William Doino on the Pope’s True Agenda

First Things just posted an excellent post by William Doino, “The Pope’s True Agenda.”   It is necessary reading, because it it is a well documented piece showing that Pope Francis doesn’t fit into any of the boxes partisans wish to put him in.  He is not a liberal, nor a conservative, but a Catholic.  Thank God for Bill Doino’s courage.

It strikes me as a bit ironic, especially among those concerned about orthodoxy, that even as people eschew labels and generalizations, they attempt to pigeonhole Francis.  I recently read a post by a well-known theologian, who while admitting he ordinarily argues against the use of labels, decided to use the tags “liberal” and “conservative” just one time in defense of Francis.  Continue reading

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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

Teaching from Lost Teaching Moments

Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don’t think, look, the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, “Bravo.”

–Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Michael Sam’s coming out

I have received a number of frustrated and angry emails about this.  Though I think it should be fairly obvious that the Cardinal is not condoning homosexual behavior, His Eminence clearly fell into the trap set for him.

Without a doubt, no matter what any person with same sex attraction actually believes about his or her sexual orientation and the acts that might proceed from that attraction, letting other people know about it involves the risk of public embarrassment and rejection.  The answer that society at large presents us is that there is nothing wrong with either the attraction or the acts and that rather than be embarrassed by one’s homosexuality, gay people and the rest of us should celebrate it.  Unfortunately the Cardinal’s remarks only reinforce this idea, even if he is otherwise clear that same sex attraction is disordered and homosexual acts sinful. Continue reading

Who Really are the Christian Ideologues?

Rorate Caeili posted a translation of an article by Corrado Gnerre from Il Giudizio Cattolico, entitled “Who are the real ‘Christian Ideologues’?”, which addresses Pope Francis’ critique of ideology within the Church. While I do not agree with his conclusions, I think Gnerre helps to clarify the problem that Pope Francis is trying to correct.

Ignoring the Facts

Gnerre defines ideology as a “hypertrophic condition of the intellect” by which one chooses to put faith in one’s “own theoretical and intellectual constructions” rather than to see the observable facts.  It is “an enlarging of the intellect in size without an increase in perception and understanding,” resulting in “a blind spot in the intellectual mind itself.”  In other words, an ideologue gets so rapt up in his prejudices and pet theories that he is incapable of acknowledging the existence of counterfactuals.  And the ideologue’s problem is not emotional bias, but a very rational and systematic presentation and defense of his theory, albeit, a house of cards that cannot sustain a comparison with the facts, because the theory itself demands that the facts be ignored.  I believe that Gnerre’s definition is correct. Continue reading

Evangelii Gaudium and the Culture War

“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

—Benedict XVI, quoted by Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, 7

The Year of faith has just ended with the proclamation “Christ is the center of the history of humanity and also the center of the history of every individual.”  And today Pope Francis has released his first Apostolic Exhortation in which he encourages us to create the conditions in which all men may find Christ in an “event,” a personal encounter capable of bringing a “new horizon and a decisive direction.”  Both Benedict and Francis have invested much in this event of the encounter with Christ, and have proposed it as the way that supersedes all ethical choices and lofty ideas.  This is the new evangelization.

With this post I would like to examine a specific problem regarding the reception of Pope Francis’ teaching.  Unfortunately, some have already pigeonholed Pope Francis as a liberal and are poised to parse his every word in that light.  I would suggest his teaching ought to be approached not simply through an assessment of “lofty ideas,” but as an encounter—a personal opportunity in the here and now to accept a transformative grace.   It is too soon for me to write anything in depth about the Apostolic Exhortation, but not too soon to suggest a manner of reception that will prove to be fruitful.  And for that we need to avoid a serious pitfall. Continue reading