More Francis Love

This will cause the normal exploding heads at the Reporter and MSNBC.  No “Progress” for you!

In the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America, Cardinal Bergoglio commented on the worthiness of individuals to receive the Eucharist. The text states in paragraph 436 that, “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”[52][53][54]

Of course, for Catholics who know their faith, all this was fore-ordained and obvious.  It turns out the Pope is Catholic.  But for the MSM, the deathless superstition is that the faith is the personal property of the Pope which he could, if he would just get off the dime and do it, completely re-write to reflect the deepest beliefs of the NY Times editorial board,  All Things Considered, and HuffPo.  So we constantly hear the hope that the “next Pope” or the Third Vatican Council will “reform” the Catholic faith so that it’s not so, you know, Catholic.  It’s a superstition that shows no sign of abating and a mindset that shows not the slightest hint of an ability to learn from history or deal with reality.

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  • Dan C


    But he said Mass in the home of the dictator who had kidnapped and was torturing his Jesuits.

    I think the Church conspicuously elevates some matters of moral life more than others. I am all for coherence.

    • Steve P

      the explanation I saw for that was that he purposely got into the home to say Mass in place of the regular “private” priest, in order that he could plead for mercy for the captive priests. This is from his biographer Rubin cited in the Yahoo News piece, I believe.

    • Maiki

      Maybe you are confusing complicitness with strategy. From some accounts, I’ve heard he also saved jesuits and hid people from the dictatorship. Maybe saying mass in the house of a sinner and keeping his public nose down meant he could do more good behind the scenes, and not be killed.

      I don’t know enough details about the case, but those accusing him seem to be saying that not wanting to be killed is equivalent to endorsing a regime. It is not. It might be prudence, in many cases.

      • Faith-Free

        Ahhh yes, it was all one big game of Eleven Dimensional Chess! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Again, you’d never make these kinds of excuses for a secular figure.

        BTW, remind me what your supposedly holy scriptures say about “doing evil that good may result”?

        • Noah D

          You know, it’s not really that complex. Saying Mass properly is a good act, and praying for bad people to stop being bad and be good is also a good act, so…what was your point again?

          • Bill

            I’ll keep praying for you that just maybe you’re no longer free of faith.

          • Dan C

            The comment is about coherence in the Eucharist and who should be refused. I maintain the Church is selective on enforcing this. I gave this as an example. I think it is important to note two things: 1) yes, there is selectiveness in this coherence in practice on the routine and 2) rarely is this selectiveness alienating on the basis of war or economic morality.

            This may differ from the early Church.

            • Faith

              Is he saying who should be refused or is he saying that people who are socially engineering on issues that effect the family should be aware of the fact that they are not in a state to receive holy communion? He is putting the responsibility on the legislators, doctors, etc. I don’t read here that he is instructing refusal.

              • Dan C

                It is a passive comment, I agree leaving room to interpret whether one should present oneself or whether one should be refused.

                What does “social engineering” mean to you? I gather, from folks who have used this term before and their right wing tendencies, you would disagree that a right wing junta who “disappeared” thousands and stole babies is the first thought you have with “social engineering.” It is for me. But I bet you differ.

                I think the emphasis in the bit here on Eucharistic coherence is that the issues of significance are pelvic first, like contraceptors and active gays, not the hedge fund greedy who “socially engineer” through economic actions more powerfully than anything else.

                • Faith

                  Well, I think I am using socicial engineering in its north Amercan sense. Trying to push things that reinvent sexuality and it’s role in society, like pushing for free contraception and gay marriage.. I was using it in a shorthand way and probably it isn’t an accurate term here. But I am distinguishing between that issue and the age old brutality of ruthless leaders who do horrible things for the sake of power. Both definitely affect society! I do not think I am right wing at all. I came back to the Church via Pax Christi actually. I got disenchanted with them when I realized that many were pro abortion which made no sense to me at all. So while I am not the leftie I used to be I still am not fond of military juntas! It is passive, the statement we are referring to. I think it is trying to be suggestive rather than proscriptive, to remind this fairly new breed of sinners, the ones that try to change the laws that are reeking havoc on our understanding of family, that they should remember their actions do not reconcile them to the Church.

                  I think you bring up a very good point. I am merely playing the advocate, trying parse how there can righteously be a difference. Different sins may be handled in different ways, perhaps? Will speaking out against a ruthless killer hurt more or help more? Is it better to placate in appearance but work behind the scenes? One is always left open to cries of cowardice or hypocrite. When does one sit down with sinners? When does one shake the dust off ones’ sandals and leave those who will not hear behind?

                  What made me comment in the first place is that some commenters somehow got from the bishop’s ambiguous statement to someone denying an openly gay man communion. And I just didn’t quite see how that jump was justified by what was actually quoted.

                  • Dan C

                    Well…it is not clear. This is a difficult passage. I would suspect those thinking similarly to Cardinal Burke would deny see less passivity in the comment and deny the Eucharist to….Joe Biden, the active gay. I think it relevant.

                    I am fairly certain there are no new sins. I think Rome, the Imperial environment in which the Church was born, was pretty well-versed in just about all sinfulness. I take issue with “new” sins.

                    I note that the Church has a bias toward declaring some sins worse than others, or spend more energy denouncing some over others. Should Biden be denied the Eucharist and the Argentinian dictator have Mass said in his home?

                    While I center on a very specific pair of politicians, I do so to illustrate the issue.

                    • Faith

                      It is true there is nothing new under the sun, but you truly can’t see the difference between politicians pushing a social agenda that reinvents the family vs. power hungry thugs who murder people? How many countries in the past have advocated gay marriage? How many countries in the past have forced tax payers to furnish free contraceptives? Might the Church approach things differently or should everything be painted with the same brush? If I, acting as a bishop, get myself killed because I’ve angered the junta, how many people can I hide? If I, acting as the bishop, remonstrate those pushing abortion, that they are not in a state to receive Holy Communion and think they are good Catholics in spite of openly working against Church teachings, do you think it might raise somebody’s consciousness? I don’t know. But I think that is perhaps a somewhat viable response to your characterizations. And also let’s not conflate Joe Biden, the very visible politician who touts his Catholicism while pushing anti-Church teachings to an openly gay person who shows up in the communion line. The passage quoted (a very short one that may read completely differently in its greater context! I don’t know!) specifically (not passively) speaks to those who are responsible for pushing this new social agenda. This is a nonviolent way of letting these people know just how serious their sin is. I am not very familiar with Argentina’s Dirty War but thinking of the example of Franco in Spain for instance, the Church was between a rock and a hard place. Which side are you on? The bloody thugs on one side who do not have an agenda to wipe you out? Or the bloody thugs on the other side who make it a habit of taking your priests out in the street and executing them. The Church tries to stay neutral for as long as possible in this ever changing, disorientating, nightmare of events but in the end becomes aligned with the side that at least lets you exist.

                      I am out of time!

            • Roberto

              Where is “refusal” mentioned in that statement? He is talking about people “receiving” while in a state contradicting the Catholic Faith. Don’t change words and then pretend to be right!

            • Jay

              I don’t know all the details surrounding this story. My general understanding is that he arranged to be the one to say the Mass in that junta leader’s home so that he could speak on their behalf. And that ultimately his attempts at gaining their freedom were successful. Did the junta leader receive communion from him that day? Prior to confessing? Was it through him taking the sacrament of confession and eucharist to his home and speaking to him that their lives were saved? I really don’t know the details. But the details I’m aware of leave a very wide berth for him to have done nothing wrong. Or we can assume he allowed his emotions and attachment to human life to cloud his judgement and rationalize he was doing good. Of course, we could also conclude that, like all of us, 20 years ago his understanding of the faith was less mature than it is today and he truly didn’t see the problem with what he was doing.

              People grow in faith, people mature, people change. And the facts we know are hardly sufficient to pass judgment on the objective behavior.

        • Mark Shea

          It’s evil to say Mass and plead for somebody’s life? Or do you merely mean “He eats with tax collectors and sinners?”

          • Gary Simmons

            Which, as the Bible says, is a bad thing. Yep. He’s too much like Jesus.

            Has Dowd written on this yet? How will she tie this in to how she can’t get a date?

            • Bill M.

              Ah, yes. Maureen Dowd, the 61 year-old ‘chick’.

      • Dan C

        Yes. He did strategize. Maybe that was good. Why though is he so forceful against a government supporting contraceptives and more silent during the days of the junta?

        • Dan C

          These are very practical questions that discuss pragmatic implentation of morality, moral effort, and moral teaching. This itself is not yet understood as the morality itself. It is the “how” of teaching and practicing its role.

          This is a different matter than declaring sexual sinfulness as evil. Or noting that murder is evil. It is how one communicates it as a leader of the Church.

        • Roberto

          I don’t know, because a junta can kill you and lots more and a government supporting contraceptives can be defeated at the next election at least theoretically? Not a big enough difference?

          • Dan C

            Is this the explanation of Eucharistic coherence?

    • Dan C

      Understand this mostly to be a larger comment on what we emphasize as a Church. As a Church, we have chosen sexuality as the area in which we fight the powerful. The strongest weapons at the Churches disposal as well as its organizing powers are spent on these matters.

      Fine. But why this as the point of doubling down and not nuclear weapons or capitalism, which, while critiqued, is not as significantly policed for sinfulness at the communion rail as homosexuality.

      I see many words in discussion that active homosexuals and their supporters should not present themselves for Communion but not anyone suggesting greedy hedge fund operators should not present themselves for Communion. The greedy are as sinful as the lustful. Its just more acceptable and common at 40th and Park Ave to be a hedge fund financier.

      • Faith-Free

        Because your church doesn’t want to alienate the powerful, especially big donors. Duh.

        Gays, being a tiny tiny and mostly helpless minority are a safe target.

        • Dan C

          Note: I did not say the lustful were sinless. They are equivalent to the greedy. That is not a good thing.

        • Dave P.

          Troll elsewhere, why don’t you?

        • Roberto

          Gays are a tiny and mostly helpless minority? Which planet are you from?

          • Dan C

            Gays are a minority. Until very recently, they were the subject of discrimination and more.

          • Sven

            Earth. Welcome.
            Gay folks are 2%-4% of the population, and even then they are severely underrepresented in American politics

    • Molly

      Horror of horrors a priest offer a Mass in the home of someone possibly guilty of great evil? I say what better way to combat the enemy, regardless of what his strategy may have been. Mass being said anywhere is good, no matter what. (And no matter which form, at that).

      • Dan C

        But should Biden be refused the Eucharist? Someone below intimates “yes” and Cardinal Burke would agree. Sheridan of Colorado would agree. I am asking for an explanation of “coherence” then.

        • Molly

          Are you trying to equate this to him offering communion to the man in whose home he said Mass? Maybe that’s where I’m off on what you’re trying to say. We don’t know if he did or didn’t offer communion to him. I’m all for him saying a Mass at Biden’s house, not for Biden receiving communion.

          • Dan C

            Be fairly certain that the dictator got Communion.

  • Steve P

    There’s a priceless bit between the incredibly clueless Piers Morgan and Newt Gingrich, discussing Francis as a reformer, in which Newt says, “what is it with Western elites who can only equate ‘reform’ with sex?’”

    Newt gives an admirable (for him) summary, predicting that Francis will challenge our notions of how we reach out to the poor, etc. but Piers just can’t leave it alone. I’ll see if I can find the clip…

    • Steve P
    • Faith-Free

      Newt Gingrich: voice of sexual morality.

      Now excuse me while I go vomit.

      • Steve P

        Yes, clearly I was giving an apologetic for Newt’s sexual ethics…

        No, my point is that Gingrich (by whom I am normally very UN-impressed) was trying to get Morgan to see outside of his narrow pelvic obsession, that perhaps the Gospel (and this pope) may have a lot to say about poverty, greed, etc. And isn’t that part of what you are trying to get at with your clever little quips about Catholic morality? That perhaps issues of human dignity ought to be at least as important as defending traditional marriage, for example?

        In that sense, you are absolutely right– we ought to be more consistent in our application of morality.

        All the best,

  • Debra

    Faith-free, praying the mass in the company of sinner is not an evil act. He went and bartered for the release of two Jesuit priests ultimately saving their lives. He was known to hide people from the authorities on Jesuit property through the whole ordeal, as well. Many did the like in nazi Germany and we think of them as champions of the oppressed and heroic. I think you are the one applying a double standard.

    • Dan C

      The quite above indicates that Eucharistic coherence requires certain people ot to recove Communion. Fine. The dictator had Mass said in his house. Explain the coherence.

      • Dan C

        That should be “not” to receive Communion.

    • Faith-Free

      So giving the Eucharist to a brutal military dictator and torturer is OK, but giving it to an openly gay man is not.

      What a peculiar morality you Catholics have!

      • Bruce

        If you actually took the time to learn it, you might think different.

        Aren’t faithless progressives supposed to be about abolishing ignorance? Start with yourself.

  • Faith-Free

    Let me put it this way: do you all really mean to suggest to me that giving your Eucharist to Pinochet or the leaders of the Argentina Junta, brutal dictators, torturers, and serial human rights abusers is a-OK but giving it to a typical Dem politician like John Kerry is not?

    Again, curious morality. Very curious indeed.

    • Roberto

      I second Bruce’s suggestion above. Try to educate yourself to the issues you are talking about and the positions people are proposing, before dismissing them.

  • Faith-Free

    Who would be “worthy” to receive Communion: Francisco Franco or Joe Biden? If you answer the former it perfectly illustrates how downright insane the Catholic system of morality is is. Completely and utterly bonkers.

    • Dan C

      Neither are worthy. I doubt I am worthy, but we say in the Mass Lord I am not worthy…

      I, and many in these comboxes may disagree, believe the Church of Argentina made a tremendous mistake by failing to confront the violent dictators. They were not alone. The US, using Argentina as a client state, had many a cleric fail to confront that disaster too. John Paul II snubbed Archbishop Romero. The price of these actions may be a Church with maybe 10% attendance in the Mass in Argentina. May be.

      This speaks not at all to Francis as a worthy pope, or JP2′s saintliness, but comments on the traps of sinfulness of that era. We too have our own traps of sinfulness.

      I think though that greed is the predominant vice of our time, and the pelvic sins are less significant and always present. On this, I may be wrong, but I would be wrong on the emphasis of its error in our communities, not on its objective sinfulness.

      In any event, the Church will continue. That we have this discussion at all is due to the moral education of the Church.

      • Marthe Lépine

        I may be wrong, but sometimes I get the impression that those “pelvic issues”, including abortion, are being used to deflect attention from other more politically correct sins such as greed… even by some Catholics!

      • Claude

        I, and many in these comboxes may disagree, believe the Church of Argentina made a tremendous mistake by failing to confront the violent dictators.

        The Church of Argentina agrees with you, if its public apology last year for failing to protect its flock during the dictatorship is any indication.

  • Dan C

    These questions I raise only use these points as illustrations. Francis himself faced difficult times in the 1970′s. I do not know how I would have acted, however, I am interested in the Church speaking louder against the greedy. Using the sin as the noun naming the people who sin- not just greed, but the greedy. Because it provides symmetry for those active homosexuals who are named as sinning. Gays get “called out” as the parlance goes, so why haven’t the greedy been so called.

    Luke said, “Woe to the rich!” He indicated Jesus called them out. In a big ol’ public speech.

  • Eileen D’A

    I’m SOOOO curious to see what happens if Biden presents himself for Communion.

    • Mark Shea

      Nothing will happen. The Pope is not going micromanage the American bishops.

      • Bruce

        Right. And its on Joe (and all of us) anyway.

        We eat and drink our own condemnation if we are in a state of mortal sin. No one knows besides ourselves, God, and (hopefully) our confessor.

        Bishops have the right to do it, and in some cases should, but that is up to them and their interpretation of Canon Law.

        As for Joe and the rest of us, get to confession!

  • JoAnna

    “Again, you’d never make these kinds of excuses for a secular figure.”

    *cough* Chavez *cough*

  • Andrew K.

    Mark, reading your blog, I am very glad I do not know you. You seem out to settle scores and hold grudges.

    • Bruce

      He is no different than any of us. I don’t agree with everything Mark says or does, and if he actually know the insignificant crumb-bum that is me, he would say the same about me.

      Its a blog, for heavens sake.

    • Dan C

      Untrue. On the web, of most Catholic blogs, Mark Shea has one of the few forums for articulate discussions in which diverse folks intelligently discuss a range of topics. Mr. Shea does well with his blog, forming a discussion group.

      For old Catholic Workers, Mr. Shea promotes the methodlogy of Peter Maurin: the roundtable for clarification of thought. Be sharp on your game or the very excellent discussants will trample you.

  • Kirt Higdon

    In El Salvador, where Archbishop Romero spoke out against the hard line military and para-military, not only was he killed, but dozens of priests, nuns and catechists and about 80,000 civilians in total. In Argentina, a much more populous country, few clergy and about 20,000 civilians were killed during roughly the same period. I’m not saying this to criticize Archbishop Romero, a courageous and holy man and a martyr. I’m just saying that perhaps Archbishop Bergoglio’s strategy of quiet appeal to the dictator Videla and quiet hiding of the persecuted was more effective. He was more or less in the position of Pius XII during WWII in Europe. The Church and clerics often find themselves in the position of not being able to act prophetically because they are hostage negotiators. And this too can sometimes lead to martyrdom as it has in Columbia.

    • Dan C

      This is the practical challenge and grave difficulties faced in Argentinia. And Bertoglio, while Provincial of the Jesuits, was not a bishop. (The rest of the Church was a mess in that era.) And he may have done the absolutely right thing.

      My comments are focused on what gets the focus when such comments as Eucharistic coherence is brought up.

    • Claude

      Thank you for your cogent expression of the dilemma. The allegations against Pope Francis derive from one source; many of us know little about a situation in which there were almost certainly no good options.

      There are things about the new Pope that I find extremely admirable, but of course I disagree with his orthodox views on “pelvic issues” and find his statements about homosexuality appalling. However, no liberal was going to be elected Pope. Therefore (speaking as an outsider) it’s particularly heartening when people like Dan C press for the Church to reach beyond its disproportionate concern with private sexuality and offer more insight on spiritual development and more attention on the injustices that so exercised the Jesus of the Gospels.

    • Dan C

      So…in 2000 24% of adults attended Mass weekly in Argentina. In El Salvador, in is 60%. There is a price the Church pays.

  • Chris M

    Eucharistic coherence: it seems to me where the rubber hits the road (or the host hits the tongue) it isn’t always, or even usually, cut and dry. Right now we aren’t struggling with the idea of giving communion to right wing dictators because.. well.. there aren’t really many of them around that are Catholic today. We ARE, however, faced with a large vocal presence in the US and elsewhere that demand that the Church change her immutable teachings on sexuality, marriage, and the sanctity of human life. Perhaps that’s why we’re so involved with whether abortion and gay marriage supporting Catholic politicians ought to be receiving communion RIGHT NOW and not.. y’know.. dead dictators.

  • Will

    It looks like the honeymoon is over.