A very learned and very orthodox English AnglicanCatholic priest whose blog I sometimes check is finally showing signs of exasperation with Pope Evita the Scold. Although this man bans any comments which speak less than respectfully of the Holy Father, today he blogged as follows:
"The other thing I have noticed is that the natural and splendid and time-honoured Catholic instinct to avoid saying critical or disrespectful things about the man who is Sovereign Pontiff is increasingly wearing thinner and thinner.
This, I think, is largely because so many of us, clergy and layfolk, bloggers and blogreaders, simply do not know how to understand and interpret the endlessly unkind expressions which flow from the os Petri. Especially after the gentle courtesy and personal charm of Pope Benedict, the predictable condemnations and the merciless language in which Pope Francis' views are couched are so difficult to gloss.
Is it simply that this is Latin American culture? Is it because in Argentina nobody listens to what you say unless you give them a good kicking first? Is it something about the particular psychology or even the physiology of this Successor of S Peter? Has Jesuitry got anything to do with it? Does he expect us to be cowed by his words or is he 'up for' us to reply in kind, tit for tat, insult for insult, with lots of jolly and good-humoured knock-about fun?
All the stuff about parrhesia* ... does he mean it, or is it just code for "If you're in agreement with me I expect you to talk loud and to talk often. Oh, and by the way, if you aren't, well, I am the pope and I've got your card marked already."?
We cannot know how much longer le bon Dieu will permit this hermeneutically unfathomable pontificate to last. But it is surely clear that we are going to need very much more than the usual ration of daily grace to get through it. Come, Holy Ghost ..."
*A New Testament word for open, bold and unapologetic speech.