Friday, 3 March 2017
Writing about Pope Francis
When reading about Francis there are two main factions one wanders into. There is the faction that fears not to describe him in uncomplimentary terms, with the authors sometimes described as lacking in charity (perhaps they are just full of frustration and distaste at his papacy?); there is another faction that almost canonises the man as the greatest thing since Francis of Assisi if not since Christ Himself. There are days when each of these factions expresses might one’s feelings. It is therefore a joy to read articles that simply look over the papacy of Francis without falling into either a lack of charity or a canonising of Francis. I therefore thoroughly enjoyed the article by Pete Baklinski on Lifesite News partially entitled ‘They gave Pope Francis four years to make the Church over’. This is one of the easiest and clearest pieces written on Francis I have read. Another article I enjoyed, also on Lifesite News and written by Phil Lawler, is entitled ‘This Disastrous Papacy’.
In his October 2013 speech to the Catholic students of Villanova University, Cardinal McCarrick ended his panegyric of Pope Francis by comparing him to the “Pied Piper of Hamelin.”
“He will walk across the stage of the world and people will follow him. They will find in him like they found in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, they will find in him a certain charism, that reminds them that this is what God's love is all about. And this is what Francis is all about,” he said.
McCarrick surely didn’t realize how disturbing the comparison was. According to the children’s tale, when the town’s families refused to pay the piper for ridding them of a rat infestation, he took his revenge by using his pipe on their children. Enchanting them with his charism and delightful tunes the piper led them away into a secret mountain cave and they were never seen again.
Baklinski quotes Argentinian journalist Marcelo González of Panorama Católico Internacional who wrote that he was “terrified” for the future of the Catholic Church:
Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and morals seem to have been irrelevant to him.
In His article, Lawler notes
Day after day, in his homilies at morning Mass in the Vatican’s St. Martha residence, Pope Francis denounces the “doctors of the law” and the “rigid” application of Catholic moral doctrine. Sometimes his interpretation of the day’s Scripture readings is forced; often his characterization of tradition-minded Catholics is insulting. But in this case, the Pope turned the Gospel reading completely upside-down. Reading the Vatican Radio account of that astonishing homily, I could no longer pretend that Pope Francis is merely offering a novel interpretation of Catholic doctrine. No; it is more than that. He is engaged in a deliberate effort to change what the Church teaches.
Whether one wants to agree with these writers or disagree with them, their comments cannot be simply brushed aside for they express in writing the same dis-ease that the poster recently noted around Rome also expressed. Anyone who truly cares for the souls of the faithful and is dedicated to handing on what came from the Apostles rather than the theological offerings of some peri-Vatican II theologians, will find in these two articles either cause for concern at the questioning of the direction in which Francis is taking the Church, or support in recognising that they are not alone in feeling that Francis’ papacy is a damaging one. Those who continue supporting Francis will find in the articles the complaints and concerns against which they must defend Francis; those who distrust him will find their reasons simply and clearly stated. Whichever side of the divide we take, one thing is for sure: we cannot treat this papacy as if it were irrelevant: one way or another we have to take a stand to either support or dispute with Francis and his papacy. My only admonitions would be not to question the fact that he is the legitimate Pope, and not to call into question the character of the man or his state of soul -those judgements belong to God alone.