I remember the words of Fr. Leonardo Castellani, a prophet of our times who told us that a significant part of the Church would fornicate spiritually with the world during the End Times. That is not necessarily becoming like the world but also allowing our reckless actions to be used against the Church. That was the sin of Uzziah, the man who put his hand over the Ark of the Covenant to stop it from toppling over. That action resulted in his death. It was forbidden to get near, let alone touch, the Ark. We must endure our times obediently. This will not last forever. At the same time we must pray for our pastors and for those who, like Uzziah, believe they have the duty to steer the Church from where they are standing forgetting the fact that it’s the business of Heaven to guide and preserve our Church.
Peter walked a few steps towards the Lord but he doubted and sank. I always thought that was an allegory, sort of a prophetical representation of what the heads of the Church would do towards the end of time when the Lord, approaching them would ask them to keep their eyes fixed on Him. If we see the Pope in a similar situation today, be assured that he will be promptly rescued and he will not sink. “And I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail.” (Luke 22:32) The One praying is just and the prayers of the Just are always heard by the Father. That is guaranteed although sometimes we don’t understand the ways in which God answers those prayers.
In the end I think every man will fail and God will be faithful. A quote from Fr. Rutler balances what I just said with a counterpoint view:
“What God knows is not necessarily what God wills. Each pope is guaranteed the protection of the Holy Spirit from fallible definitions of faith and morals, but to suppose that each pope is there because God wants him there, including the unworthy successors of Peter, comes close to the unforgivable blasphemy against the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.”
Peter is a free man — with a tiny exception made for his teaching — and all of his successors can fail and even make fools of themselves as much as the original Peter did. Peter is flesh and blood. God’s grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in Peter’s weakness. Peter’s weakness — just as it was in Gennesaret — is a place of encounter with God for us. We must trust that the Church is the Temple of the Living God, a place to be with God while we walk our pilgrimage here on earth.
Pope Francis’ faith will not fail. His conduct may irk some of us, his comments may be confusing at times, he may be guilty of a socially awkward faux pas but in the end Francis is the Pope, one of us fallible men trusted with an infallible charism under God’s watch.
Here comes Jesus walking on the waves of the sea. Keep your eyes fixed in His eyes and trust. This is no time to look at the depths or to listen to the roaring winds around us. We’re safe, the Lord is here.
Non abbiate paura! Have no fear! (John Paul II, October 22, 1978).