You can read the whole thing here. It’s not cringe-worthy. But what I hate about it is the Benedict XVI bashing. Wholly unfair. I am sick of it.
After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis’ basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic. But he had far more radical changes in mind. By eschewing the papal palace for a modest two-room apartment, by publicly scolding church leaders for being “obsessed” with divisive social issues like gay marriage, birth control and abortion (“Who am I to judge?” Francis famously replied when asked his views on homosexual priests) and – perhaps most astonishingly of all – by devoting much of his first major written teaching to a scathing critique of unchecked free-market capitalism, the pope revealed his own obsessions to be more in line with the boss’ son.
Disastrous papacy? You have GOT to be kidding. Pope Benedict XVI will one day be declared not only a saint but a Doctor of the Church. As one of our bishops here in Canada told me, his writings will be in breviaries some day.
I was more comfortable with a Pope who was a sign of contradiction. A Pope who was foolishness to the world, a Pope who was the stench of death to those who are perishing, but the fragrance of Christ to those who are being saved. He does interview Fr. John Wauck, who I met in 2008 in Rome when I took The Church Up Close seminar at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
But I figured if any group would express a distinct lack of enthusiasm about their new Jesuit pope, it would be Opus Dei, and so one afternoon, I met up with Father John Paul Wauck, an American Opus Dei priest who has been living in Rome for nearly 20 years, where he teaches literature at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Before taking his vows, he worked as a political speechwriter for William Barr, the attorney general under George H.W. Bush, and Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, whom Wauck describes as “the last of the big pro-life Democrats.” A trim, cheery 50-year-old who grew up in the same Chicago suburb as Hillary Clinton, Wauck displays a Midwestern eagerness to please as he leads me on a tour of Holy Cross. Up on the roof, which provides a panoramic view of Rome, he points out a villa where Galileo was imprisoned by the Church during his Inquisition for promoting the dangerous idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. Downstairs, we duck into an 18th-century chapel where, Wauck says, Mozart played as a boy. Wauck directs my eye to a painting of Aloysius Gonzaga, the great Jesuit saint. At Gonzaga’s feet, a fat cherub holds a tiny spiked whip. “Corporal mortification used to be universal!” Wauck says. “Until fairly recently, pretty much all religious orders did it. Mother Teresa’s nuns still do. It’s not something unique to Opus Dei. We just didn’t abandon it.”
Wauck, who does not seem all that conservative for a member of Opus Dei – at one point, he asks excitedly if I’ve read Eminent Hipsters, the new memoir by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan – nonetheless downplays the pope’s call for a truce in the culture wars. “I certainly have no problem at all with anything the pope says,” he tells me. “I do think there has been a bit of selective reading. People are emphasizing certain things and forgetting other things that he also said.” For instance, Wauck points out that the pope often speaks about the devil, “much more than I ever remember Benedict doing.” Likewise, he notes that Francis’ comments about the church’s obsession with gay marriage and abortion did not propose any real doctrinal changes. “The pope never said those issues weren’t important,” Wauck says. “He said that when we talk about these things, we have to talk about them in a context. And who would disagree with that? So when people are trying to figure out what kind of guy is this, you have to hear all the bells, not just the ones that sound like, ‘Oh, he’s going to change everything.'”