Mr. Shea and I disagree on some things, and we've done so passionately. Yet I think he sees the problem rampant tribalism has in the Church. I think he may have contributed to that from time to time. We are all imperfect.
The two of us have used the pontificate of Francis to find a bit of peace and working respect. He also deserves credit for dropping the phrase "radtrad", and instead focusing on combatting a reactionary spirit that he freely admits exists within all circles of Catholicism. It's an important concession and step, and one that sets Mr. Shea apart from some of his peers. Even though we might find ourselves at odds on these issues, both of us have a respect and admiration for some of the things this Pope has done, and many of our "allies" on all sides clearly do not.
That's what I want to talk about very briefly here to those new readers, many of who probably aren't that friendly towards traditionalism, either due to bad experiences, or just plain old animus towards things which aren't familiar to you. A lot of the criticisms offered towards the Pope over his interviews are misguided, wrong, and in some cases dangerous. Yet a lot of the "defenders" of Francis are using this as an instance to marginalize and divide. These people aren't Catholics who are concerned, they are enemies of the faith and an existentsial threat, and they must be crushed!
Some people in Shea's combox thought I was too soft on the Pope's critics. It wasn't enough to disagree with them. I had to spit on my hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting trad throats. That's just not my style, and it will never be at this blog. I'm confrontational but mostly professional. (When I'm not, chances are you deserved it.) I don't look at things as debates to win, but as ideas to listen to, reflect upon, and then accept or reject as necessary.
Most importantly, I believe in keeping the avenue of communication open. The highly confrontational style of most of the blogosphere (and a few of Mr. Shea's colleagues at Patheos) is great for back slapping amongst the converted, but it does little to actually reach out to anyone. I think some of the attacks on this Pope were wrong, and I want them to stop. But more importantly, I want those people in line with me for Confession at my church. I want them to go to Mass with me, and I want to have a good discussion afterwards. I want us to go at it for three hours in an exchange over beer and laugh about it while our wives go "those guys are too much, how can they be friends after that exchange?"
I get the feeling a lot of people don't want that when it comes to attacking the Pope's critics. They don't want communion with them. They don't want them to be a part of the same Church, at least not their own local parish! In a pretty moving speech on the point of the New Evangelization today, Pope Francis said the following:
The Son of God “went out” of his divine condition and came to encounter us. The Church is within this movement; every Christian is called to go out to encounter others, to dialogue with those who do not think the way we do, with those who have another faith, or who don’t have faith. To encounter all because we all have in common our having been created in the image and likeness of God. We can go out to encounter everyone, without fear and without giving up our membership.How many go out of their comfort zone to approach traditionalists who are worried about the Church? To approach them in charity is in a sense "giving up our membership." Even for defenders of Francis, they are only using Francis when they like him (to bash traditionalists) but not actually to learn from the Holy Father.