Criticism

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From a Catholic Herald article, ‘Pope Francis: it is not a sin to criticise the Pope’, May 22, 2018: 1

Pope Francis has told the Italian bishops that it is “not a sin to criticise the Pope here” as he opened their General Assembly.

The Pope revealed three “worries” during his speech: the decline in vocations, financial scandals, and the reduction and merging of dioceses.

He encouraged the bishops to “speak openly”, urging them to tell him “all the words, your concerns, criticisms – it is not a sin to criticise the Pope here, yes, not a sin – and inspirations that you carry in your hearts.”

Pope Francis said he was especially concerned at the “haemorrhaging” of vocations to the priesthood and religious life in Italy, adding that “God only knows” how many seminaries and monasteries will have to close.

He blamed factors such as demographic changes, scandals in the Church and a “dictatorship of money” that dissuades young people from making life-long commitments.

Italy is experiencing a “crisis of vocations” in a region that was once the world’s biggest source of missionaries, and was now entering a “vocational sterility”.

“These are my concerns,” the Pope concluded. “They are points for reflection.”

Excerpt from a 2007 interview by PBS with Dallin H. Oaks, ‘Mormons’: 2

“It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.”

Excerpt from a February, 1987 Ensign article by Dallin H. Oaks, ‘Criticism’: 3

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

“‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)”

Excerpt from ‘The Lord’s Way’ by Dallin H. Oaks, Pub. 1991: 4

“Government or corporate officials, who are directly or indirectly elected or appointed by majority vote, must expect that their performance will be subject to critical and public evaluations by their constituents. That is part of the process of informing those who have the right and power of selection or removal. The same is true of popularly elected officers in professional, community, and other private organizations. I suppose the same is true of religious leaders who are selected by popular vote of members or their representative bodies. Consistent with gospel standards, these evaluations, though critical and public, should be constructive.

A different principle applies in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the selection of leaders if based on revelation, subject to the sustaining vote of members. In our system of church government, evil-speaking or criticism of leaders by members is always negative. As President George F. Richards of the Council of the Twelve said in a conference address in April 1947: “When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.” This is why the Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the Lord’s anointed or of church leaders, local or general. This is why we are commanded and counseled to refrain from criticism of church leaders. It is for our own spiritual well-being.

The Lord’s command to avoid criticism, faultfinding, and evil-speaking will never be welcome in a society where controversy is a popular form of entertainment, where opposition is institutionalized, and where personal criticism is commonplace. Some Latter-day Saints do not understand and accept the reality that the institution of “loyal opposition,” which serves a valuable purpose in a democracy governed by the majority, is a contradiction of terms when applied to a theocracy. Some also do not understand that the faultfinding is spiritually destructive to those who engage in it, and that members who engage in personal criticism of church leaders isolate themselves from the Spirit of the Lord. There are ways to differ with the church leaders, but they are the Lord’s ways, not the world’s ways.”

References   [ + ]

1. Pope Francis: it is not a sin to criticise the Pope – http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/pope-francis-it-is-not-a-sin-to-criticise-the-pope/
2. Dallin H. Oaks as featured on PBS Mormons 2007 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxyiHLg59ks
3. Criticism – https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng
4. ‘The Lord’s Way’ by Dallin H. Oaks, Pub. 1991 – https://deseretbook.com/p/lords-way-dallin-h-oaks-2997?variant_id=108461-paperback