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In Defense Of Pope Francis


 

It’s time. I’ve put off writing this for a while, but the time has come. In the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of attacks on our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. No big deal, right? After all, our culture isn’t exactly supportive of Catholic teaching. We live in a world where the pursuit of pleasure is generally regarded as a one of life’s priorities. What the Church considers good is often viewed by the world as evil. Is it any surprise that the world is going to reject and vilify the Holy Father, who is the visible head of the Church on earth? Of course not, but that’s not the reason why I’m writing this article. Sadly, the majority of the attacks that I’m seeing are coming from those within the Church. Oh, it’s those “Cafeteria Catholics” again, right? Not this time. The vast majority of attacks are coming from individuals who love Christ and His Church. What’s unusual is that their love is being expressed in anger, disrespect and language that is dangerously close to heresy.

Before the attacks start coming, let’s set the record straight. I love Christ and I love His Church. Please don’t call me a “modernist”, “liberal”, or “conservative”. I am a Catholic…period. I am also not smarter than Jesus, who founded a Church on the leadership of the Holy Father (Matthew 16:18-19). As a Catholic, I not only love Christ and His Church, but I love the Holy Father. Therefore, it only follows that I love and respect our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. In fact, that love is so real that it hurts me to see him treated with such disrespect (Catholics condescendingly calling him “Jorge”, “Bergoglio” or even “a heretic”). It hurts because these words are directed at my “Papa”, the individual that Christ placed in charge to help me get to Heaven. On a personal level, I can’t express enough gratitude to Jesus for leaving me a series of “Papas”, all with unique and different charisms. Each of them has drawn me closer to Jesus, by helping me to concentrate on different aspects of my spiritual life. Is Pope Francis’ style different than Pope Benedict’s? You bet. Was Pope Benedict’s style different than Blessed Pope John Paul II’s? Absolutely, and that diversity can be extremely beneficial. I have learned a great deal from each of them and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be stretched spiritually.

So, why do I feel the need to write this? Do I feel that any minds will be changed? Honestly, I don’t know. While I hope that it has a positive effect, I can’t control how other people think or behave. Whether it has an effect or not, I do feel that I need to try. In addition to being hurt by the disrespect shown to Pope Francis, I am also concerned for those Catholics who feel justified in propagating such attacks. In an attempt to promote reverence for Our Lord and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (which is a very commendable undertaking), some of these individuals are skating on some thin spiritual ice. The Vatican II Document, Lumen Gentium, is clear about the loyalty due to our Holy Father:

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium no. 25)

I am grateful for the Lord’s gift of the papacy. When the Holy Father speaks, I listen attentively. When Pope Francis tells me that I need to pay greater attention to the poor and be more charitable to others, I obey him. Why?

Because I love Jesus and that’s what He wants me to do.

10 Comments

  1. Katherine says:

    Amen!! God bless & guide our Holy Father! And God bless & guide you, Gary & all of us – along our faith walk with Jesus to our Heavenly Home.

  2. Elaine says:

    So when the Pope spouts off his opinion about a certain group in the church, we must adhere to that opinion? Really? I don’t think so, because I don’t think the V2 Fathers anticipated a Pope speaking so freely, off the cuff and frequently (as in – daily) on such a variety of topics. Nope.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      He’s the pope, Elaine. Therefore, we have to treat him with the respect and obedience mandated by Holy Mother Church. In all fairness, how do you know what the Vatican II fathers had in mind? Lumen Gentium is clear on the matter and that’s good enough for me. As a Catholic, I remain loyal to our Holy Father and will always give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Pax Christi,
      Gary

  3. Joseph Smith says:

    The Holy Father was chosen under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We should pray for him to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Church is in God’s hands. Pope Francis was chosen for such a time as this by God. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Oh Lord give our Holy Father strength and guidance. Amen.

  4. Shane Kapler says:

    Gary, I agree with everything you have written. When I read a headline with the latest claim as to what Pope Francis has said, I: 1) wait a couple of days to make sure a correct translation has come out, 2) read the quote within the larger context in which he was speaking, and 3) take his words in the best possible light. When I was young, before I understood the docility Jesus intended for me to have towards our shepherds, I jumped to a lot of conclusions and, as a result, found myself humbled many times. For those who take quick offense at the way Francis expresses himself, I can only beg them to show their great respect for the office entrusted to him by always giving him the benefit of the doubt and speaking of him – even when they disagree with one or more prudential decisions – with nothing but the greatest respect.
    I think of the extreme example left to us by King David – how even when God had secretly anointed him as the new king, and the sitting king, Saul, sought to take his life, David still refused to raise his hand against Saul. “The LORD forbid that I should put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed!” (1 Sam.24:6) David put both his future and that of the kingdom in the hands of the Lord; and we must humbly do the same.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      You are very wise, Shane. That “benefit of the doubt” thing is crucial. I didn’t want to get too negative in the post, but some Catholics have been treating our Holy Father like he’s just another guy. He’s not. Pope Francis is the vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church on earth. He’s entitled to some respect and, as I included in the post, we are required to assent to his teaching. On a more practical level, he knows a heck of a lot more than I do about what it takes to be a Christian. When Papa speaks, I’m gonna listen. Thanks for the support, brother.

      God Bless,
      Gary

  5. Thank you, Gary. Well said. satan is so cunning as to make even the most devout Catholic into a Protestant with his even knowing it. It is upsetting to hear. Thanks for speaking truth and logic.

  6. Gary:
    Amen. Very well said. I agree with you 100%. Your Lumen Gentium quote is perfectly germane.

    I would recommend that everyone read His Holiness, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELII GAUDIUM. It is profound, timely, and inspiring.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

  7. Well said Gary! And a big THANK YOU for a much needed exhortation about loyalty and charity toward the man, given us by the Holy Spirit, who has walked much further in Jesus’ moccasins than most! It has greatly pained me that there are actually ‘practicing’ Catholics, who feel it their place to reprove such a holy man of God – who assume they know what’s in his mind, as if they could hold their own, if he should engage them in a theological discussion. I’ve had several exchanges with people on this and try not to get upset but it’s challenging. One woman actually posted a claim that the Pope has satanic symbols on his crucifix! Cardinal Burke has a very good defense of the Holy Father article too, which I read today. He is as orthodox as can be, is basically what he said…and he should know, he’s the highest canonical authority in the Church, as far as I know, next to the Pope himself.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Hi Nellie,

      It was something that needed to be written. Not only are we blessed by the gift of the papacy, but we are blessed by the unique gifts of this wonderful man who was chosen by the Holy Spirit to help us get to Heaven! Thanks for your support.

      God Bless,
      Gary

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