Nobody asked me, but here ya go anyway. For what it’s worth, my opinion and $2.50 is almost enough for a small coffee at Starbucks.
Do I think Pope Francis is a bad man? No, I do not. Do I think he’s an idiot? No, I do not. Do I think he’s literally a heretic? No, I do not.
Do I think he’s a poor Pope? Yes, I do. Do I think he’s the WORST POPE EVAH? No, I do not.
What I think is that Pope Francis was a Cardinal who spent basically his entire life in Marxist territory. While he was not a Marxist himself – something I want to note is certainly the case – being “not actually a Marxist” in Marxist territory mean you’re substantially more liberal than the average Catholic \bear (then again, maybe not, going by the state of Catholics today), especially when you spend most of your life engaging with people on a personal level – as it seems Pope Francis did – rather than concerning yourself with getting all the specific points of doctrine exactly right.
Now this guy is the Pope, where all of a sudden you’re dealing with people on a personal level not much at all and dealing with doctrine quite a lot. And you’re a Pope who has liberal tendencies stuck as the head of a Church with a deep, potentially unhealable rift that one day might very well result in a schism, and has in some spots (see the SSPX).
The pattern I get from Francis, what with his vagueness on doctrinal statements and loose “It can mean whatever you want it to mean, baby” wording, is that he’s trying to compromise; he sees this huge split, and instead of taking a stand one way or the other he’s trying to play both sides, hence the concessions in certain terminology and minor disciplines, but the official public reaffirmations of actual doctrine.
Given his substantial time doing footwork, I think he finds all of this focus on doctrinal issues frustrating – “There’s actual HELPING the Church needs to do, people!” – which is why he makes himself free for all of these off-the-cuff airplane interviews – “Hey, man, the Church needs to ENGAGE with people, not be this stuffy institution, amirite? Sure, I may get some technical stuff wrong, but the important thing is that we’re in dialogue with each other!” – stuff like that.
This explains a LOT of things – why the two councils on the family changed virtually nothing in terms of things we’re actually supposed to do but softened a lot of terminology, why he was applauded by both the liberals and conservatives at the Synods after making a speech calling for unity, why Amoris Laetiae strongly reaffirmed Church teaching on gay marriage even as the Pope called for us to apologize to gay people, and why he takes in refugees and tells everybody else to take in refugees as an act of Christian charity without concerning himself with the safety and stability of the nations involved – “Sure, it’s a risk, but the Church is about HELPING people!”
Do I agree with the Pope’s game plan here? No, I do not. I think it’s doing far more harm than good, and sowing a lot of confusion. Do I think the Pope is a heretic? No, I don’t. My guess is that if you were to meet him you would come away with the impression that you just met a very holy, personable human being who only wished to help people (this is pretty much how anybody who has spoken to the Pope describes him – a guy who’s impossible to dislike).
I find it probable that when Pope Francis dies he will be canonized, going by his popularity alone. I don’t really have a problem with that, because I don’t think the Pope is a bad person. Just very wrong – and if I think he’s making a big mistake, I’ll say so. But I wish his Holiness well and even if I wasn’t Catholic I’d shake his hand if I met him. Some people just ain’t cut out for certain jobs, and I don’t think Francis was ever really cut out to be Pope. But here we are. Such is life.