I respect “the pope” because I respect Our Lord’s promises about the papacy. In the past I have admitted my harshness about Francis and his papacy, and I have dialed down my rhetorical excesses compared to how I felt in August and September. I have the papal intentions posted at the top of my blog. I pray for the Holy Father every day. I have highlighted his good deeds and winning remarks (not that there’s a dearth of good press for him), and continue to do so (viz. not everything on my Facebook ends up on my blog).
Unfortunately, what Pope Francis is engendering, largely without clarification or retraction, is simply beneath the dignity and duty of the papal office. No pope is protected from personal sin, indiscretion, imprudence, rhetorical defects, and errors profane. Pope Francis is making that very clear to us, and it behooves us as Catholics to “test everything” and “separate the wheat from the chaff.” I don’t need to hide the fact that I am often outraged at the damage and confusion that Pope Francis is sowing, but if I really had no respect for THE POPE, I’d “go sede” (as the Energizer Troll would have it), or just cease to practice Catholicism altogether. But because I don’t want the dignity and clarity of the papal office to be so uncritically besmirched by the astounding recklessness of its current occupant, I will not be kowtowed by a saccahrine conformism.
Moreover, I am not only within my spiritual rights (cf. Sapientiae Christianae #14-15), but also within my canonical rights, if not duties, to speak out:
Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.
§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors [Mea culpa!], and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Lastly, note well what my Scriptural standard is:
“Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom is known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. Do not subject yourself to a foolish fellow, nor show partiality to a ruler. Strive even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you.” — Sir 4:23-28