Pope Francis has done and said things that have challenged the faith of many Catholics. Some people have even jumped ship and taken refuge in Eastern Orthodoxy or sedevacantism.
Catholics who stay on the ship of St. Peter may feel uneasy. If you or someone you know has been tempted to leave the Church because of Pope Francis, here are some reasons to stay.
The Church has had many bad popes (some worse than Francis).
For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has gotten by with 266 popes. There are those who did unspeakable evil, like Benedict IX, who purportedly hosted orgies. Pope Alexander VI fathered children through his mistresses.
Thankfully, we’ve had many good popes, but relatively few have been declared saints. John Paul II left a lasting mark on the modern papacy and it’s hard for any pope to avoid comparison to him.
Pope Francis isn’t perfect, but so far he hasn’t risen to the scandals of some earlier popes. If we stayed in the Church despite those earlier figures, we shouldn’t leave now.
Be careful about making the pope more than he is.
Christ is the head of the Church and the pope is his vicar. The pope’s authority comes from his office and not his person. Modern media has elevated the pope’s visibility. Throughout most of Church history, the average Catholic didn’t know what the pope looked like and may not have even known his name.
Pope St. John Paul II had a big personality and did much good through it, but there is always the risk of expecting too much from a pope. He is a human sinner like the rest of us.
Don’t ignore the good that Pope Francis has accomplished.
Pope Francis has his issues, but don’t let this overshadow the gifts he has brought to the Church. Take Amoris Laetitia — yes, the document with the highly controversial footnote on divorce. People have almost solely focused on that footnote and ignored the first seven chapters, where the pope quotes generously his predecessors such as Pius XI and presents a beautiful reflection on married love.
There is no good reason to leave the Church over Pope Francis. Instead, redouble your prayers for the Holy Father. He carries the weight of the worldwide Church on his shoulders and needs your spiritual support!