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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pope Francis and the end of Catholicism

I'm starting to get sick to my stomach with the non-stop slew of posts with gloomy-themed comments regarding Pope Francis. Why are so many Catholics, especially among traditionalists, so worried about Pope Francis? Ever since the election of Francis a storm of radically disappointed gloom-filled traditionalists has surged, and it's really soured my experience at certain blogs. Now before I go onto make any further comments, I don't want people fallaciously accusing me of blindly supporting anything and everything the Pope does and treat it as pure gold. I don't do that, but more importantly, that's not the point. The point is that people are blowing things way out of proportion, and I fear it's leading them to the brink of apostasy. That's what's more concerning, and I'm surprised more people aren't alarmed by that eminent danger. 

I'm just going to say what my gut is telling me the real problem is here. Coinciding with the rise of traditionalism was the death of Bl. John Paul II and the election of Benedict in 2005. The election of Benedict was a huge sigh of relief for the traditionalist blogosphere, since he had a well known track record of wanting to clean things up in the Church, despite whatever flaws he also had.

Of course, things completely were shaken up with Benedict's sudden "resignation," and traditionalists were terrified that all the progress made through Benedict could be undone in an instant, sending us right back to the nightmarish 1970s. And their "fears" were "confirmed" when Francis walked out on the Papal balcony. From that instant, a very ugly and gloomy raincloud came over the traditionalist movement and just parked itself there. The most slanderous things I've heard were spewed in comment boxes; people assumed the absolute worst. After a day or so I couldn't take it and basically stopped following many big name traditionalist blogs. It was just strange the way all the hope and overall good direction the Church was going were eclipsed by folks assuming the worst. I understand why they did this, since they didn't want the Church to endure anymore hell, but they lost sight of the bigger picture. The truth is, the Church isn't going in "reverse" by any reasonable measure. The Liberals in the Church are by now in nursing homes. There is a fresh, young traditionalist movement growing rapidly and going mainstream, even to the point the term "traditionalist" is becoming less and less necessary. Francis isn't going to destroy the Church, and even if he wanted to, what could he really do? Not much. 

Then out of left field came the "Papal Interviews," with Francis making some strange sounding off-the-cuff remarks that confused and scandalized many. And with this, the gloom increased exponentially, with traditionalists making outrageous comments along the lines of: "I don't know why anyone would want to join the Church" and "The gloves are now off" (referring to bare-knuckled punching) as far as his criticism was concerned regarding the Pope's sure intent to destroy everything.

The truth is, as unwise as it is for Popes to give "interviews," and granting the Pope used some poor choice of words here and there, the fact is the Pope didn't say anything heretical. Not by a long shot, and especially not if you tried to read them in a charitable light. Yeah, you can latch onto a phrase here and there, but really the interviews weren't a big deal. Nothing of any significance took place. The enemies of the Church remained enemies, since even they recognized the Church hadn't actually changed anything. In fact, the most damage was done by certain traditionalist blogs going into overdrive to generate hype, fear, and anger. And since many of these blogs rely on the very anti-traditionalist consumerist mentality of always needing to produce fresh stories, this meant they had to come up with dirt on a daily basis, whether there really was dirt or not

Even worse, the Catholic blogosphere as a whole missed an excellent opportunity to take some real gems out of the Pope's words. Again, this isn't to say everything he said was pleasant to hear, but he actually provided some badly-needed insight into serious problems in the world. Let's briefly consider what are thought to be his two most scandalous (some even say near heretical) comments: 

The first most scandalous comment was when the Pope said we cannot spend so much time talking about sexual issues. This was (wrongly but understandably) interpreted as an attack on the Church's dogmatic moral teachings, almost as if Francis was saying sexual issues are irrelevant so we all just should live as we please and stop fighting to end abortion! But that's really not what the Pope was getting at. What he was saying is that Christianity is a divinely revealed religion, not a mere moral-philosophy. If all we are concerned about is morals, then we've done a terribly heretical thing: we've humanized the Gospel and made it all about doing good works. Francis was saying we cannot lose sight of the fact a relationship with the Resurrected Jesus is what Catholicism is all about, and the moral teachings are rightly subordinate to this. 

The second most scandalous comment was when Francis said the "worst problem" the world faces today is unemployment among young adults and loneliness among the elderly. This was (wrongly but understandably) interpreted as the Pope saying that grace, the Trinity, salvation, faith, and all that stuff is irrelevant, and what really matters is helping the poor. This (understandably) reeked of the Liberal "social justice" (falsely so-called) scourge that hit the Church in the 1960s-90s. But as some observant traditionalists rightly recognized, Francis was actually saying something very traditional. Francis said that unemployment and loneliness were producing a wide-spread despair among the upcoming generation and the outgoing generation. This hopelessness was, in turn, going to completely destroy the faith of many and shut out the Gospel to many more. He was restating the timeless truth of authentic Catholic Social Teaching: As long as a person's physical needs are not being met, they will be greatly hindered from getting their spiritual needs met. In plain English, it's hard to have a good prayer life worship God if you and your family aren't getting your daily needs met (or even starving to death). The truth is, there are millions of young adults who cannot find work because of the injustice of our modern economic systems. This upcoming generation cannot move forward in life, they cannot get married. They're stuck. This is partly why so many are cohabiting and wasting away playing Grand Theft Auto. They don't see any future on the horizon. The good news of the Gospel falls on deaf ears. They lose faith just as Europe did when millions of survivors saw the unimaginable, ungodly carnage of the great wars of the 20th century. They said there's no way there is a God if things are this bad.

This post is long enough and there's really not much more to say other than people need to stop panicking. Look at the big picture. Nothing is going south by a long shot. Not everything is great, but nothing is signalling the Great Tribulation is just around the corner. As Fr Z recently said: Step away from the ledge!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

This pope is a liberal and will cause a lot of problems for those RC's who want to stay close to church doctrines. Surely you don't believe some of the things that the pope said about atheists and homosexuals etc do you?

Nick said...

I don't remember what he said regarding atheists and homosexuals, but I doubt it was anything along the lines of saying they are now acceptable or no big deal.

Catholics who truly want to stay close to Church doctrines can still do so quite easily.

Anonymous said...

He didn't say that the atheist needed to believe in Christ to be saved and he was unwilling to rebuke homosexuality but refused to say it was wrong. Rather he said "“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” What nonsense. This is a denial not of the Scripture but RC teaching:

Here is what the RC catechism says about it:
"2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

Anti-Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
He didn't say that the atheist needed to believe in Christ to be saved and he was unwilling to rebuke homosexuality but refused to say it was wrong. Rather he said "“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” What nonsense. This is a denial not of the Scripture but RC teaching...


The Pope did not contradict the CCC because he explicitly stated that his words should be read in light of the CCC.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well," Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23489702

His comments were intended to emphasize the dignity of homosexuals as human beings. God will forgive even homosexuals who seek him with good will. He was not approving sodomy or those who stubbornly continue in sin. The thing about atheists is similar.

“Given that — and this is the key point — God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience,” Francis writes in his letter.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/pope-francis-letter-atheists_n_3909425.html

What he said was the God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart. This is hardly a free pass for atheists. He is simply asserting what the Gospels say, that God is merciful to repentant sinners. But hardened atheists do not seek God so his words don't apply to them. His point in both instances is God's mercy which is freely given, but conditionally.

Paul said...

But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anonymous said...

Anti-
"God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart." would not save a man. This is not what the Lord Jesus or His apostles taught. Rather it was
"9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10

Sincerity of heart will not save a man.


Anti-Anonymous said...

What did Lord Jesus and his Holy Apostles teach? Lord Jesus says in his sermon on the mount, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8). Sounds kind of like what Francis said... The Most Holy Apostle Peter says in Acts, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). That also sounds kind of like what Francis said... Hmm....

Anonymous said...

Matt 7:7-8 is not for unbelievers. Unbelievers do not pray to God because they don't believe in God.

Acts 3:19 is about having faith in Christ. The unbeliever does not believe in Him.

This is why what Francis said to the atheist is antithetical to the gospel. What he said was heretical.

Anti-Anonymous said...

[b]Matt 7:7-8 is not for unbelievers. Unbelievers do not pray to God because they don't believe in God.[/b]

Then Francis' words don't apply to them, because his words were directed to those who "go to [God] with a sincere and repentant heart." Your posts here are more problematic that anything the pope said, suggesting that a mere belief is sufficient for salvation apart from conversion.

guy fawkes said...

Hi All, There is no need for worry. Even if the concerns of Anonymous were real, we have historical precedent of the Church surviving popes who did not teach or proclaim the faith clearly. The Honorius case for example. Or the one in which a pope denied the just dead immediately experience the Beatific Vision. But, as Nick has pointed out, this pope has not said anything of that nature.
Jim in Lisbon

Anonymous said...

Anti,
Actually what the pope said is problematic. Here is what the Scripture says about the atheist:
"The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Ps 14:1

Nick said...

I'd love it if the Pope came out hard against major sins of our time, but the impression I get from his interviews is that preaching about sin isn't very effective in the world we live in. Not because of political correctness, but simply because people have been trained by the culture to live according to the Enlightenment dogma of "As long as you're not hurting anyone, anything goes." And to make matters worse, our culture has been trained to tune-out any sort of Fundamentalist Protestant type rants, so the Pope saying "Repent you sinner" is less than effective.

The best "bet" to save these people is to preach the Gospel and not really about the moral issues. As noted earlier, preaching only on morals has caused us to forget the Gospel, which is really what saves. To me, I'm much more confident giving a person a Miraculous Medal and praying the Rosary for conversions.

As that begins to sink in, then there's room to connect the dots, showing why certain sins of our time are so bad and should be stopped. Because if all people hear is "don't do this" without a solid reason why not, then why should they listen? That's why, ironically, many modern day sins are being opposed in terms of the "scientifically confirmed" harmfulness to one's physical health, such as how abortion increases the risk of cancer, the pill can lead to infertility, etc, etc.

And to top that all off, the sex abuse crisis and more especially the disobedience among Catholics has to all be healed before the world will take us credibly. There needs to be serious house-cleaning or else we're the bigger hypocrites.

Anti-Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
Actually what the pope said is problematic. Here is what the Scripture says about the atheist:
"The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Ps 14:1


Do you believe that atheists are not converted to Christianity. If that is the case, then Christians are born Christians. Is this what you believe? That's a belief system known as PELAGIANISM.

Anti-Anonymous said...

Nick said:

And to top that all off, the sex abuse crisis and more especially the disobedience among Catholics has to all be healed before the world will take us credibly. There needs to be serious house-cleaning or else we're the bigger hypocrites.


Has Pope Francis done anything to further "house-cleaning." It seems like business as usual at the Vatican.

Nick said...

At this point, it's all business as usual. From the outside looking in.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
You can't be serious that "giving a person a Miraculous Medal and praying the Rosary for conversions."

This is not the gospel but superstitions.

Nick said...

You probably don't have any experience with real life evangelization. I've tried all kinds of angles, and the fact is most people either don't care about 'logical arguments' or even more likely, most people are closed off spiritually because of sin. Only grace can break through, and indeed that's what conversion is, not a work of man, but the Holy Spirit. Telling someone they're a sinner, opening up and quoting the Bible to someone who doesn't know what the Bible is, stuff like that has minimal impact on the typical worldly person.

The Rosary and Miraculous Medal are only a problem if you're a Protestant who has been preconditioned to 'fear' these things.

Anonymous said...

What did the apostle use to turn the world upside down? It was not the rosary or some kind of "Miraculous Medal".
That kind of stuff deceives people even more.

Anonymous said...

They turned to the Mass as instructed by Christ for salvation. Let me guess, that deceives people and/or is hocus/pocus even though the liturgy of the Mass preceded a fair amount of the NT before it was written. Christianity didn't occur after the printing press was invented.

Anonymous said...

There is simply no historical evidence of early Christians believing anything close to: sola scriptura, sola fide, justification by faith alone, believer's baptism, the Mass is a spiritual feast or recognition ceremony.

Early Christians worshipped Christ as he instructed them to worship and it was centered around the Mass. Christianity is and was sacerdotal. Protestants should be ashamed to not have the guts to claim that Christ failed if Catholicism, and its sacerdotal form of worship, is so wrong. If Christ failed then he is a liar and not God. Making up facts to justify another man made religion (off the back of Catholicism for that matter) is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

The mass does not offer salvation. No one going to a mass will be saved by the mass. Thea apostles did not preach the mass as a means of salvation.

Anonymous said...

Christ himself said that is what it takes for salvation. Let me guess, he was joking around when he said this and man was wrong for 1,600 years. Man cannot be saved without the grace of God. God gives us his grace IN AND THROUGH THE MASS. Grace is infused, not imputed. Christianity is sacerdotal and not the individual priesthood of each believer however screwed up their interpretation if scripture or history is for their own sinful purposes. Either have the guts to say Christ failed or don't call yourself a Christian. History is Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

You also fail to realize that the scripture you use for your position was preserved as what was being taught instead of some recipe for salvation. Plus, the books of the NT were chosen by their use during the Mass. If you ignore history and tradition you can create thousands of new forms of Christianity.

History lacks any proto-Protestants because the Protestants reject the hard sayings of Christ and his commandant about the Mass. Drink his blood? Eat his flesh? That's disgusting unless you have faith infused in you by grace.

Anonymous said...

Early Christians were mass consuming, sacerdotal based believers. Not some scholastics who think they can figure out Christianity through better exegesis if scripture given to them through the own church they reject and replace with themselves.

Anonymous said...

Nick - you need an article about metaphysical nature of Christianity. Most Ps have no idea that Christianity is metaphysical in nature so logical arguments are often wasted/lost upon them. Modern man doesn't believe in miracles and thinks his brain is more powerful than those superstitious early Christians. Pism is scholasticism because man thinks he can figure everything out from scripture yet he fails to comprehend the supernatural/metaphysical aspect of life itself that I overarches and pours through Christianity and Christ's physical church he left us on this planet.

Anonymous said...

Francis has not not said or done anything heretical, you say? I'm afraid you are wrong. He is not only a heretic but an apostate.

"Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense." - Tantamount to a denial of the great commission and the denial of the need to accept the Catholic faith for salvation.

"Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good." - Moral relativism, religious indifferentism, denial of the one true faith.

"there is no Catholic God" - With this comment Francis became an apostate and a non-Catholic.

Not to mention the fact that he participates in the rites of the Jewish religion and believes atheists can be saved if they only follow their consciense. The man has absolutely nothing to do with Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, Where in the supper accounts does it say anything about eternal life? Where in them did Jesus say that by eating the bread and drinking the wine gains someone forgiveness of sin and eternal life?

cwdlaw223 said...

John 6:56. There's a reason followers left Jesus over this hard saying because it was hard to believe.

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick - Pope Francis is trying to bridge secular culture with the Church and his attempts will fail. It's impossible to bridge such worldviews except in Protestantism where you can change the meaning if words in your head. He's playing a dangerous game and I am deeply disappointed by his attempts. If Obama likes him then you know he's not doing his job correctly.

cwdlaw223 said...

I see we have some more "salvation recipe" Protestants on this site. In order to properly partake in the Mass you must have repented for your sins. Baptism is the method to "wash away" your sins and you are commanded to have faith that the grace infused in you will help you live a Christian life. Salvation isn't some recipe or event, it's a journey and it starts with baptism, is perpetuated by the sacraments and one must persevere until the end.

Munchy said...

Hi cwdlaw223

Since you talk about salvation then I wonder if you can offer your good assistance in answering these following questions of mine:

1. Luke 23:42-43; so based on what ground the man, who said; “…Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom, been saved?

2. James 2:34 “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Can you explain what work did James refer? Is Love and Work are different things?

3. The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the teaching of the scripture Martin Luther claimed. But if that’s true or not, as was to believe to be the teaching of the scripture, what makes him claimed that faith alone justified against the RCC? In other words, what happened in the Roman Catholic Church that caused him to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone?

4. Lastly, does Christ provide a place for believers in heaven according to the weight of their work while on earth? In other words, does a believer who does more works on earth will live a better life and place in heaven than the one who does less work?

God bless