Time magazine asked me to write something for its website on Pope Francis. I tried to think of something nobody else had said. Is there anything by now? Probably not. What I settled on was writing something contrary to the meme going around that fallen-away Catholics are thinking of returning to the Church now that there’s a nice guy on the Petrine throne, not God’s Rottweiler. As an admirer and fellow traveler (though a fallen-away one) of Benedict, I think that’s a nonsense distinction, but anyway, I wanted to point out that the supposed heartless rigor of the John Paul/Benedict church was not only a mirage, but rather the lack of moral rigor and spiritual seriousness in the life of the Americna church was a contributing factor to the loss of my own Catholic faith.

Here’s the essay. I want to add for readers of this blog something that I didn’t get into in the Time essay, because it was already too long: that the primary reason I’m not a candidate for returning to Rome is because I simply do not believe Catholic doctrine any longer. If I had the essay to write over, I would have added these lines:

To be sure, the primary reason I’m not for turning back to Rome is because I do not believe Catholic doctrine any longer. Even if I thought Francis was the second coming of John the Baptist, I couldn’t rejoin a church in whose ecclesiological claims I have ceased to believe. The point here is simply that the aspect of Francis’s papal ministry that the world sees as a feature is, for people like me, a bug.

Anyway, read the whole thing. I’m happy to publish criticism in the comments thread, but not abuse.