There’s a lot of chatter on Catholic social media about how the faithful feel confused these days. Some goodhearted, ordinary church members may feel confusion as the result of smear tactics promulgated by from well-funded campaigns of those who oppose Pope Francis from within the Church.
Wealthy politically well-connected bankrollers and their allies at Catholic universities amplify an anti-Francis signal. Much of the prattle is sent from “Catholic” media companies dedicated to derailing Pope Francis.
Disgraced former papal nuncio Viganò falsely accused the pope of corruption, and called for him to resign. Published by a prominent Catholic media network, some bishops accepted the slander and threw in their lot with the discredited Archbishop.
Daily, anonymous social media accounts with Latin names and crusader avatars spread anti-papal gossip.
All of this slander certainly contributes to the confusion some of the faithful may be experiencing.
Others may be confused because of the era we live in. Political upheaval, mass migration, and climate change are leaving many of us bewildered. It should not be confusing, though, when Pope Francis calls for an end to corruption, prioritizing migrants, and addressing economic causes of the climate crisis as issues integral to the Gospel.
Faith itself can be confusing, especially if we have been taught to believe that God will reward you if you do everything “right.” Coming out of that naïve place and into a more mature one can be unsettling. The upright man Job found his life upended when he lost his possessions, family, and health. Yet in his perseverance, he came to a more profound faith.
Even St. Paul experienced the confusion of faith. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2Corinthians 4:8).
Feeling confused is not a sin. If you are a confused Catholic, you should look to the pope because “Christ appointed St. Peter and his successors to be the guarantor of the unity and orthodoxy of the Catholic Church…One cannot dissent from the Pope’s official teachings without violating the requirements of the Catholic faith.”
St. Paul himself sought the blessing of St. Peter in order to resolve a confusing situation. We read about it in Acts 15.
The Catechism teaches, “The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.’” (CCC, 882)
As the successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis is the personal guarantor of the deposit of faith. The church is built upon St. Peter and his successors, and the gates of hell shall not prevail because Pope Francis is not confused.