Friday, September 20, 2013

Francis Interview

After reading the Vicar of Christ's interview, if I understand him rightly, he is not saying anything new but the interview is highly problematic.

There is a particularly Jesuit flavour to what he is saying, which boils down to bringing people to know and experience Jesus' mercy, then they will want to know the finer details of our faith. The details, the dogma serve to fine tune our knowledge of him.

At the heart of Jesuit spirituality is this encounter with the mercy of God, met in his Son on the Cross, which is life changing. Hence his motto: Miserando Atque Eligendo. There is a problem of course for those who don't believe in this mercy, for Francis God's mercy flowers in the Sacrament of Penance, that is problematic for those who have a muddled understanding of the nature of this sacrament, especially for those who would want limit it to forgiveness of major sins only or turn it into a counselling session, rather than primarily Christ's forgiveness of the tedious oft repeated lists of sins most of us come out with. There is also a problem for those who do not believe that the Gospel demands choice.

Francis' teaching can certainly be interpreted in Relativistic terms and it certainly will be but Francis is not a Relativist, he understands the principle of the hierarchy of doctrine. Not the mistaken idea that some doctrines are disposable or ignorable but that they are all subservient to the fundamental doctrine that God has Revealed His Mercy in His Son Jesus Christ. For fringe group Catholics who are obsessed with reorganisation of Church structures, superficially there might appear crumbs of comfort but actually Francis is calling us back to the centre, which is the person of Jesus Christ and to a radical following of the person of Christ. In Francis' theology a true encounter with Jesus always results in conversion.

Francis is a breath of fresh air to those on the fringes or even outside of the Church but for many inside especially  many younger priests and theologians, especially those formed under JPII and Benedict, he is disconcerting. In his attempt to get the Church to turn away from the obsession with itself that has haunted it since Vatican II -see the agendas of geriatric organisations like ACTA that stink of churchiness- his message is to focus on the Church's mission, the movement to the messiness of the poor at the peripheries. For him this is more important than even pro-life lobbying, or opposition to experiments with marriage or anything else.

The problem Francis presents us with is that he presents himself as being almost a war with the institution of which he is the visible head, there is something in scripture about the dangers of a kingdom divided. The Telegraph amused me recently with a pod-cast entitled 'Can Francis save the Catholic Church?', well, only Jesus Christ can save anything, but the Church's leaders, especially the Pope, have a duty to make themselves lovable,

There are dangers for a Peronist  in the Vatican, especially in a Church that still has not learnt the principle of subsidiarity and is still sees the Petrine office in Ultramontane terms. There are serious dangers too in a Pope who seems to have scant regard for both Tradition and tradition(s). There dangers too in much talked about concepts of Collegiality when one forgets that such a concept embraces not just the horizantal dimension of being in communion with the bishops throughout the world but also the vertical dimension of being in Commuion with ages past.

The answer: Pray for our Pope


Anonymous said...

I abandoned the SSPX under Pope Benedict XVI but now I wonder if I made the right decision - could they be right? Pope Francis I believe is causing untold damage with his off-the-cuff remarks and style and worse is sowing confusion. Does he realise or even care that his words have been, are and will be misinterpreted and used to justify every error, abuse or heresy? I feel so disconcerted. The Pope seems to imply Catholic doctrine is unimportant really. Some of us try at great sacrifice to adhere to church teaching on issues such as those highlighted. Now we look rather silly. Perhaps I should give it all up. Maybe that's what this Pope wants. Is it wrong to want a Pontificate to end before it destroys ones faith?


Father, do you ever do anything other than moan?


Father, do you ever do anything other than moan?

Dies Irae Dies Illa said...

Pray for the bishop of Rome and all bishops indeed!

I noted, following a link from the Protect the Pope website that Bishop Paul Hendricks of Southwark is a "friend" and "likes" the ACTA UK Facebook page. Very disconcerting indeed.

There appears to be a bit of a divide in the Conference of Bishops for E&W with Conry and Hendricks visibly supporting in the south and Williams refusing support in the north.

A house divided indeed!

Pelerin said...


Unknown said...

Yesterday evening I spent four or so hours drinking with friends who'd been reading up online what the Pope had said. Since I became a Catholic some years ago, my new faith has become a topic of many a conversation, especially since it is suposed to be so fundamentally at odds with my being gay. (I'm celibate by the way). Whatever Francis' intention, my friends were convinced that I was now out of step with the direction Francis is taking the Church. My friends had a Catholic that they could talk to about Francis' interview, but how many people out there do not have that opportunity. Yes...the MSM might tweek his message, but Francis seems, like you said in your article, to be Pope at war with the Church. I am an orthodox and engaged Catholic, but the pope's words give many the impression that as such I am on the outside of the developing Church. Francis is causing terrible confusion to those outside the Church and frustration and confusion to those inside the Church. Many faithful bloggers are doing fantastical contortions to frame Francis' words in an orthodox light, but lets be honest, it's those on the left that aren't really having to put much effort into understanding him. Just take a look at their blogs. I am seriously beginning to feel shakey about my faith.

Joe said...

Can one view Pope Francis' interview as an appeal to the Church to undertake a "primary proclamation" of the Gospel in the terms understood by Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi and by the Directory for Catechesis? If you read the interview in the light of the teaching on different stages in the process of evangelisation, then you are not going to understand Pope Francis' observations about abortion etc as derogation from that teaching but rather as simply placing them within the programme of introduction to the life of faith of those who previously did not believe. This, too, is the meaning of his references to pastors who "warm the hearts".

Archimandrite Gregory said...

What I see in the pope's comments is a revisiting of the Jesuit vs. so called Jansenist and Port Royalist controversy in the early 18th century. It seems to me that the issues are mercy, compassion, and forgiveness alongside the admonishment of sinners. I do believe that the Pope is really brindging an old church controversy. His style? That is open to great debate. His theology is clearly on target.

Deacon Augustine said...

Fr. Ray, have you any thoughts on the Pope's criticisms of those "restorationists" who want an "exaggerated doctrinal "security""?

Supertradmum said...

Excellent, thank you. The Pope is a good man, but not the type of scholar we have had in the last two popes. He is also a product of later seminary training and admitted in his interview, which I read carefully, that when he was there the abuses of Thomism were rife.

We now have a pope of our time, one who attended seminary when some of the problems of the Rhine flowing into the Tiber were occurring around the world. He is not a liberation theologian, but he is also not a phenomenologist, nor an Augustinian, not a Thomist. This is a transition for all of us who read and followed previous popes. He is a Jesuit and as such, has a very different approach to how to relate ideas, doctrines, dogmas.

Sadly, as you know dear Father Ray, the media is in the hands of the Evil One, and has been for a long time. So any vague or unclear or different statement is going to be spun to make the Church look weak, changing, vague.

Prayer is indeed needed. He will not destroy the Faith, as James above is concerned about, but think on this point. Pope Francis almost got elected last time when Benedict was-Francis was second in popularity. God put Benedict in the Chair of Peter and God has put Francis in the Chair of Peter. If the Church is going into, as I have believed for a very long time, a period of persecution, maybe God wants Francis at the helm not only for the purification of the Church, but for Francis' own good. We forget that the Pope is called by God for the salvation of that pope's soul, as well as for the Church.

We did not pray enough for Blessed John Paul II or Benedict. We must pray for Francis.

Gungarius said...

I think he is doing a very good job of confusing the secular media.

I think he is trying to say never mind the state of the engine, the boat is sinking, stop that first, you can worry about the engine later, let alone the deckchairs which it has to be said are all that seem to matter to some traditionalists and liberals (eg the sorts who attend a tridentine Mass and won't go to communion if it is provided from the tabernacle in case it was consecrated at a Novus Ordo Mass and the types who start kicking up a fuss as if Father having one Tridentine Mass a week is the end of civilization as we know it)

Long-Skirts said...


"Father, do you ever do anything other than moan?"

Yes, he sacrifices!


Dark cold and gray
Under a wave of cement
Wander steel rails
Puffs of smoke
Spray up
From steel-gray whales
He enters
Willingly -
The steel groans and away sails
To the
Sacrifice and steel nails.

Martina Katholik said...

@ Archer
I´m a convert, too. I feel the same.

"... but lets be honest, it's those on the left that aren't really having to put much effort into understanding him. Just take a look at their blogs."
I completely agree.

I just learned that:
"...on his lengthy interview with the Jesuit magazine America. That magazine, by the way, has for over 30 years been the intellectual flagship of the leftist dissident movement within the Catholic Church, especially on issues related to Church teachings on sexual morality."

Unknown said...


One point:

"especially in a Church that still has not learnt the principle of subsidiarity and is still sees the Petrine office in Ultramontane terms"

This reminded me of Dom Butler's book on Vatican I, from his experience of that council. He said, ‘What was Athanasiusim is now stamped as Ultramontanism. He was right. It is not a question of how we see it, the Church, post Vatican I, is Ultramontanistic- irreversibly. From canon law to Lumen Gentium the power of the pope is 'immediate, universal, and without recourse to appeal'. The very definition of Ultramontanism? Whether or not the reigning pope decides to use these powers is a question of personal style, but be in no doubt we are members of the one true Church and it is Ultramontanistic. This is a dogmatic reality.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No, I see Paul VI's imposing of a new liturgy without consultation on the Church as the supreme act Ultramonatanism. It was not what was asked for by the Council but what was given by the Pope. He treated the Church as his personal fiefdom, to abolish and introduce what he chose.

Vat I merely canonises what was the Tradition, the post Vat II aftermath took it to an extreme.

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