Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

America’s real Catholic dissidents

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 16, 2022

In an excellent Catholic Thing post, Stephen White observes that Pope Francis “seems to be operating on an idea of the Church in the United States which bears little resemblance to the reality of Catholic life in the US.”

The Pope and his key advisers have often spoken about the US in terms that suggest an unbalanced—at times even cartoonish—understanding of American affairs. This week, for instance, the Pope complained about the influence of the many “restorationist” groups in the American Catholic Church. As White points out, anyone who knows the American scene at all well realizes that these groups are few in number and in influence.

Meanwhile, the genuinely “restorationist” Catholics are dwarfed—in numbers and influence—by millions of other Catholics (many in positions of influence both in and outside of the Church) who reject the actual texts of the Council and the interpretation given it by Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and depending on the issue, Pope Francis.

So should we conclude that Pope Francis is badly misinformed about the state of American Catholicism? Maybe. But in his penultimate paragraph, White asks a tougher question.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jun. 21, 2022 3:48 PM ET USA

    What concerns me is PFs comment about people holding on to dead traditions hinting at the Latin Mass. Is that what he sees when he looks at St. Peter's? The art, architecture and music were designed specifically for its celebration in that basilica. Makes me uneasy about the future of the place.

  • Posted by: ewaughok - Jun. 20, 2022 1:01 PM ET USA

    Umm…. I looked it up… here’s the question our author refers to in his ultimate paragraph: “Or is it possible that Pope Francis sees as “restorationist” the tens of millions of American Catholics (including the overwhelming majority of priests, and every single American bishop) who has received the Council in fidelity to the papal magisterium of Francis’ own predecessors?”

  • Posted by: crazylikeknoxes3387 - Jun. 16, 2022 4:55 PM ET USA

    From the penultimate para.: "every single American bishop *** has received the Council in fidelity to the papal magisterium of Francis’ own predecessors." Really? And what does Pope Francis mean that "in some contexts the Council has not yet been accepted"? Is that the reason for his treatment of religious orders, the Latin Mass, the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Knights of Malta, et al.? Others can quibble about the Council, I would like faith in the Real Presence, inter alia, restored.