I like Pope Francis a lot. I think he is a very Holy person with a desire to keep the Church moving as it adapts to every age it becomes present.
In the past, he dealt with many progressives. These people had fallen for the mainstream media spin that Pope Francis was a modernist out for change. They dared to challenge the Churches teaching only to receive massive disciplinary action.
Unfortunately, much of the Catholic so-called media have been only reporting on the negative things he has said about traditionalists. Meanwhile, they neglected to report upon his favourable rulings and gestures. This particular type of behaviour and biased writing only proves where their loyalty lies. Popular careerists in the Church, often funded by wealthy Catholic social activists with a political agenda, have developed a toxic attitude towards the Pope.
I don’t personally agree with everything the Pope says or does, but I admire him a lot because he is not afraid of discussion. The Holy Father will speak his mind at the risk of and without fear of offending, whoever is listening. He’s quite happy to listen to our responses or concerns and consider them. But how can he achieve this when all we do is fire arrows in the dark that he cannot see nor respond and clarify? It is always a good idea that we write to the Holy Father expressing our concerns. Backbiting on the virtual world of social media without respect achieves nothing only to taint our soul in the eyes of the Lord further.
His recent statement regarding rigidity and clericalism in the priesthood were very informative and also accurate except for one comment which I’ll review in a moment. However, I can’t help but feel the Holy Father is too heavy-handed on the traditionalist wing of the Church. There needs to be more balance given to both extremes in today’s very confused Church whose members are suffering from an identity crisis. Without striking this balance in his speeches, Pope Francis leaves himself wide open to attack. These people have only one desire, which is to develop a narrative that he’s out to destroy authentic traditional Catholicism. It is, therefore, vital that he gives the devil no opportunity to divide the Church further by cutting the snake off at the head. Pope Francis can do this by carefully choosing his words to extinguish the flame of such gossip.
In his statements about rigidity, he said, “Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism, there are serious problems.”.
I think it was an unfortunate remark and I’d invite the Pope to reconsider it strongly. Only the Lord who searches the heart can ultimately know why a person chooses a particular type of dress. The black cassocks and the traditional hat is not sufficient evidence that a specific kind of priest is engaging in “clericalism”. I think it would be of much benefit to the Pope to avoid such premature judgments. Such comments are made by the common sort than someone of his theological calibre and pastoral experience. Even the Pope is permitted to fall in the presence of others, and we need to be there to pick him up not kick him while he is down.
There are other problems that the Popes personal observations regarding rigid priests who focus only on sexual misconduct to the neglect of other sins propose. He indeed has a point here, and he speaks the truth. However, without expressing balance and charging those who don’t talk enough about it and neglect it altogether, it again leaves doors for confusion wide open.
The traditionalists will use it as an opportunity to attack him. On the other hand, the heterodox will use his statement to shut down priests who raise the issue as being too “rigid”. This kind of outcome is the unfortunate effect the Popes words can have upon a very damaged church already suffering much schism and division among its members.
I enjoy the Pope, and my loyalty to him is understandable for all to see, but we must engage with him lovingly and positively. All of us must practice prudence and pray for wisdom also when it comes to how the “Catholic media” like to portray him both from a heterodox and fundamentalist point of view.