We are still a bare few days into the pontificate of Pope Francis. I have therefore declined to gush out lots of entries here, burbling my every half-formed notion about what is going to happen. I have also avoided surfing from site to site, news agency to news agency, to sift the wonky grindings of those who want to be in-the-know.
Today, however, I went to see what the National Schismatic Reporter had to say. John Allen is a well-informed, hard-working analyst, of course, and well-worth consulting, while the rest of the writers over there are good for a laugh.
With amused anticipation I clicked open the remarks on Pope Francis by Jamie Mason, the Yale-presbyterian-educated disciple of Sr. Margaret Farley and lesbian activist darling of the LCWR. Knowing that Pope Francis upholds the Church’s teaching on marriage, I expected a slightly hysterical diatribe against him as a homophobe, and how the Church – in conformity with the world – needs more queering, etc.
I got a surprise!
Jamie doesn’t like Francis, yes, for the obvious reason, but her real dislike seems to come from something else. In her expression of this dislike, she may be ahead of the pack of liberals that are – fairly soon – going to turn on Francis. They will turn on him savagely.
In the meantime, Manson shows what direction they are going to go:
I have been touched by Francis’ clear love of the poor and the images of his bathing the feet of sick children and AIDS patients. [Predictable.] I am troubled by his alleged failure stand up with Argentine dictators during the “Dirty War” [She needs to get up to speed on the facts.] and his harmful words about LGBT families. [The Pope is Catholic, Jamie. Speaking clearly about the Church's teaching, is not "harmful", it is charitable... but let's go on...] I am worried by reports that he was unpopular among his brother Jesuits because of his unfavorable views of base communities and liberation theology. [Because she, of course, would support base communities and liberation theology.]
But what most piqued my interest [Now we get to it...] about Pope Francis is his strong tie to a movement called Comunione e Liberazione, or Communion and Liberation (CL).
There it is.
Now, to her credit, she does a little homework about CL. She didn’t like what she found. To wit…
Much of what I have learned about CL, other than from the organization’s website, comes from the essay “Comunione e Liberazione: A Fundamentalist Idea of Power,” written by theologian and political scientist Dario Zadra. …
In his article on CL, Zadra explains that the movement’s worldview stems from [NB: Whether Zadra is right or not is not the point here. Mason is taking Zadra at his word.] two main ideas: “That Christ is the saving event in human history, and that religious authority is a fundamental element of the human condition.” [Get that? "religious authority".] He continues: “Members place religion at the center of a new worldview and in their evangelistic efforts at transforming the relationship between modern society and religion.” [People like this are viewed as the enemy by the Fishwrap types. Religion, and religion which leans on authority, is at the center of everything? Imagine!]
[...] Zadra explains: “In CL the authoritative character of the event of salvation is directly translated into the authority of the Church. … The central event in life is a saving encounter with the communion embodied in the Church.” [Not just any Church, the Catholic Church. Not the catholic Church of the National catholic Reporter, but the actually Catholic Church, which has a Mass with rubrics and a Catechism with teachings, and a Code of laws and ... all that stuff that you can look up. This isn't the National
catholic... Schismatic Reporter's de-centralized association of self-affirming blobs of vaguely catholic identity. Nope. What NSR/Mason fear is a vigorous and clear reiteration of Catholic morals and doctrine to counteract all the great strides that have been made in reducing the church to an instrument of social justice without any strong voice in the public square contrary to relativistic trends in society.]
[... ] CL’s insistence on “total fidelity and communion with the Succession of Peter” [sic] (a direct quote from Benedict XVI himself) has made the movement particularly popular among members of the hierarchy. [hierarchy (male) = enemy]
[Here it is...]Obedience to the authority of the church seems as crucial to Pope Francis as it did to his predecessor and as it does to CL. [Get that?] In a 2005 profile of Cardinal Bergoglio, Jose Maria Poirier, editor of the Argentinean Catholic magazine Criterio, wrote, “He exercised his authority as provincial with an iron fist, calmly demanding strict obedience and clamping down on critical voices. Many Jesuits complained that he considered himself the sole interpreter of St Ignatius of Loyola, and to this day speak of him warily.” [Papa Bergoglio isn't into interminable text/content distorting dialogue and consensus building?]
[...] CL boldly claims that the Church embodies authoritative truth that is binding on society at large. [Not just Catholic members of society but all members of society.] By claiming the presence of Christ, the Church also claims divine authority — a kind of inerrancy, not of the biblical text (as in Protestant fundamentalism) but of the Church.
This belief in the inerrancy of the church influences CL’s understanding of human conscience. “The conscience of the individual is shaped by and beholden to the Church,” Zadra writes, “and the Church ought to be considered the living and legitimate paradigm of society.” [In other words, you can't say "I'm Catholic, but I don't believe the Church's teaching on ___" (e.g., homosexual acts, abortion, contraception, to name a few items). No, we are bound to form our consciences according to the mind of the Church. This is enshrined in Vatican II's Lumen gentium, of course, but those paragraphs aren't generally read by liberals.]
Although CL members are comfortable in the modern, technological and political world, they reject the modern insistence on “a freedom of conscience that excludes the religious attitude at its very root.” [...]
Zadra concludes that “the political rhetoric and vision of the movement seem to continue a long-standing political position in the Catholic world — that of returning the Roman Catholic Church to its traditional role of political power.”
My [Jamie's] purpose in exploring CL is not to demonize the movement or the new pope, but rather to piece together a fuller picture of Francis by exploring in a little more depth an organization with which he has an enduring relationship. ["Not to demonize", eh?]
Manson’s piece is a foretaste of what is to come.
Liberals are all gushy and gooey about Pope Francis right now. Gosh, he’s the Pope of the poor! That means he is going to dismantle everything that John Paul II and Benedict XVI did, those meanies. They somehow manage to imagine that not putting on a mozzetta is the moral equivalent of donning sack cloth and a piece of twine as a belt. Wearing black shoes is the equivalent of wearing tattered sandals. Just like St. Francis of Assisi, right? He’s going to ratchet down all the high liturgy. How wonderful after these horrible years of gold and lace. Hopefully he’ll soon just wear a little wooden cross around his neck and maybe say Mass on a card-table set up in the middle of the Via della Conciliazione. Then he’ll walk down the Tiber River to the card-board box he sleeps in under the Milvian Bridge.
Nope. Pretty soon they are going to see that Pope Francis is hard core when it comes to Catholic teachings. They will become more and more afraid of him as his warm style, yes simpler style, begins to win people over.
Right now Francis is the Pope of El Pueblo. And since NSR is the Voz del Pueblo they are swooning for him… now.
But they will turn on him.
NSR‘s Jamie is out ahead of the pack.