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Pope Francis receives a Pachamama statue in the Vatican gardens during an indigenous ceremony, Rome, Oct. 4, 2019.Vatican News / video screen grab

March 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Canadian publisher Arouca Press has taken the courage to publish a collection of the major statements by prelates, priests, and laymen addressed to Pope Francis over the course of the last years, asking him either to correct erroneous or confusing statements or even to rescind them and repent for them. Since this book also contains, in an additional part, other statements and interviews by many of the critics, this book will be a helpful tool both for those who wish to understand our current crisis in the Church, as well as for those who wish to understand the purposes of the critics of the Pope.

This new book, entitled Defending the Faith Against Heresies, has received endorsements by multiple well-respected authors and theologians, such as Father Gerard Murray, Martin Mosebach, and Henry Sire. Father Murray, for example, states that “well-reasoned pleas to uphold the Church's plan and constant teaching in the face of deviations are acts of charity, not of sinful defiance.”

“The book,” the priest continues, “is an invaluable compilation of such efforts.”

The book contains critical formal statements about Pope Francis’s teachings that have been published from 2016 until 2019, starting with the famous 2016 dubia from Cardinals Raymond Burke, Joachim Meisner, Walter Brandmüller, and Carlo Caffarra concerning the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia on marriage and the family. The dubia were addressed to Pope Francis and later published. In another section, there follow first texts from scholars and clergymen concerning the doctrinal errors in Amoris Laetitia, then one on his teaching concerning the death penalty, and finally one document against his public worship of the false goddess Pachamama during the Amazon Synod in Rome in 2019. As the readers will notice, there is a growing insistence in the tone of these different statements, the more it becomes obvious that Pope Francis is oblivious to these charitable criticisms and the stronger his deviations from Catholic doctrine and practice become. Finally, the book contains essays and interviews by individual participants in these endeavors or by critics of them.

As the publisher of the book, Alex Barbas, told LifeSite, “the goal in publishing this book is to continue a serious discussion—a discussion that can, at times, be heated, and understandably so—about how Pope Francis’ pontificate is perceived by many Catholics who are having a difficult time understanding how his statements and actions convey and support our Catholic faith in the midst of a world that is increasingly hostile to it.”  In light of the need for the faithful to grow in understanding of our crisis, Barbas wishes to support efforts to discuss the problems.

“We think,” he explained, “such a debate is healthy and indeed necessary because it will help Catholics look deeply into these questions whether they ultimately agree with the authors' conclusions or not. All of the contributions are written with the good of the Church in mind.”

The book is introduced by its two editors, Dr. John Lamont and Professor Claudio Pierantoni. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has contributed a preface to it, in which he praises the effort of this work. The Italian prelate wrote:

This volume has the merit of drawing together the evidence of apostasy, like the burning coals of which Saint Paul speaks in his Epistle to the Romans (12:19–20). And whoever, for love of the Apostolic See and for the honor of Holy Mother Church, has the courage to denounce false shepherds, will have the consolation of hearing the divine Master call to him: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt 25:21).

As mentioned before, Defending the Faith Against Heresies presents in a separate part numerous articles and interviews from people who were either involved in these charitable initiatives to ask Pope Francis to return to the Church’s traditional teachings and practices – such as the ban on Communion for public adulterers and the teaching on intrinsically evil acts – or who supported or criticized them. This book intends to invite and encourage a debate, assuming that people with good will and a love for God and His teachings will surely come together, based on similar conclusions.

Among the authors in this section of the book are such well-known figures such as Father Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Professor Roberto de Mattei, Professor Peter Kwasniewski, Professor Michael Sirilla, Professor Anna Silvas, and Father John Hunwicke. Over the course of the recent years, LifeSite has published these various open letters and corrections of Pope Francis, to include different responses and additional commentaries from some of the signatories.

It is a personal honor that my husband, Dr. Robert Hickson, appears in the book among the signatories of several of the published letters to Pope Francis, as well as that some of my own small contributions to the ongoing discussion are contained in this book. It has been one of the blessings of this very difficult time in the Church to have been able to get to know some of the finest Catholic minds and hearts in the world. With many authors of this book, my husband and I maintain friendly contacts, and just one single exchange with one of the authors contained in this book is for us a source of inspiration, admiration, and love for our Catholic faith. We ourselves can testify to the fact that the authors of these public statements are of the utmost pure intention, filled with charity.

Since I myself have started writing more articles in light of the developing Church crisis under Pope Francis – I published at the end of 2014 an Open Letter to Pope Francis asking him not to change the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family – this book project has given me a chance to review the work done in these last seven years. At the time, there were the two 2014/2015 synods of bishops on marriage and the family that aroused our concern and worry. The idea that some unchangeable law – the indissolubility of marriage – should somehow be weakened in the name of mercy caused us much grief, especially out of our love for Jesus Christ and out of our desire to remain loyal to Him.

In the first years of this papacy, it was not easy to speak up and resist some of the utterances coming from Rome. Many a Catholic was used to defend anything that came from Rome, especially among more conservative and faithful Catholics. The documents contained in Defending the Faith Against Heresies show the courage of Catholic clergymen and scholars, many of whom paid the price for their Catholic witness. Numerable signatories of these statements lost their jobs, were reprimanded by their superiors, or sent away to outposts in the world. As a journalist, I am privy to much of the suffering of these signatories, many of whom chose to remain silent about these injustices. As one example, LifeSiteNews reported on the case of Professor John Rist, one of the English-speaking world’s greatest living scholars of Classical philosophy, who was mistreated by the Vatican when he was suddenly told, in May of 2019, that he was banned from all Pontifical Universities in Rome because he had signed the Open Letter to Bishops asking the bishops of the world to investigate Pope Francis’s heresies.

So this new book published by Arouca Press is in a way a historical monument that has been built with the help of the witness and the courage and the suffering of many individual clergymen and lay scholars. We remember these years with much gratitude and much anguish.

May this book be a blessing to many Catholics, either as a confirmation of their own resistance and concern, or as a source of information and consolidation of their doubts about this current papacy.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.