Austen Ivereigh: Pope Francis and the convert problem

(Crux) The dog days of August are a time to smuggle in the kind of article you’ve been meaning to write but putting off because of all the trouble it’s going to bring you. But still, I hesitate even now to write about convert neurosis, and how it conditions critiques of Pope Francis.

For one, I don’t want to be seen to be sniffy and condescending towards people who become Catholic, which is how Dr. Stephen Bullivant, writing in First Things, said he felt about a comment in Michael Sean Winters’s blogpost. “I am so tired of converts telling us that the pope is not Catholic,” complained the sage of the National Catholic Reporter.

Winters was reacting to a debate on Al Jazeera between Matthew Schmitz, youthful literary editor of First Things, and me, on the perennial topic of the Francis pontificate.

Schmitz, a young convert, had undergone a second conversion since 2013. At first he welcomed Francis’s election. But then came a series of realizations.

He had now come to see that Francis was building his program of reform “at the expense of children orphaned by the culture of divorce left by the 1960s,” attempting to restore a “discredited version of Catholicism,” and who “builds his popularity by shucking off traditions and formulas of the office” of pope. Oh and introducing the antinomian, Protestant notion that truth and mercy are counter to the law. [More]

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Crux