I try not to delve too deeply into the Francis Wars. As a non-Catholic, most of the harshest critics of then Pope John Paul II were the liberal Catholics I knew. As I moved into the Church and roamed about St. Blogs for an idea about this whole Catholic thing, most who were not liberal simply dismissed such critics. They didn't like liberals' attitudes about the pope, and when the rhetoric against the pope became vile, they would speak out. But it was no big thing most of the time. The emphasis was always on 'we're all under the same big Catholic tent'.
Despite the fact that most who said that then will rip into anyone who dares question Pope Francis today, I still try to keep a 'big tent' view I don't think Pope Francis is Satan, Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson or George Clooney. I agree with some of what he's said.
For instance, I liked that he pointed out food waste is a sin, and one of the unfortunate byproducts of our industrial age is having so much that we can afford the luxury of throwing perfectly good food in the trash even while millions around the world starve. Well done pope. Or his attacks on consumerism, or drawing - perhaps not enough -attention to the Nazi style selective abortion that is becoming all the rage to the left of center.
Nonetheless, I do have problems with him. Especially in how he conducts himself as a religious leader. I don't think I've ever known so prominent a religious leader who seems to celebrate 'do as I say, not as I do' as a religious ideal. His constant 'the problem with the world is those believers over there' rhetoric has led to a cottage industry of Catholics who are thrilled every time they're sure he just blasted those believers over there.
Plus it's not hard to see his sympathies lie to the left of that political center. He may say marriage is between a man and woman, or abortion is sin, but see if he rips into those who challenge or reject those moral positions. Yet watch when he takes on critics of various, often political, viewpoints such as Global Warming or open immigration or Covid lockdowns He has no problem blasting them as sinful deplorables, even moving to judge their inner hearts and motives.
Then there is that tendency he has to echo what I learned about Marxist inspired Latin American Liberation Theology. If he isn't a student of it, then some level of Liberation Theology osmosis seems to have had its way with him. It's not hard to see his sympathies lie with almost anyone except the Western Democratic nations and those believers who happen to live there.
Finally there is the fact that he just spends so darn little time talking about things like Jesus or the Catholic Church as if they really matter. Oh sure, you can find some quote of his in a greater talk where he might speak of salvation and the Church, but you usually have to go digging to find it. Not so with his views on Global Warming, the economy, immigration, or Black Lives Matter. You google pope and any of those, and you're hit with a tidal wave of multiple references to multiple statements he has made. Sometimes a little more focus on the hereafter rather than the here and now might do him better.
With that said, the news a week or so ago that his first post-surgery move was to drop a bomb on the Latin Mass sent my head spinning. As the world is blowing itself apart, as tyranny and mass killing and eugenics and the move to destroy liberty, religion and life is almost unchecked on a global scale, as the Catholic Church is bleeding numbers and more and more Catholics don't give a rip about Catholic teaching, he decided to drop the hammer on those Catholics attending the Latin Mass under the premise that it's divisive? Has it ever dawned on him that if it's divisive, it might be because of many reasons and many sides of the issue - including him? I mean, for a pope whose tagline is 'who am I to judge', he does a lot of judging. And condemning. And sometimes almost contemptuously putting down those who don't share his view of unity.
That he does this under the auspices of bringing unity is like telling people to stop being divisive and admit they're Nazis. More than that, it reinforces my growing opinion that Pope Francis approaches the Church the same way postmodernity approaches the world. That is, if we have seen further than others, it's not by standing on the shoulders of giants, it's because we are the first generation of giants to look back at the deplorable history of dwarfs who came before us.
That's why so many millennials and others raised in the postmodern era have nothing but contempt for the past, and don't really care about learning anything from the past. That's why survey after study finds younger and younger generations not only not knowing basics, but not caring that they don't. After all, why care about everyone before us who were clearly losers who messed it all up compared to our awesomeness?
Pope Francis sometimes gives whiffs of this viewpoint. He often acts as if the first 2000 years of the Faith were a dress rehearsal for now when we're finally getting things right. And this new vision of the Church is finally the right one, firing on all pistons correctly, understanding all of the new visions of the world that finally shed the proper light on the true revelation of how things always should have been.
As my sons have said, if it was any generation other than this one, such thinking might seem more plausible. I sometimes think that never in history has a generation with so little to show for its time on Earth spent so much time speaking of its superiority to everyone who came before who built the civilization that same generation inherited and yet despises.
And like postmoderns, who are getting nastier and nastier the more we see the latest, greatest ideas of the last couple generations unravel and fail, it seems as though the more questionable results of the Church's attempts to modernize become apparent, the worse those who support the Church's modern approach to dealing with the Faith in the world become similarly nasty. Unfortunately, I could include Pope Francis in that assessment.