In the coming turbulent days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, and rest assured that such turbulent days are rapidly approaching if not quite here, I rather suspect I will be accused by some of adopting an attitude towards him contrary to the way I analyzed the actions of his predecessor. Such is not the case. From a comment that I made on a thread relating to papal infallibility in 2010:
At Vatican I Eric, there was a conflict between those who wanted virtually every thing written or said by a Pope to be considered infallible and those who wanted a restrictive definition. By and large those who wanted a restrictive definition prevailed. The problem with a broad view of infallibility is that popes often contradict each other. Consider Pio Nono’s view of religious liberty as compared to that of Pope John XXIII.
This is a complex area filled with minefields for faithful Catholics, and my thoughts in this area have been aided greatly by the writings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially the essay linked below:
“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”
Go here to read the post and the thread of comments.
The Church is not a ring binder by which each succeeding pontiff may willy-nilly change the corpus of the Faith, and no pope is greater than the Tradition which guides and sustains the Faith. I do not expect that Pope Francis will attempt to change the corpus of the Faith, but I greatly fear, based upon his interviews, that many people, some even among the highest clergy of the Church, will attempt to do precisely that, and will cite him, falsely, as their authority to do so. I hope and pray that I am very, very wrong in regard to this prediction.