For 1500 years, the Roman Catholic church has boasted that it alone has been vested with divine authority via its tripartite of (1) Scripture, plus (2) Sacred Tradition, all overseen by its (3) Magisterium; the pope and his bishops. In 1870, the pope was declared to be infallible in vital matters of faith and morals, a dogma that all Catholics are obligated to believe under threat of mortal sin. Pious Catholics even claimed that their popes were “incapable of” aka “divinely prevented from” leading the Roman church into doctrinal error. Catholics scoffed at poor Protestants who only had Scripture – Sola Scriptura – to guide them.
The boastful confidence described above has dramatically changed with the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka pope Francis, to the papacy in 2013. Francis is a pragmatic progressive who is gradually steering the church away from dogmatics to “pastoralism” in an attempt to make the church more relevant and appealing to its increasingly disaffected membership. To the chagrin of conservative and traditionalist Catholics, Francis is upending doctrines considered to be unchangeable. Many conservative Catholics have accused Francis of at least “spreading confusion” and a few are even openly accusing him of being a heretic.
Catholic apologists are in a pickle. Their own pope is debunking their proudest claim; that of being led by an allegedly infallible pope who could never lead the RCC into error. I’ve wondered why evangelical apologists aren’t remarking more about the current crisis within Catholicism over Francis. Of course, many of today’s accommodating and compromising evangelical apologists (e.g., Zacharias, Craig, Strobel, McDowell) are focused on courting the RCC’s favor and would see it as inopportune and divisive to comment on Catholicism’s current internal crisis. But faithful apologist, James White, at Alpha and Omega Ministries has no such reservations.
Take a listen to the recent video below from Dr. White commenting on how these are “Difficult Days for Rome’s Apologists” because of pope Francis. White begins his remarks regarding the RCC’s papal crisis at the 3:15 mark and continues to the 32:12 mark. He notes at the end that the leadership crisis in Mormonism parallels in some respects what is going on at the Vatican.