What does "self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism" mean?
It is phrase Pope Francis has used elsewhere but it appears again in Evangelii Gaudium
94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.Notice first he uses the them as the other extreme to gnosticism, those "whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings." I presume here he is speaking about 'cafeteria' or 'pic n mix' or 'feel good' Catholicism, a Catholicism without traction, that simply gives comfort or backs up one's own worldly ideas.
On the other extreme then is the "self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism".
'Self-absorbtion' is obviously contrary to the Gospel, it is as remote from the teaching of Jesus as masturbation is from the loving, life-giving, self giving encounter between husband and wife, it is a denial of the Great Commandment to love God and our neighbour.
'Promethean' is slightly more difficult. Prometheus was a Greek demigod who created man from clay and gifted him with fire, for which he was punished by Zeus who chained Prometheus to a rock where a vulture came and daily fed on his liver.
The term "Prometheism" was suggested by the Greek myth of Prometheus, whose gift of fire to mankind, in defiance of Zeus, came to symbolize enlightenment and resistance to despotic authority, it was the name of an early 20th century slightly anarchic Polish political movement but it drew its inspiration from the enlightenment which is perhaps significant here. Perhaps what the Pope is suggesting is something individualistic, something which is actually contrary to Catholic Tradition. It is the self-righteous or as the Pope would say, 'self-referential', pretentious Phariseeism that quotes documents and texts to condemn others but actually refuses to be converted by them.
"Neopelagianism" is an easier term, it excludes the necessity of Grace for salvation, again it is individualistic, again it excludes a dependence on God, which is at the heart of Francis' preaching on 'mercy'.
He links the whole phrase to those who, 'observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past'. He has used 'neopelagian' previously to describe certain traditional Catholics, well actually the SSPX. I think what he is saying, which the whole of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be saying is that we have be absorbed into the wondrous life-changing joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than being curators of a museum or experimenters in a laboratory.
The whole of the document seems to be a call to the centre, not as we would like it to be but as it actually is. Whenever I read Francis I feel like a schoolboy in privileged Jesuit school being given a pep talk by the headmaster, in which I am being told of the importance of everyone pulling together not so much for the good of the school but ultimately for the greater glory of God, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.
There is always the sense that we are not doing well enough. A friend of mine reminded me that at the heart of Jesuit spirituality was the twice daily examen of conscience, on how prayer and everything else affects our living the Gospel.
Aside from everything else that jolts one in the wrong way in the man's writings is the fact that apparently the Pope of Rome has now adopted the tiresome feminism which demands "he/she", "his/her", etc., etc., ad nauseam be found in every utterance describing a person.
How unutterably tiresome.
If you want an example of neo-pelagianism, just scroll down the text to paragraph 254:
"Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”, and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”."
Apparently faith is no longer necessary for justification - following your conscience will do instead. Which rather begs the question "Why bother evangelising at all if the simplest way to salvation is to encourage people to follow their conscience?"
I must admit I feel like saying "you're not an intellectual - get over it!" when he comes out with phrases like this. They don't enhance his message.
'Promethean' usually indicates defiance towards the gods (as in stealing fire from Olympus), so I suppose in this context it means an attitude of trying to wrest from God that which pertains to God, i.e. the gift of saving grace. 'Neo-Pelagianism' is more straightforward: Pelagius promoted the idea that salvation was possible by merely human effort and thus denied the role of grace. Pelagius was British; it has been said that the default religion of most Englishmen is Pelagianism. It seems an unusual way of describing an unbending traditionalism, though it could be taken to mean a religion of works as opposed to a neo-gnostic religion of mystical experiences and 'feelings', these being two heretical extremes while divine truth lies elsewhere.
"self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism"
I wish he would stop talking in riddles and just say plainly what he means.
I have seen the suggestion elsewhere that this document is a compilation of what has already been said.
Certainly, my impression is that much of the content is from the “all things to all men” early period, so we can all take out of it what we want?
Fr., This is brilliant. I think this heresy is one of the most common in Great Britain. Universal Salvation seems to be the biggest one in America.
Great post and spot on...
I am also waiting for the Latin original...translations of this Pope have been woeful.
As well as the SSPX I think he is taking a swipe at traddie blogs and their contributors! None of us are good enough for the contemporary Church, no wonder so many have left.
We have a sacred duty to be honest, to tell the truth, appropriately.
"Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”, and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”
Heresy - period! I’m surprised you never commented on this point, Father? Personally, I declare ‘Triumphantly’, although due solely to God’s saving grace, that I ‘observe certain rules’ and, especially, ‘remain intransigently faithful to the past’, all the way back to Jesus Christ and the founding of his Church.
I attended a lecture a few days ago, given by someone that knows papa Francis personally. At one point he explained that the loss of over 40,000,000 Catholics to various sects in South America over the last 40 years was due solely to conservative forces within the Church restricting the Social Justice Movement, and apparently our pope sees it this way too! This fits perfectly with the pope’s comment, “The Church has never been in better shape.”
Conscience can only have authority if based on objective moral truth. Surely a person who rejects Christianity is more likely than not to have a seriously-mistaken conscience itself. In fact, many people don't accept any objectivity in their mistaken concept of conscience, and will take the Pope's words as meaning that their amoral subjective preferences by which they choose to live give them as much a chance at the the Carholic "salvation" as if they repented and converted to the one, true, holy and apostolic Faith.
at least the text is not,"absolutely, unequivocally incomprehensible."
Total presence breaks on the univocal predication of the exterior absolute the absolute existent (of that of which it is not possible to univocally predicate an outside, while the equivocal predication of the outside of the absolute exterior is possible of that of which the reality so predicated is not the reality, viz., of the dark/of the self, the identity of which is not outside the absolute identity of the outside, which is to say that the equivocal predication of identity is possible of the self-identity which is not identity, while identity is univocally predicated of the limit to the darkness, of the limit of the reality of the self). This is the real exteriority of the absolute outside: the reality of the absolutely unconditioned absolute outside univocally predicated of the dark: the light univocally predicated of the darkness: the shining of the light univocally predicated of the limit of the darkness: actuality univocally predicated of the other of self-identity: existence univocally predicated of the absolutely unconditioned other of the self. The precision of the shining of the light breaking the dark is the other-identity of the light. The precision of the absolutely minimum transcendence of the dark is the light itself/the absolutely unconditioned exteriority of existence for the first time/the absolutely facial identity of existence/the proportion of the new creation sans depth/the light itself ex nihilo: the dark itself univocally identified, i.e., not self-identity identity itself equivocally, not the dark itself equivocally, in “self-alienation,” not “self-identity, itself in self-alienation” “released” in and by “otherness,” and “actual other,” “itself,” not the abysmal inversion of the light, the reality of the darkness equivocally, absolute identity equivocally predicated of the self/selfhood equivocally predicated of the dark (the reality of this darkness the other-self-covering of identity which is the identification person-self). D.G. Leahy Foundation: Matter the Body Itself.
is the above of the gnostic or the '...self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism...narcissistic and authoritarian elitism [bearing an] anthropocentric immanentism [in] adulterated forms of Christianity...'
perhaps it could belong to both.
The Holy Father seems to think there is only one way of evangelism, the "go out to the peripheries" kind. But there are other ways, including the evangelism of trust and friendship, but I would like to focus on yet another way, as practiced by Eastern Christians, build the church or monastery, celebrate the Divine Liturgy well, and let the others come to you for spiritual assistance. IN fact, in the Eastern Christian world, the monastery is the center of the paradigm of holiness, and it is up to us faithful to make pilgrimage there to receive spiritual direction and consolation.
Then there is the example of the Russian Orthodox Saint Herman of Alaska, a monastic who went to one of the Alaskan islands, prayed and waited for the natives to come to him, which they did, and were converted. A much revered saint in Orthodoxy today, especially here in the US.
And note that this system has survived the severest persecutions under both Moslems and Communists. Will the HF's "meet them halfway" approach do as well? I have my very serious doubts. Likely it will end up being compromise and erosion. Doesn't his own order's history show that?
Sounds like a phrase dreamt up by the wordsmiths of Pseuds' Corner, but then I am not a theologian.
Perhaps every theology book should have a warning printed on the front
"This product can damage your faith"
Fr Ray - I think your analysis is very helpful and very clear - particularly your inciteful comment about being called to the centre. It is a very generous interpretation and in the Spirit that the Pope is promoting.
However unfortunately reading the comments of your followers many of them seem to be revealing them as 'SAPP's.... because what they are doing is classifying and criticisning exactly as Pope Francis predicts.
What I find odd is that this is a document about evangelisation, saying that we all have a duty to get involved in this, and yet it is written in a way that even theologically-trained people are struggling to understand.
It is similar to the recent survey - supposedly "democratising" the Church but written so that we don't even understand the questions never mind know the answers.
Many thanks Father for explaining this. It had me floored! I have now read another 70 paras up to about 140. As I said I found the first part - encouraging us to evangelise very good. However the next bit I found a bit confusing and slightly depressing and not sure where I fitted into all this. What for example is the "bitter poison of immanence"? Looking up "immanence" it seems to have some positive meanings?
One thing that did strike me was at para 122: " Once looked down upon, popular piety came to be appreciated once more in the decades following the Council.".
My experience is the exact reverse. The spirit of VII seems to despise and sneer at popular piety and we have seen the rosary, processions, benediction etc looked down upon if not abolished. When mentioning Fatima I have heard priests say that they are not into that kind of thing (one poor such priest is lumbered with a Church dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima which I guess must be a bit of a problem for him). At West Grinstead I was told that a previous incumbent had removed the statues and buried them!
I think Pope Francis is giving us a very different South American view. Indeed from my small experience of Buenos Aires I got the feeling of a very moribund Church deeply divided. The success of Protestant Sects has been their ability to offer a very inclusive and welcoming experience for small groups of people - something which a monolithic establishment Church has found difficult to emulate.
The comments of Frank Sheed on another time and another pope are still relevant.
"We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church, although I might well wish that they would leave
Frank Sheed at another time snd on another pope:
"We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church, although I might well wish that they would leave"
I have often wondered how many potential saints walked away from the Church when they first heard that Peter had a violent streak, was boastful, used bad language when in a tight corner, and lacked the moral fibre to stand his ground on at least two occasions, one of them after Pentecost. It's all in the documents you know, though I don't want to gossip, or disparage anyone,
Tim SJ is exactly right! The nasty sniping comments here, about a pope who is trying to reach out, are totally unfair to a priest host who is trying to be fair, and humbly showing us all how to take the best out of what is presented to us.
"IN fact, in the Eastern Christian world, the monastery is the center of the paradigm of holiness, and it is up to us faithful to make pilgrimage there to receive spiritual direction and consolation. "
A recent request by a young person I know to visit a monastery on the northern coast of this island (whose charism is hospitality) around Christmas received the curt response "we're not open" nothing more!
Let's face it, the people 'on the periphery' are not going to have the least clue as to what the Pope is saying in this exhortation and most Catholics will only be slightly more enlightened (including me). We need CLARITY above all in these times but we are not getting it.
If 'evangelii' reflects the smell of the sheep, it seems they are probably masonic meccabalists, with a philanthropic application towards the peripheral, and a polyhedronal polysemic equanimity of faith approach with a cultural, but humble, bias towards a new vision of a post-catholic poly-christian democracy utopically cohabiting, defacto and liberated from spherical authoritarianism, with the multiplicity of the Creator's woman-born in a polycreedal hermeneutic of the Noahide or post-Noahidal, or pre-Noahidal, as preferred, convenant with that which is to come.
or not. The document is no longer available on the Vatican website - you have to download the PDF and you cannot save it unless you change the file name. According to wiki 'Evangelii Gaudium is not written in an academic style but "in language that is both easily understood and captivating." Why do I get the impression people keep looking at the ground and saying, 'the sky', 'the sky'?
p.s. reading 'Evangelii Gaudium', is like reading the writings of a guru, a sort of christian guru. Nothing should be imposed except those teachings which the author imposes upon his reader. Scripture, the purpose and meaning of which, is directed towards God Almighty, is suddenly co-opted and pointed towards the human being; it is a long long letter on how the author thinks God thinks we should be nowadays, which is to say, not the same as yesterday. It's like they've taken the sometimes translation of 'I Am that I Am', as 'I will be what I will be', which is Rabbi Sacks famous 'future tense' play on words when speaking of Judaism; only EG is the future untense - we must always 'appear' to be what EG prescribes - appearance is very important in this text - an appearance that will appeal to the world, that is; one must always appear joyful, peaceful, tolerant; evangilisation 'should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom.' The author is the teacher of proper reading, of the Church, the bible, the world, other religions, of people building, and all humbly.
p.s.s the 'masonic meccabalist' from my previous post is a reference to the higher degrees in the lodge where one turns away (in a supposed act of religious indifference or inclusivity) from the Church and turns towards the Mosque.
just want to say, very funny viterbo.
I was on a blog just the other day where some guy was talking in circles with this high sounding language about some issue. one reader commented, who do you think you are reaching with this stuff? Isn't Pope Francis always talking about the Church not turning in on itself? Yet it sounds like he's only talking to theologians etc. not regular people. Every time you turn around someone is saying 'What I think POpe Francis is trying to say here is...' It has gotten so old!
Unfortunately there's little point in waiting for the Latin version, as this will only be a translation of the original Spanish. The he/she, his/her constructions so rightly deplored by AP are down to the person who made the English translation; in the Romance languages all nouns are either masculine or feminine; possessive personal pronouns take the gender of the noun they qualify, and not that of the person; and the predominance of the masculine is a grammatical rule.
When referring to the mythical demi-god, 'Promethean' is capitalized. With a lower-case 'p' it can mean a) of great size or strength, b) daringly original, c) rebelling against tradition, or d) persecuted yet dauntless.
I am jut not impressed. It sounds like exactly what I've been hearing my whole life. And it has always failed to inspire.
To me, it makes no sense to preach with words about "not preaching with words, but actions." The irony is incredible. St. Francis attracted people not because he went out to the peripheries, or because he had a proper attitude towards Catholics in difficult pastoral conundrums. He was popular because his life was so completely inexplicable without God, and yet so joyful, that it made others want to believe in God. He was completely obsessed with liturgy and the hierarchy and all the trappings of the Church, he was obsessed with the sacraments, especially the Eucharist-- but he was also obsessed with taking Christ's teaching literally. He never felt the need or desire to pit one against the other. In short, he had faith, hope, and love because he fully believed what Jesus did was true.
Other Saints have exhibited various degrees of peace, joy, or courage that were inexplicable without a real belief in God's actual existence and love for us. That was incredibly attractive, their social policies, if any, were completely secondary.
Here, in the midst of teaching about how the traditionalists, pro-lifers and others are "majoring on the minors," we are told that we should really be talking about those things that are more central to the Gospel. But instead of going back to the narrative of Jesus life in history and redemtion (they are mentioned tangentially in passing), the emphasis is instead on mercy in pastoral and social policy.
To me, quite apart from any theological criticism, the giant problem with all of this post-Concilliar teaching is it seems to try to preach a faith that makes sense without God. It's a giant "here's how to make the world better" movement, with God looming in the background to approve of those who are embracing the best policies.
Thus during the papacies of P6, JP2 and B16 there was no 'sniping' from "SJ" priests?
I get the impression that the HF is deliberately leaving his criticisms very broad, that we might see our own condemnation in them and repent accordingly.
what Cosmos said - agree completely. As a convert to the Faith, it was the 'Old Church' that drew me - I have to believe that was to work of the Holy Spirit - I read the classics and never doubted everything the 'Old Church' had believed and taught and known (know the Truth and it shall set you free - there's no freedom without Truth) for centuries. I learnt later that 'Old Church' has been pushed to the peripheries. It really sounds like the HF believes the Joachim of Flora stuff, that is:
"The Age of the Father, corresponding to the Old Testament, characterized by obedience of mankind to the Rules of God;
The Age of the Son, between the advent of Christ and 1260, represented by the New Testament, when Man became the son of God;
The Age of the Holy Spirit, impending (in 1260), when mankind was to come in direct contact with God, reaching the total freedom preached by the Christian message. The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it. In this new Age the ecclesiastical organization would be replaced and the Order of the Just would rule the Church. This Order of the Just was later identified with the Franciscan order by his follower Gerardo of Borgo San Donnino. According to Joachim, only in this third Age will it be possible to really understand the words of God in its deepest meanings, and not merely literally. He concluded that this age would begin in 1260 based on the Book of Revelation (verses 11:3 and 12:6, which mention "one thousand two hundred and sixty days"). In this year, instead of the parousia (second Advent of Christ), a new Epoch of peace and concord would begin, thus making the hierarchy of the Church unnecessary.Joachim distinguished between the "reign of justice" or of "law", in an imperfect society, and the "reign of freedom" in a perfect society."
I don't believe (and I'm following my conscience here) it is sniping or worthy of condemnation (who is anyone to judge?) to resist the fever of this jeremiah was a bulgfrog giving joy to the world new age sand surfing.
'inthestrangecouncil' - have you attended NO lately? Have you seen what has been completely forgotten? Quite apart Latin, prayer, and the Real Presence. How, if the Holy Spirit is calling any boys or men in the pews to a Vocation, that wouldn't be able to hear is over the guitars and bass, or see for the all the girls and mums etc in the sanctuary.
I was drawn by the old church too as a convert. I wanted to run away when I attended my first no mass.
I think you're trying far too hard to find an intelligent explanation for this verbiage. Francis is a typical leftist poseur, trying to sound smart. He's used the term "promethean" before (like a bad magician, he insists upon repeating his tricks so that soon everyone sees right through him). In the 'America' interview he said "I like listening to Beethoven, but in a Promethean way, and the most Promethean interpreter for me is Furtwängler." What he means is just that Beethoven is loud and can sometimes give him a flutter in the tummy. The Fifth Symphony: Duh-duh-duh-DUHHHHH! You know, like that. So he figures that that's what traditionalist Catholics are getting when they listen to Gabrieli or Palestrina - just some self-indulgent aesthetic pleasure, and snobbish to boot.
One Christmas long ago in the mid-1980s my son, who was mad for all things Star Trek, asked if he might have a certain Star Trek poster as a Christmas present.
The poster was covered with nothing but pinpricks of light (stars in a black space background) which promised the purchaser that if you stared hard enough you would see a 3D image of a Klingon Bird of Prey Warship.
When the poster was hung in my son's bedroom I would stare and stare at the thing but to save my life I saw nothing but white dots on a black background.
My son professed to see the Warship and even traced the supposed outline of it with his finger for me so I might appreciate this marvel but I saw nothing.
When I read of "self-absorbed Promethean Neo-pelagianism" I thought of that supposed 3D Klingon ship that wasn't there.
Rebbeca said: I was drawn by the old church too as a convert. I wanted to run away when I attended my first no mass.
God bless you for adhering to your fight rather than flight instincts (some Masses make the flight almost impossible to fight). For people burdened with the worst of the worst of the NO's may Our Lady give you the faith to see and hear through all the static to the 'periphery', that is the, now not so obvious, clear, on the station, centre, where the Truth is! And, may the faithful, from the Pope to the last one in the pews tire completely with the messes of the new mass and permit the return of Tradition, out in the cold, but knocking gently on the door, 'I've been a waif for fifty years, let Me in.'
I'm glad you defined this, "Self-absorbed Promethean Neo-Pelagianism".
It allows me to name my experience at 'Faith' meetings at Spanish Place in the late 1980s at last.
Paradoxically, they seemed to be completely unable to see that their approach differed from Modernism only by content, not what they shared in common: their "self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian", mindset.
The evidence? The majority of the replies to this blog post!
is this a self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagian mass?
I've also seen a photo of a paddling pool set up in front of the altar. I've also seen a photo of the Pope putting a beach ball on the altar. What could all this evidence mean? A Jesuit conspiracy to liberate the altar from the impoverished and oppressive confines of a land-locked Church and send it on a cruise, maybe around the Sth American coast, perhaps the final destination could be the Bermuda triangle.
It was tough to stay. Liturgical dancing. Not a Latin Mass within four hours drive of me. At least my parish doesn't have liturgical dancing anymore...not for the past five years or so and I hope it never comes back!
There is a passage in Peckler's 'The Unread Vision: The Liturgical Movement in the United States of America, 1926-55' (p.99) which might explain the Pelagian conumdrum.
"The lack of a liturgically based spirituality for CA [Catholic Action], which would suggest that the Church is sanctified through its personal piety, led potentially to a Pelagian view that Christians through personal piety and good works sanctified the Church and built the reign of God."
thestrangecouncil - right on the button!
Maybe some 'humble' commenters here might find something useful from Susan:
He or she is a construction added by the translator. It is not in the original Spanish. Can we stop harping about stylistic word choices in works in translation?
Same with the phrasings such as promethean neopelagianism -- maybe it sounds more natural in spanish -- has been a while since I've done much scholarship in spanish, but they tend more towards mythological allusions. Promethean in this context means trying to make things more Godly, more mystical, more otherworldly through our own efforts.
New Pope is giving me more headaches than JPII ever did in his 20 + years of his reign. Lord have mercy.
His experience in his local church does not necessarily hold for the Church Universal.
From the inside looking out, it's our view of justice that we give to God rightly what is due unto Him (proper worship)...
The Truth itself is attractive...we don't need to dress it up and make it fancy.
(Phew! On a personal note that was almost like trying to read Nathaniel Hawthorne(in a difficult and wordsmith sort of way for me- NOT as far as content and interest level is concerned... Your words were quite full and spoke volumes... unlike my experience of Hathowrne!)
A fine young Hispanic family man collared me. "What do you think of that Pope 'So-&-So'? He's no good." I finally got so sick of the snide comments and leers of "The Real Catholics", that I made a landscape oriented letter size, laminated poster, with flexible magnetic adhesive backing to mount on my car: 5 of 6 panels (3x2), photos of the immediate aftermath of the Papal assassination attempt. In the remaining one, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood". Hebrews 12:4
Mathew 5:37. Thank you very much.
I truly wish I could connect with HHPF but so far all I read
It is certain he does not care for tradition or traditionalists.
For a man of his age and his position he speaks carelessly and too often. Nevertheless, as was printed on the Franciscan's booth at the Boston Gay Pride Parade,
"Who Am I To Judge." Tremendously sad.
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