I feel distinctly sorry for our beloved Holy Father, who is subject to much criticism for a Holy Family homily in which he appeared to some readers to suggest that the Incarnate Word was a naughty boy. I think I know what he was driving at. The Holy Family are easily perceived as remote and stylised static figures in stained glass, or as faded and peeling plaster statues in a cheap Victorian Gothic reredos. The pope wanted to bring them down out of all that and to inject some vividness into them and to relate them to the experienced realities of ordinary family life ... so as to enable ordinary families to relate to the Holy Family. That is a very admirable motive and does enormous credit to his great pastoral heart.
Unfortunately, however, words do have meanings.
In terms of biblical exegesis, I have grave doubts about Papa Bergoglio's analysis. The Lucan pericope of the Finding in the Temple seems to me another (albeit brief) example of a very common literary pattern in the Gospels: a topic or a dispute is raised; there are questions and answers; and the Logos Sesarkomenos delivers a final and authoritative judgement. Francis' exegesis, therefore, seems to me to be based on a genre error.
But are the Sovereign Pontiff's words Nestorian? I refer you to the analysis offered by Father Zed. In a rather striking coincidence, Professor de Mattei (on Rorate) had just published a paper on a heretic pope, Honorius, who did have to be anathematised by a Ecumenical Council and by his own successors in the See of Rome. See my post of three or four days ago.
I would add one point: I think the Holy Father's words prima facie also risk undermining the doctrine of the sinlessness of the Man who is also the Second Person of the Holy and Undivided Trinity; who is "like us in all things except for sin". Good heavens, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has gone to enormous lengths for centuries to refine and formulate her doctrinal belief in the Sinlessness of Blessed Mary. She has not taken so much trouble just so as render the Sinlessness of our Lord and God Himself an irrelevant and disposable minor detail!
Early in this pontificate I expressed a view that the Roman Pontiff ought not to make public statements ... especially statements broadcast Orbi as well as Urbi in a variety of languages through the Vatican Information Services ... without those statements having been checked through by the competent organs of his Curia. That is what they are for. Leo X may have said "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it". But he is usually criticised for entertaining such a sentiment. And exactly the same error would be imputable to a pope who in any way used his august Office so as to minister to his own idiosyncasies, his personal whimsies. The Roman Pontiff is not an individual, or certainly not an individual like any other. He is the living voice of the Petrine Tradition of his See; of the pontiffs and councils who have for two millennia transmitted and guarded and laid out the sound doctrine handed down from the Apostles*. Pope Francis' conduct, I anxiously feel, might undermine the authority of his Office.
If he talks like this today, how can I read what he may say tomorrow in the practical and humble moral certainty that his words are sent to me as from God for my edification and sanctification?
*Neque enim Petri successoribus Spiritus Sanctus promissus est, ut eo revelante novam doctrinam patefacerent, sed ut, eo assistente, traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodirent et fideliter exponerent.