Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

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.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Jun. 30, 2017 2:56 PM ET USA

    I grieve not only for the child and his parents but for my beloved church and its many sheep who wander aimlessly through barren pastures without a shepherd to guide them. To say that Paglia's statement was tepid is to put things euphemistically. It was downright cowardly.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 30, 2017 2:11 PM ET USA

    Desperate times require desperate measures. The state must seize control. Parents must give way… indeed, parents are at the center of the problem. Papal advisor Schellnhuber has proven that the world is over populated by 5 billion souls, and other important persons observe that people continue to breed like rabbits. As all socialists know, government coercion can save scarce medical resources while decreasing the surplus population. Phil, please don't be a "denier" or your turn will come.

  • 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