Don’t Be Hasty

Joseph Susanka reminds us here not to be too hasty with the new pope. I am duly chastised. One of the problems with the new media is the speed in which things are published and the speed at which responses are expected.

A few weeks ago, it was known simply as  “The Interview.” Say those words, and everyone knew exactly what you were talking about.

And we on the Catholic InteWebs were falling all over ourselves (and everyone around us) in a desperate, raptor-like attempt to have opinions on the Pope’s words  – opinions that seemed to be based as much on pull-quotes (or even headlines) as onthe text of the actual interview. And opinions that often told us as much about the person holding them than they did about the Pope himself.

Everyone seemed to be searching for ways in which his words bolstered their pre-existing positions. Or their pre-conceptions about his orthodoxy or heterodoxy, media savvy or naiveté, humility or false humility. Everywhere I looked, people were seizing upon his words, and swallowing them whole. Without actually chewing. Without actually listening.

For my part, I’m going to take Joseph’s advice and hold off on quick comments. I am also going to go back and read the most recent papal encyclicals so that I read Francis through the spectacles of the church rather than through my own prejudices and perspectives.

I am also going to read a new book that providence has added to my “books to review” pile Pope Francis-Open Mind Faithful Heart. This is a collection of the Pope’s thoughts, homilies and teachings as Jorge Bergoglio. I’m also going to read more about his life and ministry so I can try to get into his skin, his mind, his heart and his shoes–even if they are brown.

  • John Zmirak

    Thanks for recommending Pope Francis’ wonderful new book, which I had a small hand in editing. It’s a powerful read.

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      …and thank you for your great, ‘Christianity made impossible’, piece over on Alethia and Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. I enjoyed it very much.

  • Chesire11

    Good on ya, Father! Your are that rare bird in the thickets of the internets – a persona capable of introspection, and reconsideration. That’s a big part of why I have been visiting your blog, of late.

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      Chesire. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on Fr L’s articles. I’m glad you’ve landed here.

      I find it one of the few places of balanced Catholic thinking that’s written from the perspective of real world.

      • Chesire11

        Thanks, I’ve been enjoying your posts as well, and I agree with you that this is a fairly balanced forum for discussion. There are many with whom I agree, and even better, many with whom I disagree, but whose arguments I can respect, and from which I can profit. I think Father L sets an excellent tone that is reflected in the discussions he sparks.

  • Dale

    The spontaneity and accessibility of Pope Francis is a welcome change of pace. The difference is not a criticism of Pope-emeritus Benedict, nor is pointing out the change in style a criticism of Benedict. It simply is different, and provides some balance.

    I have wondered, however, if perhaps Pope Francis is being a bit too accessible. The recent interview may be an example. In the first interview, which was given in Italian, the translations were carefully vetted by multiple experts. In the case of the English translation, five different persons translated the text independently of each other and the translations were then carefully compared.

    The second interview was also conducted in Italian, but the translation to English was not carefully reviewed. The translation was an Italian newspaper editor’s version of English, which (based on past experience) is readable but sometimes comes across as odd. I don’t doubt the theological nuances of Pope Francis comments were badly rendered by the newspaper. We shouldn’t get worked up over the botched translation , since it says things Pope Francis didn’t say.

    However, I wonder if the controversy of the translation of the second interview doesn’t point out a wisdom in being a little less impromptu.

  • Father P

    For those who remember the Myers-Briggs Inventory…

    This is what happens when a ESFJ pope follows an INTJ one

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      Oh my! The acronyms of Religious Orders are getting longer these days. :)

  • Patrick Flanagan

    Well, the Irish St. Eucalyptus did say that Francis, while the “last Pope” in his list of popes, would “feed the sheep.” This reminds of refernces to our Good Shepherd, and I wouldn’t be quick to feel anxiety yet. I happen to think it is just one list, covering a certain span of time, not a complete listing for all time. As far as the City of Seven Hills part – there is really no question that the city is Cincinnati, and the cause is the Bengals.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    I think the problem is – post-giant JPII, giant BXVI – in a secular world which is obsessed with academia too (particularly ‘empiricism’), we expect every Pope, Bishop, Priest, and layperson to have advanced degrees in Theology. Just look at the blogsphere, for starters. We have become overwhelmingly academic- and logo-centric. This nit-picking, proof-texting mentality, is what I would expect of Calvinists in particular, and Evangelicals in general, not Catholicism. (Maybe this mentality is the result of so many in the blogshere, and the movers and shakers of American Catholicism, being ex-Evangelicals bringing that mindset in?)

    To me, Pope Francis simply cracks this expectation: Yay! You can be a full-blooded Catholic without being a Doctor of the Church!

    Of the Churches I know, here in England, you can count the adults who are under 50 and not graduates on the fingers of one hand. Sadly, those ‘switched on’ are making it worse, because they’re all Oxbridge nerds trying to make the Church in their own, oak-panelled, cigar-smoking, port-drinking, image, and model themselves on Chesterton’s Fr Brown, complete with cappello romanos. It’s as if they pride themselves more in their irrelevance.

    They are ‘the Church of Confrontation’, or ‘Church Belligerent’, as Fr Paul Scalia put it, at war with the ignorant. Ignorance is seen as dissent, because their approach – which causes people to entrench in their ignorance – is observed as being proof of their dissent, in the same way McCarthyists saw reds under every bed.

    Catholicism, here, has become like the pre-Vatican II Anglican Church: ‘The Tory Party at prayer’ , as Lloyd George put it. To break with that mentality isn’t to be ‘liberal’ or ‘in dissent’. It’s simply putting sanctity (back) at the centre. The only true evangelist is the saint, not the professor (unless he’s a saint in the making as well).

    The sanctity of John Paull II and Benedict gives weight to their academic work, whilst traditionalism wants to turn that on its head, it seems, because they want to preserve the Church in aspic and impose their mock-gothic mentality on everyone. The great Garrigou-Lagrange: beautiful architecture. But shame none but the elite could work out how to get in to see the inside.

    To me, those trying to reinstate Garrigou-Lagrange, Prosper Guéranger, and their ilk back to the centre are, whether they’re explicit about it or not, sede-vacantists, it seems to me, because that mentality – not the wonderful teaching -was what Vatican II set itself to address. Therefore, it seems to me, that mentality – which is the same as those who will only use the King James version of the Bible – simply accuses Vatican II as being a council of rupture.

    To me, Vatican II wasn’t about change in doctrine or anything else, but change in idiom. It wasn’t about being relevant, but being understandable. Pope Francis knows his onions, he simply isn’t starting there, but where people are at, like any good father would with his children.

  • Glenn Galenkamp

    Being a bit of an outsider, I wonder why there is such a controversy with everything that Pope Francis says or does. Just because he says something publicly, does not mean that it is automatically enshrined in canon law, or becomes doctrine of the church, nor does his approach to the liturgy mean that Roman Catholics have to lockstep with what he does. It has been my unfortunate experience that people, priests and laity alike, will do whatever they want to regarding forms and styles of worship. I have seen multiple times in many different parishes the utter disregard of the GIRM and people doing their own things contrary to the laws of the church. These abuses will continue regardless what Pope Francis says or does, or indeed any of his successors. I saw abuses in parishes, both liturgical and theological, under John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. It is our disordered fallen human nature that causes us to rebel against authority, so why should be be surprised that abuses in the church occur. I see that people are being affected more that what they should allow by the MSM. I hope and pray that with time people will not get so worked up about what the pope says or does publicly. We should pay great attention to the encyclicals that are published and be content to let the MSM works itself up into a lather over nothing. The focus of the church has and always will be the “making disciples of all nations” and one which people need to devote their time and energy. May the Bishop of Rome continue to faithfully shepherd his flock that God has entrusted him with.

  • David L. Jones
  • David L. Jones