“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.]
Will 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.