Skip to comments.Interested in Catholic reaction to Francis? Get off Twitter and into the trenches [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 07/09/2017 9:20:03 PM PDT by ebb tide
Saturday, Romans awoke to find a provocative image staring out from their neighborhood newsstands. On the cover of the latest issue of the magazine Millennium, published by the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, was a traditional depiction of St. Sebastian with arrows protruding from his body, but with the head of the pope, under the title, The Enemies of Pope Francis: Heres Who Wants to Force Him to Resign.
This is hardly the first time an Italian publication has offered a run-down of the pontiffs supposed enemies, both inside the Vatican and in the hierarchy, but the rhetoric this time was especially breathless.
The title on the inside of the piece was, Too many enemies for a pope alone: Behold whos plotting to force Francis to resign, while a press release by editor Peter Gomez referred to a true and real war being waged against the pontiff by powerful cardinals, screaming ex-Masons and politically connected opinion-makers.
For the most part, the piece was a run-down of already well-documented episodes, such as Franciss intervention with the Knights of Malta and the Vatileaks 2.0 affair, with a Machiavellian undertone that theyre all expressions of subterranean opposition to the pope calculated to make his life so difficult that he eventually decides to walk away.
Perusing press treatments such as this one, or following Catholic discussion on social media, often it would be easy enough to conclude that opinion about Francis is indeed clustered into two opposing camps, each with fairly extreme positions - either a lusty hosanna to everything Francis says and does, or an equally emphatic no to everything hes perceived to represent.
As fate would have it, at the same time the editors of Millennium were preparing their cover story, I was in Orlando, Florida, for an event called The Convocation of Catholic Leaders, bringing together almost 3,500 bishops, clergy, religious, and lay leaders, some of them from national-level Catholic organizations but most drawn from dioceses and parishes around the country.
In other words, this was about as representative a cross-section of mainstream, meat-and-potatoes, Mass-going Catholics as youre likely to get in the United States.
Most of them knew what I do for a living, so at least three dozen times over four days I found myself in conversations about Francis - some very brief, some extended, many somewhere in between. I didnt set out to do a scientifically valid round-up of opinion, but as far as anecdotal impressions go, it was probably a pretty healthy sample.
By far, the most common opening comment I heard - from bishops, from clergy, from laity, from everybody - was some form of the following: Hes great, hes fantastic, I love him. As Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York put it in typically colorful fashion, Weve got Joe DiMaggio as pope, and hes on a 56-game hitting streak.
Some people were content to leave it at that. In many cases, however, that fundamental enthusiasm came bundled with a but.
Some, for instance, told me that Pope Francis talks too much, and they wish hed show a little more restraint. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City-Kansas told me hes heard people say, He shouldnt give press conferences above a certain altitude, a joking reference to the pontiffs legendary free-wheeling exchanges with reporters aboard the papal plane after foreign trips.
Others expressed concern about specific doctrinal points - the popes cautious opening to Communion for the divorced and remarried in Amoris Laetitia, for instance, or rumors making the rounds in Rome that Francis may empower a commission to take a new look at Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VIs 1968 document on artificial contraception.
(The idea that the teaching of Humanae Vitae could be in for a fundamental overhaul seems a bit of a stretch, given that Francis repeatedly has praised Paul VI for having the strength to defend openness to life, as he put in the Philippines in 2015. Thats precisely the thing about rumors, however - people dont know quite what to believe.)
Others told me they think the pope has a blind spot on the sexual abuse scandals, or on women, and others worry that his much-vaunted talk of Vatican reform doesnt seem to be living up to its billing. Still others said they wished hed be more careful on immigration, bolder on pro-life issues, and on and on, depending on what topic tended to animate a particular person most and how they evaluate the popes record.
Bottom line, there really wasnt a whole lot of polarization among the people to whom I spoke in Orlando. Pretty much everyone agreed that Francis has been quite healthy for the Church, changing its public image, attracting positive interest and creating missionary opportunities, and also inspiring the Church to break out of any temptation of self-referential navel-gazing and to get out into the game.
For sure, no one I met would qualify as an enemy whod be up for joining a plot to run Francis out of Rome on a rail.
At the same time, these arent sycophants either. Most Catholics I spoke to thought this pope, like others theyve watched come and go, has his flaws, his weaknesses, and areas where hes out of his depth. In saying that, nobody was wishing him harm or expressing root-and-branch opposition - it was more akin to a healthy recognition that popes arent gods, and that loyalty doesnt mean pretending to be deaf, dumb and blind when debatable prudential decisions are being made (or not made.)
Where Im going is this: We may well have a mismatch between the public debate about Francis and the reality on the ground.
In public, often it appears to be a zero/sum, all-or-nothing war between supporters and opponents. On the ground, its more akin to a back-and-forth among basic supporters (of this pope and any pope) who nevertheless realize that even a great leader can have lacunae, and who are smart enough to know that critical loyalty is of more value to the Church, and to the pope himself, than either fawning unctuousness or blind hostility.
Francis is famous for calling the Church to get out of the sacristy and into the streets. In a similar vein, Id say that if you want to know what most Catholics are actually thinking about Francis, get off Twitter and into the trenches.
Absolutely disgusting. Dolan is a joke.
I don’t care “what most Catholics are thinking about” Bergoglio.
What ball player would Dolan compare Dr. Miqueli to?
What ball player would Dolan compare Fr. Miqueli to?
John Allen is brilliant and his respect for Pope John Paul II is authentic. However, his conclusion that the convention in Orland is “about as representative a cross-section of mainstream, meat-and-potatoes, Mass-going Catholics as youre likely to get in the United States” is silly. A class of Catholic administrators had the ability to afford to go to Orlando and they are not going to rock the boat and take a pay cut by criticizing Francis.
Dolan is as idiotic as he looks.
I imagine “He’s a joke”, “bad pope”, “might be the antichrist”, “worst pope ever”, are likelier responses.
Exactly. The bishops and diocesan workers and Catholic media folks at this pow-wow are “the establishment.” They’re not the rank-and-file Catholics in the pews. I’m sorry. If you’re a faithful Catholic and you’re not deeply disturbed by many of the things that Pope Francis has said and done, you’re not paying attention.
What I find extremely frustrating and disgusting about this Pope is not only the circuitous positions on temporal and physical relationships emanating from this Vatican. But his adamant refusal to confront and condemn the theological assertions the Moslems use and claim which portray a corruptible double talking deity that allows them to lie and deceive and murder Christians. He could begin by asking these questions
Arrest the pedos and put them in jail.
Francis is the Obama of popes.
Kick out this baby-killing faggot, and get your real Pope back.
This “pope” is to Catholicism was what the Obama “presidency” was to the USA. When a new REAL pope replaces him, Catholicism will be stronger than ever. This pope is doing REAL Catholics a favor, long term.
A little off subject - from my good friend Chris.....
Look for him to step down.
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