(LifeSiteNews) — Left-wing Catholics have sparked outrage and mockery for accusing renowned Catholic author and evangelist Scott Hahn of “schism” because he expressed gratitude for a new pastoral letter from Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.
Hahn’s detractors include prominent liberal Catholic writers and academics, such as papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, who have themselves defended or praised heterodox figures.
Ivereigh, who has a scandalous background but was appointed an “expert” for Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality, went so far as to claim that Hahn has joined “the US rad trad schism.” But Ivereigh and other liberals attacking Hahn have endorsed Father James Martin and Cardinal Robert McElroy, who have publicly criticized Catholic teaching on sexuality.
Nowhere does Bishop Strickland’s letter mention Pope Francis, let alone advocate for schism.
The attack on Hahn is part of a pattern of leftist Catholics targeting even mainstream Church figures who appear at odds with Pope Francis – and it throws into doubt their claims of seeking a “listening church” for “everyone.”
‘I am grateful for Bishop Strickland’s inspiring words’
In a Facebook post on Friday, Hahn shared Bishop Strickland’s pastoral message, released last week, adding simply, “I am grateful for Bishop Strickland’s inspiring words.”
In the letter, the Texas bishop reaffirms seven “basic truths” that the Church has upheld “from time immemorial” and warns of possible efforts to change those truths through the Synod.
Truths emphasized by Bishop Strickland include that it is a sacrilege to receive the Eucharist in grave sin and that sexual activity outside marriage is always mortally sinful and cannot be approved or blessed by the Church.
The bishop’s letter also predicts that “many of these truths will be examined as part of the Synod on Synodality” and urges Catholics “to hold fast to these truths and be wary of any attempts to present an alternative to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Regrettably, it may be that some will label as schismatics those who disagree with the changes being proposed,” Bishop Strickland said. “Be assured, however, that no one who remains firmly upon the plumb line of our Catholic faith is a schismatic.”
People who pursue heterodoxy are themselves “the true schismatics,” he charged.
Bishop Strickland’s concerns about the Synod on Synodality are not unfounded.
The relator general of the Synod, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, has faced accusations of heresy for claiming that the basis of Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality is “no longer correct” and calling for a “fundamental revision of the doctrine.” More recently, he suggested that the Church may eventually ordain women to the priesthood.
Pope Francis has also appointed several people who oppose Catholic teaching as voting members of the first synodal assembly in October, including Fr. Martin. The Vatican website for the Synod has openly promoted homosexual relationships and adoption and dissident activists.
‘Reactionary traditionalist’: Leftists come after Scott Hahn
Bishop Strickland’s letter doesn’t say anything about Pope Francis, but Hahn’s modest praise for the text was enough for prominent leftist Catholics to pronounce him “schismatic.”
“Scott Hahn joins the US rad trad schism. But the signs were long since there,” Ivereigh slanderously charged on X (formerly Twitter). Prior to his role in the Francis Vatican, Ivereigh was an adviser to since-disgraced British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, before resigning in 2006 after admitting to two sexual relationships with women outside marriage, one of which ended in abortion.
Ivereigh shared an article by “Where Peter Is,” a liberal blog known for attacking virtually all criticism of Pope Francis.
In the article, Where Peter Is managing editor Mike Lewis slammed Hahn, accusing the esteemed author of having “aligned himself with the dissident, anti-papal wing of the Church” and embraced “reactionary traditionalist ideology.” “With his endorsement of Strickland’s letter, the prospect of a schism in the U.S. Catholic Church – or at least that of an angry populist revolt against the pope – suddenly seems more realistic,” Lewis wildly speculated.
Offering a few words of appreciation for the letter “is a bold move for a leading Catholic figure to take,” the blogger and former climate activist opined. “Scott Hahn is an intelligent man. He knows what he’s doing and he understands the significance of his timing,” he continued.
Massimo Faggioli, a historian and Villanova University professor popular in liberal Catholic circles, also chimed in. “Scott Hahn endorsing Bishop Strickland. It’s sad but not surprising (for me at least),” he posted on X, sharing Lewis’ article.
Undercutting his critics, Hahn wrote Monday on Facebook, “I’m grateful for the inspiring words of our beloved Pope Francis in a recent message,” and posted an article about Francis advocating for Eucharistic adoration.
Backlash against the condemnation of Hahn was swift and often mocking.
Mike Lewis Story Hour–Oh. My. Goodness. Edition:
Wherein our Intrepid Hero claims *Scott Hahn*–SCOTT HAHN!!–is rejecting "Rome".
No words. pic.twitter.com/QEm7LAMyzr
— Jim Russell (@DJimRussell) August 26, 2023
— Matthew Hazell (@M_P_Hazell) August 28, 2023
Crisis Magazine editor-in-chief Eric Sammons described the assault as “a good thing.” “It reveals far more about Hahn’s attackers and their project than it does about Hahn,” he wrote in an article on Monday that Hahn shared on Facebook.
Sammons likened the campaign against Hahn “to the tactics of the French Revolution, in which the revolutionary purity spiral became so intense that no one was safe from destruction. That’s exactly what’s happening here.”
“All of the good Hahn has done in the past is considered worthless due to his lack of vocal and complete support for today’s Revolution. Note, of course, that Hahn has not criticized Pope Francis. He’s not called for schism,” Sammons wrote. “But he’s not joined the Revolutionary Forces and he’s dared to express gratitude to a bishop they deem unworthy of support. For this he must be denounced and declared an unCatholic.”
Ivereigh, Where Peter Is endorsed James Martin, Cdl. McElroy
But while attacking Hahn for lack of fealty to their left-wing vision of Catholicism, his detractors have explicitly endorsed and promoted controversial, heterodox figures in the Church.
Ivereigh has praised Martin as a “great pastor,” and Faggioli, another admirer of the Jesuit, has savaged his critics as “verbally violent propagandists” somehow related to “the neo-Nazi and white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
But Martin’s heterodoxy is well documented: He’s disparaged Church teaching that homosexuality is “disordered” as “needlessly cruel,” suggested that Catholic doctrine on homosexuality is not “authoritative,” cast doubt on the biblical condemnation of sodomy, and claimed that homosexuality is “the way God created” people.
His appreciation of same-sex “marriage” is also no secret. Martin has presented the “marriage” of two homosexual men as “a loving act” and “a form of love” that calls for “reverence.”
“Your love is beautiful,” he told a man planning a “wedding” with his same-sex partner in 2017. “I do hope in 10 years you are able to kiss your partner or, you know, soon to be your husband” during the sign of peace at Mass, he added. “Why not? What’s the terrible thing?”
Where Peter Is and the Martin-promoting “schism” police evidently don’t see much of a problem with encouraging sodomitic affection during Holy Mass.
And Martin isn’t the only homosexualist cleric backed by Hahn’s critics.
Ivereigh endorsed “wise” Cardinal Robert McElroy earlier this year, days after McElroy penned the first of two articles for America Magazine challenging Catholic teaching that all sexual acts outside marriage are gravely sinful and demanding that homosexuals in “objective grave sin” be admitted to Communion.
The papal biographer promoted McElroy’s “terrific” follow-up interview with America, in which the San Diego cardinal doubled down on his opposition to Catholic sexual ethics.
Lewis also stepped in to defend McElroy against massive backlash over his articles, arguing that the prelate’s comments were not “doctrinal dissent, strictly speaking” and that his proposals of “potential changes” to Catholic teaching are permissible because he is a “moral theologian.” McElroy insisted in the first America article that “the church must embrace a eucharistic theology that effectively invites all of the baptized to the Lord’s table,” which would include allowing “L.G.B.T. persons” in unrepentant sexual sin to receive the Eucharist.
Same-sex ‘blessings,’ New Ways Ministry
In 2021, shortly after the Vatican condemned same-sex “blessings,” Lewis published the response of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who said that he “wasn’t happy” with the document (which Pope Francis approved) and that he agreed with “blessings” for homosexual partnerships.
Schönborn said, “If it really is the request of God’s blessing for a life that two people, in whatever situation, are attempting to share – then they should not be refused this blessing.”
“Even though I as priest or bishop must tell them, ‘You have not realized the full ideal. But it is important that you continue on the path of human virtue, without which there cannot be a good/successful partnership.’ And that deserves a blessing,” the cardinal stated. “If a liturgical celebration of a blessing is the proper way to do this – that needs careful consideration.”
Where Peter Is weakly noted that the Schönborn’s stance “doesn’t necessarily correlate” with the blog’s “editorial position.”
Lewis later published another interview in which Schönborn reiterated his support for homosexual “blessings,” recalling “many examples which I personally got to know, where I’d say ‘Yes, I wish you well, may your partnership succeed,’ and that of course applies equally to same-sex partnerships.” Pointing to the homosexual relationship of a “dear old friend,” he asked, “Isn’t that also something I must honor?”
Schönborn’s views are hardly a surprise: He has hosted pro-LGBT concerts and prayer services organized by a homosexual activist at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, including one that featured a performance by Austrian drag queen “Conchita Wurst,” and showcased an image of lesbians kissing in an art exhibition at his rectory.
Why promote such a scandalous prelate, who contradicted a document of Pope Francis, no less? Surely Lewis, like Ivereigh, “knows what he’s doing” and “understands the significance of his timing.”
Indeed, Where Peter Is has revealed its pro-homosexual sympathies on other occasions. In June, the blog published an article that said the Church must consider whether “committed partnerships” of homosexuals can be “a locus of Christian love” and criticized firing openly homosexual teachers from Catholic schools.
Where Peter Is also justified and downplayed Pope Francis’ endorsements of Sister Jeannine Gramick, whom Pope St. John Paul II banned from pastoral work with homosexuals, and New Ways Ministry, the dissident LGBT group that she co-founded. Gramick has defied John Paul II’s order and insists that the Church will “change” its teaching on sexuality. But Pope Francis praised her and New Ways Ministry in a series of letters in which he described the heretical, schismatic nun as a “valiant woman” with “‘the style’ of God.”
A 2022 article for Where Peter Is by Dermot Roantree cited Pope Francis’ appreciation of Gramick and “messages of gratitude” to a liberation theology proponent as examples of his “fundamental preference for giving people freedom to speak rather than taking it away.” Roantree’s article drew on the writings of Michel Foucault, a homosexual pedophile rapist. Lewis later chastised conservative Catholics troubled that Francis “said nice things to Sr. Jeannine Gramick” and met with Fr. Martin.
Where Peter Is and Ivereigh have defended similar letters that Pope Francis sent to Martin encouraging the priest and his LGBT-themed conferences, which have featured Gramick and other radical LGBT activist speakers, such as Dr. Colt St. Amand, a “transgenderqueer Two Spirit” psychologist who provides letters for transgender “genital surgeries.”
Liberal Catholics make much of themes like “freedom to speak,” “listening,” “dialogue,” and “synodality.” Ivereigh recently highlighted Francis’ insistence that the Church is for “everyone, everyone, everyone.” “Do not turn the Church into a customs house reserved for the righteous while everyone else remains outside, he warned,” Ivereigh noted.
But, as the example of Scott Hahn shows, “Team Francis” is doing just that, with a twisted definition of “righteousness” based not on moral rectitude or orthodoxy but on blind servility to Pope Francis and adherence to their leftist ideology.
Catholics who aren’t sufficiently conformist face wild slander, reputational damage, and intimidation campaigns, and not only if they are traditionalists.
The left-wing radicals used the same tactics against the new president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, a moderate conservative whose crimes included opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates and homosexuality. Before him, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone were deemed “schismatics” for attesting to the character of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Pope Francis last year ousted Puerto Rican Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, a beloved pastor who had admired the Pope, reportedly due to his support for conscience objections to COVID shots.
Liberals don’t actually want “listening” and “dialogue” unless it helps them advance their goals of undermining Catholic teaching and tradition and crushing conservatives. Fr. Martin and Sr. Gramick are useful for that, but Scott Hahn isn’t.