Thursday, December 27, 2018

Twitter Poll Result: Majority of Traditionalist Catholics Not Certain Francis is Pope

Okay, the post title sounds a bit like it's from the Onion.

I suppose I could have titled it "Twitter Poll result: Water is Wet."

But still.

The majority of traditionalist Catholics either do not believe Francis is the pope, are uncertain if he is, or are unwilling to commit to saying so.

Or so say two silly Twitter polls I just did.

Yes, they're silly Twitter polls and only silly Twitter polls. They feature, respectively, 597 and 732 "votes" from my followers and those who received retweets from my followers, etc.

But I have no good reason reason to believe they inaccurately track the views of traditionalist Catholics as a whole.

What is a "traditionalist Catholic"? I suppose we might define it as the label for those who take seriously the traditional teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Since the Catholic religion is based on tradition - beginning with the "tradition" of the Old and New Testaments - one might be forgiven for saying it denotes those who take their Catholicism seriously.

I don't find the poll results shocking or surprising. I'm sure you don't either. Among other things it fits with the anecdotal evidence I've gathered from speaking with Catholic acquaintances, friends and fellow parishioners, both in person and online, over the past many months.

But looked at another way, the general fact is indeed a shock. Who would have predicted it, say, six years ago? While Vatican II and the pontificate of Paul VI did cause many thousands of Catholics to become (and remain) sedevacantists, sedevacantism has always been a decidedly "fringe" movement that, as far as I can tell, has essentially been frozen in numbers for many years.

That most serious Catholics have at the least doubts about the actual identity of the current pope, with a quarter to perhaps almost a half believing that the current apparent occupant of the chair is, to put it unsubtly, an imposter or anti-pope is of course unprecedented in modern times.

Some words about the voting sample: 

I assume most of my Twitter followers, or receivers of the retweets of my followers, fall into the "traditionalist" or "serious" categories. To the extent that some may not, it would only increase the "doubts about Francis" numbers among those who do - as one wouldn't expect many lukewarm or non-Catholics to vote "Benedict" or have doubts about the identity of the current pope, etc.

Do my Twitter followers (or those who receive the retweets of my Twitter followers, etc.) make up a diverse and relatively representative sample of traditionalist Catholics? Actually, I think they do. If you think it's all people who agree with me about everything, you haven't been reading my feed recently. 

But enough of the preliminaries. Here are the two poll questions and results:

December 24-25 (not the most optimum time for a Twitter poll, I admit, but still):
Who is currently the pope? (597 votes, total) 
Francis, 52%, 310 votes a. 
Benedict, 27%, 161 votes a. 
Someone else, 1%, 6 votes a. 
No one, 20%, 120 votes a.

This seemed to show a slight majority for Francis over the sum of the other alternatives, or a two-thirds majority if the "No one" category is removed.

As many pointed out, that poll did not include an option for, among other things, those who were unsure. Another twitter friend pointed out that the wording might have biased things a bit towards Francis in that before "pope" it did not include "true" or "actual", etc.

So I decided to do another poll, which only ended a few minutes ago:

December 26-27:
Who do you think is currently the true pope? (732 votes, total) 
Francis, 38%, 278 votes a. 
Benedict, 24%, 176 votes a. 
Not sure/not my call, 19%, 139 votes a. 
Other/the seat is vacant, 19%, 139 votes a.

I interpret the 14% fall off in Francis votes (and the only 3% fall off in Benedict votes) to indicate that a quarter or more of the original Francis total was "soft". Some voted "Francis" in the first poll because the options told them they had to commit to someone, but many were in fact unsure.

What would the poll results look like if we liberally (and almost certainly falsely) assume that all of the "no" and "other" votes were from classical sedevacantists - people who would have voted "the seat is vacant" in all polls for the last sixty years worth of popes? I ask this not to disenfranchise sedevacantists but to attempt to isolate the "Benedict/Francis" effect. The results would change somewhat. Francis gets a clear majority if one has to commit (Poll 1), but still fails to achieve one if one doesn't (Poll 2).

Poll 1:
Who is currently the pope? (471 votes, total) 
Francis, 66%, 310 votes a. 
Benedict, 34%, 161 votes a.
Poll 2:
Who do you think is currently the true pope? (593 votes, total) 
Francis, 47%, 278 votes a. 
Benedict, 30%, 176 votes a. 
Not sure/not my call, 23%, 139 votes a.
One could, if one wanted, make other methodological assumptions to whittle away the remaining slight "doubts about Francis" majority in the second poll. But what would be the point? It's clear that the Francis reign coupled with the bizarre circumstances of Benedict's exit and pope emeritus behavior - living within the Vatican, the white cassock and all the rest - have led to unprecedented doubts and uncertainty about the actual identity of the pope among serious Catholics, and it's reasonable to assume that such doubts and uncertainties will only grow.

Some have argued that the best attitude is to essentially punt on the question. It doesn't matter who is pope. We can't know. It's not up to us to say. And so on.

That, in and of itself, is of course damning. And who would have predicted it six years ago?

We don't merely have a bad pope. Not even merely a really bad pope. Something else is going on.

Or so most traditionalist Catholics now believe. At least according to our Twitter feed.


  1. The way I read the poll it looks like there are TWO Popes...

    1. If you take a look at Ann Barnhardt's latest post, which gives original cites from Ratzinger and his theological colleagues from the 1960's and 1970's, he clearly believed that the office and the ministry of the papacy could be divide, and that there could be two or even more people who were sharing being Peter at the same time.

      So clearly Ratzinger has had this in mind for decades; it is not some wistful construction of desperate Traditonalists.

    2. annas and caiaphas...all over again.....

  2. I found this article interesting but way too lengthy. I too sometimes attend the diocesan Tridentine mass in Chicago - St John Cantius. At any rate I haven't decided whether the gaucho is pope or not but I'm more inclined to believe that he's an anti pope.

    1. Re: "I found this article interesting but way too lengthy." Ha! I think you got that right, man. :)

  3. Bergoglio is either an antipope of the antichrist - or he's a pope of the antichrist.

    Our Lord said of False Teachers "by their fruits you will know them"

    He didn't say "Now you must wait for your intellectual superiors in the hierarchy to tell you who the false teachers are"

    And nowhere did He say that Hell wouldn't prevail against Peter (the Apostle he would soon after refer to as "Satan") - However Our Lord specifically said that Hell's Gates wouldn't prevail against His Church. And it would seem quite reasonable that Our Lord meant that distinction BECAUSE the Church was in fact built upon the WEAKEST of all the Apostles - and that Peter WOULD fail - but the Church would not.

    Chesterton pointed out this salient distinction quite beautifully in his aptly title book 'Heretics'

    "When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” ~ G.K.Chesterton

    To put it clearly: I think the First Vatican Council made a tremendous and elementary error in its doctrine of papal "infallibility". And that is readily apparent in the revisionist circular reasoning that is required to rationalize that doctrine with reality. And thus - the Devil has used that error and ran with it for over a century. And here we are.

  4. Very interesting and thought provoking. My view is that I have no idea what God is up to, and I dearly wish Bergoglio had never gotten near the See of Peter. But there he is, and whether he is truly Pope or not seems irrelevant so long as he holds the levers of power in the institutional Church. Therefore, I pray daily that he undergo a conversion of heart or be replaced by someone who actually believes what the Church has always taught.

  5. One of the results of not teaching like a Pope and not acting like a Pope is that people naturally begin to question if you are, in fact, the Pope.

    A lot of people (bishops included) did not like Pope Benedict XVI, but no one was going around suggesting that that he wasn't teaching the Apostolic Faith or that he wasn't Pope. This is not the case with Pope Francis.

    One of the rather orthodox circles that I travel in don't want to even have a discussion on the problems of this papacy -- as if somehow that creates divisions. They don't see how turning a blind eye to spiritual abuse by a priest is worse than how people turned a blind eye to the physical sexual abuse that priests were (are still) doing.

  6. 2nd Gonzalo. We go to SJC sister parish in Volo, IL.

  7. I was shown the door at 1P5 for daring to question the mighty Skojec's edict that Francis is definitely pope.

    1. Skojec is used to being the big brother and doesn't play nice with grown ups.

  8. Another trend affecting voting irregularities are people coming to believe the bifurcation was successful, and they are both pope. More and more people are coming out in comboxes saying, yeah so he transformed the papacy, so what, I'm cool with two popes. It's also worth noting that the poll at Saint Louis Catholic last year showed 78% thought Bergoglio not pope or not sure, a similar result to what you got. I think you probably have a higher percentage of non-Catholic readership than he does, given your primary focus. Speaking of which, get back to more blogging!

    1. Wow. People are saying that in the comboxes? That surprises me. You mean like at Patheos, etc.?

    2. In scholarly journals in Rome.

      Go figure. Didn't the secretary of the two popes say that himself? Why would it be surprising at all?

    3. I think many people are seeing the evidence for the first time, and making the mistake of believing a pope can do whatever he wants. Benedict says his papal acceptance is “always and forever”? Okey doke, then there must be two popes. Ganswein says how brilliant and novel and “completely unlike” anything that had ever been done before by “expanding” the Ministry. Okey doke, I guess there are two popes.

      People who are new to all this aren’t getting the perspective of what most of tradland has been experiencing on a daily basis for nearly six years now.

    4. Exactly, Mark.

      And 99% of the "educated" super smarty pants trads do the same.

      "If the pope says he resigned, well it must be true." That's about it for their arguments. It just dumbfounds me. The tradition on this is quite clear. Any number of errors and irregularities can invalidate and we have about five serious mega errors, each invalidating. Some are known, others not.

      For my part, I don't know why Benedict did it or what his true thought was. I'm not sure anyone does. But I have really no serious doubt that he's still pope.

  9. Traditionalist Catholics have no real other option than to assume that Pope Pius XII was the last valid Pope and that his death initiated a sedevacante timeframe which lasts until now.

  10. Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, wanting to transform the Peter's Office into a synodal two-headed hybrid, he dissolved - by virtue of power given to him [Mt 16, 19] by Jesus Christ - the same office on February 28, 2013 at 20:00 [CET], so no he may already be a Roman pope neither himself nor anyone else. The dissolution of the papacy does not mean that the gates of hell have overcome the Church [Mt 16, 18] that the Lord Jesus would not speak about the Roman Catholic church.
    By the act of February 11, 2013, B16 released the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (effective as of February 28, 2013). These Keys are the Apocalyptic Woman and the Paraclete; only now the Church will shine on the whole erth with full splendor. The best before us!

    The end of the papacy in Rome is precisely described in the Prophecy of Saint Malachi, archbishop of Armagh:

    Gloria Olivae - Benedict XVI; the glory/finial of the Roman Catholic church are two olive trees [Ap 11, 4], which will blossom only now at the end of times - the Paraclete and the Woman of the Apocalypse.

    In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit - this is the phenomenon of Jorge Bergoglio, the destroyer of the Roman Catholic church. Jorge Bergoglio, aside from the BXVI's dissolution of the papacy, as an apostate, could not be the vicar of Jesus Christ, and therefore Saint Malachi does not name his name among the Pontifex but only characterizes the effects of his actions.

    Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur & Iudex tremendus iudicabit populum suum. Finis.
    Saint Peter the Apostle was not a Roman (citizen of Rome). Peter the Roman is the Son of a Roman Catholic church (means a Roman) and is identical to a terrible Judge, the same as the Paraclete.

  11. A person who holds that five popes in a row were anti-popes can justly be called a "sedevacantist." Calling a person who believes there is solid evidence that Benedict is pope, and Bergoglio is not, a "sedevacantist" is absurd. He doesn't believe the See is vacant!

  12. I got busy and never saw the poll. The number of people who believe PB is still pope is impressive.
    The ability of PB to continue to live in the Vatican must be for purposes of controlling access to him. I can think of no other reason Bergolio would allow it. Old popes may talk too much, can't have that.
    The revelation of old discussions about dual papacy confirms it, dual papacy is valid in some minds. I leave it to experts as to if it is or not. Seems it is not.
    What about PB's claim he was told by God to step aside? I have a hard time seeing the stolid Ratzinger as someone who would have kooky ideas about the papacy, but find it really hard to imagine him saying he had a message from God and imagining he did not.
    yes, confusion reigns.

  13. A lot of us had these feelings during John Paul II.