Anniversary of Where Peter Is
In late summer of 2017, a group of clergy and scholars sent a "“Filial Correction” letter to Pope Francis that publicly accused him of teaching heresy. At that time, while I wasn’t very familiar with Francis or his teachings, I had read his book, The Name of God is Mercy, and was one of a million pilgrims who attended Mass with him in Philadelphia in 2015. I liked him—I mean, I’m Catholic and he’s the pope, so by default I trusted him and sought to learn from him—but I wasn’t following him closely.
After his Apostolic Exhortation about marriage and family, Amoris Laetitia, was published in 2016, I began to hear the rumblings of criticism and dissent among conservative American Catholics. These where scholars, apologists, and cardinals who I trusted, so I hesitantly nodded along with their accusations against the pope and said to myself, “I like this pope, but maybe he could be more clear in his teaching.”
But for whatever reason, the Filial Correction was too much for me. Accusing the pope of heresy? That kind of thinking struck me as deeply un-Catholic and I started posting things on Facebook about how I thought these accusations against Pope Francis weren’t appropriate. At one point, in the fall of 2017, a priest I knew (who was also a canon lawyer) commented on one of my posts and said something to the effect of “don’t be so quick to judge these people who are accusing the pope of heresy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
And he was right. I didn’t really know what I was talking about. So I started reading. I read Amoris Laetitia and the criticisms of it. I read everything I could get my hands on. What immediately struck me was that anyone with a basic understanding of the Catechism could see that Francis wasn’t teaching anything close to heresy in Amoris. At that point I knew that these outspoken critics of the pope, people who I respected and admired for years, were either disingenuous or so entrenched in their own ideas that they blinded themselves to obvious truths. This was not an easy or comfortable realization to make.
At that time I also started writing. I remember that I combined all of the objections against Amoris Laetitia that I’d read into one article and responded to them all with citations from magisterial texts. (I was enough of a nerd that I even put it it summa-like question and response format, haha.)
At some point, Mike Lewis (who I didn’t know at the time) took notice of what I was posting and invited me to a Facebook group of Catholics who both respected Pope Francis and who were taking notice of the growing criticism against him. I don’t know how that group actually started, but I like to think that Mike was scouring social media collecting people like my kids collect Pokemon cards.
The discussions in that group were so edifying for me that I went to Mike and said that we ought to create a blog or website to share this information with others. Mike was already thinking about that and had some ideas in the works. After a few months of planning and reaching out to other people, Mike, Pedro Gabriel, Brian Killian, and I launched Where Peter Is. Today, February 1st, is our fourth anniversary.
Today we have dozens of contributors including world class scholars, religious sisters, priests, deacons, and bishops. But most of our content comes from regular lay Catholics who just love the pope and take what he has to say seriously. Nobody is getting rich off of WPI—I’ve never been paid a dime—but I do this work because I believe it builds up the Body of Christ and brings people closer to Christ.
I’m so honored to be a part of this project and to be collaborating with people like Mike and all the others, women and men of integrity, authenticity, and care for the Church.
WPI has grown tremendously in the past four years, I’m so excited to see what’s next.