Pope Francis commented on “a large Catholic television channel” that speaks ill of the Pope. Clearly EWTN fits this description. And even if it were the case that the Pope had some other Network in mind, EWTN still fits the described error exactly and therefore falls under the same condemnation.
“The Pope wasn’t accusing us of bank robbery; he was accusing someone else.”
“OK, but do you rob banks?”
“Then you deserve the same condemnation.”
Quoted from the substack blog of Mike Lewis:
One of the participants tells the pope about the situation of the Slovak Church and the internal tensions. “Some even see you as heterodox,” he says, “while others idealize you. We Jesuits try to overcome this division.” He asks: “How do you deal with people who look at you with suspicion?”
Pope Francis: “There is, for example, a large Catholic television channel that has no hesitation in continually speaking ill of the pope. I personally deserve attacks and insults because I am a sinner, but the Church does not deserve them. They are the work of the devil. I have also said this to some of them.”
“Yes, there are also clerics who make nasty comments about me. I sometimes lose patience, especially when they make judgments without entering into a real dialogue. I can’t do anything there. However, I go on without entering their world of ideas and fantasies. I don’t want to enter it and that’s why I prefer to preach, preach… Some people accuse me of not talking about holiness. They say I always talk about social issues and that I’m a communist. Yet I wrote an entire apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate.”
Mike thinks the Pope is talking about EWTN, and I’m sure he’s right. And if EWTN is doing the work of the devil by constantly attacking the Pope, then what should we say about those website that speak worse about the Pope? OnePeterFive.com, Taylor Marshall’s book Infiltration, Rorate Caeli, Fr. Z., LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, and many others. They do worse than EWTN, and the Pope says EWTN does the work of the devil in so far as they are unjustly attacking the Pope. And these attacks, these accusations are not merely criticisms nor disagreements on noninfallible matters. They are accusations of grave failures of faith and grave errors on doctrine and discipline contrary to the dogmas of the Church on the indefectibility of the Church, the never failing faith of the Pope, and the unblemished Apostolic See.
Notice the distinction that the Pope makes: “I personally deserve attacks and insults because I am a sinner, but the Church does not deserve them.” A Pope can sin, even mortally, though I know of no mortal sins (objectively grave sins) by Pope Francis. So he excludes this from what he calls the work of the devil. If a Pope takes a mistress, like Pope Alexander VI was reputed to have done, then he can be criticized for that personal grave sin. His venial sins should generally not be the subject of anyone’s criticism. Are you yourself are free from even venial sin? No, you are not.
But when you accuse the Pope of grave failures of faith or grave errors on doctrine or discipline, you have no defense. It is dogma that no Pope can fail in faith nor err gravely in exercising the Keys of Peter, even non-infallibly. The Holy Spirit protects the official decisions of the Pope on doctrine and discipline from grave errors in what is non-infallible and from all errors in what is infallible.