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October 1, 2013


More from the Disastrous New Pope

This time Pope Francis decides to correct Jesus’ faulty missiology:

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good…more

Compare with:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matt 28:18-20)

It’s a good thing we have the Pope to interpret scripture for us. I mean who would have known that when Jesus instructed his followers to make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Trinity and teach them to follow all his commands, he really meant: get to know everybody and tell them to follow their own consciences.

In answer to a question about whether or not there is an absolute “good’, the Pope answered:

“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good….Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

Compare with:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?(Jer 17:9)

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.(Eph 2:1-3)

No one is good but God alone (Mark 10:18)

It’s difficult to believe that any pope asked about the nature of truth and goodness would encourage fallen human beings to follow whatever ‘vision’ of good they possess. Not only is it morally absurd (the Nazis, Khmer Rouge, and the Klu Klux Klan were/are all following their vision of the good) it is biblically repugnant. No one is good but God. The human heart is deceived. When groups of human beings do what is right in their own eyes, it never ends well. This is precisely why Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and rebellion(John 16:8) and commissions his church to call all human beings to repent and surrender to him. Apart from Jesus Christ the world is not and can never be “a better place” no matter how much people follow their vision of good.

Now we wait. It shouldn’t be long before we’re treated to the now familiar sight of conservative Catholic bloggers desperately trying to persuade us and themselves that Pope Francis really didn’t say what he said, that he was mistranslated or that he is misunderstood. Nonsense. The Pope is not a stupid man. He knows the import of his words and the media/cultural context in which he speaks them. At some point my Catholic friends need to face facts. This pope is a disaster for Rome. It’s not as if he is the first papal disaster…but he’s the first in quite a long time. He’s going to undo at least some of John Paul II’s and Benedict’s work. Liberal Catholicism will rise from the dead and gain ground. The sooner you realize that the more prepared you’ll be to endure the next 15 or so years of his papacy.


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77 comments

So why would the College of Cardinals, most of whom I thought were appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, vote to elect this person pope?  What were they trying to achieve?  Were they deceived?  If he invites Gene Robinson, Desmond Tutu or Jefferts-Schori to the Vatican for dinner and drinks I’ll be convinced that the Second Coming is nigh grin

[1] Posted by Daniel on 10-1-2013 at 12:28 PM · [top]

Actually, he might invite those people over for dinner. If this pope is about anything, it’s talking to people.  Since this same pope has make evangelism - excuse me, “evangelization” - a priority, I suppose it might be fair to ask what these statements mean in that context.

Personally, I don’t need to “explain away” anything the pope says, since my faith is in Jesus Christ.  I think if you looked at some of the things Bl. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict actually said, you might find that Pope Francis is not that far out there.

[2] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 12:46 PM · [top]

What about all that Magisterium stuff?  Thought they had stabalized what they believe.  This new guy sound like he is rolling his own as he goes.  Oh well, we shouldn’t be prejuciced against Univerlalism.  The ultimate inclussiveness and non-judgemtal stuff.

[3] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 10-1-2013 at 12:46 PM · [top]

2—Words Matter,
I’m no JP2 or Benedict scholar—but I’ve read some of their works, and the idea that truth is relative, and one should follow their own concept of the good, and the world will be a better place just doesn’t square with those two guys.  It’s glaring.  It’s obvious.  It’s fatuous.

[4] Posted by Theron Walker✙ on 10-1-2013 at 01:00 PM · [top]

#4 -

I’m really not going to get into a big thing about this, but the pope did not say that truth is relative, but that we each have our own vision of the good and the true. That happens to be true. It is also true that we can meet at those points where our faith touches their lack of faith, which is pretty much ethical concerns. Is that evangelism? The beginnings of it, maybe, though not the whole.

This is not unlike Pope Benedict commenting that for a male prostitute to use a condom might be the first step toward a morality. The sex-drenched American media turned it into “POPE APPROVES CONDOMS!!!”  Ummmm…. no.

I just read a more full statement of “proslytism”:

“The Church, Benedict XVI told us, does not grow through proselytism, it grows through attraction, through witness. And when the people see this witness of humility, of meekness, of mildness, they feel the need that the Prophet Zachariah spoke of: ‘We want to come with you.’ The people feel that need in the face of the witness of charity, of this humble charity, without bullying, not sufficient, humble. Worship and serve!”

I read this at the MCJ, but it’s from today’s sermon.

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/10/01/pope_concelebrates_mass_with_council_of_cardinals/en1-733309

[5] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 02:27 PM · [top]

Ah yes, “Preach the gospel everywhere…sometimes use words…” the famous St. Francis saying that St. Francis probably never said.

The problem with good works apart from actually telling people about Jesus and seeking their conversion is that:

1. The method is in direct conflict with the NT in which the proclaimed word is the means by which God changes hearts (see Romans 10 for example)
2. When people see you doing good things but you do not tell them about Jesus, you get the glory not Jesus. People say: isn’t that Matt a nice man…not: I am a sinner who needs Jesus to save me.

[6] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 02:37 PM · [top]

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

[7] Posted by rick allen on 10-1-2013 at 02:50 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt -

The not-St. Francis quote isn’t what the pope was saying.

[8] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 02:51 PM · [top]

Hi Rick,

Jesus wasn’t condemning proselytizing…but to bringing people into a religion dominated by the false teaching of the Pharisees which turned converts into children of hell.

[9] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 02:52 PM · [top]

Russell Moore on the Pope’s interview: “From Augustine’s Confessions to “Well, everyone has his own ideas about good and bad…” is a mighty long path.”

Yep.
http://www.russellmoore.com/?p=12298

[10] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 03:17 PM · [top]

My Ultramontanist senses are tingling - time to leap into the Popemobile and defend the Holy Father!  grin

Look, first of all, that sentence was in the context of a joking exchange between the atheist editor of “La Repubblica” and the Pope:

Il Papa sorride e mi dice: «Qualcuno dei miei collaboratori che la conosce mi ha detto che lei tenterà di convertirmi»

È una battuta gli rispondo. Anche i miei amici pensano che sia Lei a volermi convertire.

Ancora sorride e risponde: «Il proselitismo è una solenne sciocchezza, non ha senso. Bisogna conoscersi, ascoltarsi e far crescere la conoscenza del mondo che ci circonda. A me capita che dopo un incontro ho voglia di farne un altro perché nascono nuove idee e si scoprono nuovi bisogni. Questo è importante: conoscersi, ascoltarsi, ampliare la cerchia dei pensieri. Il mondo è percorso da strade che riavvicinano e allontanano, ma l’importante è che portino verso il Bene».

(The Pope smiles and says: “Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.”

It’s a joke, I tell him. My friends think it is you want to convert me.

He smiles again and replies: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”)

Second, we don’t know what Francis means by the Italian term “il proselitismo”; there’s a difference between evangelisation and proselytization, with the latter term having come to have, in modern times, the tone of forcible conversion imposed on people in colonial situations, or such historical events as Robert Browning’s Holy-Cross Day:

Give your first groan—compunction’s at work; 
And soft! from a Jew you mount to a Turk. 
Lo, Micah—the selfsame beard on chin
He was four times already converted in!     
Here’s a knife, clip quick—it’s a sign of grace— 
Or he ruins us all with his hanging-face.

Thirdly, he has made statements about the primacy of conscience, and he repeated the same in this interview.  So again, it’s about persuasion not compulsion.

Fourthly, he speaks a great deal off the cuff and extempore.  He doesn’t stick to prepared scripts.  So this was very likely not a finely-judged, prepared, ‘here’s one I made earlier’ interview, but him answering questions as they were put to him.  And frankly, I don’t think he cares a straw about the way the media winnows through what he says, looking for anything controversial.  He’s already demonstrated that he is stubborn about doing things his own way (e.g. living in the Domus Santa Marta instead of the Papal Apartments).

Lastly, I have no idea what’s going to happen, but it will be very interesting times.  Francis may not have been the pope we wanted, but he may be the pope we need.  God knows grin

[11] Posted by Martha on 10-1-2013 at 03:50 PM · [top]

Hi Martha,

1. the problem with your read - that his words were in jest - is that while it is clear that the reporter is jesting, the pope, in answer, becomes quite serious. He’s not joking when he says, “we need to get to know each other, listen to each other…” There is no reason to think he is joking when he says proselytism is solemn nonsense. That’s not all that funny. Also, your second point seems to acknowledge that his response was not meant in jest.

2. I certainly understand that there are shades of meaning to the word proselytism in English and I believe the same is true in Spanish. At the same time, the context of the question is quite helpful. Obviously the reporter is not referring to torture/forced conversions. He is referring to his own relationship with the pope. He’s joking about the pope trying to convert him in the process of their relationship. And it is in that context…‘relational evangelism’...not the Inquisition….that the pope refers to “proselytism” as non-sense.

3. The “primacy of conscience” within Catholic Tradition has never been understood as an excuse or reason not to seek to bring people to the knowledge of and love of Jesus or to inform the fallen conscience of the true Good. The pope is using the “primacy of conscience” as a substitute for the Great Commission. I don’t know of too many theologians who would go with him there…with good reason.

4. The pope isn’t Kim Kardashian chatting with E. He is the leader of the largest Christian body in the world and claims to be the “Vicar of Christ”...getting chatty with a reporter is no excuse for loose imprecise and, in this case, errant teaching. Teachers are held to a higher standard…and if he truly is who he claims to be, then the standard by which he must be measured is higher than anyone else’s.

[12] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 04:13 PM · [top]

As Martha’s Ultramontanist senses, so my low-church Calvinist senses are a-tingle.  Let me weigh in.

The primary difficulty which I think has been overlooked,  is that Pope Francis’ remarks are being reported second-hand, and by a person who has every reason to WANT the Pope to eschew any form of evangelisation.  I am not suggesting that the editor of La Repubblica has consciously changed the Pope’s words, but it is more than possible that his sub-conscious biases have influenced his report of the conversation.  I will return to this below, but first I want to look at another issue - the context of comments about “proselitismo”:

As Martha points out, sig. Scalfari is an atheist, but it goes further than that.  His paper is one of the strongest critics of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy.  His left-wing readership want the RCC to be subject to state control.  The Left has much broader support in Italy than it has in USA or Australia.

To explain the context: This is a recurring theme in Italian politics – when Italy was established in the 19th century, Pope Pius fought bitterly to keep the RCC’s temporal powers (including the Pope’s direct secular rule over large regions).  One of the reasons that the Vatican was ceded to the RCC as its own territory was in exchange for the Papacy relinquishing the Pope’s other political powers in Rome and many parts of Italy.  [I am not writing this to put the boot into the RCC, but to give the context].  Equally, the left wing in Italy (which is stronger in attitude than the left in Anglophone countries) would like to see the RCC (and all churches) brought under State control.  Therefore,  one of the points Pope Francis made in his interview was the Church had no intention of interfering in politics.  That has special resonance in Italy.

The second thing to note about La Repubblica is that in the last couple of months it has been highly critical of the Italian government for permitting radical Muslims to proselytize in Italy.  Note the point Martha makes above:  “proselitismo” has different connotations to “evangelizzazione”. 

In other words, the same left wing constituency that has been highly critical of the RCC and would like to see it heavily regulated and even controlled by the Italian State, is also critical of those who “proselytize” to produce terrorists.  It is understandable that Pope Francis would be keen to distance the RCC from the word “proselitismo”.

In addition, I was not aware of Martha’s point about “proselitismo” being associated with colonialist forced conversions, but it makes sense – that is exactly the sort of criticism that the Left would level at the RCC (and all Christians). 

Hence Pope Francis’ eagerness to say that the Church was not into “proselitismo”; but he does not say anything about renouncing “evangelizzazione”.  Now perhaps Pope Francis is a liberal – anything is possible and the RCC is no more immune to liberal infiltration than the rest of us.  But I wouldn’t rush to judgment on the basis of this conversation.

Getting back to the issue of accuracy of the report.  It is true that Sig. Scalfari’s words indicate that il Papa was talking in a broader sense, eschewing “proselytism” in all contexts.  Perhaps he was (and if so, as I note above, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he was eschewing evangelism).  But we can’t rule out the possibility that the editor read more into the conversation than was actually there, in a way that suited his own pre-conceived notions.  The Pope may have just meant it in a personal sense – that he wasn’t trying to convert Scalfari personally in that conversation.  Caution is warranted: by way of analogy, if I read the words of Robert Duncan as reported by Richard Dawkins, I would be loathe to quickly base my opinion of ++Duncan solely on such a report – issues of both conscious and unconscious reporting bias on Dawkins’ part would arise.

Finally, please note that the conversation reported by Martha is in Italian, not Spanish.  Her translation is impressive.

[13] Posted by MichaelA on 10-1-2013 at 06:29 PM · [top]

Matt, as Martha has shown you, it may be a good idea next time to make sure you understand the sense of what you find offensive; its nuances and its context, both in the instant moment and in harmony with what has been said previously, before you rip it loose from its meaning to put your own stamp on it.

“And here I am. The Pope comes in and shakes my hand, and we sit down. The Pope smiles and says: “Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.”

“It’s a joke, I tell him. My friends think it is you want to convert me.
He smiles again and replies: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”

Clearly the remark ‘Procelytism is solemn nonsense.’ was nothing but casual banter between two powerful men who *don’t* know each other, but who are setting off in that direction and was intended by the Pope specifically and only for the athiest in front of him, who he knows he must get to know before he can even *think* of converting him. 

There is no reason to think he is joking when he says “Proselytism is solemn nonsense…” unless you’re a Protestant minister with a chip on his shoulder and an agenda to support.  Then you can engage in your own brand of ‘solemn nonsense’ and take yet another protestant pot-shot.

The Pope has already said, when he was villified by Catholics for saying we need to tone down our emphasis on [sexual sins], we must treat the wounds first, then bring them to Jesus.  Never, at any time, then or now, did he ever say, or come close to saying, the need to get to know someone throws Jesus under the bus.

The point has been made elsewhere (on a First Things blog, I think) that, being from South America, the Pope is well aware of the advances Evangelicals have made in his country with their own ‘procelytism,’ even though their moral values are similar to ours.  The difference is, they get to know the people first, then they get the people to know Jesus, *then* they teach the morality of the Gospel message.

You may also be interested to know, Mt. 28:18-20 was commanded when the whole world was an uncultivated garden.  Things are a little different now.  The Catholic Church has, long since, preached the Gospel message to the ends of the earth and made disciples in (not yet ‘of’) all nations.  Jesus’ command has been obeyed.  Now it’s a matter of redirecting those who have heard and follow the siren song of the culture back to the Gospel message. 

Are you sure getting to know them, understanding their real-world problems and what they confront in trying to solve them and helping to solve them before leading them to a better understanding of Jesus’ message isn’t the better approach than your somewhat smug and lofty citations of Scripture is likely to bring?  I think it is and I’m pretty certain the Pope needs no lessons from you about Christian charity or the love of his brothers.  Jesus not merely preached that message, he emphasized it.  Go read that part and see what you can make of it.

Though there was no formal ‘teaching’ in his remarks, your remark about the Pope’s loose, imprecise speech is the only thing you said that resonated with me.  The Pope needs to understand what the media and people like you will do to his rhetoric if he doesn’t get control of himself and make absolutely certain what he says cannot me misconstrued.  Satan is prowling the world looking for popes to devour.

[14] Posted by winslow on 10-1-2013 at 06:54 PM · [top]

More on the translation front:

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/10/wdtprs-what-did-the-pope-really-say-1/

As to “loose, imprecise speech”, the man is a Jesuit, for heaven’s sake. He was superior of his province and a cardinal archbishop of a local Church of almost 2.7 million souls. We may disagree with what he says, or think it imprudent, but “loose”? I don’t think so.

[15] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 07:15 PM · [top]

Hi MichaelA

“The primary difficulty which I think has been overlooked,  is that Pope Francis’ remarks are being reported second-hand, and by a person who has every reason to WANT the Pope to eschew any form of evangelisation.”

And yet, this is his second interaction with the same publication. If you remember, he wrote a letter published in the paper earlier in September. That was also the subject of a great deal of criticism (and rightly so).
http://www.repubblica.it/cultura/2013/09/11/news/the_pope_s_letter-66336961/

Has the vatican issued any clarification for the controversial aspects of that letter? No. They seem happy with it.

There is no reason to suggest that his words have not been accurately reported. If the have not, I am sure the Vatican is perfectly capable of issuing a clarification and/or rebuttal.

“I am not suggesting that the editor of La Repubblica has consciously changed the Pope’s words, but it is more than possible that his sub-conscious biases have influenced his report of the conversation.”

Anything is possible, but given that the pope granted the interview and seems to be in conversation with the reporter, should that be the case, the reporter would be opening himself to considerable risk. The vatican, as I pointed out above, is perfectly capable of correcting the record and of blackballing reporters who misreport the pope’s words.


“...In other words, the same left wing constituency that has been highly critical of the RCC and would like to see it heavily regulated and even controlled by the Italian State, is also critical of those who “proselytize” to produce terrorists.  It is understandable that Pope Francis would be keen to distance the RCC from the word “proselitismo”.”

But neither the reporter nor the pope refer to radical Muslim proselytization. You need to read that context into the subtext of the conversation. The reporter is explicitly referring to his own relationship with the pope. He’s joking about the pope trying to convert him in the process of their relationship. And it is in that context…‘relational evangelism’….that the pope refers to “proselytism” as non-sense.

“In addition, I was not aware of Martha’s point about “proselitismo” being associated with colonialist forced conversions, but it makes sense – that is exactly the sort of criticism that the Left would level at the RCC (and all Christians).”

But that is not the kind of criticism this reporter was leveling at this pope.

“Hence Pope Francis’ eagerness to say that the Church was not into “proselitismo””

In context the pope was rejecting the suggestion that he was out to convert the reporter.

“but he does not say anything about renouncing “evangelizzazione”.”

He does not use that word. true. But neither is the context colonialism or radical Muslim encroachment. The context is this reporter’s relationship with this pope and the reporter’s joking suggestion that Francis might try to convert him…which Francis took as an opporunity to suggest that such an attempt - the attempt being joked about ie. turning people from one way of belief to another(that is the context) is solemn nonsense.

” Now perhaps Pope Francis is a liberal – anything is possible and the RCC is no more immune to liberal infiltration than the rest of us.  But I wouldn’t rush to judgment on the basis of this conversation.”

I would. But it is not rushing. This conversation is quite enough especially having read the entire interview…but it does not occur in a vacuum. This pope consistently leans over the left edge in his interviews and writings.

“Getting back to the issue of accuracy of the report.  It is true that Sig. Scalfari’s words indicate that il Papa was talking in a broader sense, eschewing “proselytism” in all contexts.”

Glad you see that.

“Perhaps he was (and if so, as I note above, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he was eschewing evangelism).”

I think he was doing just that.

“But we can’t rule out the possibility that the editor read more into the conversation than was actually there, in a way that suited his own pre-conceived notions.”

And if so, the vatican is fully capable of issuing a clarification.

“The Pope may have just meant it in a personal sense – that he wasn’t trying to convert Scalfari personally in that conversation.”

Why would a Christian leader ever say that? I have a number of friends from other faiths. They all know I am hoping to convert them. That’s what Christians do. I have a number of friends who would like to convert me. If they did not they would be unfaithful to their convictions. In the pope’s case, if he is not trying to convert the reporter he is being unfaithful to Jesus…nonetheless, I think you’ve already acknowledged that he seems to be speaking more generally here (unless I misread you)


“Caution is warranted: by way of analogy, if I read the words of Robert Duncan as reported by Richard Dawkins, I would be loathe to quickly base my opinion of ++Duncan solely on such a report – issues of both conscious and unconscious reporting bias on Dawkins’ part would arise.”

And I would expect that if that were the case we would quickly see a clarification report issued by Fr. Andrew Gross from the ACNA communications office.

“Finally, please note that the conversation reported by Martha is in Italian, not Spanish.  Her translation is impressive.”

Right, thanks for the correction.

[16] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 07:23 PM · [top]

Hi Winslow:

“Clearly the remark ‘Procelytism is solemn nonsense.’ was nothing but casual banter between two powerful men who *don’t* know each other, but who are setting off in that direction and was intended by the Pope specifically and only for the athiest in front of him, who he knows he must get to know before he can even *think* of converting him.”

That is not “clear” at all. In fact the opposite is “clear”. In response to the joking banter from the interviewer, the pope turns serious and makes a very broad statement about attempts to persuade people to change their beliefs. To suggest that his response is mere lighthearted banter in return is not to read what he actually says (all of it) or to seriously misread it.

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good…”

On what basis do you rip the first sentence from the rest of the pope’s thought and label it as some kind of lighthearted riposte? Is the second sentence also a joke? When does he start joking and when does he stop? Is the pope jesting when he says “we need to get to know each other…” or is that also a lighthearted jest? How do you know when the jesting begins and when it ends?

Does this sound like a man who doesn’t want to be taken seriously?

Not at all. The only way to read his words that way is to be persuaded beforehand that the pope “cannot mean” what he actually says, something that conservative Catholic apologists have become quite habituated to arguing.

“unless you’re a Protestant minister with a chip on his shoulder and an agenda to support.”

Nah. Have you read what I have written about Benedict? I disagreed with him, of course, with regard to the various reformation debates, but he was a good solid pope and I definitely respected the strength of his convictions. I felt the same way about John Paul II. My thoughts about Francis have nothing to do with his being Catholic but rather with his not being Catholic ..his purposeful leaning over the edge of the boundaries of his own confession.

“Then you can engage in your own brand of ‘solemn nonsense’ and take yet another protestant pot-shot.”

Right, because as every reader of SF knows, I can’t stand Roman Catholics…and just look for every opportunity to bash them…

“The Pope has already said, when he was villified by Catholics for saying we need to tone down our emphasis on [sexual sins], we must treat the wounds first, then bring them to Jesus.  Never, at any time, then or now, did he ever say, or come close to saying, the need to get to know someone throws Jesus under the bus.”

Not sure what you are talking about here…I certainly did criticize his suggestion that Christians not talk so much about the mass murderous slaughter of unborn babies. His argument was sub-Christian. Imagine a Christian during WWII saying that we ought not to talk about the gassing of the Jews so much for fear of turning off the Nazis.

“The point has been made elsewhere (on a First Things blog, I think) that, being from South America, the Pope is well aware of the advances Evangelicals have made in his country with their own ‘procelytism,’ even though their moral values are similar to ours.  The difference is, they get to know the people first, then they get the people to know Jesus, *then* they teach the morality of the Gospel message.”

Vastly oversimplified…My wife comes from generations of missionaries on both sides. There is no “schedule”. You learn the language, the culture, you enter the community, you love, you preach the gospel…there is no “right sequence”. You definitely need to be able to communicate…but the gospel does the work of conversion…not you.

“You may also be interested to know, Mt. 28:18-20 was commanded when the whole world was an uncultivated garden.”

I would be interested to know that since it is not true. Are you suggesting that no one was saved before Jesus died and rose again?

“Things are a little different now.  The Catholic Church has, long since, preached the Gospel message to the ends of the earth and made disciples in (not yet ‘of’) all nations.  Jesus’ command has been obeyed.”


Oh, wow, I didn’t know that. See, because here in Binghamton the vast majority of people I run into have no idea what the gospel is. Maybe its just here. Maybe the rest of the US is a veritable cultivated garden of Jesus loving people. But I don’t think so.

“Now it’s a matter of redirecting those who have heard and follow the siren song of the culture back to the Gospel message.”

So most people in the world are Christians who need to be called to repentance? Really? 

“Are you sure getting to know them, understanding their real-world problems and what they confront in trying to solve them and helping to solve them before leading them to a better understanding of Jesus’ message isn’t the better approach than your somewhat smug and lofty citations of Scripture is likely to bring?”

False dichotomy. The word is not in conflict with relationships. And, of course, you have no idea what I think about evangelism or how I carry it out. Where on earth did you get the idea I think we should not “get to know people”. I have said that the purpose is conversion, not mere conversation. The pope, by contrast, has said the opposite.

“I think it is and I’m pretty certain the Pope needs no lessons from you about Christian charity or the love of his brothers.”

Right. He needs lessons from Jesus and the apostles who love sinners enough to call them to repentance and faith.

“Jesus not merely preached that message, he emphasized it.”

What? Isn’t “preaching” also “emphasizing”? I read the interview thrice now and I have no idea what you are talking about here.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 07:56 PM · [top]

Words Matter, let’s hope it is loose and imprecise speech. For the pope’s sake.

[18] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-1-2013 at 07:57 PM · [top]

I’m not really a big Fr. Z fan, but he rather effectively demonstrates that Pope Francis has said nothing inconsistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[19] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 08:29 PM · [top]

[20] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 08:31 PM · [top]

What language was the interview conducted in?  I am guessing Italian, which is, I think, the Pope’s third language. Please correct me if I am wrong, but Spanish is his native language, correct?  Then he would have learned Latin, then Italian, perhaps some Portuguese and Greek in there somewhere, passable English and probably several others. 
I assume there are recordings, to determine if any of the report has been editorialized?
Who did the translation?  A left wing newspaper edited, if I understand correctly, by an atheist.
What did the Pope actually say?

Also note that “proselytize” has a specific meaning within some Catholic discussions with the Orthodox and other churches, which has to do more with trying to get Christians to change churches than with conversion of non-Christians.  The Catholic Church itself was “accused” of proselytizing by some Anglican opponents of the Ordinariate.

I do miss Benedict, because it was so refreshing to have a church leader who told you exactly where he stood.  Francis is a different sort, perhaps shoots from the hip too often, and spends rather a lot of time trying to save the souls of the press, and does not distinguish readily between what he is saying to them personally, and what he is saying to the world through them. But I can’t see anything to indicate that Pope Francis is a Frank Griswold or Rowan Williams.

[21] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-1-2013 at 09:19 PM · [top]

tj, I expect you are right about the language, however note that both his parents were Italian from Piedmont, so he would have grown up speaking some Italian language at home.  But it might have been Piemontese dialect rather than Italian.

[22] Posted by MichaelA on 10-1-2013 at 09:29 PM · [top]

There’s so much that could be said on these written words.  First, it’s clear that Francis is not a “hard-liner,” though what that truly means for a pope we’ll have to wait and see.  Remarkably, as far as I can see, this just proves that, in spite of what “they” say, the pope is not infallible.

The problem for me is the continuing hypocrisy.  We go from John Paul, who writes some truly beautiful prayers, all the while overseeing a global child-abuse movement in his church along with a nice, fat Vatican bank money-laundering operation.  Then comes along Benedict, who is in some ways an observant Christian, and in others, well, under him we get boys being hired to pleasure priests at the Vatican.  And other such niceties. 

I remember listening to a course on the history of the papacy.  And my favorite line from this course (perhaps my favorite line ever), was when the professor was trying to explain why this particular pope that he was talking on was being so brutal in shaking down his congregants for money: he said, well, you have to understand, hired assassins are very expensive.  He really needed the money.

Oh, yes.

And while this particular piece of history occurred a while back, I can’t help but view the Roman Church as being built on a very solid ground of corruption, lies, and just plain crime.

Just think of their cooperation with the Nazis.

Ah, yes.  Good times.

So, to me, Francis can say a whole lot of things.  He can even get a big, fat, public thank-you from feminists who now feel better about having an abortion.  (Since when did they need anyone to give them permission to feel justified in their actions?)  The question is, truly, what does it really matter in the long run?

Is he doing anything about the Vatican bank?  Is he doing anything about the crime that is rampant in his church?  (Like the bishop (archbishop?) who was arrested recently for not only selling hard drugs through the church, but for owning an “adult” store through which he could launder the money.)

Arguing over whether his words reflect the teachings of Jesus or not is kind of like trying to drape an elephant with a scatter rug and asking if that makes a whole lot of difference: the answer is, nope.

[23] Posted by JuliaMarks on 10-1-2013 at 09:38 PM · [top]

There are charitable and uncharitable interpretations of words.  In the Gospel reading from two weeks ago, by a straight-forward, literal interpretation of his words, Jesus seems to be praising the dishonesty of the unjust steward.  Exegetes come to the text, however, knowing that can’t be correct.  Why?  Because to interpret it so would be to interpret in a way that is completely inconsistent with the everything else we understand about the Gospel.  So you have preachers and teachers having to work to make sense of the text for the audience. 

How does this observation relate to this present controversy?  Suggesting that the Pope, who is under the authority of Christian tradition and not a dictator, would teach that evangelism is bad, wrong, or in any way inappropriate for Christians, has to be about as uncharitable interpretation as could be had.  It is just plain silly and begs for an explanation.  Maybe the hysteria is rooted in some deep-seated objection to Roman Catholicism, but it is not rooted in an honest interpretation of what was said in its context.  It is exactly like saying that Jesus praised dishonesty.  Come on, folks.  Get serious.

[24] Posted by anglicanconvert on 10-2-2013 at 06:14 AM · [top]

Right…I mean the idea that any leader in the Church would say something in error…why how silly of me. The context of being a minister of the gospel precludes by necessity such an absurd suggestion…because all bishops are, like Jesus, unable to speak falsely. Bishops especially are immune to such things. This particular bishop, of course, has never said anything remotely questionable. Very silly of me.

[25] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-2-2013 at 06:23 AM · [top]

Re: #15.

WordsMatter, it is exactly because of the Pope’s ‘loose, imprecise speech’ that we are here debating what he said.  If his words were precise and exact, their meaning would not be in question for just about everyone who’s paying attention.

[26] Posted by winslow on 10-2-2013 at 08:20 AM · [top]

Re:  #25.

Matt, anglicanconvert didn’t say what you imply.  You created a straw man instead of dealing with what was actually said.

Jesus seemed to be praising the dishonesty of a steward, giving the suggestion that words can have a deeper meaning than what they appear to say.  Then came the opinion that [your interpretation] of the Pope’s words are as uncharitable as could be had.  I agree with that opinion as do others participating in this discussion.  You have a right to your opinion whatever it is; others have a right to assess your opinion and come to a conclusion about it, which is what’s happening.  It comes with the territory.

[27] Posted by winslow on 10-2-2013 at 08:32 AM · [top]

Hi Winslow,

Re: “Matt, anglicanconvert didn’t say what you imply.”
 
Sure he did.

“You created a straw man instead of dealing with what was actually said…”

Nope.

“Suggesting that the Pope, who is under the authority of Christian tradition and not a dictator, would teach that evangelism is bad, wrong, or in any way inappropriate for Christians, has to be about as uncharitable interpretation as could be had.  It is just plain silly and begs for an explanation.”

The pope is not saying anything contrary to orthodoxy because he is a Christian who is sworn to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. An argument to which the most generous response is cheerful mockery. 

Jesus, of course, cannot speak or teach in error. When one thinks God incarnate is in error, one is necessarily wrong. When one thinks the pope or any other Christian leader is in error one might be quite right. The comparison is absurd.

[28] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-2-2013 at 08:40 AM · [top]

Also, Winslow, just FYI, everyone has a “right” to an opinion. No one has the “right” to comment or express an opinion on SF. It is a privilege that we monitor and remove as necessary. That having been said…what on earth gave you the idea that I was denying anglicanconvert “the right to his opinion”? I was happily mocking his argument, not denying his “right” to form an opinion or even his privelege to express that on SF. Speaking of strawmen…

[29] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-2-2013 at 08:46 AM · [top]

I particularly agree with your last paragraph, Matt.  I think there is a lot of wishful thinking among conservative RCs about this Pope.  Their display of such has gotten repetitive and predictable.

[30] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 10-2-2013 at 08:54 AM · [top]

Matt,
Dang! I have never seen anyone who can parry the way you do.

[31] Posted by Fr. Dale on 10-2-2013 at 11:59 AM · [top]

After several months in office, and several misinterpreted interviews (Pope—“Who am I to Judge?”) it remains to be seen how the man will swing in the long run. If he is actually liberal in his theology, it will become evident in time. I say, give him more time. If he is orthodox, he will realize that he needs to more precise in his expressions. If not, he will eventually show his falsehood.

[32] Posted by helpmelord on 10-2-2013 at 03:05 PM · [top]

Well, Fr. Matt, perhaps you will encouraged to know that a large part of the Catholic commentariate agrees with you.  :-(

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/09/25/when-paul-corrected-peter

That is perhaps a representative column.  He agrees on principle and on the facts. Of course, I agree with you on the principle: bishops can teach wrongly, even the bishop of Rome. Infallibility is a very limited concept. Of course, priests teach wrongly as well.  grin

Well, I still disagree on the facts. As one priest put it, as culture war materials, it fails. As theology, it’s fairly pedestrian. Did you see the part where the pope actually evangelized the atheist?  Which is why I’m sticking with my “not-off-the-cuff” position. While that’s also a minority opinion, one woman did refer Pope Francis as “a crafty old Jesuit”.

Which leads me to an appropriate joke (there are who websites of Jesuit jokes):

There are three things that even God does not know about the Church:

1) How many congregations of religious women are there?
2) How much money do the Franciscans have stashed away?
3) What do the Jesuits really think and what are they going to do next?

Cheers!

[33] Posted by Words Matter on 10-2-2013 at 06:06 PM · [top]

I am no particular fan of this pope, but I do think that with respect to this interview, you are mistaken Fr. Matt.  I am sure that the pope would love to convert this atheist. I think he is trying to enter into culture of this atheist, to meet him where he is, and to find a chink through which the atheist might be reached.  The atheist already comes guarded against “hearing,”  in any real way, religious speech of the usual sort.

I suspect that Pope Benedict would have approached the man in a similar way, but with much more subtlety, and without the broad, careless language so subject to misinterpretation.  (Although, as in the condom example,  Benedict’s words were also twisted, for all his care and precision.)

I don’t really think there should be any doubt that the Pope is a Christian and that he would like others to know Christ.  In his life he has shown Christ to others by his acts of personal charity, sometimes putting himself at risk to do so.  His prudential judgments about what the Church needs now may well be wrong. His carelessness of speech and his lack of concern for liturgical niceties certainly drive me nuts, and I can’t help but believe that they are not good for the Church. 

But I don’t believe he is guilty of what you accuse him of here.

Susan Peterson

[34] Posted by eulogos on 10-2-2013 at 10:24 PM · [top]

(continuing previous message)


Winslow: “The Pope has already said, when he was villified by Catholics for saying we need to tone down our emphasis on [sexual sins], we must treat the wounds first, then bring them to Jesus.  Never, at any time, then or now, did he ever say, or come close to saying, the need to get to know someone throws Jesus under the bus.”

“Not sure what you are talking about here…I certainly did criticize his suggestion that Christians not talk so much about the mass murderous slaughter of unborn babies.”

He said nothing about mass murder of babies.  That’s just an undeserved, made-up accusation.  Hi-jacking his words and substituting your own does you no credit at all.

Do you understand ‘tone down our emphasis?’  His point is, telling people they’re sinners for openers isn’t working.  He thinks we should try to understand their problems first, to understand the realities of their lives and try to help them to a better life before we discuss the need for repentance with them.  He comes from a country where people scrounge around garbage dumps for something to eat; who would give anything to eat the scraps from your table.  I understand his point perfectly.

“His argument was sub-Christian. Imagine a Christian during WWII saying that we ought not to talk about the gassing of the Jews so much for fear of turning off the Nazis.”

Apples and oranges and another useless pejorative.

Winslow: “The point has been made elsewhere (on a First Things blog, I think) that, being from South America, the Pope is well aware of the advances Evangelicals have made in his country with their own ‘procelytism,’ even though their moral values are similar to ours.  The difference is, they get to know the people first, then they get the people to know Jesus, *then* they teach the morality of the Gospel message.”

“Vastly oversimplified…My wife comes from generations of missionaries on both sides. There is no “schedule”. You learn the language, the culture, you enter the community, you love, you preach the gospel…there is no “right sequence”. You definitely need to be able to communicate…but the gospel does the work of conversion…not you.”

There is no result stated here.  You presume success on every level which we both know can’t be assumed.

As to the Gospel doing the work, I guess you mean just read the book and you’ll know exactly what it says.  We know where that doctrine has gotten us, don’t we?

Winslow:  “You may also be interested to know, Mt. 28:18-20 was commanded when the whole world was an uncultivated garden.”

“I would be interested to know that since it is not true. Are you suggesting that no one was saved before Jesus died and rose again?”

Mt. 28:18-19 deals with Christian evangelization from the Ascension to today.  If you’re aware of any nations made disciples of Our Lord before the Resurrection please list them. 

Winslow:  “Things are a little different now.  The Catholic Church has, long since, preached the Gospel message to the ends of the earth and made disciples in (not yet ‘of’) all nations.  Jesus’ command has been obeyed.”

“Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.”

Obviously.  Which countries did the Church miss?  I’m sure there are some, but not too many. And I said ‘in’ not ‘of’ all nations and I’m not including those who came in on the heels of the Church and poached poor and uneducated Catholics by putting the Church down.

“See, because here in Binghamton the vast majority of people I run into have no idea what the gospel is. Maybe its just here. Maybe the rest of the US is a veritable cultivated garden of Jesus loving people. But I don’t think so.”

You have a reading comprehension problem, Matt.  I said at the time of the Ascension the world was an uncultivated garden.  Not yet seeded with the words of the NT.  The remark has nothing to do with the situation today.

Winslow: “Now it’s a matter of redirecting those who have heard and follow the siren song of the culture back to the Gospel message.”

“So most people in the world are Christians who need to be called to repentance? Really?”

I didn’t say anything like that, either.  ‘Redirecting’ means directing someone who has been to a place and gotten lost. ‘Back to the Gospel message’ means the person being redirected has heard it.  I said nothing about ‘most people in the world.’

Winslow: “Are you sure getting to know them, understanding their real-world problems and what they confront in trying to solve them and helping to solve them before leading them to a better understanding of Jesus’ message isn’t the better approach than your somewhat smug and lofty citations of Scripture is likely to bring?”

“False dichotomy.”

What’s false about it?  You posted the Pope’s remarks then compared them with the Lord’s words in a passage of Scripture as if the Pope was challenging them.

“The word is not in conflict with relationships.”

Of course it’s not, but it’s you who introduced the false conflict

“And, of course, you have no idea what I think about evangelism or how I carry it out. Where on earth did you get the idea I think we should not “get to know people”.”

Matt: “Is the pope jesting when he says “we need to get to know each other…” or is that also a lighthearted jest?”

Right about there.

“I have said that the purpose is conversion, not mere conversation. The pope, by contrast, has said the opposite.”

He did not and you can’t make it so.  His ultimate purpose is conversion.  You just don’t like his method and are making it out to be something it isn’t.

“Right. He needs lessons from Jesus and the apostles who love sinners enough to call them to repentance and faith.”

Right.  He’s been a priest for over half a century and a bishop longer than most of the people in the world have been alive, and you think he needs rudimentary lessons in Christian doctrine. 

“What? Isn’t “preaching” also “emphasizing”?”

No. Neither all preachers nor all sermons are the same in either content, style or effectivenesss.  Most are dull polemics.

“I read the interview thrice now and I have no idea what you are talking about here.”

That’s obvious, too.

[35] Posted by winslow on 10-2-2013 at 10:52 PM · [top]

Hi Winslow:

“He said nothing about mass murder of babies.  That’s just an undeserved, made-up accusation.  Hi-jacking his words and substituting your own does you no credit at all.”

heh…I’m utterly unconcerned about your crediting anything at all to me…especially when it seems you’re having such trouble comprehending what i have said.

I didn’t say he said anything about the mass murder of babies. I said that he believes we shouldn’t say so much about it…and in fact, in the same interview he defended his not talking about it so much.

“Do you understand ‘tone down our emphasis?’”

Sure, it means: not talk about it so much…which is precisely what I wrote above.

The real question is: Do you understand the meaning of the following sentence?

“I certainly did criticize his suggestion that Christians not talk so much about the mass murderous slaughter of unborn babies…”

obviously not.

“His point is, telling people they’re sinners for openers isn’t working.”

Right. Jesus had it all wrong. So did the Apostles.

Thanks be to God he has sent us Francis.

“He thinks we should try to understand their problems first, to understand the realities of their lives and try to help them to a better life before we discuss the need for repentance with them. “

See you added that last part. He does not say: then we speak about the need for repentance and faith. He said: we tell people to follow the good as they perceive it.  Now if the pope had said that evangelism must be done in the context of relationship and then went on to point out that at some point the sinner must be told to repent and surrender everything to Jesus, I would agree with him in everything except the suggestion that we must tone down our talk about cultural sin. Relational evangelism is great way to g - so long as we don’t muddle it up with this nonsense about seeking the good you perceive. But it’s not the only way and when you look at the sermons presented in the NT its not even the predominant way. Not sure why you (or the pope) would want to create a dichotomy between things that are not opposed.

“He comes from a country where people scrounge around garbage dumps for something to eat; who would give anything to eat the scraps from your table.  I understand his point perfectly.”

And yet the context of Jesus’ culture was far worse and it did not stop them from naming sin and preaching repentance.

RE: “His argument was sub-Christian. Imagine a Christian during WWII saying that we ought not to talk about the gassing of the Jews so much for fear of turning off the Nazis.
Apples and oranges and another useless pejorative.”

I’ll agree with you here. The mass murder of six million Jews is nothing compared the now 50 year worldwide slaughter of over 70 million unborn babies. There is really no comparison.

But hey, the Pope thinks we shouldn’t talk about it so much and, well, he’s the pope and there are poor people in Argentina so that means he must be right. Makes perfect sense.

“You presume success on every level which we both know can’t be assumed.”

Nope, I assume that the word of God is sufficient to do what God intends for it to do - not really debateable since Isa 55 makes that clear - and God can and does work through it to convict sinners and bring them to repentance…with or without “relationship”

“As to the Gospel doing the work, I guess you mean just read the book and you’ll know exactly what it says.”

nope.

One must translate and expound it…hence Paul’s admonition to Timothy: preach the word. And Paul’s own recognition that it was through the foolishness of preaching that God saves souls.

“We know where that doctrine has gotten us, don’t we?”

Why yes we do. You can see the beginnings of it in the gospels and the book of Acts and the results are before our eyes today…a church that is growing and thriving most in just those parts of the world where the word is proclaimed boldly. And shrinking where it is articulated with a mealy mouthed supine cowardice before the zeitgeist.

“Mt. 28:18-19 deals with Christian evangelization from the Ascension to today.  If you’re aware of any nations made disciples of Our Lord before the Resurrection please list them.”

Sure. Israel. When Abraham believed in the Promise, he believed in the coming Christ. As Jesus says: Abraham saw my day and rejoiced. And there were those who trusted in the coming Promise from his day to the days of Christ. 

“Obviously.  Which countries did the Church miss?  I’m sure there are some, but not too many. And I said ‘in’ not ‘of’ all nations and I’m not including those who came in on the heels of the Church and poached poor and uneducated Catholics by putting the Church down.

Definitely agree that the church has preached the gospel in many if not most nations…and there are disciples in those nations…but to suggest, as you did that most “people” have heard it and just need to be redirected is nonsense. I think the vast majority of human beings have not in fact heard the gospel. To say that the gospel has been preached in their vacinity is a very different thing.

As I noted:

“See, because here in Binghamton the vast majority of people I run into have no idea what the gospel is. Maybe its just here. Maybe the rest of the US is a veritable cultivated garden of Jesus loving people. But I don’t think so.”

I did not mean: they heard it and forgot it. I mean they’ve no idea what the gospel is and have never heard it. For many years in the US, Christianity has been some variation on the theme: be nice and do good things like Jesus.

Which…come to think of it, is the very “gospel” Francis seems to recommend.

“You have a reading comprehension problem, Matt.”

Nope. I understand you. You’re just wrong.

“‘Redirecting’ means directing someone who has been to a place and gotten lost. ‘Back to the Gospel message’ means the person being redirected has heard it.  I said nothing about ‘most people in the world.’”

I understand the point, but the point is incorrect.

Re: “Winslow: “Are you sure getting to know them, understanding their real-world problems and what they confront in trying to solve them and helping to solve them before leading them to a better understanding of Jesus’ message isn’t the better approach than your somewhat smug and lofty citations of Scripture is likely to bring?” “False dichotomy.” What’s false about it?  “You posted the Pope’s remarks then compared them with the Lord’s words in a passage of Scripture as if the Pope was challenging them.”“

Well that’s not just a false dichotomy. It’s irrational.  My quote of the relevant bible text was not intended to evangelize you or anyone else (speaking of reading comprehension), it was intended to demonstrate the Pope’s error…which it did.

“The word is not in conflict with relationships.” Of course it’s not, but it’s you who introduced the false conflict”

Nope. I just demonstrated that the pope’s words conflict with Jesus’ words.

“His ultimate purpose is conversion.”

Where do you see that in his words? He does not ask people to turn to Jesus. He tells them to follow whatever is good in their own eyes.

“You just don’t like his method and are making it out to be something it isn’t.”

Right. I do not like it…because saying proselytization is solemn nonsense is in direct conflict with what Jesus says.

“He’s been a priest for over half a century and a bishop longer than most of the people in the world have been alive, and you think he needs rudimentary lessons in Christian doctrine.”

heh…because, as we all know…priests who have been priests for a long time never ever say false things.

“What? Isn’t “preaching” also “emphasizing”?”“No.”

heh…Preaching is not emphasizing then. Okay wink

“Neither all preachers nor all sermons are the same in either content, style or effectivenesss.  Most are dull polemics.”

In so far as they are not expositions of scripture, true. In so far as they are, it really doesn’t matter whether you find yourself bored or not….maybe you should bring something along to entertain you? In any case, God’s word is sufficient.

“I read the interview thrice now and I have no idea what you are talking about here.”That’s obvious, too.”

Yes, it is. You don’t argue well when you are angry winslow.

[36] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-3-2013 at 06:39 AM · [top]

Hi Winslow,

Re: “Matt, anglicanconvert didn’t say what you imply.”
 
“Sure he did.”

Nah, he didn’t.  Let’s take a look.  He called attention to Jesus’ praise of a dishonest steward.  He suggested, since no one here believes Jesus validated dishonesty, there must he another meaning to His words which isn’t apparent.  Then he said your interpretation of the Pope’s words was uncharitable.

Winslow: “You created a straw man instead of dealing with what was actually said…”

“Nope.”

Yup.  (We seem now to be in the realm of ‘Matt speaks and it comes into being.’)

““Suggesting that the Pope, who is under the authority of Christian tradition and not a dictator, would teach that evangelism is bad, wrong, or in any way inappropriate for Christians, has to be about as uncharitable interpretation as could be had.  It is just plain silly and begs for an explanation.””

“The pope is not saying anything contrary to orthodoxy because he is a Christian who is sworn to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. An argument to which the most generous response is cheerful mockery.”

Except that’s not what he said.  He didn’t say your opinion is wrong, but you argued as if he did.

(“Right…I mean the idea that any leader in the Church would say something in error…why how silly of me.”) 

That’s’ the straw man.  Again, he didn’t say your interpretation of the Pope’s words is wrong, he said it’s uncharitable and the evidence supports his opinion.

Some of your arguments to me indicate you did not read, or comprehend, the speech where the Pope said he wants the Church to change the emphasis from sexual sins to love and compassion.  The fact you have not incorporated those prior remarks into your discourse indicates an unwillingness to do the work and parse the Pope’s words vis a vis his previous remarks.  You have an axe in your hand and you will swing it until the tree is down.  That is uncharitable, as is the ‘cheerful mockery’ you proudly display

“Jesus, of course, cannot speak or teach in error. When one thinks God incarnate is in error, one is necessarily wrong. When one thinks the pope or any other Christian leader is in error one might be quite right. The comparison is absurd.”

That’s somewhat less then uncharitable and I’d like you to show me, from his words, not yours, that the Pope said he thinks Jesus is in error.

I’m not going to be able to do much of this for a short while.  My wife and I have been processing a gazillion tomatos the past few days, I’m on my way to church now, this afternoon I’m attending a seminar at Gordon College (‘The Evangelical Left: Oxymoron or Opportunity) and tomorrow I’m attending Fenway Park, where the real important stuff is going down. 

Perhaps you can use the time to work on your Sunday sermon.  Perhaps “The Virtues of Sarcasm and Ridicule: The Gospel of Matt” may be in order. grin

[37] Posted by winslow on 10-3-2013 at 09:59 AM · [top]

RE: “(We seem now to be in the realm of ‘Matt speaks and it comes into being.’)”

No actually we’re in the realm of Winslow asserts something and Matt counter-asserts.  It’s not an actual debate—it’s two people asserting diametrically opposed things.

Nothing wrong with that except it’s tediously boring for readers.

RE: “Some of your arguments to me indicate you did not read, or comprehend, the speech where the Pope said he wants the Church to change the emphasis from sexual sins to love and compassion.  The fact you have not incorporated those prior remarks into your discourse indicates an unwillingness to do the work and parse the Pope’s words vis a vis his previous remarks.”

Quite the contrary—Matt read that speech quite thoroughly and now is using it to build on his assessment of the Pope’s credibility, coherence, and courage.  The fact that you and he disagree as to the assessment is neither here nor there.

RE: “That is uncharitable, as is the ‘cheerful mockery’ you proudly display . . . That’s somewhat less then uncharitable . . . Perhaps “The Virtues of Sarcasm and Ridicule: The Gospel of Matt” may be in order.”

Tone policing is off-topic at SF.  This is a final warning.  You will not be allowed to go off-topic here at SF.  We at SF are quite pleased with cheerful mockery and will continue to use it as we find the time, energy, and interest, where ideas are wrong or incoherent.

If you don’t like the tone of SF, you are welcome to not comment here. Or cease mentioning it.  Those are your two options.

[38] Posted by Sarah on 10-3-2013 at 10:09 AM · [top]

Hi Winslow,

Of course I did not say that anglicanconvert said I was wrong. I was mocking the assumption that he suggests I make while reading the pope’s words:

ie. assume the pope is not saying anything contrary to orthodoxy because he is not a tyrant but a Christian who is sworn to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church…

merrily absurd wink

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-3-2013 at 10:27 AM · [top]

Folks, I am grateful to Winslow for defending my comments.  And I apologize for initiating a conversation for which one of the contributors received a reprimand.  For what it is worth, I never felt that Fr. Kennedy was in anyway restricting or limiting my right to speak up; on the other hand, I do feel that Winslow actually understood what I was saying. 

What sparked my original contribution was the juxtaposition of the Pope’s words with Jesus’s, and a headline saying:  “Pope Francis decides to correct Jesus’ faulty missiology.”  From that I took it that Fr. Kennedy was not saying just that the Pope uses language carelessly and doing so will damage the cause of Christ.  Rather, it seemed to me that he was making a more substantial point amounting to Francis’s denying the Gospel. 

Now one cannot defend careless words, by the Pope or anyone else.  And whether Pope Francis turns out to be disastrous or not, history will tell.  My comment was simply going to the point that, under standard canons of interpretation—when interpreting Scripture or otherwise—charity requires interpreting comments reasonably, which, or so it seems to me, Fr. Kennedy did not do.

[40] Posted by anglicanconvert on 10-3-2013 at 01:09 PM · [top]

Comment deleted, commenter banned for repeated violations of commenting policy.

[41] Posted by winslow on 10-3-2013 at 01:38 PM · [top]

anglicanconvert,

I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church and in any event, I was never a big fan.  However, John Paul and Benedict, gave me a different view of the RC’s.  I found them articulate and faith affirming.  Not so much the new guy.

Even in civil law, the trained are held more accountable than the untrained.  Even bartenders are expected to know when a patron has had too much to drink.  A doctor is held to a different standard than a good Samaritan.  If one follows the tenants of the Roman Catholic Church, they hold the Pope to be infallible. That standard alone requires that we take very seriously what this man says.  Words do in fact have meaning. 

The fact that this man has chosen to impart these pearls of wisdom to primarily non-believers or the uninformed makes it worse.  If he is so inept as to be able to deliver a clear message that needs “charity” when being interpreted possibly someone could impose upon the Vatican to set up a hotline or website where we can enter his words and get an instant peer reviewed interpretation.  Barring that, we need to take him and his words at face value.  And that, my friend, is a real problem for Bible believing Christians in the RC.

[42] Posted by Jackie on 10-3-2013 at 02:51 PM · [top]

Jackie @42:

Regarding infallibility:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 891:


“The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful—who confirms his brethren in the faith—he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

(quoting Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum)

But I don’t think this covers an interview with an atheist editor of a secular publication.

[43] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 03:17 PM · [top]

by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.

  This is where you lose me Clare.  His words carry extra special meaning.  He should be aware of how they are being interpreted since he is charged to carry the mantle of chief shepherd.  I cut him no slack for giving an atheist editor, a lapsed Catholic or a seeker words that confuse rather than clarify.  Confusion brings about chaos.
He knows, or should know, when he speaks the world listens. 

If he is incapable of clarity, he needs to practice the blessed art of silence.

[44] Posted by Jackie on 10-3-2013 at 04:29 PM · [top]

Jackie,

I think someone else mentioned Father Z:

“Surely what Francis scorns is the crude proselytizing à la Pentecostals and Mormons in Latin America.”

and

“- abortion is still murder,
- gay marriage is still no marriage,
- we’re going to jaw-jaw with nonbelievers,
- we’re still going to be a minority,
- Former-Fr. – Mister Reynolds is still excommunicated!”

[45] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 04:46 PM · [top]

Sure, Francis is sounding like Lady Katharine but Jackie has said as much as needs to be said.  I didn’t realize evangelical Anglicans care this much about what the pope says.

[46] Posted by Nikolaus on 10-3-2013 at 06:31 PM · [top]

Hi Nikolaus,

I actually care a lot. The pope has massive influence. The strength of John Paul II and Benedict in opposing abortion and defending marriage has been beneficial to us all and, I think, has helped stem the tide of western moral rot. Francis, I fear, will not produce the same.

[47] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-3-2013 at 08:10 PM · [top]

To add on to Matt and Jackie’s more recent comments . . . I also would like a pope who is crystal clear [as I think Benedict was] so that we can have real [not pretend] ecumenical engagement. I respected Benedict for that clarity and firmness, even when he was clear and firm about Protestant severe deficiencies [in the eyes of Rome’s doctrine.]

Rather obviously Frank Griswold didn’t need to be “speaking for” Anglicans around the world with his ridiculous foggy pretentious blather [or speaking for any Christians at all, of any sort, either]. Because any agreements were never actual agreements based on what the different entities actually believe. His “service” on the RC/Anglican ecumenical thingy promptly lowered the entire confab to the level of the Duke and the Dauphin on the raft prattling on about their royal stations in life. Unworthy of any real consideration.

That’s not real engagement. Real engagement is all the Christians being blunt about their beliefs [ie, women who wear pants are clearly rebellious backsliders, or never were believers anyway, or none of the little entities you deem to be churches are actual churches and your sacraments are pretend-games, or only people who are baptized by immersion are obedient to Holy Scripture—all others are rebels against God, or those who do not receive the second blessing are not living a sanctified life, or . . . and on and on, depending on which tradition/church you are from]. 

I’m comfortable with two groups of Christians [both acknowledging that the other are Christian, but are engaged in seriously flawed theological belief systems] saying “hey, we think you’ll probably be at the marriage feast of the Lamb with all of us, but several of your key doctrines are so radically flawed and wrong that we really don’t feel comfortable sharing Eucharist, or probably even preaching together, but we would love to do social work together.” . . . Or whatever level of engagement each can handle.

But I really don’t appreciate people on either side being strung along with vague chirpiness that obscures actual reality. And that’s what secularists, atheists, and pagans are having done to them by this Pope, it seems to me. It’s not *real* engagement—it’s too much like Griswoldian puffery, and smoke-blowing that serves to muddle and confuse the conversation, rather than leading to actual engagement with integrity and clarity and *reality*. It also condescends to the actual substantive thinkers on the secular side [there are some of those] and appeals to the Low Information Mob who are always going to be happy to hear from the Kim Kardashian of whatever industry or organization.

As a result of that example, I can just envision various Protestant groups dialoguing with the Pope and toddling away with the fantasy that their churches, sacraments, teachings, visions of the priesthood, etc, etc, receive the “thumbs up” from the Pope.

I’m hopeful nobody will take what he says very seriously, at this point.  But I fear that some will. 

That’s just a bad place to be in, for a pope.  I mean—I’m a Protestant and all, so what I think isn’t as important as what an RC thinks.  But still . . . I can’t help but think it ominous.

[48] Posted by Sarah on 10-3-2013 at 08:59 PM · [top]

It has been suggested that a better translation of the word proselytize would be one conveying forced conversion.  But I am alarmed.  As I wrote at MCJ.

My biggest anxiety comes from the fact that the Pope is being so incautious when speaking of the very issues that are causing so much trouble and dissension in the Church. How can he not know that dissidents will take his remarks on the superiority of conscience as a license to wink at Church teachings such as the ban on artificial contraceptives? How can he not know that his talk of a horizontal Church will be taken as permission to disregard the hierarchy all together? Can he really not be aware that some will believe the call for a greater theology of women translates to pushing heresy such as liturgy of the divine feminine?

In another time when the faithful had strong roots and knew the wholeness of Catholic teaching such statements would not be so damaging. But that time is not now. The faithful are often very happy to be cafeteria Catholics who put their souls in jeopardy by their misunderstanding of the role of conscience. They don’t understand the virtue of obedience to their shepherds in matters of faith and morals. They believe a more prominent role for women in the Church begins and ends with opening the priesthood to them. The Pope’s words on work and poverty will be seen as a push for more government involvement in every sphere of our lives and not as a call to more charity.

But what depresses me most of all are his words on Proselytizing. The Church is here to bring Christ to the world. Yes agape love of neighbor and showing the fruits of Christian faith is very, very important. But lets face it. It does not take being Christian to care for those less fortunate or to work to make a better world. The Church’s mission is to proclaim the Gospel and Baptize in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Her business is souls. The condemned souls of fallen men and women who are longing for freedom. Freedom that is found in Christ Jesus. “Salvation is at hand!” must always be at the forefront of the Church’s encounter with the world. The words of the Pope do not convey that and that worries me a great deal.

If Catholics take the Pope’s word at face value and do not put them into the context of Church teaching we will have a Pagan church. It will no longer be Christ centered but centered on self and one’s own personal beliefs rather than on what we are bound to believe as Catholic faithful. Abuses will increase and those who hold to the faith once delivered will be ostracized as unloving and shackled by hates and phobias. It will not be good.

I am very, very, sad right now because I truly want to love this Pope as Pope and not just as Francis the man. But I am too heavy of heart to do that right now. I can see the coming crisis and I hate it.

[49] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 10-3-2013 at 09:01 PM · [top]

ps.  On the matter of talking about sin too much.

I fully get preaching the Good News so that sinners may realize what a rich banquet they could be feasting at and be moved to run to meet Christ and be fed by Him. But in this culture where the sense of personal “sin” is not only forgotten but celebrated as a way to find one’s authentic self it may be necessary to remind people of why sin harms them before expecting them to flee from it.

Many no longer have any idea what sin is or why they need to be saved from it. They can not hear the message of mercy because they have no idea that they need it. They have silenced even the law upon their hearts. I don’t think it is an either or proposition. I think it is a matter of explaining to them Who they are missing by being seduced by sin. It’s like a doctor explaining to a patient that their symptoms are signs of something serious when the patient himself did not even realize what he experienced were symptoms at all. Does that mean the Dr must avoid speaking the plain truth? Does speaking the plain truth meant the Dr is not putting the patient’s welfare first? No. It means the business of healing requires blunt honest assessment of the patient’s need and the doctor owes it to the patient to share that information with him. Only by having an open, caring discussion of what is wrong can healing begin. Otherwise you are just putting a band aid on a wound that needs surgery.

We live in a fallen world and the reality is that the Good News of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed loudly and often but that Good News needs a John The Baptist to precede it. For without repenting a person can never truly take that news into his heart and become a new creature in Christ.

[50] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 10-3-2013 at 09:16 PM · [top]

“The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by “attraction“- just as Christ “draws all to himself” by the power of his love, culminating in the sacrifice of the Cross, so the Church fulfills her mission to the extent that, in union with Christ, she accomplishes every one of her works in spiritual and practical imitation of the love of her Lord.”

A pope said that, but it was the pope emeritus.

Myself, I think Pope Francis has been perfectly clear. A lot of folks don’t like what he’s saying, though.

[51] Posted by Words Matter on 10-3-2013 at 09:18 PM · [top]

Let me give you an example of the damage this Pope’s words are doing.  After one of his remarks the local radio station had a RC priest in to “explain” what the Pope meant.  The issue was “not concentrating on sin.”  The radio host asked if this meant the Church did not hate gays anymore and that they don’t have to fear going to hell.  The priest kind of gave a nervous laugh and said hate is not the issue.  What the Pope wants us to understand is that no one should come to Christ because of fear.  We should only come to Christ because of love.

Now I have to tell you the jailer that came to Christ after the earthquake broke open the bars of the prison - think love was his motivating emotion?

Frankly, as far as I am concerned whatever gets you into the arms of Christ is the right thing.  Ask any addict who has climbed out of addiction if love drove him to Christ?

[52] Posted by Jackie on 10-3-2013 at 09:46 PM · [top]

Paula - Well said.

[53] Posted by Jackie on 10-3-2013 at 09:48 PM · [top]

This is making the rounds today, and maybe it’s relevant Herr.


http://www.jasonbachcartoons.com/catholic-09.html

[54] Posted by Words Matter on 10-3-2013 at 09:59 PM · [top]

It’s the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi—Happy Feast Day to all!

[55] Posted by Clare on 10-4-2013 at 08:34 AM · [top]

I don’t know.  Francis was apparently the runner up when Benedict was elected, so there is something there that the other Cardinals saw.  That they saw twice, after prayer and reflection and listening to the Holy Spirit.

If I accept that Francis believes what a good Catholic believes, so to speak, then I have to take what he said in that context, in the context of the other Cardinals’ endorsement.

I’m left wondering what I am missing, not what the Pope is missing.

[56] Posted by Paul B on 10-7-2013 at 07:39 AM · [top]

Remember Katharine was elected under the same assumption.

That first group of church leaders had a member who listened to a voice also.

It doesn’t seem to be a listening problem.  It is a discernment problem.

[57] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 07:58 AM · [top]

I think the point is that the Holy Father has said nothing that conflicts with the teaching of the Church.

It’s true that the Lord said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”—but He didn’t limit how   the Church is to make disciples of all nations.

[58] Posted by Clare on 10-7-2013 at 08:25 AM · [top]

First of all, you can’t really mean to compare the election of the Pope by the Cardinals to the election of the head of TEC by a group of elected representatives.  Can you?  Well maybe from your point of view you can.  Ok, I won’t argue with you about it.

It is obvious that even though the Holy Spirit is supposed to influence the election of Popes, which could mean influencing the discernment of the Cardinals, that some really bad Popes have been elected.  Not just ones who spoke too loosely, but power hungry politicians, poisoners and fornicators.  We have been quite blessed in our Popes in recent years, by comparison. Human beings don’t always listen when the Holy Spirit whispers, alas. 

It is important to remember that there is no infallibility or special charism attached to the Pope’s casual words.  The Church still ateaches what she taught before Francis was elected. He can have an influence on attitudes and policies in the short run, and I am not happy about that,  but he is not going to change doctrine.  So “disastrous” is too strong a word. 

And, properly interpreted, he really has said nothing incompatible with Catholic doctrine.  He did *not* say that we should not evangelize.  He has his own ideas about how that ought to be done.  Perhaps he is mistaken.  But I do give him a certain amount of credit for his personal charitable and courageous acts in the past.  So I will wait and see.

Susan Peterson

[59] Posted by eulogos on 10-7-2013 at 09:06 AM · [top]

Hi Susan and Clare,

First I dispute that this Pope has said nothing contrary to Scripture.  Here is one small example:

Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good

What they “think” is good?  I get to use “my judgment?”  Wasn’t that one of Jerry Sandusky’s claims - that he never hurt anyone but did good to them?

I will, however, grant you that after proper interpretation/massaging to make it palatable, it may pass muster which leads me back to my original assertion:

Simply holding the title of Pope holds you to a higher standard.  If the individual elected to such a position needs an army of theologians to reword/rework/explain what comes out of his mouth, then the RC’s are in deep poo-poo.  Unfortunately, that puts the rest of us Christians in the cross-hairs because as we all know every slip of the tongue will be used to beat us about the head and shoulders.

[60] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 10:56 AM · [top]

Hi, Jackie,

Remember that the Pope’s infallibility is limited to what’s stated in the CCC, paragraph 891.  For example, to pick a timely topic, if the Pope were to predict the winner of the World Series, that statement would not be infallible. 

I think what the Holy Father said probably needed to be said, notwithstanding the difficulties that I admit arise.  He’s addressing our pharisaic moment.

But even if his words were imprudent—and even considering all the horrible faults of some past Popes that eulogos describes, the Church cannot teach error:

“[B]ehold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

Mt 28:20

[61] Posted by Clare on 10-7-2013 at 11:22 AM · [top]

Hi Clare:

Note I did not tie my comment to infallibility.  I tied it to his calling as a priest—as a shepherd—and allegedly as a learned one among peers.  The same higher standard to which the PB and all Anglican bishops are also called.  You know - the one they ignore either through incompetence, arrogance or some other human failing.

Words do have meaning and when one entrusted with such a position uses them unwisely or out of context, whether intentional or not, they have consequences.

[62] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 11:50 AM · [top]

Hi, Jackie,

I understand—I think the jury is still out on the wisdom of his words.

[63] Posted by Clare on 10-7-2013 at 12:19 PM · [top]

No massaging necessary: just read the words

Each of us has a vision of good and of evil.

That is true.  Objectively true. The pope doesn’t say that all of those visions are equally valid or true, nor even good or evil.  He simply say everyone has one.

We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good

I’ll concede that this is less true than the first part, given that a psychopath’s vision of good is probably not something we want to encourage.  However, the pope is talking to a European atheist, and, worse, a renegade Catholic atheist. These folks generally live on ethics borrowed from Christianity, so perhaps we can rule out psychopathy.

In any case, this is a conversation with a hard-core, hard-shell atheist.  Whipping out the Four Spiritual Laws will probably not be effective. Instead, the pope manages to affirm the divinity of Christ and the possibility of Grace not only to Scalfari, but also to his audience. I’d say that was a pretty good day’s work.

[64] Posted by Words Matter on 10-7-2013 at 12:50 PM · [top]

No massaging necessary

Seriously?  You say this with a straight face (I presume) and then follow with this? 

I’ll concede that this is less true than the first part

Less true?  Is that similar to pluriform truth? 

And then there is this: 

The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old

Really?  The killing of innocent life is not as serious as youth unemployment?  Human Trafficking?  The terrorizing of people simply for their faith?  The destruction of the family?  The total breakdown of morality?  Does this mean euthanizing the elderly is less evil than them being lonely?

Words do indeed matter, WM.  This Pope needs to recognize that and REMEMBER when he speaks the world’s ears perk up.  Especially those ears in truck with evil.

[65] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 01:18 PM · [top]

Serious and quite straight-faced. 

In fact, I spend a certain amount of time with psychopaths in my work, so I am very aware of the dark hearts we all shelter, and I was allowing for that. However, it’s not “pluriform truths” on my part or the popes. That would be an Episcopalian thing.

The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.

That is, in fact, the only really challenging part of the interview which I have been giving some thought. Now this is the same pope who spoke of abortion as a part of a “throw-away culture” and instructed Catholic gynecologists to not perform abortions. I don’t suppose you see the common thread there: babies thrown away, children trafficked (thrown away), youth thrown to hopelessness, meaninglessness and despair? You don’t see the connections, do you.  Again, my work involves hopeless, unemployed youth, (who are now young adults), so perhaps I can see the connections.

In any case, the pope has a body of work speaking out on the issues you name. You might want to look them up.

[66] Posted by Words Matter on 10-7-2013 at 02:36 PM · [top]

Hi, Jackie,

I wonder if the relationship between the evils of which the Holy Father is speaking and the concrete crimes that you mention is in a way similar to the way in which the Cardinal sins (pride, avarice, gluttony, lust, sloth, envy, and anger) relate to the sins that “cry to heaven for vengeance,” for example.  The cardinal sins are the root of evil, the genesis of sin and crime.  Anger is not worse than willful murder, but anger is the soil in which such crimes grow.

Likewise, youth unemployment, on the one hand,  gives rise to despair and resentment, and thus to many actual sinful acts.  The loneliness of old people is a symptom of our inhumanity toward one another—perhaps even toward our own grandparents or parents. Such inhumanity is fertile ground for the growth of gross and violent crimes of abortion, human trafficking, and terrorism

Both contemporary evils are indications of the type of world in which grown-up “toys” such as houses, cars and electronics, have greater value than people—especially the very young and the very old.

[67] Posted by Clare on 10-7-2013 at 04:13 PM · [top]

It is unfortunate that the current Pope does not speak with more care.  I am not happy about it, as I have said.  I think he has said enough to let us know that we ought not to listen too carefully to what he says.  The Church will survive this as it has survived much worse. 

However I do wonder if in Jackie’s most recent example there is not a simple translation problem.  I know that in Latin the superlative form (issi)means either “the most” or “very”. 
If it is that way in Italian as well, than “the most serious” and “a very serious”  might both be translations of the same word.  You wouldn’t have a problem with his having said that youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old are “very serious problems”, would you? 

Susan Peterson

[68] Posted by eulogos on 10-7-2013 at 05:11 PM · [top]

WM and Clare,
I think you both miss my point.  The issue is not how those who study Scripture or hold to strict Catholic doctrine are taking his words.  It is the masses that are not familiar with Scripture that are at risk here. 

You both seem versed in both Scripture and RC doctrine which is why you are able to easily sift through these interviews mentally pulling up from past discussions or settled doctrine and assume that the Pope is not making any seismic shifts.  Let me assure you that is, unfortunately, not the case with many including those who count themselves among the Roman Catholic membership.

I’ll give you an example.  I know someone who considers themselves to be a very good Catholic.  This person teaches catechism and Sunday School.  Attends church services at least once a week.  Is a leader in the parish of membership.  This person is wonderful, loving and giving.  However, any conversation concerning bible issues is a non-starter.  Often the response is - Well, I would need to speak with the priest about that.  I’m not that familiar with those verses of the Bible. 

I asked this person about the recent comments.  The response was one of concern but with a firm belief that if the pope said it, it must be true.  I can assure you the very things you dismiss so easily this person believes that the RC’s will soon be announcing a change of “heart.” 

You may recall my earlier post about the priest on the local station who tried to explain the pope’s statements by saying, “He just doesn’t want anyone to come to Christ for the wrong reason.  Fear is the wrong reason.  He only wants people to come to Jesus out of love.”

We can continue to bat this back and forth but both of you have admitted some pause over some of the remarks despite the fact you are hopeful and confident that there is just some misunderstanding.  Now imagine that concern by someone without your agility within Scripture or doctrine.

[69] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 05:37 PM · [top]

Absolutely not, Susan.  Unfortunately, even if you are accurate, the majority of the world will miss that translation.

You can almost hear the pro-abortion crowd gearing up with - “Even the pope thinks that unemployment and the loneliness of the elderly are the big problems.”

[70] Posted by Jackie on 10-7-2013 at 05:41 PM · [top]

Coming late to an argument that is probably over. Still, let us remember:

1) Jesus shared meals with sinners. This implies that he built relationships with them. Sharing meals with sinners got a lot of people very mad at Jesus, probably for similar reasons that Father Matt is mad at the new pope. Having meals with people has certain implications: one of which is that sharing the Gospel is often done through relationships, and not only on soapboxes.

2) Jesus told us to make disciples. In the New Testament, we are told to spread the Gospel through the making of disciples. I am sure that if someone were to complete a word search in the New Testament, the word “discipleship” would appear ten times more often than “evangelism.” This is because Jesus knew that people would be won to him through the building of relationships.

3) The primary difference between the words “discipleship” and “proselytism” is the involvement of relationship. In proselytism, no relationship is involved. In discipleship, relationship is paramount. 

It seems that Pope Francais is following in the footsteps of Jesus, daring to share (metaphorical) meals with sinners, to see them as more than problems to be solved but as individuals to be loved, and the pope is getting the requisite amount of flak for doing so.

The more things change….

[71] Posted by selah on 10-13-2013 at 07:12 AM · [top]

#71. Selah,
1. ” The primary difference between the words “discipleship” and “proselytism” is the involvement of relationship. In proselytism, no relationship is involved. In discipleship, relationship is paramount.” I don’t think your argument is advanced by that comment. http://thesaurus.com/browse/disciple

2. “Sharing meals with sinners got a lot of people very mad at Jesus, probably for similar reasons that Father Matt is mad at the new pope.” I don’t believe Matt+ is mad at Pope Francis. Fr. Matt compares the comments of Pope Francis to the Christ of Scripture.

[72] Posted by Fr. Dale on 10-13-2013 at 07:51 AM · [top]

Father Dale,

In my post, I was alluding to the New Testament understanding of the word “disciple,” which is translated as “one who sits at the feet of another.” To “sit at the feet of another” implies spending time with another and therefore having a relationship the other.

It seems to me that Father Matt is indignant that Pope Francis sees value in relationships. He would prefer a pope who declares truths from the mountaintops rather than one who shares meals with sinners. I am only pointing out that Jesus both proclaimed from mounts and had relationships with sinners. Let us not deride one of Jesus’ ministries in favor of another.

[73] Posted by selah on 10-13-2013 at 08:11 AM · [top]

Selah at #71 wrote

“The primary difference between the words “discipleship” and “proselytism” is the involvement of relationship. In proselytism, no relationship is involved. In discipleship, relationship is paramount.”

I just want to distinguish this point from one that I and another poster made above.  Selah is entitled to his/her opinion, of course. 

But the point we made above about the word “proselitismo” in Italian was a different one, really one of historical connotation, rather than strict translation.  Proselitismo and Evangellazione can cover the same ground in Italian, just as the cognate words can do in English.  But proselitismo is a word frequently used by the Left in Italy in connection with the atrocities committed in the name of religion in Abyssinia when it was under Italian rule (1935-6).  Use of mustard gas on civilians and Red Cross camps, mass executions, taking of heads as trophies, forced labour camps etc.

The Left (and others not-so-left) have frequently condemned the Papacy for failing to condemn the repression in Abyssinia and even supporting it.  I don’t think Pius IX did support it at all, but some of his bishops put him in an impossible situation.  E.g. the Bishop of Cremona when consecrating regimental flags notoriously preached: “The blessing of God be upon these soldiers who, on African soil, will conquer new and fertile lands for the Italian genius, thereby bringing to them Roman and Christian culture. May Italy stand once again as the Christian mentor to the whole world.”

As you can imagine, the Left pointed to this and other examples as showing that Roman Catholic “proselitismo” actually meant forced conversion under threat of death and torture.

I don’t think Pope Francis’ words eschewing “proselytism” can be properly considered without taking that background into account.

[74] Posted by MichaelA on 10-13-2013 at 08:28 AM · [top]

Short of asking the Pope to define his perception of proselytism, I am not sure this is resolvable.  Proselytism has a negative connotation for many of us. I think the connotative distinction is that proselytism is perceived as “preaching at” and evangelism as “preaching to” or “discussing with.”  In the US, “proselytizing” to many people is the Saturday morning ringing of your doorbell, and when you open the door, two or three starry eyed people start into a rehearsed speech letting you know that you are doomed to perdition unless you have been “saved”.  Your baptism in 1953, confirmation in 1964, going to church on Sunday, etc. notwithstanding, you have not been “saved” until you have joined their church, which is the one true church, the only true church, etc.

Evangelism, as the word is often perceived, on the other hand, requires some engagement on the part of the “evangelizee.” Once upon a time (and maybe it is still true at Nashotah and Trinity), Episcopal priests were trained to go around the neighborhood and introduce themselves to everybody, let them know that they were the new rector (curate, youth minister) and invite people to come to the church on Sunday, but also let folks know about the food pantry, resale shop, rummage sale, or any and all ways that the community members, even those who went to other churches or were not Christians at all, might participate in the life of the parish.  And some of those approached asked the priest in for conversation, and some came to one another event, and a few came in one Sunday morning because that nice Fr. _________ offered a polite invitation. 

I think the most effective evangelism is to act in a way that is consistent with what we believe and preach.  That does not always mean “being nice.”  Jesus and the apostles were not always nice.  Sometimes the temple needs cleansing.  But our friends and acquaintances need to see us walk in the ways of Christ, and we need to preach to them, not at them.

[75] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-13-2013 at 09:36 AM · [top]

I’m not going back to re-read this whole thread, . But even if it’s been said, it’s worth a repeat: Bl. JPII and Pope Benedict both said virtually the same things about proselytizing. It’s a language thing, not theological.

[76] Posted by Words Matter on 10-13-2013 at 12:18 PM · [top]

This may shed light on the both/and aspect of the issue (dialogue and proclamation):

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_19051991_dialogue-and-proclamatio_en.html


Also the words of Saint Francis himself, in “The Rules of the Friars Minor”:

“17.—Of Preachers.

“Let none of the brothers preach contrary to the form and institution of the holy Roman Church, and unless this has been conceded to him by his minister. But let the minister take care that he does not grant this leave indiscreetly to anyone. Nevertheless, let all the brothers preach by their works. And let no minister or preacher appropriate to himself the ministry of brothers or the office of preaching, but let him give up his office without any contradiction at whatever hour it may be enjoined him. Wherefore I beseech in the charity which God is all my brothers, preachers, prayers, or laborers, both clerics and laics, that they study to humble themselves in all things and that they glory not, nor rejoice, nor inwardly exalt themselves on account of good words and works, nor indeed for any good which God may sometimes say or do and operate in them or by them, according to what the Lord says: ‘But yet rejoice not, in this that spirits are subject unto you.’  And let us know for certain that nothing belongs to us but vices and sins. And we ought rather to rejoice when we ‘fall into divers temptations,’ and when we bear some afflictions or sorrows of soul or body in this world for the sake of eternal life. Let us then all, brothers, avoid all pride and vainglory. Let us keep ourselves from the wisdom of this world, and the prudence of the flesh; for the spirit of the world wishes and cares much for words, but little for work; and it seeks not religion and interior sanctity of spirit, but wishes and desires a religion and sanctity appearing from without to men. And these are they of whom the Lord says: ‘Amen, I say unto you, they have received their reward.’  But the spirit of the Lord wishes the flesh to be mortified and despised, and to be considered vile, abject, and contemptible; and it studies humility and patience, pure simplicity, and true peace of mind, and always desires above all things divine fear and divine wisdom, and the divine love of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

[77] Posted by Clare on 10-13-2013 at 06:16 PM · [top]

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