Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Large collar and bell bottom flares 70s ads
The Collars were Big and the Trousers were Flared, 1970s Ads 

I have written this before and I will write it again. Pope Francis' theology which His Holiness is almost making it into a doctrine is from the 1970's and has become a caricature of this movement backwards to the most confusing time in the history of the Church, where Catholic identity was being re-imaging by radical theologians, usually from South America. It was first applied to priests and relgious, especially religious orders, which has led to their complete destruction in many cases. Now Pope Francis is applying it to the Church at large in 2017 when we had almost recovered from it and found some balance through the healing offered by God's grace through John Paul II and Benedict.

The old mantra was that the awful pre-Vatican II Church showed the God of judgment and damnation and the good, new and improved Spirit of Vatican II Church showed the love and mercy of God.

The new morality we were taught in the 1970's seminary was based upon situation ethics, usually promoted by the Jesuits, but also Charles Curran. In other words, God becomes your conscience, yet this isn't truly God but a false god, but Curran, Jesuits and others of their ideology elevated conscience to the status of idolatry.

You could justify almost any behavior as good as long as you made a prayerful decision of conscience, took into account Church teaching, spoke to a priest, to others of good will and then made your decision. You could even morally justify an abortion, or the molestation of a child depending on which people you consulted. We see today the trouble and judgment we have received where stunted or psychologically compromised priests and their bishops sided with a decision of conscience in favor of a victimizer with little or no concern for the victims--all a choice not to judge a person in a profoundly immoral situation but to get them healed and back in circulation. This is the love of God. Or is it?

I am not questioing God's unconditional love for us, but His love never enables sin or dysfunctional ideologies. God and His Co-Eternal Son are not enablers as is the theology of Pope Francis from the pages of 1970's new morality.

As well sometimes we have to be patent with people as they grapple with the implications of truly being conformed to Christ. In one of my RCIA classes over the years, we had a young couple, a Catholic woman living with her non Catholic boyfriend. They were planning marriage. I could have demanded they separate before I would prepare them for marriage and allow the non Catholic boyfriend into the RCIA which he wanted to join. Fortunately, I made no judgments and closed no doors and eventually God's grace convicted them of their sins and the non-Catholic boyfriend later told me that he moved out of the bedroom with his girlfriend and into a guest room and refrained from pre-marital sex. He would wait until marriage to celebrate the marital act! I could have stopped this conversion if I had demanded things too prematurely.

This is from Fr. Z with his comments in red:

[Pope Francis theology:]“It demands that moral theology proceed from the actual pastoral action of Jesus Christ, which does not first demand a change of life[ummm…] but begins with an embrace of divine love, proceeds to the action of healing and only then requires a conversion of action in responsible conscience.” [According to the variant reading of John 8:11, the Lord said to the woman taken in adultery: “Fuggedaboutit! Go and amend no more!  Take a little time to think about changing your life.”]
Noting that people are confronted with “overwhelming life challenges” that prevent them from following the Gospel, he added, “The pastoral theology of Pope Francis rejects a notion of law which can be blind to the uniqueness of concrete human situations, human suffering and human limitation.” [Is that another way of saying that, for some people, it is impossible to follow God’s commandments?  That God denies some people the grace to live according to His will?  I must misunderstand, because that would be a denial of the action of grace.  I wonder if that is an accurate reading of Pope Francis.  That would put Francis’ magisterium in direct contrast to the magisterium of the 19th Ecumenical Council, of Trent?  In the balance, I’d rather think that the bishop got it wrong rather than the Roman Pontiff.]
McElroy encouraged the school’s faculty to focus on the pope’s pastoral theologyand to place it “at the very center and life of this institution.” [And they should remember to study the Pope’s theology in the context of what the Church taught before 2013.]
“It will be one of the greatest theological projects of our age to understand how this new theological tradition should be formed — how it can bring unity, energy and insight into the intersection of Catholic faith and the modern world.”  [A “new theological tradition…”]


Marc said...

Here's the thing about anecdotal evidence, like the story you told: how many people have you confirmed in their sinfulness by failing to tell them what the Church teaches? And how did you impact that couple from your story by failing to properly prepare them for marriage? Better yet, have you set up grounds for an annulment later down the line when they point out that the priest who prepped them didn't tell them what the Church teaches?

Anecdotes are useless. We don't set out pastoral practice based on them. It sounds like you took the right pastoral path with that couple. Other couples might need a different tactic. That is why the Church has doctrines, yet allows for pastoral flexibility. But the Church doesn't assert that anecdotes of a time where liberality happened to work out should suffice to supplant the doctrine.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But Marc he was convicted of his sin through RCIA his own searching from Church teaching and the grace of God. They were properly prepared for marriage since both went to RCIA together and also had superior instruction frome. Need I say more. If I had hit them over the head requiring this that and the other, no telling where they would be

Anonymous said...

"The priest did not tell me what the Church teaches about marriage" is not valid grounds for annulment.

Also not valid is the idea that, because the priest tells someone something, that that person is going to act on what they are being told.

Ask ANY priest...

Marc said...

Father, I know that you have good pastoral sense, and I'm glad it worked out well for that couple.

My point is that other people might require a completely different approach. For example, I reapond well to clarity and directness. If you took the tactic with me that you took with that couple, it wouldn't have worked.

That's why pastoral activity is person-based. I'm just suggesting that an anecdote about a time that liberality worked out well doesn't prove that liberality always works. And that is the problem with relaxing rules based on anecdotes of liberal succcess. The rules should remain fixed, yet have give in individual circumstances. Otherwise, the lack of rules will be exploited.

Marc said...

The pope thinks that a lack of knowledge about marriage renders "most" marriages these days to be invalid. Of course he's wrong about that, but one can't help but notice how many annulments are given these days. Apparently, the grounds for annulment are broad.

Anonymous said...

My take on Pope Francis is that he presents a merciful Christ first, and then addresses the persons sins. That is different from commenting on the sin first, and then mentioning mercy and forgiveness as afterthoughts. If Francis approach seems to condone the sin, doesn't the second approach run the risk of Jansenism or Roman clemency?

Anonymous said...

"The priest did not tell me what the Church teaches about marriage" is not valid grounds for annulment.

rcg said...

When I became commander of a particular squadron in South Carolina they were not very disciplined. Small errors led to big ones. Small errors yielded small corrections that I wanted to ensure caught their attention. For example, reduction in pay grade and manual labor may sound harsh, but is nothing compared to what would be inflicted on them if they allowed the errors to continue. Many straightened up to avoid punishment. The idea is that giving them pause would also give them a chance to avoid the worst results of their transgressions until they grew up emotionally and mentally. One young man was caught with a gun in his possession in a on-base enlisted club. I could have done anything with him, including jail and ejection from the service. As he had not been involved in violence and seemed to have the weapon only to impress others that he was a 'playa' I decided to give him a taste of what he could look forward to in prison if he continued down this path. Reduction in pay to the same as he was as a basic enlistee, revoked off-based privileges, moved to the lowest grade airman quarters, early rise for PT and the rest of the day in the South Carolina summer sun manually extracting grounding rods that were embedded in the earth to an average depth of 12 feet. Supervised meals, shower, lights out and repeat for 180 days. He straightened up enough to regain some stripes and move on to another assignment. Two years later, I got a call from him. He was in Europe and had just been awarded the Airman of the year for all of USAF Europe and was eligible for promotion to Sergeant. He called to thank me for helping him out. Of all recognition I ever got while in the military that is the most important to me. Even now I get a little misty thinking about it. But just a little. I was not so much a lamb as a ram with my horns on his backside pushing him on or pushing him over. I hope he continues this way and I get to see him meet our Creator as a changed man.

Marc said...

I agree with you, Anonymous.

The pope, however, disagrees with us: "Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment." [Source]

Anonymous said...

"Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment." I think I can understand that statement if it is taken along with all of the secular and religious cultures of the 1960's and 1970's. The religious preaching was coupled with Vatican 2, and the secular preaching by mass media was all about change. The whole concept of perminance went out the window, and divorce became a right of passage. Popular preaching strongly supported the lifestyle that exists today. I am not so sure that is true with sacramental marriage today. Today those that attend Mass, and get married in the Church are doing so against popular culture. Going against the majority takes commitment. The obstacle couples that are married in the Church face today is the lack of a support system. At every rough spot their secular peers are going to encourage the modern lifestyle. They understand permanence and commitment,but everyone around them is trying to make them forget about it.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

You've had some nice cover photos for your blog. This is definitely not one of them.

Gene said...

Anybody here remember The Mod Squad? LOL!!

GenXBen said...

While I would normally side with Fr Z over the good Bishop, I don't follow his arguments in this case. He makes much use of the woman caught in adulterous, but a plain reading of scripture would indicate that Jesus said "neither do I condemn you" BEFORE He instructed her to sin no more. Perhaps there was additional dialog between Jesus and the woman where she expressed remorse and a firm purpose of amendment, but it is not in the text of the Gospels. Bishop McElroy doesn't seem to exclude the requirement of amendment. At least no more than is in the Gospels. i think it's just because of his history and the fact he was in a Jesuit house that it's assumed his comments are heterodox.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It seems to me too, that during His public ministry, Jesus forgave sinners who never once asked Him to do so--it was a gratuitous gift showing forth the God who can forgive even those who don't ask. Why? BECAUSE HE IS GOD! HE CAN MAKE IT UP AS HE GOES!

Carol H. said...

Jesus saw the woman's contrite heart and answered her silent prayer. He is God; He can do that.

Православный физик said...

Perhaps what happens in this case, because people tend to treat definitions and dogmas as absolute, it can seem there's no flexibility, and no room for "pastoral care" TM...In eastern view, dogma is more like a fence rather than the end in of itself. One can theologise, to insert dogma here, but not beyond that.

As for this particular Bishop, I pay him zero attention.