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“Many of us non-RC traditionalist all over the world had awaited the news from Rome with some trepidation,” I wrote here on March 7 of last year. “In the end it turned out to be rather good. Pope Francis’… election is a compromise which will keep most traditionalists contented, if not exactly enthused, while giving the reformist zealots another decade or so to select a strong, charismatic candidate for their long-planned onslaught.”
A year and a half later, my tentative optimism appears to have been unjustified. The onslaught is under way, and Pope Francis is not acting to stop it. Somewhat belatedly I have just finished reading his 2013 224-page, 48000-word Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). It is his apostolic exhortation, nine-tenths of which a traditionalist – Orthodox as well as Catholic – will find sound and even enlightening, e.g. “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”
Pope Francis rightly invites “all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least “an openness to letting him encounter them.” He is touchingly eloquent when he asserts that no one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by Christ’s boundless and unfailing love: “With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!”
The devil is in the detail. Pope Francis criticizes “those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance.” He has no time for the “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who… feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.” He further asserts that “more than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges” and criticizes the fact that “a supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism.” He also asserts that “young people call us to renewed and expansive hope, for they represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future, lest we cling to a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in today’s world.”
This is disturbing at best, and actually rather depressing. Instead of longing for “a monolithic body of doctrine,” should the faithful settle for heterodoxy? What exactly is “promethean neopelagianism”? Am I an unreconstructed “promethean neopelagian” by virtue of being Orthodox? And what do all those “young people” call for exactly, where, when and how? Do their calls negate the magisterium?
I hope that my ultramontane friends will provide an enlightening comment.
ultramontane in many ways is the problem with today's church. In past few decades it was a plus that many ultramontanes were in media and pews as local priests and bishops were less than orthodox and certainly had no orthopraxis. So while St JPII and Benedict may have done some "interesting" things, overall they defended the Tradition. So we few that clung to our faith tended to exult the position and esp the person of the pope.
Now with this pope and his "less than traditional" one liners (as you say 90% of what he writes and says seems to be in line with Tradition) but it is that OTHER 10% that is contradictory to Tradition. And that is where the Catholics in pew are troubled. Most grew up imbibing a light form of "popalarity" as it kept us sane given the goofiness of the local church. But what if the Pope starts acting like all those heterodox bishops that devastated the local churches the past 4 or so decades? Catholicism is more than following the whims and off the cuff comments of the current occupant. It is embracing the Faith as handed down and not pay so much attention to the current occupant -be he good or bad. (Normal caveats apply to last statement ).
This Pope was never of traditionalist persuasion. He has never been friend of traditional RCs during his time as Buenos Aires Cardinal. He never promoted the Latin Mass even after Pope BXVI directives for it.
More disturbingly, while stil Cardinal, he has sent clear messages about where his heart and mind are by taking pictures and attending meetings with secular liberals, leftist ex-terrorists from the Argentine civil war, liberal jews, imans, and also ocasionally with freemasons.
As Pope there is very little to cheer for from the traditional RC point of view. His ambiguous messages about homosexuality, Islam, et al are very discouraging.
It's not looking good.
Pope Francis is a third-world Pope for a third-world congregation seeking sexual and economic "liberation." Apparently, his views mirror the changing sexual and cultural mores of his homeland.
I guess that this "Catholic style from the past" is the Church of the past two millennia, and we have entered a new era.
Pope Francis re: "Evangelii Gaudium" : "The great danger in today's world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience." Then he says "young people call us to a renewed and expansive hope, for they represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future, lest we cling to a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in todays world."
For two thousand years the Church, along with its structures and customs, has been teaching that Christ is truly The Way, The Truth, and The Light (Life) for all humanity. It would appear that for Francis " young people" will now provide a "new direction". What he needs to understand is that the direction will most likely be toward the "feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasure" and consumerism" he fears as today's "great danger" in the world.
I agree, these contradictions in his beliefs are very disturbing. Who is the real Francis?
Frederick Wilhelmsen said many many years ago that the Pope ( Pius XII I believe might as well throw his encyclicals inthe Tiober river as to think anyone will listen. You folks are like the kids who have taken over at National Review.
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