Monday, June 30, 2014

POPE FRANCIS: MY DECISIONS ARE THE FRUIT OF THE MEETINGS BEFORE THE CONCLAVE. I HAVE DONE NOTHING ON MY OWN....

 My Comments first: To say that there are contrasts between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict would be an understatement. Except for the white papal cassock, the externals are completely different, from everyday wear to the liturgy. In the article below, highlighted in red, the Holy Father states his decisions are a result of the conclave and he has done nothing on his own. That might be an overstatement. 
I don't think it was a secret that many cardinals and bishops were displeased with the direction of the Vatican under Pope Benedict from the restoration of the baroque in the liturgy (albs, vestments, etc) to the mismanagement of the Vatican by those delegated by Pope Benedict to manage, especially the Vatican Bank, but other administrative decisions that proved detrimental to the papacy of Pope Benedict.  Some blame Cardinal Bertone for Pope Benedict's downfall.
What has Pope Francis criticized the most? First of all it has been the cardinals, bishops and priests in the curia. He has called them out for acting like princes, meaning self-serving rather than serving the Church. Keep in mind Pope Benedict gave Pope Francis the findings of a secret investigation of the problems in the Vatican that undermined the papacy and the Church. It is not a secret that corruption was rampant, first of all with the Vatican bank and financial issues in the Vatican and  with then those who served themselves in a regal way rather than the local Churches of the world in Gospel simplicity and humility.
Secondly, Pope Francis has called for Gospel simplicity in the Vatican. This has to do with how prelates dress and what cars they drive and where they live. Living as princes means a lavish lifestyle unbecoming those who are called to serve the Church with Gospel simplicity.  It means the abuse of power or the ability to control for purposes other than the promotion of the Gospel.
Thirdly the Pope has addressed issues in the liturgy in terms of some restored elements, such as lace vestment, Roman chasubles and lavish accouterments.  I think many cardinals and bishops disliked the frilliness of papal liturgies and the huge candles and crucifix that became more important than the elements placed on the altar to be consecrated--meaning the focus on the candles and crucifix (in terms of size and grandeur, rather than on the bread and wine to be consecrated and the bishop/priest who is a sacramental icon of Jesus Christ at the Liturgy. 
Fourthly, the academic approach to the Church's teachings of both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict has been balance by Pope Francis' simple, down to earth catechesis. He has criticized making the Church's teachings too academic and intellectual. Thus he is basic, relies more on devotional elements of his teachings. His catechesis is more practical and heartfelt rather than lofty and academic.
Fifthly, Pope Francis has continued the crackdown on the dying LCWR and its heresies. In fact, in this regard the Holy Father has named their problems as heresy through Cardinal Mueller.  This is quite serious. But Pope Francis has also gone after the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate and the internal divisions based upon which form of the Liturgy this order will use and when as well as issues concerning the interpretation of Vatican II. Evidently there are some who are overly sympathetic to the SSPX and their ideologies and the liturgy became a battle ground of division in this regard, but a symbol of something more remiss. The liturgy in religious orders should unite not divide as in parishes too. Apart from that we do not know if the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate held their found in such high esteem as to constitute a form of an unhealthy cult as was the case with the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Perhaps Pope Francis is grabbing the bull by the horns with the Franciscans in an overreaction to how lax Pope Saint John Paul II was with the Legionaries of Christ and their depraved, corrupt founder. At any rate, I am grateful for more discipline coming from the Vatican towards religious orders on the far right and left be they nuns or monks, sisters or priests.  
Traditionalist Catholics might be upset with what they think is a persecution of traditionalists. But keep in mind Pope Francis has excommunicated leftist individual priests since becoming pope, those who promote women priests and other perversions. He has not done so with any traditionalist priests and he hasn't reinstituted  the excommunication of the SSPX bishops. This is significant! The door is still open to the SSPX complete reintegration into the full communion of the Church and perhaps through a personal ordinariate. 
It appears all these things were mandates of the cardinals or at least some of the cardinals at the conclave. I am willing to wait and see if this will result in a "new springtime" for local dioceses, parishes and religious orders. To say that the Church has been and still is dysfunctional since the Second Vatican Council would be an understatement.  We are in epochal change in society, culture and the Church. Is Pope Francis the bridge to a more functional Church and are some of the restorative elements  of Pope Francis, both pre-Vatican II and Post-Vatican II the proper balance that the next Pope will confirm or go in his own direction? Time will tell.
Pope Francis weekend newspaper interview:
(Vatican Radio) The Rome daily “Il Messaggero” on Sunday published an interview with Pope Francis made ​​by journalist Franca Giansoldati. In his responses to questions on a wide range of issues, the Holy Father focused, among other things, on the challenges of change in the current “era” and “culture,” which has consequences for political, financial, and social life. The Church, along with various civil and social institutions,  must respond to these challenges by protecting the common good and defending human life and dignity.
“Always protecting the common good, which includes “defending human life and dignity” is “the vocation of every politician,” the Holy Father said. Today, the problem of politics – which Pope Francis called a “worldwide problem” – is that it “has been devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery.” This “moral decay, not only in politics but also in the financial or social” sector, is driven by “change of epoch” that we are experiencing today, which is also “a change of culture.” In this context, our anxieties about poverty are not concerned solely with material poverty.
“I can help someone who is hungry, so that they are no longer hungry,” the Pope said. “But if someone has lost his job,” he is involved in another kind poverty. He no longer has his dignity.” Helping families in need, then, requires a “joint effort.” Pope Francis recognized that this is an “uphill” journey, but insisted it must be undertaken, working above all for the good of children. “Starting a family is an effort,” he said, because of economic difficulties that “social policy does not help.” Commenting on the very low birth rates in Europe – which makes it seem “as if she were tired of being a mother, preferring to be grandmother,” the Holy Father noted that the causes of this phenomenon lie not only in a “cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism,” but also in the current economic crisis.
Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause.  The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and "does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry.
To the question “Where is the Church of Bergoglio headed?” Pope Francis replied, "Thanks be to God, I don’t have any church – I follow Christ. I didn’t found anything.” He went on to say “my decisions are the fruit of the meetings before the conclave. I have done nothing on my own.”The Church in Asia “is a promise,” he said, turning to his upcoming trips to Korea, in August, and to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in January. He also spoke about China, saying it represents “a great, a very great pastoral challenge.”
During the interview, Pope Francis also took up a number of other themes already addressed during his pontificate, such as the place of women in the Church. Without an understanding of femininity, the Pope said, one “cannot understand the Church herself.” Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman.” He said that in doing theology, one must take account of this “femininity,” and that the Church must continue to work on and develop a “theology of the woman.”
Pope Francis spoke also about the corruption and the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Pope speaks of incidents of child prostitution that were reported to him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, involving even elderly men. “For me,” the Pope said, “people who do this to young girls are paedophiles.”
Finally, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the everyday life and traditions of the City of which the Pope is the bishop. This role, the Holy Father said, is “the first service of Francis.” Pope Francis said Rome shares many of the problems of other cities “such as Buenos Aires.” He said a conference dedicated to the theme of “the pastoral care of the great cities” will take place in Barcelona in November. Pope Francis expressed his hope that the citizens of Rome, the inhabitants of a city “that should be a beacon in the world,” would not lose “joy, hope, confidence, despite difficulties.”

25 comments:

Gene said...

This Pope said yesterday that Communists were closet Christians…that they had "stolen the flag of Christianity." That is the last I need or want to hear from this Pope. God help us.

JBS said...

There does seem to be a certain balance in the Holy Father's approach. The personality cult that dominates so much of parochial liturgy is subdued or lacking at papal liturgies. As for the poor, they teach us how to be poor in spirit, more concerned with the welfare of others than with our own welfare. Prioritizing the poor, therefore, helps establish a certain pastoral balance in the Church.

In the parish context, this means providing liturgical celebrations in which the personality of the sacred and lay ministers are impoverished, reduced to the margins, allowing Christ to shine as a beacon of hope to those who suffer. Outside the sacred liturgy, the needs of those who suffer must become the priority around which pastoral action is built.

This all seem right to me.

Pater Ignotus said...

REUTERS: "I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel," he said, citing Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy."

TIMES OF INDIA: "In the same interview, Francis criticised global politics, which he said had been "devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery".

And he talked about the "moral decay" present in society as a whole, saying that Europe's low birth rate was both the result of the current economic crisis and a "cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism".

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause. The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and "does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry."

JOHN 6: "60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Amen! I like 666 the best!

Gene said...

It was at least more careless talk.

The Gospel is first and foremost about belief. Read it.

Everything else, helping the poor, serving fellow men, how we live our lives, how we worship, follows from belief. You cannot start with serving the poor, or any other human determination, and get to Christology. You cannot be saved simply by being nice, generous, charitable, or feeling guilty. Social work is not theology. Why is this so hard for Catholic Priests to understand?

JBS said...

666! But, what is Pater Ignotus' point? I assume it's meant to be self-evident.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Orthodoxy (right belief) and Orthopraxis (right action) are not separate matters.

Jesus pointed this out when, in Matthew 7, he warned those who, believing rightly, cried out, Lord, Lord, that they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Unless...

Unless they also, and at the same time, acted rightly. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine [believes] and puts them into practice [acts] is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The two - belief and practice - are opposite sides of the same coin. Like love and marriage, you can't have one without the other.

And in many cases there are those who, professing atheism, are among the most "Christian" in terms of their generous service to others. Even in these instances we know, because the Church teaches it, that they are acting under the influence of grace.

CCC 2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.

JBS - My point is that when people hear what they don't want to hear from Jesus and from the pope, they stick their fingers in their ears and, while running away at high speed, shout, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU...I CAN'T HEAR YOU...I CAN'T HEAR YOU..."

Joe Potillor said...

Maybe it's just me, but while the approaches of Popes JPII and Benedict XVI were academic, I did not think they couldn't be understood. (Oddly I had more issues with the circular thinking of JPII vs the more linear approach of Benedict XVI). I thought both JPII and Benedict XVI spoke rather plainly and were direct in their approaches as well...I think to throw their approaches under the bus was not a good thing.

Gene said...

Ignotus, No, they are not separate matters, but there is a theological priority and a theologic to Christology. Something you neither understand nor, likely, believe.

JBS said...

I think Joe Potillor makes a good point, as usual. First of all, there was never any question about the apostolic fidelity of St. JPII or Pope Emeritus Benedict, while many sincere people question the fidelity of Pope Francis. But I think the fidelity of Pope Francis becomes clear when his words and actions are taken in continuity with the two previous papacies, just as the constitutions of the II Vatican Council are clearly Catholic when read in continuity with the Council of Trent.

rcg said...

We can't have Pope Francis without Pope Benedict. A few posts back FrAJM remarked about forgetting the Liturgy and focusing on being good Catholics. I don't you can do that. That would be chaos and a free for all interpretation of the Bible or what ever ethical model of the day we had handy. We base what we do each day on the direct teachings of Christ that come to us through a proper Liturgy. We have to have a solid base to return to and work from. Pope Francis' endearing homiletic and interviews would be nothing but feel good talk without the foundation he himself admits. His role is to demonstrate the human face and Benedict's teachings.

George said...

Pater: Thanks for the below.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause. The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and "does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry."


The Church's approach is exemplified in the lives of many of the saints. St Vincent DePaul, St Jean Jugan,St Angela Merici, St John Bosco and so many, many others. It is gounded in spirituality,in holiness, in obeying God's laws, following the Church and her teachings, and practicing the beatitudes. Where Godless Communism as a philosophy and economic system has failed, they succeeded in what they did even if it was not on a wide scale. The Holy Father is well aware of the failure of Communism.That system's solution to poverty ended with poverty for almost everyone, except for the party apparatchiks. Communism only works as it does today because it has wedded itself to Capitalism. Liberation Theology was rightly condemned by the Church because the approach it took to address injustices was wrong. The last two sentences where Pope Francis speaks of the ‘poverty of the spirit’ are also important and that part is too often ignored by the main stream media. In this country it is 'poverty of the spirit' that is lacking in far too many.

Anon friend said...

To my thinking, Gene, Joe, JBS, and RCG all get it--they each "get" a facet of the brilliant gem of Catholic Christianity, and each can describe his particular bright view well enough for me to see God at work polishing the gem. PI, I am sure also "gets" his own facet (let us not forget that he has dedicated his life to it after all!), and although I cannot see it well through his particular expressed viewpoint, that doesn't mean it doesn't shine just as brightly in God's eternal plan.
I, on the other hand, probably only get part of a facet at best, but remain hopeful that I will be able to present myself as seeing enough of the whole polished gem to give my all for it--and in my final hour, I pray for His grace to make up for what I lack at that moment.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Right belief and right action are analogous to your heartbeat and your pulmonary action. There is no priority, one coming before the other. Their functions are different, the physiological processes that make each work are different, but one working splendidly without the other is death.

Right belief and right action are the heart and lungs of Christian life. One does not come before the other, neither has priority over the other. Without both, simultaneously, there is no Christian life.

Grace leads the atheist to feed the poor, house the homeless, visit those in prison, etc. Even if he/she does not recognize this, grace is, nonetheless, the ultimate cause of his/her good works.

JBS said...

Anon friend,

I fear you may have fallen into Relativism. The oft used "facet" analogy supposes that everyone's view of truth is accurate, even when various views contradict one other. While this approach can reduce dialogical conflict, it lacks intellectual honesty. For example, if Gene says there are three persons in one God, but I insist there are four divine persons, then at least one of must be wrong.

Let's just agree that Fr. McDonald and John Nolan are always right, and leave it at that!

Gene said...

Ignotus, you are wrong, but there is no point in arguing with someone who cannot understand simple theological concepts.

Katalina said...

The problem is the Pope is not the best of speakers or communicators when it comes to being articulate is how I see it. JPII and Benedict and even Paul VI you knew what they meant. This is how it was with WHO AM I TO JUDGE. Even the way he talks about the Bible is not always clear. Worship and works are both important I agree with that too.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Kat..I agree, Pope Francis is not clear in his speech and while he is extremely fluent in Italian, Spanish is his main language. I don't know if his ambiguity is contrived to get people talking (which could be a Jesuit trick!) or he is naive or what, but I wish he would be more careful.

Gene said...

He is deliberately ambiguous and provocative. Everything he says is a caveat.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I do think he deliberately gets the world talking and wondering and of some of those doing the talking, I think they will go deeper, to the Catechism and to the RCIA. It is a part of the new evangelization and he effectively gets the world's (non-Catholics) attention.

JBS said...

I urge those Catholics critical of the Holy Father's statements to read his published works. The Lord doesn't judge us based upon what our enemies say about us, so we shouldn't judge Pope Francis based upon what the secularized media say about him, especially their hostile paraphrases of his thoughtful words. Now is the time for us to stick together and support our sacred pastors, especially the Successor of Peter.

John Nolan said...

I daresay Bergoglio hobnobbed with his South American confreres before the conclave and they may have suggested he refuse to dress correctly for that infamous first appearance on the balcony; something along the lines of 'That'll be one in the eye for Guido Marini and those stuck-up Europeans'. Hovever, he was always something of a slob back in BA - remember the open-necked albs?

People forget that 'good Pope John' in contrast to his austere predecessor, revelled in the baroque trappings of the papacy, loved splendid liturgies and even resurrected the camauro (Benedict XVI wore this only once, and the press thought he was wearing a Santa hat - admittedly it was
rather shapeless and the fur didn't look real).

The contrived informality of millionaires like Putin, Cameron and Obama posing for official photographs in open-necked shirts doesn't impress anyone. The papacy is a regal institution, cardinals are princes of the Church and on occasion need to appear as such.

I think I have made this point before, but I will make it again. There is no via media between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The LCWR have been given a slap on the wrist which they will gaily ignore. The FFI have been given the heavy-handed treatment that Paul VI meted out to Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Mindszenty.


George said...

"I urge those Catholics critical of the Holy Father's statements to read his published works. The Lord doesn't judge us based upon what our enemies say about us, so we shouldn't judge Pope Francis based upon what the secularized media say about him, especially their hostile paraphrases of his thoughtful words. Now is the time for us to stick together and support our sacred pastors, especially the Successor of Peter."

I pray for priests, bishops and the Holy Father. What else is there that can do as much good?
These are difficult and challenging times. There is such a thing as legitimate and constructive criticism but one should be charitable in this regard and pair it with prayer.

George said...

"I urge those Catholics critical of the Holy Father's statements to read his published works. The Lord doesn't judge us based upon what our enemies say about us, so we shouldn't judge Pope Francis based upon what the secularized media say about him, especially their hostile paraphrases of his thoughtful words. Now is the time for us to stick together and support our sacred pastors, especially the Successor of Peter."

I pray for priests, bishops and the Holy Father. What else is there that can do as much good?
These are difficult and challenging times. There is such a thing as legitimate and constructive criticism but one should be charitable in this regard and pair it with prayer.

George said...

I don't know how my reply to JBS ended up posting twice. Actually I also meant to put JBS at the top of my post since that was his post and was responding to.