Thursday, September 26, 2013
Disconcerted by Francis #4
I think of myself in old style politically left-wing terms, as a young man I became a Catholic by being a Communist first. I believed in the brotherhood of man and through that learnt a need for the Fatherhood of God and the Motherhood of the Church. I have a soft aging hippy notion of the openness of borders, the welcoming of immigrants. I am pro-life but I realise that there are economic implications to being open to Life. I have no problem with a Pope who at least in Western and North American terms presents himself as being towards the left, or as both he and I would like to say 'on the side of the poor'. When pushed I suspect both the Pope and I would readily admit there is as much poverty, spiritual poverty at least, in Mayfair as there is on the seafront in Brighton.
There are priests and laypeople who because of their Christian principles strongly disagree with my own interpretation of the Church's teaching, the Church is large enough. We hold to the same doctrines but have received different inspiration, as Pope Benedict kept saying the Christian Faith is "both and not either or"
There is problem when the Church identifies itself with the poor, Jesus does 'go to the peripheries' and speak about the poor but he seems much more concerned about God's generosity. Ches writes on the experience of the Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada, who I suppose could be described as politically right of centre, who has spent a great deal of ink defending Christian thinking, especially on what are those touch button issues such as marriage, the family, the rights of the unborn, he feels betrayed by the recent Francis interview.
Abp Chaput from the USA has said, "I heard from a mother of four children – one adopted, another disabled from birth -- who’d spent years counseling pregnant girls and opening prolife clinics. She wanted to know why the Pope seemed to dismiss her sacrifices. A priest said the Pope “has implicitly accused brother priests who are serious about moral issues of being small minded,” and that “[if you’re a priest,] being morally serious is now likely to get you publicly cast as a problem.” Another priest wrote that “the problem is that [the Holy Father] makes all of the wrong people happy, people who will never believe in the Gospel and who will continue to persecute the Church.”
Being a soft liberal I am not the greatest fan of Michael Vorris but I think he has a very important point in this video, that the "change in tone" the Pope calls for actually turns out be a way of undermining those heroic priests and laypeople who do speak out on moral issues.
In the Church St Paul tells us there are 'a variety of gifts', a local bishop or archbishop can understand and address the problems that beset his particular diocese, as Pope Francis is speaking to the whole Church, he has a duty not to 'stifle the Holy Spirit'. Narrowing the Church's message only serves the enemies of the Church and pours cold water the flame of faith.
I am sure if the Holy Father realised how this interview would be used would be mortified, perhaps in the next few weeks we might see him strengthening the position of Christ's friends rather than allowing his words to be a comfort to those who hate the faith.