What's With Pope Francis?

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Cosima___J
Posts: 1486
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:38 pm
Location: Georgia

What's With Pope Francis?

Post by Cosima___J » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:05 pm

One minute he's sounding like big changes are coming in terms of Catholic beliefs. Then he throws cold water on that idea. He wants to welcome Catholics back into the fold who believe in abortions, gay rights etc. But then he states that Catholic doctrine hasn't changed. Are priests going to continue preaching against the "sins", but happily hear the confessions of parishioners who have committed these "sins" and intend to keep on committing these "sins". I'm confused.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:37 pm

You are right to be confused. There are two kinds of popes: the warm fuzzy kind who affirm church moral teaching but don't crack down in its enforcement, and the ones who actually take the teaching seriously to the point of purging the clergy of dissenters and branding the dissenting faithful as imperfect Catholics. To complicate matters, the nasty second type still does nothing actively to drive away dissenting faithful because that would mean losing the prestige of the church's huge membership of record, and in some countries such as the US and Germany a lot of money as well.

Of the popes we have had since this dichotomy became operative, Paul VI (yes, really) and Francis have been the first type, while JP II and Benedict have been the second type. There's nothing to prevent the next pope from reverting to type 2.

All of this comes under the umbrella of moral teaching, which is of course a form of doctrine. The other kind of teaching, dogmatic faith-based doctrine, remains constant and creates no controversy at all. No Catholic of any stripe has a problem with believing that Mary was conceived without sin and assumed body and soul into heaven, because affirming belief in such a doctrine has no relevance to human life. It is the area in which the Church claims moral authority over the actions of people that is causing at least half of the problems

Then don't get me started on the other half, the part that constitutes neither moral teaching nor dogma, but church discipline (e.g., celibate clergy). Yes, Cosima, you are very right to be confused. Welcome to the club.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:52 pm

I think the pope's message is for clergy not to make a continuing public issue of the church's opposition to birth control, homosexuality, etc., not to be openly hostile and thereby drive people away from the church. As a practical matter, I suppose the worst punishment the church could impose on those who cross its doctrinal lines would be excommunication, though I could be wrong. With the pope's mention of mercy, he might be nudging Catholic clergy not to do this. But I wouldn't expect policy announcements to follow immediately on the pope's stating his mind in an informal newspaper interview. I believe that would be done formally in one or more encyclicals, addressed to all the bishops of the church or more broadly to the world.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:59 pm

John F wrote:I think the pope's message is for clergy not to make a continuing public issue of the church's opposition to birth control, homosexuality, etc., not to be openly hostile and thereby drive people away from the church. As a practical matter, I suppose the worst punishment the church could impose on those who cross its doctrinal lines would be excommunication, though I could be wrong.
I certainly hope his authority no longer extends beyond that. :) However, that does raise the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics, who are still automatically excommunicated. That's a sensitive area that hasn't come out yet in any interviews.
With the pope's mention of mercy, he might be nudging Catholic clergy not to do this. But I wouldn't expect policy announcements to follow immediately on the pope's stating his mind in an informal newspaper interview. I believe that would be done formally in one or more encyclicals, addressed to all the bishops of the church or more broadly to the world.
The sense I'm getting is that Francis will be reluctant to issue any formal doctrinal affirmations at all. But, like Paul VI with Humanae Vitae (birth control), he may be forced to, and I wouldn't expect anything but the hard line from any such document. The difference in terms of consequences for the laity and ordinary clergy will always be in the pope's style, not the substance.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by RebLem » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:09 pm

I think one of the important things to keep in mind is something which seems counterintuitive to many. And that is that the Catholic Church is the most American of religions. One thing Catholics learn from childhood is that the Catholic Church is the one, true, holy, and catholic (universal) and apostolic church, and that it is the best road to salvation. That belief is so strong that when people like Benedict XVI say they would like dissenters to leave, the dissenters say, "Nothing doing! We believe in the Church, and we are going to stay and fight both for our beliefs and the right to stay in our Church."

This makes Catholicism the most American of churches because that's the way we have traditionally done politics, too. When we got outvoted in primaries or party conventions, the general inclination is to say, "No, I'm not going to leave my party and join the other party or start a new party of my own containing only like-minded people, I'm going to stay and fight for my position within my party."

Protestants, on the other hand, have a more European attitude for religion. Baptists seem especially fractious. Nine different denominations claim to be Lutheran, for example. Whenever there is a controversy within a local Baptist Church over most any issue, like whether to invest in a new organ, or a building program or a social service program, the losers will withdraw from the congregation and go off and start their own church. That's the way Europeans do politics. That's why the small tourist town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with 2,073 citizens, has no less than 6 Baptist Churches.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:33 pm

Today the pope reaffirmed the church's hard doctrine against abortion, which I suppose may have been a reaction to the reaction to his interview from church conservatives. It was in a speech to doctors and therefore was relevant to the context. But as far as I know, he said nothing about the consequences to RC women who actually have abortions. And I wonder how many actually tell their priests, and what happens then.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:11 am

John F wrote:Today the pope reaffirmed the church's hard doctrine against abortion, which I suppose may have been a reaction to the reaction to his interview from church conservatives. It was in a speech to doctors and therefore was relevant to the context. But as far as I know, he said nothing about the consequences to RC women who actually have abortions. And I wonder how many actually tell their priests, and what happens then.
I can tell you what happens then. Any involvement in an abortion (from having one to renting out space for an abortion clinic) incurs an excommunication latae sententiae (an automatic excommunication), which cannot be remitted by a priest after ordinary confession but only by the bishop of the diocese.

Which raises an interesting question. A few years ago I was surprised to see one of my former students from Maryland on a national ad for CVS pharmacies, one of which she now manages. Also, I remember another alumna/pharmacist talking to students on career day (she was in fact the manager of the entire large supermarket that contained the pharmacy so was something of a super-success). I wonder how the church views the faithful working for stores that sell Plan B, not to mention contraceptives.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:57 am

In other words, the women involuntarily excommunicate themselves with no direct action by the church? But if they don't tell their priest, I imagine they could continue to receive holy communion with nobody but themselves the wiser. They might not even realize that they weren't supposed to. Are there any other causes than abortion for this self-excommunication?
John Francis

david johnson
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:04 am
Location: ark/mo

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by david johnson » Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:13 am

RebLem wrote:I think one of the important things to keep in mind is something which seems counterintuitive to many. And that is that the Catholic Church is the most American of religions. One thing Catholics learn from childhood is that the Catholic Church is the one, true, holy, and catholic (universal) and apostolic church, and that it is the best road to salvation. That belief is so strong that when people like Benedict XVI say they would like dissenters to leave, the dissenters say, "Nothing doing! We believe in the Church, and we are going to stay and fight both for our beliefs and the right to stay in our Church."

This makes Catholicism the most American of churches because that's the way we have traditionally done politics, too. When we got outvoted in primaries or party conventions, the general inclination is to say, "No, I'm not going to leave my party and join the other party or start a new party of my own containing only like-minded people, I'm going to stay and fight for my position within my party."

Protestants, on the other hand, have a more European attitude for religion. Baptists seem especially fractious. Nine different denominations claim to be Lutheran, for example. Whenever there is a controversy within a local Baptist Church over most any issue, like whether to invest in a new organ, or a building program or a social service program, the losers will withdraw from the congregation and go off and start their own church. That's the way Europeans do politics. That's why the small tourist town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with 2,073 citizens, has no less than 6 Baptist Churches.
here is a slice of the eureka springs offerings-http://www.eurekasprings.com/faith/

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:16 am

RebLem wrote:that's the way we have traditionally done politics, too. When we got outvoted in primaries or party conventions, the general inclination is to say, "No, I'm not going to leave my party and join the other party or start a new party of my own containing only like-minded people, I'm going to stay and fight for my position within my party."
I can think of enough contrary examples to buy this. Arlen Specter is only the most recent - at first a Democrat, he ran for office in 1964 as a Republican, then in 2009 switched back to Democrat after 44 years running for various offices on the Republican ticket, when another Republican was nominated for his Senate seat. The mayor of my city, Michael Bloomberg, was originally a Democrat, but ran for office as a Republican in 2001. A Virginia congressman named Virgil Goode was first elected as a Democrat, then as an independent, and finally ran as a Republican and was defeated. And so on.

Which signifies that in American politics, doctrinal and partisan purity takes a back seat to getting elected and reelected. There is no parallel to this in the Roman Catholic Church, or in the Protestant churches either, which split and proliferate not out of opportunism (opportunity for what?) but on issues of doctrine.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:18 am

John F wrote:In other words, the women involuntarily excommunicate themselves with no direct action by the church? But if they don't tell their priest, I imagine they could continue to receive holy communion with nobody but themselves the wiser. They might not even realize that they weren't supposed to. Are there any other causes than abortion for this self-excommunication?
As I mentioned before, if a divorced Catholic whose marriage has not been annulled by the church remarries, it is an automatic excommunication. It is a very common condition. My father is in that category, as were some of the Catholic faculty at the school in Maryland. Typically they continue to attend Mass but not to receive communion. Relatively few take advantage of their status not being known (when that's possible at all) and "sneak it in." It puts priests on the spot to be faced with would-be communicants they know are ineligible. I don't know how it's handled de jure or de facto these days. It's probably easier to hide an abortion than a re-marriage, if that's what one wants to do.

The problem with the divorced is that the remedy is to renounce the second marriage. There's no reinstatement as long as they remain together. A woman who has had an abortion can at least go through a penitence-and-petition process, and I imagine some do.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:57 am

So a second divorce cancels the first one and makes everything OK? And members of the church are supposed to know and understand all this and deny themselves communion? After all, it should be easy to make an end run - just go to a different church for mass. Well, it's not my problem...
John Francis

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by RebLem » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:52 am

John F wrote:So a second divorce cancels the first one and makes everything OK? And members of the church are supposed to know and understand all this and deny themselves communion? After all, it should be easy to make an end run - just go to a different church for mass. Well, it's not my problem...
Another possibility is to get the first marriage annuled.

When I was a kid, we lived next door to a couple in which the wife was a previously divorced Catholic. The husband had not been married before, but he was Catholic, too, but excommunicated because he married a divorced woman. They had three sons together, and the mother had one daughter from the previous marriage. They lived in this condition for about 40 years, rearing their children as Catholics. Then the daughter visited her natural father and he happened to mention that he had obtained an annulment a number of years before. The daughter got a hold of the papers, and her mother and stepfather took it to their local parish and were finally married in the Church and restored to full communion with the Church.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: What's With Pope Francis?

Post by John F » Sun Sep 22, 2013 3:41 am

Frank Bruni, the NY Times's former restaurant critic and now op-ed contributor, is a Catholic and openly gay.

The Pope’s Radical Whisper
By FRANK BRUNI
Published: September 21, 2013

It's about time. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has surveyed the haughty scolds in its ranks, noted their fixation on matters of sexual morality above all others and said enough is enough. I’m not being cheeky with this one-word response. Hallelujah.

But it wasn’t the particulars of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking message in an interview published last week that stopped me in my tracks, gave fresh hope to many embittered Catholics and caused hardened commentators to perk up. It was the sweetness in his timbre, the meekness of his posture. It was the revelation that a man can wear the loftiest of miters without having his head swell to fit it, and can hold an office to which the term “infallible” is often attached without forgetting his failings.

In the interview, Francis called himself naïve, worried that he’d been rash in the past and made clear that the flock harbored as much wisdom as the shepherds. Instead of commanding people to follow him, he invited them to join him. And did so gently, in what felt like a whisper.

What a surprising portrait of modesty in a church that had lost touch with it. And what a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it.

That’s what stayed with me, not the olive branch he extended to gay people or the way he brushed aside the contraception wars but his personification of a virtue whose deficit in American life hit me full force when I spotted it here, in his disarming words. Reading and then rereading the interview, I felt like a bird-watcher who had just stumbled upon a dodo.

I’m hardly the first to flag this pope’s apparent humility or the fact that it extends beyond his preference for simple dress over regal costumes, for a Ford Focus over a papal chariot, for modest quarters over a monarch’s suite. Less than two months ago, when he answered a question about gay priests with a question of his own — “Who am I to judge?”— the self-effacement in that phrase was widely and rightly celebrated. Was a pope really acting and talking like this?

But Francis’ tone so far is interesting not just as a departure for the church but as a counterpoint to the prevailing sensibility in our country, where humility is endangered if not quite extinct. It’s out of sync with all the relentless self-promotion, which has been deemed the very oxygen of success. It sits oddly with the cult of self-esteem.

Humility has little place in the realm of social media, which is governed by a look-at-me ethos, by listen-to-me come-ons, by me, me, me. And humility is quaintly irrelevant to the defining entertainment genre of our time, reality television, which insists that every life is mesmerizing, if only in the manner of a train wreck, and that anyone is a latent star: the housewife, the hoarder, the teen mom, the tuna fisher. Just preen enough to catch an audience’s eye. Just beckon the cameras close.

Politics is most depressing of all. It rewards braggarts and bullies, who muscle their way onto center stage with the crazy certainty that they and only they are right, while we in the electorate and the news media lack the fortitude to shut them up or shoo them away. They disgust but divert us, or at a minimum wear us down. Maybe we get the showboats we deserve...

For too many years I watched the chieftains of the church wrap themselves in lavish pageantry and prioritize the protection of fellow clergy members over the welfare of parishioners. They allowed priests who sexually abused children to evade accountability and, in many cases, to abuse again. That cover-up was the very antithesis of humility, driven by the belief that shielding the church from public scandal mattered more than anything else.

For too many years I also watched and listened to imperious men around the pope hurl thunderbolts of judgment from the Olympus of Vatican City. But in his recent interview, Francis made a plea for quieter, calmer weather, suggesting that church leaders in Rome spend less energy on denunciations and censorship. He cast himself as a struggling pastor determined to work in a collaborative fashion. He characterized himself as a sinner. “It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre,” he clarified. “I am a sinner.”

He didn’t right past wrongs. Let’s be clear about that. Didn’t call for substantive change to church teachings and traditions that indeed demand re-examination, including the belief that homosexual acts themselves are sinful. Didn’t challenge the all-male, celibate priesthood. Didn’t speak as progressively — and fairly — about women’s roles in the church as he should.

But he also didn’t present himself as someone with all the answers. No, he stepped forward — shuffled forward, really — as someone willing to guide fellow questioners. In doing so he recognized that authority can come from a mix of sincerity and humility as much as from any blazing, blinding conviction, and that stature is a respect you earn, not a pedestal you grab. That’s a useful lesson in this grabby age of ours.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opini ... isper.html
John Francis

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests