The ears of American conservative Catholics and their pastors have been burning since August 28, 2023, when Civilta Cattolica published the exchange that the Portuguese Jesuits had with the Sovereign Pontiff three weeks earlier.
On August 5, 2023, during his apostolic journey to Portugal on the occasion of World Youth Day, Pope Francis met the Jesuits at the Colegio de Sao Joao de Brito, a school run by the Society of Jesus. The exchange, which was very free, was the occasion for the Sovereign Pontiff to respond to the criticisms of certain American conservatives.
Based on three criteria given by St. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century to judge the possible evolution of Catholic doctrine, the Roman Pontiff believes that the “reactionary” attitude he observes within a part of the clergy and American Catholics is “useless.”
These Catholics, as he put it, would go “backwards.” Worse, they would live in “a climate of closure” to the point of “(losing) true tradition and (turning) to ideologies in search of support and support of any kind. In other words, ideology replaces faith, belonging to a section of the Church replaces belonging to the Church.”
The indictment is harsh and would have deserved to be more exhaustive in its reference to St. Vincent of Lerins, because this father of the Church is more precise in his Communitorium: “Teach only what you have learned; do it in a new way, but beware of introducing new things.”
And further, “The true and authentic Catholic knows that any new doctrine, never before heard, professed by one man outside or against the general opinion of the saints, has nothing to do with the true faith.”
Could the Pope’s charge against American conservatives be a sign of annoyance at the reactions the synod's working document, published a few weeks ago, engendered among many faithful and bishops in America?
Several discordant voices were indeed heard in the heart of the summer. On August 22, as FSSPX.News has already mentioned, the bishop of Tyler, Texas, denounced in the synod "the false and diabolical message which is spreading in the Church,” while, for his part, Cardinal Raymond Burke sees in it “a Pandora's box enclosing a revolutionary spirit.”
“It is an honor for me that the Americans are attacking me,” the Pontiff had already stated, on September 4, 2019, on the plane which took him to Mozambique. Apparently, they never tire of honoring him in their own way.