The O'Regan article makes the assertion that those who would offer correction to the Pope on seemingly heretical positions he would seem to have taken during his pontificate are - by virtue of having objected to the teaching of Francis - dissenters of a nefarious kind. Several Church documents are put forward as evidence of this. We are seeing the beginning of the cementing of opposition to the filial correction from the Vatican insiders in the Francis camp.
In particular - and I believe this is what we can now call the Stephen Walford approach - they draw upon the Catechism - yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church no less - to define the role of the Supreme Pontiff and the special assistance he is granted. Mr Walford is obsessed with the 'special assistance' given to each and every Pope. So much so that he holds that a Pope cannot resist, unlike the rest of the human race, God's grace or gifts, but that even if a Pope resisted each and every Catholic truth before his election, upon his election he is summarily raped by the Holy Ghost into submission.
Thus it is truthfully asserted:
Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent” which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it. (CCC 892)
I would suggest that - assuming Francis is the Pope - that divine assistance is given to him in a particular way. Can divine assistance be refused? The answer must be yes. If Francis has no intention of teaching the Faith (nothing suggests he did so as a Cardinal) then he is not constrained by the Holy Ghost to do so against his will. This would make a mockery not only of Catholic belief concerning the Papacy, but Catholic teaching on free will, the kind of free will that enabled the Blessed Virgin Mary to say yes to bearing the Son of God at the Annunciation, even though she was 'full of grace'. Unfortunately, the author of the article does not wish to contemplate the possibility of a Pope who refuses to act as Successor of St Peter, but rather as a Pope with no predecessors, one who would desist from his calling as Vicar of Christ in order to become Vicar of only himself.
Donum Vertitatis is also drawn upon to enlist help for the cause of defending the Pope against charges that he has taken heretical positions in his teaching Office. This document was, of course, written by one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was at the CDF. Thus it is truthfully asserted:
One must therefore take into account the proper character of every exercise of the Magisterium, considering the extent to which its authority is engaged. It is also to be borne in mind that all acts of the Magisterium derive from the same source, that is, from Christ who desires that His People walk in the entire truth. For this same reason, magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful. (Donum Veritatis 17)
The writer then draws upon a special "dispensation" granted to theologians to withhold private assent from religious truths to point out to the Church any inconsistencies or problems with the Church's teachings. Really? The author asserts this but is it true?
In the CDF document Donum Veritatis, a special dispensation is given for trained theologians to withhold their religious assent from certain aspects of the Ordinary Magisterium they perceive to be potentially problematic, so that they can bring their findings and objections before the Magisterium for study and reflection. However, Donum Veritatis states that such non-assent should always be conducted privately, so as not to lead the faithful into confusion, and any dissenting theologians are instructed to avoid presenting their objections before the mass media.
Two points are raised here since the article clearly is:
a) an attack on those who would point out grievous errors that are being promoted during this pontificate alone, not a previous pontificate, not the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, but on the problematic expressions and omissions of one Pope.
b) a clumsy defence of the right to theologians to withhold private assent from religious truths for the purpose of religious enquiry.
Indeed, the tone of the article sounds like a great way to get liberal theologians (let alone doctrinally ambiguous Popes) who do not given their assent to divinely revealed truths to be let off the hook entirely. This is not what the document says. Here is what the Cardinal Ratzinger wrote but which the author has omitted because it does not serve the agenda of the Omega-Pope.
The theologian's code of conduct, which obviously has its origin in the service of the Word of God, is here reinforced by the commitment the theologian assumes in accepting his office, making the profession of faith, and taking the oath of fidelity.(21)
From this moment on, the theologian is officially charged with the task of presenting and illustrating the doctrine of the faith in its integrity and with full accuracy.
23. When the Magisterium of the Church makes an infallible pronouncement and solemnly declares that a teaching is found in Revelation, the assent called for is that of theological faith. This kind of adherence is to be given even to the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium when it proposes for belief a teaching of faith as divinely revealed.
When the Magisterium proposes "in a definitive way" truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held. (22)
When the Magisterium, not intending to act "definitively", teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.(23) This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.
24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.
Finally, Cardinal Ratzinger applies a concession to those theologians who would wish to make enquiry on certain subjects, we can presume, not those divinely revealed truths found in the Church's tradition and scripture.
When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. In fact, the theologian, who cannot pursue his discipline well without a certain competence in history, is aware of the filtering which occurs with the passage of time. This is not to be understood in the sense of a relativization of the tenets of the faith. The theologian knows that some judgments of the Magisterium could be justified at the time in which they were made, because while the pronouncements contained true assertions and others which were not sure, both types were inextricably connected. Only time has permitted discernment and, after deeper study, the attainment of true doctrinal progress.
Now, I doubt very much that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was thinking that his own document would be used against those 'theologians' (are they really all theologians?) who, in defending the Church's teachings, must include within that defence an admonition or rebuke of a Pope who refuses to do the same, but who, taking his advice from theologians who do not give their assent to divinely revealed truths, basically makes it up as he goes along. This would in fact be an anti-Ratzinger position because Joseph Ratzinger was always interested in clear doctrine supported by the Church's tradition and the infallible rule of faith to be found in the Church's Magisterium. He was also interested in emphasising the limits on the Pope's power over doctrine and the Church's creed and stressed that the Pope himself is bound to obedience to the Word of God, Jesus Christ.
Readers, what we are seeing here is a brazen propaganda campaign which involves the manipulation of Church documents to point the finger at those who would defend the Magisterium of the Catholic Church - ironically, that which finds its most accessible expression in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Yes, this process even uses to that same Catechism to back it up. Thus it is truly Orwellian! It omits that in defending the right doctrines of the Catholic Church it has become necessary to draw attention to deficiencies in the Popes own teaching because they do not happily align with the teachings even of Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, let alone St Paul and the Church Fathers and Francis's predecessors.
Ultimately, the question is in this insane period of the Church is the same one in different forms:
Is the Supreme Pontiff bound to obedience to Jesus Christ or not? I answer yes. How do you answer?
Is the Pope subject to the Word of God or not? I answer yes. How do you answer?
Is he bound to uphold all that each and every Catholic must hold to attain salvation or not? I answer yes. How do you answer?
Is the Pope a super-Catholic for whom the necessity to believe divinely revealed truths is abrogated by virtue of his Office? I answer no. How do you answer?
And if he behaves as if he is above even Christ, can he be corrected by anyone beneath him in rank? I answer yes, for the express purpose of the defence and salvation of souls. How do you answer?