Some of Pope Francis’s comments have caused some conservative Catholics to throw up their hands, even during the relatively short period he has been pope. Francis has said nothing contrary to orthodoxy, but, say the critics, he sometimes expresses himself carelessly, in a way that might confuse the faithful, especially when his well-intentioned words are worked over by the secular anti-Catholic media.
Maybe there is some truth in this. But there is also much to be thankful for in this pope. Most recently, he caught the world’s attention, and gave public witness to the love of God, by his unhesitating embrace of a severely disfigured man at a general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Said the man: “It was like being in paradise. I felt nothing but love.” Here is the account in Zenit.
So say the pope has exasperated some Catholics. The pope is a father (the title means “father”), and fathers, even the very best ones, sometimes exasperate even their most affectionate children. In any case, it may well be that Francis did more for the faith, gave a clearer view of its meaning, by embracing that disfigured man than by any words he could have used.
We might even say that by that beautiful act he earned the name he has chosen: Francis. He took it to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, who famously embraced and kissed the leper. And if God called Saint Francis to “rebuild my Church,” we may pray that he will use Pope Francis for the same purpose.