Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Has the Pope begun to swerve?

I've mentioned that the Pope's moves at the synod seem a bit off. But this quote, noticed by Father Z, drives home the point (Z's emphasis added):

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all. 
We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.
Couple that with the Pope including progressives in his criticisms, and something odd may be happening here - and I'm back to being hopeful.

Father Z's blog is great, by the by.

25 comments:

BenYachov said...

Feser takes the sane approach.

All is in fact not well but it is not the end of the world and not that bad.

malcolmthecynic said...

Ben,

Feser's approach is pretty frank when it comes to Pope Francis. From Dr. Feser:

Given how far things have gone, effectively cancelling this implicature would require a vigorous reaffirmation both of the content and the permanence of Catholic teaching on sexual morality from Pope Francis himself. Cardinal Burke has expressed the view that such a papal reaffirmation is “long overdue,” and another bishop has been even more frank about the damage he thinks the Synod has caused. But such a reaffirmation seems unlikely given that it would conflict with the Pope’s aim of putting less emphasis on these matters and trying to find ways to attract those who disagree with the Church’s teaching about them.

...A line of thinking Dr. Feser explicitly condemns in his post.

BenYachov said...

Read it again bro toward the end.

QuOTE"In light of what has happened at the Synod, some orthodox Catholics are inclined to channel Kevin Bacon in Animal House, while others are inclined to freak out. Both tendencies are mistaken. The truth is that things are pretty bad, and also that they are not that bad. This kind of thing sometimes happens in the Church. Liberalism will suffer the same fate as Arianism, but it may take a very long time for the Church entirely to flush it out of its system, and things may get a lot worse before they get better. For the moment and no doubt for some time to come, too many churchmen will continue to respond to the liberal spirit of the age with a nudge and a wink and glad-handing bonhomie. But in the end the Church will, as she always does, heed the words of her Master: Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ (Matthew 5:37)."END QUOTE

Like I said sane approach.

malcolmthecynic said...

What am I supposed to be seeing? Yes, I agree with that and no, it doesn't change his earlier rather pointed criticism of Pope Francis.

The Deuce said...

I don't know if he's begun to swerve on this issue in particular, but in general, going by his remarks on banning life imprisonment(!) as well as the death penalty, I think he's as beholden to an absurd, brainless, hippy-dippy, sin-denying progressivism (which simply ignores 2,000 years of Church teaching rather than even having the decency to try to rebut it) as ever:
http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/2014/10/pope-calls-to-end-life-sentences.html

Mr. Green said...

The Deuce: I think he's as beholden to an absurd, brainless, hippy-dippy, sin-denying progressivism (which simply ignores 2,000 years of Church teaching rather than even having the decency to try to rebut it) as ever

I didn’t quite understand the piece you referred to, but happily it linked to a report from Radio Vaticana that provides a bit of context. One way to interpret the Pope’s remarks would be in terms of the whole world, and the vast population that lives under various forms of oppression and corruption, and where people are not infrequently imprisoned over false or trivial charges, where conditions are inhumane, if not outright including torture, where innocents are kept languishing by indefinitely postponed trials, not to mention places where a capital offence means something like being Christian.

Another interpretation, of course, is that Pope Francis was thinking that North America and Europe are the only places that count, and our cushy first-world prison systems — which are, naturally, absolutely 100% free from any problems or corruption or brutality — should be shut down and abolished because there’s no such thing as sin.

Gosh, this is a tough one, I wonder which approach I should take to figuring out what in the world Francis could mean this time?!?

Mr. Green said...

Malcolm the not-quite-cynical-enough: Feser's approach is pretty frank when it comes to Pope Francis. From Dr. Feser:
>”[…] would require a vigorous reaffirmation both of the content and the permanence of Catholic teaching on sexual morality from Pope Francis himself. Cardinal Burke has expressed the view that such a papal reaffirmation is “long overdue,” and another bishop has been even more frank about the damage he thinks the Synod has caused. But such a reaffirmation seems unlikely[…]”


I have some sympathy with this line of thought… but then I have to ask myself, what exactly is it supposed to accomplish? Sure, we all know there’s massive confusion about what the Church actually proclaims, you know, from all those people who can’t pick up a copy of the Catechism for a few bucks or look it up for free on the Internet. In this day and age, is there really anyone who has a sincere desire to know what the Catholic Church teaches and can’t find out? I’m not confused about it; neither is Crude. BenYachov doesn’t sound all that confused. A great number of people who fight against the Church clearly are not confused themselves, even if some of them cultivate confusion in their attempts to thwart traditional doctrine. I guess there is no shortage of stupid people who really are confused, but “reaffirmations” are unlike to help those people because, well, they’re stupid. If the Pope stands up before a microphone and starts quoting the Summa (maybe even preferably in Latin!), that may make those of us who agree with Church teaching feel good but … so what? We already agree. Can someone explain to me what the slightest good this is supposed to do for people who are “confused” about Catholic doctrine or who flat-out oppose it?

BenYachov said...

Yes, I agree with that and no, it doesn't change his earlier rather pointed criticism of Pope Francis.

I didn't really notice that because it's kind of benign compared to some of the foul crap I've seen. Calling the Holy Father a heretic, Evil. anti-Pope, hoping that he would die......

Feser has criticized St John Paul II on capital punishment but he doesn't disrespect either the office or the man.

Like I said sane approach.

@The Deuce

We Catholics are not obligated to accept the politics of the Pope. Politics are a matter of one's own prudent judgement not faith and morals. If he leans to the "left" on life imprisonment similar to the way St John Paul II did on capital punishment well I should care about that as much as the Holy See's inferential recognition of the Confederacy which is not at all.

I politely ignore it(emphasis on the word "polite").

malcolmthecynic said...

Mr. Green,

Are you suggesting that there's no positive value to Pope Francis coming out and declaring the orthodox doctrine directly?

If you want to know what sort of harm Pope Francis's ambiguity is doing, I invite you to read the (very orthodox) Codg's early posts on the matter made immediately after Pope Francis's election. Zippy linked to a few guys too, and some people in his comments section also addressed the confusion.

A lot of them may not know the Church's real teaching because they don't realize they don't know it. Ambiguity is not helping; clearness will.

(Note: I think the Codg was really, really over the top and is still rather hostile to the Pope - especially odd was the long letter he wrote to a struggling Catholic that amounted to "You have a very good reason to be struggling, sorry". But even so.)

By the way, I don't hate Pope Francis and think he's trying to do good things. But he really needs to start talking more frankly about doctrinal matters.

The Deuce said...

Mr. Green:

Gosh, this is a tough one, I wonder which approach I should take to figuring out what in the world Francis could mean this time?!?

Why are you asking? He was very explicit in the link. He was explicitly calling for ending life prison sentences *everywhere*, period, 1st world and 3rd world included. He appealed to the abolishment of life sentences at the Vatican (1st world last I checked) for what the rest of the world should follow. He explicitly said that a life prison sentence is tantamount to the death penalty, and should be totally abolished as well. It doesn't even make sense to suppose that he was talking about torture or what have you. In that case, the obvious solution would be ending torture, not making the torture shorter.

Squaring the abolishment of the death penalty with Christian doctrine was difficult enough, but now life sentences as well? So what's left? Is 20 years okay? 10? How does this reasoning allow for the concept of punitive measures at all, or is A Clockwork Orange now Catholic doctrine?

Btw, I notice that Francis' reasoning completely undermines the Catechism's own rationalization for abolishing the death penalty, which is that modern prison systems are supposedly capable of removing all dangerous persons from society permanently, and we should give them as much time as possible to repent instead. But now we're told that even that is just too mean, apparently. At least the Catechism makes an *attempt* and harmonizing abolitionism with Christian doctrine. And from a practical standpoint, how can a Pope from South America not understand the dire consequences for innocent people when ruthless criminals are not reigned in?

And how the hell can Francis be so clear and adamant about abolishing life sentences, something which has NO PRECEDENT WHATSOEVER in Christian doctrine, yet when it comes to homosexuality and divorce, it's all muddle and ambiguity? Where are this man's priorities? And don't you folks ever get tired of pretending not to see this? It's an insult to any thinking person's intelligence.

The Deuce said...

BenYachov:

We Catholics are not obligated to accept the politics of the Pope. Politics are a matter of one's own prudent judgement not faith and morals.

Problem is, that's somewhat of an artificial distinction, first of all. And second of all, Francis himself clearly identifies this as a moral imperative. He calls on "all Christians and people of goodwill" to end the death penalty in *all* its forms, one of those forms which he identifies as life prison sentences. So you have to disagree with Francis not only on political issues, but regarding which issues count as merely "politics" and which count as "morals" in the first place.

The Deuce said...

Malcolm:

A lot of them may not know the Church's real teaching because they don't realize they don't know it.

I also think there's a lot of people who know what the Catholic Church's teaching was in the past regarding homosexuality and divorce, but believe (incorrectly) that it has been changed, or soon will be, and don't know that according to Catholic doctrine, Catholic doctrine is not revokable.

And, of course, there are plenty of non-Catholics and especially non-Christians (and also progressivist Catholics) who don't believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church, and so believe that Catholic doctrine can and will be changed if they push hard enough. From their vantage point, they're having great success on that front, which emboldens them to push harder. A clear and unambiguous statement of doctrine from the Pope would demoralize them and break their momentum - but that assumes he wants their momentum broken.

Crude said...

And how the hell can Francis be so clear and adamant about abolishing life sentences, something which has NO PRECEDENT WHATSOEVER in Christian doctrine, yet when it comes to homosexuality and divorce, it's all muddle and ambiguity? Where are this man's priorities? And don't you folks ever get tired of pretending not to see this? It's an insult to any thinking person's intelligence.

No, it's not. Personally, I go back and forth on this, but I'm willing to believe that what the pope would like to do is find a better way to communicate church teaching - and 'a better way' means 'something other than starting in the conversation with "gays are sinners, the gay agenda is terrible, repent!"'. That doesn't mean pretending sodomy is A-OK, but it does mean changing the message.

A big part of the problem with social conservatism is there is this lingering desire to be the most explicit, direct, even intentionally off-putting person on the block when it comes to these issues. It has not worked. It has played into the hands of people fighting the socons.

As for the rest, at least the death penalty issue was nothing new. PJP2 was no fan of it. I am not particularly worried that the pope's new statement will encourage liberal Catholics to let their prisoners go free.

BenYachov said...

>Problem is, that's somewhat of an artificial distinction,

No it is as far a I know Catholic teaching. Moral Principles & Theological doctrines are absolute. But what political policies you think will
be successful or political system in promoting the common good is entirely up too your prudent Judgement.

> first of all. And second of all, Francis himself clearly identifies this as a moral imperative. He calls on "all Christians and people of goodwill" to end the death penalty in *all* its forms, one of those forms which he identifies as life prison sentences.

He is entitled to promote his prudent view much like St John Paul II. But like I said on matters of Policy I don’t have to be for or against Tax cuts.
Or for or against big government. Or for or against democracy vs monarchy or Oligarchy or Republican Constitutionalism or a Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy. Republicanism, Democrat or (contra Shea’s private doctrine) Libertarianism. Or for or against the death penalty. Or wither or not I support life in prison or not.

>So you have to disagree with Francis not only on political issues, but regarding which issues count as merely "politics" and which count as "morals" in the first place.

I am glad Deuce I found out you are not Catholic. I don’t expect Catholic thinking from non-Catholics so I can forgive much. Faith & morals are best summed up as Faith doctrines for example God is a Trinity. Morals doctrines are things like “You cannot willfully do evil so that good may come from it.” or “A remote material participant in evil does not sin” or “Imperfect Sodomy in marriage does not constitute the sin of Onan”*

There really is no moral imperative to embrace any particular public policy. It’s not a matter of morals or moral doctrine.
I will disagree with the Pope but I will not tolerate idiot Right Wingers disrespecting him over it. Just quietly disagree with him
& pound the Liberals.

*That last one is obscure & I am reminded of it because of all the discussions we have been having about gayness lately.

Don’t ask it a long tangent.

malcolmthecynic said...

I gotta agree with the others on this one, Deuce. Political opinions of the Popes have ALWAYS remained just that: Opinions. They will never amount to Church doctrine. This really isn't ambiguous. Pope Benedict wrote an an encyclical arguing for some sort of bizarre world bank. I can respectfully disagree without being a heretic.

This one really is a very clear cut case of a Pope espousing a political view that we have no obligation to agree with. If people don't recognize THAT, well, I'd say that's hardly the Pope's fault. This is very, very basic stuff.

Mr. Green said...

The Deuce: Wow, I'm pleasantly surprised! I think that is exactly what lots of people have been waiting for!

Sure, but why were they waiting?? Francis has said stuff like that previously, both before becoming Pope and since. In fact, I bet he’s said all of it before now.
Which brings us to Malcom’s question:

Are you suggesting that there's no positive value to Pope Francis coming out and declaring the orthodox doctrine directly?

OK, “none” is hyperbole, but you doubtless have come across people just as I have who seem to think that if only the pope would say or do such-and-such, then we wouldn’t have all this confusion and misinformation flying around. Yet if none of the previous times the Pope pointed out Church teaching, or any of the Popes before him, dispelled this rampant confusion, why does anyone think that if he just came out and said it one more time, suddenly it would be different? Well, he said it, and nothing much has changed.

A lot of them may not know the Church's real teaching because they don't realize they don't know it. Ambiguity is not helping; clearness will.

People who don’t even know they don’t know Church doctrine are not really the kind of people who peruse Radio Vaticana or EWTN. The only time they find out the Pope has said something is when they hear it on the news — with the typical spin. No wonder they don’t understand it. You know who really needs to be clear and forthcoming about Catholic teaching? The local parish priest. He surely has a lot more influence on the layman-in-the-street’s understanding than the Pope does personally. If instead of complaining about the Pope, folks want to complain about their parish priests not teaching well, I have a lot more sympathy. Oh, of course there’s also the little matter of local friends and neighbours doing likewise — let’s face it, if you or I cannot clear up the confusion of someone we know personally, waiting for the popular media to explain what the Pope is saying is pretty unlikely to help.

(Note: I think the Codg was really, really over the top and is still rather hostile to the Pope

Yes, but hardly because he’s confused about Church doctrine. I don’t know how he got caught in that mindset, but it seems that once you do, there’s not much anyone can say to snap you out of it.

Mr. Green said...

The Deuce: And don't you folks ever get tired of pretending not to see this? It's an insult to any thinking person's intelligence.

I dunno who “you folks” are, but the article makes it quite clear that he devoted "an ample part of his discourse to corruption” and was basically addressing abuses. If you had said, “Well, I don’t think Francis is quite right about _____ because of the following good logical reasons _____”, then fine — I might even agree with you. But you didn’t. You said it was “absurd, brainless, hippy-dippy, sin-denying progressivism”, which is maybe just a teensy bit over the top, eh?


Crude: A big part of the problem with social conservatism is there is this lingering desire to be the most explicit, direct, even intentionally off-putting person on the block when it comes to these issues. It has not worked.

Exactly. “You’re breaking the rules, better shape up or I’ll see you in Hell, sucker!” may carry some sort of cold psychological comfort for those already trying to follow the rules, but for those who are trying to rationalise them away, it’s unlikely to help. It’s “clear” but that isn’t the sort of clarity that such a person will respond to. Pope Francis really seems to be looking for a way to explain the rules to people so that they understand why it’s good for them, why they should want to follow Church teaching. No amount of clarity is going to help people who aren't open to it in the first place.

BenYachov said...

I think I have just been played Crude by the so called Catholic Right & I am fucking furious!


http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=23173

How come nobody has bothered to mention that no Cardinal has served as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura(Cardinal Burke's old Job) for longer than 6 years since Cardinal Staffa?

Burke was Prefect from (27 June 2008 - 8 Nov 2014) & it seems to me that he would have been moved anyway even if Benedict where sill in power?

So it seems to me this whole "demotion" is bullshit?

http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/the-city-gates.cfm?id=921

Am I crazy here?

Cheers.

Crude said...

Ben,

For one thing, the idea that only the 'Catholic Right' has been talking about this being a demotion is insane. It's been in AP news reports, it's been trumpeted on left wing news sites and blogs.

How come nobody has bothered to mention that no Cardinal has served as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura(Cardinal Burke's old Job) for longer than 6 years since Cardinal Staffa?

Since, uh... 1977?

So at absolute most, we'd expect there to be about 6 other examples?

And how many of those involved retirements due to age?

BenYachov said...


>So at absolute most, we'd expect there to be about 6 other examples?


Here is the list.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Signatura

>For one thing, the idea that only the 'Catholic Right' has been talking about this being a demotion is insane. It's been in AP news reports, it's been trumpeted on left wing news sites and blogs

The Right & the Left have been spinning this as the Pope dissing Cardinal Burke.

But if they haven't been in office a long time anyway since the 70' & 60's then how is it unusual that Burke be moved?

>And how many of those involved retirements due to age?

Technically they all loose their Jobs when a new Pope is elected &he decides wither to retain them.

I don't know & I will look into it. But I can't help but feeling I am being played......

BenYachov said...

Then there is this bit.

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/cardinal-burke-did-not-slam-pope-francis-says-group-that-set-up-interview-with-buzzfeed-5839874120744960

Crude said...

But if they haven't been in office a long time anyway since the 70' & 60's then how is it unusual that Burke be moved?

Burke was moved from the post and into what everyone says is just an honorary post.

I really don't find convincing the claim that it couldn't have been a punishment since a handful of people in that position previously didn't last very long, and therefore it obviously was not a snub.

BenYachov said...

Still he only "punishes" Burke but leaves the other six conservatives alone?

Crude said...

I'm not a big fan of the chain of reasoning being seen here.

BenYachov said...

What do you think of this then?

I stole this from the Shea blog.

Burke served 6+ years. His predecessor, Cdl. Vallini (4 years), was moved to “Great Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University”. Vallini’s predecessor, Cdl. Pompedda (4.5 years), turned 75 and had his resignation accepted by St. JP II. No shift to another curial position. Pompedda’s predecessor, Cdl. Grocholewski (1 year), was “shifted” to the all-important post of “Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education”. He’s been there since 1999. Grocholewski’s predecessor, Cdl. Agustoni (just under 4 years), became Prefect Emeritus of the Signatura. So Burke has served longer than any of his immediate four predecessors, only one of whom was “shifted to another curial position,” and that one not of earth-shaking significance. Shall I go on?

Read the whole thing.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2014/11/some-perspective-on-francis-priesthood-and-curial-appointments.html