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John Rist, perhaps the most distinguished scholar among those who signed the open letter charging Pope Francis with heresy, has explained his action in an interview with the National Catholic Register. I would strongly urge all concerned Catholics to read the entire interview. Rist is an extremely intelligent man, and makes a strong case in defense of the open letter, while at the same time recognizing its limitations.
Although I remain convinced that the open letter is asking the wrong question, I am entirely in sympathy with Rist’s ideas as he explains them to the Register. And I dare say that, based on the same interview, he seems to be in sympathy with the argument I put forward more than a year ago in Lost Shepherd: that Pope Francis has produced immense confusion among the Catholic faithful, which can only be corrected by clear and forthright teaching from stalwart bishops.
Letter - Authors - Letter - Mistake - Charge
As I argued when the open letter first appeared, I think that the authors of the open letter made a tactical mistake, because the charge of heresy is very difficult to prove, whereas the charge that the Pope has caused confusion is—if I may use a popular expression—a slam-dunk.
“But,” you might say, “confusion isn’t as bad as heresy!” Are you sure of that? We look to Rome for clarity: for reliable guidance on questions of faith and morals. If we have no sure frame of reference—no “true magnetic north”—then we are exposed to all sorts...
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