I see it as larger than just the Pope. We've seen many examples of this in the Religion Forum, of Catholics standing as judge over many aspects of Catholic thought:
Those are great questions. I, for one, am insulted by those who would label lay Catholics like myself as “enjoying” criticizing the Pope. I don’t enjoy it one bit. Perhaps those Catholics should take a hard look at themselves because they come off pretty self-righteous and superior when they talk like that.
I also really do not understand the thinking by some Catholics that the Pope can never be wrong. Um, yes he can. Nowhere does the Catholic Faith state that he is infallible whenever he speaks. Also, just because someone is questioning the Pope does not necessarily mean that person thinks he is wrong, per se.
In reality, many of us lay Catholics who do this are very disheartened by the state of our Church and I would argue that those who do not see some of what we see/question are blind to it. But, I don’t say that to be superior because I once defended any and every negative, questioning comment about any Church leader and gave this or that excuse for why something was said/not said or done/not done.
Something is amiss in our Church and I am done defending the actions/inactions of our leaders. However, I will continue to defend Church teaching to the day I die. Let no one be mistaken. Any criticism on my part of any Church leader is no reflection on the Truth that is the Catholic Faith.
You know, I do have answers to all those questions. But someone will then challenge my answers and we’ll go in circles.
There are two important things we must consider: objective reality (”the things are they really are”) and subjective apprehension (what people “think” at various levels of certainty about the nature of those things). This latter one depends, not only on one’s intellectual preparation, but also on one’s assumptions, presumptions, opinions, self-image, life experiences, misconceptions, misperceptions, wounds, and of course, sins, propensities to certain sins, weaknesses, etc. There’s also the world, the flesh, and the devil, and the noise, confusion, and disorders they create. The mutual interactions of all these currents yield the cacophony you complaint about.
The way to tackle these is by purification of the soul, mind, emotions, and senses. One needs to live in a state of constant repentance and conversion. Paradoxically, *faith* - understood as loving knowledge of God and humble intellectual assent to the truths he reveals - is the medicine for our condition, and one that in most of us works progressively, slowly, with some occasional flashes of direct intuition into the true nature of things.
Despite these undeserved graces, the person of faith will be challenged by others in different stages of spiritual development. No matter. Criticism will make us humble and, paradoxically (again), it will helps along the way.
That’s all I have to say about that. :-)