Now with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis. He’s the pope, but they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict. They pick him to pieces, refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt and paint him as a terrible pope—just like the liberals did with Benedict. The liberals thought Benedict was a bad and inadequate pope. Ditto the conservatives with Francis.
The liberals were disrespectful and referred to Benedict as “Nazi Ratzi” and “the Enforcer”. Now the conservatives call Pope Francis “Casual Frank” or “Mr Bergoglio”. The liberal cafeteria Catholics had their theological arguments. They quoted this church document or that theologian. The conservatives pull up quotes from this Pope who condemned all heretics or that Council that rained down anathemas.
The conservatives liked to call the liberals “Protestants” because they were trying to make the church just as they wanted it. Now they’re doing the same. They didn’t like when the liberals grumbled and dissented against Pope Benedict. Now they grumble and dissent against Pope Francis.
When Benedict was Pope the conservatives wanted the liberals to listen and learn from Benedict. They wanted the liberal cafeteria Catholics to take on the whole of the Catholic faith and submit to the authority of the rightful pope. Now with Pope Francis they find it rather difficult to listen and learn.
Where did I put that dictionary of literary terms? I want to look up “irony”
If there is one thing I have learned as a student of Catholic history it's this: never abandon the pope.
Never, never, never.
Even if the Pope is an eighteen-year-old playboy like Pope John XII, even if he's a complete screw up like Pope St. Celestine V, never abandon the papacy.
The papacy was established to eliminate the guess work out of Catholic doctrine.
The Church was never meant to operate on the premise that the faithful were supposed to use their own judgement to figure out what the True Faith is.
Any time in Catholic history that the faithful have set themselves up against the Pope, it's been an abysmal failure.
Let me repeat: any time a group of faithful have said that they know better than the pope, their movement died out.
Name me one opposition movement that lived to see its reforms implemented.
None of them have.
One of the principles the Doctors of the Church emphasized in writing about Catholic spirituality is the idea of obedience to one's superior.
Now of course, we owe obedience to God first.
But God established a hierarchy so that you wouldn't have to second guess yourself. He established the charism of infallibility so that you wouldn't have to second guess either.
The Catholic who doubts Pope Francis, and the other Post-Vatican II popes must ask himself this: did God lie when he established the papacy? Did he not say that the pope is the rock, and he has the keys, and the gates of heaven would not prevail?
Of course he didn't lie.
So when Vatican II came on to the scene, you can't just use your judgement to decide that it's heretical.
Either what God said was true, and Vatican II and the Magisterium of subsequent popes was valid, or he lied, in which case, our Catholic faith has no justification.
Now, some might state that there are allegedly glaring contradictions in the papal Magisterium.
These objections are not unlike the supposed contradictions people find in the Bible.
If you want to see contradictions in the Bible, you will see contradictions.
Of course, the key to understanding the Bible is to read it on the premise that it doesn't contradict.
And it's the same with the Magisterium. If you read it with the premise that it can contradict, (as if the clergy who put forward Vatican II doctrines had no idea that it could be misread (what are they that dumb)?) then it will contradict. But then you can read anything to contradict that way.
My problem with conservative Catholics is that they read encyclicals with a blind fundamentalism that, first, is full of logical fallacies, and second, doesn't allow to be informed by the context of the times, as if encyclicals exist in a historical vacuum.
They read Mirari Vos and thinks it means one thing, but they don't take into account the context, and completely misinterpret it.
But somehow they're special these conservative Cafeteria Catholics. They're not like the other opposition movements of the past. They're actually faithful to the Magisterium. Or they're interpretation of the Magisterium. They're reactionary, so that makes them faithful. Because if an idea is more rigid, then it must be true.
Like Jansenists or Feenyites.
When Jesus established the Magisterial office of the bishop & papacy, he didn't do it to create an archive of encyclicals and conciliar decisions for Catholics to argue over. He established those offices to create a personal link between clergy and faithful. So that disloyalty to the clergy-- even bad clergy-- is disobedience to Jesus Christ. If you're going to reject Vatican II and post-conciliar popes because of their "liberalism", you might as well be a heretic, because infidelity to the rightfully ordained clergy amounts to the same thing-- separation. Some of these Conservative Cafeteria Catholics think the only thing that matters is to be obedient to what they understand to be the Magisterial teaching of past popes. As if salvation came uniquely through correct belief.
Salvation comes through obedience. Obedience to charity-- which is what Pope Francis is trying to teach-- and obedience to the hierarchy. When you reject the pope or the bishops, you reject the authority of Christ himself.
I'm not saying you have to accept everything the Pope says. But I also don't think you should reject what the pope says just because you think it's wrong, on the first hearing.
And as a side note-- I'm at a point where I don't believe any report about Pope Francis unless he says it on camera or it's published in a trustworthy Catholic source.
Because the things being said about him have no relationship to the things he has said and written in the past.
Some people think he's a modernist. How can a guy who talks about the devil the way he does be a modernist? That doesn't make any sense.
I just find a lot of the conservative criticism of Pope Francis to be very shallow, and not rooted at all in the Tradition of the Doctors of the Church. Some of his critics act like charity is only being rigidly truthful and blunt, even if it's socially awkward and alienating. Even in espousing the Magisterium, and classic ideas about Truth and orthodoxy, there's room for concepts like mercy, charity, service, and the like. It's not all about quashing Protestant objections in an internet debate forum, folks. It's not just an intellectual exercise. Pope Francis seems to be drawing people in through his concrete gestures. Don't give up on the Holy Spirit because he's not drawing people in through an argument or an intellectual discussion.
We need BOTH an exposition of orthodoxy AND concrete gestures of charity. Just because Pope Francis is really good at rendering service doesn't mean he's some kind of theological flake.