After Papal Election, WashPost's 'On Faith' Gives Garry Wills Platform to Attack Papacy as 'Crime,' Priesthood As Monopoly

As we've documented time and again, the Washington Post's On Faith section is hostile to traditional religious faith. Section editor Sally Quinn failed to disappoint on St. Patrick's Day with her publication online of an excerpt from an interview with liberal Catholic author Garry Wills, who is promoting his new book, "Why Priests? A Failed Tradition."

Coming a mere four days after the election of Argentina's Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis, Quinn published a portion of her interview wherein Wills argued that the papacy was irrelevant and that the priesthood was an arrogant "monopolization" of power by the clergy.  On March 14, just one day after Pope Francis's election, Quinn published another excerpt of Wills which she entitled "The pope shouldn't be king," where she let Wills flesh out his thoughts on the papacy being a "crime":


“It’s the remnant of a medieval monarchy, and the idea that the church of Jesus should become a monarchy … you know when Pilate asks Jesus, ‘Are you a king?’ He says, ‘No, not of this earth. If I were a king I would have followers, and they would fight for me, but I’m not a king of this earth.’ The pope has been made into a king of this earth.

“As a matter of fact, when the Romans mocked Jesus, they crowned him as king. That kind of insulting thing is what Christians, in­cred­ibly, came to do themselves. They crowned the pope as king. And, of course, for centuries the king had armies, countries, spies, prisons, torturers, killed masses of people. He was a powerful king, but he was also a spiritual leader and decided that if your Jesus is not my Jesus, I will kill you, so he killed them … Huguenots, Albigensians, in vast numbers for the sin of not worshipping him as king.

“So Lord Acton, who was a Catholic . . . [his] most famous saying, ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ was said precisely about popes.”

Personally, as a Protestant, I don't object to respectful, biblically-based criticisms of Rome, but it seems that Wills fails on both counts.

Rather than seeking to reform Rome in the classical Protestant tradition, he seeks to make a living writing books wherein he insists that he is a more faithful Catholic than those who believe what Rome teaches. Wills lobs grenades into the Vatican's corridors, all the while insisting he's doing the Church a favor by remaining a practicing Catholic.

What's more, Wills is gladly aided by an agnostic editor of a secular newspaper's religion feature, Quinn, whose aim most certainly is not helping the Church be true to the Bible but rather twisting and contorting the Church to follow the spirit of the age. It's fair to say that Wills is no Martin Luther and Quinn is certainly no Argula von Grumbach.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.