On another forum I have been taken to task on my previous post, which was called “sly”, “poisonous” and my words full of “vitriol”. After some discussion it became clear that the basic sticking point was that I was apparently impugning the Pope’s integrity.
No, I am not. In that post one phrase of mine admitted of such an interpretation so I have changed it.
Pope Francis, as I do indeed imply, came to the papacy with something of a plan of action. His actions from the outset make this clear enough. My issue is that his plan of action is inadequate because he seems not to have accounted for the world of difference between being Archbishop of Buenos Aires and being Bishop of Rome. His words carry more weight, suffer greater scrutiny, and will be misused on a global scale if he leaves room enough for such misuse. Pope Benedict was an example of someone who could write carefully worded, logically constructed and fully coherent pieces and find them still misused and distorted. On matters of faith and morals, popes must be crystal clear. It is a duty incumbent upon the papal office.
His Holiness must also remember that no conversation with a group of people can be considered private now that he is pope. This is most definitely so with a group like the delegates from CLAR. There can be no unsubtle asides any more, nothing that can be accused of mockery of the ordinary faithful or of traditional, centuries-old Catholic practice and devotion. Such would be used, as it has been recently, against the Church, its faithful, and ultimately against him. As I said, the Holy Spirit will necessarily guard him from dogmatic error, but not necessarily from indiscretion, nor from imprudence, nor from gaucheness, nor from gracelessness. Given that these traits little befit Christ’s Vicar, it behooves us to pray for the proper gifts to be given the pope in full measure. It is a duty incumbent upon the faithful, of whatever rank or station.
Disloyalty to the papacy is not something I have never been accused of, as far as I know. I would still run a mile from disloyalty. But to point out the Pope’s missteps and indiscretions is not disloyalty; to do so is to try to prevent him from repeating them. Maybe we should keep in mind Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Who serves Pope Francis better: the courtiers who maintain the fiction that the Emperor is clothed at all, or the little boy who cries “He is naked”?
In the story, the Emperor takes no action in light of the little boy’s truthfulness. We can surely expect better from Pope Francis. We would be right to pray that it be so. Our prayers for him are a worthy homage in God’s eyes, if in none other’s.
**UPDATE – do please read the latest on this matter here. **