The reason – this time – is Pope Francis’ interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist editor of the vile Italian daily La Repubblica.
BTW… in Rome some wags are now referring to La Repubblica as L’Osservatore Romano.
I have not read the new interview in Italian yet (La Repubblica‘s site loads at tectonic plate speed), but I have read it over twice in English.
A sense of the tone of many of the Holy Father’s comments in this interview – I repeat – interview, can be gleaned from one of his observations about Augustine:
“Someone who is not touched by grace may be a person without blemish and without fear, as they say, but he will never be like a person who has touched grace. This is Augustine’s insight.”
Let that sink in for a while, keeping in mind that everything the Pope said to Scalfari is off the cuff and… well… off the cuff.
In the meantime, some of you may be having a little melt-down regarding his comments on proselytism, the Curia, conscience, etc.
“You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”
The leprosy of the papacy, those were his exact words. But what is the court? Perhaps he is alluding to the curia?
“No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster’s office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it.
Of COURSE the “Vatican” is the problem! This is news?
I am reminded of candidates who make Washington the enemy. They become President in Washington and they make Washington the enemy. John Paul II had problems with the “Vatican”, but he became the “Vatican” eventually. Benedict was betrayed again and again within the “Vatican”. Francis is going to have his own Sisyphus moments with the “Vatican”. Good luck.
That said, I think the Francis has a pretty good BS detector. He’ll need it.
Your Holiness you wrote that in your letter to me. The conscience is autonomous, you said, and everyone must obey his conscience. I think that’s one of the most courageous steps taken by a Pope.
“And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”
Is there more to say about “conscience”? You bet. Can it be said in an interview… this interview in this moment? Nope.
But let’s see if what Francis said has foundation in what the Church teaches:
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1800: A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.
1790: A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1782: Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” (Dignitatis humanae 3 § 2.)
2106 “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (DH 2 § 1) This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it “continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.” (DH 2 § 2)
I will add believers and Catholics are obliged to follow their FORMED consciences, and those consciences are enlightened by Divine Revelation, by apostolic tradition and by the Magisterium. Once again, His Holiness is right, but within the context that he had in mind, which context is only implicitly evident in the interview because of the nature of that genre.
Could Francis be faulted for not talking about defective conscience or lack of formation of conscience? I suppose. But the Church teaches that people cannot be coerced in matters of conscience. This is a natural right as well. But the context here is non-believers. When the LCWR nuns try to cite Dignitatis humanae as an excuse to not obey, they err and err gravely. But the Pope was talking with a non-believing journalist, not LCWR nuns.
Context, friends, context.
Sigh… are we going to have to do this everyday? Is this now my fate?
It’s an interview, friends.
Popes don’t govern or shape doctrine in interviews.
The Pope smiles and says: “Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.”
It’s a joke I tell him. My friends think it is you want to convert me.
He smiles again and replies: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”
When you read this, you have the sense that the Pope is really in the moment. This is how you talk when you are involved with the emotion of the moment, with the adrenaline of the occasion. Alas, your Earth’s yellow sun doesn’t give me the power of reading minds, but this is how it feels to me, having read that bit – aloud, though in English – and thought about it.
In any event, some quick thoughts after having read the interview:
- abortion is still murder,
- gay marriage is still no marriage,
- we’re going to jaw-jaw with nonbelievers,
- we’re still going to be a minority,
- Former-Fr. – Mister Reynolds is still excommunicated!