Like what? That he’s wing picked by the holy spirit?
BY Frater Bovious
(CARROLLTON, Tx – Cradle of Civilization) I saw another set of comments about the Pope Francis being the worst thing to happen EVER. The lament was basically that he had abandoned core Catholic values by suggesting there were other issues besides abortion and gay marriage to be talked about. Mix that with the idea that maybe God doesn’t hate gay people, sprinkle in a little love for atheists, bake at 350 º for 1 hour and Presto! Armageddon.
The bulk of this post is an adaptation of a comment I left regarding the thought the pope was going off the rails and had abandoned the path trod by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. (Which is interesting because his exact same comments are being interpreted by others as him wanting to overthrow Vatican II and return to the Spanish Inquisition – presumably while eating babies.)
What I can say from experience of reading widely from Pope John Paul II and especially Pope Benedict XVI is that Pope Francis is not saying anything that the previous two have not said. They said it in books (Benedict in very “college text book” type books), but I repeat, this idea that God loves atheists and gay people – nothing new here. But when the pope points out that God loves everyone, or that it is possible for atheists to be saved, he is most certainly not saying that we should just “be all pastoral” and tell sinners to “Party on, it’s all good!”
This pope is deliberately in dialog with the world. He is leaving out, for the moment, what would be a conversation ender, that is to say, he has refrained from finishing the lesson. For example, after Jesus told the woman caught in adultery “Neither do I condemn you;” he added “go, and do not sin again.” (Jn 8:11) Jesus finished the lesson, but he was engaged one on one with someone ready to be taught.
Popes JPII and especially BXVI (a college professor who tried to retire under JPII so he could go back to teaching) couldn’t help but finish the lesson they were giving. Some people are ready and eager to learn the lesson, others could not care less. They are not interested in the dogma of two old white men.
Francis, as I’ve noted, hasn’t finished the lesson in these public conversations – consequently there is a lot more conversation going on with the world. As people used to say in a Bible Church I infrequently attended during my wandering/wondering years, “You can’t save seats and saints.” Meaning you have to evangelize. And while it is true one chief message of the Gospel is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2), it is also true that information is received in the mode of the receiver. The Jews in those days were ready to receive this message. They were looking for the Messiah, and the “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand” message was one they had been waiting for. That’s why the flocked to the wilderness to hear and be baptized by John the Baptist.
Today’s folks are not ready to hear much of anything that smacks of “you ought to…” So, first, you have to make connections. Please pick up on the point here. These interviews and conversations, these wild and crazy things the Pope is reportedly saying – have resulted in dialog with the World.
Pope Francis’ message is simple. God sent his Son. We should be really glad about that. Joyful even. And, just because he suggests that we engage the world in certain areas in addition to abortion and gay marriage cannot be interpreted as abandonment of those two topics.
I think the Pope is ushering in a renewal and re-engagement of the Church’s Social Doctrine. He is a self-described “son of the Church” which means he presupposes the centuries of Church teaching which is available for review by anyone today. Some quick background, for those interested, can be found in modern papal encyclicals, Humanae Vitae, Caritatis in Veritate to name two. Those documents will reference other documents, and without a lot of time or energy one can get two things.
- The Social Doctrine of the Church is remarkably thought out and compelling.
- Pope Francis is a Son of the Church.
And now, with the publication of Evangelii Gaudium, one can read his thought, and dispense with the misinterpretation of various media outlets and the rabid response of people ill-informed.
Those who are interested in the New Evangelization have been given an opportunity to do more than be interested. We can engage people in conversation regarding what the pope is saying, and what it actually means. From experience I will tell you that if you communicate truth with sincerity and with joy, people will listen to what you have to say even if they disagree. The reason is simple but profound. Our souls resonate to truth.