So far, Pope Francis sounds like a lot of the priests I have known: modernistic and liberal. As far as I know, the pope hasn’t said anything heretical, but he does appeal to liberals of all stripes. They have embraced him as the pope they have been waiting for: one who will not emphasize the Church’s “outdated” moral teachings but will focus instead on social justice and goodwill.
Pope Francis has said that he will not judge gays. That is good. Only God should judge people. However, many people will think that the pope is saying that homosexual acts are okay. But, he did not say that, and the official teaching of the Church on that issue has not changed.
He has also said that atheists are redeemed. This coincides with what the Church has always taught, that all people are redeemed because of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, many people will now think that the pope is saying that everyone, regardless of what they believe, are saved and are going to heaven. But he did not say that. The Church’s traditional position, that outside of the Church there is no salvation, still stands. This is a dogma of the faith, which no pope can negate.
These kinds of statements from the pope, while not changing official Catholic teaching, can do a lot of damage: They can cause confusion as to the true position of the Church. They can give sinners and unbelievers a false sense of security. They can destroy the morale of conservative Catholics who, at the end of the day, are the Church’s bedrock.
The Pope’s “progressive” strategy is having the same media effect that Vatican II initially had. You can see examples of secular praise in articles such as The Advocate (Pro Gay Magazine), Time magazine's person of the year, and the CTV news story on Pope Francis and recycling.
Liberals praised Vatican II, back in the early 1960s. However, in the wake of that council, the faith of traditional Catholics was shaken to the core, thousands of priests and sisters abandoned their vocations, hundreds of millions of Catholics stopped regularly attending Mass and once-Christian nations became increasingly secularized. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, recognizing the damage, attempted to reign in the “progressive” trend both inside and outside of the Church. Therefore, the Left renewed its pressure and attacks.
It is perhaps too early to say exactly what kind of pontificate Pope Frances’ will be. But, if he continues to try to win the goodwill of the Church’s enemies, he will find that the only way to do so, in the long run, would be to abandon true Catholicism altogether. He really can’t do that (and I believe doesn’t want to) because the Holy Catholic Church is greater than any one pope. Its dogmas are to be believed and taught for all time and cannot be negated, even by a pope. Nevertheless, he could try to suppress, as much as possible, all Church teachings that the Left finds offensive. An example of this is the pope’s recent call on Catholics to not focus so much on same-sex “marriage,” contraception and abortion.
This pope seems to be taking another shot at making the “spirit of Vatican II” work, but that would only do more damage to the Church. The enemies of Christ will not be happy until the Catholic Church is completely stripped of all orthodoxy and becomes the devil’s plaything. Let’s pray that Pope Francis will see the mortal danger that liberalism represents and that he will yet fearlessly proclaim the full and true apostolic faith. May God expose and destroy the schemes of those who hate Christ!