Pope Francis Tells Synod15 Bishops to Butt Out of Communion Discussion

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
March 29, 2015

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — While generally not one to take topics off the table for discussion (except for the ordination of women), Pope Francis has advised his bishops not to waste a lot of time in the upcoming Synod of Bishops discussing whether divorced and remarried Catholics should continue to be barred from receiving the Eucharist. In his homily earlier this week, the Pope said that the whole question centers on ideology rather than on mercy, so it should be dropped. The bishops should not worry about giving “instructions from on high” and “not be obsessed by the thought of divorced Catholics receiving Communion.” This “focus on appearances” is not important.

Pope FrancisHe further pointed out that the resolution of this question is really not up to them. “When I was a boy, I was taught that the sacraments were instituted by Christ to give grace, and we that receive this grace as long as our souls have the right dispositions. The current Catechism,” he continued,“preserves this teaching. But it does not instruct the clergy to put themselves in the middle of making that judgment.”

As he has done in the past, the Pope warned against being a Church driven by small-minded rules. “Ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all.” Just put the question aside, he advised. Don’t worry about “appearances,” and “leave the sacramental giving of grace where it belongs – between the communicant and God.”

New Survey Finds Catholics Enjoying Not Being Mortified by Hierarchy

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
March 10, 2015

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — As the two-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis approaches, a new survey shows a huge majority of Catholics view him favorably. “He’s the best,” said Lily Lonigan, a sixty-something Roman Catholic who works at the Polkadot Shamrock Bar, Internet Cafe and Daycare Center. “He acts like an actual Christian, which brings us back to the basics of the faith. But even more than that, his example has muzzled the crazies in the hierarchy,” she said. “Well, at least for the most part. What a relief. Before, if it wasn’t yet another story of a bishop covering up sexual abuse, it was some wing nut firing gay people or spouting off about the President of the United States being a Nazi. I mean, seriously. There was a time, you know,” said Lily, waxing nostalgic, “when the clergy and the bishops were acting in the public square doing honorable things and not embarrassing the faithful. They were on the forefront of the labor movement and of civil rights. Like Father Hesburgh, at Notre Dame. They don’t make them like that anymore. For the longest time, it was all, ‘oh let’s parrot everything the Pope says, that’s how we get ahead, and bag the big diocese and the red hat.’ And then the whole Fortnight of Freedom contraception thing? Really?”

Survey results support her opinion. Of Catholics surveyed, a majority chose “Doesn’t embarrass us” as the most frequent reason to like the Pope. (Multiple options could be chosen.)

Reasons why faithful like Pope Francis

And while the faithful await his evolution on issues relating to women, they appreciate what he has done to date. “I can’t wait until he comes and speaks to the U.S. Congress in the fall,” said Lily. “I’d like to see Paul Ryan blow his so-called Catholic smoke after the Pope’s speech, to try and justify the free market as a moral framework. That’s going to be a doozie!”

LCWR Issues Apostolic Report on U.S. Bishops

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
December 17, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — The day after the Vatican released the long-awaited “Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America,” the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has released its own apostolic report, assessing the job performance of the U.S. Bishops.

Commenting on the report, LCWR chapter-head Sr. Mary Immaculata O’Finian O’Toole said that unlike the Vatican’s report, which took six years to prepare, cost 1.1 million dollars, and is only 12 pages long, the LCWR report only cost about $25 and was put together by volunteers in a day.

“As you will see, the contents of our report on the bishops reflect information that is patently obvious even to the most casual observer. We put it together last night after attending yesterday’s press conference on the Vatican report.” Sr. O’Toole also mentioned that while she was pleased with the generally gracious tone of the Vatican report, she was surprised by its lack of substance. “God knows what they were doing with all that time and all that money,” she said. “That 1.1 million dollars would have made a nice contribution to the Retirement Fund for Religious. But at least the hierarchy spared the Church yet another public relations disaster, which typically happens when they go after the nuns.”

Apostolic VisitationTurning to the contents of the LCWR’s apostolic report on the U.S. Bishops, Sr. O’Toole said that it “captures and summarizes what any reasonably sentient Catholic knows about the American bishops.” The report expresses gratefulness for the role that bishops play in the ongoing operation of the Church by keeping the wheels of bureaucracy turning. But it points out that bishops, unlike nuns, have not shaken off the structures of autocracy as the primary mechanism of governing the Church. “It has been almost fifty years since the close of Vatican II,” said Sr. O’Toole. “That’s almost two generations. In that time, orders of religious women have significantly evolved their governance structures, while the bishops still rule under the old model of the 18th century royal court. Of course,” she continued, “I expect that is what terrifies the bishops the most, and is what generated the visitation in the first place. The Church is still run as an autocracy, with a very distinct power structure,” she explained. “One is obsequious to one’s superiors and demanding of obedience from one’s subordinates. The thought of people actually having dialog, of letting the power of faith-based rational ideas shape the path forward, of admitting that the path forward might be unknown, of trusting the process rather than controlling the outcome—this presents an existential threat to autocrats that has got to send them screaming into the night. We send a frightening message by presenting a living model of how the Church could operate if it so desired.”

Sr. O’Toole says that she hopes the U.S. bishops will respond fully, honestly, and in a collaborative fashion to the LCWR report, even though she realizes it will be met with apprehension and suspicion by some bishops, which would be a painful disappointment. She thinks the report offers a great opportunity for respectful and fruitful dialogue going forward. “I hope they are willing,” she said, “But I am not holding my breath.”

Roman Catholic Cardinal Speaks Honestly; Church Fails to Collapse

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 17, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)CHICAGO, IL (TPF) — As the terminator crossed from east to west and Monday morning dawned in Catholic America, early Masses were offered, young Catholic girls and boys trotted off to school, monasteries chanted Lauds, Catholic hospitals changed shifts, Catholic social service organizations opened their doors, and Catholic high schools, colleges, and universities continued to educate their students. The fabric of the Catholic Church in America remained intact, despite the fact that on the previous day, on national television, a Cardinal Prince of the Church reprimanded the powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley of Boston, interviewed on “60 Minutes,” said that the CDF’s investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States, was “a disaster.” He also allowed that if he founded a church, he would ordain women.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, Chicago

Yet the Church has not caved in, crumpled, or otherwise collapsed. Belief in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the sacraments remains intact, such as it is. The only sound that could be heard was the deep, rumbling wail of the episcopal groupthink slowly beginning to crack open.

Cranky Thomist Blasts Bishops’ Toxic Natural Law Groupthink

The Fool is delighted to introduce a new voice from the peanut gallery that is The Pope’s Fool … The Cranky Thomist!

The Cranky Thomist

November 16, 2014
By The Cranky Thomist

I think therefore I am. But what a minute! What happens when I space out? Do I cease to exist? And do I exist again when I start thinking again?

Agnes cartoon by Tony CochranPhilosophy is awesome! However, unorthodox, anti-scientific pseudo-philosophy is not. Case in point—the toxic natural law idea that has gotten firmly stuck in the papal and episcopal mindset for decades now.

The groupthink goes like this: Natural law means that you look at nature and figure out morality from that. First you see that God made man and woman. And then you see that men and women make babies. And then you conclude that contraception is immoral. And homosexuality is intrinsically disordered. And in vitro fertilization is a sin (rather than a blessing that helps people create families). And then you say that all of it is based on the “observance of the precepts of the natural law.” Seriously???

Natural law has been around since ancient Greece and was embraced in the Catholic intellectual tradition by St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s easy enough for anyone to understand, and has nothing to do with looking at nature and making stuff up.

According to Aquinas, natural law works like this. The primary natural law, upon which all other laws are based, is that good be done and evil avoided. So we figure out what makes humans grow towards the good and derive morality and law from that (with good in the Christian sense being defined as that which moves us toward the love of God and fellow creatures in charity). As Aquinas says, “Since good is grasped as always desirable, the first premise in reason’s planning of action is that good is to be done and evil avoided” (Summa Theologica, 1a2ae. 94. 2).

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Pope Francis Issues Starter Catechism for U.S. Bishops

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 14, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — The Vatican has released a short, basic catechism of the faith designed for the U.S. bishops and approved by Pope Francis.

Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this special Bishop’s Edition encapsulates the foundations of Christianity, walking the reader through the moral hierarchy of the New Testament by way of its parables. It starts with a meditation on the greatest commandment, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself, there are no other commandments greater than these.” Each subsequent chapter focuses on key moral concepts and their related parables, including God’s Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness (the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son), Christian Love (the parable of the good Samaritan and the parable of the unmerciful servant), and Self-Righteousness and Humility (the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector). The Bishop’s Edition also includes summaries of the theological virtues, the cardinal virtues, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis

Included as well is an appendix on the natural law. A Vatican source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is prohibited from publicly discussing the matter, explained its importance. “The bishops really have no clue about the natural law, which quite honestly, Pope Francis finds rather annoying. Look at nature and derive morality from that? Really? They need to read their Aquinas. We hope this little catechism helps.”

U.S Catholics to Make Nationwide Novena for Bishops, “That They May Get a Clue”

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 10, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)CHICAGO, IL (TPF) — The nation’s largest association of Catholic lay people today announced a nationwide novena to pray for U.S. bishops, called “That They May Get a Clue.” The novena, a series of prayers repeated for nine successive days, asks the faithful to call upon the intersession of both St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, and St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes.

That They May Get a Clue “We need to pray for our bishops,” said a spokesman. “It’s a new era in the Church today; Pope Francis is challenging all of us. But the bishops are looking particularly confused, so I think we need to ask the Lord to give them special graces. You see,” he explained, “the old party line just doesn’t cut it anymore. In the old days, it was enough to repeat whatever the Pope said, condemn contraception, and judge people and whatnot. But now the Pope is asking them to actually think about what it means to be a Christian and a Catholic, and, you know, spiritually lead us. But they’ve been episcopally cocooned for so long, and so allergic to the world with all its relativism and secularism and such, that they really have no idea where to begin. Yet they’re all we have by way of leadership. So we will offer up our prayers for them, “That They May Get a Clue.”

The novena will be prayed from Sunday, November 16th through Monday November 24th.

Pope Delivers Stoles of Mercy to Bishops Worldwide; Many Take a Pass

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 3, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — As a followup to his October 31 homily, in which Pope Francis lamented the case of Christians who are so attached to the laws that they neglect the concepts of love and justice, the Pope has sent a gift of a Stole of Mercy, or Stola della Misericordia, to each of the over 5,000 bishops in the world.

In his homily, which followed the Gospel reading about Jesus upsetting the Pharisees by curing a sick man on the Sabbath, Pope Francis said the following, referring to the Pharisees. “This way of living attached to the laws, distanced them from love and from justice.  They followed the laws and they neglected justice. They followed the laws and they neglected love. … And for these people Jesus had only one word (to describe them): hypocrites.”

The Stole of Mercy

Upon hearing of the gift, a spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said, “We are of course grateful to the Holy Father for his generosity. However, in deference to the long Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, the bishops will take under consideration just how far to go in implementing this whole love and justice thing. Practically speaking, we do still have a church to run.”

The stole is of a golden material, and emblazoned with the papal coat of arms.


Synod 2015 Searching for Contracepting, Cohabiting, Divorced, and Gay Couples to Testify

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
October 23, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — According to several people familiar with next year’s plans for the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family, organizers are looking for users of artificial contraception, cohabiting couples, gay Catholics, and the divorced and remarried to act as “auditors” to testify before the bishops. Our sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the plans, but noted that they wanted to find Catholics who were wounded, damaged, and broken—in effect, the smelly sheep on the margins of the laity. “We want to get some actual sinners in there, you know, the intrinsically disordered,” said one source. “Many of these bishops don’t have much pastoral experience, so it would be good for them to meet these wounded and broken people close up. If they were wowed by the Australian couple testifying about their friends’ inviting their gay son and his partner to Christmas dinner, this group is sure to steal the show, to say nothing of spinning a few mitres.” Another source noted that such auditors shouldn’t be hard to find, as together they make up an overwhelming majority of the faithful, at least in the West.

Bishops Accuse God of Massive Screwup by Creating Gays

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
October 22, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — A cardinal, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to comment, has reported on background of a growing discontent among a small group of bishops. They are disturbed not only with Pope Francis, but with the Almighty Himself. “You know, some of us are beginning to think that the deity has just royally screwed up by creating people who are gay,” he said. “You have to wonder if He even knew what He was doing. Applying the bell curve to the whole sexuality thing? Making some people straight, some people gay, and some people bisexual? What’s up with that? Same mistake in the animal world, too,” he continued. “It’s a mystery.”

The cardinal expressed concern that this particular aspect of God’s creation sows confusion among the faithful. “I mean really, how are we supposed to run a church based on the traditional family when there are all these gay people running around wanting their unions recognized? Many of us feel that love and mercy and hanging out with sinners is all well and good, but it’s a hell of a way to run a two-thousand-year-old institution. It just throws a wrench into the whole business. It perplexes the faithful; pretty soon they’ll be questioning what ‘intrinsically disordered’ even means. You have to draw the line somewhere. This business about hating the sin but loving the sinner is really just so much smoke and mirrors; nobody believes it anyway. If a person is intrinsically disordered, and God created that person, then God screwed up.”

Conservative Bishops Claim Faithful Easily Confused If Not Gobsmackingly Stupid

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
October 22, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)

VATICAN CITY (TPF) — In the wake of the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the Family, conservative bishops are voicing serious concerns about the effect of Synod will have on the faithful.

“They’re out there, all by themselves,” said one archbishop, speaking on background, “having to navigate around in the secular world, with all the sex and media and agendas of evil and dictatorships of relativism and whatnot. And then the Pope goes and opens up all these settled questions for discussion,” he said, throwing up his arms. “What are the people to think? It must be giving them enormous anxiety to see their structure of authority shaken. I mean if the Church can’t judge, who can? Love and mercy are all well and good, but they hardly suffice today. You need rules and regulations to maintain pristine doctrinal purity. What we have now is a big mess. I don’t know how the people will handle it,” he sighed. “This confusion is of the devil.”

Meanwhile, The Pope’s Fool News Service reports this from our person on the street, Lily Lonigan, a sixty-something Roman Catholic who works at the Polkadot Shamrock Bar, Internet Cafe and Daycare Center in Chicago. “You know, some part of me feels a little sorry for these guys. They’ve built their whole lives around a certain framework of doctrine, as well as obedience to the Pope, and now all of a sudden it’s all upside down. I get it. But hey, that’s life. You just have to do the best you can.”