Ed Feser at Catholic World Report describes the damage being done to the magisterium by attempts to paint the statement of Pope Francis that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong as a development of doctrine:
In fact, the opposite is the case. You cannot reinforce people’s confidence in the papal Magisterium unless you first make it clear exactly what are the scope and limits of that Magisterium. When well-meaning theologians like Prof. Fastiggi tie themselves in logical knots in order to avoid having to admit that a pope might have misspoken or made a mistake when not speaking ex cathedra – despite the fact that the Church herself has always acknowledged that this can happen! – they reinforce the slander that Catholics are committed to what I have called the Crude Protestant Caricature of papal authority.
In particular, they give (however unintentionally) the false impression that popes can reinvent doctrine at will and simply stipulate, by dictatorial fiat, that the novelties they are teaching are “scriptural” and “traditional.” They thereby make a laughingstock of Catholic claims to have preserved the deposit of faith whole and undefiled. And they thereby undermine confidence in the papal Magisterium. Non-Catholics are liable to conclude that Catholic claims about the papacy are a kind of Orwellian sophistry. Some Catholics are liable to conclude this too, and to lose their faith as a result – whereas if they were reassured instead that the Church does not require them to deny the obvious, their faith will be saved.
Here is the bottom line: In order to defend the suggestion that a pope could teach that capital punishment is always and intrinsically immoral, you have to maintain that the Church has for 2000 years been teaching grave moral error. Indeed, you have to say that the Church has for all that time been defending, as a matter of moral doctrine, a species of murder. You also have to say either that Scripture teaches moral error and that the Church has for 2000 years been wrong to claim otherwise; or you have to say that Scripture does not teach moral error but that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, all previous popes, and indeed the Church in general for 2000 years, have misunderstood Scripture.
How on earth Prof. Fastiggi could seriously think that defending those propositions is remotely conducive to upholding people’s confidence in the papal Magisterium, I have no idea.
Go here to read the rest. All good Catholics wish to support the Pope. However when such support involves accepting lies and erasing out of memory 2000 years of Catholic history, such support comes at too dear a price. May God forgive Pope Francis for recklessly forcing faithful Catholics to stand against their Pope.