Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Pope in the Holy Land and what he said on the way home.

I think the Pope knows very well what people say about him... and who says it.

His reception by Catholics in the Holy Land suggests to me that the critical voices online and in very 'conservative' circles of Catholics are way off.  The enthusiasm for the Holy Father's visit was very evident.  I was edified.  I am grateful the pilgrimage was safe.

Speaking to journalists on the way home, Pope Francis gave every indication that he knows what critics of the Church - within and without - are saying these days.  Especially about the hot button issues.  In my opinion, the Holy Father demonstrates his pastoral balance, his discernment and open-hearted obedience to God's will.

I especially appreciate how he addressed the issues related to the upcoming synods on the family:
The Pontiff also spoke about the two upcoming Synods of Bishops on the family. “The Pope lamented what he characterized as an overemphasis, by members of the clergy among others, on the question of when divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive Communion,” according to a Catholic News Service report. “He emphasized the synods would consider the pastoral care of the family in its totality.” - Source
I think many Catholics worry too much about things that haven't even happened yet - they project their fears onto imagined events in the future, suggesting all sorts of disasters and changes - yet nothing has changed.  Not one dogma, not one iota of the law can be or will be done away with.   It strikes me that today many Catholics are convinced they are more Catholic than the pope, while looking down on everyone else who hasn't arrived at the state of perfection they seem to believe they are in.


  1. Terry, thought-provoking as usual. Just a few thoughts I'd like to offer to tell the other side of the story, as it were.

    We all know that the Catholic Church has survived much over the millennia, from a pope who denied Christ to His face, to the Borgia popes, to the debacle following Vatican II. There have been sex scandals, financial scandals, you name it. In other words, the Church is an organization like any other, a normal slice of life, representative of the world in which she exists. We trust the Church which Christ created, we know that Church will survive – but we have every reason to suspect the men in charge of that Church.

    As has been pointed out many times since the election of the current pope, the Holy Spirit does not automatically choose the pope. The Spirit offers guidance to the cardinals, who by exercising their free will may choose to take or reject that counsel. (To suggest otherwise would be, I think, a heresy.) In light of the men who’ve served as the Successors of Peter, I should think one would have every reason to be apprehensive. Projecting your fears in this case may be nothing more than prudent thinking.

    My apprehension over the immediate future of the Church does not extend to the Divine Church – rather, it centers on the men who currently govern its fate. Put not your trust in princes, yes, but at the same time if you’re riding in a bus you hope fervently that the driver knows what he’s doing.

    We’re not excused from doing what we, as the faithful, must – pray for the pope, pray for the bishops, pray for the institutional Church. Beyond that, what can we do? If our words become too pointed, if we dare to express our doubts, we’re ridiculed by many as being fear-mongers, sede vacandists, cafeteria Catholics. Now, if our obligation is to put aside our fears and put our trust in God, and thereafter suffer in silence, then so be it. It is difficult, though, when you’re made to feel like a Chicken Little along the way.

    (By the way, speaking of Chicken Little, one of the earliest examples of a Chicken Little story, the Buddhist Daddabha Jataka, the Buddha relates the story of a hare who, hit by falling fruit, believes the world is coming to an end. The hare spreads the story, and panic ensues among the animal kingdom, until the lion investigates and restores calm. I believe that what concerns so many people worried abou the future of the Church is that for them no lion is on the scene to assuage their fears; whenever the pope speaks, it seems as if he simply pours more fuel on the fire.)

    I do not pretend any affection for the current pope; as I’ve written before, I have neither like nor dislike for him. I once said that he was “ Machiavellian in his cleverness, Christ-like in his gentleness, or Ted Baxter-ish in his cluelessness,” and that assessment hasn’t changed. I thought little of Bergolio the cardinal, and my opinion of Francis the pope hasn’t evolved much. I don’t doubt for a moment that he’s a better Catholic than I; I certainly don’t consider myself more Catholic than the pope. But then, I’m not the pope; he is. And I haven’t been comforted by what I’ve seen. Perhaps as we begin to disseminate his most recent comments, the lightbulb will come on. I do respect his emphasis on "the family," but I'm afraid you have more confidence that he knows what he's doing that I do. I fear he's in over his head. - and, frankly, that's the more positive way of looking at it.

    I don’t deny that we have our role to play, as I said. We must pray, we must work for what we believe in, ultimately we must trust. But what’s that old saying? Trust but verify. So far, notwithstanding his most recent words, it’s only been my concerns that have been verified.

    1. You changed your blog and no longer link. Oh no! I'm not Catholic enough!

    2. Gasp! No offense intended! In the midst of a complete redo on the "In Other Words" (formerly Our Word) site, so all those links are in flux right now. Should be fixed by the weekend, or as soon as I'm over the flu - whichever comes first.

      You'd be better off reading "It's About TV" instead anyway - a much better blog!

    3. I'm just being facetious - that is never a problem for me. I will go to your other blog too. God bless!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment Mitchell. I think you know I have great respect for you and your well informed opinion.

    I think I have a very simple faith, so it is difficult for me to understand the concern over what can happen - I think this is why I depend so much upon prayer - confidence and devotion.

    I have great love for the pope - I see a continuum in the papacy - I don't try to read Francis through Benedict or JPII or Paul VI - I try to read what he says - not what his colleagues say. I of course know if the pope says it will rain, he can be mistaken or I'm too sinful to see it - but if and when he speaks ex cathedra the teaching is infallible. I'm not worried about it because I can't do anything about it.

    I see Pope Francis in continuity with his predecessors - I think Pope Benedict would agree.

    I really believe there is agitation within the rank and file of the Church unsettling souls - the faithful. We need courage - the convincing power of the Holy Spirit to steady us.

    God bless you in your heartfelt concern for the Church, keep yourself in peace - let nothing disturb you...

  3. This is nice - From Spike is Best blog:

    But Rex, what if the Pope were to say that the Synod is way, way broader a picture, and that it shows a sad and blighted attitude towards family on the part of Catholics that they would accede to the Media's ploy to instrumentalize the Synod by focusing obsessively on one subject?" "Well, then it would be so." "But what if it wasn't so?" "Well, I suppose it would mean you were too obsessed with one single subject to see it."


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