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The Pope as loose cannon: a balanced view

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 02, 2014

For several months now, on my daily tours through the Catholic blogosphere, I’ve read posts by the persistent critics of Pope Francis: the people who are appalled, outraged, and insulted by nearly every statement the Holy Father makes. It’s disheartening to see so many Catholics who jump at each chance to poke fun at the Vicar of Christ—even to encourage contempt for his public remarks.

On the other hand, it’s no longer possible to deny that some of the Pope’s offhand comments have created confusion, in ways that he should have anticipated. Some of those statements were bound to be interpreted in ways that will cause future problems for the Pope, and for countless other Catholics.

Pope Francis is a candid, informal man, who likes to speak his mind. That’s his nature. But now that he’s the Pope, and constantly under the magnifying lens of the mass media, he needs to be more careful, even suppressing some of his natural tendencies, if necessary, in light of his role. Pope Benedict, a prolific scholar before he ascended Peter’s throne, wrote relatively little after he became the Pontiff, and realized that every thought would be weighed as an expression of the teaching magisterium. There is a price to be paid for papal authority.

One can admire Pope Francis, and enjoy his outspoken approach, while still questioning the prudence of making so many off-the-cuff statements. In this nicely balanced post, respectful and persuasive, Father Dwight Longenecker shows how its done.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 04, 2014 11:37 PM ET USA

    Perhaps I am "the abnormal one" but while not agreeing precisely with every remark the Holy Father makes I enjoy his animated manner and also his approachability. Is it perhaps a saying in the service that the commander of any vessel must be perceived as "perfect" by the crew? Not all the crew, I think. The commander's closest friends KNOW that he is flesh and blood after all..., but that only makes my admiration and devotion all the greater. JP

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