"Who Am I to Judge?"
by Nelson Hertel
September 29, 2017
Many reports have been seen in the past few days regarding the Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies delivered to Pope Francis. While the Correction was brought to the papal residence on August 11, 2017, it was only made public on September 24 after the Pope made no response. Since August 11, it has received numerous other signatures, among them those of Bishop Bernard Fellay (Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X) and Bishop René Henry Gracida (Bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas). International, mainstream media has provided the Correction astonishing widespread coverage.
Leftist commentators have incredibly claimed that the document, like 2016’s Dubia, is heterodox — apparently the Pope should be heeded after all, but only when his actions are in keeping with the leftist agenda. They have also tried to contort (the addition of) Bishop Fellay’s signature, to minimize the importance of the document, or offering the signature as “proof” that the Correction was simply produced and signed by “breakaway” traditionalists.
Liberals and some supposed-conservatives have also denounced the document as being out-of-bounds, and improper. No one can be “more Catholic than the Pope,” is their reasoning. After all, the Code of Canon Law states in canon 1404: “The First See [i.e. the Pope] is judged by no one.” Yet the Correction, like the Dubia, has not made itself out to be a “canonical” judgment, much less a deposition of the Pope from his office.
Nothing in the document was disrespectful, irreverent or excessive. The Correction was not compiled out of spite or pride, but rather, as the document stated with “profound grief but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself [the Pope].”
Many Catholics today, and even non-Catholics, have an exaggerated or false understanding of papal authority and infallibility. They do not realize that there can and must be legitimate, objective criticism of the Pope’s words or actions should they not be in keeping with the perennial Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. This was necessarily done even in apostolic times. St. Paul had to resist St. Peter, the first Pope: “But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Galatians 2:11)
No one is claiming that they can judge the Pope’s intentions, or the state of his soul. The Correction simply recognizes that in an objective and public way, Pope Francis has confused countless souls by his actions and statements, especially with Amoris laetitia. Because of this, these errors must be brought to light. As a Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales wrote in his Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is a work of charity to shout: ‘Here is the wolf!’ when it enters the flock or anywhere else.” [Part III, Chapter 29]. Or, in this case, he who shepherds the flock.
We would do well to read what Bishop Fellay has stated in a recent interview, concerning his participation in the signing of the Correction:
“In this sad situation of confusion, it is very important that the debate on these important questions grows, in order that the truth may be re-established and error condemned... Our respect for the Pope remains intact, and it is precisely out of respect for his office that we ask him as his sons to ‘confirm his brethren’ [Luke 22:32] by publicly rejecting the openly heterodox propositions that are causing so much division in the Church... We must hope it [the Correction] will bring about a clearer realization of the gravity of the situation in the Church, both among the clergy and among the faithful. Indeed, as Benedict XVI admitted, ‘Peter’s barque is taking water on all sides’. This is no poetic image; it is a tragic reality. In this battle, faith and morals must be defended!”
Unfortunately, Pope Francis has ignored the Correction, just as he has the Dubia. But he may have provided an equivocal response to both documents, with the establishment of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science, described in a previous article here.
Let us try to imitate the heroic charity of little Saint Jacinta Marto of Fatima, in praying much for the Holy Father. May Pope Francis soon respond to the Dubia and the Correction in a truly Catholic way, and soon consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There is no way that the battle for the Truth and the family can be won otherwise.
Those desiring a better understanding of papal authority and our duties toward the Pope, and the necessity of Fatima in this regard, will find their answers in Fr. Nicholas Gruner’s final book, Crucial Truths To Save Your Soul.