Pope Francis: Guilty till proven innocent

Michael Liccione remarks:

Back when I was a callow youth, I was defending some theologian–I think it was de Lubac–against another theologian’s savage critique. Finally, exasperated, he protested: “We don’t want statements that *can* be interpreted in an orthodox sense. We want statements that *cannot* be interpreted in a heterodox sense!”

Pope Francis is facing the same attitude.

With sufficient will power, hostility and animus, “Pass the salt” can be interpreted in a heterodox sense. (“Is he speaking of “passing” in receiving blessed salts, as though we no longer need such sacramentals? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!  WHY IS FRANCIS SUGGESTING THAT A HOLY AND SACRED SACRAMENTAL OF THE CHURCH IS SUDDENLY NO LONGER IMPORTANT?  HE SENDS SUCH CONFUSING MESSAGES!!!”) Francis’ enemies (or “filial correctors” as they style themselves) are bound and determined to read everything he says and does in the most sinister sense possible at all times.

Dudes: Here is just a tiny sample of words and deeds by, you know, Jesus Christ, that can be interpreted in a heterodox sense:

  • His request for baptism for the remission of sins
  • His temptation by the devil
  • And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. (Mt 18:8).
  • “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. (Mk 10:18).
  • The entire parable of the unjust steward.
  • I and the Father are one. (Jn 10:30)
  • The Father is greater than I. (Jn 14:28)
  • “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19)
  • “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26).
  • This is my body.

That is, as I say, a tiny, tiny sample of the many ambiguous, cryptic, and baffling things Jesus said to hearers who had not the slightest idea what he was talking about–including his own disciples.  Indeed, Jesus’ parables were deliberately told so that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (Lk 8:10), which is itself an ambiguous remark open to all kinds of heterodox interpretation.

Yes, light came for the apostles and disciples–slowly.  But it took the Church a long time to fully grasp the implications of Jesus’ word concerning, say, the cleanness of food (implying the cleanness of Gentile believers) (Acts 10:9-16).  Or to work out his highly mysterious revelation of the Trinity from his extremely cryptic words and deed.

And, indeed, it is *still* the work of the Church to tease out the full implications of Christ’s teaching.

The spectacle of Inquisitors, sitting atop a Tradition that includes the massive wealth of ambiguous sayings of Jesus and the entire book of Revelation, all while freaking out about the “lack of clarity” of Francis’ typically folksy way of speaking (a way of speaking that only seems to baffle enemies intent on being baffled), is one of the greatest acts of straining at gnats and swallowing camels in the history of the Church.

Their “guilty till proven innocent” approach means he will always be guilty in their eyes.  When judges are bound and determined to find you guilty no matter what, the Christ-like approach is modeled in the gospel: “like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,/so he opened not his mouth.” (Is 53:7).

The silence is the answer: and a loud one for those with ears to hear.

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