Tuesday, September 1, 2015


(And it ain't just for those who strictly follow the law externally but their hearts are far from the Lord!)

On Sunday, Pope Francis at the Angelus had some off-the-cuff remarks about Catholics who appear to do everything right as Catholics, go to Sunday Mass, Holy Days of Obligation, observe the fasts and abstinence, pray devotions and seem well versed in the faith, but there is a disconnect with their everyday lives.

They gossip, cheat on their spouses, fail to repent, don't honor their commitments, swindle their friends, cuss, cheat and steal. I suspect they don't go to confession frequently about these things, but I could be wrong.

I suspect too, the Holy Father may have had in mind the elaborate funeral given to a mafia don in Rome last week. How does a public sinner like that get such a wonderful send-off by Catholics who should know better but loved the don?

What do you think Pope Francis had in mind in his off the cuff remarks reported by the Vatican Insider:

Pope Francis has strongly criticized Catholics who brag that they are perfect followers of the church's teachings but then criticize or speak ill of others in their faith communities, saying they cause scandal and even offer a "counter-witness" to Jesus.(I have to admit that I've never heard of a Catholic in any parish I've been brag they are perfect followers of Christ, never! Have you? Certainly, though, I have heard and seen practicing Catholics cause scandal and offer a counter-witness to the faith, think Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and other pro-choice politicians who are also pro-gay marriage and proudly receive Holy Communion thinking they are perfect?)

"We all know in our communities, in our parishes, in our neighborhoods how much hurt they do the church, and give scandal, those persons that call themselves 'Very Catholic,'" the pontiff said Sunday.(Again, the only ones I know who fit this are politicians and public persons who claim to be Catholics in good standing and yet do not live the faith but make sure to have a photo op receiving Holy Communion from the pope or bishop or anyone else for that matter. Keep in mind that Pope Francis does not distribute Holy Communion to the laity because he said in Argentina people were looking for a photo-op receiving from high church officials, corrupt Catholic politicians in particular).

"They go often to church, but after, in their daily life, ignore the family, speak ill of others, and so on," he continued. "This is that which Jesus condemns because this is a Christian 'counter-witness.'" (there is nothing new about this.)

Francis was speaking Sunday in an off-the-cuff moment during his weekly Angelus address in St. Peter's Square, which focused on one of Jesus' teachings about the role of the proscribed laws of the faith of his time.

The Gospel for the day, taken from Mark, sees Jesus questioned by Pharisees about why his disciples did not follow Jewish law regarding the cleansing of hands before eating. Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites, quoting the prophet Isaiah and saying they honor God with their lips but not their hearts.

Jesus' response to the Pharisees, Francis said Sunday, "has the force of a prophetic pronouncement."

"They are words that might fill us with admiration for our teacher," said the pope. "We feel that in him there is the truth and that his wisdom liberates us from prejudices."

But then the pontiff sharply warned that Jesus words apply also to Christians today.

"Caution!" Francis exhorted the crowds in the Square. "With these words, Jesus also wants to put us, today, on guard against considering that the exterior observance of the law may be sufficient to be good Christians."

"As it was for the Pharisees, there also exists for us the danger of considering our place as better than others for the only fact of observing the rules or customs, even if we do not love our neighbor, [even if] we are hard of heart or prideful," said the pontiff.(It isn't just those who strictly follow the rules, though, that do this! And certainly we cannot paint with a broad brush all people who strictly follow the rules as being hypocritical as many also do the right thing in their lives too! )

"The literal observance of the precepts is something sterile if it does not change the heart and is not translated into concrete attitudes," he said, giving examples: "Opening yourself to the encounter with God and God's word in prayer, searching for justice and peace, giving help to the poor, the weak and the oppressed." (Those who break the rules, like priests who don't follow the rubrics and do things their way rather than obedient to what the Church requires can have very corrupt lives too and in fact the breaking of small rules may be an indication of other moral disorders, so it works both ways!)

Exterior attitudes, Francis said, are determined by what's in our hearts.

"The exterior attitudes are the consequence of what we have determined in the heart," said the pope. "Not the opposite! With outside attitudes, if the heart does not change we are not true Christians."

"The border between good and evil doesn't pass outside of us but rather inside of us," the pontiff continued. "And we can ask ourselves: Where is my heart?"

"Jesus said your treasure is that where your heart is," said Francis. "Which is my treasure? Is it Jesus and his doctrine? Then the heart is good. Or is your treasure another thing?"

Beginning the Angelus prayer, the pope said they would ask Sunday that the Lord grant those present "a pure heart, free of every hypocrisy."

"This is [what] Jesus says to the Pharisees: Hypocrites," said Francis. "Because they say something and then do another."
[Joshua J. McElwee is Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.]


Anonymous said...

He refers top Jesus as "our teacher"...small cap...interesting. It sounds like he is just softening everybody up for the welcoming of gay marriage and communion for the divorced. Nothing new here. Move on.

Servimus Unum Deum said...

I see him also calling out those Radical Traditonalists/quasi-schismatics etc. who prowl the blogosphere and yes, even on the ground, cause reprehensible harm to the faithful of he Church and misrepresent it. Unfortunately, a number of them are Latin Mass followers and so the shoe fits even more perfectly. Pope Francis isn't stupid and neither is the rest of the Curia, liberal and orthodox alike. They know who the major players are and monitor their sites.

gob said...

As a fellow clairvoyant, I'm sensing that these remarks by Pope Francis and last Sunday;s gospel really struck a nerve with you. I must confess that as I listened to the Gospel, I thought of this dear blog.

Now it's time for someone to say that because of what I said, I'm guilty of the very thing I'm criticizing....

gob said...

The same switcheroo that you did on the Pope's remarks.....

Servimus Unum Deum said...

Gob, Fr AJM is not the target of the Pope at all. Even his criticisms have the utmost Catholic charity and true fraternal correction. Other bloggers .... Not so much. If anything those people sow division and hate in the church.

Jusadbellum said...

Might I ask everyone to read "Pharisee" not as "evil meanspirited conservative traditionalist" but as "open-minded secular progressive liberal".

Try it, and you'll discover it is actually both much closer to the historical record and our current situation.

The Pharisees after all were the ones who came up with convoluted justifications for not obeying the core of the law for the sake of ulterior customs. They were also the ones claiming intellectual and moral superiority over their respective social milieu - precisely as our liberal/progressives actually ARE in charge both in the Church and in society today.

It's not hard core conservative traditionalists who are running the Federal Reserve, Fortune 400 companies, Washington DC or the Goldman Sachs. It's not hard core conservative traditionalists who run the USCCB or most of the Archdioceses and parishes in the country! Hard core conservative traditionalists don't run most Diocesan newspapers or religious orders of men or women.

The vast majority of Catholic education K-post grad is not in the hands or control of hard core conservative traditionalists.

So who IS in charge? People who pay God lip service but whose hearts are typically very secular in outlook and who thus can come up with all manner of convoluted theories as to why they are 'good Catholics' despite being openly gay or fornicating or committing adultery or getting abortions or robbing people, or institutionalizing racism and intergenerational poverty.

So when the Pope says "Pharisees" think "Progressives" and it'll make much more sense in the real world. That they don't see it and instead think, smugly, that he must be speaking of their hated conservative enemies tells us a lot about both how uninformed they are (so much for intellectual superiority) and how morally blind they are to their own role in the negative outcomes we're all suffering under.

gob said...

Thanks, Jusad, for fulfilling my prophecy...

Jusadbellum said...

gob, am I wrong?

Go down the list:

What ideological mindset do the governors of the Federal Reserve inhabit? What is the ideological bent of the CEOs of the Fortune 400? How about the mainstream media/Hollywood/Madison avenue/K-STREET?

If one had to guess the political affiliation of most editors of most of our diocesan newspapers would one guess "democrat" or "republican"? Left leaning or conservative?

if one had to guess the politics and ideology of most women's religious in the USA, what would they be? How about most priests?

In short, if the majority in the Church and in the elites of society are "liberal/progressive/democrats", how can our world's dire situation be laid at anyone else's feet? Who else is there to be branded "Pharisee" but the ones who actually act like the traditional Pharisees? Remember, they were the ones in charge of society to the point of being able to kick people out of synagogue.

We really need to see reality as it is not as our PR spin would have us think it is. It actually helps to base our policies on reality for good or ill.

It serves no one to base our efforts on myths.

gob said...

Donald Trump

Dave Burkovich said...

What the pope said is truly Catholic teaching.....and we all fall into the category of Pharisee at some point during our life. Put yourself into the story of the prodigal son....which character are you?....The ideal is to be the Father.