Francis Is Peter

A few readers have mentioned that our editorial policy seems to deflect criticism of the Holy Father, and seems to support his “agenda” without clarification. This is an accusation of what is called historically and theologically “Ultramontanism,” “a strong emphasis on papal authority and on centralization of the Church. The word identified those northern European members of the Church who regularly looked southward beyond the Alps (that is, to the popes of Rome) for guidance.”

The answer to this accusation is yes, we support the pope. We are Catholic people. We, as a Catholic people, need to have a respect for the office of the pope. The Lord Jesus, as detailed in Matthew 16, appointed Simon Peter to be the one who is the holder of the Keys of the Kingdom, and Sacred Tradition, a source of Divine Revelation, teaches us that the power of Peter is continued in the legitimate succession of those men elected to fulfill in charity the work of Peter.

Peter, in our modern world, is Francis, just as he was known as Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013 and John Paul II from 1978 to 2005.

Pope Francis is the legitimately elected pontiff and we trust, as a matter of faith, that his election in March 2013 was guided by the Holy Spirit. This is not simply a pietism or an over-romanticism. We firmly hold that the Lord, the Giver of Life, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, prompts all of the cardinals in the conclave to cast their vote for what they discern as the good of the Church. We hold that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, and despite the failings of the men who elect, somehow God is in charge of it all. We have the guarantee from Our Lord that we are built on solid rock, and that even hell itself will never prevail.

This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been popes who have been terrible leaders. This doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t be made. The Church, as the Body of Christ, as the People of God, reminds us, is sinless in herself; however, we men and women who make up the Church, we are sinners.

Our support of Pope Francis is a deep and abiding trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church and for the Office of the Papacy. It is essential to give respect, a heart willing to be open, and a ear willing to listen to Peter, now known as Francis. To do so is an act of faith, of hope and of charity, those great theological virtues.