According to an article in Newsweek, “Pope Francis has criticized the “backwardness” of some conservatives in the United States Catholic Church, saying they have replaced faith with political ideology.”
The pontiff is reported to have made the remarks in early August, during a private meeting in Lisbon while meeting with members of a Jesuit religious order, and they were published on Monday by La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal vetted by the secretariat of state of the Vatican.
The remarks were in response to a Portuguese Jesuit who told the Pope, that while in the United States, he had come across many Catholics critical of his leadership, including some high-ranking church officials. The Pope responded by saying there was “a very strong, organized, reactionary attitude,” in the American Catholic Church. He said their attitudes were harmful. “In this way, the true tradition is lost and you turn to ideologies for support. In other words, ideologies replace faith,” Pope Francis said.
“I want to remind these people that backwardness is useless, and they must understand that there’s a correct evolution in the understanding of questions of faith and morals.” The Pope went on to say that some pontiffs had been tolerant of slavery, but “things are different today.”
I am not a Catholic, but have been blessed in my life to meet many devoted practitioners, some of whom are conservatives, others members of Jesuit orders, and others who are more liberal. It is not for me to judge the Pope or to criticize him, or his outlook, which I must assume is guided by a lifetime of faithful service to God.
If the Newsweek article is correct in their interpretation of the Pope’s remarks I would offer a few thoughts about ideology and faith.
It seems to me, that America’s conservative Catholics are among those most faithful to the Church’s teachings that life is sacred, which is consistent with the moral underpinnings of not just Christianity, but almost every other religion in the world. It could be forcefully argued that more liberal Catholics who support genocide in the womb are those who are putting a politically false ideology of a “woman’s right to choose” ahead of the spiritual teachings that every individual life is made in the image of God.
I wonder as history unfolds if American Conservative Catholics will be considered “backward,” for opposing child mutilations that are conducted in the name of gender ideology. Or for their concerns over human trafficking, and the abuse of children, which sadly many organized religions have experienced within their own congregations.
Very recently, we learned the FBI, under the Biden’s Department of Justice had retracted a memo targeting “traditional” Catholics, and that the Director of the FBI was not honest about the scope of the effort. In the past decades, we have seen growing hostility in the mainstream press toward those who continue to be faithful to centuries-old beliefs of faith.
American “Conservative Catholics” it appears, are now under attack. But, ultimately, I believe their steadfast faithfulness will be rewarded by the One Judge – that truly matters.