Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Loggorhea flows into the Tiber

UPDATE 1: The reliability of the reported words of the pope discussed in this post has been cast into doubt without being completely denied. See my comments on this here.

UPDATE 2: The interview of the pope referred to in this piece has now been removed from the pages of the Vatican website. What is extraordinary is that it was ever there in the first place.


I announced translation errors in the English version of Francis's latest interview this morning, but since then I have barely had a moment to myself, and I now see that others have picked up what the The Sensible Bond's Italian language department (aka Mrs Ches) noticed as soon as she looked at it. On reflection, the translation errors, while dissatisfying, were not too heinous. Unfortunately - for those who are so inclined - neither can they be cited as proof that Francis has been misunderstood (although the bit about Christ being 'incarnate in the souls of men' definitely set off some alarm bells). Anyway, he hasn't been misunderstood (such that his meaning is now clear). Things are as unclear as ever. The interview today confirmed everything that I have been wondering about over the last ten days, and brought other matters into sharper focus.

Don't worry, this won't be a long one. With three children aged 2-and-under to care for and a busy job to boot, I've been burning the midnight oil a bit too much since last Friday. On the other hand, if any one of the 10,000 visitors I have had since last week wants to pay me to do this twice a week, I'm open to negotiations!


So, who would have thunk it? Another interview from Pope Francis. Another procession of apparently liberal-coded statements. And, again, another scramble in quarters far and wide to assure us that he didn't really mean what we fear he might have meant. It's like some ghastly groundhog day movie, isn't it? You just finish analysing and questioning the implications of one papal interview, and the very next day, damn it, there's another one in the press!

To be honest with you, I believe that when you sit down and compare the claims and assertions of these different interviews, the picture that emerges is one of chaotic, not to say incoherent, persiflage. For example,(he says in this latest interview ), if everyone followed what they thought was the Good, that in itself would make the world a better place... Do I actually need to explain the subjectivist fantasy that claim implies? Well, perhaps I do. When the Church says not to interfere with the conscience, she is not saying that the outcomes will be positive in the social order. A man must obey his conscience by natural law (unless he senses or knows it to be wrong) but how can it escape the pope that people do some wicked things for the sake of conscience? The fact that one chooses t do something conscionably does not provide some immunity against the outcome.

But like I said yesterday, Francis is - wittingly or unwittingly, I know not - using a liberal code which genuflects to all the liberal pieties. How else, for example, could one explain his extraordinary claim in this interview that proselytism is 'solemn nonsense'? The Pope's sermon yesterday (thanks Rorate) talks a lot about Mission, so surely we must interpret this remark favourably. Nevertheless, in the same interview, while ruling out proselytism, what Francis never seems to rule in is conversion. The point is, even if he wants outsiders to convert, this coded language will be taken as a signal by ecclesial relativists. Moreover, at the same time, he insists that the Church is only there trying to spread a lot of love (principally to help the youth employment situation and lonely old folk). And there was me thinking it had something to do with God (and it does, but you wouldn't get that from this interview ...). I mean, he does not even express the hope that maybe one day Scalfari and his readers might encounter Christ. Honestly, if he thinks this represents good tactics, he really has no antennae for how the liberals will interpret him internally.

Fr Z, bless him for his links, was today vainly trying to explain away this morass of ill-formed thoughts by referring to the context: what else do you expect the pope to say in a secular newspaper? I can't wait to see Francis's interview in Playboy (not that I subscribe; I'm sure it will be released in a safe pdf download at some point). But, okay, let's address the point. If you want context, almost the first thing that Francis tells this secular newspaper journalist is that he does not want to convert him (and now we're back to that again!). Don't tell me conversion is only sought by strong-arm proselytism!

Can it mean that he doesn't want to bring the man to Christ? Doesn't he want to illuminate his soul with the truths of the faith? Is every attempt to convert someone to be seen now only as a kind of wicked colonial imposition? If the pope cannot admit to his desire to see an unbeliever convert, even in a secular newspaper, who on earth can? I noticed some people cheering yesterday at the fact that the pope told this man that he did indeed have a soul. Would it really have overstepped the mark to have told him what this implied? But hang on, he did. And what he said about souls sounds frankly bizarre. Here's the purple passage itself:

"From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us. In the letter I wrote to you, you will remember I said that our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls and it will all be in everyone."

Heavens, I think I must have missed this last proposition when reading the catechism. What in blazes in that supposed to mean? Some people are saying that in this interview, Francis the pastor gets down with the atheist kids and talks to them in their own language. But nobody talks like this, do they? Unfortunately, here is where the language becomes code, both by being obscure and by evoking liberal theses. Even if Francis would actually like to bring his interlocutor to Christ - and this last quote seems to imply his interlocutor will end up as Christ's whether he wants it or not - there are quite a few liberal Catholics who would not bother. And, for them, Francis's language is simply bound to legitimize, reinforce and in all other ways promote what is essentially a current of relativism inside the Church, according to which God will save everyone at the end, and for now we can crack on and talk about love. No need for any other unpleasantness, unless you really want to (and in which case, the outcome won't be that different anyway because God's light will be 'all in everyone' at the end). Am I being harsh, dear reader? Perhaps I need a new dictionary.


What was even worse in today's interview - worse than the liberal code stuff - was the avowed intention for reform. Here are the chilling words in which it was couched:

"Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something."

Very little done, eh? Has he never heard of Assisi? Oh, yes ... er, scratch that. But really, I'm most perturbed here by the last sentence: I have the humility and ambition to want to do something. You mean unlike your predecessors, Holy Father? Were Buddhas on Assisi tabernacles and prayers in the Blue Mosque not enough of a farce to spread the message of Christ's sacrifice? Has this experiment not already been tried and found to explode in the Catholic face? I merely ask for clarification.

But, when we consider how he will change the Church, we have to hear what one commentator called the dog whistles. For this reason, I was intrigued that the pope mentioned the late Cardinal Martini twice in the interview. If we have any doubts about whether this was just window dressing, just reread the interview that Martini gave before his death last year. The only question for me is just how much of Martini's programme does Francis want to carry out.


Lastly, when you look towards the end of this interview, what strikes one is the utter banality of his final tour de force (ou de faiblesse, tiens?) wherein he tries to sum up the fruits of his dialogue with the journalist in the following words:

"We have made a step forward in our dialogue. We have observed that in society and the world in which we live selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself."

Crikey, I think to myself. Is that it? Have we got no further here than we might have got by listening to John Lennon's Imagine? I apologise in advance but I just have to say it. This is such patently flaky sentimentalism that it borders unintentionally on the satirical. The pope likes to call the traditionally minded Pelagians but I cannot help detecting a current of Pelagianism myself in this uber-optimistic appraisal of what men can do if they just love each other. You know the game is up when in fact something has gone beyond satire.


It's now gone past 12.30am and I'm losing the will to live, so let me sum up. As much as this interview is a ridiculous exercise, it risks, nevertheless, provoking dangerous fallout. Francis has started to put out the signals - wittingly or unwittingly, I know not - and like wildebeests bellowing out in reply across the savannas of the Church, the liberals are already answering the code. Timothy Radcliffe O.P has broken cover in America magazine to call for communion for the divorced and remarried. I fully expect there to be more interventions of this kind in the next few days.

A second reaction I expect from this interview is that some will continue to strain the limits of interpretation on Francis's chaotic and incoherent pronouncements, so as to ensure that these are reconciled with orthodox belief. It is very well intentioned, and I applaud the sentiment, but I believe it is ultimately unhelpful. Of course we must be attentive to the duties which our piety towards the office of pope imposes. But we cannot be ignorant of history. We cannot just ignore the appalling implications of his words. This tactic is called nailing your trousers to the masts, as fans of Sir Humphrey Appleby know. Of course, the trouble with nailing your trousers to the mast (as opposed to your colours) is that it becomes rather difficult to climb down again. I mention this in a monitory fashion to those of that persuasion.

And lastly, don't expect to see an open reaction from hierarchs who think Francis is out of control. Nobody will break ranks openly. But neither should we underestimate what could be happening behind the scenes. I'm not joking: this interview is utterly frightful in its implications, and nobody with a mitre and a conscience can afford to ignore the most frightful of its implications.

So, that's me done. What on earth is he going to do next? Who knows? Probably another bloody interview!

Let us pray for the Holy Father of course!

Now, how about a lullaby to see us to bed? I thought so ...


Watcher said...

I found your site over the weekend, and found your page about leaving the SSPX milieu most helpful!
The Pope's interviews puzzled me too, but I've decided to listen to what he says.
It occurred to me that he is giving us a demonstration of "dialogue" that I don't think the other post-conciliar Popes have done.
There is some value in this, as I've found that when talking with others about faith I can make assumptions about my discussion partners that are either incorrect or incomplete. Taking the time to listen and ask questions does create a more convivial atmosphere, even if the other person doesn't agree with me.
But did you notice that when Francis asked Scalfari what he believed in, he responded "Being"? I was reminded of "I am Who am..." maybe he's not so far away? I think Francis knows what he's doing - he's going after the lost sheep. He's like Paul on the Areopagus, if I may be so bold.
May I suggest that we pray not only for Francis, but that Dr Scalfari receive the gift of faith?

Liam Ronan said...

"What's the buzz? Tell me what's happenin'?" - 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Thanks for the pointed insights and the Lennon clip.

"And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make." - The End, Beatles, Abbey Road

Strange days indeed.

Mithrandylan said...

What's all this talk of 'implications?' The implications of this, the implications of that... There are no 'implications' about saying that The Good varies from person to person, and that we all must strive for the good as we conceive it. That does not IMPLY moral relativism, that IS moral relativism. If I drive down the street and my wheel falls off while I'm driving, me watching the wheel roll away while I grind to a halt does not IMPLY that my wheel fell off, it's already off.

Furthermore, I have seen many a person address this article today and fail to address the heretical and blasphemous statement that "there is no Catholic God." I know that there are a lot of errors, heresies and blasphemies in the article, but I think this one stands alone. The only implications from that statement are that Francis is a pantheist, or a polytheist, or maybe even an atheist, who knows.

In any event, it would be good to avoid using vague adjectives to describe things that already have apt labels to assign them to. Saying that The Good is subjective is moral relativism, and is necessarily a rejection of moral objectivism. Saying that God is an inward spark within the soul of man is modernism. Saying there is no Catholic God is a blasphemy. Saying that Christ became incarnate in the souls of men to instill a feeling of brotherhood is heresy, and freemasonic.

Ches said...

Not even the Holy Office under Ottaviani drew conclusions about Teilhard's faith. I think we need to avoid thinking we can do so with Francis, especially since neither me nor you (I assume) have any responsibility in that field.

As for the Catholic God remark, I guess he is trying to undermine the idea that Catholicism is another kind of particularism. I would say its implications are by most standards pretty outlandish. But I wouldn't say it's blasphemous.

JMichaela said...

What is the correct interpretation of how as fully faithful Catholics, we are to see the Pope? St. Catherine of Siena called him Sweet Christ on Earth. Yet when we look at Church history we learn about bad and immoral Popes and then we are told they were only infallible when speaking ex cathedra. I am finding it hard to reconcile these options. I am a child of Benedict XVI and had great love for the life and writings of his predecessor by extension. I think I have erred towards St. Catherine’s take on the Papacy, but now I’m ashamed to say I am filled with foreboding. If the Pope starts talking like a modernist or a liberation theologian, or even refuting traditional teaching, what are we to do? Is this a moral impossibility? I would like to know the teaching. The Holy Spirit permitted the Borgias to continue in their scandalous ways, but we always hear they never taught against Tradition. Does that only refer to their ex cathedra statements, or is it conceivable that a Pope in an interview or in ecclesial decisions could say something that requires of the faithful a change on the level of doctrine? Forgive me, if the Holy Spirit won’t permit it.

Lynda said...

It's past time, people stopped the mental contortions, which is intellectual dishonesty, to try to conform some of the Pope's statements to the doctrine of the Faith. As I've said before, the Pope's statements ought to be examined at face value - they ought to stand or fall on their own. No more dishonest use of extraneous information to try to reinterpret them, rather than allow the normal, ordinary meaning to stand. How easily people appear to be intimidated into throwing up their rational faculties! The denial of the true meaning of what the Pope has said on several occasions is not of God. It should also be noted that the Pope chose to give these interviews to specific people, this latest the atheist founder of the atheist paper, on a one-to-one basis. He has chosen to communicate his ideas to the whole world in this way, so avoiding any input from other bishops, etc., at the Holy See. There can be no dealing with the crises in the Church if there is no honesty with regard to various things the Pope has chosen to say to the world. People ought to examine what is said without reference to who said it, and ask themselves would they defend these various ideas if stated by anyone else? The analysis of the actual statements must be without regard to who is making them. The fact that it is the Pope is for the secondary analysis of the effect of the statements.

Ches said...

JMichaela, these are awful days to be seeing. I pray for all my readers and I hope they pray for me.

A newspaper interview has no authority whatsoever. The pope is not infallible in every act of the government of the Church. Meanwhile, we know that we have to believe the teachings of the Church as contained in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium (think Councils, principal catechisms, explicitly binding declarations like the one on women's ordination). But you certainly don't need to know what the latest opinion of the pope is.

I was thinking the other day about reading St Catherine's letters. I must get started. One thing is sure: heaven will help us if we ask. As the French say, bon courage.

Lynda, I think it does come from a very good instinct to want to cover the sins of one's father, and also so as not to pose difficult questions the like of which you allude to. That said, I think we have to avoid rigourist readings of Francis's words. We can hold the words to account, but I don't think you can separate this entirely from the speaker.

Unknown said...

As a clinical psychologist and catholic revert who loves and has been absolutely restored by discovering the faith that the Church has always taught through history, until the late 60's and 70's when my Catholic family was destroyed by modernist heresy, I have to say that I think this man, Bergoglio, might be mentally ill. His speech is rambling, almost incoherent, and quasi-illogical; not to mention verging on the delusional, if he is supposed to be a professing Catholic! He is careening into error in his speech, that I find horrifying and extremely distressing as a fairly new revert, struggling to stay in the bounds of Holy Faith as handed down by the Church Immemorial. He is making me feel mentally ill, honestly, and anguish does not begin to describe the pain I am feeling as I try not to panic over what he is saying. Is he diabolically disoriented or what???????

Ches said...

Dear Unknown,

Keep praying, stay close to God. You didn't become a Catholic for Papa Bergoglio in the first place. Let grace take the strain.

A friend of mine suggested he might have hypomanic bipolar disorder. Personally, I suspect he's probably a lot like your average Argentinian with Italian blood!

Aimè Foinprè said...

Am I the only one who sees what he is saying in the tradition of Saint Augustine, Saint John Henry Newman, DeLubac and Maritain?

Ches said...

Mithrandylan, I published your comment at first, but then I thought that since you class me with Voris and Akin, that you probably won't be wasting your time here any longer.

Manifest heresy is not necessarily a subjective condition so how you leap from that assertion to damnation for the pope, I have no idea. Still, no doubt I'm wasting my breath. Pray for us sinners, eh?

Ches said...

Aime, yes, I think you might be. But why do you say that?

Tony fro Oz said...


I note in a recent post apropos the papal interview you state: "some who, because Francis has said certain things, are even calling him a modernist. I have no idea whether he is or whether he isn't".

REALLY?! I'm amazed that
such a sharp mind would say that. Francis is, of course, a TEXTBOOK Modernist. Take any number of passages from Pascendi, line them up against
his statements and - Voila - neo-Modernist! Just like Benedict and JPII
before him.

I don't know why people are afraid to say it. It doesn't mean these Popes are "FORMAL heretics". Just that they mouth "MATERIAL heresies."

It's not shocking to say it.

John XXII obviously held a materially heretical view of
the beatific vision, right up to his deathbed. I'm sure there are other papal examples. The "synthesis of all heresies" just makes it more likely that modern popes, trained and formed under neo-Modernism, will hold to
material heresies. Hence they constantly say something orthodox in one breath, and liberal or questionable or incomprehensible in the next; just as Pius X explained in Pascendi.

All very depressing, but allowable against the extreme minimalist, non-binding end of the Richter scale of papal utterances. Scandalous in terms of papal leadership, though it be.

Tony from Oz

ATDP said...

Here is a question I struggle with: what is wrong with Martini's idea that the divorced be re-admitted to Holy Communion, assuming that they have gone to Confession? If people abandon their marriages, can't they be forgiven? People abandon their children (abortion) and the Church gives them absolution if they confess.

the Savage said...

The business about all of us having a "spark of divine light" is a central doctrine of Gnosticism. To be fair, it is also found in various forms of Christian neoplatonism and mysticism which are more easily reconciled with orthodoxy, but this is a very troubling statement to hear on the lips of the Supreme Pontiff. The idea that the divine light will come to pervade all souls when our species comes to an end sounds at best Teilhardian and seems to discount the resurrection of the body.

And as for "in society and the world in which we live selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself," as you point out, the Beatles got there first and more eloquently: "In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."

EuropeanCatholic said...

I am 35 and my years have been spent reading and observing the two great Popes of recent times, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

I am basically ultramontane in my devotion to the Papacy.

But the pontificate of Pope Francis has been a disaster so far. The role of Peter is to strengthen his brothers in the faith. Pope Francis sows confusion and doubt.

Pope Francis' comment 'I have the humility and the ambition ..." is frankly terrifying.

I am wondering at which point we write off this pontificate and simply baton down the hatches and wait for another one.

Oh how I wish our beloved Pope Benedict had now left us.

How did it all come to this????

Ches said...

TONY - You are right that in theory we can bandy these categories about more freely than my remarks allowed, but in the concrete, I've never seen it done without causing more heat than light.

ATDP - good question, I hope this answer is sound.

The bond of marriage is perpetual until death. If a marriage breaks down, the sociological and legal entity of the marriage might have gone but the sacramental or natural marriage bond remains since it is perpetual in nature; in other words, from the point of view of natural and divine law, one remains married and cannot marry again if one's (legally ex) spouse is still alive. I think that to do so is gravely sinful, regardless of whether the second relationship is consummated (though I would have to check that).

Now, if I am guilty of grave sin, I cannot receive Holy Communion until that sin is forgiven. But, if a person is determined to remain under sinful conditions (sinful because contrary to the bond of the first marriage), neither can they celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In a sense, the problem is not to get the remarried to the communion rails; it is to get them to the confessional and to resolve their circumstances.

There are other questions here like whether such a couple in a second marriage could remain under the same roof but life like sister and brother. You need to ask a really orthodox priest like Fr Tim Finigan about things like that. I have no idea.

Does that help?

the Savage - 'the Beatles got there first' - how very true!

EuropeanCatholic- Spoken like Theoden! How DID it come to this?

Sancte Alphonsus said...

I think there are strong reactions to the Pope's interviews by Catholics because we have all to one extent or the other imbibed the modern error of 'Papolotry.' As faithful Catholics we want to be able to reconcile what the Pope has said with the traditional teachings of the Church and we end up turning looney trying to accomplish it. The simple fact is this Pope is the fruit of the previous Popes - they're all cut from the same cloth, whatever that might be. The sooner we can acknowledge there will be no help from Rome the sooner we can walk on our own two feet and man up to the situation.

By the grace of God we know the traditional teachings and disciplines of the Church. Now we make use of them to sanctify ourselves and our loved ones and focus less on the Pope or others. We hold the course of Catholic Tradition while the whirlpool of novelty swirls in these catastrophic times.

Unknown said...

"Unknown" the psychologist here for ATDP:
As a person who married outside the church while I was flailing away in hinduism and the freaky type of pantheistic gnosticism that the Pope does seem to be somewhat wrecklessly endorsing, once back inside the barque my husband had to get annulment of his first marriage (for which he had serious, not frivolous grounds)and then we had our marriage convalidated, basically blessed by the church, before he was received into the church. Only at that point (after the convalidation) could I receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion because he had refused to live as brother and sister while we waited two years for the annulment. Then he suddenly left me and our six children about a year later for a very young woman. I, luckily because I had studied what the True Church teaches about marriage, have not really had that much trouble not leaping into a new "relationship" and certainly not into a second marriage, because I would NEVER give up the Eucharist, because I actually believe in transubstantiation...It is only because I taught myself the faith by reading truly Catholic (traditional) classic books and the Catechism that I learned about the indissolubility of the bond, and the Real Presence etc. Catechesis in general and belief in the Real Presence have been so watered down since the late 60's that one almost can't blame people who, in ignorance, get into second (but third and fourth?) marriages. However, for those of us who have been given the gift of faith to remain true to the actual marriage vows, even though we've been abandoned by a person, the blessings are unimaginable. As Ches said, one cannot be readmitted to the sacraments unless one has stopped living in a second marriage conjugally, because it is basically the sin of adultery. One cannot receive absolution unless one fully INTENDS to "sin no more" to quote someone that Papa B forgot to tell his atheist friend about...If a person ceases from the sexual union in the second marriage they could be readmitted to the Sacraments but most people are not going to do that. The problem is that we need to reach those divorced Catholics before they jump into second marriages and help them understand Whom they would be giving up (Jesus himself.)I thank God every day that my priest knew the true Church teaching enough to guide me through this situation. What if I had had a priest like the one who was my confirmation sponsor back in the 80's when I "almost" came back to the faith...that guy never even explained that I could not go to communion, not to mention receive confirmation, as I lived in a state of constant mortal sin with my various serially monogamous relationships! I had sacriligeous communions to confess once I learned the real, beautiful truth about what the Church teaches. I thank God that He gave me the gift of desiring OBEDIENCE to Him and Holy Church when I came back in 2006. I'm staying here with my Jesus now, and if my spouse should ever repent and return, I would work toward reconciliation; I have forgiven him.
Sorry for rambling...I think its time I got involved in ministry to the divorced before the Pope changes the "rules," er, I mean changes the TRUTH..I think it is a real risk.

Ches said...

Unknown, could I feature your comment on the home page of the blog, rather than just here in the comments? I think it's one of the best comments I have ever had on any post!

ATDP said...

Thank you, Ches and Unknown. These comments do help.

It does come down to fidelity and obedience, doesn't it? Funny, when those virtues die, we are guilted into a position of needing to alter the Truth so as to be pastoral. Somehow, that is harsh or uncaring or unrealistic. But no more harsh than Christ Himself was, it seems to me.

Aimè Foinprè said...


Saint Augustine reminds us in the city of God that as He is the best creator of good wills, He is also a most just exploiter of evil ones. Also, as Saint Augustine is quoted by Pascal in his Pensees: "There is sufficient clearness to enlighten the elect, and sufficient obscurity to humble them. There is sufficient obscurity to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to condemn them and make them inexcusable." So in light of Augustine, Newman, in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk says, "The celebrated school, known as the Salmanticenses, or Carmelites of Salamanca, lays down the broad proposition, that conscience is ever to be obeyed whether it tells truly or erroneously, and that, whether the error is the fault of the person thus erring or not...Of course, if a man is culpable in being in error, which he might have escaped, had he been more in earnest, for that error he is answerable to God, but still he must act according to that error, while he is in it, because he in full sincerity thinks the error to be truth." Newman cites Fr Busenbaum S.J.: "When men who have been brought up in heresy, are persuaded from boyhood that we impugn and attack the word of God, that we are idolators, pestilent deceivers, and therefore are to be shunned as pests, they cannot, while this persuasion lasts, with a safe conscience, hear us." He also citesthe celebrated casuist Cardinal Gousset, "The Divine Law is the supreme rule of actions; our thoughts, desires, words, acts, all that man is, is subject to the domain of the law of God; and this law is the rule of our conduct by means of our conscience. Hence it is never lawful to go against our conscience; as the Fourth Lateran Council says, 'Quid fit contra conscientiam, edificat ad gehennam.'" Finally Newman goes on to observe that "conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility; which is engaged in general propositions, and in the condemnation of particular and given errors."

His Holiness seems to be intimating that all must follow their conscience since our conscience dictates our conduct and our conduct (per Newman and Augustine among others) is ultimately in God's hands to move as and when he chooses, not ours. His Holiness has no qualms about who he encourages because he's a Jesuit ;), but more seriously, he is trying to get Augustine's point across. Those who hear will hear because God decreed it so; those who take comfort in his words for their own sinful behaviors merely refuse to listen and they will always have a thousand excuses for condemning themselves. I think Pascal said it best in his Provincial Letters when he said something along the lines of the true religion being the one which chastises the righteous into humility while providing comfort and understanding to the reprobate for their future condemnation. I am of the understanding that this is Maritain's chief proposition.

As for DeLubac, I am sure you know by now of the then Card. Bergoglio citing his idea of spiritual worldliness as a great evil befalling the Church. I see his point and agree that there is a problem on all sides which attempts to mar the catholicity of the Church and turn her into a factional club. On this last point, I understood you to have the same concern from reading the majority of your wonderful posts. Finally, the liberal code language problem you raise is an interesting idea, but I have gone on long enough and should end this here.

Ttony said...

I suppose the novelty is learning to treat the Pope's obiter dicta in the same way we've been treating those of Fr Faithless each Sunday in his sermon: we have spent 30 years thinking that at least what the Pope says makes sense, and now have to realise that the Bishop of Rome can be as curious in his choice of words as any Bishop of a diocese in England and Wales. Can I blame the Prussians for invading France in 1870 and cutting off Vatican I?

Ches said...

Ttony - spot on as always. And, yes, while we're at it, let's blame the Prussians!

Aime - thanks for your very thoughtful comment. I'm sure that in the end Papa Bergoglio's view on conscience can probably be reconciled with this tradition. The problem is that he cannot express himself clearly or, frankly, coherently. The problem is also that he speaks as if nobody ever should say anything that might be construed as coercive of conscience. It makes one wonder truly how he copes with Jesus' comments on hell and the possibility of damnation.

Finally, yes, I am very sensitive to the drama of factionalism. Having read a lot of René Girard (and disagreed with a lot too), I find his understanding of how parties become rivals often repeated both in political and ecclesiastical life.

denis said...

Some of these comments are as funny as Eccles and bosco ! Keep it up.
Father Francis is for me a refreshing breath of air.

Ches said...

Unknown, I have emailed you. Can you confirm you received or resend the address to me? Maybe I didn't type it correctly.

Elizabeth Dunn said...

Unknown I think you have a def. vocation for ministry to the divorced. Such faith!I beg you to follow it. The Church needs you.

File said...

Look, the Pope's interviews are interviews, a way of getting to know the interviewer more personally and of revealing the human side of the poep. There are not papal bulls, or stateents of dogma, or anything else. As for hsi remarks on personal conscience, the correct meaning of what he was saying is this: most people in modern society do not follow their conscience; if more of them did, the world would be a better place because more good/less evil would be done. He was NOT saying that all anyone has to do is to follow their personal conscience.

Unknown said...

1. POPE (the gist of what we think he probably said): if everyone followed what they thought was the Good, that in itself would make the world a better place

2. SENSIBLE BOND: … subjectivist fantasy … When the Church says not to interfere with the conscience, she is not saying that the outcomes will be positive in the social order. A man must obey his conscience by natural law … but how can it escape the pope that people do some wicked things for the sake of conscience? The fact that one chooses to do something conscionably does not provide some immunity against the outcome.”

3. ME: But nor does the actual choice between doing what one considers (perhaps wrongly) to be good or doing what one considers (perhaps wrongly) to be evil have no social relevance. Quite the opposite, it’s actually a key determinant of “sinfulness” in the formal sense.

4. JEFF MIRUS: Now it is a basic reality of human nature that each person yearns for the Good and perceives some aspects of it; each person inescapably has his own vision of the Good; and each person is morally bound to pursue the Good insofar as he knows it. Moreover, it is also true that if every person would follow his own vision of the good, however imperfect it may be, this would (as the Pope affirmed) “be enough to make the world a better place.” It would certainly be better than denying that the Good exists (it is this denial, and not mere mistakes about what is true, that constitutes relativism) or preferring one’s own self-interest and desires to what one actually knows to be good.

5. ME: The above dualistic opposition between “natural law” and “positive outcomes in the social order” is to place “disjointed” thinking (the Pope’s term) at the foundation of our vision of man. The Pope wants to change that and “deepen and develop Church teaching”. Let’s not let the fact that he may appear somewhat inchoate make us ignore the likelihood of his core message of the successor of St Peter being providential. Church teaching has been so undermined in recent centuries, not least by underdeveloped presentation of Church doctrines. After centuries of our having failed to stop the cultural deconstruction of the Christian vision, it’s not a bad idea to start rebuilding upon the human experience of the fundamental distinction of good and evil, to be respectively followed and fought.

Fr Hugh MacKenzie

Ches said...

With respect, File, how on earth can someone do objective good in the world if they do something objectively evil, even though they are convinced subjectively that they are doing something good?

Ches said...

Fr MacKenzie, thank you for your comment.

I confess I do no wear the inchoate nature of Pope Francis's interventions quite with the ease that you infer I should. As for whether it is dualistic to distinguish natural law and positive outcomes, surely what is dualistic is to separate the ontological and the ethical good. If we cannot do evil that good may result, surely we cannot imagine that good will result from what is ontologically evil (regardless of an agent's conscience), except by some accidental cause, or divine intervention.

Ultimately, it just seems to be offering a hostage to fortune. The problem, as I see it, is not that people no longer believe in right and wrong, but that they do not accept what Christianity and often the natural law propose as right or wrong. Thus, the problem is not whether we should choose good or evil, but whether our choosing should be shaped by anything outside of ourselves.

A conscionable act only disposes us to receive grace; that that grace might come (and improve man's lot) in spite of the evil effects of what we have done is surely one of the lessons of history seen from a Christian perspective.

Carl Grillo said...

The private morality of any Pope is not protected by the charism of infallibility - Popes are not impeccable - however; the public relation of the Pope to the teaching of the universal Church is protected in the sense that if he teaches heresy - even materially - as a "private theologian" - which is what Francis is doing by his "off the cuff" statements; he "ipso facto" loses the Pontificate. Cardinal Billot in his theological treatise De Ecclesia states that: "...the Roman Pontiff is the proximate rule of faith for the universal Church [proxima regula fidei];" if he falls into heresy as a private theologian [because he cannot define heresy when he speaks ex cathedra]; he loses the Pontificate. A heretic cannot be the proximate rule of Catholic faith and morals if he publicly denies this rule; which, being public Revelation [whether by Scripture or Tradition] is easily known by all, "...even in the present condition of the human race." [cf. Vatican I, Const. Dog., De Revelatione; and Vatican II, Const. Dog., Dei Verbum, Proemium.]

Ches said...

Cardinal Billot provides the authority for your main premise but does he also corroborate your deduction? I mean, does he also say that because the Roman Pontiff is the proximate rule of faith for the Church, then all the popes who in history have privately held heresy have thus lost the pontificate (e.g. John XXII)? I'm betting he doesn't.