Top good and bad things that Pope Francis has done
Pope Francis is rightful hier to the seat of Peter and was validly elected. We love and pray for the Pope. We know the Lord will protect his Church. Nothing will find its way into magisterial documents either via a synod or otherwise, that is inconsistent with scripture or the Church's authoritative teaching on faith and morals. We have a separarate article on how a faithful Catholic can respond to the current turmoil in the Church.
We do not consider ourselves qualified to judge the Pope's intentions. History will do that. However, its clear to anyone following Pope Francis' appointments, statements and writings that this papacy has been inconsistent, self-contradicting, and confusing. Pope Francis is a perfect example that infallibility of the magisterium has a very narrow definition and does not prevent the church from having a pope with problems. Pray for him. The Lord will protect the Church against formal error in magisterial documents or infallible utterances. Even the infamous footnote can be interpreted in a magisterial light, otherwise the Dubia Cardinals wouldn't have asked for clarification, they would have made a fraternal correction. The silver lining of his ambiguities may be that when the persecution of Christians begins, secularists won't know "what type of Catholic we are" (1) "haters" who deny gender politics, or (2) the "open liberal type" who are "inclusive". It may frustrate their attempts to uniformly persecute Catholics and provide us a little bit of cover in a time of great trial. God's permissive will may be in this. Here's a list of public actions the Pope has taken, good and bad that deserve public comment.
Good things Pope Francis has done
- The Pope consecrated Russia (and Ukraine) to the Immacualte Heart of Mary on March 25, 2022 with the bishops worldwide. Many commentators believe this finally fulfilled the request of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, although others disagree.
- The Pope has shown deep love for the poor, and has challenged the status quo in many interesting and good ways.
- Pope Francis called on the world’s priests to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”
- He said "... he is the God of surprises” and at the same time he rejected "rigidity". We know from history that God is full of surprises and that rigidity can stifle the movement of the Holy Spirit.
- He told bishops “God surprises us and often likes to mess up our appointment books ... one cannot communicate the closeness of God without ... letting himself be infected by his tenderness.”
- He said "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."
- He impressed many when he turned down the papal apartment to live in a more humble room, and adopted an inexpensive papal ring and cross, paid his hotel bill the morning after his election, etc.
- Removed a lot of unnecessary formality and 16th century royal protocol from papal affairs.
- He rightly said we should not turn the Church into a museum or rigidly hold on to aspects of the Church are subject to change (as long as we don't compromise inherited teachings on faith and morals). Everything that is living is growing and adapting, including the Church.
- Has made himself understood and accessible to the outside world and the press, with a clever sense of humor, and a humble and approachable public demeanor.
- Has shown deference to the poor in tangible and important ways.
- Made some modest reforms to the Vatican Bank including adding an external audit mechanism and appointing laity to be involved.
- Coined the phrase "Idealogical Colonialism" to describe the west's imposing of its philosophies on the 3rd world attached to financial aid, and spoke about the "killing of children" which was widely interpreted as a denunciation of the exportation of the abortion industry to third world countries.
- We appreciate his pastoral approach to those in sin, when he is speaking about those willing and wanting to follow God, rather than trying to make the Church follow them into their sin.
- Made conciliatory statements during a meeting with Evangelical leaders, which were well received by Evangelical Christians. The video went viral.
- He's been pastoral and loving to those involved in deep seated sin which is sign of Christ's love.
- He identified growing schismatic trends in communities forming and emboldened in their criticism of Vatican II, popes since the council, and the Novus Ordo Mass. (Note: his response was poor however. He should have rooted out excessive liberalism around him to attract traditional minded Catholics back, but he instead reversed his predecessors direction and tried to clamp down on the Traditional Latin Mass, discussed in the bad things below.)
A list of things that we think may be damaging to Catholics seeking truth
Every pope and every human being makes mistakes. However, this papacy is has been the one of the most jarring and turbulent in the entire Church's history. The long term effects are unknown at the current time. Canon Law 212.3 gives the laity permission and the responsibility to point out errors by our leaders to the faithful, as long as it is done with respect. Many faithful Catholics started to worry, when Pope Francis did the following:
- Fired trusted servants who served under the previous popes and surrounded himself with assistants who want to legitimize same sex relations.
- Promoted James Martin, a same sex advocate, to communications consultant to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications. He also met with him privately for 30 minutes without any clarification and sent him an encouraging letter.
- Appointed many Cardinals who have publicly made statements that are broadly interpreted as an attempt to move towards the legitimization of same sex relations and a host of other agendas that are foreign to the faith, and who will continue to vote for popes and agitate long after he is gone.
- Trusted the now disgraced Cardinal McCarrick, to negotiate a deal with China which marginalized and isolated the faithful underground Catholic Church in China from the Vatican.
- He has called synods, not to explore open questions, but to legitimize foregone conclusions, pushed by the German bishops, which are contrary to the teachings of preceding popes and the deposit of faith.
- Introduced changes through ambiguities such as the famous footnote in AMORIS LÆTITIA, which has been interpreted by some bishops conferences as opening the the door for communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who had not received an annulment, which John Paul II clearly determined to be inadmissible.
- Allowed the firing of all the professors at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family, and replaced them with those who have an agenda that is almost 180 degrees in the other direction, including contraception. The new person in charge has a history of gay friendly incidents.
- Has held papal audiences and has bestowed honours upon advocates of abortion, same sex marriage, couples living together before marriage, trans couples, without encouraging them to return to the truths of the Church, and with no sign to the faithful that these choices are inconsistent with the Catholic faith.
- He characterized traditionally minded Catholics as rigid, impractical, stiff and unloving. He has leveled particular criticism against young traditionally minded Catholics.
- Pope Francis said weird things on plane trips, such as
- "Who am I to judge?" regarding his appointment of a Vatican Bank official who was reported as acting out sexually with other men
- Condescending comments about large Catholic families, "Catholics shouldn't breed like rabbits"
- The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis was approving use of “the contraceptive or condom” in certain cases during an in flight press conference when discussing the Zika virus
- Said he's not afraid of schism, which is particularly weird because the terrible Vatican deal with the Chinese government which delegitimized the faithful underground Church was justified to "prevent a schism"
- Francis welcomed dialogue with those who don't agree with tenets of the Catholic faith but ignored or ridiculed those who believe and adhere to the Catholic faith in ways that differ from his ideas. He has pushed them out of his circle of influence.
- Signed Abu Dhabi declaration that "God wills other religions" without clarifying the difference between God's active and passive will.
- Francis espoused a tired old liberal interpretation of the story of the loaves and fishes which proposes that Jesus encouraged people to share what they had, rather than multiply the food.
- Granted ongoing interviews to an atheist friend journalist who continues to quote the Pope in ways that are a scandal to the Church. These quotes include the denial of the Trinity, denial of the divinity of Jesus, and the denial that hell exists.
- Francis changed the Catechism to say the death penalty was "inadmissible". But he provided it with the same conditions as previous popes (1. Increased awareness of the dignity of the person, 2. new understanding of penal sanctions, 3. more power to the state to protect the public from the offender). Francis condemned life imprisonment which runs counter to John Paul II's reasoning for avoiding the death penalty.
- Questioned Israel's decision to build a wall which reduced the bombing of its citizens significantly, by stopping his entourage on the Palestinian side and putting his hand on the wall and praying as if to ask God to knock it down.
- Got into climate change science in an encyclical without acknowledging in the same document, that it is being used as a tool to promote contraception and abortion on the 3rd world. We would have preferred he stick to general statements about caring for creation.
- He spoke about neglect for old people as the greatest social ill, and said the Church has to find a new balance and not talk so much about abortion, gay marriage and contraception. We're wondering what Church he's been attending because we'd love to hear more pastors preaching to the flock about the problems with abortion, contraception and same sex activity.
- Pope Francis blessed Amazonian 'Pachamama' idols, which represent the Incan fertility goddess. He recognized the controversial objects as Pachamama, attended an opening service where Amazonians prostrated themselves before the idols in the Vatican Gardens. When they were removed from a Church and thrown in the Tiber river by scandalized Catholics, he apologized to the Amazonian people and said the police retrieved them. There was no apology to scandalized Catholics around the world for allowing syncrenistic services and pagan idols into the heart of the Vatican. To put this in perspective, many martyrs have gone to their deaths for refusing to do the very thing that was done voluntarily in the presence of the Holy Father.
- The Pope's final exportation of the Amazonian Synod was mostly good, but then told everyone to go read the synod document which had tons of issues.
- He has given uneven treatment of erring liberal factions and traditionalist factions with preferential treatment and encouragement of liberals, which may fuel schism by traditionally minded Catholics.
- The forbiding of the Traditional Latin Mass was largely seen as a hostile move against conservatives rather than an attempt to unify the Church. If he wanted to unify the Church he could have stopped feeding liberal activism in the Church and the Vatican, instead of coming down hard on traditionally minded Catholics who are reacting to what they see in the Vatican.
- He has fed into the COVID 19 vaccine mandates by saying Catholics have a "moral obligation" to be vaccinated for the "common good". This is dispite the use of aborted babies in the development and/or testing of the vaccines, many side effects, 99.5% survival rate in the unvaccinated, natural immunity in those who have had it, and the resulting herd immunity. The Catechism of Catholic Church gives each Catholic freedom of conscience in medical procedures. The Church has previously expressly instructed the faithful to resist any medical vaccine that involves aborted fetuses.
How to respond to a bad pope? How do children of an alcoholic father compensate when things get crazy at home?
Much like children of an alcoholic, the children of the church have taken on various roles in light of Pope Francis' papacy. Evangelist Mark Mallett made a great analysis that these times are a test. Below is a table of roles and compensation behaviours and whether they pass the test.
|Role||In Alcoholic family||Under this papacy||Test|
|The Angry Accuser||Publicly takes out their anger on father.||Angrily and publicly condemns Pope.||Fail|
|The Denier||Says there's nothing wrong with father, ridicules concerned brothers & sisters.||Says there's nothing wrong with Pope Francis, ridicules those who are concerned.||Fail|
|The Abandoner||Disowns father & the family||Leaves the Church.||Fail|
|The Wild One||Irresponsible teenager happy about dad's alcoholism because they can get away anything.||Hopes the Pope will follow the Anglicans into sexual permissiveness.||Fail|
|The Opportunist||Takes advantage of situation to draw attention to one's self.||Bloggers & Catholic media who become minor celebrities with sensational coverage of turbulent Vatican politics.||Fail|
|The Nostalgic||Longs for the old days when family was "stable".||Thinks the Church made a wrong turn at Vatican II, that popes and liturgy since then have been severely flawed (reactionaries) or invalid (sedevacantists).||Fail|
|The Lost Child||Oblivious but still part of the family.||Sunday cultural Catholics in the mushy middle.||Fail|
|The Saint||Accepts the situation looks inward, open about father's problems, prays for a solution and tries to fix what they can.||
Uses the situation to strengthen their character and faith, and deepen their prayer life, works within one's sphere of influence to improve the situation without disrespecting the pope. Does not adhere to personal opinions of the Pope that contradict established Magisterial teachings. Prays sincerely for the Pope (rather than the patronizing "the Pope needs prayer" line). Doesn't fall into the trap of psuedo sedevacantism.
The Lord is Faithful
The Lord promised us the following.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18)
The legacy of Pope Francis will largely be determined by the popes who follow. He has pressed the Church just about as far as it can go into dialog with the world without directly accepting sin as legitimate. He has appointed dozens of like minded people at high levels to ensure his line of thinking will continue. We trust our Lord's promise to Peter, and that we'll be OK in the long run. The current confusion will serve the Church in some way known to God. In the meantime, God is calling us to remain faithful Catholics, children of our Father in Heaven and obedient to the Magistieral Teachings of the Church and the deposit of faith. Here's a list of 20 characteristics we often find in sincere Catholics who pass the test.
What about the infamous footnote in Amoris Laetitia?
Here's the quote
351 In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 , 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).
In our opinion it is confusing, unfortunate, divisive, and smells of a liberal agenda. But it has not definitively said that there are instances when it is appropriate to give communion to divorced Catholics who are living with someone new. While it is probable that this is the way Pope Francis intended it, it is not the way he wrote it. Even the Dubia Cardinals asked the Pope to clarify it, instead of issuing a formal correction. They did not issue a formal correction because the document does not contain a formal pronouncement of a change in the moral teaching.
We have every confidence that God will protect the Magisterium from formal error on faith and morals.
Is the final document of a synod magisterial?
The final document of an synod is the opinion of the participating bishops and is not magisterial unless the Pope explicitly says it is. The Pope has asked Catholic to read the final document of the Amazon synod, but he didn't say it's magisterial. February 12, 2020, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said: “The apostolic exhortation [Querida Amazonia] is magisterium. The final document [of the synod] is not magisterial.”
The Lord is Faithful
The Lord promised us the following.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18)The legacy of Pope Francis will largely be determined by the popes who follow. He has pressed the Church just about as far as it can go into dialog with the world without directly accepting sin as legitimate. We trust our Lord's promise to Peter, and that we'll be OK in the long run. The current confusion will serve the Church in some way known to God. In the meantime, God is calling us to remain faithful Catholics, children of our Father in Heaven and obedient to the Magistieral Teachings of the Church and the deposit of faith.
- Culture wars in the Catholic Church
- List of Popes from the time of Christ
- Is a Synod binding?
- Is it OK to resist the pope?
- Fr. James Martin
- Can gay men become priests?
- Is Yoga OK for Christian Catholics?
- Pope Francis' turbulent papacy
- Is Vatican II full of ambiguities?
- Mark Mallett's comparison of Pope Francis to Donald Trump
- Ambiguities in Vatican II