There is a principle in management called the “Peter Principle” which states that a person who is successful in a job will eventually be promoted to a level in a company that they are not qualified for and will become a liability rather than an asset.
Right now I can’t think of a person that this applies to better than Pope Francis.
There are several things that Francis has done that I like very much, the emphasis on mercy, the extension of confession (including the Society of St. Pius X) his increase in the number of exorcists and his public pronouncements that the Devil is not a fantasy but a real entity out to get our souls.
Furthermore even in his poor pronouncements such as his letter on the environment he includes the pro-life anti-abortion message (which the left somehow always seems to ignore when praising said letter) and that has been a pretty constant message, for example:
Pope Francis has compared abortion to ‘hiring a hitman’ during a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference.
Abortion can never be condoned, even when the fetus is gravely sick or malformed, Pope Francis said during a pro-life conference held in the Vatican this morning.
He urged doctors and priests to support families to carry all pregnancies to term – even where death is the result.
Nevertheless it seems to me that Francis’ problem is that he forgets he is not the pastor of a small church trying to edge a couple who are on rocky ground carefully onto the straight path but the head of a universal church with enemies who want to destroy the principles that the church has advanced and defended for two millennium.
One of the hardest jobs that a pastor has is coaxing a person away from a state of mortal sin. Sometimes said person has gotten there through bad
catechizes, sometimes though hard times, other times a crisis hat hit and finally you run into cases where that person is new to the church and has to be actually taught what is sin and what is not.
A great example of this type of situation was dealt with a while back at Fr. Z’s blog about a couple civilly married or even remarried to wit:
If they then choose – for whatever compelling reason suggested by the objectively vague Amoris, etc. – to stay together, then the priest must help them to make a choice. After Father lays out the options, they will tell the priest either that …
1) they will not live in continence as brother and sister, or
2) they will try to live in continence as brother and sister.
If they say they won’t, and they don’t, they cannot be admitted to Communion. They must be told not approach to receive Communion, for that would be a mortal sin and a sacrilege.
If, on the other hand, they say that they will try, and if they confess their sins and intend to live in continence, they probably can be admitted to Communion – remoto scandalo – provided that scandal is avoided.
and what happens when or if they occasionally fail?
Or course there may be times when they fail in their determination to live in continence and they have sexual relations.
Simple. They go to confession and start over with a firm purpose of amendment.
That’s what we all do when we sin in any way. We go to confession with a firm purpose of amendment and start over with God’s help. In some Amoris scenario, they might have to live in a near occasion of sin, but for the sake of care of children, etc., they have to bear their Cross.
Now it’s one thing for an individual priest dealing with such a situation to maneuver the situation in a way that both gets these folks on the right track and do his best to avoid scandal and confusion in an individual parish.
It’s quite another for the Pontif of the entire church to suggest that the normal rules don’t apply for the entire church, particularly given that:
- There are plenty of people out that both inside and outside the church trying to bring it down.
- There are many people who can be easily confused on the subject of sin.
- The Devil is always looking for an opening.
Now if he was an individual priest working with a couple like the one above, then his approach, handled with prudence might be effective or even desirable as every soul counts.
But when you are purposely vague about the truths of the church to the point where you don’t even answer your Cardinals asking for clarification (they’ve been waiting nearly 3 years) then you aren’t doing a good job of leading a church whose founder said.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.
Even worse though he carries himself as a humble man when someone disagrees or questions him he carries himself in a way that reeks of pride, the deadliest of all the deadly sins.
Now everyone has their faults and particular sins that they are vulnerable to and Francis is no different than anyone else in that regard. Furthermore there is a big difference between not being good at being Pope and not being a good Catholic or a good man. There are a lot of good Catholics and good priests for that matter that I don’t think would make good Popes. Nor do I subscribe to the argument that he is not in fact the Pope or some sort of cipher. After all despite the last 50 years decades of Saints in the chair of St. Peter is not the norm and with hundreds of Popes over thousands of years you’re bound to get a lemon here and there.
So just as we pray to be better Catholics than we currently are let’s Pray for Francis to be a better Pope than he currently in trusting in the fact that the Holy Spirit knows what he’s doing even if he hasn’t told us.