Catholic Values Column: Not a Francis fan, but I’m still praying for him


I’m going to be honest. I really don’t like Pope Francis as a pope.

It’s a hard place for me to be. I have a great admiration and immense respect for the office of the papacy, its history and its members, including Pope Francis. The role the Holy Father plays in the Apostolic Church is of great importance, and the men who have been placed in that spot deserve the highest levels of respect.

However, I have a hard time placing my faith in Pope Francis during a time such as this for several reasons. His comments that youth who pursue the Extraordinary Form are “rigid,” the appointments of bishops and cardinals in the U.S. who are clearly not good (see, Chicago), the Amoris Laetitia ambiguity and subsequent refusal to address the concerns of the dubia cardinals, and the lip service he’s paid to McCarrick and Wuerl; these and many more instances are all reasons that have caused me to struggle to reconcile these words and actions with the respect and belief that is due to the Bishop of Rome.

I know I am not the only one that feels this way. In fact, there are several students on this campus who feel similarly, though they might not feel as confident expressing their struggles as me.

Their reluctance for speaking out is quite understandable. There seems to be a notion that one cannot disagree with the Holy Father without being seen as a bad Catholic or, even worse, some sort of sedevacantist, just for one’s simple disagreement with how Pope Francis is doing his job.

Last week, I was at a talk on campus where someone asked the speaker something along the lines of how young Catholics should regard the hierarchy in this time of crisis. He responded by saying much of what I just said — that he didn’t like Pope Francis and didn’t think he was a good pope. And then he talked about why that was okay.

One of the biggest beefs our Protestant brothers and sisters have with Catholicism is the fear that we worship the pope and that we believe his every word and action to be infallible. Our response to this, of course, is, “No, we don’t. Only certain, specific things the pope says can be infallible. We are allowed to disagree with him in other ways.”

However, when someone actually has the gall to speak up against the pope, the reaction can often be the one I mentioned earlier — how can someone question the pope’s actions or motives and still expect to be considered a good Catholic by others?

This shouldn’t be the case.

Pope Francis is not a perfect pope. In fact, he’s quite far from it. Some of the things Pope Francis has done, and even some of the things he hasn’t done, have caused great scandal within the Church, and it has left me and many, many others quite frustrated. The Vigano testimonies, while the most recent incidents, are hardly the only ones.

Catholics have a moral duty to speak up in the face of wrong and even more so during this time of crisis within the Church. Now more than ever, it is necessary not to be blindly obedient but rather to voice our concerns to hold our spiritual leaders’ foots to the fire, and that includes Pope Francis’.

While there is no way yet to tell how much of Archbishop Vigano’s allegations are true, I don’t doubt at least some of allegations are true. In his first testimony, Vigano said his conscience compelled him to come clean and call out Pope Francis and Cardinals McCarrick, Wuerl and Cupich, among others, for their alleged betrayal of the faithful.

The archbishop’s words are a call to action. They are a reminder that staying quiet implicates us in the evil that has and is occurring within the Church. We cannot afford to remain silent until the Church is well into the healing process and all evil is rooted out of it.

At the same time, we must increase our prayer for the Holy Father because whether we like him or not does not remove the fact that he is our pope. We must pray for his soul and his leadership in the hopes that one day our Church will be healed.

If we are not holding him accountable and simultaneously praying for the Holy Spirit to guide Pope Francis, then we have no ground to stand on. He is our leader, and no matter how much we believe in him, we cannot abandon him spiritually when he is in most need of our prayers.

I have seen scandal come from Pope Francis’ actions too many times and it hurts me to see Holy Mother Church in the state it is today, divided, broken and bleeding, and I will be open about that with people because I believe it is important to talk about. But as much as I dislike Pope Francis, I still pray for him for the sake of our Church and I hope you will, too.


  1. You are 100% on-point correct, Elisha. Thank you for articulating your thoughts so well.

  2. Maybe the problem is hidden in your words “disagreement with how Pope Francis is doing his job.” Does the Pope have a “job”, or does the Pope have a vocation? These are difficult times in the church, but I think the problems stem from long, long before the current pope.

  3. Well said, sir. Well said.

  4. Thank you for speaking out. I am 70 and it is so sad to see what is happening to the Bride of Christ. Keep praying and be strong in your faith.

  5. FUS Alumni MA Theology and Christian Ministry.

    Well said.

    One of the difficulties with Pope Francis is that, speaking as a convert, he pretty much embodies every boogieman idea of the papacy that Protestants have. It is as if all these caricature that I grew up with have become manifest. As a theologian, there is frustration in that what he puts forth as his “non-teaching” teachings would have flunked me out of FUS if I had presented the same in my classes there. As a contemplative, I am horrified at the constant disdain for those that practice the spiritual works of mercy. As a human, I am appalled by his direct mandate to the USCCB to do nothing about predatory bishops.

    As a Catholic, as you said, Catholics pray especially for those that persecute, especially those that persecute Christ’s Church. And, if one allows oneself one second to consider the Sovereign Pontiff without that title, I don’t see how, with my training at FUS, that is not what is going on.

    So yes pray, pray always. My Jesuit undergrad training also says to remember to pray in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is most offended.

  6. The opinions in this column are a healthful critical reflection on the pandemonium in today’s Church. One opinion of significance is the relationship of silence and evil. Silence does not always lead to evil, but silence can be evil in and of itself when we are silent about sinful deeds.

    For example, the silence of the German people was evil when the people took no action to halt the Nazi concentration camp round-up, imprisonment, and extermination of millions of Jews, Catholic priests, and [a lengthy list of other “undesirables”]. A German Lutheran Pastor Martin Neimöller is known for his post-war poem addressing the silence, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out…”

  7. Excellent points and great concise and articulate writing! Seems you did receive a double portion of gifts! Look up Blessed Titus Brandsma who, IMO, should be the saint of Catholic Journalism. Best book about him is “A Dangerous Little Friar” which is long out of print, but there is plenty about him on the net. He was courageous in Catholic writing during WWII when others were cowardly restrained.

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