If we “get” Francis, we have to absorb his lessons

One aspect of fallen human nature is that we, in a weirdly paradoxical way, tend to become precisely what it is we do not like. Saint Paul decried this tendency in himself, “I do not understand myself; all that I hate I am become” (Romans 7:15).

In attempting to walk with people who still processing our new pope and trying to understand him, or trying to understand themselves and what matters within the depths, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder that line of scripture. It is so easy for those who “get” Francis, to blow off those who do not, and I admit that several times over the past few days I have had to take a deep breath and think, “what does Jesus want, what would Francis say” before taking on someone who is sneering about the Holy Father and accusing him of heresy and whatnot — or at the very least of not giving appropriate voice to their concerns, or ranking evils to their liking. When people seem near hysterics, my instinct is sometimes to haul out Vulgar Auntie Lillie and a fire hose and water them down until the screaming stops, but then I think, well…if that’s the best I can do, then let me work on myself, first.

I’m realizing it’s not enough to “get” Pope Francis. We have to internalize his lessons and actually convert ourselves — the Benedictine “conversio” or “constant turning” that Judith Valente writes of in Atchison Blue — or we are still the sounding gongs we’ve always been.

Pope Benedict spoke to my heart in one way — and I am so grateful for the Catechesis he delivered, that helped to strengthen and deepen my faith. Francis hits it in another — a way that convicts, so I know my guilt and failings. He has re-awoken a part of my conscience that has lain too-long dormant. When he warned us against the “dark joy of gossip” for instance, his vivid words got to the heart of why we can’t allow ourselves to enter into it. The sense of superiority, and the inevitable diminishment of other human beings that it leads to, is part-and-parcel with gossip and renders it a very dark joy, indeed — it leads us away from the light.

My point is that its no good “getting” Francis if all we derive of it is a satisfaction of the intellect, a sense of papal validation, and that dreadful by-product of hipness that such validation confers. If we have previously decried smug triumphalism, it will sting when we look into the mirror and find ourselves become smug triumphalists. And all that I hate I am become.

Put more bluntly: we who “get” Francis, it is worth asking ourselves the question: are you loving Francis because of what you are learning from him, or simply because you perceive him to be “sticking it to” people you haven’t liked much for the past decade or so? A little of both?

Francis is talking love, and he wants us to grow in it; and growth takes energy. He is urging us to walk together toward Christ. So, if we see a brother or a sister having trouble with the new pavement under their feet, let’s walk beside them, with a bit of patience and encouragement: One man helps another, one says to the other, “Keep on!” (Isaiah 40:6[5]).

If all we who “get” Francis can do is jeeringly judge those who are still processing, then what possible help can we be to the man, or to the Holy Spirit who guides him? Or to the church?

Let’s urge “Keep on!” Let’s be the revelation we long to see. Let’s be the mercy we yearn for.

RELATED:
Pope Francis’ Marginalized Ones: you and everyone you dismiss, too

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Sometimes I hear someone unintentionally shines light on parts of me which are dark that my reaction is as if someone stepped on my toes. I’m unpleasant and maybe even derisive, not willing to hear what someone has to say.

    I remember the day when Pope Francis was elected that some radical traditionalists scoured the Internet to gauge his support for the Vetus Ordo Mass. Not finding much information in English, they inferred that Card. Bergoglio was a modernist. Of course, they never minded brushing up their Spanish and checking out the website for the diocese of Buenos Aires to find parishes offering masses in the Vetus Ordo.

    Some, not hearing a 33-word condemnation of abortion from the Holy Father at WYD, wrote him off as soft on abortion, in spite of his fierce and public opposition to such plans of the Argentine government which rendered him an vicious animosity from president Cristina “La Loca” Kirchner.

    It seems to me from such instances that some had already decided that they didn’t like Francis, for whatever reason, and wrote him off without any cursory attempt to know him or reflection.

    It’s a truly sad, sad sight when even those on the side of the angels flirt with the other side.

  • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

    I think (could certainly be very wrong) but I THINK the issue for many Catholics is all this “love” talk is reminding us of the HUGE FAILURE of the hippy generation who wanted to just talk “love” and “tolerance”. The fruit of love talk without correction or pointing to sin, is…well, what we have today: abortion, divorce/remarriage, drop in Church attendance, disbelief in the Eucharist, gay marriage, euthanasia and more.
    We don’t want a “Hippy Pope” who talks merely of love- we NEED and desire to hear the good AND the bad of life. Sin. The consequence of sin. Jesus ACTED in love, but He SPOKE about sin, repenting and the consequence of sin- damnation. There MUST be balance and so far many Catholics (myself included) are only seeing the “warm fuzzies” of hip-type love talk and that makes us very uneasy because we know what a disaster that is. JMO

  • Iota

    CT Catholic Corner,

    May I just ask you a few questions?

    You say “we”. Who is “we”? You North Americans? The Pope is elected for the whole world, but I’m almost sure your perspective isn’t global (mine isn’t, of course – I’d be very surprised if it could be).

    And a second question – you say you are “are only seeing the “warm fuzzies” of hip-type love talk” and again, who we? Because people who tune in to his sermons will probably see this, if they want to:

    “In our lives”, Pope Francis said, “we often are proposed things which
    do not come from Jesus, which do not come from God. It is clear that at
    times our weaknesses take us down the wrong road. Or even a more
    dangerous road. We make a pact, a little little of God and a little of
    you. We make this pact and we go forward in life with a double life: a
    little bit of the life that Jesus tells us about and a little of the
    life that the world, the forces of the world and many others tell us
    about”. This is a system that’s no good. In fact “in the book of
    Revelation, the Lord says: this is not good because you are neither good
    nor evil. You are lukewarm. I condemn you”.
    (http://www.news.va/en/news/obedience-is-a-listening-that-sets-us-free)

    Of course I chose a snippet, on purpose, to illustrate a point, (and admit I don’t folow what Francis says as closely as I’d want to), but I do want to ask – do you actually read those homilies? Did you read the encyclical? Because only if you did, you’d have a full image of what Francis IS saying. Otherwise you might be hearing only parts of the message. Which is fine, we all have limited resources, but which does not give proper ground of finding fault with the Pope for not saying the “right” things at the time and place most convenient to you or me. At least not automatically.

    My impression, as a non-American, of this whole Francis-storm is that your local Church has been badly scarred by the upheavals following the Second Vatican Council. So badly in fact, that it almost look like some people developed, understandable, trust issues.

    But that you have had that experience, doesn’t mean it’s universal. When I look at the bad reactions to Francis because he’s so touchy-feely, off-the-cuff, “did he just say something heterodox, if we assume that as a rule he might”, he’ll give people ideas that are to comfortable by half, it reminds me of the reaction of a person who grew up in a family with an alcohol problem and now is deathly frightened of alcohol, to the point where seeing people drink in a social situation leads them immediately to thoughts of the grave sin of drunkenness, fears of drunk violence and so on.

    The reaction of fear of alcohol in someone who has seen the devastation caused by drunkenness is not unjustified. But it is not entirely normal (“average”) either. It might be exaggerating the threat.

    What if somewhere else people need a little bit (not too much) of the talk of love, because MOST of what they get is moral theology, without love? Who should the Pope “choose”? How do you calculate that?

  • Ed

    Iota, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wisdom in your comment.

  • http://theramblingsofacrazyface.wordpress.com/ Leticia Ochoa Adams

    Between the writers at Patheos and Papa’s words I’m in constant need to be in the confession line. I keep thinking of what you wrote earlier “This Pope is killing me”. YES. I love him to the max, but man I need a nap. Can we have a collective Catholic nap?

  • sharinite

    I get Jesus, but I don’t “get” Francis. I understand that he wants to grow the church and make it better for more people and help those that don’t believe in the process, but, this is about being a Catholic and not a Christian..the difference is vast…a huge chasm void. I get Jesus and thank God for it daily….Francis? Not at all!

  • Patty

    Uh oh. Vulgar Auntie Lillie quotes make me laugh. Confessional bound again?

  • Frank

    This speaks to me profoundly, but maybe not exactly in the way you intended.

    As someone who had just about given up on Catholicism — after an enthusiastic conversion twenty-five years ago — I’ve been almost overwhelmed by hope and joy as a result of what I’ve seen of Pope Francis. It’s as if he had directly intuited the heart of what, in my deepest self, I had always believed Catholicism to be, and is giving it voice.

    One negative result of my happiness is that I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of schadenfreude at the reactions of people who were thinking the pope ought to be something different from what Pope Francis actually is, and are upset by not having their expectations fulfilled. For many years now, in the USA, the standard way of talking about what it means to be Catholic — and at its best that means, e.g., Robert Barron — is a way that has pushed me towards the exit door, over and over again. So, to see Pope Francis doing so much that’s so simple, radical, and deeply Catholic, but doing it in a way that appears to be ignoring, or maybe implicitly challenging, the style of thought that’s come to be normal among American Catholics, is deeply refreshing. And it makes me want to thumb my nose at the Robert Barrons (and I use that name only as a symbol of a general tendency) of the Church.

    But I also recall that a lot of people have been saying that this pope isn’t saying anything his predecessors didn’t say — at first I resisted this idea, but I’m remembering now how true it is. When I became a Catholic, John Paul II was my hero. I loved his talks and writings. But over the years, I forgot something about JPII: he never did fit into the mold of the Catholic traditionalist that both the secular media and most of the Catholic world insisted he fit into. I remember, over and over again, reading the words of that pope, then reading the interpretations of them by “faithful” Catholics, and not recognizing in those interpretations what I found most important, distinctive, and inspiring about JPII.

    But the “faithful Catholic” narrative won the day, and I got tired of resisting it.

    So now the tables seem to be turning … maybe, maybe … and I want to be angry again. I want to loudly remind people that the “orthodox” Catholic parish of today is, in the end, just as spiritually barren as the liberal Catholic parish where I was baptized. But there’s always that little voice in the back of my mind: you always believed in a tolerant, open Church, Frank. Well, now you better be ready to practice your beliefs — even toward those who’ve shown you the face of intolerance, authoritarianism, legalism, clericalism, and so on. We’re all on the journey together, in hope. Let’s keep it that way.

    Thanks for inspiring such thoughts in me, Elizabeth.

  • AnsonEddy

    Thank you for this, Ms. Scalia. Whether people are right or wrong to feel uneasy and nervous about the Pope, it probably isn’t the best strategy to yell at them and shame them until the feelings of uneasiness disappear. It’s sort of the equivalent of “the beatings will continue until morale improves”. If you are brimming with hope for this papacy, then show us the reason for your hope, don’t shame us for lack of the same. You guys take the lead for awhile. Once we see that you do indeed see the path and are walking on it, we’ll stop fussing about where to go and run to catch up.

  • Marya

    Thanks so much Iota — it is so hard to read the divided American Church jeering at the Pope when our experience in Africa is so different. And when Francis talks about ‘poor’ we know poor.

  • Iota

    Thank you kindly for thanking me.

    Any wisdom in that comment comes, at least equally, from the way you read it.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I’m not sure I agree with you, though don’t count me as someone who truly understands these things. The love part of Francis we all get. When he holds a child or disabled person, we thrive and love it. We love his simplicity and paying his own hotel bill. It’s when he gets theological that he causes confusion. It’s not that he’s said anything erroneous, as his post confusion explanations prove. It’s that he doesn’t put his message at the moment of articulation in the proper context. Why was Papa BXVI so clear even though his theology was so much more complex than Francis’? BXVI communicated well in that he understood the audience would have trouble with this or that idea, so he framed it in the proper manner. Francis doesn’t set his ideas in context, and so miscommunication happens and, more importantly, those who have other views than traditional catholicism read and pass on the wrong interpretation of the meesage.

  • Iota

    Also, a comment-apology:

    Sorry for editing my original comment (I saw typos I wanted to fix – I’m a lazy perfectionist like that :-)). That sent it right back to moderation. I’ll know better next time.

    Thanks for the generous hospitality in dealing with my comments, Elizabeth. You obviously have more important stuff to do than re-read someone’s pontificating because they fixed typos. :-)

    Thanks in advance to CT Catholic Corner for patience, if this caused any inconvenience in responding.

    God bless.

  • Brian English

    I highly recommend Sandro Magister’s column today, where he lays out exactly how Francis is separating himself from his predecessors. Those of us troubled by Francis are just not imagining things.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Hmm… like in Protestantism and Orthodoxy?

  • Brian English

    He is supposed to be the pope of the entire Church, including the Americans.

  • Sherry Weddell

    Thank you both Iota and Marya for providing a little non-western perspective. The fall-out of Vatican II was especially traumatic in North American and western Europe because we had so much, were more or less at peace, and thought of ourselves as the heart of the Church. The rest of the world: eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia were dealing with challenges of real poverty, real persecution and war and chaos and/or weren’t even Catholic 50 years ago. Vatican II was more of a blip than a revolution for the non-western world.

  • Romulus

    Well, Augustine — how many parishes did you find? I can’t find any.

  • Iota

    Brian,

    Obviously.

    The problem is that the Pope is still (and always was) just one man. What this means, I’d think, is that – in this huge global family – if we all think we depend just on his pronouncements, then, at best, if all of our future Popes are saints, different people around the table will be comfortable and better fed at different times. Both in terns of different nations AND people with different temperaments.

    The care of a local Church is mainly the responsibility of each particular conference of bishops, AFAIK, for a reason.

    Which is why the story of what seems to have happened in the US is actually tragic.

  • Iota

    If I may comment and take some more of your time…

    My provisional take on sins is that they may be grave symptoms of one fundamental spiritual illness. It’s kind of like the very traditional list of Seven Deadly Sins, none of which are specific actions.

    I would go further and argue that you can’t really cure the evil of abortion or euthanasia by just homing in on the actions or even by talking about it from the pulpit. You can press for abortion to be illegal (a good idea), but that alone won’t solve things.

    What cures the problem, so I’d guess, may be a conversion of the heart, and the grace of God, and I mean it as un-hippyly as I can. THEN people may feel empowered to e.g. not kill their babies. Because (a) they are less tempted by e.g. fear and (b) actually think it really, really matters. Not because the parish priest, the bishop, the Pope, says so, but because Jesus Christ says so and asks them specifically to be holy, even in adversity (And, more importantly, gives them the strength to do so, and they – since they live in grace – can trust Him).

    So there is a sense in which the gravest evil is not abortion – the gravest evil is the mindset that makes it an option. And this is how I read the Pope’s comments in the America interview.

    The second one I’m not very happy commenting on for a few reasons. But even then there is (I would argue) a good diagnosis in the very next sentences:

    “the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family?”

    No hope. Stuck in the present. People as desperate as this may not hear when you tell them what their duties are, not least because they don’t think their life is worth much. And so them, it follows, they may easily believe the lives of children they can’t even see are worth even less. And even if somehow they are, then still, “who cares”? Having no hope is a bad thing.

    Could this be phrased less controversially? Maybe. Could it be the Pope’s fault? Maybe. But…

    I don’t think it’s entirely fair (just) to split the interviews from everything else Francis said. It isn’t fair even for people outside the Church to do it, and doubly so for Catholics. The interviews confused people – what do you do when you are confused but respect and – at least to an extent – trust the person you’re speaking to? Ask for clarification. So, for example, read and listen to what Francis is saying elsewhere.

    It isn’t hard to find. Admittedly this used to be an issue of access and even today there may be people who cannot access other statements by the Pope. But a large number of those freaking out could just type in the Vatican homepage address, go read the homilies, go read the Angelus messages – it’s the same man speaking.

    It is true the Pope is responsible for what he says in every sentence (and so, of course, are we – which means I need a lot of prayers and I’m only half joking). Maybe now he wishes he had said something differently, who knows? But we are responsible for how we listen. Given a choice between listening in a way that implies trust and a way that implies mistrust, I’d say it’s probably better to pick good faith unless you have very specific reasons to do otherwise. Has the Pope done something that, in your opinion, would warrant the loss of such a “good faith”?

    Third, a point I feel very awkward addressing because I am not a trained exegete: I don’t think there’s a neat divide between what Jesus did and what He said. I do have the impression He spoke in and of love as well, just that the style of the Gospels is not focused on emotions in general and so noticing the traces (I think are very much there) depends, to an extent, on knowing the social context of 1st century Palestine I could go into this in more detail, but better qualified people have written commentaries about that, presumably and my main sources aren’t in English.

    Plus, there are the honey-tongued Saints, like St, Francis de Sales, St. Leopold Mandić (an interesting “counterpart” of Padre Pio), St. Thérèse of Lisieux. If there is one way to do things the most “like Christ did them”, do those saints, with their “style” distinctly slated towards talking about love and mercy, so far as I know, reflect the glory of God less well than the stern-tongued Saints?

    Well, there. If you read all that, I’m impressed. :-) And if you have anything to say, I’ll be honoured.

    God bless.

  • Andy

    I have read his piece and see that he, Sandro Magister is taking snippets and pieces of the Francis’ words and stringing them together to say that their is rupture and disunity.
    That is no different then when the media would take snippets and pieces of Benedict’s words and string them together to demonstrate what they wanted to say.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Seven: San Miguel Arcángel parish, Hospital de Niños chapel, Divino Rostro chapel, Inmaculada Concepción parish, San Francisco de Asís parish, Del Carmen parish, Nuestra Señora de la Guardia parish.

  • Stu

    Are people really getting too much moral theology? Where is this happening? Did JPII given too much moral theology and not enough “love”? Benedict?

    As a convert, I reflect on my conversion and it wasn’t about the need for charity, it was because of the Truth. Now admittedly I am one person, but it seems to me that what is lacking the World is indeed charity, but that comes in helping other to realize that God brings us purpose, structure and with that ultimately real freedom.

    Of course, this is not counter to anything Papa says or believes. But after so many years of “love” and “tolerance” or “Jesus loves you just the way you are” or “God wants you to be nice to others”, I think it is understandable that many long for some balance.

  • Maggie Goff
  • Maggie Goff

    After reading Sandro Magister’s column, I will be taking a long break from reading posts about Pope Francis. I’ll be devoting my time to more prayer, and my volunteer work. Much less agita that way. :)

  • lweisenthal

    “The sense of superiority, and the inevitable diminishment of other human
    beings that it leads to, is part-and-parcel with gossip and renders it a
    very dark joy, indeed — it leads us away from the light.”

    Wow! That’s all I can say. Just wow! Good for you. No, great for you. For allowing Pope Francis to touch your heart and open your heart.

    Yours (of today) is the very best commentary that I’ve read about the various and sundry interviews and quotations of our remarkable Pope.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  • Maria

    Pope Francis could somewhat redeem himself because of his interview with the atheist Scalfari by having a give and take dialog with a victim of clerical abuse and their family. This would show true compassion and humility on his part. What a caring message this would send to his faithful Catholics. Can you imagine the fallout among his brothers in the Lord if he would do this?

  • sharinite

    Don’t understand your point? Elaborate please.

  • MeanLizzie

    Yes, I see a lot of ppl pointing to that column, but I’d take it w/ a grain of salt, myself. Read Andrea who actually knows and has a relationship with the pope: http://2.andreatornielli.it/?p=6766) on the Scalfari interview. Also read a better translation here http://incaelo.wordpress.com/translations/the-pope-to-scalfari-this-is-how-i-will-change-the-church/ and finally read this John Allen column where after the break a discussion about it all: http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/council-cardinals-pope-interviews-assisi-francis-mystic-and-war-christians#.Uk8XbJn10co.facebook

  • Romulus

    Are you referring to sites within the Archdiocese of BA? I can’t find several of them on the Archdiocesan web site. Nor can I find them listed at Wikimissa.

  • michicatholic

    One of the biggest problems Catholics have with all of this is that they don’t know the Gospels. I don’t see that here at all. I see interpretations of what people were taught someplace by somebody with a ruler and a bad attitude.

  • Iota

    Stu, be warned I’m providing extensive context. Hope that helps and God bless you in advance.:-)

    I’m a cradle Catholic in a country of other cradle Catholics. But my Father was a high ranking officer in the communist army. He is basically too religious for a good communist and way too communist for a good Catholic. My Mother married him through state marriage only (no impediment). They lived together for 35 years, “till death did them part”. She still insisted on having her kids baptised (while the country was communist…) and did as much as she felt was her duly to bring us up Catholic. Believe it or not, I did attend things like parish rosary prayers, as part of preparation for my First Communion, with her.

    On the other hand, moral instruction had, AFAIR, a tendency to not match that messy life. For example, in my first thorough examination of conscience text (one I got at age eight…) had questions about whether we gave the Bible its due importance in the home and whether we read Church documents…

    It was a very weird mixture of knowing the “rules” (even the highly optional ones), but being confused about how they apply to the messy situation on the ground.

    I eventually lapsed and I distinctly remember one of the important factors in coming back was accidentally hearing a discussion about the fact that a Catholic may, in fact perhaps should, have hope for the conversion of each person. Regardless of their current sins and even if they die in apparent mortal sin. Plus that “love thy neighbour” includes being “nice” even to “enemies”, if there is no particular objective in not being so (e.g. legitimate and effective correction).

    Perhaps, I should have known that. I might have found it in John Paul’s encyclicals. Or I could have absorbed that simply from the story of the Good Thief. But somehow I didn’t. Or I’d say I didn’t know if as a “good, institutional Catholic” I’d have permission to be as daring as the Good Thief was.

    The situation in the country as a whole is kind of similar, in some respects, possibly (to the extent I can try to legitimately generalise with my limited perspective). After the fall of communism, the Church position was strengthened politically (e.g. abortion was greatly restricted, although it is still legal in some cases). On the other hand, we are a pretty deeply divided nation, and we have some besetting sins. There is drunkenness (leading to poverty, aggression, unhappy families). There is the general post-communist mentality that everyone has to watch out for themselves, because in the end life will bite you if you let it. When you make a deal with someone, common wisdom says you should expect to be cheated. If you lose a wallet, don’t expect to get it back with money inside (and, consequently, don’t give it back with the money or you’re the rare fool that does it). If you do more work than is strictly necessary, you’re probably letting people take advantage of you. Add capitalism on top…

    Of course, people don’t have to listen to that “common wisdom” and many don’t. Nevertheless, In this climate, say, a pro-life message has its own set of problems. People don’t say (often) that abortion doesn’t really matter. They are more likely to say: “She’ll have the baby and then no one will help – she’ll suffer for the commandments while you go on living (because you don’t REALLY believe them).”

    As far as I can see, it is vital that not only the Big Rules be preached, but that the “smaller” ones be both preached and lived (they are tested more visibly and build trust). And it’s vitally important that some of the lived examples should come from the hierarchy. Sadly, the common idea about e.g. the bishops here (not fully justified and probably not fully unjustified) is that they live in relatively expensive curial buildings far away and write long, formal, complicated letters once in a while. In comparison, Pope Francis is approachable, frugal, and he does speak in a simple language. This can backfire, of course. But it doesn’t have to and so long as it doesn’t, it IS such a big contrast with the way even many relatively good Catholics see the hierarchy that it makes people sit up and listen.

    I’m not saying the Pope should be ministering to “us”, necessarily. Just that he might be. There are places where there HAVEN’T been decades of ‘God wants you to be nice to others’ (e.g. authoritarian regimes and just being nice don’t go well together). When the instruction was unbalanced it was more like: “These are the 10 Commandments, you mustn’t do this. And you must obey these 5 of the Church. Oh, and here are the 8 ways to participate in the sin of others. And those are the ways to sin against the Holy Spirit. Also, you really should attend the rosary devotions next month.” Of course I’m exaggerating, but I want to show the direction in which we were more likely to be skewered.

    What is long awaited balance for you, may be further imbalance for someone else, somewhere (I’m consciously not telling you where I come from – unless you can guess). And the Pope can, by definition, lean only in one of the many directions at once. He can’t stabilize the whole global, institutional Church by himself.

  • MeanLizzie

    Seriously, I think I’m not going to permit these extended comments and may put a word limit on comments. I don’t have time to moderate 2000 word expositions. You should consider beginning your own blog. It’s not difficult, and you’d likely have fun.

  • MeanLizzie

    Comfy with caricatures?

  • Iota

    Yeah, I know it’s not a reply to me, but dully noted. Suggested word count, Ma’am?

    [I'm serious]

  • MeanLizzie

    Well, a standard newspaper column is 600-700 words.

  • Iota

    Understood. :-) Apologies for the inconvenience.

  • Maggie Goff

    I very much admire Pope Francis. I just need to take a break from all the varying commentaries for a while. A whole lot of stressful “stuff” hit me this week, and I have found that when that happens I need to distance myself and spend more time in prayer and meditation, so I can follow the words of Paul in the Office of Readings today and receive that peace that surpasses all understanding. I used to think that that was running away and not dealing, but I have found that for me it is avoiding the occasions of temptation to sin. (the link to Andrea is in Italian and I couldn’t find the English version, but then I didn’t have a lot of time to look for it) :)

  • Stu

    I don’t disagree with your overall thoughts. But still, I see plenty of talk about “love” in the all of the parishes I have been a member (13 in the last 20 years of moving all over the US). And yes, my perspective is here because I am here.

    Most parishes I have attended, never really got into anything deeper than “Jesus loves you” and “be nice to people.” It was at best infantile. The thought of having moral theology would have been greatly welcome and actually, charitable given everything that is at stake.

    So while I am open to the possibility that the rest of the World is out of balance with too much moral theology and not enough love, that certainly isn’t the case in the United States.

    I do agree that the Pope cannot stabilize the entire Church by himself. But it appears as thought that is exactly what he is trying to do. Instead of trying to be Father Bergoglio to a parish that is the entire world, it might be better for him to focus on quietly ministering to his Bishops and priests so that they can do what is needed locally where a true human touch can be made.

  • Iota

    “my perspective is here because I am here.”

    I understand that. What I did was try to call this out, with a bunch of very specific context from somewhere else, because it’s very easy to reduce “the Church” to “my part of the Church”. With the internet, the perspective can be national or even that of a larger generalised cultural community (e.g. “the West”). But this still isn’t “the Church”.

    Plus, it’s kind of understandable to freak out about things you’re uncomfortable with. But it’s a good idea to identify the cause correctly. “I’m freaking out because Francis doesn’t seem to address my/our needs” is fundamentally different than “I’m freaking out because he’s likely to send God’s Church into ruin”.

    “It might be better for him to focus on quietly ministering”

    Maybe it might be. But then again, I’m almost certain that the people he actually meets do experience a human connection

    He’s a Latin American, not a reserved German or (not as reserved but still not as effusive) Pole. To
    expect him to just be doing things “quietly” might be to expect him to not be Joseph instead of Jorge.

    I have no reason not to trust that he’s also paying attention to the administrative aspect of the Church (because why should I – I don’t have any experience to pronounce on the matter, so I can only trust or distrust on principle). What I do have is a suspicion it’s far less likely to be reported (because I do understand, to an extent, how media work: it’s less sensational, takes much longer, also in terms of effects, and takes place to a larger extent behind closed doors). It’s what you don’t see now, which doesn’t mean you won’t get it.

    I’ll wait and see. And maybe pray about it (if I can discipline myself sufficiently do commit to that). Care to join (and probably best) me?


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