Pat Archbold has a post that I completely agree with in reference to Pope Francis:
During the last 6 months, the Catholic media has witnessed a virtual straw-man genocide calling out anyone among the ranks who speaks in assertive tones or questions the prudence of a papal statement.
I have witnessed so many hyphenated theological-sounding pejoratives used to describe well-meaning faithful Catholics who seek only the salvation of souls that I shudder. I have seen my fellow travelers accused by prominent Catholic commentators of being relentlessly critical, refusing to see progress in the Church, of hating the sinner along with the sin, of wanting to bring back a Church that will never be again, and being reflexively against the pope.
First, I am not reflexively against the Pope because I suspect he is more ‘liberal’ than me. This is not true, I like the Pope and have defended him. I think that some of his outreach and man-of-the-people pope-ulism has been wonderful. I don’t care where he lives or that he washed a woman’s feet or any such nonsense. He is the Pope, he is fully Catholic and totally ‘a man of the Church,’ of this I have no doubt.
So it is that I have defended the Pope from wild misrepresentations of the media. Yet, at the same time I cannot help but wonder why this continues to happen. If off-the-cuff remarks are continually misinterpreted, both purposefully and not, in ways that either contradict Church teaching or minimize the importance of critical issues, at some point there needs to be recognition of this reality.
The bottom line is that many people, even most people, will only hear the misinterpretation and the real message ‘either do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more‘ is lost. At some point it is not sufficient to merely criticize the media and the method should be re-examined.
When I read the interview the Pope gave there was much to be admired in it. But I found some parts to be worrisome. I understand what the Pope is trying to do by emphasizing the pastoral before the doctrinal. Truly, I get it. But I wonder how, in its essence, that is any different that what the Church has tried to do over the past 45 years? As somebody who grew up in a post-Vatican II Church, I can assure you that the emphasis has not been dogma. In my experience, it has been all pastoral, all the time.
Go here to National Catholic Register to read the whole thing. I have three problems in regard to what I perceive to be a rocky start to Pope Francis’ papacy:
1. The media spin that we have a Pope who is going to do away with the teaching of the Church in regard to abortion, contraception and homosexuality. The Pope has not said this but that is the universal spin, and the Pope has been careless enough in his statements to allow a cherry picking media to make a plausible case, to the scandal of many of the faithful and the rejoicing of those who hate the Church.
2. The Pope often seems to forget that he is the Pope and acts as if he is in a Jesuit bull session. Every word that a Pope says is going to be put under a microscope, but Pope Francis does not appear to care.
3. The Pope police among bloggers at Saint Blogs who love to play the-more-loyal-than-thou-to-the-pope game. To these bozos any word of criticism of a pope is lese majesty and a signal to gather faggots for a verbal auto de fe. With some of these guys I truly think that if a pope suggested that we should all paint our bottoms yellow their only question would be “What shade?” This type of infallibility-down-to-sneezing by a pope does neither the Pope nor the Church any favors.
I hope that what we have seen of Pope Francis and his dealings with the media will iron out in time. However, what some of us see as a bug, the Pope may cherish as a feature. If that is correct, that is a big problem and ignoring it will not make the problem go away.