Petition Started in Support of Pope Francis

Under the leadership of Czech theologian Tomas Halik, a group of 100 primarily German-speaking theologians and bishops, and at least one abbot, have issued this statement of support for Pope Francis:

Dear highly esteemed Pope Francis,

Your pastoral initiatives and their theological justification are currently under vehement attack by a group in the church. With this open letter, we wish to express our gratitude for your courageous and theologically sound papal leadership.

In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus. Wounded people and wounded nature go straight to your heart. You see the church as a field hospital on the margins of life. Your concern is every single person loved by God. When encountering others, compassion and not the law shall have the last word. God and God’s mercy characterize the pastoral culture that you expect from the church. You dream of a “church as mother and shepherdess.” We share your dream.

We ask that you would not veer from the path you have taken, and we assure you of our full support and constant prayer.


  1. “In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus.”

    This is where these arguments in favor of certain recent developments in papal initiatives lose me. The clear implication is that what came before Francis was somehow not in accordance with Christ. And that strikes me as both stunningly arrogant and replete with thinly veiled contempt for Benedict mostly and John Paul close behind.

    1. No. An opinion being strong and incisive does not make it arrogant. Strong disagreement does not equal contempt. Let people hold their opinions, please.

      1. I am using the word “arrogant” in its literal sense: to appropriate onto oneself.

        In this case, the argument is one of, 1) Christ has his teaching; 2) Francis has returned us to that teaching; 3) I support Francis because I support Christ.

        The clear implication in all this is that under Benedict and, to a lesser extent, John Paul II, we strayed from that original message of Christ.

        Certainly one may have one’s opinions. However not among human beings with free will?

        But this isn’t argumentation. This is assertion that Francis’ actions and words = Christ-like actions and words, with the clear implication that he is in contrast in this regard to his immediate predecessors.

      2. OK, that’s your viewpoint and other people hold another viewpoint. Let’s leave it at that.

  2. Pope Francis-
    You are a fresh spring breeze, that will provide the world with hope and love. Please keep the faith, and do not not be discouraged by those, who would deter you from this path. Believe in yourself and your path, because it is rooted in your faith in God, and God loves everyone and everything.

  3. Straying from the path and returning to it are concrete concepts with which the Hebrew Bible is replete.

    The Hebrew word ‘shubh’ frequently translated by ‘repent’ means return, which is what is at the heart of this petition, straying from and returning to.

    These complementary motifs should not come as any surprise to anyone from the Jewish Christian tradition.

  4. “By their fruits, you shall know them.”
    It is quite clear that Francis has given us a divided and polarized Church.

    1. That’s not at all clear to me. Such division and polarization as we see now existed before the advent of Pope Francis. It’s just that some may have taken a privilege of not noticing.

    2. I think this is your way of saying you don’t like Pope Francis. Fine – everyone can have their opinion.

      But it is a simple fact that the Catholic Church has been divided and polarized for some 50 years now. It didn’t start with Francis. Under Pope Benedict large parts of the church (a majority of clergy and lay ministers I suspect but we don’t have data) were deeply demoralized, saddened, angry, alarmed. A much smaller group felt energized. This too is polarization.

      Francis has his goals, and obviously they are not entirely identical with those of John Paul II or Benedict XVI. I wouldn’t expect Francis to be able to work toward his goals without a small group being opposed. Division is inevitable, given what he inherited.


      1. Father, again, you are clearly putting the blame for division on Benedict and John Paul. In charity, I suggest that this is exactly what is not needed in the Church. It does not help soothe divisions. It worsens them.

        The argument, too, that small numbers felt “energized” under Benedict…do numbers really matter in these issues? Are we really looking for majorities to support positions?

        Peace in the Church will not come by pitting one pope against another. Or by argumentation that one pope is somehow more implicitly Christ-like than his predecessors.

      2. Lee, other people can make any judgment they want whatsoever about the deficiencies of past popes. Other people can have the judgment that Pope Benedict was divisive. You don’t get to tell them to stop having their judgments just because they disagree with you. There is a tone in your comments of thinking you get to censor others and declare their judgments and statements out of bounds. You don’t get to do that.

    3. Much of that “polarization” comes from people who, under St. John Paul and Pope Benedict, insisted that and criticism of the pope was “dissent” and that those who disagreed with him were, at best “cafeteria Catholics” and at worst should be excommunicated.

      Now that the shoe is on the other foot, suddenly it is perfectly OK to disagree with and criticize the pope as he is the one who has suddenly given us a “divided and polarized” church.

      I love Pope Francis. He is the kind of pope I waited more than 30 years for and he makes me feel fully welcome in the church I was born and raised in.

  5. As Jesus clearly stated,”I have come not to bring peace, but division.” So the church—the body of disciples—that is also called to be of one mind and heart is one in which divisions are inevitable. Think of the churches to whom Paul wrote or Peter or James or John. The phenomenon of differing points of view cannot simply be abolished by the teachings of bishops. There are some today—as always—whose worldview requires a last authoritative word that settles all disputes. In this age, convincing arguments are required if people are to change their present beliefs and convictions. From everything I read of those who question, challenge, and wish to correct Pope Francis, they seem unable to live with any level of doubt, uncertainty, or ambiguity and accuse the pope of sowing seeds of division and confusion. The matter of how to deal with those who are living in second or even third marriages is not new. The correctors have decided to pull a slice of John Paul’s teaching on marriage and family and make it the penultimate word on this matter, as if Papal teachings are not subject to the same study tools as sacred scripture. Neither JPII or Francis have claimed the mantel of infallibility on these matters. Both have suggested a remedy for incorporating divorced and remarried Catholics into the life of the church. One demands sexual abstinence as the sine qua non, the other calls for pastoral accompaniment and dialogue regarding the role of conscience prior to the possible re-admission to Holy Communion. Let the arguments be advanced. In the meantime, I am grateful to Pope Francis for rekindling the hope engendered by Vatican II. I, too, dream of a church that seeks to bring Good News to all, one that is not self-referential or self-serving but is focused on the Kingdom that is already in our midst. May God be praised now and forever.

  6. There is a lack of charity in anti-intellectual responses such as this petition, both toward the Church and toward one’s opponents.

    On the one hand are theologians and pastors concerned that Amoris laetitia and certain statements from this papacy are theologically deficient, and will thus harm the Church and lead souls astray. On the other, explicitly in response to that, from other pastors and theologians, a kind of nonsequitur, which can be summarized “Pope Francis, we like your style”.

    If the authors and signers of this petition think the signers of the “Filial correction” are themselves in error then the right thing to do is to bring them back from it (and to reassure the people in the pews!) by engaging with their ideas and showing them that they are wrong to believe that heresy is being taught. A counter-petition which serves merely to set up an opposing team, or (worse still) to show that right or wrong, the number of counter-petition signers is larger, can only deepen division in the Church causing more disillusionment and suspicion among those in the pews while leaving the Correctio signers more strongly attached to their error.

    There’s already too much (always and everywhere harmful) talk of there being a “faithful remnant” within the Church. An anti-intellectual response to the Correctio, such as this, will can only encourage more of it. Many will conclude, perhaps too hastily, that signers subordinate questions of moral and sacramental theology to allegiance and affect, and that to a portion of the Church the affective tail is wagging the rational dog and that in teaching and practice, right and wrong do not matter.

    A way to receive Amoris laetitia correctly, resolve recent divisions in the Church, and move forward is needed. I don’t have one, but I know this is not it.

    1. I agree that petitions and counter-petitions are not the way to mend differences. Did anyone notice that 14th October was the feast day of Pope St Callistus, who upset other high-ranking people in the Church in the 3rd Century by his gentle, merciful attitude to repentant sinners? The arguments on each side were very similar to those raging today but without the ‘help’ of the internet.

      The Church is always in crisis. The answer is to pray for all those in positions of influence, whether we agree with them or not. It is also an excellent idea to read the original documents – I wonder how many people commenting on Amores Laetitia have actually read the document itself, not just comments on it. It really is not saying anything revolutionary.

  7. Unfortunatly my English is too much poor for a complete response to some comments that I’ve read, but really I can’t believe what I’m reading..
    People can’t talk of the Church as if we were talking of a State or an NGO..
    Obviously we need authoritative decision making in the Church, we can’t resolve our conflicts by voting on “controversial issues”.. as it’s done in secularistic democracies..
    You can’t put to vote your faith!!
    Also if the Church becomes the fac-simile of Society (even if on different topics) obviously everyone will turn on the “original” and not on his “copy”.
    Look at the “church” of England..
    It is necessary for the Church to have a clear, coherent message to bring to people..
    Jesus has said clearly: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more comes from the evil one.”
    – Is the Pope in A.L. speaking like Jesus has commanded his disciples to do?
    – Why the Pope on some issues is very clear (capitalism, ecology, immigration) but he’s not on many others?
    – Why the Pope responds to questions from secular media and not respond to his own Cardinals?
    – Why the Pope after having sacked Cardinal Burke mercilessly now has put him back in place?
    Another strategy? or maybe he begins to have some scruples in his conscience?
    I have 24 years old, I love Christ and the Church. I was seriously discerning the calling to the priesthood, but since i have noticed so much division and secularization within the Church I believed was better to stop.
    I don’t want to join people not convinced of their faith in Christ..
    For relativism, division, or conflict the Church is not necessary, this society is already sufficient for me.

  8. The letter says that “compassion and not the law shall have the last word.”
    May I ask what this means?
    Does it mean that the law of God is inadequate and should sometimes be put aside?
    As a general concept I understand that idea that the authorities might, in accordance with law, return my stolen car to me, but should, in “compassion” let the thief retain it. Is that what the authors meant?
    Perhaps the aim of the phrase is to indicate that God is always ready to forgive the repentant sinner. If so, why not say so?

    1. The best way to work out what is meant is to read the original document, Amores Laetitia, – all of it, not just the footnotes or sections cherry-picked by commentators with an axe to grind. It is fairly lengthy but easy reading.

      1. Well yes, and thank you. I don’t like to rush these things and reckon that it is best to leave it a bit, like wine, before opening. The suggestion that the law of God should be set aside is troubling and ought to be dealt with by a simple “no” as Gino above suggests. Does compassion for a young lady permit her to have her child killed? This is not tax law where a convenient relief can be pulled from another context by a clever accountant. So the phrase troubles me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.