One of the narratives you will find being manufactured by the Andrew Sullivans and HuffPo types is the dream of some sort of “repudiation” of Benedict by Francis. The narrative is basically “evil old Benedict is finally being broomed into history by our New Leftist Pope who is finally going to usher in the Great Rosy Dawn of Pelvic Freedom for All!” It’s a complete delusion fostered by the tendency of narcissists to project themselves on the world.
But the irony, as we have seen, is that Reactionaries are *eager* to believe that people like Sullivan are dead right because they deeply believe, as much as Sullivan et al, that Francis rejects and seeks to subvert the Church’s teaching. The only quarrel between a Pelvic Dissenter like Sullivan and a Reactionary Francis hater is whether it’s good or bad that Francis means to destroy the Church.
In reality, however, Francis is not subverting the Church’s teaching at all, nor is he saying much of anything different than what Benedict had to say. There is no dissing of Benedict going on. There’s no quarrel and no feud. It is total fiction.
Popes are, doctrinally, completely predictable. They say what the Church says. When some guy in a paper mitre on some website declares that because Honorius or Liberius said something stupid privately a thousand years ago, or wimped out under torture 18 centuries ago and therefore Francis is probably a heretic, the lesson I learn is “Guys in comboxes saying stupid junk are a dime a dozen. Popes who even come close to being heretics happen roughly once a millenia. Therefore the odds are radically in favor of the proposition that the idiot in the combox is an idiot rather than the guy in Peter’s Chair being a heretic, even in his private opinions.”
Deep, cleansing breaths. Stop instantly believing it when some quack tells you to panic about Francis. The dude is a gift from God and he is articulating the Tradition in a way that is making the Tradition heard–and it’s the same Tradition Benedict articulated. So listen.