A critical perspective from The American Catholic. Since most Catholics are decidedly left of center in their preferences, and since the media and popular culture all but love and adore the Pope, it's easy to forget that there are some out there who actually disagree with him. That's not new. The harshest critics of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI were the Catholics I knew. I knew Protestant Fundamentalists who had better to say about Pope John Paul II than some Catholics. So criticism is nothing new. But then, those who disagreed with the popes had the backing of the media, a great number of Catholics, and the popular narrative as well. So it didn't come across quite so harshly.
One of the problems with being a counter cultural traditionalist is that you are increasingly a small, squeaky voice among a chorus of opposite opinions. As such, you can stand out like a sore thumb. I used to say that's why Rush Limbaugh sounded so crass, and so harsh. Despite the fact that what he said was, in tone and style, seldom worse than you would see on a daytime talk show, or hear in an SNL skit, many were offended at his disrespect and hate speech. Why? Because day time talk shows and SNL generally advanced more liberal views. As such, they were simply part of the overall chorus. A few voices among many. They blended in.
But Limbaugh was an exception. He stood apart. He used the same tactics, tone, and humor against progressive assumptions. So it was a single, shrill voice out of harmony with the rest. Like laying down on a bed of nails versus laying down on a single nail. That one nail will hurt. A bed of nails? It can be done.
So for those who hashed, trashed and all but dismissed the previous popes, you didn't have that feeling of 'wow, that was harsh.' When you had rock stars burning their pictures and news casts all but chastising them and giving platforms to anti-Catholic and anti-Christian voices, what was a Catholic here or there who voiced the same concerns?
But today, with pop culture and the media firmly behind Pope Francis, and the majority of Catholics who tend to the Left also behind him, hearing that voice of disagreement is almost ear-splitting. And it gives those who are behind the Pope the ammunition to point and act as if some great and terrible sin has occurred because someone has failed to venerate and celebrate obedience to the pontiff. And yet, in many ways, the criticism I actually hear is far more respectful and balanced than I heard leveled at the previous popes. Not all mind you. But like this one, it's merely asking if Pope Francis is considering all of the economic factors in the world. One wonders. For even Democratic Socialist ground zero in Europe has its problems. Does he know this? Does it matter? If criticizing previous popes was at least acceptable, then certainly asking questions like these about the current pope is no worse.
The preceding was what I thought needed to be said about those Catholics who are good Catholics who in good faith merely disagree with the Pope on certain issues; especially since all the rage has been a sudden wave of almost blind obedience and love of everything he does, or you don't love Jesus.