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For folks reading over our shoulders, Fr. Longenecker, the author of this piece, is not a trad. It comes from his blog, Standing on My Head:



Is Pope Francis a Loose Cannon?
May 2, 2014 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker


Vaticanista John Thavis reports here about the unease some Vatican officials feel about Pope Francis’ informal style. What are they to do with a Pope who makes informal pastoral phone calls, improvises his homilies at daily Mass, makes off the cuff remarks to journalists and basically says whatever he wants to whoever he wants?

Thavis portrays the problem as a bunch of uptight, legalistic, po-faced Vatican bureaucrats being fussy about a pope who is a relaxed, easy going people person. Thavis paints the picture of happy go lucky Pope Francis who won’t be reigned in by the stuffy traditionalists.

This is the sort of trite observation and shallow analysis we are used to hearing from Thavis.

I’m sure there are some stuffy, legalistic types haunting the halls of the Vatican, but it doesn’t take one of them to see some of the communicate problems Pope Francis is causing.

When he behaves in this way he is causing confusion among the faithful. Should a pope interfere in the pastoral matters of an individual in another country? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the local pastor and bishop? Isn’t it a fair observation to ask why a pope who is all for downsizing the papacy, delegating and handing over to the people should then step in an get involved at a very local level? To ask these questions does not mean one is an arch conservative semi sedevacantist. It’s a matter of common sense.

Vox Wrote:Ah! Interesting point! That had never occurred to me before...

Furthermore, shouldn’t a pope realize he is pope and behave accordingly? No matter what the pope’s personal style and personal preferences, he is now the pope and whether he likes it or not, people hang on his every word and action. Yes, yes, we all know that a chat with reporters on a plane or a personal phone call by a pope are not infallible doctrinal statements. The problem is, a huge number of people in the world don’t realize that. Pope Francis should therefore understand that he is no longer Padre Bergoglio and learn that one of the greatest things a pope can do is to not do anything.

Vox Wrote:That's the thing right there. When dealing with a vast, non-specialized audience, one has to know that -- to be blunt -- the average IQ of the folks being spoken to is 100. People just are not that bright, God bless 'em! You have to go out of your way to clarify, to explain, to anticipate things that typical person out there will likely misunderstand (and that the typical, leftist media type is wont to twist to the leftists' causes) and deal with them as you speak or write. Sad, but true! And the Holy Father is simply not good at this at all. There's not much he can do about folks who have no problem maliciously taking things out of context, but he can do much better in ensuring that if folks read the entirety of whatever exchange in question, they can discern -- even with an IQ of 100 -- what he said and did not say.

There is another problem with Pope Francis’ style which is lurking in the background which I have not heard anyone else commenting on, and it is this: if a person in a public role trivializes that role with a very personal and informal style, then when they want to make a formal pronouncement the chances are that they will not be taken seriously. Make enough gaffes and speak off the cuff enough and soon the world will consider everything you say to be a gaffe and all your pronouncements to be inconsequential, off the cuff matters of opinion.

So when Pope Francis makes an off the cuff remark or an informal phone call that has to be “re-interpreted” and “put into context” by everyone from mommy bloggers in Iowa to the Vatican press office it cheapens all his statements. When he stands up and speaks formally about the evils of greed, the threat of war, the horrors of abortion or the crime of human trafficking–because he has made public off the cuff remarks which are matters of opinion hoi polloi and the press will treat those comments also as being no more than a matter of opinion.

When our modern relativistic society already considers most statements on everything to be no more than a matter of opinion, then the pope’s serious statements will then be dismissed as no more than one man’s opinion. He’s a nice man and everybody likes him, but his informality and off the cuff remarks have then cheapened his authority and whatever he says will be treated as no more than the opinion of that nice old codger in the white outfit in Rome.

Catholics around the world are right to be alarmed at the Pope’s style. I for one, am an admirer of Pope Francis. I think he’s a breath of fresh air. I like the fact that he is willing to turn over a few tables and bring reform and renewal to the church.

However, I think he should also be careful and listen to his advisers in this very serious matter of communications. The way things stand at the moment there are only two conclusions one can draw: first, that the Pope knows exactly what he is doing and the consequences of his style, and that it is his intention to weaken the authority of the papacy and bring it down to no more than the opinion of one person or second, that in this area of personal style and communications he is an amateur and he needs to stop, take stock, listen to the experts and reign in his style.

Vox Wrote:And here, we non-sedevacantists have to give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume he's simply a bad communicator. But our talking about this very serious problem does NOT a "sede" make, nor does it make a person "disrespectful" or "not recognizing the authority of the papacy" and what not. That's baby stuff. Like I said, Fr. Longenecker is not a sede and isn't even a trad, and he gets this.

A pope after all, must integrate his own personality and style into the living tradition of the papacy for as he does he is not only keeping the papacy alive and renewing it with the charism of his own style, but he is also setting precedents for the future–and that is a serious task and responsibility.

Read Thavis’ whole article here.


While I think Pope Francis could improve in communication, I think the problem is much bigger than just him.  Consider how Pope Benedict was treated by the media (including social media).  Benedict was much more cautious, and pretty solid in the theology department.  Yet he was portrayed as a callous old man, a former NAZI, who probably responsible for much of the sex abuse scandal in the church.  Francis goes out of his way to be loving, humble, and add a bit a personal warmth to the office of the papacy, and people think "oh good, finally the Church is going to get with the times and change those outdated teachings on birth control and the like."  It just seems like a no win situation. Whatever style of pope God gives us is grossly misinterpreted.  People hear what they want to hear. 


Quote:“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’19The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
(05-03-2014, 03:40 PM)brian_g Wrote: [ -> ]While I think Pope Francis could improve in communication, I think the problem is much bigger than just him.  Consider how Pope Benedict was treated by the media (including social media).  Benedict was much more cautious, and pretty solid in the theology department.  Yet he was portrayed as a callous old man, a former NAZI, who probably responsible for much of the sex abuse scandal in the church.  Francis goes out of his way to be loving, humble, and add a bit a personal warmth to the office of the papacy, and people think "oh good, finally the Church is going to get with the times and change those outdated teachings on birth control and the like."  It just seems like a no win situation. Whatever style of pope God gives us is grossly misinterpreted.  People hear what they want to hear. 
(snip)

When it comes to the media, there's definitely no winning. The folks who run them aren't Christian, are typically leftist like crazy, and aren't above spinning things to their collective, diseased heart's content. That's why I wish the Vatican made MUCH better use of its website, putting out there for itself the actual interviews and comments that come up, offering additional clarifying commentary to set right the things the media set wrong, etc. It just kills me that the Vatican website is SO underused, that these communication problems could at least be dealt with there so that folks who really want to know what "the Vatican" thinks can go SEE without the media getting in the way. There's just no excuse for this lapse, if you ask me.

Pope Francis is a choleric.

I saw this early on.  It explains everything, but does not excuse it.
Francis is a product of the Arrupean Jesuits; I think everything he does and says stems from that. He was formed in the chaos of the post Conciliar Jesuits with all that that means. It's next to impossible he got a solid philosophical or theological education or that he was given role models that had anything but contempt for ceremony and heirarchy. Francis says and acts exactly as expected considering his formation and his background.
(05-03-2014, 04:25 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: [ -> ]Francis is a product of the Arrupean Jesuits; I think everything he does and says stems from that.

That might explain some of the things he does.  However, his temperament helps to explain the way he does them.
I thought that also. The biggest problem with Pope Francis is that while he didn't teach heresy yet (and so every heresy-approaching twit or remark can be explained away by his defenders, even if he himself insists in not clarifying anything), but that he is undermining right practice. He can indeed mobilize legions, indeed sometimes creating situations that approach neo-pentecostals situations, but he seems to be unable to light a passion for holiness. Rather he confirm peoples in their anti-Church thinking. He is the perfect Pope for this modern Church where everyone decides his or her own doctrines and decides his or her own morals (eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lately, eh?).

The most charitable assumption is that he is indeed a loose cannon. The other option would be that he is an enemy of the Church, in the same manner as some South American clergy are (e.g., the infamous Frei Betto).
Does this suspicion makes me a sedevacantist? I see that everyone concedes that doubting Francis' ability or style does not make the person a sedevacantist; is the same true for doubting his motives?
I've heard of a Pope the actually sold the papacy, so I believe doubting his motives wouldn't be such a bad thing.
But anyway, I don't doubt his motives that much – only on my worst days.
There are plenty of things he has done or said that could be within the realm of heresy (calling a heretic televangelist a "brother bishop" being one)but perhaps he isn't culpable considering his probably nonexistent.philsophical and theological education. Perhaps the only thing that saves him is the invincible ignorance of his jesuit education. In pre conciliar days I've no doubt he would be called out as a heretic by more than we see today, or rather a man with a theological formation like his would not have been allowed to be ordained a priest much less a bishop much less be elected the Pope. Loose Cannon is a mild nickname. One things for sure, this man is beloved of many, Catholic and non. I'm extremely wary of him overall. He makes Benedict XVI look like an arch traditionalist. I'm not God but personally I think he is a train wreck and hope and pray there is someone really solid and traditional in the near future. Francis seems capable of darn near anything and it's scary.
(05-03-2014, 05:22 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]I thought that also. The biggest problem with Pope Francis is that while he didn't teach heresy yet (and so every heresy-approaching twit or remark can be explained away by his defenders, even if he himself insists in not clarifying anything), but that he is undermining right practice. He can indeed mobilize legions, indeed sometimes creating situations that approach neo-pentecostals situations, but he seems to be unable to light a passion for holiness. Rather he confirm peoples in their anti-Church thinking. He is the perfect Pope for this modern Church where everyone decides his or her own doctrines and decides his or her own morals (eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lately, eh?).

The most charitable assumption is that he is indeed a loose cannon. The other option would be that he is an enemy of the Church, in the same manner as some South American clergy are (e.g., the infamous Frei Betto).
Does this suspicion makes me a sedevacantist? I see that everyone concedes that doubting Francis' ability or style does not make the person a sedevacantist; is the same true for doubting his motives?
I've heard of a Pope the actually sold the papacy, so I believe doubting his motives wouldn't be such a bad thing.
But anyway, I don't doubt his motives that much – only on my worst days.

Having a suspicion doesn't make one a sedevacantist. What makes one a sede is believing that there is no Pope (and, if you're like most sedes, that there hasn't been one since Pius XII). Having concerns about his way of doing things definitely doesn't a sede make either.

As to his motives:  I don't see how you can delve into his them without him making them explicitly known. How could you possibly know what's inside his head? As Catholics, we have to assume the best about others. I mean, it's one thing to wonder to oneself, "What the heck? What is UP with that Pope?! I wonder what his deal is, what his motives are. He can't be that ignorant!" -- and it's another thing to assume one actually knows his motives or, worse, to talk to others as if one knows his motives, thereby engaging in calumny or detraction, as the case may actually be.

To my mind, unless he comes out and says, "here are my motives:", one just has to assume the best and judge his external actions as being prudent or imprudent or what have you -- none of which makes a person a sedevacantist. Doing so in a disrespectful way can make one an ass (and unwelcome at this forum), but not a sede.

But if one's in a habit of being disrespectful of the office of the papacy and/or the man who holds it, then one might have one of those "de facto sedevacantist mentalities" one hears a lot about (and which does exist, IMO), which still isn't sedevacantism, but is a bad attitude.

Pope Francis' daily sermons have been withheld from publication. One guess is that it is because he ads lib during these and says a bunch of bizarre stuff.
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