For months now I have been trying to write about Pope Francis, but every time I think I can start I’m blasted with headlines that he’s changing Church teaching.
Understanding Pope Francis
They cite ‘off-the-cuff’ remarks about homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, contraception. Even from a serious interview in the Jesuit journal, “La Civilta Cattolica” they skew his words to make you think things are going to change.
This ‘Church changing according to the press’ happened once before in my lifetime with Vatican II and I was sucked in by it. I was even happy about some of the so-called changes because it would make it more comfortable to live in the modern, secular world and be a Catholic. There were some members of Vatican II who propagated what they called the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ and not what was in the actual documents. These ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ members seemed to be the ones who got the ear of the press and they made us think that the rosary, novenas and other traditional Catholic spiritual aids were eliminated because they were superstitious and for the uneducated and ignorant and not relevant in this modern age. I did not like this one bit because the rosary and novenas were a very sustaining part of my spiritual life. These practices made me feel close to Jesus, His mother Mary, father Joseph and all His saints and angels who cared about me and would help me in my trials, tribulations and even small, everyday worries.
Then in 1968 a big shock came to the ever changing modern world of the press when Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical “Humane Vitae.” Everyone thought that the Pope entirely supported the so-called modern changes of Vatican II, but his encyclical proclaimed traditional Catholic teachings on all life and sexuality issues.
At some point in these years, I began wanting to find out what the Church really taught. I became autodidactic, self-taught by reading a lot of traditional Catholic books. I found that nothing has ever changed in Catholic teachings. No Pope has ever changed one single doctrine from the way it came down to us from Jesus and His apostles. I learned there was in place The Magisterium, based in the Vatican, which assures that no dogma, doctrine or teaching has, or ever will change.
Here is a quote from the First Vatican Council which took place in the year 1870:
For the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles.
And now that I have been able to read in depth the actual words of Pope Francis, not just those taken out of context, I see he is in total alignment with all the popes before him.
Following are quotes of Pope Francis that really tell you where he’s coming from and where he’s leading us.
The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else…
Anyone accompanying a pilgrim must walk at the same pace as the pilgrim, not ahead and not lagging behind.
These quotes from Pope Francis tell me that what Jesus told Peter over 2000 years ago rings true today, especially when Jesus said:
Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
I will end this article by adding something that touches me personally and makes my heart very happy and that is Pope Francis made clear that people like me should have their novenas, rosaries and even feast day processions just as they’ve always, through the years, been a part of traditional spirituality.