Accounting for Differences in Papal Unity

I direct your attention to two rather provocative essays.  The first is by Sam Rocha: “Francis’s Radical Realism: Performance v. Ideology,” which attempts to interpret Pope Francis’ statement in Evangelii Gaudium “realities are more important than ideas.”  It is a challenging read and a controversial one, but no less than the statement of Pope Francis.

As a Franciscan and a Scotist any attempt within Catholic orthodoxy to give adequate accounting for the concrete and personal is of interest to me.  I also find it interesting that in the essay the concrete is set against ideology, not philosophy or theology per se, but the subordination of realities and especially persons to ideas.  I do believe that this is exactly what is happening today, especially on the fringes, where progressivist dogmas and appeals to supossed doctrinal purity seem to narrow the gospel to obsessions over only part of the message.  This sectarian reduction of the gospel ends by instrumentalizing persons.

The second piece is by C.C. Pecknold: “On Monastic Papacies,” and reminds of the post that I wrote comparing the Benedictine and Franciscan papacies.  Pecknold writes:

Pope Benedict and Pope Francis are not divided by philosophical outlooks, as helpful as they may find them. They enjoy a deeper unity, not only as they share in the same Petrine ministry, but as they are conformed to Christ. Like those sainted monks who stand at the ancient and medieval roots of western civilization, they not only keep open the trails between the cloister and the city, but they descend and ascend alike on the same ladder of Christ whose sacrifice manifests God’s love and mercy on a Roman cross.

With the ascendency of the mendicants, the Church was presented with a new kind of monasticism, which from the point of view of the old monks was no monasticism at all. The mendicants, especially the Franciscans, had a hard time finding the equilibrium neccessary to be effective as the reform movement their orders were meant to be.  It was a potentially powerful and at the same time dangerous postconciliar movement (post Lateran IV) that needed to find it’s way.  It shed many of the monastic customs, most notably stability, in the interests of evangelical dynamism.  Unfortunately, like a good number of postconciliarists of our day, many of its adherents were utopian a caused a great deal of trouble.

In the end, however, today as then, both the monks and mendicants are necessary, the Bendictines and Franciscans.  Pope Benedict has argued for centers of liturgical renewal where the liturgy could be preserved and developed prayerfully (without imposing a top down solution on the whole Church)—the option of the old monasticism.  Francis for his part is encouraging the Church to reach to the frontiers in a bold new effort at evangelization—the new mendicant option.  Both are necessary.  Neither contradicts the other.  Together they provide balance.

Pope Emeritus Benedict has again recently attempted to dismiss the media hype about opposition between the two papacies.  I think both Rocha and Pecknold have the right spirit.

3 thoughts on “Accounting for Differences in Papal Unity

  1. Thank you Father Angelo for continuing to blog for truth and sanity.
    The devil is continually working to divide the church heirarchy within and the faithful.
    Our Lord and Our Mother suffered beyond measure for the birth of the Church. Our Lord on the Cross of Calvary and Our Lady standing in untold agony at its foot in union with Him.
    These particular sufferings they experienced I am sure for those within the body of Christ, who delight and exalt in and profit from, conflict and disunity.
    We must love with our hearts and embrace with our minds the Orthodox and Magisterial teachings of the Church and the Vicar of Christ in the Chair of Peter chosen by the Holy Spirit for our time. Intellectual pride has always been a source of downfall from the beginning. The greatest, most gifted and beautiful of angels fell in rejection of the humility of God’s plan for mankind. These attempts to create Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict camps create more and more division. They work only to weaken the witness of the Church to a desperate world in profound need of the Lord and the Gospel. We will all answer at the Judgement for our charity, our hearts disposition towards building up the church in unity or lack thereof.
    Help us Mother of Wisdom and Truth to lay down the walls of our hardened minds and hearts this Lent, to embrace our call to be witnesses to the world of our love of Christ and His Love for mankind. Let us fast from our hunger and feasting on controversy and disunity.

  2. (See paragraph 6)

    If one compares and contrasts Pope Benedict’s views on the essence of the human person as created in The Image and Likeness of God as a son or daughter, and Francis’ statement that condones same -sex sexual relationships as long as they are “private”, do not include children, and are not called marriage, and thus, according to Francis, do not affect society, it is clear that the schism between Francis and Benedict begins at The Beginning, in Genesis.
    (See page 117 of Francis’ book, On Heaven and Earth.)

    • Francis, does not condone same-sex relationships in On Heaven and Earth. In fact, he his commenting on a question of law. He says that same-sex marriage is an “anti-value” and an “anthropological regression” and then states that if a same-sex relationship is private “there is neither a third party nor is society affected.” That is hardly a “condoning” of same-sex sin, whether the statement about the lack of an affect on society is true or not.

      Furthermore, this is not the teaching of Pope Francis but the opinion of Jorge Bergoglio.

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