Pope Francis: “Ideology” blocks people entering the Church? October 18, 2013Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, disaster, disconcerting, episcopate, General Catholic, Holy suffering, martyrdom, Papa, persecution, sadness, secularism, shocking, Society, the return.
Pope Francis stated recently that those who accept what the Church believes and proclaim it strongly drive people away from the Church. Whither apologetics, in this environment?
When a church is closed, people walk past it and can’t enter. “And, even worse, the Lord cannot be close to the people.” The same thing can happen to the whole of Christ’s Church if the “scholars of the law” block its doors – those who make an ideology out of faith and in so doing keep all others away from the gardens and wells of God’s grace. Today Pope Francis spoke about them in the homily he gave at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House. [I would say at the top that Pope Francis is creating a straw man here, I think he’s fighting a chimera. Even among very traditional Catholics, I don’t know many, if any, who “keep all others away” from the Faith. I don’t see this huge Mass of raging traditional and/or orthodox Catholics blocking people from the Faith. Good Lord, is this really a great crisis afflicting the Faith – people being too hung up on “rules?” How many Catholics accept all the Church believes nowadays – 5%? 10%? I rather thought the problem was the other way around. I am forced to wonder if this is not an attack on the previous two pontificates. Where else has the Faith been taught whole and entire, with strong focus on the Truth we must adhere to, in the whole worldwide Church, but in the past two papacies? Where else was the wrongness of contraception preached (ok, yes, traditional parishes), or the fact that divorce and remarriage constituted adultery, or any of a number of other topics. Perhaps I don’t comprehend how the Church in S. America operates, but from the many bits I’ve read, they don’t seem to point to a Church hung up on “rules” there, either. I’m just not getting where all this heavy rhetorical artillery is directed. At the tiny percentage of Catholics who are orthodox? That’s worthy of this frequent, severe criticism? And, ok, let’s jettison all that “difficult” talk about morality, etc., and just preach a message of love. What kind of converts do we get, then? Will these people really be converted to enter the Church and change their lives, or simply be, very comfortingly, confirmed in their sins?]
Even today there are those who think they have the key to knowledge and don’t open the door. Or even worse, they stop at the entrance, form a picket line and don’t let others in. [Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matt 28:19)] By doing so they sabotage Christ’s teaching, which says the opposite: “Go, go out into the world. Teach. Baptise. Go to street crossings and beckon everyone towards you. Good and bad. That is what Jesus says. Everyone in.” [Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his
angels (Matt 25:41)]
According to Francis, the attitude of “keeping the key to the Church in his pocket, with the door closed” is part of a “spiritual and mental process”. This happens when “the faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology.” Pope Francis also traced some of the traits of the ideological caricatures of the Christian faith. “In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness.” [And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew (Jn 2:15)] These “are rigid”. “The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.” [If you love me, keep my commandments (Jn 14:15)] As happened in Jesus’ time, when scholars of the law closed the door with lots of rules. “When a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought.” [Like Scholasticsm?] When Christianity begins to be seen as an ideology, it becomes repellent, keeping people away from the Christian experience, often giving a sense of self-satisfaction. “Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people.” [But “unless you repent, you shall die in your sins” (Lk 13:3). And how do we repent? By “doing all that I command you” (Jn 14:15)].
“It is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians” but it is not new, Francis said. The Apostle John spoke of this in his First Letter: “be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. [I couldn’t find this quote. Perhaps 1 Cor 13:1] This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”If a good Christian rebukes them, they react as the Pharisees did towards Jesus: “When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him.” [But did Christ really oppose the Pharisees because of their rules, or because they had hard, sinful hearts that did not love God? And how do we show our love for God, if we do not obey His Commands? Commands to love, clothe, feed, and care for our brother, yes, but also commands not to fornicate, not to steal, not to kill the innocent, not to lust, or have great greed – or create false Gods. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness” (Matt 23:25). The Faith is a whole. Perhaps those who strive to obey and practice all the Church believes, including the “hard sayings” of our modern times, could use more charity. I know I could. But, conversely, those who favor soft sentimentality could also use far more observance of the 10 Commandments.]
Everyone, even Popes, bishops and priests can be tempted to distort Christianity, turning it into an ideology. [Even popes and bishops……Even popes…….] According to Francis what is at the root of this distortion is a failure to pray: “The key that opens the door to the faith is prayer.” “And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.” He who does not pray is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement.” “I say to pray, I do not say to say prayers, because these teachers of the law said many prayers” [perhaps this explains the ridicule directed at those who “count Rosaries?”]
There is actually quite a bit of challenging material in there. Challenging in the sense that, I need to improve. I need to pray more. There is no question. My prayer life has, I don’t know if stagnated is the right word, but it’s not grown like it probably should have. I accept that. But I don’t know if this straw man has to be built up and torn down to get to that point, to convince me to pray more.
I think there is a kernel of a point in this sermon that is valuable, but I think it is surrounded by rhetoric that may be profoundly destructive. The fact that all apostolates must be founded on prayer, which should give way to humility and from there to charity, is a truly foundational, wonderful point. But I think the straw mem surrounding what is really a deep insight are not helpful, I imagine, on the souls who really could be reached (that is, the orthodox ones), as they will be turned away (at the door) by the picket line of rhetoric that seems to damn them for that very orthodoxy.
It is thought by some that the Holy Father’s rhetoric towards what is being perceived as a softer, warmer, fuzzier kind of Catholicism will bring lapsed Catholics back to the Faith. But what we are seeing is not a whole lot of souls suddenly demonstrating willingness to shed their pride and their error and their sin and re-enter the Church in great humility, but a great big progressive hootenany, with wild yelps of joy and much excitement, as the culture concludes that it was right all along, and the Church wrong. People are being confirmed in their sin by this rhetoric, whether it is intentional or not. Those claiming a renewed interest in the Church, are doing so on an almost diabolically flawed basis – that the Church will no longer call their sin, sin, and that they are free to continue in it, while being “good” “Catholics.”
Thank goodness, I won’t have to think about this stuff for a week and a half.