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Catholic in Name Only. Another area in which conservatives are fighting among themselves that has nothing to do with the Republican party. From the New York Times recently comes news that conservative American Catholics aren't so sure about Pope Francis any more. Laurie Goodstein, a news writer, proposes that

Some Catholics in the church’s conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled. On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience.
I'm trying VERY hard not to have any schadenfreude here, but it's very difficult to resist.

And it's just that we don't pay attention to right-wing publications and blogs when they write about anything but politics. Over a month ago, Matt Lewis wrote this in The Daily Caller:

In recent weeks, conservatives such as Ed Morrissey (who is a Catholic) and I, have defended the Pope’s comments. We weren’t alone, of course. In fact, until recently, conservative Catholics and Protestants, alike, have mostly attempted to argue that Francis was being taken out of context (or that the full context of his statements were not widely understood by the press.)
Wooooooooooooo!!!

Below the great orange divider doodle. This is just too tasty not to parse out.

I think we start at the beginning. In September, Francis gave an interview to an Italian Jesuit magazine in which he said (as quoted in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times)

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.... The teaching of the church … is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
Charlotte Allen, who I continue to believe is Jonah Goldberg's drag name, believed in this op-ed that nobody was interpreting what the Pope said correctly. He could NOT be a liberal, as William Saletan claimed in Salon and NARAL and Nancy Pelosi also claimed. Impossible. Not the Pope. Even if he was the harbinger of the final extinction of Western Civilization. I'm quoting this for its sheer facepalmishness:
The Catholic Church really is changing, although not exactly in the fashion liberals would like. The church is changing because the world itself is changing. The hegemony of the West, technologically advanced but in demographic, economic, cultural and religious decline, may well be over. The previous pope, Benedict XVI, was born and raised in Germany, and his high aesthetic and intellectual ethos may have represented the last gasp of that rich and self-confident Western European civilization, rooted in Christianity, that gave us Michelangelo, Shakespeare and Mozart.
And Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, Ms. Allen.

Anyhow, Matt Lewis a week later expressed his concern about the Pope:

There is a worry that Francis is now returning to a sort of pre-John Paul II, “Vatican II” brand of Catholicism which stressed non-judgmentalism. - snip - The hope is that he finds a way to find some balance.
Rod Dreher at the American Conservative is ALL OVER this. The big exception here is that Dreher is the rare conservative writer who understands that the culture wars are over and that his side lost. Most of his posts tagged "Pope Francis" are clip farms, but the day after Matt Lewis write his "it's the press's fault" essay, Dreher made this jaw-droppingly amazing statement:
A majority of weekly massgoers actually support same-sex marriage. That’s a pretty amazing finding. I would have thought that weekly massgoers were much more supportive of Church teaching than they actually are. The times are changing. It will come as a huge shock to conservative Catholics (and fellow travelers like me) if we discover that JP2 and B16 did not represent the Church’s future, but rather the last gasp of the recoverable unrecoverable past. Thoughts?
The Google doesn't really turn up a lot more on the subject, so let's see what the Times has to say. Ms. Goodstein observes, correctly, that
A poll released last month by Quinnipiac University found that two in three agreed with Francis that the church was too “obsessed” with a few issues.
I wonder, given that, if she might not be doing some Catholic-bashing in the selction of the people she quotes. Like this, for example:
Steve Skojec, the vice president of a real estate firm in Virginia and a blogger who has written for several conservative Catholic websites, wrote of Francis’ statements: “Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely. What kind of a Christian tells an atheist he has no intention to convert him? That alone should disturb Catholics everywhere. -- snip -- I’m not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church to bring about a different vision.”
This isn't doing him any favors, but I suspect Mr. Skojec doesn't care. And then there's this:
Some conservative Catholics are sharing prophecies online that foretell of tribulations for the church. In one, an Irish woman predicted that Benedict would be held hostage. Others cite the German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich, who wrote of a “relationship between two popes,” one who “lives in a palace other than before,” which some now see as a reference to Benedict, who resigned as pope early this year but still lives in Vatican City. During this time there arises a “false church of darkness.”
Fundamental protestants have the Rapture, fundamental Catholics have Nostradamus and this. The fantasy world is great because it keeps you from remembering what Jesus actually SAID in the Gospels and the fact we've had popes like Leo XIII who said this in Rerum Novarum:
Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.
Okay, so maybe the rest of this encyclical contains an encomium to private property, it's still very pro-common man in other ways.

You know, conservative Catholics, it's not as if there aren't a LOT of other churches within Christendom that probably share your views. If it bothers you that the College of Cardinals elected a pope who wants to move the Church closer to the 21st century, I'm sure you can find one that you're more comfortable in. It would not be unlike the movement of people throughout Northern Europe in the 16th century after the signing of the Peace of Augsburg (1555), which said that each Prince within the Holy Roman Empire could choose his own version of Christianity and people began to, well, prince-shop.

Anyhow, most of the Catholics Ms. Goodstein talked to were able to look beyond a few words and figure out that nothing Francis said was really inconsistent with Church teachings. This is probably a tempest in a teapot. but it's fun to watch. I wonder what William F. Buckley, Jr. would have said about all this?

Originally posted to Dave in Northridge on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Anglican Kossacks.

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