Thanks to my 15 (almost sixteen) year old daughter, whom I’ll call “number 2”, I finally realized why I miss Pope Emeritus Benedict. I’ve always wanted to give my filial loyalty to Pope Francis, him being the Pope and all, but I have struggled with that over the past year, especially because of his sometimes impromptu, ambiguous off-the-cuff remarks and interviews. This has given many dissenting Catholics the impression that he is more… (pick one)
H. All of the above
I. None of the above
…than his predecessor. The perception people have about Pope Francis largely depends on their biases and their attitudes toward the Catholic Church and that includes me.
As I was saying, compared to our more mature daughter Number 1, who has a more Phlegmatic-Melancholic temperament (more head than heart and more introspective than sociable), Number 2 is the Sanguine-Choleric child. She is the most feisty and emotional of all my three girls (we also have two boys). In dealing with her we always try to make it a point to be calm while keeping our words simple, neutral (which she twists), short and direct to the point. In other words, Number 2 is the quintessential adolescent or teen-ager, who always think they know what’s good for them.
This brings me to the reason as to why I miss Benedict. During his eight-year reign as Pope, Benedict treated Catholics who were maturing in their faith as a father treats his maturing children. At the same time, he treated “adolescent” Catholics in a firm, clear but loving manner, also as a father would treat their feisty teen-age children. It was that feeling of knowing exactly where I stood with the Church when it came to her teachings, that I miss with Benedict’s reign.
I have to admit that Pope Francis’ approach throws me off and captivates me at the same time. His words, which are simple, neutral (often misunderstood/twisted by dissenters) and direct to the point, in a general way, is how I deal with my feisty number 2, adolescent. It is here where those who are like number 1 feel thrown off.
I am trying to also understand that his approach takes into consideration that these adolescents and the “should-be-maturing-but-stuck-in-adolescence” Catholics may be in that situation, not entirely because of their own doing, but because of the failure of the Church (and her pastors, the Bishops) in transmitting the faith clearly and effectively.
Lately however, those cheers by “stuck-in-adolescence” Catholics who thought that Pope Francis was ambivalent to Church doctrine, are diminishing. If he continues his way, I’m afraid I won’t miss Benedict as much, but that’s a good thing, right?