Somewhere in the avalanche of articles and blog posts about The Big Interview, a writer I don’t remember chose to emphasize this passage:
“The dicasteries of the Roman Curia are at the service of the pope and the bishops,” he says. “They must help both the particular churches and the bishops’ conferences. They are instruments of help. In some cases, however, when they are not functioning well, they run the risk of becoming institutions of censorship. It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally. The Roman congregations are mediators; they are not middlemen or managers.”
Indeed, this is an astonishing statement. These appeals go to Rome, presumably, because the bishops are already unresponsive. Often enough the bishops themselves are enabling and even promulgating the “lack of orthodoxy” (i.e., heresy). And now he wants turn these cases back over to the bishops? What is this but a total abdication of Rome’s responsibility to guard the deposit of Faith? Tragically and inexplicably, Pope Francis is more worried about “censorship” than heresy.
For decades now, the only thing that kept many Catholics going in chronically bad parishes was the knowledge that, at least, there was pope in Rome who “had their backs”. Well, they’ve just been cut loose. We’ve all been cut loose. Pope Francis is right about one thing: we’re all going to need to learn “new ways” of being Catholic under this pontificate.