So, the Sovereign Pontiff isn’t really your flavor of Pope? I know, I know! Before you interject, “This is about Truth!” let me speak. I, too, am not always a fan of his relationship with the media, particularly the American media. Often, what he has said will be twisted beyond the point of recognition. When we say he is misleading less knowledgable Catholics, we have to consider a few things: it is not solely him that is giving the wrong impression, these Catholics have a moral obligation to rightly form their consciences, and even when we do not feel we must respect the man holding the office, we must always respect the chair of Peter.
It scarcely will be a week between episodes of the media proclaiming that Pope Francis has overturned another Catholic doctrine or Dogma. About half of the time, he has been misquoted or badly translated, and about half the time, he is speaking freely and colloquially, in casual conversation – hardly infallible. What we need to consider is, while no other Pope has spoken to the media as much as Francis, no other Pope lived in the world he lives in, right now. Pope Paul VI didn’t have Instagram. He did not have people reporting his every fall, literally, in photo, tweet, and post. For this, we must consider, that perhaps even the most favorable Pope could have said something unclear from time to time, just no one recorded it.
I do not at all mean to say that he should not be more aware of the power of his words and interactions. That he should, but he is fully aware that he will bear the weight of the sin which he leads others to, as their shepherd. So, too, will those involved in misinterpreting his messages and misguiding his flock. This is a sobering thought, but at the same time, it is comforting that justice will always be served. We mustn’t concern ourselves with being the judge of the Vicar of Christ. We must pray for him. Consider this, the next time you wish to speak uncharitably and harshly toward him, physically harming the pope is one of a very short list of actions which invoke immediate excommunication. Do you imagine that verbal abuse or assault is likely to sit well with God, either? If you feel you must speak out against misguidance, do so with the utmost respect and charity.
Many well meaning and devout Catholics, myself included, worry about the effect these misguidances will have on the general public and dissident Catholics, but I think we are missing a greater picture. The type of person who is getting their Catholic information from the Huffpost is not someone who is probably living the faith, anyhow. Pope Francis has a way or charism if you will, of drawing the public eye to the church. Do we want these people who haven’t considered or been in communion with the church for years or decades, to look at the church and see a diverse range of people all living for God and loving one another, or do we want them to see a juvenile, MMA style, cage-fight between the “rad trads” and the “heretics?”
Trust in the Lord! If He brought me in, He can bring anyone into the church. Sometimes all the Lord needs to soften our hearts, is for us to take a second look at the church. Francis does a good job of interesting people who would otherwise not even glance at it. Acceptance of the fullness of truth comes with time. We must allow people on different journeys, the space to mature, grow, and develop in their faith. We will not attain perfection here, not even you!
Finally, we must always respect the chair of Peter. Christ gave Saint Peter the keys to the Kingdom, and He gave the keys to a mere fisherman who had denied him THREE TIMES, despite personally knowing Him and seeing miracles. Getting it right or being moral 100% of the time, is not a prerequisite of the papacy. The Borgias and many other’s have shown us this. We must marvel at the great wonder that is the survival of the church! Man has certainly tried to run her into the ground, corrupt her, scatter her, and still, she goes onward, bringing Jesus Christ to every man or woman who would have Him. Rest easy O, disgruntled one! The Church survived the Borgias, and she will survive Francis, too. #CardinalSarah4Pope
Pax Vobiscum, and don’t forget to check out the Podcast, This Catholic Life, on iTunes and Stitcher!