Mary Ellen Barringer, a Silver Spring resident who attends Mass daily, says she misses Benedict “desperately.” Right away, she said, Francis challenged all Catholics to do more . She felt him saying to people like her: Writing checks to pro-life causes isn’t enough, you need to get closer to the disenfranchised and the poor. She felt him telling her she was being smug about less traditional Catholics. . . .
“Maybe Pope Francis is calling me to love someone whose views I don’t like. And how much better would the world be if we got over all this.”
Gregory Popcak, a marriage and family counselor on the radio and in private practice in Ohio, describes being sent deep into prayer after several clients used Francis’s public words to push back on Popcak when he explained church teachings on sex and love. One client recently quit, saying, “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic,” he recalled.
First, he felt frustrated, then ashamed.
The story of the prodigal son came to him, and he saw in himself the good son. “The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do, ,” Popcak wrote in a recent online essay that prompted dozens of people to share similar sentiments. “People who left the Church, who hated the Church . . . were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.”