The "Francis Effect" has been embraced widely by Catholics, though not all of them. A chief concern on the doubters’ end, it appears, is that Pope Francis’ candid, hands-on style is too radical.
Perhaps they were fonder of Benedict XVI, one of the great modern Catholic theologians. Then again, Benedict had his share of critics as well, being overly traditional for some tastes.
Going back a bit further in time, how about the firestorm ignited by John XXIII after he called for the Second Vatican Council? Or when Paul VI released Humanae Vitae? Didn’t uncertainty swirl when John Paul II became the sudden successor to John Paul I, who died 33 days into his pontificate? Heck, the new guy wasn’t even Italian.
Well, somehow that Polish pope managed to achieve sainthood. So did John XXIII. I guess a few folks must have thought they did an OK job.
All these men, I feel, warrant admiration for what they brought to the papacy. I see no evidence from any — whether I easily accepted all of their viewpoints or not — that their decision-making was for anything other than the good of the Catholic Church. Along those lines, I have enough faith in the College of Cardinals that they can identify a person who is good and holy enough to be the human liaison between us and God.
Granted, popes are human and therefore capable of sin and mistake-making. But I think we sometimes get so caught up in assigning labels to these leaders, and debating their words, actions and ideologies, that we casually dismiss the fact that these are exceptional men who love Jesus Christ, love humanity and are doing what they feel is necessary to keep our church vibrant well into the future.