Over at CatholicCulture.org, Phil Lawler is exercising his self-given role to judge and oppose the Roman Pontiff. Note that, in a previous post, Lawler spoke with great pride about past popes Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, stating that, for 20 years, he “sometimes criticized St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, when I thought that their actions were imprudent.” Well, that is not a role given to Phil Lawler, who is not ordained and has no degrees in theology. Yet he thinks himself fit to judge Popes, and to decide when they have erred.
Unam Sanctam clearly states the principle that lesser authorities in the Church do not judge higher authorities, but rather the higher judges the lower. And, more importantly, the highest authority in the Church, the Supreme Pontiff, is judged by no one on earth, but by God alone.
“Therefore, if the earthly power goes astray, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a lesser spiritual power goes astray, [it will be judged] by its superior; and truly, if the highest [power] goes astray, it will not be able to be judged by man, but by God alone.” (Unam Sanctam 7)
Lawler is not qualified to pass judgment on the ideas proposed by priests and theologians, as he lacks the qualifications that would be needed. Yet, in agreement with the attitudes of sinful secular society, he judges all things without limit, including Pope-Saint John Paul II.
In his most recent rant against Pope Francis, Lawler rebukes the Pope on nuclear disarmament:
“But Pope Francis took the decisive step in his address to participants in a conference on disarmament. He denied the value of nuclear deterrence, saying that the fearsome weapons “create nothing but a false sense of security.” He stated that “the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is firmly to be condemned.” “
Does any reasonable person think that nuclear weapons create a true sense of security? What would happen if war breaks out between two sides, both of which have nuclear weapons? A war in which a couple of nuclear bombs are used, against cities, would kill hundreds of thousands of persons, and the radiation would severely maim many survivors, just as happened in World War 2. And an all-out nuclear war would kill hundreds of millions, cause a nuclear winter, and put most of the world in fear of the radioactive fallout.
Yet Lawyer decries the statement of Pope Francis firmly condemning “their very possession”. What would Jesus Christ say about nuclear weapons? Do you really think that He would teach that their possession is a good idea? Reason alone can see that a world in which no one possesses nuclear weapons would be an ideal goal we should all work to reach. So there was nothing wrong with the statements of the holy Pope on nuclear disarmament.
Lawler’s critique states that “Once again Pope Francis has ventured into new territory in Church teaching” and “On nuclear weapons, Pope Francis goes beyond all previous papal teaching.” So the Pope is criticized by Lawler merely for teaching something not taught previously. As a conservative, Lawler wishes the liberal Pope to do nothing but repeat previous teachings. But that is not the role of any Pope. For the Church is called by God to increase its knowledge and the depth of its understanding in the mysteries of God. Every Pope is called upon by Christ to venture into new territory, answer new questions, and present a new and better understanding of the eternal Gospel.
And Lawler has no right to attempt to restrict the Roman Pontiff from teaching on any subject. Nor does he have the role to judge and correct any Pope. No one on earth has that role, per Unam Sanctam, and Lawler himself is particularly unqualified. But he has a website and a following of readers, so he behaves like the sinful members of modern society and judges all things.
The approaching schism is largely fueled by conservative Catholics behaving like sinful unbelievers in modern society. For sinful secular society teaches us the error that each individual should judge all things and opine on all things, that each person’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s opinion, that we should treat persons in authority with contempt and denigration whenever their views are contrary to our own, and that we should never admit fault or accept correction. The papal critics are not behaving in a way which is filial and loving, as they claim. Rather, they are behaving like the unbelievers, filled with pride, and like the Pharisees and doctors of the law during the time of Christ.
Thus, they are uncorrectable. They do not accept correction even from Popes or Councils. They judge all things and are themselves judged by no one. They act like gods, each one issuing his own commandments written on tablets of stone, or like self-appointed popes, each one issuing dogmatic degrees on every subject.
Pride goeth before a fall. And before a schism.
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