On this day… “Getting Francis Wrong”

Here is something to ponder.  HERE

On this day in 2013 I posted:

Over at First Things I saw a piece called Five Myths About Pope Francis by William Doino Jr.

What are those myths?

1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.”
2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.”
3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.”
4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.”
5. “Francis Loves the World.”

I think it would be interesting to reread the article in question and see how things are going now…. with some perspective.

Moderation queue is ON.

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  1. Bender says:

    What is interesting is how all these questions of getting Francis wrong (or right) came up so very early. Interesting and sad.

    For my part, I was teaching RCIA at the time of the conclave. And at the very first class after the election, one of the people in class noted her concern (distress, actually) that Francis might change this or that. Of course, I assured her — No, that will not happen. The pope will not change anything because he can NOT change anything — in fact, the function of the papacy is to secure the faith, not unsettle it.

    I believed that to be true at the time. Today, I want it to be true and hope it is, not merely as an academic matter, but a real-life one too.

    But I noticed the curiosity then that even some fairly big-name cardinals and bishops in those early days felt the need to give similar reassurances. Mostly today, though, they have resorted to asserting things like obedience and authority, while also still trying to advance the narrative of high personal popularity. Like I said, it is all very sad.

  2. smauggie says:

    I think Pope Francis has had a genuine desire to appeal to younger persons, but has gone about doing so in some more secular ways (selfies). While such activity may yield a short-term interest in the faith, without a strong spiritual underpinning, it will not bear out successfully in the long term. What appeals to the youth and indeed to all ages, is Jesus Christ.

    It was not his great eloquence that drew the youth to Pope St. John Paul II but rather his own person, which was so deeply rooted in Christ that appealed to so many.

    His seeming fixation with social justice troubles me ever so slightly. I seem to recall Bishop Sheen cautioning about those who were overly concerned about social justice but I can’t remember the reference at the moment. Perhaps it has to do with the postmodernist philosophy growing in our culture which stipulates long lists of personal rights with complete disregard for the corresponding responsibilities.

  3. Scott Wilmot says:

    How interesting that the latest essay in L’Osservatore Romano (http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=32182) claims that the “renewal” of Pope Francis is accepted by the people but resisted by priests and bishops. Apparently those rigid and pharisaical priests like Joachim Cardinal Meisner, who are able to maintain their faith “even if at times the ship is almost filled to the point of shipwreck” just get in the way of that old time renewal.

    I think Dr. Jeff Mirus sums up this pontificate perfectly with this sentence:

    “The rule is simple: Never directly contradict what the Church teaches. Instead, insist on openness while attacking the character of those who seek clarity.” (http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/the-city-gates.cfm?id=1484)

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Only those of a cynical stripe would have imagined that these notations would have no significance at all in 2017, and even they would have doubted that our concerns today would be of such a grave and grievous character. I am of such a stripe, and the concerns I harbored in 2013 long ago bit the dust. The ecclesial landscape is at best the stuff of the worst days of Israel, or worse, some futuristic counterintuitive fiction.
    I cannot believe we are here…by the waters of Babylon.

  5. The Astronomer says:

    1. Correct
    2. Correct
    3. Correct
    4. Correct
    5. Correct

  6. anilwang says:

    Well in charity at that time we should have believed all those points were myths, and even if they were not myths at the time of election, history has shown that more than a few bad candidate Pope have grown into their roles as Popes as champions of orthodoxy.

    Unfortunately when I see the wreckage these few short years have brought and how there is no end in sight, I do understand the sentiment of Psalm 137 more clearly than I have in the past.

  7. TNCath says:

    Back in 2013, it seemed impossible to believe that the aforementioned “myths” could ever be true. Time after time he was given the benefit of the doubt, and time after time he not only didn’t come through but he continued to bewilder and disappoint. In the words of Vito Corleone at the meeting with the Five Families; “How did things ever get so far? I don’t know. It was so unfortunate.”

  8. AHCatholic says:

    Pope Francis really can aid a Catholic seeking to grow in the faith… if you apply a different approach: avoid the people and things he says and/or seems to indicate he likes (i.e. Martin Luther, Fr. Bernhard Haring, Card. Kasper, Card. Schonborn, Abp. Tucho Fernandez, Fr. Spadaro, Emma Bonino), and look into people and things he either indicates, or seems to indicate he dislikes (i.e. Pope Benedict XVI, Card. Burke, Card. Sarah, the Tridentine Mass etc.). You end up with a pretty sound guide to the faith. Granted there are exceptions (thankful for every single one), but as a general rule, it seems fairly sound. Thanks to Pope Francis and this approach, I experienced my first Tridentine Mass at a Pontifical High Mass with Card. Burke. Now I love both! That being said, lets all remember to pray daily FOR, not* “against” (add Austen Ivereigh to the avoid list above) our Pope’s conversion.

  9. Potato2 says:

    In classifying them as myths the author is 0-5. Which only gets you promoted if your last name is Tebow.

    It’s like an anti prophesy!

  10. Cornelius says:

    Given how early it was in the Francis papacy at the time he published (2013), on what ground could Mr. Doino make his claim that these are all “myths”? More than one seems to me to be profoundly accurate, with only #2 being wrong. Francis was scarcely known outside of his native Argentina at the time. Mr. Doino’s article seems like wishful thinking now.

  11. catholictrad says:

    I couldn’t have dreamed that when I converted to Catholicism in 2007 that I’d pray daily for the conversion of the Pope. Yet we are all called to daily conversion, and with each daily examination of conscience we discover new or old faults of which to repent.

  12. Ed the Roman says:

    What I have observed is that I don’t hear of Francis unambiguously ruling liberal interpretations out of court. I’ll hear “of course nothing has changed” but I also hear that “so-and-so’s interpretation of footnote whatever is authoritative”, and when various take the bit in their teeth over that, I hear silence.

  13. wised says:

    My first thought is that someone saw this coming. We were told that the Church would survive, although on a smaller scale. Our Lady warned that the threat would come from within. I feel like the proverbial frog in the pot of warming water.

    We will remain faithful and continue to trust in the Lord. St.Michael protect us.

  14. WVC says:

    If one wants to really get some perspective, frame Francis up with the long and sordid history of the popes. Is he as bad as Alexander VI? Stephen XII? I’m not saying the bad examples of those who came before is any justification for the bad actions and inactions of Francis (of which there are many objective examples), but we should have confidence that, while we must fight the fight before us we must also remember the Church and the Faithful have endured many, many, many bad popes. In reality, we’ve been spoiled to have had so many holy and amazing popes over the last 150 or so years.

    That being said, it is much easier to believe all 5 of those so-called myths today than it was just 2 years ago. The refusal to even address the dubia is, truly, a very embarrassing situation.

  15. Ocampa says:

    The Astronomer:

    When you say, “correct,” do you mean that the statement is a myth (not true of Francis), or that it is true of Francis (not a myth)?

    I would say,

    1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.” Possibly a myth. Jury is still out.
    2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.” Possibly a myth.
    3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.” Not a myth (Example: Laudato si)
    4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.” Not a myth (Example: support or at least tolerence of Kasper et al and even SSPX, too)
    5. “Francis Loves the World.” Possibly a myth.

  16. cwillia1 says:

    Catholic apologists have to deal with the bad popes of history. It is not a pretty picture. We have to get past what protestant converts have to work through because Pope Francis follows a long series of outstanding popes, holy men and great teachers of the faith. And orthodox Catholics have relied too much on the papacy to defend the apostolic faith.

    Pope Francis is not a heretic, nor has he commanded us to do evil. And this is all we have a right to expect from a pope. Our duty is not to judge him nor is it to agonize over what he says, what he does and how he does it. Our duty is to live the apostolic faith handed down to us and proclaim it. God will judge us just as he will judge Pope Francis.

  17. Ocampa says:


    “Pope Francis is not a heretic, nor has he commanded us to do evil. And this is all we have a right to expect from a pope. Our duty is not to judge him nor is it to agonize over what he says, what he does and how he does it. Our duty is to live the apostolic faith handed down to us and proclaim it. God will judge us just as he will judge Pope Francis.”

    You hit on something important. I think a problem with the papacy, the presidency, and life in general is media-saturation. Every thought, utterance, and breath is recorded and scrutinized. Did previous popes run their mouths off, say things that they would regret, or say things that might have scandalized others? You bet. But we don’t have Pope Benedict IX’s Twitter account (thankfully), or Linus’ Facebook page. We don’t even have Leo XIII’s YouTube page (and you know he would have made some great and educational videos!)

    We know that all the popes from Peter to Francis have had their flaws. We know that Benedict IX wasn’t all bad and that Leo XIII wasn’t all good. We also understand if they had the media we do today, their papacies would look very different.

    In my opinion, if you’re a high profile individual, stay off social media and keep media contact formal (so no off-the-cuff interviews 35,000 feet in the air). Presidents, popes, and CEOs should not be tweeting. Why not? How often do you remember the wise, good things that were said by public officials on Twitter? You probably remember the controversial and negative comments more easily, right, covfefe? But hey, who am I to judge?

  18. padredana says:

    I would VERY much like to see the author of this article write another article where he revisits these “myths.” I’d be curious what his take is on this.

  19. wolfeken says:

    The whole debate with Bergoglio then and now reminds me of a U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Some will think a liberal or moderate will vote conservative just because a Republican picked him. No, history has taught us that, 99.9 percent of time, once a liberal, always a liberal.

    The initial months of Francis were sad, as so many center-right and conservative Catholics kept their heads in the sand, in complete denial, going so far as to attack any traditionalist who dared bring up Bergoglio’s very public, radical record in Argentina.

    Now, at least we are all on the same page.

  20. Joy65 says:

    I have been and will continue to pray for our Pope, all Cardinals, all Bishops, all priests, all religious brothers & sisters, all seminarians, all deacons and those discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They need our prayers.

  21. Kathleen10 says:

    There are still apologists and explainers for him, or sweet hearts who give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t guess it matters much at this point. I would like to live in the Land of Happy Denial, how do I find it? I want to live there too.
    Regarding the article, wow, how could one person be so wrong. I don’t know if the writer was trying to cover for him, but it mirrored the humility stuff we saw for quite a while. It was handy for charming millions and buying off the press. Sometimes methinks people doth protest too much, and you can sometimes bet what is claimed is exactly the opposite. A claim of humility masks megalomania.

  22. thomas tucker says:

    I honestly think Pope Francis is well-intentioned, but I think his method encourages confusion, which is not a good thing.

  23. lmgilbert says:

    cwillia1, I’m with you. That said. . .

    Although I count myself a traditional Catholic, I offer the following analogy as a very likely, scripturally based solution to this situation in the Church. Bear with me . .:

    Through a series of events too involved to recount here, taking the Decree on Ecumenism as my charter document, I found myself in the summer of 1971 at a Lutheran Pentecostal Bible camp at Leech Lake in northern Minnesota with maybe 250 other people. I was then as I am now— Catholic, and very much an oddity in that Lutheran Pentecostal milieu.

     This was a pretty amazing experience.  Although it was summer, the weather was on the chilly side as it often is in Northern Minnesota and someone stole my sweater. As a result I caught a very bad cold.  Now, every evening they began their prayer meeting with about forty-five minutes of praising the Lord with psalms and hymns and inspired songs, a very scriptural approach.  
    One concept among others that they emphasized is the concept of “taking a stand in the Spirit”
    Another very big thing with them was to praise God for things as they are in one’s life, including colds, stolen sweaters, inner distress and the like.  So, I “took a stand in the Spirit,” in other words put myself on a war footing.  If you could have peeked inside my spirit in the course of a few evenings in that summer of 1971 you would have found me day after day-against all natural inclination- praising God FOR my cold and for my sweater having been stolen.

     Shortly after taking this resolution and following through on it over a period of a few days, one evening in the course of praising God in song for my cold and for the loss of my sweater I had a mind-boggling experience: one second I had the miserable cold, the next second I did not– at all. Nor was there any need to “mop up” after what had been a very sloppy cold. Moreover, when I returned to my quarters, there was my red sweater neatly folded on my bunk. This may have been a mini-miracle, but it was very real and a great confirmation that this was the approach to take.
    Shortly after this you would have found me at home, having taken a stand in the spirit, pacing my room by the hour singing “psalms and hymns and inspired songs” for my then very difficult situation, in hopes of deliverance from it.  And things began to open up. It’s a long story.  But without that bible camp, that instruction and example, there would have been no normal, happy life, 40 yrs of a happy marriage, a Carmelite daughter, etc., etc..
    As I say, against all inclination I praised God FOR the cold, and soon it was GONE. Similarly, we would do very well to praise God FOR Pope Francis.
    Well, quite apart from my little analogy, there is no blessing in complaining “against God, and against Moses.” Or worrying. And since absolutely EVERYTHING that happens is either willed by God or permitted by Him, we would do VERY well to thank God for this pope. That is where the blessing lies and the likelihood of Divine intervention. We surely are not going to find our way out of this imbergoglio with rhetoric, still less with murmuring against someone who is in fact, like it or not, the Lord’s anointed.

  24. colospgs says:

    From the article, referring to John XXIII, but also Francis: “…was never a “liberal” in the modern sense of that term; he was a champion of orthodox reform.”
    Champion of orthodox reform…Is that like saying “We are not retreating, we are advancing to the rear.”

  25. Irish Spectre says:

    Well, what an interesting exercise this is. Like so many others, for quite a while at the start of his pontificate, I gave Francis the benefit of the doubt, blaming the questionable statements he regularly made on mainstream media misinterpretation. That became an exercise in nothing more than self-deception some time ago, and it has occurred to me that Francis has in fact upped his assault against orthodoxy and conservatism over time, that well chronicled, caricaturistic drivel last week by his homosexualist henchman, Spadaro, being his latest attack (by proxy.) I think it’s time for Francis apologist Tom Hoopes to seriously update his take on What Pope Francis Really Said!!

  26. ncstevem says:

    Imgilbert – I like that story. I need to remember that when I’m complaining about my small crosses.

  27. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    I agree it would be interesting to see what Mr. Doino has to say four years later–if he’s able to write with a bag over his head.

  28. Aquinas Gal says:

    All 5 of the “myths” are true. I’m reading Tracy Rowland’s book “Catholic Theology” that Fr Z has recommended. She recounts that when a Jesuit student in Argentina told Fr Bergoglio he was studying fundamental theology, he replied, “I can’t imagine anything more boring.” That is the root of the problem. He will never answer the dubia because he doesn’t care enough about doctrine. Also, “making a mess” is his method. This is just a simple fact; witness the Synod.

  29. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    BTW: Speaking of “charity” toward dissenters, Bergoglio has rehabilitated about 500–that’s five hundred–Latin-American Marxist theologians whose mandates were yanked by Prefect of the CDF Ratzinger.

  30. Charles E Flynn says:

    As soon as I heard the name of the newly-elected pope, I wondered whether the chosen name was a reference to the popular image of St. Francis as some kind of rebel, or to the St. Francis of recent serious scholarship. I do not recall whether I rolled my eyes.

  31. TonyO says:

    Imgilbert and cwillia1 are right: we should pray for Francis. I do frequently. I pray for his intentions after the rosary, too. I pray “Oh, God, if his intentions are yours also, please grant them. If they are contrary to yours, please change them.”

    And as St. Paul said, we should be thankful in ALL things, not just the nice and nifty ones. So, if the Pope is hard to life with, be thankful to God.

    What we don’t have to do is follow him down the rabbit hole of confusion and ambiguity and nonsense. Equality is NOT the prime motive of the Gospel. Teen joblessness is NOT the second worst evil of the world. So, instead, you should “be like Francis”. You know, when he said “it goes in one ear and out the other”. Let that be your watchword: I’m being just like my Papa!

  32. tskrobola says:


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