Calming the credulous conservative Catholic faithful during Francis’ troubling papacy

Bad Shepherds: The Dark Years in Which the Faithful Thrived While Bishops Did the Devil’s Work
By Rod Bennett
Sophia Institute Press, 2018, 148 pages

1 Star with qualifications noted below.

Conservative Catholics are in an impossible pickle of a situation. They have always boasted of their church being led by an infallible pope, incapable of leading the church into doctrinal error. However, the current pope, Francis, and his progressive allies have guilefully overturned several cherished doctrines in their quest to make the church more relevant and appealing in an increasingly secularized world.

Since loyalty to the papacy is one of the prime beliefs of conservative Catholics, schism and even public criticism of Francis are not viable options for most. What to do? The consensus among conservative Catholic spokespersons is to uphold traditional church teaching, ignore Francis’ novelties, and hope the next pope is from the same mold as Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

In this short book, conservative Catholic writer, Rod Bennett, examines several periods in church history when popes or prelates were far from “exemplary.” His thinly-veiled, bottom-line message: the Catholic laity remained faithful to the church’s teachings despite challenges from wayward popes and prelates in the past and they must remain faithful despite Francis’ heterodox reforms.

The historical episodes Bennett examines include:

  • The spread of the Arianism heresy (denial of the divinity of Christ and the Trinity) in the fourth century.
  • The church’s preoccupation with the temporal throughout the Dark Ages (5th-10th centuries).
  • The 14th century blunders and the negative consequences of a deadly plague, i.e., the Avignon Papacy/Great Western Schism and the Black Death.
  • The church’s arrogant and counterproductive mishandling of the Protestant “challenge” in the 16th century.
  • The French church’s compromise with the 18th-century “Enlightenment” humanists which affected the rest of the church.

Bennett’s examination of the corruption of popes, bishops, priests, and Catholic monarchs during these episodes is objective only to a point. In one jaw-dropping example, he portrays Catholic Mary I of England (aka “Bloody Mary”) as a kind and benevolent monarch in contrast to her Protestant successor, Elizabeth I. Not hardly.

Nevertheless, the biased history is definitely NOT the takeaway from this book. Rather, “Bad Shepherds” is important because it’s another example of how conservative Catholics currently feel compelled to assuage their like-minded fellow members in the face of Francis’ doctrine-challenging heterodoxy. The idea of a conservative Catholic publishing house issuing a book about some of the church’s most scandalous historical episodes would have been unthinkable only seven years ago before Francis’ tenure began. This is a book borne of sheer desperation.

The message of this book is how to help keep conservative Catholicism afloat despite the current challenges. As with all Catholic books, the focus is on the legalistic and institutional oyster shell rather than on the pearl of great price; the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Recommended only for evangelicals associated with outreach ministries to Catholics and/or evangelicals who are curious about Catholicism’s current papal “crisis.”

44 thoughts on “Calming the credulous conservative Catholic faithful during Francis’ troubling papacy

  1. Rod Bennett is an ex “evangelical” convert into Romanism. It is extremely amusing to observe the cognitive dissonance of these converts going against their infallible pope LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments! Yes, converts to conservative Catholicism who were attracted to the ritualism and legalism must be absolutely dumbfounded by this progressive pope who overturns teachings previously held to be infallible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What official teaching authority in the Roman church does Rod Bennett have anyway? Who is he to make a judgement on Francis and his gang in terms of their orthodoxy? These ex-protestants who have never really abandoned their protestanism and act like the magisterium of one, are really the worst.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am baffled as to how one can have actually been a Christian and then “convert” to Roman Catholicism. It always makes me wonder if they ever truly believed God’s word.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I grew up in an Eastern “Buddhist” background, with the hyper works-based system of reincarnation, karma, transfer of merits etc. I can spot a works-righteousness system from a mile.

        I am equally as baffled at how so called bible believing Christians can give up the beauty of the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, so that they can put themselves into bondage with spiritual balls and chains!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks. As I told Steeny, I believe those “evangelical” converts to Catholicism were never genuinely saved. No believer would/could choose spiritual chains over freedom in Christ.

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  2. “…the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.”

    May the deceived masses (no pun intended) of Roman Catholicism come to know the real Jesus and His freely offered perfect gift of salvation. May they throw off the burdens of traditional tasks they feel bound to do in order to MAYBE achieve entrance to heaven, read the Bible and see with eyes wide open what it truly says.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I look for the outreaches of those churches who claim to have the ‘Truth’, where are they. We should be helping those confused about the Pope’s doctrine. In Prayer for those precious ones who have nowhere to turn. :*(

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. There used to be many Gospel outreaches to Roman Catholics but now there are few. Many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders have been blinded by Satan into embracing Roman Catholicism with its false gospel as a Christian entity. With the Catholic Church in disarray because of the pedophile priests scandal and this crisis over Francis, now would be the perfect time to reach out to confused and disaffected Catholics. Instead there is silence from evangelical pulpits, radio shows, websites, etc. Sad to say, but most evangelicals would view this post as “uncharitable” and “divisive.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those so called evangelical leaders should learn from men like William Whitaker, John Owen, James Buchanan, Spurgeon et al.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones would be so disgusted with the contemporary evangelical church’s dalliance with Rome. Lloyd-Jones could see it coming in his day with the compromises of Billy Graham.

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  4. I appreciated the review; how interesting in revealing the times of where Romanism is at today that they published this in order to deal with the current issue of a Pope that fits less in Roman Catholic Conservatives’ estimation. So much for all the rhetoric in the past that Rome is so great because of its Magistrium (including the Pope).
    I hope you link this book in your page on all the books on Romanism you read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good comments! Right, they can’t speak about their reliable Magisterium while Francis is in the driver’s seat.
      RE: this book
      It’s so eerily strange that the conservative Catholic camp would publish an unflattering expose of historical Catholicism, but we are living in strange times. Nope, I don’t list any pro-Catholic books on my books page although this is one in which the Catholic author deliberately shoots his church in the foot. Strange. Very strange. But as I’ve said many times, Francis has these conservative apologists twisting like pretzels.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, these are such strange circumstances within the RCC that I often think the Lord is preparing something unusual. Francis is 82 and if his successor is another progressive doctrine bender, that could motivate the conservatives to consider drastic action.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, a very real possibility. Schism is the last straw, but if the next pope is like Francis, it could be considered. Just the fact that some conservatives are now publicly calling Francis a heretic is making a dramatic move more possible if the next pope is also a progressive.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, this post got a lot of comments and a lot of views (meaning a lot of views for this blog – 136 in 2 days). It must have struck a nerve out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I read churchmilitant.com. The owner of the website is a RadTrad, and he has a lot of insider scoops on the tsunami of scandals. In fact, his website first published details of the how the archdiocese of Detroit were using expensive lawyers to reorganize their assets, so as to protect themselves against lawsuits. It was later picked up by the press.

        Ah I love these RadTrads. They make the best apologists against Romanism.

        https://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-hiding-the-assets

        https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/12/14/detroit-archdiocese-transferring-assets/2302809002/

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks. Yeah, I check churchmilitant myself occasionally because of the reasons you mention. Voris was quite vocal about practicing homosexuals in the curia but was then forced to admit that he had quite a homosexual past himself.

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      6. Have you read commentaries or books written by mainstream Roman biblical scholars? When I say scholars, I mean folks who have published in peer reviewed journals extensively, like Joseph Fitzmyer (was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission), Luke Timothy Johnson, Raymond Brown (was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission) et al. NOT people like Scott Hahn or Dave Armstrong who publish garbage and are really salesmen.

        Fitzmyer, in his commentary on Romans, teaches forensic justification. Luke Timothy Johnson, in his commentary on James, interprets 2:21-24 in the context of demonstration and translates “justified” as “shown to be righteous”, rather than declared righteous.

        It is funny that when their own scholars study the scriptures in the original languages, they come to the protestant understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Thanks for the good comments. Yes, I realize there is a wide range of views on justification within Catholicism, with some coming close to forensic justification. I engage the writings of conservatives like Hahn, Armstrong, and Anders because their views still represent the “official” Catholic teaching. I’m of a mind that a Catholic who genuinely understands forensic justification and accepts Christ as Savior by faith alone would find it extremely difficult to remain in an institution that teaches otherwise. Just one example is the mass: numerous elements of the mass are contrary to the Gospel of grace.

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