Less Fear, More Faith

I confess that I find myself more than a little dismayed at the outright snark unleashed in the wake of Pope Francis’ latest interview. I have it on good authority that the translation was very badly done, so I’m waiting until a more reliable one is available before commenting on the interview itself. But in the meantime…I’m starting to understand what the phrase “more Catholic than the Pope” means. I always thought that was kind of a silly phrase, since all the Catholics I knew held the Pope in utmost respect, believing as they did in the unbroken chain of apostolic succession. Lately, though, people seem intent on slapping the body of Christ in the head.

I don’t get it. I understand the confusion. I understand how one could feel betrayed (although I think that’s really an issue with us and not with Pope Francis). But I do not understand the superiority, the self-righteousness, the derisive sneering at the Vicar of Christ. It’s really hard for me to feel derisive of a man who secretly saved at least a hundred people from torture and execution during Argentina’s Dirty War, and then never told anyone about it, refusing to speak up in his own defense even when countless accusations of collaboration with war criminals were leveled against him. That’s the kind of man I trust to follow the promptings of the Spirit. And if he is following the promptings of the Spirit with these interviews, I think it’s safe to say that the problem isn’t with Francis.

Remember, y’all, that the war cannot be lost. It’s already won. The Church will stand firm as she always has. And even if Pope Francis errs a bit here and there, it’s highly unlikely we’re about to have Alexander VI or Leo X deja-vu. It’s more likely that the Spirit is moving in mysterious ways to shake us all out of our certainty and complacency.

Less fear, more faith.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you, Calah. Well said.

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com/ JoAnna Wahlund


  • Gordis85

    Amen! Well said and for me, encouragement to keep trusting. Thank you!

  • Tom

    Look, everybody, common sense!

  • Randy Gritter

    Cardinal George was right. Pope Francis wants a church that is not self referential. Yet both liberals and conservatives comb the popes words to use as weapons against each other. OK, the liberals have been finding more ammunition and scoring more points. But the battle is totally petty and exactly the kind of navel gazing Pope Francis says he wants to get rid of. The church is more self-referential than ever. Just the pope is in the middle of it. Stop talking about what the pope is saying and start doing what he is doing. Visit with an atheist. Talk with a woman considering an abortion. Don’t worry about heresy. God will protect the church from heresy. Worry about love.

    • Dan C

      Seriously, most conservatives are clear: Francis is not going to find much common political ground with them. I think the trouble is that your teachers and writers on the Right have deceived you that Benedict was really different than Francis.

      There is nothing conservative in Love in Truth, Benedict’s third encyclical.

      • Sir Mark

        Oh, for goodnees sake, I read the descriptions of conservative Catholics on these comboxes and I wonder whom you people are describing. I certainly don’t recognize myself or any other conservatives I know. You tell me you believe that Love is Truth. Well, how about showing a little love to your conservative brethren? Oh, by the way, I enjoyed reading the Pope’s second interview. I haven’t read the first, but I am looking forward to it. Sorry if that doesnt fit your preconceived notion of conservatives.

        • Dan C

          Love in Truth is the third encyclical of Benedict. I said I read it and find it great. I would love to believe in Love is truth but of course, I imperfectly practice that.

          I read conservative blogs as a bit of “opposition research.” I have read the Archbolds, Akin, Longenecker, The American Catholic, Over the Rhine and into the Tiber, The American Conservative (Rod Dreher), FIrst Things, Mark Shea, The Anchoress, Simcha Fisher, RIck Garnett, and Amy Welborn. Several I have read for 10 years. Of the first seven of these commentators-who are not conservative light weights and decent thinkers, I think it is fair to say that Francis is a “challenge” to them. Garnett outrightly said so.

          I respect conservatives enough to study them and their viewpoints.

          I claim that the right wing deliberately misread Benedict into their own ideology. As such, they ended up with a shock with Francis.

          • steve5656546346

            Well, I think most anybody should be shocked by the claim that the most serious problems facing the world, and the Church, are youth unemployment and elderly loneliness.

  • Dan C

    As an unapologetic left-winger who lived in a Catholic Worker House and has done hospitality with my family for close to 15 years, Francis is quite conservative and no big deal.

    The problem on the right is that you all ignored Benedict, over and over. Benedict is a bit of a free-thinker and not an intellectual confrere of conservatives, hence he publishes a bit of a groovy first encyclical called God is Love. Then goes all socialist with what will be declared as the grand outline for social justice for the next 100 years: Love in Truth. (But conservatives did manage to read the three cherry-picked anti-abortion lines out of Love in Truth.)

    Francis is only a problem for the blog-reading blog-writing conservative Catholics who finds more affinity with politcal Evangelicalism than their religious confreres, liberal Catholics. Francis is a problem for Dwight Longenecker, who thinks that atheists cannot go be saved, and for Jimmy Akin who spends a lot of typing trying to assure readers of the same. Because they never listened to Benedict, they never learned he disagreed, deciding that atheists and Hindus and even Evangelicals (yes, even Baptists) were saved on a “large scale.”

    Francis is no problem, the problem is that the right wing never really listened to or learned from Benedict.

    • Andy

      Well said – one has only to read Benedict and see that he was indeed a free-thinker, egad, he may have been a liberal in conservative clothing.

      • Paul Adams

        But who, apart from the MSM and liberals/progressives, ever thought that Benedict was a conservative politically or followed a party line? Clearly he is a European-type social democrat and said as much. As for Caritas in Veritate, American conservatives saw it as deeply problematic from the start,- see, e.g., George Weigel’s critique. His perspective on CST is in marked contrast to that of JPII and Centesimus Annus. I think the problem is that the MSM and progressives in the Church, who love to use Francis to bash Benedict, reduce matters of liturgy, art, architecture, and music, moral theology and ethics, to political terms of left and right. The witness of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin – left-wingers whom one cannot imagine as supporters of guitar masses, a hermeneutic of rupture, or the sexual revolution – should warn us against that mistake.

        • Andy

          I don’t see lots of people bashing Benedict with Francis – in fact I see the opposite. I think that many conservatives saw in Benedict a kindred spirit and ignored his less than conservative statements or tried to explain them away. I think however, that where you describe liberals as reducing the matters of liturgy… one can argue that conservatives have raised them to a point where the slightest apparent slip is evil. Francis is warning us away from either extreme.

          • steve5656546346

            Odd: Francis dwells on only one side of the extreme. He doesn’t use language concerning the left (if you want to use that term) of similar harshness as: “Pelagians.” “Triumphalists.” “Restorationists.” “Disciplinarians.” “Cowards.” “Hypocrites.” “Legalists”. “Small-minded.” “Obsessed”. “Doctrinal security-ists,” “Narcissists.”

          • Andy

            Equally as odd – people who told those who questioned Benedict to leave the church, that they were not true Catholics – an endless list. Perhaps Francis is saying – “get your heads into the world – do not stare at one’s own purity – rather, join the rest of in a world that is messy and not doctrinally pure, not obsessed with only issues of sexuality. not driven to push people away”. If you really believe that the church is needed by all that takes courage to put your faith on display, to answer questions with care and recognition that your interpretation may be wrong. It takes courage to realize that a monarchal pope is not the answer.

  • Andy

    Thank you for the post – if nothing else Francis makes me take the gospels into my life more openly, where Benedict made me take them to my prayer life. Like most of us I needed both.

  • steve5656546346

    His communications strategy is an epic fail, and he needs to get a new one.

    When we look at history, we find that there were popes who really weren’t all that Catholic. That does not threaten our faith. What the Holy Spirit guarantees is that they will not bind the faithful to error concerning faith and morals.

    The issue is not whether we are more Catholic than the Pope, the issue is whether these non-stop interviews are doing terrible damage.

    • Chesire11

      Gee, I dunno. Without straying one iota from orthodoxy, our Holy Father has gotten the world to sit up and take notice of what the Church has to say for the first time in years. We, the faithful, are given an opportunity to explain to the unchurched what he is saying, and how it squares with Church doctrine, and explode the popular lies about what the Church is and isn’t. We are able to do this because, rather than attacking what they wrongly perceive the Church to be, our audience is asking what it really is.

      But it doesn’t stop there. With the very same comments, he is shaking the faithful out of our smug complacency, challenging us to look at ancient orthodoxies through new eyes. He replaces the stale platitudes into which many of us have domesticated the faith with the true subversive character of the Gospel message. He goads us out of lazy bromides about the faith into active examination of and action in faith.

      The only thing being damaged is the castrated Catholicism that has withered under the oppressive weight of “respectability.”

  • rodlarocque1931

    There is no way I can every agree with this pope’s assumption that the Church must embrace modern society, in spite of the fact that Pope Pius IX clearly condemned this in no uncertain terms as follows:

    Condemned proposition:
    80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms
    with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.- -Allocution “Jamdudum
    cernimus,” March 18, 1861.

    How can the Church square this circle? The only way is to say Pope Pius IX was wrong and if he was wrong, then this pope too can clearly be wrong about his predecessors being wrong.
    The Holy Father has to develop doctrine and not contradict it. How can an about-face change, like the orientation and attitude change between the Novus Ordo mass and the Traditional Latin Mass, about the mission of the Church to save souls, replaced by the desire to help the poor, about the establishment of Catholic states with modern religious freedom. There has been a total abandonment of tradition in the Church to the point that one wonders if the great apostacy is here now. Is this NewChurch the same as the Catholic Church? Tradition is the most precious gift within the Church because it assures truth and continuity – this pope’s attitude will lead to confusion and destruction of what little of Christendom is left.
    I am disappointed, angry, feeling betrayed and alarmed.
    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  • Jordan

    Mmmmm, that sounds like work.