08 January 2014

BXVI vs Francis and The game of what does the Pope really mean...

Honestly, I've had it, and that's being semi-compassionate...I'm sure feathers are going to be ruffled but that's alright....

Let us begin...

1. Is it absolutely necessary that we interpret EVERYTHING the Holy Father says as orthodox? The dogma of infallibility is very specific for a reason...

From the 1st Vatican council:

9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

The condition for this is clear:

  • The Pope must be teaching ALL of the Faithful, in his capacity
  • must be on a matter of faith and morals
The extension being anything that does not fit this condition does not fall under the infallibility guarantee. That is to say 99.999999% of what the Pope says could be classified as fallible. the 0.000001% infallible. 

Oh the chaos that would ensue if the Pope were infallible on every little detail, I don't even wish to think about such things. 

There have been several attempts at mental gymnastics, so much so, one might think that they're undertaking supernatural abilities to convert statements into something tangible. 

That is to say it's very possible in the vast majority of the actions of the Holy Father that he'll say something that doesn't correlate to the Faith. Does it mean he's evil and the anti-Christ? Absolutely not!! It's rather simple, as a private theologian, or even a local teacher, he has the ability to make mistakes, or even commit heresies...The important thing to remember about the Pope is that he can't DEFINE a doctrine that's heretical for belief. We've had more than our fair share of heretical Popes, but none of them have defined dogma that is heretical.

To translate, if something sounds slightly off, there's no need to transform it into something that it clearly isn't. I think it would be a bit too much to call the Pope a heretic (does anyone really think that during the 60's that the Faith was taught properly to the clergy?) 

The excuses that are made:

a. It's a matter of translation, the Holy Father does not speak English natively.

This is a point, and a good one to consider, it simply means the process of information and expression is different. That said, this excuse doesn't hold....One can translate expressions faithfully and there still be a problem. There are times when this is a legitimate excuse as we've seen with Evangelii Gaudium in the excuse of a translation of "por si mismo" as "inevitably" instead of "by itself." When there's a deliberate mis-translation of particular words, this does change the meaning, and often it's best to give the benefit of the doubt to the original wording. This is why it was proper for those to defend the Holy Father in this case. The original wording did not convey what was being expressed in the translation and a benefit of the doubt should always be given to our dear Holy Father. (Thus it can properly be said that the Pope, even though he doesn't have a full grasp of economics, that he doesn't condemn capitalism as is, but simply points out the obvious...any economic system does not work without moral people).....That said, what happens when the original language is the problem in the first place? Since the Holy Father's first language is Spanish, I'm using his Spanish texts as the originals from which the others are derived from...This is from his Angelus address on June 2nd, 2013...

Emphasis mine:

Jesus’ outlook is very different; it is dictated by his union with the Father and his compassion for the people, that mercifulness of Jesus for us all. Jesus senses our problems, he senses our weaknesses, he senses our needs. Looking at those five loaves, Jesus thinks: this is Providence! From this small amount, God can make it suffice for everyone. Jesus trusts in the heavenly Father without reserve; he knows that for him everything is possible. Thus he tells his disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 — this is not merely coincidental, for it means that they are no longer a crowd but become communities nourished by God’s bread. Jesus then takes those loaves and fish, looks up to heaven, recites the blessing — the reference to the Eucharist is clear — and breaks them and gives them to the disciples who distribute them... and the loaves and fish do not run out, they do not run out! This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity.

To hear of the Holy Father using the same "the miracle in the feeding was the sharing, and not the actual multiplication of the loaves is discouraging and makes me think of all the wishy washy sermons I've heard...(As an Eastern priest told me, the miracle actually happened, it was the multiplication, but getting the Jews at that time to share was a miracle too)....This time around it isn't an issue of language, it's an issue of something completely wrong. But you'll notice he doesn't deny the miracle, but rather re-defines the miracle that takes place.

You see here two different situations of language, one where the language was manipulated, in the other language wasn't manipulated. (The intention behind manipulation, who am I to judge? :p)...Each having its own consequences, one where people get riled up over something that wasn't meant, the other where people have an absolute right to be upset.

I'm sorry, but the miracle not being the multiplication of the loaves is at heterodox at best, and heretical at worst. There's no twisting this statement into something orthodox, when it isn't. As I tell my students all the time whether in written communication or verbal communication, be sure to get all of your points across clearly and with distinction and clarity. Do not make me have to search for meaning within your works. (Bear in mind, I'm a physics and math teacher, so the double implication thing doesn't apply)...If it takes a panel of experts and they're confused, one ought to re-consider how one is communicating their points across. No matter what language one is communicating in, one should always seek to be clear and precise and ambiguities should be avoided whenever possible. And lest anyone think I'm ripping on the new regime, if we remember the whole Pope Benedict XVI situation with the condom comments, the only major difference between these situations, there was no way to take Pope Benedict XVI as intending something different than the Faith of Christ Jesus as everyone knew exactly where he stood and for the most part Pope Francis is still a mystery to us.

b. He's new

Fine, fine, yes, he's new, but that doesn't excuse anything...One gets a grace period to learn their job, but after a while that wears off. Ignorance does not excuse anyone.

c. He's from South America

Okay, and what? Just because someone is from somewhere else doesn't mean we excuse them from not being clear. It's one thing making mistakes in communication, that happens often enough, everyone does it. It's another thing to not try and fix those mistakes to get better at communication. Now I happen to be fluent in Spanish and can tell you while situation a does happen from time to time, it really is a matter of word choice, sometimes things are really said in such a way that one goes, huh?

d. He knows what he's doing, he's doing it on purpose...

If he's causing confusion on purpose, or telling people what they wish to hear, wouldn't that make him manipulating of people to get a point across? In someways like a politician. We're supposed to teach the Truth in season and out of season, whether people wish to hear it or whether they don't. Obviously one should recognize one's audience, but that does not mean watering down truth too. For me it's cause to concern when the biggest known enemies of the Faith are rejoicing (if Cardinal Mahony is doing backflips...there's a problem) over various statements (or the lack of statements)....And while he does say he's a son of the Church, with all of these various confusing statements, it's almost as if he's trying to displace himself....(I'm a Son of the Church, but...*insert confusing or ambiguous statement here*) Now I tend to think that the Holy Father is above this type of working style and that he communicates exactly what he means (not very well, but does so). When things are faithful, they're faithful, when they're wrong, they're wrong. As I've stated earlier, I think it's a bit too much to call the Holy Father a heretic with all of his various statements (I truly think he's naïve to most everything, and he's said so himself)....And while I'm on this point, the insults (neatly organized here)...have to stop. Whether it's intentional or not, insults are beneath everyone and people should not do them....So no, I would not think our Holy Father is manipulating the left and right, I simply think that the Holy Father speaks un-restrained, and this is a huge problem.

2) Two different philosophies between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis...does it mean that they're an antithesis between them?

a. Attitude towards the office of the Papacy

Pope Francis by ditching the symbols that have come with the office, for better or for worse is making it more about himself, than he ever would have by wearing the symbols of the papacy. Pope Francis by not living in the Papal "palace" is using more energy than he would by living in the papal palace alone. While I don't believe that Pope Francis is evil by ditching the symbols, I do believe that he's unintentionally communicating the opposite message that he wishes to communicate. (Other words, a false humility)....Doesn't mean that Pope Francis isn't humble, just in this regard, not so much

Compared to Pope Benedict XVI who used all the symbols (except the tiara) as a service to all of us. The catechism of beauty (something I'm a fan of) because beauty points to Beauty itself. He wore the various symbols of the office perhaps in one sense out of obligation (an ISTJ characteristic...I know, I am one :p), but never was it about personality of Pope Benedict XVI (though I'm sure that he did like the vestment choices....anything is an improvement over Marini I). A true sense of humility towards the office (recognizing it is not about one's own personal taste, likes and dislikes)...

Over time perhaps this may end up not being so, but from what I've seen, the absolute distain for the symbols of the office point to me a disdain of the office. It is not the person of the pope. The Pope is the vicar of Christ and quite frankly, should look like it.

b. Attitudes towards the Liturgy

Pope Francis seems to be Liturgically indifferent at best, but at worst a distain for particulars of the Liturgy. Now to be fair, Pope Francis does follow the book and doesn't ab lib. However, the vestment choices, and Holy Thursday have been epic failures at various points. The Liturgy is not a place to impose one's personality...and again to be fair, the Pope keeps himself out of it. Since I have seen videos of the Holy Father genuflecting before, I assume the reason he doesn't genuflect is because it'd be a chore to do so without some type of aid. (Granted if he needed help to kneel, I think a kneeler should be provided to help him)...if he wants to bow, he should offer the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom or St Basil ;)....granted he wouldn't be able to do that because all the parts are sung. (having one lung and all)...By choosing the non-ornate vestments, while not in of itself evil or horrible...it kind of means we're not giving to God our best. We should give him the most beautiful that we have, not because God per se needs it, but out of our love for Him, and for justice.

Pope Benedict XVI was a servant of the Liturgy as well and made himself disappear (It was when he was Cardinal Ratzinger offering the Papal funeral Liturgy of Pope JPII which got me to go back to Mass after a few years of absence) Order and beauty are attractive, and worked on little sinner that is me. Everything was for His glory and not for our glory. The pope endured much (Marini I) but after Marini I was fired, we really got to see the beauty of the Liturgy come out. The Liturgy was the spear of the New Evangelization, after all, how can we bring Christ to people if the Christ we encounter during the Liturgy is veiled by abuses and various other problems? He knew that if our Liturgy wasn't right everything else would falter on through. Thanks be to God he gave us Summorum Pontificum, while some say it was an act of tolerance (and to some degree that's true), really it's a matter of justice...an issue I've spoken of before.

There are similarities between the two as well, both have echoed concern about the poor, and our occasional idolatry of the various economic systems. Both mentioned love of neighbor. Both of them called us to the Magisterium. Both have excommunicated disobedient priests. And various other things. But do not let their similarities overshadow the differences between the two. It doesn't mean Pope Francis is evil or horrible, it simply means that the two are different, and there's no need to try and transform Pope Francis into Pope Benedict XVI and vise versa. It's okay for each person to stand on their own without help from one another.

But of course, let us pray for our Holy Father Francis, and our emeritus Benedict XVI...

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