Friday, June 21, 2019

Not all conservative Catholics are unsettled by Francis’s pontificate

Since the 2016 presidential election, arguing has rapidly supplanted baseball as America’s national pastime. Middle aged-men now congregate in dingy bars to watch 24/7 cable news coverage of the Mueller report. Instead of cheering on the home team during the World Series, they angrily agree with one another that the CNN correspondent Jake Tapper is a charlatan and Fox News host Sean Hannity is the greatest reporter of our age (or vice versa).

Even in Holy Mother Church’s relative halcyon days – the Battle of Lepanto, for instance – our quarrelsome culture would have spilled over from the temporal into the spiritual realm. But Francis’s conduct as Pope has ensured that no abbot or abuela shall be allowed to remain neutral.

Wittingly or not, the Holy Father has reignited moral and liturgical feuds that most of us assumed were happily settled. He praises Martin Luther while accusing traditionalists of flirting with Pelagianism. He urges European governments to welcome Muslim immigrants while condemning President Trump’s border wall as being un-Christian. Some suspect he’s working to readmit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, and yet he has refused to allow pilgrims to kiss his ring.

By and large, opinions about Francis are as predictable as they are militant. Theological and political liberals take a positive view of the Holy Father; conservatives, not so much. Those on the Church’s right wing have strongly supported the 2016 dubia (a request for clarification of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia), and many defended the 2017 correctio filialis (filial correction) – though most stopped short of endorsing 2019’s “heresy letter”. This is the group dismissed by the LA Times as “cranky”, by Reuters as “extremists” and by Fr James Martin as the “Catholic alt-right”.

And yet not all theological conservatives and liturgical traditionalists oppose Pope Francis. A vanguard of well-known writers, academics and priests have stood against the tide of partisan opinion to defend the Supreme Pontiff.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

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