The Spirit(s) of the Synod

That Pope Francis would have executed the synod in the manner in which he did was predictable from many things he has said over the course of his papacy, including Evangelii Gaudium, esp. 32-39. From what he says there, especially about the “conversion of the papacy,” it seems he is not adverse to critique, as long as there is ultimate unity with Peter and under Peter (cum Petro et sub Petro).

One ought to make a distinction between legitimate but respectful criticism from those who are genuinely concerned about the preservation of the deposit of faith, and the radicalizing tendencies of certain factions who will use anything to promote their own interests. One group uses Francis’ openness to sinners as an excuse to justify the unjustifiable, and the other is bent on using the synod to prove that everything since Vatican II was a mistake. Continue reading

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Francis on Francis

Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes. I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and with cordial good wishes for you and your families, each of your families. I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.

Francis, March 16, 2013

Poverty, peace, and I would say reform.  Never mind Hadrian, as I pointed out in my last post, St. Francis was, in fact, a reformer.  The rebuilding of the Church, which is the essence of the Franciscan vocation, is precisely about reform.

From the same address, the following is also very Franciscan and corresponds quite well with what I wrote about faith in the pastoral wisdom of the Church always being assent to Christ.  Francis also notes that Benedict’s decision and all that followed has been the work of the Holy Spirit:

Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Sucessor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.

And here are two episcopal reflections on the choice of the name: Archbishop Chaput and  Archbishop Aquila (H/T NewAdvent)

Archbishop Chaput on the Kmiec Crowd

An illustration of the way in which the Church has been emasculated over the last half century is the fact that there is still no resounding mandate from the leaders of the Church here in the United States to make sure that Catholics know their obligation in regard to the support of the culture of life.  We are a mealy-mouthed bunch of girly boys.

There was a time when the bishops even had the Hollywood hooligans quaking in their boots.  By wielding its “threat of condemnation” the American bishops’ Legion of Decency “effectively censored films.”  Film producers would send the reviewers of the Legion copies of films before release and then make adjustments afterward in order to avoid a bad rating.

Not only did Hollywood quake, but Catholics were eager to follow their shepherds.  Here is the Legion’s oath which many Catholics devotedly took:

I wish to join the Legion of Decency, which condemns vile and unwholesome moving pictures. I unite with all who protest against them as a grave menace to youth, to home life, to country and to religion. I condemn absolutely those salacious motion pictures which, with other degrading agencies, are corrupting public morals and promoting a sex mania in our land. … Considering these evils, I hereby promise to remain away from all motion pictures except those which do not offend decency and Christian morality.

Can you imagine?  Now what is the state of Hollywood?  Remember the Golden Compass and Catholic reviewers behaved as thought their faith really had nothing to do with their role as “Catholic” reviewers?

Anyway, Archbishop Chaput has taken Douglass Kmiec and the other devotees of the anti-Messiah to task for their delusional support of the Candidate of Abortion.  Think about it.  Once upon a time, bishops were not afraid of telling catholic they shouldn’t watch girly movies.  Now we tip-toe ever so softly when we suggest that Catholics should not support baby killing.

“To suggest—as some Catholics do—that Senator Obama is this year’s ‘real’ pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse,” Chaput said according to his prepared remarks, titled “Little Murders.”

The Obama campaign has been promoting an unusual-suspect sort of endorsement from Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic law professor and former legal counsel in the Reagan administration.

Kmiec wrote a book making a Catholic case for Obama. He argues the Obama campaign is premised on Catholic social teaching like care for working families and the poor and foreign policy premised on peace over war. Democratic efforts to tackle social and economic factors that contribute to abortion hold more promise, Kmiec said, than Republican efforts to criminalize it.

While applauding Kmiec’s past record, Chaput said: “I think his activism for Senator Barack Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

Pro-Obama Catholics “seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues,” said Chaput, who wrote a book this year, “Render Unto Caesar,” about Catholics and politics.

Why has it not been made more plain.  Voting for Obama is a mortal sin. Plain and simple.