Monday, December 15, 2014


This homily by Pope Francis I heard time and time again, in one form or another in the 1970's seminary. I embraced much of this ideology in my first assignment in the 1980's. What strikes me about this is that the pope is doing the very thing he condemns in his judgement about legalists in the Catholic Church. What the Holy Father says toward the end of his homily on Monday morning could easily be applied to the diatribe he has just given that is full of judgmental comments: "Never to condemn, never to condemn. If you have wanted to condemn, you condemn yourself..."

Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

(Vatican Radio) The day’s Gospel reading, which relates how the chief priests asked Jesus by what authority He did His works, was the focus of the Pope’s homily on Monday. It is a demand, the Pope explained, that demonstrates the “hypocritical heart” of those people – people who were not interested in the truth, who sought only their own interests, and went where the wind blew: you should go this way, you should go that way…” They were weathervanes, all of them! All of them! Without consistency. A heart without consistency. And so they negotiated everything: they negotiated interior freedom, they negotiated the faith, they negotiated their county, everything except appearances.” To such people, getting the best out of every situation was the important thing. They were opportunists: “They profited from the situations.”

“And yet,” the Pope continued, “some of you might ask me: ‘But Father, these people were observers of the law: on Saturday they didn’t travel more than a hundred metres – or however many they were able to go – they never, never sat down to eat without washing their hands and making their ablutions; they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits.’ Yes, it’s true – but only in appearance. They were strong, but on the outside. They were in a cast. The heart was very week, they didn’t know what they believed. And because of this their life, the outer part of their life, was completely regulated, but the heart was otherwise: a weak heart, and a skin that was plastered over, strong, harsh. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong heart, a firm heart, a heart built on the rock, that is Christ; and then, in the way it goes out, it goes out with prudence: ‘In this case, I do this, but…’ It is the way of going out, but the heart is not negotiable, the rock is not negotiable. The rock is Christ, it is not negotiable”:

“This is the drama of the hypocrisy of this people. And Jesus never negotiates His heart of the Son of the Father, but He was so open to the people, seeking paths to help them. ‘But this can’t be done; our discipline, our doctrine say this can’t be done!’ they say. ‘Why do your disciples eat grain in the fields, when they travel, on the day of the Sabbath? It can’t be done!’ They were so rigid in their discipline: ‘No, the discipline can’t be touched, it’s sacred.’”

Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast”:

“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart.”

“This is the drama of these people,” and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism:

“Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Saviour. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”

“But the simple people,” the Pope said, “do not err,” despite the words of these doctors of the law, “because the people know, they have a certain ‘flair’ for the faith.”

The Pope concluded his homily with this prayer: “I ask the Lord for the grace that our hearts might be simple, luminous with the truth that He gives us, and thus we might be able to be lovable, forgiving, understanding of others, [to have] a large heart with the people, to be merciful. Never to condemn, never to condemn. If you have wanted to condemn, you condemn yourself, who has some reason, eh?” He continued, “Let us ask the Lord for the grace that He might give us this interior light, that convinces us that the rock is Him alone, and not so many stories we make as if they were important things; and that He might tell us – that He might tell us! – the path, that He might accompany us on the path, that He might enlarge our hearts, so that they can enter into the problems of so many people, and that He might give us the grace that these people did not have: the grace to feel that we are sinners.”


Gene said...

Just paving the way for the liberalizing of the Church that he so desires...

Anonymous said...

Clearly this man does not possess the intellect of John Paul or Benedict. And it is also clear that Francis thinks he is smarter than all the popes before him. He doesn't say anything, he is very emotional and he hates the Catholic Faith.

Keyser Soze said...

A priest I know who taught a Bible class once discussed the contradictions (actually the passages that appear to contradict each other) in the Bible. He referred to them as "eschatological tensions" that force us to take a position of complete dependance God that requires the grace of not going to either extreme. Knowing that, and seeing how Pope Bergoglio has strong words for those are too "observant", one also must remember that the Jesus who condemned the obsessive observances of the Pharisees is the same Jesus who said, "I have not come to abolish the law of Moses but to fulfill it." This is the same Christ who knew that justice requires a sacrifice for mankind's sin that is commensurate with the offense given and the greatness of God we have offended and He was quite determined to fulfill that demand and make its observance.

It has almost become a cliche among more traditionally-minded Catholics to say that we are "concerned" about this pontificate or we don't like Pope Francis. Pope Francis is probably a very nice man. The problem isn't how kind he is or how personally holy he may or may not be. The problem is, as you say, this 70's ideology that we have heard before. It has only given us confusion. We were told that we were all "on a journey of faith" but the priests seldom finished by telling us where the journey led. We were told that Jesus was our brother who loved us, but it was done by omitting the fact that He is also God, and He will judge us. We were told that the Church was no longer so rigid, but in the name of mercy, we sacrificed so much discipline and personal responsibility that we have two generations who aren't sure just what the Church teaches or demands of us.

Francis is very likable. In a way, he's almost like watching a comedian who doesn't know that he is funny. The concerns or even the dislikes aren't about him. It's about the message. We've been there and done that and it's a dead end. It's not that I or anyone else commenting here presumes to have the charism of wisdom that exceeds the pope. We just recognize used goods when we see them and this message has been peddled to us before.

If the rock is Christ and it is not negotiable, then why do we dare to think we can negotiate away the laws of His Church founded by Him and entrusted to the Apostles and their successors? Because of the authority given to the successors of Peter, discipline CAN be touched. If he is hoping we will draw a parallel between the relaxation of the Communion fast and his (or his lieutenants') proposal to change the eligibility of who can go to Communion, we are talking about something that goes far beyond discipline. Not eating for just an hour does not contradict anything about the state of grace we are required to stay in to receive the Body of Christ. Permitting people who the Church declares to be outside of the parameters of grace and in open defiance of the indissolubility of marriage to receive Communion contradicts the very gospel Francis wants to proclaim. Gene might be right--that such homilies could be paving the way for the liberalization he apparently wants.

However, I will not be so rigid as to condemn the pope. He is a product of his Jesuit education and Latin American culture and he can't bring something to the table that he doesn't have in the first place. Instead, I will pray for him and ask all the readers here to pray for him. Let's not be so "rigid" as to condemn him. Let's recognize his message for what it is and love the pope even when we see the flaws in his proposals and ideas. And let our witness of respectful, loving but firm resistance to anything that contradicts the gospel, even if it should come from an angel--let our witness speak to the Holy Father too. Even popes can learn.

Gene said...

This Pope understands what Hobart Mowrer (psychologist) said, "it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting." If the Pope can change practice and ignore doctrine by merely paying lip service to it, he knows that, eventually, practice will become a de facto change in doctrine. Re-writing doctrine will be a fait accompli and no big deal. This is another ploy of the Left. It is what has happened to the US Constitution. Just as most Catholics do not know or understand doctrine, so most Americans do not know the Constitution. They have no intellectual basis for resisting the practice or the changes in doctrine that are to come. The progressives have worked long and hard, in the Church and in the culture, to keep the people ignorant, from the dumbing down of public edumacation to the ignoring of doctrine in the preaching of the Church. This is not a cultural/homiletical accident…it is deliberate and purposive.

Anonymous said...

Some of the best advice I’ve seen, from Rachel Lu at Crisis Magazine:

“Popes can be wise and holy men. They can be corrupt and vicious men. In between is a whole lot of middle ground, and of course we trust that, whatever the pontiff’s character, the Holy Spirit will intervene where necessary to protect the Church from destruction. Church leaders can still do great damage to souls by obscuring doctrine, which serves to spread confusion and doubt. Also, corrupt or imprudent Church leaders may cause scandal, which diminishes (at least temporarily) the confidence with which the Church may exercise her rightful moral authority. Certainly, there is a reason why we regularly pray for wise and prudent Church leaders.”
. . . . . . .
“All else being equal we would all naturally prefer to have a leader who uplifts and inspires us. But if we’ve reached the point of demanding that from every pontiff, we’ve probably lost sight of what the papacy is, and of what the Church is. In its inerrant form, papal authority is exercised only very occasionally; we don’t have to hang on the pontiff’s every word.”

Perhaps (I infer) when a pope won’t stop talking imprudently, we can at least stop listening imprudently.

Barnaby Jones said...


That's precisely the point. The Cardinal electors in the majority who elected this pope did not want another pope with a strong intellect. They resisted Benedict until they wore him down and forced him out. They wanted their kind of man to run their kind of Church. Not GOD's kind of Church, mind you, but THEIR kind of Church.

God will not be mocked.

Anonymous said...

If you ask me, it's only a matter of time before the clergy, bishops/priests/cardinals, turn on Pope Francis. We saw the beginnings of this at they synod as well as the Italian Bishops basically giving him the finger when they flat out rejected Forte. I think more and more people are waking up to the fact that Francis is tyrannical. Just look at the state of the Church in Argentina, if that's what he has in store for the Universal Church, then we are all F'd.
Personally, as a young Catholic in their 20's, I can't wait for the day when Francis and his generation have gone to meet their eternal reward, Pater Ignotus included..or punishment. I know that sounds harsh, but when they are finally gone the Church can finally heal and move on. That generation and the one before managed to do what Luther, Calvin, Henry 8, Arius and Nestorious couldn't do, the almost complete destruction of Catholic faith and liturgy. I would not want to be any of them on their day of judgment.

I personally hope that the Pope tries to promulgate something heretical, then we can finally depose him.

But it is my personal opinion that outside of Europe and some places here in the states the clergy seems to be "JPII conservative" depending on where you are at in the world, especially Africa.

That's my rant, and that's my view of the future of the Church

Rood Screen said...

I don't see anything wrong with what Pope Francis said. Pope Pius XII did the right thing in striking a reasonable balance between the need to fast and the need to Communicate. We should return to that balance. And, rigidity and condemnation are not listed as virtues on any traditional list.

Gene said...

Yeah, those danged old Creeds are pretty rigid. And, CCC, well, we don't need that kind of rigidity. And, what is all this nonsense about Real Presence. What a rigid, outdated concept. No birth control..that is completely laughable in today's modern world. And, who would be so rigid as to expect a woman to carry an unwanted child nine months and then be enslaved by having to raise it? Marriage, what a rigid concept. The feminists have already told us it is bondage and sex is rape. We can't have that kind of rigidity. And, hey, if those guys want to put that thing anywhere they want to and in any mammal they please, well, this is the modern world, Dude, we can't be telling people how to have sex. As long as they are not hurting anybody else, why should we be so rigid? In fact, civilization is just a rigid concept…why have any at all? I am all for survival of the fittest, red in tooth and claw, and whoever survives, survives. Let's just get rid of all the rigidity and let nature and the natural man take their course. Freedom! Liberty! Peace! Free choice! Free Love! Good drugs! Woodstock!

dominic1955 said...

Its interesting that he praises Pope Pius XII. The thing is, at least from what I've read, pretty much everyone was on board with Pius XII's changes to the fast. Cardinal Ottaviani (whom many of the progressives would have considered the leader of the 'pharisees' during Vatican II) wrote a glowing commentary on it.

Rigidity can be a problem, but the Church is not overrun with Jansenists. They are not the problem.

I think Pope Francis is fine, but I'm not much of an ultramontanist. If he thinks rigidity is the problem, whatevs. If he was just preaching on the gospel of the day, ok. I just don't pay much attention. The Pope is not an Oracle or a Mormon prophet.

MR said...

So if we're the Pharisees, that makes him... Jesus?

The man's pride is simply staggering.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:42 a.m.:
"Personally, as a young Catholic in their 20's, I can't wait for the day when Francis and his generation have gone to meet their eternal reward, ..."

This kind of "wishing" makes me smile. I've heard Oprah and some of the LGBT group pining for the day when all those backward rigid people who hold to religion are dead and gone, and then the world will live in peace and freedom will come at last. I laugh because I think, yeah, when all those "religious" people are gone, you'll have anything BUT peace. All hell will break loose. Literally.

I honestly don't see the solution as "gee, if all my enemies were dead, I'd have no problems." There will never come a time when "powers and principalities" aren't out to destroy God's work. Today it's the heterodox clergy and the atheistic society. Yesterday it was the Martin Luther. Long before that it was Arius (the Arian heresy). Prior to that Nero. Prior to that, the Assyrians.

So rather than wish all the problem people, as we see them, were dead and gone, we ought to wish (and pray for) their conversion, and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Because after all, there may be areas where we have some converting to do too!

And besides that, it's through fire that gold is tested.

Keyser Soze said...


Thank you for some common sense. Modernism is indeed the synthesis of all heresies. Barring a cataclysmic event signaling the end of this failed experiment, most likely it will take at least 50 years to eradicate what it took decades to build (or should I say destroy?)

And, no doubt, when this stuff goes away, something as bad or worse will come along to attack our Church. Spiritual warfare will not end until the final judgment.

Anonymous said...

Bee, I didn’t really read our 20-year-old Anonymous as expressing a malevolent wish for the demise of enemies. Rather I saw in his youthfully expressed sentiments more a recognition—admittedly, without regret--of the biological fact that the clerical generations rooted in the 60s and 70s, those generations that have visited upon the church the chaos of recent decades, will soon be no longer with us. And then, as we already see the future written on the wall in the younger JP II generation of faithful priests that will replace them in positions of Church influence, the pendulum will inevitably swing back toward the restoration of faith, just has it always has throughout history after periods of disintegration in the Church.

Anonymous said...

If I like it, it is "Reform of the Reform."

If I don't like it, it is "1970's ideology."

Nothing like objectivity!

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous from 9:42

Henry, those were my sentiments exactly. I am sad to see that generation ago because my grandparents are part of that generation, and is Fr. AJM. But the sad fact is, they have nearly destroyed the Church.

If the Church can survive Arianism, it can survive this. However, I firmly believe that in another 10,15, 20 years the Church will look VERY different than what it looks like today, in my opinion, for the better. Faithful Catholics are realizing, or have long realized, that modernism is a horribly failed experiment.

If modern blogging had been around during the 4th-5th centuries I'm sure faithful Catholics would have been saying the same things about Arianism that we are Modernism..

"The whole world awoke and groaned to find itself Modernist" just my little twist on that famous quote.

Gene said...

No, Anonymous, wrong again. If I like it, it is good theology. If I do not like it, it is crap.

Anonymous said...

The problem is the external adherence to the law without the internal adherence. I get that.

But sometimes, any external reverence or piety is challenged as hypocritical or pharisaic, with no effort to ascertain the interior disposition. Because today's requirements are not terribly stringent, some make an effort to do the optional (exterior) as a way to spur interior holiness. It is painful when this is attacked as hypocrisy, yet perhaps even that can encourage humility.


Robert Kumpel said...

There is one outward sign of piety that i don't think is hypocritical or pharisaic and I do not understand why it is still not observed. I was always taught that when we came into the Church, we were to remain silent and only whisper if necessary in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. What happened after Vatican II that made everyone forget this? I don't remember any priest, deacon or lay authority figure making any announcement that Jesus was no longer present in the Tabernacle or that He no longer deserved our honor and reverence.

Call me a hypocrite of pharisee or reactionary or whatever you like, but it makes me genuinely angry to see people talk as loudly as they please inside of the church building as soon as Mass is over. I can excuse the younger people for the bad example we've given them, but I see too many older Catholics who know better or should know better. Once a woman who joined my family tried to talk to me after Mass about something while we were still inside the church. I put my finger up to my lips and motioned for her to follow me outside. I then apologized and said that I just wanted to maintain reverence in the Presence of God while in the Church. You would have thought that I had insulted her mother the way she reacted. I did not get angry and I did not want to give offense, but this has gotten ridiculous. If Jesus was present in the Tabernacle for the last 1600 years, did His presence suddenly stop after 1969? Or do we no longer owe him any reverence?

Sorry gang, I just don't get it.

-Your local pharisee

Juden said...

Anon 9:32....some maybe 20 more years, you'll become a grownup and realize that you actually don't know it all. (And the next generation will be waiting for YOU to die.)

I can remember and they can remember when our own children were sophomores or so in college and knew EVERYTHING.

There are some, unfortunately, who stay forever in their twenties....

Pater Ignotus said...

Robert - The fact that you "don't remember any priest, deacon or lay authority figure making any announcement that Jesus was no longer present in the Tabernacle or that He no longer deserved our honor and reverence" is indicative that the change in peoples' reverence in Churches is not based on anything that happened or was said in church.

I don't think any of us can recall being told that Jesus is no longer present in the tabernacle. The changes have been in society/culture at large. In the 1940's, men and women wore suits and dresses to baseball games. In the 1950's, there was no underwear showing as pants sagged to the lower thighs. In the 1960's women no longer felt the need to wear gloves when going shopping with the similarly-gloved daughters on Broughton Street in Savannah.

These changes are not the result of something we have done of failed to do within the Church. If you want answers, look to the changes in the larger culture in which we live.

Anonymous said...

Francis supposedly wants full unity with the Orthodox. But they have a more stringent Eucharistic fast than our pitiful one hour fast, and require Confession if you want to recieve Communion if you have a grave sin...yet I don't think we would hear Francis calling them rigid Pharisees or praying to God to make them slip on a banana peel!

Tevye said...

The idea that many of you express about waiting for the "hippies", the Vatican II people to die off and then it'll all be OK the good old days makes me think of early married wife and I were having children...trying to pay the bills and stay afloat. We'd think..."When we get the washing machine paid off we'll be OK." Then the car would break down, or the tuition at school would go up, or a new financial crisis would arise. It took until all of the children were grown and on their own and we were getting old before we got caught up. (Thanks in NO SMALL PART to Social Security and Medicare.)

Gene said...

Tevyue, maybe the generation coming along will be more industrious, will understand the risk/reward thing, and believe in free market Capitalism, initiative, and financial freedom so they won't have to live from pay check to pay check like you have.

Anonymous said...

"Not even a drop of water was permitted......."

Again, what Church is he talking about? It's not the Ctholic Church because that statement is a lie. Water was always permitted by anyone.

It's obvious that Francis is spewing this daily nonsense to provoke anger in people. And my oh my doesn't he judge people. And what makes him such an authority on the spiritual life anyway? He left his diocese in shambles. There are no, zero, none, NO VOCATIONS in his diocese. Liturgical abuse is rampant, Mass attendance is abysmal. Who is he to tell anyone how to live the Faith. He better concentrate on himself first.

Gene said...

The Pope is a Leftist, pure and simple. He was basted in Third World socialism/communism like a turkey is basted in butter. The leopard cannot change his spots.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kumpel,

I wholeheartedly and completely agree with you.

Right. On. Target, good sir.

Catechist Kev, the recovering Pharisee.

Charles G said...

I have no experience of the pre-Vat II Church, but I do know that fasting has a long and noble history in the Church as a penitential and ascetic practice. The current rules about one hour and only full fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday jus seem to me like a tiny token to acknowledge that history, but which barely challenges us to really embrace that tradition in a meaningful way. I think that if anything, the pendulum has swung far too much towards eliminating anything challenging, and would welcoming increasing the fasting requirements. Perhaps not to the extent pre-Vat II or under the pain of sin, but something more meaningful. As for the claims of rigidity, again, I think if anything the pendulum has swung far too much in the other direction, when Catholics simply don't know or don't care the teachings and practice of the faith. To simply decry "rigidity" can and has been used to undermine those teachings and practice, and to some extent by design for those who don't agree with what the Church teaches. If everything is up for grabs, then there is no reason to get up Sunday morning. We have seen where this mentality has led. The Church at this time needs a bit more rigidity, IMHO. Perhaps not to the extent of pre Vat II, but again something more meaningful. I just really do not relate to this Pontificate at all. I really loved the direction that Popes Benedict and JPII had for the Church, calmly and without violence or vituperation restoring beauty, reverence, tradition, and faithfulness to Christ and the core teachings of the Church. Any mercy is not in opposition to all that, as some "progressivists" would have one believe.

Joseph Johnson said...

Robert Kumpel,
Apparently, part of the disconnect is that guys like us still believe (at least subconsciously) in the "three-storied universe" while much of our clergy just can't understand why we can't see a "divine presence" in all of creation. The problem seems to be that guys like us still insist on believing that there is the Divine Triune God (the Creator) and that there is the created universe, of which human beings are a part. We are not divine--God is Divine. The Blessed Sacrament is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God.

God is Divine--we are just people (with the uniqueness of human dignity) but we are not gods. That is the problem with too much recognition and praise of people (horizontality) in the Mass. The change in emphasis described by Msgr. Champlin in that "Firing Line" episode to the horizontal (community) and against the vertical dimension IS a lot of the problem. Unfortunately, the majority of our church leadership stilll refuses to recognize this (they still talk like Msgr. Champlin did in 1980 on "Firing Line"). "Hatched in the 70's" as one of my former (former Jesuit, to boot) pastors used to say . . .

Gene said...

Joseph, Remem,her that "Up with People" crap from back in the 70's?

Anonymous said...

Another take on this topic:

Catechist Kev

Gene said...

I see the Pope has offered to help Obama close Gitmo. Really? Why doesn't he offer to help him close abortion clinics all over the country…I think Il Papa should take all those poor, misunderstood terrorists home to the Vatican and house them there. Now, that is real charity. What a joke.

No, we should leave them at Gitmo and torture them by making them listen to Francis'; homilies 24 hrs. a day.

Православный физик said...

Gene, I nearly died laughing at your last comment, LOL torturing them by making them listen to Pope Francis' homilies, LOL! (That beats my version of forcing them to listen to Justin Bieber music 24/7/365 or 6)

I think a degree of inflexibility is a good thing. It's not a sign of a weak heart in my opinion. It's a sign of someone who seeks to do right, even if it means ticking people off in the process.

If anything there's been too much flexibility, or slack to use a physics term over the past few decades. If put enough stress on a beam, it will break.

We do need a restoration of some type of rigidity, maybe not to the extent of the Pre-Vatican II days, but laws do need to be enforced, let's start there.

Gene said...

Joe, it is standard liberal procedure to call anyone who believes in any absolutes "inflexible."

JusadBellum said...

Let's put this question about hypocrisy to a test shall we?

The left-wing, progressive Catholics CLAIM to reject racism, sexism, homophobia....but when they judge people only on the basis of skin color or sex or orientation and not 'content of character', they are being hypocritical.

They claim to love the poor, love women, love minorities, love the planet....and yet all their policies, program, parties and politicians' result in greater and quantifiable harm to women and minorities and destruction of the environment (their Prius' electricity was produced by a coal-fired power plant, those batteries were produced by a very toxic chemical process and will be a hazardous waste forever).

In short, they CLAIM to be morally superior and so are smug...and yet they don't actually practice what they preach and they sure don't actually accomplish good fruits for the constituencies they claim to love.

If the new measuring stick of our age is hypocrisy then everyone ought to be prepared to live by this rule. I don't think the Left can withstand much scrutiny at all which is why they absolutely need a monopoly on the means of communication (i.e. propaganda) because if revealed for what they are, they'd immediately implode.