Every time Pope Francis speaks, the papers are filled with sensational headlines. Many have gone as far as labeling him a heretic or at worst the antipope. Apparently, some Catholics also label the Second Vatican Council “heretical”, after which the church became illegitimate.
But why such a strong, negative reaction to Pope Francis specifically?
One reason the pope upsets many traditional Catholics is his speeches are often translated poorly into English. For example, an incorrect translation into English of the original midterm report of the Synod on the Family may have spurred controversial interpretations of the document itself. Again when Pope Francis supposedly said God was not divine. He did NOT intend to say “God is not divine”.The culprit is most likely poor machine translations.
Secondly, Pope Francis does not emphasize many of the popular, American hot issues like abortion and homosexuality, issues which often simply serve to divide voters into an us and them mentality. When did these issues become the only issue that concerns the Church? Yet when the pope reminds us that our life in Christ is so much more, vocal advocates become extremely angry because he does not seem to support their cause.
Perhaps many Americans do not like this South American because Catholics in America were taught that God loves capitalism and that Greed is Good. Pope Francis has made some pretty negative remarks about capitalism that has flourished since the 1990’s and that will make him very unpopular with many Catholics in the US. Some of his comments about greed, avarice, and capitalism have not even shown up in the mainstream media in Canada or the States.
I am baffled by all the negative reactions to Pope Francis. Personally I think that Pope Francis is just too joyful as he lives out his simple, his down-to-earth spirituality and humble solidarity with the poor and this irritates many traditionalists. Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi also irritated the Pharisees of their eras; those pure proponents of tradition dislike anyone who challenges their lifestyle.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Catholic wisdom of the people… provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life. §1676
The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father\’s only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole. §1877
It seems to me that Pope Francis was appointed by God to remind the Church to come back to the basics, to our foundation in Christ. The pope desires to bring us into a balance in our spiritual life. Our first love, our focus is to allow God to love us, love Him in return and treat others with the same mercy and forgiveness as we receive from Christ. When a Catholic focuses solely on the evils of one issue, he is in danger of becoming angry, resorting to fighting his way, without Love.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
Many pro-lifers are so focused on one issue that they have forgotten who they are as believers, as children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, companions of the Holy Spirit.
Rather than attacking the Pope Francis, lobbyists should ask themselves, why they are reacting so vehemently. Perhaps Pope Francis is convicting them of their own shortcomings. Rather than taking the log out of their own eyes, they are searching for a speck of dust in the pope’s eyes. Yet here is a man who lives simply and joyfully, a man who lives out the gospel in real tangible ways.
Lord, forgive our arrogance and our presumption that sets us up as judges.Turn our eyes to you, oh God and have mercy on us.