Loyalty to the Successor of Peter

By Br Mark O'Connor FMS, 20 November 2019
Pope Francis at the General Audience. Image: Vatican News.


Recently, the Bishop of Brownsville Texas, Daniel Flores, a renowned bishop theologian, tweeted an important reminder for all of us who pray for the grace to be orthodox Catholics.

I could not agree more.

Yes, it is certainly true that one of the many wonders and joys of being a Catholic is that the Holy Spirit gives us freedom.

Within our church, there are so many gifts of the Spirit and many beautiful theologies and spiritualities, through which we can express our Catholic faith.

There is always therefore, a legitimate freedom of expression in our church.

Often, of course,  there will be differences of opinion and style, within the general framework provided for us by the Gospels and the living Tradition of the Magisterium.

This has always been so, since the days of the early church.

However, there is absolutely no room on any Catholic websites or social media, for calumny and making ‘agitprop’ accusations of heresy/apostasy about other Catholics.

This is especially true of occasional commentators, who very regrettably, makes accusations or sign petitions against the current Successor of Peter, Pope Francis.

The same types also often vilify any person they identify as supporting Pope Francis’s official Magisterium.

Despite their protestations that they are ‘traditional’ Catholics, these people are actually better defined as Catholic fundamentalists.

Furthermore, it is simply erroneous for them to justify such actions by referring to the views of a few maverick theologians, bishops and cardinals.

Let’s not forget that there are currently 224 cardinals and over 5,000 bishops globally plus tens of thousands of theologians.

It would be a huge mistake to give too much weight to the dissenting views of a very tiny percentage of campaigners. The vast, vast majority of Catholic laity, religious, priests, theologians, bishops, and cardinals love and wholeheartedly support Pope Francis. That is indisputable.

Let me be crystal clear. Unjust criticism of Pope Francis is a serious evil.

As Catholics, we are all free to charitably offer our views. However, let’s not forget to remind ourselves that we are all graced sinners (including me), with a necessarily limited perspective.

Let’s foster then our love for the Successor of Peter, which is a defining characteristic of what it means to be Catholic.

Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications in the Diocese of Parramatta.

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