We live during a time when Cardinals and Bishops speak out against the Roman Pontiff, not merely disagreeing with a theological opinion or a non-infallible teaching, but rejecting his authority in full. Catholic media outlets, which used to defend the Pope and the teaching of the Magisterium, now openly oppose magisterial teaching and provide a platform from which to attack the Pope. Conservative teachers, who used to explain what the Church teaches, now present their own ideas and those of their conservative peers. They exalt themselves above the Magisterium, to decide for themselves what they will believe. The teachings of Popes and Councils, and the very validity of the same, is questioned, opposed, and discarded by them. They openly teach heresy and commit schism, and their followers thank them for these sins.
Prior to the schism, conservative media outlets began to host articles which taught heresy. These teachers professed submission to the Pope and the Magisterium, but they taught their own grave misunderstandings of Catholicism as if it were doctrine. And they were not corrected by their peers. Conservative teachers mostly declined to disagree with other conservative teachers. They argued strenuously against any liberal errors, but conservative errors were ignored or were accepted as truth. This is one of the grave sins that led to the schism. The light yoke of the Magisterium was thrown off prior to the Pontificate of Pope Francis, as far back as the Pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II. Conservatives went astray from magisterial teaching, little by little.
By the time Francis was elected, many conservative teachers already thought themselves to be a more reliable source of doctrine than the Magisterium. And when the new Pope was discovered to be liberal, many conservatives chose conservatism over faithfulness to the Vicar of Christ and to the Magisterium.
It is going to get a lot worse. Many conservatives will openly reject Pope Francis as if he were an antipope, and they will try to convince conservatives to reject the Pope and the body of Bishops who support him. Their arguments will seem very convincing to those Catholics who have mistakenly adopted many errors, conservative errors, into their own understanding of the faith. It will seem clear that the Pope is wrong, and the conservative teachers who oppose him, who for so long were accepted as orthodox, must be right.
Conservative Catholics, become like little children. Do not stand up as great teachers who must teach and correct the Roman Pontiff. Be docile before the true Magisterium and accept what the Roman Pontiff teaches, even when it contradicts that which you have long held to be true and dear. For the Pope teaches not only with the authority of Christ, but with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. He can never teach grave error. He can never commit apostasy, heresy, or schism, nor can he commit idolatry, sacrilege, or blasphemy. For the Roman Pontiff is the Supreme Teacher of the universal Church, and in him the charism itself of the infallibility of the Church is individually present.
If you must give up being conservative or being Catholic, give up conservatism. Jesus did not teach us to be conservative, but to be faithful. In truth, you can have a conservative point of view, and remain faithful. But do not let the leaders of the conservative Catholic subculture take you away from the true Church.
Recall that Pope Honorius I was falsely accused of heresy by some of the fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. They were corrected by Pope Saint Agatho, and again corrected by Pope Saint Leo II — who changed the charge against Honorius to negligence, not heresy.
Recall the life of Vigilius, who was a manifest heretic, of poor character, and a notorious antipope. But when he finally became Bishop of Rome and the true and valid Roman Pontiff, he taught the faith without error and rejected all heresy, even under threat from the emperor. He is also the Pope who approved of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople II).
Do not worry about whether the Pope is liberal or conservative or something else. The Magisterium is of God, not of man. And if the Church issues changes, of one type or another, accept as much as you can, and quietly pray about the rest. Do not oppose any Pope, even if you think that he is in error and you are right. For in him, the fullness of the Magisterium dwells. Do not imagine that you yourself cannot err gravely. And never put your faith in any culture or personality or group, other than the Pope, the body of Bishops, and the Church.
Beware of Cardinals and Bishops who oppose the Roman Pontiff. Do not trust anyone who attacks or even slights the Roman Pontiff, in order to gain fame for himself. Be the servant of the Pope, and if you think he has erred on doctrine, trust in Christ that no grave errors can be found in his teachings, and therefore admit that you yourself must be the one who has erred.
Beware of pride-filled papal critics. They speak as if they themselves are infallible. And they denigrate every Pope and every Council beneath their own judgment. Do they not see that they have usurped the role of God himself? No one can judge the Pope except God, just as Unam Sanctam taught. And the same is true for an Ecumenical Council.
The current talk where not only Vatican II, but every other Council, and every Pope as well, are treated as if they were subject to the definitive judgment of anyone with internet access is absurd. The arrogance of these authors who, in mere off-had remarks, dismiss entire Ecumenical Councils is the height of arrogance. It is bordering on blasphemy. For indirect blasphemy attacks the things that are close to God, which certainly includes the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and any of the sacred and holy Ecumenical Councils. To attribute to oneself the ability to judge and nullify a Council is to battle against God.
Many of the schismatics will be excommunicated by name by a future Pope and/or a future Council. They are so full of themselves today, because they have so many supporters online, who hang on their every word. Their names will be a curse in the future Church. Just as we rebuke someone today by calling them, for example, a Benedict Arnold, so will their names be used as an insult in the not-so-distant future. But most of them will be completely forgotten. They will not be remembered because they have done nothing good for the Church or for humanity.
It is the obligation of every adult Catholic who has the ability and the resources to defend the truths of the Faith. When the enemies of the Church speak out against the teachings of Popes and Councils, we should defend these truths, which are of Christ, our beloved Lord. One way to defend, is to explain the teaching, and its basis in Tradition and Scripture. Another way is to refute the arguments brought against the teaching. And the third way is to encourage the faithful to accept the teaching out of faith, regardless of what one’s own fallen reason tells us.
As for those who attack the truths taught by the Church, they will be judged and punished by God.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.