24 September 2013

Struggling With Pope Francis

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Of course, there's nothing he says that can't be explained, and sometimes he explains it himself when he says something different in one audience from what he said in an interview; and if he doesn't, you can always rely on Fr Z to explain what he said, even while the Tabletistas are dashing down the wrong track.  He never attacks the deposit of the Faith: we know, because other people explain his comments and put them into a proper context.  But I find the hermeneutic of Pope Francis baffling.  How is it that somebody so wise, so clever, so holy, seems not to care about expressing himself in a way that allows people not just to draw wrong conclusions, but to pin them fairly and squarely on him?

If he stuck for a year to his homilies and avoided all other public utterances (he can say what he likes on the phone as long as nobody is recording him) we might begin to appreciate the radicalism of his Faith, the challenge that the Truth he expresses at times so clearly means for the way we live, the gentleness of his continuity with B16 and JP2 (rabbit hole: is this mutatis mutandis what JP1 would have been like?), and appreciate his obvious holiness as a complement to the obvious holiness of his predecessor, and therefore another challenge to the rest of us.

Instead I read in a Spanish newspaper yesterday that the Pope wants to appoint a female Cardinal, a deaconess in an order of the early Church that he will restore.  He won't, of course, because it's an ontological impossibility: but how many readers of an article by a Spanish version of an ACTA follower will understand that the author has twisted the Pope's words to suit his agenda?  How many people seeing the Pope wonder why so many disciplinary matters are referred to Rome may conclude that the hierarchy of E&W's not acting against heterodox Bishops is because they aren't heterodox, rather than because the CBCEW is a capon in a farmyard full of menace?  How many people see his looking at the synodality of the Orthodox as a belied in the dogmatic infallibility of Bishops' Conferences, when Orthodox orthodoxy is rooted in the orthodox mission of the Bishop as an individual, not as a team member?

Maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe the Tabletistas were right all along.  Maybe the Pope's words are right and will have a magical effect on those who aren't orthodox Catholics which will bring them into the Church in droves.  Maybe he's right to make us question what we actually believe in, and that's what he's trying to do.

It's a funny way to be right, though.

19 comments:

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belloc said...

No, he's not right. But he's forcing me for the first time in my life to consider that the Orthodox perhaps are, and that terrifies me.

https://mospat.ru/en/2013/09/21/news91345/

Archer Sterling said...

I became a Catholic ten years ago, and in the six months of Francis' papacy my Catholicism has been shaken to its core. I am seriously looking into the Orthodox Church. I base this possibility not on what I read in the MSM but on Francis' own words and actions. These are very difficult and sad days for myself and my mother (who became a Catholic when I did and is also thinking of moving with me).

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belloc said...

Archer,

I'm 51. I've been a Catholic my entire life.

Ttony said...

Orthodoxy isn't the answer to this question: it would simply be an escape, a running away. The major problems which divide Catholic and Orthodox are much greater than those that divide orthodox Catholicsm and Nuchurch-spirit-of-V2-liberalism.

That's not to say that the Orthodox haven't got some fundamental truths to teach us (perhaps for us to relearn), but the matter at hand is more a question of getting Pope Francis to have "a time of silence" and get on with reforming the Curia.

Patrick said...

God forbid that the Church should itself engage in “spin”, but the Papacy really does need professional media advice. This is important to ensure that the secular media properly understands the implications of what he saying, and in minimising scope for distortion. This is important for Catholics as well as non-Catholics, as most Catholics now obtain their first information about major Church news not from the Catholic media or the Church itself, but through the (often distorted) lens of secular media.

The Pope should receive media advice on everything he proposes to say, so that he will know the implications of how it is likely to be interpreted, especially by secular media hostile to the teaching of the Church and the “Catholic” liberal/modernist ACTA/Tabletista wing. At the end of the day, of course, it is his prerogative to say whatever he wishes, but he should be fully informed of how it is likely to be interpreted.

Belloc said...

Ttony,

First, unless Francis makes a clearly heretical move, or moves to disrupt tradition so much as to cause the collapse of the Church (female cardinals and deaconesses being one of the those - neither of which, btw, are ontological, more in a second), I'm staying put. What else would you expect from someone whose chosen moniker is "Belloc?"

As for the Orthodox, of course to go over to them would be an "escape." It would also be much more than that. As to the differences however between Traditional Catholicism and the Orthodox being more than those between Traditional Catholicism and Novus Ordoism (Kasperism?) I object.

I have much more in common with Hilarion of Vokolomask than I do with Roger Mahony. That includes ecclesiology and doctrine. Differences in emphasis and nomenclature on matters such as original sin and purgatory have been and are being overcome. See the Ravenna Statement. As to the Petrine Office, the difference now lies in the manner of its exercise, not its existence.

I won't go on, not because I don't want to talk myself into converting, which I'm not, but because I merely want to emphasize what a monumental tragedy this pontificate is. No Catholic such as myself should ever be put into the position of ever having such thoughts even enter his mind through the casual or official uttering of the Roman Pontiff. This is scandal (the endangerment of souls) on a global scale.

God help us.

Belloc said...

PS - Sorry, I hit "send" before I realized I hadn't mentioned the cardinal and deaconess bit.

Perhaps later when I have some time.

Archer Sterling said...

What distresses me is that the pope seems to be taking pot shots at traditional Catholicism and those of us who have remained faithful to orthodox liturgical practices. It is here that I have found sound Catholicism lived and expressed to the world. Francis seems almost at pains to undermine the confidence of these Catholics in facing a world that despises the Church already. Already we see Chris Cuomo using the pope's words to silence Bill Donohue. The pope cannot be unaware of the effect his words are having on traditional Catholics, especially when they are so pointedly derisive of them. I cannot remember any previous popes speaking so dismissively of our less than orthodox brethren. We are told that all Orthodox Christians are Catholic in past teaching documents of the Church, so becoming an Orthodox Christian isn't a conversion, rather moving from a sinking ship in the fleet to one that isn't sinking. It's not an easy decision, but I feel one that I should seriously consider as I wait and see how this papacy plays out.

Belloc said...

Well said, Archer.

Ttony said...

Fr Blake expresses all of this - irritation, I suppose - much better than I can. I'm away at the moment and dependent on transient web connectivity but will try to do something about Catholics and Orthodoxy at the weekend.

Ttony said...

Fr Blake expresses all of this - irritation, I suppose - much better than I can. I'm away at the moment and dependent on transient web connectivity but will try to do something about Catholics and Orthodoxy at the weekend.

Ches said...

Don't become Orthodox, Archer. The Church must have the Petrine ministry. As for Francis, his words may prove more adventurous than his actions. That, at least, is my hope.

Anagnostis said...

Neat "Roman Circularity", there, Ches! In any case, I agree that no-one should consider entering Orthodoxy who is not Orthodox in his faith and understanding of the Church. The differences on every level are far, far greater than most Romans - even sympathetic ones - can imagine. We are not old fashioned Papists, minus the Pope!

Anagnostis said...

Belloc and Archer: I don't want to be seen as trying to "put you off", but you need to disabuse yourself of Latin presuppositions in the present context. For example, Met. Kallistos has warned us to be wary of simply adopting Roman Catholic arguments against the ordination of women - the implication being that these are not necessarily well-founded. The revered Met. Anthony of Sourozh was outspokenly in favour of ordaining women. This is not to say that it will happen any time soon, or even at all - just to bring it to your attention that "ontological" arguments are not part of the Orthodox understanding of ordained ministry. Similarly, when we discuss the "Petrine ministry", it needs to be borne in mind that we do not mean the same thing "ontologically" as you! This isn't a question of exercise, merely, or of forms of words, but of the nature and meaning of the thing itself.

The idea of entering Orthodoxy without a profound "change of mind", only as one might change ships, is dangerously delusory, and likely to end in personal shipwreck. I repeat: Orthodoxy is not a more robust reading of Roman Catholicism, requiring a few modest adjustments to one's historical narrative. To cite Latin judgements in vindication of the Catholicity of Orthodoxy without regard to how such judgements and the manner of arriving at them are regarded by the Orthodox themselves - "It's all richt to be Orthodox because the RCC says so" - is absurdly contradictory

Anagnostis said...

Women are ordained to the diaconate in tbe Archdiocese of Athens. There were 300 female deacons in Constantinople at the time of St John Chrysostom. They appear to have been ordained using tbe same liturgical formulae as for their male colleagues.

Anagnostis said...

A slightly frivolous analogy: you're having doubts about the operating system, but assume the platforms are fundamentally similar. They're not. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

Ttony, my first comment after years of reading your always-interesting blog is going to be totally off-topic, but I have just scrolled down your blogroll, and it would appear that the defunct "Father Mildew" blog has been taken over in a way that Fr Clifton would certainly not approve of! No need to publish this comment; I hope I may have something more edifying to contribute on another occasion.