The complicated and turbulent reign of Pope Francis

As baptized Catholics we are children of the Church, and that makes the Pope our Father. We love and support the Pope. He was validly elected and is the rightful heir to the seat of Peter. If there was ever a schism (please no God), we'd be found next to the seat of Peter. 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.

The analogy of the alcoholic father

Regardless of whether a Catholic is traditionally minded, liberal leaning, a moderate, or charismatic, its clear that Pope Francis' papacy has been turbulent, radical, self-contradicting, and confusing. Without intending disrespect for the Holy Father, we'd like to draw a anaology.

Alcoholics are often gifted, but their erratic behavior drives the children into compensation behaviors. Children take different roles to cope with an impossible situation. Likewise, the children of the Church have taken various roles under this papacy.

RoleCharacteristic
Angry accuserPublicly condemns and takes out their anger over the situation out on him in public.
Denier Says there's nothing wrong with father and ridicules brothers and sisters for saying there is a problem.
AbandonerLeaves the family and disowns father. In our analogy it would be those who leave the Church.
Wild one The irresponsible teenager happy about dad's alcoholism because then they can get away anything. In our analogy this might be those hoping the Pope will follow the Anglicans into sexual permissiveness.
Opportunist Takes advantage of the situation to draw attention to one's self. Some bloggers and Catholic media have become minor celebrities with sensationalist coverage of Vatican politics during these turbulent times.
Nostalgic Longs for the old days when the family was stable. In our analogy this applies to reactionaries who advance theories that the Church made a wrong turn at Vatican II and the popes since then have been severely flawed.
Saint Accepts the situation, looks inward and develops their character and deepens their faith. Open about father's problems, prays and works within one's sphere of influence to improve the situation without disrespecting father. "Passes the test" as Evangelist Mark Mallett describes it.

Experts who work with alcoholic families agree that the family needs to admit that there is a problem because we are only as sick as our secrets. We don't want to defend or condemn the Pope. We do not consider ourselves qualified to judge. History will do that. However, we feel an obligation to share our perspective on the Holy Father's actions while in office. 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.

Things Pope Francis has said and done that we think were helpful to the Children of the Church

As one would hope from the Roman Pontiff, there are many things that Magisterial Catholics can hang on to, as well as many things that all Christians should respond well to.

Show a list of good things Pope Francis has done
  • 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.

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:

Show a list of confusing things Pope Francis has done
  • 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.
  • 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 advocate for this direction he has taken 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 opened 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, and the denial that hell exists.
  • Francis changed the Catechism to say the death penalty was "inadmissible". Previously, it said Capital Punishment was usually unnecessary, but legitimate if it protected society. 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 gathered that 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, Thousands of 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 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.

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