1 in 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. Americanism is still a heresy. But it’s okay, because, Pope Francis has totally got this.
The local bishop is directly responsible, Voris argues, brushing aside any reference to the pope, but are the bishops supposed to follow the wishes of the laity or the example of the pope? Discuss. As Bishop Villegas, head of the Philippine bishops conference, was reported to have said on July 6:
“(Pope Francis) shakes up our old belief systems about spiritual shepherding. He jolts us from our complacency and status quo attitude. He humbles us with his simplicity. He disturbs us to make us better,” Villegas said in his speech opening the 109th CBCP Plenary Assembly at the Pius XII Catholic Center. “He has slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self engrossed and authoritative sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy,” Villegas added.
We should avoid the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, to be sure, but we must also take seriously how dramatically this pope has impacted the Church’s entire approach to conflict and compromise in the past 16 months. As one Jesuit told Francis directly, in a recent Q&A session:
You certainly have brought about a Copernican revolution in terms of language, lifestyle, behaviour and witness on the most considerable issues at the global level, even with atheists and with those who are far from the Christian Catholic Church. The question I ask you: how is it possible in this society, with a Church that hopes for growth and development, in this society in an evolution that is dynamic and conflictual and very often distant from the values of the Gospel of Christ, that we are a Church very often behind? Your linguistic, semantic, cultural revolution, your evangelical witness is stirring an existential crisis for us priests. What imaginative and creative ways do you suggest for us to overcome or at least to mitigate this crisis that we perceive?
Pope Francis is hardly the man in the high tower. He’s all about the nitty gritty, and he has no qualms about intervening directly in local affairs, as, among other things, his phone call to Mrs. Lisbona shows, and as his live radio interview is meant to show: “Despite expectations building ahead of the event, Fr. Lombardi stressed that the interview will be directed to the local Church, and that nothing of “great resonance” should be expected outside the context of the local community.” So the dilemma seems to be that, pleading to bishops for pious change is to kick against the goads and waste one’s breath, since such bishops only feel empowered by Francis zeal for an ecclesial lío, while drawing attention to Francis as the actual source of the ongoing waves of confusion, is criticized as misdirected activism.