Many on the conservative side of the Church may be a tad fearful of Pope Francis as he wanders all over the place in his interviews, and then being designated Person of the Year by Time Magazine, a bastion of liberalism, well, what is going on here?
The Lord protects Peter from leading the Church into error, though individual popes may, do, and have, made errors galore; for they are after all, human, as is the institutional Church; but the real Church, the Church underneath the institutional Church, the Church enthroned in the great and majestic proclamations of the two universal Catechisms: Trent and Vatican II, the Church embodied in the pure hearts of the faithful; the Church expressed in Holy Scripture and Ancient Tradition; the Church of the Saints; the Church Christ promised would not fall, even should the Gates of Hell prevail upon her; the real Church stands as bright and pure as it was born of Christ.
We are part of the Church, with our Rosary beads, our nightly prayers, our sacramental living, whether departed saint, living laity, religious, priest, bishop or pope; it is our faith and our striving to live good and devout lives which form the foundation, the great Cathedral in time, upon which, within which, the Church stands and evolves.
As the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, from Vatican II teaches us:
“This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.” (#8)
“It follows that though there are many nations there is but one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature. All the faithful, scattered though they be throughout the world, are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit, and so, he who dwells in Rome knows that the people of India are his members”. Since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world the Church or people of God in establishing that kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes to itself, insofar as they are good, the ability, riches and customs in which the genius of each people expresses itself. Taking them to itself it purifies, strengthens, elevates and ennobles them. The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance, and to whose city they bring gifts and offerings.” (#13)