VATICAN CITY —
“Be smart. There will be time in the future for people to sort what Vatican II means and what it doesn’t mean,” the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf warned his traditionalist readers in a recent blog post. “But mark my words: If you gripe about Vatican II right now, in this present environment, you could lose what you have attained.”
Even more mainstream conservative Catholics aren’t thrilled with Francis.
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said right-wing Catholics “generally have not been really happy” with Francis.
To be sure, Francis has not changed anything about church teaching. Nothing he has said or done is contrary to doctrine; everything he has said and done champions the Christian concepts of loving the sinner but not the sin and having a church that is compassionate, welcoming and merciful.
But tone and priorities can constitute change, especially when considering issues that aren’t being emphasized, such as church doctrine on abortion, gay marriage and other issues frequently referenced by Benedict and Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, used the word “gay” for perhaps the first time in its 150-year history on Wednesday, in an article marveling at the change Francis has brought.
“In just a few words, the novelty has been expressed clearly and without threatening the church’s tradition,” the newspaper said about Francis’ comments on gays and women. “You can change everything without changing the basic rules, those on which Catholic tradition are based.”
The biggest headline came in Francis’ inflight news conference on the way home from Brazil this week, when he was asked about a trusted monsignor who reportedly once had a gay lover.
“Who am I to judge?” he asked, when it comes to the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will.