Fr. Z has stooped to a new low. He is selling cheap, bland, and ugly merchandise, generically built for quick and cheap profits, that does more than to merely invert or make light of paragraph 94 of Pope Francis’ recent exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Fr. Z goes further, by identifying himself, proudly, to be the very thing that the Pope decries when he wrote:
94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. 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. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.
For those concerned about translation, here it is, in Spanish:
94. Esta mundanidad puede alimentarse especialmente de dos maneras profundamente emparentadas. Una es la fascinación del gnosticismo, una fe encerrada en el subjetivismo, donde sólo interesa una determinada experiencia o una serie de razonamientos y conocimientos que supuestamente reconfortan e iluminan, pero en definitiva el sujeto queda clausurado en la inmanencia de su propia razón o de sus sentimientos. La otra es el neopelagianismo autorreferencial y prometeico de quienes en el fondo sólo confían en sus propias fuerzas y se sienten superiores a otros por cumplir determinadas normas o por ser inquebrantablemente fieles a cierto estilo católico propio del pasado. Es una supuesta seguridad doctrinal o disciplinaria que da lugar a un elitismo narcisista y autoritario, donde en lugar de evangelizar lo que se hace es analizar y clasificar a los demás, y en lugar de facilitar el acceso a la gracia se gastan las energías en controlar. En los dos casos, ni Jesucristo ni los demás interesan verdaderamente. Son manifestaciones de un inmanentismo antropocéntrico. No es posible imaginar que de estas formas desvirtuadas de cristianismo pueda brotar un auténtico dinamismo evangelizador.
In other words, Fr. Z has come up with, and is selling, this claim that directly opposes Francis exhortation: “I am a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian, and proud of it.”
This may seem funny to some people, making light on what, at first glance, seems like an impenetrable phrase. But anyone who so often defends obscure and technical ecclesial words, and who claims to have respect for etymology and language in general, should have very little trouble figuring out what this phrase means.
Fr. Z understands what “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism” means and his rebellious rejoinder shows a degree of intentionality that is worst than obtuse — it is defiant.
By describing himself in the exact words Francis used to describe something negative and dangerous, and encouraging others to join him, Fr. Z is — as Tom McDonald puts it — giving Pope Francis the finger. He is also projecting what is most obvious: Fr. Z felt Francis pointing in his direction and decided to strike back, with merch.
These are the days when the Vicar of Christ is defended from the “orthodox” and “faithful” Catholics…