BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The time has come to question whether Pope Francis is a liberal Protestant, a noted Anglican theologian said in a recent essay.
Orthodox Anglicans and other Protestants hoping to resist “the apostasies of liberal Christianity” have for decades counted on Rome and the Catholic Church for moral and theological support, said Gerald McDermott.
“Most of us recognized that we were really fighting the sexual revolution, which had co-opted and corrupted the Episcopal Church and its parent across the pond,” he wrote. “First it was the sanctity of life and euthanasia. Then it was homosexual practice. Now it is gay marriage and transgender ideology.”
Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he said, non-Catholics arguing moral theology could look for “learned and compelling arguments coming out of Rome” and say, “The oldest and largest part of the Body of Christ agrees with us, and it does so with remarkable sophistication.”
But not now.
“Those of us who continue to fight for orthodoxy, in dogmatic as well as moral theology, miss those days when there was a clear beacon shining from across the Tiber,” stated McDermott. “For now, it seems, Rome itself has been infiltrated by the sexual revolution. The center is not holding.”
The Anglican Chair of Divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School opened his First Things column with the rhetorical question, “Is the pope Catholic?”
“For at least a century,” continued McDermott, “this was the way we Anglicans joked about anything that seemed too obvious to state. Now we must ask in seriousness whether the pope is a liberal Protestant.”
As Beeson’s Anglican Professor of Divinity, McDermott teaches in the subjects of history and doctrine. He has written extensively on Theology, and taught for 26 years at Virginia’s Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, before coming to Beeson at Birmingham, Alabama’s Samford University.
He is also an Anglican priest.
In his essay, McDermott cited the USCCB’s recent controversial dismissal of Father Thomas Weinandy as its theological adviser after Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis expressing concerns over his pontificate was made public.
McDermott proposed that Weinandy having offered thoughts critical of the pope was an ancillary concern in the basis for the U.S. Bishops’ swift and illuminating rebuke of Weinandy’s letter.
“As an outsider, I can’t help but wonder whether the pope and the USCCB were particularly provoked by Weinandy’s suggestion that Jesus had allowed this controversy in order “to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops,” he pondered.
McDermott listed several “alarming statements and suggestions in Amoris Laetitia” that had been pointed out by Father Weinandy and other Catholics. He also detailed numerous specific, clear examples of how “Francis had caused many to question his fidelity to that tradition” even before the pope’s contentious exhortation in March 2016.
“Catholics will have to make up their own minds,” he said, “but I’ll admit I have questions about the faith of Pope Francis, which seems, if not weak, at least different from that of the Catholic tradition.”
“I take no pleasure in Rome’s travails,” McDermott said.
In his conclusion, he rejected succumbing to despair in the current darkness and held up the theologian dismissed by USCCB, both as example of courage and virtue and a reminder that the Lord is always at work.
“Though we are dismayed, we must not despair,” said McDermott. “For the brave and principled stand made by Tom Weinandy reminds us that God raises up prophetic lights when dark days come to his Church.”