The Francis Puzzle: Is he an agent of continuity or change? – UPDATED

We’re still getting to know Pope Francis. To me he seems like the embodiment of Catholic universality, in that his words are thoughtful, reasoned and never kneejerk. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI, he appears to be willing to discuss any idea, explore any topic because he knows that open dialogue and the ability to wonder about things allow reason to be fully deployed. And, again, like his predecessor, that indicates that Pope Francis is perfectly confident that such reasoning will always come down, finally, on the side of Catholic orthodoxy.

It is Francis’ misfortune to be pope at a time when people are relentlessly looking for clues and buzzwords to help them quickly label someone in order to then presume — in kneejerk fashion — that they have a handle on all of the subject’s thoughts and propensities, and can therefore ride their assumptions about that person, to all of their usual conclusions. As Tony Rossi and I discussed here, Kierkegaard had it right: “when you label me, you negate me.”

But Pope Francis is not going to be negated, and frankly, I think a pope who is willing to frequently mention “the devil” in our oh-so-carefully-nuanced age is going to take some getting used to — we first-worlders are not accustomed to hearing about Old Scratch in an unvarnished manner. And just yesterday, Francis dared to talk about the Second Coming and the End of Time which is almost the third-rail of modern theological discourse. He said:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the Creed we profess that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and ends with the final judgment of Christ. Often these two poles of history are forgotten, and, above all, faith in the return of Christ and the last judgment sometimes is not so clear and steadfast in the hearts of Christians. Jesus, during his public life, often focused on the reality of his last coming.

You can bet lots of eyes opened nice and wide as they read that. Francis is clearly his own man and he is going to tell us what we need to hear in plain language so no one can later say they couldn’t understand the message; likewise, he’s going to put modern social questions through the wringer of Catholic reason and dry them out, whether some like the way they later hang, or not, so I think a wait-and-see attitude is probably the best one to take.

Yesterday, we noted that some “progressives” were not happy with Francis and the correction of the LCWR. Then, this morning, some “rad-trads” were hyperventilating about a theoretical discussion on married priests and female deacons.

The upcoming issue of OSV’s weekly paper is taking a look at Francis’ first six weeks as pope and this question about whether Francis is an agent of continuity or of change (or, some seem to worry, of chaos!) keeps coming up, so I look at that phenomenon here:

When he decided to celebrate Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper at a detention center, where he would wash the feet of young inmates, including women and Muslims, many traditionalists could see only rubrics being cast aside and a dilution of Christ’s meaning in washing the feet of the apostles. If online forums are any indicator, the pope’s move was similarly understood by both the “progressives” and the “rad-trads,” but received by the latter with tears and the former with cheers.

In those same discussion groups, more “middling” Catholics — those who do not count themselves as “traditional” or “progressive” — believed their passionate brethren were reading more into the pope’s style and ministrations than was fair, given the newness of his papacy. “Let Francis be Francis” they counseled, some joking that the Holy Spirit may have sent us a pope so level he would “annoy everyone in turn.”

That joke proved prescient mere weeks later, when it was reported that Francis reaffirmed the 2012 assessment and program of reform laid out regarding the controversial Leadership Council of Women Religious, an announcement that had some declaring “nothing has changed” but with the cheers and tears reversed.

You can read the whole thing here.

Look, when Benedict was elected, I remember Michael Sean Winters expecting the worst, and here he is confessing how he came to love Papa B. I fully expect that by the time Francis’ has been around for five or eight years, we’ll see some traditionalists say they were wrong to fear him and some more liberal Catholic say they were wrong to cheer him.

It’s sort of the nature, and mystery, of the office.

But take a look at the picture at the top of this post; it is a screengrab of the moment after Francis gave his first papal blessing, when he removed the stole and then kissed it. I mention it in the OSV piece because, even though I was sick as a dog in Rome as I watched it, I remember thinking that the kiss was significant. I think it really was. The same man who kissed the feet of non-Catholics and women on Holy Thursday, and the faces of the severely handicapped is the man who kissed the papal stole as he removed it. All of those actions seemed imbued with reverence for the church and the world and therefore the Creator.

The kiss told me that while he may not like all the trappings of his new role, but he respects them, and thus the role. And that may be the essence, or the crux, of the mystery of Francis.

By the way, they didn’t ask me to mention it, but if you don’t subscribe to OSV Weekly, you’re missing a consistently balanced view of everything going on in the church; I enjoy it a lot.

UPDATE: John Thavis reports that Francis will be finishing Benedict’s encyclical on faith. Continuity?

Also, from Fr. James Martin: Is Francis making it acceptable for priests to hug, again? I hope so.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • EpicusMontaigne

    I have to say that while I haven’t been worried per se about Pope Francis, I have read so much about how he’s doing things differently that I’ve been concerned that others would see his papacy as “bringing the Church into modern times” (oh how I hate that phrase).

    Your take on it really puts me at ease. That, and the fact that the Pontifex Maximus has far more grace and knows far better than I do exactly what he’s doing and what the Church needs.

    Having said all that, I still worry about Michael Sean Winters…

  • Manny

    Can’t he be both? Obviously I think so.
    Side subject: I’m not sure I like your new comment box style. Definitely needs getting used to.

  • MeanLizzie

    SOrry about that. I have no choice, it’s a Patheos-wide decision.

  • Annie Garretson Milliron

    It’s quite interesting to read both sides, yet only having been Catholic for 5 years, and this being the first election of a Pope since my conversion, I guess I would say that I’m in the middle. I really am not inclined to choose a “side”; my heart just simply trusts the The Holy Spirit without a single doubt, and that Pope Francis was chosen for reasons only known to Him. That’s enough for me! Viva Papa! God bless Pope Benedict, God bless Pope Francis, God bless us all.

  • Alex

    The following words the Anchoress pronounced from her perch in the “small, sealed room inside a church,” are worth their weight in gold:

    “I think a pope who is willing to frequently mention “the devil” in our oh-so-carefully-nuanced age is going to take some getting used to — we first-worlders are not accustomed to hearing about Old Scratch in an unvarnished manner. And just yesterday, Francis dared to talk about the Second Coming and the End of Time which is almost the third-rail of modern theological discourse.”

    I myself have had to intellectually wrestle with the ideas of Old Scratch, the Second Coming and the End time. But there they are, in our tradition, going back to the time of Christ. I’m still as confused as before about them, but at least now that Pope Francis has spoken, I’m beginning to be at peace with them.

    The Anchoress also refers to what she dubs a recent “theoretical discussion on married priests and female deacons.” I’ve often asked myself: What is it about “married priests” that bugs the hell out of certain progressives? The Church is not imposing celibacy on them (after all, “I’m free to do what I want with my body…”), only on its ministers. It doesn’t tell married people they have to become celibates. It seems to me that these liberals see everything in terms of the orgasmic, à la Freud, who contended that sex surrounds almost every human action and emotion even from infancy. Like it or not, many recent studies are, in fact, coming to the conclusion that very likely clerical celibacy is of apostolic origin. And, oh, by the way, Christ was never married either.

  • Romulus

    Kissing the stole is not a personal or spontaneous devotion. It’s the normal thing when a priest put it on or removes it.

  • Strife

    The Church has had more than a few bad popes. The Holy Spirit doesn’t always choose the pope, but rather, sometimes The Spirit simply allows the pope to be chosen. That is a difference with a vast distinction.

    The fact that The Church is currently in a downward spiral is self-evident, and it got that way mostly (as it always has) by the sins and failures of the clergy itself, including the Bishops and the papacy. And as is often the case throughout history, the redemption of the Church (the Ressurection from the ashes if you will) will come not from the elevated “wisdom” and public acts of supposed “humility” displayed from the throne and from the pulpits, but rather, it will come as it always has, from the uncommon goodness of the lowly common man in the humble unsung pews.

    So to that historic end, it is quite possible that Pope Francis will end up doing more damage and causing more chaos when this is all said and done. The Devil is not a mere bumbling idiot whose motives are always easily read nor readily revealed. He knows how to hijack good intentions and how to propagate false humility. He knows how to elevate “the poor” into a false idol, and “charity” into a false sacrament. A few public kisses goes a long way in disguising the misleading effects of The Liar. Just ask Judas Iscariot. I do not sense that the tearing-down of the Church has reached it’s ultimate depths- far from it. Nor do I believe it has to in order for the rebuilding to begin. I think the two actions and results coincide at the same time in a paradoxical dichotomy.

    So I’ll keep this pope in my eye with a healthy spiritual sense of skepticism. I’ll remind myself that he is a broken descendent of the two most broken of the Disciples: Judas and Peter. I’ll keep asking myself, which one of these Apostles does he most resemble? Does his obsession with the poor serve to impoverish the Church? If so, does this physical poverty really lead to spiritual poverty? Or does it lead to a false spirituality that is far too reliant on physical works at the expense of justifying the world’s empty narrative of ultimate salvation via class warfare? Many sins can be overlooked when all that matters is “the poor”. Money is not (in and of itself) an intrinsic evil, but you certainly couldn’t tell that from this pope.

    “When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He
    chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic
    John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward — in a word, a man. And upon
    this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not
    prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed
    because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded
    by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing — the historic
    Christian Church — was founded upon a weak man, and for that reason it
    is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” – G.K.Chesterton

  • Illinidiva

    I think that Francis cannot be put in any box. He is definitely an original.

    Also, I’m surprised that he is finishing B16′s encyclical on faith. They are just such polar opposites in terms of style. Francis’ style is much more accessible, so I’m not sure how well they’d mesh.

  • EpicusMontaigne

    I think you give the popes too little credit. Also, I think you give the Holy Spirit too little credit.

    With regards to your critique of his humility, I would ask you to consider that rather than actively searching for underhanded plays at misdirection, assume that “a spade is just a spade”.

    Because the devil isn’t at his best when false humility and charity and a love for the poor are in play. He does his best work in a house divided.

  • Peter Ingemi

    In a few years Liberals will hate Francis the way Satan hates the church

  • nitnot

    People need to mind their own business, live their lives as faithfully as they can, and stop constantly spying on others a la Gladys Kravitz. There’s more than enough to do. Holy Father Francis will do fine; Holy Spirit will make sure of it.

  • nitnot

    I agree. I live a life with the devil much in evidence, so hearing Holy Father Francis speak of that wretch is affirming for me.

    And you are correct that “… these liberals see everything in terms of the orgasmic ….” Sex is the be-all and the end-all of the liberal world view; some of them even posit that if you don’t have sex regularly, you are not healthy in some way. Pffffffffttt.

  • Strife

    On the contrary, the only credit the popes deserve comes ultimately from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit always knows what He is doing, and it is very possible that The Spirit is giving the worldly Church exactly what the world desires. Thus the destruction continues at a much more rapid pace as does the rebuilding.

    As far as the pope’s humility, he displays it far too openly. So much so, that it begins to take on the feel of a performance:

    “But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;a otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
    so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” – Matthew 6:1-4

    And what better way for the Devil to further divide the Church than the use of false humility and false charity through a disproportionate emphasis on the physically “poor”? After all, those are the exact misguided false attributes that are the source and summit of the Liberation Theology that has wreaked so much havoc in the Church lo these last 60 years. We must never ever ever underestimate the Dark One. After all, The-Murderer-And-The-Liar-From-The-Beginning left Our Lord in the desert physically exhausted and spiritually drained. The deceptive cunning of The Evil One should never be taken lightly nor should we assume that it is always straight forward and easily read.

    Thus far, the divisions in this house are only widening. It seems as though Something Wicked This Way Comes. But I hope I’m wrong.

  • EpicusMontaigne

    Oh Strife, aptly named!

    That the pope performs righteous deeds does not mean that he does it *in order* that he might be seen doing them.

    And all grace comes from the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does not, will not compel righteousness.

    To turn against Pope Francis because he loves the poor and the weak, with the justification that there are popes in the past who have been bad, I don’t think is fair to the man, or the office.

    If you are afraid, then pray. Don’t seek to sow strife amongst your fellows.

  • Illinidiva

    All popes like poor people, the disabled, the environment, etc. It is normal pope stuff.
    As for the “humble act”, I don’t think that it is because Francis wants to curry favor with the press or make himself more popular. It is more about him being a stubborn elderly man who likes things a certain way. And this isn’t going to change just because he’s received a promotion and changed addresses. I think that the smaller residence is a personal decision; he likes people and living at Santa Marta gives him more access to people. Ditto with the personal phone calls to the shoemaker, the newspaper vendor, etc. Although he clearly is enjoying himself (three hours of baby kissing/ glad handing yesterday), I also think that he might feel a bit isolated and miss Buenos Aires. I’m assuming the phone calls keep him sane and connected.

  • Strife

    Are you familiar with the roots of Liberation Theology? Have you read Ratzinger’s evaluation of it’s distortions? i.e. the elevation of physical bread? Who are the “poor” and the “weak”? Those terms have new definitions in this new age of class warfare and socialism construed into “social justice”.

    Am I afraid? Yes. Of course. Fear is useful. The Apostles were constantly fearful as they walked with Our Lord.

  • Strife

    Yes, he is “enjoying himself”. A tad too much I should say. And therein lies the performance.

  • EpicusMontaigne

    I don’t think being afraid is wrong at all, I’m saying, resort to prayer and bolstering up your companions who are also probably afraid. I don’t think speaking like you did here is productive though, and I’m worried about what potential scandal you might unintentionally cause.

    I am familiar with Liberation Theology (I recently had an up-and-coming blogger post a guest post on my site about it that was very informative!), as is Pope Francis. He is critiqued in Latin America for being an arch-bishop who was against Liberation Theology.

    The poor and the weak are the poor and the weak, especially in the third world. The Catholic Church is not an American Church; the poor don’t all live in ghettos. Sometimes the poor make up 99% of a country.

  • Illinidiva

    Why is it wrong for someone to enjoy his job? It is clear that Bergoglio decided to become a priest because he loves people. It is clear that he is living his faith (as he’d like us all to live our faith) in his daily interactions with people. It makes him happy, it makes the people who he interacts with happy, and it makes everyone who sees the interactions happy. I’d take a happy, self-effacing pope over a dour, severe one any day.

  • Strife

    None of that is “clear”. You simply assume all of this.

    Kissing 12 babies and hugging 6 handicap people on your way to the restroom plays well for the camera doesn’t it. Enough already. We get it. He’s such a living saint. Let’s renounce all of the Church’s wealth, sell off all of it’s art work and give give give give to those saintly “poor” people shall we? That should make a really big difference in the world for about……. what?…. one month?

    “The poor you will have with you always”

    When will we see him kissing bankers and washing the feet of the wealthy and powerful? Are they not God’s little children too?

  • Illinidiva

    Liberation Theology is about class warfare and actually supporting armed militants. I don’t see Francis is doing either. He is obviously big on social justice and the preferential option for the poor, but he isn’t a Marxist revolutionary. He apparently hasn’t voted in an election since the 1960s because he wants to be viewed as apolitical.

  • Strife

    My words aren’t productive in your opinion. Well in my opinion they are. So there’s that. And potential scandal? What? Scandal in the Catholic Church? Heaven forbid! How will the papacy ever survive a scandal! This is unheard of! *gasp*

    Oh, you recently had a guest post a piece on Liberation Theology? Well then, you’re obviously well informed enough to dismiss any concerns. *eyeroll*

    Tell me, how exactly was Francis “against” Liberation Theology?

    And the Catholic Church is not limited to America? Really? You mean to tell me that Jesus Christ wasn’t from the Heartland of America? Well gee. I didn’t know that. I’ll bet one of those guest bloggers of yours gave you the low-down on that nugget of wisdom eh. Thanks for sharing.

    Oh and, thanks to socialism those “poor” countries are predominantly ghettos. BTW does this pope even know how to speak English? Or did he feel it just wasn’t important enough to learn? That sure seems like a snub. How’s that for sowing the seeds of scandal?

  • EpicusMontaigne

    I say again, “Oh Strife, aptly named.”

    I’m new to commenting on the Anchoress’ posts, which I suppose is how I was drawn into this. I’m sorry to everyone involved {and witnessing} that this discussion ended up like this. Won’t happen again.

  • Strife

    Actually no. Supporting armed militants is not necessarily what Liberation Theology is about. And this modern corruption of “social justice” has its very roots in the disastrous deception of Liberation Theology. Modern Socialism from the Marxists to the Fabianists is based predominantly on “social justice’ – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” However, Francis’ actions clearly elevate the poor to an almost sacramental level. His words and actions have an undeniable political element to them. How do they not? BTW is wealth an intrinsic evil? Is wealth a sin?

  • Strife

    I chose my name accordingly. Do you really think you stumbled on to your revelation of “irony” over my name?

    Do you also cause the sun to rise by merely thinking about it?

  • EpicusMontaigne

    That would be a fine talent.

  • Strife

    That would be a delusion.

  • EpicusMontaigne

    “All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.”

  • Illinidiva

    “None of that is “clear”. You simply assume all of this.

    Kissing 12 babies and hugging 6 handicap people on your way to the restroom plays well for the camera doesn’t it.”

    This is exactly the way he was in Argentina, and he definitely wasn’t playing it up for the cameras there. In fact, he was notoriously camera shy when he was Archbishop but he was still hanging out in the slums and washing the feet of pediatric AIDS patients and drug addicts.

    “He’s such a living saint”

    He most definitely is a living saint although he would probably dispute it. He already had an express pass to Heaven.

    “Let’s renounce all of the Church’s wealth, sell off all the it’s art work and give give give give to those saintly “poor” people shall we?”

    I’ve never heard him say that he is going to renounce the Church’s wealth and sell off the Pieta, Sistine Chapel, etc. The only thing he has done is tamp down some of the trappings of his own office, which was frankly necessary.

    “When will we see him kissing bankers and washing the feet of the wealthy and powerful? Are they not God’s little children too?”

    Umm.. The Beatitudes??? Taking care of the poor, the sick, and the weak were a huge part of Jesus’ ministry. The rest of us are being challenged to live are faith through service to others; in this way, he is challenging us to become closer to God. (And I think that he won’t let those in crisis off the hook on this one. He told the kids at the juvenile detention facility that they need to be in service to others.)

  • Strife

    How do you know how he was in Argentina if it wasn’t public knowledge?

    And he’s a saint? Really? When did that living canonization occur?

    Why hasn’t he renounced all the other “trappings” of the Church? Why stop at his office?

    The Beatitudes exclude the wealthy and powerful from God’s love and mercy? Do tell. Is God’s salvation limited to the Gospels? Should we throw out the rest of the books?

    And he told the juveniles to serve others? Wow. That’s uhm ….powerful? Well no, not really it isn’t. That’s actually pretty milquetoast.

    Did he tell those juveniles to avoid the intrinsic evil of wealth?

  • Strife

    First beatitude

    The word poor seems to represent an Aramaic ‘ányâ (Hebrew ‘anî), bent down, afflicted, miserable, poor; while meek is rather a synonym from the same root, ‘ánwan (Hebrew ‘ánaw), bending oneself down, humble, meek, gentle. Some scholars would attach to the former word also the sense of humility; others think of “beggars before God” humbly acknowledging their need of Divine help. But the opposition of “rich” (Luke 6:24)
    points especially to the common and obvious meaning, which, however,
    ought not to be confined to economical need and distress, but may
    comprehend the whole of the painful condition of the poor: their low estate, their social dependence, their defenceless exposure to injustice from the rich and the mighty. Besides the Lord’s blessing, the promise of the heavenly kingdom is not bestowed on the actual external condition of such poverty. The blessed ones are the poor “in spirit”, who by their free will are ready to bear for God’s sake this painful and humble condition, even though at present they be actually rich and happy; while on the other hand, the really poor man may fall short of this poverty “in spirit”.

    -Catholic Encyclopedia

  • MarieTeresa

    Strife: Thanks so much for your excellent points on humility, the “poor” and Liberation Theology. I think your comments are excellent and you articulate them so well.

  • irishsmile

    I am very worried because Pope Francis clearly backed civil unions in Argentina. We’ve had about 45 anti-popes out of more than 300… not to mention Casarae & Roderigo Borgina also Liberious. The holy Spirit works in all of us (even conclaves)but our free will is the final denominator.

  • irishsmile

    You are right on track regarding the Holy Spirit & the conclaves. Too much superstitious rhertoric about the Holy Spirit controlling the conclave is unfortunate.

  • Illinidiva

    “How do you know how he was in Argentina if it wasn’t public knowledge?”

    Now it is. The guy is pope now. Reporters knew some of the basics but went digging around Argentina for the stories. Plus, people provided the Facebook and personal pictures that they had.

    “And he’s a saint? Really? When did that living canonization occur?”
    He is personally a much holier person than I am. He spent 50+ years selflessly serving the people of Argentina.

    “Why hasn’t he renounced all the other “trappings” of the Church? Why stop at his office?”

    The papacy was in need of dropping some more “trappings”. It still has a medieval absolute monarchy vibe to it.

    “The Beatitudes exclude the wealthy and powerful from God’s love and mercy?”

    Authentic power is service.. The rich and powerful should use their wealth and social standing to serve those less fortunate. This doesn’t mean that they need to sell everything and wear sackcloth. It does mean that they cannot use their wealth for only their own purposes and they must use their power for good rather than exploitation.

  • Terry Carlino

    It is obvious to anyone who understands the vow of poverty why Francis is being constrained in his acceptance of the trappings of the papacy. As a Jesuit he is under a vow of poverty. The fact that he is a bishop and now pope does not absolve him of that vow. It is relax only so far is it is necessary for him to own property to carry out the responsibilities of his office. It is not necessary for him to live in the papal apartments, so he does not. Some other trappings that have been traditional (small ‘t’) for the pope are also unnecessary (in his opinion) so he has rejected them.

    No where has he shown an inclination to impoverish the institutional Church. Nor could anyone who has seriously looked at his public record in Argentina believe that he is in any way a supporter of Liberation Theology.

    Strife if we’re quoting scripture how about:

    Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and
    give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come
    follow me. Matt 19:21

    Which when Jesus had heard, he said to him: Yet one thing is wanting to thee: sell all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
    Luke 18:22

    And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: One thing is
    wanting unto thee: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
    Mark 10:21

    Seems to me Jesus was pretty clear on where our priority on amassing wealth should be and what we should do with it.

  • Strife

    Ah I see, Terry. Therefore (according to your rationale and questionable interpretation) wealth *is* an intrinsic evil because it keeps us from spiritual perfection- no?

    And tell me, how does one achieve “perfection” in this mortal coil when perfection by it’s very definition can only exist in Heaven?

    Riddle me these things Terry.

    Oh and, The Pope doesn’t actually “own” the so-called “trappings” of the office. It belongs to the office – not the man, So your point about Francis’ Jesuit vow of poverty is moot from the get-go.

  • Strife

    Tell me Terry, have you shed all of your wealth? If not – why?

  • Strife

    Terry said “No where has he shown an inclination to impoverish the institutional Church.”

    Really? Then why does Francis say he wants to build a “poor church for the poor”?

    Riddle me that as well.

  • Strife

    BTW Terry, your scriptural interpretation of “wealth” is actually the basis of Liberation Theology. Thanks for inadvertently proving my point.

  • Strife

    Liberation Theology is an attempt to interpret Scripture
    through the plight of the poor. It is largely a humanistic doctrine. It
    started in South America in the turbulent 1950s when Marxism was making great gains among the poor because of its emphasis on the redistribution of wealth, allowing poor peasants to share in the wealth of the colonial elite and thus upgrade their economic status in life. As a theology, it has very strong Roman Catholic roots.

    Liberation Theology was bolstered in 1968 at the Second Latin American Bishops Conference which met in Medellin, Colombia. The idea was to study the Bible and to fight for social justice in Christian (Catholic) communities. Since the only governmental model for the redistribution of the wealth in a South American country was a Marxist model, the redistribution of wealth to raise the economic standards of the poor in South America took on a definite Marxist flavor. Since those who had money were very reluctant to part with it in any wealth redistribution model, the use of a populist (read poor) revolt was encouraged by those who worked most closely with the poor. As a result, the Liberation
    Theology model was mired in Marxist dogma and revolutionary causes.

    As a result of its Marxist leanings, Liberation Theology as practiced by the bishops and priests of South America was criticized in the 1980s by the Catholic hierarchy, from Pope John Paul on down. The top hierarchy of the Catholic Church accused liberation theologians of supporting violent revolutions and outright Marxist class struggle. This perversion is usually the result of a humanist view of man being codified into Church Doctrine by zealous priests and bishops and explains why the
    Catholic top hierarchy now wants to separate itself from Marxist
    doctrine and revolution.

    However, Liberation Theology has moved from the poor peasants in South America to the poor blacks in North America. We now have Black Liberation Theology being preached in the black community. It is the same Marxist, revolutionary, humanistic philosophy found in South American Liberation Theology and has no more claim for a scriptural basis than the South American model has. False doctrine is still false, no matter what name is attached to it. In the same way that revolutionary fervor was stirred up in South America, Liberation Theology is now trying to stir up revolutionary fervor among blacks in America. If the church in America recognizes the falseness of Black Liberation Theology as the Catholic Church did in the South American model, Black Liberation Theology will suffer the same fate that the South America Liberation Theology did; namely, it will be seen as a
    false, humanist doctrine dressed up in theological terms.

    Read more:

  • Terry Carlino

    Because unlike Francis I have not taken a vow of poverty.

  • Terry Carlino

    I’m afraid not. The basis of Liberation Theology is Marxism. Which means it is the involuntary redistribution of wealth. Not to be confused with the Christian’s voluntary acts of charity.

  • Terry Carlino

    Come back when we’ve seen him put a for sale sign on St. Peter’s or is holding a garage sale in the Vatican museum.

  • Terry Carlino

    I don’t see where anything I’ve said indicates that wealth is an intrinsic evil. Neither do I interpret Christ’s says as an indication that it is a barrier in and of itself to the striving of spiritual perfection, which as you say can only be completed in Heaven. It is the disordered affinity for wealth that is a block to holiness.

    Not so. As the monarch of the Vatican, the inhabitant of the Holy See, the Pope does indeed own the trappings of his office. Like the possessions of the English Crown there are entanglements, which could inhibit his ability to frivolously dispose of them. However the same can be said of a bishop and still Canon 706 specifically talks about ownership of property for the particular church, meaning the diocesan church. In is not unknown for bishops who come out of orders of religious, who have taken a vow of poverty to continue to live simple lives and take only those trappings of office which in their view do not violate their vow.

  • Gordis85

    Like this new combox look…anyway, your article made me smile. Papa Francis is no fool nor is he a puzzle, in my humble opinion. He knows he is shaking things up and on both sides too. But he does so with sincerity and with love as he wants us all to be saved. I’d like to think that the Holy Spirit wants all to be fully awake to watch and to listen and to be converted since the Church and her children are heading for some rough times. While our brothers and sisters are suffering immensely in other parts of the world, I think it is only a matter of time before we, in the Americas, start to feel the pinch too. We will all have to take a stand sooner or later and not behind a computer screen.

    In the meantime, I will continue to pray for Papa Francis and for his call to all to follow our Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Calvary. Let us be of great hope of and of loving charity and fortitude.

    After this newsbreak, we are gonna need it!

  • Illinidiva

    Cardinal O’Malley for one?? He is sort of the American version of Bergoglio (probably a bit less on the extreme side, but same deal.) I do think that the poverty vow is part of it.
    I also think that lots of Francis’ actions make sense from a ministry and leadership perspective. It would be really hard for him to have been seen as a credible advocate in the BA slums if he was arriving there in a chauffered town car. And if you are elected the head of an organization currently embroiled in scandals, you might want to present a more humble persona.

  • Strife

    Not quite. Those who subscribe to Liberation Theology initially call for a voluntary redistribution among the laity, and then they call for the laity to implement a Marxist regime by either populace vote or by force.

    However, the basis starts with the theological interpretation that wealth in and of itself is an intrinsic obstacle to salvation. And that is precisely the implication you clearly cited in your scriptural references when you posted then at face value without context.

  • Strife

    Why not?