Fr. Z. quotes Fr. Scanlon bemoaning Papal Dissenters

On April 22, Fr. Scanlon published in an article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Then on April 23, Fr. Z (John Zuhlsdorf) quoted a long section from that article, rejecting dissent from Papal Teaching and Conciliar Teaching, with my emphasis added.

Fr. Z. “At Homiletic and Pastoral Review there is a good article by Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap. Let’s see the first part, with my emphases:”

[Fr. Scanlon:] ‘Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church in the United States is in the throes of a struggle. Loyal Catholics are showing renewed vigor and vitality, and are helping the Church to move forward in unity. At the same time, the Church is also being exhausted and drained from within by a vocal movement of other Catholics who continue to dissent from Church teachings, particularly the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Dissent is entrenched in the Church in the U.S.

‘For most American Catholics over 50, it is an accepted fact that dissent from the magisterium of the Church is widespread, tolerated, and, in some quarters, even welcomed. The breaking point, of course, was Paul VI’s 1968 prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which condemned contraception as “intrinsically disordered.” The encyclical became one of the most controversial documents of the century, if not many centuries. The widespread dissent by Catholics was led with enthusiasm by huge numbers of Catholic theologians, professors and intellectuals. The onslaught of bright, articulate academics turning on the Pope encouraged many Catholics in the pews to do the same.

‘Why would so many educated Catholics—who should have been ready and able to defend the teaching authority of the Church—turn against the Pope with such force? How could they justify it?

‘The most popular argument was that permission to dissent had been given by none other than the Second Vatican Council. The dissenters claimed that “the spirit of Vatican II,” along with theological perspectives of the Council, supported their argument that individual Catholics have a right to dissent from “non-infallible” Church teachings—even authoritative encyclicals like Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae”—if they felt they had a good enough reason.’ ”

The above article and post were published on April 22 and 23, in the year 2013, only days before the papacy of Pope Francis began. Today, Fr. Z. is well-known for his opposition to Pope Francis. Anything Francis teaches that is contrary to Fr. Z.’s own understanding is rejected. That is extreme thorough dissent. Unless the words from the mouth of the Pope are just exactly what Fr. Z. already believes, he does not accept it. He is among many other papal dissenters, who have utterly rejected papal authority.

I’m sure he’ll object to that statement. But it is clear that, in all cases without exception, when the Roman pontiff teaches or decides contrary to the teaching or decisions of Fr. Z., the latter opposes the former. Nothing Francis teaches is accepted on faith.

When will Fr. Z. submit to Pope Francis? And if a conservative Pope replaces Francis, that does not solve the problem. If Fr. Z. accepts whatever the conservative successor teaches — only because it is in agreement with Fr. Z.’s own judgment — that is not faith. When will Fr. Z. and so many other self-exalting self-appointed leaders submit their minds and hearts to each and every Pope and Council? That is Catholic Faith. None other.

Fr. Scanlon was right: “Why would so many educated Catholics — who should have been ready and able to defend the teaching authority of the Church — turn against the Pope with such force? How could they justify it?”

But though he was then speaking of liberal Catholics, his words turned out to be prescient. He describes the dissent of conservative Catholics to a tee.

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