Pope: Catholic Church has Small-Minded Rules

A disdain for Tradition . . .

Focus on morality can obscure Gospel – Catholic Sentinel – Portland, OR.

Pope Francis gave an interview for the U.S. Jesuit magazine ‘America.’


Pope Francis spoke with characteristic frankness about the perils of overemphasizing Catholic teaching on sexual and medical ethics.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” the pope said in the interview, noting that he had been “reprimanded” for failing to speak often about those topics. “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,” the pope added. “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

The pope reaffirmed one of his major themes: the need for mercy rather than judgment when approaching sin.


“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you,” the pope said.

“Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of things,” Pope Francis said. “In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.”


Pope Francis said that the pope and bishops share authority with the laity.

Pope Francis, whose simple way of celebrating Mass has attracted criticism from traditionalist Catholics, also took up the controversial subject of liturgy.

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 decision to lift most restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass was “was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity,” Pope Francis said. “What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the (old Mass), it’s exploitation.”

The pope also said that the liturgical reform that followed in the wake of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council is “absolutely irreversible.”


7 Replies to “Pope: Catholic Church has Small-Minded Rules”

  1. Pingback: Marisela Kuemmerle
  2. I tried to touch on the “ideologization of the (old Mass)” in my first post. He is meaning that trying to use (exploit) the Latin mass to one’s own end is worrisome. Turning either the “new” Mass OR the “old” Mass into an ideology would be an exploitation. The Mass is not about me and how holy it makes me feel. It’s about worshiping God. It’s about witnessing Christ’s sacrifice. It’s about uniting ourselves with Christ. If we’re trying to create “subgroups” of those who are in line with the “new” Mass way of perceiving the world, we are guilty of exploiting the Mass. Likewise, if we are sectioning ourselves off into groups of people who only accept the “old” Mass as valid, we are guilty of this. That doesn’t mean we can’t prefer one style of Mass over another. And, if some priest is going outside the GIRM, we are obliged to blow the whistle. But if it falls within the teaching of Mother Church, we must, in obedience, acknowledge it as such.


  3. I understand you were pulling from the Catholic Sentinel. I was meaning to emphasize the importance of going to the source before drawing conclusions from articles that are only providing snippets. You’re article seems to be more of an attack on the Pope than on ‘America’ magazine though. I’m not familiar with ‘America’ magazine, so thank you for sending me more info. Though it’s unfortunate to hear that they are spreading error, they are still the source for this particular interview. I wonder what slant they might be promoting in their interview with our Pope. Though I don’t suspect they’d go so far as to directly mistranslate / misquote him, I wonder if unconscious bias caused them to poorly translate or leave out things that might make him sound more “conservative”.

    I didn’t know there were *any* Catholics that would claim Vatican II “started” the Church we have today. The Church has been the pillar and bulwark of the truth from the beginning. Sacred Tradition guides the inerrant Church, but I wouldn’t say it *is* the Church. The Pope isn’t attacking the (upper-case-C) Church (the Body of Christ), he is critiquing the practices of the members of the (lower-case-c) church. Look at the original text: “The church”, he said (meaning *some* members of the Body of Christ) “sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.” And he did not say “close-minded” rules, though I think everybody can, at times, be closed-minded about something. I didn’t read anywhere that he was specifically criticizing Fr. Frank Pavone… did he!? I entirely suspect our Holy Father believes Fr. Pavone has his priorities straight and–in the spirit of the Pope’s next statement after the one you quoted–is an excellent missionary to those plagued by abortion–whether the woman who didn’t feel she had a choice or the surgeon who fell for the lies. Our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). And the Pope means we must not neglect to take sinners where they’re at. We can’t refuse to be Christ for others and see Christ in others.

    How does Almighty God express mercy toward me 100% of the time? How about you? And yet, through His mercy, He allows me to reap the consequences of my sinful choices. I *have* heard priests and bishops say that the merciful thing to do is to proclaim truth *in charity*. Mercy *IS* admonishing the sinner. The Pope didn’t say otherwise.

    Regarding Collegiality: http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/audiolibrary/crux29.mp3

    Were not the laity confirmed as priest, prophet and king before Vatican II? Regarding the clericalization of the laity and the laicization of the clergy, see: http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/audiolibrary/crux08.mp3

    The laity is not, and never has been, on the “same level” as an ordained priest. Or maybe you can show me a Catholic Church in good standing with Rome that has laity performing the consecration during the Holy Mass.

    Thank you for your reply.


  4. Kory, I hoped that subscribers would know from experience to click the header — it is a link the the Catholic Sentinel’s article. My post is gleaned from their article. ‘America’ magazine is a red flag: this publication by liberal Jesuits is read by liberal pro-choice Catholics. (Our family left a parish because the pastor distributed an article by a free-thinking Jesuit who stated that anal sex was an approved means of contraception! I’ll send it to you.)

    Tradition is the Church itself! Unless you are one of those Catholics who believe that Vatican II started the Church we have today! Why would a pope say the Church has “closed-minded rules”? He’s criticizing the Catholic Church! That is baffling. Why should a pope declare that pro-life priests, like Father Frank Pavone, are “obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” What does he mean?

    How can Catholics express mercy toward abortionists 100 percent of the time? Have you ever heard a priest or bishop say such a thing? Yet, in context of the quotes on morals in the Sentinel article, the pope expresses the need for “mercy rather than judgment when approaching sin.” Is mercy a higher calling than judging evil?

    Collegiality has lessened the pope’s powers – a Vatican II novelty.

    “The People of God” is a direct reference to the new elevated status of the laity set forth in Vatican II’s document Lumen Gentium. “The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ . . . ” Chapter IV The Laity, paragraph #31.

    In other words, priests and nuns were demoted and laity were placed on the same level as an ordained priest! That should give you pause to investigate.


  5. Your email said:

    He said it not I.

    A disdain for Tradition . . .

    I thought you meant that Pope Francis actually said the he disdains Tra… that’s uppercase ‘T’… Tradition. Which, of course I knew, couldn’t be the case. And in fact…

    Here’s the original, full text: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview . I think it gives some of the quotes a bit more context. But even still, I find it hard to know, precisely, what is meant by every statement. I wonder how much is lost in translation. Pope Francis has admitted that English has caused problems for him and his word choice might be the cause for some of my confusion. Or maybe it’s just me. Nonetheless, I don’t see anything that is blatantly contradictory to the Deposit of the Faith. He certainly doesn’t say that he has anything against Tradition. And, as you yourself quoted, Pope Francis says Pope Benedict’s allowance of the wider use of the Vetus Ordo Mass was prudent. I agree. And I suspect you’d agree that people turning the Novus Ordo into an ideology would be an exploitation of the Holy Mass. I can imagine people doing the same in the opposite direction. It seems Pope Francis is trying to say that we’re missing the point–the very real sacrifice that we participate in during Mass–if we quibble about what form is used.

    Regarding his statements about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, you only included a couple snippets that are on the opposite end of one paragraph in the interview, and left out the preceding paragraphs that led up to that. Of course, that’d be a lot to quote. But, in context with his other statements, I don’t get a sense that Pope Francis is warning against “the perils of overemphasizing Catholic teaching”. For example, Pope Francis points out that the teaching of the Church on abortion, homosexuality and contraception is clear. He also makes clear that it is not merciful to be “too lax” on a person. I infer from your suggestion that the Pope has a theme of “mercy rather than judgement” that you don’t believe that both mercy and judgement can coexist. But Pope Francis does. “In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.”

    Though some of the interview is worded in such a way that might be enticing to Protestants (as I infer you are suggesting by your “A Protestant?” section header), I don’t think that’s such a bad thing if it opens up dialog–a chance to explain, for example, that we need to accept that gift of salvation Pope Francis mentions and persevere to the end (as opposed to the protestant idea of once-saved-always-saved).

    I don’t see anything in the interview about the laity sharing authority with the Pope and bishops. Maybe you could cite that bit. I guess… well, as a father, I have authority over my children. The Pope also has authority over them… so you might say we share authority!? I’m not sure what you mean since I don’t see any statements on the topic in this interview.

    Anyway, thanks for your post. It encouraged me to read some of our Holy Father’s wisdom that I might not have otherwise read. May God bless you and may He protect us all from leading any one of His children away from His Church.


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