(A) note to American Catholic 'neoconservatives', with their endless excuses and inventive ways of telling themselves, and others, that nothing has really changed in the Church's direction since 2013.
Stop pretending that nothing has really changed. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot celebrate the appointment of "conservative" prelates to a handful of mid-level sees as proof that the Franciscan papacy is an extension of that of Benedict XVI, yet pretend that this appointment, the looming defenestration of Cardinal Burke, and many other previous appointments on the same or greater level of influence, mean nothing. It is delusional to celebrate minor appointments and victories as indicators of "continuity", then react to major developments with the attitude that "my faith does not depend on what Pope Francis does". No one's faith should depend on the motions of ecclesiastical politics, but all the same, these actions will have its effect on the faith of millions for years and years to come. You know this: otherwise you would not feel the need for excuses.
"But bishop so-and-so has always been sound and orthodox when necessary!" But as anyone knows, what matters in the "culture wars" is not what one professes to "personally" believe, but how one acts, speaks, and sets his tone in the public square. The reality is that, more than words, actions and tone are a greater indication of what one truly believes, or holds dear and worth defending.
If you do not wish to say anything that can be seen as critical of Pope Francis, fine. But at least stop fooling yourselves, and others, that there has been no real change in direction in the Church. Shoring up morale and keeping up appearances for the sake of the culture wars are not enough reasons to lie about the truth.
We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.