The Pope of our Punishment strikes

It’s been a little quiet here. There are several reasons. One is busy-ness – nothing overwhelming, but enough to be distracting. Another is our neanderthal internet connection, which happily (as of yesterday) has entered the 21st century. Another is hayfever: this year it is excruciating. After a sneezing fit on Thursday afternoon I lost my voice, which has partially returned and as a deep rasp when speaking, and erratic squeaking when I try to sing. Curiously, my brethren have not lamented my reduction to relative silence. How strange…

Yet another reason is the Pope. In the immediate wake of his election I wrote that he would be the pope of our punishment. Some three months later that assessment seems ever more valid. His papacy is a punishing one for more than one reason. Since to wallow in such punishment verges on the masochistic, it has seemed better to not to do so. In general, one notes each occasion, and moves on. Given that every priest, and in fact every Catholic, should have a sincere devotion to the office of the pope, and a high regard for his person, the incentive to silence is even stronger, if only to give time to allow the shape of his pontificate and his general approach to become clearer.

Pope’s Francis’ pontifical style and approach have become clearer and, to be honest, they are disturbing. For all the commitment to humility and simplicity imputed to him, it is a struggle to see humility in his repeated refusal to submit to the nature of the papal office. Of course, papal trappings should not be confused with the papal office, but where does one draw the line? Living in the Domus Sanctae Mathae, effectively an hotel in the Vatican grounds, rather than the papal apartments may have merits. It may indeed allow him to feel freer of curial bureaucracy. But the apartments have the advantage of security and allow space for a pope to have personal staff close at hand with the facilities they need. No doubt there has been some expense resulting from making the Domus similarly secure and practical. Right from the start Pope Francis eschewed the apartments, suggesting prior thought, which then suggests that his election did not come as quite the surprise to him as we have been told.

Similarly unsettling has been his style of daily Mass, in the chapel of the Domus. Daily Mass  – fantastic! Mass with Vatican staff of the less exalted ranks – wonderful! But a papal Mass served by, say, gardeners in their gardening kit – is that humble or just inappropriate? His general refusal to wear on big occasions the vestments that fill the sacristy (covering the range from simple to elaborate), and restrict himself to the same simple (fast becoming monotonous) style, the latest examples of which are being freshly produced at extra expense – is this humility or willfulness? Certainly the Pope has a right to set the tone of his papacy, but it is emerging very much a papacy the theme song of which could be Sinatra’s I did it my way. Strong – yes; humble – not so certain? Perhaps if this hermeneutic of humility were to be laid aside I would find his style not quite so disturbing.

mass at domus

The most disturbing aspect of this new humble style is Pope Francis’ constant speaking and preaching off the cuff. This is fine for a parish priest, and in some contexts it would be reasonable in a diocesan bishop. However, Francis is not a parish priest, and no mere diocesan bishop.  He is successor to St Peter, holds the highest teaching authority in the Church, and needs to remember that his words now have a significance they never had when he was a priest or a diocesan bishop. Humility is also served when one adapts to the demands of one’s office. It does not serve his role as supreme teacher that the Vatican is having constantly to catch up with his unscripted words and try to record them and make them available. Vatican Radio has tried giving summaries, which is not satisfactory: we need the full text and the full context. Even the Vatican website can only manage summaries.

Already we have seen more than one gaffe from his papal impromptus. There was the controversy about his words that seemed to imply that everyone is saved, atheists too.  Certainly that is what the press made of it – just Google it! Here is what Pope Francis said on 22 May that has caused so much trouble:

 The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, with everyone doing his own part; if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of meeting: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good! We shall meet there.”

Technically, and I mean technically, there is no formal problem here. We are in fact all redeemed by the blood of Christ. Absolutely. However, redemption and salvation are not synonymous, their meaning is not co-terminous. Redemption is a gift offered to all humanity; a person is saved only when s/he accepts that gift and makes it operative in his or her daily life. Redemption is universal but salvation is not. Redemption is not a magic wand that makes all of us good and saved. Which is surely why the Pope goes to such lengths to talk about doing good. He is attempting to show that redemption allows us to change our lives in the power of his grace, to grasp salvation by faith, which is expressed in and built up by the doing of the works of love – doing good, as Pope Francis puts it.

If only he had said something along those lines. Instead his words allow the easy inference that an atheist need only do good to be saved. The Pope’s context, on closer inspection, seems to be world peace and creating a “culture of meeting”. In other words, he is talking about the doing of good as something connected with changing the world and not so much with personal salvation. But that is not exactly clear. Not at all. In fact it is so theologically muddy, and has been so misinterpreted by the media, that his words had to be clarified and explained. When someone has to explain what the teacher is teaching, especially when he is trying to teach in accessible, man-in-the-street terms, there is a problem.

Part of the problem is the Pope’s emphasis on doing good works, even outside the context of faith (ie by atheists). His words lend themselves to the easy imputation of Pelagianism. Given this sad fact, another of his unfortunate impromptus takes on an added sting. In a meeting with the conference of Religious for Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAR) he made remarks that were recorded by those present (not an unreasonable thing). They have caused a storm both in the secular media and in the Catholic world. The secular media was more concerned with his admission of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican curia. This, he implies, is one of the problems that will be addressed by the commission of eight cardinals he erected to reform the Curia.

For the Catholic media, there was the added matter of his remarks equating a spiritual bouquet with Pelagianism:

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council… One feels in 1940… An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…

There are so many problems with this passage. There is the tone, which appears patronising and condescending as he looks down on (and resists the temptation to laugh at) those who might offer a spiritual bouquet of rosaries for his ministry. Any pope before him would have been delighted. Far worse is his equation of this spiritual bouquet with Pelagianism. Spiritual bouquets are good works, which these devout people apparently spoil by counting them. But is this Pelagian? Can praying for another, not least the Pope, and using the supremely approved method of the rosary, ever be Pelagian? Pelagianism is concerned with an individual’s good works and accruing of merit for himself. The Pelagian basically says I can save myself. But these now-ridiculed faithful were praying for another, the Pope, not trying to save themselves. As Dr Shaw points out, if the counting was his problem, we might ask how else could they convey the scale of their corporate act? The number reveals that goodly number of people prayed a goodly number of roasries – for the Pope!

Moreover, how does one reconcile these remarks with his advocating atheists to do good works in the context of Christ’s blood having redeemed all humanity, even atheists? Spiritual bouquets for another are labelled as Pelagian; but advocating that atheists merely do works to be (it can be inferred) under the umbrella of Christ’s redemption – is that not more like Pelagianism? I am sure he did not mean it to be. The Holy Spirit will protect him from formal error, but it will not necessarily protect him from indiscretion

It is all very confusing, and a pope should not be in the business of confusion. He should not need help in making his remarks susceptible of orthodox interpretation. When in the next paragraph he makes a good point about pantheist/gnostic sisters who do “not pray in the morning, but … spiritually bathe in the cosmos”, all its force is lost by the problematic words immediately preceding them.

So it is then I have been trying to keep quiet. He is the pope; I am a mere footslogging monk/priest, little more than a pimple on the world’s posterior, so who am I to take him to task. But really, Pope Francis needs to start acting like a pope, however lacking in humility it might feel. He need not wear mozettas and nice vestments (though by eschewing the symbols of office, he weakens the strength of its voice); but he does need to start preparing his speeches and homilies, having them checked by his theologians, and then sticking to the texts. Behaving like an outspoken parish priest will not do for much longer. Frankly, the Church deserves better and certainly needs better. That said, I am confident he is capable of it.

So, at the risk of Pelagianism, let us fervently pray for Pope Francis. He needs prayer no less than we do.

**UPDATE – do please read the latest on this matter here**

61 thoughts on “The Pope of our Punishment strikes

    1. Could he have said, “thank you for the prayers, but please…do not announce with a bouquet of rosaries that you have done so. As the Pharisees made it well known that they were fasting, Jesus said they received their reward. Therefore, please pray, but do not make known that you have, for your Father in Heaven, who sees all, will reward you.”

      Might have been more fitting, eh?
      God Bless.


      1. Maybe Tom, maybe. Or maybe they just wanted Pope Francis to know how much he was being prayed for, how supported he is, how devoted they are, that the little people remember him in their prayers.




  1. Oh, heavens! I agree with Fidelis….and, I rather with your post had been broken up into about five! That way I could focus my own thoughts by commenting on them all….. I’ll just say something light about the “Spiritual Bouquet” point…. I am a convert and when I first heard of this custom it struck me as so charming. And I am a person (a DRE) who scandalized everyone in the parish by insisting that there WOULD BE NO “hours” of service for Confirmation – simply service…because when you give a gift you should not be encouraged to count the cost. Though the very idea of the Spiritual Bouquet IS counting, I think you explain well why it certainly never offended my sensibilities. (Also, the ideas of prayers as flowers – well, I just like it.) What, perhaps bothers me most about the Pope’s remark is the criticism of a gift. To have talked in general is one thing, but to give the example of a specific a gift given in love, and to criticize it, it hurts me on behalf of all those who were trying to do something loving and kind for him, and humiliates me on behalf of the poor soul who had the idea in the first place. (And where has he been – here in the trendy States people give Spiritual Bouquets all the time!)

    I believe our pope IS kind – this only goes to illustrate how speaking off the cuff can go wrong.


    1. HI Annie.

      Yes, I agree that Pope Francis is kind. But shooting from the lip is dangerous. In this case, in seeking to build a rapport with (I expect) quite liberal religious from Latin America he has insulted those who are devoted to him. Lord knows how they feel seeing themselves and their gift the centre of such negative attention.

      So I can see where you are coming from when you say that what bothers you the most is the criticism of a gift sincerely and generously given. It is ungracious. We should not expect a perfect pope; we could reasonably expect a gracious one.

      There’s still time!

      Blessings on you. 🙂


  2. Dear Father Hugh,

    Thank you for your post. From the beginning of Pope Francis’ papacy I’ve been scandalized, and then scandalized at myself being scandalized..
    It is indeed a “bitter trial” to go through what the parish priests are (not) doing, and then be crushed by the example of the Head of the Church.
    Lord Have Mercy.


    1. Hi Agnieszka!

      “I’ve been scandalized, and then scandalized at myself being scandalized.” I could not have put it better for myself. That is a thoroughly Catholic response to recent months. Any good seems to be more than matched by a negative.

      Do not lose heart, there is a reason for this. One reason might be we need to learn truly to pray for our pope.



  3. Yes, I see a growing concern amongst those who are concerned for the unity of the Church down the line, the Catholic Church is not just Agentina, or Latin America, even amonst those who would style themselves “Liberal”.

    It is a pity the Pope has so few working languages.


    1. Salve!

      You make a good point. Francis’ vision is very much conditioned by daily Catholic life in Latin America. His approach may have worked in a diocese, but in the universal Church a universal vision is needed. No amount of calling himself only “Bishop of Rome” will change the reality of his universal responsibility. And if he takes advice, his advisors need to start making this clear to him.

      He has few languages (very limiting for a modern pope) and not much more theological grounding. He needs now to get into the discipline of thinking before speaks, of seeking advice on what he would like to say, and realising that his audience is far greater than the few seated before him at any one moment.

      Maybe all this takes time; let us pray for Godspeed!



  4. Fr Hugh, I shall have to respectfully disagree with you on this! While I would never suggest that details don’t matter, I think the issues you raise are relatively minor ones that can develop over time—as Pope Benedict’s choice of vestments changed, for example. Even the issue of speaking off the cuff doesn’t strike me as crucial—Pope Benedict routinely inserted unscripted comments into his talks.

    It seems to me that the bigger issue here is that I need to be the one to show humility and ask what God wants to teach me, the Church, and the world through Pope Francis. Not instead of what He taught me through Pope Benedict, but in addition to it. Pope Francis has a genuine gift for reaching out to people, especially the sick and the young, and in that he is clearly modelling an important aspect of who Christ is and who the Church should be. Pope Francis has attracted thousands to public recitation of the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration—that is a better indicator of his attitude toward traditional devotions than his alleged remarks in a private audience. There is a great deal of good going on here and it is up to us, not to turn a blind eye to what isn’t good or doesn’t work, but to ensure that we are looking beyond our own preferences and necessarily limited views of the papacy.



    1. How funny that all the abuse,and some of the critique, directed at me has either had no focus at all other than “how dare you criticise the pope”, or focuses on things I was not focusing on, like the papal style at Mass. My focus was on two addresses he made which, especially when seen together, raise a number of potentially serious problems. He has allowed himself to be cast as teaching the salvation of atheists by good works, a Pelagian approach. I know he did not mean this, and if you insert lots of explanatory bits into what he said, that can be more clearly seen. But he did not make himself clear, and the media pounced. He has allowed himself to be seen as calling those who offer him spirtual bouquets of prayer as Pelagians, ironic in light of his unwitting nod to it previously and in that it does not fit the label Pelagian at all. I know what he meant, and while I do not agree with him fully, there is no formal heresy if explained and given more context. I am sure he did not mean to insult those who prayed for him, but many others saw an insult in what has been called “Roasarygate”.

      Does God want to “teach me, the Chruch and the world” through these two utterances of Pope Francis? I doubt it; or rather, he might be teaching that popes need to be very careful in what they say. Pope Francis has been given a nickname in Rome, Papa Chicacchierone, or “Pope Chatterbox” (the Romans have never held popes in excessive esteem!). It pains me to think he could be called that, but he has opened himself up to that charge by speaking so indiscreetly.

      Not everything a pope does or says is infallible, or even a moment for teaching. If it were, then Pope John XII’s gouging out the eyes of his confessor would have been more exemplary for subsequent popes. Thankfully, that was not seen as a good papal action. In fact, it was evil. Yes, popes can do evil. But they will never teach contrary to dogma: only that much does the Holy Spirit guarantee.

      Pope Francis is no John XII, and indeed he is clearly good man. But we serve him better by not exalting him too highly and making his every word and deed magisterial. In fact, as I replied to a comment on the other post, perhaps the Vatican should not record his every word, but only is formal speeches and homilies and his solemn pronouncements. Benedict never made this mistake, nor did John Paul II, nor even Paul VI; Pope Francis should learn from their example… and yes, popes can learn too.

      I have never said there was nothing good about Pope Francis, and i have mentioned good things before. But must we keep solemn silence when he makes a misstep and, even after a few days, it is not corrected?

      And we would all do well to put the hermeneutic of humility to bed for a while; it has been worked to death, and is becoming tiresome. There is no need to cast everything he does in the mantle of humility. Nor is it any less humble to speak the truth in respectful charity.

      So I am afraid, Sister, I continue respectfully to disagree with you.



  5. Hi Fr Hugh,

    Your post reminded me a little of something I read about Bl JPII during his pontificate which was quite critical of him on a number of fronts, some liturgical, some political, etc. Looking back, I’m not sure how many of the criticisms were well founded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if about half of them were. Still, bring on the canonisation! Saints are made from the bearers of sin and weakness.

    I think that on the level of prudence, some of your criticisms seem fair. I say ‘seems’ because we are here speaking about things that we did not directly witness, and therefore do not directly know. And we are speaking about a man whom we are not responsible for correcting (directly). Therefore I think it is healthy to remain a bit of an agnostic when it comes to how another person ought to be fulfilling his duties. This is not to rule out correcting another, but it needs to be for a definite purpose – for building up Christ’s Body the Church.

    On that note, I agree with your call to abandon the hermeneutic of humility. I think I have been a little hesitant about that from the start. ‘Look how humble he is’ just makes me cringe, because humility is generally something hidden from human eyes, reserved for the Lord. But this is a question about how we speak about Francis, not about whether or not we agree with his approach to the Papacy.

    At the same time I think it’s worth considering the distinction between criticism and correction. Sometimes when we correct another in charity, it will involve criticism – telling them that what they’re doing is wrong. But so often when we criticise, we do not do so for the purpose of correction, but simply for the purpose of ‘having the right view’ about the one we’re criticising. This, as we all know, is the spirit of the Pharisee, and we are constantly falling into it.

    Do you think, Fr Hugh, that it would be unfair to describe your post as falling (at least a little) into this spirit?

    Surely there are those who have the responsibility for correcting Pope Francis when required. But for us, who do not know the man, he is given to us by God, in all his weakness and in his ongoing struggle with sin, to be our father, to be a sign of the Shepherd, and to walk in the footsteps of Peter, the Rock who denied our Lord three times.

    So, as a crude summary of my response to the post: yes, some of your points are fair enough, but so what? Though we are not called to affirm everything the Pope does, we are invited to let ourselves be led by him. Where is the Holy Spirit leading us, and what is the Lord Jesus saying to us through this (ontologically) humble Francis?


    1. Welcome Cameron.

      If you think me a Pharisee, fair enough. It is a label so often applied now to anyone who offers an opinion based on what should or should not be done that it has lost all sting for me. The best way to avoid being called a Pharisee is to say nothing. And maybe I will adopt that position sooner rather than later.

      My desire was not to be in the right. When I profess the Catholic faith I know I am right, so this is not an issue for me. My concern was for the those who might be scandalized by what appeared to be papal approval and disapproval of things not warranting those attitudes. It is not enough for atheists merely to do good to be saved, and I feel sure the pope did not mean that. But it was not clear from the evidence released. I am pretty sure the pope does not disapprove of the rosary, of spiritual bouquets, nor of prayers for him, but that is not exactly how it came across on first sight.

      You are right, I think, to point out that we are reacting what seems to be the situation. Which is why I was trying to use words like “appears”, trying to point out the need to communicate more discreetly and clearly.

      I have no idea what ontological humility is, but I am sure Pope Francis is sincere in his desire to get things right in the Church. Which is why even Pharisees like me will continue to pray for him, and ask others to do the same.



      1. Salve FC!

        Certainly to be bullied into silence would be an inglorious exit. Yet, if what I write causes more harm than good then it is debatable whether I should write further. And I have never relished the role of bogeyman.

        One option might be to have a mailing list and send out letters on topical issues – ecclesial, spiritual, liturgical etc. Dr Robert Moynihan has something like this. Its virtue is that it is not so public and people choose to be part of the chain, and can choose to opt out as well.

        Time will tell. For ow, there are still things to say here, at least for a little while.



      2. Dear Fr Hugh,

        I would never call you a Pharisee 🙂 Perhaps the answer to my question (would it be unfair to describe your post as falling (at least a little) into the spirit of the Pharisee?) was ‘yes’.

        Please forgive my poor reply – and thank you for your prompt response, which makes me blush a little. Still, I want to press on because I still think there was some point that I was trying to get at.

        Perhaps my problem is that I don’t see very clearly what you are trying to achieve with your post. Are you trying to prevent your readers from being scandalised by the ambiguity and carelessness of some of Francis’ words? If so, then that is a noble aim.

        But your dismay at other things like his choice of abode – I don’t see why you would bother trying to argue that this is not humble. Perhaps it is not, or perhaps it is, but so what? Does what you or I think on this topic have any real import? Probably the Pope made this decision for good reasons, and probably we will never know what they all are.

        I think there is a lot of unnecessary anxiety amongst faithful Catholics over things for which we have no direct responsibility. We don’t have to bear the deficiencies of Pope Francis, for it is Christ who bears them all, along with our own, and the yoke he asks us to bear is easy and the burden light.

        Let me be quite clear: I don’t think you should be silenced – I think that you don’t say enough 🙂 Point out real areas of concern if you see them, but where is the spirit of gratitude and docility for what God is already doing in all of this? (or perhaps I just need to read you other posts too 🙂

        God bless,

        PS. By ‘ontological humility’ I was referring to the humble state of man before God – something which is true for all of us (whether we like it or not) and which the virtue of humility simply enables us to acknowledge. It was foolish of me to make up a term and not explain it.


      3. Dear Cameron,

        Thanks for explaining the term ontological humility: I had visions of it meaning that there was a type of humility that morphed into an ontological state within a person. That would have freaked me a little.

        To another comment I replied giving some clarification of my underlying aims, though you seem to have read it. Yes, I was worried about those who might be scandalized by what has been portrayed in potentially scandalizing terms. I was worried that a pope could almost regularly seem to fall into such a position. Without sufficient context or elaboration I was pointing to other things that were, in my view, contributory to this phenomenon: liturgy, residence etc. It came across as me griping about his choices, and to an extent of course I was. But they counted for me in this context only as examples of how the Pope is increasingly appearing as one who will do his own thing, speak his own mind, with one end in view, and seemingly blind to the law of unintended consequences that seems to apply to him ever more strongly now that he is pope. His choices and words might be intended with one, good, purpose in mind; they are not always coming across that way. That is dangerous for a pope; far more so than for a mere archbishop.

        There are other bloggers, articulate and intelligent, who are in high dudgeon about Pope Francis’ style and rhetoric. They are speaking their mind in bold and uncompromising terms. They make me blush even as I can see their points, and I am grieved that such a situation could be possible in the first place.

        The biggest irony might be that much as Pope Francis has, from one perspective, allowed himself to be misread, so too have I. To put it bluntly, my criticisms about his style etc are not because I do not respect him, but because I do not want to end up not respecting him. His share of media hype will not last forever. The media will move on, and then most likely turn against him. If he gives them enough ammunition it will be bloody. How I dread that.

        Sorry, my coherence is waning as it has been a long day of sneezing and chores, and just now a community meeting after I had served supper to the brethren. My brain is running dry.

        I have posted again about a papal hermeneutic in order to clarify myself further and advance the matter a little. That may be a good point to stop and let my betters take over. No one likes a noisy monk.



  6. Oops, pressed ‘post’ to soon in error.
    Father, please do not all yourself be pushed into silence by those who refuse to accept anything but blind obedience to their interpretation of our faith. I was bought up to believe (and absolutely still do) that one of the key roles of a Priest is to stretch our minds and really make us think about all aspects of our approach to our faith and Church and certainly not to shy away from the sometimes difficult and controversial subjects. Although we are called to be obedient to the Church’s teachings and her Clergy if questions need to be asked or thoughts need to be shared we are free to do so. It is, by its very nature, how we learn and grow in our faith and love of Christ all through our lives. If our Priests are forced into silence faithful people become faithful drones with no understanding of their faith and therefore just going through the motions every time they pray or step foot in church. God bless and please keep up the good work and your excellent teaching. Domine Jesu.


    1. Thank you FC.

      There is a relatively new culture of ecclesial free speech in the wake of the Council, abused by many theologians in its early days (and still), and fostered today by the new media. I do not want to be an abuser of free speech.

      On the other hand, healthy debate and information can be spread by the new media. Clergy, as you rightly point out, have a duty to teach as well as to sanctify. The average priest gets to teach from his parochial pulpit, as this can be seen as the normative way a priest teaches. Non-parochial clergy do not have that forum, but they do have some extra opportunity to use the new media, which offer another forum in which to teach. We are still feeling our way on this. No surprises there: the pace of change is dizzying.

      A question those such as I need to ask is whether it is better suited to me to be teaching on Main Street, Cyber Town; or to interact in a more private and discreet way with those who might in fact be better suited to working on Main Street. Or to use another analogy, some are called to the front lines, others to the supply column.

      There is certainly plenty of scope for a Catholic today, lay or clerical, to fight the good fight of evangelization.



  7. NB: 2nd Update (2000 GMT): The Presidency of CLAR confirms the content of the report, even though they regret it was made public. They do not vouch for every detail, but they do not deny those, either:

    “Bogota, Colombia, June 11, 2013

    “The Presidency of CLAR deeply regrets the publication of a text referring to the conversation held with the Holy Father Francis in the course of a meeting on this past June 6. A conversation that took place prompted by questions made by those present to the Pope.

    “In that occasion, no recording of the conversation was made, but soon afterwards a summary of the same was made based on the recollections of those present. [Rorate notes: at least one of those present had a visible writing pad in his hands; maybe another device was also used to capture the conversation.] This summary, that does not include the questions posed to the Holy Father, was destined to the personal memory of the participants, and not for any reason meant for publication, something for which, on the other hand, no authorization had been requested.

    “It is clear that, on this basis, the singular expressions contained in the text cannot be attributed to the Holy Father with certainty, but only their general sense.

    “The Presidency of CLAR deeply regrets what has happened and the confusion it may have caused.

    “Sister Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, FSpS – President
    Fr. Gabriel Naranjo Salazar, CM, – General Secretary” (Source)


    1. Interesting thank you!

      So, someone leaked. It was effectively a private audience. It was not intended for public consumption. There is some hope that Pope Francis has been misquoted. But if this be so, would the Vatican please hurry up and say so.

      But there is no such thing as a truly “private” meeting between a group of people and a pope. Discretion is still required, if only because not all involved can be relied on to hold their tongues afterwards. But discretion is also essential for a pope, because a pope can no longer be a private person. That is one of the thorns in the papal crown.



  8. Debby,

    Were any of us actually baptized “as Jesus was”? Was his baptism for the same purpose as ours? Was it actually the same as ours? Think carefully… The argument around infant baptism is centuries old and the Catholic Church’s answers still stand. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Our Lord does not impose the Rosary on us for many reasons. But let’s be clear: the Catholic Church does not teach it is essential to salvation. The Church, and most denominations of separated Christians, have practices that are not enjoined in scripture, are not essential to salvation, but enrich the lives and strengthen the faith of the people nevertheless. Such is the rosary.

    And please tell me where in scripture, for example, Jesus teaches us that scripture alone is sufficient for salvation? Or that only adults can be baptised?

    Actually, don’t. I have been there and done that, and I suspect you will not be listening to me anyway. But you have said your piece.



  9. I certainly disagree with how the Pope addressed Redemption/Salvation. Very misleading. However, the rosary comment was in a private meeting and these notes were jotted down by attending members. Not notes from the press, not from any type of audio or video recording, just handwritten notes from attendees. How do we know they are accurate? Or that the person taking notes did not misinterpret?


    1. Hi Jenny! Thanks for your other message which I am looking into. I had no idea…

      You are right about the meeting the Pope had with CLAR – it was private and not meant for public consumption. So for me it ranks as a private audience. My warning was that a private audience with a group of people will not remain private, and therefore the need for discretion is even greater. However, the leaders of CLAR have issued a statement saying what is reported is accurate, which is the real reason for their distress: they have unwittingly landed the Pope in it.

      You know my theory: Pope Francis has not quite grasped the fundamental and vast difference between being Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Bishop of Rome. He can ill afford to make a mistake like this one again; or rather, we can ill afford it. He is a patently decent man, full of moral vigour. He will say, and has already said, things that will upset the secular press. When it really hits them that Pope Francis is staying Catholic they will turn on him, and use such incidents as his words to CLAR against him.

      So many reasons to keep praying for our pope.



  10. Debby: Nowhere does the Bible forbid us to pray 15 decades of the Rosary. Nor could you name a prayer or Mystery of the Rosary that does not come straight out of Scripture, either in whole or in part. Even the number of Hail Marys in the Rosary is biblical: 150 Hail Marys = 150 Psalms. That is why the Rosary is called Our Lady’s Psalter. Besides, since good devotions are not forbidden, it is unworthy of a child of God to confine himself to that which is strictly required in God’s service, never exceeding the absolute minimum that can be gotten away with. “Doth he thank that servant, for doing the things which he commanded him? I think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” Luke 17:9-10.

    As for the Holy Father, I must confess that I was bitterly disappointed by his election, not least because there was someone else I wanted to see raised to the See of Peter; and because Francis immediately gave the impression of being another standard-issue, ’70s-style liberal. But there is such a thing as the grace of office; and the “progressivists'” hope that he will change the teachings of the Church to suit them is as ill-founded as the ueber-trad fear that he will do just that: both the hope and the fear are based on a lack of faith. Whatever else this pontificate might be, it is NOT the dawning of the Age of Aquarius for the Nuns on the Bus wing of the Church.


    1. Well said Anita. You had more patience and energy than I did last night!

      While we might worry about the pope’s message at times, at least as it is coming through to us, we certainly need not worry about this pope, or any pope, refashioning the Church after his own mind. Whatever views Jorge Bergoglio might have, Francis will not teach anything contrary to the magisterium of the Church and its deposit of saving faith. We know this because Christ would not have it otherwise. Our keeping faith on this is, at deeper level, our keeping faith with Christ.

      So no, Pope Francis is not the boy of their dreams for 70s hippies and New Age Catholics. He made that clear enough with his words on the Gnostic element in some parts of the Church, nuns not praying but opening themselves to the cosmos. Earlier he had been more remarkably blunt when he said that if you are not dealing with Christ, you are dealing with the devil! Again some context was needed, but the direction of his thinking was clear enough, and a salutary warning for the nuns on the bus.

      For now we must keep on praying for our pope. As I am sure you do….



  11. Hi Father Hugh,

    My issue with the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary is the 4th and 5th Glorious Mystery. Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Mary and the Coronation in Heaven of Our Blessed Mother. If these are not in the Scriptures, where did we got it from? If our Salvation is our Faith that we are saved by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as the Christ, our Saviour who died on the Cross for our sins and resurected to be seated at the right Hand of the Father. Then why is the Rosary mostly composed of “Hail Mary”?

    Thank You.


    1. Hi Marlon.

      These are big questions you raise and they merit big answers, which might be beyond me tonight as I am not long returning from sheep shearing.

      But just quickly, regarding our Lady as Queen. You will know that in the OT there are to be found types of Christ, figures who embody some quality or attribute of Christ, prefiguring him, preparing Israel to recognize their Messiah when he did come: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, Solomon, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah etc. But not only Christ has OT types. Israel is a type of the Church, for example. And Mary has her types too. Eve is the “mother of all living”; Mary is mother of all those reborn in Christ. The ark of the covenant contained the old Law; Mary is the ark who bore within the new Law, and as David leapt before the old ark, John the Baptist leapt in the womb before the new ark.

      King Solomon, the wise one, had seated on a throne next to him his mother (1 Kings). And when Bathsheba entered the room he bowed to her, though all power was clearly his. Adonijah seeks her intercession before Solomon, since “He will not refuse you”. Bathsheba, the queen mother, is a type of Mary. In the NT the Book of Revelation’s woman clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars is Mary, whose offspring crushes the head of the serpent as prophesied of Eve. Mary is this heavenly queen, this new Eve.

      Might I suggest Scott Hahn’s “Hail Holy Queen”? He writes with all the biblical weaponry of his Presbyterian background to show that Mary is all through scripture, veiled in types much as Christ was. He explains much better than I can, and you will see how scripture can teach on more than one level.

      As for the Assumption, it is not explicitly asserted in scripture (but neither is the Trinity). Rather the Church draws its conclusion on the Assumption mainly from the angel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation, “Hail full of grace”. Being completely filled with God’s grace she is preserved from sin and the consequence of sin, corruption in death. She is the first redeemed, even before the redemption in time. The woman clothed with the sun in Revelation is, as we noted above, a reference to Mary in glory, as is the mention of the ark of the covenant appearing in the heavenly temple (11:19). All this points to Mary and implies her Assumption. Pius XII, using the power of the keys, drew out this implication in its fullest meaning.

      The prayer, Hail Mary, is a biblical prayer. The first half is made of up direct quotations from the gospels, “Hail, full of grace” at the Annunciation, and “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” from the Visitation to Elizabeth. The second half is merely a request for her prayers on our behalf, no less logical than my asking yours. More logical in fact, as she is Christ’s mother, in heaven with him, and “He will not refuse you”.

      Peace upon you.


      1. Hi Father Hugh, Anita,

        Greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the responses. When I read the Gospel according to Saint John, verses 1 to 18, ” In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things came to be, not one thing came to be, not one thing had its being but through Him. All that came to be had life in Him…..” reading through to verse 18, we can see that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Word and the True Light. If Blessed Mary is the Mother of God, how can she be around before the Word was in existence? Remember Our Lord is the Alpha and the Omega. Also, in Revelation, NT the Book of Revelation’s woman clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars is Mary. I agree, but I think what is being described is the Blessed Virgin Mary being protected by God, the Crown with 12 stars are the twelve tribes of Israel, signifying the Child (Our Lord Jesus Christ is with Her). Also, why do we need to ask for prayer from the Blessed Virgin Mary, is praying directly to our Lord not possible when He already died on the Cross for our sins to manifest his Love and Faithfulness for mankind? Please give me your thoughts.. I really appreciate your responses.

        Your brother in Faith with our Lord Jesus Christ,



  12. Marlon: Perhaps it would help to think about the Assumption and the Coronation of Mary in the following terms. In the traditional version of the Glorious Mysteries, the Fourth Glorious Mystery was the Second Coming of Christ, and the Fifth was the General Judgment. In a way, this has not changed; the focus has merely been shifted. Mary is the perfect type of the Church. What we can say about Mary, we can say about the Church; what has already happened to her is a sign and a pledge of what will happen to us at the end of time, if we persevere in grace. We know from Scripture that when Christ comes again, all the dead shall be raised, and the bodies of the elect (among whom we hope to be numbered) will share in the eternal reward of their souls. This has already happened to Mary, who, when Christ came for her at the end of her life, was taken body and soul into heaven. And the Coronation of Mary is, I submit, a type of the crowns of glory prepared for us in heaven.

    Pater, in re praying for the Pope: he gets a Memorare at the end of every Rosary.

    P.S. I wish I had prayed more for Pope Benedict. You know the first thought that occurred to me when I heard about his abdication and verified that it was true? I thought: I should have prayed for him more. Multiply that by however many multitudes.


    1. Rather brutally put, and you seem not to take into account Pope Francis many positive qualities. But you do reinforce the danger of applying the hermeneutic to humility to everything he does. It is just not helpful, and the Catholic media especially should be applying more objective standards for interpreting his words and actions. Humility is subjective and impossible to measure with certainty; simplicity, on the other hand, is much more objective.



  13. Hi Fr Hugh, Hi Anita,

    I’m not sure if you missed my follow up reply to your response to my post regarding the 4th and 5th mysteries of the Rosary. Why do we have more Hail Mary’s (prayer to the Virgin Mary) in the Rosary as compared to the Prayers to God the Father (Yahweh) and God the Son (Our Lord Jesus Christ). Isn’t it that we should pray more to God for Mercy and Forgiveness? Waiting for a response.

    Your brother in Faith to Our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Marlon Manuzon


    1. Sorry for the delay Marlon, but this blog is not my main job.

      The Rosary is (1) an optional but highly recommended & effective element in (2) our larger spiritual lives. Thus, seen in context, it is not a matter of praying more to Mary than to God. The rosary is never our only spiritual practice. We are asking Mary’s intercession on our behalf since she is has gone before us, and even more, she is Christ’s mother, the Queen Mother, and he hears her when she calls upon him.

      So yes, we should pray to God for mercy, without ceasing. And we should pray to Mary for her intercession on our behalf (much as we would ask any Christian to pray for us, though she is more than any Christian). It is not a matter of either/or, but of both/and.

      After all, Christ did not command us to read scripture every day, but it is still a good spiritual practice!



    2. Marlon, see my earlier comment about the number of Hail Marys in the Rosary: 150 Hail Marys = 150 Psalms. In former times, those in the monastic/eremitical life recited the 150 Psalms daily. That was not (and is not) a practical devotion for the laity, who substituted 150 Hail Marys. The Rosary in its current form with its meditations on the Mysteries from the lives of Jesus and Mary came from St. Dominic Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans, of which I am a professed lay member). The Hail Mary, also known as the Angelic Salutation, comes straight from the first chapter of Luke. We recite it to honor Mary because God Himself first honored her with those words.

      There is nothing about Mary that takes us away from God. On the contrary, devotion to her brings us closer to God. She loves God above all things, and therefore wants to help all of us to do likewise.


  14. Hi Fr. Hugh, Hi Anita,

    Again thank you for your patience. My apologies, I understand answering blogs is not your main job and again I appreciate the responses you and Anita give, Thank you :). When you said we are asking the Blessed Mary’s intercession on our behalf…and He hears her when she calls upon Him. Why do we need the Blessed Mary to intercede for us to our Lord Jesus Christ? The Scripture says our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and He will intercede for us when we face our creator, God the Father, Yahweh in the Final Judgement. If we pray to God the Our Father, through the prayer He thought the Apostles when they Him to teach them to Pray. All the focus of the our Lord’s prayer is in Honor of God and our request for Him to provide for us and deliver us from Evil (influences of the devil). Our Lord did command us to pray everytime and when He thought us to pray, we were taught by Him to Pray to His Father in Heaven.

    Hi Anita, I do not think the Psalms is in the former times, Psalms are songs of praise to God and mans relationship to God and there is no age in that. The Hail Mary cannot be the same as the Psalms, each of the verses of the Psalms gives praises to God, his relationship with man and warnings to man if he goes against God. It is man (represented by David the shepherd, talking to God, having a close relationship with God) When we are praying the Hail Mary in the Rosary we are making a relationship with the Blessed Mary to pray for us to God, we are not having a relationship with God but instead relying on Mary’s relationship to God. If we talk/pray more to Mary, how is that not leading us away from God. If we spent our time praying 150 Hail Mary’s instead of praying 150 Our Father to God the Father in Heaven Yahweh, how is is not taking what is God’s?

    Thank you. And I really appreciate the response but please don’t take it that I am imposing a response. Please do at your own time and will.

    Your brother in Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Marlon Manuzon


    1. Hi Marlon.

      Why do we need Mary to intercede for us? Perhaps there is another question underlying your stated question, and that might be: why do we need anyone to pray for us? Surely, if we have Christ as a mediator and direct our own prayer to the Father then we do not need to pray for each other at all. But we do. And we always have. St Paul prayed for the churches to which he wrote, eg 2 Thess 1:11, Colossians 1:3. St James called for Christians to pray over their sick and intercede for them (5:14).

      Our prayer for others, our intercession for them, is a concrete example of charity, of looking beyond our own needs to the needs of others. It is a remedy for selfishness. Our mutual intercession is the communion of saints in action.

      The communion of saints, the Church in fact, exists not just on earth, but also in heaven. Those who have gone before us and entered the kingdom of heaven are still in communion with us, still concerned for us, and now conformed to God in whose presence they now dwell face to face, their prayers for us are mightier than our earthly ones. Why should they not pray for us? Why should we not ask them to pray for us?

      Mary, as mentioned before, was given to John and through him to the Church as mother, by Christ on the cross. His mother is our mother. Mothers intercede for their children. How weighty must be her word with her Son!

      Asking Mary’s intercession costs us nothing, expresses our communion with her and all the saints in heaven, and gives glory to God who always works through his people to bestow grace.

      You can never have too many people praying for you!



  15. Hi Fr. Hugh,

    Good day! It’s morning here in San Diego. Father, If we have a relationship with God our Father in Heaven, we still need to pray to Him, to keep the seed of Faith in Him to grow and bear Fruit so that we can be His apostles for His Word and Gift of Salvation to man. When Saint Paul urged the Church to pray for the sick and intercede for them is he asking to pray for the healthy? The sick are our brothers and sisters who are physically/mentally sick and are not able to call on God, They are also our brothers and sisters who are Spiritually sick because they are still blind and are not able to see the Light of God’s Salvation, His Love, His Words. All of us here, was and will be on Earth have received the Holy Spirit because Our Lord Jesus Christ sent Him to us when He resurrected and returned to His Father. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters who are sick, sick because of rebellion from God’s Love, by the deceit of satan. Our charity to our brothers and sisters is to help them find their way back to God both physical and spiritual help. We need to pray to God directly for His Grace and Love to come alive in the Heart of all people who are sick because of separation from God’s Love who is our Life. Those who are not sick should continue to Pray for Faith. Praying for our brother and sisters is also in our Lord’s Prayer, Our Father who is in Heaven….give US this day our daily bread and forgive US our sins….and deliver US from evil, Amen. Everytime we pray the Our Father we are praying for all to God our Fatherdirectly. Is one’s prayer to Mary more effective than praying to our Father in Heaven, to our Lord Jesus who died on the Cross and asking Him for mercy?

    Your brother in Jesus Christ our Lord,

    Marlon Manuzon


    1. Marlon, hello again.

      You need to read scripture more carefully. St James it was who asked for the local Church to pray for and over its sick. But St Paul makes it clear he prays for the local churches to whom he writes, prays in thanks, prays for them all, be they healthy or not. Indeed he is so solicitous of these communities both in prayer and more concrete means that he considers himself their father!

      The main problem with what you write is that you see such prayer in “either/or” terms – pray to Christ & the Father OR pray to Mary OR etc. It is a most impoverished and ultimately unscriptural view of the spiritual life of a Christian. We can pray to Christ AND we can pray to Mary (and in doing so we are doing different things) AND we can ask a neighbour to pray for us. This is how Christians have lived since the first days of the Church.

      Speaking for myself, I hope to have as many people praying for me as possible, brethren on earth and saints in heaven. My voice in prayer is all the more beautiful to God’s ears if it is accompanied by the voices of his people. The radical fault with the whole “Jesus is my personal saviour” approach to Christianity (so very novel when looked at in the light of Christian history) is that it makes an island of every individual. God did not redeem you or me or etc – he redeemed US, calls us into his Body the Church, the community of salvation, each of us members with particular gifts to enrich the whole Church – this is pure St Paul.

      So of course we offer prayer for each other, and always – there can be no love of neighbour worth the name without it.

      Peace upon you.


  16. Hi Fr. Hugh,

    Greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my apologies, I actually picked up from your earlier post and failed to pick up St. James in your post. But thank you for correcting me in my earlier post :). I don’t have any problem with St. James praying to God and our Lord Jesus Christ for our brothers and sisters. St. James received great gifts from God to be able to provide for our brothers and sisters at that time, to be equal as a Father to them on behalf of our Lord.

    I don’t have a problem with praying for our brothers and sisters or my brothers and sisters praying for me to our God the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that’s exactly what we do when we pray our Lord’s Prayer. I do question why asking my fellow brother or Mary to pray for me because our Lord Listen to them more because she is His mother. God listens to any one who calls him, that is why He left the herd to look for the lost sheep. Is it possible that Mary asked our Lord to die for our sins? Or is it His Love to His Father and for us that He became man to die for our sins? Praying to God directly doesn’t make it sound “Jesus is my personal Saviour and Island with one’s Faith in God”. If ten people pray the our Father at the same time, how will that be becoming an Island relationship with God, would it be less effective than praying ten Hail Mary’s? We are all children of God the Father Yahweh and that includes Mary and that’s why we have to ask from God the Father who provides the Fountain of Life, the Fountain of Mercy and to our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins so we will be saved from sure death (rebellion from God’s Love). Is it Christ way to answer one’s prayer in the order of source or of one’s Faith? I agree, Our Lord died for US all to save us from our sins that’s why we need to pray to God as a Christian Church together with all the Saints (that includes Blessed Mary). The Saints and Blessed Mary is already praying for us to our God, we don’t need to ask them to pray for us, we do need to Pray to God to join the Angels, Saints, Martyrs so we can be with God in His kingdom.
    Thank you again for your thoughts, peace of our Lord be with you too Fr. Hugh!

    Your brother in Faith with Our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Marlon Manuzon


  17. Hey Marlon,

    Greetings from a fellow San Diegan! I have a couple of quick responses which might help clear up some things for you:

    > I do question why asking my fellow brother or Mary to pray for me because our Lord Listen to them more because she is His mother.

    If you wanted prayer support, who would you ask in your congregation? I don’t know about you, but I’d seek out those who were closest to the Lord.

    “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” – James 5:16

    > “The Saints and Blessed Mary is already praying for us to our God, we don’t need to ask them to pray for us”

    I can understand your reaction here, but I would point to the history of the Church in which we find specific invocation of the Saints, both in the liturgy and in personal devotions. I would suggest that this is a good example to follow.

    I hope this helped.

    God bless,



  18. Hi David,

    Good evening. I have a question to you, if you are a father and your son did you wrong. Would you want his mom to ask forgiveness for you or intercede for your son’s mistake or would you want your son to talk to you and understand his mistake and reconcile with you himself? How do you think this scenario is different from man’s relationship with God?

    Your brother in Faith with Our Lord Jesus Christ?

    Marlon Manuzon


      1. That sounds about right!

        Again Marlon, you adopt an either/or approach, when it really is a both/and approach: we say sorry to the Father (through and in Christ, especially in and through Christ’s Body the Church) and we ask her who is “full of grace” and Mother of our Saviour, chosen especially by the Father to bear his Son in the flesh, to intercede for us. If God chose her above all others, she must be worth including.

        Her first “Yes” to Gabriel ensures her a hearing with the Father, every time. Being full of grace, she is full of God’s own life and conformed to his will. If she intercedes for us, God must want it so.



  19. Hi David, Fr. Hugh,

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is God became man, who died for our sins and rose from the dead and is now with the Father at His Right Hand!

    So it is tough for a dad to forgive his son without his mom by his side? I believe a dad can forgive a son without his mom at his side specially if he ask sincerely for forgiveness and so is our Loving Father in Heaven with His fountain of mercy for all who asks for forgiveness.

    Fr. Hugh, did the apostles in any part in the Bible asked/instruct the faithful Christians to pray TO our Blessed Mother? Or did they ask/instructed them to pray TO God the Father and TO our Lord Jesus Christ the son of God who became man to die for our sins? Not even our Lord Jesus Christ instructed or taught the apostles to pray TO the blessed Mary. Read Matthew 12:46-50, While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth His hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

    Peace our Lord Jesus Christ be with you too!

    Your brother in Faith with our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Marlon Manuzon


    1. Marlon,

      You cannot see the forest for the trees. Always either/or with you, when scripture never makes sense a distinction, nor the perpetual tradition of the Church or of Israel before it.

      Did Christ actually ask anyone to pray to HIM? Explicitly, and only to him? Does Christ teach explicitly the Holy Trinity?

      The “word” pray in the (false) dichotomy you gave is used in two different senses. We pray to the Father in acknowledgment of his divine power and sovereignty over all heaven and earth, in utter dependence on him, offering him the worship that is his due.

      That is not the the prayer we offer to Mary or the saints. We call it prayer in the looser sense of addressing those who are in heaven and whom we cannot see, who are still one with us in the Church, still vitally interested in us because the communion of saints means, if anything, that we are all vitally interested in each other’s ultimate welfare. They pray for us because they can; we ask their prayers because they are with God, fully conformed to his will and so their prayers will count all the more for that reason. And praying for each other is what Christians do!

      Marlon, until you understand that Christianity is not about “me and God”, but about “me, with my brethren – us and God” you will never really understand the Christianity that lives on in the great Churches of east and west. The sterile shell of a Christianity that sees nothing beyond a book, however holy, is a relatively recent novelty, and is dying. Christ never tells us to read “the bible” or even scripture. He did not come to leave us a book; he came to leave us his Body, found in in his Church built on the apostles, nourished by the word and by the sacraments, exercising itself in the fellowship Christians have with each other through the works of charity including the prayer of intercession.



    1. Indeed, JD. The Book of Revelation teaches us that. How can we love the Son and not His mother, to whom he was obviously devoted, who was “full of grace”, whom all ages will call “blessed” because of the wonders God has done in her?

      It is Christ AND Mary; never Christ OR Mary. The latter option never occurs to any true Christian.



  20. Hi Fr. Hugh, Hi JD,

    Greetings in the name or Our Lord Jesus Christ!

    Yes, Christ did say to pray to Him explicitly and to Him alone! see Matthew 4:10 “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.”
    John 14: 1 ” Do not let your hearts be troubledd. Trust in God and trust in Me”
    John 14: 6 “I am the way the Truth and the Life, No one can come to the Father except through me.”
    Matthew 6:5-6 ….when you pray go to your private room…..pray to your Father who is in that secret place..

    Yes, Christ taught the Holy Trinity Explicitly!
    John 14:7 “If you know me, you know my Father too. From this moment you know Him and have seen Him.”
    John 14: 9-10 “To have seen me is to have seen the Father, so how can you say , “Let us see the Father?” Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you…You must believe me….I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
    John 16: 12-15 …but when the Spirit of Truth comes HE will lead you to the complete Truth…..
    Genesis 6:3 My Spirit must not forever be disgraced in man, for he is but flesh..
    Genesis 1:26 God said, Let US make man in our own image… (US means more than one)
    Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    Christianity is following Jesus…..through His Words, His teachings (the Sacraments)..and He only prayed to the Father in Heaven….we are one with the Saints and Apostles and the blessed Mary when we pray FOR all.. We should not pray TO each other but pray FOR each other to our God the Father in Heaven, Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit !

    Hi JD, whatever in my words did I say I hate the blessed Mother? If there is please state it…you should not Judge so as not be Judge says the Lord (Matthew 7:1). Mark 9:40 I am not speaking against God, unless you consider blessed Mary god, if you do, then you should examine your Faith and I pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten you.

    Fr. Hugh, when you said: “The Book of Revelation teaches us that. How can we love the Son and not His mother, to whom he was obviously devoted, who was “full of grace”, whom all ages will call “blessed” because of the wonders God has done in her?”
    Which Chapter and verse is this in Revelation?

    I disagree with you, the bible is not a novelty, it is the Word of God and it is not dying. Matthew 24:35-36 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away.

    Thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts…

    Your brother in Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Marlon Manuzon


    1. Marlon,

      I am going to answer a few points and then stop this conversation. It is not appropriate really to the comments box of this post; and, you are mis-representing what I say quite profoundly.

      An example: I never said THE BIBLE was a novelty and dying, nor did I imply it. What I said was both novel and dying was that brand of Christianity that reduced Christianity to sola scriptura. No one has valued the Bible properly more than the Church – it was the Church who put the Bible together!

      It is this sola scriptura perversion of Christinaity that has led to private judgment of scripture, and so to the 70,000+ Protestant denominations in the world today, each of which thinks IT is right. In fact, they are all wrong. They may preserve some elements of truth but not truth in its full integrity.

      The Bible belongs to the Church not to individuals; only the Church can authoritatively interpret the Bible. The Bible without an authoritative interpreter is dangerous; much as the ark of the covenant was so sacred that to touch it without permission was to incur death at God’s hands. The Bible is not so sacred that if you touch it the Lord will strike you down; but to use it outside the received interpretation of the Church leads to endless division; and such division is the Devil’s work.

      Marlon – read your scriptural examples again. NONE of the first set show Jesus saying we should PRAY to HIM. Not ONE. The Church discerned that we can pray to Christ as well as to the Father. The Bible has not taught it. The Church has discerned this from the Bible, though the Bible does not EXPLICITLY say we should.

      As for the Trinity, NONE of your examples mention the name Trinity, nor does Jesus ever mention Father, Son and Spirit together as the one Godhead. Never. Not ONCE. But he mentions all three, and the Church has discerned the Trinity by taking the evidence to its logical conclusion. Jesus IMPLIES the Trinity, but never explicitly teaches it.

      You quote me out of context re the Book Revelation. The Book teaches us what JD said, and to that I referred. What I wrote afterwards was a reflection upon it. Where does the Book of Revelation show that hatred of God’s mother comes from the Devil? Chapter 12. Right from the start of Christianity the woman clothed with the sun has been seen as Mary, her son as Jesus. In verse 13 onwards the dragon/Satan pursues the woman and her son trying to destroy them.

      The second part of the section you quote of my words is all in the Magnificat, Mary’s hymn in Luke 1, and again in Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation.

      But this is no longer the right place to continue, Marlon. You are not really listening to what we are saying; your quotation of the Bible does not prove what you want it to by any objective measure, let alone by the authoritative teaching of the Church. Your vision of Christianity is so narrow, judging by what you write, that I worry for you.

      I am sure I will not be only one praying for you. We pray especially that you will discover Christ as he has revealed himself to his people, the Church, and not as you have constructed him from a narrow and deficient cobbling together of biblical quotations.

      Peace upon you.


  21. To my Brothers and Sisters,

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! This will be my last post in this comment box and I thank you God through this comment box of Fr. Hugh’s post.

    The Holy Spirit was sent to All men’s Heart when our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as redemption for our sins to our Father in Heaven, Yahweh. With the Holy Spirit in all men we have become the Church-the Holy Ground, where God’s Holy Spirit dwells. The Words of God is for The Church in our Hearts and the Holy Spirit will show us the meaning of His Words and through His guidance and Power, the Holy Spirit will Live and Grow in our Hearts, we will be True disciples in Christ as with the Apostles, The Saints, The Martyr’s and the Blessed Mother Mary who accepted the Spirit and through blessed Mary, God’s Word became Man. Let us continue praying to God the Father in Heaven for Mercy, Let’s follow our Lord Jesus Christ through the Church and it’s Sacraments and the Scriptures which the Apostles and Saints have preserved for His Church (All Men with the Holy Spirit). If we have Faith that the Holy Spirit is in us we will not desecrate the Holy ground where He dwells, we are made of ground and we become Holy when the Lord Jesus Christ sent us His Spirit. Be careful when you accuse each other of being evil because the Holy Spirit is in us all, rather, help your brothers/sisters both physically and spiritually to grow in Faith. Everything came from God and everything will come back to Him. How beautiful for God to see His Spirit grow and bear fruit in a ground that is kept fertile by Faith and Love.

    your brother in Faith in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit (my body is a dead body without God’s Holy Spirit, Glory be to God the Father in Heaven and to Word of God made Flesh our Lord Jesus Christ).

    Marlon Manuzon


  22. Thank you Father. This was excellent. Perfectly worded and easy to understand. I have been trying to express my concern to my family and I am constantly taken to task for pointing out the pope’s errors. I certainly believe we have to be respectful and charitable, (and you accomplished this in your entry) but his words and actions have been all of us in a difficult position to be calling out the Vicar of Christ on earth. Could anyone imagine we would ever have to do this? (and just as you expressed – I am no one special. I am just one person here. In fact — I would say I am a sinner who constantly struggles to do God’s will and I don’t have a right to point out other’s failings, especially the pope’s). With that said: Truth is truth and it’s not confusing. There was no confusion when Jesus said: I am the Truth, the Way and the Life no one comes to the Father except through me. He did not say: just do good and we will meet there. Please pray for me father that I may grow in my faith, stay far from sin, and be obedient to our Father in heaven.


  23. Fr. Hugh; I have always held the to pendulum principle. The pendulum swings right and we get “God’s Rottweiler”, it swings left and we get “Cosmic Muffin”. Speaking off the cuff is dangerous for someone in the Holy Father’s position. He has had to explain himself several times because the press had jumped to their own conclusions over things he has said. I believe he is genuine in being humble and would appear to be a hypocrite living in the opulent papal apartments. We must continue to pray for him.


    1. Hello Randall. Unlike you, I do not hold to the pendulum principle, well at least not fully. I doubt one could show it at work in the majority of the Church’s history. That said, I am sure a pendulum has been in play at some stages of our history. That is to say, factions have vied and one day have waxed, another they have waned. The existence of such factions is not healthy for the Church in the long run.

      Pope Francis is remarkable in many ways, but in communication he is not. Putting his subordinates constantly in the position of having to clarify ill-conceived, ex tempore words might be construed by some as not terribly humble.

      We pray for the pope here daily, and not just at Mass. It is a Catholic’s duty, no matter who the pope might be.



      1. Pendulum left…pendulum right and the true path is often in the middle 🙂
        Then again that might just be my Anglican upbringing, the via-media. No longer Anglican but Catholic, thanks be to God.


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