Speak of the Pope

Ethika Politika (EP) has undertaken a full-court press on behalf of Pope Francis. Yesterday, Andrew Haines, EP’s lead editor, laid into Catholics who are less-than-impressed with the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family and the direction in which Francis is taking the Church. Today, another EP editor, David Mills, chastises his coreligionists about their public (or even private) attitude toward the Pope. While Mills is right to observe that some of the negative rhetoric concerning Francis’s pontificate is extreme, he may be going too far in assuming that those who criticize the Pope strongly are only doing so in order to score sanctimony points. Many faithful Catholics are genuinely worried, if not panicked, about what Francis has allowed to transpire over the past two years because it is hindering the Church’s divine mission. Mills expresses worry about what non-Catholics might think when they hear sons and daughters of the Church speaking ill of Francis, but does he worry about what those same non-Catholics think when the Pope appears to undermine Catholic doctrine while failing to discharge his duties seriously?

Very few, if any, of my Eastern Orthodox friends and acquaintances are impressed with this Pope. Instead of seeing a man who is supposed to seriously lead 1.2 billion Christians to the Kingdom of Heaven, they find an inept chairman of the world’s largest and most dysfunctional NGO. His off-the-cuff remarks to pressmen and individual Catholics are oftentimes confusing, if not scandalous. His liturgical style is grotesque, not to mention anti-traditional, and his priorities seem to be directed at accommodating the Church to the ways of the world rather than saving souls. Although the Orthodox are not without their own faults, can anyone imagine Patriarch Kirill of Moscow—head of the world’s largest Orthodox jurisdiction—wagging his finger at those in his flock attached to traditional doctrine, liturgy, and piety? Is there a single Orthodox patriarch in the world—save Bartholomew of Constantinople—who behaves like Francis? Heaven forbid.

Mills wants Catholics to love the Pope as “their father.” The hard truth is that Francis does not project the authority, leadership, and love of a true father. He is the embarrassing loudmouthed uncle who is begrudgingly invited over on Thanksgiving. He’s family, so you love him; but you still hope your friends never see him.



  1. Dale
    November 3, 2015

    “[C]an anyone imagine Patriarch Kirill of Moscow—head of the world’s largest Orthodox jurisdiction—wagging his finger at those in his flock attached to traditional doctrine, liturgy, and piety?” Yes, and no, not only did the Moscow Patriarch wag his finger at traditionalists, he actually had them burnt at the stake. We so very conveniently forget that Kirill is the New Rite Patriarch of Moscow, there is still an Old Rite one as well.

    1. Ryan
      November 3, 2015

      “there is still an Old Rite one as well” There are two actually (well, one calls himself metropolitan) but both trace their succession to “new rite” bishops. The Old Rite schism had no bishops of its own until the 19th century when an EP bishop (Ambrose) agreed to create the Belaya Krinitsa hierarchy. Interestingly the Church of Constantinople recognized the validity of his consecrations, which puts the Old Rite Orthodox church in a bit of a grey area. I agree though that the MP is not exactly innocent in imposing needless innovations on its flock, though the old rite/ new rite divide is less profound in my mind than that between trad Catholics and neo Catholics.

      1. Dale
        November 3, 2015

        Ryan, for those of us today, yes, it does not seem that much of a divide compared to modern liturgical “reforms”, but in 17th century Russia, they were momentous.

      2. Dale
        November 4, 2015

        Ryan, remember that from the time of Peter the Great to the Revolution, there was no New Rite Patriarch of Moscow. It is a fairly new, revived position in the Russian Church. Put in place so that the Communist only had to really control a single individual to make the Church adhere to their demands.

  2. Jeff
    November 3, 2015

    I though you were going to write, “Speak of the Pope…and he will appear.”

    1. Gabriel Sanchez
      November 3, 2015

      I was faintly alluding to that line, actually.

  3. Vito
    November 3, 2015

    I thought this was interesting on the Russian church; wondering if you have seen: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/11/a-church-of-empire

    1. Dale
      November 4, 2015

      Very insightful, and honest.

  4. Dale
    November 4, 2015

    Gabriel as horrible, at least for those of us who are traditionalist, this present Pope may be (and this is emphasized because of the pronouncements of Vatican I), we should also remember that part of the issue is that many Catholics are willing to take issue with many of the off-the-wall remarks that he does make. One can compare this to the pro-abortionist statements made by the Ecumenical Patriarch, no one really, in his church, seems to care one way or the other: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/10/a-not-so-pro-life-patriarch

    Or look at the response of the Greek Orthodox to President Obama, at least on the part of the their leader in America, absolute groveling. One may suspect, quite rightly that many Roman bishops have opinions bordering on the heretical, but none of them would behave in this fashion before the present President: none called President Obama the “New Alexander.”

    1. Stephen
      November 8, 2015

      For better or worse, there is a there there in Rome, and Moscow too; but pathetically little in Constantinople, made even more pathetic by the obsequiousness of the current occupant of the “throne” of New Rome. Nobody serious takes Pat Bart seriously, which is why you don’t hear much pro or con regarding whatever he says. Met. Iakovos of happy memory was in contrast a serious man; it’s a pity that now in east and west so many that in times past barely would have made the JV are now the varsity.

  5. Josemaria Martin Von-verster
    November 6, 2015

    You mean ordinary synod?

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