This Papacy is in Crisis and in Need of Urgent Prayer This Lent


The papacy is meant to unite the Church, not divide it.

Almost four years into the papacy of Pope Francis, the division his teaching (or lack of teaching) is causing has reached a crisis point.

Phil Lawler’s article (“This Disastrous Papacy“), published last night, deserves to be read and considered seriously. I, too, had a visceral reaction when I read Pope Francis’ homily last Friday.

Now comes a report from the UK Times that the group of liberal cardinals who agitated for Cardinal Bergoglio to become pope are now convinced that he is leading the Church towards schism and he ought to step down. It is worth registering with the UK Times website for free to read the whole article.

Now, I understand and agree that is a serious wrong to force or foment that the pope resign. I also think it is highly unlikely that Pope Francis would resign. Nor am I calling for and suggesting that he should resign.

What I am saying is there is serious discord in the Church, Pope Francis is inexplicably refusing to resolve it, and his (in)actions are causing a crisis.

Whatever your view of this papacy—positive, neutral or negative—it should be obvious to all that something is wrong in Rome. Dysfunctional is the word that comes to mind.

Vatican financial reform abandoned, cardinals openly sniping at one another, the clergy sex-abuse response falling apart, bishops saying diametrically opposed things to one another — this isn’t a “messy” Church as Pope Francis has sometimes said he wants, this is a Church drifting and directionless.

If all of this were happening under the pontificate of Pope Benedict or Saint John Paul II, the media would be having a field day, calling Pope Francis a failed leader and urging a vote of no confidence from his curia.

Instead, the liberal media is happy to let Pope Francis off the hook because the liberal media loves where this is headed – schism, discord, confusion and chaos.

As faithful Catholics, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what is unfolding.

With Lent upon us, I am urging us all to renewed prayer and fasting on behalf of the papacy in general and Pope Francis in particular.

And I am urging all of us, in private and in public, to speak out about what is happening.

Finally, in our individual capacities, and always with charity, I am urging us to encourage and demand that our priests and bishops defend the constant and perennial teaching of the Church.

Now, please pray with me:

Prayer to St. Joseph, the Protector of the Church

Father, you entrusted our Savior to the care of Saint Joseph.
By the help of his prayers may your Church continue to serve its Lord,
Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author


Thomas Peters, 33, grew up in Southern California and attended college in Michigan. He has two graduate degrees in theology. He began his award-winning American Papist blog in 2006, which went on to become one of the most popular Catholic blogs in America. He was one of a handful of Americans invited to the Vatican’s first-ever Bloggers’ Meeting in Rome. Peters has appeared in dozens of TV, radio and online media outlets over the years discussing the intersection of Catholicism and political activism, debating topics related to life, family and religious freedom, in addition to writing and speaking about the future of social media and online organizing. From 2010-2016 he served as an advisor to He and his wife Natalie live in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @AmericanPapist.


  1. There is nothing to fear, Pope Francis is bringing the sinners to church where they can be “healed”. There is nothing wrong with his progressive views. He is trying to “rebuild” the trust in the Catholic Church and make it a place of salvation for us sinners. This is the time of “rebirth” and Pope Francis is merciful as our religion demands. We are ALL sinners, and we all need of a “helping hand” that bring us closer to GOD through the teachings of Jesus Christ. No one, but GOD should judge Pope Francis. He was elected Pope by the grace of GOD, and by the grace of GOD he is setting a precedent that will strengthen the catholic church in general.
    “May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”- ROMANS 15:13

    • There is just so much wrong with your comment – where to begin? Jesus did not say we cannot judge. True, we cannot judge a person’s soul – that is God’s job. But we are to judge actions, including the actions of a pope. And his actions and non-actions are causing dissension, chaos, doubt, confusion and schism.

    • Sandy, I have no doubt you mean well, but you are completely off the mark here. You probably have a kind and generous heart, and want to assume the best in people. This is not easy, to see something so negative about our pope, but, you need to evaluate further. I love Jesus, Our Lady, our church, and our faith, but this pope is doing great damage. If you love these too, I encourage you to open your eyes to some sad truths, that our church is in the hands of actual destroyers, who wish to tear the church apart and dismantle the faith. They have been very successful thus far.
      All Catholics need to face the unpleasant truth, we are in an unprecedented situation.

      I wish to say as well, I remember your accident Tom, and am so happy to see you blogging. I have no idea of your status, but thank God you are apparently doing better!

      • John Donoghue on

        Young man, you have missed the point. Pope Francis leads a world Church and the cultures and traditions are varied. Hence, different values and means of dissemination. Here in North America the laity have no effective manner of dialogue with the magisterium. The liberals that Benedict XVI placed along with global exhortations have given our Church scandal that will only be saved by what you recommend. …PRAYER

    • Utterly frightening and devoid of reason. You require major catechesis. Run, don’t walk. You have no knowledge of Catholicism except that it can be abused and used as a security blanket. The blinding light of the Gospel will bring that to a correction, eventually, but it requires that the blinders come off.
      The Church is so much richer than you or the Bergoglians understand.

    • “There is nothing to fear, Pope Francis is bringing the sinners to church where they can be “healed”.”

      Well, if he is, it seems on present data to be having the opposite effect. A new report out two months ago indicates that over nine million people have left the Church in Brazil over the previous three years – a rate considerably accelerated over the previous rate of departures. Similarly, in Germany, departures from the Church (marked legally by requirements to declare status on tax forms) have increased as well, with over a million having left in this pontificate.

      The trends of decline were already there. But they have surged under this pontificate. Why that might be, we can speculate. But whatever is being done is not fulfilling the objective you’ve stated.

      And you can only be healed once you repent of your sins – especially before receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. This is the way it has always been.

      “He was elected Pope by the grace of GOD.”

      So were Alexander VI, Stephen VI, Benedict IX and John XII. Not every papal election reflects the will of the Holy Spirit – unless by that we mean merely His *permissive* will.

      • Please cite your source. If the report originates with the church hierarchy, then it is obvious what their agenda is and that’s to maintain power.

    • I disagree. He is trying to reform the Catholic Church. The Dogma of the Catholic Church cannot be changed. The laws of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God cannot be changed. He wants to change our country here in the U.S., the takeover of Muslim terrorists to our country and have women priests, same sex marriage, and more immoral changes. i guess you haven’t looked back at the Catholic Church and its history of popes or you would be ashamed at what you just said. You are going against everything our Holy Mother has said. The Catholic Church will be in chaos – is that want you want? Our Blessed Mother will crush Satan but we all have to pray the rosary and stand firm with God’s laws not Francis’ laws. You should pray for enlightenment of the Holy Spirit – remember: no false gods before you and that is just what Francis wants to do and destroy our country!!

  2. I’ll admit that our Holy Father sometimes says things that make me uncomfortable. But he is the Holy Father. We have to trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church and our Pope. We must be loyal. We could take a page from St. Joan of Arc who, though she didn’t know who the real pope was (there were competing candidates), knew with child-like faith that she owed him her allegiance.

    • Not at this point Amerigirl. We owe allegiance to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, first. What this pope is saying and doing is actually contrary to what Jesus taught us, and what Scripture taught us. Even the Ten Commandments and the Sacraments are being questioned! We cannot be like blind mice, we must use our Catholic sensibility, powers of discernment, to tell us what is right and what is wrong. This is our responsibility, and we must not shrink from it.

      • That is what Luther said. My allegiance is to my bishop, and I don’t have one at the moment because he was just transferred to New Jersey and his seat is still vacant. I have as much say in what the Holy Father says or does as a church mouse has in picking the music for Mass. You want me to come out against Pope Francis over things that are above my head? You don’t like his governing style? You don’t like what he’s saying? Get over yourselves. Sure, I’ll pray for the Pope and the Bishops…oh wait, we already do that at every Mass. Will I offer more prayers? Will I fast? Sure. And I’ll ask that God continue to do what He has been doing all along…minding His business while I mind mine.

      • Thank you, Evangeline!! We have to stand with the Lord. I never thought this would happen in our times but it is!! It is the opposite of what Jesus Christ wants and God is not happy with our world. Satan is infiltrating throughout our world and wants to make a mockery of God by turning everything inside out. Please pray like you’ve never prayed before – I am doing the same thing. The pope needs to step down – but we have to stay focused with our Blessed Mother and God totally and through these blasphemous events that are going to occur. If we pray the rosary – our Lord and God, and Holy Mother will see and hear our prayers.

  3. Something’s pretty obviously askew when a Catholic blogger with no ordination training thinks he knows better than the pope, and no other Catholics will call him out on it. Don’t tell us what the Pope is supposed to do. That’s not how it works.

    This article reads like you’ve been engulfed by the culture wars of the modern world and you’ve lost focus on what is truly blessed about the Catholic faith. It feels like you are advocating for a particular form of political Catholicism, one in which liberals are wicked and evil for not cooperating with your agenda and conservatives are noble and heroic for defending whatever local cluster of traditions they’ve become attached to.

    Jesus suggested to one church in a similar situation that it “Return to your first love”–the salvation of the lost, and not endless doctrinal wrangling.

    But what can we expect from a website that conflates “catholicism” and “voting”? You shouldn’t trust your ballot box to save you.

    • Patti Sheffield on

      Your comment is full of clericalism, something that the Church, particularly in Vatican II, rejects. The Church recognizes that there are areas of life in which laymen know more than even bishops, including the bishop of Rome. Recognizing that there is a teaching gap doesn’t require ordination or even a degree. Anyone can be fraternally corrected, even the pope, as long as it is done in humility and charity. St. Catherine of Siena had no formal theological training, no degrees, and certainly wasn’t ordained, yet she could tell the pope lovingly but firmly that he as bishop of Rome belonged in Rome and not Avignon, and he listened to her and moved the papacy back to Rome. She was not even a religious sister, but a lay woman permitted to belong to the Dominican Order.

      In Revelation 2:4, Christ did not say, “Return to your first love.” He said, “Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first.” This is followed by: “Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” It is a warning not to become lukewarm in our faith, not a warning against idols. There is irony in your claim that the motive of the author is political and that he thinks the “ballot box will save” him, because you used this passage to accuse him of making politics an idol. That is precisely the type of judging Christ told us not to engage in, since it points not to someone’s words or actions but his motives and interior state of soul, neither of which others cannot possibly know but God. It is what Pope Francis meant when he said not to judge others.

      Asking for prayers and fasting for the Holy Father is nothing more or less than an act of Christian charity. The motives for asking is really none of our business, basically because it’s beyond our competence to know what they are.

    • “Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so it is licit to resist him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or, above all, him who tries to destroy the Church. It is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will.”
      ~ St. Robert Bellarmine

      “Liberal Catholics are the worst enemies of the Church.
      ~ Pope Pius IX

      “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It’s up to YOU, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

      ~Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

      “And thou, O son of man, fear not, neither be thou afraid of their words: for thou art among unbelievers and destroyers, and thou dwellest with scorpions. Fear not their words, neither be thou dismayed at their looks: for they are a provoking house.”
      ~ Ezekiel 2:6 (Douay-Rheims)

      Don’t know about anyone else, but this sounds like reference to the current Church.

    • Dorinda Sears on

      Wow! Talk about being political. Your comment here is wrapped in a progressive agenda and reads more like an indictment than a commentary. A glance back into history will inform you of how some of our popes were utterly remiss, and a reading of our church doctors will give you some idea as to how far this pope has strayed from the doctrines, the traditions and the gospel. All in all there is a huge difference between forgiving the sinner and forgiving the sin. and where Pope, priest , religious or layman it is our responsibility to know that difference.

  4. From the Dogmatic Constitution “Pastor aeternus” of Vatican I (1869-70) – “The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.”
    Pope Benedict affirmed this on June 2005 at St. John Lateran:
    “…the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.
    The Pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage. Thus, his power is not being above, but at the service of, the Word of God. It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.”
    Cardinal Maradiaga illuminated the profile of the Bergoglian pontificate clearly in January 2015. “The Pope wants to take this Church renovation to the point where it becomes irreversible.”
    The Roman Catholic Church has obviously become the cash cow for a clergy class that has abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ for a cut and paste confection that caters to their own concupiscence.
    If ALL of us are not obedient to the perennial Magisterium of the Church, ALL of us need be very careful to whom we give deference and obedience. Nanny speak and wordsmithing are not appropriate or effective to the pontifical teaching office. It serves only to give comfort to adults who have not taken responsibility for their own catechesis – their right to that religious education was abandoned by pastors in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.
    An adult critique need be brought to bear upon what has erupted in the Church of Christ. Counter-intuitive rationalizations are no substitute for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Far too many good and faithful Catholics are being railroaded by the duplicitous.
    We need be “…wise as serpents and gentle as doves…” Matt. 10:16

    • Yeah he’s a nightmare to the people that like to sit around and do as little as possible with their faith and rationalize that it’s OK

      • Yeah he’s a nightmare to the people that like to sit around and do as little as possible with their faith and rationalize that it’s Ok”…Just as so many Catholics rationalized that a lying, cheating, misogynistic, faithless and limited man should be President of the United States. Just look at the disaster we have inhabiting the White House. Now Thomas Peters attacks the Pope because he has the audacity to call out the hypocrisy of the Church and its Trumpian-like ideologue. Might I suggest that all Catholics listen very carefully to Pope Francis to discern his take on the state of Catholicism, Christian fundamentalism and the role of humanity in fighting for justice in a world (and nation) rife with discord

    • Richard Schladen on

      I was a convert to Catholicism when I was a student at the University of Dayton. I had private instruction from Fr. Phillip Hoelle.. He was a kind an learned man. He would not be happy with your note. He was a Catholic CHRISTIAN. He took the Gospels seriously.

  5. The pope has had the audacity to suggest that Jesus might not mind sharing his body and blood with people in a state of sin. Reading the gospels, that doesn’t seem to be so ridiculous an opinion. Rather, it seems to be the heart of the gospel that Jesus came to offer himself for our sake while we were still sinners and did not deserve it. (John 12:47, John 3:17, Romans 5:8, and many, many more)

    The amount of hyperventilating that this has caused in some quarters of the Church is baffling to me. Can the popes critics not hear the echoes of the pharisees in their own words? “He eats with sinners!” ~Mark 2:16 Jesus had no problem offering the first Eucharist to Judas who was in the process of betraying him, or to Peter whom he knew would deny him, or offering his body and blood on the cross for all of us. That is the scandal of the incarnation and the paschal mystery, that God loves us so much that he offers himself to us even in the midst of our sin. May the Pope continue to proclaim this scandalous grace. “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” Mt 11:6

    • Vincent, I think you have the right take on this. Pope Francis has always struck me as a “Red-Letter Christian,” one who takes the words of Jesus in the Gospels more seriously than any other words. If this means that centuries of Church teaching on one or another subject must be reevaluated to bring it into closer accord with Jesus’ own teaching, let the reevaluation begin.

      I see far to many who blame Francis for the turmoil in their own hearts.

  6. George Kadlec on

    “I want a Church that moves the world not one that moves with it.” – G.K. Chesterton

    “Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

  7. way to go, Thomas. You have articulated what many have been silently contemplating.
    The Theology of Vagueness has led to indifference and surrender. Veni, Creator Spiritus.

  8. A formed conscience is a good thing.

    Sandy has a kind heart. Of that I’m quite sure.
    The conscience and the free wheeling use of conscience in matters of Faith is fragile. A polite gesture from the leadership of Holy Catholic Church is one thing. To go against doctrine and teaching that has withstood the past centuries is quite another thing.
    Fragile is the disposition of Priests who must deal kindly with the faithful and with erroneous teaching. Wading through the muddy waters is unnecessary, but I’m not the Pope, thank goodness. Question is, is Francis?

  9. Owen Sweeney on

    “Pope Francis is inexplicably refusing to resolve it.” Inexplicably? Is is not quite perfectly explicable? He is purposely sowing “serious discord” in order to remake the Church to his own liking. Every day he strikes the dagger yet again at the heart of the Catholic Faith. May God have mercy on him and on His Holy Church.

  10. It is important to remember that the Pope can recommend all that he wants, however, we are only bound when he speaks Ex Cathedra. Remember, he is a Jesuit.

  11. Pope Francis is doing exactly what Jesus did when he started his ministry, he ate with sinners, dined with tax collectors, forgave prostitutes. St Francis came eating and sleeping with lepers and Pope Francis is simply continuing the Gospel of Christ, we must not try to see things our way, but trust in God who has set a precedent for us.

    • Jesus Christ never, ever agreed to same sex marriage or admitting refugees that are Muslim terrorists. He loves us too much to let be killed and destroyed! Francis is trying to change the dogma of the Church made by Jesus Christ. He is changing the Bread and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and wants to turn that upside-down. That is blasphemous. I pray for enlightenment for you through the Holy Spirit and may your soul be saved.

  12. I will simply wish to remind you all that as Christ progressed in his ministry, some of his (in)actions got even his apostles thinking, his closest allies. I still imagine how disappointing it would be for Peter when Jesus was seen talking to a Samaritan woman at the well. I imagine how many people who left Jesus after his weird prophecy of the destruction of the temple they held so dear. The Church can only get more weird as the world advances.

  13. I do not purport to be any sort of expert on Church teachings. However, as other commenters have pointed out, Jesus sharing the first Eucharist with Judas weighs heavily for me. Perhaps there is an interpretation of this that I’m not aware of.

  14. These are awful days in the Church with Pope Francis at the helm. Lots of confusion and scandalizing of the people of God – scandalizing in the true sense of leading people into sin.

    I pray every day for a divine intervention.

  15. Hi Thomas – I’ve followed you for about 7 years now. I find it ironic that someone who wrote as the “American Papist” would pen a post like this one.

    I have a question. What would a schism over this look like. Cdl. Burke forming a separate Church? Sedvacandism? Are we already in schism when 95+ of US Catholic couple of child bearing age use birth control AND their priests and bishops jolly well know it? It comes down to the weight we put on pastoral care as opposed to Canon Law Some of us believe the int he past two papacies far too much emphasis was placed on the latter. Is that schism? As for messiness “Vatican financial reform abandoned, cardinals openly sniping at one another, the clergy sex-abuse response falling apart, bishops saying diametrically opposed things to one another” these were going on long before Francis. He’s trying to reform a giant, byzantine and ossified beaurocracy. If..and it’s a big “if” he can do it w it will take more time than he’s had in office thus far.

  16. The pooe is spesking Truth. Division is not a problem, Christ came not to bring peace but to pit father against son, mother against daighter, etc. Only pharisees who do not truly know God and people who place political ideology over faith cannot see the Truth being spoken by this pope. There are no liberal or conservative true Catholics, anyone who identifies as one is a heretic.

  17. Thomas Peters, you must be a true follower of Jesus. Thank you for saving our country and the world by helping elect Donald J. Trump. Raymond Burke for Pope!

  18. Jesus did tell Judas it would have been better if he had never been born. Judas committed suicide and is in hell so I fail to see how Judas is an example to justify sin without repentance with the excuse we are all sinners to justify the sin. Perhaps Christ through Francis is getting us to take our faith more seriously and be discerning with what we hear on earth including Francis comments not in line with church teaching. Where did Christ avoid clatification to answers on morality like Francis? Please note how often the consequences of our sins are given a pass and the discussions of the fires of hell are dismissed, since clearly the warnings from Christ repeatedly in the bible can be ignored since all we have to know is he loves us sinners and our sins per John 3:16 . The rest of the Bible is irrelevant. Do what you want since we are all Saints in God’s eyes and will be automatically forgiven. (Sarcasm) Do you really want to take God for granted?

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