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(LifeSiteNews) — Have you looked at Crisis Magazine lately? While you may say they’re “competition,” they’ve embraced Tradition when everyone else seemingly rejects it. I don’t view them as “competition” in the least. In fact, the more people oppose the Synod, the merrier.

Eric Sammons, editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine, once again joins me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to discuss the meaning of “synodality,” as well as what he makes of the Francis pontificate. 

Referring to his talk at the Catholic Identity Conference, Sammons defines “synodality” as an attempt to transform Catholicism into a religion that accepts both virtue and vice as equal and are voted upon by its adherents. Essentially, what “synodality” would do, Sammons contends, is put “everything up for grabs” that had already been resolved. 

Looking to the Synod itself, he notes that whenever issues of doctrine come up, they are always the “pelvic issues” of homosexuality, Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, and the introduction of female deacons, which he says is an attempt to sneak women into the priesthood.

He also says that the Synod on Synodality and the concept of “synodality” are purposefully confusing and coupled with a relativistic mindset. While the Church may be against something now, a new synod may come and overturn accepted teaching.

Comparing what those in favor of “synodality” affirm and the words of Our Lord in the Gospel, Sammons says that when man has the command to be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect, God Himself comes down and elevates him since man cannot perfect himself. “Synodality,” meanwhile, tells men they are fine the way they are, almost like putting one’s foot on a sinner’s neck as part of a “dictatorship of relativism.” 

“It becomes just a power game, a political game of, ‘Okay, these people, we keep them down and they don’t realize the beauty of a Catholic life fully lived,’” Sammons says. 

Sammons and I also discuss the possibility that Francis is not the pope. He says he cannot answer that with certainty, though he opines that Francis, by all appearances, is pope.

While he sympathizes with those who think otherwise because of how confusing the times in which we live are, Sammons tells me it is important to remember that a “cornerstone of Catholicism is to be in communion with the bishop of Rome.”

He also explains the theology behind the issue, telling me that communion is “more of a mystical and hierarchical union that we have, that we attend a church where the Pope’s name is read during the Mass, that we acknowledge him as the Supreme Pontiff… [that] our bishop is in communion with him as well…” 

While being in communion with the Pope, furthermore, does not entail that we should agree with everything he says, especially because Catholics have a duty to oppose error, Sammons notes that Our Lord said that life in the Church would be “messy,” citing the parable of the wheat and the chaff. Facing the question directly, however, Sammons says that it’s “above my pay grade.” 

From this, Sammons explores the possibility that Francis is not pope from a canonical point of view. The Church, Sammons observes, has a way of removing priests and bishops from office, but not a pope. For Sammons, he reverts to the “acceptance” thesis of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, whereby if all the bishops and laity have accepted something to be the case, then it must be the case. As all the bishops and the overwhelming majority of the laity have accepted the Francis pontificate, Francis must therefore be pope. 

Sammons also looks to the Council of Constance, which resolved the Great Western Schism by calling on the three men claiming the papacy to resign, and elected a pope, Martin V, who said councils were not above popes. He also explains that while the council removed a valid pope, everyone, including the resigning pope, accepted the ruling of the council, which allowed Martin V to become the new pope.

Sammons predicts that the Church must grapple with two issues after Francis: what Francis wrote as pope, and what to do when a pope appears to be attempting to undermine the Catholic faith. For the first possibility, he acknowledges the possibility that a future council or pope could declare Francis’ writings no longer magisterial.

“Maybe it just is going to be we wait for a future pope, because people don’t like that answer, and I understand why they don’t like it, but you look in… Church history, that happens sometimes where there are periods in which there’s just massive confusion,” Sammons supposes.

While Sammons also admits there would be relief if Francis was not pope because of a problem in the 2013 conclave, he admits that he would not regret being “adamant” about support for Francis as pope, using an interesting meditation on his particular judgment to demonstrate the point. 

Beginning the meditation, Sammons says that if Francis is not the pope, but someone accepts him as pope by virtue of the ubiquitous acceptance of the pontificate by bishops and the laity, even if he opposed all of Francis’ errors, he feels that “at my judgment, I will be in good shape.” 

However, if Francis were indeed the pope, and he began voicing his opinion publicly and potentially leading people to Masses in which Francis is not named, he suspects that his judgment would be “very severe.” 

“Ultimately, I feel like this is the… path [lay] Catholics should take,” he says. If he were a bishop, he suspects he would speak to other bishops on the matter. But since he is not a bishop, he simply finds that his duty is “to live the Catholic faith and proclaim it as it is, even when it means correcting errors that come out of the Vatican.”

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

You can send me feedback, or ideas for show topics by emailing [email protected].

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.