Having grown up Catholic in the 1950's and 1960's I certainly had in depth exposure to far right elements of Roman Catholicism and people who seemingly put legalism and a desire to look down on others far ahead of the message of the Gospels in terms of love for others, helping the poor and hungry, etc. This sick element in the Catholic Church continues to exist, including within the ranks of the morally bankrupt hierarchy which happily engaged in the worldwide sex abuse scandal cover up. While no formal or official changes have yet occurred in the Church's dogma, the very different tone being set by Pope Francis - especially in contrast to that set by Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI - is not welcome in far rights circles of the Church. A piece in the New York Times looks at the unhappiness with Francis among those who are, in my view, modern day Pharisees like so many "conservative Christians." Here are highlights:
SMYRNA, Ga. — When Pope Francis was elected in March, Bridget Kurt received a small prayer card with his picture at her church and put it up on her refrigerator at home, next to pictures of her friends and her favorite saints.
She is a regular attender of Mass, a longtime stalwart in her church’s anti-abortion movement and a believer that all the church’s doctrines are true and beautiful and should be obeyed. She loved the last two popes, and keeps a scrapbook with memorabilia from her road trip to Denver in 1993 to see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day.But Ms. Kurt recently took the Pope Francis prayer card down and threw it away. "It seems he’s focusing on bringing back the left that’s fallen away, but what about the conservatives?" . . . .Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”In the eight months since he became pope, Francis has won affection worldwide for his humble mien and common touch. His approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.But not everyone is so enchanted. Some Catholics in the church’s conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled. On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience.They were particularly alarmed when he told a prominent Italian atheist in an interview published in October, and translated into English, that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil” and that everyone should “follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them” — a remark that many conservatives interpreted as appearing to condone relativism. He called proselytizing “solemn nonsense.”They were shocked when they saw that Francis said in the interview that “the most serious of the evils” today are “youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” It compounded the chagrin after he said in an earlier interview that he had intentionally “not spoken much” about abortion, same-sex marriage or contraception because the church could not be “obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines.”Steve Skojec, the vice president of a real estate firm in Virginia and a blogger who has written for several conservative Catholic websites, wrote of Francis’ statements: “Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely.
“There have been bad popes in the history of the church,” Mr. Skojec said. “Popes that murdered, popes that had mistresses. I’m not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church to bring about a different vision.”Most American Catholics do not share Mr. Skojec’s objections. A poll released last month by Quinnipiac University found that two in three agreed with Francis that the church was too “obsessed” with a few issues.Some conservative Catholics are sharing prophecies online that foretell of tribulations for the church. In one, an Irish woman predicted that Benedict would be held hostage. Others cite the German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich, who wrote of a “relationship between two popes,” one who “lives in a palace other than before,” which some now see as a reference to Benedict, who resigned as pope early this year but still lives in Vatican City. During this time there arises a “false church of darkness.”