Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sept. 11, 2013. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

Whom should I believe?

By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

I was grateful for a recent online article in which Cardinal Charles Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia, spelled out his position on adhering to the faith, because I identify with much of what he said. But Pope Francis also has said a great many things, especially with regard to mercy, that I embrace.

Trouble is, in the world of the Catholic intelligentsia, these two men are portrayed as opponents who represent the “conservative” and “liberal” dichotomy in the church, implying that the rest of us must decide which of those two men to believe, and which to reject.

I prefer to believe that, through these men, God is revealing both sides of the coin of truth. That forces “the rest of us” – all 1.2 billion Catholics – to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying through these men and then to make God’s truths evident in our lives. Both men have made important statements that force me to think anew about my Christian (not merely Catholic) faith. And that, I think, is God’s objective.

Too often we Christians act as if we know what we know, and we refuse to be moved, either emotionally or intellectually. But when confronted by conflicts we should ask God to reveal his truth amid the words of mere men. As I ask this of God I am tremendously encouraged because, in the process, I draw closer to God, which is what both Francis and Chaput want.

All God’s blessings – Mark

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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