Against the hope that comes from Pope Francis’ popularity, however, must be weighed the danger that comes from the notion he has abandoned doctrine for love. Plainly, the pope has done no such thing: In Catholic teaching, love and doctrine (or truth) are one. But it is equally plain that many who celebrate this pope do so precisely because they take the message that doctrine no longer matters.
In his original interview with the Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica, the pope said that when the church talks about its teachings, “we have to talk about them in a context.” By that, he means we cannot simply spout orthodoxies to an uncomprehending world.
Pope Francis is right. But it would help if the pope could remember he is not always master of the narrative. His conversations take place within a context that is often out of his control and shaped by those hostile to his message….(Source)
In the whole clatter of opinions on the papacy of Pope Francis, the above article is probably the closest to my personal view of how things stand. I think the Pope is trying to say many important things that need to be heard by the world and by us conservatives.
His refreshing message on getting out of our comfort zone, helping the Poor more, keeping Catholicism as one unified whole is a necessary and much needed message. I think he is correct in identifying one obstacle in evangelizing an unbelieving world. But he just keeps focusing on the problem with the “Right”. Are there problems with the “Right”? Yes, and he does a really thorough job in cleaning out the stalls. I know because I was pretty pissed off when I read it, but on reflection he is right is many respects.
The problem that I see is that his comments are way too one-sided. Whenever he does criticize, it’s basically to excoriate and upbraid the traditional/doctrinally-focused Catholics, while he only give passing rebuke to the pastoral/social justice side of the Church. As a result, the “pastoral” side of the Church and the debauched secular World are having a field day with his pontificate. The German bishops and their heretical view of marriage are just one example that his comments are encouraging all the wrong people at the wrong time. The problems with the Right are really only just now emerging. But what about the Left’s? Has the past 50 years of social justice disaster been so ingrained in the Church that this Pope cannot see the proverbial corpses that it has spread throughout the Church? Talk about straining the gnat to swallow the camel.
Sooner or later, the fruit of Pope Francis’ approach – for good of for ill – are going to come home to roost. A Pope must always steer a middle path to keep the barque of Peter away from the storms on either side. The way it looks now, the barque is steering way too left, and there will be some seriously negative consequences to that course which I don’t think any of us can really envisage. The conservative Pollyannas in the Church who refuse to speak up at this change of course are doing no one any favour, least of all the Church or even the Pope who at least is open to criticism and correction (God bless him).
The other major issue is the “one step forward, two steps back” approach. The Cardinals did not elect a Pope and Clarification Committee. And yet, it seems that when the Pope gives an off-the-cuff interview, remark, or even prepared speech, the Catholic Clarification Committee and the Pollyanna Social Media Brigade swing into full action: “what the Pope meant to say was…” How many times in John Paul II’s 27 year pontificate were daily clarifications required by the Vatican’s official spokesmen? Not a heck of a lot…and certainly nothing the media could use. We are not bound to listen to the Clarification Committee, and yet many people need this “Committee” in order to understand the Pope’s words within Catholic Tradition. There is a real problem here.
I’ll tell you, when we need Fr. Rosica to clarify Catholicism for us after a Papal homily, Houston, we have a problem.