Can we please talk about the pope…

… I’m a convert, see, and in my memory I only have two popes.

Benedict and Francis.

So I have to ask, has it always been like this?

Love Benedict and you’re old stodgy fart stuck in the dark ages. Hate Benedict and you hate tradition. Love Francis and you are liberal, neo-con little ‘c’ Catholic. Hate Francis and again, you’re a stodgy old fart stuck in the middle ages.

Are we not allowed to have an opinion about the pope without having our Catholic street cred called into question?

I can like someone but not like every little thing do. I can also dislike someone and still find something pretty decent about them.

So Francis kissed that guy’s hand. JPII kissed that Koran. You know what each instance has in common — neither are exactly great moments in papal history yet the Church didn’t implode in on itself.

Can popes do silly things. Sure they can. Are we any less Catholic for thinking or even saying we think some of the things they’ve been known to do are silly? Do I even need to ask?

Of course not.

So why have we drawn these lines in the sand?

You like Francis, you must be a stinking liberal. You hate Francis, you must be stricken with a spiritual cancer and paranoid.

Honestly, I hate the fact that I can’t even talk about Francis. If I say anything slightly negative then I am not respecting the office of the papacy, am paranoid, and lack faith or some other nonsense. If I express disquiet, or even confusion, then I am spreading the disease of disunity among the faithful.

Do you know how unbelievable hard it’s been to not talk about the pope? Worse, being afraid to express the fact that I’m not in love with every little thing he does.

Why is this?

Can we please talk about the pope? Can we talk about him without the labels? The politics? The mindless group think? And mostly without the ad hominem attacks?

And for the love of all that’s holy, can we please stop mocking each other and pointing fingers?!? It’s really getting embarrassing, the way we are treating each other.

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Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Allison Grace

    Love this! And you know, something like 100 years ago (probably more recently, actually), regular people in the pews had No Idea what the pope said or did or kissed or dissed. And that was OK, too.

    • echarles1

      I think Bill Buckley said the average person on the street in Switzerland does not know who the president of Switzerland is and that’s an admirable state of affairs. Maybe it was for the Church as well!

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    I’m a Latin Catholic, but I go once a week to a Catholic Maronite mass. Though they are in union with the Pope, he has very little authority over them. The reason is that they have their own Maronite Patriarch to exercise authority in that Church, and the scope of his authority is much different from what we see from our Patriarch in Rome, the Pope. In that Church, the office of the Patriarch was informed by a different history, geography and canonical laws.

    The Pope actually very rarely speaks or acts as the successor of St Peter and almost all the time we experience the Pope as the Patriarch of the Latin Church. It’s not that the Pope has two offices, but that the assistance by the Holy Spirit was promised only to the Petrine Ministry, as head of the Universal Church, not to the head of the particular Latin Church.

    St Paul knew this when he was instituted in the ministry by St Peter in Jerusalem and when St Paul called out the imprudence of St Peter in Antioch, his own local Church. Likewise, Francis or Benedict or St John Paul, one is free to agree or disagree with, like or dislike him as a Patriarch, but is bound to assent to and love him as Peter. The problem is that most of us aren’t St Paul to tell when the Pope is acting as Peter or as a Patriarch.

  • ModerateMom17

    Cradle Catholic here, and no, it has not always been like this. That is if by “like this” you mean a shameful display of self important foolery. Let’s get some perspective shall we? Back in the day, Catholics around the globe would scarcely know much about the Pope’s daily goings on if anything at all. What they knew of him would be official Church business; encyclicals and stuff, that trickled down through Bishops to parish priests and to the faithful. There was no, do you “like” the Pope. The Pope was the Pope. The end. And that faithful didn’t have to decide if they liked him based on his daily tweet, or media blurb. Through history, we’ve come to learn that some of the popes weren’t that great. Some were downright bad. But guess what?? The Church stands as Christ promised. So, even if you don’t “like” a Pope, I feel pretty confident in saying, calm the eff down and stop being a douche waffle to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, probably get a hobby that doesn’t involve the internet. Maybe even fill your time with doing some of those pesky works of mercy. Just a thought.

  • A.J. Boyd

    I applaud the intention, but one key point is missed. Nobody says you cannot speak about the pope; why would you be afraid to do so?

    Francis fans range from the mostly liberal to the moderately conservative, most good, orthodox, faithful, observant Catholics are fans of the pope – many are fans of any pope. Those most excited about Francs are not the liberals, who want so much more, but the reform-minded centrists, the moderates, the ones who were tired of the Church not fixing its own problems for 35 years. Even if they loved JPII’s stalwart stand against communism or Benedict’s brilliant mind, everyone admits they both had a poor record of internal Church governance.

    But some critics of Francis who were fans of one or both of his predecessors were the ones who generally would allow no critique of the papacy under their watch. it is the hypocrisy that people do not like and do not approve. Francis fans were never ultramontanists, and are not now (except for those who really just like all the popes, i suppose!).

    One can critique anyone as long as one allowed critique before, too. But if one has been a proponent of the idea that the Pope is God’s Sole Vicar on Earth and Speaks in His Name for 35 years, one cannot suddenly change one’s tune and not expect some push-back. It has more to do with ecclesiology and understandings of the papacy than of personality. I would hope must of us can acknowledge that personality is not enough to discredit a papacy!

    Be not afraid of genuine criticism – some people disliked Pope Benedict’s pension for sartorial splendor but admired his ecclesiological acumen; some people disliked JPII’s cult-of-personality papacy, but admired his leadership on Catholic social teaching and commitment to youth; some people dislike Francis’ casual, pastoral communications style but have to admire that he is finally whipping the curia into shape. Or so we should all hope.

    • steve5656546346

      If you do not understand the consequences of disagreeing with the current Pope (whoever he may be) in more recent years (on one or more points of prudence), then you apparently have not been paying attention.

      But, if so, I’m not sure that is a bad thing… The intra-Church wars are not very edifying.

      • Jim M.

        I’m very edified that anyone cares enough to get in on the debate, however intense, even sometimes rude.

  • Philippa Martyr

    1) I love the Pope. I don’t give a hoot who he is; I just love him because he’s the Pope.
    2) I’m a Catholic, and so I believe God the Holy Spirit has chosen him out of all the other cardinals to be the Pope in this time and place.
    3) Not being God myself, I would hesitate to say who would have made a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ candidate than the one God chose.
    4) Not being the Pope, I would hesitate to say why he does any one thing or another. I know he won’t fail us in faith and morals, and I don’t care about the rest – economics, politics, this year’s hemlines. Irrelevant.

    • vox borealis

      I’m a Catholic, and so I believe God the Holy Spirit has chosen him out of all the other cardinals to be the Pope in this time and place.

      That’s not really how it works, as the last pope outlined.

      • Philippa Martyr

        Again, it comes down to whether you choose to accept that God is in charge of the Church, and makes His choices, and brings good out of even bad intentions and acts, or not. I’m not a Catholic Protestant, who has the power to say who’s been chosen by God and who hasn’t. I used to be – the ‘liberal’ Papacy had no harsher critic than me when I was in the SSPX – but I’ve since learned some humility and some docility in this, if not in anything else.

        • vox borealis

          God is charge of the universe, of course, But simply put, He does not choose the pope. Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) spoke on this point specifically. If you’re interested: http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/11/does-the-holy-spirit-choose-the-pope/. Moreover, even if we assume that this is an open matter, it is certainly not a necessary tenet of the faith to believe that God picks the pope. So, put simply, you are wrong to call anyone a “Protestant Catholic” for not accepting the notion the Holy Spirit comes down and literally guides the hands of the cardinal voters so that a majority of them pick teh exact pope that He wants.

        • vox borealis

          Hm, my longer response seems to have been eaten. So, a shorter version: you are wrong. God does not pick the popes. As then Cardinal Ratzinger taught: “I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.” Thus it is incorrect to call someone a “Catholic Protestant” because s/he does not believe the Holy Spirit compels a specific outcome in papal elections, a notion which is most certainly not a necessary tenet of the Catholic faith.

          • Philippa Martyr

            The last sentence of that quote is the most important. The Holy Spirit is right there in the thick of it, which is what gives me confidence in the Pope, no matter who he is. I may wish he were other than he is, but I’d never say that he wasn’t God’s intended one for this time and place. We can argue about free will and predestination and how God’s will adapts itself to our mistakes until the cows come home, but I have a full time job … So if you don’t mind, I’ll just reiterate that I have great confidence and trust in God, and His Word, and His Holy Spirit, which give me all I need where the Pope’s concerned. As to Catholic Protestantism – this IS the case when people start deciding for themselves who has been chosen by God and who has been chosen byy poor human choices and political machinations. Given that I’ve never attended a conclave, I’d hesitate to decide which was which. Or was it all Popes after Pius XII? Or after the year 456AD? Or was it – horror – all the Popes I don’t happen to like/agree with?

          • vox borealis

            But *you’re* the one who is deciding whom God chooses, not me. I leave the matter open, trusting only what God explicitly promised and the Church has clarified: that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, and that the Pope (whover he is may be, good or bad) cannot teach error. In fact, that is what the last sentence in Cardinal Ratzinger’s estimation says: that God only prevents ruin, not that He picks who he wants, or that he picks the best pope for that time and place.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            Yes @vox borealis: the Church is the LORD’s and that is why it prevails, in spite of a Pope, and not because of Popes …

          • Philippa Martyr

            Ummm – I think actually we kind of need the Pope to hold the Church together, in that he’s the Vicar of Christ on earth and the central point of authority … And that was Jesus’ decision, so maybe you need to take that up with Him as well.

          • Strife

            Really? Because this current pope is causing more division than any pontiff in recent memory. He keeps appealing to the vacuous sentimentalism of the world by creating false dichotomies between the Spirit of The Law and The Letter of The Law.

            And this is repeatedly seen in things like his ridiculous strawmen statements such as: the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” insisting that “the doors of the sacraments” must not “be closed for simply any reason.”

            Now, who in the Church ever even alluded to the Eucharist as a prize? However, the theological premise that the reception of the Eucharist must not be abused by our own personal interests goes back to the writings of St Paul himself. So to this pathetic example of a pope I would say – The Eucharist is NOT a prize for the self-centered and self-serving. Because there actually IS an overabundance of examples of that very abuse going on these days. But instead of correcting that well established sinful behavior – this papal so-and-so actually feeds and emboldens that abuse with his ridiculous fallacious statements.

            This garbage needs to end.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            @disqus_nrFmpqmaMP:disqus another addition to the Pope’s theology that I find strange and novel: Anyone care to explain it?:
            And Jesus, when he goes to heaven, carries there a gift for the Father. Have you thought about this? What is the gift that Jesus brings to the Father? His wounds,” the Pope told the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square on June 1.
            “And when he goes to the Father, he says to the Father, ‘look, Father: this is the price of forgiveness you give. And when the Father sees Jesus’ scars, he always forgives us.

          • Strife

            This is beyond strange. First, it assumes the ridiculous premise that God the Father has Alzheimers and that He needs to be reminded of the entire point of His Son’s Death and Resurrection. Does anyone really think this is even in the realm of possibilities in a “conversation” between the First Two Persons of the Holy Trinity? Really?

            See? This is exactly what I’m talking about with this cl#wn. He keeps making God small and pathetic. I’m sorry if this is a sinful statement, but I have to put it out there; this pope is not a smart man. And he’s not a deep man. In fact he’s very shallow and egotistical. And he is madly in love with the sound of his own voice.

            I’m currently reading St Augustine’s Confessions, St Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, and The Discernment of Spirits (an Ignatian guide to everyday living). And then I occasionally pick up this pontiff’s Evangelii Gaudium….. and it’s like eating a sumptuous 12 course meal of world class cuisine, followed by a stale 40 year old candy bar that was of poor quality even when it was fresh.

            *sigh*

            God save us from this guy. Please.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            I’m sorry if this is a sinful statement,

            If it is, perhaps the example of @CT Catholic Corner above is in order …
            This just highlights the dangers I speak of, the snares of the evil one, capture the father, the children react sinfully, and all are ensnared … This is a very serious crisis …
            Never have I heard of Jesus’ wounds being a gift, let alone being a gift he presents to his Father.
            I do not know where to start with the ‘scars’ and what the Father does when he sees them, and the ‘price of forgiveness’ …

          • Joe Blough

            You are exactly the type of troublemaker to which the author of the article refers. Go join the SSPX so we can be rid of your ilk.

          • Strife

            Do everyone a favor, take your papal cult of personality worship and start your own Church of Fwanky.

            “For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”” – 41 Corinthians 1:10-12

          • waltercarlson

            So true. He has given those in sin the idea that it is ok to continue in such a life. Communion should only be received by those in communion with the Church and in the state of grace.

          • Joe Blough

            It is not the Pope who “is causing more division than any pontiff in recent memory”; it’s the idiots who keep misinterpreting him and misrepresenting him.

          • Strife

            Yeah. Right. And yet, he never seems to correct them. And what’s worse, many of these conflicts are not misinterpretations. And he just keeps making the same stupid comments over and over and over.

          • Philippa Martyr

            We actually agree on most of this, except that I take a stronger line on divine providence than you do. That’s all. Once you start judging Popes and trying to figure out if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you are introducing a lot of your own criteria – often based on quite subjective points, which is why I keep talking about people who simply ‘don’t like’ this Pope or that Pope – and from there it’s easy to write an entire Papacy off as ‘bad’. This is generally not good for people’s faith, or their hope, or their love.

          • vox borealis

            Philippa Martyr, I’ll go one better. In the same Time article from 2005 by Fr. Martin, from which I pulled the Ratzinger quote, Martin went on to write:“Then the German theologian (Cardinal Ratzinger) got to the heart of the matter: “There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!” So, here we have a future pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, almost certainly to be declared a father of the Church, one of the great theologians and intellectuals of our time, claiming explicitly that sometimes popes have been elected whom the Holy Spirit did *not* pick. Moreover, he does so by invoking obvious (albeit unidentified) examples from history, suggesting that he had in mind several examples of popes whom God did not choose. So, by your logic, Cardinal Ratzinger was a Catholic Protestant!

            As to the discussion at hand, I have no opinion on the current pope as to whether he was or was not the Holy Spirit’s special hand picked pope, just as I have no opinion on any of the popes in the history of the church not named Peter. I merely comment that your undersanding of how popes are selected is flawed, and it is certainly not an article of faith of the Catholic Church nor an appropriate litmus test to determine whose Catholicism is orthodox or protestant in its thinking.

          • Philippa Martyr

            What a pity Cardinal Ratzinger wasn’t infallible then … And where’s my list of Popes Not Chosen By The Holy Spirit, then?

          • vox borealis

            And where’s my list of Popes Not Chosen By The Holy Spirit, then?

            You keep asking for what cannot be supplied, while at the same time claiming what cannot be known(namely what popes were picked by God—in your mind, all of them, a theological position found nowhere in Catholic theology). It’s really quite strange…almost Protestant Catholic in its undergirding logic.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            Off topic question: how do you get to do italics when you quote a part of previous comment?

          • vox borealis

            Do you know how to html code? use to start italics and then to end italics (but leave out the ” ” marks).

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            Mahalo! I appreciate it. I tried once and my whole comment became italic … I suspect I now know where I went wrong (the ending /i).

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            @vox borealis (what does this mean?), you present you arguments well.
            See above that Ms Fernandez has been kind enough to allow …

          • ModerateMom17

            The Holy Spirit doesn’t course the pope! Can this myth please die?!

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            @vox borealis (what does this mean?), your present you arguments well.
            May I add cf. Acts 15:28: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves …”
            And “In 1961 John XXIII received in audience in this Sistine Chapel the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. He indicated the dominant figure of Christ the judge in the fresco of Michelangelo, and told them that Christ will also judge the actions of the individual nations in history. You find yourselves in this same Chapel, beneath the figure of that Christ with his hand raised not to crush but to illuminate your voting, that it may be “secundum Spiritum,” not “secundum carnem.” […] It is in this way that the elected will be not yours, but essentially His. […]
            | Groundbreaking: The Last Warning to the Pope’s Electors | http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350575?eng=y
            And another, ‘God, Samuel, and the sons of Jesse.’

    • steve5656546346

      Actually, when the Pope is speaking directly to the people, and then his quotes are thrown up in our faces, it is not so easy to dismiss.

      And concerning communication, we (as those to whom the communication is intended) are perfectly qualified to perceive whether that approach is effective.

      • Philippa Martyr

        I usually find it’s a case of poor translation, deliberate or otherwise. And also context. Fr Z is very helpful with proper translations and context-setting.

    • Strife

      Would you also have “loved” some of the horrid popes throughout the last 2000 years simply because they were popes?

      And no, the Holy Spirit does not always pick the Pope. The Spirit simply inspires His choice. But sometimes, the corrupt Cardinals close their hearts to The Holy Spirit and insist on picking the man who will advance their own selfish political agendas. And such is obviously the case with this current Bishop of Rome.

      • Philippa Martyr

        Yes, I can even love the morally bad Popes, because I’m a sinner myself. And even Alexander VI never erred in faith and morals when teaching. Just in living. Of that, we are all guilty. I’m like Chesterton – I’m not suprised that there have been any bad Popes, but I’m REALLY surprised that there have been any good ones.
        And yes, the Holy Spirit does still choose the Pope, even if He uses flawed human instruments and passions and desires to do so. Otherwise we are just Catholic Protestants, using our own intuition and private revelations to allow us to decide who has been chosenby the Holy Spirit, and who hasn’t. Thank you for playing.

        • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

          Doing is teaching hence scandal …
          This dichotomy often presented to speciously argue as you have is false. Children are more apt to do as their parents do than what they just say. And that’s why we are asking ‘why did the Pope (Papa) celebrate mass with that priest, why did he kiss his hands?, etc.’
          cf. ‘Jesus began to do and teach.’

          • Philippa Martyr

            Then take it up with him, as Scripture says – admonish him privately first, and with witnesses. THEN go public and shun him, if you must. Or, you could spend your time taking care of your own soul and the souls of those for whom you are directly responsible, and praying for the poor Pope.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            What a way to evade the argument … teach with clarity, that’s what he is called to do.
            Think about it @philippamartyr:disqus: how likely is it that all of these commenters against your position (and a Pope) are wrong and you are right?
            I believe @voxborealis:disqus and others have argued effectively against your position.

          • Philippa Martyr

            I think you will find that I haven’t evaded any argument at all. I’m still here, and still arguing. Now would you kindly supply me with a list of Popes who were elected by the Holy Spirit, and a list of those who were chosen as the result of devious machinations, and a list of those who are ‘maybe a bit of both’. And then tell me on what authority you determine this. Because I certainly don’t have the authority to discern this for myself, which is why I take the Holy Spirit option and continue to hope and trust in God. As far as I can see, Pope Francis – and every Pope before him – has taught with clarity, even when perhaps their example was rotten. ‘Do as they say, but don’t do as they do’, as I believe Someone said once.

        • Strife

          Then obviously you must love Judas Iscariot too right? But not because he was the traitor that he was – but because he was a human-being. No?

          And please show me where Catholic Theology states that the Holy Spirit always picks the pope.

          • Philippa Martyr

            Yes, that’s right. I’ve even prayed for Judas, because I believe that it’s just possible that prayers for him may get him into Heaven. I’m also glad Dante is not God …

          • Strife

            You pray for Judas because he was a sinful man who embraced evil. I certainly hope you don’t pray for him simply because his actions were good.

            And did you actually just cite:(‘Do as they say, but don’t do as they do’, as I believe Someone said once.)

            Are you serious? Because that statement is the epitome of hypocrisy. And it goes against the very theological basis of Christ’s teachings. “By their fruits you will know them” – Matthew 7:16

            Oh and, I’m still waiting on your Catholic theological evidence that the Holy Spirit always picks every pope. Because on one hand you claim you have no authority to discern any of this for yourself, and then you turn right around in defiance of your own premise and clearly discern (by your own authority) that the Holy Spirit must have done something that you have no theological evidence of. So which is it?

            (“I’m also glad Dante is not God …”) ah, but you must think you know the mind of God if you can infer some sort of authoritative refutation of Dante – no? Oh and, Dante wasn’t the only one to castigate the horrid actions by popes. There were some notable Saints throughout the ages who boldly did so as well. Starting with The Apostle Paul when he not so subtlety and quite publicly disciplined Peter for his bigotry. And Peter was picked by Christ Himself as pontiff. So there’s that of course.

            Do everyone a favor – educate yourself in the actual Catholic faith and the Papal Office and stop the cult of personality papal worship of the men.

    • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

      2) I’m a Catholic, and so I believe God the Holy Spirit has chosen him out of all the other cardinals to be the Pope in this time and place.
      This is an article of Faith? I have been professing the wrong creed this whole time?

      • Philippa Martyr

        Umm … it’s one of those ‘On this Rock I will build my Church’ things.

        • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

          Quite a stretch …

          • Philippa Martyr

            Do you believe Jesus said that, or don’t you?
            Do you believe he meant it, or don’t you?
            I believe both. The Holy Spirit blows where He will. I’m very happy that God’s actually in charge of His Church, and that this is the bottom line. Whether I like the Pope or not is irrelevant.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            Whether I like the Pope or not is irrelevant.”
            This is just a strange argument.
            The concern is not whether a Pope is likeable or not (this appears to be your running theme) but whether his doing his job as Pope (God is judge but we can tell), the Petrine Ministry: ‘Feed my lambs, look after my sheep, feed my sheep’, uphold and protect the deposit of Faith for this generation and deliver it intact to the next, and teach with clarity.
            That with this Pope there is consternation and confusion (while the media/world celebrates) among your ordinary Catholics is clear indication that something is terribly amiss.

          • Philippa Martyr

            As far as I can see – and yes, I am looking, and looking closely – Pope Francis is doing the Petrine Ministry thing just fine. I think you will find that much of the problem is with poor translations, out-of-context quotes and the media’s determination to turn him into the amazing liberal First Pope Who Smiled, etc. I will not play their game. I try to get behind the media spin and see what actually happened for real, and so far Pope Francis has not let me down. There is no consternation and confusion if you will just go and read what the man has actually said, both off the cuff and in his Papal writings. There is nothing terribly amiss except that shell-shocked Catholics are overreacting to the liberal media baiting them.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            As far as I can see – and yes, I am looking, and looking closely – Pope Francis is doing the Petrine Ministry thing just fine.
            Then you have nothing to worry about …

  • vox borealis

    The trend towards papal cult of personality is a fairly recent phenomenon, whichsurely must be tied to the profound advances in technology and communications of the last half century or more, plus the radically different role the pope has played since JPII (i.e. the globetrotting papacy, though even that began a little earlier). While this has allowed the pope individually to reach out to more people and to travel to and communicate more effciiently with far off lands, I’m not sure the effects have been entirely positive. Seriously,do we need papal tweets, or frankly to hear about daily papal homilies?

  • steve5656546346

    Great article!

  • Mary E.

    What bugs me is how it mimics contemporary American identity-politics, where it is posited that our political choices define “who we are,” with the most important (and identity-definining) choice being who we support for president. We are pushing that on to our relationship with our fellow Catholics, and in so doing, we are giving far too much power to the larger culture.

  • http://manwithblackhat.blogspot.com David L Alexander

    The problem in Catholic new media, is that Catholics do not know how to argue like Catholics, lacking the most rudimentary of rhetorical skills. Chesterton would run them into the ground, even if he agreed with them, if only for being annoyed. Thomas Aquinas would simply walk away and offer a Mass for them. But, rather than establish a sound premise and run with it, they pull out the Saul Alinsky playbook and resort to caricatures — like everybody else.

    This is not just the case with those who limit themselves to comboxes and Facebook. Even the “celebrity Catholics,” and the neophytes traversing the country for lecture-and-book-signing tours, couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag. They get thousands of hits a day on their blogs, but without the choir to whom to preach, they are wasting the bandwidth for the rest of us.

    As long as the internet is a level playing field, and as long as those who read this will hold their rapt attention to just about anyone who talks a good game, this phenomenon will not go away. It feeds on itself, and the beneficiaries include those who benefit the most from the attention.

  • AnnF

    Does anyone else think we sound ridiculously like the early Church? Me included, because I was a commenter. “I mean that each of you is saying, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ ” Obviously, we need St. Paul to pen us our own letter posthaste. Since that’s not going to happen, I guess we’d better open our Bibles and get back to basics. “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

  • AnnF

    In addendum to my previous comment: I do believe that we should be able to correct and debate each other. I think it was on a FB post of Scott Alt’s about this debacle, I suggested a code for bloggers for what kind of debate they’re willing to abide. Something like: A chalice for Catholic theological conversation and agreement, a flowery teacup for light discussion and fraternal correction, and a glass of stout for a good, solid pub-like argument.

    Yes, we need to be nicer about it and apologize more maybe, but people who get their hackles up over profanity always have the option of clicking their mouse elsewhere. Don’t they know anyone who’s Irish?

    Also, shoddy reporting is shoddy reporting. You can’t leave a message and go to press simply saying no one called back. You start asking why. You find another bonafide source willing to talk about the topic. It would have been nice to include what Elizabeth said about the meaning of the kissing of the hands. It’s called journalistic balance.

    I believe we act too much like sheep sometimes. We listen to other voices that aren’t the Master’s. Having a kerfluffle (I think that’s the word folks are using) like this has rubbed lots of wool the wrong way. Feelings got hurt. There was a LOT of Baaaaing. However, I think it resulted in a lot of examination of conscience, and it did kickstart some bullshit (there’s that word!) meters that had been switched off.

  • Christine Hebert

    And that is how Satan divides us. I agree with you Kat. I find it hard to participate in many “catholic” things these days because of the lack of charity between Catholics. We are all on different places in our journeys, and each journey is unique. We need to remember that and LOVE one another. Hm..sounded a bit like Francis there, didn’t I? Even though I am on the traditional side…..

  • AnnF

    I am ridiculously traditional, and I love Francis. Sometimes something he says or does gives me that top-of-the-roller-coaster feeling just for a second, and then I put it in God’s hands. People, it’s HIM we’re trusting, remember?

    • IRVCath

      Same here. I know people – everywone from Latin Mass attendees to Charismatics and everyone in between – who are fiercely loyal to Church and Pope, but don’t pick apart every word he says as if they were Bill O’Reilly or Jon Stewart. I suspect it’s the same for the vast majority of practicing Catholics.

  • Guest

    I don’t care whose hands a pope kisses; but I am concerned that a pope concelebrates our most sacred rite with an openly activist pro-homosexualist priest who is arguably under automatic excommunication. That is just strange at best. It does bother me greatly when any person of importance who wants to help the poor has a tendency to bash free market economics while saying little to nothing about how statist economics generally results in much more poverty.

    • IRVCath

      Ah, but to get even automatic excommunication, one has to know what one is doing is wrong, know that the penalty is excommunication, and voluntarily does it anyway. Or at least should know. Canon law makes it rather hard, save a declaration by the Pope or someone he delegates, for someone to be excommunicated. It is the last, not the first resort. Has IIRC been so since Trent.

  • Ryan

    I know, everyone hates the guy who does this, but, you used the word “than” twice, when it should have been “then”. I know I know I know :D

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      I don’t hate it. I am grateful. Half of this stuff I post is written at 2 am.

  • Jim M.

    I don’t care whose hands a pope kisses; but I am concerned that a pope concelebrates our most sacred rite with an openly activist pro-homosexualist priest who is arguably under automatic excommunication. That is just strange at best. And it does bother me greatly when any person of importance who wants to help the poor has a tendency to bash free market economics while saying little to nothing about how statist economics generally results in much more poverty. This is not about “hate”.

  • echarles1

    I think the world in the real pews is different from that in these virtual pews. In both places people have their opinions but in the actual pews Catholics tend to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt. Online nobody gives nobody the benefit of the doubt! BTW in RCIA for confirmation I got to know many new Catholics. Who was pope, is or will be pope was not their primary concern. (No they do not live under rocks.) They were drawn to the Church and wanted to know what it means to be Catholic. Jesus is with the Church always. Popes, however great or small, come and go.

  • Sheila Connolly

    I don’t really understand the need to criticize the Pope. What’s the advantage, what is gained by it? If the Pope’s prudential decisions aren’t what you’d choose, what does it matter?

    Sometimes I dislike what my pastor chooses to do. In fact, I almost always do. But I was raised in a family where every single Sunday, on the way home from church, we had a bash-the-pastor session from my parents. “Did you catch how he did this? I hated that homily. Why does he always have to choose the shortest option for everything?” On and on. And I have decided not to do that myself. If there is something to be gained by speaking up — if the Pope were teaching heresy and deceiving people; if the Pope approved of a person who I knew was not to be trusted — I’d speak up. But if not, there is nothing to be gained and there is something to be lost. If the Pope is constantly being criticized by everyone, it means fewer people will listen to the very good things he has to say. And that would be a real shame.

  • http://acatolica.com/ Ana Paula~acatolica

    Hello from BRASIL!!

    Of course you have the right to express whatever you think. Just be brave to face those who think different.

    Not like you, I AM IN LOVE WITH EVERY LITTLE THING POPE FRANCIS DOES.

    Courageus, unique, kind with people, simple from the bottom of his heart.

    I am sorry you are not able of being touched for him. And I am sorry when you are sarcastic about him, I mean, about the way he does things.

    God Bless you and your life.
    Stay in His Love.

    ~~~

    • tt

      Ana-Paula hit the nail on the head: you are often sarcastic about him. That is not necessary. In fact, as Christians called to love one another, we should not be sarcastic about anyone. Disagreeing is a different thing, but as others have pointed out, everything the pope says or does really does not require our agreement or even our commentary.

    • http://www.thyselfolord.blogspot.com pedroerik

      Dear Ana Paula,

      It is great to know that you love our Pope. I love him also, however I recognize mistakes and confusion that Pope Francis has bring to the Church.
      As you Brazilian, as me, why do not you follow my blog written in Portuguese? You will see a devout Catholic very worried about Pope Francis, as many people like Dr. Edward Peters.
      My blog is called Thyself, O Lord.

      ICXC NIKA

      Best regards,
      Pedro Erik

  • defiant12314

    I love Our Holy Father, I want what is best for him and for the Church.

    Yes I sometimes wish that he wearn’t being so humble (I believe he genuniely is) in public and putting aside some of the trappings of the Office, yes I wish that he would stop the passion of the FFI, yes I wish that he would think before he speaks more often.

    He needs our prayers, he needs Roasies and Masses said for him, he needs both Priests and Laity to pray to the Holy Spirit to guide him and above all he needs our Love, even if we feel like we want to throttle him. Also in all matters regarding Faith and Morals we need to be obedient! This does not mean that we meekly accept injuustice, but rather that rather we take our concerns to him as good children do and beg for his clemency.

    He is Our Father for a short time, apart from Our Eternal Father, the 1st Person of the Blessed Trinity all Fathers will from time to time fall short of what we need/want, that is why we must Pray and Sacrifice for him.

    • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

      Defiant…important if you are interested in the topic, that you should read this article by Father Geiger about the FFI:

      http://airmaria.com/2014/05/25/state-of-the-franciscan-friars-of-the-immaculate/

      • Paul Adams

        Having read these documents, I am still struck by the heavy-handed treatment of FFI, compared with the kid-glove treatment of and seemingly infinite patience in dealing with LCWR, an organization that has done incalculable damage in the US and is in more or less open heresy and rebellion against the hierarchy.

        • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

          Are you sure you read the documents in their entirety? Having read them myself, the treatment of FFI now makes perfect sense to me, and I was relieved by the information, because the treatment is eminently fair, and makes perfect sense in light of what is really going on there. Surely you can see that the response to a small order of priests and nuns that has voluntarily vowed obedience to the Holy See, and is requesting intervention from the pope because, danger of schism- and one that *purposely* flouts authority, and wants nothing whatever to do with it- must needs be different, pastorally? (think of a parent’s response to a totally rebellious child, versus a response to a child that is *requesting* parental help in solving serious disputes?) In obedience, like Padre Pio, the order needs to “kiss the hand that strikes” if it is to recover and remain obedient sons and daughters of the Church. That’s never going to be an easy thing- for anyone- even “faithful” Catholics. But- it must be done. Obedience, first.

    • Billiamo

      I know it was only a typo, but I love the term “Our Farther”, since sometimes he seems farther than nearer. :)

  • Quittin’ time at Tara!

    I never worry about discussing Pope Francis, or even calling him names. He started it. In fact, he called me names I never heard before. That, I think, has added special rancor to this debate… He’s kind of a name-caller, insulting large swaths of Catholics with his zingers. Yet, we are expected to be cool-headed, ultra-rational, measured, forebearing and endlessly creative, interpreting his words until they mean… well, the exact opposite of what he said.

    At least he’s not a Borgia Pope and can put a price on my head if I call him a modernist or a socialist. For this, I thank God.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      At least the Borgias gave us some magnificent art.

      • echarles1

        This cries out for Harry Lime’s famous line from the Third Man:
        “Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had
        warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo,
        Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had
        brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did
        that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

  • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

    Katrina, you make some very good points here. But what you fail to acknowledge, is that people actually DO fall into two distinct categories over the actions of this pope. This pope’s actions are truly spotlighting the division that exists in the church- even amongst the so-called “remnant of the faithful.” Blech. The wheat is being sifted from the chaff…and personally I worry very much about which side of it I fall to, but- I believe what I believe.

  • tj.nelson

    No – it hasn’t always been like this. I was in grade school when Pius XII died and was so excited because we’d get a new pope. Popes come and go and the Church remains.

    You don’t have to like the pope – you don’t even have to pay attention to every little thing he says. Even the ex-cathedra stuff – which is rare – you can just assent and go on with your life.

    I happen to love the papacy – and gratefully, have loved every single pope in my lifetime. I often recall saints from the Reformation who died for their fidelity to the Pope. The office is a visible sign unity among Catholics.

    I sometimes have problems with people who say things like, ‘this pope – or that pope – is destroying the Church.” They cam say what they want, but they need to prove it and back it up – something difficult to do in anyone’s lifetime.

    When Bl. Pius IX died some people tried to throw his body in the Tiber. It is said Cardinal Spellman said something derogatory about Roncalli becoming pope – it seems to me people with agendas act like that. Such as those folks who rebelled and dissented against Humanae Vitae. They certainly weren’t happy and said so… and they weren’t kicked out of the Church.

    So I’d say you are well within your rights to disagree and say so with the pope. Being unfriended on Facebook isn’t the end of the world.

    And now, I’ll sing Whitney Houston’s “I’ll Always Love You!” Put your ear to the screen and Listen real close.

  • echarles1

    “Catholic street cred?” I like “creed cred.” It sounds more OG.

  • Tina In Ashburn

    Can we please talk about the Pope and not each other?

    Good article Kat, thanks.

    • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

      A place to start: a discussion on the Pope’s theology.

      • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

        What tells me the most as ponder these pope arguments that go around the internet- and as I try to figure out the truth about the Catholic faith in all of this- is that people like yourself, who believe the way you do, *almost always* spice up their replies and commentary with sarcasm and superior, angry-sounding rhetoric. Why the pride in “what you know?” What is the purpose of sounding so insulting? To win more souls for Christ? I am truly curious.

        • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

          Aloha @m_cotter:disqus, please see all my comments in this post (in one of them, I talk about consternation and confusion among ordinary Catholics. I count myself as one of those) and perhaps you may rethink and rephrase your comment.
          My DISQUS comments are public too if you’d care look at them.

          • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

            I do indeed stand corrected. After some thought, and unedifying internet perusal, I begin to see more clearly that many people on both sides of this divide are equally engaged in sarcasm and in the trading of superior, self-righteous and angry-sounding rhetoric. Your profile shows to me as private, yet- on this thread at least I can see now that I mistook my strong disagreement with “your side” as “you acting badly.” In fact, after re-reading I can see that you haven’t been insulting at all. I reacted quickly and judged you wrongly- and I apologize for that.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            No worries @m_cotter:disqus and thank you! I try to let it not get to me because it is plain to me the crisis we are in and it will be a distraction from what we should be focusing our attention on.
            God bless you and light your path as you [and as I] try to figure out the truth about the Catholic faith in all of this.
            Thank you for pointing out what my profile shows (do not know to fix that at the moment).

          • http://thecatholicstory.wordpress.com/ Mary Poppins

            Thank you for forgiveness, and God bless you, too. Let us pray for one another! :)

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            Memorare said and prayer to your guardian angel!

  • Elena Maria Vidal

    When I was growing up Catholic in the 60′s and 70′s, we hardly ever thought about the Pope. He was a picture on the wall. People prayed for the Pope but they did not obsess over every little thing he did. The first Pope I remember hearing anything about was Pope Paul VI when he was stabbed in the Philippines. The focus was mostly on parish life and what was going on in the local Catholic community. There were a lot of changes going on and that’s what people talked about, sometimes. But it was never the way it is today. When Pope John Paul II came along it was a little more interesting because he was always in the news. Everyone thought he was a liberal at first but then when they saw how conservative he was at heart the worldly people began to hate him. But it was well into the 80′s by the time that happened.

  • Strife

    This pope is a shallow disgrace of a politician who seeks political solutions by placing a misguided faith in governments and soulless bureaucracies. He keeps making God small by making Catholicism petty and materialistic. He obsesses over physical bread and draws false dichotomies between the Spirit of the Law and the Letter of the Law. Jesus reprimanded Satan, as the Liar ba$tardized Scripture for the shallow physical things. Christ warned the world “Man does not live by bread alone, but by *every* word that comes from the mouth of God”. And so it still goes even as the lies of Satan repeat themselves while draped in the new false mantle of “charity” and empty sentimentalism.

    There. It needed to be said.

  • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

    Every time I talk about the Pope I end up needing to go to Confession.

    So personally, I am TRYING to keep my big fat mouth shut and close my eyes to the news about him. I just pray for him and trust that popes come and go and the Church remains.

    At this point, that’s the best I can do.

  • Maggie

    I understand that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth. That being said, I must respect the office (even if the person in the office does not seem to!). When someone asks me how I like Pope Francis, I divert the question by commenting something like “He sure is popular”, or “Do you think he will win a Nobel Peace Prize?” In other words, I do not answer the question. That is the best I can do. But I do trust in our Lord in that no pope can change dogma. But the continued confusion is most distressing as is the attack and put down of those who love the fullness of the Church’s tradition. The persecution of the Franciscans of the Immaculate is a travesty. A beautiful, faithful, and orthodox Order is hammered down but dissenting ones continue with impunity. That is disturbing and not a good sign at all.

    • Antiphon411

      You can destroy the Faith without changing dogma.

  • Joseph Perez

    Katrina I think before you pass judgment on things I think you should learn the ways of his namesake St. Francis on how to deal with this kind of thing that you might not understand.

    St Francis once said that if St Lawrence in an apparition and he saw at the same time a poor (sinful) priest. He will say to St Lawrence that wait for a little while for HE MAY KISS THE HAND OF THE PRIEST who held the Christ in his own hand.

    Pope Francis I know of it will not agree with that aging priest (his pronouncements in the pulpit are evidence of it) on manner of morality but he knew the meaning of charity and also the simple fact that that sinful priest is still a priest and day by day that priest held in his hands the Christ. That was the theology of St Francis and I think this Pope Francis knew what he is doing.

    • margaret1910

      I don’t see Kat “passing judgment”. I would say it’s more questioning some of the things Pope Francis does.

  • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

    Yes let’s please!
    cf. Jesus’ wounds are the price of forgiveness, says Pope | http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicnews/2014/06/jesus-wounds-are-the-price-of-forgiveness-says-pope/
    “And Jesus, when he goes to heaven, carries there a gift for the Father. Have you thought about this? What is the gift that Jesus brings to the Father? His wounds,” the Pope told the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square on June 1.
    “And when he goes to the Father, he says to the Father, ‘look, Father: this is the price of forgiveness you give. And when the Father sees Jesus’ scars, he always forgives us.”
    To me, this is strange theology. Anyone care explain it?
    Please see my exchange below with @Strife …

  • crossdotcurve
  • JohnE_o

    Outsider looking in here…

    General problem, humans are tribal creatures. Whenever there is a chance to divide into ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, we will do so and it will become personal.

    Specific problem, as others have pointed out below, you are sarcastic in your writing and people react to that.

  • Tim in Cleveland

    These internecine feuds are honestly the only thing I find interesting on the Catholic blogs these days.

    • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

      To @timincleveland:disqus [S]trike the Shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered
      This is a very serious crisis indeed.

  • Christine Barton

    I don’t know who you hang out with but I have a broad range of friends and have not encountered the stuff you describe. In fact, I find your dialogue really offensive. Are you trying to impress people with your off the wall comments? Are you just trying to stir things up? In any case, it does neither Pope justice. It would do you well to investigate each man and their practices before throwing off the cuff remarks around. The language on this site is appalling. And I am not known as a prude.
    It shows a lack of knowledge, good sense, and respect and discretion when one isf forced to use language which only downgrades the whole dialogue.
    Please stop being “cutely” irreverent. It just does not fly.

  • Mary Petnel

    Absolutely love this! Thank you!

    • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

      [S]trike the Shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered
      This is a very serious crisis indeed.
      Sorry @Mary Petnel: reply was meant below.

  • waltercarlson

    Problem is that Francis has created confusion in the world vis a vis the faithful teachings of the Church. He should not speak “off the cuff” as He is the representative of Christ on earth. And it was not JP II’s greatest moments to go into a mosque as this religion does not believe in the divinity of Christ. It was always taught to me that Islam was a false religion which it is to Christians. Respect yes, but we must refrain from giving any idea to the faithful that “all religions are the same”.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

    SIGH…. this is exactly was I was afraid of. Each “side” thinks I am referring to the other. When I was really addressing everyone in general who insists on sides. Why do we have sides? How did having them come about?

    And what really prompted this post was the simple fact that a fellow writer simply wrote an article, with no editorial comment, that was thoroughly researched and *some people* decided to attack this person.

    Why is talking about this Pope and simply reporting on things he does and says so volatile?

    • JohnE_o

      This is the internet, where human tribalism is multiplied a hundred-fold.

      You see similar level of volatility on blogs about pro wrestling, or even McRib sandwiches.


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