Loving the Pope PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 14:27

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

I know that a Pope commands great love from many people all over the world. Here in the Philippines, this cannot be doubted. The mere mention of a Pope’s name can already stir deep emotions, and can even trigger some transformative process in a person.

Yet, we cannot deny that Pope Francis appears to have a different impact. For most of us who have known Pope, now Saint, John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the present Pope seems to be different.

Yes, Pope Francis is vastly popular and loved, but there is also a sector that seems to feel uncomfortable with him. Some people consider him a bit too liberal, a bit too loose with his comments, and they find this thing different from the over-all correctness the two previous Pope were known for.

I must confess that I am not too bothered by this development. Somehow I know where people are coming from. I once met an Arab married to a Filipina and he told me how much he admired the Pope for his earnest comments that echo the feelings and views of many people like him. I agreed with him but refrained from getting into comparing Popes.

I also have many friends, many of them priests also, who express some dismay at how the Pope would view certain issues. I also understand them very well, since I somehow know where they are coming from. But I refuse to compare Popes.

For me, the Pope, whoever he may be, whether Germanic or Latino, is always the Vicar of Christ, or as St. Catherine of Siena would put it, the sweet Christ on earth. He deserves to be loved and followed, his teaching listened to and obeyed.

And that’s mainly because he is vested with the same power that was first given to St. Peter to be the main Shepherd of the Church of God here on earth. Christ has entrusted St. Peter and his successors with the government of his Church to continue Christ’s mission on earth.

Through him we can hear the voice of Christ. In him, in some mysterious way, we have Christ himself, the head of the Church. He is given divine protection He obviously, like any human being, also has his own share of weaknesses and everything else that can arise from these weaknesses. We should not be surprised by this, much less, make a big issue out of it.

We just have to look at St. Peter who was quite impulsive and who denied Christ three times. But then he repented, and by divine order was made the rock on which the Church of Christ is built, with the assurance that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16,18)

And the history of the papacy has not been spared from the personal weaknesses of some Popes that created problems big and small in the world and in the Church. But the Church continues to stand.

Of course, the Pope always deserves a lot of our prayers and support. That’s what we should always do unstintingly. The burden he carries is the heaviest that one can have in this world. We should try our best to pray for him and help him in any way we can.

And one of the best ways we can help him is to make his teaching known by as many people as possible. With Pope Francis, what we are seeing is some expansion of that pastoral charity that should burn in the heart of everyone, priest or layperson.

His thrust on mercy, on reaching out to those who are far from the Church, on opening wide the doors of understanding and compassion with everyone, are now the challenge we all have to face.

In doing this, he is not at all changing some Church doctrine of Church. He is simply breathing new life into them, obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit. He is asking us to be faithful to Church teaching but open to the new things that the Spirit may prompt us.

We should not forget that we are living in a world full of mysteries. While we have to hold on firmly to what we already know, we should not be afraid to break new grounds in terms of understanding the truths of our faith and in the ways of charity and mercy.

Definitely, a lot of prayer, study and sacrifice is needed here. And the Pope has to expound things more clearly. With the new technologies that we have, this task should be not as difficult as it was ages ago.