Matt C. Abbott
Papal tide may be turning, writes priest
By Matt C. Abbott
February 29, 2020

Is Pope Francis now leaning more toward Catholic orthodoxy?

Father Brian W. Harrison, O.S., hopes that might be the case. (So do I!)

Harrison recently wrote the following in an email:
    Several surprisingly traditional interventions have come from Peter's successor in the last few months. Notably, we've seen a robustly orthodox Motu Proprio on Sacred Scripture establishing the 'Sunday of the Word of God,' and, in Querida Amazonia, the confirmation of priestly celibacy and the reservation of sacramental ordination (deacons as well as priests and bishops) to men.

    I don't think I'm the only Catholic in whom this development has been stirring hopes that we may now be starting to see Christ's promises to Peter, the rock, a little more clearly in action, after seven very lean years of a pontificate in which they have often seemed mysteriously hidden. Of course, the providential interplay, and probably frequent tension, between those promises and the human free will that they will never simply override, will always remain mysterious. In any case, I thought you might find fascinating, as I have, these observations by the veteran vaticanista Sandro Magister [click here to read Magister's article].

    This report from Italy makes known certain things that I haven't seen reported prominently in this country. It shows how Pope Francis, largely behind the scenes, or acting through Vatican cardinals, has been offering some definite resistance to the most radically heterodox sector of today's Church, namely, the German bishops (the vast majority), clergy and lay leaders. As is now well known, their noxious 'synodal process' is openly pushing for the abolition of celibacy, for female deacons, priests and bishops, and for the rejection of perennial Church teaching on homosexuality and other issues covered by the Sixth Commandment.

    (As a little straw in the wind, who would have suspected that the most outspokenly conservative German cardinal, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, whom Francis fired as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a couple of years ago, would now receive a friendly personal letter from the pope thanking him for his recent appreciative comments about Querida Amazonia's upholding of priestly celibacy? And this has happened around the same time that, according to one report, a papal audience given to Cardinal Marx, super-liberal leader of the German bishops, became a virtual shouting match in which his and Francis' raised voices could be heard through closed doors down the adjacent corridor!)

    Is the tide beginning to turn? Or, as some of you reading this may suspect, is it all just a cynical piece of theatrical peronismo – i.e., Francis taking one step back in preparation for two steps forward? Time will tell. But if anything should cause hope to spring eternal, it is surely Our Lord's promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church founded on Petrine rock.

    Let's offer some Lenten prayers and sacrifices that Peter's Titanic-sized barque continues to turn little by little away from the looming iceberg – or perhaps I should say, siren song – of conformity with the moral decadence and doctrinal skepticism and indifferentism that now predominates in what was once Western Christendom.

The Rev. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D., a priest of the Society of the Oblates of Wisdom, is an emeritus professor of theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. He has had lengthy pastoral experience in the city of Ponce, including the pastorate of a parish, a prison chaplain, and a Defender of the Bond for Puerto Rico's marriage tribunals.

He was born in Australia and, after being raised as a Presbyterian, converted to the Catholic Faith in 1972. In 1979 he began studies for the priesthood in the major seminary of Sydney. After completing his licentiate in theology at the Angelicum in Rome, he was ordained a priest in Saint Peter's Basilica in 1985 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In 1997 he gained his doctorate in systematic theology, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical Athenæum (now University) of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Since 2007 Father Harrison has been scholar-in-residence at the Oblates of Wisdom house of studies in St. Louis, Mo. Since January 2012 he has also been the chaplain of St. Mary of Victories Chapel. He is the author of three books and over 120 articles.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


Receive future articles by Matt C. Abbott: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
'The fervent prayer of the righteous'

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Busted: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Matt C. Abbott
Satanism in the Catholic Church?

Tabitha Korol
1619: A date for disunity

Jerry Newcombe
Why I’m a one issue voter

Tom DeWeese
Aufheben der Kultur – Cancel Culture – Part 2 The coming of the second prehistoric period

Curtis Dahlgren
A pain in the "BUT": even National Review? Say it ain't so!

Bryan Fischer
The powers of hell come against President Trump – We can stop them

Larry Klayman
Joe Biden's collusion -- with Google

Jim Wagner
Birds of a feather: The notorious Biden mob

Linda Goudsmit
The odd couple: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Sam Weaver
The atheistic religion and modern "science," Part II b

Laurie Roth
Joe Biden made his anti-coal and oil bed, now let him lie in it

Judie Brown
American brood of vipers
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons

RSS feeds



Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Jamie Freeze Baird
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites