It makes conservatives nervous.
My own feeling is that God is in charge and he has given the church the Pope we need at this time. Pope Francis brings a new approach and a fresh attitude to the papacy. If he rocks a few boats and makes a few waves, there’s no harm in that. We need to be shaken up from time to time so we can look at ourselves, our church and our faith with a new perspective.
Those who bite their nails over Pope Francis should read more church history. Popes come and go. Some are great, some are good, some are mediocre, some are bad.
If the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church, a pope who is a little bit of a loose cannon certainly will not.
Here are ten reasons why Pope Francis makes conservatives jumpy:
1. Conservative Catholics Like Structure and Order – The Catholic Church is the most structured and ordered of Christian groups. We have canon law. We have the catechism. We have the prayers written down. We have defined dogmas. We have lists, lists and more lists. These things help conservative Catholics to feel secure in their faith. In an increasingly uncertain and relativistic world, dogma, doctrine and discipline helps keep the chaos at bay. Pope Francis seems to regard this aspect of Catholicism lightly. He wants to stress the spirit of the law, not the letter. He’s open-ended and wants a loving, merciful approach to the faith. This sounds like Jesus doesn’t it? He upset those who were inclined to legalism and observing the letter of the law while neglecting the spirit.
2. Conservative Catholics Like Clarity with Charity – If Conservative Catholics like the dogma, doctrine and discipline, they also like it to be expressed with clarity and precision. They also want it to be expressed with understanding, compassion and charity. They had both of these with the brilliant philosopher pope John Paul II and the theologian pope Benedict XVI. Francis’ style is different. He’s more free wheeling and open ended. He’s secure in the faith, but his comments are often wandering and spontaneous. He is less concerned with presenting the papacy as rock solid and certain and more concerned to show himself to be a thoughtful and questioning human being. Some people like that. Conservatives don’t.3. Conservative Catholics are Inclined to be Suspicious – A lot of conservative Catholics feel very wounded by events in the Catholic Church over the last fifty years. They suspect modernist trends in the church, and regret the relativism and modernism that is often very obvious in the Catholic Church in the West. They suspect this theological poison to be nurtured in the highest levels of the church. They also suspect that the modernists are not above back room deals, shady associations, blackmail and cheating to get their way. Consequently, when they hear of Cardinal Danneel’s “mafia” that met to influence the conclave the get uncomfortable. When they hear that Daneel’s and his cohorts wanted Bergoglio instead of Ratzinger and then witnessed Benedict XVI’s resignation and Bergoglio’s election they smell a rat. When Pope Francis pulls Danneels (a man who covered up pedophilia) out of retirement to serve on the Synod of the Family the rat gets smellier.
4. Conservatives Are Often Global Warming Skeptics – Many conservatives doubt the reality of man made global warming. They believe the global warming hype is simply a cover for world leaders to make treaties and do deals to bring about a global economic system which leads to a global government. That Pope Francis devoted a papal encyclical to the topic makes them nervous. Like everyone, they believe pollution is a bad thing and unfettered rape of the natural order is stupid. They are happy for a pope to speak on these topics, but they worry that Francis has allowed the papacy to be hi jacked by those with a liberal, secular, globalist agenda.
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