In Defense of Pope Francis

I am sick of listening to Catholics complain about the Pope because he isn’t Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Why do they think they can judge the Pope? Our Church teaches that the pope is picked by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the cardinals as they vote. Do his critics really believe this? In my opinion if you don’t believe this you might as well not be Catholic. If the pope is not selected by the Spirit and guided by the Spirit, we may as well join a Protestant denomination where they vote on doctrine.
The pope is answerable to only 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. His job is to do what they want not what some people want. He is guided by the Holy Spirit. He is also human, a sinner who also makes mistakes but so has every pope in history including Peter. Why do we focus on the negative? Do we really know what is going on or understand what the Spirit is doing?
I remember how many people criticize Paul VI for his teaching on artificial contraception. Most Catholics ignored it but now we are discovering the medical and societal consequences of contraception. Do you know breast cancer has increased 640% since the pill became common? Do you know how much damage was done to the environment because of the pill or how it contributed to the breakdown of families? I’m sure Paul VI had no understanding of all the consequences, but God did.
Do we understand where Francis is coming from or what God is trying to do? I see Francis emphasizing Jesus’ call to mercy. Didn’t Jesus eat with sinners and call sinners to join Him? Didn’t He say that He came for sinners not the righteous? Did He not say judge not lest you be judged, to forgive 7 x 7? Didn’t God say that He desired mercy not sacrifice? Doesn’t God want us to reach out to sinners? Didn’t Jesus die for them too? Didn’t he criticize the Pharisees for their emphasis on law rather than mercy? What do you think He wants Francis to do?
I hear a lot of criticism of Amoris Laetitia. How well do the critics understand the issue? I know people have deliberately misinterpreted it to suit their own purposes. Isn’t it true that no matter what Francis wrote they would do what they wanted anyway? Have they really thought about the issue of divorce? Jesus taught that what God has put together let no man put asunder. Has God really put all these marriages together? I doubt it. Our society has changed. People don’t wait to be married until they are sure. They certainly don’t seek God’s guidance in selecting a mate.
I know a Protestant minister who was married in the Catholic church at age 17. His bride was 16. It was a legal marriage, but I doubt if it was valid in the eyes of the church and should never have been performed by a priest. But he was in the Army. This was 1968 and it kept him out of Vietnam. His marriage failed, and he never sought an annulment because he thought it would make his 3 kids illegitimate. After he remarried he was told to leave the church. No one really investigated his circumstances and asked if annulment was possible. How many other people like him have left the Church?
I’m sure that a lot of marriages that failed were never valid in the first place. There must be a commitment to make it work, a willingness to be open to children and a commitment to be faithful among other criteria. Jesus said what God has put together let no man put asunder. Do you really think God put a woman with a man who would abuse his wife and children or someone who had no intention of being faithful?
I also heard criticism because a pro-abortion woman in the Netherlands received some award from the Vatican. That proves the pope isn’t pro-life. Some reporter claims that the Pope knows everything that goes on in the Vatican. Really? With his trip to Chile this past week and all the other things going on he will personally investigate every nominee for an award? I know this past week he came out with a strong pro-life statement.
I also heard criticism because the Pope apologized to people during his recent trip to Chile. It was stated that Jesus never apologized. I looked at the paper the same day and read that his apology was to victims of priestly abuse. I know Jesus never apologized but He also never encountered people who were abused by His priests. Think about it if you object to this apology it implies that you see nothing wrong with the abuse.
We must be cautious not to become like the Pharisees who failed to see God in their midst. We aren’t supposed to be a Church of perfect people before heaven. God calls us to reach out to all people. He died for everyone not just the righteous or the conservatives. Can we really be sure that we are so righteous? What about our attitudes of negativity, of judging people, our critical spirits? Can we be so sure that we aren’t the 5:00 workers Jesus referred to in His parable? Don’t we too often reject the Holy Spirit’s nudges?
As Pope Francis said who are we to judge? If we reject what the pope is saying and doing and publicly criticize him how are we different from Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Martin Luther or Archbishop Lefebvre? And what good does it do to criticize the pope? Can he hear your criticism? Is it God or Satan calling you to promote dissension within the Church?

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