I listen to Catholic talk-radio for about one hour each work day. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but it helps me to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC. Last week, I was listening to the 10/10/18 podcast of the EWTN “Called to Communion” Catholic talk-radio show (see far below) featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (above photo), and some controversial subject matter was broached, which doesn’t happen all that often on this show, which openly aims to convert Protestants.
At the 8:54 mark, Jerry, a Roman Catholic from St. Louis, called into the show and in his remarks he expressed that he was quite disturbed about the current pedophile priest and cover-up scandal and also made mention of archbishop Carlo Vigano’s highly publicized accusation that, in 2013 against Vigano’s advice, pope Francis had overturned restrictions previously placed upon pedophile cardinal, Ted McCarrick, by pope Benedict XVI, thus making himself complicit in McCarrick’s crimes. Jerry also claimed that Francis’ censure of conservative cardinal, Raymond Burke, was part of the pope’s campaign to “liberalize the church.” As would be expected, show moderator, Tom Price, became increasingly agitated by Jerry’s remarks and interrupted him twice. Show host, David Anders, then responded to Jerry’s concerns, in effect saying that Catholics need to focus on the church overall as a historic and consistent witness to the (Catholic) gospel rather than reacting to a passing scandal or the controversial teachings of Francis or any other individual prelate. Anders’ obsfucation is the standard public response these days by conservative Catholics to concerns about the scandal and Francis’ heterodoxy. The real question is, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?
The above segment featuring Anders’ obligatory non-response to Jerry’s concerns was certainly interesting and was worthy of a post by itself, but as I continued to listen to the podcast I came across another noteworthy segment. At the 27:29 mark, Mike, a Catholic living in Dallas, called in with questions about Francis’ change to the Catholic catechism regarding capital punishment. The catechism had previously stated that the death penalty was allowable in rare circumstances, but on August 2nd, Francis changed the text to read that the death penalty is “inadmissible under any circumstances.” Mike wanted to know if Texas governor and Roman Catholic, Gregory Abbott, could morally uphold the death penalty as he had done previous to Francis’ August 2nd announcement? Anders had stumbled about with a stutter-laced response to a similar question two months ago (see here), but this time he was much more resolute. Anders opined that the allowance of the death penalty had been the licit teaching of the church for two thousand years, therefore Francis’ ban could only be his personal, prudential judgement rather than a dogmatic ruling on faith and that Catholics were therefore free to ignore it. As is standard practice throughout conservative Catholicism these days, the advice is to ignore the pope when he deviates from conservative and traditional teaching. Again I ask, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when he contradicts the teaching of previously infallible popes and conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?