In an interview with John Allen of Crux, Chicago’s retiring Cardinal Francis George acknowledges that some Catholics may indeed be anxious about Pope Francis since, he says, “If you don’t push it, he does seem to bring into question well-received doctrinal teaching.”
The pope, said Cardinal George, expresses sympathy “in a way that leaves people wondering if he still holds the doctrine.” But, added the cardinal, “I have no reason to believe that he doesn’t.”
Speaking of the pope’s controversial remarks around homosexuality, especially the “constantly misused phrase ‘Who am I to judge,’” Cardinal George said:
The question is raised, why doesn’t he himself clarify these things? Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear that burden of trying to put the best possible face on it? Does he not realize the consequences of some of his statements, or even some of his actions? Does he not realize the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t. I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise these doubts in people’s minds.
Cardinal George revealed that American bishops had already gone to Rome to express concerns over the Holy Father’s statements. The retiring Cardinal said that the “big question” he had for the pope if he could speak with him was to ask who is advising the pope. Or as it was relayed in the initial launch of John Allen’s interview teaser: “Obviously he’s getting input from somewhere,” George said. “Much of it he collects himself, but I’d love to know who’s truly shaping his thinking.”
Concerning such a meeting with Francis, George also told Allen,
Obviously, I think we’re very different people. I always felt a natural sympathy with Cardinal Wojtyla, with John Paul II … a very deep sympathy, on my part anyway. He had that capacity to do that with thousands of people. With Cardinal Ratzinger, there was a distance but also a deep respect. I don’t know Pope Francis well enough. I certainly respect him as pope, but there isn’t yet an understanding of, ‘What are you doing here?’”
See the full interview with John Allen on Crux here.