Father Byers defends Pope and is condemned by priest-friend

pope francis prison washing feet
“Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,
has raised his heel against me” (Psalm 41:10).

At the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate, I wrote a defense of Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday washing of feet at the prison. I will publish this defense again, with further reflection, subsequent to this post. But here I would like to give you all a little insight into what it means for me to do such a thing as defend the Holy Father. Immediately after publishing that article in 2013 at Holy Souls Hermitage (yes, I was a real hermit), I received a note from a priest-friend of decades smacking me down into the dirt, condemning me, really, right to hell for making such a defense of the Holy Father. Here it is:

“You have done an excellent job, dear father, in helping many solid Catholics to cope with the actions of our Holy Father. Children of alcoholics will use similar coping mechanisms to deal with the dysfunction within their family…overlooking, enabling, denial, rationalizing, etc.. Will it take Pope Francis using wooden, porous chalices at Holy Mass…or him eating a T-bone steak on Good Friday before the children will speak up? A reality check is needed, not further acts of denial. Be good, dear father, and make reparation in your hermitage for the actions of the pontiff.”

For those who are upset with Pope Francis, perhaps this sounds innocuous enough as far as reprimands go, but let’s fisk it and see what’s lurking between the lines:

 

You have done an excellent job, dear father, in helping many solid Catholics to cope with the actions of our Holy Father. [The bitterness of your sarcasm sounds a dark note of discord, friend. I’m not interested in helping anyone “cope”, which is just a mind-game. I want people to know the life of being a Catholic within the Family of Faith. It is a joyful life. Not one of mockery.] Children of alcoholics will use similar coping mechanisms to deal with the dysfunction within their family…overlooking, enabling, denial, rationalizing, etc.. [At best, this priest friend of mine is criticizing my support of the Holy Father with a rather biting analogy. But, since he’s spent time reading my autobiography (stats programs reveal all), I’m guessing he knows the miraculous conversion of my father from drink way back in the 1970s, and simply rejects this with the same arrogance and disdain with which he dismisses the Holy Father. Since he is (or was?) a friend, this attack on my father, who is very dear to me (†1993) really creeps me out.]

pope francis wooden chaliceWill it take Pope Francis using wooden, porous chalices at Holy Mass… [Ironically, he did use a porous wooden chalice some months later, with what looks, however, to be an appropriate, non-porous, solid gold cup. To condemn the anointed of the Lord just to do it is about as low as it gets.] or him eating a T-bone steak on Good Friday [Did Pope Francis do that in his entire life? No? To condemn the anointed of the Lord just to do it is about as low as it gets.] before the children will speak up? [About what? Your making stuff up? Are you included among the “children”, Father? If so, have you written to the Holy Father, offering him your condemnations? No?] A reality check is needed [You have said it.], not further acts of denial [Denial of what? I won’t deny your bullying.]. Be good [Only God is good. And you crucified Him with your sins, as did I.], dear father [Obviously not to you.], and make reparation in your hermitage for the actions of the pontiff [This is perhaps the most condescending comment about my hermitage I’ve received to date. There is no desire here for any reparation and no desire for any benefit for Pope Francis. There is only darkness. Zero humility.].

This is sad. I feel betrayed even more than two years later. But perhaps this will serve a purpose, providing an insight into the bitterness of those who criticize the Holy Father out of hand. That it is out of hand I will demonstrate in an article to follow. But for now, the words of Jesus should ring in the ears of this priest-friend of mine:

“The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.”

Be careful whom you mock. It might just be Jesus.

5 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Pope Francis

5 responses to “Father Byers defends Pope and is condemned by priest-friend

  1. Cathe D.

    Our Holy Father, Pope Francis needs to be defended. I too experienced shock and bewilderment at some of the things our dear Father is saying. So I thought, wait and see, don’t make judgment. In my little spot in the world, a person of nothingness, I saw the Pope’s words being twisted around and taken out of context, misinterpreted, and out and out lying about what actually was said. The Pope once told us that the Blessed Mother told him to not watch T.V. or be on the computer, etc. I have to wonder why she essentially isolated him from digital society, because it has been reported that oft’ times the Pope has no idea of the stir his innocent actions and words are creating.
    I recently watched a video of the Pope’s speech because people were raging against what he supposedly said. I wanted to see and hear for myself. Well, I heard a totally different message. I heard a message of peace, of love, of respect for your fellow man no matter what religion or belief. I didn’t hear him advocate joining the Churches and making them one, like people were accusing him of. People’s hearts are not listening to what the Pope has to say! Elements of the church and people have passed judgment on Pope Francis and are looking for anything to prove their theory is correct, even to the point of putting words in his mouth and lying. Crucify Him! Crucify Him! is the refrain I hear. It’s a betrayal of Jesus all over again.
    It’s a lack of love and respect not only for Pope Francis but to all of us who love and support our Holy Father. It’s disgusting and shameful what’s happening. I personally declare the Pope my spiritual Father and my leader in the Roman Catholic Church. I love our Holy Father.
    There is a terrible evil being perpetrated against Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. All I can say is pray like there is no tomorrow and hold onto the hem of the robes of our Holy Father and don’t let go.
    Father George thank you for defending our Father. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception defend you and those who are defending our beloved Pope. God bless you Father…cathy

  2. Cathy

    The oddest part of the news of the “change” regarding the Mandatum during the Mass on Maundy Thursday is the admission that this has been done in so many parishes for years preceding the “change” and has been obstinately defended as “this is the way we have always done it here”. For many the “change” is no change, and there seems to be little concern that the “way we have always done it here” was done in defiance as to what the Church allowed. Pray, forgive me for being confused and upset by the “change”.

  3. James W. Anderson

    I think the change is good for many of our shepherds who have been sinning for years by violating liturgical law. Now there is one less sin being committed. Pray for them and for me a sinner.

  4. Shelly

    Hi Cathy, I am with you. My concern over this “change” is not so much the change itself (though it confuses me somewhat), but all the kerfuffle surrounding it and the air of defiance that has hung over this particular rite for many years. When our Holy Father does something/says something which I don’t understand or don’t agree with, I try always to remember that he likely sees something I cannot see, a bigger picture. But sometimes that bigger picture looks quite different here on the ground floor, doesn’t it?

    Fr. Byers, your priest-friend’s reply is a tad passive-aggressive, but I think it is easy to go that route. If one feels that what they have been working for is being threatened, especially by someone they admire or look up to, it can be jarring. Recognizing that you can go to extremes in a situation like this (depression or anger, that someone has knocked over your carefully constructed brick wall, and you don’t understand why!), is challenging. Some people just need to blow off steam before they can sit down and look more logically/calmly at the situation. Perhaps this is the case with your priest-friend. Perhaps he needed to vent before getting down to the real work of holiness? And you provided for him that opportunity?

  5. Father George David Byers

    @Shelly — Yes. I have always thought that. Pope Francis has given me another chance to explain things. An upcoming post.

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