Thank you for your most thoughtful question.
It is difficult these days to balance respect for office of the papacy and the necessary critique of the often blatantly errant and destructive statements made by Pope Francis. Your respect for this office is most evident. Still I believe the time for trying to explain away his missteps is over. This is not the first time he has left a trail of confusion and error; it is a consistent pattern with him.
We could say that the office of the papacy was established by Christ to bring unity and clarity to the Church, as Jesus gave Peter the commission to strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31) and likewise the charism of infallibility in defining matters of faith and morals.
Sadly, however, the hallmarks of this papacy seem to be division and obscurity. There have been ample opportunities for Francis to clarify dubious or confusing statements he has made in either speech or document, but he cynically refuses to do so, which belies an attitude of contempt and indifference to the spiritual welfare of the Church. I realize this is a harsh analysis, but I find it impossible to sugarcoat anymore. There has been no show of good faith to reconcile any of the matters that have so undermined the sound doctrine of the Church.
In my opinion, as is true for many, Francis may be a good man but he is a bad pope. While I say that, I remain hopeful that, by the grace of God, he can change and become the leader the Church needs. My concern, however, is that that conversion may come in the wake of terrible things—as the third vision of Fatima seems to forbode.
Ultimately this darkness the Church is experiencing is the work of satan, and many of the hierarchy are blinded. The only way forward is:
- to pray
- adhere to sound doctrine, and
- keep the faith.
Trials are here but in the end, the Immaculate Heart will triumph.