Professor Rist: The Catholic Church Could Be Facing a Crisis Worse Than the Arian Controversy of the 4th Century

The recent suspension of an Italian priest for writing a scholarly critique of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia was a foolish and “wholly unjust” decision but one that underlines the depth of a crisis in the Church that could be worse than the Arian controversy, Professor John Rist has said.

Regarded as one of the Church’s finest living scholars of ancient philosophy, classics, and early Christian philosophy and theology, Rist believes the suspension in April of Father Tullio Rotondo would never have happened under a previous pontificate and put the decision partly down to an over-centralized papacy that has allowed “bad popes” to act lawlessly and with impunity.

Father Rotondo, who has a doctorate in theology and is the author of several books, remains suspended a divinis by his bishop, Mons. Camillo Cibotti of Isernia-Venafro, for writing Betrayal of Sound Doctrine Through Amoris Laetitia — How Pope Francis and Some of His Collaborators Are Spreading a Morality Contrary to the Deposit of Faith (the English translation can be read in its entirety online here).

According to its description, the book highlights “various errors that the Pope and some of his associates are spreading regarding the Sacrament of Confession, moral conscience, the moral law and the death penalty.” It also includes a weighty critique of some of the writings of the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández.

Professor Rist, who in 2019 was among 19 signatories of a letter to the world’s cardinals and bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy, said Father Rotondo’s suspension is symptomatic of a doctrinal crisis that he believes is “even more serious” than the Reformation.

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