Monday, July 24, 2023

A comment on the Lofton affair

For any readers of my recent reply to Michael Lofton who have not been following events at Twitter and YouTube, Lofton has, over the course of the last few days, posted a series of tweets at the former and a series of videos at the latter strongly taking exception to my article.  I have to say that I am mystified at the number and vehemence of these responses.  But Lofton seems especially angry about my characterization of his initial video as “defamatory” and “libel.”  What follows are some brief remarks that I hope will put his mind at ease and allow us to move on from this affair.

First, Lofton appears to think that I was accusing him of “libel” in the legal sense.  I would have thought it obvious to the average reader that that is not the case.  Words like “libel” and “defamation” have narrow and technical legal meanings, but also broader meanings in moral theology and everyday life.  “Libel” and “defamation” in the legal sense have to do with matters of provable fact.  They do not have to do with matters of opinion, not even opinions that are reasonable, well-founded, etc.

Hence, suppose someone said “Feser is incompetent as a philosopher.”  Naturally, I think this is not only false, but (I also like to think!) easily shown to be false by (say) perusing some of my better academic articles.  Moreover, if someone got lots of people to believe this false proposition, he could plausibly be said to be “defaming” me.  However, it would be ridiculous to suggest that this imaginary critic had committed “libel” or “defamation” against me in the legal sense.  Judgements about a person’s competence are too controversial and complicated a matter to fall into the category of provable fact in the legal sense.  By contrast, if someone had claimed that I had once been convicted of drunk driving, the falsity of such a defamatory claim would be a matter of provable fact.  For it can crisply and clearly be established that such an event never happened.

When I said that Lofton’s remarks about me were “defamatory” and “libel,” what I (obviously) meant is that in my opinion, his opinions about what I had written were defamatory in the broader, moral sense.  I was not claiming that he had committed libel in the legal sense.

Second, I explained the reasons for my judgment in my previous article, but let me say a little more here.  As manuals of moral theology note, someone can be morally guilty of defamation or libel (even if not legally guilty) by damaging someone’s reputation not only directly and explicitly but also either “implicitly,” or by way of “half-truths that convey the impression of what is untrue,” or in an otherwise “indirect” way.  (I take these phrases from McHugh and Callan’s Moral Theology, Volume II, pp. 221-22.)  It was in this sort of way that Lofton’s remarks about me in his original video seemed to me to be defamatory and libelous.  As I noted in my article responding to that video, the video gave the impression that I was defending the claim that with the appointment of Archbishop Fernandez, the Magisterium of the Church would be entirely suspended.  He describes the things I say in my article as “weird,” “odd,” and “serv[ing] an agenda” in such a way that he is “left scratching [his] head” about what I might be up to.  But he also suggests that some people advance such views in order “to prepare people to reject papal teaching authority… to use it as an excuse to ignore the papal magisterium.”  All of this makes it seem as if this is likely my intention but that I’m not being up front about it.

I explicitly acknowledged that Lofton goes on to state that he “[doesn’t] know what [Feser’s] intentions are, specifically.”  But the innuendo and insinuation seemed, in my view, so obvious from the overall video that I judged this remark to be nothing more than a way to avoid being accused of stating directly what I took him to be obviously implying.  Viewers of the original British version of the series House of Cards will be familiar with the lead character’s signature line “You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment,” uttered when scandalous suggestions about another party were put to him.  It was famously a way for him to spread defamatory claims in a manner that on the surface pretended to be doing otherwise.  It seemed to me that that is the sort of thing Lofton was doing in his original video.

Lofton has since explained that I have misunderstood him.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.  But it is important to note that many of Lofton’s own viewers seemed to derive from his video exactly the message that I claimed it was sending.  For example, in the chat and comments sections of the video, one reader judged my view to be “sedevacantism with extra steps”; another took it to be “an essentially Protestant view of teaching authority”; a third said “I believe Feser is proposing/defending this theory because it allows him to dissent from the Magisterium”; another regarded my view as “very obviously an ad hoc hypothesis made up to justify dissent from the Magisterium”; yet another averred that I was trying to “prove… a suspended Magisterium” and that this “makes me question whether Edward Feser deserves his teaching license after making such terrible claims”; yet another said “Please tell me Ed Feser isn’t going the Pseudo-Trad Protestant route.”  Then there were viewers who also thought that Lofton was alleging such things, but judged it “slander” for him to do so (as one viewer put it).

I submit that it was hardly unreasonable for me to judge that Lofton was guilty of defamatory innuendo and insinuation, when many of his own viewers took him to be saying exactly what I claimed he was saying.

However – and to come to the final point – Lofton insists that, despite how things appeared to me and others, in fact he intended no such thing.  And the number and vehemence of his comments over the last few days indicate that he feels very strongly about this.  I certainly understand why someone would be upset if he believes he is being misunderstood, since it happens to me quite frequently, and I believe Lofton in his original video badly misunderstood my article.

But again, he insists that he did not mean to do this.  I am willing, then, to take Lofton at his word, and I accept his explanation that he did not intend to defame or libel me.  Online exchanges often produce more heat than light and lead to mutual misunderstanding.  Charity requires that parties to a dispute try to clear up such misunderstandings.  Having already explained in my previous article what I actually meant, I am happy to accept Lofton’s explanation of his own intentions and to leave the matter there.  I wish Lofton well and hope that this will close this matter so that we can both move on to other, more edifying things.


  1. I’m glad you and Lofton are trying to get this behind you. Nevertheless, I have unsubscribed from R&T because of the direction in which Lofton has increasingly moved. He’s doing contortions in explaining and defending this Pope’s disturbing decisions and statements. He has lost credibility by doing so. If he felt uncomfortable in critically, but charitably, addressing papal missteps, then he should simply remain silent. It would be more honorable.

    1. I'm with you. Same sheet of music as you. Lofton seems to have become very bitter, angry, nasty and overwhelmed with being RIGHT all the time at the expense of charity. He ought to take a page from Trent Horn, Jimmy Akin or Dr Dave Anders on EWTN. They know how to engage opposing views with charity. I skip his podcasts now. Don't like the tone; and it's too bad because his content (minus the attitude) is usually correct.

    2. Ditto. I unsubscribed about a month ago. Lofton's reasoning is: you MUST take every egregious statement by the current pontiff (actually anyone in the Church hierarchy) and twist it into pretzels to reconcile it with Catholicism, and if you don't you are sinning against obedience and charity, and probably a heretic. In the mean time, he reads into his enemies' statements and assigns them the most uncharitable, guilt-by-association interpretations and then declares them anathema, name-calling, mocking, and blocking them. He loves his straw men. It's a tired routine and I hope he some day sees how toxic and petty he has become.

  2. My own opinion of Lofton is very low at this point. But I would like him to prove me wrong.

    1. At this point, I don't know anyone who likes him that isn't aligned with Where Peter Is or other left (in the broad sense) leaning people. He (back when Ybarra as there) had a really healthy group of people from all kinds of trads to conservatives to more moderate people. Now it's an echo chamber of rehashing the same talking points over and over again with nothing new (besides the cover of scandal and clickbait)

    2. Many people in these circles online are drama-loving narcissists that overreact to one another and refuse to speak to each other directly in order to settle their differences. That is what normal, mentally-stable adults with testicles tend to do. It's a microcosm of that same parasociality that has characterized the relationship between the Vatican and "traditionalists" for decades. I generally tend not to follow this stuff, because every time I check out what going on in Catholic interwebz there's some new petty scandal and it's so tiring. Just talk to each other like men already and quit milking drama for content.

    3. "That explains a lot. "

      I'll tell you what also explains a lot: Lofton's giddy excitement at the attention this disagreement has brought to his "channel": A channel which seems to traditionally crank out largely low-viewership product as fast as he can drag his rake across YouTube for fresh material to "Fisk".

      Now, I know that many practicing Roman Catholics find good in what he does. And I certainly don't want to rain on his parade, since it is obviously how he hopes to generate income.

      But that self-appointed Hall Monitor of Acceptable Orthodoxy shtick he has going looks an awful lot like a variation on traditional trolling. With the addition perhaps, of his seemingly invariable coda, i.e., a finger pointing admonition to repent of your calumnies, lest you wind up in Hell.

      Perhaps he should quote St. Paul as well as Luke, and send a copy of this admonition to the Vatican ...
      "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites ..."

      Now, it looks like the good professor has put this issue to bed, and I don't want to work against his intentions by stirring the pot. But I have gained - unfortunately - quite a bit of experience with the type in political debates, and I think I can recognize what is taking place regardless of how much piety is slathered over it.

      Nonetheless, Feser is right to let it slide henceforth. And who knows; maybe Lofton is not as self-aware as I am implicitly accusing him of being.

      Time will tell.

    4. @anonymous July 25 1:14

      "Talk to each other like men." "normal mentally stable adults with testicles." I find that it requires more testicular fortitude to put your name behind your post than to anonymously call people cowards. Why don't you come into the light and put your name behind your post? That would model the sort of courage you claim to admire.

    5. @DNW

      The sin that most Americans are in danger of dying unrepentant in is lying. Worrying about gay people and social morality is just a way of distracting yourself from reflection (not self-reflection), which is the only way to save your immortal soul from lying.

      "It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said, 'Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.' That testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths or to commandments of those who reject the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:12-16 NRSVCE)

      "A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will not escape." (Proverbs 19:5 NRSVCE)

  3. Since you earn your living as a philosophy professor, publishing something to the effect that you are an incompetent philosopher might actually be libellous under British law. (I think -- I'm not a lawyer but have been told this.) There was an occasion in the 1980s when a well-known American philosopher ("A") was considering suing another well-known American philosopher ("B"): Had harshly criticized a published work of A, saying that its argument was so egregiously fallacious as to call his competence into question. B, at the time, had a visiting appointment in England, so the suit could have been made in an English court, and the person who told me about it thought the suit might have been taken seriously. Fortunately A's friends talk him out of it.

    1. However, if either Feser or Lofton were contemplating suing the other, American law would be relevant, and with the necessary proviso that the law may be different depending on what exact state or federal court it is filed in and they should consult attorneys if they want advice, a suit would probably not survive the motion for summary dismissal. An opinion that someone is a poor Catholic or an incompetent philosopher is not libellous when you lay out the factual basis of that opinion by saying "in his article/video published on such-and-such date, he said these exact words..." before giving your opinion of that publication. It would be different if Lofton intimated that he knows Feser is not who he appears to be based on things Feser told him privately, or other facts that are not generally known.

  4. Laudator Temporis ActiJuly 25, 2023 at 2:29 AM

    The Latin phrase odium theologicum (literally 'theological hatred') is the name originally given to the often intense anger and hatred generated by disputes over theology.

    It's interesting that there's no odium philosophicum or odium mathematicum. I think (trigger warning!) Bertrand Russell explains why: "Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion."

    1. WCB

      The papal condemnation or 1277 pronounced a number of philosophical propostions anathema and heresy. Ideas that came from Averroes mainly.

      And Plato famously was claimed to despise Democritas and thought to buy up copies of his books and burn them. Disuaded when it was pointed out Democritus's book were too widely spread to accomplish that.

      And of course lots of philosophical books put on the Index Of Banned Books. Often making them popular with many educated men of the time.


    2. @Laudator

      Thank you for the trigger warning. I will return the favor: please be prepared to start twitching, foaming, and convulsing. Russell's tacit assumption that there is no role for faith in the intellectual life is incoherent as human faith is central to our knowledge of our identity, law, the sciences, and medicine. The question of whether Divine Faith is possible hinges on whether or not God exists. If you are unsure about the answer to this, read Feser's Five Proofs.


      More adventures in irrelevant comments from WCB. The condemnations of 1277 were made (hastily) by a local Bishop. The are not infallible and they didn't apply to the whole Church then and they certainly don't now. So yes there were errors in the condemnations and that should surprise and trouble no one.

      Regarding the index, you are correct that books placed on the index became more widely read. Although sad, this too is not a great surprise. From the origins of the index to today, proud and curious men and women don't like to follow direction from legitimate authorities just as a toddler who doesn't think he needs to listen to his parents might think its fine to play in the street. As a result his body is injured from his stupidity just as the faith of those that read bad philosophy and theology is injured because they aren't able to recognize the fallacies contained therein. In their stupidity (what you call "educated"), they get precisely what they deserve. So the equivocation and insinuation is not going to get very far here WCB. Everyone sees through it. You do after all realize that you are dealing with an educated audience here.

    3. WCB

      The questionable propositions were noted by various Bishops and especially were condemned at University of Paris.

      Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      On January 18, 1277 Pope John XXI informed Stephen Tempier, Bishop of Paris, in a letter that he had heard rumors of heresy and charged him with the task of examining (facias inspici vel inquiri) where and by whom these errors had been disseminated (CUP 1: 541). On March 7, 1277, Bishop Tempier published his list of 219 theological and philosophical theses (articuli) and of some books that were condemned....

      Pope John XXI had indeed ordered these propositions be condemned. Tempier finalized his list and these propositions were indeed banned. Many exact details about the process are not known with exactitude, but the pope gave gravitas to Templier's efforts. For those interested, see the Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy for details. Tempier and men like him were the eyes and ears of the pope on such issues.


    4. Ah WCB, your modus operandi is all too familiar here: quote a text from an authoritative source that does not support your assertions and then go on with boldness to pretend in front of everyone here that it does. You are piece of work WCB.

      The only thing that Pope XXI ordered was for these rumors to be ***investigated***. He made no official endorsement of the condemnations themselves which is why the article you quoted never mentions him endorsing the condemnations. The authors of the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy are after all competent in their handling of their topics. If only the same could be said for all those who quote from the encyclopedia.

      So no Pope John XXI did not specify the condemnation of any propositions and he did not endorse the final product. He merely ordered it to be investigated and the final product is the act of a single Bishop rather than many as you falsely claimed. Do you blush a little when you have to be corrected so consistently for such blatant errors?

  5. It is one of the burdens of sharing one's thoughts publicly to have to interact with people who do not care about seeking truth for themselves or building a foundation of trust to foster a common path towards truth.

    The question is, why do we wish to share our opinions with people we do not know? Is it to convince them or to engage in a constructive exchange that allows us to move forward? The word "conviction," as suggested by its etymology, implies winning over the counterpart and gaining their acceptance of a given standpoint. This involves trust, which cannot be established merely through text but requires long-term relationships. Therefore, it becomes clear that attempting to convince people solely through social media, even with honesty and transparency, is unlikely to generate trust.

    The only thing we can hope for is to interact in a way that refines our own point of view. This requires both the capacity to engage and the willingness of the interlocutor to genuinely understand what is being said. Unfortunately, on social media platforms, this rarely happens. The extreme vast majority of people who interact do not truly care about what others are saying. They resort to fallacies or destructive arguments simply to make their own point, without any intent to create a climate conducive to mutual enrichment. This is the problem of dealing with trolls, or simply individuals who are unwilling or unable to rise to the level of one's arguments.

    Even in the time of Our Lord or during ancient Greek philosophical debates, the focus was often on aggressive competition rather than genuine persuasion or understanding.

    Wasting time with such individuals may not be productive. Instead, there are two approaches one can consider:

    Adopting a top-down approach, where one publishes texts that can be appreciated by readers without necessarily expecting much interaction. This allows space for meaningful interactions with those who are genuinely trying to understand what one teaches.

    Seeking out productive exchanges and focus one's energy solely on engaging with honest and genuine counterparts, while avoiding interactions with others who are not interested in constructive dialogue. This may lead to fewer interlocutors, but it will result in more meaningful and quality exchanges.

  6. Well defended, Professor! Kudos! Various combinations of word salad are prepared by people who wish to muddy the stream. Please excuse the mixed metaphor. Anon's comments are instructive here because law depends on where you are. In any case, I would not be concerned about Mr. Lofton. Bruised egos spawn frustration.

  7. I admire the work of both Michael Lofton and Dr. Edward Feser. I look forward to their future content explaining and defending various truths of reason or articles of faith.

    1. I’ll second that, John De Rosa. Well said.

    2. Your comment reminded me of one of the beatitudes: "Blessed are the peacemakers..."

  8. Well said. I hope Dr Lofton accepts this olive branch. It's a very regrettable affair; especially given both of you are high-visibilty Catholics in the public domain and thus are (whether you like it, intend it, or not) prominent Catholic examples. So to have two high-vis defenders of Catholism go at it this way doesn't make for "light of the world". I pray for both of you that you both settle this amicably. For what it's worth, I'm a HUGE fan. I WAS a fan of Michael as well but I found his tone becoming more and more bitter, angry, prideful, and very much more concerned about HIM, HIMSELF being right in his defense of the Church, more than being charitable (and to his credit, he almost always IS right). In this regard I'm afraid he's become (to me anyway) a "clanging cymbal, a noisy gong" despite being "able to move [defensive] mountains" with canon law expertise. It was OBVIOUS to me his innuendo, whether intentional, subtle, or oblivious oversight or carelessness in editing, that he rolled Dr Feser into his broader accusation of "others" or "some" having an eye towards disobedience. Any reasonable person watching would draw that inference, as indeed many did (and noteworthy he didn't correct these comments in his replies as he otherwise does if he disagrees). It was a 54 minute video, the entire premise of which was response and commentary to Dr Feser's article, then, at the 51 minute mark he wraps it all up in a bow and inserts the phrase "I don't know Feser's personal intent here, but..." ok, so 51 minutes of punching a Dr Feser punching bag (of straw), then 5 seconds of CYA. It was disingenuous. His whole mo seems to be to hunt down dissenters and crush them with snarky, smart-alecky comments, faux-perplexity, and facial's just kind of bitter and nasty and NOT loving. I don't watch anymore. "...reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." ~2 Tim 4:2

    1. Lofton is not a PhD. Mr Lofton.

    2. Aah hah! Well, thank you. Didn't know. He is not at all shy about putting his scholarly, theological and academic prowess on display. Indeed, just a few days after his anti-Feser video he posted a video showing the world his vast library of books from Ascension Press (of course while "inadvertently" including many of his other books too he read. His standard video " set" is in an office with a large library behind him. And his profile pic is of him in his graduation attire I mistook for his Doctoral graduation. To his credit, I never heard him ID himself as "Dr". So, presumption on my part, especially when he railed so hard against Dr Feser; I made that presumption partly based on the his supreme confidence in his attack on Feser, which you might presume one would do ONLY as a scholarly peer. Personally, if I had a Masters, I'd engage with just a bit more humility against such a well respected, well known, EXCEEDINGLY credible Catholic Doctors of Philosophy. Thank you for letting me know so I don't continue to give him an honorary Doctorate 🤪.

    3. Mr. Lofton isn't, yet, a PhD.

      If I recall, his last update was that he had completed his coursework and was about halfway through his dissertation. I'm not clear whether his degree would be a doctorate in Sacred Theology (unfortunately abbreviated S.T.D.) or something similar without the unflattering letters. If I recall, the focus of his work is "Magisterial Studies" and the specific dissertation topic is doctrinal reversals of authoritative-but-not-definitive magisterial teachings, of the type discussed in the "3rd paragraph teachings described in the old CDF (Ratzinger/Bertone) commentary on the concluding formula of the Profesio Fidei.

      Of course, he isn't officially an academic until he has the sheepskin. But I've found he's often very worth listening to, on his particular topics-of-interest. His guests have been likewise helpful (notably Dr. John Joy and Fr. Deacon Anthony Dragani, and some great Orthodox guests including Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, God rest his soul).

      Anyway, I was very sorry to observe Dr. Feser, who is one of my favorite Catholic Philosophers, getting into a furball with Lofton, from whom I've learned quite a lot about the magisterium. I hope they're both making the right moves to ultimately be reconciled.

      From the post above, it looks like Dr. Feser's making the right moves, for his part.

  9. If, and only if, it walks, looks and quacks like a duck it is probably a duck. If, however, it is silent, beware. It may be an imposter.

  10. Let me put my 2 cents here, which may or may not be accurate as I do not have a Twitter account and cannot view tweets for some reason. I believe now that his intention may have been to lay out the undertones that your article seemed to give. People often argue that “you sound like you’re saying X” with x being a position both parties recognize as false. Perhaps to say “you sound like you have an agenda” is a warning to you that it comes across as such. It is plausible that he sincerely believes you lack an agenda and didn’t mean to insinuate you actually had one. Therefore, I think the sin is of rash judgement and being over zealous to respond. However, even here it is perhaps understandable that someone who misreads an article from a prominent (or popular, for your own humility) Catholic scholar and thinks said scholar will now lead people from the faith, that said person would want to quickly respond and warn his brethren. God bless.

  11. Can someone so inclined please explain to me like I'm an idiot how the "suspended magisterium" thesis is conceptually different than the "munus/ministerium" distinction for benevacantism that we argued against on this very blog last year? I promise I'm asking in good faith here.

    I did not consume any of Lofton's content on this exchange, but I did apparently have the same general intuition about this topic as he did. Lofton seems to have as his niche carved out spending a lot of time arguing against sedevacantist ideas. That's not all he does, but it seems to occupy a relatively large percentage of his content compared to other Catholic content creators. So he does seem to be in a good position to point out, when presented with an idea liked the suspended magisterium thesis, that such an idea seems to provide a useful conceptual framework for someone who does want to make a sedevacantist kind of argument. Does it get you all the way? No obviously not. But it does seem like a useful first step, if that's the direction you are trying to go. That's why terms like "sedevacantist-adjacent" are being thrown around. We've seen the kinds of arguments that sedes make. This looks a lot like the first thing they say.

    To put it a different way and to tie it back to the original subject that brought this whole thing on: why exactly are orthodox Catholics nervous about Abp. Fernandez' statements about "revisiting" the DDF declaration that the Church cannot bless same sex unions? Because *if* someone in a position of authority wanted to provide cover for priests to give blessings to dame sex unions, Abp. Fernandez statements on the topic seem to be a very useful starting point. We do not feel the need to actually make a judgement about Abp. Fernandez' motives to express that worry. The same kind of thing seems to be going on here. At least to me, any relevant differences are in degree, not in kind.

    1. To simplify. A suspended magisterium means the Pope is refusing to do his job. He is not formally teaching error as dogma or violating Papal Infallibilty but the Pope and his engines of doctrinal enforcement have stopped.
      In such a situation there is NOTHING preventing the Pope from having a come to Jesus Moment (pun intended) and start doing his Job but it may be in the near future the Popes will for a time stop doing their job and let the heretics run amok. The CDF might help the heretics run amok. Till a future Pope comes a long and put a stop to it.

      (This has happened before). This theory comes from Cardinal Newman.

      Benevacantism is the weird Patrick Coffin conspiracy theory that Pope Benedict's resignation was invalid and he was all this time the true Pope so all Benevacantist are now Sedes only they recognize the last "true" Pope as Benedict not Pius XII like the other Sede yobs.

      It is nor 'ard mate.

    2. PS There is a moral difference between accusing the Church Authority of not doing their Job vs morons who say it hasn't existed for 60 years or that we can "resist" the current authority.

      This view is neither...

    3. If I understand it correctly, "suspended magisterium" was simply meant to mean that the Pope (or the bishops, or someone else with teaching authority) do not do much teaching (on all topics or on specific topic) for a while.

      And, well, that's it.

      I suppose it is not even a bad thing, unless we add a condition that the topic in question is something the Pope (or someone else) had a duty to teach on (like Monothelitism at the time of Pope Honorius I).

      It seems to me that the name "suspended magisterium" makes the people expect that it is going to mean something more.

    4. On the topic of "Suspended Magisterium":

      It seems to me that Lofton himself agrees that many bishops, including sometimes (but not consistently) the pope, are in a state of "Suspended Magisterium" in the narrow sense that they are failing-to-teach-clearly to a culpable degree, either through negligence or intent.

      So, does episcopal/papal behavior in our current circumstance rise to the level of "Suspended Magisterium?"

      Yes, probably, if that term is narrowly-construed, as it is in Newman.

      But, there's a problem: The label itself seems impressive in a way that apt to misunderstanding. All we're talking about is inaction by people whose office it is to teach, right? Normally we'd be expected to call it that: "Pope Francis, respectfully, sometimes you don't do your job, or do it in a slapdash careless way."

      And we could stop right there.

      But by adopting a Term Of Art for the situation -- the term "Suspended Magisterium" -- one is necessarily giving the reader the impression that something more deadly serious is happening than a garden-variety negligence. There's an Official Name for it!

      Objectively, the bishops as a whole are only partly inactive in teaching clearly. I would apply that even to most of the bad ones. I know of no bishop who is silent on, say, kindness to the poor. It's just that 80% of those same bishops are silent on the need to eliminate sexual immorality from the clergy, and inculcate Natural Law morality in the general public!

      Lofton recoils at calling it by such an impressive-sounding name. Why? I'm guessing it's because it sounds like another new ear-tickling meme, one which sets the public-at-large up for yet another claim that Catholics can feel more-faithful when they refuse to listen to the pope. Between Kwasniewski, Taylor Marshall, LifeSite News, and the rest, Lofton feels like the faithful are already deluged under such messages and doesn't want a big name like Dr. Feser adding to them.

      This, I think, is the source of his over-sensitivity to the original article.

  12. ''But again, he insists that he did not mean to do this. I am willing, then, to take Lofton at his word, and I accept his explanation that he did not intend to defame or libel me. Online exchanges often produce more heat than light and lead to mutual misunderstanding. Charity requires that parties to a dispute try to clear up such misunderstandings. Having already explained in my previous article what I actually meant, I am happy to accept Lofton’s explanation of his own intentions and to leave the matter there. I wish Lofton well and hope that this will close this matter so that we can both move on to other, more edifying things.''

    Dr. Feser, the above was the best part of this response, and from the beginning all that was necessary.

    I really admire both of you ( I particularly loved your 'Five Proofs' and 'All One In Christ' ). Like many searching Catholics we come across a number of different heroes on various different platforms. I'm also thinking about the likes of Scott Hahn and Bishop Barron who are prolific on many different platforms and have been a huge blessing to the faithful world over. They tend to appeal to Catholics/Orthodox/Protestants and Atheists because their personality and intent is evident.

    This has been a sad affair, and in my opinion you were quite heavy handed or knee jerk in your first response. It sounded more 'personal' to the average lowly reader like myself.

    I'm going to say that I don't like Twitter very much and think it is extremely unedifying. You point out 'Comments' on Mr.Lofton's channel that made you feel the need to respond the way you did. There were also very many thoughtful 'Comments' there too. I would suggest you look at your own 'Comments' on Twitter and in particular those you 'Like' - and then continue to be honest that you are equally as likely as any other common person to react in a rash manner. I don't think Twitter lends to understanding your thoughts and character like your books do.

    There is a need today in our Church to hear all of the voices. Mr Lofton's channel will not be liked by those who are looking at the Church through very political lenses on either side, however it has been a blessing to many who are Catholic and traditional before they are left or right leaning and want to learn more about how the magesterium works.

    God Bless you both, now I'm off to buy another of your books ;)

  13. To be nuanced and charitable is not to end a critique advising another to "stick to their lane." I respect and learn much from both Feser and Lofton. While I do think Feser's reaction could have withstood some self-editing--however he intended "libel," etc., it shouldn't have been bandied about, period--he did state points of agreement. Lofton, on the other hand, might need to grow thicker skin. If one is going to critique another's thought, and do so by not so implicitly insinuating the possibility of nefarious motives onto the other, then one ought to expect said party might come back at them, and in rough fashion. I hope this has come to an end. I've grown so tired of Catholic in-fighting.

  14. While toward the beginning of his article, Feser says he thinks the people using Newman to argue that there is currently a “temporary suspension” of the Magisterium are incorrect (opining that Newman’s “‘suspended Magisterium’ thesis is not correct as a completely general description of Francis’s pontificate”), toward the end of his article, Feser essentially says that one can infer from the archbishop and pope’s remarks that the DDF (which Feser implies is the main way the Church exercises its Magisterium these days) would be doing even less than “the job that Newman says the bishops failed to do during the Arian crisis.” In other words, he ends by saying the people he initially disagreed with have a point—meaning they may soon be right about our being in a period of a suspended Magisterium. I think it’s accurate for Feser to say that he didn’t say he personally thought there would be such a suspension, but the thrust of his article very much seemed to be that the people who thought so had a good point precisely because of what Francis and Fernandez said. If so, I think that was a valid take by Feser. It seems ridiculous that so much ink was spilled and so much time spent over all that.

  15. It would benefit this blog if people who post as "Anonymous" would create a profile with a defined screen name and post under that screen name. It's great to read Prof. Feser's OPs, whether we agree or not. It's not great to try to sift out P as stated by Anonymous 1 from Q as stated by Anonymous 2. And the 1 and 2 are not given. Don't tell me that it's too hard to create a profile. I'm a boomer, and I've created one.

    1. It is advantageous not to be instantly recognisable , as that way one can easily pick up.'enemies' and end up on the receiving end of their ire , even when the subject matter has changed . Too many apparantly unstable extremists around here.

  16. Anyway, a lot of ado for nothing really substantial: at the end it is all a no-brainer, the Pope not being the Church, when he teaches what the Church teaches he generates Magisterium, and when he doesn't teach what the Church teaches, he doesn't do Magisterium. As simple as that: no need to be extreme in anything, but, of course, one needs to know and live what the Church, Christ and the first Apostles have constantly taught through centuries.

  17. It's just quicker and easier tot be Anon., which I have been for many years.