Tuesday, September 29, 2015


When I was growing up, all I ever seem to hear from Pope Paul VI was one lament after the other about how bad things were. Catholicism was painted in such dreary terms and seem depressing. And much of the preaching I heard in the 1960's especially from our Irish parochial vicars who constantly told us how much better it was in Ireland than here when they were growing up.

How much more effective is having someone who was involved in abortions and then converted to the truth tell us of their heartbreak in learning the truth and how knowing the truth and God's compassion set them free to become an advocate for the Church's pro-life ministry, rather than a doctrinaire homily or class on the evil of abortion from a technical, theological point of view.

I wonder time and time again, if someone on the fence about the Catholic Church were to read some of the comments on my blog (especially the ones that I delete that scandalize even me and make me wonder what Catholicism has done to these people to make them so sour and mean-spirited) if they would want to be a part of us and discover the truth or buy whole-heartedly into the secular culture that entices them in a more positive manner to do the wrong rather than the right.

Pope Francis to bishops: Stop wishing for the good old days

PHILADELPHIA — Likening the world today to a giant supermarket with a plethora of choices but an impersonal feel, Pope Francis urged his bishops to embrace change and work within it to connect with young people.

He also urged the bishops to not merely harp on doctrine, but also to preach positively about the benefits of marriage and family life.

“A Christianity which ‘does’ little in practice, while incessantly ‘explaining’ its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle,” he said. “A pastor must show that the ‘Gospel of the family’ is truly ‘good news’ in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme!”

Francis did not mention same-sex marriage, but US bishops have cited that, as well as high divorce rates, contraception, and abortion as serious threats to the family.
Pope Francis’ remarks to bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families
But the majority of his speech was focused on encouraging his bishops to accept the realities of life today.
“Christians are not immune to the changes of their times,” Francis said. “This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe, and proclaim.”

The pope’s remarks came to 300 bishops from around the world gathered in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and was delivered shortly after he met with a group of sexual abuse victims. Speaking off the cuff, Francis called the victims “true heralds of mercy,” and he promised that “all those responsible are held accountable.”

Returning to his theme of flexibility, the pope encouraged his bishops to recognize that despite the tendency of young people to be obsessed with “running after the latest fad, accumulating friends on one of the social networks,” that lack of personal contact can lead to “a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness.”

It is, he said, a “loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized.”

The morning after delivering an enthusiastic, off-script sermon about the beauty of family life at the Festival of Families Saturday nignt, Francis used an extended metaphor almost everyone can relate to – grocery shopping – to explain the challenges of ministering to families today.

In the old days, the pope said, society was like a neighborhood store.

“The products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers,” Francis told the bishops. Then there’s the giant supermarket, he said, with a multitude of choices but leading to a breakdown of trust and neighborly bonds.

“Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust,” Francis said. “Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming. Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption that does not favor bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships.”

The pope said pastors must resist the temptation to say things were better in the old days and be willing to engage people where they are, not blame them for the way things are today.

“Are today’s young people hopelessly timid, weak, inconsistent? We must not fall into this trap,” Francis said.

Mindful that the median age of marriage continues to rise and the number of children continues to drop in the United States and Europe, Francis reiterated his call for young people to have the courage to make long-term commitments, saying true happiness can only be found that way.

“Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, without really being lived to the full,” he said. “For knowledge of life’s true pleasures only comes as the fruit of a long-term, generous investment of our intelligence, enthusiasm, and passion.”

Looking up from his remarks, Francis joked that mothers could help by refusing to pamper their adult sons, a phenomenon especially prevalent in Italy. (As one who knows, he hit that nail on the head, but I am glad for my Italian mother!!!!!Lay off!)

He recalled a mother saying to him, “My son is 34 years old and he’s not getting married. I don’t know what to do.”

The pope’s reply: “I say, don’t iron his shirts anymore!” The crowd laughed. (SO TRUE!)

“We have to encourage the youth to take that risk [to commit to marriage], because they need to move toward fruitfulness,” Francis said.

The pope called on bishops to move away from stale denunciations about the state of the world, and instead engage with young people.

“We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family,” Francis said.

Francis again repeated his call for pastors to be with their people — or to smell of sheep, as he’s memorably put it in the past.

“A pastor watches over the dreams, the lives, and the growth of his flock,” he said. “Only one capable of standing in the midst of the flock can be watchful, not someone who is afraid of questions, contact, accompaniment.”

In his talk to families last night, Francis joked that sometimes people question what celibate priests and bishops can really contribute to a discussion about family life, and he touched on that topic again Sunday.

“A good pastor renounces the love of a family precisely in order to focus all his energies, and the grace of his particular vocation, on the evangelical blessing of the love of men and women who carry forward God’s plan of creation,” he said, “beginning with those who are lost, abandoned, wounded, broken, downtrodden, and deprived of their dignity.”

Speaking off script, Francis said the first job of a bishop is to pray, the second is to preach, and “if you have time, you do the rest.”

“Our ministry needs to deepen the covenant between the Church and the family,” Francis said.

“Otherwise it becomes arid, and the human family will grow irremediably distant, by our own fault, from God’s joyful good news, and they’ll go to the local store that is most popular and they’ll buy the product they desire at the moment.”


Clyde Catholic said...

How do you separate doctrine from "the experience of God lived in truth?" RE: Pointing out the good and lifting it up..."Well, Mrs. Lincoln, but wasn't it a great play!"

Clyde Catholic said...

PS Our entire theology has become one of "pungent experience." It is all about subjectivism, narcissism, and human experience. That particular pungency is not a pleasant odor.

gob said...

"Stop wishing for the good old days." I feel pretty sure that idea will be totally rejected by most of the people who post here. (THESE are the "good old days". They're all we've got.)

Anonymous said...

This skirts dangerously close to seeing the eternal truths proclaimed by thse Church to be the problem and not the solution.

Of course we must live out the truths of the Gospel. But we have to know what the Gospel is in order to do that. The function of doctrine is to enable us to know those truths and to live them out in a genuine fashion.

The minute one strats to see those doctrines as some sort of perversion is to make the same error Luther made.

Carol H. said...

This is confusing. The stop wishing for the good old days comment and the grocery store comment are contradictory.

George said...

The Holy Father's recommended approach and advice to bishops and priests is to deal with the reality of how things are today. Most Catholics do not practice the faith and for all intents and purposes have left the Church. There are also those who attend Mass, but only infrequently and there are others who only come to Church on Christmas and Easter. What of the children of these nominal Catholics? Of course getting down to specifics of how these will be reached is where the difficulty lies.
Catholics who are involved in the Pro-Life movement provide one good answer in their approach to that issue by their good witness when praying outside abortion facilities and their involvement and support of centers where young single women who become pregnant can go for help and counseling. Those in the Pro-Life movement are also involved with helping women who have had abortions and have remorse and are regretful for making that decision.
The teaching of the Church has not changed and should, as always,continue to be proclaimed in season and out of season. Likewise, the prayers and spiritual works of the faithful are needed now more than ever. But given the reality of our world today, we need to find ways to reach out and to change the hearts of those who are disaffected, alienated and have become ensnared by today's secular humanist, technological, and media saturated world we reside in.

Pope Francis' advice to bishops is to pray, to preach, and “if you have time, you do the rest.” I something that can apply to every practicing Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Bugnini the author of the new Mass was suspected of being a Mason. Michael Davies writes: "Rumours soon began to circulate that the Archbishop had been exiled to Iran because the Pope had been given evidence proving him to be a Freemason. This accusation was made public in April 1976 by Tito Casini, one of Italy's leading Catholic writers. The accusation was repeated in other journals, and gained credence as the months passed and the Vatican did not intervene to deny the allegations. (Of course, whether or not Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason, in a sense, is a side issue compared with the central issue - the nature and purpose of his liturgical innovations.)

As I wished to comment on the allegation in my book Pope John's Council, I made a very careful investigation of the facts, and I published them in that book and in far greater detail in Chapter XXIV of its sequel, Pope Paul's New Mass, where all the necessary documentation to substantiate this article is available. This prompted a somewhat violent attack upon me by the Archbishop in a letter published in the May issue of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, in which he claimed that I was a calumniator, and that I had colleagues who were "calumniators by profession".

I found this attack rather surprising as I alleged no more in Pope John's Council than Archbishop Bugnini subsequently admitted in La Riforma Liturgica. I have never claimed to have proof that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason. What I have claimed is that Pope Paul Vl dismissed him because he believed him to be a Freemason - the distinction is an important one. It is possible that the evidence was not genuine and that the Pope was deceived.


The sequence of events was as follows. A Roman priest of the very highest reputation came into possession of what he considered to be evidence proving Mgr Bugnini to be a Mason. He had this information placed in the hands of Pope Paul Vl by a cardinal, with a warning that if action were not taken at once he would be bound in conscience to make the matter public. The dismissal and exile of the Archbishop followed."

I mentioned on this blog a few months ago a comment by a priest who said when he went to Rome he was surprised to find the idea that there are Masons high up in the Church was common thought among bishops and priests he met in Rome. He mentioned about Bugnini and was told by a very well respected prelate that the story of Bugnini was true because he had met the priest who had found the document left behind in a briefcase by Bugnini.

Pope Benedict prayed that he would not fall victims of the wolves; Fr Malachy Martin warned of this cabal which he said extended from the highest reaches in the Vatican to the bottom and he warned that any manly Pope who tried to stop them would not last long.

What is going on currently is but an extension of that and, hopefully, it is reaching its climax and, having got rid of Pope St John Paul The Great and Benedict XVI they are having a last ditch attempt to liberalise the Church before their time runs out. Of course their time will run out before that ever happens because God is in charge.