In the worldwide family that is the Catholic Church, the best means of intervention is always prayer. Intense prayer for the Holy Father would be a particularly apt project for the season of Lent. But intervention also requires honesty: a candid recognition that we have a serious problem.
Recognizing the problem can also provide a sort of relief, a relaxation of accumulating tensions. When I tell friends that I consider this papacy a disaster, I notice that more often than not, they feel oddly reassured. They can relax a bit, knowing that their own misgivings are not irrational, that others share their fears about the future of the faith, that they need not continue a fruitless search for ways to reconcile the irreconciliable. Moreover, having given the problem a proper name, they can recognize what this crisis of Catholicism is not. Pope Francis is not an antipope, much less the Antichrist. The See of Peter is not vacant, and Benedict is not the “real” Pontiff.
Francis is our Pope, for better or worse. And if it is for worse—as I sadly conclude it is—the Church has survived bad Popes in the past. We Catholics have been spoiled for decades, enjoying a succession of outstanding Vatican leaders: Pontiffs who were gifted teachers and saintly men. We have grown accustomed to looking to Rome for guidance. Now we cannot.