Reading Francis Through Benedict

That mean name-calling pope Francis Benedict, using language to try to describe a problem and teach the flock instead of saying “Way to go, Real Catholics[TM].  Keep bringing the truth to the CINOs and the Church of Nice.  It is I who should be taught by you!  I’m sorry I’ve been such a disappointment to Catholics as great as you are.” He’s so mean. And plus, who even knows what his point is?

Ratzinger said: “the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…” [Emphases and illustrating link added by Yr. Obdt. Svt.]

Pretenses about Francis’ alleged vagueness and impenetrable prose to the contrary, it’s not super hard to understand what either Francis or Benedict are getting at here, just as it’s not super hard to know what the phrase “adolescent progressivism” is getting at (*cough* Pelosi *cough* Biden).  What is extraordinarily hard for pious Pelagians to acknowledge is that they, even they, have something to learn from the Church and that the flock is not neatly divisible into the the filthy CINO Church of Nice vs. Real Catholics[TM].  We are, all of us, slobs and sinners and the gospel offends us all–especially those who say “we see” even when Holy Church is recommending we get glasses.

So, for instance, when the pope, diagnosing various taxonomies  of spiritual worldliness, adds the remark (in the passage right after the much hystericized-about bit concerning self-involved neopelagian prometheans) “A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying” he is more than a little describing Yr. Obdt. Svt’s approach to navigating the hubbub in the Church and telling him, firmly but politely, to think it possible that something needs to change.

Just in case you think I believe myself somehow immune from the pope’s very perceptive analysis of things.

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