Whenever a Christian wants to get angry about something, no matter how dumb or unjust his anger, he always likens himself to Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers.
Whenever a Catholic wants to blow off something the pope says that challenges his cherished lifestyle commitments or political allegiances he has two choices.
If he is a Progressive Dissenter, he will typically invoke “Primacy of Conscience”. If he is a conservative or Reactionary dissenter, he will invoke “Prudential Judgement”. Both typically mean, “Blow off the guidance of the pope or bishop because it’s irritating and inconvenient.” Both almost never mean, “I have really given this considered thought and, though it’s irritating and inconvenient, it’s not actually counter to the Church’s teaching and is actually a rather prudent application of the Tradition to the question at hand, so in a spirit of docility, I will try to do as the Church suggests.” Had the geniuses who invoked “primacy of conscience” actually listened to the Church we would be killing considerably fewer than 1.4 million children each year. Had the geniuses who invoke “prudential judgment” actually listened to the Church, there would be over 100,000 Iraqis still alive and a lot more blood and treasure still where they should be and not buried in the sand of the Mideast.
Now, when somebody wants to invoke “prudential judgment” to blow off the Pope and the Pope is, you know, not wrong and actually giving a thoughtful and humane exposition of the Tradition, it is sometimes necessary to pull out the Big Guns. This is achieved by invoking St. Paul and the time he chewed out Peter (Galatians 2). The basic story is that Peter, as we his frequent custom, articulated very clearly the faith of the Church (we are saved by grace, not by works of the law) but then wimped out and failed to follow through on his own teaching. So Paul chewed him out for not living up to his own teaching.
Here’s the thing: Francis has not, in the slightest, failed to live up to the Church’s teaching in the recent interview, and still less in his actions. What he’s done is fail to live up to conservative shibboleths and instead insist that our moral teaching has to be situated in the context of the encounter between Jesus and the human person. So some guy with a keyboard at the American Spectator has decided he’s St. Paul and cries out “Aux Armes, Citoyens!” as he calls for open rebellion against our “liberal” Pope.
Dude. I know St. Paul. St. Paul is a friend of mine. You are no St. Paul. One more reason I’m as done and over with the Thing that Used to be Conservatism as I am with the Thing that Used to be Liberalism.
Do we want a Pope who is a teacher or do we just want a Pope who is a flag?