Dear Pope Francis –
I don’t know how to put this any other way, so I’ll come right out and say it as politely as possible: Your fatherhood is failing us.
Trust me, I don’t want to think this way, but your actions give me no choice. My Well of Benefit of the Doubts has dried up. I lower my bucket, and it returns empty. Wasn’t always like this – for most of your pontificate, I’ve extended best intentions, or shrugged stuff away because I didn’t know all the facts. At times, I’ve defended you. I wanted to think the best of you. Unfortunately, I can’t do that anymore.
This has more to do with your decision than just not answering the Dubia. This goes beyond the way you’ve handled the Vigano document. I’m way past McCarrick, Wuerl, the Pennsylvania report, Chile, and the rest of the episcopal-level abuses, and your apparent lack of concern for Catholics abandoning the church, both due to the atrocities that were covered up, and the lack of concrete action coming from your chair. The agreement with the Chinese government certainly hasn’t helped, either.
Maybe my tipping point was your failure to appoint an Apostolic Visitor to the US church, which makes it seem you don’t care. Oh sure, you’ve said you want a less top-down Church, giving more authority and autonomy to bishops and their conferences. And that may be true. But the way I see it, when the kids are begging for the guy in charge to do something about the arsonists who’ve burned down the orphanage, it’s not loving and merciful to permit the arsonists to investigate the crime.
Your Holiness, your children are desperate for fish and eggs, but you’re handing us snakes and scorpions. I’m a father, and despite my sinfulness, I’d like to believe I’m wise enough to know that when my sons appeal for help, I don’t first shame them for throwing plastic in the ocean. When they request – no, demand – proper justice, I don’t turn tone-deaf ears towards them, pretending to listen. I don’t scold them and say, in effect, that exposing such nefarious scandal is the work of Satan.
Fathers don’t act that way. Not those who love their children, anyway. It’s not how love – tough love, even – works. We want healing, justice, and a steady hand to guide us to holiness, no matter the pain, no matter the cost. If you refuse to lead the flock through this crisis, then whatever comes should be laid upon your shoulders. The future will determine your papacy’s account, whether it be glorious or notorious, illegitimate or valid. Plenty of others have planted their flag in that regard, and frankly, that seems to miss the point. The bottom line is this: your children are suffering, yet your mercy and compassion seem inexplicably directed more towards the ones causing it, than the ones enduring it.
Scripture says “Honor your father.” Scripture says “My child, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life. Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength.” Do you see the untenable position in which you’ve placed us? Do you see the uncertainty you’re creating? Do you care?
So while I don’t despise you, and am commanded to honor you, I’m done with your pontificate. I do and always will love the Church, and will never leave it. I will pray for you every day, as any son ought to do for any father. But your actions have put me – and many other Catholics like me – between a rock and a hard place. And the fact it’s The Rock, makes it all the worse.
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