah or others were to change their minds and support the Pope, the papal critics would abandon them, and choose other leaders to follow, leaders after their own sinful hearts.

I side with the Pope regardless of whether he is liberal or moderate or conservative or something else. I side with the Pope regardless of whether he is one of the holiest Popes or one of the most sinful or somewhere in-between. I side with the Pope even if I disagree with his opinions, comments, and decisions on discipline.

If you only side with those Church leaders whose ideas are similar to your own, then you treating your own mind and heart as if it were the Church. If you never believe any teaching of any Pope or Council, unless it seems right to your own mind and heart, then you only have faith in yourself, not in Christ and His Church.

{18:17} And if he will not listen to them, tell the Church. But if he will not listen to the Church, let him be to you like the pagan and the tax collector.

Whosoever refuses to listen to the Pope, refuses to listen to the Church. And that is the grave sin of schism.

“It arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” — Fifth Lateran Council

If you think that it is your role to teach and correct the Pope, then you are not subject to him. You are trying to make him be subject to you. And that is the grave sin of schism.

“This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine.” — First Vatican Council

Whosoever sides with the Pope, is on the path of salvation, and will be preserved from the poison of false doctrine and schism.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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4 Responses to Siding with Cardinals Burke and Sarah against the Pope

  1. Although I’m sure the Pope is not an heretic and I even approve his conclusions in Amoris Laetitia, I still feel that the cardinals have their right to oppose him in this matter. The Pope hasn’t issued a dogmatic statement, so his decisions are not as binding as, say, Ineffabilis Deus or any other dogmatic document of the Church. Also, we have the noteworthy example in St. Paul, who freely opposed the Prince of the Apostles on a matter of discipline (ie. circumcision). So, a good Catholic may accept to be subject to the opinion of the Pope AND object that very same opinion on very good grounds when it is not a dogma or official doctrine. Amoris Laetitia isn’t a part of the Magisterium, it never was. It will become such only if the Pope decides to write down some official decision, binding for the entire Church. That’s what’s lacking in Pope Francis: if he believes that what he’s teaching is essential, why doesn’t he change the Code of Canon Law to embed the Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia in the life of the Church? Why leave the decisions to the individual priests, who may not be able to value case-by-case if a person is worthy or not to receive Communion? That’s the question I would offer to the Pope if I ever met him.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Good points. I would say, though, that no Cardinal or Bishop should “oppose” the Pope, as this tends toward scandal. Foolish Catholics today, on the basis of limited criticism by some Cardinals and Bishops, are going much further and speaking about the Pope with denigration, ridicule, contempt, and some are even accusing him of heresy. Cardinals and Bishops can reasonably disagree with opinions, decisions on discipline, and to some extent non-infallible teachings, as can any faithful Catholic. But they must be careful to show support for his authority.

      Also, I think some of the content of AL is magisterial teaching, but the controversial and often criticized portions appear not to be so. In any case, a non-infallible magisterial teaching can err, to a limited extent. If such errors occur, whether in a non-infallible teaching, or a decision on discipline, or a personal opinion spoken to the press or in a private communication, we should not exaggerate the error. Even Saint Peter erred, and was corrected by Paul.

  2. Brother Gilbert says:

    I agree with you totally. A good blog post. Me and my house will stand with the Pope.

  3. thelionofjudah123 says:

    The Holy Spirit is in control of our Lord’s church and will not allow Pope Francis to stain our Lord’s Church when it comes to the teachings of Faith and Morals.
    Let us remember who is in control of our Lord’s church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

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