The Holy Father, in his first encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, has written a controversial document that has upset many Conservatives both inside and outside of the Catholic Church, and there is much acrimony over what the Pope has actually said. The document is long, and not just a bit tiresome, and most people commenting on it have not actually read it - or have read excerpts - and so there is much uninformed talk over this Papal exhortation. I have read the whole thing, and would like to give my own impressions of the document in question. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/docu...
First, it is a document about evangelism. Now, I find this a little strange in that evangelism does not seem to be a major problem for Catholicism, which is growing by leaps and bounds worldwide. Why is this new Pontiff telling us how to fix the Catholic approach to evangelism when it clearly isn't broken? The Holy See itself recognizes the growth of catholicism worldwide. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1302116.htm
And Pope Francis knows it. http://www.examiner.com/article/pope-francis-presented-with-informa...
So I ask again, why a document about evangelism, about how to reform evangelism when that does not seem to be such an issue. Surely there are more pressing topics to discuss; the dangers of Islam, the apostacy of the West, the rise of radical atheism, all of these seem to be fertile ground for a new Pope to cover, but Francis has gone after abc gum, as it were. I do not understand why he is doing that.
And the first portion of it exhorts joy. Now I am as into joy as the next man, and would like far more of it than I currently experience, but I am also of the old school that says joy is not a necessary fruit of the Holy Spirit, and Pope Francis makes the case that it is. This is one of the dividing lines between Catholic and Protestant; Catholicism has always eschewed experientialism. Catholicism says that a Christian must have faith and perform good works (in contrast to Protestants who believe in the doctrine of Justification through Faith Alone) and while there may be joy as a gift of the Holy Spirit it is not necessary to judge the value of a thing or to determine salvation. The Pope doesn't say that either, but he argues that joy is required for evangelism, and that is not necessarily so, for there is and always has been a type of person who responds better to intellectual argument and rationality than to the emotional experience, and the conversion of such is equally valid. (I myself am that type, and am quite devout.) So the tenor of the document strikes me as, well, emotion driven, something designed to appeal to emotionally-driven people, like Liberals. Sadly, Liberals don't respond well to christianity, having been inculcated in the belief that Christians are the root of all evil. I'm not at all sure that many will be reached by this "singing and dancing" approach; certainly I have friends who turned against the Vernacular Mass for precisely this very reason. They find it disrespectful and trivial and prefer a more solemn and dignified approach. These people turned to the Latin Mass, and not just the Latin but the old Tridentine.
Pope Francis seems to want to double down on the happy camper approach.
But the happy camper/big tent approach (and Francis obliquely calls for the Big Tent) is precisely what the Republican Party tries to do in politics, and it never works. People are looking for more than a fun time, a joyful noise. They are looking for eternal truths, for things greater than themselves. It is the reason why the only churches that are growing in the West are the Evangelicals and the other churches that take solid, unwavering positions. catholicism has largely refused to do that, and as a result it is growing outside of Europe and America but is dimming here. Francis seems to believe a more open, inclusive approach is what is needed, but he has things completely out of phase. The bigger the tent the more diluted the message.
What did Jesus do?
Jesus had many disciples but called just 12 Apostles. He advocated preaching the message but not coaxing. In Luke 9:5 Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel with this admonition;
"And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off even the dust of your feet, for a testimony against them."
He didn't want a lot of disciples but zealous ones. Jesus was NOT a big tent leader. He would be the despair of the GoP consulting class, because He would prefer to play to His "base" rather than tailor His message to suck in more people. Oh, He went to those outside of His inner circle (he was no snob) and accepted Romans and Samaritans and whatnot, but He did not change to suit them; He presented His message and they were free to accept it or not.
But Pope Francis seems to want to do the latter; he has fallen into the same trap that Mitt Romney, John McCain, and the rest of the GOP establishment has become mired in.
What I find sorely lacking in this document is any mention of the permanent things. There is little about Sin, little about WHY we should try to convert people. Salvation of the soul seems secondary to efforts to grow the numbers of the Church. But that should not be our first consideration; we want to grow the Church because we want to save souls from Hell, to have as many people as possible be with Jesus in Heaven. That is a much better message to impart than joy and boogeying down to Jesus music.
Of course, this makes Pope Francis a thoroughly modern man. I cannot tell when the last time I heard the word Sin mentioned in church, or talk about the real consequences of our actions in life. Catholicism has become primarily a feel-good faith, a way to do your duty while listening to bland admonitions to be a little better each day. The overwhelming nature of what is actually happening in this world, the eternal consequences of what we do and how we act, the deadly seriousness of it all, has been dismissed as off-putting. Francis seems to be one with this modern viewpoint.
"Upon this rock I will build My Church" Jesus said to Peter. Yet Pope Francis seems to seek being a soft mattress rather than a rock.
Thus the tone is set for a wishy-washy exhortation to beg for converts and dance around.
Here are a few quotes from the document;
Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal
If we attempt to put all things in a missionary key, this will also affect the way we communicate the message. In today’s world of instant communication and occasionally biased media coverage, the message we preach runs a greater risk of being distorted or reduced to some of its secondary aspects."
Now, this sounds strikingly similar to speeches made by Mikhail Gorbachev during the last days of the old Soviet Union; Gorbachev had as a theme the need for greater creativity and whatnot. Of course, he was trying to shore up a thoroughly rotten institution. This is not needed here, is it?
In essence, the Pope seems to be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, worrying about creativity and boldness but not channeling that into the real areas of concern. There is a war being waged on Christianity and Catholicism in particular, and yet this new Pontiff seems worried about enticing people with window dressing and party music.
But what has really gotten the conservatives upset is Francis' denunciation of free enterprise and his suggestion that government's proper role is to regulate and control the exchange of goods and services.
Here is a rather lengthy excerpt:
"No to an economy of exclusion
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:
without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
No to the new idolatry of money
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born,
invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanage-
able, even dangerous, since he calls human beings
to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.55
No to the inequality which spawns violence
Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the differ55
fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.
Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and
violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders."
To those who argue that the Pope was taken out of context, I ask you to please provide a context that makes this say anything other than what it appears to say. I do not believe there is any way of reinterpreting any of this as anything other than an anti-capitalist screed.
And one must ask what century il-Papa is living in; this is more like the Robber Baron era of the late 19th/early 20th centuries and not the world of today. Where is Laissez Faire capitalism practiced anywhere on the globe? Where is this unbridled, unrestrained capitalism? I can't seem to find it anywhere.
And calls for equality and inclusion are straight from the French Revolution and not from our tradition of Locke and Smith "liberty, equality, fraternity". This failed in France, and has failed everywhere it has been tried. The seeking of a just social order as opposed to a fair field of play is the hallmark of modernity, the socialist vision of the perfectability of Man.
Or out of Lenin, or Mao.
Which brings up the background of Pope Francis; he comes from Argentina, which is home to that self styled "third way between communism and capitalism".
Juan Peron was a fascist dictator, with a vision similar to Mussolini, whom he admired greatly. His "third way", also known as "Justicialism" consisted of what is today called in the Church and among Marxist intellectuals "social justice". Peronism had a heavy appeal to "the poor". See Colonel Perone's own statement on the matter:
" Perónism is humanism in action; Perónism is a new political doctrine, which rejects all the ills of the politics of previous times; in the social sphere it is a theory which establishes a little equal ity among men, which grants them similar opportunities and assures them of a future so that in this land there may be no one who lacks what he needs for a living, even though it may be necessary that those who are wildly squandering what they possess may be deprived of the right to do so, for the benefit of those who have nothing at all; in the economic sphere its aim is that every Argentine should pull his weight for the Argentines and that economic policy which maintained that this was a permanent and perfect school of capitalist exploitation should be replaced by a doctrine of social economy under which the distribution of our wealth, which we force the earth to yield up to us and which furthermore we are elab orating, may be shared out fairly among all those who have contributed by their efforts to amass it.
That is Perónism. And Perónism is not learned, nor just talked about: one feels it or else disagrees. Perónism is a question of the heart rather than of the head. Fortunately I am not one of those Presidents who live a life apart, but on the contrary I live among my people, just as I have always lived; so that I share all the ups and downs, all their successes an all their disappointments with my working class people. I feel an intimate satisfaction when I see a workman who is well dressed or taking his family to the theatre. I feel just as satisfied as I would feel if I were that workman myself. That is Perónism."
Were you to insert this in Evangelii Gaudium and remove the word Peronism it would fit seemlessly. It is interessting to note that Peron bragged of living among the people, as does the current Pontiff.
There are "three flags" to Peronism; social justice, economic independence, and political sovereignty. Pope Francis is certainly interested in social justice. He also fits in well with the other two, because he advocates government control of economic activity as a way to achieve the first of the flags. A command economy where private corporations are at the service of the State (and regulated heavily) is known as corporatism, which is the heart and soul of all fascist economics. Today we call it "crony capitalism"; it is a system whereby the State regulates business and in return guarantees profits. Big, established corporations like this because it eliminates competition.
Peron implemented this, and it destroyed the Argentinian economy.
But Peronism lasted for decades in Argentina, and the time of troubles saw a monotonously bloody cycle of military coups followed by free elections which saw the return of the Peronistas to power, followed by another coup. It is a belief solidly ingrained in the Argentinian People, and no doubt this Pope was steeped in ths tradition.
What tradition was that? Writer Jorge Luis Borgia had this to say of Peronism:
"Dictatorships breed oppression, dictatorships breed servility, dictatorships breed cruelty; more loathsome still is the fact that they breed idiocy. Bellboys babbling orders, portraits of caudillos, prearranged cheers or insults, walls covered with names, unanimous ceremonies, mere discipline usurping the place of clear thinking... Fighting these sad monotonies is one of the duties of a writer. Need I remind readers of Martín Fierro or Don Segundo that individualism is an old Argentine virtue."
Ah, individualism. Throughout this Papal encyclical there is condemnation of individualism as some sort of evil. That, too, fits with the Peronist ideal, and buttresses my case that Francis is sympathetic to the beliefs of Juan Peron.
"As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals."
The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds."
fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.
Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can find expression in a false autonomy which has no place for God. But in the realm of religion it can also take the form of a spiritual consumerism tailored to one’s own unhealthy individualism.
You get the idea; Francis seems to believe in a more collectivist world system, one that eshews individualism. He is partially correct in his analysis of liberals using individuality as a tool, but hasn't he noticed that the goal of that tool is not to honor the individual but to promote a collective? Collectivism brings the ultimate isolation, yet he seems to not grasp that fact.
The difference between Christianity (and Judaism) and the Eastern religions is the matter of individuality. Christians believe we are individuals and will remain individuals, although we should care about one another and will ultimately be brought into an intimate relationship with God. Eastern religions are largely Pantheistic, believing we are all part of God, the "world soul" and must be subsumed into the collective. It should come as no surprise that socialism was born after Western contact with India and the East; these ideas were brought back to Europe and permeated the intellectual classes, who have labored ever since to implement them. Christian beliefs have always honbored the individual as made in the image and likeness of God, and so sacred.
Please notice this quote from 72 from above:
"True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness."
Huh? What of the cloistering vocations? Does this make the monasteries unchristian? Are the Pink Sisters, who are never seen by anyone outside of their nunneries, somehow not valid? And what does such a statement say of Il Papa?
Note too the talk of "revolution"; this is language befitting a Liberation Theologian and Peronista.
He also makes the exhaustingly tired call for the feminization of the Church, as if this hasn't been happening for decades (and coinciding with the decline of Christianity in the West):
"But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace”72 and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures."
What about the male genius, which seems to be increasingly alienated from the Church by an increasingly feminized worldview? Why can't Catholics recruit men to become priests? Why are fewer male laity not showing up to help in different fields? Francis bemoans that, and concludes it is "individualism" and selfishness at the heart of the problem, where he should ask if perhaps men are not being welcomed in as men. There is no celebration of the male virtues in catholicism anymore (mirroring the trend in society in general) and yet Francis complains of Machismo as a vice in his missive. Perhaps Argentina suffers from a plague of machismo, but the Anglo world is sorely lacking in it. We are sorely lacking in testosterone these days.
We must consider Liberation Theology also when discussing this Papal document. Pope Francis recently met with Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, the generally acknowleged creator of this neo-Marxist attempt to hijack Catholicism to promote the Revolution. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303902.htm
According to the CNS article:
"But within a single week in early September 2013, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an interview with Father Gutierrez, an article by the theologian himself, and two articles praising his work -- one of them by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller.
Following years of Vatican criticism of liberation theology under Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, these events might seem to indicate a reversal of policy under Pope Francis"
Both Pope John Paul II and Benedict have condemned the political nature and Marxist ideology of Liberation Theology.
But what of Pope Francis? Well;
"As superior of the Jesuits' Argentine province from 1973 to 1979, then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio discouraged politicization among his priests, especially during the military dictatorship that took power in Argentina in 1976. In the polarized atmosphere within the order, he was hardly counted as a friend of liberation theology.
But the future pope's pastoral work for and with the poor was constant, and would eventually find expression at the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil.
The conference's concluding document, of which then-Cardinal Bergoglio was a principal author, did not use the term "liberation theology," but its strong words about the "building of a just and fraternal society" that ensures "health, food, education, housing and work for all" reflect the spirit of the movement in its orthodox version.
Pope Francis' election was thus a powerful affirmation of the belief that the pursuit of social justice is a necessary consequence of Christian faith. But less than nine months before the papal conclave, a less heralded appointment had already signaled that this belief, as formulated in liberation theology, enjoyed favor at the church's highest levels."
So what do we have here? A Bishop who has written in agreement with Liberation Theology elevated to Pope writes a document trashing capitalism in a fairly large section. Coincidence?
For more on the Liberation Theology of Pope Francis, read here. http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/09/liberation-theology-finds-ne...
And as for the Pope and Peronism, the Peronists have claimed him as one of their own. http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2013/03/argentine-peronists-cl...
From the article:
"Meanwhile, Gabriel Mariotto, vice-governor of Buenos Aires province and another key ally of Ms Kirchner, celebrated the election, telling a local radio station that “beyond the nuances and differences, Bergoglio is a great Peronist”.
‘A Peronist and a comrade’
Emilio Pérsico, a leader of the pro-Kirchner Peronist militant group Movimiento Evita, also appeared in the media calling Francis “a Peronist and a comrade” and claimed he had celebrated a “secret” Mass to pray for the health of recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez."
Unfortunately the elevation of Cardinal Bergoglio to Pope means at a minimum the elevation of a "conservative" Liberation Theologian and Peronist. Pope Benedict, by stepping aside at a critical time, has opened the door to the radicals who want a social Gospel and to build an Earthly paradise.
I am a believing catholic, and I believe the Pope is chosen by God. But that does not mean the Pope is chosen for our immediate benefit; he may be a punishment rather than a blessing. Oh, anything from God is ultimately a blessing, but it may be a painful one, a chastisement. Is the elevation of Francis God's way of punishing an apostate Catholicism? Only time will tell.
Read more from Tim and Friends at The Aviary www.tbirdnow.mee.nu