The Jesuit, Pope Francis, and the Poor

Since the first Jesuit pope’s election earlier this year, the words “poverty” and “the poor” have acquired fresh resonance inside and outside the Catholic Church. Of course the Catholic Church has always devoted special attention to the materially poor and otherwise suffering. And with Pope Francis, one senses he is the real deal regarding poverty. There is not a trace of champagne socialist or middle-class lefty about the man.

But Francis isn’t the first to have used the phrase “a poor church of the poor.” It’s also been employed in a positive fashion by figures ranging from the father of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez, to critics of Marxist-versions of the same theology. In a 2011 meeting with German Catholic lay associations, for instance, Benedict XVI challenged the very wealthy—and notoriously bureaucratized—German Church to embrace poverty. By this, Benedict meant the Church detaching itself from “worldliness” in order to achieve “liberation from material and political burdens and privileges,” thereby breaking free of the institutional-maintenance mindset that plagues contemporary German Catholicism and opening itself “in a truly Christian way to the whole world.”

Going back in time, it was another pope, Blessed John XXIII, who brought the term “the church of the poor” to prominence. But as far as unpacking its meaning is concerned, perhaps the first to do so was one of the twentieth-century’s best Catholic theologians, the Jesuit Jean Daniélou (1905-1974). Understanding how important the expression would be after Vatican II, Daniélou devoted a chapter in his 1965 book, L’Oraison, problème politique (Prayer as a Political Problem), to clarifying the meaning of “l’église des pauvres.”

Daniélou brought unique perspectives and experiences to this question. The son of a politician from an anti-clerical family (who wasn’t baptized until his twenties) and an aristocratic mother (a formidable Catholic intellectual in her own right), Daniélou was famed for his independence of thought. When many French Catholics opted for Marshal Pétain and Vichy in 1940, for example, Daniélou chose Charles de Gaulle and Free France. Viewed with suspicion before Vatican II, Daniélou served as a peritus at the 21st ecumenical council because of his contribution to reviving patristic studies.

After 1965, Daniélou—like his fellow Jesuit Henri de Lubac—emerged as a champion of Catholic orthodoxy. From the late-1960s onwards, his articles were published regularly in L’Osservatore Romano. In these pieces, Daniélou assailed (to name just a few) what he called “horizontalism” (that which reduces Christianity to what Francis aptly describes as NGO-ism); those who equated the Church’s hierarchy with “repression;” as well as theologians who argued for an oxymoronic “atheistic Christianity.” Daniélou also proved very willing, like de Lubac, to defend Humanae Vitae. Extremely knowledgeable of Islam and Eastern religions (his brother Alain was a leading Indologist) and an interfaith dialoguer before it became fashionable, Daniélou was censorious of those who thought interreligious conversations implied an end to Christian evangelization.

What, however, really riled his critics were Daniélou’s sharp criticisms of the paths taken by many religious orders after 1965. In a famous 1972 Vatican Radio interview, Daniélou suggested that some orders had become “decadent.” This manifested itself, he stated, in several trends. One was the reduction of Christianity to social and political activism. Another was the embrace of the absurdity—propagated, most notably, by Karl Rahner S.J.—that human nature itself was somehow in a permanent state of flux: a claim for which Rahner provided no evidence whatsoever (because there is none).

Naturally there was a price to be paid for such outspokenness. Daniélou was ostracized by some in his own order and scorned by less-accomplished theologians. For someone who as a member of the French Resistance had faced down Nazis, theological brickbats were a rather trivial affair. Moreover there were plenty who recognized Daniélou’s intellectual achievements. Made a cardinal by Paul VI in 1969, Daniélou was elected three years later to the very secular, very prestigious Académie française.

But as if to temper the effects of such accolades, Daniélou had been quietly intensifying his own work for the despised of this world. Very few knew that Daniélou had always engaged in ministry to those on society’s margins, precisely because—like one Jorge Bergoglio S.J.—Daniélou kept his work with the poor out of public view.

At the end of his life, Daniélou was living in a run-down convent in Paris, possessing neither secretarial help nor even a car. And the cardinal was to die in circumstances that were, by worldly standards, humiliating. He suffered a heart attack in the stairway of a Parisian prostitute’s house in a disreputable part of town to the north of the Boulevard des Batignolles. This led to decades of catty remarks (such as those found in Hans Küng’s memoirs) by some of those with whom Daniélou had clashed after Vatican II. It was later proved there had been nothing untoward about Daniélou’s presence in the house. The cardinal had in fact been bringing the lady in question money to bail her husband out of prison.

Yet for all his willingness to aid the distressed, Daniélou was no “pauperist.” He refused to romanticize material deprivation. Nor did Daniélou have any patience with quasi-Marxist interpretations of Biblical treatments of poverty. While happy to converse with avowed Communists, Daniélou didn’t hesitate to describe Marxism and atheistic humanism more generally as an “outlandish error.”

So who, according to Daniélou, are “the poor”? Reflecting on this expression, Daniélou illustrates how it carries several meanings in the Gospels. One was the burdened and afflicted, material or otherwise. But the core meaning, according to Daniélou, is found in Christ’s actions. And this was to reach out to people of “all categories” who knew they were “poor in spirit:” i.e., those humble enough to recognize their inadequacy and sinfulness and willing to “risk all” for the healing and truth proclaimed by and embodied in Christ. This, Daniélou writes, is the church of the poor.

Daniélou then observes that the Gospels show Christ welcoming such people from all sectors of society. They weren’t just tax-collectors but also, Daniélou notes, prominent figures in Jewish life such as Nicodemus. From this standpoint, Daniélou maintains, the term “the poor” paradoxically underscores the universality of Christ’s message. Why? Because, Daniélou stresses, it was precisely because the Christian church modeled Christ’s behavior by making itself “open to all” that the early Christians were regarded with contempt by the leaders of the pagan sects that proliferated throughout the Roman Empire. For them, religion was all about esoteric mysteries accessible only to small elites. Hence they were suspicious of any religion that explicitly appealed to “the masses.”

Incidentally, Daniélou’s analysis fits with subsequent studies of Christianity’s emergence in the ancient world by the sociologist of religion, Rodney Stark. His 1996 book The Rise of Christianity provided compelling evidence that the popular notion that the early Christians were somehow limited to the Roman Empire’s proletariat is—like most popular notions—less-than accurate.

Yes, some early Christians were slaves and outcasts. Stark, however, suggests that far more Christians came from rather different social contexts. Examining a range of evidence, for example, Stark illustrates that vast numbers of early Christians belonged to well-educated, Hellenized Jewish families who made their living from commerce. Demographically-speaking, Stark adds, the early Christians were heavily located in trading cities around the Mediterranean. Their involvement in business gave them unique opportunities to encounter all sorts of people, serve those in need, while also spreading the Gospel throughout the Empire to whoever might listen.

Part of the genius of Christianity is the way that it takes an expression like “the poor” and infuses it with the meaning highlighted by Daniélou in 1965. Likewise phrases such as “the church of the poor,” Daniélou wrote, remind us that the Church consists of those multitudes of people from all backgrounds who have sought a shepherd who not only heals them from their sins but leads them into the truth. As the circumstances of his death illustrated, Daniélou himself didn’t hesitate to seek out lost members of Christ’s little flock in the most utterly peripheral of places.

For the Jesuit cardinal, proclaiming and defending the truth entrusted to Christ’s poor church was in no way incompatible with that very same poor church reaching out to those in need. And that, in many ways, sums up the evangelical challenge now being presented to us by our Jesuit pope: to keep open the “field hospital,” as Francis recently called it, where sinner’s wounds are bound up, so that, as Francis said in the same interview, “we can talk about everything else.” That “everything else” is, of course, the fullness of the truth revealed by the one who is Divine Mercy Himself.

A very old-style Jesuit—and therefore Catholic—way of proceeding, I’d suggest.

Samuel Gregg


Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored many books including, most recently, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

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  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Cardinal Daniélou was one of a whole generation of great French theologians, along with Cardinal Henri de Lubac, who collaborated with Jean Daniélou and Claude Mondésert in producing Sources Chrétiennes to bring the Church Fathers to a wider audience, Cardinal Yves Congar, Joseph Maréchal, Marie-Dominique Chenu and Louis Bouyer.

    They were all greatly influenced by the philosopher, Maurice Blondel, of whom Cardinal Henri de Lubac said, “Latin theology’s return to a more authentic tradition has taken place–not without some jolts, of course–in the course of the last century. We must admit that the main impulse for this return came from a philosopher, Maurice Blondel. His thinking was not primarily exercised in the areas proper to the professional theologians, nor did it base itself on a renewed history of tradition. Still, he is the one who launched the decisive attack on the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought. Time after time he demonstrated the deficiencies of the thesis of the “extrinsicist” school, which recognized “no other link between nature and the supernatural than an ideal juxtaposition of elements which…were impenetrable to each other, and which were brought together by our intellectual obedience, so that the supernatural can subsist only if it remains extrinsic to the natural and if it is proposed from without as something important only in so far as it is a supernature…”

    • PiusFan

      So we’re actually to believe that Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Ottaviani did not know what they were doing when this crowd was under suspicion, discipline, and censure during the 1950s? How about we commit ourselves to Pascendi and Humani Generis instead of wayward Nouvelle Thelogie?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Are we to believe that Pope John Paul II did not know what he was doing, when he conferred the red hat on Cardinals Congar, Daniélou and de Lubac? Are we to believe the Council Fathers did not know what they were doing, when they embraced their teaching?

        • PiusFan

          Naturally, how could Pope John Paul II not know what he was doing when he was proclaiming that the Church changed her very nature by virtue of the Second Vatican Council, conferred people like Roger Mahony with the red hat, stood by Fr. Marcial Maciel, bestowed meaningful worth and value to the false religions of the world, and actively participated in pagan worship? One thing I can say on behalf of you post is that Congar, Von Balthasar and de Lubac aren’t quite as bad by comparison.

          So are we to believe that Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Ottaviani, Fenton and Legrange did not know what they were doing? How does what was wrong in the 1940s and 1950s became truth in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s?

          You can’t have it both ways. We can have Pascendi and Humani Generis. Or we can have the clarion call to raze the bastions of the Church, and the resulting human ecclesial disintegration.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            As Pope Francis explained in his recent interview, ““Humans are in search of themselves, and, of course, in this search they can also make mistakes. The church has experienced times of brilliance, like that of Thomas Aquinas. But the church has lived also times of decline in its ability to think. For example, we must not confuse the genius of Thomas Aquinas with the age of decadent Thomist commentaries. Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism. In thinking of the human being, therefore, the church should strive for genius and not for decadence.”

            It was la Nouvelle Théologie that led the Church out of one such period of decadence.

            • ColdStanding

              If you have a moment of leisure, perhaps you could provide some anecdotes illustrative of either the thinking that generated decadent theological reasoning or suggest which authors are responsible for penning decadent Thomistic studies, granting that it was Pope Francis and not you that tabled the charge of decadence. It seems though, and perhaps I misread, that you are, to some degree, in accord with the assessment of the Holy Father, no?

              Would judge Cardinal Mercier’s work at the University of Louvain as decadent?

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                To take one example, the whole development of the idea of “natura pura,” so strenuously opposed by the Nouvelle Théologie

                All of the Thomists of the sixteenth century cite Aristotle in this context: “If nature had given the heavenly bodies the inclination to linear motion, she would also have given them the means for it.” [De Caelo, II, 290a] . . . the thought of a “desiderium naturale,” which points in nature beyond nature, would, according to the theologians of the sixteenth century, make salvation a right, and grace would cease to be a gift. The consequence of this was that they superimposed a hypothetical purely natural destiny of man, a “finis naturalis,” onto the actual destiny given in salvation history; and thus the fateful construction of a “natura pura” came into being. God, so the theory goes, could have created man also “in puris naturalibus.” The destiny of salvation is purely accidental in relation to human nature. The ordering of nature to this destiny consists solely in the so-called “potentia oboedientialis,” a passive capacity to be taken up into this new destiny by divine omnipotence. . . . The system of “natura pura” then became dominant in the disputation with Baius in Catholic theology. For the sake of the gratuity of grace, the theologians made the autonomy of nature a postulate, in relation to which grace has the character of a “superadditum.

                St Thomas himself knew better. Thus, he says, “The nature that can attain perfect good, although it needs help from without in order to attain it, is of more noble condition than a nature which cannot attain perfect good, but attains some imperfect good, although it need no help from without in order to attain it.” [ST I-II, q. 5, a. 5 ad 2] and “even though by his nature man is inclined to his ultimate end, he cannot reach it by nature but only by grace, and this owing to the loftiness of that end.” [In Boethius de Trinitate, q. 6, a. 4 ad 5.]

                The New Natural Law school is founded on the same misunderstanding.

                Mercier was a good theologian, but, alas, read St Thomas through the lens of Suarez

                • BM

                  You might want to get a copy of Father Mullady’s book Man’s Desire for God. One of the essays critiques De Lubac’s opinion, which you seem to be enamored with.

            • PiusFan

              Are you actually saying these popes presided over ‘decadent Thomist commentaries antithetical to the true faith running rampant throughout the Church? That Nouvelle Theologie has no confict with traditional teachings nor with the Oath Against Modernism? Simply untrue.

              Pius XII clearly did not approve of this, and it’s no accident that the main NT protagonists were subject to various forms of discipline and censure during the 1950s. The Holy Office sought to have certain works of du Lubac’s withdrawn from libraries and limited from public circulation because of serious dogmatic errors. Bishop Aloysius Wycislo, an NT disciple, stated that Humani Generis had a devestating effect on the NT theologians. Pope Pius XII knew what he was teaching, what he was talking about, and who it was directed against. As well as his Holy Office.

              Frankly, Pope Francis has no business casting aspersions against the beliefs, values, conduct, and magisterial teaching of any pope from the 1800-1950 era.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                “These popes” did little to counter “the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought” or to return Latin theology to a more authentic tradition. That work was done by the French theologians I listed, along with others, such as Karl Rahner, Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Josrph Ratzinger, as he then was.

                Their work was approved by an ecumenical council, cited in papal encyclicals and included in the new Catechism, “[t]he desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.” (CCC 27) – the great insight of the New Theology, in which it was merely returning to St Augustine – “Fecisti nos ad te…” – Man is created for the Beatific Vision. Humani Generis deals precisely with “a hypothetical state of pure nature,” which, as it does not exist, need not detain us.

  • Robert Boehm

    If Pope Francis really has a true interest in the poor, he will comply with the “requests” of Our Lady of Fatima-consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart with all the Catholic bishops; reveal the Third Secret; and promulgate the First Five Saturdays of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart- then “we can talk about everything else.”

    • PiusFan

      Good point.

  • PiusFan

    Whatever positive elements can be gleaned from their writings, the theologians of Nouvelle Theologie are not a sound source from which to gain Catholic wisdom and truth, and to perpetuate this school of thought is to continue to court disaster. Praising the work of any of these theologians, even if Danielou was a marginal improvement above the theological median of the group as a whole, is simply wrong.

    “De Lubac, and proponents of the ‘New Theology’ in general, simply do not understand ‘the God of scholastic theology’. To them, the God of St. Thomas and
    the traditional Church is not sufficiently ‘vitally immanent’. The God Who created us in His own Image, and sustains us every second of our lives with this same creative action; the God Who died for our sins and for our eternal salvation, and draws us into His very own life through baptism and the other sacraments; the God Who gives His Own Son in Holy Communion, Who insures that we are in possession of infallible truth through His Church, and promises His faithful the Gift of the Beatific Vision – this God, and this faith, are too sterile, absolute, and pharisaical for them.

    The problem for these people seems to be that all that constitutes the traditional Catholic concept of grace and supernatural life is considered as Gift, and not something that is their own by right, or by nature. They choose to barter the Infinite
    Gift of God for the paltry personal possession of an ounce of supernatural life
    which is somehow independent of this Gift. It is almost unbelievable foolishness; but even more, it amounts to infinite ingratitude.

    What we may be sure of is the enormously destructive consequences of their effort. Again, we have the wisdom of Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi [#34]:

    ‘The domineering overbearance of those who teach these errors, and the thoughtless compliance of the more shallow minds who assent to them, create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere, and carries infection with it’.”

    -James Larson

    • AcceptingReality

      I hope you don’t mind if we all take your comments with a grain of salt. After all the Society of Pius X, for doctrinal reasons, was declared to have no canonical status in the Church by Pope Benedict XVI. My point is that SSPX doesn’t exactly have a legacy of full communion with the Church. In fact, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the order of Pope John Paul II in 1988. And as recently as June 27, 2013, SSPX’s remaining three bishops gave a declaration which for all intents and purposes is viewed as a definitive break with the Church. The Church’s doors are always open and I would like to personally invite you to full communion.

      • PiusFan

        Interesting that you don’t even bother to try to address the substantive nature of the issues from my post, and the problematic nature of the decisive breaks in Catholic belief and thinking that have descended upon the Church during the past 55 years. If there is a problem with what I’ve posted, you should point it out.

        Instead, you bring up SSPX. I have no affiliation or involvement with SSPX, nor does writer James Larson, to the best of my knowledge.

        But the doors are always open, and I would like to personally invite you to a mature discussion and refraining from presumption and rashness.

      • JR

        I am a member of the SSPX and your invitation is unnecessary. I am a Catholic in communion with the Catholic Faith once for all delivered. You seem pretty ignorant abut somethings so let me help you clear them up. First, the SSPX was never declared to be non canonical for “doctrinal reasons”. Doctrinally they are pure as the white is snow. The issue of unapproved consecrations is not always a an illegal canonical act. It could be but it depends on teh inent of the actor doing the act. Archbishop Lefebvre’s intention was not to separate from the Church but to preserve tradition from the modernism that was rampant in the seminaries and parishes. You may not find that persuasive but that was his publicly stated intent. In canon law that counts for something. There has been no statement of a “definitive break” with the Church by the bishops. Thats is typical media distortions. Your free to believe it I suppose.

        So please keep your invitation for someone in your parish who more and likely sits in the pew and votes democrat and liberal on social issues. The SSPX is doing fine defending the Faith.

        • AcceptingReality

          Well, it should go without saying that I do invite the liberal democrat pewsitting Catholics into full communion with the Church as well.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      De Lubac nowhere suggests what Barth explicitly denies, namely that there is a natural order, which participates with God in an “unbroken” manner. Nature, for de Lubac is not a divine seed, but rather an emptiness which is “ordered” to its fulfilment in Christ precisely because it exists as a privation. Nature for de Lubac is no sort of divine seed, or immanent movement toward the supernatural, rather it is instilled with a desire for the supernatural that is born precisely out of its own poverty. “Between nature as it exists and the supernatural for which God destines it, the distance is as great, the difference is as radical, as that between non-being and being: for to pass from one to the other is not merely to pass into ‘more being,’ but to pass into a different type of being. It is a crossing by grace of an impassable barrier.” (The Mystery of the Supernatural, 83) What de Lubac denied in his controversy with Neo-Scholasticism was the claim that the natural and the supernatural have utterly separate ends in and of themselves. His intent was never to affirm that there is any sort of immanent potentiality in nature to move towards God. “In short, for Christians created nature is no kind of divine seed. . . . The longing that surges from this ‘depth’ of the soul is a longing ‘born of a lack’ and not arising from ‘the beginnings of possession.’”

      The conferring of the red hat on Cardinals Congar, Daniélou and de Lubac was a vindication of their orthodoxy and their teachings pervade the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

      • PiusFan

        These people’s thinking was saturated with immanentism, pantheistic flavored flitting from Tradition, and fascination with the zaniness of Teilhard de Chardin.

        With de Lubac, the supernatural ultimately becomes natural and part of nature. The Church held that the complete supernatural is a gift beyond the natural. Cardinal Siri noted that with this school of thought, either Jesus is no longer God, or man becomes divine. And by any reasonable account, Humani Generis debunks this kind of wayward view.


        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          In Humani generis (1950). Pius XII writes: “Others destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision” (Humani generis, 26).

          Humani generis refers to a hypothetical order wherein intellectual beings are not ordered and called to perfect beatitude. However, in the world that God has actually created, “[t]he desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.” (CCC 27) For de Lubac, the teaching of Humani generis helps us to see that it would have been possible for God to create intellectual natures different from what they would need to be to play their destined role in a providential economy ordered to deification.

          There is no conflict here.

          • PiusFan

            Humani Generis was not addressing hypothetical errors but very real errors being hydrated by de Lubac, Van Balthasar, and others. It is quite clear that Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Ottaviani opposed these errors, as these theologians were under discipline and censure during this period, with de Lubac, among others I am sure, cited for errors against dogma.

            In the mid-1940s, Fr. Garrgiou Lagrange wrote an article systemically dismantling Nouvelle Theologie in general and de Lubac’s work in particular, presciently citing the dangers and evils it posed. As I understand it, de Lubac never formulated any serious response, other than ad hominem attack against Lagrange accusing him of having simplistic views about the nature of truth. The usual fare for self-styled dissenting heterdox sophisticates who couldn’t abide by the fullness of Catholic truth.

            As if this weren’t bad enough, this crowds dalliances with evolutionary pantheism of de Chardin makes matters even worse.

            Any claim that Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Ottaviani, Lefebvre, Lagrange, and Fenton were involved in, peddling, or aiding and abetting Thomistic decadence is simply rubbish and an insult to their piety and faith.

            There is no doubt that NT was opposed by the magisterium as error in the 1940s and 1950s, as witnessed by the actions of the Holy Office and the leaders of the Church. Truth doesn’t change.

            Second Vatican and Pope John Paul II do not prove anything in and of themselves. By that logic, we should all be flocking to our nearest pagan worship ceremony, since Pope John Paul II participated in such worship and clearly considered such horrific conduct to be proper Catholic activity in light of Second Vatican Council.

            It is no accident that in the wake of what you are lauding, we have witnessed ecclesial chaos, incoherence, incessant novelty, and substantial disintegration at the human level, the likes of which the Church has never witnessed as emanating from within itself. And it’s not over yet.

            I don’t see what more to add here. I’ll try to wrap up by following up with a few more excerpts from others in the hope that you please reconsider this kind of position.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Garrigou-Lagrange embodied the cardinal vice of the Neo-Thomists as described by Maurice Blondel. “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.” Hence, anything “that would hinder this spirit of domination, everything that would recall the role of this interior hearing (auditus interior) of which St. Thomas did not fear to speak, would be pitilessly blasted (foudroyé).”

              By “Lefebvre,” I assume you mean Marcel Lefebvre, the schismatical, ci-devant Archbishop, who died excommunicated and whose disapproval any Catholic theologian would regard as an accolade.

              It is not unusual for a theologian to be condemned and subsequently, when his thought is better understood, rehabilitated. Consider Antonio Rosmini, condemned by Leo XIII in 1887, described by Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio as one of the great Christian thinkers, a successor to Augustine and Aquinas and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. I would not be surprised, if there were many such reappraisals.

              • Piusfan

                My regrets if I wasn’t clear about Fenton; I was referring to Joseph Fenton. Though if your last post was any indication, I imagine you can trudge up some smear on him as well. I could start talking about folks like Montini and Roncalli playing footsies with Bolsheviks but really don’t think it is particularly relevant to a theological discussion.

                I was going to try to post more information here, though it doesn’t look like it will be of any constructive use. Your position seems to be enamored of novelty and seems to extend to any contemporary pope the magisterial right to re-fashion the faith in most any way of their choosing.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  As Pope Francis said in his recent interview, “St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens… So we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the church to mature in her own judgment. Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding… The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

                  After all, in every age of history, humans try to understand and express themselves better. So human beings in time change the way they perceive themselves. It’s one thing for a man who expresses himself by carving the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace,’ yet another for Caravaggio, Chagall and yet another still for Dalí. Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning.”

            • Fancypants

              All of this is missing the most important point, and that is that man has turned God and Jesus Christ into a political forum manipulated and brought out at convenient times for convenient ends, wake up and smell the coffee Jesus said “I am no part of this world my kningdon is not of this world. So then why are we highlighting this cardinal this pope this cleric his theological discussion of what real relevance does it have on the Bible???? None becaus these man made history of Catholisism is no part of sacred scripture no part of Christ, of God,it’s man made politics and demonic at that. When I are we going to start looking at the scriptures, rather than men,Jesus said ” this mean everlasting life, their having knowledge of you the only true God and the one whom you sent forth Jesus Christ. Who’s is going to give us everlasting life????? Pope Francis ????? Does it say man will ???. No it’s sayes knowledge of Jesus Christ and his father will so please stop the boring rhetoric making things hard to understand the bible is clear written for all not the Theologians God can and does explain himself rather well without men who are corrupted Sinning in the flesh trying to dogmatise and restrict though Catholisism. Read the bible that’s what brings to humans the thinking of god, Catholisism is descended from Babylonian Egyptian idolatry so please wake up!!!!!!! Do ur research delve and see, Pure worship cannot come from Catholisism or Christendom as it has already been judged by god Rev17 all the way to 18 read it carefully,

              • Adam__Baum

                You’re confused. You aren’t even a good Jack Chick fan.

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  • Michael Pakaluk

    Thank you for this illuminating portrait of Fr. Danielou and argument for his importance today.

  • tamsin

    Interesting reads on horizontalism and on atheistic Christianity. Thanks for the links.

  • MtMama

    Just like something I’d expect from someone involved with the Acton Institute; redefine “poor” so it’s more palatable to American capitalism.

    • Adam__Baum

      Youer comment is not becoming more palatable with repetition.

  • MtMama

    Just like something I’d expect from someone involved with the Acton Institute: redefine “poor” so it’s more palatable to American liberal capitalism.

    • Adam__Baum

      Just like something I’d expect from someone too economically ignorant to be involved with the Acton Institute: make “poor” indefinite so it’s more useful to American liberals.

  • Danielou would be appalled at a group like “Acton Institute ” In fact he warned about just this type of mentality that characterizes groups like Acton who push neo-liberalism and Americanism.

    “a capitalist society religious communities were able to find private sources of provision for their material needs. This had two defects. In the first place, it tied them to the power of money; and secondly, it led them to seek recruits for the most part from the leading social groups and to keep themselves from the poor.”

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  • woodyjones

    “Prayer as a Political Problem” was a text much used by the late, great Frederick Wilhelmsen and L. Brent Bozell, both of “Triumph” magazine fame, among others. If one has a copy of the “Best of Triumph” collection, one can read them taking inspiration from this very work. I myself heard Fritz base a talk on it. Having read the first part of “Prayer as a Political Problem” myself, my recollection of the most important insight is that the “poor” person is at least in one sense the ordinary man of today, who needs precisely the aid of a fully Catholic society in order to practice his Faith as he should. In a secularized society, this ordinary man would be called upon to swim against the current (or as the late Fr. John Hardon, SJ, said, to be heroic), not something that could be expected of many. So the need was and is to evangelize the society so that it will become the kind of Catholic society that will carry along the ordinary/poor man to Heaven rather than sweep him away from it.