It is a now familiar picture: the Pope who shifts the blame on to others ("I was poorly informed"); the Pope who contradicts himself; who says different things to different people. The recent account of PF's dealings with the Argentine military dictatorship is unsubstantiated but terrifyingly circumstantial and unnervingly fits in with many compelling reconstructions of his character.
We have a Pope who, in any sort of Mess, takes easy and facile refuge in Fictive Narratives.
Many of us have felt driven to differ from PF's views on basically important matters of Faith and Morals. Nevertheless, he and we are fellow-Christians with all that this implies about our common life together in Christ's Body the Church.
But how easy is it to do any sort of meaningful business with a Roman Pontiff the integrity of whose word looks increasingly implausible? Or with his public apologists?
Any sort of business other than waiting for these terrible days to pass.