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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis and Hot-Buttons

"In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships."
The sentences above represent the heart of what Pope Francis has to say. These are what makes sense of everything else.  
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.
When talking of confessors, as he does above, he gets specific. In the passage above, he tells us why he is wary of the traditionalist, the rigorist. He also tells us why he defrocked an Argentinian priest for promoting homosexual marriage. 

He is not denying the moral or dogmatic teachings of the Church. He's saying that the current methods for trying to help people embrace these teachings do not work:
The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
He's absolutely correct in every detail. But he isn't finished:
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. [emphasis added]There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.
But that is nothing compared to this:
The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is—these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defense. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.
“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. [emphasis added]
“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting. this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. [emphasis added] It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. 
There is too much brilliance in this interview. I can quote no more. You must read it.

And for those who think Pope Francis has gone soft on life issues, read today's remarks.
Here's a similar link.

Keep in mind, this man wants union with the East. Eastern Catholics permit contraception. How can he get the EO bishops to at least privately admit that contraception is a bad idea? Well, first he has to give them public reason to talk to him. The whole interview revolved around his openness to dialogue.

The Pope isn't just talking to Americans or Europeans. He is always talking to the whole world. He knows that, even if we forget it sometimes.


Andrew said...

Do you have source for Eastern Catholics allowing contraception? Or do you mean Eastern churches who are not in union with Rome? Thank you and God bless.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Eastern Catholics not in union with Rome allow it.


Andrew said...

I was aware that those not in union allow it, but I confused by you calling them Catholics if they're not in union. Of course the widely used term "Orthodox" generates a lot of confusion as well, since as you rightly point out, on this issue (and others such as divorce and remarriage) they are not orthodox. Pax.

Ann said...

I understand that the Pope wants union with all those people who are currently separated from the Catholic Church, i.e. Muslims, Eastern churches that are not in communion, SPPX, etc. And, I understand that European and American Catholics are part of the whole Catholic church, not a religion unto itself. However, when the Pope makes statements that give fodder to all the left leaning, liberal people, in or out of the Church, it seems to do harm to our fight against same sex marriage, abortion, and, yes, contraception. Those three things do not sum up our entire Catholic faith, but they are the issues that we are losing on in the Western world. If he is saying we are using the wrong arguments to sell our point, I get it. But, unfortunately, his words are always going to be taken out of context and most people, faithful Cathlics included, are not going to take the time to delve deeper into what his true meaning is. The same thing happened after Vatican II and we are still trying to correct all the wrong assumptions about that. And, I was an adult when Vatican II concluded, so I remember very well what was being taught about it.