September 19, 2013

"The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

Said Pope Francis.
The new pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities. These teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church,” he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives."...

In contrast to Benedict, who sometimes envisioned a smaller but purer church — a “faithful fragment” — Francis envisions the church as a big tent.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” he said. “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.”
Interesting to picture the smallness as protecting not purity but mediocrity.

We also learn that the Pope's favorite movie is “La Strada.”

45 comments:

MadisonMan said...

So he's playing the Not-Holier-Than-Thou card. Good for him.

Strelnikov said...

Also interesting that the headline on most sites is some version of "Pope: 'I am a sinner'". That must come as a shock to secular press.

Moose said...

What do you call an Italian Episcopalian?

Strelnikov said...

I prefer "Nights of Cabiria".

TMink said...

"The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives."

Amen. It is about Jesus and salvation. The rest is small stuff and grows out of Christ.

Trey

Paddy O said...

Some thoughts. He's not right-wing, but I strongly suspect he's not left wing, which often couples soft ethics with a weakening underlying theology. Francis is pointing towards core issues.

Which is an important move beyond the Left/Right split. No one, even Catholics, who disagree with the Church's social teaching have shown any interest in listening. So, no one already cares what the Church teaches. Saying it louder and louder doesn't make it more likely.

Going back to core concerns, however, does make the social teachings more accessible. People who are transformed in having a more substantive faith begin to see more clearly the underlying ethics involved in such a faith.

m stone said...

Agree with Trey.

The "small stuff" of doctrine is a diversion that non-believers, in particular, focus on.

Francis has a few cards up his sleeve.

Jim said...

What do you call an Italian Episcopalian?
If you had said "a South American Episcopalian" I would have said "the Pope".

Jim said...

TL;DR: Commandments are lame.

carrie said...

I read him as saying that all people are sinners and all sinners are welcome into the catholic church as long as they sincerely try to live by the moral teachings of the church. So, gays are welcome but they should strive to be celibate, heterosexual people should strive to keep sex within a marriage between a man and a woman, etc. I think that that is the way the church is in American right now and that it is full of people who are striving to live according to the moral teachings of the church but who sometimes fail at doing that. However, when you fail you can be forgiven, if you are sincere in your desire to be forgiven, and start over striving to live according to the moral teachings of the church. I do not think, as some people are hoping, that he is embracing the gay life style, gay marriage, or abortion, but is just saying that there is room for gays in the church, just as there is room for women who have had abortions in the church, as long as they strive to live by the moral teachings of the church.

Titus said...

For some catholics gays and contraception and abortion are the big stuff.

Thankfully, my catholic parents, who go to church every Sunday, care about other catholic doctrine which is really the big stuff.

Crunchy Frog said...

The most important pastoral imperatives are to preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments faithfully. Anything that gets in the way of that should be discouraged, including such pursuits falling under the umbrella of "social justice".

This is true of all denominations.

BarrySanders20 said...

From the Catholic Answers web site:

Infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops (Matt. 16:17–19; John 21:15–17). As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope "enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals. Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised to him in blessed Peter."

So there you have it. The Catholic church is now a home for all, and don't sweat the small stuff.

Dad said...

Is it true that "bishops and priests in [...] the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities?"

I know that most people who don't share the church's view on these can't think of anything else when they see a church person. This sounds like a bit of projection.

Dad said...

But is it true that "bishops and priests in [...] the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities?"

I know there are people who can't look at a church person without thinking of those things. The statement reeks of projection.

Lydia said...

Ah, the NY Times pondering the ruminations of popes. And in its typical weasel fashion:

...in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities. These teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church,” he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context.

"often appeared" -- yes, to the NY Times mind-set. While, in truth, that “larger context” has always been at the forefront of the ministry of the popes, bishops, and priests.

and

...in contrast to Benedict, who sometimes envisioned a smaller but purer church — a “faithful fragment”

"sometimes envisioned" -- makes it sound as if that was Benedict's dream or preference, while in fact it was his assessment of what might happen as secularism grows ever stronger.

Dale Light said...

"La Strada" is one of my favorites too. In many ways it is Fellini's declaration of independence from the intellectual tyranny of neo-realism.

The Godfather said...

I can't tell if it's Francis or the Times that's conflating "abortion, gay marriage and contraception". These are very different issues. Focusing on the person and the love God shows to each person through Christ (as Francis urges) ought to be central to how the Roman church (or any Christian) addresses gay marriage and contraception. In the case of abortion, however, there are two persons involved, both loved by God. From a secular or legal standpoint it may be adequate to say that one of those persons has the final say about the worth of the other; from a Christian standpoint, that's insufficient.

n.n said...

So, the Christians will reject Christianity. They will reject their God's religion, his moral direction. All for the glory of the Church.

While the seculars will reject science and morality. They will reject the principles of evolution and accept the corruption which follows from treating human life as a commodity. All for their personal wealth, welfare, and convenience.

It seems that a dysfunctional convergence is not strictly a progressive process. It is part of evolution, a chaotic process, where sudden changes are normal.

readering said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
readering said...

It will be interesting to see if Francis looks for new criteria for appointing bishops in line with his philosophy and if in the US he tones down resistence to public funding of healthcare and regulations pertaining to Catholic institutions.

traditionalguy said...

Women Priests will be the test of whether or not Francis is all hat and no cattle. Or is that all Mitre and no layman?

Moose said...

Francis changed the clubhouse rules! Girls n' gays now welcome!

Inga said...

This Pope will bring back lapsed Catholics, heck I feel like going back and I was never a Catholic. I predict rightist Catholics will soon attempt a coup, or whatever an overthrow of a Pope is called.

carrie said...

This interview was not an infallible pronouncement.

Rocketeer said...

I predict rightist Catholics will soon attempt a coup, or whatever an overthrow of a Pope is called.

Traditionally, it's called "The Reformation."

Ann Althouse said...

"prefer "Nights of Cabiria"."

Me too! "Nights" has been in my profile as one of my favorite movies for many years.

So touching!

averagejoe said...

As a former Catholic school student, I never understood or agreed with the reasoning and rules of the Faith, but they are very clear and they exist for a reason. If you don't believe in them, then you aren't Catholic. You can be Christian, Buddhist, deist, whatever you want, but you don't get to make it up yourself and call yourself Catholic. Listening to this egocentric jackass makes me think of the strong Catholic faith of Pelosi and Biden and their unswerving commitment to abortion. It's Catholic a la carte!

S. Roosevelt said...

May not be as rosy as thought by some of the commentators here.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/pope-francis-comments-on-homosexuality-in-the-big-interview/

mrs. e said...

Pope Francis is so revolutionary, so engrossing, because he is living out Gospel values of love, mercy, and compassion.

I'm not Catholic, but am very moved by his words. I have family and friends, some practicing, some, for their own reasons, have wandered away. They're all, without fail, also moved - and that warms my heart.

John Constantius said...

It will be interesting to see where he goes with this in practice. History suggests that churches (and many non-religious organizations) that try to become "big tents" often become "empty tents". If you stand for everything, you don't stand for anything.

rcommal said...

.

rcommal said...

Generosity of spirit is something of worth. Pinched spirit is a hazard.

rcommal said...

John Constantius: Are you intending to imply that Jesus Christ, on account of his big-tent intention, became an empty tent?

rcommal said...

"A nun suggests that Gelsomina's purpose in life is comparable to her own."
--from Wikipedia's entry for "La Strada"

cyrus83 said...

One rule of thumb when dealing with anything concerning "something the Pope said" is to chuck the New York Times or other major media version and head to the source to see what's up. The full-text version of the interview is in America magazine, located here:

http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

The Times has taken Francis out of context, his original quote is "the teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." He's not saying the teachings are clear to him, he's saying they are clearly stated in general, and he'll be sticking to them as a son of the church, but he thinks a different point of emphasis is needed.

In other words, you're not going to see women priests approved by Rome, nor will you see Rome changing its mind over any of its other moral doctrines already clearly stated. What you will see is an emphasis on the positive message of salvation focused on accepting people as they are, but always in the context of that being a starting point toward transformation in Christ, not as a "you're okay, I'm okay, it's okay" type of deal.

I encourage reading the full interview carefully to get a better picture.

Annie said...

The reason why many of my friends and some relatives have walked away from the Catholic church, is because it has become too liberal. Priests supporting pro-abort/partial birth politicians and the leftist agenda from the pulpit. They have made themselves irrelevant by outsourcing their job to the government as their flock dwindles.
The Rock has turned to shifting sand.

Annie said...

When over 50% of 'catholics', think it's okey dokey to kill the unborn, something is wrong. It tells me that priests and bishops already aren't sweating the 'small stuff'.

As far as gays and contraceptives, they teach natural family planning and nowhere in it's doctrine does it say to hate on anyone. Everyone is held to the same standards as everyone else. You follow the same sacraments.

TMink said...

n.n. I do not see what the Pope said as rejecting God's morality. Rather, I see him focusing on evangelism and saving souls.

Godly morality is a calling for Christians to follow, and nobody else. Heck, I cannot follow it with a willing heart and the Holy Spirit's help! First you are saved by accepting Christ as the Son of God and Messiah, then you work on conforming your behavior to his standards.

At least that is the reformed protestant view of things. 8)

Trey

Rocketeer said...

“The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives."...

It's very, very clear to me based on the last 24 hours of coverage of this up here in very-cafeteria-Catholic Massachusetts that a lot of Catholics and non-Catholics are projecting. They're definitely not reading or listening to what he's said very carefully. He's said: first, emphasis should be on salvation through Christ; then, moral and religious imperatives (which, per Pope Francis himself, include combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception) will follow. He didn't say "Hey, let's just toss that stuff out." He's said that they are moral and religious imperatives, but they grow out of salvation.

I'm pretty sure Catholic haters would be just as pissed - actually, moreso because of the adversus implied in his statement - if they weren't too stupid to understand what he's just said.

Dale Light said...

I have always seen "La Strada", in part, as Fellini's retort to "Bicycle Thieves" and other neo-realists dramas illustrating the plight of the proletariat. In the first five minutes of the film Gelsomina [played by Fellini's wife] is sold into slavery by her mother, physically abused, and raped. It is as if Fellini is saying to De Sica, "You think your characters had it tough? Look at this poor woman!" And after that Gelsomina is still capable of love, even for her abuser. From there on the film is all allegory and a condemnation of materialism [which crushes the soul and destroys the intellect]. I can see how the Pope would admire it.

Dr.D said...

This pope is a marxist idiot, educated by marxist Jesuits, and steeped in liberation theology. He is not even really good at liberation theology, but mostly just babbles. He is to be totally ignored for the well being of mankind.

He is such a huge disappointment coming after the brilliant, thoughtful, competent, scholarly Benedict XVI. The Church lost a genius and replaced him with an idiot; woe be to all of us

jimbino said...

Try asking a Roman Catholic to explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I do it all the time, and the only person I met who could explain it was a recent convert from Lutheranism!

Dr.D said...

Dietrich Bonhoffer had a term for this idea that Francis is pushing. Bonhoffer called it "cheap grace," and he showed that cheap grace is no real grace at all. It is only "costly grace," grace won by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, is real grace. Real grace calls man to true repentance; cheap grace tells man, "you're OK, I'm OK."

John Constantius said...

rcommal: I'm saying what I'm saying. I'm not saying what you're saying.