Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Many have commented that Pope Francis' use of Pelagian and Gnosticism doesn't really seem to fit the actual definition of either. I have thought the same thing and now it is confirmed by an expert:

 Something to consider from Chiesa and the theologian Pietro de Marco:

But I also had to emphasize the ambiguities of the passage in his talk about the “temptations” of the Church - or Pelagianism (the ancient heresy according to which it is possible to pass through the stages of salvation by suitable human effort alone, independent of divine grace) and Gnosticism - with which pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio has hardened his intra-ecclesiastical “quarrel.”

The anti-Pelagian polemic against trust in structures - which ones, precisely? - and excessive organization was already present in the post-war and pre-conciliar season of the Catholic Church. We know what kind of target undue trust in rules is for Francis; but when he affirms that it is “rules that give the Pelagian the security of feeling superior, of having a precise orientation,” and that this type of deviation assumes “a style of control, of toughness, of formalism,” as in fundamentalism and conservatism, we see better at whom his words are aimed but we no longer see true Pelagianism, but rather a few traces of one of its enemies, Jansenism.

Pelagius has nothing to do with the grand Church of Pius XII nor with that modicum of organization, institution, and form that remains alive today. The Church should be concerned about the more plausible theological and pastoral Pelagianism of those who ignore and essentially eliminate sin and grace. But if, for the current pope, the Pelagian is the one who does the contrary, we are losing the discernment of that which is truly grave.

Also troubling is Pope Francis’s reference to Gnosticism, a temptation, he has told us, “that leads to trusting in clear, logical reasoning.” Here too in order to single out for the people’s execration that part of the Church which is seen as culpably cultivating intellect and doctrine, a bit like Saint Thomas Aquinas and countless others, remaining in the end “closed off in immanence.”

The ancient and modern Gnostic spiritualities are, obviously, nothing like this. A more recent and brilliant extension of the notion - as Eric Voegelin has pointed out - concerns the revolutionary activity that, in the name of a Cause, with a simplifying doctrine and rhetoric on its lips, pursues a Reality beyond the true reality. Something of the kind, but post-ideological, Pope Francis could find these days, where he least expects it.

I have already written about how disorienting this arbitrary use of theologically delicate words is. A mistaken use of them, with no criterion but that of delineating targets to be extended at will, does not correspond to the right exercise of justice in the Church. Moreover, it generates doubts if this style is considered acceptable in the person of a pope. Appealing to the consensus of the people, in a cathedral, in order to bash the bishops - because this is how ordinary people have understood it - would be in itself, for the political scientist, a “demagogic” effort at legitimization.


gob said...

Have you tried "Pasta Pelagian" with meat sauce?

Victoer W said...

This is not good. Throwing labels around at people either out of ignorance at the meaning of those labels or deliberately to be inflammatory shows a serious problem with this papacy. And if the latter, it is even sleazy. I suspect the Cardinals at the conclave were too hasty and did not allow the Holy Spirit time to inform them properly; or, judging from some of the utterances of the Cardinals at the last synod on the family, the majority of the conclave just ignored the Holy Spirit altogether.

John Nolan said...

Not simply Pelagians but self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagians. I'd like to know how that reads in Latin, but after more than two years the only part of Evangelii Gaudium to appear in that language is its title.

gob said...

Yeah....Now you're talking John....Pasta Promethean....with shrimp....

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am wrong. But it seems to me that Pope Francis is making it his mission to demoralize those few faithful Catholics who really REALLY believe in the Catholic faith. I don't mean to denigrate the majority of other Catholics but let's face it most Catholics don't know the faith anymore. But my question is why? Why is the pope continually causing chaos and confusion. We just had a petition of almost 1 million Catholics sent to the pope begging him to uphold the teachings of the Church. That alone is cause for concern. And what was his response? Silence. Complete utter silence. Then he gives that incredibly uncharitable "seat of Moses" speech. I don't get it.

Marc said...

Anonymous, your comment assumes that the pope does not perceive his words and actions as "upholding the teachings of the Church." While it is certainly possible that he is intentionally trying to demoralize certain Catholics, it is also possible that he thinks that he is doing a splendid job of spreading the mission of the Church.

Jusadbellum said...

If anyone fits the bill of modern day Pharisees, Pelagians AND Gnostics, it would be the Left-wing, "progressive" modernists of the Church.


Because they don't believe in grace. They believe the world's salvation, peaceful co-existence, cooling the entire planet's climate (!) is well within the grasp of pure human effort alone. That "we are the ones we're waiting for".

And like Gnostics, they believe an elite few among the bureaucracy have the secret to everything. That it's OK for the hoi poloi to hold onto myths about Jesus' divinity, the Virgin birth, grace...while the elect really know that human reality is purely materialistic and all our problems are to be solved by ever higher organization and command and control of the race by the "right" sorts of people (themselves).

So obviously they would disdain capitalism and subsidiarity and solidarity inasmuch as it involved VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS and be more and more fired up with the idea of massive surveillance/police bureaucratic states who can compel people to act the 'right' way....

Gnostics believed that God was not personal but rather a force to manipulate. They thought that this "force" like God did not intervene in reality via miracles and the angels and saints but could be manipulated by their arcane knowledge rather than by simply asking God (or angels or saints) for help.

If we go by the definitions of things, conservatives are the good guys and liberals are the bad guys in almost every age but most certainly our own.

When Jesus comes, he won't be calling liberal progressives "sheep" because they are the least like "little children", the least likely to be "peace makers", the least likely to cast their cares on Jesus and shoulder his Yoke or pick up His cross.

Instead what animates them emotionally? Isn't it big, sweeping, Government led initiatives requiring more money and power to be amassed and controlled by the "right" sort of people? Didn't they have emotionally euphoric "elevated" states when the Great Leader Obama was elected - believing that all their problems of poverty, pollution, and patriarchy would finally get "solved" via a top-down power play?

If that's not neo-promeathian Pelagianism based on a Gnostic (i.e. Masonic) world view, then what would it be?