Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff.
The Church is indefectible. Therefore, God does not permit an invalid Pope to be accepted by the body of Bishops. Since Pope Francis has been so accepted, he must be a valid Roman Pontiff. Otherwise, the indefectibility of the Church would be lost, if She could have a head accepted by the body of Bishops who was not the true head of the Church.
Pope Francis cannot teach or commit heresy.
The First Vatican Council taught, as dogma, what was formerly the opinion of Doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine, that a Pope cannot teach or commit heresy. Each Pope has the “gift of truth and never-failing faith”. Therefore, the prevenient grace of God keeps each Roman Pontiff from teaching heresy, as that would be contrary to the gift of truth, and from committing apostasy, heresy, or schism, as that would be contrary to a never-failing faith.
When a Pope teaches non-infallibly, he can err to a limited extent.
The non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium, including of a Pope or an Ecumenical Council, are subject to a limited possibility of error and reform. Some critics have claimed that Pope Francis has erred gravely in his non-infallible teaching. That is not possible. In some cases, they are simply making a false accusation. In other cases, they note a limited error in a non-infallible teaching, and exaggerate the extent and nature of the error. We can trust that the grace of God will permit only limited errors in the non-infallible teachings of any Pope.
When a Pope teaches infallibly, he cannot err at all.
If Pope Francis chooses to exercise Papal Infallibility, his teaching cannot err. It is not possible for a teaching that meets the conditions for Papal Infallibility to err in any way, certainly not to the extent of heresy. A Pope cannot propose heresy under Papal Infallibility, and thereby lose his authority (in effect nullifying the teaching). God does not permit any teachings that meet the conditions for Papal Infallibility to err at all.
Pope Francis is not to blame for the CSA crisis.
Pope Francis has done more than his predecessors against former-Cardinal McCarrick. The Pope removed him from the College of Cardinals and confined him to a friary in rural Kansas. He has also convened a meeting in February of 2019 to address the child abuse crisis in the Church. And yet his critics ignore these actions, and they speak as if he were the cause of the crisis — a crisis which previous Popes were unable to resolve.
Pope Francis opposes gay men in the priesthood.
“That’s a mistake,” Francis warned. “It’s not just an expression of an affection. In consecrated and priestly life, there’s no room for that kind of affection. Therefore, the Church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.” [Source]
On permitting Communion to the divorced and remarried:
If the divorced and remarried may not receive Communion, then neither should anyone else who commits an objective mortal sin. Most Mass-going Communion-receiving Catholics are guilty and unrepentant from objective mortal sin. They do not go to Confession at all. They continue to receive Communion. The Church can permit persons to receive Communion, if they are in good conscience. Or the Church can prohibit all persons guilty of objective mortal sin from Communion. But it is hypocritical to call for only the type of sin committed by the divorced and remarried to prohibit from Communion.
On criticizing conservatives:
The papal critics complain that Pope Francis is criticizing the most faithful, meaning conservatives. But this assumption by conservatives is born of pride. A person is not necessarily more faithful by being more conservative. There are many serous errors in the conservative Catholic subculture, as I have described across many blog posts. Pope Francis has the role to teach and correct everyone, including leaders of the conservative Catholic subculture (who speak as if they were infallible, and as if they were above the Magisterium).
On the death penalty:
Pope Francis took a position not much different from Pope Saint John Paul II, that the circumstances of modern society permit us to omit the death penalty, and still keep society safe from dangerous criminals. He did not say that the death penalty is intrinsically evil. It is inadmissible due to circumstances. And the faithful are free to disagree, since this non-infallible teaching is based on a judgment of temporal circumstances.
His choice of Bishops and Cardinals:
The Pope has the absolute right to choose which Bishops and Cardinals he will assign to assist him in his work. If a liberal Pope chooses from among the more liberal Bishops and Cardinals, how is that surprising? The idea that only conservatives are faithful is false; Jesus did not teach conservatism. The Pharisees rebuked by Jesus were the conservatives of His day.
The faithful have the right and duty to support each Roman Pontiff. Malicious attacks on Pope Francis are gravely immoral. False accusations against Pope Francis are gravely immoral. Assuming that you are right and the Pope is wrong, at every turn, is not faithfulness, but sinful pride.
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