If the attitudes and actions of fanatical supporters of Amoris Laetitia were the sole gauge of its merit, Pope Francis could be accused of creating an unnecessary or false dichotomy between theology and practice, a rift between truth and mercy capable of destroying the faith of Catholics. Francis' apparent refusal to respond to the dubia of the four Cardinals is puzzling and, to some, a dereliction of duty. In light of Francis' call for open and forthright debate, he has on more than one occasion demonstrated little respect for the worthy counsel of the faithful. He has shut down debate on serious matters and permitted loose play with doctrine. His papal audiences are too often theologically awkward, occasionally circus-like, and frequently demonstrate a defensive tone. How is his example an appropriate one for the Keeper of the Keys?
Is it condescending or imprecise to suggest that, while Pope Francis tries so very hard to model the love of Christ, his seemingly generous acts of deference and mercy toward the poorest and most vulnerable seem forced at times, staged even? His seemingly spontaneous departures from protocol (that delight dissidents and "progressives") seem telegraphed, as if he is more concerned about a favourable media response than the right formation of the faithful.
At times, Pope Francis seems to contradict the very mission of the Church, i.e., the mission to evangelize in the Name of Jesus for the salvation of souls. His reliance on theologically compromised sources is naive. If news reports have been accurate, he has frequently criticized efforts by mission-minded Catholics to persuade people that, if they want to enjoy eternal love and joy, they should embrace the Truth of the Catholic Faith. What are we if not evangelizers ready to give reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15)?
Why ask the above questions? Pope Francis himself has asked for our prayers. All Catholics should not shy away from our obligation to pray for the Pope. He is our spiritual father and the chief shepherd of Jesus' Church on earth. Francis is answerable to God Almighty for every word he speaks and every deed he commits. He needs the truth spoken in love to him, as we all do from time to time, even if the truth stings a bit. His cardinals, at least the brave ones, have reminded him of the dignity of his office. Would it be such a terrible thing if he were to issue a simple affirmation of the Apostolic Faith confirming the brethren in the continuous teaching and practice of the Church regarding Holy Communion?