What with all the attacks from the ditch on the right and now, starting up, from the ditch on the left, against the person of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, I thought I might offer you an anecdote about defending the person of the Holy Father, this time, Pope John Paul II, an event which took place in the parlors of the Congregation for Bishops.
This was at the time of the run up to the encyclical Centesimus Annus, which kicked Communism in the face, but also extreme forms of Capitalism.
One of those consulted for this particular meeting in the back room of the offices of the episcopal hierarchy of that Congregation (very well-known to me) was an American economist, known to be a devout Catholic. He was very upset that any criticism of any form of capitalism was to voiced in the upcoming encyclical letter. This extremely popular-among-conservative-Catholics commentator on the economy was so upset that he began to voice ad hominem criticism against the person of the Holy Father.
Needless to say, he was stopped dead in his tracks. He protested all the more vehemently. And that, my friends, was the end of the meeting. He was forcefully cut off. He was told in no uncertain terms that no attack on the person of the Holy Father would be entertained at the Holy See. They were unceremoniously escorted out of the building, out of Vatican City State.
Mind you, this had its good effect. That particular economist became the leading defender of the Centesimus annus. Hah! Great fellow, really. I like him a lot. He does great work. He just let himself get all in a fluster at the time. And don’t we all, from time to time?
Take now, for instance, with Pope Francis. People are all in a fluster, on the right and on the left. I do believe that they will get over it, but that, until then, they need to be taken to task, with firmness, with an aim to conversion. It can happen you know. It did in the case cited above. And that was a tough, tough case.