CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Better Catholics than the Pope?

A month to go and the Church will enter into the sixth year of the papacy of Pope Francis. But has he earned more critics than friends in the past five years? 
 
Ironically, his worst critics come from within the Catholic Church, because they find it hard to fix him in the box of papal stereotypes. Be it in trivial issues like choosing his bedroom and his means of transportation, to celebrating the liturgy with prisoners, the homeless and refugees, or in issues of papal teachings such as Laudato Si’ (Praise be: On Care for Our Common Home) and Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), the pope lives up his reputation of being the pope of surprises! 
 
He hit the hornets’ nest once again with the extraordinary wedding of Latam Airlines employees, Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Paula Podest Ruiz, aboard the papal flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique. As expected, the critics went berserk, airing their theories on social media in particular, quoting the Canon Law and the Magisterium. 
 
Many questioned the provision of canonical form, requirements of marriage preparatory course, pre-nuptial enquiry and finally, the validity of the marriage itself! Some of the comments on Facebook read, ‘what was the urgency for this in-flight wedding for a couple who have been living together for the past eight years?’ ‘The Pope caught the couple totally off hand and the bride and groom couldn’t appear in a decent wedding garment!’ It even called the Pope Francis “Las Vegas pope”
 
Perhaps, what many of the media activists did not know is that the mid-air ceremony was not a wedding but a convalidation. Not convinced yet? Better check out its meaning together with radical sanation
 
Criticisms are nothing new to this papacy. As a historical matter, every pope has faced resistance, including from his own bishops. That was true of Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, just as it was true of St. Peter himself. 
 
I am reminded of the beautiful movie on John XXIII. Italian, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, was one of the pope’s fiercest critics and a powerful figure in the Roman Curia. He never agreed with the concept of Vatican II and tried his best to oppose convening the council. 
 
There’s a joke told about him. It goes like this: Ottaviani is across town in Rome and gets on a cab, saying, “Take me to the council.” The cabbie, looking back and seeing who it is, proceeds to drive him to Trent! 
 
Not long ago, Pope Francis guided the Church through the great Jubilee Year of Mercy, and precisely this is what the Church is in want of today. We are losing the sense of being merciful but consider ourselves better Christians by pointing fingers at the pope. 
 
“Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat?”  — Matthew 12:3-4
 
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