Pope Francis to diplomatic corps: a glimpse at his program?

His Holiness Pope Francis gave an address to the diplomatic corps which deserves attention:

[...]

As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, [It is good that he cites his predecessor.  I suspect Pope Francis will lean heavily on Benedict's work.] which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.

One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.

In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.

Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. [This could be the program of his pontificate.] But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.

[...]

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73 Responses to Pope Francis to diplomatic corps: a glimpse at his program?

  1. Katharine B. says:

    What is truth? I thought it had something to do with Jesus Christ and his Holy Church…

    Visions of Assisi IV are playing out in my head…

  2. BenFischer says:

    When Benedict XVI was elected, I took that as a sign from God that He wanted His church to know their faith. I’ve been greatly edified by the writings of Benedict, from both before and after his election. Now that Francis has been elected, I’m taking it as a sign that God wants His church to act out their faith so I’m looking for volunteer activities.

    Of course, God wanted us to act out our faith until B16 and wants us to know our faith today, but it’s a question of priority and direction. If the Pope thinks that today’s need is service to the poor, then I’ll see what I can do. I may find I’m in the B16 mold and better suited to catechetics (RCIA, CCD, etc) but I don’t know until I try.

  3. mamajen says:

    I read this elsewhere, and I thought it was very good! I liked the more detailed explanation of why he chose the name Francis, and his emphasis on truth.

  4. mamajen says:

    @BenFischer

    You reminded me of a great quote I saw floating around Facebook yesterday:

    John Paul II: “This is what we believe.”
    Benedict XVI: “This is why we believe it.”
    Francis: “Now go do it.”

  5. Anchorite says:

    He is not here relying on Pope Benedict’s work but misusing it to his own mostly social and hardly spiritual program. This isn’t a papal address but that of some Labor secretary from Obama cabinet. We heard the same bridge-making and world peace speeches in UN. This is not on the level expected of a Pope. Maybe a Caritas address by Weakland?

  6. Anchorite:

    If you’re going to accuse someone–anyone–of teaching something erroneous, or scandalous, or otherwise misbegotten, the burden lies with you to point to what you find fault with, specifically. The burden to do that is even greater when you do so about someone who certainly has greater credibility on the subject than you. (Sorry, but the Successor of Peter edges you out on that score.) Feel free to specify exactly what in the holy father’s comments here does not comport with Catholic teaching.

    And if you can’t, may I caution you that it is sinful–yes, sinful–to damage the reputation of anyone without good ground.

  7. I would be ashamed to say the sorts of things some people say about the holy father.

  8. JonPatrick says:

    Anchorite, I don’t think someone from the Obama cabinet would be talking about the spiritual poverty of our time and the need to acknowledge that there are objective truths. As for the bridge building, one thing we have in common with Islam is we both see the fact of objective truth given to us by God. We may disagree over the nature of who God is and the details of how we apply these truths, but we both have a common enemy in moral relativism. I’m not sure how far we will get with that, the differences may be too much of a stumbling block but it’s worth a try.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    “and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. ”

    Ai ai ai ai. The problem is that there isn’t any possibility at all of a dialogue with islam. islam simply states that they are right, the rest are infidels, and at the opportune moment you (the infidels) will have to convert or be killed. You can have a dialogue with muslims (and that’s only fruitful insofar these muslims have no intention of implementing the agenda described above), but not with islam. And those muslims are few and far between, since whatever else islam is, it has a certain internal consistency. Once one accepts the central premise, the rest automatically follows, including all the violence; the only question is if the moment is opportune. There are no cafeteria muslims, only muslims who practice poorly. To deny one aspect of islam, including its very political ideology, is to deny the lot.

    Sounds harsh? Ask the Christians in Nigeria, or Pakistan, and many other places where they are prosecuted by islam. There are plenty of martyrs there.

    Now there is great potential for the conflict between islam and the West to intensify, and take on horrible forms. It would be laudable if the Pope tries to prevent that, that is indeed among his tasks. But that won’t take the form of a dialogue, as the other side simply has no-one to dialogue with (not just because there isn’t a central figurehead, more important is that re-interpreting quranic verses has been outlawed for nearly a millennium, so the other side is stuck) nor any intention to give up its claims for bringing the world under its yoke. In islam, submission is all that counts, while Christianity should be embraced with heart and mind, in free will. That’s a chasm no pontifex can ever bridge.

  10. inexcels says:

    A lot of people tend to emphasize the spiritual or material aspects of our Catholic faith while neglecting the other side.

    If you’ll forgive the use of clumsy political terms, and a bit of generalizing (I know there are exceptions), I would say “traditionalists” are more apt to neglect the material while “liberals” are more apt to neglect the spiritual.

    So far, Pope Francis seems to be preaching both of them in great balance. He’s reminding partisans that both sides have important points to make. I hope I’m able to take his message to heart.

  11. HobokenZephyr says:

    This reminds me of looking for my first house. No matter what we saw, my wife and I could find faults with each one. Eventually, we learned that all houses are flawed and that you pick the one who’s flaws bother you the least.

    No pope — not JPII, B16 or Francis — is going to say everything you want desperately to hear every time he opens his mouth. The more time you spend parsing his words to figure out what you don’t like about them, the less time you are spending considering & meditating about the things you should have heard.

  12. Mary T says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Martin Fox. It appalls me that you would compare the Holy Father to Weakland (who, as an aside, acknowledged that paid half a million dollars to keep his “relationship” with another male quiet). In another thread on Father Z’s blog, the Masked Chicken said the following, and as it fits here so well, I hope he doesn’t mind my re-posting it:

    “If, for every criticism of the Pope you wished to make online, you were to pay for the privilege by first performing an act of real charity for someone in secret (for you cannot be certain that the comment you planned on making is such), then we would have a holier Church and a lot more gentle comments. I have not earned the privilege to speak about what I think the Pope should or should not do. I have not learned the art of saying the right thing at the right time. That is a gift that comes only after you have learned to die to self and the best start for that is humility, detachment, and charity. You would like to accuse the Pope of not being humble, but I rarely see humility in words from the commenters talking about him. You want to argue about his poverty, but you do it in magnificent words strewn about by the bushel-full. You want to argue about his dress, but you forget to first dress yourselves in a garment of mercy instead of a judges robe. Which is easier – to be Christ or Pilate? That’s a worthy meditation for Holy Week, don’t you think?”

  13. Darren says:

    @Fr Martin Fox: I would be ashamed to say the sorts of things some people say about the holy father.

    I would be ashamed to THINK some of the things people – especially Catholics – say about our Holy Father.

    @mamajen… Love that quote you got from Facebook. Makes a lot of sense. (Did I actually admit that something that makes sense can be extracted from Facebook???)

  14. charismatictrad says:

    Fr. Fox, I agree with you. I’ve said this before, but there’s a certain amount of hypocrisy on both the liberal and “supertrad” side. Both sides are really just fairweather Catholics: I like being in union with Rome when Rome is in union with me. Pope Francis is not Benedict, and although I also have my worries about the liturgy under Francis, I’m not going to throw wild claims with no basis out there. Why? Because I’m Catholic, not PROTESTant. Let’s please have some intelligent dialogue about our concerns, or we’ll do just what the enemy wants: tear the Church apart from the inside (even more than it already is). The end.

  15. Matt P. says:

    Pope Francis is not instructing bishops here; his words are meant for the secular world. In this context, he is starting with what is perhaps familiar to leaders: helping the unfortunate, the marginalized, etc. However, his discussion of spiritual poverty and the dangers of relativism is hardly a footnote. It is introduced as a important contrast to what went before. And considering the audience, what a contrast! I do not see this discussion as an insincere homage to Benedict. It think it is a carefully crafted statement meant to wake up foreign diplomats and to connect God and the Truth inextricably to their daily mission.

  16. Corey F. says:

    “I read this elsewhere, and I thought it was very good! I liked the more detailed explanation of why he chose the name Francis, and his emphasis on truth.

    Are we to the point now where we’re celebrating the fact that the Holy Father emphasizes the truth?! Shouldn’t that be taken for granted? This is a sorry–deeply sorry–state of affairs if we’re getting excited that the Pope believes in objective truth…

  17. Dan says:

    Fighting material and spiritual poverty; dialogue, especially with Islam and with non-believers; protection of the environment.

    Sounds like a Benedict XVII to me.

  18. jaykay says:

    Corey F – I think you might find what Matt P posted immediately above of relevance:

    “Pope Francis is not instructing bishops here; his words are meant for the secular world. In this context, he is starting with what is perhaps familiar to leaders: helping the unfortunate, the marginalized, etc”

  19. Patrick-K says:

    While I understand that calls for “dialogue” usually don’t lead anywhere, they’re also usually not accompanied by a reference to the “tyranny of relativism,” either. We can only assume that the pope is not ignorant of the nature of Islam. Do you really think he doesn’t read the news and know what’s going on? But he needs to be diplomatic. What do you want him to say, “We shall smite the Mohammedans hip and thigh!” That’s crazy talk, and it could get people killed.

    Pius XII is sometimes criticized for not “speaking out” against the Nazis. On the other hand, he is sometimes praised by Jews for having the discretion to not provoke the Nazis. Francis making outspoken criticisms of Islam could directly result in the deaths of Christians.

    Let’s remember some things that Francis did not say: that the Muslims are victims, or that Israel needs to compromise. If you read between the lines of this diplomatically-worded speech (he was, after all, speaking to the diplomatic corps) you will see that he singles out Islam as being in need of “dialogue.” I think we all know why he calls out Islam and not, say, Buddhism on that point.

    It is all a bit vague, yes, but the pope doesn’t have the same freedom to say whatever he wants, however he wants to say it, that internet commentators enjoy… :)

  20. veritasmeister says:

    Fr. Martin Fox,

    Strictly speaking, I did not notice that Anchorite made any claim that Pope Francis said something that does not comport with Catholic teaching.

    In any event, I think it is legitimate to raise properly formulated concerns regarding Pope Francis and the ‘tyranny of relativism’, a subject that he himself interjected into his address.

    One would think that a declared concern over any tyranny of relativism would be attended to with a clear proclamation of the truth as the suitable antidote. Isn’t Christ the truth? I may be mistaken, but I did not notice the Supreme Pontiff mention Christ once in the address, though he decries a tyranny of relativism and spiritual poverty.

    And what about the Catholic faith being the one true faith and the one, sole path to salvation to the exclusion of all other non-Catholic Christian and non-Christian faith claims? Will our new pope be clearly, triumphantly stating that in the coming weeks and months? In fact, when was the last time we had a pope who clearly, openly espoused such fundamentals of the Catholic faith?

  21. Anchorite says:

    Fr. Fox and anyone whom my comments offend,
    Is there anything I said that wasn’t true? Does Bishop Francis of Rome speak the language of Pope St. Pius X, Pius XII, Bl. John XXIII or Benedict XVI? Or his language is closer to that of Card. Martini, Bp. Weakland, Card. Wuerl, Card. Mahony? Tell me, please. Or was my comparison to Obama administration offensive? Why? Biden, Pilosi, Sibelius, and even the One, speak very much the same Post-VII Bishopese that we all know so well.
    Please, do not mistake my refusal to suspend my God-given ability to reason, to analyze, and to think for lack of humility or charity. That would be offensive. In fact, I’d think that it is my respect for the office of Papacy that precludes me from rushing to stop thinking of what’s going on.
    Just because Pope Benedict XVI cautioned cardinals about the great divide of the real Church and Church of the Media, doesn’t mean they listened ….

  22. Catholictothecore says:

    Fr. Martin. I agree with all that you said. It is appalling to read some of the comments posted here.

    Mamajen, good quote from Facebook. Hope all is going well with the baby. Keep us posted.

    Anchorite, you may want to spend some time reflecting, meditating on why you have this strong dislike of Pope Francis. We are all sinners, no one is perfect.

  23. AvantiBev says:

    Bravo PHIL_NL! Well said. It gives me hope to know that at least some Catholics have educated themselves about what Islam professes to believe, actually does, and virulently seeks. Thanks! Faith and REASON!
    I will follow the Pope in things not sinful. Suicide – personal and cultural – is sinful and no one can order me to commit suicide.
    Pray for the Christians who don’t have the luxury of peaceful dialogue while their homes are burned and their loved ones shot or beheaded.

  24. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Anchorite, while you are, I guess, more or less entitled to judge from actual hard facts,

    you are not entitled to judge a Pope (!) from mere language.

    Use your reason, fine. Even analyse from language, to a degree. But I daresay that what’s wrong was not your analyzing; it was simply your analysis. This was not a speech from a trade-union’s secretary or so.

    Btw., I think we ought to rejoice about everything good. The attitude “how far have we come to rejoice about …” is not good. In fact, don’t we Catholics strive to come so far as to (among other things) rejoice about the most possibly little good thing? For we will do that, in Heaven.

    Another thing: that the Catholic Church claims absolute truth is still a well-known fact. The other religions know it; the real modernist theologians know it and fight against it; the only ones who perhaps do not know it are undercatechized Catholics, some of them having political office.
    It should hence not be seen as an bad, not even “analyzable as bad”, if the Pope does not say in explict way “only Christ is the truth”, etc. Often in rhetorics, the most important thing is qualified by only being hinted at.

  25. Imrahil says:

    Re Islam: While it is true what the dear @Phil_NL says about Islam itself…

    is it really true that there are no cafeteria Muslims?

    Meaning among the third-generation Muslim-descendants self-identifying as Muslims who’d you run against in European universities (and I mean universities, and not necessarily unlearned workers).

  26. Stephen D says:

    I think that a new word is needed here. Perhaps ‘Franciscophobic’ might be the word to be hurled at those who express even the mildest reservation about the new Pope’s personal style, liturgical preferences or his attitude to the Anglican Ordinariate.

  27. AvantiBev says:

    Who would a thunk it!? Here is a link to an article which talks about SOCIAL DECLINE and single woman headed households leading to economic woes and a cycle of decline for men. No kidding! You mean two parents are actually good for young boys and girls. The article goes on to say ESPECIALLY good for boys. DUH. [don't know how to properly embed a link so I hope this is not in combox limbo forever cuz it is good article]
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/study-men-falling-income-cites-133858056.html

  28. mark says:

    Anchorite: You have asked ‘Is there anything I said that wasn’t true?’. What you said (or wrote) was that Pope Francis ‘is not here relying on Pope Benedict’s work but misusing it to his own mostly social and hardly spiritual program’. How can we know whether your statement is ‘true’ or not?, since what you are doing is speculating. Or are you telling us that you have the gift of seeing into our Pope’s heart, so that you actually know the motivation behind his every word? To me, your speculation sounds completely wrong, given the great emphasis which Pope Francis has given thus far to serving Christ.

  29. Phil_NL says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    I see those on a very regular basis. Perhaps my concept of ‘cafeteria muslims’, which I don’t consider to exist as such, needs more explanation. There are certainly many muslims who do not want to practice some or many tenets of their belief-system, in particular the violent ones. However if one would ask if these are not relevant (in general, rather than for them), one would get a very evasive answer. The problem is that as soon as one publicly denies one tenet of islam, this could be seen as apostate. This is the difference between cafeteria Catholics and cafeteria muslims: the first will happily deny that some aspect of teaching is correct, while still claiming to be catholic. Muslims, on the other hand, know that once they rip out one brick of their edifice, they remove all. Seeing that apostacy in islam can put one in actual mortal danger, there is an extremely ingrained attitude never to actually deny the extreme implications in unambiguous language.

    In sum, the vast majority would very much prefer not to talk about it, many muslims would get sick to their stomachs even contemplating putting all of the quran and hadith into practice, and have loads of legal arguments why they would be excused from it (if they have thaught about it), but very very rare is the muslim who actually says they are completely off the table, and still is considered muslim, by himself or others.

    Practice may be as defective as in any religion you’ll find, but discussion about the norms is very, very limited. Application is debatable, the principle isn’t. Even after several generations.

  30. Imrahil says:

    Thank you!

    I think you’re right. Only I’d count the phenomenon you describe under cafeteria-ism as well, and hence my wonder.

  31. Anchorite says:

    Stephen D,
    I remember a friend of mine (white guy) long ago (when in college) who loved to hold freely a dialogue with people of different political beliefs. He immediately noticed one big divide between liberals (Democrats) and conservatives (GOP) – while he could freely and seriously discuss issues like inner city poverty, gang violence, welfare, affirmative action, abortion etc., as soon as he wanted to discuss those very topics with liberals, he was called a “racist,” a “hater,” “who are you to criticize” etc.
    When in grad school, I remember one professor taking me aside and telling me that my paper on Derrida was bad because I was critical without “enough credentials to criticize a renown thinker.”
    Now, I think the euphoria of Bergoglio apologetics reached the point when the likes of me can indeed be labeled ‘Franciscophobic’ – what a great word! Love that.
    I grew up a Sovietphobe and now am a Franciscophobe. Kinda makes sense: I must lack humility and have a deep-seated dislike of Politburo apparatchiks who speak bland generalities.

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Anchorite,

    1. speaking bland generalities is no sin. What — insert expletive — does diplomacy consist of?
    2. “tyranny of relativism”, “there is no true peace without truth”, “spiritual poverty of the richer countries” are no bland generalities; nor for that matter is “generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.” (i. e. those who really have something to suffer about, as opposed to those who only suffer because they cannot impose their incorrectly-called “liberal” view on others.)

    (A hint: Defence of Pope Francis is not euphoria – someone euphorian we would rather neglect what you say. If, on the other hand, someone has positively decided to give his ear to positive news and not without necessity, as e. g. conferred by proof, allowing himself a negative view [a very Christian thing to do about any person, much more about the Pope], then he would react about in this way as the people you oppose react in this combox.)

  33. pmullane says:

    I’ve said for some time that the only thing that will save us from the evil of Islam is the love of Christ. The only way we can do that is by exposing individual Muslims to Christ – they are souls to be saved. Of course, we must defend ourselves and each other from the violence of Muslims, but the ultimate victory will be one Bourne of love, not violence. Only the Church, moreover, is the only institution up to this task.

    PS echoing the comments above, this relentless harping about the Pope by supposedly faithful Catholics should end. It seems some people are just too fixated on reading bad interpretations into every act, and this new meme of comparing Pope Francis to Obama – a man dedicated on many levels to real evil, is utterly disgusting.

  34. DavidR says:

    @Fr. Fox;

    Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments.

    I have enjoyed tremendously visiting our host’s site daily. Until the election of our Pope Francis. I am appalled at the venom and vitriol cast at the Vicar of Christ on earth. I pray that when I stand before my Judge I won’t have to answer for maligning his chosen leaders; any of them.

    Perhaps it’s time for our host to bring out the ban-hammer….In any event, if these attacks continue, I also will ‘take a sabbatical’ from this site.

    May the Lord our GOD bless us all. A happy Easter to all.

  35. veritasmeister says:

    For those who are fervently taking umbrage at the expression 0f concerns, disagreements, and reservations pertaining to the words and actions of Pope Francis, are you going to take Fr. Zuhlsdorf to task as well?

    “Look. I understand what Francis is doing here. Fine. But in making such a dramatic change, I fear that he runs the risk of making these changes all about him, rather than some other message he wants to convey. The same goes for all the other changes he is making. The papacy isn’t just his own thing to do with what it pleaseth him to do.”

  36. BLB Oregon says:

    Benedict XVI’s remarks, in turn, harken back to those of his predecessor:
    “St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. ” Bl. Pope John Paul II, homily for the canonization of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein.

    As for efforts to have dialogue with adherents to Islam, I think of two things. It is a hard world in which to espouse faith, and particularly whenever those who adhere to a belief in God cease to ignore each other only in order to engage in strife. Besides, if we don’t defend them when their religious freedoms are assaulted, they will not be there when ours are assaulted. The other thought was about St. Paul’s effort to talk to the misguided but religious men of Athens, where there was a shrine to “an Unknown God.” Their reactions to his preaching? “…some began to scoff, but others said, ‘We should like to hear you on this some other time.’ And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. ” (Acts 17:32-34)

  37. PatB says:

    Some of the comments and innuendo here and elsewhere remind me of the knee-jerk Muslim reaction to B16′s Regensberg address. Verbal rioting without understanding.

  38. mamajen says:

    @Catholictothecore

    Very kind of you to remember. Thank you! Baby and I are both doing very well, all things considered–only two months left to go!

  39. Panterina says:

    (…) it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.

    Excellent! The Holy Father is continuing the work of unity, so dear to his beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI.

    In fact, Pope Francis’ statement reminds me of a phrase in Ratzinger’s address at the University of Regensburg in 2006: “Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats…

    It’s too bad that, in Pope Benedict’s argument against violent conversion, most people overlooked the fact that Ratzinger was highlighting reasoned dialog as a necessary foundation to bring religions closer together, and ultimately lead all to the Truth.

    I’m glad that Pope Francis’ recognizes the need to establish this dialog. And if it’s going to take another inter-faith meeting in Assisi (how appropriate this venue would be!), so be it!

  40. McCall1981 says:

    @mark
    “To me, your speculation sounds completely wrong, given the great emphasis which Pope Francis has given thus far to serving Christ.”

    Exactly. Within the last week he’s also made a homily stressing the need to preach Christ Crucified and slamming the “NGO” style church.

    @ Imrahil
    “2. “tyranny of relativism”, “there is no true peace without truth”, “spiritual poverty of the richer countries” are no bland generalities; nor for that matter is “generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.”

    Yes,this address is pretty hard hitting on Catholic fundamentals, particularly considering the setting. The Pope is not going to start every sentence he makes by unecessarily re-stating his belief in Christ and the Church. That would be redundant and wierdly defensive.

  41. PatB says:

    Thank you to those who speak here with the voice of reason.

    Regarding speaking, here is one of my favorite quotes from the desert fathers:

    “Humility humbles demons and vainglory elevates them. Whoever is humble and speaks humbly is able to neutralize demonic power, and whoever does not have humility becomes the toy of the demons.”

  42. The Masked Chicken says:

    “In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.

    These two sentences seem to make no sense to me, together, since, if, you can’t make bridges while forgetting God, how can you make bridges with people who forget God (atheists)? How can you build bridges with people who worship a different God? The purpose of a true dialogue is to establish a common truth, but since, in religion, there is only one Truth, the best dialogue can do is convert the other so that there is a unity. What good will dialogue with Islam do? One may dialogue with individuals, but not with a religion. I am quite confused. Help me to understand.

    The Chicken

    What kind of dialogue?

  43. Jason Keener says:

    I think it is important that the Sacred Liturgy be one of the primary focuses of every pontificate because the Holy Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Catholic Faith. Without beautiful and proper Liturgy, every other aspect of the Church’s life will be diminished.

    Having said that, I am happy to see that Pope Francis is making his pontificate largely about social justice, properly understood, and charitable outreach to the poor. I was reminded of these paragraphs and others from the great Benedict XVI’s “Deus Caritas Est.”

    REGARDING CHARITY:

    “22. As the years went by and the Church spread further afield, the exercise of charity became established as one of her essential activities, along with the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word…”

    REGARDING SOCIAL JUSTICE:

    “28. The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.”

  44. OrthodoxChick says:

    veritasmeister,

    I think that those of us who may still have (or initially had) “concerns, disagreements, and reservations pertaining to the words and actions of Pope Francis”, are just trying to show our fidelity to our Holy Mother Church and the Vicar of Christ by exercising some prudence. There is a difference between denial, or wishful-thinking versus trying to keep an open mind, and praying with a wait-and-see mentality. While we are waiting, we are trying to temper our concerns and reservations with faith, hope, and charity.

    In your quote of Fr. Z., you quoted his words, “I fear”. Expressing one’s concern as Fr. Z. did is one thing, but to imply a deliberate, ulterior motive on the part of the Holy Father is another. In “Anchorite’s” initial comment, the words that seemed to stand out are, “…misusing it to his own mostly social and hardly spiritual program…” When Anchortie uses a term like “misuse”, perhaps he/she means to say that he (Pope Francis) did so (“misued”) inadvertently. Perhaps Anchorite meant no such thing. It came across as a criticism rather than a concern.

    Then, Anchorite goes on to say in a different comment, “Please, do not mistake my refusal to suspend my God-given ability to reason, to analyze, and to think for lack of humility or charity…” Well, the flipside of that comment implies that the rest of us who aren’t jumping on the “Franciscophobic” band wagon have surrendered our “God-given ability to reason”. You don’t find that an uncharitable thing to say about many of us? I can only speak for myself, but I do not feel that I have suspended my ability to reason simply because I refuse to give into fear and hysteria. I prefer to pray that my concerns never become reality. I prefer to pray that one day, perhaps a few months, or a year from now, Pope Francis will come out with an encyclical that makes me feel silly that I was ever so concerned in the first place.

    We’re not taking Fr. Z. to task because all he did was express a concern, not lob a criticism.

  45. Jason Keener says:

    Interestingly, Pope Francis did not make use of the stole, mozzetta, or any of the red papal chairs/thrones today. It appears the rather ordinary white chair used mostly during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II is back. Hmm…wondering if the Supreme Pontiff should have worn more elaborate vesture when meeting with the diplomats who were very formally and beautifully attired.

    Here is a gallery of photos:

    http://metro.co.uk/2013/03/22/gallery-pope-francis-greets-foreign-diplomats-in-march-2013-3555810/

  46. PatB says:

    Chicken: I think the Pope has in mind the sort of thing St. Paul did at the Areopagus. (Book of Acts).

  47. Mary T says:

    Does Bishop Francis of Rome speak the language of Pope St. Pius X, Pius XII, Bl. John XXIII or Benedict XVI? Or his language is closer to that of Card. Martini, Bp. Weakland, Card. Wuerl, Card. Mahony?

    I have read a great deal of the former Cardinal Bergoglio’s writings, much of it translated from the Spanish by friends in CL and elsewhere. I am guessing way, way, WAY more than you ever have. The answer to your disingenuous question is:

    “He speaks the language of Pope St. Pius X, Pius XII, Bl. John XXIII and Benedict XVI.”

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  49. Anchorite says:

    Orthodox Chick,
    Where was Fr. Z’s amazing blog in the 1970s so that we, future Franciscophobes, could jump on the band wagon of disgusting negativity and outright unthinkable hysteria when the Vicar of Christ with his signature revamped the Roman Rite, when the shepherds of the flock went from church to church to rip out those nasty proud high altars and in their stead adorn the spaces with humble tables, chairs and wall-to-wall carpet, when the priests embraced humility and poverty by discarding those ostentatious vestments and following in the steps of a polyester bedsheets-clad Christ from the Hair musical, so that they can “pray to God without any trappings?” Truly, even to think “thoughts” of such criticism would negate one’s ” fidelity our Holy Mother Church and the Vicar of Christ,” right?

  50. veritasmeister says:

    OrthodoxChick,

    Appreciate your thoughtful reply, but I don’t know that I can fully concur.

    You raise a good point with a distinction between concern and criticism, but I would think there is probably a very fine line between the two. I’m not sure that Anchorite and Fr. Z are necessarily on opposite sides of some bright line here.

    I would say that any comment by Anchorite that he/she has not suspended their God-given reasoning ability does not necessarily establish an implication that he/she is saying others have done such suspending, though Anchorite can supply the definitive confirmation regarding this, one way or another.

    If you say you have not suspsended your reasoning, I’ll take you at your word. I would ask you to please respond to my original post, addressing the concern that we have now yet another pope who is denouncing a tyranny of relativism and yet fails to mention and champion that full robust truth of classical Catholicism and the errors and evils of other truth claims outside of Catholicism, the true viable refutation of a tyranny of relativism.

  51. Matt P. says:

    Here is Benedict XVI’s address to the members of the Diplomatic corps, 7 January 2013. Different in its style of preaching, yes, but I think there are some similarities…
    “These days, we are sometimes led to think that truth, justice and peace are utopian ideals, and mutually exclusive. To know the truth seems impossible, and efforts to affirm it appear often to lead to violence. On the other hand, according to a now widespread way of thinking, peacemaking consists solely in the pursuit of compromises capable of ensuring peaceful coexistence between different peoples or between citizens within a single nation. Yet from the Christian point of view, the glorification of God and human peace on earth are closely linked, with the result that peace is not simply the fruit of human effort, but a participation in the very love of God. It is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence. Indeed, once we no longer make reference to an objective and transcendent truth, how is it possible to achieve an authentic dialogue? In this case, is it not inevitable that violence, open or veiled, becomes the ultimate rule in human relationships? Indeed, without openness to the transcendent, human beings easily become prey to relativism and find it difficult to act justly and to work for peace.”

  52. Panterina says:

    Ah, thank you Matt P. for the Benedectine quote! The two Popes sound like they are talking with one voice: Marvelous!

  53. PatB says:

    Anchorite: “…when the Vicar of Christ with his signature revamped the Roman Rite…”
    The Vatican II documents do not call for any of the “revamping” you and I deplore.

    Here’s the newest from the Wanderer:
    “Steadfast Against Divisions.
    “The Pope was a provincial for the Jesuit province of Argentina at a time of protests. The province was torn by a struggle pitting traditionalists against progressives. He was on neither side.”

    It looks to me like the new Pope is a solid Catholic. Thanks be to God.

  54. McCall1981 says:

    @ Mary T

    Is there any way that his writings could be posted, or is there any way for the rest of us to get a hold of them? I would love to read some of the things he’s written.

  55. OrthodoxChick says:

    veritasmeister,

    I would address your concern that Pope Francis “fails to mention and champion that full robust truth of classical Catholicism and the errors and evils of other truth claims outside of Catholicism…” by simply noting that it is still early in his Pontificate to know whether this will remain the case or not. I still know very little about him, but I want to leave room for the fact that even if he has made statements in the past that are of concern to traditionalists, that now that he is Pope, he needs time to pray and discern how best to lead and serve. Shouldn’t we give him some room to adjust to these new, awesome responsibilities? There is the possibility that with our prayers and through spending time among those in the Vatican who are more traditional, that the Holy Spirit can plant seeds of traditionalism where they may not have existed previously. We can pray for our Holy Father to be open to this.

    I’m not knocking anyone for having concerns, but I think that we need to take care as to how we express them, that’s all. We’re all playing for the same team here.

  56. Anchorite says:

    Veritasmeister has explained my thoughts with clarity of prose that I lack. I appreciate it.
    PatB, I didn’t refer to anything Vatican II called for, but to Pope Paul VI’s Novus Ordo Missae. . Panterina, what’s obviously different about the two addresses is that Ratzinger’s argument leads us to clear acknowledgment of Christ as the source of Truth. Now, he SAYS so. Bergoglio’s Christ is as silent as his silent blessing of the press corps.
    What I and many other like-minder “critics” pray for are the priests, bishops, cardinals, popes who preach Christ with voice, who chant prayers and celebrate Masses, not “preside” over them. God, give us priests who say “Christ,” who do the red and say the black.
    It used to be that we had popes who do all that, who write their sermons in Latin overnight, who can pronounce Latin words without stumbling, who can say ancient Roman Rite and speak of Michelangelo and Christ in one sentence …. When was it?
    To have a true and honest dialogue with others we need to have our own identity, not hide it or withhold it – wasn’t that Pope Benedict’s advice to us all?
    Now, self silencing begins. That’s loud and clear.

  57. McCall1981 says:

    This is an encouraging article from EWTN:
    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=7301

    And for what it’s worth, the same man this article is about recently said that Cardinal Bergoglio did NOT suggest supporting civil unions as a stop gap strategy to prevent gay “marriage”
    http://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/di…ones-gay-41335
    It’s in Spanish, but here’s a translation:

    Miguel Woites, a confidant of Pope Francis while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, is denying a widely publicized claim that the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio suggested the endorsement of gay civil unions as an alternative to “homosexual marriage” during a private meeting with fellow bishops in 2010. In an interview granted to the Catholic news agency ACI Prensa, Woites said that the story “isn’t true. It’s a complete error.” The principle source of the claim, Bergoglio biographer Sergio Rubín, “never said who told him, when they told him,” said Woites. “It’s not correct to write something like that out of thin air. That (New York Times) article was very criticized by the bishops. He certainly would have referred to unions of convenience but not that anything be legalized.”

    Woites, who is the director of the Argentinean Catholic Information Agency (ACIA), has regularly conferred with the bishops of Agentina, including Bergoglio while he was still archbishop, ACI Prensa reports.

  58. McCall1981 says:

    These are both encouraging, both from the same man, Miguel Woites, the Director of the Catholic News Agency of Argentina.

    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=7301

    http://m.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=26852

  59. OrthodoxChick says:

    Anchorite,

    I agree with your most recent comment from 2:54pm (as well as with “veritasmeister” who echoed the same). But I think we have to be patient and give our new Pope time to grow into his Pontificate. If he was ordained and surrounded by a “Spirit of Vatican II” mindset, then that is going to color his thoughts and remarks. But even if that is the case, it doesn’t have to be permanent. He has also made the solid remark about, ” If you don’t pray to Christ, you pray to the devil.”

    So our new Holy Father is not completely opposed to speaking directly and strongly about Christ. I’m hoping and praying that he just needs a little time to get his sea legs under him.

  60. PatB says:

    Anchorite, are you SSPX? I merely ask.
    By the way, I think you meant “Say the black and do the red.”

    If, by your comment “Now, self silencing begins. That’s loud and clear” you were referring to yourself (I’m not sure what you meant), then never mind my question. I will support your authentically anchoritic move.

  61. heway says:

    We had a Nigerian pastor for two years. He was not from the NE of Nigeria section where all the trouble is occuring. Where he is from many Muslims go to the Catholic church to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. One of my friends (Muslim) asked where her mother could go to a traditional Latin Mass. Why? Because she had been educated in a Catholic boarding school in Kurachi and missed being able to attend. My Muslims friends are medical personnel. When we have a very sick infant admitted to the NICU. a Muslim neonatologist would ask us ‘all to pray’ to the One God who made us , that he might perform in a way that will benefit the sick infant.. I don’t like people who are not of my faith to list for me all the reading, etc that they have done, that detracts from my faith.. and I don’t approve of anyone doing that to another. Have you practiced or studied as a Muslim???
    If we are not for the Pope then who do we stand for?

  62. Anchorite:

    I will simply reiterate that if you think Pope Francis’s comments here are seriously wanting, the burden of proof lies with you to specify which ones, and exactly what’s wrong. If you can’t do that, or don’t care to, then maybe the criticisms were uncalled for?

    As far as the question of our genial host: he has been precisely measured in his comments about the holy father’s decisions, and has, in fact, been specific in citing what he might have done differently. That’s a far cry from what I think was a broadside indictment by Anchorite.

    Third, let’s not take ourselves too seriously here. I sense an idea is bubbling up that there’s some necessity for Catholics to say this or that about Pope Francis. I see these references to “what ifs” and shouldn’t we speak out, when…all about things that haven’t happened.

    Let’s get a grip. This is a blog. A fine and useful blog, but a blog. I can see no necessity driving anyone to post over-excited comments about how terrible the pope might yet prove to be.

    The problem with saying too much isn’t just the harm it may do to the person about whom you speak, or to others who hear it; in addition, there is the harm of digging in ones feet to a position. I fear our friends on other blogs may have done that already; now they are stuck with their overheated rhetoric about the pope, and will have to justify it.

    Prudence. Discretion. Most of what we say never needed to be said. Thus it behooves us to seek to edify and correct and enlighten, and seldom to impugn.

  63. PatB says:

    Fr. Martin Fox: Yes!

    Here’s an example of uninformed and indiscrete “freaking out.” People were saying the Pope, in his first words on the balcony, asked the people to bless him.

    Now that the Wanderer has arrived with a text from the Vatican’s news portal, we see what he really said: “I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me–the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer–your prayer for me–in silence.”

    Can we stop now, and concentrate on what’s left of Lent?

  64. OrthodoxChick says:

    Fr. Martin Fox,
    You rock!

  65. Stephen D says:

    Anchorite, you have TOTALLY misunderstood what I said. I was defending your right to express an opinion.

  66. Anchorite says:

    Stephen D,
    I was just telling the story. Thanks! I didn’t misunderstand you :)

  67. Catholictothecore says:

    Let’s all try and remember Fr. Z’s instructions to us :

    “I won’t stand for bashing the new Pope here. It isn’t going to happen in my combox. You are NOT welcome to come into my living room and have a spittle-flecked nutty.”

    “If you are tempted to panic and bash Pope Francis in my combox, summon to your imagination the voice of a Marine Corps Captain to the company: “What is that banana peel doing on MY SIDEWALK?”

  68. Catholictothecore says:

    Let’s all try and remember Fr. Z’s instructions to us :

    “I won’t stand for bashing the new Pope here. It isn’t going to happen in my combox. You are NOT welcome to come into my living room and have a spittle-flecked nutty.”

    “If you are tempted to panic and bash Pope Francis in my combox, summon to your imagination the voice of a Marine Corps Captain to the company: “What is that banana peel doing on MY SIDEWALK?”

  69. McCall1981 says:

    @ Anchorite
    I still have some anxieties about him too, but really, read some of his homilies online. They are VERY strongly Christ centered. There is no vagueness or relativistic language. He speaks very strongly about the Blessed Virgin, the devil, spiritual warfare, sin. I think you’d feel a bit better about him.

  70. McCall1981 says:

    Read his 2008 Easter Vigil Homily, its fantastic:
    http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html?m=0

  71. Imrahil says:

    Speaking of anxieties — and now please read this with a little smile -,

    I just read that the Pope unified German spelling as far as the Vatican is concerned. From now on, as far as the Vatican speaks German the norm is what the German ministries of education had said to be the norm in 1996 or respectively 2006.

    Pity. The reformed orthography (the “daß” being replaced with “dass” thing) is about the Liturgy Reform in spelling, if you get my drift.(I could enumerate some similarities). Many authors dislike it; because of “ugliness” (or rather, “uglineß”), which means that they have a valid point because they venture saying so without being able to give a proof. Everyone who does like it does so for legal-positivist reasons.

    Hitherto, surprise surprise, Pope Benedict’s own secretariate had been following the traditional(ist) spelling.

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