Pro-Pope fever has swept the imagination of those who love both Christian principles and progressive thinking. The approval rating is soaring sky-high for the man in the funny hat. Francis has graced the covers of The Advocate and Rolling Stone and was voted Time’s Man of the Year. Obama even gave PF a shout out in his State of the Union address this week: “As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of ‘small steps.’ These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba.” Pope Francis has his own fanzine and smartphone app. The man even tweets!
The Cool Pope has a mission to make the Catholic Church more gay-friendly, acknowledging that this is after all the year 2015. On homosexuality, the Pope quipped: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
Tentative Republican presidential candidate and practicing Catholic Rick Santorum is not having it. Just this week, Santorum declared in an interview that “It’s sometimes very difficult to listen to the Pope.” Then again, this is coming from a man who once made comments comparing homosexual sex to bestiality and incest.
Santorum made a big frowny-face over the Pope’s statement that Catholics don’t have to breed like rabbits, insisting that doctrine requires the faithful to "be fruitful and multiply." (Santorum has seven kids.) Santorum’s Pope-a-dope: “The most important thing is that as a Catholic, I believe he has the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit isn’t going to let him make that kind of mistake.”
Santorum isn’t alone. Cool Pope Francis’ comments are driving other uber-conservative Catholics insane. Here are five conservative Catholics who still want to party like it’s 1899.
1. American Cardinal Raymond Burke
The ultra-conservative former archbishop of St. Louis has emerged as the archaic face of opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda. In an attack on the Pope’s leadership, Burke likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder.”
“I would like to be a master of the faith, with all my weaknesses, telling a truth that many currently perceive,” he said. “They are feeling a bit seasick because they feel the church’s ship has lost its way.”
Burke has said the Catholic Church was “the pillar of marriage” and continues to challenge the pope’s revolutionary “Who am I to judge?” remark on gay people. This is from a man who has previously said that Catholic families should not expose children to the “evil” of homosexuality by inviting a gay son and his partner home for Christmas.
In the words of Burke: “The acts must be judged; I do not think that the Pope thinks differently. They are sinful and unnatural. The Pope never said we can find positive elements in them. It is impossible to find positive elements in an evil act."
2. Pat Buchanan
The right-wing pundit declared: “I’m more Catholic than the Pope.” He lambasted Francis for sowing “confusion among the faithful” with his criticism of the “hostile rigidity” of “so-called traditionalists” in the Roman Catholic Church.
In the conservative words of Buchanan: “While Francis has nether denied not sought to change any doctrine, Cardinal Burke is correct. The Pope has done a lot of harm. He has created confusion among the faithful and is soon going to have to speak with clarity on the unchanging truths of Catholicism.”
3. Friar Dwight Longenecker
On his site Patheos, Catholic priest Dwight Longenecker advises conservative Catholics who are in opposition with Pope Francis on how to cope with his pontifications:
“Is your faith in Jesus Christ and the faith of the church or is it in the pope? Catholics should love the pope, but they should love Jesus more. If one pope comes along who you find difficult to love and understand, take heart. You weren’t supposed to love him that much anyway.”
4. John Vennari
As editor of the Catholic Family News, John Vennari has been trumpeting his horn over the danger of Pope Francis ever since the Pope was elected.
Vennari writes, “He seems to have a good heart and some good Catholic instincts, but theologically he is a train wreck—remarkably sloppy.” He goes on to say, “Though this might shock some readers, I must say that I would never allow Pope Francis to teach religion to my children."
5. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput
Archbishop Charles Chaput expressed great concern about the Synod on the Family Pope Francis oversaw in Vatican City last fall. In yet another example of Pope playa-hating he wrote a critical post on his blog: “I was very disturbed by what happened at the synod. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”
Plenty of crazy remarks, to be sure. But since everyone knows the Internet is where the most ridiculous statements are made, I’ll leave you with this reader comment on a Religious News article titled "Pope Francis Is Unsettling—and Dividing—the Catholic Right":
“This current Pope is the Trojan horse with the 20 of his close Masonic friends. The goal, to remove Jesus out of the church. Jesus did not choose this man the Masons did. Remember the end is closer then you think. The warning second coming…Jesus God and our blessed Mother are giving this information for all not to be decived. Pope Benadict is our last Pope this new one is the anti. Discern this information and keen to the new changes. God bless you all. Praise be to Jesus!”
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