Monday, March 9, 2015


Francis makes no apologies for his blunt confrontation of the hypocrisy in the Church he is herding towards reform.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruening, a Christian ethicist and self-described “Christian socialist,” has tackled the controversy of Pope Francis’ first two years in a lengthy and unapologetically personal essay for The New Republic.

Bruening provides an interesting analysis of the pontiff’s theological thinking, but the core of her essay is her analysis of the public’s political reactions to Francis.

Many Catholic commentators have chimed in over the years since Francis took the reins. He’s been labeled a “radical” more than once, and with varying degrees of intent. He’s “a pope of surprises,” according to German Cardinal Walter Kasper.

But Bruening seems particularly interested in the “fear” such “surprises” seem to instill, particularly among conservative-leaning American Catholics.

“He has made no substantial changes to Catholic doctrine, and yet has nonetheless earned opprobrium worthy of extreme tampering,” Bruening wrote.

Indeed, many prominent conservative media voices have expressed their discomfort with Francis’ public statements (which, as Bruening notes, are quite different from actual theological ideas found in ecumenical statements).