Monday, August 11, 2014

THIS ARTICLE SEEMS TO BE CHALLENGING THE PERCEIVED NOTIONS OF POPE FRANCIS' INDIFFERENTISM--OR AM I MISREADING IT?

Pope  Francis brings joy to progressive ecumenists in terms of His Holiness ecumenical and interfaith endeavors at dialogue and understanding. However, I would bet my blog, that His Holiness outreach to what some would call the underbelly of Protestant Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism has caused them some heartburn too.

Of course those not as progressive in ecumenism think that Pope Francis is selling the Catholic Farm to the Evangelicals for whom he seems to have great empathy. In fact, I have wondered since Pope Francis' election if His Holiness isn't a "charismatic Catholic" who experienced what Charismatics call and "baptism in the Holy Spirit" according to the ideology of Pentecostalism.

I am quite familiar with the Charismatic Movement and dabbled in it i the late 1970's and early 80's. I was pastor of a church in Augusta which has one of the world's largest Catholic Charismatic covenant communities.  The Holy Father's theology and some of His Holiness spirituality and self-confidencematches  many of the personality types in this community.

The Charismatics are very ecumenically oriented, in Augusta and elsewhere. This seems to tie in with  the Pope's ethos in ecumenism and the discomfort I and I would bet my blog more progressive ecumenists feel when the Holy Father dances with the likes of Joel Osteen and other somewhat discredited televangelists here in the USA and abroad, especially those of the prosperity Gospel which seems to contradict the Holy Father's overall ethos to a Church of the poor, unless His Holiness is being stealthy in trying to infiltrate this ideology in this form of Christianity in order to convert them by "attraction" rather than "proselytizing" to the true Church or a less corrupt form of Evangelicalism. Who knows?

But at any rate, here is the Vatican Newspaper's most recent article on "indifferentism" and to me at least a challenge to the perceived notion that Pope Francis' embraces this heresy. I copy this from Rorate Caeli and their translator:

The Only Basis of the Christian Missionary Effort and Dialogue: Jesus Christ as the One Savior of the World

by Inos Biffi
L'Osservatore Romano, August 8, 2014

That the Church not only prays for but also dedicates her total commitment to the conversion of all men to Christ is part of her essential mission.  After his Resurrection Christ entrusted to his Church a precise command:  “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

This  Christian discipleship, evangelization in every place, of “all peoples” and of all creatures, this is the mindful intention of Christ, and in fact from her very beginnings the Church has understood herself in terms of this radical missionary effort.

This permanent and universal mission to the world is part of the Church’s very nature.  If this were in any way diminished, she would no longer be the Church of Christ.  To announce the Gospel means to proclaim that only in the Gospel message and its acceptance is it possible for one to be saved.  The words of Jesus are peremptory:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16, 16).  To affirm that someone in good faith who adheres to a religion can be saved means instead to recognize that the will to universal salvation operates in the life of those who carry out the good by heeding  an upright and clear conscience.

Whatever truth or holiness there is in every religion is objectively the imprint of Christ and a desire for Him.  Therefore this shows how misleading it is to hold , in order to show respect to all religions, that one must avoid the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only Savior, and, if anything, one need only to see to it that someone remain in a full and coherent fidelity to his own “credo”.

Certainly religions are to be respected. No one can be forced to believe in the Gospel.  God Himself is the safe-keeper of interior religious freedom.  But this does not entail making all religions equivalent to the Gospel or the obfuscation of Christ as the only Savior for all time and for everyone. 

The passionate desire of the heart of Christ was that the sons of Abraham would welcome Him as the Messiah.  In fact Christianity is founded on the faith of the Jews who did believe in Christ, as his mother, Mary, Joseph, Zachery, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Simeon and Anna, the Apostles and the whole Church of God, (Galatians 1,13), from the beginning, those who saw in Jesus the fulfillment and the telos of the Law (Romans 10,4).  All too often we forget that this “Church of God” is born from the faith of Jews who believed in Christ,  and that these are not limited to Paul alone. If they had not welcomed Jesus as the Messiah, Christianity would have been extinguished at the very beginning.

And we see here  the reason for which the relationship between Christianity and Judaism is not comparable to the relationship of Christianity with other religions.  The God of the Christians is the same God of Genesis, who “in the beginning created heaven and earth”(Genesis 1,1) and who in Jesus has been revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And He is the God that the Church proclaims to all men, preaching Jesus, the only-begotten Son, the one Savior of all.  In this proclamation the Church follows the same mission of Christ and therefore the deep purpose of Revelation begun with Genesis. She has the awareness that, if she were to admit other saviors along side with Christ, she would be placing her own faith in idols; and that if she turned her back on the full revelation of God who created heaven and earth in the Trinity shown forth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, she would reject God the Creator himself.  The origin, cause and the content of the missionary purpose of the Church came about in this way.  And the Church is called to answer only to Jesus Christ, and to share with him the work of evangelization.

This does not mean that the Church rejects “dialogue” with religions.  Whatever the purpose of this dialogue is, it will never be able to destroy the belief of the Church that only in the Gospel, in the same way for all, is there salvation.; that the command received from Christ is to proclaim the Gospel as necessary and not prescindable for every man. Nor can it ever be put into doubt that the Church herself in every time and place must use all of her strength to make all men disciples of the Lord. Moreover, this is how it has always been from the very beginning of the life of the Church.

If a “weak” proclamation of the Gospel had prevailed; or if Christians had worked to help the building of pagan temples with their gods; or if they had been satisfied to seek out what united them at a minimalistic level with other religions without a clear stress on the “differentness” of being a Christian, we would not have had the witness of the martyrs. Dialogue does not entail the risk of martyrdom, which, surely, is always in its own way a tragic instance.  But together with this we would no longer have either the Faith nor the Church, if she were to water down the Faith and become a mere ghost of herself in an act that leads to death,  when the missionary effort that is at the heart of her life becomes exhausted,  when her missionary effort becomes a source of anxiety, when she loses that certainty that there is “only one God” in confronting those who say that there is space for many gods who are in the end just idols, when she falters in proclaiming that there is “only one Lord”, the Son of God, who the Church in her very being is called to preach to the whole world.


Translated by Rorate's Father Richard G. Cipolla



14 comments:

Ceile De said...

Father,
I am perplexed.
Nothing in the article quotes or is attributed to Pope Francis.
The fact that is published in L'Osservatore Romano in no say suggests His Holiness is even aware of its existence let alone has views on its contents.
What am I missing?
Thank you for cononuing to blog despite the fact that the clouds have descended again on the church to hide the sun. So many others have given up under the new hermeneutic of incoherence/confusion.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I thought it was a direct challenge to Pope Francis or an article approved by the Pope to allay the fears of those who think Pope Francis is into indifferentism.
I just thought the timing is interesting considering the pope's controversial outreach to enangelicals.

Ceile De said...

Ah I understand - thanks. Perhaps an attemlt at a reminder to His Holiness. But we do seem to have a pontificate that is no longer bound by anything other than the personal will of its occupant. Sorry - not having a good "Catholic" day (had very few since February 2013!).

Gene said...

My experience with charismatics is that most are crazy and find the emotionalism of the charismatic community to be an accepted channel for their schizophrenia.

JBS said...

Ceile De, I agree that there is a "hermeneutic of confusion" at work these days. This phrase will be a useful one.

Fr. McDonald, as for Catholic charismatics, here and especially in Latin America, I think the drastic reduction in liturgical reverence caused by the clergy forced many laymen to seek a mystical experience of God elsewhere than in the given liturgical rites.

Anonymous said...

My experience with investment bankers is that most are greedy, crooked scoundrels and find the imagined legitimacy of their position to be an accepted channel for their thievery.

Gene said...

LOL! So, Anonymous, just what experience do you have with investment bankers? Does one manage you million dollar portfolio? You hanging out in hedge funds? Hey, maybe we can find a charismatic investment banker…then he can split your portfolio…get it? LOL! But, seriously, folks...I have had a fair amount of experience with various charismatic factions both in the churches I served and without. It was a fairly strong phenomenon in protestant churches in the 70's and 80's. It most resembles the Enthusiast heresy in the early church and trends toward tongues, "seizures" in the aisles, snake bite, and charismatic preachers getting caught up in the spirit with the adolescent girls and wives of the church members…if you get my drift. It made us really suspicious when someone would say of a youth director, "oh, he is just so wonderful with the young people!"

Gene said...

BTW, Anonymous, sounds like you are actually describing venture capitalists more than investment bankers. Investment banking is pretty highly regulated with Feds lurking everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Preacher...."Here's a quarter, call someone who cares".

Gene said...

Anonymous, You must care…you are the one who brought it up. LOL!

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Why do you speak to other Christians in that way?

Anonymous said...

JBS, which is worse, dissing investment bankers or quoting an old country song?

(Lighten up guy.)

Gene, You're right. I really care deeply.

Gene said...

Anonymous, why not write a country song dissing investment bankers? LOL! Here's a start:

Poor Returns

I gave you all my money
To make me lots of dough,
But, you went out and spent it all
On some trashy barroom ho.
Now, I'm sitting' here in prison
And soon I will be dead
For puttin' all them bullets in your investment banking' head.


Anonymous said...

I think you're onto something big. Keep going...toss it to Travis Tritt.