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. Continue reading

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The Franciscan Papacy: Rebuilding or Demolition?

The life of St. Francis is subject to much sentimental hype because of his love for creation and his identification with the poor.  The saccharine images on holy cards and sculptures in gardens don’t help the matter.  And Zeffirelli’s hippie-revolutionary film version of the saint is positively infuriating.  Pope Francis seems be subject to the same kind of misinterpretaion.

The media and the Catholic propagandists on the left and the right will continue to mythologize about St. Francis and Pope Francis’ selection of the name.  The pope himself has said the reason for the choice of name has to do with “peace” and “poverty.”  Oh, those two words: two little threads out of which the propagandists will weave a rope to hang us all with.  Sandro Magister puts it well:

In the pseudo-Franciscan and pauperist mythology that in these days so many are applying to the new pope, imagination runs to a Church that would renounce power, structures, and wealth and make itself purely spiritual.

But it is not for this that the saint of Assisi lived. In the dream of Pope Innocent III painted by Giotto, Francis is not  demolishing the Church, but carrying it on his shoulders. And it is the Church of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the bishop of Rome, at that time recently restored and decorated lavishly, but made ugly by the sins of its men, who had to be purified. It was a few followers of Francis who fell into spiritualism and heresy. Continue reading

Benedict and Francis

Most Catholics around the world are giving thanks to God for a new pope.  A few of us are already pontificating about the future.  This is my own little reflection on the relationship  between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Benedict’s Plan

I believe that in order to fully appreciate the events of the last month or so, one must consider that we have a new Holy Father because, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict carefully formulated a plan.  The evidence shows that he did not just wake up one morning and say: “I have had it.  I just can’t do it anymore.”  The historical facts indicate that he was considering a potential abdication through most of his pontificate.  I think it is also fair to say that he was aware of all the potential outcomes.  The man, before anything else is a thinker.  I don’t believe he was surprised by any of the reactions or criticisms.  He had prayed for a long time and had thought the whole thing through.  When he made his decision he was definitive. Continue reading