Pope Thoughts

Today, someone, pointing with concern at a couple of pieces in the American Spectator, asked me what I thought about the Pope.  This is what I said:

I think that the majority of living Catholics have become very used to living with popes who have earned the cognomen “the Great,” and it is pretty shocking for us young’uns to realize that — except for times of great grace — the pope is pretty much just a bishop with a bigger audience.

I think that we learn whom to love as often by whom are enemies hate as whom our friends love. When our enemies fall in love with someone, it is not easy to regard the object of their affections without profound suspicion. This does not reflect well on us, however.

I think sometimes people fall in love despite the fact that it makes no sense at all. This can be at the prompting of grace. It is confusing for everyone — the lover, the loved, and everybody looking on. The lover, in particular, tries to explain the origins of her love in terms that make sense to herself, even though those terms are clearly and completely inapplicable. And those of us on the sidelines see those terms — nonsense terms like, “Finally, a pope who loves women!” “Thanks for being pro-choice, Pope Francis!” — and can’t understand why they didn’t love the theologically similar Pope Benedict the way we do. 

(But, then, I’m not certain I can explain quite why I love Papa Benny the way I do.)

I think churchmen should not, as a rule, speak extemporaneously urbi et orbi. EOTT, as always, says it best. We learned this in the aftermath of Vatican II; I would prefer not to have to learn it again.

I think we are at war not with the culture, but with the devil, who has many unwitting pawns at his disposal. It is worth trying to lure them away to our side with the right kinds of words, rather than trying to conquer them with unyielding arguments. It is worth remembering that Lucifer is smarter than all of us; we cannot out-argue the Enemy. The only thing we can do is out-love him. It will be interesting to see whether this newest effort bears any real fruit. Pope Francis is a better person than I am; he might just be on to something.

I think those who would destroy the Church have spent many years attacking it by opposing it, and they have noticed that this stopped working a couple decades ago. Realizing that Catholicism is resurgent everywhere, I think they are trying a new tactic: destroying the Church by enthusiastically misinterpreting it. (Or is that really a new tactic? It was the dominant Enemy strategy from the Council to Humanae Vitae.)

I think Pope Francis hails from a very different world than the Euro-American universe of encroaching secularism and weak-kneed pastoral leadership, and that, at least partly as a result, he misunderstands his flock as much as his flock misunderstands him. I hope that this is all straightened out soon, and (perhaps?) that the Pope Emeritus — probably the most broadly and deeply European pope in centuries — will have a few words of advice for the Pope when next they meet.

I think there’s much reason to be anxious, but little reason to be disappointed — and several reasons to be very happy.

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