More Catholic Than the Pope?
One of the remarks Pope Francis allegedly made to the Woman Who May Or May Not Have Been Technically Caught In Adultery But It Doesn't Matter is that the priest who had denied her communion on account of her marital irregularity was "more papist than the Pope."
"Oh, another one who is more Catholic than the Pope!" is frequently thrown into the teeth of those who criticize any of Pope Francis' words or deeds. Let's think about that.
It used to sting because, after all, who embodied more respect for, was more knowledgeable about, and more observant of the dogmas, rituals, disciplines and protocols of the Roman Catholic Church than the Pope of Rome? Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia. To be called "more Catholic than the Pope" was to be labeled as a know-it-all prig, a fanatic, a hypocrite.
Then along came Francis.
- He did not want to be called "Pope" (hi, just another Bishop; my See happens to be Rome).
- He rejected the traditional ceremonial dress for his debut (you wear it; carnival is over, which means you can't even say "Does the Pope wear a funny hat?" anymore -- the one about bears still works, though).
- He didn't want to live where popes live.
- He said he didn't believe in a Catholic God.
- He famously dismissed a question about homosexuality with "who am I to judge?"
- He made fun of Catholics as "rosary counters," and numerous other insults, the latest being "Bat-Christians."
- He called a Protestant of some sort "my brother bishop."
- He makes cold calls to random people and chats about sensitive matters of doctrinal significance and grants special dispensations over the heads of priests and bishops.
- He is reported to have said in reference to the possibly sacrilegious reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, "a little bread and wine does no harm."
- He praised a German cardinal's full-throated attack on the sanctity of marriage.
- He appeared on the cover of the country's premier homosexual magazine (let's just say the Bear has never gotten that honor even for the annual bear issue).
- He said that man was at the center of the Gospel and history (Pope John Paul II said it was Christ; you can sort that one out).
Etc., etc., etc.
It is not the Bear's intention to rehearse the entire list of eccentricities we have seen in just one year of this pontificate, surely the strangest in memory. That would involve literally hundreds of items. It is merely to note that the insult "What, are you more Catholic than the Pope?" probably stung more when Pius XII was Pope than it does today.
Why So Serious?
Is the Bear more Catholic than the Pope, in a bad way? Of course one has to wonder. To be constantly agitated by the Holy Father is a very unnatural position for someone who tries to be a faithful, regular ol' nothing-special Catholic who goes to Mass in an ordinary parish that hasn't heard a word of Latin since 1967.
The Bear feels no more or less Catholic than he has ever been. The only thing that has changed is the disruptive entry of Jorge Bergoglio into his life. (Is the Pope supposed to feel like part of a Catholic's life? For good or ill, this is product of our media age.)
The Bear has been thinking lately that maybe he does take Catholicism more seriously than the Pope. Perhaps it's just a waste of time to read old books from a Church of the past that is gone forever, like Pope Francis says. Maybe everybody does go to Heaven, or nearly so; surely a decent, or at least tame, old Bear who isn't Hitler or anything. The Bear should just enjoy life and not worry about things he can't influence anyway, and not be a sour puss or Bat Christian.
So what do you think, fellow woodland creatures? Do you ever have moments when you wonder if you're overreacting? Maybe taking an unhealthy interest in the Catholic Church? Do you ever need to take a vacation, step back and regain perspective? What do you do to get through the psychological and spiritual turmoil? How do you deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by the difference between the Church of the past and what we have today?
Better figure this out now, because a storm is coming.
The Coming Storm
The Synod on the Family is coming up in October. The Bear is far less sanguine about that than he was at the beginning of the week. Surveying a laity that has not been catechized, let alone had proper spiritual formation, was bad enough. Now, Pope Francis has planted tares with his phone stunt. Does anyone doubt that many divorced and remarried Catholics will present themselves for communion Sunday? Oh, what a pastoral nightmare this will create! Oh, what a cry to compromise will be raised!
It misses the point to argue the Pope did not change Church teaching. (And it is disappointing to see people who know this full and well nonetheless making the argument.) All the people "know" is that Pope Francis said it was okay for divorced and remarried people to take communion.
Update: EWTN Radio is running spots advising Catholics that if they are divorced and remarried without an annulment, they should not present themselves for communion. Is this how we run the Church these days?
You don't have to change dogma to change the Church, as the Bear was saying just Tuesday. One has to ask: is the Pope deliberately fomenting a revolution in his own Church, or is his erratic behavior a symptom of psychological issues?
The Synod of Woodland Creatures
Assuming the coming years continue the trend of the Bergoglio pontificate's first, where do you see yourself in, say, five years? Should we withdraw into our bubbles like good Bubble Catholics™ and pretend to have a Pius pope? (There are 12 of 'em to pick from, and you can even get a clock.) The Bear is sincerely interested in the sensus fidelium of his favorite woodland creatures, and invites them to a council in the big clearing (or at least group therapy, as one of Jane's comments had it).
In the meantime, has this changed things for the Bear?
Is the Pope Catholic?