Tyranny of Liberalism 4
Three Observations on the Pope's Interview

Groan

I really do want to like this pope. And I really do like many of the things he's said (I especially loved the remark that shepherds should smell like their sheep). But his admirers in the secular media are making it difficult. I know, they always distort things where the Church is concerned, and he can't be held responsible for that. But I'm not simply being reactionary. I really have my doubts as to whether these apparent efforts on his part to take attention away from the more difficult questions will have the effect of drawing people in, or will simply encourage the Church's enemies.

And there's also, of course, the implicit rebuke--not only from the media, but imputed to Francis as well--to the past two popes.  It is massively unfair, at least--if not actively dishonest--to suggest that either of them "focused" on "gays and abortion." It is the sort of calumny (like "pro-lifers never do anything to help pregnant women") that makes me see red on behalf of the calumniated.

Groan

I have not actually read the interview yet, btw (it's here). And I have to admit, with much embarrassment, that I haven't even read Lumen Fidei yet.

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The money quote is this:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

Fairly bland.

--

A truly problematic quotation is this:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

Sorry, evasions are not good teaching. You answer questions with questions and people mistake you for a psychotherapist ca. 1973. They were not worthwhile people with whom to converse.

This is the line that seems to be what's getting the biggest play in the MSM:

The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

For example, at NPR, the AP press release:

Signaling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by "small-minded rules" about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.

The pope's remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls.


"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."

Argh. This is not much short of appalling coming from the pope. When or where has the Church "insisted only" on these matters? Or maybe I should ask what church he's referring to, because it doesn't seem to be the Roman Catholic. I mean really...the only reason these are the big deal that they are is because we are constantly attacked on them and forced to defend ourselves.

It's really too bad, because the rest of that paragraph is fine, especially the need to talk about these things in context.

More later.

And I agree that the answer to the question about homosexuality is an evasion. Yet this is so good: "In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy."

I did sorta laugh at the next sentence, though: "When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing." It made me think of J.F. Powers's short story, "Prince of Darkness." There's a painful scene in the confessional where the priest is most definitely not inspired by the Holy Spirit. But then you could say that in that instance the "When that happens" part did not occur.

Surely a huge part of the intellectual labour of John Paul II's papacy was directed toward providing a context for those unpopular teachings. The idea that the Church has been talking about them without context is not true. (It is true that the MSM has not been listening to the context.)

Right, it's just not. And for him to talk like this only encourages the people who say we shouldn't talk about them at all, at least not until we've created a utopia of social justice as understood by liberals.

And Marianne, the thing you cite is more of the same. I'm afraid the effect of this is going to be more, not less, divisiveness. He seems to want the Church to make the outward turn that I've anticipated and hoped for, but he may be doing it in a way that may undermine it, by setting us to fighting among ourselves again. In the thing you linked to, New Ways Ministry says it's a "new dawn."

I say again, [groan].

Thankyou, Maclin, you have expressed my exact concerns about this which I was unable to formulate properly.

I really have my doubts as to whether these apparent efforts on his part to take attention away from the more difficult questions will have the effect of drawing people in, or will simply encourage the Church's enemies.

I think I'm fairly sure that - barring a miracle - the latter will happen, not the former. I hope I'm wrong, however.

And the main reason, perhaps the only reason that the Church is so active in opposing the evils mentioned is because of The Great Heresy - Secularism/Liberalism which seeks to destroy the whole Church - it's teachings on Faith and Morals.

Does the Pope think we should be quiet about the evils which are being daily perpetrated in our societies?

If you can bear to read it, Andrew Sullivan's take is here. As expected, he does his best to tear down Benedict:

I can barely believe that these words – so redolent of Jesus’ – are coming from the new Bishop of Rome, after so long an absence. Although the Pope is unfailingly respectful of his predecessor, let no one doubt the sharpness of Francis’ turn away from the dead end of Benedict. His message is as different as the context. Where Benedict, draped in ornate vestments, spoke from the grand edifice of the Vatican, Francis is in the same simple hostel in which he was ensconced during the Papal Conclave.

and John Paul II as well:

This profound mystery – that as soon as we claim certainty about the nature of God, we have lost the meaning of the nature of God – is at the heart of a Christian’s openness to the divine. Now think of this in contrast to the unrelenting fixation of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on enforcing total uniformity in even the tiniest details of sometimes esoteric doctrine, to banish debate entirely, to assert with more and more rigidity the impermissibility of dissent or doubt among the people of God. In the end, that rigidity is a neurosis, not a living faith.

Such lies, such hatred of two men who have meant so much to me is the most painful thing for me about all this.

If you can bear to read it, Andrew Sullivan's take is here. As expected, he does his best to tear down Benedict:

I can barely believe that these words – so redolent of Jesus’ – are coming from the new Bishop of Rome, after so long an absence. Although the Pope is unfailingly respectful of his predecessor, let no one doubt the sharpness of Francis’ turn away from the dead end of Benedict. His message is as different as the context. Where Benedict, draped in ornate vestments, spoke from the grand edifice of the Vatican, Francis is in the same simple hostel in which he was ensconced during the Papal Conclave.

and John Paul II as well:

This profound mystery – that as soon as we claim certainty about the nature of God, we have lost the meaning of the nature of God – is at the heart of a Christian’s openness to the divine. Now think of this in contrast to the unrelenting fixation of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on enforcing total uniformity in even the tiniest details of sometimes esoteric doctrine, to banish debate entirely, to assert with more and more rigidity the impermissibility of dissent or doubt among the people of God. In the end, that rigidity is a neurosis, not a living faith.

Such lies, such hatred of two men who have meant so much to me is the most painful thing for me about all this.

Such lies, such hatred of two men who have meant so much to me is the most painful thing for me about all this.

I agree.

I agree, too. I once respected Andrew Sullivan. I don't think I'll read the piece--those two paragraphs are more than enough

It's difficult to keep myself from associating those views with Francis himself. I certainly hope that he is not aware of the way some of his statements come across, of how they will be received by those who do not wish the Church well, still less that he intends to disparage his predecessors.

It's hardly the last word, but it's not encouraging for the outreach that in most of the reader comments on secular news sites I've seen, the general view seems to be not "Hmm, I'd like to find out more about this," but "Maybe those lunatics are finally coming around."

I've read about half the interview now, and there really are some very good things in it. But that thing about the infallibility of the people is liable to do some mischief. He qualifies it but in a rather vague way.

Must try not to be too negative.

Well, I rather enjoyed reading this take. You might like it too, Maclin.

http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/index.html#3971607606168524913

Catholic memes on FB pointed out that the pope is saying we need to talk less about abortion and gays, so the headlines are all about abortion and gays! :P

heh.

I just read the section called "The Church as Field Hospital," and most of it is really fine. It's where some of the remarks that have caused the rather crazed talk from the media occur, and in context they're not so bad. The thing about " only on issues related to abortion" still rubs me a little wrong. It's a worthwhile admonishment to certain parties within the Church, but to suggest that the Church as a whole is guilty of it seems unfair to me. And especially to accuse Benedict and JP of it. Which Francis does not do, but people are inevitably taking it that way.

Just read that New Liturgical Movement piece, Louise. Excellent.

Yes, I thought it was really helpful, because I really have had the same reactions to the interview which you described.

I just read the section called "The Church as Field Hospital," and most of it is really fine.

I really liked that too.

The thing about "only on issues related to abortion" still rubs me a little wrong. It's a worthwhile admonishment to certain parties within the Church, but to suggest that the Church as a whole is guilty of it seems unfair to me. And especially to accuse Benedict and JP of it. Which Francis does not do, but people are inevitably taking it that way.

I agree.

From your post:
It is the sort of calumny (like "pro-lifers never do anything to help pregnant women") that makes me see red on behalf of the calumniated.

This really resonated with me.

And I often like to point out that the Church (meaning everything from the pope to the average pew-warmer) is always talking about (and doing) all kinds of things, but all anyone hears is the stuff related to sex. Now that is basically the problem of the listener, not the Church.

The slam on pro-lifers really, really irritates me. It's always put forth as a bald and usually rather feverish assertion without any evidence whatsoever.

"problem of the listener"--yes, and that makes me think of something I saw on Facebook this morning:

"attack attack ATTACK!!!"

"Defend."

"Gosh, you seem angry."

The slam on pro-lifers really, really irritates me. It's always put forth as a bald and usually rather feverish assertion without any evidence whatsoever.

Yep. The simplest thing is to ask "how do you know?" I know that I and a lot of other pro-lifers at least donate to various pregnancy support agencies and the like.

"attack attack ATTACK!!!"

"Defend."

"Gosh, you seem angry."

Well that right there seems to sum it up.

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