Politics Trumps Theology in Filial Correction Response

One Peter Five: Politics Trumps Theology in Filial Correction Response

What if a man, a man of eminence and of great and well-credentialed education, a man of authority, a priest, even, a man who has the ear of the Pope, told you that sometimes 2 + 2 = 5? Would this man by virtue of his lofty position be correct?

What if a small child, a wretch with no virtue of schooling, a unkempt waif, told the great man, “No, sir. 2 + 2 always equals 4, even for God, who cannot change Truth”?

Hold on! What’s this untutored child doing? Doesn’t she realize her error? She has no authority to offer a correction! Why should we listen to a kid?

Here comes Massimo Faggioli, a professor at Villanova University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, to help us. He says the child represents a “tiny, extreme fringe of the opposition to” to our great man. The child “is clearly not a cardinal or bishop with formal standing in the Catholic Church.”

David Gibson, who is director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, agrees. He says the child’s attempt at a correction is “akin to an online petition”. He also says, “It’s a great headline anytime a priest is accused of error. But these kids are really, kind of, the usual suspects of really far right types who have been upset with not only this priest, but other priests in recent years.”

Even the New York Times—the New York Times!—reminds us the child is not a cardinal. And therefore her criticism is of no consequence.

We can only conclude that because our child is not an authority, and has no right to offer a correction, she is wrong. 2 + 2 does not always equal 4. It sometimes, as the priest Antonio Spadaro (for that is his name) said, can be 5, or 3, or any number he likes. The actual figure doesn’t count as long as, presumably, the solution is merciful.


If that argument makes sense to you, as it does to folks like Faggioli and Gibson and the others who are carping from the sidelines about qualifications of those who offered the Filial Correction, then you have succumbed to the idea that the Church is really about politics. That all battles are power plays, in which the side with the superior numbers or shiftier political abilities will, and should, win.

The quotes above are real, changed only slightly to shift the emphasis from the accusations of heresy for some of Pope Francis’s statements, to our imaginary child. Faggioli and Gibson are far from alone. The Twitter spokesperson for Hope & Life Press said to the Filial Correction signers scolded “You have zero authority to issue any correction whatsoever.”

You know what to do.


There have been some amusing follow ups. Somebody at the Vatican thought it would be cute to block part of the Correction website.

While the correctiofilialis.org homepage was not blocked, reports claimed, attempts to access the sign-up form redirected to a page that read: “Access to the webpage you are trying to visit has been blocked in accord with institutional security policies.”

The Vatican has denied the claims, saying that some of the computers available for journalists and authorized personnel in the Vatican press office have filters that regulate navigation…

One of these filters, Burke explained, blocks pages “that request personal information, in order to avoid unwanted operations.”

This is why, on some of the computers in the press office, one can visit the www.correctiofilialis.org homepage and navigate within it, but not sign the correction, because “the form requires personal information.”

“The same filters are not present everywhere in the Vatican, one curial official told LifeSiteNews…” Imagine how embarrassing it would be to the Vatican if somebody inside its walls signed their name to the Correction. See? Politics, not theology.

According to a lead author, not Cardinals were included on purpose.


  1. slumord

    You know, the filial correction is all good and well but I’m wondering if there is something to Francis that we’re all missing. It’s always assumed by the Trads that things will be fine if we double down on the past and wait for the storm to blow over. The thing is, the more I look at this problem the more convinced I am that the Trads are part of the problem. Sure, the Liberal church is nuts but I’m beginning to think, that while maybe God is not keen on the Liberals he may not be all that keen on the Trads.

    I sometimes wonder if God let the Reformation happen because the Catholic Church was too obstinate to change.

  2. Oldavid

    Curious that the 2+2=4 thingo is regarded as self-evident to even a child and doesn’t require the approbation of pompous authoritarians (as is entirely reasonable) but the glib assertions of the same pompous authoritarians that Nothing multiplied by Chance = Everything is profound wisdom.

    Anyone that can keep redefining Nothing and Chance and Multiplication and Everything to make their equation seem to work should have no compunction at redefining Two and Plus and Equals to get whatever result they want. That’s theoretical mathematics and physics and philosophy.

    I’m going to throw in my lot with the “little girl”.

  3. Oldavid

    @ slumord
    “I sometimes wonder if God let the Reformation happen because the Catholic Church was too obstinate to change.”

    Too obstinate to change what, slumord?

  4. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()

    I remember when Laticia [sic] first came out and the MSM was enamored of it.

    Then various apologists (EWTN) told us that the press was wrong and Laticia didn’t mean that at all (it meant what it should have meant).

    Given the reaction to “the correction”, it sounds like the MSM had it right all along

    Just one of many reasons … (intentionally incomplete train of thought)

  5. Sheri

    Death of a church in slow motion. When you lose your morality and sell out to Satan, the church dies.

  6. Ken

    Fr. Spadaro tweeted: “Theology is not #Mathematics. 2+2 in #Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with #God and real #life of #people…”

    I don’t know what Fr. Spadaro was driving at there or if he was using that to make a selective point, but his point can reasonably be interpreted broadly:

    “Rev. Antonio Spadaro’s central claim is that whereas in mathematics two and two always make four, such is not necessarily the case in theology. While Spadaro does not explain his position in more detail the obvious conclusion to draw is that one cannot reach the same kind of certainty in theological questions as one can in mathematics. He seems to imply that whereas mathematics is an objective science in which there is always a right and a wrong answer, theology is more subjective and its conclusions need not be regarded as always true or false.”
    (from: https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/2-2-can-make-5-papal-confidante-denies-the-certainty-of-catholic-faith)

    Everything in the above quote (meant as critical of Spadaro) is true except for the last part (“…and its conclusions…”).

    Basically, we don’t seem to know exactly what Spadaro meant, if the remark is general or aimed to support a specific position. Without certainty one ought not assume.

    But believers can be sure of one thing: If God made the rules he can change them.

    Like He’s said to have done with Moses holding up his hands, or having his hands supported and solely because of this winning in battle against the Amalekites, which they’d have lost if Moses hands dropped (as they were losing in battle when his hands were down).

    Joshua’s troops leveled a fortified city’s walls with music.

    The sun similarly stopped (Earth’s rotation stopped?) for Joshua to defeat other enemies.

    All of those things make no logical sense — metaphorically they are examples of 2 + 2 equaling 5 — but were made possible [per believers] via God. Just like Fr. Spadaro tweeted.

    Then there’s other constraints such as “do not kill” or more precisely “do not murder” — If one observes one killing another, knowing nothing of the motives or other extenuating circumstances, such an act might appear to be a ‘cut-n-dry’ case of murder (“2 + 2 = 4′ … = ‘guilty’). But we seldom know all the relevant facts — and in theology key facts reside in another’s (and/or onself’s) “heart” just as extenuating circumstances often reside just beyond one’s easy perception. Example: Thieves on the adjacent crosses — the story goes both were equally guilty, but one was ‘saved’ because of what was in his “heart.” Any of us, unaware of that key fact, with our awareness limited to only the overt basic facts, might later encounter that one in Heaven and conclude that there 2 + 2 somehow came out as “5” — why wasn’t he in Hell with the other one?

    Of course, if one is limited to arguing in simple literalism, then things look differently. But such a literal way of examining things theological makes little sense relative to themes Biblical as that much of the Bible’s language is allegory, and the bulk of Jesus’ teachings, parables, are allegory/metaphor. And anyone that’s actually read the Bible knows, or should, that it’s chock-full of basic directives and precepts (aka of the sort that appear like “2 + 2 = 4”) but enough are nuanced such that conclusions of the “2 + 2 = 5” sort are readily observed (especially when comparing limits between two or more parables).

    When someone presents a viewpoint, or lesson, in the language of metaphor or allegory, refuting it in the language of literal interpretation is itself false and illogical. It’s one thing to do that honestly and quite another to knowingly apply that as a tactic.

  7. Ken, you might distinguish between what makes logical sense, and what goes against what we know empirically. The sun stopping in mid-day is certainly not prohibited by the laws of logic, although it violates all we know scientifically of the world. And as with the walls of Jericho falling down when the trumpets played–no violation of logic, but certainly not in accord with how “we think” the world works.
    This is the point I think Matt was trying to make–theology may not be mathematics, but you can’t assume that what is true about the Deity is one thing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, something else on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and still another thing on Sunday.

  8. Joy

    Those with previous will be the ones doing the bugging and the snooping. You don’t need to look so far away for that.

  9. Joy

    I’m with Slumord and the little girl.
    The Vatican has problems but so do the ‘trans’, Big ones but nothing that will not be solved. The truth prevails.
    The Bible’s New Testament Gospels hold the Answers to these theological questions.
    Not men in frocks or men jumping themselves up as lay preachers.
    Read the bible and find the truth.
    “all things are possible with God”.

  10. Joy

    Now then, I definitely wrote “traDs”, so which Don’s on duty this evening?

  11. Joy

    1 Corinthians Chapter ! 10.
    Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
    For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
    Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
    Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
    I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
    Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
    And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
    For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
    For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
    Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
    For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
    For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

  12. Oldavid

    There’s nothing like rampant Bible Bashers to make Christianity seem like just another esoteric daydream.

    Fact is, Christianity is not a product of the Bible; the Bible is a product of Christianity.

    The very definition of a miracle is some event that does not occur according to the natural order, i.e. some localised suspension of, or overriding of, the natural order; often with conditions attached. No natural order: no miracles.

    Miracles of the Sun are a great example. They are not examples of God’s arbitrariness or indecision, they are examples of localised disruption of the natural order. Joshua’s Sun does not mean that the entire Solar System was stopped in its tracks… perhaps the people of Jericho had their perception of time altered so that the activities of a whole day were compressed into a few minutes.

    Or the miracle of the Sun at Fatima; much more recent and better documented. If the Sun did fly around in the sky and plunge toward Earth the whole Solar System would fly apart… but the spectacle was seen, with diminishing intensity, by people who weren’t even there… up to about 30 miles away. Even the instant clearing of the rain and drying of clothes would be remarkable enough without the sky show.

    Not only politics but also scoffing trumps theology and candid observation.

  13. Oledavid, although I disagree with much of what you say, I hope I didn’t give the impression in my previous comment that I doubt the possibility of miracles, i.e events that seem (that should be boldface) to contradict the natural order. I agree with you–there may be ways to explain the miracles at Fatima and Joshua’s battle that have more to do with perception than with physics, but we don’t understand those ways, which why these things are miracles.

  14. Oldavid

    Fair enough, Bob.

    However, I think it can be inferred from my comments that something is not a miracle because it is not understood but that it is something outside the natural order.

    There are many things in the natural order that are not understood. Gravity, for instance; we can know with great certainty that it exists and what it does but no one knows how it does it. (Einstein’s speculation about space time curvature has more holes than a colander).

    In order to be able to recognise a miracle one must have at least an intuitive knowledge of what can happen according to the natural order. Even Voodooists rely on some constancy and predictability in nature while they proclaim that everything is manipulable by magic.

  15. Oledavid, as I said, I disagree with a lot you say, for example, your statement about General Relativity. In science when one says one “understands” something, one means that one has a theory that can be used to predict numerically the results of experiments or observations. In the conventional sense of “understand”, Feynman’s remark that no one understands quantum mechanics is true, because there’s no everyday interpretation that matches it. In the sense that you can use quantum mechanics to make predictions accurate to the 10th decimal place, we understand it. In the same sense we understand General Relativity–the predictions made about the advance in the perhelion of mercury, the slowing down of Mossbauer radiation travelling up three stories (Pound’s experiment), the LIGO gravitational wave detection. So I really don’t understand your remark that Einstein’s General Relativity theory has a “lot of holes”. Could you enlarge on that?

  16. Joy

    I don’t claim the only truth which exists is in the bible. Just that the most important truth is written in the New Testament. Science, history, and a long list of other disciplines as well as experience and personal revelation all contribute. There is an ever present distinction between the law and the Truth, from Jesus, which is The Word of God. This conflict is discussed and demonstrated by Jesus in his words.

    Given that Jesus’s word isn’t disputed, it’s origin and president then makes no difference. The preceding Hebrew text is included in large part demonstrates that the prophecies are fulfilled amongst many other things. It is fruitless debating the known differences in Christian denominations if the intent is political.

    Sir Thomas Moore Was rewarded by being made patron saint of politicians! He put people on the rack for owning a bible in English. If the information is jealously guarded and controlled the Truth is made occult, hidden. This may be okay for matters of national security or state secrets or perhaps any other secret you like, but clearly wrong for the word of God.

    Frets of misinterpretation and abuse of the text are overplayed. It exists for every denomination and is also covered in the bible quite clearly.

    Collosians 2
    “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

    JOHN 10; 28
    And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

  17. Joy

    Bob K RE miracles and the shroud:
    I thought if you didn’t already see this that it would be interesting. I was thrilled to see this and have to eat humble pie. Astonishing.

    Why hasn’t the BBC put this on?

  18. Oldavid

    @ Bob
    “I really don’t understand your remark that Einstein’s General Relativity theory has a “lot of holes”. Could you enlarge on that?”

    That would be way beyond the scope and purpose of this blog. You’ll have to do your own homework.

    Since you have demonstrated an almost limitless capacity to uncritically accept whatever the “Establishment” proposes I suggest you start here:

    I don’t necessarily accept everything this bod says but he provides some useful general principles and background information. I can provide more technical leads on more particular aspects if you can’t find them yourself.

    Scientism sure ain’t what it’s cracked up to be in the popular media.

  19. Oldavid

    Joy, it’s not about the word; it’s about the interpretation of it.

    As John said “and many other things did Jesus say which, if they were written the whole world would not contain all the books”.

    I liken Scripture to the lecture notes taken in a weighty discourse. Someone who had not attended the lecture, or had the notes of some of the main points explained by a disciple of the lecturer, could draw some very wrong conclusions of what the lecture was about.

  20. Joy

    Although your point is in agreement and you make the same one about danger of misinterpretation, the danger is for all denominations of the christian Church.
    Only God knows which church and which heart is truest, bestist, if he even uses such measures or takes interest in those kinds of things.
    Other than personal revelation and life experience, the word is the closest you can be to hearing or experiencing God’s purpose and this is through the word of truth which is Jesus Christ and the holy spirit, which is the second comforter.
    Other things are not of no value, obviously.

  21. Oldavid

    Joy, you seem to imply that God is your servant.

    “Other than personal revelation and life experience, the word is the closest you can be to hearing or experiencing God’s purpose and this is through the word of truth which is Jesus Christ and the holy spirit, which is the second comforter.”

  22. Joy

    Oldavid, Jesus spoke about that, too. If you want to know about my faith or creed please see Christ charts Chorleywood Hertfordshire. I can’t credit those kinds of accusations as being genuinely held. Please read this and don’t get cross about it.
    John chapter 15:
    I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
    Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
    Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
    Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
    If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
    If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
    Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
    As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
    If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
    These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
    This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
    Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
    Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
    Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
    These things I command you, that ye love one another.
    If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
    If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
    Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
    But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
    If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
    He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
    If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
    But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
    But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
    And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

  23. Oldavid

    Joy, you need a proper, accurate translation explained (interpreted) by the disciples of the Apostles.

  24. Joy

    Your response doesn’t surprise me. The Truth doesn’t need an interpreter. Unless it is being spoken in a foreign language, hence the Pentecostal, seemingly strange occurrence of the speaking in tongues.

    If it requires guile and sophistry it is not truth.

    Guile and sophistry are tools which can be put to good or evil use. For goodness a knowledge of truth is vital. Ignorance of truth and reality will not help in a real world where you must interact with the world.
    Truth does not float separately in a secret lace except in a world of lies.
    I might need much but an interpreter of that chapter I do not.
    Sometimes, much of the time it is useful to hear from someone who knows or is expert on the bible and who can shed light on parts which appear trivial at first glance.
    I could say so much more but when what one writes is simply used as ammunition in a way which has nothing to do with God, it is fruitless.

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