Saturday, June 29, 2013

"United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus!"


What does this mean? "United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus!"

It is from Pope Francis' homily this morning at the "Pallium Mass", like much of what he says there is often a great deal of ambiguity. All Popes, I am told right back to the 3rd century, have removed their own shoes, on taking on their sacred office and put on Peter's shoes, the shoes of their predecessors, Francis deliberately chose to abandon this highly symbolic and scriptural act. We have become accustomed to Pope's proclaiming the faith and expecting others to unite themselves to that that which is proclaimed, is Pope Francis now intending to extend the concept of "legitimate diversity".

Is he saying that rather than teaching doctrine we should be simply trying to teach a deep relationship with Jesus Christ; that doctrine is unimportant, that unity is more important than the content of believe?
Many would say that this is essence of contemporary Christianity, simply a relationship. For many Bishops that is extremely attractive form of Catholicism, it means that Catholicism is simply somehow a quasi-political hodge-podge of social doctrines, of being "good" but actually ultimately denying the Trinity, which can contain both the pro- and anti-, supporters of gay marriage and their opponents or supporters of abortion and there opponents, right through to supporters of the Divinity of Christ and their opponents. It is what some would call Catholicism-Lite.

In reality that is the Church of today, and it is something which the vast majority of Bishops seem happy to go along with. It is certainly one reading of such VII documents as Gaudium et Spes. In Francis own teaching he seems to give a vision of what Christianity offers but is quite resistant to condemning that which is contrary to it. Like many Pastors we can be  pro-life but never condemned abortion or those who propose, pro-marriage but only quietly condemn those who attack it.

Are we being given a new understanding of Catholicism or just stating what is or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Certainly Francis is much more popular than his predecessor who was presented as the condemning "rottweiller".

Here is the context of the phrase, the whole sermon can be found here: 
To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). And it continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.


22 comments:

ORA PRO NOBIS said...

I can give you a frank answer to your comments regarding your mention of the phrase 'a relationship with God', but you might not like the answer (however, I can guarantee that it is an accurate answer).

This phrase is a pentecostal/born again phrase which has crept into the Catholic Church. The premise is that when someone is 'Baptised in the Holy Spirit' they can then develop a relationship with God, because they then know that God is real. From this new found relationship, it is then easier to follow the rules/the Laws set out in scripture.

You see Fr. Ray, there is a massive irony in all of this, because in hardcore pentecostal /evangelical /free churches they are told that if they keep sinning then they will end up in hell, but at the same time they endeavour to get everyone 'Baptised in the Holy Spirit' so that they can develop a relationship with God so that they stop sinning.

Of course, the irony comes because in the Catholic Church not only is sin and hell rarely mentioned, but where Catholic charismatic renewal do get involved with 'baptism in the Holy Spirit' then they never mention sin or hell either. Basically, in the Catholic Church everyone (including bishops etc) jump on the bandwagon of 'having a relationship with Christ because they have heard it somewhere and it seems a good concept, but then fail to understand where the premise came from in the first place or how they should achieve a result. So it sort of is a fail/fail situation in the Catholic Church, because after all Christ didn't come to abolish the Law, but to fulfil it.

Did you know that it looks as if Catholic Charismatic Renewal now have a doctrinal commission? I deal with it in my last post entitled 'We don't need a doctrinal commission on Catholic charismatic renewal'. It is worth a quick read if you want to know why.

I am a Latin Mass man (don't ask me how I know all of this stuff - it's a long story).

Martina Katholik said...

Everything Pope Francis has said and done until now reminds me of Pope Paul VI´s actions and theology described by Father Luigi Villa in his book “Paul VI Beatified?” which is online available.

Seaneinn said...

I just get more confused so no longer listen to what he says and will wait until he issues a real enclical that he has started and completed. At lest with Pope Benedict I knew what he was talking about. God bless

Jacobi said...

We all, within the Catholic Church have differences such as in liturgical preference or, the importance of traditional practise, or perhaps the balance between prayer and good works.

We do not have and cannot have doctrinal differences, the Real Presence for example, nor can we have a selective approach to sin. Refusal to clothe the hungry and feed the naked, contraception, divorce and remarriage, missing Mass obligations etc., are all objectively gravely sinful. Denial of such doctrines or knowingly refusing to accept the others as grave sins disqualifies one from receiving Communion, is grave error and may well be a state of heresy - whether for bishop or for lay person.

Physiocrat said...

I am beginning to wonder what is going on. And, six years after Summorum Pontificum, a newly-ordained priest who has, I am reliably informed, been taught how to celebrate the OF Mass but refuses to stand in for the regular priest who does that, and refuses to discuss the matter, leaving a two month gap with no EF Masses and no Latin NO Masses for 100 miles around, I have to ask where this is going to lead?

John Nolan said...

I'll say one thing for Pope Francis's homilies. Content apart, they last almost exactly ten minutes, which is more Oratorian than Jesuit these days.

EuropeanCatholic said...

I have just finished reading "Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio" to try and understand more about our new Holy Father.

I was in awe of John Paul II and I had been a reader of Joseph Ratzinger since 1998, so it was with such joy that I followed his pontificate and such sadness at his resignation.

I so want to have the devotion to Pope Francis that I had to JPII and Benedict, but these do feel strange times since March 2013. Some of Francis' writing is I think quite wonderful. I have been reading over his speeches and homilies at Easter. The Holy Saturday homily is especially good and his Urbi et Orbi address.

Today's Homily, I thought, read well until Paragraph 3, even if again Francis persists in calling himself the Bishop of Rome and not the Pope.

But Paragraph 3 set alarm bells ringing when I read it. I was not the only one I see.

Here are the words in particular which concerned me:

"To confirm in unity: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primate. Let us go forward on the path of synodality, and grow in harmony with the service of the primacy".

I actually don't understand this at all. It seems to be very ambiguous and poorly written. They don't make sense to me. All of a sudden there is the mention of the Synod of Bishops.

And then

"United in our differences: there is no other Catholic way to be united. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in our differences. This is the way of Jesus!"

Again, this does not make sense to me, I actually don't understand the words again.

I have heard it said that Francis must have been referring to the Orthodox with these words.

ORA PRO NOBIS said...

What I don't understand is that he recently said that parallel journeys are dangerous. Surely this is just as true on the inside of the Church as on the outside.

The Holy Spirit brings unity not division. All I see since Vatican II, within the Catholic Church, is division.

Division is of Satan as far I I understand it.

Deacon Augustine said...

"Is he saying that rather than teaching doctrine we should be simply trying to teach a deep relationship with Jesus Christ; that doctrine is unimportant, that unity is more important than the content of believe?"

Doesn't that all rather depend upon which differences he was referring to? Failure to make proper distinctions is the bane of theology. It is particularly hard to make proper distinctions if one has a "chatty" style of preaching/teaching. I hope it was just a careless slip of that chatty tongue and not indicative of a disorganised mind which has lost its moorings in the faith.

But surely the Catholic answer to your question is that BOTH a deep relationship with Jesus AND doctrinal orthodoxy are important. The former without the latter becomes a relationship with a figment of our own imaginations, and the latter without the former becomes a dry intellectual exercise in a spiritual desert.

Long-Skirts said...

"United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus!"

United in our differences
The way of Jesus, this?
O, that's what Jesus taught us
When Judas gave the kiss.

Damask Rose said...

Forgive me Fr Ray, but I think you are looking too much into this.

For instance, we have the Anglican Ordinariate now, the Orthodox who are "in", the Dominican Rite, the Ambrosian Rite, Ukrainian Catholics, Syrian Catholics, the Catholics who use Aramaic, Summorum Pontificum (yes, I know it's the Mass of Ages, the one true Mass, but not everyone sees it like that at the moment). There's the 'Sons of the Holy Redeemer, FSSP, ICK and so on' - apologies for my ignorance and not using proper titles.

We are all together.

Without looking up the exact texts from the Gospels - I guess I should more or less know the New Testament kind of "off by heart", but didn't Jesus eventually praise the Samaritan woman at the well for her faith, after she said about eating the crumbs from the Lords' table, after Jesus pointed out that He came for the Jews? (Hope I've got this right, and haven't mixed up stories from the New Testament!)

Remember St Peter and his dream about the food and St Paul saying the Greeks didn't need to be circumcised. (Hope I got this right...)

Look, the SSPX won't come in and this is surely a wound to the Body of Christ - His Church.

Just read what Pope Francis said again:

"In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion."

Jackie Parkes said...

Is wearing red shoes really a spiritual act?

peregrinus_sg said...

Having an intimate relationship with the Lord is of vital importance to us as Catholics; Pope Benedict himself highlighted that the heart of Christianity is a Person, God made man, who became "small" so that we can enter into relationship with him. There is no contradiction between a strong, intimate relationship with the Lord and doctrinal orthodoxy; it is simply impossible to be in a relationship with someone really if you don't even understand that person. What is worrying is the preponderance of superficial relationships in our modern society which makes everyone happy but satisfies no human spirit,

What I've learnt about Pope Francis is that his gift does not include precision of expressions of thought. That is probably most of us as well. The expression he has used "united in our differences" can be interpreted correctly, and given the context where he seems to refer to the presence of Archbishops from around the world, from different cultures, histories and challenges, I think that is most probably what he meant. If we labour ourselves further with trying to split what he said, we would probably be engaging in a not too useful exercise, and we would border on imputing positions to the Pontiff that we really don't know better.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jackie
Taking one's shoes off in the presence of the Lord is a very spiritual act in the scriptures.

For Peter, walking where he would rather not go, is linked to his role of "feeding my lambs" in John's Gospel.

The changing of footwear seems to be ancient, as ancient as name changing for a Pontiff.

nickbris said...

When His Holiness Pope Francis does do something right we must hope and pray that he does it the right way round.He seems to be getting more stick than the NHS.

In the case of the NHS it is because some greedy individuals want to privatise it;could the Catholic Church be going the same way? or perhaps being hijacked by dissidents

Celia said...

'His gift does not include precision of expressions of thought'. You can say that again. I'm afraid I usually find the famous 'fervorini' impossible to follow, but when I try there's nearly always some generalisation which pulls me up short and makes me wonder 'now how will the Tablet use this to attack orthodoxy?'. In today's Catholic Herald I noticed the Pope quoted as saying that the Church must not become 'ideological', proclaiming its own ideas and claiming the Gospel as its own. So what happened to the one, true Church?
Pope Francis is very popular with many people I know because they think that he's effectively authorising them to think what they like 'in the spirit of Vatican II'. I'm fairly sure they're wrong, which makes it all the more unfortunate that his taste for extempore preaching can cause such confusion.

Genty said...

I thought the white robes signify purity and the red shoes willingness to shed blood for the faith, in much same way that cardinals wear red as a symbol of for commitment to martyrdom if so called.

Gratias said...

Pope Francisco homilies are difficult to comprehend. This is a problem because his job is to communicate with 1.2 billion Catholics. I wonder whether his knowledge of Italian is deep enough.

Transferring power to bishop synods will only increase multiculturalism while suppressing the Extraordinary Form of our Latin liturgy.

RJ said...

Surely, Pope Francis is referring to legitimate diversity. He is not saying there can be 'unity in contradiction'.

gemoftheocean said...

I'm still taking a "wait and see" as regards Pope Francis. I am more than little irked by his refusal to throw off the cardinal's role and take on the red shoes of the one who follows in the ways of the martyrs. If he didn't want the gig he shouldn't have taken it.

The gaga press will soon enough figure out that the pope is actually a practicing Catholic, so I don't expect they will lay off him much longer.

Jesuits. *sigh* Problematic. Especially these days. Though I had a superb "old school" one of now late and happy memory in high school, and then there's Fr. Mitch Pacwa, so it's not a total wasteland these days.

Lepanto said...

I am sure that he didn't mean this to be a catastrophic statement but it might become one anyway. He is raising expectations in those who have been 'champing at the bit' for a more 'democratic' Church. They may not want to know what he really meant if he didn't mean what they have decided that he meant (if you know what I mean!)

Gungarius said...

"In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus!"

Looks like a reproof to me. A reproof to those who think the EF is divisive and Summorum Pontificum should be abrogated, and similarly a reproof to the SSPX for not taking up Benedicts offer.