Oct 012013

Remember when Pope Francis said “Thank you. It is true that I do not give interviews, but why, I do not know, I can’t, it’s just like that.”? Good times.

I never got around to really posting about the interview Pope Francis gave to La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal. Besides that interview I have read a good amount of thoughtful commentary regarding it both pro and con and ranges in between. When I saw yesterday that another interview was going to be released I certainly had mixed feelings. This time he was interviewed by La Repubblica’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari. This was the atheist he had previously dialogued with.

First off it seems Pope Francis is keeping Jimmy Akin very busy. It seems every time he says something in the public forum outside of the normal speech, homily General Audience, etc – it seems Jimmy Akin has to do another article explaining what we need to know concerning it. For example todays Did Pope Francis just say that evangelization is “nonsense”? 8 things to know and share. In addition regarding the newer interview translation problems are being reported such as by Sr. Anne Flanagan and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.

So far the commentary by Thomas L. McDonald at God and the Machine on the latest interview expresses some of my own thoughts.

  • I think he has a particular style and we need to get used to the rapid change in tone. It shouldn’t come as much surprise that a Argentinian Jesuit is not a Polish Thomist Philosopher or a German Augustinian Theologian.
  • He’s not a scholar, he’s a pastor. I’m more comfortable with scholars, less so with the pastoral thing. I’m happy with my books and my Germans. Pastoral work has to do with getting down on the street with people in all their messy fallibility and failings, but also with the potential for beauty and faith and love.
  • I think that’s wonderful, but there are inherent dangers in it as well. Sometimes you need to be out there on the knife-edge taking risks in order to lure new souls to the kingdom.

Adding to this the interview format is certainly not an ideal vehicle for a balanced expression of what the Church teaches. Especially considering that two of the interviews were to some extent hostile. In one you have reporters asking typical questions in pursuit of a headline and not real understanding. The latest interview with Eugenio Scalfari is also partially combative.

I especially liked Thomas L. McDonald’s closing paragraph:

  • The world is not our little Catholic bubble. I like my bubble. I stay in it most of the time. The classroom and the computer and the page allow to me to leave it from time to time, but the preaching and teaching required in the bubble is of a different quality to that required in the world.
  • Francis makes me nervous, because his words can be spun by those enemies we have within the Church and without. On the other hand, we shouldn’t get twitchy and skittish about a genuine attempt to engage non-believers and non-Catholics with unguarded language. No teachings are changed. The faith is as it always has been. The messiness of debate and dialog doesn’t alter the truth.
  • Those of us in the Church–we who have made the commitment to teaching and preaching the word and following Her in all things–are the 99 sheep, safe at home with our Mother. That’s not to say our salvation is assured, but merely that the shepherd doesn’t have to worry about us quite as much, for the moment.
  • Are we then to begrudge the shepherd when he leaves the safety and comfort of the stable to retrieve our lost brother?

Anytime you speak about evangelization and emphasize certain aspects of it, it can seem that you are downplaying others. The both/and so often gets lost in communication and on the receiver’s side the same exists. We all have our hobby-horses and can see everything through them. If the Pope doesn’t sooth us by repeatedly mentioning our hobby-horses we can get suspicious. When you make a broad outline of strategies for evangelization from a top level it can be like a flu vacine where a forecast is made as to what strains should be concentrated on. This does not include all the various strategies at all the levels of the Church down to the Gospel call that we all receive and are to act on. The reality is their is no homogenous culture where one pastoral emphasis will be effective for everyone. The barriers to conversion are many and while there are generalities in conversion stories there is no one-size-fits-all evangelical response. As Pope Francis says in this interview we have to get to know people and to listen to them.

When Thomas L. MacDonald writes “I’m more comfortable with scholars,” I can heartily agree. Frankly Pope Francis’ writings leave me rather cold. When I was reading Ratzinger/Benedict the path was filled with empty highlighter pens. Pope Francis not so much. Maybe it is my vanity and the fact that Pope Francis emphasizes a lot of the basics and is a bit repetitive in his homilies and speeches as he emphasizes a certain point. I probably need lots of work on the basics and it is annoying to hear them mentioned.

Overall I can read the various interviews he as given and to some extent see what he is trying to say in context along with limitation of the interview format. Still if he didn’t give any more interviews I would not see that as a bad thing. The Pope is of course going to get misinterpret by the culture. This does not mean he has to help them along with phrasings that can be so easily misinterpreted.

When it comes to critiques of the Pope’s last interview there is one I would recommend. Long time Catholic blogger Dale Price is a hyperbolic word-smith extraordinaire and while I don’t fully agree with his critique I was often nodding my head in agreement with the thrust of what he was saying.

There are all sorts of small rhetorical problems with the interview, easily sound-bitten parts that are being used by the Left–and occasionally the knife-happy non-left that hates pro-lifers–with glee: “obsessed,” “small-minded rules,” etc. Can you find any soundbites to fling back at the retrograde, unChristian behavior of progressives? Let me know.

Hint: there aren’t any.

Now culling anything for sound bites is a losing proposition. We have reduced the political sphere to this. Yet there is a reality that these are what propagates and is unfortunately the only doctrinal content that many receive. This is why many faithful Catholics might feel they are on the receiving end of stones while revisionist Catholics and those not friendly with the Church are glowing in excitement of “best Pope ever.”

To suggest that they have all misread it and/or are delusional is itself delusional. When was the last time they were this energized? Never. Not in my Catholic lifetime.

Anybody on the left feeling betrayed, cast aside, discounted, demoralized, even a sense of disquiet? Nope. That’s a telling datum, don’t you think? To which I hear NO, FROWNY FACE, IT IS NOT. GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

I for one do think that it is highly probable that most of the new people on the papal bandwagon have misread him, are delusional, or both. While I think the lack of precision in what he says at times is a problem, I don’t doubt at all as he has also repeated in two of the interviews that he is a “Son of the Church” and totally orthodox.

I find it an easy temptation to dismiss those who now like the Pope. Especially as I suspect if they really understood that Pope Francis is not changing any doctrinal content they would be less enthused. I keep waiting for the media honeymoon to be over. Yet it is easy to forget that there will be some that will be drawn into the Church even under an initial misapprehension.

I especially liked Matt Archbold column regarding an atheist co-worker Pope Francis Did What I Didn’t.

Other commentary I liked:

  10 Responses to ““He’s not a scholar, he’s a pastor.””

  1. http://ethikapolitika.org/2013/09/27/honest-francis/

    Good post Jeff.

    I wondered if you had seen this post by Larry Chapp at Ethika Politika.

    For some reason my Android insists on pasting that link at the top

  2. (((Those of us in the Church–we who have made the commitment to teaching and preaching the word and following Her in all things–are the 99 sheep, safe at home with our Mother.)))

    Jeff! You can relax cause we 96% godly cells of Victor’s body have also bean following this pope, “I” mean Papa of yours and so like him, we’ve end, “I” mean engaged Victor’s four per sent age cells of his so called father, mother, son and holy spirit and “IT” is really interesting what they’ve also been telling U>S (usual sinners) “I” mean us gods.

    Long story short, if they go through with their plans, they’re going to lose and take our words for “IT”, when they do and they, these little retardos always do, we’ll make YA our new assistant pope and Jimmy Akin, well of course will become our new papa but don’t feel bad cause we’ll be distributing coffee mugs with your picture on each “ONE” if YA follow “ME”, “ME” and “ME”?

    Listen Jeff! When we gods of “The Darkness” take over with the help of “Gravity” and trust U>S gods, “IT” has a LOT of pull and no more will YA here, “I” mean hear of silly stuff like: The best way to “love your neighbor” is to tell them what sin is and they need to repent by taking a road to salvation.

    Jeff! Once we godly cells take over! No more will we gods allow priests to tell pup pets, “I” mean human animals to talk about stuff like fornication, adultery, gay ‘marriage’, abortion, birth control, and/or in any way will they be able to SUPPORT any of these things and telling our beings that stuff like this was, “I” mean is a MORTAL sin which would send all of our troops to hell?

    Come on Fred, “I” mean Jeff, we’re doing a great job cause when last have YA even heard much if at all about “Hell” being mentioned in our godly parishes? First of all, we gods don’t want people thinking this way; Secondly, no one need ask what sin is and definitely, we gods don’t want to hear that pup pets, “I” mean that animals need to repent and thirdly those so called four per sent age cells of Victor’s imaginary followers saying that there are consequences to pay for sin. “IT” will and must be completely understood that sin does not exist in this twenty first century and how could humans possibly be doomed with all this new technology that we gods have supplied “I” ask YA NOW?

    OK Jeff! Some of your lost atheist cells are thinking that this Christ created the Church with the mission of SALVATION and some born again atheist like to call “IT” (The Great Commission). Wake UP and smell the coffin, “I” mean coffee beens, Just ass, “I” mean ask yourself, how can a person be saved if they don’t even know, “I” mean, they don’t need saving from their sins, left, “I” mean Right?

    Come on Jeff, “ME”, “ME” and “ME”, “I” mean us gods could go on and on talking with Victor’s father, mother, son and holy spirit till the cows come home to be milked but what good is there in disgusting, “I” mean discussing stuff with this little retardo Victor, besides, he’ll eventually come around knowing in “TIME” that there really was no love of this Lord, just authority given by certain lost souls of past history who want to convince us godly cells that we need to fall in love with an unknown Lord and this really offends the alien gods who have made their home in the darkness of their own free “WILL” so we should just leave them alone and…….

    END YA SAY NOW sinner vic? What are YA trying to do, scare us (usual sinner)?

    COME ON VICTOR YOU KNOW AS WELL AS “I” DO THAT Sometimes you need to be out there on the knife-edge taking risks in order to lure new souls to the kingdom. 🙁

    Go Figure brothers and sisters? 🙂


    God Bless Peace

  3. I still think we need hourly Magisterial updates from the CDF telling us what the Pope really meant to say. =)

  4. Still at it, Victor? There’s truth in your wandering words, but I’m not up to sifting through them today.

    That said, Jeffery’s article is good; Francis has publicly come off as everything Benedict was not, seemingly warm, friendly, wading into the crowd, foregoing the usual benefits of the Papacy even in things like the red shoes, and most of all saying things the crowd loves to hear, such as his remarks about gays. And yet the German was hardly a “bad guy”, and I do miss Benedict terribly. Like MacDonald, I prefer the company of the scholar, even as I know I need a Francis to remind me of the world of need out there. And yet a repeated emphasis on “Get out to the poor!” can be just as limiting as one on doctrines, something’s missing and we know not what.

    • (((Still at it, Victor? There’s truth in your wandering words, but I’m not up to sifting through them today.)))

      Thank you, I think! Other than that, all me, myself and i can think of saying is “IT” probably wouldn’t matter how much sifting you did cause you would still believe what YA believe now. Right? 🙂

      The good news is that I’m still here but Salvage is no more to be seen. 🙁

      God Bless

      • Wonder what ever became of that pest? He had a blog site for a time, but it’s lost in the cracks. Ah well, I still have you, and here, and the Patheos site, and a contemplative Benedict in Rome.

        • (((Wonder what ever became of that pest?)))

          “I” really “AM” getting FED UP NOW of all of YA who think that YA have a chance to evolve into GODs like U>S (usual sinners) “I” mean gods and these so called four per sent age cells of Victor’s father, mother, son and holy spirit are no better. Long story short, we 96% gods, licked, “I” mean liked that Salvage whom you call a pest and spiritual truth be known just like the Birds of Saint Francis, he, her and/or “IT” has more blessed cells than most of YA pup pets, “I” mean human beings who are simply Luc, “I” mean look, no, no, luke warm now and when my kingdom spits YA out cause YAR all green just like the days of old. Long her, “I” mean longer story short, we gods could use salvage to help us out with these so called old protestant http://taylormarshall.com/2013/10/guardian-angels-7-interesting-facts.html?utm_source=Taylor+Marshall%2C+PhD&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=97e94f882f-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_64accbc3c7-97e94f882f-59109501
          who still believes in Guardian Angels and…….

          END YA SAY sinner vic? BE NICE NOW cause we four per sent spiritual old age cells created YA and we can destroy YA just as quickly.

          Don’t be silly Victor cause Captain Kirk told me that as long as we keep UP our shield, no pup pets, “I” mean human animals can harm us and…..

          END YA SAY sinner vic! 🙂

          God Bless Peace

  5. I am sure our Holy Father appreciates your judgement of him,thye Vicar of Christ as “orthodox” “son of the Church” What hubris!

  6. I had to tell some Catholics a while back…It’s impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be willfully misconstrued.

    A while back, I was linked to a FB post to an article where Pope Benedict declared that new technological discoveries should be subject to moral law. One commenter took from this that the Pope was declaring that humans should remain stupid. No, this isn’t a joke.

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