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.
|Angry accuser||Publicly 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.|
|Abandoner||Leaves 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
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.