Monday, February 16, 2015

You Just Don't GET IT

I swear, if I hear one more “faithful Catholic” offering a critique of Pope Francis,  instead of challenging themselves to listen to what the shepherd is saying, and WATCH what the shepherd is doing… I think I’m gonna lose it. 

I’ve tried to be quiet, because I don’t want to offend.  But here’s a list of expressions in regard to Pope Francis that make me cringe…

“He just has to be more careful- he has no idea the weight of his words”

“He’s just not an intellectual, so he doesn’t realize the damage”

“He is using dangerous language, compromising the core of Catholic doctrine”

“I just wish he’d start using a script”

“He is leading people astray because he is too ambiguous”

“Silly Pope Francis, he has good intentions but just doesn't understand how his words are being interpreted”

“Someone needs to sit down with the Pope and explain to him how dangerous his words are”

I got a call from a family member the other day saying there’s a letter, signed by even RICK SANTORUM (gasp! j/k means nothing to me) begging the Holy Father to reconsider how he is approaching instruction.

Guess what?  The condescending critiques of the Pope from those who deem themselves protectors of truth are insulting, silly and transparent. 

Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp 
(cf. Jn 10).
- Pope Francis

This!  THIS!  The Holy Father had this to say to a room full of Cardinals last week.  And when I read it, I wanted to stand up all by myself in my family room and applaud.  LOUDLY.  My favorite part?  The SCANDAL of Jesus.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Pope Francis and Scandal be used interchangeably by those who would consider themselves orthodox Catholics.

I’m gonna confess something that might make me lose my ‘Orthodox Catholic Card”.  The synod on the family, I LOVED it.  I even loved the early released edition that made all the fancy theologians nervous. I thought the language was awesome. I thought the language was intentional.  And I found the language, particularly on homosexuality and divorce to be extremely helpful. I didn't worry we were flying down a slippery slope, led by a careless leader who doesn't understand why intentional language is important.  In fact, I saw such wisdom, such beauty in the desire to use language to reach those who feel beyond the grasp of God’s love.  I celebrated, as a huge group of people panicked.  And I wondered… am I missing something or are they?  I now can say with certainty “they” are.  And perhaps, if you are one of them, YOU ARE!

Our culture is moving through profound changes.  We have gone, in a relatively short time, from being a culturally Christian community, to having no sense of black or white, truth or lies.  Warnings from spiritual leaders went unheeded and we now operate in a time of profound relativism and it effects EVERYTHING we do.  Instead of cursing the climate change, it’s time we recognize that a catechist's JOB is to speak to the climate. 

Through Pope Francis we are privy to watching a masterful catechist teach, teach to a confused and hurting world.  And yes, YES the confused and hurting world is misunderstanding some of what he says, but they are listening.  My gosh, wake up!  They are listening.  And it’s our job to help correct the misunderstandings now that the conversation has begun, rather then curse the fact that the conversation is happening. 

To those of you who choose to engage in the special breed of criticism of the Holy Father, the awkwardly passive aggressive choice of words that allows one to feel supportive of the Pope whilst admonishing his simple and misguided choices of language, I want to make something very clear for you.

The Holy Father isn't currently trying to get the attention of the faithful so we can smile and nod at each other, slapping each other high-five for our like-minded understanding of truth.  Rather, he is purposefully and effectively getting the attention of those who do not believe, those who have been hardened, those who have been led to believe that the Catholic Church is one of rules and distance- representing an unfeeling and uncaring God.  That’s who he is talking to. 

And ‘our’ job?  Our job is so darn exciting.  Our job is to take the content of teaching we have been blessed with, in a special way by Pope Benedict and Pope Saint John Paul II, and answer the questions of those who are listening.  Listening for the first time ever, or the first time in years, because our Holy Father, a saintly man of God has decided to speak to them.

And now, I’m just going to leave this right here.  I beg of you to let it challenge you- as it is challenging me.

"The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. This does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold, but welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world. The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity; to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the "outskirts" of life. It is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: "Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners" (Lk 5:31-32)."
- Pope Francis 


  1. awesome - this time is SO difficult. I went to my favorite local bookshop (been going there 25+ years) and after saying hi, heard: "Hey, Karen - you're Catholic - I got a question for you" and ended up trying to explain the Church's stand on homosexuality and contraception. I am sure I do not the subjects justice, but in the end we had a great discussion that caused much thought - on both sides.
    Very often I hear snippits of what Pope Francis said and the resulting brouhaha and can't figure out why there is a brouhaha! It's really not anything new - just presented a bit differently.
    Glad to know I am not alone!
    blessings - hope you are feeling well

  2. This! All of this! Thank you, Mary!

  3. Right on the money. You rock, Mary.

  4. People I'm perpetually amused by: those more Catholic than the Pope.
    That is all.

  5. Thank you, thank you, Mary. This is absolutely heart-warming for me. Praise the Lord for Francis, our gift.

  6. Beautiful. I have felt since day one of his papacy all these comfortably numb (to coin a phrase) Catholics who think abortion is the biggest sin ever, but that ignoring the rest of the works of mercy is fine are just missing this awesome opportunity. Being uncomfortable is a HUGE gift! Hearing and seeing things from the Holy Father that make you queasy is God shaking you because He loves you! Honestly I just think most of us are that Rich Young Man from scripture that is happy to do all the things he knows about to love God, but feels like there is more, only to be sad when he finds that "more" means stripping himself of the things he's attached to. We never did get to hear the rest of his story, so hopefully he's a saint and praying for all of us who fall into his same column of wanting to be holy, but not really wanting to learn what that really means.

  7. Yes yes and yes!!! You know its crazy I have heard even professors at the seminary critique the Pope, because they know so much!?! People need to chill out and shut their mouths.

  8. Love it Mary. I could expound, but I just do not have the time. This topic really hit home to me when so many people were so up in arms about his comments on responsible parenting . .. ah, it is hard when we think we know better than the holy spirit on the matters of the papacy . . .

  9. Someone said to me the other day that a faithful Catholic doesn't look at difficult Church teaching and find its fault. A faithful Catholic looks at difficult Church teaching and asks where he can find better understanding. Ya know?

  10. I clicked a link and then clicked another and ended up here. I am so glad that I did because this post is wonderful! Thanks for writing it!

  11. Hey Mary! Thanks for the post - did you see Cardinal Wuerl's recent blog post saying something very similar: http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2015/02/pope-touchstone-faith-unity/#comments

    I hope you and bump are doing well! Beth