Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

avatar

Let Him Pope You

October 3rd, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull
I found a lot of peace in these words on Zenit tonight.  Instead of trying to excerpt, I think I will just try to absorb the whole article, and then examine my own attitudes and conscience toward being too concerned about what Pope Francis “really means” or what  friends might think of him or what I might feel the need to defend.  I hope this is helpful to others too.

Let Him Pope You

What Is Our Attitude Toward the Papal Interviews?

By Dr. Edward Mulholland

ATCHISON, KANSAS, October 03, 2013 (Zenit.org) – Let’s examine our attitude toward Francis’ interviews.

We have had two big papal interviews in a short time, and each time the blogosphere explodes with reflections and worried comments within hours. This fact alone speaks to the speed of communication of the internet age, but it also leads to mental indigestion. Not enough time is allowed for our mind to assimilate what was said.

But there is also a sense that it is somehow our job, with trepidation, to scrutinize what the Pope says for doctrinal misstatements, hovering over his every phrase with an orthodoxy detector and waiting for the dang thing to beep. I do not think this is an attitude that a faithful son or daughter of the Church should have.  It would seem to put us in quite a dilemma. We seem to be missing at least one of the first two theological virtues.

The first horn of the dilemma would be a lack of faith. Saint Thomas says that if we don’t accept something that the Church teaches, then we don’t accept any of it on faith, because the ultimate arbiter of what we believe is our own reason. So when we look at Pope Francis’ words looking for some misrepresentation of the Faith, we are in a way making ourselves judge jury and Magisterium. I didn’t get that memo. Even though his informal interviews are not infallible statements, that doesn’t mean he isn’t teaching us. (If he wanted a strictly private conversation, he probably wouldn’t have called up the founder of a newspaper.) If something he says doesn’t seem to square with us, assume it is a bad translation, or assume you need more time to look into it.

The second horn of the dilemma is a lack of hope. “But what if people misunderstand the Pope, or he says something in a way that makes the New York Times think Catholic teaching has changed?”  I think Pope Francis and you and I already know that’s going to happen anyway. He seems willing to take that risk. I’m sure the Father in the parable was not too worried that people were snickering behind his back when he waited each afternoon scanning the horizon for his lost son.  His priority was showing his love for his son by patient expectation. Francis is showing love by patient, respectful conversation.

It’s almost as if we are biting our nails in fear that the Vicar of Christ is going to contradict the Deposit of Faith… Such fear, I would argue, borders on a sin against hope.

It’s natural that the 99 sheep get a little antsy when the shepherd is out looking for the stray, but we don’t have to baaa so loudly.

Lack of hope or lack of faith aside, the key theological virtue in this whole business is love. Pope Francis is willing to run the risk of being misunderstood, even of having his sons at home wigging out, in order to go out searching for his lost sons. That’s what the Shepherd does.

In his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis asked us directly:

“Are we a Church that calls and accepts sinners with open arms, which offers encouragement and hope, or are we a Church closed in on itself?”

Theologian Michael Novak spoke of an anti-papist Baptist friend of his who once remarked about the now soon-to-be Saint John Paul II, “Boy! You have a Pope who knows how to pope!” (My high school Latin teacher told us that Yogi Berra had said the same thing about Blessed John XXIII.)

What we are seeing in Francis is some major league pope-ing. (As I said in a prior post, we are seeing evangelization in a radical form.)

So don’t act as his judge, don’t act like the kid in school who assumes he is in charge when the teacher leaves the room, and above all don’t falter in faith or in hope.

This guy really knows how to pope. Let him pope you.

|

31 Responses to “Let Him Pope You”

  1. avatar Bruce says:

    Baloney. Nowhere in the deposit of faith does it say that we must like anyone. Love them? Yes, for love is an act of the will. But liking is in the emotions, which we do not control. I don’t really like his style and I prefer Benedict XVI. That doesn’t make me a heretic or even a bad Catholic. It makes me human.

    I’m sorry, but when Cardinal Mahoney tweets for joy and President Obama praises him, it only underscores the fact that I miss Benedict and am not super thrilled with Francis. I’ve had enough of the 1970s and I do not want to go back. Will we? Likely, but I do not have to like it.

    I will baaaaah as loudly as I want, thank you very much. I’m just letting Papa know we’re still here too.

  2. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    don’t these 2 statements contradict each other?

    So don’t act as his judge,

    and

    What we are seeing in Francis is some major league pope-ing.

    Seems like what he’s really saying is, “only act as his judge if you think he’s great”

  3. avatar Scott W. says:

    Exactly Ben. Apparently scrutinizing “what the Pope says for doctrinal misstatements, hovering over his every phrase with an orthodoxy detector and waiting for the dang thing to beep” is bad but sanitizing what the Pope says is not. Even allowing translation issues, you just can’t spin-doctor away what is essentially “My predecessors dropped the ball, but thankfully I have the humility and ambition to get it done.”

  4. avatar sydwynd says:

    I find these comments (and others in this vein) a bit ironic. Let me begin by saying I’m an unashamed liberal politically and am an occasional reader here. I’d also like to state that my purpose is not to throw stones or bombs but to stimulate dialog. One of the things I’ve learned recently is that only hanging out with like minded individuals will not allow you to learn and grow. Everyone needs to hear and understand differing points of view and learn to be respectful of those opinions. I will endevour to do so.

    In past posts and comments, many have stated that (to paraphrase) a good Catholic should be obedient to the authority of Rome and the Pope as the successor of Peter. When a more conservative/orthodox Pope sat in the chair, disagreeing with that Pope was considered disobedient at best and sinful at worst. However, now that a less conservative Pope is head of the Church, suddenly it’s acceptable to disagree and question him. That strikes me as being inconsistent at a minimum.

    In my personal opinion, Pope Francis’ message is the one we need to hear right now. I beleive excessive “legalism” is causing conflict in our Church and driving people away. I will give a personal example from my own parish. There have been people I know personally who have been driven away and made unwelcome because they broke some “rule” and were deemed my those legalistic members of the congregation as unworthy of being among them. As if the pews should be filled only with the righteous.

    I have also seen on these pages many references to Canon law and how this or that person may be “risking their immortal soul” because some miniscule article was not followed. I would remind readers here that Jesus railed against those blindly following the Law in His own time and that Paul emphatically states there is no justification in following the Law.

    Jesus told us that the two greatest commandments were to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor. I believe Pope Francis is trying to remind us of this obligation. We’ve become so wrapped up in the “rules” or in a handful of issues (whether it be social issues or liturgical issues) that we’ve forgotton our first call is to love God and others. If we keep these two commandments first and foremost, then all of the other things will follow as well. But we seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

    So perhaps we need to stop focusing on what is “doctrinal” and focusing our energy instead on loving others and God. That will take up enough of our time and we can stop argueing amongst ourselves about minutia.

    Just some food for thought.

  5. avatar Scott W. says:

    In past posts and comments, many have stated that (to paraphrase) a good Catholic should be obedient to the authority of Rome and the Pope as the successor of Peter. When a more conservative/orthodox Pope sat in the chair, disagreeing with that Pope was considered disobedient at best and sinful at worst. However, now that a less conservative Pope is head of the Church, suddenly it’s acceptable to disagree and question him. That strikes me as being inconsistent at a minimum

    You are mis-characterizing. No one here has, or counseled others, to disobey the Pope. If, for instance, Pope Francis tomorrow decreed that all the faithful must observe a day of fast, I have no doubt everyone here would obey. Also, I am unaware of any so-called conservatives saying or even implying that disagreeing with the Pope was per se disobedience or sinful.

    I will give a personal example from my own parish. There have been people I know personally who have been driven away and made unwelcome because they broke some “rule” and were deemed my those legalistic members of the congregation as unworthy of being among them. As if the pews should be filled only with the righteous.

    Without specifically revealing what “rule” was broken, this anecdote is meaningless. If people were driven out for say, absentmindedly taking the Host back to the pew before consuming, then yeah, I’d say people were over-reacting. If it was however, people known to continue to work at an abortion clinic without a scintilla of repentance and still received communion, that’s not breaking some silly rule, that’s full-blown public scandal that can’t be fobbed off with a charge of “legalism”. For this anecdote to support your point, you need more details.

  6. avatar sydwynd says:

    Scott,

    As I stated, I’m not a “faithful” reader of the blog but pop in and out from time to time. But my sense of some of the comments I read was that challenging then Pope Benedict somehow made you a “bad Catholic”. If that is true, then it seems challenging Pope Francis should also make youa “bad Catholic”. I don’t think disagreeing with the Pope makes you a good or bad Catholic. Just saying it seems like there’s some inconsistancy with people’s position. Just my impression.

    I won’t give too many details of the situation in our parish since that could betray a confidence. And it certainly wasn’t meaningless to the people involved. Suffice it to say that my biggest beef with the situation was that some parishioners took a “holier than thou” attitude that resulted in someone being unable to participate in Mass due to a personal situation. Other people in similar situations were not treated this way. So a “technicality” was used to exclude an individual. That I think is completely wrong. But I use it as an example of how Canon law was used over the law of love.

  7. avatar Bernie says:

    I believe the Holy Spirit sends us a pope we need for any given time in history, especially in the age of vast and fast communications. Having said that, however, I’m uncomfortable with Pope Francis. The world is only too willing to listen to what appear to be vague feel-good utterances. Those who know, know that those statements are not just shallow thoughts, but will the secular world and uninformed believers look for the deeper meanings, teachings and implications?

    On the other hand, maybe it is good that the secular world is now forced to react in a way that is not just the same knee-jerk reaction to a preconceived idea of a pope and the Church. Perhaps it will cause the world long enough to consider the underlying teachings and implications.

    Unfortunately, I predict Obama and those of similar thinking will throw Pope Francis’ comments at the American bishops whenever they stand up to fight abortion, single sex marriage, religious restrictions and other moral evils.

    Francis isn’t saying anything new, really. The other popes have said the same things but in ways that confronted the secular and non-believing world. The theology was upfront. Pope Francis has turned that around and puts the heart first. Maybe it will work. I doubt it, but maybe.

  8. avatar Scott W. says:

    Just saying it seems like there’s some inconsistancy with people’s position. Just my impression.

    No offense, but it is an unwarranted impression. Counter-example: When Benedict XVI had his condom controversy in an interview, many people favorable to him thought it was imprudent for him to say what he said. No one was accused of being a bad Catholic by “challenging the Pope”. That’s because the Pope wasn’t issuing an authoritative decree, just as the current Pope didn’t issue an authoritative decree with his recent interviews either. There’s no order to disobey so to speak. Or take the Summorum Pontificum which IS an authoritative decree. Even there, I don’t think a person who thinks it was a bad idea is a bad Catholic. A bishop can complain all he wants and I won’t say Bad bishop until that bishop actually willfully tries to disregard or negate it. So that’s why we don’t cotton to sweeping characterizations of “conservative” positions. Not to lay this out on you, but ’round here because of the controversial nature of this blog, we often see too many instances of kafkatrapping and concern trolling, and I like to nip it in the bud even if it is unintentional.

    Other people in similar situations were not treated this way.

    Ok, so it seems this was an unjust selective application of a Canon Law, and not a beef with the Canon Law itself. I have no quarrel with that.

  9. avatar sydwynd says:

    Bernie,

    I recently read a very good book called “Christianish”. While written by a Protestant writer, there were some good things to take away as a Catholic. One of the central themes is that what is driving young people away from churches and Christianity is that they don’t see Christians as “authentic”. Meaning they say one thing but their actions are not Christian. Not to get too deep, but what I like about Francis and what I think may turn people to the Church is that he does indeed appear authentic. He’s a man whose words match his actions. If people see that we, as Catholics, are consistent in our words and actions, then perhaps that will cause them to look at the faith more closely. Once they’ve seen what the faith really is, then hopefully they’ll realize that Catholic teaching is what they’ve been missing in their lives. So sometimes it’s better to live the Gospel so as to preach the Gospel.

    Scott, there is indeed too much trolling and baiting. We’ve lost the ability to politely and respectfully debate. In my small way I want to try and bring that back. If we’re supposed to be a single Church, we must be inviting to those we agree with and those we may disagree. We should be able to learn from each other and hopefully together bring about God’s plan.

    I truly have no issue with Canon law. My issue is when individuals focus on “the law” as first and foremost and forget that our salvation lies in Jesus. “The law” is simply an extension of the love of Jesus, not an end in and of itself. Unfortunately, I’ve come across too many people that put “the rules” ahead of being compassionate and forgiving. I think Scripture is very clear on that subject.

  10. avatar Scott W. says:

    Tell ya what. Here is my Encouraging Papal Quote of the Day (my emphasis):

    –“Many people associate St. Francis with peace, however their understanding of this peace is not profound. “Franciscan peace is not something saccharine,” he said emphatically. “Hardly! That is not the real St. Francis! Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos… That is not Franciscan either,” he continued to applause. “It is a notion some people have invented! “The peace of St. Francis is the peace of Christ, and it is found by those who ‘take up’ their ‘yoke’…”–

    Source: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/10/04/papal_mass_draws_thousands_in_assisi/en1-734297

  11. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Sydwynd said, ” Suffice it to say that my biggest beef with the situation was that some parishioners took a “holier than thou” attitude that resulted in someone being unable to participate in Mass due to a personal situation. Other people in similar situations were not treated this way. So a “technicality” was used to exclude an individual. ”
    If this were a matter of chastising someone who was divorced and remarried without an annullment, then I would say that the chastiser is out-of-bound.
    Just my two euros worth: Sydwynd raises some good points worth considering in our humility.

  12. avatar sydwynd says:

    It was something along those lines though not exactly that kind of situation.

  13. avatar Bernie says:

    “…what I like about Francis and what I think may turn people to the Church is that he does indeed appear authentic. He’s a man whose words match his actions. If people see that we, as Catholics, are consistent in our words and actions, then perhaps that will cause them to look at the faith more closely.”

    That is my hope as to where this is all going. It is certainly how the early Church made such heady progress –our contemporary culture is not a whole lot different than in the first centuries of Christianity. My doubt arises when I consider the vacuity of the wider culture, with its vulnerability to bumper sticker arguments. I’m not sure it will take that second look.

    I assume we have been given the pope we need for today. Let us pray for him as we pray for any pope.

  14. avatar Scott W. says:

    If this were a matter of chastising someone who was divorced and remarried without an annullment, then I would say that the chastiser is out-of-bound.

    I would say that as well. If however, it was applied to everyone and not just singling someone out, I’d have no problem with it.

    Just my two euros worth: Sydwynd raises some good points worth considering in our humility.

    In a case of fraternal correction among two people who personally know each other in real life, it’s fine. In a public forum it just throws a bucket of discussion-freezing water on the proceedings.

  15. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    from John Allen:
    http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/council-cardinals-pope-interviews-assisi-francis-mystic-and-war-christians

    Perhaps the most insightful take on all this came from Lombardi himself, who said we’re seeing the emergence of a whole new genre of papal speech — informal, spontaneous and sometimes entrusted to others in terms of its final articulation. A new genre, Lombardi suggested, needs a “new hermeneutic,” one in which we don’t attach value so much to individual words as to the overall sense.

    “This isn’t Denzinger,” he said, referring to the famous German collection of official church teaching, “and it’s not canon law.”

    “What the pope is doing is giving pastoral reflections that haven’t been reviewed beforehand word-for-word by 20 theologians in order to be precise about everything,” Lombardi said. “It has to be distinguished from an encyclical, for instance, or a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which are magisterial documents.”

    I think this is the gist of it. Those who are having a hard time digesting these interviews and those who are pretending the Holy Father’s words/action are divine revelation straight from God are both making too much of it. It’s a good lesson for me as I continue to realize that staying on top of the latest news (and everyone and their brother’s interpretation) just isn’t worth it. I’m better off spending time in prayer and reading Scriptures/Saints/Magisterium of which I’m still so ignorant.

  16. avatar Hopefull says:

    Ben, thanks for posting Allen’s article. It’s a great addition to the dialogue.

    This whole issue and over-preoccupation with Pope Francis’ every word, and speculation as to all his innuendo and tell-tale signs is a bit like a person checking his or her spouse’s phone records, email and odometer to figure out if he or she is being faithful or not. I want to start from the assumption that he is.

  17. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    John Allen also wrote, “…the pope’s reply was more or less:
    “When I was elected, a great sense of inner peace
    and freedom came over me, and it’s never left me…..”
    In other words, Francis had a sort of mystical experience
    upon his election to the papacy that’s apparently freed him up
    to be far more spontaneous, candid and bold than at any
    previous point in his career…One should never doubt
    the mystical imprint upon the contours of a papacy.”

    Who am I to take umbrage with the Vicar of Christ’s
    style, off the cuffness or desire to do Interviews?

    Hasn’t it been a healthy challenge spiritually to be surprised
    and forced to look into our own hearts as Papa Francesco
    keeps turning things upside down?

    The Lord Jesus confounded the religious and delighted the sinners.
    Seems to me Christ’s Vicar is doing the same.

    Some call me a dogmatic, rigid, Catholic fundamentalist.
    Personally, I see myself as a sinner graced with authentic
    Catholic faith; faith in the Son of God according to Sacred Tradition.

    Pope Francis is fascinating and disturbing. He reminds me of the
    One he authoritatively represents. The inner peace and freedom
    from which Francis has become spontaneous, candid and bold
    could very well be God’s gifts to His Son’s Vicar for our well being
    and salvation.

    Rather than put his words under the microscope, I will try to use
    the Pope’s words to better understand my own heart and on how
    well I am obeying the Savior Lord Christ.

    Habemus Papum. Long Live The Pope.

  18. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Some call me a dogmatic, rigid, Catholic fundamentalist. Personally, I see myself as a sinner graced with authentic Catholic faith; faith in the Son of God according to Sacred Tradition.

    Take courage, my friend. It is precisely because of the latter that people label you as the former. Unfortunately (not that it was intended) Pope Francis’ words are being used by the folks who label you as evidence for their claims. What they don’t realize is that we agree with their claims against us (we are sinners who make many mistakes), but we will continue to stand strong and fight tooth and nail for every last doctrine of our faith – because it’s not our faith – it’s His (which is ultimate truth). Canon law/Denzinger/etc has not lost it’s importance – Pope Francis has never said any such thing.

  19. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “we will continue to stand strong and fight tooth and nail for every last doctrine
    of our faith – because it’s not our faith – it’s His (which is ultimate truth).”

    Amen

    And the “context” of the Church’s doctrines is none other than the
    Incarnate Truth, the Living Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ
    Himself.

    What a wonderful door of opportunity we have.
    When folks tell us they like the Pope, we can now
    use their attraction to him to invite them to know
    more intimately the Savior he represents and the
    Church over which that Savior is Lord and Master.

    This invitation must be offered to Catholics,
    Former Catholics and those never Catholic.
    We can trust that everyone’s fascination with Pope
    Francis can ‘work for good for those who love
    God and are called according to his purpose’.
    See Romans 8:28.

    Let’s get over our preferences and continue to
    exercise God’s Gift of Catholic Faith knowing
    the Lord gave us Franciscum.

    Ben,thank you for being our brother in arms
    ‘standing strong, fighting tooth and nail’ !

    May Jesus Christ be praised;
    Now and forever.

  20. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Here’s the gist. NFP and contraception haven’t been preached for almost 50 years. Now, the pope says we can’t simply talk exclusively about abortion, birth control, etc and ignore other issues.

    For the next 50 years the Church in America will continue to remain silent from the pulpit on these issues. And life will continue, and the Church in the developed world, especially here in America will continue to track its downhill course, irrelevant as she is.

  21. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Thanks Ben. It summates everything I have thought about this situation.

  22. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    If Catholic clergy who have never taught the truths
    of the moral life think they are now off the hook, they
    better think again.

    Once the priority proclamation of grace in Jesus Christ
    is made, heard and received, what follows?

    Committed discipleship which includes the truths of the
    moral life follows.

    If Catholic clergy proclaim the good news
    that “Christ has saved you” without ever describing
    the saved, abundant and moral life, those clergy
    show themselves to be false brethren who preach
    another Godpel, a false Gosprl.

    Given Pope Francis’ emphasis on first steps first,
    It is incumbent upon clergy to then take the next
    steps next. If they don’t and won’t they lose their
    credibility.

    And we laity will be ready to stand strong
    and fight tooth and nail for the truth revealed by
    Jesus Christ!!

    Pope Francis gives me encouragement to
    stand strong. May Catholic clergy hear that same
    ‘call to arms’.

    http://www.wordonfire.org/WOF-TV/Commentaries-New/The-Pope-Francis-Interview-A-commentary.aspx?utm_source=WOFiPhoneApp&utm_medium=mobile&utm_campaign=email

  23. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    The crisis of the clergy is different than perhaps the example of physician’s taught incorrectly about certain principles.

    Physician’s certainly can learn incorrect principles but most, because of the necessity for constant continuing medical education requirements, will be exposed to newer methods of theory and treatment.

    But priests really don’t have any such thing. So, unlike physicians, will persist in their errors. Now physician’s are a very testy lot and resent correction from non physician’s. Perhaps it’s an ego thing. I would think it’s the same with priests.

    So I can imagine that when discussing things like contraception, homosexuality and abortion with priests, they may bristle when they are confronted with information contrary to what they learned in seminary, from ” simple lay people”.

    But it could make a difference when groups like physician’s try using their knowledge to help priests. The Catholic Physician’s guild, in the 1990’s, put every priest in the DOR on their mailing list so every couple of months, priests would receive a newsletter. Each newsletter would help explain medica information on these issues to help priests, and everyone else assent to the Majesterial teachings.

    More that a few priests were surprised and possibly shocked when they learned contraception also was an abortafacient. There are many priests in the DOR who are pro life, and sadly, pro contraception but when they learned that contraception was also an aboratfacient, it troubled them, prehaps tweeking their consciences.

    That’s why Bishop Clark wanted the Catholic Physician’s guild destroyed because they, through the dissemination of truth, were mucking up his attempts to promote heresy.

    Perhaps individuals in the new Catholic Physicians Guild can use the dignity of their office to once again be a means for spreading Christ’s truths, particularly when it pertains to medicine.

  24. avatar Scott W. says:

    More that a few priests were surprised and possibly shocked when they learned contraception also was an abortafacient. There are many priests in the DOR who are pro life, and sadly, pro contraception but when they learned that contraception was also an aboratfacient, it troubled them, prehaps tweeking their consciences.

    That’s some excellent work. It also reminds us that the work is never done. I remember RCIA and our dissident instructor told us of the abortifacient properties of the pill. See that? What was supposed to be a teaching tool to tweak the conscience became a false teaching unto itself. Namely, that the sole governing objection to contraception is its abortifacient properties (the implication being that non-abortifacient contraception are acceptable.) Thinking on that I can kinda square the Holy Father’s recent comments. To wit: The usual suspects are often sowing falsehood in the so-called minutia, but rather than endlessly chase the falsehood there (you no sooner stomp one out than they’ve already sprouted a new perversity to chase), start with Our Lord and His commandments and like a flood burst from a dam, let it wash out all the flim flam from above.

  25. avatar Gretchen says:

    Although there may be some differences among how European journalists conduct interviews, it is almost unthinkable that notes of some type or a recording of the interview was not done.

    Scalfari is an old man. Basically, what is being claimed at this point is that he had total recall, except for a few quibbling points. This is baloney in the extreme. No journalist who cared about his reputation and integrity would use extensive quotation marks around quotes without having access to the exact words.

    I have a degree in Journalism and worked as a reporter and editor, so I understand what it means to be a trained journalist.

    “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.”

  26. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    But, according to sources, the pope ws shown a copy of the article proir to printing and he found no fault with it.

  27. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    An interesting comment on one of the pope’s speaches.

    https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/wvjeu0wzxddy/?&v=c&th=141cdfb7024e4f4d


-Return to main page-