Googling the Vatican

Surely you’ve heard that the Vatican is moving in and cracking down on the U.S. nuns. It got me thinking about how the Vatican makes use of Scripture.

In the CDF’s doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious there is this:

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in an Audience granted to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, on January 14, 2011, approved the decisions of the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their implementation. This action by the Holy Father should be understood in virtue of the mandate given by the Lord to Simon Peter as the rock on which He founded his Church (cf. Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters.” This Scripture passage has long been applied to the role of the Successors of Peter as Head of the Apostolic College of Bishops; it also applies to the role of the Pope as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Universal Church.

It has long struck me that Luke 22:32 is used rather often by the Vatican. John Paul II, for example, in 1994:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

Lots of “confirming the brethren” (or “brothers and sisters”) by Rome. No surprise there. But did you ever wonder how much?

Google makes it easy to search the Vatican website and see how often a given Scriptural passage appears in the various Vatican documents at its site. You just google the website, like this:

“Lk 22:32” site:vatican.va

and voila! That Scripture passage is cited 776 times at the Vatican website.

It’s great fun googling the Vatican.

At Galatians 2:11, Paul says that he “opposed [Peter] to his face.” The Vatican only uses that one 271 times. More “confirming the brothers and sisters” than “opposing Peter.” No surprise there either.

At 1Timothy 3:15, the church is described as “the pillar and bulwark of truth,” which also got cited in the LCWR doc. At the Vatican website? 496 times.

Matthew 16:18, of course, is the money quote: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Wow: 2,590.

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist. How about Matthew 16:23, “[Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”? Hmm, only 109 hits.

Phoebe the female deacon at Rom 16:1f? I used “Rom 16:1” to get at anything from “1” to “1-2” to “1ff” and so forth. The result? 39.

Join in the fun, everyone! What do you discover when you google the Vatican?

awr

15 comments

  1. I have sat and listened to the ABC cycle of readings for years and wondered how so many priests and bishops could proclaim those Words over and over again without hearing them.

  2. Centering on the Vatican’s Doctrinal Deficiency was certainly easy.

    Mark 9:35 Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
    “Mark 9:35” site:vatican.va
    One result
    The Grace Given You in Christ: Catholics and Methodists Reflect
    Jun 4, 2006 – Christ called his disciples to be servants of all (Mark 9:35). 70.
    Looks like the Methodists account for this one.

    Mark 10:44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
    “Mark 10:45” site:vatican.va
    None! Must have been that word “slave” that really got to them!!

    Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    “Mark 10:45” site:vatican.va
    10 results. Good thing Jesus said “for many” or this verse might not have made it.

    The bishops don’t get it anymore than the Apostles did.
    The author of Mark must have been a woman!

    1. Mk 9:35 produces 40+ results.
      Mk 10:44 produces 8 results.
      Mk 10:45 produces 500+ results.

      First, be sure to use the tool properly. Second, don’t beat your plowshare into a sword.

  3. Mark 14:9
    Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.

    Google’s response:
     No results found for “mark 14:9” site:vatican.va.
     No results found for “matthew 26:13” site:vatican.va.

    1. You’re not abbreviating the Scripture references. Searching for site:vatican.va “mk 14:9” yields one hit; searching for “mt 26:13” yields a few more.

      Let’s not try to turn this into some sort of weapon.

      1. I thought of that, but did not follow through. The proper numbers are

        Mk 14:9 has 1 hit, +translations
        Mt 26:13 has 2 more, +translations.

        I am not sure that is less of a weapon than my original 0s. (Not that I would ever think of it as a weapon.)

  4. As stated in the opening paragraph, the point of this post is “how the Vatican makes use of scripture.”

  5. The point is that the Vatican (like most everyone) tends to read, remember and quote the parts of Scripture that they like, and ignore and forget the parts that should make them uncomfortable.

    It is pretty hard not to be a cafetaria Christian.

    Probably because of my background in the social sciences, I like word frequency counts in books of the Bible. They are a useful starting part if one wants to approach the document in a fair and balanced way rather than selectively. I find the same thing helpful in approaching the documents of Vatican II.

    However numbers frequency can be misleading. In fact I chose passages from Mark that focus upon the service theme. However they are few and their importance is defined by that and the place where they occur. Only Jesus, women, and the angels are identified as servants. The identification is done at the beginning, middle and end of the public ministry in Mark, and Jesus self identification of servant is the key to its importance. Also key is that Jesus disciples are challenged to be servants. So while most time high number frequency defines importance, occasionally reserving the use of certain words can also define importance.

    1. That is a good answer; thank you. Indeed “it is hard not to be a cafeteria Christian.” And that goes for all of us: me, you and the Vatican too. (No pun intended).

  6. Reading the reaction of Jeffrey Pinyan, I can’t help wondering does he and his ilk ever pause to think that such scriptural “proof texting” – decontextualized, ahistorical quoting of the Scriptures is the lifeblood of “Curial” – and consequently much “Papal” theologizing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is riddled with such “use” of Scripture. And that bias is given greater weight by the current Pope’s preference for older forms – patristic – forms of “exegesis, as is evidenced throuhout his two Jesus books.
    Happy googling to one and all.

    1. Happy googling, but google the right terms.

      And yes, I have encountered specious proof-texting in papal, magisterial, and other Christian writings. The one that stands out most to me at the moment is Boniface VIII’s use of “look, here are two swords” (Lk 22:38) in Unam sanctam as a prophecy/justification for the Church’s spiritual and temporal powers.

      1. Jeffrey, absolutely EVERYONE in that era agreed that the two swords referred to in that passage were a prophecy of the division of societal order into temporal and religious powers, and had done so for quite some time. The idea is not an invention of Pope Boniface, and no one regarded that particular explanation as controversial, much less specious.

  7. ! Cor 9 : 5 New International Version (©1984) reads

    Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

    Quite. But this appears only once, in the Catechism and is put forward in order to deny the bit about the “Lord’s brothers;” The section is dealing with the perpetual virginity of Mary, not the right of apostles to marry. True, the word for wife may be translated “woman” but that is hardly helpful in today’s parlance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *