What Pope Francis doesn’t do

By Tom Quiner

“I wish he’d stick it to them!”

That is the single thought that unites conservatives and liberals with the Pope’s visit to the America.

Liberals want Francis to put conservatives in their place for (supposedly) disdaining the immigrant and Mother Earth.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Conservatives want Francis to put liberals in their place for disdaining the pre born and traditional marriage.

In his video commentary above, the great Fr. John Riccardo gives his take on what Pope Francis is really trying to do. Fr. Riccardo is a particularly gifted Catholic speaker and lecturer. He is heard on Catholic radio stations throughout the country.

According to Riccardo, Francis is trying to get people acquainted (or in many cases, reacquainted) with Jesus. He wants them to experience the love of God. He doesn’t lead with doctrine, because rules and regulations don’t resonate with the person who has no relationship with Christ.

What he doesn’t do is ‘stick it to them.’

As a conservative, I think the Pope’s approach is slanted towards liberal issues. But Riccardo uses a compelling metaphor when explaining the Francis style: you can’t bend cold steel. You have to warm it up before it becomes pliable.

No one is going to embrace the faith because of its rules. It is love that moves us, because God IS love.

A religion like Islam suggests that God can be loving, that He possesses that character trait, but Christianity goes way farther.

God … IS … love.

God … IS … love.

God … IS … love.

Doctrine becomes meaningful as the heart warms to the beauty of Christ. The most potent form of love is agape’, or sacrificial love. Pope Francis wants the world to make sacrifices on behalf of the neediest among us.

The conservative Catholics I know embrace all of the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. We think the most efficient and compassionate way to realize social justice is using conservative approaches, which is fine. The Church understands that there are prudential applications to social justice teaching.

We wish Francis would let liberals in Congress “have it.” But he didn’t.

The Pope wants our hearts to melt through the unimaginable beauty and tenderness of Christ’s love.

A hard heart is less pliable than cold steel. A heart burning with the fire of the Spirit can’t be stopped.






  1. Tom Maly on September 25, 2015 at 11:20 am

    An absolutely stunning reflection, Tom – Great job!

    • quinersdiner on September 25, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Thank-you, Deacon. I give Fr. Riccardo the credit for his insights.

  2. encourage the faithful on September 25, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I was just making my Friday breakfast, an egg sandwich (no bacon, lol) when I read your rhapsodic piece on Pope Francis. It was very well-written, style-wise and you did concede that he is somewhat liberal, which my conservative self acknowledges and thanks you for. But that is where I stop with the plaudits. I think reasonable people can disagree politely. I will strive to be both, lol, in my disagreement and disapproval of your and Fr. Riccardo’s critique of Pope Francis’ intentions. (I’ll be back in a few minutes after I arm myself with nourishment for the attack, lol).

    (Okay, fed and burped, lol)…..Do you know how many conservative priests and pundits are going out of their way, contorting their own steel of orthodoxy, to excuse the liberal/socialist agenda of Pope Francis? He is a product of the authoritarian regimes of the Perons and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. It is so torturous (your and Father’s attempts at excusing him) that I have to steel myself to read and listen to these accounts. So, I am going to give a slight rebuke to these priests and pundits who excuse the propaganda, (and to you, forgive me, for allowing yourself to go against your better judgment). Pope Francis wants to render his doubters pliant for the reception of Christianity. I don’t buy the simplicity of that, Tom, even though I could agree that he wants to soft-soap people of good will (and maybe others) and here is why I don’t buy it. He and his administration may be sharp, but they are bordering on heresy, at the very least, unorthodoxy. I could write a damn book but for now just a few thoughts…..

    Tom, in my humble opinion and that is what I offer, our Pope is one who embraces social justice. It is his primary goal, to which dogma gets a very low second billing. He is a “seamless garment” pope who folds all things Catholic into that part of Jesuit “Catholic” social teaching which is socialist in the purest sense of the practice. That type of socialist agenda, when enthusiastically embraced, causes a type of personal satisfaction that is more about the pleasure of the individual self and less about the glory of God. It is above the worship of God. Abortion, same-sex so-called marriage, adultery, contraception do not seem to get the highest consideration in this ideology, rather it is woven into the seamless garment with all other social concerns. (Do I think the Pope wants to soften people so that they will accept the Catholic doctrine on these non-negotiables? Harrumph!). Do I doubt that he wants to, as Father Ricarrdo says, lead with Jesus instead of with doctrine? Not at all. I just do not believe that the beautiful sentiments of Father Ricarrdo and Father Cantalamessa are in fact an explanation of Pope Francis’s raison d’etre.

    From my academic as well as lived experience (a Holy Spirit conversion), I can see the difference between service to self and service to God. If we place creation before God, or to put it another way, if we do not get our spiritual food from God, then the self becomes what we try to satisfy. This is just like those of the leftist elites who, in order to feel better about their elevated status in life, must quiet their consciences with lip service and other people’s money. As with all social justice Catholics the Pope is liberal, and liberal ideology must be served before the poor and disenfranchised are served. In other words, the ideology is what satisfies the liberal Catholic who gives lip service (and very little else) to God while courting the esteem of one’s peers. Francis is quite astute and I believe he knows what he is doing. I have not fully-fleshed out the tenets of his papacy in my own mind because there are some anomalies that make him much different than a Kerry or an Obama or a dissident priest.

    It is a misnomer that the Holy Spirit chooses the Pope. It is hoped that the Holy Spirit infuses the hearts and minds of the college of cardinals whose job it is to elect the Pope but, as we can clearly see from history, many popes were worldly and sought satisfaction of their appetites first and foremost.

    Clearly Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVl had a deep spiritual life (just refer to their odes to God, their encyclicals). I do not see that in the example of Pope Francis and I am not one of those anti-Pope zealots, either. I love Francis and continually pray for him in the service of God’s work. I believe he is genuinely striving to do good but the world is too much with him and in him (a nod to Wordsworth). As I have said many times, I believe liberalism is a mental disorder and the results of having this disorder are faulty ideologies.

    By the way, while I am at it, lol, your sentiment, “The Pope wants our hearts to melt through the unimaginable beauty and tenderness of Christ’s love,” is just the kind of liberal rhetoric that is actually said to make unsuspecting lambs ignore an underlying agenda of radical unorthodoxy (I mean who could possibly argue with such a loving purpose?!). I am sure you did not mean it that way but the liberals do and their aim is deadly.

    • quinersdiner on October 30, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Barbie: So sorry I didn’t respond earlier. I discovered half a dozen comments that came in while I was on vacation, including yours, that I missed. Nothing you have ever written has been screened from this blog, especially since your responses are intelligent and relevant to the discussion. Here’s my take: I love my Pope; yes, I am challenged by him; and yes, the just-completed synod concerns me on several fronts. I trust that the Holy Spirit is in charge of our Church. And sometimes our faith is challenged in ways that ultimately strengthen it. Regarding your last paragraph, yes, you are correct, and you are correct that that is not my tactic. Again … sorry I missed this last month.

  3. encourage the faithful on September 27, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Hi, Tom. I think my long response about Pope Francis’ visit will not make it into the blog. I think I understand why. My script is harsh, by your blog’s standards, and perhaps inappropriate for the audience you are trying to reach. I am not offended at all by that decision so we will move on. If I am wrong about your decision to not post my response you can let me know. Blessings and happy Sabbath day.

    • quinersdiner on October 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      As per my earlier comment, I just missed yours’ (and some others’) comments. Nothing at all inappropriate. Great to hear from you!