Saturday, May 3, 2014
AS THE 1968 CROWD REASSERTS ITSELF IN ITS DYING DAYS, WHAT IS THE TRUE AGENDA FOR REFORM THAT POPE FRANCIS HAS IN MIND?
I read yet another article about what the Church needs to do to get with the program and reinvigorate the Church and stop the bleeding of Catholics who are leaving the Church to become God knows what, many of them becoming "nones."
The tired hippie generation with its tired old ideas continues to seek a Utopian church with so many of their ideas responsible for the sad state of the Church today. They seek bishops who are like them, flaky.
They want bishops and cardinals and priests to retire at age 70 (although I happen to think that is a good idea now that I'm 60). They want married clergy and of course they want the church of the now which is the Church of 1968. They think Pope Francis is with them on this.
But what has Pope Francis officially said in his documents and homilies and in his style of celebrating the Mass? We know the hearsay of what he says to people he calls on the phone which is neither confirmed or denied by the pope or his spokesmen. We know, if we are not coloring book catholics, that there are different levels of papal teachings and popes are allowed to have their own opinions about this, that or the other. But official teachings, such as homilies, speeches to bishops' conferences, letters, exhortations and encyclicals have a higher magisterial quality with encyclicals the highest along with papal bulls.
So, in Pope Francis' homilies and other writings and exhortations what has he been consistently teaching?
1. Fidelity to the Magisterium and the Deposit of Faith; three terms (fidelity, magisterium and Deposit of Faith) despised by post-Catholics and those who taught me in the seminary in the 1970's and many academic theologians today. If these terms are denigrated and lost, then all things heterodox are possible.
2. The renewal of the sense of sin and the need for Divine Mercy especially through the Sacrament of Penance. Pope Francis has consistently and from day one taught about sin and in traditional categories of Original and Actual with the two actual sins discussed, venial and mortal. But he has added another category, that of corrupt, what we could actually call the "lost sinner destined for hell."
This is quite important to Catholic theology and dogma as without the correct magisterial teaching on sin, soterology falls apart, meaning the need for salvation and redemption based on the forgiveness of sins and the liberation from the fires of hell.
3. The emphasis on evil and demonic. No pope in recent history has spoken as loudly, frequently and clearly about the reality of Satan and his influence on society and individual and that he rules the "world" as St. John would use the term "world."
4. While the pope has called for the expansion of roles for women in the institutional aspects of the Church, he has ruled out definitively ordination to Holy Orders.
5. He has held up Pope Paul VI's act of heroism in publishing Humanae Vitae and not allowing the lobbying of progressives in and outside of the Church to manipulate him when it comes to proclaiming the truth. Pope Francis has stated explicitly that Pope Paul went against the tide of popular vote in reasserting the Church's truth about marriage and sexuality and the family.
6. On sexuality, marriage and family, Pope Francis has held up as recently as last Sunday Saint John Paul II's corpus of teachings on the family as the inspiration for the upcoming synod on the family.
7. As it regards traditional teachings on sexuality, the Holy Father Francis has held up the need for both feminine and masculine in marriage and points to Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride of Christ as the model for families. He teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and that children need both a mother and father. He always refers to the Church in the feminine, something anathema for progressives.
8. He is calling Catholics to recover popular pieties, even at Mass! He is places the Blessed Virgin Mary and her various pieties front and center. This really irritates liturgical purists.
9. Pope Francis celebrates Mass, even while facing the congregation, in an ad orientem fashion. He is sober and liturgically austere and does not in the least improvise any of the words of the Mass. He never breaks the momentum of prayer begun with the Entrance Chant and Introit, followed by the Sign of the Cross and Greeting, only to disrupt the Mass, which so many bishops and priests do today, with silly, secular greetings and banter including levity, only to get back to the Mass after this secular silliness by introducing the penitential act.
And by the way, Pope Francis has celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass ad orientem. Progressives are in denial about this.
10. Pope Francis wants lay Catholics to bring their faith to their homes, places of work and recreation and to the public square. He doesn't want us to lock up our faith and practice in the church building or in our homes or in our minds. We need to be unleashed on the world and proclaim the Gospel!
MY FINAL COMMENTS: The wildcard of Pope Francis is his pastoral theology. Pastoral theology is taught in seminaries but as a second rate course and not compared to the academic courses in any way whatsoever.
This may change with Pope Francis who could promote his pastoral theology to a doctrine. But he will do so by upholding the Deposit of Faith and morals of the Church while at the same time calling for sensitivity for those in difficult situations. Most bishops and priests are pastoral and have been for centuries. There is nothing new in this other than it becoming a doctrine of some kind. But of course I'm not clairvoyant or am I?