I wonder if I could be considered a hipster Catholic. I could say I liked Pope Francis before it was cool to do so. I say this, because it seems that a lot of the past two years have been spent defending the Pope from fellow Catholics who challenged his authority and questioned his orthodoxy.
2013 was shocking. I recall in February, reading the news feed early one morning and—WHAT THE HELL?—saw the secular news article that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning. My first thought was disbelief. I looked for religious news to confirm it, and there it was. I knew that Popes could renounce their office of course, so it wasn’t the bombshell to me that it was for others. But since the last one was centuries ago, it was shocking. I loved Pope Benedict XVI, and had been reading his books since the late 1980s, beginning with The Ratzinger Report. So I certainly was sad to see him go (see HERE for my article on his renouncing the office of the Papacy on the day he announced it and HERE for the day it took effect).
Strangely, I wasn’t afraid. God was with His Church and we were to pray for His will to be done. So, even though I never heard of Cardinal Bergoglio, the news did not seem bad. Scandalized Catholics seemed to arise from both sides at once. People seemed to judge his actions as if he were some idiot and not the Vicar of Christ, and in response to the scandal over his first washing of feet as Pope on Holy Thursday, I wrote the first of many articles about the Pope and Rash Judgment. I don’t regret defending him—what strikes me these past two years is that what Pope Francis had to say was no different than what St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI had to say on the various teachings of the Church. Pope Francis was just more blunt about it.
So ultimately, I thank God that we have Pope Francis, just as I thank God for the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI .Yes, some have tried to hijack his message to justify their own. But he has been good for the Church, reminding all of us that we need to be witnesses to the faith.