There is an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about the way conservative Catholics–many of whom loved John Paul II and Benedict XVI–feel “abandoned and deeply unsettled” by Francis. Here is a taste:
I have been trying to make sense of this conservative backlash ever since Francis became Pope. A few weeks ago I was at a Jesuit university for an ecumenical gathering of church-related educators. During the conference I tried to ask as many Catholics in attendance as possible if they really thought Francis had departed from the theological teachings of the Church or his immediate predecessors.
It seems to me that Francis is different than John Paul and Benedict in his rhetoric, but is not that different in terms of doctrine. (Although the idea that a Catholic is not called upon to convince an atheist of the truth of Christianity does seem a bit odd). As this article points out, Francis has not budged on gay marriage, gay sex, abortion, etc…. He just does not talk about them as much as his predecessors. Instead he talks about issues of social justice and civility.
I would love to have some of my Catholic readers chime in. Is Francis changing Catholicism or is he merely emphasizing the dimensions of Catholic social teaching that the previous popes did not emphasize?
Tim Lacy says
I do think the changes are in rhetoric and emphasis, not doctrine. But conservatives are, by nature, hesitant at least, if not downright fearful, of change. And the changes in rhetoric and emphasis have been *significant* since Pope Francis's election. – TL
Jimmy Dick says
Pope Francis seems to be putting the emphasis on other issues. I think he sees issues like abortion, birth control, and homosexuality to be political issues that divide the Church needlessly. The Roman Catholic Church fits into no political ideology despite attempts by both Republicans and Democrats to make it fit.
Conservative Catholics are just going to have to realize that they cannot use their faith as a weapon against their fellow liberal Catholics. Some talk of leaving the Church which I feel is very shallow of them since they have driven so many from the Church via their ideological actions.
We are currently seeing what happens when a faith adopts a hardline and eliminates any voice of dissension in its ranks which should not be surprising when all we have to do is look at what has happened historically in the same context. Church attendance drops. People seek other faiths or stop attending church altogether. By the way, I'm referring to a Protestant group that has eliminated all dissension within its pastoral ranks, not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the poster child for why that should not be done and I think Pope Francis understands this.
Tom Van Dyke says
For your consideration.
Matthew J. Franck | @MatthewJFranck
Intrepid New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein has gone out and interviewed seven—count ‘em, seven!—individuals, three of them in the same room, each more or less “conservative” in his or her Catholicism, and she found some of them—not all—willing to criticize Pope Francis. This was somehow considered, by her editors, to be a “news” story worthy of the front page on a Sunday, when the paper’s readership is at its greatest.