How to Explain Pope Francis Without Making Things Worse, by Dr. Jeff Mirus

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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Nov 08, 2019

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

Every seriously committed Catholic who is paying attention to Pope Francis has to figure out a way to deal with him both in their own minds, and in speaking about the Church with others. There may be as many different approaches to this problem as there are serious Catholics, but there are certainly several broad categories of response. This is evident from the reactions we receive to our own commentaries on contemporary Church problems.

Insofar as my own approach meets with criticism, it comes primarily in two forms. First, there are those who believe any criticism of a pope is too much criticism, a failure in our filial duty. Second, there are those who believe any acknowledgement of good things Francis has said and done is a betrayal of the Faith, either because the good things are only apparent (not real) or because recognizing them could lead the faithful to trust Francis more than they should.

I would not go as far as Mercutio did in Romeo and Juliet when he cried, “A pox on both your houses!” But I do think that both of these approaches betray an insufficient commitment to the truth, because their proponents prefer either the deification or the demonization of what is merely human. I understand the goal of each side to adopt a strategy which best serves the Church, but I am firmly convinced that no strategy which deliberately excludes some portion of the truth can be considered an authentic Catholic strategy at all. ….