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Austrian Journalist: Pope Francis Has Been Disrespectful Toward the Four Dubia Cardinals

Today, on 7 March, there appeared in the prominent secular Austrian newspaper Die Presse an article, entitled “Francis – Populism in a Catholic Way” (“Franziskus – Populismus auf katholisch”), which contains some strongly critical remarks about Pope Francis and his perceptibly continual leadership. (The Austrian Catholic website has also reported on it.) Hans Winkler, the author of the article, is the former Vice-President of the Austrian Catholic Publisher’s Association (Verband katholischer Publizistinnen und Publizisten Österreichs), and he formerly worked as the foreign policy chief editor for the largest regional Austrian newspaper, Kleine Zeitung.

With a reference to the date of Pope Francis’ election on 13 March 2013, Winkler claims that, for four years now, the Catholic Church is thus being ruled “by a populist.” By way of contrast, he calls the U.S. President Donald Trump a “right-wing populist,” whereas he calls Francis a “radical populist” who is Catholic. The Austrian journalist defines the word “populist” as someone who often disregards “the legal standard, and the law itself, in the name of a form of justice as it is defined by himself.” Winkler adds that such a person “suggests a closeness to the people” and suggests that the people have been “betrayed by the ‘elites.’” Winkler explains:

In the case of the pope, the Church authorities and the theologians play the role of those who impose burdens upon the people, which burdens he now promises to remove from them. In an aggressive way, he regularly lectures the cardinals.

It is in this context that Hans Winkler addresses Pope Francis’ treatment of the four dubia cardinals. Winkler sees that Francis intentionally does not respond to the presented dubia concerning Amoris Laetitia:

The populist does not respond to criticism substantially; he rather responds on the personal level. A typical example for this is the rude reaction of the pope to the request (dubia) of four cardinals concerning Amoris Laetitia, the teaching document concerning marriage and the family – a request which was presented in accord with all the Church’s own rules and forms of courtesy. Francis is said to have been “angry” about it.

Winkler continues his description of the disrespect that Pope Francis has recurrently shown toward his own cardinals when he says:

Up until today he [Francis] does not consider these cardinals to be worthy of a response. This is not only impolite, there is in this also obviously a method. No other head of a world company would deal in such a manner with his management personnel. Instead, he lets loose some subordinate minor devils [“Unterteufel”] who are immediately available to implement some corresponding threats at their disposal, or who themselves may even accuse the petitioners of heresy, that is to say of apostasy from the teaching of the Faith.

Since Winkler’s words are trenchantly incisive and insistent, it is worthwhile to quote him once more at length, especially when he continues the presentation of his wider insights, saying:

In spite of all of his assurances of collegiality, the pope makes his decisions certainly in an authoritarian manner. At the Synod of Bishops [on the Family], he referred to his primacy of jurisdiction as it has been defined at the First Vatican Council. In questions of the economy and of the protection of the environment, the pope shows an ideological determination which he is quite intentionally lacking in his own [expected] field of expertise: the teaching on Faith and Morals.

The Austrian journalist continues by questioning some of Pope Francis’ own recurrent (and non-negotiable) ideas about economical matters, and he then concludes that “Francis has clear sympathies for the classical form of populism in Latin America, the Peronism of his homeland.” In this respect, the pope’s attention is especially given to the distribution of wealth to the poor. “Because they always talk about this, the left-wing Caudillos on the [Latin American] continent enjoy the quite open support of the pope,” explains Winkler, who then adds: “This [papal support] currently has some destructive consequences in Venezuela.” As this Austrian journalist sees it, this papal support inordinately helps the regime in Venezuela which, according to the Archbishop of Caracas himself, is a “dictatorship” which despises the Venezuelan people.

Later in his article, Winkler applies his criticism of Pope Francis also to his magisterial document, Amoris Laetitia. He accuses the pope of planting ambiguity in this text when he says:

The central and disputed question concerning the admission of the remarried divorcees to the Sacraments is intentionally formulated in such an ambiguous way that everybody can read in it whatever he wishes. And that is how it has happened: bishops in Poland or in Africa draw out of it conclusions other than those in Germany or Malta; the Bishop of Philadelphia draws out the opposite from the conclusions of [the diocese of] Chicago. [my emphasis]

Therefore, says Winkler, the bishops have now “to chose their own [individual] teaching concerning marriage and the Sacraments.” The pope “calls it ‘healthy decentralization‘,” adds Winkler, which notably now does “not pertain only to some kind of pastoral questions, but also to doctrine itself.” [my emphasis] In the journalist’s eyes, the pope seems to hope that “his ‘merciful’ approach will, in fact, be dominant.” However, says Winkler, this confusing decentralization is also a grave cause for concern in the eyes of Cardinal Gerhard Müller himself, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to Cardinal Müller, such decentralizations may not – must not – mean “separate dogmatic declarations” which also would possibly “relativize constitutive sacramental structures.” With reference to these same quotes from Cardinal Müller, Winkler thus claims that “Müller takes a different position from the pope regarding the question of Amoris Laetitia.” The article ends with another Müller quote: “One cannot serve the pope by fostering a personality cult around him.”

In the context of this new Austrian article in a non-Catholic national newspaper, it might be worthwhile to remember that, in the recent past, there have also been other prominent German-speaking secular media outlets which have published some strong criticism of Pope Francis. In 2015, the German journal FOCUS published an anonymous Open Letter to Pope Francis written by a former member of the Curia; also in 2015, the German journal Cicero published a report written by Guiseppe Rusconi which dealt with the recurrent criticisms of the pope still coming out of the Curia; in 2016, one of Cicero’s own editors, Alexander Kissler, wrote a strong critique of the pope; in 2016, the German national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ran an article written by the well-known journalist Markus Günther, who rebuked Pope Francis publicly for his bad leadership; finally, the same newspaper published another critique written by Christian Geyer. We should consider the heavy burden on the hearts of such authors who have taken the risk to present these sincere and wholehearted criticisms to the public.

65 thoughts on “Austrian Journalist: Pope Francis Has Been Disrespectful Toward the Four Dubia Cardinals”

  1. “The pope “calls it ‘healthy decentralization‘,” adds Winkler, which notably now does “not pertain only to some kind of pastoral questions, but also to doctrine itself.””

    This was inevitable the minute that the pope hitched his theological wagon to Kasper’s heresies. In the 1990’s one of the greatest points of contention between Kasper and Ratzinger was whether it was the “universal” or the “particular” which had priority in matters ecclesiological. It seemed like Ratzinger had won the day and the prority of the universal Church had clearly been established as Catholic doctrine. But when Francis fawned over and rehabilitated Kasper the goat (one of his main supporters in the conclave) the course was set to “decentralize” everything down to the local churches again.

    It seems like the enemies of God have been planning this all quite meticulously and we are now faced with the prospect of the institutionalization of schism as a permanent feature within the Catholic Church. Where is this formal correction???

    • Ultimately “decentralization” devolves to each his own interpreter. When the Church becomes as Baptists I will take my nourishment from Orthodox.

  2. A secular journalist understand Francis and what is happening in the Catholic Church with greater clarity and accuracy than many Catholics themselves. Nailed it. And best yet, he speaks without fear.

  3. What Pope Francis is, is an authoritarian who abuses his power. I don’t think there is a clamor among Catholics for his modernist BS.
    Devout Christians seek to understand, follow and defend authentic Catholic teaching. Those who do the work of the devil are not pushing toward getting the Church to change all of Her Teaching because the Evil One is not intent on changing doctrine. What he is intent on is separating people from Christ. This is better accomplished by sowing CONFUSION and allowing people to pursue what they think is good in their own eyes. No need to have formal changes in Church teaching to accomplish this, as if it could even happen. The evil one and all of those helping him are accomplishing their goals JUST FINE without any formal declaration of false teaching claiming it to be DOGMA. Enemies are focused on their own goals (people going to hell) rather than undoing official Catholic teaching.

  4. “The pope “calls it ‘healthy decentralization‘,” adds Winkler, which notably now does “not pertain only to some kind of pastoral questions, but also to doctrine itself.”” Regardless of what this pope may choose to call it, sober observers recognize in an instant what it really is. They call it “Protestantism.”

    • The four marks of the Church is that it is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. To encourage “decentralisation” in any form would seem to me to be promoting a weakening of this “Oneness”. It is therefore an attack upon the Church. The Church is also Catholic, that is, universal. Again, to encourage “decentralisation” is to undermine the Church’s catholicity. A Church cannot be said to be “universal” where there is sharp division in practice depending on which part of the world one is in, Poland, Germany, Malta, Argentina etc. Logically, any weakening of Unity and Catholicity would also amount to an assault on the Holiness of the Church and it’s apostolic roots. Christ never encouraged division and surely any spirit suggesting division is not the Holy Spirit. All this is basic stuff. But important, vitally important in these confusing times. We are enjoined to “test” the spirit, to look carefully at the spirit which animates any word or action. We can be sure that anything which would amount to an attack on any of the four marks of the Church is not of the Holy Spirit but of the “god of surprises” aka Satan as our God is a God of order, harmony and coherence and NOT of capriciousness, disorder and division. Careful discernment is called for in these diabolically disoriented times where evil is called good and good, evil. Let he who has ears to hear, hear.

    • You say that like it’s an insult.

      But from so many of his comments and actions, he really does not see a difference. (see his comments at the Anglican church of All Saints in Rome recently, for example.)

      • I say that as if it’s a lamentable fact, which it is. For me, the Protestant revolution has been at least as disastrous in Western history as, say, the Russian Revolution or the Mohammedan domination of the Middle East and North Africa. I don’t know whether Francis sees a difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, but it wouldn’t surprise me overmuch to learn that in fact he doesn’t.

  5. Are we still going to be here 5 years from now asking if the dubia will be answered and/or if there will be a correction? How about 10 years from now? 20?

    • I imagine Francis doesn’t have another 10 years to live… Hard to say if he even has 5… God-willing, he won’t be pope then… by whatever means.

  6. I believe Francis has already been formally corrected by the four brave Cardinals; and I am of the opinion that the time has come for them to disclose the terms of that formal correction. The sooner, the better, I think.

    • While I was certain the formal correction had been issued for awhile, I’m not as certain anymore. Either way, I’m gonna keep praying…

  7. Trump and Francis have nothing in common. Francis is an elitist. His concerns are not the concerns of the ordinary man. The definition of a populist “as someone who often disregards “the legal standard, and the law itself, in the name of a form of justice as it is defined by himself.” does not apply to Trump. Trump is trying to restore the rule of law by building a border wall. The elitists are the ones who ignore law by not enforcing immigration laws and refusing to deport illegals. Has this author heard of “sanctuary cities”? The elitists ignore law by signing “treaties” by calling them agreements so they don’t have go to the senate. It was the elitists who ignored law when the passed Obamacare by calling a tax a “penalty” so they could pass their illegal bill.

    • I’ve never understood American populism as having a “disregard for the legal standard, and the law itself.” Advocates for “sanctuary cities” do just that, and thereby oppose the federal authority. I wouldn’t call them “populists.” It appears to me that this German author has a different understanding of “populism.” That said, I agree with his other observations.

    • Oh look…one of those people who can’t stand Pope Francis but loves Donald Trump. ?

      You just had to get in there to defend your guy didn’t you?

      • So who would your “guy” be? Billary? I’ll take the one who isn’t for killing babies in the womb up until right before birth any day. After all, God used Moses (he killed an Egyptian in a rage) and David (had Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could try to clean up the adulterous mess he made) so I figure he can use Trump, as well.

        • I didn’t vote for any of the major party candidates (Trump, Clinton, or Johnson). They were all unacceptable in my opinion. Both Moses and David showed contrition for what they did (David to the point that he is considered a model for repentance) but Trump has been quoted as saying he does not believe he has to ask for God’s forgiveness for anything. (Despite manifest evidence to the contrary)

          Both Trump and the Pope are populists and I can’t stand either of them

    • What’s President Trump has been doing so far is completely opposite to PF. Trump obviously fight hard defending Christianity, leans forward to Catholic’s teachings and trusts God while PF ignores Catholicism and attacks Jesus Christ, God, the founder of Roman Catholic Church. Go online to watch videos: Mark Taylor’ Prophecy, Kim Clement’s prophecy and “Bible prophecy: Donald Trump becomes Catholic,” Jan 13, 2017. God bless.

  8. The pope “calls it ‘healthy decentralization‘,”

    Let’s call the spade the dirty shovel that it is. It is Protestantism.
    If the teaching of the Church can be decentralized and each can hold according to one’s opinion on the matter, well I am of the opinion that he is the Anti-Christ. So I must have his blessing on thinking that.

    Some evangelicals regard the Church as the whore of Babylon. The faction in the Church that the Pope is heading is increasingly looking like that.

    • Not so sure this can be compared with Protestantism; Protestants don’t have a despotic Pope appointing equally despotic and despicable bishops. It’s much worse than Protestantism, IMHO (and I’m a convert deliriously happy not to be Protestant).

      • Well, if we all start following “our conscience”, then we can decide that he is not Pope. We can decide that we don’t have a Pope (as some have already done) and all that in agreement with the Pope’s expressed desire.

      • I converted out of literature, the final turn to the Church came with reading Cardinal Newman. I was disconcerted a bit when I made formal conversion in the early 80s and was catechized by teachers indistinguishable from social workers. I bore through it and attend mass weekly plus. My priest is pretty conservative but I would join a Byzantine parish were there one anywhere near.

      • Well, the Episcopalian bishops have shown themselves acting more than a little despotically in dealing with conservative dissenters – and absolutely brutal to congregations and dioceses trying to leave altogether, no matter how sound their claim to their property.

        • You’re right. I come from a large strain of Protestantism that has no central authority so I tend to think in terms of individual little churches duking it out with the local governing body.

    • Well, in one sense, the Church and the anti-Church have been warring it out, and now it is inside the Vatican. So the “whore of Babylon” has always been devoted to the same gods. Let’s not forget the Saints who are in Rome, within the Church. But yes, an explanation will need to be well understood eventually in regard to this “whore”.

    • Who says? I’ve given up the Pope for a long while now.

      Not to say that I still don’t get upset by his words and work but I have a kind of peace about it all. I no longer expect anything better from him and in fact expect the worst so am not terribly surprised anymore at everything that is coming out of the faithful Catholic Media.

      We weather him – the blight on the Catholic firmament. But like everyone else, he will be gone. Whether sooner or later does not matter because God decides that and everything He allows is for our good.

    • I think it would be best to pray mightily for Pope Francis during Lent.
      There was a time, I grant you, when I had difficult doing so, but did try out of duty.
      But now, there is more sadness, not hopelessness, but more sadness for him and for our Church.

      He is our Pope, regardless of the turmoil that has reigned under his pontificate.
      Only our Queen can have his ear now to do good for Her Son.

      Pray he responds.

  9. Francis is sectarian in his thinking and approach. Very clear. This shocked me more than anything else he’s done or said. The blatant, public disrespect; not only to his Cardinals, even lay Catholics surprised no one has mentioned it until now.

  10. Francis is disrespectful to traditional Catholics, period. Almost every day at Casa Santa Marta, he lets forth a diatribe of abuse and ridicule at those who unquestioningly embrace the Church’s teaching on faith and morals and attempt to live it.

    You know it by heart now….“rigid”…..”Pelagian”………”Pharisees”…..….etc etc. The list goes on.

    This shtick barely rises above the level of internet combox rhetoric, so venial, vulgar, abusive and uncharitable is its essence.

  11. Disrespectful? Ya think? Cardinal Bergogolio personifies “DISRESPECTFUL” He has been nothing but…since he stepped onto the balcony. that first night. Nothing or No One is sacred to him…..from the lowliest priest…right up to and including Christ, His Words, His Mother, Divine Revelation, Sacred Tradition, The Magisterium and everything in between. Disrespectful? For Sure! It’s the kindest one word description one can say about him and his full blown disaster of a pontificate.

  12. Dear Archbishop Chaput,

    It is good that you called for our pope to answer the dubia.

    What is needed now is for you and other clergy (and us laity) to protest the errors of his words and actions.

    The devil is in the details!

    Holy Spirit, guide us!!


  13. A Pope disrespectful of his own Cardinals when they have questioned him most respectfully, is like a CEO of an organization who is disrespectful of his Senior Managers and this will always lead the CEO in trouble. Its just a matter of time when Pope Francis will either have to formally answer the Dubia or he will be forced to resign because of the scandal of a fully blown schism in the Catholic Church looming large in his face. It will be another resignation in the new trend already set by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

  14. “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution”
    Aquinas spells out exactly how mercy without bounds becomes vapid and meaningless.
    It leads to such incoherence that the Pontiff can’t respond to the dubia cardinals. It’s impossible in his position
    One answer leads to outright apostasy, the other torpedoes Pope Francis’s secular ideology and throws this pontificate’s humanist direction into reverse.
    Letting things sit as they are results in Church chaos and ultimately schism.
    Perhaps a vital purging and ultimately a more faithful Church where Christ is the Way, Truth and Life.

  15. It very well may be that sometime this year a stern rebuke of Francis with a correspondibg warning and attendant consequences will be given by the Master Himself.

  16. Just a quick observation of the obvious: The Pope is disrespectful because he is without true Christian Charity toward the Four Cardinals and the millions of Faithful Catholics who share their concerns. Furthermore, he is without Charity towards the rest of the Church in the same manner for he leaves all of the people in troubled waters, waters that he troubled in the first place and refuses to assist them when they cry out for help.

    When the apostles were afraid of the storm on the sea they woke Jesus and pleaded for help, Jesus immediately assisted them and then rebuked them for their lack of faith: he didn’t frown at all of them and then go back to sleep.

  17. In the journalist’s eyes, the pope seems to hope that “his ‘merciful’ approach will, in fact, be dominant.”

    Only until he and his allies are able to make it universal, on pain of severe penalties and ostracization, of course.

    • Super busy and on my second go around with the Flu. Plus my secretary has been out seriously ill for almost two months so I have been trying to get some of that stuff done too. May God Bless you.

      Fr. RP

  18. Francis will not answer Dubia because he is trying not to look like the total fools Malta AB ,Cupich and other bishops have done already in their convoluted attempts to avoid schism. Read for yourself their pathetic argument for mercy as opposed to actual canon law 915 and veritas splendar
    Exactly as AB Mueller has pointed out repeatedly.

  19. Traditionalists should not hesitate to take advantage of the inherent self-contradiction in the concepts of decentralization and “discernment”, and to use them against Francis and his modernist clique. If doctrinal and moral questions are to be decentralized, then the first thing we are permitted to do is to disobey Pope Francis, and the next thing we are permitted to do is to “discern” in our traditionalist heart of hearts whether a papal or episcopal directive should be obeyed in our particular circumstances. And I suggest that we keep just doing the things we do in the traditionialist way, regardless what the Pope and the bishops say. We don’t have to listen to a hierarchy which undermines its own authority. If Francis wants de-centralization, there’s one obvious thing he can do: solemnly declare that the central authority of the Papacy no longer exists and resign.


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