Friday, April 12, 2013

Take a little break and wham-o! The Internet hates you...

Or least you're left floundering, trying to ingest and understand it all.

Man oh man, did that 3 week coughing fit leave me in the dustbin of history.  Lots of stuff happens.

There's a new pope: Francis I. Perhaps you've heard that news already.

Then there's this blow-up within the Catholic blogosphere between Catholic traditionalists and new defenders of Pope Francis I.  Mark Shea points to another take here.  So much for Catholic bloggers keeping it tight and in the family.  Oh no, when we air out the dirty laundry, we drop it from a helicopter, apparently.   There's FILTH to be EXPUNGED.


I will admit to not keeping up with Pope Francis I's new papacy.  Part of it comes from my experience of his election last month.  Watching like the rest of the world, I wanted to take it all in but--due to decisions I myself made--others wanted my immediate opinion about 1) his election; 2) what it all meant; 3) what it all meant for Americans, etc.  Meanwhile I just wanted to think for a while.  The first pope from the Americas--and the first pope from a religious order since 1831--had been elected.  It was too early to say, in any shape or form, "this is what this means."  But nevertheless I had to say something.

Consequently I've taken a "wait and see" approach to Francis I's papacy.  Not in the 'I doubt he'll keep up the good work' but rather "he's doing so much in his own fashion that I want see where the trajectory leads."  Pope Francis I is a fascinating figure.  He's apparently inspired some "fallen-away" Catholics to reconsider the old faith. Cardinal Kasper has even suggested the new pope has inaugurated a new phase of Vatican II.  However, those who've concluded it's the return of John XXIII and the good ol' days of liberation might consider this Vivificat post.  Francis I opposed same-sex marriage in Argentina.  At some point I wonder if he'll confront a "Humanae Vitae" moment like Paul VI:  caught between the zeitgeist and the Church's own traditions, which will the pope choose?  And will all those currently enthralled with Francis I's new way still stand with him if he chooses the Church over the world?

Meanwhile, speaking of choosing the Church, this traditionalist civil war--sparked by fearful reports of the Latin Mass's presence in Cardinal Bergoglio's Buenos Aires--is just beyond me.  Again, it broke when I was away, so part of me just wants to watch it unfold and fade away.

But I wonder instead if this early stage of Francis I's pontificate will offer "conservative Catholics" (a phrase I know is fraught with problems and assumptions) the sort of opportunities for division and carping as Benedict XVI's papacy offered "liberals."  Francis I's refreshing humility is so consuming that already Benedict's intellectual dominance now seems distant in the past.  The trappings are different, the style is different.  Will the Catholic 'right' find some way to avoid the 'left"'s mistakes of rooting every criticism in the outlook of the man currently filling St. Peter's chair?  The current traditionalist uproar indicates not so much. 

But there's always hope--and as John Paul II continually repeated from Scripture--"be not afraid."


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