A Daily Telegraph article - and there will be many like this - attempts to pit Pope Francis against the Catholic Church. In these analyses, Francis is the great 'enlightened one', the great 'moderniser' (think Tony Blair, the Labour Party and Clause 4 or David Cameron, the Tories and 'gay marriage') and the Church is out-dated, unfair, unenlightened, even evil. Even Catholics - perhaps even Cardinals and Popes - continue to believe the Church is a political entity or Party.
It is not. Let's be clear about this. If Pope Francis desires to tamper with, dilute, modify, edit or remove the doctrine of the Church for the sake of 'pastoral necessity', or even wishes to ignore the Church's teachings then the situation is not merely one of Francis Vs Church. The Church and Christ are one. If Francis is attempting to do any of the above then he isn't 'taking on' merely the Church as an institution, but is seeking confrontation with - rather than the imitation of - Christ Himself. The Pope is called to stand 'in the place of' Christ on Earth, not to 'stand in his way'.
The Church offers the 'True Image' of Christ: The Church teaches
the fullness of truth.
If Pope Francis really believes he is more 'merciful' than Jesus Christ, more 'pastoral' than Jesus Christ, more 'humble and compassionate' than Jesus Christ to the point that the teachings of Christ, even those teachings recorded in Holy Scripture concerning adultery, are no longer 'relevant' or can be dismissed as 'obsolete', then he is seeking emnity with Our Lord Jesus Christ - God Himself.
Of course, we're not certain that this is the case because as Cardinal Burke noted, a statement defending the timeless - yes, timeless (read: true in any age, including this one and all to come) - teachings of the Church is "long overdue". The suspicion has been aroused however, that Pope Francis is permitting everything to be discussed in the manner that it has because nothing (heresy, blasphemy, error) can offend him, even if Our Lord is offended. Suspicion has been aroused that the Synod didn't go according to plan because the resulting votes were not liberal enough!
The suspicion has been aroused that it was not Peter's faith which was firm and rock-like, but that of the Bishops and Cardinals who said no to the (renaissance?) Prince of Princes orchestrating things behind the scenes to go the way of Cardinal Kasper - the way of those who think that Christ's teachings are no longer important for the Church.
You cannot be anti-Church teachings and pro-Christ. You can only be anti-Church teachings and anti-Christ. You can say that the Church is full of wicked sinners. You can say bishops and Cardinals are corrupt and depraved. You can say priests are often terrible priests. You can say that the laity are lukewarm and adulterous. You can say the whole of the Church is seemingly black, but you cannot say She is not beautiful. She is beautiful because she is the Bride of Christ and in Her teachings she can never err, not yesterday, not nearly 2,000 years ago, not nearly 1,000 years ago, not today, not now, not ever. She was always intended to stand in contradiction to, not in agreement with, the World.
The Church is sanctified by Christ, nourished by Christ. It is Christ's Church. It is not the possession of the Pope. If in the Church at the present time there were only a thousand Saints and the rest of the Church were dreadful sinners the Church would still be Holy. If in the Church there one Saint and the rest of the Church were dreadful sinners the Church would still be Holy. If there were no Saints in the Church today on Earth the Church would still be Holy and inerrant in Her teaching because the Holy Spirit has been given to the Church to vouchsafe Her and stamp the words '100% TRUE' on all Her Teachings, even those which did not come from the mouth of the Son of God while He walked the Earth.
If a layman cannot sign, 'I agree' at the end of the Catechism of the Catholic Church he places himself at emnity, not in friendship, with Jesus Christ. If a bishop or even the Bishop of Rome cannot do the same, according to the Faith of the Church, he too, like the layman, ceases to be a Catholic. Yes, in this sense, in the Catholic Church, we have always had equality. If a Pope contradicts the Teachings of the Church, or places himself at emnity with the words of Jesus Christ, he can be as heretical as a lay man who does the same and the fact that he is a Pope and is placed in great authority over the Church makes no difference to this truth. Not. One. Bit.
So if ever a Pope arrives who teaches in such manner that he thinks he knows better than Jesus Christ what to teach the children of God, then remember that if in conscience you wouldn't accept these same words from me, or Austen Ivereigh, because we are lay men, that you don't have to accept them from the Pope either because nobody - not even the Pope - knows better than Almighty God Who has vouchsafed to grant to the Catholic Church the fullness of Truth. Each Pope is servant of the Truth, not master of it. That was true of Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We hope and pray that Francis will adopt their humble attitude towards Jesus Christ and the Church from which He can never be separated, since the Bride and the Bridegroom can never be divorced, for what God has joined together, let no man put asunder!