A Note on Our Modern Celebrity Papacy

I’m getting a little tired of people asking me whether I “like” Pope Francis. I don’t want to be too sensitive here. But why are my personal feelings about the Holy Father so very important? Jane Fonda, Elton John and Patti Smith all apparently love Pope Francis. Does that really tell us anything significant? Maybe we should stop worrying so much about whether or not people get warm fuzzies up and down their spines when they think about Pope Francis.

Really, aren’t we all a little tired of fighting about the pope? This has been an issue almost from the day Pope Francis was elevated. Orthodox Catholics spar endlessly over the question: exactly how much they are obliged to admire and like him. He gives an interview to the secular press, and we bicker less about the content and more about the permissibility of critiquing it. Friends find themselves in subtle social media wars, as one posts everything he can find reinforcing Pope Francis’ orthodoxy, while another airs every suspicious-sounding remark or vindictive-seeming appointment. Explosive comment threads follow.

I don’t intend to offer a run-down of all of the Holy Father’s controversial remarks. I don’t believe he will send the Church into schism, but I also think that there are some legitimate reasons why orthodox Catholics have found this pontificate challenging. The almost gleeful way in which he pokes at orthodoxy and tradition gives the committed faithful a sense of instability. The previous two pontiffs generally gave us the sense that they were guiding the Barque of Peter through the perilous passages of modernity, with a reasonably clear sense of which rocky shoals to avoid. Pope Francis doesn’t communicate that nearly so strongly.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about his leadership is his eagerness to appear relevant to the mainstream culture. This might be useful for purposes of proselytism (though he seems not to like the word), but Pope Francis seems insufficiently attentive to the dangers of accommodationism. When churches lose their sense of purpose or direction, the pews start to empty. This lesson is illustrated vividly by the experiments of the 1960s and 70s, in which the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses grew dramatically as Catholics and mainline Protestants saw their numbers dwindle. People want religion to provide them with a sense of direction and purpose, and efforts to gain cultural relevance frequently militate against that clarity of message. But the Holy Father’s concern about this seems minimal. When asked in a recent interview why Catholics were continuing to leave the Church, he speculated that it was probably a negative reaction to his advocacy for the poor (as though prosperity preaching were a hallmark of previous Catholic eras). This is just one instance in which he has seemed lamentably deaf to the possible pitfalls of his mainstream-culture-friendly approach.

In short, there is reason for concern. Precisely because he is in the public eye, the pontiff has significant potential for causing scandal. Still, it’s also true that complainers can be unseemly in their bitterness, even as the grins of the Francis-adoring optimists grow a bit strained. Maybe everyone just needs to relax a little, and try to get some perspective.

This might be easier if we realize that our angst on this subject is undoubtedly exacerbated by the celebrity culture that has invaded the modern world on a massive scale. Nowadays we expect the Church to revolve around personalities, and we’re far more attentive to those persons than to any of the dusty old books in our Catholic libraries. This also puts us at the mercy of whatever those personalities might or might not say. Implicitly accepting the standards of the secular world, we assume that anything important for us to know must have been said recently, and ideally by someone famous who can insert it into the secular press.

Needless to say, this has not been the norm through most periods of history. Prior to the pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878), the phenomenon of global mass media really didn’t exist. Even just a century ago, popes were not expected to be headline-grabbing celebrities who traveled the world and hosted gala events. They mostly lived in the Vatican and concentrated their energies on theology and internal church affairs. Ordinary Catholics around the world probably didn’t think much about the pope. The most elevated person they were likely to see was the bishop, but most of the time the faith revolved around their parish and local clergy.

Times change, and in an age of communication it probably isn’t possible to recover that degree of localism. Nowadays, faithful Catholics network and read websites, follow Church affairs, and obsess over the Holy Father. It’s a brave new world. But when we find ourselves griping at one another over transitory, emotional reactions to the Holy Father, it’s time to pull back. It was never necessary for faithful Catholics to hail the pope as their favorite world celebrity.

Popes can be wise and holy men. They can be corrupt and vicious men. In between is a whole lot of middle ground, and of course we trust that, whatever the pontiff’s character, the Holy Spirit will intervene where necessary to protect the Church from destruction. Church leaders can still do great damage to souls by obscuring doctrine, which serves to spread confusion and doubt. Also, corrupt or imprudent Church leaders may cause scandal, which diminishes (at least temporarily) the confidence with which the Church may exercise her rightful moral authority. Certainly, there is a reason why we regularly pray for wise and prudent Church leaders.

At the same time, we will be far more susceptible to that kind of injury if we ourselves become lax in our task of learning and spreading the faith. When the ordinary faithful are ignorant and weak, that is when imprudent leaders will be most devastating to the Church as a whole. If we are concerned about the direction of a particular pontiff, the best thing we can do is to arm ourselves against error by immersing ourselves in Catholic doctrine, literature and philosophy.

St. John Paul II was noteworthy for his ability to connect with, literally, the entire world. He may have done more than anyone to help modern people (either Catholic or non-Catholic) view the Church in a positive light, as a source of moral authority and a shelter from the storm. As a corollary, though, he also did more than any other person to elevate the papacy to celebrity status. This development was less salutary for his successor, who was brilliant and very holy but not a “natural celebrity.” Pope Francis, for his part, seems reasonably comfortable living in the public eye, and many people do find him inspiring. Compared with St. John Paul II, however, he has been less successful at making the faithful feel bolstered in their efforts to preserve the faith in a hostile culture. Also disheartening to me personally is the number of Protestant friends who have told me that they no longer feel that Rome can be trusted as a source of moral support and authority.

These, however, qualify as “ordinary” trials in the context of an overwhelmingly hostile culture. All else being equal we would all naturally prefer to have a leader who uplifts and inspires us. But if we’ve reached the point of demanding that from every pontiff, we’ve probably lost sight of what the papacy is, and of what the Church is. In its inerrant form, papal authority is exercised only very occasionally; we don’t have to hang on the pontiff’s every word. Meanwhile, as Catholics we have a wealth of theology and spiritual wisdom at our fingertips, and most of us have barely scratched the surface. If current Church politics depress you, I recommend living in the past for awhile.

Rachel Lu

By

Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    History suggests that popes who leave a lasting legacy, like Leo XIII and St Pius X are very rare indeed.

    From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators.

    It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, they had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.

    Thirty popes and not a Leo or a Gregory, a Hildebrand or an Innocent III amongst them; the very suggestion seems absurd. The best of them, Benedict XIV can fairly be ranked with Innocent IV as a canonist and with Leo X and Clement VII for his learning and he appears as a giant in that age of pygmies.

  • ForChristAlone

    The greatest threat to the Catholic Church is not with Catholics harboring strong reactions to this Pope but the Papacy itself becoming irrelevant, superfluous. That has already begun to happen where the faithful (and I am not referring here to the generic ‘faithful’) have stopped taking what Francis says about any topic very seriously. If this goes any further, we will lapse into the individualism that was the basis of protestantism. Now THAT”S the real danger.

    No, Catholics need a Pope who speaks seldomly and when he does his words are prayerfully chosen because they affect the eternal salvation of the flock Christ entrusted to his care. The matter at hand is NOT just about this Pope but the souls of hundreds of millions of those who profess the Catholic faith. And there’s the rub.

    • publiusnj

      Francis is too quick to inject himself into practically every issue. Except those where the Church stands up for Traditional morality on what the politicians call “social issues.” Those we supposedly have overemphasized.

    • Guest

      Yes!! We want Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope to tell us the truth; to tell it like it is. We need to be told what we NEED to hear and not WHAT we want to hear.

    • hombre111

      Oooh, I love to see the conservatives feeling the same pinch liberals felt during St. John Paul and Benedict XVI. But as an old man who made a mistake after Vat II, a cautionary tale for liberals. The presence of Pope Francis does not mean the river has come to the ocean at last. It will turn out to be only a bend in the river, and the Church will continue to weave its wandering way into history. In fact, since the Church is a necessarily conservative institution, the conservatives are going to have their say more than the liberals, who are always in the minority. I don’t see this as a bad thing, just the way things are.

      • Objectivetruth

        “Conservatives “……”liberals”……..

        You do realize these terms have NOTHING to do with the Catholic Church, its doctrines, magisterium, or those that follow Christ in the faith?

        Boy….for someone claiming to be a priest, you sure do spend a lot of time online, spewing Democratic Party rhetoric.

        • hombre111

          Well, I guess it is because I am retired. Or maybe better, partially retired. Partially retired and opinionated. Partially retired, opinionated, and loving a good debate.

          Probably I will have to cut down because, at age 76, I have gone back to work in my parish, helping out with Masses, confession, sick-calls, Bible classes, etc.. Having a good time.

          • ForChristAlone

            this is all very good…so ditch the “liberal” v “conservative” BS

            • Why not ask that he dispose of all the BS?

  • Objectivetruth

    “No, Catholics need a Pope who speaks seldomly and when he does his words are prayerfully chosen because they affect the eternal salvation of the flock Christ entrusted to his care. ”

    Agreed, FCA . It seems everything the pope says is spun by the secular mainstream media towards their agenda, where poorly catechized Catholics get their theology. For example, the pope recently said dogs go to heaven. This was spun as great news by the media, basically misinterpreting that Fido’s soul is the same as mine. Really, Holy Father? As I struggle daily against sin and temptation, with the hope of heaven, my pooch has an automatic express train to the heavenly banquet? I should have been born with four legs, instead of two.

    • ForChristAlone

      Objective,
      It is now claimed that the Pope never said this and that the media hijacked whatever it was that he did say. But this isn’t the point. We Catholics ought not to have the play the games of “Did he say it or did he not say it” or “What exactly did he mean by this?”

      Catholics, we have pretty much have concluded, are woefully poorly catechized and some of those who do know Church teachings elect to disregard them for their own personal rendition of the truth. There can be no substitute for clear and precise explications of the truth of Church teachings which is to say a faithful presentation of Christ Himself.

      • Objectivetruth

        One of the prime fundamental rejections of Church teaching that I observe is the concept of sin. My parish has 2000 families, and on any given Satuday for confession there might be 8-10 people show. Our Advent parish penance service is tonight, maybe be only 60-70 people there. I wish when the Holy Father speaks, it would be in defense of orthodoxy.

        • ForChristAlone

          I had a similar thought about the Holy Father’s remarks for Guadete Sunday. He called on Christians to be “joyful.”

          It occurred to me that the path to joy goes through repentance for sin. It is then that we are likely to experience the joy he refers to. Joy is not something we put on like a hat; it is something we become because of a transformation we’ve experienced in our heart. The joy I have personally experienced has always been immediately after confession. It is then that I have good reason to be joyful because “I once was lost and now am found.”

          • pete

            WONDERFULLY PUT!!!!!!!!! A smile, coming from the heart and soul, not faked.

        • fredx2

          Remember he does urge confession

          • GG

            But, the people who go already know that. The rest see it as not imperative to say the least. The message received is “help” the materially poor and all the rest is legalistic.

            Frankly, this “new” message is exactly what we have heard since at least 1969/ The last two Popes tried hard to break people of that awful mentality now we are sprung right back to bell bottom theology. What we have is not new but simply passe 1970 style poor catechesis.

            • ForChristAlone

              I think we Crisis needs to maintain a compendium of phrases such as your: “Bell-bottom theology.” It even surpasses Kumbaya Catholicism!

              • GG

                We are living through the 1970s again. Only this time we have unprecedented communication avenues. It is not pant suited nuns telling kids I’m ok you ok this time. It is much worse.

              • Objectivetruth

                Tony Esolon I believe recently referred to the relaxed manner of undress at Mass as a “liturgical pajama party.”

          • ForChristAlone

            I would certainly hope so, Fred. I must give him credit for making his confession to a priest recently that was done within public eye of those around. Good example I would say. More time in the confessional and less time at the microphone. Perhaps what’s also needed for most of us inhabiting this social media nightmare world of ours.

  • Daniel P

    Rachel,

    You say that Francis dislikes the word “evangelism”. I’m very puzzled by that. Citation?

    Francis has said that he dislikes “proselytzing.” But proselytzing has very little to do with evangelism.

    • Murray

      The trouble is, this pope almost never defines his terms, so we have to look at the context. And in context, the pope seems to use the word in a very broad fashion, to include basically all active attempts at converting non-Catholics, coercive or otherwise.

      Even if we grant, arguendo, that the pope really is condemning only coercive conversion, the question remains: Where on earth are Catholics doing this in the modern world? How is it such a major problem that he keeps returning to it in homily after homily, interview after interview?

      • fredx2

        This is a good example of the Pope being confusing. First, he hit the ground running urging everyone to evangelize. He urged us to evangelize, evangelize evangelize. Then he says proselytism is a bad thing. The two are very closely connected, and if he means to draw a distinction between the two, he had better tell us what it is. So which is it? I guess we should evangelize but not proselytize. OK, tell us the difference. where does evangelization become proselytizing?

        • Objectivetruth

          It is confusing. Evangelizing is to tell someone “repent, and believe the Good News.” But to tell someone to repent, is a form of proselytizing. We’re a society that doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, challenge them.

        • JP

          What he intends is for Catholics to do good works, but they should remain quiet on what compels them to do good works.

          • Daniel P

            Not true. He hasn’t ever said that, and he has said the opposite many times.

            • GG

              He says some things that are recognizable as consistent with the faith, sure, but he says many impenetrable things and the only ones who claim to grasp it are liberals. I am not even mentioning the appointment of homosexual friendly prelates to positions of power.

              The chaos that is happening is evident to all who chose to see.

              • TrustingtheHolySpirit

                The good that is happening is invisible to all who choose to ignore it.

                • GG

                  Really, do share? Where are the long confession lines? Where are people coming to the faith?

                  • And the young marrying, welcoming children and then resisting the culture that says, you can have your Christmas, but learn about this nice “cultural celebration” of Kwanzaa.

                    • GG

                      Right, and evidence of a big change do to this cult of personality has not surfaced as far as anyone has shown.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Multiculturalism — we can’t deny you, but we will dilute you.

            • JP

              Then, please explain what he does mean. For, taking his words literally is an exercise in confusion.

          • ForChristAlone

            He says the Church is not another NGO but then makes statements that reduce it to same. Social work without Christ is…well…social work – just as easily done by atheists as it is by Christians.

      • Daniel P

        Pope Francis said his definition, in that interview: proselytizing is “talking with [someone] in order to persuade [them].” Proselytism is any sort of witnessing that puts persuasion ahead of the person — in other words, that proceeds from the pride of the evangelist.

        • GG

          And this frequently happens where?

          • Daniel P

            I would say that most evangelists, most of the time, are driven by pride. I certainly find pride as a thorn in my side, whenever I attempt to bring people the good news. In Protestantism, where evangelism is much more enthusiastically practiced, pride is a HUGE problem for evangelists — just watch their TV programs or attend their meetings. Benedict and Francis’s comments about proselytizing are criticisms of this Protestant tendency.

            • GG

              I assumed we were speaking of Catholics?

              • Daniel P

                Benedict and Francis, when they criticize proselytism, are not speaking only of Catholics.

                • GG

                  When Benedict made the comments most knew what he was talking about. Now, taken in context with all the other unfortunate things, it comes off as totally different.

                  We cannot pretend everything is the same when it obviously is not.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Don’t think for a minute that Francis would say something pejorative about his friends in the protestant ecclesial communities.

            • “I would say that most evangelists, most of the time, are driven by pride. ”
              On what basis do you make that statement?

              • Tamsin

                heh. “citation, please.”

            • fredx2

              The thought strikes me that perhaps Francis’ dislike of proselytism comes about because of the success of Protestants in Latin America, where the subject of proselytism probably is much more discussed.

          • ForChristAlone

            Nowhere…that’s where.

        • Murray

          Well, see my more recent reply above. But your interpretation of the pope’s words is strained, to say the least. Did Christ use words to persuade? How about the Apostles? St Augustine? Thomas Aquinas? Francis Xavier? How about mainstream outlets like EWTN or Catholic Answers? Do they use words in other to persuade? What about Pope Benedict in his Regensburg Address? The persuasive words in that address helped me clear one of the final hurdles before entering the Church.

          But the crowning irony is that these condemnations are coming from the chattiest pope in history, a man who seemingly never ceases to use words in order to persuade, cajole, campaign, and harangue.

          • Daniel P

            Persuading is fine. The problem is when the fundamental goal of the conversation is persuasion. The apostles said, “Come and see!” They did not say, “Agree with me.”

            I’ve been in many conversations with Protestants, when the person stops paying attention to who I am as a person, stops paying attention to our relationship, and simply focuses on convincing me. That’s a turn-off, and not a good way to attract people to Jesus.

            • Murray

              Do you see how much you’re stretching here? I have a feeling this is going nowhere, but let’s recap.

              You originally attempted to distinguish between proselytism and evangelization. Fair enough, but numerous people pointed out that the pope himself doesn’t seem to make this distinction.

              For most of its history, “proselytism” was used non-pejoratively to denote attempts to fulfill the Great Commission.

              In modern times, it has taken on a pejorative meaning to denote coercive means of obtaining conversions. We can all agree that coercion is wrong. But when used by modern churchmen–as the article I linked points out–“coercion” seems to denote all attempts to convert non-Catholics. This is the view the pope seems to hold. Again, read the article for copious evidence.

              You have now taken it one step further into entirely novel territory, in which “proselytism” refers not to conversion, coercive or otherwise, but to the internal subjective disposition of the evangelist. If he discerns a small admixture of pride in his efforts–as humans inevitably will–then he is proselytizing rather than evangelizing.

              But even if we stretch the bounds of common sense to grant (again, arguendo) that your definition is correct, then we have effectively rendered the word meaningless. Instead of the crime of conversion at swordpoint, we are now to fret in case we feel a little too pleased with ourselves for bringing people into the One True Church? And–as you would have us believe–this interior subjective disposition is such a major spiritual danger that the Vicar of Christ brings it up again and again and again?

              • Daniel P

                Murray,

                Certain quotations in the article you linked to portray Francis as opposing the conversion of Jews or Protestants. I do not think Francis actually opposes such conversions, and the evidence of the article isn’t strong enough to establish that case. I would certainly be troubled, however, if Francis did oppose such conversions.

                Second, preaching out of pride is a form of using people as a mere means to your own end. Your portrayal of it as a “minor fault” disturbs me. Sure, we often have mixed motives, but some of these motives are evil. We must completely reject the evil motives, not coddle them with words that downplay their ugliness. One reason that people become hostile to Christianity is that many Christian witnesses are full of pride, in the way they present the gospel.

                I appreciate this conversation, and I am learning from it. God bless you!

                • Murray

                  The article isn’t “portraying” the Holy Father; it’s quoting him accurately, with full footnotes.

                  If any other man made the same remarks, in a variety of venues over a lengthy period of time, we’d take it as pretty dispositive evidence of his beliefs. I merely apply the same hermeneutics to the Holy Father as I would to anyone else. Catholics shouldn’t be forced to torture language and common sense in order to come up with a vaguely plausible orthodox-ish interpretation of the pope’s remarks.

                  • fredx2

                    Thanks to both of your for an example of what commbox discussion should look like.

            • JP

              The Apostles were much more aggressive than modernists are – they had to be. Society under the rule of the Roman Empire was, shall we say, very challenging. I don’t think either Peter or Paul soft peddled the Gospels. But, the Apostles did have one advantage; most people knew they were Sinners in need of redemption; they were ready to repent. Just imagine if Pope Francis today issued an encyclical reaffirming Humanae Vitae.

              • Daniel P

                I don’t oppose aggressiveness, to a point. I’ve been quite aggressive with friends to whom I am pointing out the Truth.

          • GG

            Your posts are excellent as usual. We really have to be intellectually dishonest and suspend belief to justify all that is going on in Rome. One of the harshest things to come out of this insanity is the amount of dishonesty coming from so-called Catholic sources. Instead of asking honest questions we get bizarre spin. In stead of seeking clarity we get obfuscation.

        • ForChristAlone

          And where, pray tell, is that identifiable in the Church today? Answer: nowhere. It’s a straw man.
          You’ll never be able to convict Catholics on the charge of even discussing Jesus Christ to an unbeliever – let alone actually trying to persuade them to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. This Pope inhabits a strange world unfamiliar to most of the faithful faithful.

          • Daniel P

            The Pope was talking to an atheist who had repeatedly experienced attempts by Christians (mostly Protestants, probably) to convince him of the truth of Christianity.

            • ForChristAlone

              An “n” of 1 is just about worthless to prove any point.
              It’s not as if there are Catholics roaming the globe crusading for Christ and forcing conversions at the barrel of a gun. We should have such a problem. Most of the Catholics I encounter who manage to make it to church on Sundays are chomping at the bit if the homily goes over by 5 minutes or Mass is more than an hour long.

              • My personal favorites are the ones that carry their personal effects when receiving, so they don’t have to return to the pew before declaring “show’s over”…

                • ForChristAlone

                  My wife and I attended Mass at a neighboring parish this weekend populated mostly by retirees from the “bell-bottom” Blue States. I was shocked at the emptying of the pews DURING communion.

                  I suggested to my wife that perhaps the Kumbaya pastor has come up with a novel idea for an orderly emptying of the parish parking lot. There would be three phases of exiting from Church: the first phase would be one third who would leave immediately after communion (not return to their seats); the second phase would leave after swallowing the host but just before the final prayer and dismissal and the third would leave along with the priest (note I did not say AFTER the priest). And you know what? It worked. It was a smooth and orderly discharge of vehicles from that parking lot and only a few instances where people gave each other :the finger” for cutting in line as cars exited the parking lot.

                  • I can’t remember how I heard this quip, whether a Priest actuallysaid it as a joke, or had a homily about a real or fictitious priest making the comment, but imagine the priest saying have you ever noticed what big feet people who leave early have?

                • R. K. Ich

                  “We got the goods, let’s get out of this theme park before the traffic gets bad.”

            • Murray

              Exactly as they should have done:

              “Going therefore, TEACH ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. TEACHING them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

              I’m pretty sure “all nations” includes atheists.

              • Daniel P

                I agree that Protestants and Catholics should evangelize. But many — especially Protestants — do so in a way that makes the faith unattractive, and involves manipulating or disrespecting people. (And as For Christ Alone has noted, many Catholics just don’t do a darn thing about evangelism, in the first place).

                • Why would you agree that Protestants should evangelize?

                  • Daniel P

                    Every Protestant I knows respects Catholics, and nearly every one knows Jesus. When they share their faith with non-Christians, it has the potential to draw non-Christians into the arms of our Father. An incomplete revelation is revelation nonetheless.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      All of the Protestants I know have mission outreach to Central and South American countries where they evangelize people OUT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. That is their specific intent because as DE says, they do NOT consider us to be Christians. I know this for a fact as I have done mission work to Guatemala more than 20 times.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Can confirm this. A priest friend of mine in the Anglican church (of which I’m still officially a part) used to be an Orthodox priest whose wife’s graduate work was in Coptic and Syriac Christianity. While in either Egypt or Ethiopia (can’t remember which now) they noticed many evangelical missionaries constantly trying to convert the orthodox and catholic communities there to Protestantism, as if they hadn’t heard the good news that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, has trampled the world, the flesh, and the devil for mankind. Turned their stomach, turns mine.

                    • “Every Protestant I knows respects Catholics, and nearly every one knows Jesus.”

                      And nobody you know voted for Nixon.

          • fredx2

            This is true in America and probably western Europe. It may be entirely untrue in Latin America or Africa

        • Dick Prudlo

          So it is pride that drives me to persuade people about Truth? What kind of nonsense is this?

          • Daniel P

            I didn’t say that. The proper motivation from which to persuade is love. But love places the person ahead of the persuasion.

            I would assume, sight unseen, that you persuade out of love, not pride.

            • Dick Prudlo

              Pride plays a part when dealing with ideology not True Religion, Dan. It is ideology that has destroyed so very much of the Faith for half a century. When speaking of the Faith only charity plays a role and that is how it must be.

              This voices I hear from Rome are not voices of charity,not from our pope or his minions, but callus phrases meaning to demean those of us who believe in the Faith. I tire of the spin and the deceit and that pathetic Synod laid it all on the table for me.

              • fredx2

                One part of the problem is that some are assuming the Pope is slyly talking about conservative Christians when in fact, he probably is not. He is captive to his rather unique experiences in the Argentine church, where there may have been problems with obnoxious super strict priests. Where clericalism is a real problem. Where people follow rules with no thought, and forget the person. However, I don’t think he is talking about modern American conservatives at all. He seems to not mind Cardinal Burke, based on his interview. He appointed Pell and Cardinal Sarah. Also, in his interview, he says that he decided to “remain himself” I take this to mean that he would speak and act as he always had in Argentina. I take this to mean he was a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the job, and struggled to come to some way of handling himself. So he decided just to do what he had been doing, and let things sort themselves out.

                • ForChristAlone

                  If I read you correctly, I would have to agree that he was not up for the job. He is no longer the Archbishop of Rio but the Vicar of Christ for the Universal Church. He must realize that he cannot and must not try to transform Rome into Rio

                • GG

                  You must look at what he says, what he writes, what he does, and what he allows to go on. Add that all up and the constant interpretation and guess what? No one can say with authority what the heck is going on.

                  Do you think people with the intellectual wattage of Burke, or even George plus their loyalty and holiness are easily duped or are confused? Honestly, those two examples show that it is not the media, it is not orthodox Catholics, it is not translation errors, it is not being a Jesuit, it is not Latin America, it is not this or that that is the problem.

                  How much ink has been spilled defending impenetrable remarks and confounding actions?

                  At some point some honest prelate has to stand up publicly and say let us stop all this nonsense.

              • ForChristAlone

                YES!

            • fredx2

              But again we are forced here to “interpret” what Francis actually said. I see your point. Francis might be saying that we should not talk to people with the intention of converting them. But there are untold numbers of conversion stories that result from exactly that kind of interaction. Francis might be saying “Preach at all times and if necessary use words” But we are left once again to struggle with what he means.

              • R. K. Ich

                No offense intended, I get your gist, but I think that overwrought quote from St. Francis needs to go back down in the cellar to age a little while. Beginning to think the devil loves that quote more than those who use it. It’s been the excuse slogan for keeping Catholics from being equipped to *gasp! horror!* pronounce the Gospel to them who are “under the sway of the evil one.”

                I personally don’t care if someone charges me with proselytizing. If the Holy Spirit providentially opens the door for me to declare, “Be ye reconciled to God,” and “Flee the wrath to come,” I will do so. I’d rather them shaken into heaven than comforted into hell.

                • Neihan

                  Agreed. In my personal life I have never seen it used except as a way to discourage preaching the Gospel. However, apparently it’s not an actual quote from St. Francis as there’s no record of him saying it. The closest is an admonishment he gave his friars to not preach unless they had permission, but to nevertheless always preach by their deeds.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Like you, I’ll take my chances with proselytism. Better that than the usual sitting on one’s duff.

                • GG

                  Amen.

    • Murray

      There is an excellent, in-depth examination of the “proselytism” controversy here:

      http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/theology/81-theology/469-proselytism-and-conversion.html

      The author traces the use of the word over several centuries, and shows that its current pejorative definition is a recent innovation by modernists, hostile to any and all evangelization efforts aimed at non-Catholics. He then surveys Pope Francis’s use of the word and shows that he is very much in line with the modernist faction on this question.

      • Michel Lhombreaud

        I read the article you suggested. I think the author takes an extreme view. He’s trying to find instances (often out of context) when Popes might state that “bible bashing” might not always be the best approach, to make it seem as the worst ever betrayal of the Church. It’s a pitty because he also makes valid points. He seems to forget that conversion is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We of course should share – as Pope Francis advocates – our joy of living the Good News with all around us (Catholics included).

        • Murray

          He provides several lengthy quotes with footnotes, either by the pope, by his allies, or by people who met with him, describes the venue and the circumstances in which the remarks were made, and links to attempts by people like John Allen to explain away the remarks … and you want to claim he’s presenting “out of context”? My goodness, what else could you possibly need?

          I never cease to be amazed at the mileage people are able to get out of these implausibilities.

          • Michel Lhombreaud

            Beware that your irony doesn’t lead to sarcasm, Murray! This precisely reflects one of the aspects the article (above, not your link) addresses. One can go too far to justify a preconceived and closed minded view of either opposite hue. I’m afraid your John Allen has gone miles out of his way to find one side of the argument. As to context, first of all the I don’t take as Gospel truth the quotqtions of people who quote the Pope; secondly, what has been said by John Allen to try to understand where the Pope is actually coming from? His culture, his experience under the junta, his suffering under over-rigid priests, nuns and bishops? This is just for starters but I haven’t the time to go on. Being right is neither here nor there. Whether we do the will of God is. How many people have you or John Allen brought into the fold lately?

            • Murray

              A correction: John Allen was one of the journalists cited in the article to provide a counterpoint to the main argument. He is not the author.

              I assure you I am neither being ironic nor sarcastic: I am genuinely astonished at the lengths to which people will go to deny what is plainly evident. If we were taking about any other public figure, we would plainly understand where they’re coming from. The fact that we do not WANT this to be true of the pope has no bearing on whether or not it IS true.

              I don’t see this going anywhere useful. Thanks for the exchange.

              • GG

                And you have hit the central problem. It is one thing for a particular Pope to say and do confusing things. It is another thing for sycophants to spin every single circumstance to the point of absurdity.

              • fredx2

                As the Pope said in his La Nacion interview, you have to separate what the media says about him, which is usually false, from what he says himself. interestingly, he said that we should watch what he WRITES rather than what he says. I take this to mean that he realizes that he sometimes shoots from the lip when talking, and only the things that he takes the care to write should be considered his positions.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Then someone ought to recommend that he say less.

                • GG

                  Sounds dangerous.

              • Michel Lhombreaud

                Sorry, I got the name wrong. It was an incredibly long article. Murray, it cuts both ways. Yes, there’s no doubt that some people will fanatically adhere to every word the Pope utters, but I felt the article you referred to went too far the other way. You are right to challenge those who think the Pope’s always right. I thought I thought Rachel Lu’s presentation was good (In spite of the one or two innacuracies) as she endeavoured to present us with a balanced insight into the matter. I enjoyed reading both her and yourartice. Thanks you.

          • GG

            True, especially from an arch liberal like Allen.

            • ForChristAlone

              He’s not an arch liberal; more like a heterodox

              • GG

                He is both. He took a paycheck from NCR for decades. Who does such a thing? A conservative?

    • Crisiseditor

      The author agrees that “proselytizing” is a better word. We have made the change. Thank you for raising the issue.

      • Daniel P

        Thanks for your prompt action!

  • fredx2

    “When asked in a recent interview why Catholics were continuing to leave the Church, he speculated that it was probably a negative reaction to his advocacy for the poor ”

    I read the link, but did not find anything like this. Can someone point out where he said this?

    • publiusnj

      If the Pope said that, it shows his arrogance.

    • Daniel P

      I am puzzled too. I’m afraid this article contains two factual errors, by my count.

  • JP

    Perhaps the greatest legacy of Pope Francis will be his tendency to seperate Faith from Practice. This is illustrated by the words of Cdl Oscar Maradiago, who labels those who attend Mass as “ritualists”. He said the ultimate question for Christians is whether “you have fed the hungry.”

    This either/or dichotomy is a false one; but, it is prevalent in Central and South America. In Honduras, where Cdl Oscar Maradiago comes from, people identifying themselves as Catholics has dropped from 92% in 1970, to 48% today.

    • Vinny

      You have to be born to be hungry. Maybe that’s why there’s not much preaching or attention on the evil of abortion – it prevents having more hungry people – so abortion is a moral positive!

    • Cdl Oscar Maradiago, who labels those who attend Mass as “ritualists”. He said the ultimate question for Christians is whether “you have fed the hungry.”
      One could imagine that could be the charge of his damnation.
      What has he done? Nobody eats because a Cardinal runs his mouth.

    • fredx2

      You have misquoted Cardinal Maradiaga. He did not say that those who attend mass are ritualists. Common sense should tell you that no Catholic priest would ever say such a thing. Here is what he is reported to have said, via Rorate Caeli, the only web site I could find it on:

      “The President of Caritas International, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, said today in Lisbon that the practicing Catholic is the one who “puts his faith in practice” and that the one who “privatizes” it in the inside of a temple is a “ritualist”.

      “The ultimate question will not be, ‘did you go to Mass or not,’ but ‘did you feed the hungry’. Therefore, we cannot privatize faith inside a temple, in a liturgical celebration,” said the president of Caritas International at the ‘Social Dimension of Evangelization in Today’s World’, promoted by the National Justice and Peace Commission [of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference]. (Source, in Portuguese; tip: Il Sismografo)”

      The point is obvious. Those who go to Mass but do nothing else to live like Christ,are, in fact, ritualists. He did NOT say that those who attend mass are ritualists. Furthermore, judging any Catholic prelate by a snippet that appears in the media is highly dangerous. We know they do not really report the whole truth.

      • “Common sense should tell you that no Catholic priest would ever say such a thing.”

        Worse has been said by a man claiming to be a Catholic priest right here.

        “The ultimate question will not be, ‘did you go to Mass or not,’ but ‘did you feed the hungry’.

        This is still wrong and no less discomforting that he would assert a false dichotomy, and he should know better than to hand the distingineous a contortable quote.

        • GG

          It is a shocking quote, but true to form. Straw men are in vogue.

        • pbecke

          Show me your faith and I will show you my works. Who was it said that? Fidel?

          • What are you trying to say here?

      • ForChristAlone

        And the person who does not worship God in the way that Catholics are expected to (which is to say the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation) and who only “assists the poor” is a simply a liberal do-gooder.

        • Daren

          I agree. Faith without works is dead. But works without faith is also dead.

        • The biggest “liberal do-gooder” I ever knew procured an abortion to conceal a pregnancy caused by a one-nighter with a random dude, just before she “got serious” with her second husband.

        • pbecke

          I seem to remember that, according to Matthew 25, on Judgment Day, God told a puzzled man that what he had done to the least of his brethren, he had done unto Him.

          Of course, it could be, in all seriousness, that you people would figure among the least of Christ’s brethren – one can hope and pray – and that you owe slainte a significant debt of gratitude for at least trying to set you straight..

          • Who are “you people”?

            “set you straight” about what?

            You would think that having taken 20 days to respond to these posts, you could achieve some semblance of coherence and clarity?

      • JP

        Actually I did quote him accurately. It was his office that made the English translation of his homily. And one could say the reverse about those who feed the poor, but are on a path to Hell. And yes, he did say that those who fulfill their obligation, but who do not feed the poor are ritualists.

        The Catholic Church in Honduras is hemorrhaging members. Obviously, Cdl Maradiaga is doing something wrong, as are most Bishops in Central and South America. Catholic membership has been in a steady decline there for 4 decades.

        • In all fairness, it seems to have stabilized in the last decade. More recently, some former Catholics are realizing that Protestant sects are ever splitting and eager to grow in numbers which, associated with numerous outing of pastors in the press as extremely wealthy after becoming leaders of splinter groups, gave them a dissatisfaction of religions as business. And, since the Church seldom gives this impression, makes some take a second look at the faith of their youth again.

      • pbecke

        Faith is not possible without Charity, or for that matter, the other theological virtue, Hope.They form a continuum of supernatural grace in the Holy Spirit, don’t they? Charity, after all, is the sine qua non underpinning all the virtues.

        They must be mutually inclusive ; Faith, however, not necessarily being evidenced by formal credence, as Matthew 25 makes clear. So daily communicants for whom the rest of then world, outside their own family, can go to blazes, are no more children of Abraham than were the worst of the scribes and Pharisees.

  • djc

    I really should be attending to my job but Ms. Lu’s article takes precedence. I agree with her points and would like to reiterate that papacies come and go but the church is eternal. Perhaps those of us who are uncomfortable w/Francis should perhaps listen to what he says and try to learn from it.

    • Rob B.

      Ahhh, but why learn when you can bash?

  • russell snow

    Very sound advice. Might I add that Catholics need, most of all, to pay attention to the plain words and deeds of Jesus, our only teacher, as well as to those of His Blessed Mother and ours, in her Church approved apparitions. Ironically, when Catholic leave the Church for other Christian bodies, they do not realize that many of these ignore some of the most important teachings of Jesus, plainly stated in the Gospel of John: “Unless you eat my Body and drink my Blood, you have no life within you.” As one who has studied the Church for over 40 years, the key problem from top to bottom, I think, is the failure to preach and to teach the fullness of the Gospel and the wickedness which exists in our fallen world and the danger it poses to the salvation of souls. Many people experience the wickedness in their life experiences and need help in connecting these to the Gospel of God’s love and mercy.

  • Susan

    Imitation of Christ. To know Him, to love Him, to serve Him. A life long prayerful journey where joy finds a home in the soul precisely because of our Hope in Christ.

  • publiusnj

    If this Pope goes over the edge on the Kasper Proposal, there will be no ground on which to remain tolerant of his seemingly accommodationist behavior. I have been kinda leery of him from the beginning. I mean the thing about his carrying his own bag and living in the Domus Sancta Marthae was really unimportant, but he made such a big deal about it. Nevertheless, I caught my breath, held my tongue and thought maybe he will get onto more important points. This willing suspension of disbelief continued even past the return flight from World Youth Day during which he uttered the infinitely misunderstandable “Who am I to judge?”

    When he spoke up seemingly favorably toward the Kasper Proposal, though, I grew very concerned. I had a hopeful discussion with a priest on Sunday, Oct. 12 after he preached on the Synod. He seemed sure that the bishops would push back and right the Barque of Peter. Then, though, the interim Relatio Synodi was released on Monday, Oct. 13, and that made it clear to me that there was a concerted effort to push the Kasper Proposal, maybe even with Francis’s connivance. The Kasper Proposal is clearly a break with the plain words of Our Lord and Savior and the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue–an issue key to maintaining the Institution of the Family in a very hostile world–which was recently restated with Papal Approval in Section 1650 of the Catechism of the Catholic Faith.

    My concern only grew in reading news stories on the release of the new book by Austin Ivereigh who identifies Kasper as one of the key campaign managers for Francis’s Election at the 2012 Conclave. So this issue seems one in which Francis really is NOT due the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, unless and until Francis definitively backs down and condemns the Kasper Proposal and the related “Orthodox Praxis” of winking at remarriage, I will do nothing to support the Catholic Church because it is showing distressing signs of not being indefectible. If it is as susceptible to error as any protestant church, then I begin to doubt the scriptural accounts of the founding of the Church. If the Pope backs off this clearly un-Catholic position,though, I will be reassured.

    • fredx2

      The Pope did not make a big deal out of carrying his bag. The media made a big deal about it. He never said a word about it. And his “Who am I to judge” quote was twisted by the media. He made a valid point and he even quoted the Catechism when he said this, so again, it is not him, it is the media.

      Ivereigh has retracted his story. Nothing untoward was done at the conclave.

      The Pope has spoken favorably of some things that Kasper said, but not the entire Kasper proposal. In fact, he has never indicated support for it. He wants the issue explored, to see if something can be done. He clarified his position on the way home from the Holy Land. It turns out that Kasper talked about a lot of things, and most of them were unconnected with the divorced and remarried thing.

      “Second, thank you for your question about the divorced. The synod will be on the family, the problem of the family, the treasures of the family, the present situation of the family. The preliminary talk which Cardinal Kasper gave had five chapters: four of them were on the family, the beauty of the family, its theological foundations, and problems facing families; while the fifth chapter dealt with the pastoral issue of separations, declarations of marriage nullity, divorced persons. . . . Part of this issue is that of communion. I have not been happy that so many people—even church people, priests—have said: “Ah, the synod will be about giving communion to the divorced,” and went straight to that point. I felt as if everything was being reduced to casuistry. No, the issue is bigger and wider. Today, as we all know, the family is in crisis, it is in crisis worldwide. Young people don’t want to get married, they don’t get married or they live to-gether. Marriage is in crisis, and so the family is in crisis. I don’t want us to fall into this casuistry of “can we” or “can’t we?” . . . So I thank you so much for this question, because it gives me the opportunity to clarify this.”

      • publiusnj

        Francis sounds like a politician talking around an issue without ever committing to anything as his own position; thus, allowing himself ultimately to go in any direction he chooses. He won’t reject Kasper’s Proposal but is unequivocal (or as the author of this article might put it: gleeful) in his rejection of critics whom he dismisses as engaging in casuistry. Sorry, but that kind of shell game by the Pope must be classified as not just “casuistry” but as “jesuitical casuistry.”

        While Francis is quick to be critical of the orthodox, he usually leaves open the possibility of adopting radically uncatholic positions. That is why the question “is the Pope Catholic?” can no longer be deemed a rhetorical one.

        • More than one person pointed out that even when Francis is seemingly slashing on both the orthodox and the heterodox sides, he reserves negative adjective to the orthodox side and positive ones to the heterodox one. Freud is a bitch.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The question, “is the Pope Catholic?” is not merely rhetorical, but actually meaningless.

          As Wittgenstein says, “There is one thing of which one can say neither that it is one metre long, nor that it is not one metre long, and that is the standard metre in Paris.—But this is, of course, not to ascribe any extraordinary property to it, but only to mark its peculiar role in the language-game of measuring with a metre-rule.—Let us imagine samples of colour being preserved in Paris like the standard metre. We define: “sepia” means the colour of the standard sepia which is there kept hermetically sealed. Then it will make no sense to say of this sample either that it is of this colour or that it is not.” (Now that the metre has been redefined, we could substitute « Le grand K » and the Kg)

          • You understand the definition of a meter is no longer given by a physical object, but the propagation of light, right?

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              We could update Wittgenstein’s example by substituting le grand K, or simply by focusing on his example of colours

    • Isaac S.

      Have faith! Back in 1968 the media was sure that Pope Paul VI would change the Church’s long-held teachings on artificial birth control. Many of his actions ahead of the Humanae Vitae release gave support to the media’s view. Pope Paul had appointed a commission to study the issue and members of that commission leaked their deliberations to the media much as the Kasperites leaked various documents regarding the recent Synod. The commission did, in fact, recommend to Pope Paul that the teaching be changed, but with the grace given to him by the Holy Spirit the Holy Father held firm. I have faith that this current crisis will have the same end as that one.

      • publiusnj

        I pray you are right.

      • WSquared

        The commission did, in fact, recommend to Pope Paul that the teaching be
        changed, but with the grace given to him by the Holy Spirit the Holy
        Father held firm.

        Why do people presume that just because the Pope convenes such a commission– any commission– that he’s obliged or compelled to agree with their findings? That’s not how the Pope– any Pope at all– operates, and the fact that people howl in protest at not getting their way isn’t his fault: they had their say, he heard them, he doesn’t have to agree.

        Joseph Ratzinger summed the role of the Pope in a very good way: the Pope’s job is to let God’s voice be heard– to make room for God to have His say.

        • Isaac S.

          I think in the modern world people just assume every institution operates by democratic processes. Commissions or legislatures pass a recommendation or policy, and the executive carries it out.

  • lifeknight

    ” In its inerrant form, papal authority is exercised only very occasionally; we don’t have to hang on the pontiff’s every word.”

    THIS is exactly correct! Forget the TV, radio, newscasts, tweets, Facebook posts. Do yourself the favor of NOT listening!
    This, too, shall pass.

  • GG

    Dr. Lu has done a nice job here, thank you.

    There are reasons orthodox Catholics are deeply concerned and liberals are deeply rejoicing. That, in itself, should reveal much to any honest person.

    • Tamsin

      Precisely. Everyone is considering the content, carefully.

    • slainte

      It reveals that people are engaged and the Church is still relevant. Wherever Christ’s vicar is, so too is the Catholic Church.

      Let no power, dominion, or principality divide us from the pope who is our earthly shepherd.

      Vive Papa Francesco.

      • GG

        It is not about relevance. It is about truth.

        • slainte

          The truth is that Christ established the papacy and selected an imperfect man upon whom to build His Church (Peter) and graced us with His presence in the Holy Spirit to guide the pope as the shepherd of His earthly Church. The spirit of this world seeks to separate us from Christ by attacking the papacy and the Church. Let us not cooperate in this unworthy endeavor.

          • GG

            Let us not be intellectually dishonest. Please see Cardinal Burke and George as two references. I doubt they would see their questions in the same light you try to paint here.

            • slainte

              GG have you forgotten Jesus’ words:

              “…He who listens to you, listens to me” (Luke 10:16)”

              “all that you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Mt. 18:18).

              On which matter has Pope Francis spoken ex cathedra in connection with faith or morals has either Cardinal Burke or Cardinal George refuted the Pope?

              • GG

                I have forgotten no such thing. You raise too many straw men.

                The discussion is not about the Pope and ex cathedra.

                Burke and George both raised honest questions about the Pope’s intentions. That is not disloyal or against the will of our Lord. In fact, their questions are consistent with the faith.

                • slainte

                  Cardinals Burke and George should raise questions in the context of a dynamic discussion within the Synod relative to the issues discussed there. Their positions constitute valid counterpoints to the positions held by Cardinal Kasper which will advance the discussion regarding the restoration of the family, the role of mercy in shaping the law consistent with the depository of the faith, and unifying the lost sheep with the Church.

                  I admire both cardinals…in particular Cardinal Burke.

                  • GG

                    Why only in that context?

                    Denying obvious problems is not good or helpful.

                    • slainte

                      Prudential judgment should guide bishops and cardinals when public statements may reasonably be understood to cause scandal, promote division, or cause confusion among the faithful. And yes I would suggest that the Pope exercise care as well.

          • This is a rather Pollyanna view on the papacy. Most popes were mediocre in the shepherding and government of the Church, with some being more than mediocre, but harmful to her. The Holy Spirit guides the Church, not the person of the pope, who remains free to hold even heretical views, as John XXII did. Yet, He always did and always will protect the Church from papal errors.

            • slainte

              In matters of faith and morality, the pope speaking ex cathedra is infallible in his pronouncements of Church doctrine.

              • Which happens about twice a century or less often.

                John XXII had the heretic belief that the dead didn’t have the Beatific Vision until the Final Judgment. He was kind of the first Jehovah Witness. Yet, he never taught this error widely, though it seems that he mentioned it in homilies. By mysterious means, the Holy Spirit never allowed him to include this heresy even in ordinary Church documents. This false teaching was of such great importance that his successor, Clement V, acted swiftly by pronouncing the teaching about the Beatific Vision of the elect ex cathedra.

                Something similar was at work in the synod, I believe. Though Francis tried to stack the deck to see his heretical beliefs validated, first by promoting Kasper, then by appointing the synod secretary, overriding the bishops’ choices of redactors, all who supported his heresies, the Holy Spirit stirred faithful bishops to preserve Church teaching in defiance of the pope. Francis ended up overriding the bishops’ vote in the final report by including what they removed, but I trust that the Holy Spirit will thwart his attempts again.

                It’s quite a thing of beauty how God protects the Church from papal errors.

                • slainte

                  It is quite a thing of beauty how the Holy Spirit is present to the pope in his leadership of Christ’s bride. Christ has been and continues to be true to His word that He will never abandon His bride.

                  We Catholics should be circumspect in our use of words that may be hijacked by enemies of the Church to wound and undermine Pope Francis who is our earthly shepherd.

                  We Catholics should constructively and charitably respond to the pope on issues of relevance but we should not attack him with words or deeds; a distinction worthy of note.

                  • The pope is as free to reject the presence of the Holy Spirit in him as I am. It’s known to have happened quite often. Unfortunately, now in my lifetime.

                    The pope should be circumspect in his use of words that may be hijacked by enemies of the Church to wound and undermine us faithful Catholics.

                    The pope should constructively and charitably respond to the faithful Catholics on issues of relevance but he should not attack us with words or deeds; a distinction worthy of note.

                    • slainte

                      Augustine
                      writes: “…though Francis tried to stack the deck to see his heretical
                      beliefs validated, first by promoting Kasper, then by appointing the synod
                      secretary, overriding the bishops’ choices of redactors, all who supported his
                      heresies, the Holy Spirit stirred faithful bishops to preserve Church teaching
                      in defiance of the pope…”
                      Augustine, I believe you assume things not proven.
                      How do you know that Pope Francis holds “heretical beliefs” that need validating?

                      The Synod process, from its inception,,was and continues to be an initiative to heal the broken family and restore all its members (including those who have been most ostracized) to the penultimate family which is the Catholic Church. This is a Christ ordained mission Pope Francis undertakes which reflects the Good Shepherd’s incarnation into this world to save and restore to Himself the unworthy sinners who were then the lost
                      children of Eve. We who were steeped in the muck of sin were saved by Christ’s unmerited grace and are kept alive today
                      by Him through the consumption of His body and blood…all gifts provided to us by virtue of His mercy alone.

                      Our Lord, in Revelation, shares with us a reaffirmation of His own selfless giving and His humility in the parable of the Prodigal Son. A loving father welcomes home an unworthy son who profligated much of his youth and spent his father’s fortune engaged in a multitude of misdeeds. Yet the father forgave all in the name of mercy and welcomed home the prodigal son with great celebration…much to the chagrin of his more pious other son.

                      The Pope, through the Synod process, appears to seek a spirited engagement and discussion with the Magisterium of the nature and mystery of Mercy as a guiding principle to order the law for the purpose of uniting within the Church God’s scattered children,
                      yet again awash in sin and the culture of death. To do so, Pope Francis has called upon the most vocal advocates of Mercy (ie., Cardinal Kasper) to elaborate upon how Mercy might order the law while not abridging the depository of the faith of which Pope
                      Francis is the guardian.

                      It makes sense therefore that the document entitled “Relatio” and the issues set forth therein should be as broadly defined as possible to include those myriad of sinful conditions affecting individuals which are the cause of separating them from the Church and God’s grace. It is the ostracized; those uncatechized who stand on the sidelines of the faith because they are sinners in need of repentance; those who the culture has convinced
                      that sin does not exist; and those for all sorts of human weaknesses stand outside the stained glass windows peering in…all of these Our Lord wants reconciled with His Church. Pope Francis is the shepherd responsible for gathering them….teaching them the ways of Our Lord… and welcoming them home to the Church.

                      To accomplish this mission, Pope Francis and the Magisterium must understand the nature, the mystery, and the limitations of Mercy.

                      Through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the Synod will hopefully be fruitful and shed light on how Mercy and the Law may collectively work together to unify the broken family with Christ’s Church.

                    • I invite you to reflect on the encounter between Our Lord and the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:3-42). This is the model to show love for one living in sin: never were her illegitimate unions affirmed, but explicitly shown to not be marriages.

                      What Francis tried to do was to sacrifice Truth for the pretense of mercy. Pretense, because, if mercy is divorced from Truth, it’s an affirmation of evil.

                    • slainte

                      I understand your point but how does the Pope reach a culture that does not know or understand the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ…not to mention at least three generations of uncatechized Catholics who don’t believe that “sin” exists and view Catholicism solely through the prism of social justice activities?

                      As you no doubt have observed, there are very few people on the confessional lines these days.

                      Repentance and conversion are needed no doubt…. but conversion is a step by step process for many which requires a change of heart and mind.

                      These are weighty issues which the Pope and Magisterium must discern and it is for that reason that the presence of the Holy Spirit must guide them. We lay Catholics should exercise prudence when we speak of the process and the Pope; there is much that we do not fully understand.

                    • I don’t know. Time will tell if Francis’ approach is significantly fruitful. As you can see in other comments of mine, my first-hand experience with his Latin American style was that it contributed to the decimation of the faithful. Hopefully, I’ll be proved wrong and the Church will grow under Francis.

                    • GG

                      The public debate regarding the synod is hardly helpful or consistent with the faith. Stacking the deck, unending politics, confusion, and then denial and spin do not seem a recipe for evangelization

                      A mess has been accomplished and the synod is only one aspect of it.

                    • slainte

                      GG..a skeptical world has been allowed by Peter’s successor to observe and participate in an age old and often messy process of discussion, debate, and discernment which has played out between Popes and Magisterium for millenia.

                      By making public what was once private, Pope Francis has used the Synod to dispel wrongheaded views of the Church as an antiquated and cold “institution” and replaced those views with an authentic understanding of Christ’s bride as a livingbody actively engaged in discerning God’s will for a world steeped in brokenness…in particular broken families and the brokenness of Christ’s separated churches still reeling from the effects of the reformation.

                      The cantankerous and public exchange of ideas by battling churchmen has merely reinforced the fact that the Church is human and authentic yet is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

                      The Synod is not yet complete and it will continue to play out as a messy process…but it is a purposeful quest by a Church fully engaged with the Holy Spirit to identify ways to fix what is broken by leading people to Christ.

                    • “Pope Francis has used the Synod to dispel wrongheaded views of the Church as an antiquated and cold “institution” ”

                      And the same people who make that complaint will now say the Church is “divided”. You “misunderestimate” the ability of detractors be make arguments of convenience.

                    • slainte

                      Detractors will always do what they do best…criticize without offering viable solutions.

                      I think what Pope Francis does very well is to make the Church more accessible and welcoming to people of good faith who would like to learn more about God. The mystical and transcendent beauty of our Church and its traditions dating back to antiquity await those who will merely enter its doors.

                    • “Detractors will always do what they do best…criticize without offering viable solutions.”

                      There are no “siolutions” only tradeoffs.

                    • GG

                      It is called obfuscation. In fact, Rorate has an excellent piece on this just yesterday:
                      http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2014/12/saying-and-unsaying-synods-orwellian.html

                      Saying and Unsaying: The Synod’s Orwellian Atmosphere
                      The problem is this: when we purposefully leave something unsaid, and in a context where it ought to be said, we are effectively unsaying it.
                      To neglect to say something when every circumstance demands that it be
                      said is not merely absent-mindedness, a want of affirmation, but a
                      destructive omission that undermines the truth, a black hole that sucks
                      the light into itself.

                      Other commentators thought that it was “good” that the Pope encouraged
                      the asking of tough questions and open debate on their answers.

                      The problem is this: many of the questions discussed by the Synod were
                      questions to which the Catholic Faith, not to mention natural law, already has determinate, unequivocal, and immutable answers. Raising these questions
                      is nothing less than a form of mental abuse, a manipulation of feelings
                      and an effort to sow confusion, doubt, and denial. To ask, as if
                      seriously wondering, whether there can be such a thing as homosexual
                      marriage is already to have surrendered to the enemy of human nature; to
                      ask whether active bigamists can receive Holy Communion is already to
                      do violence to the consciences of Catholics and to blaspheme the Blessed
                      Sacrament.

                      The entire piece is excellent and answers Slainte’s assertions very well.

                    • slainte

                      I think there is always hope even for the most stubborn.

                    • GG

                      Not buying that propaganda message. Synods are not meant to confuse or to discuss settled doctrine. What went on recently was a stacked deck to try and get a predetermined outcome. It was thwarted by good men. That is not sausage making but deception.

                      Your exaggerated prose cannot cover up what is obvious to any honest person who is paying attention.

                      And the synod is only part of the problem.

                    • slainte

                      You have thus far accused me of being “intellectually dishonest” and “covering up” and of issuing propaganda,,,I would suggest you take a course in humility as you have seriously erred in your conclusions regarding my intentions.

                      I defer to Pope Francis because I recognize him to be Christ’s vicar and I respect the office of the papacy. I don’t attribute to Pope Francis a deceptive or malignant intent as you apparently do.

                      Please reserve judgment as to Pope Francis’ motivations.

                    • *redacted*

                    • ForChristAlone

                      We must remember that the laity are no less members of the Church than the hierarchy. Yes, the hierarchy have the charism of the Holy Spirit to lead and govern the Church but no baptized Christian is any less imbued with the Holy Spirit than are the hierarchy. As Augustine (the Saint, that is) said Christ became man so that man may become God.

                    • slainte

                      Catholics do not evangelize or at least the ones I know don’t. I guess we have something to learn from the Baptists. 🙂

                    • You mean those who lead people astray to a false religion that condones contraception and divorce?

                    • slainte

                      I think the Baptists are gutsy evangelizers who should convert to Catholicism. : )

                    • I would submit to you that since they do not profess the Gospel in its entirety, they are not evangelizing either.

                    • GG

                      Right, and our current Pope has spoken out against such clericalism.

                    • Our Lord gave us the model for evangelization: “Repent, believe in the Gospels and be baptized.” In other words, the people must first convert away from sin, which opens their hearts to the truth and to grace.

                      I don’t doubt that this is what Francis intends, but I doubt that this is effectively what he’s doing. I doubt that he’s calling the sinners to conversion. Rather, as the secular media demonstrates, they feel affirmed in their sin.

                      It’s really a prudential matter, how to evangelize. It’s not particular to the pope, but to all the baptized, so my disagreement with the pope’s approach is pertinent.

                    • slainte

                      As the Pope has not spoken yet infallibly…few if any know how he will guide the Church with respect to granting access to the Holy Eucharist.

                      As I stated elsewhere, I think Francis will use the Synod as a forum to flesh out the role and limitations of Mercy and for that reason he has given a platform to Cardinal Kasper to elaborate on and debate the issue. Cardinal Kasper will continue to encounter stiff opposition.

                      Francis should take notice of the unintended consequences of liberalizing access to the Holy Eucharist. These consequences may include requests for access to the sacrament by our separated brethren who may view the host as symbol.

                      Maintaining the scriptural requirement of conversion and repentance as a prerequisite would help avoid the slippery slope.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      We do not attract people to Christ by pandering to their sin but presenting the Truth with clarity. People are, in fact, scared off, by a Church that lacks clarity and seems to stand for “anything goes” as we have witnessed for the past 50 years. What Francis presents as “mercy” in the form of Kasperianism is more of the pandering to weakness and sin. I agree with you that the model of Church needed for the contemporary Church is the Woman at the Well. Note, too, that the effect of her being evangelized by Christ himself was that she went on to become an evangelizer herself.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      You get goats by lying to them into the Church; you get sheep by telling the truth. May not be quantitatively much, but then again, who’s in charge of turning hearts finally? In the Acts of the Apostles, after Peter’s thunderous Pentecost sermon, it says the Holy Spirit added 3,000 that day.

                      Pope Peter could have gotten 30,000 in if he had only said, “This Christ was crucified simply by misguided men; and who am I to judge?”

                    • slainte

                      Any possibility we can save a few goats along with the sheep? 🙂

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Well, biblically, no. 😉

                    • GG

                      We do not attract people by pretending the truth is too hard to hear. We do not attract people by meeting them and leaving them in sin or allowing them to assume no change is needed.

                    • disqus_NvJwtmmluz

                      “Through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the Synod will hopefully be fruitful and shed light on how Mercy and the Law may collectively work together to unify the broken family with Christ’s Church.”

                      Don’t we know from the Gospels how Mercy and the Law work together? From St. John the Baptist’s call to repentance to Christ’s institution of the sacraments we know how Mercy and the Law work together.

                  • GG

                    You did not address his point. You merely go on about a topic that is not in dispute.

                  • Slainte, this is a tempest in a teapot.

                    • slainte

                      My concern DE is that we are not according Pope Francis the level of respect due him as the successor of Peter and that we may sometimes act disrespectfully to the office of the papacy.

                      As citizens of a liberal democracy, we are accustomed to openly challenging and even hurling invectives at idiot politicians who engage irresponsibly.

                      But the pope is not a politician, he is Christ’s vicar. If we disagree with the missions he undertakes or the methods he chooses to implement the missions, our response should be couched in humility and reason…never disrespectful or laden with emotion or vitirol.

                      I am perplexed by some of Pope Francis’ actions but I trust the papacy and its infallible teachings….and so I defer and continue to seek guidance through prayer.

                    • While I share your concerns to some extent, I think you are wrong about politics, he is a Head of State a politician and therefore a politician de jure, and if you think he’s not acting as a politician, de facto, google “Cuba”.

                    • slainte

                      Pope Francis lives the biblical principles enunciated by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5: 1-12

                      In particular….

                      “….9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…” Matthew 5:9

                      Cuba and the United States are the beneficiaries of Francis’ fruitful biblical endeavor….all of which was accomplished without firing a single shot.

                    • Political predictions have the same horizon weather forecasts. We’ll see.

                • GG

                  Exactly correct. The orthodox bishops will come forward, again, to correct the error.

              • The things that are discussed here are not infallible ex Cathedra statements.

                • slainte

                  Perhaps he is just overwhelmed. He has so many duties to fulfill and so many souls to lead…and every speech he gives is expected to impart great wisdom.,,a very challenging vocation for a man in his late 70s.

                  • There’s no requirement to give speeches.

        • WSquared

          She might mean that differently: even those who claim not to “care” about “religion” suddenly care every time we get a new Pope. Even if some celebrity pays Catholicism and the Pope a backhanded compliment by caring that Pope Francis “agrees” with them, or lament in public about how nasty “Ratzi the Nazi” was, the Pope registers on the radar in a way that anyone anywhere who has ever started their own church never will.

          Atheists and agnostics care more about religion than they think if they spend most of their time complaining about it.

          It is not about relevance. It is about truth.

          The Truth is always relevant.

          Because it presents a noticeable challenge, and often one that most people don’t like.

          The Truth is still always relevant to a moral relativist: very few self-proclaimed moral relativists actually practice what they preach, and would be absolutely horrified if they ever found themselves on the receiving end of those who have far more power and way less scruples than themselves. Trying to brush off, numb, or flee from the consequences of hypocrisy and incoherence doesn’t suddenly make those things “irrelevant.” If they were truly “irrelevant,” then why bother to deny what we can’t not know?

          • GG

            By relevance I mean “being relevant”. The Truth is more important being seen as relevant.

            • WSquared

              Well, the Truth always throws down the gauntlet, because its very existence begs the question: “relevant to WHAT, man?”

              • GG

                Again, I should have been more clear. The Truth is important than being seen as relevant by moral relativists. We are taking past each other.

          • Atheism is a religion. It is a statement about God, that requires belief. It’s one thing to say “there’s no proof of God” and be an agnostic. It’s another thing to dedicate one’s life to the logical error “there is no God”.

            • Well, agnosticism is also mired by the logical fallacy of the unproven assumption that there must be proof, meaning physical proof. There are plenty of philosophical proofs of God.

          • disqus_NvJwtmmluz

            Agreed. Pope Francis is trying to be relevant without speaking the Truth.

        • pbecke

          Truth without relevance is as useful as relevance without truth.

          • Do you understand the word “relevance”?

            “the condition of being relevant, or connected with the matter at hand:”

            The truth is always relevant. It may be disturbing or unpalatable, but it is always relevant.

  • Vinny

    “Church leaders can still do great damage to souls by obscuring doctrine, which serves to spread confusion and doubt.” I believe that the Church is coming OUT of that era of ”damage” which was accomplished on purpose using Vatican II as cover. We need continuing firm direction and guidance so Catholics once again KNOW what Catholicism is. We’re not at that point quite yet and it seems our Pope’s faith is slightly ahead of where most of the faithful are.

  • Isaac S.

    This is very good advice. I find some of my Catholic friends are constantly bending over backwards to put the Pope’s latest comments or actions in a positive light. I try to explain that popes can just be bad at their jobs just like anyone else; the ability of a given pope to be good at his job has no impact whatsoever on the truths of the Catholic faith.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    I have never gotten used to ‘having two living popes’. I have never gotten used to not knowing why I have two living popes. No sophisticated arguments from me, just vague and persistent nausea.

    • ForChristAlone

      I think it was a poor decision on Benedict’s part. The office ought to be taken to the death – just as JP II did. Let’s not forget that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar on earth – you know, the one who took it to the death.

      • I wonder if Benedict regrets his decision.

        • ColdStanding

          and what happened to that box of files we see BVXI sliding ‘cross the table to Francis?

        • Benedetti

          Benedict XVI is a holy man. He looks at things in the light of eternity unlike the pharisaical rabble that pollute the comment boxes with their venom these days. You do him a great dishonor by associating him with sinful distortions of the Faith.

      • Marcelus

        According to the journalist, Benedict explained that, when he initially stepped down, he wanted to be called “Father Benedict” rather than pope emeritus or Benedict XVI, but “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”

        At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true pope” is, Bremer reported.

        Benedict encouraged the journalist to write about his desire, saying, “Yes, do that; that would help.”

        In their conversation, Benedict also spoke of his current relationship with Pope Francis, saying, “We maintain good contact [with each other].”

        “Francis has a strong presence, much stronger than I could ever have with my physical and mental weaknesses,” he observed. “To remain in my office would not have been honest.”

    • Technically, when Benedict renounced the papacy, he ceased to be the Vicar of Christ (v. http://bit.ly/16oyfZz ).

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        i.e. no big deal. I still remember that lightning strike on the basilica of St. Peter the day he ‘renounced’.

    • Marcelus

      According to the journalist, Benedict explained that, when he initially stepped down, he wanted to be called “Father Benedict” rather than pope emeritus or Benedict XVI, but “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”

      At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true pope” is, Bremer reported.

      Benedict encouraged the journalist to write about his desire, saying, “Yes, do that; that would help.”

      In their conversation, Benedict also spoke of his current relationship with Pope Francis, saying, “We maintain good contact [with each other].”

      “Francis has a strong presence, much stronger than I could ever have with my physical and mental weaknesses,” he observed. “To remain in my office would not have been honest.”

      In his comments,

      • I would think that properly, he would have returned to being Cardinal or Bishop Ratzinger, but given the unprecedented nature of his resignation, it’s all new territory.

        • Objectivetruth

          I think those who surround the humble, saintly Bavarian might quietly and affectionately call him “Father Joe.”

      • Objectivetruth

        “To remain in my office would not have been honest.”

        The key word there is “office.” In the Acts of the Apostles, the remaining apostles are not replacing Judas, but his “bishopric,” his slot in the hierarchy. For Benedict to be called “Father” is totally appropriate, and speaks to the genuine humility of the man.

    • pbecke

      Wow. The pathology becomes clearer and clearer and more and more baffling.

  • Susan

    The complaining ought to STOP. The groundwork, the blueprint of how Christian life ought to be lived is over 2000 years old. The Vicar of Christ does proclaim Christ. As a Christian and more so as a Catholic, it is our duty and obligation to personally get to know Christ more and more with every breath. Blaming others is a self indulgence we must do without. Imitate Jesus. Imitate Our Blessed Mother and look to the lives of the Saints to better understand the daily struggle it is, to follow Christ. It is an intimate journey with Christ and a communal profession of our Faith when we exercise the Catholic way of living.
    Stop looking for ways to ‘interpret’ Pope Francis’ every move, be faithful to Christ and all will be well.

  • Susan

    One last comment: blaming the Pope for things gone wrong has become a form of entertainment. Every sincere Catholic knows the path to being faithful, it is our own individual lives which can ‘evangelize’ and make the light of Christ shine for others.

    • Marcelus

      a sport or competition rather

  • JohnE_o

    I dunno, he seems okay to me…

  • “When asked in a recent interview why Catholics were continuing to leave the Church, he speculated that it was probably a negative reaction to his advocacy for the poor (as though prosperity preaching were a hallmark of previous Catholic eras). ”

    That might be the single most disturbing comment I have read from or about this Pope.
    It assumes the greatest poverty is material, and not spiritual.

    • Murray

      As others have pointed out, we need an actual quote here. I don’t recall him saying this, or at least not in those terms. It doesn’t appear in the la nacion interview, as far as I can see.

    • And of course, for you, you don’t really see the connection between the two, do you?

      • Oh I see it quite well, but I’ll bet you have it inverted.

        But for the benefit of those who don’t mind having their intelligence insulted;
        (as GG pointed out, not believable by anybody with an IQ above 70) tell us again how the cohabitation phenomonon is caused by “greedy landlords”, rather than a freefall in sexual morality.

        • Inverted? It’s an equivalent dysfunctional cycle in which cause and effect go in a circle, and the only way to even begin to break out is to address both simultaneously. Address only one, and the other will yank you right back down to the same bad behavior and bad decision making.

          • Oh, ok. Contorted rather than inverted.

            • Yes, I can believe distorted from the point of view of somebody who believes that there are no economic failures, only spiritual failures.

              • No somebody who understands two things:
                1.) The Church’s most important job is the salvation of souls.
                2.) Market failure is not everything that gets your panties in a wad.

                • Market failure is intimately connected to the ability of souls to get to heaven. It is in fact one of the four sins that cry out to heaven for vengance.

                  • No.

                    The two sins that cry to heaven for vethat are economic in nature are as follows:

                    oppression of the poor (Ex 2:23), and defrauding workers of their just wages (Jas 5:4).

                    You will note that both require intentional human action, they are fraudulent acts. The biggest purveyors of these sins are government entities, who entrap the poor in schemes of dependency and who take money from those that earn to reward friends in vote and contribution buying schemes.

                    Market failure is a situation in which the allocation of goods and services by a free market is not efficient. It’s a limitation that occurs when goods are nonrivalrous and nonexcludible, (public goods). It’s a limitation of life, not an intentional act of fraud.

                    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-are-sins-that-cry-to-heaven-for-vengeance-and-sins-against-the-holy-spirit

                    Of course you might be more familiar with the six sins against the Holy Spirit.

                    Despair, presumption, envy, obstinacy in sin, final impenitence, and deliberate resistance to the known truth.

                    • It is the second I was referring to, because the first thing that happens in any economic collapse is that businesses fail to meet payroll.

                      Everything that happens with economics is intentional, because economics is artificial. God did not create economics, the sinful nature of man did. God created a world of plenty, it took mankind to invent scarcity.

                    • Just stop.

                    • I forgot, you cannot stand facts.

                    • So now you are trying comedy?

                    • Everything I write has been either tragedy or comedy. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

                    • It is tragedy that you remain convinced of and dedicated to things that cause you and your family real harm and waste time.

                      When you aren’t trying to talk about money, finance and economics, you often write coherently, convincingly and clearly. As soon as the topic is filthy lucre, not so much.

                    • It is more that you have a radically different set of assumptions and axioms about what economics and money is than I do. And you will never understand my point of view on that topic until you understand that money is a tool.

                    • I have education, training and experience that’s the difference.
                      Why would I want to flail in the darkness?
                      And I understand money is a tool. You are the one that imbues in with spiritual quantities and make it a be all and end all and the object of conspiratorial nightmares.
                      Of course, it really isn’t necessary to have an advanced degree in a financial discipline to have a balanced perspective, my late grandmother left school at 15 to work as a seamstress and she understood caskets don’t come with pockets. Even though she didn’t leave me with that trust fund you imagined, she taught me what matters.

                    • pbecke

                      Are you the ‘go to’ man for Christian theology?

                    • As I previously stated, with the amount time between the post and the response, you should have been able to imbue your response with more coherence and clarity.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.’ – Wkipedia

    • Marcelus

      have you found one from hiim to be not distirbing?

      • Many. There was something I read a few months ago about the necessity and efficacy of Baptism. Short, sweet and convincing.

        • Marcelus

          fair enough.

    • Marcelus

      this is what he said, not that:

      -A recent survey (Pew) confirmed that, despite the “Francis effect”, Catholics still keep leaving the Church.

      -I am familiar with the figures disclosed at Aparecida, it´s the only information I have. There are evidently several factors of influence, independent of the Church. The theology of prosperity, for instance, just to quote an example, has inspired many religious propositions which people feel attracted to. These people, however, end up in the middle. But let´s leave out factors which are external to the Church. I wonder about ourselves, what is it that we ourselves do, what is within the Church that makes the faithful unhappy? It´s that people don´t feel we are close enough, it´s clericalism. Today , to be close means to reach out to Catholics, to seek people out and be close to them, to sympathize with their problems, with their reality. Clericalism, as I told the CELAM bishops in Río de Janeiro, stopped laypersons from maturing. Precisely, laypersons are more mature in Latin America when they express popular piety. Clericalism was always an issue for lay organizations. I spoke of it in Evangelii Gaudium.

    • Howard

      It’s also pretty narcissistic.

    • Objectivetruth

      Agreed. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said the wealthiest nation in history (United States) has the greatest spiritual poverty. And the spiritual poverty is far more deadly than material poverty.

    • pbecke

      Pray that he is right.

  • hombre111

    Rachel Lu, from her photo at least, is a young woman. The Pope John Paul she might have known was a tottering old man. She was not around when he was a rock star who did nothing to discourage a cult of the papacy. As a matter of fact, under his authoritarian reign, the Church came close to fulfilling the Protestant criticism that it is a cult. A cult, if you remember, is an organization centered around a single powerful leader surrounded by an inner circle that gains its power by being close to its leader and enforcing orthodoxy. Anyone who asks a question or has a wonder is punished as a dissenter. It was under his interminable reign that “Orthodox Catholics” first appeared. The man left the Church more divided than he found it,

    • ColdStanding

      That isn’t the Catholic definition of cult, or, in the Latin, cultus. It is more like some pseudo-scientific psychological definition. Says a lot.

      Your boys put Montini on the Papal chair and used the full weight of the office to ram through pet projects of the likes of Chenu, Rahner, and Küng and the episcopal enablers. Don’t cry to us that the price they were willing to pay was a Pope on steroids.

      • hombre111

        Don’t forget that it was Montini who signed that immortal document cherished by any conservative worth his Grapenuts, Humanae Vitae.

        • ForChristAlone

          That is irrevocable Church teaching, not your type of bell-bottom theology.

        • Grapenuts was the signature cereal of hippy dippy tree huggers everywhere, long on carbohydrates that spike the blood sugar, short on proteins or fats, Euell.

          • hombre111

            Heh! Good description of Grapenuts. But actually as I remember it, it was marketed to constipated people as a source of fiber.

    • Speaking of tottering old men…

      Under the reign of you and your ilk, the Church came close to fulfilling the Protestant criticism that it is unbound.

      The Hombre church. Every third Sunday we a collection of condoms for the poor, sodomy is officially recognized as a form of natural intercourse, and his church is just another NGO.

      Still can’t keep your promise to depart, huh?

      • hombre111

        Think of me as a barnacle on the Barque of Peter.

        • Barnacles are useless parasites.
          You are more like a termite, weakening the critical load bearing structures.
          Now keep your promise. Maybe you can go bother your ex-priest friends, who at least had the decency to stop being leaks in the payroll.
          Maybe you can go bother John Shelby Spong.

    • fredx2

      This post, I am afraid, is a bit silly. It is below your usual thoughtful commentary. The idea that the church devolved into a cult of personality is nonsense on its face. There were so many dissenters in JP II’s time, all of them constantly taking potshots at him. He did very little about it. The universities remained filled with liberal theologians who disagreed with everything he said.. Bishops were constantly differing with him. He appointed so many liberal bishops it is not funny. The term “Orthodox Catholics” appeared because we had wallowed in some new thing for decades which had little connection to Catholicism.

      • ForChristAlone

        nailed it!

      • hombre111

        Historians are already saying that he ignored Vatican II’s teaching on collegiality among the bishops, and centralized Church authority to an astonishing level. This is what gave the appearance of a cult, and I admit I might have pushed the metaphor. I can understand why he did it. He came from a Polish Church that struggled to survive the Nazis and the communists. Authority in that situation cannot depend on consensus. You need a strong leader who calls the shots. So he instinctively did what had served the Church well during times of desperate crisis. Unfortunately, history had moved on. Now the crisis is different. St. John Paul repeatedly reminded everybody “the Church is not a democracy.” But we instinctively think in a democratic fashion. Somehow, the Church has to maintain its structure while giving people some sense of participation, or those who think democratically will not buy into the Church.

        You can see Pope Francis trying to develop the collegiality model promoted by the Council. The synod is a good example. Previous synods were controlled from the top, and the bishops participating knew they had to toe the company line. The conclusions of these synods were foregone conclusions. What the Pope is doing now is messy, and fascinating.

        • Francis set the agenda of the synod when he promoted Kasper to address the assembly, then he appointed its secretary, overrode the bishops’ choice of redactors and included in the final report what the bishops voted to not include. Francis had a reputation of being authoritarian from his term as local provincial of the Jesuits; he still is an authoritarian.

    • GG

      Oh, 1970 is gone but the old libs will not be corrected. They are stuck in their childish, and relativistic, rebellion. It is so passe.

      • ForChristAlone

        Using a phrase another here employed: Fr Hombre spews “bell-bottom theology.

        • GG

          They worship Rahner and Schillebeeckx. They embrace relativism and view social work as the faith.

    • ForChristAlone

      Please just go away and stay away. Be a man of your word.

    • papagan

      Pope St. John Paul II was both exceptionally popular and a strong, compassionate leader. Believers should be grateful for his compassionate strength and for his ability to reach out to so many people. Similarly, believers should be grateful for the gift that the Church has received in Pope Francis. I believe that he will be a sign of contradiction to extreme elements at either end of the spectrum. One shouldn’t worry about the fate of either Christian faith or moral doctrine under his leadership.

      • ForChristAlone

        Unfortunately, he’s not a sign of contradiction so much as an epitome of contradiction. That’s what all the fuss is about.

        • papagan

          I’m sorry you feel that way. Many draw hasty conclusions.

          • ForChristAlone

            This is NOT a feeling. It is a judgment rendered of the intellect.

      • hombre111

        I could say amen to that.

        • You’d say amen to a lot of things, but who are you to judge?

        • ForChristAlone

          Perhaps you could give an “amen” to your promise to leave these pages and not return.

          • hombre111

            And leave you all alone inside your closed loop with its one dimensional perspective? Yea verily, the great Yahweh Sabaoth would smite me with the rod of his anger, the fury of his wrath. :>)

            • ForChristAlone

              enough with the loop metaphor; you’re tiresome as usual

  • Bill Russell

    By John Paul II’s “predecessor” do you mean successor?” His predecessor of course was John Paul I.

  • Siwash

    What’s really needed is for the Pope to explain to the world exactly why Catholics should follow church teaching rather than whatever ad hoc response they may have to difficult moral issues. People need to understand just how difficult it is to create for themselves a well-formed individual conscience: it is much much more than just agreeing with the current popular sentiment, or a gut take intuition or feel-good on things.

  • Desmond

    American Catholics need to stop allowing the media to distort and divide us from our Mother. The Pope has not spoken against doctrine (See the actual transcripts of his remarks at the Synod). His words are completely manipulated. (Recently, he was accused of declaring in effect that “all dogs go to heaven.” His holiness was actually paraphrasing from the first four articles of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa, Question 91. The Fifth article deals with the question of animals and souls, and it dismisses the notion. The Pope did not go into that article because the topic was not the subject of his speech. The media only related that “some have interpreted” his remarks as going against doctrine. This shameful example of distortion has been added to the litany of false charges leveled at the Supreme Pontiff).

    The problem is that we listen to those who have an avowed animus toward our Church. No one reads the original texts, we allow the charlatans in the media to interpret and think for us. Woe to thee who cannot tell enemy from friend. The Catholic laity in America only lives according to those teachings that it “feels” are acceptable to the popular culture. We should start to live like Catholics rather than seek the approval of those who want us to give up our Faith.

    Moreover, bad and wayward priests (and even some acting “Popes”) have always been with us. The Church has stood for 2000 plus years, and she will stand until He comes again. Believe it.

    Finally, the laity can help regain what has been forgotten and demand a renewal. If we don’t seek accommodation, the Church won’t. If our prelates see a strong faith and an active and engaged laity, then perhaps they would find the courage to speak firmly rather than obliquely. We are their “soldiers.” If we are spiritually unfit for combat, then they have no army to combat the opposing horde.

    Keep that Faith and carry on, my people. The rest will take care of itself. The example of you living a faithfully Catholic life will do more good than fretting about the state of the world. Take heart that the world is a mess: if it were not, then He would have no need to come to us for the second and final time.

    • somebigguy

      What he said.

    • Francis’ actions at the synod speak loudly: first, he promoted the heresies of Kasper; then he tried to control the conclusion of the synod by appointing its secretary, also in favor of said heresies, and then by overriding the choice by the bishops of the report redactors, all in favor of said heresies. After the Holy Spirit stirred a handful of faithful bishops, Francis again included int he final report what the bishops voted out.

      It’s pretty clear that, like John XXII, Francis holds heretical views. Yet, I’m encouraged that the Holy Spirit has protected the Church from his errors and will copntinue trusting Him over Francis.

      • Desmond

        Pope Francis said in his remarks that those who seek to offer communion to men and women living in sin are “attempting to close a wound before it has healed.” The heretical remarks were likely included because the Pope promised that all could speak their minds openly. It is better that those teaching false doctrines and spreading dissension make their remarks in the light of day. It was an intelligent move on the part of the Pope. Now the flock knows who to trust and who they must pray return to the folds of truth.

        • GG

          Not buying that for a minute. Allowing error does not help at all. It leads others astray.

        • JP

          I read the Pope’s closing remarks to the Synod (provided by the Vatican); I didn’t read what you quoted

          • Marcelus

            The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.

      • Desmond

        Moreover, as I said in my original post, lashing out angrily at this or that prelate will not solve much. Living a faithfully Catholic life carry will ultimately you home. Finally, a faithful Catholic population gives our Church leaders “soldiers” that will, through God’s grace, give them the courage to proclaim the truth without fear. Church leaders have no “army” to combat the opposing horde until we all begin to live as Catholics rather than those wishing acceptance by the temporal powers and societies. Our faithful and unabashed resolve will push the faithful priests to positions of authority.

    • papagan

      Thank you for your helpful comments. I believe we’re in basic agreement. I would add something about the following remark in the article: «When asked in a recent interview why Catholics were continuing to leave the Church, he speculated that it was probably a negative reaction to his advocacy for the poor (as though prosperity preaching were a hallmark of previous Catholic eras). This is just one instance in which he has seemed lamentably deaf to the possible pitfalls of his mainstream-culture-friendly approach.» Perhaps not. Perhaps the Holy Father’s response was exactly on mark, and his courageous emphasis on solidarity and the common good has had a profoundly unsettling affect upon various believers who have uncritically assimilated certain aspects of modernity vis-à-vis labor and capital. See, for instance, this controversial item published in National Review Online: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/227839/i-caritas-veritate-i-gold-and-red/george-weigel.

      • “Perhaps the Holy Father’s courageous emphasis on solidarity and the common good has had a deeply unsettling affect upon various believers who have uncritically assimilated certain aspects of modernity vis-à-vis labor and capital.”

        Or perhaps we need an equally courageous emphasis on SUBSIDIARITY.

        • papagan

          Sadly, not a few emphasize the principle of subsidiarity and downplay or ignore the principles of solidarity and the common good. All of these principles should be respected and observed.

          • You are simply out of your mind, pagan.

            Subsidiarity is ignored, and what’s pushed as solidarity is socialism.

            • papagan

              The charge of socialism has been heard before. Many fail to understand Catholic social teaching (CST). CST is no surrogate for capitalism as it is commonly understood and practiced today. Read Centesimus annus, no. 42. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_01051991_centesimus-annus_en.html

              • Socialism is an error. Statism is idolatry. It’s all the left offers.

                • papagan

                  Both socialism (in violation of the principle of subsidiarity) and laissez-faire capitalism (in violation of the principles of solidarity and the common good) are seriously problematic. Moreover, it is a great mistake to hold that these are the only two realistic political options. Neither of those two options is fully compatible with the Christian message, notwithstanding the various attempts at reconciliation.

                  • ForChristAlone

                    Subsidiarity and solidarity have nothing to do with politics. It is about the Church’s relation vis a vis the larger society

                    • No, they are universal principles that must be applied to specific situations, whether political or not.

                    • papagan

                      “Subsidiarity and solidarity have nothing to do with politics.” REALLY??? Whoever makes such a claim has more than a little homework to do in terms of developing a proper understanding of the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.

                  • If one is suspicious of laissez-faire capitalism, one is suspicious of solidarity, the only way to achieve the common good.

                    • papagan

                      “If one is suspicious of laissez-faire capitalism, one is suspicious of solidarity, the only way to achieve the common good.” That remarkable statement provides readers with a splendid example of fallacious reasoning. Anyone who understands both laissez-faire capitalism and the principles of solidarity and the common good will see the problem. Neither solidarity nor the common good, which are distinct but inseparable in practice, presuppose laissez-faire capitalism. Open your eyes and see the toxic harvest of laissez-faire capitalism.

                    • QED

            • ForChristAlone

              Solidarity is the meme of the Leftists in the crowd. Subsidiarity belongs to those with common sense. That’s why it’s so underplayed; the Leftists have no common sense.

  • Bucky Inky

    I found this to be an encouraging and edifying article, Rachel – Thank you.

  • St JD George

    I think it is not so straightforward and that there is a balance and personality dimension. I think we want a Pope who connects with people because human interaction is the best way to share the good news who is Christ. Someone who is “monkly” probably is not the best to fulfill that mission. The dangers of course as you’ve so eloquently noted are the temptations to be drawn into this world and not in it. I think JPII was strong and had that balance. Off to a shaky start but time will tell for Francis. I cringe a lot but want to give him the benefit of the doubt on most things. When I heard him trumpet time is running out this week I about fell out of my chair.

    • pete

      Maybe he knows something we don’t know. Mary at Fatima warned the world about it’s sinfulness and WWII. Also that if Russia was not consecrated by the Pope and Bishops, that God would chastise the world, and that Russia would be His instrument, that nations would be annihilated. Pope Francis may also believe that the Akita message from Blessed Mary is also relevant. One may “poo poo” such information, but the centennial of Fatima is in a couple of years, and there is a real concerted effort by war-mongers to “corner the grizzly”. A nation which drops millions of pounds of TNT on other nations should not be surprised if they receive a “big bang” in return.
      If one believes that the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Catholic Church then there is no need for fear regarding the elected Pontiff. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Seems like a lot of people are upset that they were not consulted by the Holy spirit before He allowed the election of the current Pontiff.

      • St JD George

        He knows something that we don’t – of that I have no doubt. I also believe God guides him in ways we don’t always understand.

    • GG

      Propaganda piece.

      • And yet, one for the Church rather than against Her.

        • GG

          The article blames the media for everything.

          • Not entirely if you follow through on the click throughs- there were at least three incidents where the error seems to be that of a progressive in the translation-to-English department of the Vatican.

            But if you didn’t know that the media in the United States was left leaning to the point of being untrustworthy, I for one have to wonder why it took Pope Francis being elected for you to notice. This sort of crap has been going on for most of my life, and has contributed heavily to the culture we have today in the United States

            • GG

              The entire piece is spin.

              • So were the original articles referenced, every single one

            • I read Francis in his native Spanish and in Italian. His writings lack clarity and are difficult to translate sometimes.

              • It isn’t just Francis who is apparently difficult to translate. One of the three incidents was in the interim Synod document, where “evaluate” somehow became “value”.

                I think we need doctrinal review on translations. And maybe a new, updated web service version of the Nihil Obstat for blog posts.

                • No, the problem was that in Italian the verb “valutare” can be translated as either “evaluate” or “value”. Of course, the problem was created by Francis, who, betraying custom, decided that the report would be in Italian, a language that many bishops are not fluent in, instead of in Latin, a language that most bishops should be able to understand.

  • Francis is the typical Latin American bishop. There are many bishops who are virtual celebrities and widely liked, yet, under their watch, the Catholic population has been culled by Protestant heresies and led millions to apostasy.

    The reason is perhaps quite simple: how many sinful situations has Francis challenged to repentance and conversion? Those who fawn over him have not exactly stormed RCIA classes, even after almost two years. On the contrary, they feel affirmed in their sinful choices, including the choice of not being affiliated to any religion.

    Francis is liked not because he’s the new face of Catholicism, but because he’s regarded as the new face of relativism. He’s not considered as an evangelizer to by those outside the Church, but as a reformer of the Church, as a pope who’ll bring the Church to the current times, accepting its mores and tenets. In other words, they think that it is the Church that needs to convert… to their sinful worldliness.

    Look at Latin America: those serious about faith, flocked to heretical sects; those indifferent to faith, became virtual pagans. Only a small remnant remained, in spite of being vilified by their shepherds much like Francis does at a world scale. Why, look no further than Buenos Aires: under Card. bergoglio, Mass attendance fell from 25% to 20%.

    Francis’ generation and himself are responsible for the greatest apostasy that the Church has ever experienced, even greater than the Protestant Revolt. Yet, they elected one of their own to the throne of Peter.

    While I don’t believe that Francis is more powerful than the protector of the Church, the Holy Spirit, as the failure of Francis to steer the synod to apostasy demonstrated, he will cause much more havoc.

    Then again, we’ve probably been spoiled. After a couple of holy and brilliant popes in a century blessed with mostly solid popes, Francis returns the papacy to the norm of mediocre popes. In the last thousand years, merely seven popes were raised to the altars. So, welcome to the old normal, but worry not, the Church is greater than the pope.

    • GG

      Well said. Spot on correct.

    • “Why, look no further than Buenos Aires: under Card. bergoglio, Mass attendance fell from 25% to 20%.”

      Butts in pews is one of the few quantifiable measures of Sacredotal or Episcopal performance, and it apparently is unused as an indicator.

      In one of the linked articles here, the Pope compared the Church to a hospital. If we are to be guided by medical analogies; then “first do know harm” needs to be part of the treatment.

      • James

        “Butts in pews is one of the few quantifiable measures of Sacredotal or Episcopal performance…”

        No it is not. That roughly 50% of those butts you point to accept the idea of abortion as a legal right shows your assertion to be delusional.

        • What do you think the percentage is among those getting some extra z’s on Sunday? Your response is a non-sequitir.

        • In a way it is. A bishop has to account for the number of the faithful receiving the sacraments. If the number of baptized is declining, an indirect result of empty pews, he’ll have some explaining to the pope. That is, at least until popes St. JPII and BXVI.

          • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

            I totally agree with your first point of Pope Francis being the tipical L.A bishop. But here I must say that I think that butts on pews have no relation to number of baptisms. I’m living in South America (Uruguay) and I give prebaptismal catechesis so I can tell you without fear of error that down here many of those that baptise their children have rarely seen the inside of a church most have never recieved holy communion. The majority of them are not married or have any intention of being and think it is just fine, they have been baptized by their parents and then recieved no formation and no other sacrement and are in the process of doing the exact same with their children. I have talked many a time to the parish priests about this and how I think we are doing them a terrible disservice by baptising them this way but only one listened in any meaningfull way ( he passed away a year ago, may God give him peace and recieve his soul for he was a good man an excellent priest). Now I’m in the process of leaving this activity to someone else who can do it without a heavy concience I can no longer. So you can understand why I think the number of baptisms are no indicator of anything meaningfull. Butts on pews are even though 50% do hold on to errors because the percentage of those who don’t ever or rarely come to church that hold to grave error is nearing 100%. I think the best indicator of how good a priest or bishop is and how well he is doing his job is the frequency of recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation. Look closely at that and you will see it is dismal. If you find a parish where many go to receive the sacrament of confesion and absolution and they do it frequently give thanks to God for there he has given the fabulous gift of a faithfull and dedicated and most probably self sacrificing priest.

            • 4Subsidiarity

              Well said. Our priest in rural British Columbia is also working hard to ensure that there is actually a conversion….a living relationship with Jesus before administering sacraments. Cradle Catholics don’t get it. Converts like myself do. It’s not about filling pews. It’s much better to have genuine spiritual fellowship with Jesus and 5 others than it is to be in a packed Church that goes through the motions.

          • pbecke

            ‘If the number of baptized is declining, an indirect result of empty
            pews, he’ll have some explaining to the pope. That is, at least until
            popes St. JPII and BXVI.’

            That does not necessarily reflect wisdom. Yes, mercifully, there are people who recognise the wickedness of relativism and deplore it. However, there are also many people who have recognised the church’s alliance with the rich, and left it; and now those who bitterly lament Francis’ reversion to the Gospel values and exaltation of the poor, in place of the medieval, imperial court; others again, who look for a church with an easier, less demanding kind of doctrine, across the board.

      • hombre111

        The Church lost its credibility in Argentina when a lot of bishops sided with the army in the dirty war, which caused 30,000 “desaparecidos.” During Bergoglio’s time, the press was investigating the role of the Church. He admits he was too passive about it, but was not implicated as some priests and bishops were.

        This contrasts sharply with the bishops in Chile, who opposed Pinochet and tried to defend the interests of the poor.

        • ForChristAlone

          Render to Caesar….the church needs to stay out of politics. It’s not why we have church. Leave politics to laymen and women. Clergy need to stay out of it. It’s not their role in the church.

        • Speaking of lost credibility, how’s the promised departure going?

          • pbecke

            Still trying to run before you can walk, DE?

        • Not so easy. In Brazil, El Salvador and Nicaragua, for example, the bishops sided with the opposition and yet the Catholic population in those countries is barely lingering on the majority. Take Honduras, whose primate, Card. Maradiaga, chosen as an advisor to the pope, strongly opposed the status quo let the Catholic population was halved to minority in his watch.

          What’s common among the bishops where the Catholic population was decimated, whether they sided with the opposition or not? They were all like Bergoglio: mealy mercy at the expense of Truth.

          • hombre111

            The only countries you mention that I am familiar with are Brazil and Nicaragua. The bishops in Nicaragua sided with the rich, and maintained the status of royalty. In Brazil, the bishops are also quite removed from the people. The priests are few. And so you have a rigid authority struggle with its “correct” liturgies trying to compete with charismatic churches with great music, a lot of personal participation, and great sermons that have to do with the daily lives of the people. I am most familiar with the Mexican people, who face the same problem. For instance, a little village will see a priest once every several months. The final time he comes, the village elders inform him they have a minister who lives with them, who is aware of their lives and their needs.

            The Mexican Church has tried to respond, and I see the results here in the US in my lifelong work with Mexicans. The Cursillo has played a huge role. The music is terrific. And so, an average weekend in a place where I help out. The 5:00 Mass–the usual emotionless pious silence, a 1/3 filled church, with a one vocalist accompanied by her piano. Basically, a miserable experience and I wonder what keeps those stoic Catholics coming back. The 7:00 Mass–Greeters are there to welcome everybody who enters as if they were family. Families and friends sit together. The Church is jammed. The music, Mexican to the core, fast-paced, filled with emotion, is outstanding. There is a tremendous sense of shared love and worship that shakes me to the core. After Mass, together in the small dining room, enjoying Mexican food together, with kids running all over the place.

            The longing for Gregorian Chant and a mystical experience is a Gringo problem. Hispanics do not pine for Gregorian Chant. And as I learned from a Jew very familiar with the Seder Meal, the Passover Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples was a party, with singing and dancing. It is designed that way. When we re-enact the Last Supper, it becomes this solemn, almost gloomy affair.

            • As a Brazilian, I can say that you are positively wrong and misinformed.

            • Fides_et_Ratio

              Liberation theology certainly doesn’t help. I have been to many Brazilian sermons, and watched irritated as the priest spoke of nothing but his opinion of social justice, completely ignoring virtue (other than social justice), family, friendship, vocation, prayer, conversion. He never quoted other readings of Scripture and he never, never, never quoted Tradition or the Magisterium. He even promoted black legends against his own Church, such as an alleged council to decide whether women had souls, when the pro-woman side won by only one vote (I immediately suspected and later confirmed that this is a fabrication). He once said that he sides with the people and not with the hierarchy.

              It is no wonder that the people left for charismatic evangelical pastors who actually quote the Bible and talk about Jesus. It is also no wonder that the youth who remained is often connected with the Charismatic Renewal (hated by the liberation theologians), while Liberation Theology only serves as a pesticide against vocations and a cause of apostasy.

              • hombre111

                I agree with you. LIberation Theology only makes sense within the context of Christ’s love and our redemption. I would never do what your priest did. But at the same time, I have learned the difference between what priests say, and what people hear, and so I take your description with a grain of salt. I think of my twice a year discussions about parish finances, and the gripe going around the parish that “all this priest ever talks about is money.”

                So, I enthusiastically support the New Evangelization. But It has to be good news to the poor, and not just the comfortable, and that kind of good news is what got Jesus killed. Pheme Perkins, a great biblical scholar, noted the enthusiastic followers of Jesus, in the beginning. .But then he asked them to live as if God’s Kingdom had already come, which had certain implications about the way we treat our possessions and long for pleasure and power. Suddenly, Jesus was teaching the remnant, who followed him to Jerusalem, where he was crucified.

                Once in a while, I get up in the pulpit and do a kind of dialogue with myself, asking what it means to live as if the Kingdom of God has already come. I quickly see those folded arms in the congregation, as people turn me off. I tried it once in a state meeting with the Knights of Columbus, and almost left the podium a virgin and a martyr.

                • Fides_et_Ratio

                  > “But at the same time, I have learned the difference between what priests say, and what people hear”

                  The priest really did spread the legend of the council about women’s souls, and he did say to me that he sides with the people and not with the hierarchy (I say he should side with both). His homilies are indeed exaggerated. I don’t hate him; he is a friendly person, he invited me to his house, and I have indeed visited him a few times. He gave me a beautiful Eastern icon – the Christ pantocrator – which I didn’t know before.

                  I hope that he and others will follow the example of Pope Francis. The Pope sides with the poor, and at the same time he defends authentic Catholic teaching, and he frequently speaks of spiritual matters such as prayer, the sacraments, virtue, etc. Just like Jesus did. Jesus sided with the poor, but He wasn’t a secular social activist. He was our spiritual Savior.

                  I hope that Liberation Theologians can learn from the authentic example of Pope Francis, and not the distorted image presented by the media. For example, when Pope Francis said “Who am I to judge?” the media interpreted it as a rejection of Catholic family values. This interpretation is false. Pope Francis said children have a right to a mother and a father. There is a difference between mercy, on the one hand, and moral indifferentism, on the other hand. Jesus was radically merciful, but at the same time He taught (by words and by the impeccable example of His life) a doctrine that was more demanding that that of the Pharisees.

                  • hombre111

                    I hope you told him you researched the council and found it was a legend, so he doesn’t repeat the story. But he is still right on the core issue: the Church’s attitude toward women is sad. As long as women are excluded from the priesthood, it is and will always be a male dominated Church.

                    I think, with Pope Francis, it is a whole change in attitude. The man offers a wholesome face. Somehow, in spite of his holiness, Saint John Paul’s grim visage made it hard for many,.

                    • Fides_et_Ratio

                      I will tell him when I have the opportunity. In fact, you might yourself be interested in the following article:
                      http://www.firstthings.com/article/1997/04/002-the-myth-of-soulless-women

                      Regarding the Church attitude to women: it is understandable to propose that women should participate more as theologians, as leaders of religious orders and pastoral activities, and maybe even in the daily government of dioceses. But demanding the Church to ordain “priestesses” is unChristian and a harmful distraction from real and viable reforms that the Church needs.

                    • hombre111

                      Mmm, no. St. Paul said, “neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.” We have managed to follow him on the Jew and Greek bit, but some of us still imagine that a man is more Christ-like than a woman. Tell that to Mother Theresa. Until women share the priesthood, the Church will always be a scandal to the best and brightest females in our midst. And to some of the male friends who see their worth and dignity.

                    • Fides_et_Ratio

                      I would refute your theory (I actually only meant to stop the other thread) but since you told me you are too busy, I will leave it.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      We have managed to follow him on the Jew and Greek bit, but some of us still imagine that a man is more Christ-like than a woman.

                      In some ways yes. Firstly, Christ was definitely a man. When He rose and went up to heaven He was a man. So He is in heaven now a man. Sorry but you just cannot change biology.

                      Difference however does not mean being unequal. We all have the same right to worship. No one is barred from coming to Mass. But it is very clear that Christ CHOSE ONLY MALE apostles.

                      And before you spew the same old “but He was a product of His misogynistic age”, Jesus went against social constructs far graver than this. Do you really think that God is cowed by man made constructs? If sexism is a sin, you are therefore saying that God is guilty of the sin of sexism.

                      Tell that to Mother Theresa. Until women share the priesthood, the Church will always be a scandal to the best and brightest females in our midst.

                      Oh really? Should we say hip hip hooray then for the imploding Anglican Church? You really are clueless about the priesthood. It is not about equality and power. To even suggest that that is whtat it is about just shows how you totally do not get the priesthood at all.

                    • hombre111

                      It is also clear that Christ CHOSE ONLY MALE JEWISH DISCIPLES WITH BEARDS AND SANDALS.

                    • pbecke

                      And probably a bit fishy-smelling sometimes.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘spewed’? ‘cowed?. You’re pretty liberal in your use of loaded words, aren’t you?

                      ‘And before you spew the same old “but He was a product of His misogynistic age”, Jesus went against social constructs far graver than this.’

                      Name one.

                      ‘Do you really think that God is cowed by man made constructs?’

                      No. In his providential economy, God chose to permit grace to build upon nature. The end product of which. however, is clearly the same. Within limits.

                      .

                    • MarcAlcan

                      Well sorry to upset you but that drivel about Jesus being a product of His misogynistic age is indeed a spew.

                      Name one.

                      How about the biggest one: breaking the Sabbath.

                      Or eating with sinners, or touching a lepper.

                      No. In his providential economy, God chose to permit grace to build upon nature.

                      And how is that even relevant to whether God caved in to the evil the evil constructs of His time when it is clear that He opposed them.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘How about the biggest one: breaking the Sabbath.’

                      Sorry. Jesus pointed out that no-one took that as an absolute. An ox falls in a pit, you pull it out.

                      Eating with sinners was a relatively trivial ‘tradition of men’, compared to the Mosaic law stipulating a male priesthood.

                      Even the scribes and Pharisees would surely have thought twice about upbraiding a thaumaturge for curing a leper. Touching him would obviously have been considered irrelevant. I don’t believe Jesus was ever repoached for it, though he was for curing other illnesses on the Sabbath.

                      So, no. You are mistaken on all three counts.

                    • pbecke

                      I believe that women are closer to God the Father in his eternal essence: ‘From the womb, before the Day-star, I begot you.’

                      There are many indications in the bible, as well as nature, that women, not we, might well turn out to be the ‘wheels’. Is it not possible that Jesus became a man, rather than a woman, pursuant to the principle and purpose of his incarnation: in a spirit of humility, kenosis.

                      I’m not taking sides in the dispute about their vocation or otherwise, to the priesthood, unless it really is because they are considered inferior material for the priesthood. But then I’ve a protestant streak in me that tells me that there is no higher priesthood than the ‘royal priesthood’ of all Christians. No two-tier priesthood. Just the one. The pastor is an actor at the Mass, he is not Christ. Somebody must celebrate the Mass on our behalf, and who more appropriate than the pastor.

                    • hombre111

                      Some theologians, following Vatican II’s acceptance of the Priesthood of all believers, propose this model. First of all, Jesus is the only priest. Only Jesus possesses the fulness of the priesthood. This fits with the New Testament and Christian teaching for the first couple of hundred years. Others participate in Christ’s priesthood by the way they serve in the priestly community.

                    • pbecke

                      That is very gratifying to read, hombre. By the way, did you ever see the film, Hombre? Pretty good, imo.

                  • pbecke

                    ‘…a doctrine that was more demanding that that of the Pharisees.’

                    The corollary of gnats and camels…

                    • Fides_et_Ratio

                      What exactly do you mean?

                    • pbecke

                      I don’t know how ‘exact’ an explanation of my meaning this is, but its the best I can do.

                      The Pharisees famously obsessed over small things, while neglecting the weightier matters such as justice and mercy. Christ’s teaching was the mirror mage, concentrating primarily on justice and mercy – the doctrine that was ‘more demanding than that of the Pharisees,’ as you perceptively pointed out.

                    • Fides_et_Ratio

                      I think Christian doctrine is more demanding than the Pharisees in several respects, except for purification rituals. In particular it was more demanding regarding family values, such as teaching divorce and remarriage is never licit (while Judaism taught it was licit).

                      Jesus said such radical things as:

                      “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19-20)

                      “You have heard that it was said to the ancients: ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
                      But I say to you, that anyone who will have looked at a woman, so as to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
                      And if your right eye causes you to sin, root it out and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body be cast into Hell.
                      And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body go into Hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)

                      “Therefore, be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

                      In fact, I please read all of Matthew 5:19-48.

                      And also St. Paul said:

                      “just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy and immaculate in his sight, in charity.” (Ephesians 1:4)

                    • pbecke

                      You have a point. The wickedness and folly that the triumphalist legalism and self-referentiality that the Tridentine dispensation so typified, would anger me beyond measure, if I dwelt on it, and the scandal it caused to so many.

                      However, the reverse swing of the pendulum in the opposite, modernist direction, in which, also, Jesus, the supernatural and other key Christian components, are considered a tad downmarket, fills me a contempt that almost exceeds my anger

                      Having said that, despite our fallen nature, Jesus always spoke in absolute terms when preaching, but in his personal relations in less public arenas, he was the soul of tenderness, even while speaking in his customary brusque way.

                      It seems to me that the reason for that would be that we are only too inclined to aim low and still miss the mark! If we are to make progress in our spiritual life, we must keep the ‘gold standard’ before our eyes. It would be for this reason, I think, that, in Confession, we say : ‘…. and with the help of your grace, I resolve never to sin again.’

          • disqus_NvJwtmmluz

            I like that—“mealy mercy at the expense of Truth.” Mealy mercy is, “Jesus loves you just the way you are.” True mercy says, Jesus loves you and wants you to repent of your sins, receive forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession, and come follow Him.

        • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

          Not so easy many of those who stood with the poor did it in the worst possible way not because of strong founded faith but because they held strongly to the heresy of liberation theology. Many priests and mislead faithfull even took up arms with communist terrorist groups confused by liberation theology. From the ground things are not at all as clear cut as you put it. Leftist priests and bishops have done much to decimate the true faith here in Latin America. They fight for social justice but in marx’s modus and not Christ’s. They’ve in many ways occupied themselves with the corporal they have totally forgotten the spiritual and many a soul has probably been lost because of them. Remember poverty is dreadful but transient, hell is infinitely worse and eternal.

          • hombre111

            Where did you hear that liberation theology is a heresy? St. John Paul and Pope Benedict tried to destroy it because they were suspicion of the “Marxist” interpretation of some liberation theologians. But the fundamental premise is sound: The Bible was written from the perspective of the poor and powerless, not from the perspective of the rich and powerful. If we are going to really understand and implement the Word of God, we have to see it from their perspective. The people in rich nations are not in the sociological position to understand the word of God. It is like trying to sing a song written in a minor chord in a major chord. St. Francis, that most radical of radical Christians, preached liberation theology, even if he did not know its name.

            I remember a time when I was asked to give the opening prayer for a performance of the Messiah in a town that serves a resort for the mega-rich. It was a must attend social event, and the place was wall to wall full length mink coats and black tuxedos. Those people were there for a performance. I doubt if many of them grasped the Gospel message. Its performance in a church was a waste of time.

            • Desert Sun Art

              Hombre, the poor are not just the materially poor. More importantly, for the salvation of souls, are those who are spiritually bereft of God. In many cases, the materially rich are the most poorest of the poor- they do not have God. We dismiss the rich as “snooty”. Maybe they are the ones most in need of your care good Father, because their souls are in the greatest danger.

              • hombre111

                Mother Theresa said something similar when she visited America. But that is beside the point. The perspective of the poor is trust. That is why Advent includes Elizabeth the barren woman, and the Virgin, who said yes to God. The life of the wealthy is all about not needing to trust anybody but a dollar bill and the clever people on Wall Street. As an American priest, I am wealthy beyond the dreams of Ezechiel, the poor rural priest who met an angel in the Temple. And so are the people who hear my sermons. I have to ask them, and myself, to speak to God from the places where they are poor. And assure them that, if things are perfect today, God is good and there will be a tomorrow that demands that kind of trust.

                • Desert Sun Art

                  We do not need to hold the wealthy in contempt, as your previous post was indicating, any more than we should hold the materially poor in contempt. In many respects, it is the materially rich who are more in need of our prayers and spiritual ministrations, because you know how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

                  • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

                    Hombre 111 is forgeting the surmen on the mount. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Lk 6, 20

                    • hombre111

                      And he never said, “Blessed are you who are rich, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” As for what he did say: “We to you rich, You have earned your reward.” “You fool.” and, “It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

                    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

                      What makes you think I’m rich? You have a problem you see everything as a conflict between rich and poor. I’m very very far from being rich. In fact I’m pretty sure I’m poor. Not the poorest but poor. What makes you think that I have to be rich? Could it be the fact that I don’t agree with you?

                    • hombre111

                      I apologize if I gave the impression that I was accusing you of being rich. But we do tend to think like rich people, especially in the United States. In spite of myself, I think like a rich person. The kind of trust St. Francis lived by is simply beyond me. It was with sadness that I noted today how the worldwide Franciscans have gotten themselves into deep, deep financial trouble, suddenly in debt in various complicated ways for multiple millions. It is so hard to follow St. Francis, even for his followers.

                    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

                      It’s ok I’m sure you ment no harm. But think of it. The problem is not in the wealth or the lack of it. The problem is in mens hearts.
                      A richman sins because he puts his heart in his wealth and not in God. So when his wealth passes so will he. But a poor man who places his heart in the wealth that others have and he lacks is just as sinfull. He coverts the others wealth and he will be a bitter man and he will pass also with that wealth he so coverted even without having it. What must be changed are peoples hearts. True conversion is from within. St. Francis, St Clare and St. Teresa of Avila put their hearts completely in the one who never fails. They put their hearts in God completely and lived their life in joyfull confident poverty and expectation.
                      “It is indeed a great and praiseworthy exchange:

                      to give up the temporal for the everlasting,” St. Clare of Asisi

                    • Laurence Charles Ringo

                      Great stuff, Maria; I take my hat off to your obviously God-given wisdom, that only the Holy Spirit can give. God bless you.

                    • pbecke

                      Even while he was still alive, some of his more officious followers had begun countermanding his rules.

                    • pbecke

                      No. Your name doesn’t sound too working class for a start. Also, you have the mindset of the rich. I noted your demurral abut being rich too. That too, is a characteristic of the rich.

                    • Laurence Charles Ringo

                      Seriously,”pbecke”, you need to dial back your judgmentalism here…”your name doesn’t sound too working class”…Wow.Who SAYS that??.Are you perhaps living in poverty and feeling envious of the rich, maybe resenting Almighty God just a tad? I’m not a wealthy man myself; in fact I probably live below the so-called”poverty line”, wherever that is for me.But I have a roof over my head, clean clothes, good food (You should see my waistline, LOL!), and when I can’t rub two nickels together, I still feel richer than the newest dot-com billionaire. Why? Because…”My God will supply ALL my needs according to HIS riches by glory in Christ Jesus”…(Phillipians 4:19).So take a deep breath, pbecke, mull and reflect. PEACE, BE STILL.REST IN HIS LOVE. ALL WILL BE WELL, IF YOU TRUST.

                    • pbecke

                      I SAY that. It is a factual statement. It is patently not a working-class name. Are you questioning it? Or is it, rather, that you think it presumptuous of me to make the comment? I didn’t see you chiding the other posters for their presumptuous judgentalism towards Franics, our pope.

                      I am on the minimum pension and pension credit, but it is much more than I normally need, as I don’t have to pay rent or income tax, and only council water rates, the money I spend on food doesn’t amount to much. I have free medical, dental treatment and eye check-ups.

                      And I even have a car! and a saintly bloke who repairs it for me, who always undercharges me. As he says, he’s put it on the account. When I asked: ‘On account of what?’ He replied: ‘On account you haven’t got any money!’

                      So, no, far from being envious of rich people, to some of whom I am greatly beholden – there are good rich people, as evidenced in the Gospels, most famously Joseph of Arimathea.It didn’t stop Jesus from preaching the Gospel. – money burns a hole in my pocket, because I feel uncomfortable having more than a little to spare.

                    • Laurence Charles Ringo

                      Well, I’ll say this, pbecke, and be done with it. The idea that someone could be thought of as being rich on the basis of their name is so mind-bogglingly ridiculous that…I’m literally struggling with words here. It’s as ridiculous as claiming that Richard sounds like a rich man’s name. Seriously, what is WRONG with you? No sane person thinks like that! Should a child named Elizabeth be queen because she has the queen’s name? Grip a grip.

                    • pbecke

                      Seemingly, it’s you who needs to GET a grip! Try comparing like with like. The last two names looked like surnames to me, and not common Hispanic ones. Moreover, the first two Christian names are not hyphenated, though that may be a national characteristic, as with Scottish names.

                      I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a name online, before. It certainly sounds very grand to my ears. And good luck to her for that. As far as I know it’s not a crime.

                    • pbecke

                      Oh, I see you disport two Christian names. Beggin’ yer pardon, Guvner! I didn’t mean no ‘arm, Sir.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      And he never said, “Blessed are you who are rich, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”

                      Exactly! So basically you are saying that Christ is saying that we should keep the poor in poverty lest we take away their blessedness?
                      For after all, if we take them out of their poverty then they would no longer be the blessed.

                    • pbecke

                      On the contrary, that is what your companions seem to be saying. Hombre is saying that the poor need to survive, before considerations of cultivating an interior life could become realistic. People shouldn’t be dying in the US at the average age of 47, as do the many, many homeless.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      On the contrary, that is what your companions seem to be saying. Hombre is saying that the poor need to survive, before considerations of cultivating an interior life could become realistic

                      St Francis went begging. And that seemed to be enough.
                      As your words said, survive. One can survive in quite destitute circumstances. And such a state can conduce to spiritual growth ala Francis.
                      Now mind you I am not saying that we should reduce people to begging but just pointing out the flaw in your reasoning.

                    • pbecke

                      No. It’ extremely disingenuous of you to try to make that point.

                      Francis was a giant of the spiritual life, while his vocation and his circumstances were both very extraordinary and stupendously unconducive to family life – which most people find themselves in, not least, the poor.

                  • hombre111

                    Jesus said, “Woe to you rich. You have had your reward.” He also told the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In a parable about another rich man, God says, “You fool.” And then, famously, he said, “It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Sounds he did not hold the rich in very high regard.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Your post just supports what I wrote. Shouldn’t we then be ministering to the rich who may be without God, instead of condemning them and dismissingly holding them in contempt? In many ways, the rich who are without faith are more to be pitied than the materially poor.

                    • pbecke

                      Are you gainsaying the burden of scripture in both Old and New Testaments? Placing the ‘rich man’ in apposition to the wicked man, the violent, the deceitful? The poor man, the virtuous man, the true Israel, as in Mary’s Magnificat? Of course, generalisations, but necessary to make sense of the world, hence Jesus’ own diatribes.

                      Your point about the rich needing prayers more than poor then is a red herring, unless you backtrack on your inordinate-seeming concern for the spiritual well-being of the poor..

                    • Laurence Charles Ringo

                      I’m with you on this, Desert Sun Art, and I get your point perfectly.We who profess ourselves to be Christians are called to reach out in compassion, mercy, and above all, in love to those most in need of being reconciled to Almighty God, rich or poor.The Scriptures nowhere indicate that the wealthy are somehow unworthy of God’s love for them; frankly, who is? If you presume to have the medicine to apply to a hurting, wounded soul, then do so, lovingly and gently.I imagine the rich hear the stinging words of condemnation and judgment on a regular basis,and probably more so from their supposed friends; they don’t need to hear such from God’s people too.Yes, Our Saviour often chastised the rich.But I like to think He did so both to warn them of the dangers of idolizing wealth, and even in his scolding His tender love shone through, as with the young ruler.Let us strive to do likewise.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      Jesus said, “Woe to you rich. You have had your reward.” He also told the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In a parable about another rich man, God says, “You fool.” And then, famously, he said, “It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Sounds he did not hold the rich in very high regard.

                      For a priest, you seem to have a very myopic understanding of these passages. If you read these passages, it is not so much the fact that they are rich but the fact they oppress the poor. The rich man was wallowing in his excess oblivious to the plight of those around him.
                      And if you keep reading on about the eye of the needle, Jesus says that it is impossible for man but that nothing is impossible to God.
                      You said like a Protestant plucking proof texts.

                    • pbecke

                      It is you who are myopic. Read the scriptures and note the symbolism of rich and poor. The rich are regularly associated with the wicked, the oppressor, the violent, the deceitful, and conversely, the poor man with the virtuous man, the true Israel.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      It is you who are myopic. Read the scriptures and note the symbolism of rich and poor. The rich are regularly associated with the wicked, the oppressor, the violent, the deceitful, and conversely, the poor man with the virtuous man, the true Israel.

                      I never questioned that. But the rich were never taken to task for being rich. They were taken to task for their greed and their failure to help others.
                      This is why he said that while it is impossible for a rich man to go to heaven, he also said that that is only impossible for man. But for God, it is not impossible at all.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘But the rich were never taken to task for being rich. They were taken to task for their greed and their failure to help others.’

                      A deeply confused response. It is implicit that he took them to be generally inseparable. You are saying he used the rich as a metaphor but in a meaningless way.

                      I see no connection between your first and second sentence. Are you saying that BECAUSE the rich are greedy and heedless of the afflicted, Jesus said he had a fall-back position, whereby He would save them anyway?

                    • 4Subsidiarity

                      Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.

                    • pbecke

                      Precisely.

                • MarcAlcan

                  The perspective of the poor is trust. That is why Advent includes Elizabeth the barren woman, and the Virgin, who said yes to God. The life of the wealthy is all about not needing to trust anybody but a dollar bill and the clever people on Wall Street.

                  But isn’t that precisely what liberation theology hopes to provide, a material solution to a material perception of the problem?
                  The problem is much deeper than material poverty – it is sin. But for advocates of liberation theology it seems that material poverty is the sin.

                  • pbecke

                    Do you think that when the Psalmist composed the following, he was describing a division of labour that God desires?

                    ‘You oppress. imprison, blind, overburden your fellow man, harm the stranger, crush the widow and orphan, hate the just and smooth the path for the wicked; and I’ll see them right. Don’t you worry? And just carry on smoothing the path of the wicked, while you’re about it.’

                    ‘It is he who keeps faith for ever,
                    who is just to those who are oppressed.
                    It is he who gives bread to the hungry,

                    the Lord who sets prisoners free.

                    The Lord who gives sight to the blind,
                    who raises up whose who are bowed down,
                    the Lord who protects the stranger
                    and upholds the widow and orphan.

                    It is the Lord who loves the just
                    but thwarts the path of the wicked.
                    The Lord will reign for ever,
                    Sion’s God, from age to age.’

                    The weirdest and most deadly thing about Mammon-worshippers is that they can never have enough money. Perhaps that is what consigns them to hell more than anything else, because of the desperate harm it does to the suffering masses.

                    ‘What’s mine is mine. And I want as much as I can get. I don’t want any filthy government taking my hard-earned money away from me, for other people to spend!’

                    • MarcAlcan

                      Do you think that when the Psalmist composed the following, he was describing a division of labour that God desires?

                      Who said I have something against just treatment of the poor.
                      If you go back to my post, this is exactly what I said. That it is not so much the rich that he abhors but the fact that the rich oppressed the poor, that their love of money had knocked over their love for God.
                      Notice how in that psalm it is the injustice to the oppressed rather than the rich for richness sake that is being excoriated.
                      But notice that you will not find liberation theology in that psalm you quoted.
                      It is always God who looks after the poor. There is not even a tiny hint of a class struggle or a fighting for my material share.
                      And yes, it should not be the filthy government who takes the money away. It should be me willingly giving it to the poor. The charity should spring from our own desire to help not coerced out of us.

                      You know what your problem is? You think that I am against helping the poor. I am not. I am against liberation theology.

                    • pbecke

                      This constant attempt of yours to neutralise the analogy between the wicked and the rich, so starkly expressed in the Gospel on Easter Sunday, indeed, to dissociate them is ludicrous.

                      So, you think, God’s own tending to the charitable care of the vulnerable and the afflicted is the message, and the passage has no disparaging overtones concerning men’s heartlessness, still less, condemnatory overtones?

                      ‘It should be me willingly giving it to the poor. The charity should spring from our own desire to help not coerced out of us.’

                      So, after your much more modest and unscheduled giving you can pat yourself on the back. Taxation in this day and age, i.e. when not levied by tyrants to fund their sybaritic life-style, is an incredible boon to Christian worldlings, enabling them to adjust the unequal distribution of the wealth they have received in favour of their brothers and sisters in need – the less worldly, more spiritual, who struggle to survive, because their treasure is where their heart is. That is where the salvation of the manically acquisitive and possessive, worldly-wise resides

                      ‘But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,…’

                      For those seeking to deepen their ‘interior life’, incumbent on all of us, taxation is, therefore, a prime means of avoiding regularly patting ourselves on the back. Just on election day… though truth to tell, thanks to the church’s historic complacency
                      with the political far right (is there any other?), even endorsing it, we can only elect blackguards, whether left-leaning or right-leaning.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘It is always God who looks after the poor. There is not even a tiny hint
                      of a class struggle or a fighting for my material share.’

                      That reads like some kind of surreal, Monty Python-type joke. Jesus’ own words to the respectable, religious because of their avarice, extortion and general oppression of the poor, mirrored in our day, in the West, particularly the US and UK, were withering, indeed, incandescent. It is as if you had never read the Second Commandment, or indeed, heard of the Golden Rule.

                      Dom Helder Camara must have been thinking of you when he said:

                      ‘When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no bread, they call me a Communist.’

                    • MarcAlcan

                      That reads like some kind of surreal, Monty Python-type joke. Jesus’ own words to the respectable, religious because of their avarice, extortion and general oppression of the poor, mirrored in our day, in the West, particularly the US and UK, were withering, indeed, incandescent.

                      So? How is that suppose to negate the fact that it is God who looks after the poor?
                      Excoriating the rich for their greed does not in any way negate the fact that it is God who looks after the poor. It was never, ever about class struggle.
                      The reason we have the poor is because of greed. And this is not just by the rich. Even the poor can be greedy. Even the poor can be focused on money to the exclusion of all else.

                      If one cannot be trusted with little, one cannot be trusted with much.

                      If the tables were turned and the poor became rich and the rich became poor, the same sad oppression will still be there.

                • As a poor Latin American, you come across as yet another rich American who you romanticizes poverty and the poorpoor, almost the point of making them false idols.

                  • pbecke

                    You’re a character and no mistake! Agonising over the extreme poverty of the poor in South America – even claiming to be one, though your hand looks rather well-educated to this hombre – and then invoking their need to concentration on spirituality. Or rather the church’s! They might have empty bellies, but boy will they enjoy the sermons! You even have the face of rich lad.

                    Francis rejects Communism, but that was never what it was about was it. It was the politics of having to share some of your money.

                    • Wow, you just can’t help it bring so arrogant, patronizing and condescending with the poor, can you? Since when are poverty and education mutually exclusive? This is precisely the attitude that drove millions of the people of God away from the Church. Your kind tries to keep the poor down and ignorant, lest they rise out of poverty and you lose your purpose in life. Here’s a hint: your 60s worldview and priorities are completely foreign to the poor, who have more common sense in their pinky than your whole ilk put together.

                    • pbecke

                      Ha! Ha! You give yourself away every time. You are like our UK Labour politicians who, for decades, have ruined the secondary education of non-academic youngsters, because really being ‘power’ people, themselves, they considered manual working contemptible, so, instead of preparing them for a very useful career in manual work, forced them to be third or fifth rate academic students.

                      There’s far less excuse for Christians, who ought to understand the dignity of labour – and particularly manual labour, which very much tends to be the sphere of work of the, historically, more endemically spiritual, poorer folk. Now, thanks to the greed of the sons of Milton Friedman’s neoliberal economics, just to have a job with a marginally living-wage would be pretty special.

                      You politically-driven types really give yourselves away with all this talk about ‘patronising’. I suppose maintaining a welfare safety-net is also patronising; the Good Samaritan for that matter. The spartans had the right idea, exposing their babies to the elements, to see if they were tough enough to survive. Social Darwinism posing as Christianity. Wonderful stuff. You should go on the stage. You’d have them curled up with laughter…. thinking you were joking,alas!

                    • QED

                    • pbecke

                      You got that right. I didn’t bother to write that, and seems I am vindicated, if you even understand it.

                      Imagine! Thinking I’m in a position to patronize non-academic types, whose greater endemic wisdom is eternal, while our worldly wisdom gets the ‘heave ho’, when we die!

                      The worldly, analytical intelligence is the lowest form of intelligence, despite the world’s opinion of it. In heaven, someone who was medically a cretin in this life will have an intelligence in no wise inferior to Einstein’s, should he have made the grade. The superior unitive intelligence the former had on earth will find its fulfilment there.

                    • Dude, you’re delirious.

                    • pbecke

                      I rest my case.

                    • What case?

                    • pbecke

                      Pay attention, there’s a good chap.

                      This is no place for remedial teaching. Why not look for a thread for youngsters, computer games and such? Not everyone has a worldly intelligence, whether spiritually enligtened or not, apt for these kinds of discussions.

                    • pbecke

                      Isn’t Brazil where they shoot the street-children, who live in culverts and empty oil drums? Was that what inspired you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps? I don’t blame you. Please accept my apologies.

              • pbecke

                I’ll guarantee that you and Mria Rodri are very well heeled. Although not of course in your own eyes. That itself is a feature of the rich.

                Grace builds upon nature. Sure. But you must preserve the nature, the physical lives, of others in order for considerations of grace to realistically come into even the normal, averagely-sensual consideration of the rich.

                Do you have a complaint about Archbishop Cupich’s words, to the effect that you cannot be pro-life and not hear the cries of the poor?

                Did you struggle against the neoliberal economics that have brought the world to the edge of n economic precipice, by polarising national wealth into the coffers of the already rich, siphoning it off the negligible resources of poor?

              • 4Subsidiarity

                Where does a poor person with a sense of entitlement or an attitude of victimhood fit in?This I think is one of the unfortunate and unexpected consequences of the ideology of the “preferential option for the poor”. They have heard about their status of being “preferential” and believed it thereby losing the true poverty of spirit that opens them up to the joys of the kingdom of heaven. Part of the issue is that it is the “unpoor”, (middle and upper middle class) who have promoted this ideology because of their own guilt and need to feel useful. The Marxist ideology that is behind all of this is very pernicious, robbing everyone of what they really need to find Christ…..poverty of spirit.

            • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

              Maybe heresy is not the word so I’ll express myself better Liberation theology has serious ideological deviations and these are given by the marxist analisis. I have been unable to find any work of liberation theologist or any great enthusiast of this theology that did not show this be it in a suptle or abherent degree.

              But I leave you with a quote which after many years of experience I think could not be more true.
              “it becomes very difficult, not to say impossible, to engage in a real dialogue with some “theologians of liberation” in such a way that the other participant is listened to, and his arguments are discussed with objectivity and attention. For these theologians start out with the idea, more or less consciously, that the viewpoint of the oppressed and revolutionary class, which is their own, is the single true point of view.”

              Excerpt from
              INSTRUCTION ON CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE “THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION”
              CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
              Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
              Prefect

              • hombre111

                As I said, Ratzinger saw the Marxist language of some. He did not see the basic intuition, that the Bible and its revelation of God, written from the perspective of the downtrodden, can only be truly understood from that perspective. But Francis, who is from the continent that created liberation theology, takes that perspective. Ratzinger wore his red Gucci shoes. Francis said his Jesuit issue shoes were good enough, thank you. As Archbishop serving real persons and not just the abstractions of the classroom, he has that different perspective.

                • MarcAlcan

                  He did not see the basic intuition, that the Bible and its revelation of God, written from the perspective of the downtrodden

                  I am not sure which Bible you are talking about but that aint the Catholic Bible.
                  You probably need a lesson in salvation history.
                  I know you are a priest but I still think you need a lesson in salvation history.

                  • pbecke

                    Indeed, it is! it is you who need to spend the rest of our life reading, in addition to the Gospels, the Psalms and the Prophets, in particular.

                    • MarcAlcan

                      I have. And it does not say what Hombre11 thinks it says.

                      It is part of that but it is not solely about that.

                      It is about the covenant – that is why you have the OT (old covenant) and NT (New Covenant).

                      To make the Bible about liberation theology is wishful thinking.
                      The only liberation the Bible talks about is liberation from sin.

                • pbecke

                  A beautiful insight.

            • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

              St. Francis
              .. “the law of Christ, which finds its fulfillment in charity, binds us to
              desire the welfare of people’s souls more than that of the body.”

              • hombre111

                The welfare of theiir body or my body? Francis lived what he meant. According to the legend, Francis went to meet the pope, who was so deeply moved he tried to shed his own gold and silk robes, but the cardinals who surrounded him forced him to sit still on his throne. Yep, the instinct of the comfortable and powerful to maintain their position and call it holiness.

                • Desert Sun Art

                  We are to care for the physical needs of those who have not, but ultimately, it is souls that deserve the utmost attention. Because our bodies will die and decay, our souls are eternal-eventally to be reunited with perfect, glorified bodies.

                • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

                  What I posted was a quote from St. Francis himself. Not a myth. Many liberation theology advocates say they love St. Francis, but it’s a St. Francis of their making most times.

                  • hombre111

                    But you did not answer my question. Was Francis saying, keep care of their souls (whatever that mean) and ignore the needs of their bodies? Or was he saying, I am prepared to sacrifice my body for their sake> Just before he died, Jesus told his parable saying to the ones cast aside into darkness: I was hungry, and you gave me not food, naked, and you did not clothe me. After taking the name Francis, our new pope has spoken out passionately for the sake of the poor, and he did not give the rich wiggle-room by saying, just take care of their souls.

                    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

                      He didn’t mean any of the two options you give. It’s really much simpler. He ment that you care for everyone integrally body and soul but there are priorities. The soul is first and foremost. What is it to a man that he gain the world if he looses his soul. All the riches and comforts will pass. That is why St. Francis was in love with Lady poverty. You can take care of the soul without forgetting the body it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Remember man does not live by bread alone.
                      But then I’ll quote Ratzinger again.
                      “it becomes very difficult, not to say impossible, to engage in a real dialogue with some “theologians of liberation” in such a way that the other participant is listened to, and his arguments are discussed with objectivity and attention. For these theologians start out with the idea, more or less consciously, that the viewpoint of the oppressed and revolutionary class, which is their own, is the single true point of view.”
                      The funny thing is most of the liberation theology think tanks I’ve met were much better off economically than me. But then I don’t worry much about riches niether others or my own.

                      Mt 6, 21 But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal.

                • MarcAlcan

                  Francis lived what he meant. According to the legend, Francis went to meet the pope, who was so deeply moved he tried to shed his own gold and silk robes

                  Exactly again. If we are to go by liberation theology, would it not have been better for St Francis to have remained rich and helped the poor from this richness rather than abandoning it and reducing himself to the same state they are – begging?

              • pbecke

                Regrettably the survival of the bodies of the poor are in ever-increasing jeopardy, due to the insatiable avarice of the rich. So, grace building upon nature, the welfare of their souls would be of ever so sightly secondary importance.

            • MarcAlcan

              St. John Paul and Pope Benedict tried to destroy it because they were suspicion of the “Marxist” interpretation of some liberation theologians. But the fundamental premise is sound: The Bible was written from the perspective of the poor and powerless

              St John Paul and Pope Benedict were correct. Liberation theology is very much Marxist.
              Poverty is not mere material poverty which means that we are all impoverished. The problem with liberation theology is that it’s paradigm is material poverty and that the solution is to alleviation of material poverty. It is no wonder that liberation theology is closely allied to Marxism because of it’s very impoverished understanding of the Gospel.

            • Fides_et_Ratio

              It is unfair to imply that Pope Francis supports Liberation Theology. He is far, far, far more attuned to the Charismatic Renewal (as an example), they who are hated by Liberation Theology as a “bourgeois movement from the United States”. Liberation Theology sermons are nothing but the priest’s opinion about Social Justice, disregarding Tradition and the Magisterium. The people care nothing for this and left for charismatic evangelical pastors.

              Pope Francis, on the other hand, speaks more of the devil than his predecessors and is often speaks of prayer, holiness, the family.

              Not that I am 100% enthusiastic with Charismatic Renewal emotional songs and dances, but at least they can be considered Catholic, while Liberation Theology is irreligious social activism.

              • hombre111

                Read the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” a book issued by the Pontifical (as in, set up by the authority of the pope) Council for Justice and Peace, printed by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Prayerfully ponder its teaching. As for evangelical pentecostalism, it plays into the hands of the rich, who do not want the poor to notice their misery. Yep. Spiritual morphine.

                Oh, by the way, I belonged to the Charismatic Renewal for years and can sing in tongues at the drop of a hat. I regret the fact that younger priests don’t support it, and it seems to have dropped out of sight in the American Catholic Church. The other day, I joined our new pastor in a great healing Mass, anointing people with oil. A few were slain in the Spirit. The conservatives who attended were a bit scandalized. My pastor got hauled in front of the Presbyteral Council the last time he did this, and we are both expecting a letter from our bishop.

                • Fides_et_Ratio

                  > “Read the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,””

                  I admit I have not read it yet, but I intend to. Anyway, I am not saying that Catholics should be individualistic libertarians. I am saying that:

                  1) You can be center-left, defending a form of social democracy that respects family values and subsidiarity. But you cannot defend an authoritarian bureaucracy that oppresses liberty, you cannot neglect the family, and you cannot defend Hegelianism. There are clerics in Brazil that actually defend Fidel Castro, and others that neglect family values.

                  2) Homilies should present the full picture – virtue, family, prayer, vocation, etc. Social justice and solidarity should be present (it is important), but you should not neglect the other subjects.

                  3) Homilies should focus on Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, limiting excursions into the priest’s personal opinion.

                  > “Oh, by the way, I belonged to the Charismatic Renewal for years and can sing in tongues at the drop of a hat. I became part of the Renewal in Latin America, when I attended a charismatic prayer service and received a word of comfort, sung in tongues,”

                  I am skeptic about “singing in tongues” and certain other Charismatic Renewal practices, but I tend to keep my skepticism to myself, as I don’t have the knowledge to judge the matter. My only comment: on the one hand, there are traditionalists who neglect the biblical teaching ” there are diverse graces, but the same Spirit.” But on the other hand, there may be real heresies in parts of Charismatic Renewal, such as the belief in hereditary curses. The Magisterium should guide them so that they can keep their authentic charism while being 100% orthodox.

                  • hombre111

                    Agree to all of the above. About homilies…I start preparing my sermon, based on the readings, starting on Monday. In my old age, I have come to see that inviting people to follow Jesus is the most important thing. I try to find a way to apply the teaching found in the word to their personal lives.

                    I no longer live in the Third World, and so the significance of Liberation Theology is no longer so personal to me. But I do sympathize with what they are trying to do, even if some drift into a Marxist description of class warfare. Actually, these days, Marx makes sense! 1% of the American people getting richer and richer, while the middle class diminishes and the poor become poorer. Even the Drudge Report admits this, blaming it, of course, on Obama.

                    My red state boasts about its low wages when it tries to lure businesses. Marx predicted all this. States and countries would go on a race to the bottom. And so our Repub governor calls our wages “competitive.” He doesn’t mean our wages and education will lure in the educated and skilled. No, it will lure in the people who pay barely above minimum wage.

                    • Fides_et_Ratio

                      First, I ask you your patience, and to not regard me as pretentious for giving recommendations for a priest with more experience than me. I just like to be heard. Also, I apologize if I have been impolite. Remember that the Internet amplifies disagreement; personally I am more amicable.

                      Now, I would like to criticize those Christians who choose one side in politics and downplay too much the errors of the chosen side. Christians should be independent. They should loudly criticize their own political party when it promotes error. And in the USA, both parties promote grave error.

                      One party promotes radically lenient pro-abortion policies, and wants to impose the normalization of homosexuality (even marginalizing those who disagree). One thing is to respect homosexuals (like we respect fornicators), another thing is to impose recognition of same-sex unions as perfect families and oppress those who disagree. Se for example the case of Brendan Eich (and there are many others).

                      But the other party denies climate science, and works to continue the country’s dependency on oil, which besides gravely damaging the climate also finances dictators and terrorists. Then the government sends young soldiers to kill and die when trying to fix the mess.

                      I choose not to comment on economic policy. I am less convinced of this matter than I was a few years ago.

                      I think that Christians need to look for ways to be independent. Maybe support third parties, or be more active in the primaries (when there may be more choice), or support structural political reforms that promote third parties. Or simply support just causes (by word of mouth, voluntary work or donations) that differ from the party he voted for. For example, even if one reluctantly voted Republican (if one thought that they are the least bad), he still can independently donate money to the cause of green energy, and other just causes that are neglected by the GOP.

                      If you are too happy with either party, something is wrong. In the current state of politics, a good Christian can only vote with reluctance.

            • pbecke

              Well spoken, indeed.

              When I give to the poor….. when I ask why they are poor…

        • pbecke

          I blame John Paul II for that, saint, though he was. He could have made it easier for the people of Argentina and Chile, but his background undid him in his geopolitics. All his politics. Though as a young priest he had not been ignorant of the grievous failings of Capitalism. A matter of great regret to him, later, I’m sure.

          • hombre111

            Amen. I used to agonize over his silence.

            • We agonize over your lack of silence.

    • Marcelus

      Come and see my friend come and see, leave the links aside for a minute. Do not believe everything you read

      Maybe in your Brazil that may be true unfortunately

    • hombre111

      Having spent my share of time in Latin America, I would say the biggest part of the problem is lack of parish priests. Another big cause is the emotional pull of evangelical Protestantism with ecstatic, emotional experiences of religion. Last time I was in Guatemala, they were making huge inroads via a concerted Protestant effort with a lot of money behind it from somewhere. When I was in Latin America, I began to be aware of anti-clericalism, as well. As one guy put it, es el papel del hombre estar contra el cura. Lots of people refused to believe our celibate witness, sure that if we were not making it with the housekeeper, we were surely caring on with the altar servers. Our altar servers began to quit when some of the men began to call them “the priests’ women.”

      • ForChristAlone

        Gobbledgook

      • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

        “Having spent my share of time in Latin America” you think you know enough as to discuss authoritatively and contradict people who ARE Latin American and have lived there most if not all of their lives?!?
        ¡Que atrevido y soberbio!

        • hombre111

          You can live all of your life in Latin America and never have a thought for the poor. But you can support the death squads in Argentina, Colombia, and El Salvador. Or you could cheer for that miserable Pinochet in Chile, who murdered a legally elected president and took over in the name of the rich. Or you could favor the laws that took the land away from people and left them poor, as in Colombia. Or applaud the murder of Oscar Romero. Or vote for Rios Mont, who arranged the slaughter of the Indian people in Guatemala. Or stand by the various dictators in Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua, as long as they plundered only the poor.

          • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

            I could do and be many many things. But what matters isn’t what I could do but what I do. And of this you know nothing. Only God knows everything about me and He shall be my Judge. From Him I can’t hide so I don’t even try.

            • hombre111

              Well said. But please don’t try to convince yourself that liberation theology was a virus that landed from outer space. It grew out of the desperation of poor people, the marginados who have fallen off the well-spread tables of the rich and the upper middle class.

              • pbecke

                ‘In some way, Marxism is a heresy born of the failure of Christians to
                produce after two thousand years a reality that in any vague way
                resembles the Kingdom Jesus told us was in our midst.’

                Spot on. And there will be a reckoning. The Sermon on the Mount and the description of Judgment Day in Matthew 25, the only one in the whole of scripture, and given by God, himself, are not just poetry. The rich need to understand that. But they’ll go off on any kind of tangent rather than face the truth in good time. As obdurate as the rich man in the parable of Lazarus.

                Note that he is not even given a name by Jesus. A name is very personal, and Jesus compared him unfavourably with the dumb beasts, the street dogs, who in their compassion licked Lazarus’ sores.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Do much judging,”Augustine” ?Throwing around words like”heretical”and rattling off who’s “sinful”and who’s not in YOUR eyes, etc.And it is acknowledged by all honest ecclesiastical historians that the so-called roman catholic church was equally guilty of causing the Protestant”revolt”, as you label it, so get over yourself, my friend.I’m glad Almighty God raised up Martin Luther to break free of that bogus, contrived, man-centered, corrupted institution you call catholicism; God protected Luther too, otherwise your church would have murdered him by burning him at the stake, as you did all those who refused to kowtow to your strained interpretations and pseudo-theological dogmas. THANK GOD FOR LUTHER!! [ And yes, I am what you would designate ” protestant”, although I prefer”simply Christian”, a bona-fide Biblical title.]

  • littleeif

    Thank you for this thoughtful article. It crystallized a few of my thoughts on the issue. I have been feeling some regret at having been negative about the Pope. At the same time, I have been thinking of St. Peter leaving Rome when blood was being spilled before the Holy Spirit stopped him. “Quo Vadis?” And I want to grab the Pope by the ears and ask him where he thinks he’s going. Unless we continue to be a voice, who will tell him he’s leaving Rome and his people behind?

  • C.Caruana

    Sane, sensible, balanced article – thank you Ms Lu. I confess I don’t like the whole style of Pope Francis, even though I understand how and why many do. I don’t like his Argentine emotivism, his Peronist populism, his way of thinking with his feelings, his inveterate extemporising, his equivocation on matters of established doctrine, his ostentatious humility, his compulsion to please one and all, his seeming unawareness of the repercussions of his offhand words and gestures. A long list, I admit, and far from complete. Having said this though, I love Pope Francis as my Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth and I pray daily and assiduously for him. I consider my genuine concerns about him and his leadership style as crosses to be borne and offered up daily with others. If and whenever I become in faith and reason convinced that he has departed not just in style but in substance from the teachings of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church held everywhere and at all times, I will simply resist him. In the meantime, God bless the Pope.

  • Marcelus

    Well, finally a piece worthy of Pope bashing from every side. That what Crisismag used to be about, It was rather strange the last articles were somehow “light”, the one on deceiving liberals and the rest. This one will go the distance.

    Enjoy

  • Marcelus

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-emeritus-just-call-me-father-benedict/

    A little something from Benedict on Francis and more:

    VATICAN CITY — Rather than being called by his papal name “Benedict XVI,” the retired pope revealed that, since his retirement, he has wanted to return to his original priestly title and be called simply “Father Benedict.”

    Benedict made his comments in a private conversation with journalist Jorg Bremer, who published bits of them in a Dec. 7 article for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

    According to the journalist, Benedict explained that, when he initially stepped down, he wanted to be called “Father Benedict” rather than pope emeritus or Benedict XVI, but “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”

    At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true pope” is, Bremer reported.

    Benedict encouraged the journalist to write about his desire, saying, “Yes, do that; that would help.”

    In their conversation, Benedict also spoke of his current relationship with Pope Francis, saying, “We maintain good contact [with each other].”

    “Francis has a strong presence, much stronger than I could ever have with my physical and mental weaknesses,” he observed. “To remain in my office would not have been honest.”

    In his comments, the former pope also touched on a new volume of his collected works that was released in German with an updated version of a 1972 essay, which no longer suggests that the divorced and remarried can receive Communion, as it once did.

    He referred to how some have suggested that by publishing the revisions now he was seeking to take an active role in debate surrounding the topic after this year’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

    It is “utter nonsense” to claim that his revisions to the essay were made in order to seek a platform in the post-synod conversation, Benedict explained.

    Rather than being outspoken, Benedict said, “I try to be as quiet about it as I can” about such matters.

    He noted that he had originally made the revisions in August, two months before the synod began, and that there is “nothing new” in what was recently published.

    He also clarified that he has “always taken the position” that it is “impossible” for those who are divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. “As prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I’ve written even more drastically,” he noted.

    Divorced-and-remarried Catholics, he said, need to “feel love of the Church” and should “not be burdened with more than they already have to deal with.”

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-emeritus-just-call-me-father-benedict/#ixzz3LzpkIAZY

  • Russell

    For me personally, his ministry to the “poor” is less impressive in western developed nations. The advent of the welfare state and the coerced financing thereof really angers me. Nobody can serious argue that our safety net has not turned into a joyous trampoline for an especially sinful sort of persons. In the US, to my ears, it’s directly contradicting to St. Paul’s admonishment that those who won’t work should not be fed. Ministry in Argentina isn’t the same as ministry everywhere. Perhaps it’s his greatest failure as Pastor of a Universal Church.

    • “Nobody can serious argue that our safety net has not turned into a joyous trampoline for an especially sinful sort of persons. ”

      I would gladly abide the invasions, inconveniences, indignities and

  • T Chan

    successor, not predecessor? Benedict XVI?

  • R. K. Ich

    As an outsider on his way in to the messiness of the Catholic Church, I never did get the Pope-as-celebrity mentality anyway. I can’t stand Pope Francis (being honest here), but even if Pope Benedict were still in office (and I think he is one awesome fellow, worthy of great reverence), I would never elevate him higher than his office allows. “Give honor to whom honor is due,” is not the same as, “have your nose planted up his rear, because, you know, an infallible charism means he can never be a heretic, devil, or jerk.” Only Jesus was/is worthy of absolute, unqualified loyalty.

    This is the danger of elevating men with feet of clay: they are fighting the same fight we are fighting. They have certain claims upon our loyalty by virtue of their office, but it’s not absolute. It can’t be. I honor his office more so than I honor that of the President of the United States, but come on! the way people melt before a pope, who is part of the church militant like I am, is a tad disturbing. Idolatry is a sneaky fellow.

    That said, in a strange way all this wickedness swirling around in the Vatican makes me feel strangely comforted I’m doing the right thing about taking Rome’s claims seriously — not unlike Abraham the Jew from Boccaccio’s Decameron — that the Church for all Her stupidity and vice here on earth could only last this long *because* it’s our Lord’s institution. Not fully pure as yet until the Eschaton, but His all the same.

    • Glister

      Thanks for your refreshing comments. Happy to hear you’re joining the rest of us in the Church Militant here on earth. Welcome aboard!

      • R. K. Ich

        Well, getting prepped for the sea-faring journey. Feel like I’m about 500 years too late, though. Like C.S. Lewis, I consider myself one of the last few remaining Old Western Men — a veritable dinosaur. I’m one of those people Pope Francis warned others about: overly fond of the old ways to a fault; suspicious if not intolerant of new things; simply skeptical about how badly we really needed Vatican II; etc, etc. I’m fraught with faults and riddled with rudeness, so here I am.

        • Welcome! You’ll feel right at home with your faults and rudeness.

        • Howard

          Around Rome city and in the territories on west, there’s just one way to stop the heretics and the spoilers, and that’s with a papal bull and the smell of … INCENSE.

    • C.Caruana

      Welcome to the battered but unsinkable barque of salvation. Awash in a sudden storm of sentimentalised mercy, that seeks to elevate will over intellect, it needs robust, clear headed voices like yours to keep steady on course. The subtlest ploy of antichrist in the coming years is to seduce us by a near perfect facade of pseudo Christ-like mercy for all and sundry, where the ‘Law’ is clubbed to death by ‘Love’, where the dire warnings of the real Christ about unrepented sin, eternal damnation, hell and the last Judgement are mocked as obsolete doctrines clung to by stuffy, phariseeical Traditonalists. Well, on with the good fight.

  • Jacqueleen

    Unfortunately, I view Pope Francis as a PR man….and not as a holy, prayerful, leader of the flock. I have never turned off EWTN as much as I have in the past year or so, just plain old tired of the same thing…Pope here and there shaking hands or waving from the Pope mobile…for HOURS! Then, I’m not interested in the translation into English. Lord have mercy on us poor sinners!

    • R. K. Ich

      Three things absolutely vorboten in our household: MTV, porn (which is a tautology), and religious programming for the very reasons you outline. Not saying EWTN is on the same level of huckster televangelist, Word-Faith networks we all know (I’ve seen a few solid programs), but I figure why invite more junk than necessary into my house? But then again, we don’t have cable TV so we’re largely protected from this chaos.

  • NE-Believer

    Pope Francis certainly doesn’t elicit much trust when he prays in a Mosque (did he pray for the 4 children beheaded by the followers of his fellow worshippers?), assigns the status of a moral imperative to embrace the ravings of the globull warming enthusiasts, and ignores the Dali Lama while consorting w/ Muslims.
    I see little point in spending much time trying to decipher and torture logic and insight from inarticulate, confusing, rambling statements which may or may not be accurately translated. If Francis can’t be bothered to communicate his thoughts clearly, he clearly doesn’t place much worth in them. There is no rational reason for me to place any higher or even equivalent value on them.
    There already exists more biblical exegesis and moral guidance than a person can consume in one lifetime. Nearly all of which can be comprehended with simple reflection and does not require tortuous interpretation. I’ll leave Francis’ writings/utterances to the entertainment of others with more time on their hands.
    I know the Christ did spend time with sinners AND we do have to LOVE the sinner and pray for them – noted – BUT as the Christ made very clear in his teachings – Christianity and His religion was not a ‘social program’ premised on the promise a full belly, 4 weeks paid vacation, housing and designer clothing for not working.

    • Marcelus

      Not the first to pray in a mosque (no capitals)

      St.JP2 was thee first and then BVXI

      Dec 1, 2006 — ISTANBUL (Reuters) – “Pope Benedict ended a sensitive, fence-mending visit to Turkey on Friday amid praise for visiting Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque and praying there facing toward Mecca like Muslims.… The Pope’s dreaded visit was concluded with a wonderful surprise,’ wrote daily Aksam on its front page. In Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he turned toward Mecca and prayed like Muslims,…”

    • papagan

      If one finds the principle of solidarity difficult to accept, one should read, for example, Luke 16:19-31.

      • And for those who think solidarity is a sanctimonious cudgel for those that confuse impecuniousness with poverty:

        Try 2 Thessalonians 3:10

        • papagan

          Surely 2 Thessalonians 3:10 makes perfectly good sense, and it is entirely consistent with the indispensable Christian principles of solidarity and the common good! The problem is that laissez-faire capitalism, like socialism, is not in accord with authentic Christian culture. Again, read Centesimus annus, no. 42, for example. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_01051991_centesimus-annus_en.html

          • There is no place in the world where there is an unregulated free market. No where, except the vivid imaginations of statists.
            The term “lasssez-faire capitalism” is the signature complaint of people who have unbridled faith in 19th century progressivism.
            Nice to you back.. at least this time you are using a Disqus ID.

            • papagan

              First, if one is critical of laissez-faire capitalism, an economic system in which there is insufficient juridical regulation of business or market transactions, it does not follow that the critic must be a socialist or one who endorses excessive regulation of business or market forces. It would be a patent manifestation of ignorance to suggest such an implication. Second, what exactly are you trying to say concerning a Disqus ID?

              • pbecke

                Silence came the stern reply.

                • No, silence was a recognition that the post simply repeated a prior assertion that had already been answered.

                  • papagan

                    Perhaps you are sympathetic towards the creed of libertarianism. If so, that questionable creed has not gone unchallenged. See “The Catholic Case Against Libertarianism” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5uyxiwLTpGPOW42p7FqZrY15EjvhsCXT. And with respect to trickle-down economics, it’s pure mythology!

                    Subsidiarity without solidarity tends toward the grave error of individualism, while solidarity without subsidiarity tends toward the serious error of collectivism.

    • Howard

      I don’t see why anyone who objects to the Pope praying in a mosque (as I do) would also be offended that he is not chumming it up with the Dalai Lama. From the point of view of Realpolitik, the Dalai Lama is an unelected has-been with zero chance of regaining his country and little more power than Justin Bieber; from a spiritual point of view, the Dalai Lama is a leader of a false religion that has proven quite seductive to the West.

  • bonaventure

    If all the current popularity of this pope is not followed by martyrdom… then there’s a problem. Because Palm Sunday is always followed by the crucifixion. And crucifixion in this case does not necessarily mean death, but also hatred from the world.

    And at this time, it seems that the world worships Francis… Uh-oh.

    • R. K. Ich

      Jesus had a serious PR problem this Francis fellow doesn’t seem to have: clouding His teaching from the impenitent with parables, requiring faith and allegiance on the pain of damnation, chasing off the glory seekers with His way of the cross, unapologetically offering His flesh and blood for eternal life and then refusing to retract the claim from those who were offended and finally left, forced people to gaze at their deeds and motives in the light of the Divine standards, proclaiming how hard it is to enter the Kingdom, how narrow the road to salvation but wide the way to destruction, and on we could go.

      The next time some blockhead wants to tell me how much Francis is like Jesus because he decides to alter papal decorum and kiss a few babies, I think I will use the hand I would have hit him with to cover my mouth to keep the vomit from escaping.

      • ForChristAlone

        I hope you don’t mind R.K., but I’m going to propose that the Crisis Editor invite you to pen a piece here. I, for one, would want to hear more from your perspective.

        • R. K. Ich

          Why ruin a good thing? I need Crisis magazine. That’s why I’m here. 🙂

    • ForChristAlone

      “Uh oh” kinds sums it up.

  • Amatorem Veritatis

    The lady doth protest too little, methinks. Or too much? Francis is our post-modern Hamlet as Vicar of Christ. Whether hero (to progressives) or merely the confused & confusing prince (to conservatives), he certainly generates seemingly endless discussion regarding the Church and its teaching. This is perhaps a good thing in the long term.

    On the other hand, perhaps the father of lies was due a small victory regarding the papacy…with great emphasis on small. After all, probability is one measure of God’s sense of humor, and it was probable that the successor to the trifecta of Paul VI, JP II and Benedict XVI might suffer a bit from regression to the mean. But to reiterate, the Holy Spirit, from which we derive both image and likeness, has a both a sense of humor and what we might call a sense of the long game. I trust both His sense of humor and the fact that the Last Laugh belongs to Him. So watching the endless Francis debates between the scandalous and the scandalized is growing a bit tiresome. We know how this movie (play) ends, right?

    Charley Brown (our progressive) may think he is going to kick the football (Church doctrine) somewhere other than where it is (and always will be), but Lucy (the Holy Spirit) always has the Last Laugh. Semper Fidelis!

    • R. K. Ich

      Sure, we know how the movie ends, “but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Mt. 18:7)

      I dare say, the orthodox fathers of Nicea could have taken the same tact and said, “Why get worked up? God’s in control. After all, Arius and company isn’t saying Jesus *isn’t* divine.” A little holy anger against vice, heresy, and stupidity is part of the package of being a soldier for Christ in His catholic church.

      • ForChristAlone

        Ich, you speak volumes for the rest of us! Thanks.

    • C.Caruana

      Hamlet? Way too ‘intellectual’ for this Pope.

    • ForChristAlone

      Except there are no such animals as “progressives” and “conservatives.” There are only those who who believe ALL that the Catholic Church professes and those who do not. I don’t know what you want to call these two groups but it’s the “ALL” that’s the defining principle. All the rest is 21st century Cafeterianism.

    • GG

      That is a bit reductionist. That the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church in the end does not mean the faithful do nothing as confusion drags souls away from salvation.

  • Howard

    Well said!!!

  • steve5656546346

    What a wonderfully clear and cogent article!

  • WSquared

    At the same time, we will be far more susceptible to that kind of injury
    if we ourselves become lax in our task of learning and spreading the
    faith. When the ordinary faithful are ignorant and weak, that is when
    imprudent leaders will be most devastating to the Church as a whole. If
    we are concerned about the direction of a particular pontiff, the best
    thing we can do is to arm ourselves against error by immersing ourselves
    in Catholic doctrine, literature and philosophy.

    AMEN.

  • imabitterclinger2

    Nothing says you have to like the Pope. Just pray for him.

  • Tasha

    Matt 7:29 “for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”
    The huge difference between Christ and the leaders of His day is that He taught the crowds as one having authority. No one ever had to clarify or interpret to the crowds what He meant in the wake of His teachings. He even silenced His oppositions.
    The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth. Therefore, for the sake of the Church, His Bride, the Pope would be wise to imitate Christ.

  • Common Sense

    Thank you for your well balanced article. You have expressed clearly what I have been feeling for some time.

  • jeremiah_methusela

    Madam,

    Many thanks for your percipient article, it’s spot on, a superb and clearly expressed analysis.
    “Celebrity Papacy” – says it all.

  • JuneV26

    We must all be prayer warriors, because we need to arm ourselves with the Holy Spirit, to live moral and chaste lives. I think that Pope Francis needs to be more articulate on Church Doctrine, to keep the media, and others from misinterpreting his statements.

  • pbecke

    ‘(as though prosperity preaching were a hallmark of previous Catholic eras).’

    It was and is. We are a world away from the situation in which the poor disappears, as a ‘distinct group of outsiders, but (are) a part of the united, solidary people,’ as is so sublimely expressed in the excerpt below from the Wikipedia entry for Ambrose:

    ‘Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group
    of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to
    the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the
    fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had
    originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had
    usurped.

    Indeed, on the contrary, it is not uncommon to encounter Catholic, American commentators, and, doubtless some British Tories, who, filled with compassion for the ‘moral hazard'(!) to which the poor are apparently subjected by the extremely exiguous, social-welfare, safety net, that they advocate removing such a debilitating and character-destroying crutch. A kind of adult version of the Spartans’ exposure of their babies. See if they make it.

  • TJ

    It is important that the Catholic Church remain outside of any political movements be it Liberal or Conservative

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