The Washington Post is picking up on a phenomenon some of us have been aware of for some time: conservative Catholics who are struggling with Pope Francis. One of the experts they interviewed is our own Dr. Gregory Popcak.
Rattled by Pope Francis’s admonishment to Catholics not to be “obsessed” by doctrine, his stated reluctance to judge gay priests and his apparent willingness to engage just about anyone — including atheists — many conservative Catholics are doing what only recently seemed unthinkable:
They are openly questioning the pope…
..Some report praying deeply on the matter and finding that struggling with the dissonance has strengthened their connection to their faith. They are sharing widely online essays with names like “Pope Francis is killing me,” and “Why Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.”
Mary Ellen Barringer, a Silver Spring resident who attends Mass daily, says she misses Benedict “desperately.” Right away, she said, Francis challenged all Catholics to do more . She felt him saying to people like her: Writing checks to pro-life causes isn’t enough, you need to get closer to the disenfranchised and the poor. She felt him telling her she was being smug about less traditional Catholics.
“He is calling every single one of us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which is a really hard thing to do,” she said. “We tend to have barriers up in society : Republican, Democrat, liberal, whatever. We don’t just sit down and say, ‘Why do you think this or that?’
Gregory Popcak, a marriage and family counselor on the radio and in private practice in Ohio, describes being sent deep into prayer after several clients used Francis’s public words to push back on Popcak when he explained church teachings on sex and love. One client recently quit, saying, “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic,” he recalled.
First, he felt frustrated, then ashamed.