The Catholic papacy is an ecclesiastical office as old as the Catholic Church itself; however, as the present world has witnessed with the shift in power from Benedict XVI to Francis upon the former’s resignation in 2013. The advocation for certain social movements by Pope Francis is certainly unique, and there is no doubt about it that the heart of the pope is in a compassionate place.
A common misunderstanding regarding the nature of the papal office is that the pope as a person is wholly infallible and incapable of saying or teaching anything that could ever be construed as wrong according to Catholic teaching. This is false, as the doctrine of papal infallibility preserves the Petrine see from error regarding faith and morals whenever the presiding bishop of Rome declares a statement ex cathedra. Ex cathedra is the full employment of the papal office’s authority, and is Latin for literally, “from the chair,” referring to the chair of St. Peter, the rock upon which the Catholic Church claims to be built.
In the history of the papal office, there have been approximately 30 antipopes whom are considered illegitimate rulers with false claims to the papacy. Even two valid popes, Honorious I and John XXII, embraced heresy during their time on the Petrine throne (read more here). It is integral to the papal office that the world understands that even popes are human. And as humans, they are not exempt from recieving criticism from their ideological opponents.
4Chan is an anonymous imageboard where nearly 18 million people communicate each other on a frequent basis. One of the platform’s most popular forums is /pol/, which is short for “Poliltically Incorrect.” In an extremely populer post, one user – presumably a Catholic – openly criticizes Pope Francis on the issue of mass immigration.
“Pro-Tip: It’s not what the Jewish tagline or (((Pope Francis))) claims it is. In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas was careful to divide relationships with foreigners into two categories: peaceful, and hostile. Among peaceful relationships, he identified three types of encounter which the Jews might have with foreigners who entered their lands:
“Sometimes, foreigners simply passed through their land as travelers; foreigners came to dwell in their land as newcomers. In Exodus 22:21 and again in Exodus 22:9, the Law protected the rights of newcomers, warning, “Thou shalt not molest a stranger,” and when any foreigner wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. In this instance, the newcomer was not to be automatically admitted to citizenship. Immigrants from some countries were not to be admitted to citizenship for two or three generations.
“‘The reason for this,’ Aquinas wrote, ‘was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.'”
Citing the famous medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, an anonymomus user makes the argument that Pope Francis’s application of Catholic social teaching into the realm of mass immigration is both ill-informed and dishonest.
The quotation by Aquinas provided is taken from the saint’s expansive Summa Theologiae (I-II,Q. 105, Art. 5). The holy scholar goes on to write:
“For… [the Law] prescribed the removal of whatever might prove an obstacle to the fight, and that certain men, who might be in the way, should be sent home.”
Clearly, Aquinas consented to the physical removal of certain non-indigeneous populations, given that such a population causes domestic issues. The Catholic thinker also made it clear that cultural assimilation is vital to proper full integration of a foreigner in his or her new country of residence.
Pope Francis has continuously denounced anti-immigration policies and supporters of closed border legislation, arguing that the “fear of immigration” by indigeneous populations is “fueled” by sin. Additionally, Pope Francis called upon the first-world to ” open themselves without prejudice to their rich diversity [of migrants and refugees], to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.”
In conclusion, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the bishop of Rome as a Catholic. The apostle Paul rebuked St. Peter directly to his face in front of a crowd of Jews and Gentiles in New Testament, concerning a matter related to both theology and practice (Gal. 2:11). Aquinas explains in his commentary on the passage that Paul did not rebuke Peter “in secret as though detracting and fearing him, but publicly…. This he did, because [Peter] was to be blamed.”