There’s a Washington Post article that’s been circulating through cyberspace, quoting conservative Catholics who are expressing qualms about Pope Francis’ leadership style or have found themselves questioning whether they should stop proclaiming Church moral teaching.
For example, an Ohio marriage and family counselor in private practice and on the radio, Gregory Popcak, is featured. Popcak describes how he turned to prayer after several clients invoked the Pope’s public words to challenge Popcak after, to his credit, he explained Church teaching concerning human sexuality and love. One patient even quit, telling Popcak: “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic.”
Several issues are entangled in what’s transpiring here, perhaps the most focal being how liberal Catholics have seized upon Pope Francis’ public statements and are challenging conservative Catholics to be less “obsessed” with Church teaching. In effect, they’re saying “Get over it! Pope John Paul II is dead and Pope Benedict XVI is retired. Our guy’s in charge now. It’s our day. Your day has passed.”
Consider what Popcak reports feeling after his patient quit therapy. He first felt frustrated, then ashamed. Contemplating Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Popcak saw himself acting like the good son. In that online essay, Popcak wrote:
The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do. People who left the Church, who hated the Church…were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.
Experiences like Popcak’s certainly put a face on the reality of the effect the Holy Father’s words are having on the ground. But, does that mean conservative Catholics should fall on their knees in frustration or perhaps even shame and repent of having evangelized others about Church teaching?
Yes, the momentous interview on the flight from Rio de Janiero did make people across the globe aware of Pope Francis’ views. And purposely so, because the Holy Father’s statements are being interpreted by the mainstream media in a way that favors their secularist ideology.
The Holy Father must surely know how his words are being twisted for ends other than which he may intend. But, so far, the Pope doesn’t seem much to care that he’s being misinterpreted. Perhaps that’s because Pope Francis believes the vast majority of people across the globe (including Catholics) have the wrong idea of the Catholic Church, believing Her teachers are cold, withdrawn, severe, and judgmental.
It appears the Pope isn’t going to allow that idea to persist, believing the idea will take care of itself over time. Right now, he’s going to use the mainstream media to get his point across. Perhaps the Holy Father even relishes the banner headlines he’s generating. Why? Pope Francis may see himself as the “the game changer” in the Church’s overall goal of evangelizing secular society.
Who’s to know?
If the experiences of the people reported in the Washington Post article accurately represent the reality on the ground, it appears Pope Francis may be correct. Driving people out of the Church won’t build the Church, so why alienate people if they can be opened to hearing the Good News?
Who’s to say that Pope Francis doesn’t agree 100% with pro-life, pro-family Catholics? Contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting and makes conservative Catholics feel frustrated or ashamed, his may be a difference in tone or volume, but not in substance.
Let the discussion begin…
To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s blog, click on the following link: