Debunking Myths about Pope Francis

I have obviously been as dupe as anyone else. Debunking three ‘urban legends’ about Pope Francis seems credible.

It seemed unbelievable that he would be so cruel to his predecessor as to say “the carnival is over” when he declined to wear the red shoulder cape or mozzetta. The second myth to debunk would be about Cardinal Law being exiled from St Mary Major to live in a monastery. Monasteries are not dustbins for delinquent clerics but communities of contemplatives who are there because they had a vocation to that life. The third myth was about the type of vehicle used to transport the Pope. If that is of interest to readers, then they can see the article.

This is reassuring, as one does not expect crude humour or dismissiveness from a Pope, any more than nastiness and vindictiveness. I can understand that a lot of falsehood is being constructed around Pope Francis.

Damian Thompson ran an account of Cardinal Bergoglio saying some outrageous things about politics, socialism and the USA in Did Pope Francis really say that socialism causes misery, and that America is heading towards a form of communism?. A critical reading would reveal this purported interview to be a hoax, and Damian Thompson is manifestly not prepared to stake his credibility on it. Indeed he plainly says that the interview is a hoax. Had it been true, some journalist would have become a rich man for the “scoop”!

The comment about the carnival being over seemed particularly cruel and is hurtful to anyone who has appreciated the papacy of Benedict XVI and his attempt to restore beauty in the liturgy “brick by brick” without hurting or offending anyone. The sincere and visibly moving meeting between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI last Saturday seems incompatible with the idea that Pope Francis would be a latter-day Boniface VIII about to consign Celestine V to a dank dungeon to die of starvation and disease!

All this shows that we should be more prudent about what we read in the media. The signs I have seen are of a deeply saintly, pastoral and prayerful Pope. We might not be happy with his not being as “high-church” as Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis is doing nothing other than what he has done since the day he was ordained a priest. He never used the old rite.

I speak highly of this Pope even though I will never again be a Roman Catholic, as least not as a cleric. I remain an Anglican in a “pre-Reformation” perspective, but I look to Rome as a symbol of the Church’s unity that will not be realised in material or human terms. It isn’t about me, as others have said. What it is about is for this Pope to be able to do God’s work in spite of all the calumnies and falsehoods hurled about by the media to discredit him both with liberals and traditionalists.

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