Is Pope Francis a wishy-washy spineless pope? Perhaps a pawn, to be used by the liberals inside and outside the Church? Does he see what others see happening in our Church? Does it bother him?
I have a very dear Catholic friend who is freaking out because I am “having issues” with Pope Francis. It’s not that I don’t WANT to like him and think highly of him, I do. I really, really do. But… it’s just not happening for me.
I tried to give it time after the whole “Holy Week Debacle”[Muslim women foot washing etc]… he was ‘new’, he was a “different kind of pope”… he “needed time”… Well he still hasn’t grown on me, instead I have more issues now with him than I did months ago! That is not to say, I've tossed in the towel, I haven't. I will continue to pray for him, my Church and myself to come to some sort of peace with "my issues with Pope Francis".
My most recent "issues" (like oh so many other Catholics out there) are from his interview. *sigh*
Here are my thoughts on what the Pope said in his recent American Magazine interview. Please share your views as well in the comments or in email to me (see sidebar).
Pope Francis says: “Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture,” says the pope. “Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today—which was typical of Vatican II—is absolutely irreversible. Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the V. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the , its exploitation.”
Me: The “enormous fruits” from Vatican II are less than 30% of Catholics actually believe the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. We had nearly 60,000 priests in the United States in 1965 and now we can’t even reach 40,000. Only 12% of todays Catholics attend Mass for Holy Days of Obligation when they don’t fall on a Sunday. And 57% of Catholics miss Mass because they do not believe it’s a sin to do so. I don’t know what “fruits” you are looking at Papa, but the fruits I see are sadly too often ROTTEN.
The Bible: Matthew 7 “15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.”
Pope Francis says: “How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the Good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel.”
Me: I think you are wrong Papa, that is PART of the Gospel, but not “pure” Gospel. A good parent CORRECTS his/her wayward children, lest they have an obnoxious brat to spawn on society. And you failed to mention some or ALL the Bible parts about repenting, sinning no more and the fact that you will go to Hell if you don’t repent. Jesus was big on preaching warnings about HELL and the dangers of sin. Now that Papa is PURE Gospel.
The Bible: Matthew 5 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.[l] 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Pope Francis says: “The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.”
Me: “a flair for finding new paths”, oh yes, like “Catholics for Choice” and “Catholic Reform Church” where their “new paths” hoping to lead to women priests, gay marriages, abortions, sinless masturbation, free birth control for all and nuns on the bus. Oh yes, Papa, we’ve seen the “new paths” and they scare the Hell out of many still practicing Catholics. [By “practicing” I mean the Catholics who still believe ALL the Church teaches.] We need CLEAR and SPELLED OUT leadership teaching the Faith so there is no (or at the very least) LESS confusion IN our Church.
The Bible: 2 Peter 2 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Pope Francis says: “Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”
Me: Forgive me Papa, but just HOW do you purpose to do that when parishes are closing, and we can’t even find priests to reside at the parishes still open? Do you have any idea what the Church in the United States looks like? My own priest runs around like a chicken with his head cut off between two parishes in two different towns. The poor man is nearly out of breath as he RACES from one parish to another then back again to make all the masses he has to do by himself! You want him to go bagging door to door begging Catholics who rejected the teachings of the Church to come back? Just when should he pencil that into his schedule Papa? Sorry, but I think you have a FANTASY view of what the Church is today. Not all of us live in Catholic dominate cultures.
Pope Francis is asked: I mention to Pope Francis that there are Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or in complex situations that represent open wounds. I mention the divorced and remarried, same-sex couples and other difficult situations. What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?
Pope Francis responds: “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”
Me: Yes Papa, actually you ARE to judge those inside the Church- read 1 Cor. 5 and pay close attention to verses 12 & 13. If you don't judge their actions and words you can't correct error- that's been a huge problem since Vatican II. Which Gospel Papa? The warm fuzzies or the part about sin and repenting? In my catechism it clearly says homosexuals are “disordered” and “called to chastity”. Period. What does yours say?
The Bible: Romans 1 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”
The Catechism: #2357 - Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
#2358 – “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
Pope Francis continues: “Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”
Me: The problem with that statement Papa is you assume ALL clergy are listening to the Holy Spirit. Look around… you can’t possibly fail to see the morally bankrupt clergy still heading parishes and dioceses around the world- no one is that blind.
Francis continues: “This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?”
Me: Preach the REAL PURE Gospel, not the warm fuzzies for itching ears [2 Tim.4]. Do you think the Nancy Pelosi’s and Joe Biden’s in the Church “sincerely regret” supporting and promoting abortion and gay marriage? THOSE are the people who need you to STAND UP, POINT YOUR FINGER IN THEIR FACES AND TELL THEM THEY ARE IN MORTAL SIN AND IF THEY DON’T STOP THEY WILL GO TO HELL. How about preaching THAT pure Gospel Papa? It’s the one they need to hear. It’s the ONLY one that will bring them salvation.
The Bible: Matthew 5 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Luke 12 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
Matthew 13 40 “Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”
Pope Francis continues: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Me: You must be the “Pollyanna” Michael Voris was speaking of to even suggest such a thing. Since WHEN is it “not necessary” to preach what sin is and the destruction it brings to the soul? What's more important than saving souls? To say I am ‘disappointed’ with your statement Pope Francis does not begin to convene my feelings right now.
Pope Francis says: “Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”
Me after I pick myself up off the floor: “not all equivalent”? The “essentials”? How about CRUCIAL TO SALVATION? We saw what the Reformation did when the Reformers decided some of Catholic teaching was “not all equivalent”… do you really think that was helpful to Christianity Papa? The “essentials” Papa, are 1) teaching who Jesus was, 2) teaching what sin is and the need for repentance, 3) teaching the Sacraments and 4) that salvation comes through Christ’s Holy Catholic Church because Christ created Her for the SOLE purpose! The Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20]! Those are the “essentials” to salvation if you want to get down to the very basics. What “new balance” does the Church suddenly need now, that Jesus Christ didn’t give to Her two thousand years ago? You got some new ideas Papa for this "new balance"?
The Bible: Matthew 28 18 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [note the ‘teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I commanded you”- not just the warm fuzzy parts]
Pope Francis continues: “I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”
Me: It must be me, but I don’t understand YOUR version of “the message of Jesus Christ”, Papa and I am trying, honest I am. Oh I get the “be charitable” and “be humble” parts… but what about all the rest? The "love of God" is this: Jesus DIED FOR OUR SINS. That's the "love of God"- notice how "love" and "sin" are together? Jesus mostly preached about sin, repenting and going to Hell if you didn’t. He SHOWED mercy and love in his actions, but he SPOKE the words the people needed to hear whether they liked it or not.
You Pope Francis (and all our clergy) would do well to mimic our Perfect Example in Christ Jesus. Let your actions be charitable and loving, let you words strike the depths of mankind’s hearts with the FULL Gospel Message- not the warm fuzzies for the salvation of souls, which IS your commission from Jesus Christ. Stick with the mission you were given.
The Bible: 2 Timothy 4 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5 As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.”
Anyone else out there feel as I do?
Have any suggestions on how to “get over it” and love my Pope in spite of the “issues” I have with him?
All opinions are my own…
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner
***UPDATE: MUST READ -> PART TWO OF THIS POST:
Related post: "Who am I to judge?" You're Pope! Teach the Faith! link: http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/2013/07/who-am-i-to-judge-youre-pope-teach-faith.html
Related post: Did Michael Voris just call Pope Francis a "Pollyanna"?