Adios Francisco

 

PopeAirToward the end of last week, a Jewish friend asked me what I thought of Pope Francis’s performance on his North American tour. I hesitated to answer. What I wanted to say was that he’s driving me crazy. “I’m conflicted,” was the best I could come up with.

I’m the type who thinks you don’t talk smack about the pope. Call it the Catholic version of Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment.

Yet I struggle, like so many of my conservative Catholic friends, to hold my tongue when the Holy Father pronounces on such non-dogmatic issues as capitalism and climate change, or when he scolds the American bishops for being “harsh” and “divisive.” So much of what he says—and how he says it— seems deliberately aimed at Catholics who actually stuck with the church all these years, defending her honor against those who would run her out of the public square. We feel like we’re being singled out for criticism.

My liberal Catholic friends respond with no small amount of relish by saying, “Aha! Now you know how it felt all those years to live with a pope you disagreed with and felt didn’t represent your views. Turnabout is fair play.” Maybe they’re right, but they should be as ashamed of indulging that impulse as anyone who lorded the traditionalism of John Paul II or Benedict XVI over them should have been. Catholics — conservative or liberal — who use the pope as a cudgel with which to beat the other side should reexamine their motives.

For me — and, I suspect, a great many conservatives — the gripe with Pope Francis is as basic as this: Friends and family shouldn’t air their differences in public. If the pope had a problem with us, he should have said it to our faces. We could have worked something out.

But Francis didn’t say it to our faces. Right from the jump, he took it out in the open. He said it to a giddy, greedy press, right there on the back of his plane. He told the world that traditional Catholic families had a bad habit of breeding like rabbits. He told the same people who’ve been telling us to shut up about social issues like abortion and gay marriage that we talk too much about that stuff.

Francis said, in not so many words, that conservative Catholics are too “judgey,” which, whether he realizes it or not, is one of the worst things you can be in America these days. In short, it feels like the pope sold us out. He went and broke bread with the adversary without checking in with us first.

As if all that wasn’t painful enough, he then came cross the water and said the same things to our Congress. I know immigration is an issue dear to the Church’s heart. But it also happens to be a major and divisive issue in this country, and the pope came down firmly on the side of the Democratic left. Climate change, too, is a major and divisive issue in this country; again, he came down firmly on the side of the Democratic left.

On all the major and divisive issues that he spoke about, he came down firmly on the side of the Democratic left.

Now the pope has gone home. What are we left with? Will the excitement his visit generated get lapsed Catholics back in the pews? Has the nation been evangelized? Have the millions of faithless Americans had their hearts turned toward Christ?

I suppose time will tell. But my own guess is that the answer to these questions is no, not by a long shot.

Instead, we are left with the gruesome and heart-wrenching Planned Parenthood videos, a major and divisive issue about which the pope stayed basically silent. We are left with the Obergefell decision, a major and divisive issue about which the pope spoke in only the most obscure terms. We are left with Obamacare’s contraception mandate, about which he chose to speak symbolically through his visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor — no small gesture, but not quite as forceful as standing before Congress and telling the president to leave the nuns alone.

The pope has gone, and traditional and conservative Catholics are left … on our own. So I guess I just have to come out and say it. I love Pope Francis, but he’s driving me crazy.

There are 24 comments.

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  1. Morley Stevenson Member
    Morley Stevenson
    @MorleyStevenson

    He was also silent on the matter of Cuban dissidents. A major disappointment.

    • #1
  2. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Since Francis is overly wrought about global warming, what type and how many jets does the Vatican own? Another case of politically correct thinking trumping personal actions.

    • #2
  3. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Wow. Ricochet has published so many anti-Pope columns this week it appears we’ve run out of political and sociological analysis and are now publishing individual testimony of personal feelings. How edifying for the rest of us.

    Good grief.

    I think I need a Rico break – at least until the editors spend some time with a catechism.

    • #3
  4. Big John Member
    Big John
    @AllanRutter

    I dunno, Mark, it sounded a little “smack”-ish, but in a friendly way. First, the acts of humility (feeding the poor, kissing babies, visiting the Little Sisters) would be more powerful had he resisted lecturing from the left on capital punishment, the environment, and the loathsome Castros. Second, the disregard for more conservative views is like our own Left, who complain about how stupid we are while they take our money for their pet government causes (which makes a bit stupid,huh?).

    • #4
  5. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    At one time I was active in the Democrat party. It became obvious that the Democrats became socialist and that party no longer had a place for me in it. Thus I had to step away from that affiliation.

    For 52 years I have been a member of the Catholic Church. Twelve years of Catholic schools. Many years of volunteering for Catholic causes. Now with Frances it is becoming obvious that the Church is changing. It may be that it no longer has a place in it for me. It may be time for me to step away from that affiliation also, pain me as it does. Time will see how it goes.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Matthew Hennessey: I love Pope Francis, but he’s driving me crazy.

    Ha! That much, I agree with.

    The Church needs balance. As Bishop Barron put it, Christianity includes both extravagant demands and extravagant mercy. Perhaps Pope Francis leans too heavily in the direction of mercy, but through the grace of charity Christians can accept much within a muddled or imprudent message. I listened to his final address to his fellow bishops yesterday and found much to admire.

    I have no doubt that his speeches are offered with humility; as invitations to consideration, rather than scolding.

    It is not my intention to offer a plan or to devise a strategy. I have not come to judge you or to lecture you. I trust completely in the voice of the One who “teaches all things” (Jn 14:26). Allow me only, in the freedom of love, to speak to you as a brother among brothers. I have no wish to tell you what to do, because we all know what it is that the Lord asks of us. Instead, I would turn once again to the demanding task – ancient yet never new – of seeking out the paths we need to take and the spirit with which we need to work. Without claiming to be exhaustive, I would share with you some reflections which I consider helpful for our mission.

    When listening or reading his remarks, a Christian should begin by wanting to find agreement. Love demands it.

    • #6
  7. Dick Thatcher
    Dick
    @Dick

    jetstream:Since Francis is overly wrought about global warming, what type and how many jets does the Vatican own? Another case of politically correct thinking trumping personal actions.

    Actually the answer to your question is the Vatican doesn’t own any jets. He usually flies Alitalia – chartered of course. On his North American visit he flew American Airlines: http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/what-does-pope-francis-plane-look-like.html/

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Fake John Galt: For 52 years I have been a member of the Catholic Church. Twelve years of Catholic schools. Many years of volunteering for Catholic causes. Now with Frances it is becoming obvious that the Church is changing. It may be that it no longer has a place in it for me. It may be time for me to step away from that affiliation also, pain me as it does. Time will see how it goes.

    I hope not.

    Sometimes we buy products from respectable manufacturers and salespersons, while other times we endure those sources for the sake of obtaining a good product. Sometimes we have to endure poor managers and foolish owners to continue a good and fulfilling job. Sometimes the people we love have friends or family with hateful personalities, and we endure those relations for the sake of the people we love.

    The bishops, the priests, our fellow parishioners, management, structure, and other aspects of the Church can be similarly frustrating at times. They can be mistaken, willfully foolish, or even cruel. But the Creed remains, after centuries of conflict and changing leadership. The Eucharist remains. The wisdom born of generations in debate and trials remains.

    When you’re frustrated, look deeper. Go back to the rock on which the Church is built and work your way up. Present foibles can distract us from much older and grander testaments to truth.

    • #8
  9. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Fake John Galt:At one time I was active in the Democrat party. It became obvious that the Democrats became socialist and that party no longer had a place for me in it. Thus I had to step away from that affiliation.

    For 52 years I have been a member of the Catholic Church. Twelve years of Catholic schools. Many years of volunteering for Catholic causes. Now with Frances it is becoming obvious that the Church is changing. It may be that it no longer has a place in it for me. It may be time for me to step away from that affiliation also, pain me as it does. Time will see how it goes.

    The Church seems to be going through something like the Gnosic Heresy wherein the educated elites in the church claim to have special superior knowledge. The Church has survived a lot in the past centuries and will continue to survive.

    Keep your faith, FJG.

    • #9
  10. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Dick:

    jetstream:Since Francis is overly wrought about global warming, what type and how many jets does the Vatican own? Another case of politically correct thinking trumping personal actions.

    Actually the answer to your question is the Vatican doesn’t own any jets. He usually flies Alitalia – chartered of course. On his North American visit he flew American Airlines: http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/what-does-pope-francis-plane-look-like.html/

    Because of his concern for global warming, why is he traveling in large jets which exhaust, what Francis believes to be, large amounts of pollutants. He could have chosen to travel by means utilizing renewable energy.

    • #10
  11. Dick Thatcher
    Dick
    @Dick

    jetstream:

    Dick:

    jetstream:Since Francis is overly wrought about global warming, what type and how many jets does the Vatican own? Another case of politically correct thinking trumping personal actions.

    Actually the answer to your question is the Vatican doesn’t own any jets. He usually flies Alitalia – chartered of course. On his North American visit he flew American Airlines: http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/what-does-pope-francis-plane-look-like.html/

    Because of his concern for global warming, why is he traveling in large jets which exhaust, what Francis believes to be, large amounts of pollutants. He could have chosen to travel by means utilizing renewable energy.

    I’m not sure what you have in mind for a trip from Italy to the U.S. and back. Sailboat? The Gossamer Condor? I’ll admit, as a guy who works in oil/gas exploration, I have no objection to big jets.

    • #11
  12. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Dick:

    jetstream:

    Dick:

    jetstream:Since Francis is overly wrought about global warming, what type and how many jets does the Vatican own? Another case of politically correct thinking trumping personal actions.

    Actually the answer to your question is the Vatican doesn’t own any jets. He usually flies Alitalia – chartered of course. On his North American visit he flew American Airlines: http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/what-does-pope-francis-plane-look-like.html/

    Because of his concern for global warming, why is he traveling in large jets which exhaust, what Francis believes to be, large amounts of pollutants. He could have chosen to travel by means utilizing renewable energy.

    I’m not sure what you have in mind for a trip from Italy to the U.S. and back. Sailboat? The Gossamer Condor? I’ll admit, as a guy who works in oil/gas exploration, I have no objection to big jets.

    Francis has been lecturing the world about the dangers of man made global warming, but, like all of the other Lefties, who lecture us, he doesn’t walk the walk.

    If Francis means what he says about global warming, a sailboat it is.

    I know, I know, he’s too important to live constrained by his own principles -a condition afflicting most Lefties.

    • #12
  13. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Why don’t we do what the Democrats do. Interpret what he says as if it means what we want it to mean and insist the Democrats have it all wrong, which is probably true; then publicly ignore anything he says we don’t like. We aren’t going to change him and it is pointless to have a public fight. Some questions must be addressed, such as climate change and what to do about it, but after finding out who and what his filters are and how to penetrate them and with what arguments.

    • #13
  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller: I have no doubt that his speeches are offered with humility; as invitations to consideration, rather than scolding.

    I thought his speeches in America were much, much better than previous speeches.

    In general, his speeches seem more hubristic than those of any other Pope I’m familiar with. His new commandments, strong pronouncements about things based purely on his personal authority, without serious citation or supporting logic, his lack of respect for his predecessors and for Catholic tradition, his ostentatious shedding of his predecessor’s practices on the basis that he’s too humble for red shoes etc. and wants everyone to know…. eugh.

    On this trip, though, he seemed kinda papal. He gave Catholic speeches without any ridiculous moments. He was generous with compliments while remaining serious. I don’t think that immigration is really the primary Christian tenet he thinks, and I think he’s wrong about AGW, but he’s not heretical about either.

    • #14
  15. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    James Of England: In general, his speeches seem more hubristic than those of any other Pope I’m familiar with. His new commandments, strong pronouncements about things based purely on his personal authority, without serious citation or supporting logic, his lack of respect for his predecessors and for Catholic tradition, his ostentatious shedding of his predecessor’s practices on the basis that he’s too humble for red shoes etc. and wants everyone to know…. eugh.

    I don’t think it’s hubris so much as sloppy thinking. As I’ve argued before, he seems to be more a man of action than a philosopher. Being elected Pope was probably a surprise to him, because I think he’d be more comfortable even as a hands-in-the-mud priest than as a bishop.

    Plus, he had a reputation as a priest for being bull-headed. That’s a trait of many people who are good about making use of their time and facing challenges head-on. But it also means that when he’s mistaken he must struggle against himself to deeply consider the opposition’s arguments.

    We’ll soon learn how substantial many concerns are when the Synod on the Family concludes. Whatever his faults, he does provide a better example of enthusiasm in faith than more intellectual types like Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

    • #15
  16. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Why is it that the Pope doesn’t make a visit to let’s say Mexico (you could fill in any predominantly Catholic Latin American country) and chastise their governments for their blatant corruption? Why is it that a Mexican immediately becomes more productive just by walking across the border? Why does over 10% of Mexico have to go across a border to live? Why doesn’t the Pope criticize businessmen who instead of moving their businesses to where the workers are have the illegal workers cross deserts at great risk to themselves and their families? Why doesn’t the Pope chastise the immigrants themselves for continually voting for left wing slugs that make the Mexican economy so corrupt? Why doesn’t the Pope chastise them again for crossing the border and voting for the gringo version of the same left wing slugs? Why doesn’t the Pope loudly and openly attack those forces of our society that promote the immoral life style that ruins families? Why does the Pope pose for pictures for the political good of men who are evil? Why does he use air conditioning? Finally why is his carbon footprint so big given the danger he says we are in?

    • #16
  17. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    James Of England: His new commandments,

    I guess I missed that encyclical. What are the new commandments?

    • #17
  18. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    Interesting. Fred links to this post in The Daily Shot today, but refers to Pope Benedict rather than Pope Francis.

    Is this a test, or is Fred just enjoying some nostalgia?

    • #18
  19. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Pilli:

    Fake John Galt:At one time I was active in the Democrat party. It became obvious that the Democrats became socialist and that party no longer had a place for me in it. Thus I had to step away from that affiliation.

    For 52 years I have been a member of the Catholic Church. Twelve years of Catholic schools. Many years of volunteering for Catholic causes. Now with Frances it is becoming obvious that the Church is changing. It may be that it no longer has a place in it for me. It may be time for me to step away from that affiliation also, pain me as it does. Time will see how it goes.

    The Church seems to be going through something like the Gnosic Heresy wherein the educated elites in the church claim to have special superior knowledge. The Church has survived a lot in the past centuries and will continue to survive.

    Keep your faith, FJG.

    Faith is not the problem. I have no doubts about God, he is easy to see. It is just some of those that speak in his name that I have my doubts about.

    • #19
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Scott Wilmot:

    James Of England: His new commandments,

    I guess I missed that encyclical. What are the new commandments?

    Evangelii Gaudium:

    53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    This is right before he says that social exclusion is “something new”, because as everyone knows, societies did not used to exclude people.

    • #20
  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller: Plus, he had a reputation as a priest for being bull-headed. That’s a trait of many people who are good about making use of their time and facing challenges head-on. But it also means that when he’s mistaken he must struggle against himself to deeply consider the opposition’s arguments.

    It’s also a trait that conflicts with humility.

    Aaron Miller: I don’t think it’s hubris so much as sloppy thinking. As I’ve argued before, he seems to be more a man of action than a philosopher. Being elected Pope was probably a surprise to him, because I think he’d be more comfortable even as a hands-in-the-mud priest than as a bishop.

    Some of the hyperbole and such might be sloppy thinking rather than hubris. The decision to emphasize how much holier he is than his predecessors by dropping the slippers, moving to an only somewhat luxurious apartment, and such aren’t the same. The love of the camera and the zeal with which he pursues the topics in the news cycle over the topics in the Church calendar, likewise, aren’t about sloppy thinking.

    • #21
  22. SEnkey Inactive
    SEnkey
    @SEnkey

    I appreciate the post. Where better to air a carefully thought out point than ricochet? I don’t think Mark’s big issue in his post was all of the differences between his opinions and the Pope’s. His point was that many traditional Catholics feel somewhat betrayed or mistaken by some of the issues he has chosen to weigh in on (Climate, Immigration, Political alliances) and some of the ways he has characterized the faithful (breeding like rabbits).

    It is kind of like if your spouse brings their parents into an argument, or your brother brings his friends in, it’s just not fair. You are having an honest debate within certain boundaries, and then the other party brings in people who have no dog in the fight but are certain to agree with them. I understand the frustration. Good post.

    • #22
  23. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    James Of England: 53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    You can argue that this is ridiculous or infantile or ignorant or whatever you like but there is no “new commandment” here that binds us as Catholics.

    The last sentence of this paragraph seems to describe the situation for quite a few of the citizens of the USA under the Obama economy.

    • #23
  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Scott Wilmot: You can argue that this is ridiculous or infantile or ignorant or whatever you like but there is no “new commandment” here that binds us as Catholics.

    I’m not going to go into how binding Papal commandments are, but he says his novel injunction to say no to capitalism is “just as” the commandment not to kill. If it’s equivalent to a Decalogue entry, it seems pretty much like a commandment to me.

    Scott Wilmot: The last sentence of this paragraph seems to describe the situation for quite a few of the citizens of the USA under the Obama economy.

    Do you believe that it is a problem of the Obama economy that large amounts of food is discarded while people starve? It is my understanding that there is less food waste under Obama than under previous Presidents (not thanks to Obama, but food storage, distribution, and transportation are becoming ever more efficient), and that we do not have people starving in America.

    It is true that in America it doesn’t make headlines when an old person dies, and that we carry financial news, but it’s not true to suggest that there are many people without opportunities due to an excess of competition. To the extent that have people who cannot find work due to the economy, it is because of the lack of competition; minimum wages and such price them out. If you mean the disabled, then, again, it’s not the presence of a competitive economy that causes the harm.

    When you talk about this being what America is like, what powerful people feeding on the powerless do you think Francis is referring to?

    • #24

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