How Fr. Weinandy decided to write his letter of complaint to Pope Francis

In Rome in late May of 2017, arriving early for a meeting of Vatican theologians, Fr. Thomas Weinandy took himself to prayer “about the . . . state of the Church and the anxieties [he] had about the present Pontificate.”

He spent most of an afternoon in St. Peter’s,

beseeching Jesus and Mary, St. Peter and all of the saintly popes who are buried there to do something to rectify the confusion and turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused . . . and pondering whether [to] write and publish something expressing my concerns and anxiety.

A few days later, the meeting completed, he “went again to St. Peter’s and prayed in the same manner.”

That night, he couldn’t sleep. Unable to get Francis off his mind, at 1:15 he left his room and went outside “for a short time.”

Back in his room, he made a deal with Jesus in a cri de coeur, asking for a sign, specifying in detail:

Tomorrow morning I am going to Saint Mary Major’s to pray and then I am going to Saint John Lateran.  After that I am coming back to Saint Peter’s to have lunch with a seminary friend of mine.

He specified the sign:

I must meet someone that I know but have not seen in a very long time and would never expect to see in Rome at this time.  That person cannot be from the United States, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, that person has to say to me in the course of our conversation, ‘Keep up the good writing’.

Continuing the story:

The next morning I did all of the above and by the time I met my seminarian friend for lunch what I had asked the Lord the following night was no longer in the forefront of my mind.


. . . [T]owards the end of the meal an archbishop appeared between two parked cars right in front of our table (we were sitting outside).  I had not seen him for over twenty years, long before he became an archbishop.  We recognized one another immediately.

My heavens.

What made his appearance even more unusual was that because of his recent personal circumstances [he’d been ill]. I would [not] have expected to see him in Rome or anywhere else [except] in his own archdiocese.

Which is in none of the above mentioned lands.

The conversation:

We spoke about his coming to Rome and caught up on what we were doing.  I . . . introduced him to my seminarian friend.  He said to my friend that [he and I] had met a long time ago and that he had, at that time, just finished reading my book on the immutability of God and the Incarnation.*

He told my friend that it was an excellent book, that it helped him sort out the issue, and that my friend should read the book.


Then he turned to me and said: “Keep up the good writing.”

The sign had been shown.

I decided to write [the]  letter [to the Pope], which I intended then to publish unless [the Pope] adequately addressed the issues I raised.

Fr. W wrote the letter. Two months later he got word from the Vatican Secretariat of State that Pope Francis had got it, but there was no response from Francis.

As for his sign and its fulfillment, he found added signficance in its involving an archbishop, which gave the sign “apostolic mandate.”

(By the way, the book mentioned by the archbishop on the immutability of God and the Incarnation is Does God Suffer?  University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.)

Finally, coming from a world of religion reporting for a daily newspaper after one of immersion in religious life, I must say I can’t get over Fr. Weinandy in his recounting a spiritual, supernatural experience, asking God for a sign and the rest.

He’s a long-time, highly esteemed professional theologian, and yet he talks that way for public consumption. The letter was one thing — it cost him two jobs and was daring to begin with.

But this testimony to prayer and God as responder is something worth noting. Carefully.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: