More About that Pope Francis Interview: He didn’t say Anything New

I have thought of two specific themes of which I have already spoken and which I would now like to examine further.

Let us return, therefore, to the subject of “God”. The words of St Ignatius spring to mind: “The Christian is not the result of persuasion, but of power (Epistula ad Romanos 3, 3). We should not allow our faith to be drained by too many discussions of multiple, minor details, but rather, should always keep our eyes in the first place on the greatness of Christianity.

I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.

– Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops of Switzerland, 9 Nov 2006

His Holiness knows he has the attention of the MSM. Read the interview. He is aware of the things being discussed about him. He knows how the media will spin this. What happens when all that spin and hype touting (finally!) a progressive, people’s pontiff backfires? What happens when that smiling, affable, humble “no” — to contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, women’s ordination — voices once more the unchanging nature of Truth? It should be another sound bite moment.

[Note: The truth is relative at Beer Camp. Vote for Uncle Quartermaster.]

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “More About that Pope Francis Interview: He didn’t say Anything New

  1. He didn’t say anything new? What do you make of these statements:

    “Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks.”

    So, for Pope Francis, “thinking with the Church” is thinking with the people, because “all the faithful … are infallible in matters of belief”.

    “Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”

    Wait – when Holy Mother Church teaches the truth about God and man, she is merely “expressing an opinion” in the service of the people? Doesn’t the truth “interfere” in the spirituality of every Catholic?

    • From Mysterium ecclesiae:

      2. The Infallibility of the Universal Church

      “In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity.” (12) For this reason He entrusted to the Church the treasury of God’s Word, so that the pastors and the holy people might strive together to preserve it, study it and apply it to life.(13)

      God, who is absolutely infallible, thus deigned to bestow upon His new people, which is the Church, a certain shared infallibility, which is restricted to matters of faith and morals, which is present when the whole People of God unhesitatingly holds a point of doctrine pertaining to these matters, and finally which always depends upon the wise providence and anointing of the grace of the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church into all truth until the glorious coming of her Lord.(14) Concerning this infallibility of the People of God the Second Vatican Council speaks as follows: “The body of the faithful as a whole, anointed as they are by the Holy One (cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27), cannot err in matters of belief. Thanks to a supernatural instinct of faith which characterizes the people as a whole, it manifests this unerring quality when, ‘from the bishops down to the last member of the laity’ (St. Augustine, De Praed. Sanct., 14, 27), it shows universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”(15)

      The Holy Spirit enlightens and assists the People of God inasmuch as it is the Body of Christ united in a hierarchical communion. The Second Vatican Council indicates this fact by adding to the words quoted above: “For, by this instinct of faith which is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, God’s People accepts not the word of men but the very Word of God (cf. 1 Thes 2:13). It clings without fail to the faith once delivered to the saints (cf. Jude 3), penetrates it more deeply by accurate insights, and applies it more thoroughly to life.”(16)

      Without doubt the faithful, who in their own manner share in Christ’s prophetic office,(17) in many ways contribute towards increasing the understanding of faith in the Church. “For,” as the Second Vatican Council says, “there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51), through the intimate understanding of spiritual things they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure charism of truth.”(18) And the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI observes that the witness the pastors of the Church offers is “rooted in Sacred Tradition and Holy Scripture and nourished by the ecclesial life of the whole People of God.”(19)

      But by divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; so that the faithful, who may not simply listen to them as experts in Catholic doctrine, must accept their teaching given in Christ’s name, with an assent that is proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise.(20) For this reason the Second Vatican Council, in harmony with the first Vatican Council, teaches that Christ made Peter “a perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of the faith and of communion”(21); and the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI has declared: “The teaching office of the bishops is for the believer the sign and channel which enable him to receive and recognize the Word of God.”(22) Thus, however much the Sacred Magisterium avails itself of the contemplation, life and study of the faithful, its office is not reduced merely to ratifying the assent already expressed by the latter; indeed, in the interpretation and explanation of the written or transmitted Word of God, the Magisterium can anticipate or demand their assent.(23) The People of God has particular need of the intervention and assistance of the Magisterium when internal disagreements arise and spread concerning a doctrine that must be believed or held, lest it lose the communion of the one faith in the one Body of the Lord (cf. Eph 4:4, 5).

    • As to your second point, “religion” has the right to express an opinion. That does not mean that whenever religion expresses itself, it is always in the form of an opinion. In particular, when the Church expresses itself in matters of faith and morals, it is not merely religion expressing an opinion, i.e., it is not expressing an opinion whenever it states that a teaching is infallible.

  2. Thanks for the reply. Without the qualifiers mentioned in Mysterium ecclesiae, the “infallibility of the people” is incomprehensible at best and heretical at worst. Pope Francis neglected to mention things like –

    “… a certain shared infallibility, which is restricted to faith and morals, which is present when the whole People of God unhesitatingly holds a point of doctrine pertaining to these matters …”

    “… it manifests this unerring quality when, ‘from the bishops down to the last member of the laity’ (St. Augustine, De Praed. Sanct., 14, 27), it shows universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.(15)”

    “The People of God has particular need of the intervention and assistance of the Magisterium when internal disagreements arise and spread concerning a doctrine that must be believed or held, lest it lose the communion of the one faith in the one Body of the Lord.”

    Etc. IF you leave out these things, you give the impression that “the faithful” are “infallible” when, for example, they almost universally believe that contraception is perfectly licit. Pope Francis is no fool and must certainly realize that his remarks will interpreted thus.

    With respect to religion “having the right to express an opinion”, the specific context of the Pope’s remark was the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

    • It was an *interview*. The *interview* he gave does not add to, or take from, the deposit of faith.

      I do not agree that the “specific context of the Pope’s remark was the Church’s teaching on homosexuality”. If you read the paragraphs preceding and following that statement, it is clear that Francis is discussing *pastoring* of the SSA person.

      As a pastor, he has encountered people with SSA who felt marginalized by the Church. He says, the Church does not want to condemn (even if words and actions have had that effect for some). He says, again as a pastor, if a person has such an inclination, who am *I* to judge. He’s acknowledging a fundamental truth: the Pope does not condemn people to Hell. Such a condemnation would be a matter of opinion. And, he’s acknowledging another truth: being a person with SSA is not in itself a sin.

      And then, he says this: “‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”

      In the interview, Francis returns several times to the theme of “fruitfulness”. He wants the mission of the Church to give life. Our Holy Father is saying that when he meets a person with SSA, he endeavors to 1. proclaim Jesus; 2. love the person; 3. be a good pastor by accompanying the person starting from their situation. In doing these things, what the Church expresses is not a matter of opinion, because “the Holy Spirit inspires”! This is the work that actually gives effect to the spiritual lives of the wounded sinner. Simply reciting a teaching to an unrepentant sinner may not be an opinion, but it is no better than one in the spiritual life of the person. It is a seed scattered on dry ground.

      • Look, I respect the impulse to defend the Holy Father and to put the most charitable interpretation on his words and actions, but unfortunately this interview is adding tremendously to the damage his earlier remarks have caused already.

        The interviewer asked him about homosexuality, not same-sex attraction. It’s a critical distinction with an enormous difference. Homosexuality is understood by everyone to include homosexual activity, or at least the *will* to engage in it without censure. Pope Francis cleverly and effectively changed the subject so as not to say anything negative about sodomy.

        I’m all for pastoral sensitivity towards sinners, being an experienced sinner myself, but the bigger crisis in the Church is that millions of Catholics don’t know that homosexuality is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance and must be repented of. The pope had the opportunity to dispel the fog on this issue but chose, instead, to confuse everyone.

        The Church is supposed to be about saving souls. The material “poor” aren’t the only people on the “existential periphery” when it comes to salvation. I’m more concerned about the majority of uncatechized middle-class American Catholics, who favor same-sex “marriage” and contraception by huge margins, than I am about materially poor but devout, orthodox, God-loving slum dwellers who will be going to heaven.

Comment on this Post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s