Pope Francis and the perils of the premature victory dance

OK, I’ve just got to say it. While I am very pleased by the election of Pope Francis and generally like the liturgical style he has shown thus far (the no-singing thing is disappointing, but it is almost made up for by the vanishingly small prospect of seeing the ridiculous fanon during this papacy), I am somewhat disturbed by the tone of some comments I’ve seen, which amounts to, “take that, you fans of Pope Benedict, with your cappae magnae and your pro multis.”

My thoughts are basically three:

  • Even if the election of Francis represents a decisive victory for the forces of liturgical progress, Schadenfreude is not only distasteful, but unchristian.
  • I would be shocked if the Papacy of Francis sees a radical change in the English translation of the Mass (as inadequate as our current translation of the Mass is). Pope Francis simply doesn’t seem that interested in the liturgy wars. So expectations that we will see a reversion to “and also with you” or “for you and for all” or “one in being with the Father” seem, to me at least, to be exercises in fantasy.
  • Pope Francis will inevitably disappoint many who want radical changes in Church doctrine or practice. There is no real evidence that his theology is anything but thoroughly traditional, albeit more “pastorally” inflected than the more academic approach of Benedict.

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong. Maybe Francis will move to allow married men to be ordained to the presbyterate or women to the diaconate or any number of other progressive desiderata. But as far as I’m concerned, the band has not yet struck up the tune for a progressive victory dance. And even if it does, both good taste and Christian charity should move us to sit that one out.

55 comments

  1. “Schadenfreude is not only distasteful, but unchristian.
    . . . Pope Francis simply doesn’t seem that interested in the liturgy wars.”

    Amen. Preach it, Deacon.

  2. And this morning we see from the CDF that Francis agrees with and supports the need for reform in the LCWR. I’m doing my own little victory dance over that one!

    1. @John Drake – comment #2:
      Some of us were disheartened by the announcement. Schedenfreud notwithstanding, the expressions of relief say much more about people but not much about the Pope or the Curia. Turning the ship even two degrees from an otherwise doomed course is cheering. Cheers!

    2. @John Drake – comment #2:
      Of course, you are assuming that what the CDF said is what Francis thinks…..not sure I would place much of a bet on that one.

      It goes along with earlier predictions and thoughts about the appointment of Pell…..thought this was an excellent parody (we might see the same about this CDF statement when it is inevitably clarified, restated, etc., etc.

      http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=130529

      Ends with:

      “Pope Francis: (Smiling, again) The good news, Marco, is that he’ll always be outvoted seven to one”

  3. It is in fact a New World as I argued in my comment on another post

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2013/04/14/austrian-bishops-conference-on-pro-multis/#comment-951290

    Liturgy will be decided by Bishops Conferences rather than by Rome (either the Curia, or the Pope).

    Now you can wait for all that to become clear, and you can hope the National Bishops Conferences will do something about it. However all that hierarchical way of thinking is the way of the past. It is not the collegial way of thinking of the future.

    Progressive English speaking liturgists ought to do three things to get us beyond resuming the liturgy wars at the national and English speaking levels.

    1. Advocate that we should continue to use the Old Missal along side of the New Missal with decisions being made at the level of the parish based upon feed back from the people..

    2. Adopt the position that they do not intend to remove or revise the New Missal but let it continue to be used based upon feed back from the people.

    3. Adopt the 1998 Missal as the vehicle for a next edition of the Missal by letting it be used piecemeal (e.g. by internet downloads) on an experimental basis using the feedback to construct and then approval a Next Missal.

    This just brings the collegiality that will be developed at the international level down to the parish level.

    This is an exciting time but it is a real mistake to think that it is all about what the Pope is doing, and spending time cheering as if it were a game.

    As the Pope has made clear it is about serving the least served of the people and that means fashioning liturgies that not only appeal to the people who are in the pews but also to those who do not come much or at all. All that means that we have to listen to the people as well as serve them.

  4. Yes, Fritz, and thank you.

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn if he ever speaks to the liturgical problem. Or sings. I never wanted a top-down solution in the first place. Having a real leader lead–that’s all I prayed for.

    What I find exciting and hopeful is that we have a pope who is focused on spreading the Gospel message. And if that means a toehold on the rockface of ministry that needs my cooperation with my colleagues, students, and parishioners to reach out to a few more souls in my town and help lasso them into belief, that will be enough for me.

    I don’t think I’m going to need to look over my shoulder for another 2002 or 2007 to drive people away. Just living in a Church where one might cringe at the next scandal or major bumble–moving beyond that is enough.

    As for the so-called liberal agenda, I’m satisfied, as I always was, to leave that to the working of the Holy Spirit.

  5. Today’s Vatican communique’ following the meeting of Archbishop Mueller. prefect of CDF, with representatives of the LCWR does seem relevant to this discussion.
    —-
    If Pope Francis agrees to the Italian bishops staying with “per tutti” and the German-speaking conferences remaining with “fur alle,” doesn’t that give an opening for the English-speaking bishops to ask for a re-consideration of “for many” ? This at least, but hardly a wholesale re-consideration of RM ’11.

    And if there are changes at CDWDS, isn’t it possible that there could be a revision of Liturgiam authenticam?

  6. He is no nonsense and extremely Catholic and Christocentric and profoundly Marian to include Fatima which has many many pastoral implications. He is also a Patriarch by virtue of his office and not afraid to lead like one. But most importantly he is going to reform the clergy, the religeous starting with the LCWR! And the laity and the focus on the laity and religeous will not be on their clericalization in the liturgy viewed by Pope Bergoglio as a sin, but their proper roles in their proper vocation in the world and the Church which I think SSPX would rejoice. Deacon Fritz how timely your post considering the triumphalism one’s recent comment section.

  7. Certainly, I am not one to gloat, but may I suggest that this pope’s honeymoon with the secular press may have ended today? The Associated Press title for what happened today is “Pope Francis supports crackdown on US nuns.” Today may be a turning point in terms of perceptions of this very enigmatic pope.
    Also go to Vatican Radio’s website which now carries a synopsis of Pope Francis’ daily homilies which is surely becoming a part of his papal magisterium. Again he teaches about Satan. How many times has that happened in one month and again he turns to our Blessed Mother and uses an icon of her from Russia to make his point about the need we as reformed Catholics need in the face of a world today so hostile to the Church and making more martyrs today than in the first century–a Russian icon no less–will he soon consecrate Russia to her explicitly as Our Lady of Fatima asks?
    From his homily today at his Motel 6 place of residence:

    “We are all sinners; all of us. We all commit sins. But calumny is something else. It is of course a sin, too, but it is something more. Calumny aims to destroy the work of God, and calumny comes from a very evil thing: it is born of hatred. And hate is the work of Satan. Calumny destroys the work of God in people, in their souls. Calumny uses lies to get ahead. And let us be in no doubt, eh?: Where there is calumny, there is Satan himself. ”

    And again Pope Francis repeated “The age of martyrs is not yet over, the Church has more martyrs now than during the first centuries”. This age of “such great spiritual turmoil” reminded the Pope of an ancient Russian icon that depicts Our Lady covering the people of God with her mantle:

    “We pray to Our Lady to protect us, and in times of spiritual turbulence the safest place is under the mantle of Our Lady. She is the mother who takes care of the Church. And in this time of martyrs, she is the protagonist, the protagonist of protection: She is the Mother. (…) Let us state with faith: Mother, the Church is under your protection: Care for the Church. ‘”

    The reform of the LCWR kicked into high gear and soon the laity’s reform as well as the priesthood’s reform and the acknowledgement that this all needs our Lady of Russia’s mantle of protection. How good is that “eh?” (to use Pope Francis expression no less albeit in Italian I suspect which I suspect would be “how good is that, “no?”

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #11:
      Fr. Allan,

      Why is it a good thing if Pope Francis’s honeymoon with the secular press comes to an end? If the Pope engages in some clearly Christian activity and the secular press lauds him, shouldn’t we simply give thanks to God? I derive no satisfaction in the secular world turning away from the Church, just because it is something I might have foreseen.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #15:
        I wish the secular press would continue to laud Pope Francis not because it seemed to them that he was rebuking and repudiating Pope Benedict but because Pope Francis is in continuity with Benedict and all of the”Deposit of Faith.” Today ‘s story on the LCWR follows Francis’ statement to the Pontifical Biblical Commission which reinforced Vatican II and the proper interpretation of it by the Magisterium. Of course that was overlooked here.

    2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #11:
      Really – “The reform of the LCWR kicked into high gear and soon the laity’s reform as well as the priesthood’s reform and the acknowledgement that this all needs our Lady of Russia’s mantle of protection.”

      Your Fr. Z impersonation reminds me of this definition of *Vaticanese*:

      H/T Ann Oliver: “….relies on secrecy and obfuscation to try to avoid culpability and change. The chief rules are:

      1. For starters, do not apologize, do not explain.

      2. Divert attention: talk about something else even in answer to direct questions.

      3. Speak in generalizations rather than specifics if you can get away with it.

      4. When necessary to speak affirmatively, speak ambiguously so later you can say you didn’t mean what everyone took you to mean.

      5. Say that words have unusual meanings in Canon Law and the bishops understand that if the New York Times doesn’t.

      6, Say the CDF has the matter under advisement and that the CDF really isn’t the Inquisition anymore.

      7. When the Vatican’s position is obviously subject to criticism, suggest in darkly worded tones that the opposition’s position leads to unnamed but inevitably immoral consequences.

      8. When you have been forced to reverse your position, begin your reversal with the phrase, “As the Vatican said earlier . . . : or in extremis, “As the Church has always taught.”

    3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #11:

      From his homily today at his Motel 6 place of residence:

      Allan,

      That is just gratuitously insulting. Have you ever stayed in the Casa Santa Marta? I have, and I can tell you that it is no Motel 6. Think Holiday Inn if you must, but actually European hotels are not the same as American ones. And Francis is in a suite now….

      If you’re feeling threatened, it would be better not to show it quite so obviously.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #35:

        And not to mention, just foolish. Where was it our Lord was born? If a cave/stable is good enough for the Creator of the Universe… who should mock Francis’ choice of lodging?

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #35:
        Compared to the Apostolic Palace that can house 300 people, the Vatican motel is a Motel 6. I’ve stayed at Motel 6’s and they are not that bad and quite “kingdom value” when it comes to cost. It’s not a Holiday Inn but its not a flea bag motel either. The only problem is they leave the lights on for you which is surely a waste of electricity.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #46:

        My dear man, the Apostolic Palace may well be able to house 300 people, if not rather more, but not in 300 en-suite rooms. The pope was making a jocular reference to the large marble-floored reception rooms which could certainly accommodate a considerable number of people in sleeping bags….

  8. It is certainly no sin to employ cantors, choristers, organists and other instrumentalists, lectors, servers, communion ministers, and ministers of hospitality in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The sin would be if the impression was given that by fulfilling those roles said ministers have fulfilled their primary mission as disciples of Jesus Christ. Bishops, priests, and deacons would be similarly mistaken if they thought that their roles in celebrating the Eucharist fulfilled their primary mission as faithful disciples. ALL are called to worship God in spirit and in truth, through words and actions taken not only during Mass but throughout the week. As I discern from watching and listening to him, Francis is calling us to move from maintenance to mission which will require a cultural revolution that will affect all the members of the church should we decide to take him up on it. It will mean an end to the liturgy wars, but not without some clarifications as we move forward. Francis can continue to emphasize what is more important even while finding effective ways to address the less important. He will do this in terms of how he structures the CDW and how he may reform or revitalize existing modalities of collegial reflection and action through the Synod of Bishops and the Episcopal conferences. I doubt very much that he has any interest in issuing further documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum, Summorum Pontificum, or LA. But the reform of CDW will certainly bring with it a certain trajectory regarding rubrics, rites, translations, etc.
    As for the prospect of Francis moving towards the admission of mature married men to priestly ministry, he’ll either do this or concede that the continuing closing and consolidation of parishes throughout the world is consistent with the mission of the Church. That has nothing to do with changing doctrines and everything to do with reforming the clerical culture.

    1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #14:
      Note from dotCommonweal:

      “We don’t know how this issue was presented to Pope Francis and if he is aware of these facts:

      Sr. Patricia Farrell, former head of the LCWR, is a FRANCISCAN, who spent more than two decades as a missionary in Latin America (Chile and El Salvador). She arrived in El Salvador just months after the four missionaries (Srs, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary, Jean Donovan) were brutally tortured, raped and murdered by a Salvadoran military death squad in 1980. That happened just months after Ford had arrived in El Salvador from Chile.

      When asked about her life, she said: “The best of what we do is not about high drama.”

      Sr. Florence Deacon, present head of the LCWR, is also a FRANCISCAN, who among her accomplishments in academia, has spent five years advocating for the poor at the United Nations as director of the New York office of Franciscans International”

      Yep, reform is needed – serving the poor is *dissentful*

  9. Prior to the compilation of the lectionary, the practice basically was “What shall we read today at Mass?” What Scripture the people heard at Mass was mostly the ‘favorite’ passages of presiders and/or readers. Much of Scripture was left unheard. With today’s lectionary, one could hear most of the Bible over the course of 3 years.

    Prior to formalized Canons, the presider improvised as best he could. Worked for some; for others some looney theology was uttered (and taught).

    In reflecting on the “matter” for the Eucharist one writer wrote that while perhaps any kind of bread –or other food—MIGHT be fit for consecration, he is CERTAIN that unleavened bread IS fit, and so uses only unleavened bread.

    I chuckle when some people appeal to “liturgical principles”, because those principles are invoked only when they support the wishes of an individual person or [Lord help us] committee. In practice the most commonly held principle is the “This Is What I Want Principle”. Personal preference overrules theology. This is when “progressives” become more constrictive than the pre-Vatican II liturgies/rubrics they shed for themselves (but not for others). Now it’s “Say my black and do my red.” For some liturgy has become self-indulgent.

    The old and the new, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form, need each other. We need to be reminded that, even liturgically, there is a right and wrong; that we pass on a Tradition that has been handed on to us and whose meaning we are not free to alter. But at the same time we must be wary against worshipping earthen vessels –forms of worship, rites, vesture, etc etc—rather than the treasure they contain or point to.

    The years immediately following VII and the ‘liturgical renewal”, Catholics were subjected to some off-the-wall stuff, not only musically. I witnessed -I kid you not—a fork lift driven into the sanctuary used to ‘lift up’ the celebrant to illustrate Jesus’ Ascension. Father, supposedly, was being…

  10. The years immediately following VII and the ‘liturgical renewal”, Catholics were subjected to some off-the-wall stuff, not only musically. I witnessed -I kid you not—a fork lift driven into the sanctuary used to ‘lift up’ the celebrant to illustrate Jesus’ Ascension. Father, supposedly, was being so creative!

    We’re not as nuts now, but not always completely sane (as in healthy). There is still much liturgical terrorism on the left and right.

    It’s good to have definitions, form, structure and parameters. It is also good to have flexibility, creativity and sensitivity. And a huge dose of good sense, charity, and an appreciation of being stewards and not innovators.

  11. The ‘ridiculous fanon’? Do you find the ridiculousness self-evident?

    So, schadenfreude = bad, yet ridicule = okay?

    1. @Christopher Douglas – comment #22:
      “Ridiculous”= “inviting ridicule.” To describe something as ridiculous is not the same as to ridicule.

      But if you want to indulge in Schadenfreude, feel free.

  12. The LCWR is a good example of how things are likely to work differently under Pope Francis.

    1. Pope Francis is likely to consult with the American person on his council of advisers about this. I suspect he talked to O’Malley, Dolan, and Levada before giving the go ahead. Remember however that this is already an on going investigation so I don’t think he would have stopped it unless Dolan and Levada agreed to stop it. He may have asked O’Malley before appointing him as the North American person, and O”Malley may have been reluctant to cross Dolan and Levada this early in the game. I suspect O’Malley was honest with the Pope about the likely public negative reaction. I think the LCWR has a great potential future advocate in O’Malley.

    2. The investigation of the LCWR by the Congregation for Religious was strongly influenced by Rode. Both the investigations likely had strong backing from some American Bishops (e.g. Dolan) as their way of getting the American Nuns under control. I suspect Francis is likely to see these “getting Rome to do your dirty work” as an inappropriate use of the Curia, and will probably not want to reward it. I think we will see the power of the Curia to do these sorts of things diminished as Francis defines more narrowly the role of the Curia to rein in “personal agendas” such as that of Rode, and “manipulations” by bishop’s conferences or individual bishops or cardinals. I suspect future investigations will be given close vetting by this Pope.

    3. This Pope believes a lot in subsidiarity as applied to Bishops and Bishops conferences. I think he wants the American Bishops and the American Women Religious to work out their problems here not in Rome. That really means that Women Religious need to appeal to bishops with whom they can work to come to some better solution here. I think O’Malley’s appointment diminishes Dolan’s power, and may embolden some bishops to be more supportative.

    4. The real problem whether it comes to sexual abuse, women religious, or the liturgy is among the American Bishops, actually a minority of the American Bishops. It really isn’t Rome per se but the capability of some American Cardinals (Dolan, George) to dominate the American bishops through their relationships to the Papacy and the Curia. A priest in Argentina said that he knew everything about his priests and it was just not possible to fool him. I suspect the Cardinals are going to find this out very quickly, too.

    5. Francis admits his first ideas are usually wrong, and that he makes mistakes.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #25:
      Jack

      I think point 2 is a good insight as a general matter, even if it’s not clear it’s at work in this specific instance: I have a feeling that, given his Ignatian training, Pope Francis understands the insidious temptation to implead Rome as a way of resolving issues at a more local level: the last 2 papacies have, in different ways, rewarded that behavior, and my gut sense is that Francis is quite aware that this is a relatively shallow and short-term band-aid that only deepens the dysfunction in the long run, and also corrodes authority.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #26:

        My hunch from his behavior so far is that Francis understands institutions much better than most people.

        Most people approach changing things through personalities or through culture (ideas). They either replace people, or try to change them by different ideas. However, some changes in institutional arrangements can often alter people’s behavior drastically without having to replace them, or change their personalities, or their ideas.

        I got my institutional sensitivity because I was a psychologist in an interdisciplinary social psychology program with a sociology department. It was a nice idea that did not work out because the psychological level and the social levels of analysis are so different that even people who work on a same topic (e.g. violence) rarely read each other’s literature. However it gave me a great advantage in making institutional reforms in the mental health system.

      2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #27:
        If only you had added neurology to that mix, it would have been even more fascinating. My family with special needs children lived through many years of conflicting and jealous ministrations of psychologists, neurologists, and sociologists…..

      3. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #28:

        Back somewhere in the 1990s I attended a precedent setting conference in Boston sponsored by the Templeton foundation on Spirituality and Medicine. (even got to chat briefly with Sir John in the hall during a break).

        One of the speakers was a priest whose big pitch was that every treatment team needed a Certified Pastoral Counselor as a member. Not just any old priest or minister but one that had been well trained and certified.

        As someone who had spent at least a decade by that time firmly on the consumer side of things, I just rolled my eyes and said: “Yea what every consumer wants and needs, another member of the treatment team with a different agenda.”

    2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #25:
      Lots of speculation and benefit of the doubt. In the meantime, where does that leave the LCWR?

      An interesting pope, a different pope, but the need to idolize the papacy, it seems to me, dies hard.

  13. Fritz Bauerschmidt : @Christopher Douglas – comment #22: “Ridiculous”= “inviting ridicule.” To describe something as ridiculous is not the same as to ridicule. But if you want to indulge in Schadenfreude, feel free.

    Yes, so what was the intent of your adjective “ridiculous”? I, generally, find your remarks fair and measured. Thank you. Yet, I don’t see how the wearing of a fanon is self-evidently ‘ridiculous’. So, what did you mean? Calling a traditional papal vestment ‘ridiculous’ seems rather a strong condemnation without explanation. Do you find it so self-evident, amongst the cogniscenti, that the put-down should be so understood by all as to require no explanation? Or, perhaps, it should be understood by ALL, that an extra shoulder vestment is ‘ridiculous’? If so, your archaic stole might just as well be ‘ridiculous’. Why wear any vestments at all?

  14. “Why wear any vestments at all?”

    Because vestments are within the common experience of Catholics universally. As is the stole, despite its visual suppression over the past few decades.

    The pallium makes *some* sense, but perhaps only when a cleric is functioning as an archbishop.

    As for the fanon, I would characterize it as a *distraction.* It’s a noticeable something that for the uninitiated, is a curiosity that calls attention to the person wearing it and diverts focus from the liturgy. Like six candlesticks.

    It’s one of those things that I would quiz the user: Is it really necessary?

    I would not call the fanon ridiculous. I would call it superficial, and possibly narcissistic. The pope doesn’t need extra antiques to call attention to himself. We know who the guy is.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #32:
      You know, Todd, your last paragraph is a puzzlement!
      The author Tom Wolfe is a fairly well-known personage to the general public. He also happens to display an eccentric, “antique” if you will, and superficial style of dress every day. However, I’m not at all inclined to say either of these two declarations or judgments 1. His adornment is ridiculous, even narcissistic; 2. Nor do I thereby “know the guy.”
      You’re undermining your own point. And furthermore, there’s “know who the ‘guy’ is, and then there’s “know who the guy IS.” I don’t at all presume to know who our new Holy Father is or IS, but I am enjoying and rejoicing in his resolve. And if he switches from a Volkswagon to a Mercedes tomorrow, that will mean nothing to me. I he delares that I will become eligible to be ordained a priest effective July 7 this year, that I’ll take notice of.

  15. This is a gap not to be bridged. The fanon admirers love the suppression of the stole worn over the chasuble as the distinctive sign of office. We who love those nobly simple Dutch and Belgian vestments think of fanons, fiddlebacks, and lacy albs as throwbacks to the days before the liturgical reform. Never the twain shall meet. It reminds me of the difference between the lovers of chocolate and pistachio ice cream. De gustibus non disputantum est.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #37:
      LOL. Touche!

      Still, which vestments are appropriate and which are ‘ridiculous’? What is/are the criterion/a?

      The Deacon does not answer. (Sorry for the shades of Whitman! Unintended.)

      1. @Christopher Douglas – comment #38:
        Todd made at least half the reply that I would have made, but I think I will withhold anything else I might have said, lest I come across as blessing the ignorant with instruction.

  16. Todd Flowerday : “Why wear any vestments at all?” Because vestments are within the common experience of Catholics universally. As is the stole, despite its visual suppression over the past few decades. The pallium makes *some* sense, but perhaps only when a cleric is functioning as an archbishop. As for the fanon, I would characterize it as a *distraction.* It’s a noticeable something that for the uninitiated, is a curiosity that calls attention to the person wearing it and diverts focus from the liturgy. Like six candlesticks. It’s one of those things that I would quiz the user: Is it really necessary? I would not call the fanon ridiculous. I would call it superficial, and possibly narcissistic. The pope doesn’t need extra antiques to call attention to himself. We know who the guy is.

    You probably haven’t noticed, but I never respond to your posts. I will just this once.

    Your posts remind me of the inscription on the tomb of Bishop Seabury:

    “The ignorant he blessed with his instruction.”

    1. @Christopher Douglas – comment #39:
      Thank you for your response, Christopher.

      No, I haven’t noticed. Not familiar with the tomb, except for the one in John 20. Christ is risen: what communicates that better: a fanon or washing the feet of an imprisoned girl? Which communicates Christ preaching to those in prison and freeing them? Realizing the two are not mutually exclusive, the fanon gets its *** kicked, sorry to say.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #40:
        Thank you for your instruction. I would have never known that Our Lord Jesus Christ is against the fanon. Again, thank you. I’ve received your wisdom from on high, because I wouldn’t want my ***kicked. You’ve saved me from error!

        Is there anything else that I’ve missed for the salvation of my soul? Please instruct!

        So, washing the feet of an imprisoned girl (of which I said nothing) is the ultimate proof? How? Why does an imprisoned girl trump a rich male sinner? Has Jesus Christ ordained it so? Saint Paul said he was no respecter of persons. Ah, but I forgot your instruction.

      2. @Christopher Douglas – comment #42:
        Christopher, peace.

        There is a distinction to be made by replying to a person using strong words, and directly attacking the person with strong words. I strive to be careful about calling people out, prefering instead to skewer ideas.

        It could be that some of us, at some time, attach ourselves so closely to symbols that when the symbol itself is attacked, it seems to be the same as if we were.

        So when the fanon is criticized, we are.

        I feel attached, deeply, to my family. But if my wife is criticized, I will come to her defense because she needs it, not because I identify so closely with her as an extension of myself.

        I think it’s good to look at why heat is produced in us over things. And they are, after all, only things. Good things. Perhaps even worthy and beautiful and meaningful. But not as important as “the least of these.”

        I am also aware that it is difficult to accept input from people with whom one disagrees. So this whole exchange may be less than fruitful. Perhaps you had the better judgment at the start of it, eh?

  17. Pope Francis is turning out to be a rather complex reformer, first appointing reformers to a committee on the Curia and then reaffirming the last pope’s rebuke of the American nuns’ group. In http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/pope-francis-a-reformer/, I argue that the pope is a reformer (and outsider) only in a narrow sense. That the traditionalists have borrowed the term “reformer” makes the matter more complex though stil explainable.

  18. I see lots of wisdom attributed to Pope Francis but no concrete evidence that people are reading his mind correctly. The evidence he gives himself shows a quite conservative churchman, very much in the line of Benedict XVI. I doubt if he would take a more liberal and understanding attitude to US nuns than his predecessors.

  19. For a head of state to refuse to live in his official residence is very odd. One wonders what the other inhabitants of the papal motel think of his constant presence among them.

  20. Satan or the Adversary is mentioned all the time in St Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. Francis is an old-style Jesuit in this. Clocking up his references to Satan since he has become pope would be an interesting exercise.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #48:
        The Holy Father spoke about the Devil again briefly this morning at his Wednesday audience! “[Christ] defends us from the insidiousness of the Devil, He defends us from ourselves, from our sins.” Good to hear that, at least I’m glad to hear that!

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