Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Holy Father will have much to suffer.

The Holy Father's conversation with the Jesuits in Chile.

Online, I noticed some photos of a near-empty piazza at the Vatican yesterday for Ash Wednesday.  I understood it as an attempt to show how unpopular the Holy Father is, as well as to contrast the size of the crowd with the large crowds who attended Pope Benedict's audiences and liturgical celebrations.  That's a very worldly way to judge this pontificate, it is very much how we treat politicians and celebrities - it is not how God judges.  Clearly, it is an attempt to shame Pope Francis.  Shame is good, however, especially for a Jesuit Pope, as Francis made clear: "we must also remember that shame is also a very Ignatian grace." 

The Holy Father's message to the Jesuits in Chile is very revealing of how aware he is of all the hostility there is towards this pontificate. 

There are doctrinal resistances. But for my mental health, I do not read the websites of this so-called “resistances”. I know who they are, I know the groups, but I do not read them simply for my mental health. They tell me when there is something very serious, so that I am informed about it. It is regrettable, but we need to move forward. When I perceive resistance, I try to talk, when dialogue is possible; but some resistance comes from people who believe they have the true doctrine and accuse you of being heretical. When I find no spiritual goodness in these people, for what they say or write, I simply pray for them. I feel sorry, but I will not dwell on this feeling for my mental health. 
On Amoris laetitia, the exhortation dedicated to marriage and the family, the Pope said, “I believe that one of the things the Church needs most today - and this is very clear in Amoris laetitia’s pastoral perspectives and objectives - is discernment. We are used to “you can or cannot”. I, too, have received during my formation this way of thinking “so far we can, so far we cannot. I don’t know if you remember that Colombian Jesuit who came to teach us morals at the Collegio Massimo; when he talked about the sixth commandment, one dared to ask the question: “Can fiancées kiss each other? If they could kiss each other! Do you understand? And he said, “Yes, they can! There is no problem!They just need to put a handkerchief between them. This is a mindset of “doing theology” in general. A mindset based on limits. And we bear the consequences of this”. - Vatican Insider

As an aside, the Holy Father's anecdote regarding fiances kissing through a handkerchief to illustrate a theology based on limits - or how far you could go without sinning, is something people my age are probably familiar with.  For example, as a kid, our pastor always asked the boys in confession if 'touching ourselves' resulted in 'complete self-abuse?'  I had no idea what that meant and I asked one of my friends - he said that Father explained it to him pretty much as follows: 'If you have an orgasm, it's a mortal sin, but you can do it up until that point, and it's only a venial sin.'   It seems pretty ridiculous now.


  1. A lot of the Italian girls I knew when I was growing up would do just about everything with their boyfriends except intercourse. So technically they were virgins but really...I always felt it was dishonest. I was also a little in awe of their self control. The kissing through the handkerchief made me laugh - wonder if the Duggars indulge in that when the TV cameras are off????

  2. I relate to the Holy Father's commentary about staying away from websites of resistance who believe they hold the true doctrine since for me not only was it detrimental to my mental health, but it was especially poison to my spiritual health and growth.

    I hope to remember these folks in my prayers especially this time of Lent.

    Viva il Papa!

  3. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Maybe I misunderstood, but it seems like you are equating unpopularity with holiness? I feel like you yourself are using a worldly standard to judge the holy father: he is unpopular, therefore he must be doing something right. Actually, we are all judged by the love we have for God and neighbor, and the good we do with our gifts. It is impossible for us to judge the inward love someone is experiencing, but as for good done with their gifts, it is easier. With his gifts, Pope Francis has sown: confusion (over Church doctrine), anger (over coverup for pedophile abuse). No other saint of whom I am aware has been marked by these particular fruits. Saints are marked by the traits of the divine, so truth and beauty are the fruits of their lives. My family also prays a rosary daily for the holy father.

    1. Nope. Not saying that at all. I'm just pointing out that the Holy Father's critics seem to use all too human, worldly standards to shore up their dislike of the Pope - which is exactly why they publish anything and everything unflattering as well as his perceived mistakes. I'm definitely not calling the Holy Father a saint, neither do I call him a liar or a hypocrite or one who causes confusion. He has not changed Catholic doctrine, and as far as providing a coverup for pedophile abuse, that is simply an unverified allegation related to the Chile situation. I have no way, no interest in judging Pope Francis' interior dispositions or interior life, though I certainly do see great good in his pastoral works and guidance, and I am edified by his devotion. Again, my point in this post was to show how even devout Catholics often judge from an all too human standpoint-perception, rather than humbly trusting God, who judges everything much more differently than ourselves. Though I am repeating myself, one sees this well exemplified in the wrong-headed conclusions of many pious souls who predicted or at least warned about imminent catastrophe for the Fatima Centenary, and before that, for the year 2000.

      I think it is safe to say we all lack humility in our assessment of our superiors and the confusion disseminated by their critics and enemies. Our obedience is to follow the teachings of the Church and keep the commandments, and strive daily to accomplish the duties of our state in life with devotion and faith. We have in ourselves so much which is needful of conversion and the mercy of God, how can we even begin to judge a Pope? As St. John of the Cross wrote regarding private revelations and prophecy, "It is impossible for someone unspiritual to judge and understand the things of God correctly; and one is not spiritual if one judges them literally." I think something - within my conscience at least, prevents me from any judgement against the Pope. I see him in complete continuity with his predecessors. He is Christ's Vicar and God alone may judge him. Perhaps his 'peers' (bishops) might judge him, if they have the insight and wisdom, the evidence and cause to do so - but that is not my job. Likewise, history and the world will have its say when the time comes, but until them, I place all my trust in Christ.

  4. "How far you can go without sinning..."
    That handkerchief anecdote takes the cake...

    Thanks for a moment of hilarity, Terry.

    Balance, balance, balance.

    How to retain the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ without becoming crazy and ridiculous. Not always easy, in our days. Perhaps never was.

  5. I've been reading a biography of St. Athanasius when many of the popes were Arian. I think it was Cardinal Burke who compared our time to that one. The world woke up and found itself Arian as I think St. Jerome said. Are there no legitimate reasons to be concerned about this pontificate? Is none of the resistance legitimate?

  6. I think you meant 'when many of the bishops were Arian'. Athanasius was united to the Pope and was approved by him. The Arian heresy was also a time of general corruption. Yep, Card. Burke and Bishop Schneider have compared our times to that period, as have traditionalist who rejected VII - I've heard it said many times, especially to impugn 'Novus Ordo' bishops and priests and attack VII.

    I suppose there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about any papacy - many were concerned about Paul VI and JPII - libs and conservatives - and they are both saints now. I'm not sure concern over this papacy is channeled appropriately. Comparing our times to the Arian heresy may have some merit, but that is something the bishops need to address, guided by the Pope of course. Lay pundits and commentators feed off the division and sensationalize problems based on hearsay and gossip, in some cases, fake news. The inadvertently aid and abet the enemies of the Church. When you read some of the bishops who express concerns, they in no way denigrate the Holy Father - their reporters and interviewers do that.

    Thanks for your sincere question - it's really not for me to answer, but I wanted to give you my opinion-perspective. The issue is really something to ask your confessor about. God bless! :)

  7. The handkerchief line was about the last thing that I expected. Gold!

    In regards to 'touching oneself': I'm no expert (lol), but there is victory to be sure in someone who might have begun to do so but ceased and cooled off in order to not continue offending God. I'm thinking perhaps of someone in a moment of moral apathy deliberately pouring a glass of wine on a Friday in Lent, but then throwing it down the sink.


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