Reader Dan C Gets it…

That is, he gets that the only real difference between Francis and his immediate predecessors is not a change in the Church’s teaching, but simply a particular gift for being able to make the Church’s teaching heard.

All the recent popes have said the same thing.  The difference is that Francis is unavoidable.  Three central matters to the faith will require catechesis.

1.  The Role of Evangelization.  We are to bring people to Christ.  Benedict would bring people to meet Christ in the Church.  Francis is bringing another way to do this- we meet Christ in the poor, and we must make Christ more available to those who bear the Cross of poverty for us.  We are not to await some undefined future date that we are to perfect evangelization of those in the pews already.

2.  The dynamics of salvation.  Two acts are involved in this-God loves and desires salvation for everyone.  He saves on a large scale everyday in the cold world outside the doors of the Church.  Get over it.  The point of conversion is that we then get to participate in the Kingdom and Everlasting Life (which are Gospel terms dipcting both a “present” state for us and an eschatological future).  We are not to be condemning to hell those Baptists and Hindus who are outside the Church, we instead should be inviting them to everlasting life with us “now.”  The message that God is Love, loves the atheist and even the Baptist, is a given.  The message we say and have permitted to mimick the defective salvation theology of the Evangelical which is “you must accept Jesus Christ as your savior to get to heaven, otherwise you will rot in Hell.” The Church says something better:  come join in the salvific work of Christ and know the joy of the Kingdom now.

3.  The role of the poor.  The poor have been abandoned as equal members of the Church wholesale in America.  They are reduced to objects of charity whose care the Church (rightly) brags.  However, gone is the image of a Paul taking up a collection to keep the Church of Jerusalem afloat.  We have shut down poor Churches and indicated we need to retrench into the suburbs, churches with their images of the Resurrected Jesus over the altar (while the inner city churches always had the Crucified Christ over the altar- I always thought the images of Christ needed to be reversed).  Taking the Eucharist and losing the Church from inner city communities wholesale over 30 years has been devastating to the mission of the Church.  The poor are not represented as deserving of the same Presence within the Mystical Body with such a policy.  The popes have been uniform:  we are past the point of debating societal role in providing charity, we need to assess ensuring justice to these families who are poor and the popes have even become more and more specific: role of the wealthy must be to create opportunity.  The Church will not advance in its missions without the poor.

This is not the usual bit of purported catechetical needs- birth control, sex, etc are always enunciated first.

But these are the central Gospel teachings, core to the message of not just Francis but the last three popes, at least.

And, by the way, the people who are hearing these things, sometimes for the first time, are not merely the riff raff outside the Church so feared by  Reactionaries, but Reactionaries themselves.  It remains to be seen whether it will be received as what it is–Good News–or rejected.  But Dan C is right that it is very much the Catholic gospel.  This is as Traditional as it gets, folks.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Credit Where Credit is Due
Bishop Robert Barron on...
A suggestion for R.R. Reno at First Things
In addition to meeting with Kim Davis privately...