As a former vocation director, I am not sure what to make of the Holy Fathers comment about not recruiting a good, active layman as a deacon. What about as a priest? What does the Holy Father mean?
Pope speaks of media’s sins, warns against clericalizing laity
CWN - March 24, 2014
In extemporaneous remarks to members of Carollo, an Italian association of broadcasters, Pope Francis said that the “sins of the media” are misinformation, calumny, and defamation. The last two, he said, “are grave, but not as dangerous as the first.”
The Pope said that calumny (which involves falsehoods) “is a mortal sin” and defamation (which involves truths that unjustly damage a person’s reputation) “is a mortal sin,” but a broadcaster can later issue corrections to help repair the damage. But misinformation involves saying “half of things, those that are most convenient for me,” preventing viewers and listeners from arriving at a “complete judgment.”
Pope Francis urged broadcasters to seek truth, goodness, and beauty. In doing so, the broadcaster should avoid the trap of becoming an “intellectual without intelligence,” an “ethicist without goodness,” or one who “makes up” a beauty of “cosmetics, which try to make an artificial beauty that does not exist.”
Citing St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis said that each member of the Body of Christ has its own function, and one is not greater than the other, since all are small before God. “Who is the most important in the Church? The Pope or the old woman who prays the Rosary every day for the Church?” The Holy Spirit, who harmonizes this diversity, is the most important. In this context, the Pope asked broadcasters not to follow “the logic that the big fish swallows the small.”
In addition, the Pope spoke of clericalism as “one of the evils of the Church.” Priests are tempted to “clericalize the laity,” but “so many laity, on their knees, ask to be clericalized, because it is more convenient, it is more convenient!” The lay vocation, which derives from baptism, should not be “sold” or “negotiated.”
In Argentina, the future Pope “so many times” heard a priest praise a layman and ask, “Eminence, why do we not make him a deacon?” “The proposal of the priest at once” is “to clericalize.” The Pope added, “Is he a good layman? He should continue so.”
It is good that the pope speaks of these things. But nobody will hear them. He has allowed an entire year of questionable statements, and questionable actions to pass which have caused confusion. And he has done nothing to correct this perception. Just saying "I'm a loyal son of the church" doesn't mean much when he praises a cardinal who basically wants to ignore Christ's teaching on marriage.
The media has painted a picture of a pope who doesn't really believe in Catholic teaching. The pope must be aware of this. If he isn't then that is a whole other issue. But Francis has done nothing to counter this. His statements and actions have done incredible damage to the papacy, the church and the Faith of millions. It almost seems like he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to make one little statement that upholds the teaching of the Church, and that is a legitimate concern. He refuses to accept the office of the papacy as it has always been received and lived by all the popes before him. Frankly it's strange and somewhat arrogant. He does not appear to be the rock, he seems to concerned with not offending the world. He doesn't care what faithful Catholics think but he certainly cars what liberals, non believers, Muslims and Jews and Protestants think of him. And that is wrong. And it really does make me think does he REALLY believe what the Church teaches.
Makes perfect sense to me: being clergy is not a reward nor a promotion. Be what you are, where you are to fulfill God's plan. A good hammer does not make a good screwdriver.
Is it ironic that it "warms my heart" to hear the Pope preaching about this kinda stuff?
Makes perfect sense to me. Surely the vocation of a layman is of dignity equal to (if different in nature from) that of a deacon, and certainly no less important in the Church. As a layman, I can't deny an instinctive tendency to esteem exemplary laymen more than deacons. And I personally would not regard the diaconate as a promotion in my own status. (Of course, if I had a clerical vocation, I surely would, and should, feel differently.)
More (and entirely) seriously, with all the (quite biblical) blather in recent times about a "royal priesthood" of all baptized, the lay status is seriously undervalued in today's Church by an attitude that it is enhanced by the concession of clerical functions to lay men and women.
Pope Francis is spot on.
He knows that cerlicalizing the laity is a surefire way of diminishing any spiritual and theological sense of the Mystical Body of Christ.
He is also spot on about women's vocation as wives and mothers who receive the Faith, and are entrusted with taking the Church into the world. Women working doesn't devalue motherhood and families if their entire lives are properly integrated through, with, and in Christ. The Sacraments are essential amid compartmentalization and false dichotomies. There's a difference between having a career and putting it above all else-- which applies to men as husbands and fathers also.
Ephesians 5 lived out in the world, not just in the home, enables marriages to witness to Christ, which is what the Sacrament is supposed to do. Both John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI said this sort of thing. Ratzinger wrote about how virginity and celibacy are crucial to respecting women and not reducing them to biology (man is matter and spirit, not either/or). There are linkages we can make between the essential difference and complementarity between men and women and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Lest we forget: so many people thought B16 approved condom use when Light of the World came out. The media managed this sort of rubbish, regardless of Benedict's precision. And it will happen to every Pope. It happens to Christ (hence heresy and "bad religion," H/T Ross Douthat). Also, how many Catholics who claim to love or hate Joseph Ratzinger have barely read him? How's that for a lack of precision?
Whenever what Pope Francis says upsets us, it's a teachable moment. It also cuts both ways. Clericalism applies to progressives also, on any number of things, including but not exclusive to "women's ordination." Also, having the fullness of the Truth isn't about how "everybody else is just totally wrong," but how Catholicism can see what's good in other faiths and traditions while still being that "Yes, but..." challenge and invitation to go broader and deeper.
Orthodoxy enables: martyrdom involves knowing what we're living for before we can die for it. Orthodoxy is not primarily about ticking all the "right" Catholic boxes. I've heard "it's a sin!" and "you won't be able to receive the Sacraments!" from Catholics who can barely explain what sin and the Sacraments are in relation to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who were unconvincing as to why I should want to avoid the former and receive the latter. I have arguably experienced both "pray, pay, and obey" and "kumbayaa" simultaneously. Both in combination are potentially deadly.
A lot of the cognitive disconnect lies in everyone knowing that Catholic identity has been weakened. Francis knows that we acquire that identity in good part by doing the hard work of evangelization, but never presuming we can evangelize with nothing: we can't share a faith that we don't know, and what are we doing with what Benedict gave us? Integrated knowledge comes through sharing it with everything we've got. I suspect that when we worry too much about what Francis is or isn't doing or saying regarding Catholic identity, we place all of the burden on him.
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