I have always really believed in the authority of the pope, But now I am concerned, about Francis’ recent comments that “all God’s creatures go to Heaven.” Of course, most people I know seem to love it, there dog goes to Heaven- but I know that is wrong, contrary to Scripture and Church tradition.
I am also really worried about the changing stance on allowing divorced and homoesexual couples into communion. If someone is divorced and remarried, they are willingly and openly breaking Christ’s command. The same with practising homosexuals. How can they be admitted to communion. The can repent and go to reconciliation first, and then go to communion.
My conscious tells me that, if the Pope permits such things, I would have a lot of problems staying.
The problem is sensationalistic, out of context, headline-grabbing, news cycle feeding, half-baked, ignorant reporting, blogging, and posting – not what the Holy Father actually says. Ignorance of what the Church actually teaches is a huge problem among “reporters.”
But it does appear to be true, for whatever reason, that many opposed to the faith seem to be very pleased with this Pope (but express no desire to repent and convert) and many very sincerely devoted to the faith are very disturbed by him (in not a good way).
But the faith is bigger than the Pope, as the Church’s true head is Christ. In recent times we have been blessed with Popes who were also Saints, and often the best theologians or philosophers of their time. But not all Popes have been so and not all Popes will be so–throughout history there is a wide range of competency, knowledge, wisdom, etc. among the Popes. I’m sure we have all seen plenty of bishops and priests who also vary in their personal abilities and merit. The whole Church is a mix of sinners and saints, the learned and the ignorant, the skilled and the unskilled, etc. We shouldn’t really expect the men who ascend to the papacy to necessarily be better than the people of the Church they come from (we hope they are, but they often are not–sometimes they’re even in the lower percentile).
But the authority and charisms of the papacy are not based on personal merit or learning, etc., but by virtue of the office. The Pope’s legitimate papal acts should absolutely be treated as such independent of his personal merit, but his personal acts should not be treated as anything more (the media makes the Pope out to be some sort of god for whom Catholics are expected to conform to his every breath and personal behavior). If the Church had conformed herself absolutely to every Pope, it would have been destroyed long, long ago.
But the Pope’s authority is limited. At the First Vatican Council the limits of the papacy were discussed and the traditional axiom was reaffirmed on the Council floor: the Pope’s authority is ad aedificationem non ad destructionem ecclesiae–that is, for the edification and not the destruction of the Church (cf. 2 Cor. 10:8). The Pope cannot destroy constituent elements of the Church or permanent elements of her doctrine and praxis. The Holy Spirit may prevent him from even trying to do so, but if he were not prevented by the Holy Spirit from doing so, such acts would be of no effect since they would lack authority and the whole Church, the pillar and foundation of truth, would certainly not accept them (although some portions may).
It is also not out of the realm of possibilities that the Pope defect from the faith and the Church like it is possible for any bishop, priest, or layman, etc. But if, God forbid, this were to happen, you would not be the only one to notice. The whole Church will not follow a false head. The legitimacy of the Roman Pontiff has long been held to be a dogmatic fact as noted by this CDF document ( ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfadtu.htm )–the episcopacy cannot err in this matter. Here’s how an old theological manual explained why this must be so:
But none of your fears have happened yet and may never, but we shouldn’t abandon the Church and the faith if they do. Don’t let one man’s fall or even the fall of many bring you down too. Rather we should help to raise up those we come across who fall. The Gospel is the responsibility of the whole Church. But until then, let’s not worry about it:
“Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” (Matt. 6:34)