52 Authors: Week 38 - Chaim Potok
Fennesz: Transit

On the Pope's Visit

I discern a pattern in my reactions to popes in the news. I'm so irritated by the political weaponizing of everything he says or does that I pretty much have to ignore the hullabaloo while it's in progress. I've been told that his speech to Congress today was good, but I think I'll wait at least until the visit is over before I read it. Judging by the headlines I'm seeing, the political jousting is in full swing. It seems to me that if your reaction to the pope's words is to swing them at the head of your enemy, you're not quite getting the message right.

On that subject, though, one thing I did read is a piece by Emma Green in The Atlantic preparatory to the visit. The magazine is no friend to Christianity, and I don't read it (magazine or web site) very often anymore, but the title caught my eye when I saw it on Google News: "Pope Francis Is Not  'Progressive'--He's a Priest". That's not the sort of thing I expect from The Atlantic, so I took a look at it. I was not surprised to see that it was by Emma Green, as I've noticed before that when she writes about Christianity she does so with a respectable amount of knowledge and a reasonable degree of sympathy, far removed from the usual befuddled snark I expect from liberal publications. I see that she's the managing editor, so maybe the magazine is not a completely lost cause. 

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Deneen commented on this very thing a couple days ago:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2015/09/23/4318254.htm

Headline I saw yesterday: "Pope Francis Sticks It to Congress." Yeah, that's the spirit. I'm hearing secular liberals praise that speech, which makes me suspect it didn't challenge them. Sigh. I guess I'll go ahead and read it.

Donald McClarey has four posts on the speech. He was not impressed.

http://the-american-catholic.com/

The text is here

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/the-pope-speaks-to-congress

My policy with this papacy is to pray and wait it out.

Deneen's full of it.

"Deneen's full of it."

Lol. Should've known.

Well, that certainly fixes Deneen's wagon.

I read both the Congress and White House speeches. In a word, diplomatic. McClarey's view places the worst construction on them, and his view is plausible. I would like to hope that Francis's strategy is an attempt to get the opposition to lower its defenses and actually listen.

I followed the link to Donald McClarey out of curiosity. I had never heard of him before, but he is quite clearly a venomous idiot. Why would anybody care what he said?

Diplomacy is sometimes a good way to get what one wants.

I had a fantastic time seeing Pope Francis in Central Park today.

The Atlantic article is impressive, at least by the standards of today's media. Way better than a recent WaPo article, which was bemused by the contradictions of an enlightened reformer who venerates relics and takes part in popular Marian devotions.

I can't let my concerns go unvoiced any longer. I don't like this Pope and never have.

I wouldn't use the language Ann Barnhardt does, but the links themselves are disturbing. Until now I thought Francis was a valid Pope, but a bad one. Now I am wondering if he is indeed Anti-Pope.

http://www.barnhardt.biz/2015/09/24/breaking-blockbuster-prima-facie-evidence-that-francis-is-in-fact-antipope/

The information about Cdl Daneels is really bad.

I won't argue this to any degree here. I'm just a concerned Catholic who really doesn't know what to do apart from pray, fast and give alms. But I think my complete silence now would be wrong. That's it. May God bless us and save us all.

Please don't go down that road, Louise. The anti-pope road, I mean. It leads into the wilderness. Even if you believe the worst about Francis, even if the worst were in fact true, he wouldn't be the first very bad pope who's nevertheless a valid pope (which I know you know, I'm just emphasizing it).

Don't be such a silly Billy Louise. Pull yourself together

I had never heard of him before, but he is quite clearly a venomous idiot. Why would anybody care what he said?

The 'venomous idiot' has practiced law in Illinois for 32 years, raised three children, served on the board of the local crisis pregnancy center, and been a vigorous autodidact in American history and political life. Unlike Patrick Deneen, he does not traffick in gassy nonsense. His statements are precise and concrete. No one who has tried to lock horns with Donald McClarey would call him an idiot and over a period of 13 years I've very seldom seen anyone get the better of him. I care what he says and thinks. You, sir, are negligible.

I'm not seeing that the gloss she puts on the Pantin article elucidates it any. I don't see what she sees in it. Would not put anything past Francis or his camarilla. These are Chinese-interesting times.

It will be up to a future conclave to decide on Francis' status.

http://www.eyeofthetiber.com/2015/09/24/a-melancholy-pope-michael-still-waiting-for-u-s-delegates-welcoming-committee-to-pick-him-up-from-d-c-airport/

A future conclave? For God's sake deco don't lose your marbles

I'm not going down any road, it's ok. It's not for me to decide anyway - it's for cardinals. But the real point of that link, from my POV, is the appointment of Danneels is not good, any way you care to look at it.
And it really just confirms my opinion that Francis is not a good Pope. I agree with Dekkers that these are Chinese-interesting times.

Of course, that's only my opinion and 1. I don't expect everyone else to share it and 2. I would really like to be wrong.

A future conclave? For God's sake deco don't lose your marbles

I assume the one held in 2013 will not be the last.

You said that a future conclave will "decide on francis' status".

When has a conclave ever decided on the status of a sitting pope?

"Unlike Patrick Deneen, he does not traffick in gassy nonsense. His statements are precise and concrete."

Kirk (Russell, not James T.) said something about people who don't love precision for the sake of truth, but rather see truth merely as an aspect of precision.

Forest and trees again.

When has a conclave ever decided on the status of a sitting pope?

When has a conclave been called when the pope was still living? I think there have been a single digit population of cases in 2000 years, except when you had multiple claimants.

There were two councils during the Renaissance which resolved competing claims to the papacy and declared several claimants to have been antipopes. Not sure of the procedure followed earlier.

Well I've never heard of Patrick Deneen or read anything he's written, so I can't begin to compare, but when did being a lawyer, a father or an autodidact cancel out being a venomous idiot? If he is all those things, they clearly don't stop him.

You aren't in any way obliged to like the pope, Louise, so don't stress about that. And don't worry about him being an antipope, either. The law cited in the piece you link to is about doing deals and making promises, not simply agreeing before going in who you think you'd like to come out the other end as pope. It would take a good deal more than there's any evidence of to invalidate the papal election.

I'm mostly offline this weekend, but two quick remarks: (1) I've been wondering how Francis's speech to Congress compared to those on similar occasions by JP and B. Someone has done that for me. I will hunt up the link and post it tomorrow. Quick summary: very similar. (2) Please keep it civil.

I love Francis as I love(d) Benedict 16 as I loved John Paul II!

Well I've never heard of Patrick Deneen or read anything he's written, so I can't begin to compare, but when did being a lawyer, a father or an autodidact cancel out being a venomous idiot? If he is all those things, they clearly don't stop him.

The moderator says to keep it civil, which prevents telling the bald truth in this case. Too bad.

Kirk (Russell, not James T.) said something about people who don't love precision for the sake of truth, but rather see truth merely as an aspect of precision.

Which has nothing to do with anything uttered by Mr. McClarey or yours truly.

All right, Art, let me rephrase that. It may or may not interest you to know that somebody not invested in these quarrels, following the link you provided out of idle interest, read two and a half posts on the blog you linked to and came away with a very strong impression that the writer holds narrow views and narrow sympathies, and on the basis of these does the best he can to inflame feeling against public figures that he dislikes, without seeking to understand their words or actions before doing so. This may be a false and unfair impression, but it is the impression given. He's welcome to his opinions, but I still can't fathom why they should be of interest to anybody else. I came away from his writings with much deeper sympathy for his targets than I arrived with. This suggests that he is, at best, an ineffective controversialist.

Thanks, Paul.

Rather than just cursing the darkness, here is a little something I'm listening to right now. "Panis Angelicus" for the Papal Mass in the US, 2008, sung by Placido Domingo. I love the bit at the end where he greets the Pope.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D47e_i1uFAM&list=RDD47e_i1uFAM

Apologies to anyone who might not like it.

Louise, if it helps, I've never heard of Ann Barnhardt but the piece you linked to seems wrong on several counts. First, her main premise, that canvassing incurs excommunication, is not supported by the text of JP2's that she quotes. What is forbidden is not canvassing (i.e., asking people their opinion and telling them your own), but making deals. Second, her evidence that canvassing occurred comes from Danneels at a publicity event, hardly a prima facie reliable source. Thirdly, even if some of the cardinals were excommunicate, I'm not sure it follows that Francis's election would be invalid. So I don't think there's any need to wonder.

I agree a thousand percent that putting Danneels near the top of the Synod is a terrible, terrible thing.

I had a wonderful time at the canonization mass. I had never imagined I would ever attend one--really exciting!

"I agree a thousand percent that putting Danneels near the top of the Synod is a terrible, terrible thing."

This is actually the thing which bothers me the most and which there can be no doubt about.

"Which has nothing to do with anything uttered by Mr. McClarey or yours truly."

You contrasted alleged "gassy nonsense" with statements that are "precise and concrete." The Kirk reference is therefore apt. Precision does not necessarily equate to truth.

The Kirk reference is therefore apt. Precision does not necessarily equate to truth.

Your implicit argument is that one gets closer to truth in the study of social relations by making statements which have no definite real-world referents and which are non-falsifiable.

Second, her evidence that canvassing occurred comes from Danneels at a publicity event, hardly a prima facie reliable source.

I'd say an admission against interest is passably reliable.

This may be a false and unfair impression, but it is the impression given.

No, it's the impression you were inclined to take away.

putting Danneels near the top of the Synod is a terrible, terrible thing.
Do we really know this is the case? According to this article in the UK's Catholic Herald, Pope Francis will serve as president of the synod and will be assisted by Cardinals Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris; Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila; Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil; and Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa. And members will include 166 elected by their national bishops’ conferences, 22 heads of Eastern Catholic churches, 25 heads of Vatican congregations and councils and 10 heads of men’s religious orders, and an additional 45 synod fathers appointed by Pope Francis.
Danneels is listed among that 45 appointed by Francis. And the composition of that 45-member group has changed since the earlier extraordinary synod -- at that, almost all appointees were from Europe, and none of the papal appointees was from North America or other English-speaking countries. But now, while almost half of the group will be from Europe, there will be 15 from the Americas, three from Africa, two from Oceania, and one from Asia.
If you look at the list at the Vatican website of those coming to the synod, you'll see that Cardinal Danneels is listed second in that group of 45 appointed to the synod by Francis. I don't think that indicates his standing in that group, though, because the names are probably ranked by their seniority of appointment as cardinals -- see this.

I somehow stuck an extra space in that link to the Catholic Herald and so it doesn't work. Try this one instead.

That's great, Anne-Marie! I was born on St. Junipero's birthday, so since I was a little girl, even before I know about him, he has been one of my favorites. And I've learned more, I've liked him even better--especially since I visited some of the missions.

AMDG

Thanks, Marianne,

That's helpful.

AMDG

Yes, it is.

Yes, thanks, Marianne!

"Your implicit argument is that one gets closer to truth in the study of social relations by making statements which have no definite real-world referents and which are non-falsifiable."

No, my argument is that one cannot evaluate the health of social relations solely by the examination of such data as are deemed to be "precise" and "concrete." To do so is to fall into the confusion between so-called hard science and soft science.

Sociology and economics are not chemistry and physics, and their findings should not be treated as such.

I haven't posted that link I mentioned a couple of days ago which compared Francis's speech to Congress to speeches given by JPII and BXVI in the U.S. because I apparently didn't save the link. I'll see if I can find something similar later. Meanwhile, I like Stu's comment (9/26) a lot.

While looking (unsuccessfully) for whatever it was I thought I saw comparing the popes, I found this, which is very good:

http://gerardnadal.com/2015/09/25/oh-francis/

Not very good. Francis is not reticent on much of anything but those issues on which Dr. Nadal says JP ii and Benedict said enough. Nadal is engaging in pretense with his reference to children dying of digestive diseases. Francis has, quite inappropriately, waded into contentious discussions of climatology about which the Papacy has nothing special to say. He's also made like remarks on political economy, a subject of which he knows nothing. Pretending its about childhood digestive diseases when Francis makes specific references to capital sentencing (about which JP ii was vociferous) while dismissing other concerns is spin doctoring.

We can see who Francis is, because he's a familiar occidental type.

Thanks for that link, Mac. Good piece, which said some things I needed to hear.

In case you didn't read the comments there, the author of the post made this one which he says he wished he'd put in the body of the post:

There are a great many things I wish this pope and his bishops would say, that he would have said to Congress. But I have no reason to believe that he is not a deeply prayerful man, nor do I have reason to believe that the Holy Spirit does not speak to him in a deeply convicting and motivating manner. He IS Peter.

It took quite a bit for me to write the deeply disturbing truth that for 25 years of JPII and B16, the life issues have deteriorated on every front. Francis sees this as well. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading him in a way that flanks the opposition. What has become very clear to me is that the constant tearing at Francis by the orthodox wing will succeed only in diminishing the Office, and leave them with nowhere to go when they champion a future pope, and others show slight regard for his diminished authority.


Im glad you sent that Marianne because i thought the body text was shameful - i think it disgraceful that catholics have so liitle loyalty to the pope and so little faith on Christ's promises

A catholic view on pope Francis - unlolike the view in The Catholic Thing

http://m.nydailynews.com/opinion/john-cavadini-challenge-pope-francis-article-1.2366423

I didn't read the Nadal post that way, Grumpy. It's positive overall.

I think conservatives (taking the word in every sense) are making a big mistake in writing off Francis, and an even worse one in condemning him--""the constant tearing at Francis by the orthodox wing." I have my reservations and points where I disagree, or think he's not exercising the best judgment, etc etc., but overall there is more to be pleased by than not. And there is not nearly as much distance between him and his two predecessors as either conservatives or liberals are saying there is.

The "orthodox wing" are damaging themselves, too. Even if we disagree with Francis about the details, there is much in what he says about poverty and general human misery that we all need to take to heart.

Had this discussion with three Catholic friends last evening. All three are conservative both theologically and socially. Politically one leans slightly neo-con (in the old sense), while the other two are a bit more "populist."

Anyways, all three agreed that the left is largely cherry-picking Francis's statements, reporting on what it likes (sometimes with no regard to context) and ignoring the things it doesn't want to hear. In short and as per usual, it's being dishonest in its reportage.

The right, on the other hand, seems to have two problems with the pope. First, he is not being as vocal on the life issues as they'd like, and second, being ideologically committed to finance capitalism, they are unwilling to listen to him on political/economic matters. One difference is that while the left has tended to remain mostly silent about what it disagrees with, the right is shouting about it from the rooftops.

This is not me talking, but is a summary of what these Catholic friends said -- an attorney, a college professor at a Catholic university, and the former editor of a well-known Catholic magazine who is now freelancing.

Pretty accurate, I'd say. The free-marketers especially are really making themselves look bad by their contemptuous tone.

"The free-marketers especially are really making themselves look bad by their contemptuous tone."

And unfortunately one sees this in Catholics and non-Catholics alike, which as an "outsider" I find a little surprising.

Yes, I particularly had in mind the Catholics who take that tone. A lot of them are at least respectful, although condescending.

That piece Grumpy links to is excellent.

Rob,

That attitude is very upsetting to me. It's the reason why I'm not reading much at all about the Pope's visit. Sometimes I wonder if it's only people who were Catholic before VII that really have a grasp on who the Pope is. Since I am one of those people, I find myself pretty appalled at the general conversation.

If the pope is indeed doing wrong, it does us no good to cavil and criticize and campaign for our side. He is not a politician. He might personally have political beliefs, and he might act on those, but what he is is the Head of Church on earth and only directly answerable to God.

He is under no spiritual authority on earth. He is the only person who can say this. He is the most powerful person on earth.

If we believe that he is really teaching error, which I don't, there is only one place for us and that is on our knees. Nothing we can say on the internet will make the slightest bit of difference. All we can accomplish will be to fill ourselves with fear and undermine our own faith.

That said, I think there is a place for saying, "Help me with this. It frightens me," or, "What is our responsibility with regard to what he is saying?" but this quasi-political canvassing is useless.

AMDG

I think conservatives (taking the word in every sense) are making a big mistake in writing off Francis,

The upcoming synod will not end well. That we know in advance. This is Francis' tar baby.

That is the great Cavadini. He said to me today "why cant X Listen with the esrs of his heart"

Exactly what we should be doing. Doesn't mean you have to shut your brain down. But there seems to be deliberate effort on the part of some not to hear the cry of the poor. Maybe because there has been so much cant spoken in the name of social justice.

Janet, I wasn't Catholic till after VII, and I was past thirty, so I don't have that sort of gut-level aversion to speaking ill of the pope that you seem to be describing. Still, I know scathing denunciations are really not the thing unless there is something truly grave happening.

Isn't the Synod advisory? I mean, they can't change a thing.

Today I listened to David Cameron give a little speech, under 2 minutes, in which the one word he had trouble pronouncing was "poverty". The rest of it tripped off his tongue with trained precision.

I wasn't even born when Vatican II closed, but the shrill pope-bashing that went on on the Left in the 1980s disgusted me, and I've been very unpleasantly surprised to see it re-emerging in other forms within the Church over the last ten years or so.

Soon after Benedict was elected an academic friend asked me whether I was happy with the election, clearly meaning that I should be either happy or unhappy that this particular person had become the Bishop of Rome. "I'm just happy that we have a pope," I said. I got the distinct impression he thought I was trying to avoid criticising the new pope, when I was actually gently trying to criticise him for asking such a thing. Academics can be very thick-skinned sometimes.

I admit I'm tempted to berate those on the left who criticized and defied or just totally ignored the last two popes when they gush about Francis. But it's an impulse I think I should resist.

Still, I know scathing denunciations are really not the thing unless there is something truly grave happening.

I just don't see what good scathing denunciations are going to do even at that point. It's not like he can be impeached.

Also, I'm not talking about some gut-level thing, I'm talking about a rational understanding of the office of Peter. I keep reading what I said to find the gut-level part. ;-)

AMDG

Catholics have a theological obligation of loyalty and docility toward Peter. This is not a gut reaction. It has to do with the fact that the Pope as the representative of Christ on earth is literally awesome.

I got Pope Francis' Darsan in central park and I can assure you he is literally awesome. (Darsan is the 'gaze' of a Hindu or Buddhist holy figure).

In the old days, a Catholic newspaper or magazine which printed negative responses to Papal pronouncements or actions would have been shut down by the local bishop. Thus the reason why we see them today is that bishops no longer shut down magazines which print un-Catholic opinions about the Pope. The irony of 'conservative' newspapers printing such opinions should thus be clear. In their 'good old days' such opinions would not have printed.

I do not say that it was better back in the old days, when a journalist would be excommunicated who wrote that the Pope has ridiculous opinions about politics or that his election by the conclave was invalid. Many were excommunicated for saying much less. I do not say that the old censorship should be brought back - obviously, it would be impossible.

But I think a seriously Catholic editor or blog owner could reasonably ask themselves before they print an opinion of the Pope, 'could this article have been published in any time which I consider a golden age of the church?'

"Catholics have a theological obligation of loyalty and docility toward Peter. This is not a gut reaction."

Right, but it's exactly the difference between them that I was referring to. I'm intellectually conscious of that obligation, but I don't really *feel* it. "Gut-level" may be the wrong choice of words, but what I meant was that you, Janet, seem to feel it, or at least have it very deeply ingrained, so that it comes very naturally, maybe even more or less automatically, to you.

Regarding golden ages of the Church, I don't have any notion of one having existed at any time. I'm not conservative in that sense. If I'd been an adult Catholic in the 1950s I'm sure I would have been a "liberal."

I think it's ok for me to say this: my wife is the archivist for our diocese, and sees, obviously, a whole lot of old documents, and she often marvels at the very tight control exercised by pre-VII bishops over just about everything relating to the local church.

Oh, and about "scathing denunciations"--I was not thinking that any contemporary phenomenon deserves that, or that I feel tempted to engage in it. I had in mind the condemnations of corrupt bishops and popes that have sometimes been heard in the past, like Dante placing a pope in hell.

Deeply ingrained fits. ;-)

AMDG

Dante put dead popes in hell. I think there is a difference ...

I would have been a liberal in the 1950s too. Im not saying thst the censorship was great but rather that the freedom is being abused, in some cases only exposing a toxic state of soul in the writer, but in other cases to mislead simple Catholics

Well, Dante couldn't put Boniface the VIII in hell because he was alive, but he strongly suggested that he would end up there.

AMDG

I began to wonder about Boniface VIII after I posted that comment!

Y'all seen this?

I've never been a big RR fan, but that's certainly gutsy.

I haven't had a chance to read it yet--been writing too much--but I look forward to reading it at lunch.

AMDG

Reno used the hierarchy of truths wrong. It is not the hierarchy of truths that allows us to distinguish between what we must believe and what we are encouraged to believe: it is the theological notes. The hierarchy of truths lets us know the relationship between the truths of the faith. Truths are truths and they are in relationship. So some are dependent on others. So the Immaculate Conception is lower in the hierarchy of truths. It is below the Incarnation, which is below the Trinity. The reaching on contraception is below the teaching on marriage. There is not some magic level you get to in the hierarchy of truths that you suddenly don't HAVE to believe.

"Hierarchy of truths" certainly does not suggest that some are optional.

Here's the post that was kilt. (Warning: page includes pictures of Muslim atrocities.)

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