Fifty-plus comments and counting, David Gibson has the biggest commentariat splash I’ve seen at RNS with his summation of the Catholic Right’s unease with the Francis papacy.
He quoted Katrina Fernandez:
And I thought this summed up a good chunk of the opposition, though I’m not sure the Patheos blogger intended it that way.
If I didn’t go to the link, maybe I would consider Ms Fernandez’s unease with the pope who resigned. Pope Francis, in contrast, accepted and embraces the office to which he was chosen. He just seems skittish about the title. Which isn’t really a title at all. “Pope” is just a form of papa, father.
Then I was wondering if the sentiment was more along the lines of, “How can I love a Pope who doesn’t want to be my kind of Pope?” And that is a very good question indeed.
That was my question in 2005. But I was prepared to wait and see.
For individuals on the Catholic Right, this is hardly the most serious challenge to the public witness of their faith and the accompanying inner spirit they bring to their Catholicism. Joseph Ratzinger wasn’t my choice for Bishop of Rome. But more serious challenges to my faith abounded during the B16 years: my wife’s illnesses, my daughter’s loss of faith in a trusted priest, a part-time chaplaincy in a children’s psychiatric hospital, the death of my older brother, a personal bankruptcy, not to mention the definite onset of middle age (a little thinner on top and a little thicker in the middle).
In other words, I don’t spend a lot of time on the pope, like him, loathe him, or in between.
But what I can do is spend time bringing challenges small and large to my prayer life. Maybe this is difficult for many on the Catholic Right, who seem to identify with secular politics more so than I or my confreres on the Left. 2008 was a hard year for political conservatives, Americans at any rate. And if people saw 19 April 2005 as a cause for political jubilation, they will certainly be hard-pressed to see 2013 as anything but another black year. A non-republican in the White House. A non-traditionalist in an apartment that’s not the papal apartment.
The Bishop of Rome sure has become very important for a lot of Americans, even Catholics. The key with this, I suppose, is to discern what it tells each of us about what we hold dear, what inspires and drives us, and what unsettles us. Face this fearlessly, and we’ll get the honest truth. Then we move on from there. There’s a Jesuit on the Chair of Peter now. He would tell you something Ignatian to help you. That’s the route I’m inclined to take.