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In Defense Of Pope Francis

February 21, AD2014 11 Comments

\"GaryIt’s time. I’ve put off writing this for a while, but the time has come. In the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of attacks on our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. No big deal, right? After all, our culture isn’t exactly supportive of Catholic teaching. We live in a world where the pursuit of pleasure is generally regarded as a one of life’s priorities. What the Church considers good is often viewed by the world as evil. Is it any surprise that the world is going to reject and vilify the Holy Father, who is the visible head of the Church on earth? Of course not, but that’s not the reason why I’m writing this article. Sadly, the majority of the attacks that I’m seeing are coming from those within the Church. Oh, it’s those “Cafeteria Catholics” again, right? Not this time. The vast majority of attacks are coming from individuals who love Christ and His Church. What’s unusual is that their love is being expressed in anger, disrespect and language that is dangerously close to heresy.

Before the attacks start coming, let’s set the record straight. I love Christ and I love His Church. Please don’t call me a “modernist”, “liberal”, or “conservative”. I am a Catholic…period. I am also not smarter than Jesus, who founded a Church on the leadership of the Holy Father (Cf. Matthew 16:18-19).

As a Catholic, I not only love Christ and His Church, but I love the Holy Father. Therefore, it only follows that I love and respect our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. In fact, that love is so real that it hurts me to see him treated with such disrespect (Catholics condescendingly calling him “Jorge”, “Bergoglio” or even “a heretic”). It hurts because these words are directed at my “Papa”, the individual that Christ placed in charge to help me get to Heaven.

On a personal level, I can’t express enough gratitude to Jesus for leaving me a series of “Papas”, all with unique and different charisms. Each of them has drawn me closer to Jesus, by helping me to concentrate on different aspects of my spiritual life. Is Pope Francis’ style different than Pope Benedict’s? You bet. Was Pope Benedict’s style different than Blessed Pope John Paul II’s? Absolutely, and that diversity can be extremely beneficial. I have learned a great deal from each of them and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be stretched spiritually.

So, why do I feel the need to write this? Do I feel that any minds will be changed? Honestly, I don’t know. While I hope that it has a positive effect, I can’t control how other people think or behave. Whether it has an effect or not, I do feel that I need to try. In addition to being hurt by the disrespect shown to Pope Francis, I am also concerned for those Catholics who feel justified in propagating such attacks. In an attempt to promote reverence for Our Lord and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (which is a very commendable undertaking), some of these individuals are skating on some thin spiritual ice. The Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, is clear about the loyalty due to our Holy Father:

\”This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking\” (Lumen Gentium No. 25).

I am grateful for the Lord’s gift of the papacy. When the Holy Father speaks, I listen attentively. When Pope Francis tells me that I need to pay greater attention to the poor and be more charitable to others, I obey him. Why?

Because I love Jesus and that’s what He wants me to do.

About the Author:

Gary Zimak is a full time Catholic speaker, author and radio host. In addition to hosting Following The Truth on Blogtalkradio (M-F at 8 PM Eastern), Gary is a frequent guest on EWTN, Relevant and Sirius/XM Radio. He is the author of A Worrier's Guide To The Bible , Listen To Your Blessed Mother and From Fear To Faith. A frequent speaker at parishes and conferences, Gary is the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Eileen and daughters Mary and Elizabeth.

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  • Mary Ann

    Thanks Gary, you’ve said what needs to be said. It’s hard enough defending our position to non Catholics but when those in our own camp start attacking the Pope, the entire Body of Christ suffers.

  • nannon31

    I agree with half ( deriding of the Pope as person is wrong) but Lumen Gentium 25 is not complete as an idea as Yves Congar the Dominican theologian noted in saying that Counciliar ideas are oft incomplete. It is completed in moral theology tomes imprimatured after LG25 that acknowledge conscientious dissent in the non infallible. We under papal jurisdiction burned c.5000 people in the Inquisitions who we now trust with our heart transplants…which cases were never outside papal right to call an entire trial to Rome to be decided by the Pope…and that burning is now implicitly denounced in Splendor of the Truth sect. 80 and denounced implicitly in that same Vatican II. But you began by denouncing derision of the person of the Pope on which you are perfectly correct…but you ended with promoting the total noncritical obedience of LG. 25 which herd thinking gave us a spotty moral record throughout history. I believe the de facto not ccc death penalty position of these last three Popes will get hundreds of murder victims killed every five years worldwide wherever their de facto not ccc advice ( abolition) has been pivotal as in the Phillipines. And we won’t admit it until some future Pope apologizes for it 400 years down the road as John Paul II did for past acts. I will not vote abolition nor think it ( along with most Popes of the past).
    But yes your initial denouncing of derision of the person of the Pope is correct. But LG25 could actually factor in a future international court case involving the Church under the common definition of a cult as an entity using mind control. It was an unfortunate moment in LG in that LG should have proceeded to cite the exceptions there in the Council instead of imprimaturing the exceptions in moral theology tomes later.
    We may rue that day in the future.

  • David Peters

    Gary thanks for this article! I love Pope Francis, and I really like the idea of calling him Papa. He has such an incredible sense of compassion and he is a constant blessing to me. He is the reason I became interested in Catholicism in the first place. I am not a member of the Church yet and seeing these attacks on him remind me of how some Protestants attack Catholicism and the Pope. I can trust God that He is leading Pope Francis and that He is working in him and through him by the Holy Spirit. God bless.

  • Camila

    Thanks for this article Gary!

  • Greg Mockeridge

    As one who thinks much, but not all, of the criticism of Pope Francis coming from many orthodox Catholics smacks of Chicken Little running around with his head cut-off, none of it comes anywhere close to heresy. For Mr. Zimak to suggest such is beyond ridiculous. He cite LG 25 out of context. If you go back a sentence or two you will see exactly what I am talking about:

    “Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

    To say that some of Pope Francis’ statements are care less and imprudent is not calling into question his teaching on matters of faith and morals. Therefore, LG 25, let alone charges of heresy, are totally irrelevant in regards to the former and out of line with regards to the latter.

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com/ JoAnna Wahlund

      I would argue that it’s not the Holy Father’s remarks which are careless and imprudent, but rather the propensity of many Catholics to pay such heed to the mainstream media’s (often incorrect) portrayal of those remarks. Rather, Catholics should take care to ignore the mainstream media’s stories about Pope Francis’ remarks and instead read what Pope Francis actually said, in context, before jumping to conclusions.

    • Greg Mockeridge

      The main thrust of what I said is that the criticisms of Pope Francis come nowhere close to heresy and that Mr. Zimak was misusing LG 25.

      That being said, I do find much, but not all, of orthodox Catholic criticism of Pope Francis to be overblown. But, as I said, that does not call into question the Holy Father’s teaching on faith and morals, which is what LG 25 is talking about. LG 25 nowhere says or implies that we owe religious submission of mind and will to any papal prudential judgments. However, for example, after reading Evangelii Gaudium, some of his statements on matters of economics reflect he doesn’t understand how free markets really work and have caused confusion on such matters.

    • David Peters

      Amen! I agree completely.

  • NickD

    “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown…in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his MANIFEST mind and will.” (my emphasis)

    I think it ought to be said that, sometimes, what the Holy Father is saying or to whom he is saying it is unnecessarily unclear, rather than “manifest,” and so it becomes difficult to show religious submission to what he says.

  • kcthomas

    Gary, you are right. We live in world which has rejected Jesus and his teachings. As you say the “Cafeteria Catholics” indulge in most of the anger and protest against Pope and priests. They assume to be sinless and the best. It is easy to find fault with anyone, but it is difficult to live with principles and simplicity.They should look into themselves with Jesus in their minds. Jesus wants us to bear our crosses and not pleasures if we want to follow him.

  • Nk

    I can’t thank you enough for your article. I am saddened and angered by some of the disturbing things I have read by certain Catholic bloggers. As a Nigerian woman living in Africa, I have been stunned by the outright disrespect and disobedience shown toward Pope Francis in The West. Their vicious rants convinces me of their total distrust in The Holy Spirit to provide a worthy successor to St.Peter. We can only pray for these lost sheep.