Despite his rockstar status, in many circles, there are those who are very wary of Pope Francis and they let me know it. It is a completely different group from those who were very wary of Pope Benedict and let me know it; which was a somewhat different group from those who didn’t care for Pope John Paul II. Was it ever thus? St. Paul had a run in with St. Peter and sought him out to set his straight. Then there were those who didn’t care for Jesus much either, even among His most intimate brethren.
Is there cause for concern with Pope Francis? I will admit that every once in a while he says something that causes my right eyebrow to rise up slightly higher than the left. Objectively, he has not changed anything of the fabric of the faith. The most serious accusations thus far (at least it seems to me) is that he thinks a bit too much out loud and may be a cause of scandal particularly for those whose faith is weak (adult children, grandkids, friends.)
Conversely there are those crowing because they are back on some sort of “winning side.” With Pope Francis they see the hope of some flagging dreams for the Church spark and catch on once again.
Every pope brings his with him his human strengths and weaknesses. They are men after all. Pope Francis seems to think out loud. A lot. John Paul II - excuse me - St. John Paul (the great?) - was not a great administrator. But if you really want scandal, especially of the moral kind, it is easy enough to find in the history of the line of popes in the Catholic Church.
But the faith has never been compromised. Sometimes God uses his popes as sons, sometimes as tools. Even the most morally corrupt pope was what the Church needed at the time - saving the Church from bankruptcy, making it possible for some of our most beloved art to exist - but never did God allow the Church to fall away from truth in any official manner and I dare say he won’t under this pope either.
There are two reasons for this: The first is that there are just far too many safeguards in place. A pope may say, “I have decided that polygamous marriages are a good idea,” but that does not mean that the Church will allow it. (Have you witnessed one change to faith and morals in the past century during a time that mainstream Protestantism went through wholesale overhauls of 2,000 years of beleif?) The second is that the Holy Spirit is ultimately in charge. He always has been in charge and He always will be in charge. Men and women may do unintelligent and unholy things, but the Church, the spotless Bride of Christ the Bridegroom, will never be so sullied.
So if you don’t like, agree with or are nervous about a particular pope, pray for him and for the Church. I guarantee you he is making mistakes and needs prayers. It’s difficult enough trying to manage a parish, I can’t imagine trying to manage 1.3 billion Catholics of different languages, customs, practices, cultures, etc., some of whom are cheering you, others booing, some passionate, some disconnected.
Then give thanks that you are not the pope.