There has been a lot of noise, of late, about the Holy Father.
In fact, there has been a lot of noise about him since the day he assumed the papacy, but it has intensified further just recently.
I have been particularly struck by the posts on the Rorate Caeli site - a site with whose aims I have a lot of sympathy. But they have seemed to move into a position vis-a-vis the Pope of suspicion and mistrust, from day one.
But it is not just Rorate. Many friends, whose views and judgement I respect, have found some aspects of his words, actions and omissions troubling.
That is true of me, too. Of course, he has done and said things I would like him not to have done or said; and likewise he has failed to do and say things which I would have liked him to have done and said. As a fan of his predecessor, I was always, in that sense, going to be disappointed with him.
On the other hand, of course, he has done and said much that I applaud.
But what is most important (for me), is to pay attention to my response, rather to sit in judgement on him.
I risk doing myself grave spiritual harm if I cultivate an attitude of assuming the worst of anyone, let alone the Holy Father.
Whilst a position that assumes the Pope can do no wrong is clearly deluded, it is still more healthy, as a starting point, to assume that he is a good and holy man.
We may, on occasion, find that we disagree with particular prudential decisions (though we should have the humility to be open to the possibility that our judgement might be wrong, or based on only seeing a partial picture of the situation). However, to create a negative narrative by imagining motivations (which by their nature are invisible to us) and then to string actions (and imagined motivations) together to conform to that narrative is severely problematic: and that, I fear, is what Rorate and some others risk doing.
What follows is very predictable, due to our old friend confirmation bias: we read everything through a hermeneutic of suspicion and mistrust, and see the Pope as misguided and problematic.
Here I contrast the responses of the commentariat with those of, say, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Their response seems to me to be a model of obedience and docility, and I am sure will win Our Lady's smile.
I am sure that many of them believe that the traditional rite of Mass is very important to their work; and I am sure that they will, in humility and docility, seek the requisite permissions. And it seems to me that such an approach is not only more appropriate, but at least equally likely to be effective (though that is not the fundamental reason for following it).
The bottom line, I suppose, is to consider what the Devil wants me to do, and at least avoid that; even when I am not quite clear what God may be asking of me in a situation.
And I am quite sure that one of the things the Devil would like is for Catholics to disrespect and attack the Holy Father.
Fiat voluntas tua,
et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.
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