PopeWatch: Rist

It is impossible to overestimate how intellectually vacant most defenses of the current pontificate are.  Cardinal Cupich, under questioning, gave an example of this:


A respected Catholic historian and philosopher challenged Cardinal Blase Cupich during a lecture last week about Pope’ Francis so-called “revolution of mercy” that has caused what many are defending as a “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice.

Professor John Rist, after listening to a February 9 lecture at Cambridge University in which Cardinal Cupich praised Pope Francis’ “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice, asked the Cardinal at the end of the lecture why Pope Francis “mercilessly” insults and eliminates his doctrinal opponents.

Rist asked the Cardinal: 

Your Eminence, In view of your account of the sunny, caring and holistic features of Pope Francis’ revolution of mercy – described disturbingly by the leaflet for this meeting and by your Eminence as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the presentation of Catholicism – and of the Pope’s call for free and frank discussion of his challenging proposals and policies, I would like to ask why Pope Francis acts so mercilessly in insulting and eliminating doctrinal opponents:  

  • Cardinal Burke removed from the leadership of the Roman Rota;  
  • Three loyal priests from the CDF dismissed without explanation, followed by the abrupt termination of Cardinal Mueller himself;
  • The denial of a Cardinal’s hat to the much loved champion of the unborn, Archbishop Chaput;
  • The removal of most of the original members of the Academy for Life;
  • The apparent selling-down the river of Cardinal Pell, who may have been framed;
  • And more recently the banishment from Rome of the Professor of Patristics at the Lateran and editor of the challenging book Remaining in the Truth of Christ; 

The list goes on and on, but I stop there  to ask again whether harsh actions of this sort — combined with the well-documented rigging of the Synod on the Family — indicate that the Pope’s ‘paradigm shift’ should be recognized as an attempt — under cover of offering solutions to genuine social problems in Western society — to impose on the Church radical changes of doctrine, developed not by laity but largely in Germany by a group of relativist Hegelian theologians? 

Cupich deviated from the question, replying that those who have such concerns should ask themselves: “Do we really believe that the Spirit is no longer guiding the Church?” reported the Catholic Herald. 

The professor said after the event that if he had been given the chance to reply, he would have told the Cardinal that “the Church is indeed guided by the Holy Spirit, via good Catholic souls such as Cardinal Burke and many others.”

Rist is a Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Toronto and now holds a Chair in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A native of the United Kingdom, Rist is a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He is also a convert to Catholicism from agnosticism, thanks to his study of Plato, the Gospels and other ancient texts. 

Rist, whose career as a philosopher and a classicist spans fifty years and three continents, has written 16 scholarly books and over a hundred journal articles on ancient and Christian philosophy or the Gospels. He also contributed to Remaining in the Truth of Christ, the defense of Catholic teaching that was “intercepted” at the Synod on the Family

Rist told LifeSiteNews that he regards the Francis papacy as a “disaster.” 

“I regard this papacy as a disaster and Bergoglio as possibly — because of his tampering with established doctrine — as possibly the worst pope we have ever had,” he said. 

Go here to read the rest.  Note that under Pope Francis cherished teachings of the Church are so much paper kindling that may be tossed into the flames any moment. However, when challenged the Francis fans attempt to raise an ultramontane shield to all criticism.  Thus the only Catholic teachings that are are sacrosanct in this pontificate are those that render the Pope above criticism.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. “Do we really believe that the Spirit is no longer guiding the Church?”-Not when Pope Bozo interferes with the process because he personally doesn’t like the results.

  2. Relativism (within German theology or the larger world) is but another “sophisticated” way of saying, “Only I will decide what is right or wrong”, except the wayward theologian finds a way to source his own wants to Christ. “You can be like God” still echoes in the heads of fallen man.

  3. “Do we really believe that the Spirit is no longer guiding the Church?”

    Guiding the one, holy, apostolic, catholic Church, yes. Guiding this wretched pope, Cardinal Cupich and their appalling wrecking crew, not so much.

  4. Please consider this;

    King: As Jean-Baptiste Chautard recounts in his book The Soul of the Apostolate, Pope St. Pius X was conversing with a group of his cardinals one day. The pope asked them:

    “What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?”

    “Build Catholic schools,” said one.


    “More churches,” said another.

    “Still no.”

    “Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.

    “No, no,” said the pope, “the most necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute, and truly apostolic.”

    Chautard continues, “Further details enable us to assert that this holy pope at the end of his life saw no hope for the salvation of the world unless the clergy could use their zeal to form faithful Christians full of apostolic ardor, preaching by word and example, but especially by example. In the diocese where he served before being elevated to the papacy, he attached less importance to the (count) of parishioners than to the list of Christians capable of radiating an apostolate. It was his opinion that shock troops could be formed in any environment.”

    “Shock troops” (or assault troops) is actually a military term that refers to infantry formations, along with supporting units, created to lead an attack. Consider the Allied Forces of World War II moving toward the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That first wave of men knew full well that their chances were extremely poor of ever leaving that beach alive, but they knew somebody needed to go first. It is no less than profound that the holy Pope St. Pius X would use a military term, shock troops, to describe the most necessary need of our times. The pope is resolute in acknowledging we are in spiritual warfare as he calls for an uncommon valor willing to be the tip of the spear, the vanguard, warrior saints unafraid “to lead.” (Excerpt from Church Militant Field Manual).

    We will look at each of the Offices of Christ over the next three days.

    This is today’s message from Fr. Richard Heilman. The Holy League is one of the Shock Troops of our Church. If your not afraid of the culture of death please consider the honor of joining us.

    [email protected]

    Thank you for your considerations.

  5. Ironic that the German Pope resigned after holding the fort against the German liberal hierarchs, and this one has opened the gates to German imposters.

  6. I believe that Amoris Laetitia is a general absolution for all sodomites, adulterers, fornicators and the general public. Before the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, all general absolution must be concluded by the Sacrament of Penance, a personal confession of personal sins.
    Another absolute requirement of general absolution and the Sacrament of Hoy Penance is that the penitent must seek and want the absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.
    One can only pass through the gates of heaven with general absolution by dying before he has time to get to the Sacrament of Holy Penance.

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