Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Opposition to Pope Francis: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- (Part 1)

Pope Francis
Photo courtesy: Conde Nast Traveller

Since his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis has been facing opposition, especially from the conservative priests, bishops, cardinals, and laypersons. 

In the last three years, the opposition is getting fiercer day by day. This pope is trying to bring simplicity in the papacy and hierarchy, is trying to get the Catholics to follow Jesus Christ as taught by him in the Gospel, and, finally, is trying to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including some reforms. Yet, there is the ongoing opposition!

Reasons why Pope Francis is facing opposition:

  1. Before his election as the Pope, he was almost an unknown figure in the Catholic Church having no influence.
  2. Immediately after being elected pope, he abandoned the traditional clothing worn by newly elected popes and he chose simple and humble clothing instead.
  3. His use of Italian language instead of the traditional Latin in greeting the waiting crowd in St. Peter’s Square annoyed many a conservative.
  4. He also abandoned the use of the “papal palace” – that has lavishly furnished and costly apartments -- as his living quarters, instead he has been living with other priests, bishops, and cardinals in the Domus Sanctae Martae (St. Martha’s House) – a guesthouse nearby. This way, he wanted to show that as pope he is not a royal person following the tradition of the Church for hundreds of years.
  5. Like Pope John XXIII, Pope Francis is not a theologian. Most other popes in the last two centuries were theologians with their influences in the Catholic Church. The feeling among conservative intellectuals and theologians is: “How much can you expect from a non-theologian pope?” Pope Francis became a priest after the Vatican II, so his theology doesn’t get importance among the conservatives.
  6. Since becoming pope in 2013, like other popes before him, Francis has been giving his Christmas greetings to the members of the Roman Curia. But, unlike other popes, he, in his messages, has been publicly berating and scathingly critiquing Curia members' demeanor and behaviour -- such as, 15 'ailments' that are prevalent among these highest-ranking and 'power-hungry' Vatican officials, who are priests, bishops, and cardinals. A number of these officials took an affront to these papal talks and have been opposing this pope ever since.  
  7. Pope Francis belongs to the Jesuit Order. In Church history, we see there were differences of opinion and even clashes between the Jesuits and certain popes as well as members of certain other Religious Orders. Naturally, when this Jesuit cardinal became Pope Francis, there was hesitancy in accepting him for fear of what he may do in the future.
  8. He sometimes, giving a message to the crowd or public does not follow pre-written speech in totality. In the middle of it, he may speak up impromptu giving his own message, remarks or ideas.
  9. He is from Argentina, a third world country, and from a continent – South America – that had seen ‘liberation theology,’ “supposedly influenced by Marxism and communism.” Moreover, his parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina. Pope Francis, as Jorge Bergoglio, born in Argentina, was the second-generation Italian. Europeans, who have been elected Popes for hundreds of years, look down upon -- a kind of racism – anybody elected from a third-world country.
  10. Pope Francis has been vocal against ‘clericalism’ and wants it to be abolished from the Catholic Church. A good number of the clergy (priests, bishops, and cardinals) do not agree with him and are resisting his efforts.
  11. He declared death penalty inadmissible, whereas the Catholic Church still allows the death penalty in certain cases.
  12. He is a staunch advocate or crusader for the poor and oppressed people.
  13. He accepted the reality of man’s climate change and our responsibility in reducing the bad effects of climate change. Many conservative Catholics, however, do not agree with Pope Francis because they think that human-induced warming goes against God’s omnipotence, meaning, man cannot work against God’s power and work.
  14. Pope Francis, while in the Philippines, told Catholics not ‘to breed like rabbits.’ As the Catholic Church does not support birth control or abortion, or any contraceptive use, conservatives took this remark in a bad light.
  15. Pope Francis had said “Who am I to judge?” regarding homosexuals seeking God.  He also mentioned that homosexual or gay people are God’s creatures, too, and they should be accepted in the Church and society. This is against the Catholic Church's teaching that homosexuality is an aberration and homosexual acts should be condemned although we should behave well with homosexual persons. Conservative Catholics, priests, and bishops are “angry” and “frustrated” with Pope Francis who initially ignored complaints against Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick of Washington, D.C., U.S.A., being a homosexual.
  16. Pope Francis allowed priests in their parishes to pardon women who underwent abortions and reconcile them with the Church. Conservatives did not like it.
  17. He is asking that divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed holy communion, which is against the present teaching of the Church.
  18. Pope Francis has been washing feet of the twelve on Holy Thursday at different church in a different year including washing and kissing of the feet of Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Coptic Christian. Once he washed and kissed feet of a woman, the first-ever in the Church. Conservatives do not like this kind of loving, forgiving, and merciful gestures from a pope, considered to be representative of Christ and a ‘royal’ one.
  19. The Pope, when going by special popemobile, sometimes takes a sudden decision to get down from the vehicle (which is very unconventional and unpapal) to greet a child or a deformed or handicapped person waiting in the nearby crowd.
  20. He is encouraging close contacts and cooperation with non-Catholic Christian denominations, such as the Lutherans, Anglicans, and other evangelical Christians.
  21. He has been emphasizing dialogue with religious leaders of other religions – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. He has been telling Catholics not to be afraid to dialogue and interact with persons of other faiths. Conservatives want to be careful about this matter.
  22. The Pope has been telling priests, bishops, and cardinals to be servants rather than rulers of the laypersons. He is asking them to go among the people – the lowliest ones, too – mingle with them, smell like them, and serve them as Christ had asked. Priests, bishops, and cardinals used to living in comfort, opulence, luxury, and ever obedience from the laity, find it hard to accept. They, of course, would not like Pope Francis for this change of attitude and lifestyle.
  23. Pope Francis gave interviews, which is untraditional and unusual, to newspapers (like Father Spadaro, S.X. and Mr. Eugenio Scalfari – an Italian journalist and an atheist), and magazines and freely expressed his opinions and views – sometimes palatable, sometimes.  Conservatives took this as an unpapal behaviour and demeaning for a regal pope!
  24. During the recent Amazon Synod in the Vatican, Pope has allowed Amazon indigenous people to bring their idols, like Panchamama, during worship ceremony and the Pope himself blessed some of those items. Conservatives saw ‘idolatry’ in this and they are demanding that the pope asks God’s forgiveness and reconcile with him.
  25. Pope Francis is going to allow married priests in the Amazon region of Brazil where very few priests are available. In the Latin rite Catholic Church, priests still are not allowed to marry. 

Since 2013, with the ascendancy of Pope Francis, all kinds of opposition are going on against him. There are punches and counterpunches, there is chaos and commotions. Where is God in all this?

To know and understand more on this issue, please read the following items:



(Updated on December 5, 2019)

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