The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church by Christopher Lamb. Orbis Books, Amazon £17.16

The OutsiderPravin Thevathasan writes for CF News –  “Tales from Shakespeare” was written in 1807 by Charles and Mary Lamb. While readable, much of the subtlety of Shakespeare is lost. Now another Lamb, Christopher, has written a work that, while reasonable in some respects, is lacking in nuance.

I have argued elsewhere that in our understanding of the papal magisterium, we need the subtlety of John Henry Newman: any version of papal fundamentalism needs to be avoided. By papal fundamentalism, I mean an approach which states that the words and deeds of the Holy Father need to be accepted without discrimination. In this view, anyone who disagrees with the pope is suspect. According to Christopher Lamb, there are those who love Pope Francis. Then there are the likes of EWTN and Cardinal Burke. The reality is not that simple: I, along, no doubt,  with Cardinal Burke and EWTN, love the pope. He is the Successor of Saint Peter and when he re-iterates the constant teaching of the Church on matters of faith and morals, we obey. We pray for him every day and we are not involved in any “guerrilla warfare” against him.

I have documented a number of concerns about the comments of Pope Francis previously.

But none of these concerns are an attack on the papal magisterium. We are neither schismatics nor sedevacantists. We do not belong to right wing nationalist movements. We are simply concerned Catholics.

Lamb appears to have a particular resentment of Cardinal Sarah. But why go after such a spiritual giant? Because, says Lamb, Sarah is busy creating a parallel authority to Francis. Lamb is unhappy with Sarah’s unbending defence of traditional Catholic teaching. Were he elected the next pope, it will be truly terrible: he might even be a new Pius XII !

Unlike John Paul, so the story goes here, Francis likes meeting poor people, doubtless with Italian peasant stock sounding names like DiCapprio, Bono and Angelina. Lamb appears not to be too concerned that so many politicians who claim to love Francis are virulently pro-abortion.

Lamb claims that the attacks on Francis have been unprecedented. There is a certain delicious irony here: Lamb works for The Tablet, a Catholic weekly that has been waging  war against the papal magisterium for decades.




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