… as I reflected on the week that was, the speeches, the unscheduled visits, the spontaneous stops for blessings, selfies and words of encouragement, I was a bit surprised to encounter a contingent of negativity from within the Catholic community. Reasonably, there might emerge complaints about his comments on climate change or the economy or consumerism by Catholics with a different perspective. Understandably, there might be concerns raised over the manner or substance of correctives the Pope offered to those in power in the world and in the Church.
Did I expect to hear the Pope say things that I might disagree with?
And did he?
But did I think he did a remarkable job that transcended photo-ops and charismatic engagements?
You see, recently the Pope was asked a question. And his answer has stuck with me. Asked pointedly about claims that he is a truly a Communist, the Pope chuckled and offered,
“I am certain I have never said anything more than what is in the social doctrine of the church…I follow the church and in this, I do not think I am wrong.”
“Maybe I have given an impression of being a little bit to the left…But if they want me to recite the Creed, I can!”
And I know that he can. After all, whatever your political persuasion or opinion on any number of issues the Pope touched on during his trip through America, consider the Creed element or Catholic social doctrine that serve as the root of his positions. Whether or not you subscribe to his current notion of climate change, do we as Catholics disagree with the holy call to be stewards of Creation? Whether you feel the Pope should have articulated a concrete economic strategy, do we as Catholics disagree with the sacred trust to use our prosperity, in part, to help those in need? Regardless of your stance on the Pope’s meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor or Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, do we as Catholics disagree with the priceless value of the eternally (and constitutionally) assured freedom of religion and conscience? Whatever you felt about the Pope’s words to Bishops, do we as Catholics disagree with the Pope’s prerogative and charge to call Bishops to account should they tip toward merciless orthodoxy or cheap grace? Whether you felt the Pope’s repeated statements about valuing and defending the dignity of human life at every stage of development went “far enough” vis-a-vis the topic of abortion, do we as Catholics disagree with his articulated stance on the dignity of human life?
The point I am making is that after hearing years of criticisms of Pope Benedict XVI for being too rigid and orthodox, I am now hearing criticisms of Pope Francis for being too merciful and rudderless (most assuredly from different constituencies). And though I’ve heard it all, I hold a deep and abiding respect and affection for both men. I believe that the Creed is at their core and that, frankly, a lot of criticism is rooted in a misunderstanding of the men, what they have said and what they have meant.
Tod’s not quite yet done. Finish with him by clicking the link.
And carry on.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.