I have been involved in a few discussion recently about Pope Francis. I cant decide whether he is a eloquent subtle genius or a twittering idiot?
When he was elected Pope i really liked him. He is obviously a man of great humility and i liked his simplistic attitude and little acts of kindness. However, as time went on i felt he was a little wishy washy on BIG issues, and really was taking this whole Pope thing in a rather relaxed fashion. Then there was the “Who am I to judge?” comment – that was taken out of context by the press, but none the less…
Anyway recently in one of his homilies he said “…And for this reason the Church asks us, all of us, for a few changes. She asks us to put aside decadent structures: we don’t need them. Instead to take up new wine skins, those of the Gospel…”
I found this statement rather unsettling. What changes? What decadent structures? Changes within the church? The upcoming Synod on the family perhaps? Changes regarding marriage and communion? On homosexuality?
Discussing these fears on Facebook i was then aware that i was not the only one who felt like Pope Francis is a bit of a loose cannon. There was also a huge amount of negativity from really good faithful catholic’s about Pope Francis in general and lets not forget how everyone misses Benedict.
But this didn’t sit very well with me either. If i really look at the actions of Pope Francis i can see he is a truly faithful orthodox Pope. He has never actually done anything i would regard as unacceptable or even vaguely liberal in nature. He is obviously a prayerful man with great humility. It is just the way he speaks to the world that leaves me feeling a bit, well, nonplussed.
When Benedict spoke to the world he didn’t mince his words. i always remember how i laughed out loud at the utter honesty and truthfulness of his Judas comment followed up by a comment by Msgr. Barreiro, who said “for those Catholics who cannot bring themselves to believe the formal teachings of the Church on life and family matters it would be more honest to leave the Church rather than betraying Her.”
Francis seems to be continuously speaking to catholic’s on the periphery. Why doesn’t he step it up a bit? C’mon Francis – say something controversially orthodox for goodness sake! Lets shake up the church a bit! Speaking to peripheral catholic’s is boring. Most of the catholic’s you are addressing don’t even believe in the real presence. Most of them don’t even go to church. Stick to the faithful.
Benedict’s papacy was for the more conservative traditionally minded catholic. I felt totally comfortable with him, totally comfortable but…
“…you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVI
He’s right. And if there was one group Benedict never connected with it was the peripheral catholic’s. Francis on the other hand, does. I re-read some of his recent comments and saw a totally different man. Here is a Pope who whilst remains faithful and orthodox at his core, charms the peripheral catholic’s by speaking subtly subconscious, wishy washy worldly words (try saying that after 3 glasses of wine!) and seems to be having some success in it. One cannot deny how he has been embraced by the media as the “hope” for change in the church. But what they fail to realise is that as he romances them into the possibility of a relationship with Christ, the real change will be happening within them.
Francis’ papacy is as much for the faithful orthodox catholic as it is for the peripheral catholic – just in a different way. He certainly doesn’t waste time preaching to the converted. For the faithful orthodox catholic he challenges us, presenting us with an example to copy. Francis teaches us how to coax our lost brothers and sisters back into a relationship with Christ and His church. He is in fact, showing us how loving patience, true humility and service are key aspects of the New Evangelisation.
For those who have also felt a little negative towards Francis’ Papacy, i would invite you to do as the great Carmelite saint Teresa of Avila suggests and “Look again”.
For more on this subject please see my more recent post on why orthodox catholic’s don’t trust Francis: http://www.faithinourfamilies.com/2014/09/19/you-are-loved/