Pope Francis and ‘mixed messages’


Sir , – Maureen Dowd’s article “American nuns at rough end of Pope Francis’s mixed messages” (World, May 12th) raises a critical question on the direction the Catholic Church is taking under his papacy.

His publication Evangelium Gaudium and its inspiring content are at odds with what continues to emanate from the Vatican, especially from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is not the case that Pope Francis is unaware of the continued hard-line position being adopted by this doctrinal watchdog.

Although he inherited the well-known hardliner Archbishop Gerhard Müller as its boss, nevertheless he reappointed him and promoted him to cardinal, the highest position apart from pope in the Catholic Church .

As Ms Dowd has written, Cardinal Müller has once again harangued the organisation representing over 80 per cent of American religious sisters and has demanded that a US archbishop must be allowed to supervise all their work and even attend their meetings as they are under suspicion of “positive errors of doctrine”.

We have learned that Cardinal Müller has effectively silenced an internationally known Jesuit theologian from India, Fr Michael Amaldoss, and forbidden him from giving lectures and publishing until this Jesuit has “reworked” his most famous work The Asian Jesus. This effective silencing of Fr Amaldoss must certainly have the approval of his fellow Jesuit , Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has now signed a decree recognising a miracle attributed to a recent predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and has announced that this pope responsible for the ban on artificial contraception in the Catholic Church will be beatified on October 19th of this year .

This proposed beatification means, inter alia, that Pope Francis is officially endorsing this infamous ban on artificial contraception.

Pope Francis must not only be judged by his cool gestures and inspiring rhetoric but also by what he is doing or allowing to be done in his name, especially in the continuation of the doctrinal hardline approaches of his predecessors. – Yours, etc,


The Moorings,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – Maureen Dowd contrasts the “liberal” St John XXIII and the “conservative” St John Paul II. This distinction between the two popes is now so well established as to be unquestioned; and yet questioned it must be.

On the one hand, one cannot think of any sense in which St John XXIII was a liberal – if, that is, what is meant by liberal is a person holding progressivist and relativistic opinions. The innovations that some Catholics wish to see introduced into the church were never espoused by St John XXIII.

On the other hand, it is possible to think of gestures made by St John Paul II – for example, his visits to Anglican and Lutheran cathedrals and to a synagogue – which were never even contemplated by his predecessor. – Yours, etc,


Ulidia House,


Sir, – Maureen Dowd takes Pope Francis to task over the censure of American nuns who, according to her, are “inspired by Vatican II” and are prevented from “caring for the sick” in order to “parrot church teaching”. 

I would have thought it was totally acceptable that nuns, who wish to remain in the church, would at at least be willing to promote its teaching.

It is no harm to state that Catholics accept the pope as the successor of Peter appointed by Jesus to continue His ministry.  

It is surprising that Ms Dowd does not see that promoting the images of God as “father, lord and king” is basic Catholic teaching. It never ceases to amaze me that so many religious wish to remain in the church while undermining so much of what it teaches.       

I don’t know what “gospel-infused spirit” the nuns are allegedly being punished for but it is not for following the teaching of the church.  

Catholicism is freely chosen by those who wish to follow Jesus under the leadership of the pope. 

However, so many dissidents, so welcomed by the secular media, seem to wish to transform the church into their own image and likeness. For myself, as an adult I freely choose membership and am aware that if decide I cannot accept its teaching, I am free to leave, but I do not think I have the right to undermine the faith of those who wish to remain.  – Yours, etc,



Donegal Town.

Sir, – Maureen Dowd’s article on Vatican ambiguity makes for very interesting reading. Like most people, I think Pope Francis has made huge steps in giving the Catholic Church back to the ordinary people. His focus on the poor is a clear statement of intent. Therefore we might be better to take a pragmatic approach and allow more time for a truly inclusive discipleship that we would be witness to. On the other hand, Jesus did it in three years – why is the Vatican taking so long? – Yours, etc,


Manor Street,

Dublin 7.