What does the Church Teach?
Q. May lay people manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and also make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful?
A. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 907:
“In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.” – [CIC, can. 212 § 3.]
Thus according to the Code of Canon Law this right and even at times duty is an obligation and right belonging to all the Christian Faithful and from the Catechism of the Catholic Church it also what comes with participation in Christ’s prophetic office.
“Papal Response” to ChurchMilitant.com’s ‘Public Criticism of the Pope’
Q. How has the Pope responded to public criticism?
A1. When Pope Francis called Mario Palmaro, who had criticized him, the late writer recounted that Pope Francis had during the call responded by saying that he
“understood that the critics had been moved by love for the Pope.”
A2. Recently in the letter Pope Francis sent to Antonio Socci after receiving the latter’s book, the Pope wrote:
In reality, also criticism helps us to walk on the righteous path of the Lord.
In their article “The Pope Himself Says: Your Criticism is Good for Me” – And What will the Post-Synod Document Say? RORATE CÆLI provides a translated commentary by Roberto de Mattei on the pope’s words:
These few lines demolish a certain “papalotry” widespread in conservative circles. The Pontiff states that criticizing the Pope is not only licit but can “be very good” for the Pope himself, by helping him to “walk on the righteous path of the Lord”. With the term papolatry, we mean undue divinization of the Pope’s figure, which is very different from the veneration and devout respect we owe him for the office he holds. Frankness, also in criticizing, notes Socci, may be of help to the Bishop of Rome, “particularly when the prevailing mentality exaggerates with adulation” (p.92). The great Dominican theologian Melchoir Cano states: “Peter has no need of our lies or adulation. Those who blindly, indiscriminately defend every decision by the Supreme Pontiff are those who undermine most the authority of the Holy See: instead of reinforcing its foundations, they destroy them”.
Concluding, I see ChurchMilitant.com’s mistaken position on ‘Public Criticism of the Pope’ as shirking from their right and obligation as indicated by Church teaching, a failure to participate in Christ’s prophetic office, and a missed opportunity to do something for Pope Francis that according to the pope himself, may help him.