Friday, February 27, 2015

Avoiding stereotypes

We should all avoid stereotypes. The Holy See was placed in such an embarrassing position earlier this week over a leaked private email from His Holiness in which he had used the phrase 'avoid the Mexification'. Poor old Fr Lombardi had to again, 'clarify', the Vatican Information Service had to issue an explanation and an assurance that no-one on earth was more loved by the Holy Father more than Mexicans, which suggests the Secretary of State had to do a great deal to soothe ruffled feathers behind the scenes. It is all very reminiscent of Vatileaks at the end of  the last Pontificate.

Just as one should avoid 'Mexification', so one should avoid 'Argentinianisation' or 'Latin-Americanisation' but this last week or so seems to have been a rather dramatic gear change, rather unpleasant things seem to have hatched out of the mud. The latest, Card. Baldisseri ordering the interception or theft and destruction of 'Remaining in the Truth', the book by five of his fellow Cardinals, which was sent Synod members. He had the rather limp excuse of protecting the Synod participants from 'confusion', yet as Matt Archbold reminds us the Pope had demanded 'parrhesia' open speech from Synod members.
"Let us invoke openness to a sincere, open and fraternal exchange of views, that it might lead us to take pastoral responsibility for the questions that this changing time brings with it."  — Pope Francis on the Synod.
"Let no one say, 'This can't be said, they will think this or that about me.' Everything we feel must be said, with parrhesia," a Greek word meaning to speak candidly or boldly, and without fear. — Pope Francis on the Synod.
"... a cardinal wrote to me saying that it was a pity that some cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the pope, thinking perhaps that the pope thought differently. This is not good -- it is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord we feel must be said: without human respect, without timidness." — Pope Francis on the Synod.
"I was the rapporteur of the 2001 synod and there was a cardinal who told us what should be discussed and what should not," the Pope told La Nacion, an Argentine newspaper. "That will not happen now." Francis is not afraid of discussion and disagreement." — Pope Francis on the Synod.
"And, at the same time, we must listen with humility and accept with an open heart all that our brothers say." — Pope Francis on the Synod.

Then there was the curious case of Fr Rossica, Fr Lombardi's assistant, someone close to the Pope, who has been threatening an obscure Canadian pensioner blogger for reporting his involvement in manipulating the Synod, coupled with Fr Volpi's reneging on an arbitration agreement with the family of Fr Manelli the founder of the Franciscans of Immaculate, there seems to be strong sense of bullying, of the total opposite of what His Holiness really wants: mercy. All of this takes place against a background of accusations of 'dissident' leveled against those who are against changing the teaching of the Church, this of course gives rise to actions like the rather unpleasant twitter of Fr Scott, Fr Rossica's confrere. And in Rome, as Alessanro Magister suggests there is open season on kangaroos, there are increasingly vicious attacks on Cardinal Pell.

Though one would want to avoid words like 'Argentinianisation' or 'Latin-Americanisation', that seems to be what we are steadily paddling towards. The methods of President Kirchner or the Perons seem to have an echo in the Vatican. There is an unpleasant ruthlessness in those are around the Pope and even his allies elsewhere. I was rather shocked by an article by Cardinal Wuerl, obviously directed against Cardinal Burke, but not engaging in theology or ideas but simply an attack on him personally, and calling those who did not agree with a change in Church teaching, "dissenters".

Madonna As Eva Perón In The Film "Evita" - madonna Screencap
Pope Benedict left in place those who disagreed with him fundamentally Abp Pierro Marini and Cdl Kasper are the most obvious examples but under Francis we seem to have a one party state, opposition is dealt with ruthlessly. The great problem with such a situation, as we have often seen in South America, Argentina in particular, in the recent past, is such a system breeds revolution and instability, it is useful for quick-fix solutions but ultimately leads to injustice, impoverishment and disaster. it creates a climate of fear, fear of 'el presidente' or at least a desire to be sycophantically subservient but fear of unknown henchmen, of denunciation. Many of the Cardinal electors had hoped that the election of the 'new Pope' might be about clearing Rome of its cliques and anonymous accusations, its denunciation by innuendo and its bitter feuds and corruption it is simply not happening - on the contrary it is happening with renewed vigour.


Denis said...

This article is trading in the kind of tittle tattle it appears to be condemning. Perhaps during Lent we should all be seeking to build up rather than knock down.

J said...

Well, I have found this a quite fair post, in a way.
But as Chesterton answered when he was compelled to give an opinion about the Frenchs, he said that he didn´t know them all.
People are quite the same everywhere. And its fair too not to think that all English are irish-killers, gay lobbyists, and abortionists, or keen to throw babies in hospital heaters. Not all the italians are mafiosi, not all the germans are nazis.
Stereotypes are dangerous, but there is a bit of truth lying behind them. There is an argentine way to be bad, along with an angle-saxon way to misjudge and fear it, and vice-versa.
I think that what we are facing now is an alliance of the bad part of argentinian character along with the german, north-american, italian, english, latinamerican, african and asiatic dark sides.
The good part of internet is that we know now that there are good catholics in England, Africa, Canada and everywhere, all engage in the same good fight. The enemy is realizing that too. Something that we did not know before. At least, in my case i had always thought that there were no catholics reamaining in UK. That was a stereotype too.

PS: Fr, if you think that this is properly written, and that is not going to be the firestarter of a mess, post it. In any other case, keep it just for you, with my congratulations for such an outstanding blog you have. You have help us a lot.
From Argentina,

Liam Ronan said...

'Mexification' indeed. How about 'Tradification'? No back tracking there.

As for Rev. Rosica and the Canadian Blogger:

"Canon 212 §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they (i.e. laymen and women)possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons."

Note 'duty'.

The entire legislative and judicial history of the Catholic Church (including the counsels of the New Testament) urges the members of the Church to resolve differences within the Church rather than at common law, Canadian or otherwise.

This Catholic Blogger appears to have relied on the letter of Canon Law (above) and therefore under civil/tort/common law 'detrimentally relied' on the Church Herself, i.e. Father Rosica's employer, to speak boldly. Therefore I believe the matter is (equitably) estopped on the civil side and must proceed to be heard in the ecclesiastical courts.

As most know or suspect, initiating and rigorously prosecuting a libel/defamation law suit can be frightfully costly for both Plaintiff and Defendant alike. 'Deep pockets' are de rigueur.

I gather Catholic Blogger is an average Joe with precious little resources and assets to defend himself.

The breadth, depth, and sources of Rev. Rosica's income and assets do not appear to be public knowledge at this point, however, if damages are alleged, the microscopes will be out for evidences of loss of income.

That's just my thinking though.

Fr Dickson said...

Your final paragraph is superb.

gemoftheocean said...

Had a net disagreement with a Pope Francis apologist yesterday. She ended up pulling her "anyone trashing Pope Francis unfriend me" item after I posted the bit re: the legal sting on Volpi for slanderous remarks. [We'd had a tete-a-tete re: what's been happening to the Franciscans.]

At least Evita Peron had nice shoes -- it's telling that the current occupant of the See of Peter does not even bother to don the red shoes.

And to quote the Godfather: "It was Barzini all along." No matter how you shuffle it, it's been the pope all along doing this and pulling the puppet strings. The Medici popes would be proud.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I realise that this probebly flies in the face of my post on the previous article on Father's Blog. But I'd like to smack some curial heads together and remind them that they're there to serve God,to stop behaving like a bunch of prancing Prima donnas and act like men (if at all possible).

Women I expect to kill with compliments and innuendo's, being (I know I'm not being PC her) the fairer sex, its not nice but to see men, and men of the Cloth at that aping the worst behaviours of women is just nauseating.

Thomas said...

It will get worse before it gets better, I think! In fact, the getting worse may well play its part in the getting better in a strange and providential way. The darkest hour comes before the dawn. And certain things have a habit of over-reaching themselves, which then proves to be their downfall. But it's the damage done in the meantime that is such a sorrow. I fear that we must brace ourselves for a very rough ride, especially in the next few months; and not lose faith, no matter how bad it gets.

Adulio said...

What the church needs to avoid is "Francisation" - it is a disaster than St. Pius X warned us about 100 years earlier

Jacobi said...

The comment has been made that the article appears to be condemning. Others are of the opinion that it is fair or even superb.

The sad things is that this type of conversation is taking place at all, between people of good intent, and on other sites and subjects, in a serious Catholic forums.

I have often complained about the deliberate lack of clarity in what is said these days, so let me be clear now. There are forces at work in the Church today which are not, if their fruits are anything to go by, good. They are attempting to change what is unchangeable, that is defined established Church doctrine and Teaching. For instance, those in objective mortal sin, that is those who know the stated position of the Church on whatever sin is under consideration, but who receive Holy Communion, commit, a further mortal sin.

To allow them to believe otherwise is false mercy, the opposite of mercy. It is endangering their immortal souls.

The correct action is to welcome them into the Church, to Mass, to devotions to coffee in the parish rooms after Mass, or on the Sunday outing, until such times as they, or time, can resolve their problems.

M. Prodigal said...

True colors are showing...and they are not pretty: lies, slander, clergy suing lay people in civil court, thievery, prideful posturing, heterodoxy, heresy, threat of schism...all of these things with impunity so far in the Franciscan pontificate.

TLM said...

Too true Thomas! Buckle up and hang on tight! This is just the 'campaign' by the German Bishops and others to revamp things in the Church. According to news reports they have basically for all practical purposes threatened schism.
It seems that some are playing their trump card. It's going to get a whole lot uglier I fear. Pray the Rosary!

JARay said...

There is no doubt about it. The Church is going through one heck of a mess and the present Pope is the cause of much of it. What a disaster his election was.

Mary Kay said...

Thank you, Father! Brilliant post. How refreshing to hear even a few real Catholic priests, such as yourself and Fr. Dickson, speak out. God bless you both!

E. G. Lewis said...

Personally, I find it appalling to see all the "let's play nice, kiddies" posts. I can just see these people watching Jesus cleanse the Temple and piously saying, "Look at these unprovoked attacks. It's downright shocking. And those poor, hardworking men trying to feed their families and all."
Wake up people, this is your Church they're destroying!! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If I had a cord, I'd sure be knotting it.

steve jones said...

This Pope has affirmed the abandonment of the culture war which B16 was perceived, perhaps wrongly, to have reignited. By that I mean the Holy Father simply accepts the Church as being subservant to the "end of history" culture now prevalent.

Benedict's resignation was an acceptance that the game is so rigged that our future now lies in the catacomb, monastery, gulag, retreat house, prison or on the reservation. Benedict enjoys the relative luxury of the retreat house. As for Catholic keyboard warriors on the blogs we are already living on the reservation awaiting the chastisement predicted by many.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Denis: You say it is all tittle tattle. I do not think that is the case. Tittle tattle suggests rumour and gossip with unfounded allegations. In these cases there have been public statements by the people who are being discussed:

1. Father Volpi published a letter from him on his website reneging on a written agreement made in a mediation service.

2. Father Roscia instructed lawyers to write a letter threatening an action for defamation.

3. His fellow Basilian published a twitter telling Cardinal Burke to f off.

4. Admittedly we only have the report of a respected journalist for the interference with the mail business but it is a serious allegation of criminal activity and I doubt if he would have made it without very careful checking it.
I think until it has been denied, which it has not so far to my knowledge, then I think one can regard it as factual.

But the first three are established facts and all four are seriously scandalous and should be the concern of all Catholics. These are actions that deserve condemnation.

susan said...

Outstanding post Father. Utterly outstanding.

TLM said...

Hmm....I'm not sure exactly how we go about 'building up' heretics, Denis. Pray for them we MUST, but to pretend that we should value their theology and hide under a rock their 'irregular' Catholic teaching is not what Christ calls us to do, even if it's Lent.

Bruvver Eccles said...

The way I heard it, Cardinal Baldisseri was trying to suppress a book called "New Testament", written by five distinguished theologians, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul, with some help from trusted colleagues. Apparently, it didn't agree with the point of view he was trying to promote.

Thomas said...

Well, the real root of the problem was that man Jesus, who was terribly wonderful, of course, and we wouldn't want to contradict anything he said - and in fact we're not, not at all! - but he could be rather rigid and unpastoral at times. So we need to find a way to keep thinking he was generally wonderful but not be hidebound by anything specific he may have said. And anyway, circumstances change and "The Spirit", a.k.a 'the god of surprises' (who is, after all, far more up to date and progressive than poor Jesus was able to be; he was a man of his time, after all) is giving us the new insights we all want and expect, even if a few old fogeys are dragging their feet. So we can carry on repeating Jesus' words as official teaching but without actually meaning them in practice. It's a win/win situation, really. Where's the problem?

Denis said...

Nicholas and TLM, thank you for your comments and Fr Blake for publishing my remarks.
I absolutely agree there is much going on in the Church that is a cause of concern. I just wonder are we not better addressing these issues through prayer, rather than raking over the muck that some of the individuals mentioned have spread around the Church.

Liam Ronan said...

"Remember, I am sending you out to be like sheep among wolves; you must be wary, then, as serpents, and yet innocent as doves." Mt. 10:16

The 'wary as serpents' analogy is of a piece with the doves .

I've recently read that Jesus 'only' referred to Hell in 60 versus of the Gospels.

"But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

My take on the admonition to 'stay awake' is echoes that of 'be wary'.

min-bee said...

Denis, what makes you think that those who are rightly, charitably, and justly speaking out on these scandals are not praying?

When truth is being suppressed or distorted, we have a duty to speak out and support the Cardinals and others who are stating the truths of the faith (and the teaching on marriage is from Christ Himself).

Our opponents are busy "causing a mess" by various and sundry means--including theft and making statements about the "good" in homosexual practices, how the Church must be "merciful" even when Christ called His teaching "hard."

Liam Ronan said...

Incidentally, one of my favourite verses in the New Testament gives a flavour of the pastoral approach of St. Paul towards backsliding Christians:

"You stupid (insensati) Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified?" Gal. 3:1

Of course 'insensati' can be rendered 'foolish' but my money is on 'stupid'.

dcs said...

I just wonder are we not better addressing these issues through prayer, rather than raking over the muck that some of the individuals mentioned have spread around the Church.

I think sometimes this kind of post can be a good wake up call to the Faithful that they need to devote more time to praying for Holy Mother Church.

Frank Karwatowicz said...

I am in full agreement with your view

Frank Karwatowicz said...

Well stated and adds to this interesting post

Frank Karwatowicz said...

The real root of the problem is the worship of "man Jesus" and ignoring the God Jesus

TLM said...

Yes Denis and DCS, it is indeed a good reminder to pray and offer sacrifices especially during lent for our Church, the Bride of Christ. Sometimes we may become too focused on all the shenanigans going on with the hierarchy, but our 'job' is also to speak out and proclaim truth, and we have many fronts to cover. With our families, coworkers, our Parish families, our Bishops, and online. So we pray God gives us the grace to do our job, according to His will. We are after all the 'Church Militant', are we not? We are the foot soldiers of Christ, and if we don't defend His Bride on earth who will? As I recall, many of our greatest saints went up against Bishops, Cardinals and even Popes. To defend His Bride on earth is a privilege, an honor, and our DUTY according to His will, come what may. (and as we are witnessing, opposition and persecution is part and parcel of the job- part of our 'job description')

Poverello's Apprentice said...

“In a word, we know that they shall be true disciples of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of His poverty, humility and contempt of the world, charity: teaching the narrow way of God in pure truth, according to the holy Gospel, and not according to the maxims of the world; troubling themselves about nothing; not accepting persons; sparing, fearing and listening to no mortal, however influential he may be.” - True Devotion to Mary - St. Louis De Montfort