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Cardinal Cupich at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics Nov. 6, 2017. Facebook / University of Chicago IOP
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Scholar stumps Cardinal Cupich, asks if Pope’s ‘paradigm shift’ means ‘radical’ doctrinal change

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CAMBRIDGE, England, February 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A respected Catholic historian and philosopher challenged Cardinal Blase Cupich during a lecture last week about Pope’ Francis so-called “revolution of mercy” that has caused what many are defending as a “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice.

Professor John Rist, after listening to a February 9 lecture at Cambridge University in which Cardinal Cupich praised Pope Francis’ “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice, asked the Cardinal at the end of the lecture why Pope Francis “mercilessly” insults and eliminates his doctrinal opponents. 

Rist asked the Cardinal: 

Your Eminence, In view of your account of the sunny, caring and holistic features of Pope Francis’ revolution of mercy – described disturbingly by the leaflet for this meeting and by your Eminence as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the presentation of Catholicism – and of the Pope’s call for free and frank discussion of his challenging proposals and policies, I would like to ask why Pope Francis acts so mercilessly in insulting and eliminating doctrinal opponents:  

  • Cardinal Burke removed from the leadership of the Roman Rota;  
  • Three loyal priests from the CDF dismissed without explanation, followed by the abrupt termination of Cardinal Mueller himself;
  • The denial of a Cardinal’s hat to the much loved champion of the unborn, Archbishop Chaput;
  • The removal of most of the original members of the Academy for Life;
  • The apparent selling-down the river of Cardinal Pell, who may have been framed. 

...The list goes on and on, but I stop there to ask again whether harsh actions of this sort — combined with the well-documented rigging of the Synod on the Family — indicate that the Pope’s 'paradigm shift' should be recognized as an attempt — under cover of offering solutions to genuine social problems in Western society — to impose on the Church radical changes of doctrine, developed not by laity but largely in Germany by a group of relativist Hegelian theologians? 

Cupich sidestepped away from the question, replying that those who have such concerns should ask themselves: “Do we really believe that the Spirit is no longer guiding the Church?” reported the Catholic Herald. 

The professor said after the event that if he had been given the chance to reply, he would have told the Cardinal that “the Church is indeed guided by the Holy Spirit, via good Catholic souls such as Cardinal Burke and many others.”

Rist is a Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Toronto and now holds a Chair in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A native of the United Kingdom, Rist is a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He is also a convert to Catholicism from agnosticism, thanks to his study of Plato, the Gospels and other ancient texts. 

Rist, whose career as a philosopher and a classicist spans fifty years and three continents, has written 16 scholarly books and over a hundred journal articles on ancient and Christian philosophy or the Gospels. He also contributed to Remaining in the Truth of Christ, the defense of Catholic teaching that was “intercepted” at the Synod on the Family

Rist told LifeSiteNews that he regards the Francis papacy as a “disaster.” 

“I regard this papacy as a disaster and Bergoglio as possibly — because of his tampering with established doctrine — as possibly the worst pope we have ever had,” he said. 

“Cupich's attempt to defend him [at Cambridge] was itself dependent on misrepresentations, the evading of legitimate questions, and in at least one case — that of my charge of the Synod on the Family being rigged — of downright lying. I was teaching in Rome at the time, and contributed to Remaining in the Truth of Christ, so I know about what happened firsthand,” he added. 

The professor said that one of the principal difficulties in the Church today is when people confuse the Church with the person of the Pope. 

"One of the basic problems we have is that too many Catholics (and others) confuse the pope with the Church,” he said. “Cupich tried to play that card by suggesting that Amoris Laetitia — even in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis — is de fide [i.e. doctrine that must be believed], which it manifestly is not.”

Rist suggested that Pope Francis is not doing his job well.  

“It is the function of the Pope to provide unity in the Church by scrutinizing new ideas to see if they are compatible with the inherited regula fidei [rule of faith],” the professor continued. “Instead of unity Pope Francis has caused massive confusion and division – and many sad clergy are afraid of being sanctioned if they speak out.”

As have many others before him, Rist compared the challenges posed by Francis’ innovations to the crisis of faith in the fourth century. 

“The whole thing amounts to a heresy on the scale of the Arian heresy,” he stated. “That took some 60 years to work out. I fear that this set of moral heresies may last even longer.”

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