I have to confess that I have wickedly enjoyed all the internet hand wringing by conservative and traditional Catholics in response to Pope Francis’s interview in America magazine. They are worried that in Francis the Catholic Church now has the pope that Vatican II progressives have been praying for for the past fifty years. They are worried that Francis’s remarks “do not challenge but instead reinforce America’s dominant ideological frame” (R. R. Reno). They are worried that with Pope Francis at the helm, the reform of the Catholic Church will grind to a halt. They are worried that if the Catholic Church ceases to focus on the important ethical (read “sexual”) issues of the day, the barbarians at the gate will soon overwhelm us.
But what exactly did the Pope say? The controversial sentences are these:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
I am unhappy that Francis included abortion in his list, but what is important here is to first read the entire interview and interpret these sentences in their proper context.
So what is the pope actually saying? Here’s my take: the first and principal task of the Church is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. It is this gospel that is the hope of a broken, suffering, and sinful world. “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound.” Absolutely!
Let’s be honest. The established Churches, including the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, are not very good at evangelism (or as Catholics prefer to say, evangelization [apparently, the Catholic Bible reports the Great Commission in these words: “Go out and evangelizationize the nations of the world”]). The Catholic Church has an exemplary record at social ministry; but when it comes to actually converting unbelievers to Jesus Christ, it usually lets the Protestants do that and then picks them up ten or twenty years later.
The Orthodox Churches in the U.S. aren’t any better at evangelizing pagans either, preferring to tell and re-tell the story of how in the tenth century Vladimir the Great sent out envoys to research the religions of the neighboring nations, who subsequently returned with glowing reports of the liturgy celebrated in Constantinople: “We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth. … We only know that God dwells there among the people, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.” Now there is something to be said for this: the beauty, grace, and holiness of the Orthodox liturgy is incomparable; but it may be a tad unrealistic to hope that the pagan multitudes will begin stumbling into Orthodox parishes on Sunday mornings at precisely 10:00. And let’s not forget that too often Orthodox parishes celebrate the Eucharist in languages incomprehensible to most Americans. But at least the Orthodox do not use the word evangelization.
But back to Pope Francis. His major point is, in my judgment, unassailable. Few people are converted to the Christian faith because they read about the Catholic Church’s repeated denunciations of _____. Before unbelievers will give the Church any hearing at all on ethics and morals, they must first hear and receive the good news of the generous love of God revealed in Jesus Christ:
Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
Wonderful and true. Every practicing Catholic should be rejoicing. Clearly this is a bishop who has actually evangelizationized people on a one-to-one basis.
Christendom died long ago. The post-Christian and pagan world has little interest in the moral teaching of the Catholic Church. It doesn’t matter how loud its bishops, priests, and internet bloggers raise the volume. Only the gospel itself, proclaimed with loving care and zeal, can restore the integrity and power of the Catholic Church’s moral witness. And this goes for the Orthodox Church, too.
Morality is the world’s business. One does not have to be a disciple of Jesus to recognize and prophetically speak against evil and wickedness. But only the Church can proclaim the good news of the resurrection of the Nazarene.
Pope Francis may be just the pope the Catholic Church, and perhaps the world, needs. We shall see.
Thank you, Fr. Aidan! I have appreciated the words and actions of Pope Francis as well. The last quote above reminds me of Evdokimov’s ontological brilliance.
Thanks for this, Father, and for the humorous touches that really tickled my funny bone. It seems to me to be very well said.
I confess I have not been following closely all that this Pope has been doing and saying (nor all the critiques of that). What little I did follow encourages me, and it seems to me that Pope Francis (not necessarily unlike some of his predecessors, but I am way too ignorant to judge) is a man following the winds of the Holy Spirit and whose heart beats with the love of Christ. Of course, I don’t expect him to be perfect, but I was touched by the video of his recent meeting with the Patriarch of Antioch and pray for all that will draw sincere followers of Christ closer together in a true union in Christ and for increasing mutual spiritual support in the struggle against the evil forces at work in this world, which can only be defeated, as you have said, by a true and clear proclamation of the Gospel. It seems now in formerly Orthodox lands, the great hope of the Resurrection is being proclaimed not so much in words but by the shed blood of those not loving their earthly lives, but rather being faithful to their hope in Christ unto death.
Perhaps the coming onslaught of evil–already escalating to horrific proportions in the Middle-East–will do for a divided Christendom what we have been unable to do for ourselves. Undoubtedly, though its methods may be grim, it will serve to separate the sheep from the goats and the true undershepherds from those who are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” May God help us to purify our hearts and give us all grace to persevere.
Thank you, Father for an excellent article. Unfortunately most traditionalist Orthodox are missing it amidst the bellows of Antichrist. At times I have to remind myself that I am on an Orthodox site because of all of the Protestant-like fundamentalist rantings 😉 While some call for unity on one side, the other is terrified of unity.
I think that the best comment I read was that of Father Maximos (@MaximHieromonk) on Twitter: “Moral teaching makes sense only in the context of an economy of mercy. That this is news tells me we Christians have much work to do!”
Thanks Father for this appreciation of Pope Francis. I agree with you that, perhaps, he shouldn’t have included abortion in the list. After all, it is arguably the most grave evil of our time and we certainly cannot be quiet about it (and Pope Francis did not say that we should be). At the same time, I think that the Holy Father’s priorities are correct. The only way to permanently change the modern anti-life mindset is to give hope to the world through the proclamation of the gospel of mercy and love in Jesus Christ. I am convinced that the current culture of death has its roots in a culture of despair which can only be countered by the gospel of hope.
What exactly the Pope is up to is causing hand wringing on all sides. The traditionalists and neo-conervatives are tripping over themselves assuring one another….no matter what he says, dogma does not change. The MSM has whiplash from grabbing on anything indicative that the church may be changing only to have bishops and the hierarchy telling people that ‘the pope said this, but this is what he meant. I have given up trying to figure out if he is just being jesuit, who have developed equivocation to a fine art and are masters at achieving ‘conversion’ by telling people what they want to hear or if this really a different kind of man.
In the long run I don’t think it matters. He is speaking the Gospel and people are reacting to it. What his motives are (genuine, PR, damage control) doesn’t really matter.
The POWER IS IN THE WORD, in the GOSPEL-the very thing Catholics and non-Catholics alike are taking notice. Speaking the Gospel IS evangelization, preaching Christ is life changing, preaching Christ does make changes in hearts and mind.
So whatever the motive, even if it is deceptive, the power of the Word is not effected.
I am going to rest my heart and my mind there and let the the chips fall where they may and be Glad that the Gospel is, for the moment, up front and center.
Reblogged this on Struggling with faith.
What is more important feeding the poor or killing millions of babies each year through abortion? According to Jesus we will always have the poor with us. How can we be tolerant or not speak about this terrible evil? When the pope gives vague statements to the press, it is his job to explain the exact translation so the media cannot twist the meaning to fit their agenda. We cannot compromise the truth for the sake of gaining unrepented sinners to boost church attendance. I also believe it’s our moral obligation to help the poor but, many of them choose to be poor and not help themselves. Look at all the people on welfare! The church primary mission is to preach the gospel and teach us the way to eternal salvation and not through populat social programs.
The sin of abortion is not respecting life..
Then lack of recognizing a human being as a HUMAN LIFE at any stage is EXACTLY the same sin.
I think that is exactly what your statement about the poor is, a sin against life..
The woman, the post-birth child, the family or the family destroyed by poverty…all human life, too.
Killing by abortion is wrong, but letting human beings of all ages die naturally through starvation, lack of shelter, health care AND lack of a community (things that might involve YOU, instead of just a pregnant woman, DOING what is right). That is your vision of your God’s Kingdom, his better, ‘more holy’ way?
I THINK YOU JUST IDENTIFIED THE PROBLEM WITH ISSUE-ORIENTED RELIGION that the Pope is trying to point out.
I AM APPALLED BY YOUR STATEMENT ABOUT THE POOR…which most likely INCLUDES the majority of the children you (rightly) advocate to be born…but you think your religious obligation ends there, that valuing life is ‘more right’ at some stages than others?
(gee, THAT ALMOST SOUNDS LIKE AN ARGUMENT SOME PRO-CHOICE groups use to advocate for abortion).
I AM SOLIDLY ANTI-ABORTION, but I am kind of fond of people, too; neighbors and all, I pray for the ability to love them as best I can, as God commanded.
I am ashamed of religious people who look at a poor pregnant teen or families in dire financial conditions trying to remain faithful to the teachings of the church…
…and you don’t even see a person, another human being like yourself?
All you see is “ISSUES’, THINGS, bodies to bend to your will as if it’s just a piece of territory to conquer…and possessions to be hoarded.
I too am anti-abortion and have faced the wrath of those who insist upon this abominable act. The bottom line is that if the Church will help bring Christ into peoples’ lives instead of condemning them from the outset then we would have a better chance of defeating both abortion and poverty. It is not an either/or situation. There are those who look to the Pope to justify their singular stance and to give them more fuel for the a singular issue that they feel needs to be fought and there are more issues that everybody needs to address.
You are exactly wrong in equating murder of the innocent with indifference to the needs of the poor (which I believe you wrongly inferred from the previous comment). Your rationalization is dangerous because it seeks to equalize the significance of two very different things, departing from the truth in reducing the importance of the first and elevating the second. Your inference also feeds the false notion that many who are pro-life do not care about the poor or are somehow hypocritical in seeking to make protection of the unborn a priority…as if one has to choose between the two. It is exactly this type of flawed logic that is at work in political correctness and examples of false “tolerance” that abound today, resulting in good being presented as evil and evil as good. Jesus taught that there are priorities, that some things are greater than others and not all is equal…that the greatest commandment is to (first) love God above all else and (then) neighbor as self. Truly loving neighbor as self flows from loving God first. Therefore, love of neighbor as self is the fruit of the love of God first. Then, if you depart from the truth in doing good works, your works are not the good fruit you may think they are. That is why Jesus said that when he returns, many will say that they have done good deeds in His name, but He will say to them “I never knew you, depart from me”. The Kingdom of God cannot be built through compromise. Beware the good works that do not flow from the love go God, they are part of a larger plan designed and implemented by the enemy of your soul to draw you away from God.
Annikamira: Why all the shouting with capital letters? Your anger seems to say that it is you who believe yourself superior and/or more Christian for your wanting to make all manner of sin equal.
I agree with Ivanna. I also agree and accept the words of Our Lord in that we will always have the poor with us. That is not to say that we abandon them. That is rather to state the fact that we will be blessed with the poor always, the constant test of our true charity. Ours is not to make poverty disappear, but rather to respond to it in a Christian manner which does not include inducing encouraging (even by way of omission) these poor people to abort their children. That is cruel. And short sighted.
It is also narrow minded to think that we who have material things are somehow more blessed because the poor person who can continue their sacrifice in order to honor God and be fruitful in marriage are far richer spiritually than we. They are living prayer and sacrifice while we just watch from the sidelines, believing we know better how to solve the ‘problem.’ Enough!
Pope Francis says he wants the Church to be like a field hospital. Well, in field hospitals in time of war there is such a thing as triage. Serious sin, that which will kill the soul and lead one to Hell, is that which should be treated first. Often the system of triage seems highly cruel and uncharitable. If you’ve ever experienced war first hand, you would know this. That said, Christian charity, true charity often appears cruel at the outset. But removing the sin that will truly kill is the primary duty here. Subtleties that make ‘us’ feel better about what we perceive needs to be done is just that subtlety.
There are people starving to death from lack of food, but millions more are starving for the love and truth of Christ; thus the task of every Christian is to share the good news of Jesus Christ before anything. Once a person accepts Christ, everything else falls into place. That’s the point Pope Francis is making.
Realize that the devil doesn’t care about killing unborn babies as much as he wants to make murderers out of people. Ironically, for many women, it was an abortion which led to their conversion after many years of carrying the guilt.
And do realize that abortion in Brazil, a “Catholic country”, is still illegal, yet there are more abortions occurring every year in Brazil than in the U.S. God doesn’t force anyone to go to heaven, however he wants everyone to be saved and allows people to reject Him.
Jesus did not shout from the cross “Father, stop them! Send them all to hell!”—but rather, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
Great, except the Pope needs to come out and clairfy it Himself. I’ve spoken to so many who have run with the media’s evaluation of his interview and feel he is ok with everything. This is leading people to falsley believe the Church is OK with same sex marriage, abortion etc…. beliefs. This is from personal experience – my family, friends, co-workers all ask. When pointing out the obvious from my viewpoint, they just say “he said….” and quote a few sentences. We need him to clairify it for the world.
The Church doesn’t just preach against social issues e.g. abortion, homosexuality etc. It has always been there for the poor, and teaching the beauty of the Gospel. What planet is this pope living on when he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that the Church has been doing what he says we should be all along?
the “barbarians at the gate” have overwhelmed us and frankly are the only speaking about and defining these issues to the point of an american president who supports infanticide enjoying their votes at a 52% majority. With all due respect the Pope is WRONG. There is and cannot be any accommodation with evil and it is the Church’s obligation to save souls not ceding any ground at any time over matter of faith and morals. The only ones talking about these issues are the forces in the homosexual, same sex marriage and pro abortion advocacy groups who have in some twisted manner been allowed to define these issues entirely and at same time blame a quiescent supine Church hierarchy. Francis is a typical European/South American liberal and he exemplifies all to well the misguided thinking in Jesuits which has provoked the crisis of abandonment of Faith in our time. I defy you to find a Catholic Church here or in Europe where a homily is delivered at any Mass which addresses these issues. If you can please let me know as I will be attending. thank you. attended a mass in midtown manhattan traditional Church said in LATIN (as it should be) and priest discussing Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth commenting on passage of John leaping for joy in her womb said “do not let anyone tell you that is not a person”. that is the toughest language i have heard in decades. Not much
Part of the power of Francis is that he is first and foremost himself a Christian. For those who have not read the interview in America magazine, the interview opened with Francis being asked who he (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is. His reply? “I am a sinner.”
As a Catholic, I do not know if I have ever heard a Pope or bishop say this so publicly, so emphatically. And, no, I do not think it was PR, damage control, etc. but the words of a man who knows that he, like the rest of us, is called to repentance. A church leader of this sort is likely to draw more who have fallen away from Christian teaching than the leader who condemns the sinners for their sins.
Love draws people to repentance. Once hearts are changed, they no longer want or accept what is evil. Preaching that abortion is wrong doesn’t stop people from having them. Calling people to change of heart does.
Well said, Mary. It seems to me the most effective way to call people to a change of heart is by giving them a clear vision of Christ in all the purity and prodigality of His mercy by holy example and the pure proclamation of the Gospel.
What would be “pure proclamation of the Gospel”?
MN Mary, by “pure proclamation of the Gospel,” I suppose I mean a presentation of the Gospel that makes it really sound like good news for sinners who want to be free from the bondage of their sin, but know in their weakness they cannot be if God doesn’t intervene on their behalf, not only once in history through the power of the Cross, but also moment by moment through the grace and power of the Resurrection. “If God is for us, who can be against us,” from Romans 8 might be a good start.
Let me say first that I am 87 yrs old and have been an anti abortion activist for over 50 years. I’ve finally calmed down.
Your right, of course. lKeep Calm. The Pope is right too. He’s steering the ship. He’s our hope.
What has come from the pulpits for the last 50 years has been love. As such, plenty have left the churches in droves, and continue to believe in or have abortions, voted for a pro-third term abortion lover, and believe in gay marriages. So, please. Taking a look at this, there actually has to be a true balance. What is necessary are teachings and within homilies that are both filled with love yet at the same time full of zeal, in both the doctrinal as well as pastoral. It is really necessary to get to the consciences and hearts of the people. This requires the piercing of the mind and heart. So, balance in both is definitely required. If people don’t like it, well, it is no different from when many disciples left Jesus when he said to eat His Body and drink His Blood. They left Him too. Yet, many continued to came and followed Him and have been following Him up to this present day.
Francis is sowing confusion and dissension. Hence, the TONE of Father’s comments (“I have to confess that I have wickedly enjoyed all the internet hand wringing by conservative and traditional Catholics”…really Father, you are ENJOYING this, this payback on traditionalists?) and the tone of some of the commenters on this board.
In time we shall see how successful Francis is. By his fruits, he shall be known.
I would not say that Pope Francis is responsible for the seeds of discord. There are plenty inside and outside of the Roman Catholic Church that are too eager to contribute to the efforts of our true enemy. I cautiously await to see what Pope Francis does.
Dave, I disagree. I do not see the Pope as sowing confusion and dissension. What I do see is exaggerated over-reaction from conservative and traditional Catholics, which in itself is revealing. All Francis has done is to ask Catholics to attend to the primary task of the Church, namely, to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That should not be controversial. He is in no way intimated that morality is unimportant. All he has said is that it needs to be properly grounded in the gospel. The over-reaction we are seeing on the internet simply confirms what the Pope says what is needed at this present moment in the life of the Catholic Church. He is your pastor. Should you not at least respectfully attend to his counsel?
Larry Chapp has some wise words to say about THE interview: “Being Honest About Francis.”
I want to challenge those who really care about pro life to take in unwed mothers who need help and those who have lost there faith. Love is action! Compassion is action! Living our Catholic Faith compels me to action! Jesus lives in us! Dr. Hursh
I like your reply Dr. Hursh, Christ’s example is faith in action. Amin+++
I believe you are mistaken in the exaggerated over-reaction from conservative and traditional Catholics. Do you not hear the exaggerated and left centered reaction from the liberal Catholics???? The Pope does need to clarify and for the last 25 years all I have heard in the majority of churches is God is love and we must love all His children to the exclusion of sin. It is the media and the liberals who have constantly defined the (erroneous) stance of the church on morals because of the lack of priests, bishops, catechists etc. who do not speak up. In fact they try to be so politically correct ad nauseam that they do not sound Catholic anymore. That is why people have left the church because of the lack of sound teaching and the definition of good and evil, the scandals caused by the very same. I believe that the Pope means we need to get back to basics but no way does he mean to ignore the sinfulness and evil that unrepentant sinners are living these days. He definitely needs to clarify especially for those priests and bishops who have stayed firm in the faith and truly are teaching the Gospel and trying to save souls.
…really Father, you are ENJOYING this, this payback on traditionalists?)
Thank you, I resonate with you on this Dave Smith: the glee is pretty obvious, and sad really.
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Non placet. http://ebougis.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/papa-frankie-and-the-interview/ It is odious in the extreme to imply that the Church heretofore has failed in proclaiming the Gospel, much less in pitting disjointed moral teachings against the simple, radiant message of mercy. The dual passion JPII had for pro-life “rhetoric” and the Divine Mercy is proof enough of that. Of the masses that Jesus encountered He won only a few, so by the reigning accommodationist logic, He was a failure, too. Welcome to Christian reality. Being good at “evangelizing” does not mean sowing ambiguity that scratches itches ears. My hunch is that Francis takes the sociological trends of the past few decades as proof that the “hardline” doctrinal approach of JPII and BXVI are dead ends, and thus has opted for a compromised “good cop” position. Nonetheless, I am certain in my bones that his gambit for a “diplomatic” and radiant Christianity will not result in any more converts, much less converts of any quality. (And yes, I know the standard rejoinder: how dare you impugn the quality of sinners seeking grace! The point is, getting a ton of fairweather converts from a few media soundbites does nothing to quell the longterm defection of the world from the light of the Gospel. Better to be UP FRONT all the time and cherish the few solid conversions you get, rather than hanker for a slew of cheap emotive conversions that will flap away off the deck back into the water in a few years’ time.)
I, for one, would never pit Pope Francis against Popes Benedict or John Paul II. But Pope Francis is not saying anything different from what his predecessors themselves have said. Consider, as an example, this quotation from Pope Benedict’s address to the Swiss Bishops:
“I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems. If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.”
I take Pope Francis to be saying something very similar to this. It is not that we shouldn’t talk about abortion, contraception, gay marriage, etc… But rather, we must talk about these things within the context of the gospel message. This message must be front and centre at all times. If all people hear is that Catholicism is against such and such, they will, as Pope Benedict states, get the impression that “we are all moralists.” It is not even a matter here of balance as if somehow the negative side of things is equal in importance to the positive. On the contrary, what God has done for us far surpasses any sin or sins we might conceivably commit. People certainly need to know that when they procure abortions or engage in homosexual acts, they involve themselves in grave wrongdoing. But they need to hear even more forcefully that God has already acted to deliver them from this. They need to hear very clearly what God’s longing and desire is for them, i.e., that He wants to unite them to Himself so that they can share His life. This is what I understand Pope Francis to be saying.
But in hearing of God’s longing, Ed, it must be made clear that individuals not only commit grave wrongdoing when they participate in homosexual acts and/or the procurement of abortion, but that they cut themselves off from God. They blind themselves. And sadly, they confuse, scandalize, and blind the young who are already drawn from the Church by the mixed messages that are so prevalent in modern society. (Syncretism and Indifferentism being chief among them.)
I pray the Holy Father will become more measured in his comments, even as a new parent who must reassess his personal style when there is a new baby in the house. (Swear words may only be a minor matter, but when a two year old swears a blue streak in public, the parent is not amused and/or looked upon as an ideal of how to lead a family.)
One thing is for certain, the agitation of the Traditionalist that seems to delight Fr. Aiden, will surely get people talking. And Popes change with the ages. Styles change. Much like the pendulum swing from Democrat to Republican. I pray Father will be as open when another Pius X rises to the seat of Peter. And it will happen.
I am, I confess, shocked that this little posting has generated as much traffic as it has. Bloggers live for “views”! So at the moment I am in blogger heaven. 🙂
Clearly this is a contentious topic. I’d like to remind everyone that civility and charity rules. Please no ad hominem attacks.
Father Aiden, with all due respect you know this is a contentious topic. You are a religious. This is your line of work. So why act as though it is a revelation.
Saying, “I confess that I have wickedly enjoyed all the internet hand wringing by conservative and traditional Catholics in response to Pope Francis’s interview in America magazine,” indicates nothing but pleasure at what you know to be a hot issue.
If you knew nothing of the views of conservatives, you would be more likely to be surprised and/or to ask questions of them as to why they are concerned. Being pastoral works both ways. There is much fruit in the traditional/conservative movement. There is nothing competitive here, just the statement of what is.
Also, as a professed blogger and a priest (and obviously well educated unless you are really Fr. Troll), I cannot believe that you would waste your valuable time writing what you term as ‘little’ postings. Come on. While I applaud your call for charity, I’d encourage a call to honesty as well, that is being honest with ourselves.
I can appreciate your shock Father Aidan. Having left a little comment early on in the discussion, I hardly expected that my inbox would be filled with so many comments. But what saddens me is how angry some of them are. I must confess that when I see Catholic vitriol, whether from the right or from the left, I tend to take a deep breath and say “Thank God I’m Orthodox.” Which is not to say that we don’t have our (many) problems; I’m just very grateful that I don’t have to take sides in this particular war.
May God grant him many years.
The invited are many but the chosen are few. our lord Jesus the Christ said; the road that leads to heaven is narrow and difficult and few will approach, the one that leads to hell is wide and many will approach it. The kingdom of god is not a social club
Thank you, Ayad, for being the voice of common sense. Our Lord and the Apostles didn’t die for a social club and/or obscure Truth in order to retain the masses.
As for the many years, Tracy: Yes, indeed. Would that we all could have many years in which to repent of our sins, learn from them, and go forth to help those whom Our Lord places in our path. Not for fear of Hell and punishment, but rather for love of the Good God who is so greatly offended and hurt by our rampant ingratitude in opting for spiritual death.
I am confused.Why does preaching the gospel not include the very reasonable Catholic teaching on matters of human life?–teachings that we hold in common with almost all religions. You cannot have a gospel that is not at the same time a call to holiness. It is not possible. They are joined together inseparably. Oh how easy life would be if they were not! Everyone would love us! YAY!
you are very welcome Ann but thanks and praise belong to God the holy spirit who inspires us with the truth, and lead us the right way, which is the narrow road that lead us to our heavenly home, may God bless you Ann and I pray to meet you in heaven.
I pray God to continue blessing you as well, Ayad. Common sense isn’t so common anymore, but a precious gift. The same goes for the yearning to hear preached and the desire to submit to the full doctrines and disciplines of Holy Mother Church. Not out of fear, but from love. A love of God, transmitted by God. And a love of neighbor that desires salvation. Pax
Pope Francis is a humble genius. He knows that when a person begins a relationship with Jesus Christ, everything else in that person’s life falls into place.
How does one define a “traditional” of “conservative” Catholic?
This has been great fun for me getting so much traffic over the past three days. I’m usually used to getting a couple of hundred “views” per day. But yesterday I got over 3,100 views and today I’ve already gotten over 2,700 views.
Let me begin with a clarification. A couple of people have commented that I am enjoying the payback on the traditionalists. This is wrong. First of all, it assumes that I am a progressive Catholic; but I do not belong to the Catholic Church. I belong to the Orthodox Church (though some of my fellow Orthodox would probably say that I’m not really Orthodox, but that is by the by). In terms of the fundamental creedal doctrines of Christianity I am solidly orthodox. But given that I am not Roman Catholic, I do not have a dog in the Pope Francis hunt.
So why I am bemused by the interview controversy? Because I am convinced it has been completely blown out of proportion. It’s a controversy that was created by the media and has been fed by an excessive conservative-traditionalist reaction. All Pope Francis said is that he wants to focus his pontificate on evangelism and care for the poor, rather than on specific moral issues. Speaking as an outsider, I think he is absolutely right. In today’s world, no one is going to listen to the Church’s moral witness unless they have first been reborn in the Holy Spirit through the gospel.
Several people have commented that Catholic preachers over the past thirty years have focused too much on the love and mercy of God. Is that really true? I don’t know but I’m dubious. I did hear a fair number of homilies from a fairly wide spectrum of preachers during my short time in the Catholic Church. With a couple of exceptions, I found them dreadful. Don’t take that personally. I have also found Orthodox preaching to be dreadful, too (again with a couple of exceptions). Roman Catholic homilies are not dreadful because they stress the love of God too much—there can never be too much emphasis on the love and mercy of God!—but because they are nothing more than moralistic exhortations—be a nice person, try harder, etc.—in other words, insipid sentimentalism. What I did not hear coming from Catholic pulpits (nor do I hear from Orthodox pulpits) is the gospel in its eschatological radicality. What do I mean by that? I commend to you my recent series on articles on “Preaching the Gospel as Gospel,” as well as my series of articles on St Isaac the Syrian. It is this gospel that converts souls and creates saving faith.
Personally, I think you need to cut Pope Francis some slack, but that is up to you. Even though he probably would not have been my choice for Pope (he’s far too low church for my liturgical tastes), I have been impressed by his humility and simple faith. To me he seems the genuine article, and that is worth its weight in gold! I’m at a point in my life where I don’t expect a lot from bishops—all they do is disappoint—nor do I look to them to bring about the spiritual renewal of the Church. Call me cynical, but I’ve known to many bishops in my life. So when I see one who is actually a believer, I rejoice.
I have a few more thoughts on why I am convinced that the response to the interview has been excessive. I may try to pull them together and put them in a post for this weekend. But at the moment, I need to get back to my reading of St Gregory of Nazianzus. I have written a number of postings on the Church Fathers. You might want to take a look at them. I think they are pretty good.
I am closing the comment thread. Thanks all for participating in the conversation.
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