Although Pope Francis has a global reputation as a humble, gentle pastor, those who follow him closely know he’s not averse to handing out strong criticisms when he sees fit, including throwing out insults at times to fellow Catholics. And no insult is more central to his repertoire than the term “rigid.” For Pope Francis, to be rigid is to be the worst kind of Catholic. What does it mean to be “rigid,” at least according to the pope? To be consumed with upholding tradition.
For those with a surface familiarity with the Gospels, this might appear logical: after all, Our Lord often attacked the Jewish religious leaders of his time for following the “traditions of men,” which led them to put their traditions above the real spiritual needs of the people. In other words, they were being “rigid.”
The pope seems to see it in this way, as his recent interpretation of St. Paul’s life demonstrates: