What did the Pope really say in his short, non-magisterial fervorino about “ideology”?

Some people are getting worked up – again – about something Pope Francis said during his morning sermonette yesterday.  His Holiness, in his non-magisterial fervorino, spoke about “ideology”.   A news report in the fervorinoHERE.

Here is something that the Pope said:

It is, he said, “the image of those Christians who have the key in their hand, but take it away, without opening the door,” and who “keep the door closed.”

Asking those present how a Christian is able to fall into this attitude, the Pope reflected that “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon (people).”

Noting that it is a “lack of Christian witness does this,” he stressed that “when this Christian is a priest, a bishop or a Pope it is worse.”

“When a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology,” urged the Pope, “he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought,” and “the knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge.

Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.

“It is a serious illness, this Christian ideology. It is an illness, but it is not new,” he said, recalling how the Apostle John alludes to this mentality in his first letter.

Pope Francis then emphasized that the attitude of those who lose their faith in preference of personal ideologies is “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness.

“But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”

“The key that opens the door to the faith,” the Pope noted, “is prayer,” and “when a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.”

The Christian who does not pray, urged the Pope, is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement…when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.”

When we pray, the Pope reflected, Jesus tells us to “go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart,” because “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”

Those who do not pray abandon the faith, stressed the Pope, and allow it to become a “moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus.”

[…]

The Holy Father’s passion is clear and strong, isn’t it?   It is a little stirring to read this.  I’ll bet it is even more so to hear it in person.   But …

The Pope’s language about ideology is so vague that I can’t for the life of me make out who or what he is talking about.  It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.

Does anyone know what he is talking about?  Really?

Go back and read over the report again and ask yourself if you truly understand what he is talking about.

Does the spanish for “ideology”, which may be behind his thought, have some nuance of meaning that is different from English or Italian?

What did the Pope really say in this short, non-magisterial fervorino?

Anyone?

UPDATE:

I direct the readership’s attention to a post by His Hermeneuticalness on this topic.  He runs with it, brilliantly.

And, while were at it, let’s have a cheer for Millwall.

Soon we will need posts on Francisneutics.

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133 Responses to What did the Pope really say in his short, non-magisterial fervorino about “ideology”?

  1. James C says:

    For my own peace of mind I prefer not to speculate, Father. For clarity’s sake I think I’ll get more fruit out of reading Benedict’s writings and the works of previous popes on iPietà. With respect, Francis seems like a runaway Vatican II-speak generator requiring constant interpretation and re-interpretation. Like you said, it’s non-magisterial, so why bother?

  2. idelsan says:

    I suposse it means transforming religion from what it is (relation with God) and transforming it into something it is not (some kind of moralistic way of life, a puritanical code). I suposse. The key it’s is in the “non prayer” part. If you do not pray you are no longer doing things in the presence of God, for Him and because He wants you to. It’s your will, no longer God’s. But as far I as I know (and I am spanish) “ideology” does not have a different meaning in spanish.

  3. svenolavo says:

    Andrea Tornielli thinks the Pope’s words may be applied to Catholics who, in articles and blogs, are voicing criticism of the Pope. Maybe Tornielli suggests this is what the Pope himself meant as well: If you criticize me, you are a Pharisee, you have lost your faith and are not a disciple of Christ any more. (“Quando un cristiano diventa discepolo della ideologia, ha perso la fede. Non è più discepolo di Gesù.”)

    http://2.andreatornielli.it/?p=6853

  4. Muv says:

    Morning Fr. Z. Thanks for posting this.

    My understanding was much the same as Idelsan’s. My reading is that the Pope is warning against a certain hardness of heart which can block faith and leave the way open to spiritual conceit.

  5. lana says:

    I find his homilies to be great for soul-searching.

  6. Palladio says:

    As somebody who has fought against ideology for years, I fail to see the problem. Start, perhaps, with an example of ideology: pick your -ism. In the academy, one -ism follows upon another. If ever there were evidence against the myth of progress (or showing that progress is, more often than not, a myth), the academy is full to bursting with it. As a Jesuit, His Holiness knows as well as anybody that specific problem, but looking more broadly at the world, name an -ism that has not seriously damaged us: fascism, communism, statism…
    It is most essential, I would venture, to consider the opposite of ideology as being the (perhaps) unspoken premise of the Pope’s words, again especially as he is a Jesuit: philosophy, with Latin and Greek and theology the very hallmark of their educational enterprise–in fact, probably the only one remaining. One definition of philosophy, to follow the truth wherever it leads, suggests the one quality always lacking in ideology: openness. There is not only one way to truth in (say) literature or history. But ideologues will not only say that there is but also that they have that one way. Thus, taking exception to their ideology is both an affront to them and, to their eyes, a priori false. So ideologies create imaginary, but hardened intellectual and social impasses between people just by existing, even before any conversation can take place.

    In relation to the faith, the Pope is simply (or not so: the allusions to 1 Cor. 13 are, after all, allusions) making clear that Catholicism is NOT a set of rules, NOT a system, NOT a formula, but rather belief in Christ, our loving Logos made flesh, whose peace transcends understanding–and most certainly transcends rules, systems, formulae, not ‘mere’ belief, of course, as it is for protestants. Like Benedict XVI before him, Pope Francis endorses prayer as an essential to Catholic life. Prayer life–though obviously never to exist outside the life of the Sacraments–is the force for a truly Catholic, a truly Christian life: we are the face of the one true faith, radiating our Christ the more we unite ourselves to Him in prayer, attracting Catholics and non-Catholics alike to the source of that ‘radiation.’

  7. Allan S. says:

    He’s talking about Jesuits, obviously.

    Ideological in name only Christians who never pray? Benedict could have given that talk against Liberal catholics…..

  8. markomalley says:

    I believe that you will find that he explains this very thoroughly back on 19 April with Mass with Vatican printers

    ————-

    Paul and Ananias respond [after the manner of] the great [figures] in salvation history, like Jeremiah [and] Isaiah. Even Moses had his difficulties [as when he said]: ‘But, Lord, I do not know how to speak, how am I going to go to the Egyptians and [deliver your message]?’ And Mary, [who said]: ‘But, Lord, I’m not married!’. It is the response of humility, of one who welcomes the Word of God with one’s heart. Instead, the doctors answered only with their heads. They do not know that the Word of God goes to the heart, do not know of conversion.

    The Pope explained who are the ones that respond only with the head:

    They are the great ideologues. The Word of Jesus goes to the heart because it is the Word of love, it is a beautiful word and brings love, makes us to love. These ideologues cut off the road of love, and also that of beauty – and they began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’. All a matter of intellect! And when ideology enters into the Church, when ideology enters into our understanding of the Gospel, no [authentic] comprehen[sion] is [possible].

    They are the ones who walk only “on the path of duty”: theirs is the moralis[tic outlook] of those who pretend to understand the Gospel with their heads alone. They are not “on the road to conversion, that conversion to which Jesus calls us.”

    And these, on the road of duty, load everything on the shoulders of the faithful. The ideologues falsify the gospel. Every ideological interpretation, wherever it comes from – from [whatever side] – is a falsification of the Gospel. And these ideologues – as we have seen in the history of the Church – end up being intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness – and let us not so much as mention beauty, of which they understand nothing.

    “Rather,” said Pope Francis, “the path of love, the way of the Gospel, is simple: it is the road that the Saints understood”:

    The saints are those who lead the Church forward! The road of conversion, the way of humility, of love, of the heart, the way of beauty … Today let us pray to the Lord for the Church: that the Lord might free her from any ideological interpretation and open the heart of the Church, our Mother Church, to the simple Gospel, to that pure Gospel that speaks to us of love, which brings love, and is so beautiful! It also makes us beautiful, with the beauty of holiness. Today let us pray for the Church.

    ———————-

    In an effort to avoid being moved to the “moderation” queue, I will leave links out from the following:

    On 5/14, he spoke about “the ideology of poverty” and how it turned into a form of idolatry. On 6/24, he talked about ideology as being “self-referential” . On 7/28, in his address to the CELAM leadership in conjunction with his WYD voyage, he cautioned about an ideological interpretation of the Gospel message — speaking about the effects of such an interpretation, including reducing the gospel to a sociological message, attempting to psycho-analyze the gospel, and the distillation of the gospel into a functional mandate — thus converting the Church into an NGO.

    This is a frequently recurring theme of the Holy Father’s words since his election. My understanding is that one has an ideological response to the gospel when one tries to intellectualize it rather than having a response of love with the heart.

  9. JP Borberg says:

    Palladio:

    “…name an -ism that has not seriously damaged us…”

    Catholicism?

  10. Bob the Ape says:

    I was going to say something, but markomalley has nailed it better than I could.

  11. Palladio says:

    JP Borberg, thanks. Of course. But this is a problem, a big one, in the life of the disunited States: we are disunited by the -isms, the one true faith excepted. Statism, or soft core fascism, is a demon of a thousand faces: it is blithely taught in schools–public and private elementary schools. Multi-culturalism is another one: ibid.

    The positive side of the Pope’s arguments, the faith excepted, is obviously a return to curricula in schools worthy of our God-given human nature and dignity, not simply virtue-based education, but reason-based education. Pretending, in the guise of one -ism or another, that homosexuality is prevalent and normal, that such a thing as ‘gay’ marriage exists, that sex is whatever you do with or to your sexual or other organs, that preferring one group over another based on skin color is social justice: these commonplace teachings in the classroom of American children five to thirteen result from losing the war for culture to ideologues. If you are wondering if your children are being brainwashed in those and many other equally damaging ways, wonder no more: they are, every day.

  12. Elizabeth R says:

    Perhaps he’s echoing Luke 11:42. “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done,without neglecting the others.”

    Justice, love, and prayer – sounds good to me.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    How is an ideology self-referential?

    The Chicken

  14. markomalley says:

    @Masked Chicken:

    How is an ideology self-referential?

    I would think because the source of the ideology is “our brains” versus “divine revelation”. And I believe that Bergoglio is stating that we are exalting ourselves (via the gray matter between the ears) versus exalting God.

    From Francis’ fervorino on 6/24:

    “The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word, her husband, who is the Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest of the Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. ‘But I never think’, only this: he indicated, he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret. Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church … “

    The Church, he added, must hear the Word of Jesus and raise her voice, proclaim it boldly. “That – he said – is the Church without ideologies, without a life of its own: the Church which is the mysterium lunae which has light from her Bridegroom and diminish herself so that He may grow”

    Please bear in mind that these comments are my understanding of what he’s trying to get at. I do not discount the possibility that I am totally off in right field and completely misinterpreting what he’s trying to say.

  15. Joshua Mincher says:

    Judging from past homilies and interviews, I believe the Holy Father means by ‘ideology’ the making of the Faith into a system, a philosophy, a rationalism. There are many manifestations of this, from what most would call the ‘right’ to the ‘left.

    In the infamous interview with the Italian atheist, the Holy Father responds to the interviewers Cartesian argument by saying he doesn’t want to discuss ‘philosophy’. He is warning against the Faith being seen as a philosophical system. The Faith, as Benedict said so often, is about the Lord of History. It is a real encounter and face-to-face of the person, and the people, with their Lord and Saviour.

    Modernist Catholics tend to make the Faith into a Kantian ethical system or a Hegelian system or an existentialist system, wherein Jesus is conceptualized. The factual, blunt, historical, real-life encounter with Him, that we return to in prayer and worship, is always sloughed off as ‘imagery’, metaphor, ‘picture-thinking’ that represents the moral, the ‘message’, the concept.

    That is what the Holy Father means by ‘ethical’. Hegelian and Kantian versions of religion. By ‘moralism’ he means the reduction of the Faith to metaphor, moral-of-the-story concepts.

    Ironically this ideology was what I was taught in my Jesuit prep school, where we were told that the Scriptures were not true, but had ‘great truths in them’.

    The Holy Father probably includes ‘right-wing’ ideologies as well: the reduction of Christ to ethical judge, not healer, the reduction of His Redemption to a condemnation of sinners. Social teaching becomes a political philosophy for the political ordering of society, a way to manage sinners, the faithless, etc. in lieu of conversion. A way of opposing the enemies of the Church as though it is enough that Right should triumph, without our brother being won as well. The forgetting that God triumphs in the conversion and repentance of sinners, not in the case-closed arguments of logical debate.

    The precariousness of the Faith is that it’s easy to see how the modernist ideology is a corruption. It’s harder to avoid the ‘conservative’ ideologization of it. Modernism replaces the ideas of the faith, so it’s easy to see its error. ‘Conservatism’ keeps the good, necessary ideas and images of the faith– Christian social order, Christ Crucified for Sins, Objective Truth, Discipline, Purity– but replaces the point of it. It, usually unconsciously, replaces ideas with persons, replacing the Lord of our hearts, the suffering servant, Our Brother, with the idea of him, and replacing the real neighbors around them with the idea of neighbor, others.

  16. CharlesG says:

    So I guess he is using the word ideology in a special sense rather than the one normal people would understand, sort of like his use of proselytism. Anyways, I think it’s fine to stress that the Faith is more than just an exercise of intellectual understanding — even St. Thomas Aquinas had his mystical experience with Jesus — but the danger is to go in a fideistic direction to say that there is no value in intellectual understanding of the faith and yes, liberals, even morals. I worry that the Pope is a bit anti-intellectual, like when he says that bishops and clerics shouldn’t be stuck away in a library or follow an intellectual bent. I strongly disagree with that, as I think different people have different strengths and gifts, and some are called to a more intellectual approach to the faith — not everyone is called to go out to the peripheries and some may be shy or not comfortable or good at dealing with a lot of people. I feel like the Pope is perhaps belittling the intellectual and reason-based thought of the previous Pope.

  17. Palladio says:

    “So I guess he is using the word ideology in a special sense rather than the one normal people would understand.” In a word, no. In two, He’s not. On the contrary, ideology is anti-intellectual and undermines reason because it is always one or another closed way of speaking or ‘thinking.’ I expect normal people understand the word that way. This Pope is wholly a FAITH AND REASON Catholic, that is, a genuine one. He follows Christ, as Christ enjoined, with his “mind.” He happens to say, what every Father and Saint and Doctor of the Church has also said, that God speaks to the heart as much as to any other essential part of us, and that He transcends our human understanding. It is precisely God speaking to our hearts that opens our reason–and our attention to everybody and everything.

  18. Joshua Mincher says:

    Like Palladio said, the ‘key to the door’ the Church offers, in great love, to us, are the sacraments, the means of salvation.

    Modernist ideologies teach the moral-of-the-story concepts while demythologizing the sacraments. They leave man urged to duty but without access to grace by which to achieve goodness.

    ‘Conservatism’ tends to ritualize, or sociologize the sacraments too, rather than maintain the purpose of them, which is an immediate, personal encounter with Jesus.

    Worship and the sacraments are the incarnation of our relationship, personally and communally, with God. They ‘lighten the burdens’ and give the ‘key to the door’. They are the Church pointing, not to rites of passage or metaphorical acts, but to the incarnate touch of, and communion with Jesus, through water, oil, the host and the blood, your spouse and the speech of vows, the sound of absolution, etc.

    The Church becomes ‘self-referential’ when she attempts to argue too much from philosophy, whether Greek or German, and thinks of tradition too much as ‘the way WE have always done it’ and not as the living, rooted, abiding presence of the Lord of History.

    We should always point people to the fact of Jesus, their Saviour, and to the means of contact with him: the sacraments, and worship.

    It troubles, me, though, that the Holy Father, unlike Pope Benedict XVI, does not speak much at all about worship, and does not continue Benedict’s reform of liturgy. Much of what he says would be more clearly sound if he connected it with right worship.

  19. Palladio says:

    Joshua Mincher, amen. To your last point, two things: I participated in the world-wide holy hour months ago, via the internet, with the Pope: choruses of Latin prayer and chant, a beautifully produced pdf of it. I have watched Masses on EWTN with the Pope, too: the result is that I, supporting FSSP every day by praying for it, am untroubled. Second, it is too early to judge the Pope seven months into his pontificate.
    God bless.

  20. Joshua Mincher says:

    Valid points, and you’re right to be untroubled. I have in mind things like reducing Summorum Pontificum to a ‘concession to traditionalists’, the return of the table altar to the Sistine, and the intervention in the FFI.

    Those things might be worked out, though, as he ‘matures’ into the papacy. But I do wish, when he would say things that could be interpreted wildly, that he would ground them in the context of right worship and the sacraments. It would make the context of his ideas clearer.

  21. Joshua Mincher says:

    the word ‘ideology’ is also starting to cause a knee jerk reaction among traditional Catholics, since the Holy Father warned of the danger of ‘ideologization of the Vetus Ordo.”

    Sure, there is a danger of it, as I tried to illustrate above. However, we all know where liturgical ideologization reigns most dominatingly. The Novus Ordo has been ideologized since its promulgation, and every time Summorum Pontificum is explained as a ‘concession to traditionalists’ it feeds that ideologization. Bishops, clerics, and laity who ideologize the Novus Ordo are allowed to say: “Oh, Summorum, see that doesn’t have anything to do with us. It’s a concession to schismatics. The Holy Father isn’t calling for reform of the Ordinary Form.” When clearly he did, in SP.

    That’s ideology. The Holy Father speaks freely about the danger of ideology in traditionalism, and, thank God, and thank the Holy Father, he speaks about the danger of modern ideology.

    But he needs to take off what appears to be blinders about the ideology of the modern rites. With all respect due him as my pope, and father.

  22. anilwang says:

    If I try to read it with the hermeneutic of continuity (which isn’t always easy), it reminds me a bit about something C. S. Lewis said in the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape told the tempting devil that one of the best ways to derail a faithful Christian was to turn the Christian’s Christianity into “Christ and Something”. It doesn’t matter what that Something is. It could be Christ and Social Justice, or Christ and Republicanism/Democratism, or Christ and Marxism. It doesn’t matter. The effect is to make the Christian into a snob that looks down on Christians without a love for that Something and a skilled tempter can turn “Christ and Something” into “Something from the Christian Perspective” and then ultimately just “Something that can take advantage of the Christian machinery”.

    I personally wish he spoke less like a politician (which purposely uses words that can be interpreted by all parties to support their positions) and more like a teacher (which humbly tries to faithfully hand down a certain deposit of knowledge).

  23. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I think I understand. This is not new, not really.

    The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Chautard, is a superb handbook of the Christian life.

    “To live with oneself, in oneself, to wish to govern oneself and not to be governed by exterior things, to reduce one’s imagination, one’s feeling, even one’s intelligence and memory to the part of the servants of the will, and to make this will conform always to the Will of God, is a programme that is less and less welcome in this century [Note: 20th c.] of feverish excitement, which has seen a new ideal spring of: of love of action for action’s sake.

    “To escape from this discipline of the faculties any pretext is held to be good enough: family cares, health, good reputation, love of country, the honour of one’s congregation, of the pretended glory of God; all these vie with each other to prevent us from living within ourselves. This sort of frenzy for exterior life finally succeeds in gaining an irresistible attraction over us . . .

    “they forget that in the plan of the Redemption everything is founded on the Eucharistic life no less than on the rock of Peter . . . We must not be astonished then that, as the intimate union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament almost no longer exists for them, they have come to consider the interior life only as a mere memory of the the Middle Ages.”

    Elsewhere in the book, Dom Chautard the relates the history of an orphanage for young girls, run by an Order of sisters. (We’re probably talking about the early decades of the 20th c.) The superior, the chaplain, and the teachers were all good, observant Christians, but none of them practiced much in the way of a dedicated life of prayer. The girls were all good little girls, but they were not being taught the love of God, not being trained to become “women of valor”; they were like caged birds, sighing to get out. When each of them turned eighteen years of age, they were placed in a good situation (probably as domestic servants in good Christian homes), but in a matter of just a few years, all but one of these young women had been (as Dom Chautard delicately puts it), “dragged down by Satan into the gutter.”

    Later the superior and the chaplain were replaced by others, and the new superior and the chaplain were on fire with the love of God, practicing prayer of real fervor. The orphans were being drawn from the same populations, the program at the orphanage was the same, the teachers were the same, but the interior spirit of the new superior and the chaplain made the Christian life truly come alive for the girls under their care. Under their supervision, the young women who continued to be placed in good domestic service, had become truly women of valor, very much dedicated to Christ. And every last one of them remained securely in ways of life that a Christian woman need not be ashamed of.

    The difference in outcomes, Dom Chautard explains, was made by the life of prayer led by the superior and the chaplain . . . vs. the absence of the same by the previous occupants of those positions.

    In short, exterior observance of the Christian life is no bad thing, not at all, but if it is only skin-deep, and does not radiate from a true love of God and a life of prayer, it cannot last nor do any lasting good for others. And some Christians do make the exterior observance of the Christian life the be-all and end-all of their existence, and this is not healthy for them or for the Church.

  24. Palladio says:

    Indeed, though the cause be noble–I repeat, as a member of C. S. P., I pray every day for FSSP–it is possible to make an idol of the Mass, and, more than possible, that danger is clear and present, whether the Mass is of one Form or of the other. Whence the beautiful fact of Norcia, tasked by Benedict XVI to celebrate BOTH Forms. The Pope, in other words, is right, and I would add the idolizing of the Bible, of the Lectionary (in some places, though nobody could call it by its proper name, given more respect and reverence than Holy Eucharist!!!!!), and of the people themselves, romanticized into a Volk who know better than the Pope or the Magisterium. Yes, from many sources, the ideological times we live in are distorting and flattening the reality of the faith. I am not so sure, however, the Pope is limited by any ideology. If I had been Pope, I would have, stupidly, suppressed the NO to endorse the EF. The real Pope, five years ago, did something infinitely wonderful: he reminded the Church of its own history and potential as the Church of Christ in the liturgy. We have defined for us One Rite with two Forms thanks to him. I have found no evidence whatsoever–no evidence remotely convincing, that is–that Francis is doing anything other than work within that definition.

  25. Joshua Mincher says:

    Incredibly well put. I need to read that book. I was also just justifying to my wife why I engage in online conversations. She was suggesting that I not, saying something like the above:

    “To live with oneself, in oneself, to wish to govern oneself and not to be governed by exterior things, to reduce one’s imagination, one’s feeling, even one’s intelligence and memory to the part of the servants of the will, and to make this will conform always to the Will of God, is a programme that is less and less welcome in this century [Note: 20th c.] of feverish excitement, which has seen a new ideal spring of: of love of action for action’s sake.

    “To escape from this discipline of the faculties any pretext is held to be good enough: family cares, health, good reputation, love of country, the honour of one’s congregation, of the pretended glory of God; all these vie with each other to prevent us from living within ourselves. This sort of frenzy for exterior life finally succeeds in gaining an irresistible attraction over us . “

  26. Archer.2013 says:

    This is all getting rather tedious I think. The pope speaks and those interested in hearing what he had to say simply find a blog site or publication that provides the preferred interpretation. I get the impression here that the pope is questioning the catholicity of those who question him. So he doesn’t like the trappings of the papacy, but he seems to like the authority of it. Then again, that is just one of no doubt many many interpretations of what he was trying to say.

  27. joan ellen says:

    lana says:
    19 October 2013 at 5:01 am
    “I find his homilies to be great for soul-searching.” Ditto for me. Pope Francis is helping me to take notice of my thoughts in relation to my heart.

    Thank you all. Your comments are most helpful…especially thanks to markomalley, Palladio, Joshua Mincher.

  28. Archer.2013 says:

    I should have added that for the good of my soul I’m going to try to tune him out.

  29. cwillia1 says:

    The essence of religious liberalism is to relocate the struggle of good against evil from the soul to the broader society. Taxing the rich takes the place of asceticism. I think this is one example of how ideology that can supplant faith. Another example would be a European style right wing Catholicism that pursues a Catholic state and social order through political action to the detriment of individual conversion and evangelism. Both of these phenomena plague Latin American Catholicism, which is part of the reason evangelicals have made such inroads. In the US, I think the issue is mostly religious liberalism.

    Not every pope is a thinker of the stature of Joseph Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla. W e should not expect this of Jorge Bergoglio. Personally, I remain in awe of Pope Benedict, a model of clarity, insight and Christian humility.

  30. Eliane says:

    I am hard pressed to think of any of these straw-dog heckling Catholic ideologues who is more offensive than Jose Bergolio.

  31. Palladio says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae, THANKS! An apposite example speaking volumes! The French have given us many Saints.

  32. Quanah says:

    Palladio and Joshua have hit the nail on the head. My saying this in not purely subjective. It is based on my years of experience with the lay movement Communion and Liberation. Pope Francis has for a while been associated with this movement, and being conscious of the risk we all have of reducing the faith to an ideology is something that comes up quite often. The charism of the movement is living with an ever-present awareness of the Incarnate One’s presence and activity in all things. Once that awareness is loss, which happens through among other things the lack of true prayer, one’s faith becomes ideological. Pope Francis is speaking broadly most likely because he is speaking of many groups of people. Faith without charity and true prayer is a tyrant, regardless of whether one falls on the right or left.

    @ JP Borberg,
    How we speak influences how we think and vice versa. In America when we think of “isms” we think of ideology. This is why I very consciously avoid using the word “Catholicism.” It is not an “ism.” Our faith is beyond ideology, philosophy, ethical codes, etc. While these things are part of the faith and our expression of it (excepting ideology), they themselves are not the faith. Instead I always say “the faith,” “the Catholic Church,” etc. etc.

    @ all those who accuse Pope Francis of questioning the catholicity of those who question him,
    Seriously!? This is a serious accusation. What evidence do you have to back this up?

  33. robtbrown says:

    Some very interesting comments above, including the mention of the ideology of the Post VatII rites. If I might add a bit:

    The pope is a Jesuit. Jesuits are perhaps the most famous example of the Devotio Moderna. The DM is spirituality that is Affective rather than Intellectual. Of course, for centuries the SJ’s have done intellectual work, but there is a wall between it and their spirituality. Revelation is considered and studied as Law. I have mentioned here before that the tendency of the Counter Reformation Church is By the Numbers, and its Ecclesiocentric approach studies Doctrine as if its the ideology of the Church. It is well known that this kind of theology produced casuistry and moralism. Scrupulosity also is attributed to it. It also produced Catholics who knew the faith.

    This highly methodical approach was replaced by Existentialism, which of course the SJ’s took up. It emphasizes experience, but unfortunately it has produced Catholics who don’t know the faith or are only nominally interested in Doctrine. They have gone from Doctrine as Ideology to Doctrine as Experience (anti-ideology)–ignoring the golden mean, they have adopted the opposite extreme.

    I have noticed in Jesuits of a certain generation that much of what they say is enveloped in an attitude toward their previous highly methodological approach (which still exists in the Exercises) and all its consequences. If they are of that mind, fine, but it is of little interest to me.

    With all due respect to Marion, what the pope is speaking about is only marginally relevant to The Soul of the Apostolate. Dom Chautard was a contemplative, but the pope has been quoted as saying that it is either evangelizing or turning in on oneself. Where does the Contemplative life fit into this matrix? IMHO, it does not.

  34. dbonneville says:

    Talks *like this* from the Holy Father are a:

    a) Hermeneutic of Continuity
    b) Hermeneutic of Ambiguity
    c) Hermeneutic of Spontenaity
    d) Hermeneutic of Jesuitality
    e) Hermeneutic of Rorschachity

    Choose one.

    Hint: it’s not A.

    Hint: It could be B-E. Is that the problem? Personally, I have a Bible degree and really can’t tell what he’s talking about. If I can’t make good sense of this, what about grandma or my teenage son? To whom is this really pointed? There is some excellent speculation above, but ultimately it is not helpful. Where Pope Benedict was clear and not heard, Pope Francis, so far, is murky and populist at the same time. What is so hard about speaking plainly? Why is that not valued? Isn’t THAT the most Christian thing we can do? Speak the truth in love?

  35. Palladio says:

    When the Pope spends an hour in Eucharistic Adoration each day, as it is reported he does, can anybody seriously say that he is not leading a contemplative life? That that life is also exemplary, for the whole Church?
    When the Pope endorses prayer, as we have just read he does, can anybody seriously say that he is not endorsing a contemplative life? One of great utility for the souls of the Church?
    In being a Benedictine oblate novice, I have spent more than a year–I know, no time at all, really–considering what, historically, contemplation was and is for this great tradition. Reading Latin and Greek (alas, no Hebrew) and speaking a number of languages, I not only research the subject but also, as part of oblature, practice contemplation within that tradition and, leaning on such a great work as Fr. M. Laird’s _Into the Silent Land_, without. In brief, I would not place too much stock on making large differences between the Christocentric life of prayer the Pope wants and contemplation.

  36. William says:

    The best ever combox discussion! Thanks, all. How great it would be were the Pope himself to read all this and offer his own comments.

  37. Dennis Martin says:

    RobtBrown

    Your claims about the Devotio Moderna and the Jesuits and affectivity is nonsense.

  38. Pingback: “What did the Pope really say about ideology?” asks Father Z | Foolishness to the world

  39. Robbie says:

    Jorge Bergoglio was an Archbishop on the other side of the world who never expected to become Pope. He likely never had a reason or even a desire to think in depth about some of these topics because they had little affect on the problems faced by those in Buenos Aires. Now, he’s come to Rome and, essentially, he’s doing it on the fly. And because he never had well thought out views on these topics, say the way Ratzinger did, we’re seeing a messy approach.

  40. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Perhaps the best reflection on all of this comes to us from 1 Corinthians 13.:

    If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

    And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

    If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

    It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

    For we know partially and we prophesy partially,

    but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

    When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

    At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

    So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  41. mamajen says:

    It makes perfect sense to me, but I don’t think I can explain it. And I think the majority of the people who most need the message won’t get it, because they aren’t just clutching the key keeping it away from others, they’re actually throwing the key away, so they themselves can’t get in either. What makes it harder is that they often aren’t doing it consciously or purposely, and so they don’t realize.

    Once in a great while, Rorate posts something that I really like. They quickly make up for it, but here is one such example from their post Dietrich von Hildebrand on Pope Francis:

    Bureaucratic attitudes stifle faith

    Still another example of dried-up religion is a phenomenon one could well call employeeism. Instead of emanating a spirit of holy unction, of loving zeal for the glorification of God and for guiding the faithful to Christ, priests have sometimes behaved as if they were employees of the Church. The way they say Mass suggests the performance of a professional duty. Their contact with the faithful is similar to that of an organization official dealing with clients.
    In contrast to the priest who leads an immoral life or who is immersed in worldly preoccupations—a danger widespread in the Renaissance—these employee-priests who have taken the letter for the spirit do not have a bad conscience. They feel themselves to be very correct and loyal. This makes their attitude, though not sinful as the other is, very dangerous to the life of the Church. They not only tend to reduce their own religious life to correctness and loyalty; they also influence the faithful to take such an approach.

    There is much more there which I think is relevant.

    People can do all the right things for the wrong reasons.

  42. Palladio says:

    To which, marion, the Pope alludes in “The Christian who does not pray, urged the Pope, is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement…when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.””

    amen, mamajen

  43. oscida says:

    Thank you – Palladio and Marion Ancilla Mariae. I experienced the Popes talk as speaking to me personally. When one is embedded in an ideology one descends to a form of tribalism where most personal values are transferred to the group and the groups successes and failures become the emotional life of the ideologue. This could be just personal pride. An old definition of worship identifies it a fascination. Worshiping ones self or group. To behave like a pharisee is to be an ideologue – closed to those outside the tribe. It is natural. Grace from Jesus through the sacraments can break down these walls that shut out those experienced as outsiders. Kindness is not easy. Perhaps kindness is not natural but supernatural. I’m intrigued by the sequence give by St. Peter in 2 Peter 1:5 where he begins with faith and ends with kindness or mutual affection.

  44. Woody79 says:

    Each one of you that have posted make good points and yet they are all different. Very interesting on explanations of what Pope Francis is saying. But is that not the problem? I now have a dictionary and bible next to me when I read his homilies and statements. I now will have my Haydock Commentaries on hand to try to figure out MY understanding of his homilies and statements. I do not dislike him as he is the pope. I believe he is Catholic. I just don’t understand where he is coming from or what he means. But I think that is because of where he is from, his upbringing, his education and he is a Jesuit. So, I will go on listening to Pope Francis because I am interested in what he says because he is the Pope! But I am afraid that I may never understand what he means. I will keep trying, though.

  45. Palladio says:

    I remember when Cardinal Dolan first addressed the election of Pope Francis he praised a return to “Gospel simplicity” or words to that effect. I had to smile, and God bless the Cardinal. Speaking the truth in charity, and — as I recall an FSSP priest explaining soon after the encyclical appeared — the terms interpenetrate (you have to speak charity in truth, too), has got nothing to do with simplicity. Mass, explicitly, celebrates MYSTERIES. The very faulty thinking–and this feeds the ideology of worshipping the Bible–is to confuse the Word with a book, a book with the Word. Gospel is what the Angels hymn to the shepherds at the Nativity: It, the Good News, is Christ Himself. But if there is anything simple about Him, fully God and fully Man, I will eat my copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict for lunch today within the hour.

  46. Palladio says:

    Thank you, oscida. What a lovely post. Yes, kindness is no doubt supernatural, too. At least, if I have any, I doubt it is coming from me. One day, very elated by the EF–which my son had just served for a young priest’s first Mass, Gloria Deo!–I finally realized what was wrong with some of the talk my friends, with as much or more zeal for SP and its results, were talking, talk I talked, repeated, trumpeted, got hot and bothered by: I was pretty good at piety, always on the look out for more of it (nothing wrong with that, per se, of course) and for the pre-V II expressions of it, but not so great at charity, esp. in trying to express my new-found love for the EF. In no way is this a swipe at them, all of whom had labored long in the fields of Sacred Tradition and suffered a great deal for it. It is just to say I have a lot to aspire to: properly receiving Sacraments, praying rather than saying prayers, living rather than just ‘understanding’ faith before everybody all of the time, following GIRM in the pews and the priest at the altar while abandoning myself to God the while, keeping alive in my body mind and soul the grace Christ has granted me through His Church…
    God bless.

  47. Jason Keener says:

    I’m with Father Z on this one. The Pope’s comments are again very vague. Who exactly or what exactly is Pope Francis talking about? The myriad of answers here demonstrates there is no conclusive answer. I don’t agree with everything on The Remnant website, but they did a video awhile back critiquing one of the Pope Francis interviews and the baffling ambiguity found therein. The video is called “Pope Francis and THE Interview.” I point out the video because it is very instructive about the dangers and confusion that arises when a Pope makes so many befuddling statements. Again, we should continue to pray for our Pope.

  48. avecrux says:

    I’m not really sure why this is hard to understand, to be honest. I don’t think he is saying anything different than Benedict:

    “Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we
    encounter Christ… Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with
    the Risen One do we really become Christians… Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to
    enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus
    give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the
    world.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, Sept. 3, 2008

    “The Church is not an association that wishes to promote a certain cause. It is not about a
    cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, July 1, 2008

    “The evangelization of the person and of human communities depends totally on this
    encounter with Jesus Christ.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, November 13, 2007

    “One doesn’t begin to be a Christian because of an ethical decision or a great idea, but rather
    because of an encounter with an event, with a Person, who gives new horizons to life, and
    with that, a decisive orientation.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, November 13, 2007

    “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with
    an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (1) 2006

    “For each one of you, as for the apostles, the encounter with the divine Teacher who calls
    you friends may be the beginning of an extraordinary venture: that of becoming apostles
    among your contemporaries to lead them to live their own experience of friendship with
    God, made Man, with God who has made himself my friend.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, UNIV Congress, April 10, 2006

    “Our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person’s
    testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the
    proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be
    personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Rome, October 4, 2006

    “The fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible
    in the human face of Jesus.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Bishops of Ontario, Castel Gondolfo, Italy Sept. 8,
    2006

    “Thus, the apostles’ adventure began as a gathering of persons who open to one another
    reciprocally. A direct knowledge of the Teacher began for the disciples. They saw where he
    lived and began to know him. They would not have to be heralds of an idea, but witnesses of
    a person. Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to “be” with Jesus (cf. Mark
    3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him. With this foundation, evangelization is
    no more than a proclamation of what has been experienced and an invitation to enter into the
    mystery of communion with Christ (cf. 1 John 13).”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, March 22, 2006

  49. avecrux says:

    I’m not really sure why this is hard to understand, to be honest. I don’t think he is saying anything different than Benedict:

    “Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we
    encounter Christ… Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with
    the Risen One do we really become Christians… Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to
    enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus
    give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the
    world.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, Sept. 3, 2008

    “The Church is not an association that wishes to promote a certain cause. It is not about a
    cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, July 1, 2008

    “The evangelization of the person and of human communities depends totally on this
    encounter with Jesus Christ.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, November 13, 2007

    “One doesn’t begin to be a Christian because of an ethical decision or a great idea, but rather
    because of an encounter with an event, with a Person, who gives new horizons to life, and
    with that, a decisive orientation.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, November 13, 2007

    “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with
    an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (1) 2006

    “For each one of you, as for the apostles, the encounter with the divine Teacher who calls
    you friends may be the beginning of an extraordinary venture: that of becoming apostles
    among your contemporaries to lead them to live their own experience of friendship with
    God, made Man, with God who has made himself my friend.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, UNIV Congress, April 10, 2006

    “Our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person’s
    testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the
    proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be
    personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Rome, October 4, 2006

    “The fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible
    in the human face of Jesus.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Bishops of Ontario, Castel Gondolfo, Italy Sept. 8,
    2006

    “Thus, the apostles’ adventure began as a gathering of persons who open to one another
    reciprocally. A direct knowledge of the Teacher began for the disciples. They saw where he
    lived and began to know him. They would not have to be heralds of an idea, but witnesses of
    a person. Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to “be” with Jesus (cf. Mark
    3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him. With this foundation, evangelization is
    no more than a proclamation of what has been experienced and an invitation to enter into the
    mystery of communion with Christ (cf. 1 John 13).”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, March 22, 2006

  50. MGL says:

    Mamajen writes, It makes perfect sense to me, but I don’t think I can explain it.

    I just read through this comment thread from top to bottom (44 comments as of now). Here’s how it looks:

    “What on earth did he mean?”
    “I … can’t really tell what he’s trying to say. Maybe if I squint….just…so. There! I can almost make it out.”
    “It’s perfectly clear. What the Pope meant to say was X.”
    “Perhaps X is close to his meaning, but I would also add Y, based on a contemplative work that most Catholics have never heard of.”
    “Actually, the explanation is regional, and it fits with Z.”
    “In truth, the philosophical development of a religious order probably best illuminates the Holy Father’s comments. Let’s call it ¥.”
    “¥ is self-evidently nonsense.”
    “It makes perfect sense to me, but I don’t think I can explain it.”

    And so on. I mean no disrespect to the folk above, who undoubtedly outdo me in holiness and piety, but this endless tea-leaf reading and confident pronouncing is just wearying, not to mention far, far beyond the capacity of most ordinary Catholics. How are we peons to know when our faith has slipped into ideology? What are the unmistakable signs? Can you fit it onto a holy card? Why can’t he just say what he means? It’s the papacy as Magic 8-Ball.

  51. MGL says:

    Avacrux:

    The funny thing is, all those BXVI quotes are perfectly clear and accessible, in exactly the way that Pope Francis isn’t. Benedict is making simple, affirmative statements that even peasants can immediately understand, and he isn’t casting aspersions on vague, unnamed adversaries. This is a great illustration of the problem with our current Pontiff’s communication style.

  52. jhayes says:

    Why can’t he just say what he means?

    Maybe it’s the difference between a teacher telling you the answers and teaching you to think through the problem yourself.

  53. Johnno says:

    Reading Pope Francis in context, it is simple to see what he’s getting at. That we try to rationalize things too much and put human means before that of God. Mary may not have fully comprehended what God had in mind that she would become pregnant, but she in humility submitted herself to Him freely. The Apostles did not comprehend what Christ meant when He told them that they would have to literally eat and drink him, but they remained with Him. Catholics today may not always understand difficult teachings about sexuality, hell, divorce and remarriage etc. but if they are humble, they will submit themselves to God who knows better and hope that things will be made understandable in due time. This is undoubtedly what Pope Francis is talking about. However, Pope Francis is using a word ‘ideology’ incorrectly. What he should’ve said was human ‘rationalism,’ is the root problem. The idea of saying human wisdom and science are the solutions to spiritual problems beyond our rationale. Or that those heavenly things not fully grasped and understood by human intellect are therefore not worth considering (miracles for example). That we know better than God.

    Quite frankly. This is precisely what I’d submit back to the Holy Father, was the issue of Vatican II, with its emphasis on pastoral and human solutions to those methods that God divinely prescribed, such as the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart as the solution to fighting Global Communism, conversion and ending war. But which many ignore because it couldn’t possibly work in their human estimation, or try to reinterpret according to human rationality as only meaning the end of the Soviet Union and that the Russian Orthodox Faith is just as good at Roman Catholicism. And that Mary must have meant that secular democracy is what God wanted, not conversion to Catholicism.

    God can do miraculous things. Even instantaneous ones. However, we like the lame man at the baths, believe that God is limited to only working through reinventing the Mass and our human efforts of democratic process and socialism. When God doesn’t answer, we then conclude that God wants us to be more involved at teh Mass and be more democratic, and more socialist until He responds. The lame man complained to Jesus that he needed people to help him reach the bath, carry him into the waters, immerse him, then carry him back out again and that in due time after repeating this over and over, someday he would find signs of healing. Jesus after listening to him said, “Okay…” then reached out, touched him, and healed him completely & immediately.

  54. Palladio says:

    MGL, I think you are being too modest.
    But I also think you proved nothing but that there is a conversation going on here, which would be a good thing to prove, by the way. I do not see that honest differences between faithful folks reflect at all on the Pope.

    Put aside, I’d suggest, understanding as an exalted or exclusive standard for faith, with or without regard to the Pope. I am married. I love my wife. How foolish would I have to be to say “I understand her,” or “I have to understand her.” In the title of a good book, Love alone is credible…

    Also, put aside “simplicity.” Holy cards are fine–as far as they go.

    Who ever said the faith was easy?

    Ideology is but one expression of evil, which besets us from all corners. I, for one, would worry about the claim “It’s the papacy as Magic 8-Ball,” since there is no evidence for that, least of all what the Pope is saying in Fr. Z’s post.

    Finally, the faith of the lady, Mrs. Corrente, who venerates statues as a daily communicant and has no higher than an eighth grade education is not inferior to my faith, cloaked as I am in privilege.

  55. robtbrown says:

    Dennis Martin says:

    RobtBrown

    Your claims about the Devotio Moderna and the Jesuits and affectivity is nonsense.

    If you think it is, say why you think it is.

  56. Basher says:

    Like every Jesuit. The Faith is something ‘other’ that our small minds cannot comprehend. It is not a way of thinking, or a way of doing, it is (insert vague, idealistic, impractical phrase here).

    This is the way of post-VII religious. Have none of you ever been trapped in a room with them? From the rising of the sun to its setting, they tell the imprisoned group of lay people that they are doing it wrong, and they need to have a (insert useless impractical imperative religious experience that no one in the room has ever seen and has no method to approach here).

    I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that since our Pope is a modern religious priest, that his advice to the world is to have a (insert inscrutable exhortation to experience religion in a different way than everyone is supposedly experiencing it currently here). ;-)

    I guess I’m just lucky. Since this is how my RCIA was, and how my faith formation was, and how parish meetings were, and how Jesuit homilies are, I just don’t have any problems understanding it. It’s the same thing they always say, which is to exhort people to do things they have no understanding of or knowledge about (because, in fact, it may be wholly imaginary) and certainly no ability to ‘do’.

    Just (_________) as hard you can about Jesus, and you will (_______) and then we can all be Church together. Anybody else is a traditionalist pelagian. :-)

    Happy Day! We’re back to the Church of my youth. I know this music, and can dance to it. Well, Holy Father, I had a mystical experience while sitting on a mountaintop, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me, and told me that I should only receive Holy Communion kneeling, on the tongue. That’s what’s right for me!

  57. tcreek says:

    I was born in 1935, hence there have been 8 popes in my lifetime.
    Pope Francis is the first pope whose messages are unclear to me. Thankfully, since others have that problem, I don’t worry that it’s age causing my confusion.

  58. snoozie says:

    MGL…thank you, thank you, thank you! Clear, concise, accurate and on-point. Well done.

  59. JeffK says:

    It seems strange to me that it’s hard to understand what the Pope means.

    One can be caught up in the Faith as a cool system of ideas which becomes “your cool thing” and which you want simply to convince people of. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

    It’s not a very good Christian witness, as the Pope says. And it’s not very spiritually healthy either.

  60. Gratias says:

    Thanks avecrux for the lovely quotations. What we are getting from Pope Francis is confusion.

    We should remember Francis is our first Peronista Pope. (Just Google Bergoglio Peronista). Peronism is populism that avoids a Marxist ideology but nevertheless its statism has nearly destroyed a rich country, Argentina.

    I just wish Pope Francis would teach with clarity instead of ambiguity. Starting with the Creed of the Apostles, the key to Catechism. He used to teach it to the children of Argentina. This Creed has been kept in an almost verbatim translation between Latin and Spanish. I think the Spanish language was modeled around the need to preserve this daily prayer. How is one going to believe: descendit ad inferos; tertia die ressuréxit a mortuis: ascendit ad coelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis; inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos… To achieve this Creed we need the help of the Church. Jesus loves you is just a beginning. We depend on the Pope to preserve our Faith. This is why I find all these cryptic sermons, while effective, worrisome.

  61. MGL says:

    Thanks for your charitable response, Palladio. In truth, my Magic 8-Ball comment was probably a metaphor too far, in trying to express frustration at the elliptical nature of so many of the Pope ‘s remarks. My apologies to all.

    Who said the Faith was meant to be easy? Certainly not me, and the Pope’s contents only intensify my existing propensity to (mild) scrupulosity. After all, my conversion from atheism was largely an intellectual one, based on historical and philosophical arguments. My conversion of the heart is far more difficult, and I expect it will be a lifelong endeavour. So when I read of the pope denigrating intellectual approaches (maybe, kinda, sorta, if you read him in a certain, precise way), I worry that he is saying that my faith is bogus or “ideological”, and that I’ve missed the point entirely. Do I need to go to Confession for my ideological sins? (No, I’m not kidding.) It’s hard enough to meditate on the “fewness of the saved” without the Pope seemingly adding new and terrifyingly obscure ways to fall into Hell.

    Contrast this to the quotes by Benedict, above. No, the Faith isn’t easy, but you know the direction you need to go in. With Francis, the signposts are almost unreadable: am I going in the right direction? Am I lost? Or am I unwittingly one of the ideologizers, the self-referential?

    And the legions of Francis exegetes only make things worse, lending something of a gnostic air to proceedings. The one thing they all agree on its that the Holy Father’s meaning is quite clear; they merely differ on what, exactly, that meaning is. Among some (not in this thread), there is barely concealed pride in the fact that they “get” Francis, unlike all those bed-wetting types.

  62. Imrahil says:

    Among the many things I innocently enjoy (I commit sins, also, but that does not belong here) are a the company of friends, good meat, beer… and also a nice philosophical system, with or without depth but anyway answering questions, not disprovably false (in the case of dogma also provably true), and somewhat “a cool thing”. Say, the great work of a St. Thomas, the much-disliked systematicism of the preconciliars (Ludwig Ott etc.), the articles of Gilbert Chesterton and the ideology (that is the shortest word) there present, or my own unworthy musings.

    With all due respect, I think Pope Francis is making the better the enemy of the good.

  63. Janol says:

    Over the last several months I have become so much more appreciative of the work our own local pastors try to put into preparing their own homilies. It is a work of charity in so many ways, to make intelligible and forceful what one wants to impart of the fruit of one’s own meditation on the gospel of the day. To not try to make the effort to prepare one’s homily could lead one to the sin of presumption. Or, it is already the fruit of a presumptive attitude that one’s words are/will be inspired and therefore require no forethought or preparation.

    To deal with “plausibilites” is a waste of time and effort. If someone wants me to consider something, to take something to heart, I need to understand what he/she means, not what he/she might possibly mean.

  64. Basher says:

    I’ll also add that, in my experience, this manner of approaching the faith being employed by the Pope is paralyzing. Nobody knows what to do, because they have been scared off of ‘doing’. It’s the same old mis-application of the Mary/Martha dichotomy that would have cast Peter and Paul as Marthas and told them to quit being so busy and just sort of be cool and froody with Jesus, and let things happen naturally, since it’s all the work of the Holy Spirit anyway, you know man?

  65. Palladio says:

    MGL, thanks for your very kind reply.
    The Pope is all for your point of view. I have no doubt that the mind could be converted to the one true faith, as you generously — thank you for your witness: it is a powerful one — mention is your case. Founded by the Logos, the Church is built on faith and reason. But ideologies, not philosophy, not the Church, are anti-intellectual: they not only dull our wits they harden our hearts. Christ, Who is Truth, will appeal to us as He wills. For me, too, conversion was by books, in large part. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, by his own admission, read himself into faith in our Church! Pope Francis is simply warning of certain dangers, evils, really, attendant on reason and ritual, including an empty formalism, fussiness (ask any priest who rubs elbows with certain people), and hypercriticism. Pope Benedict warned of the dangers of ‘faith’ alone in the Regensberg address. Pope Francis seems to be warning of reason alone in its base, destructive form of ideology, a form which can infect any walk of life, including the Church Herself.

    The problem you bring up of your faith being potentially ideological is a matter — or none at all — for you to decide as you are inclined or able. If scrupulosity, my friend, were my main problem, I’d be close to sainthood! Remember, Christ is merciful. “All is grace.” Every priest I have ever known has preached on the goodness of intentions, of effort, of attitude. Christ completes, in Eucharist, was we lack in ourselves, when we are in communion with Him. In prayer, the Pope’s present point, we know that personal relationship, if “know” is the word (“have’?), Christ desires. To apply another Pope, Alexander Pope, to reason right is to submit. God at once transcends, and condescends to, us. Rejoice! Live this Catholic life as best you can. Love and do what you will. You are redeemed and working our your own salvation. Mrs. Corrente’s faith is as good as, or better than, mine. Who knows? Who cares? There are many more Mrs. Correntes than there are of me, Deo gratias.
    God bless.

  66. Imrahil says:

    I might add that I do, with our Holy Father, dislike a “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness” attitude. (Not the casuistry, btw. Because casuistry is the way to be un-rigid without being factually incorrect; casuistry is a good thing.)

    Only, so does a great majority of those who actually are rigid, moralistic, and ethical without kindness. They will usually say that they would like to be nicer but cannot in conscience. (Whether or not in some of them, a subconscious delight in being hard which does not rise to the level of consciousness has a role here, let be open. It is anyway no fault of theirs, for it is not conscientious after all; there can be no doubt that they mean what they say when they say they would like to be nicer.)

    It seems that better than just rebuking them for what they would always add a “here I stand and cannot do otherwise” to, one should think about ponder an ideology about why kindness is legitimate.

    May I say that part in such a direction was the effort of casuistry… which completely undeservedly has become a word of abuse.

  67. mamajen says:

    MGL,

    I was raised to be an ideologue and found my way out (but thankfully not out of the Church) after personal suffering and genuinely turning to God out of sheer desperation. That experience isn’t something that I can transfer onto another person.

    Every single one of us needs to take a journey, so it’s not surprising that different people are at different points, or have different understandings. I haven’t “arrived” either, there is still much for me to learn.

    The takeaway from this fervorino is not ideology, but prayer. If we seek a true relationship with God through heartfelt prayer, He will help us with self-awareness and understanding.

  68. Palladio says:

    The Pope has changed nothing of the faith. Nor can he do so. (Nor has he tried to do so…)

    Those who feel their lives depend on this one, or any one Pope, are simply mistaken. Relax. Read somebody else. What is more, nothing dire is transpiring. Nor will it. No evidence for it, no matter what a vocal micro-minority says.
    If some do not understand Pope Francis–and subset of those, somewhat magically, understand the still more learned Pope Benedict XVI–they still have no business pretending in public to correct, criticize, or second guess him, not least because their own incomprehension disqualifies them for the job, to say nothing of the evident temerity, arrogance, and pride involved (not on this thread, of course) in presenting themselves as more Catholic than he. Doubts, questions, confusions: sure. Arm chair quarterbacks second guessing: no.

  69. avecrux says:

    If the quotes from Benedict aren’t enough, I’ll just say that Pope Francis is reiterating the same thing Jesus said:
    Luke “9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  70. avecrux says:

    I’ll just add that the life the Pharisee lived in the quote from Luke was not an easy one. He was obviously very committed to the practice of his faith. Moreso than most. You would call him “fervent” or “devout”… pick a word. But he didn’t have charity. Charity is the fruit of prayer.

  71. slainewe says:

    Again, Pope Francis’ approach is distinctly feminine, as in, “If I have to explain it to you, you don’t understand.” ;-)

    I do like the distinction between “saying prayers” and “praying.” (I have been trying to remove the phrase “saying prayers” from my vocabulary.) His comments also remind me of my distinction between a sermon and a homily: in a sermon the priest preaches the Gospel; in a homily the priest talks about preaching the Gospel.

  72. robtbrown says:

    Palladio says:

    When the Pope spends an hour in Eucharistic Adoration each day, as it is reported he does, can anybody seriously say that he is not leading a contemplative life?

    The contemplative life is a life contemplating (of course) the Divine Truth without an active apostolate, e.g., Carthusians, the Benedictines of Clear Creek Abbey, and Carmelite and Dominican (2d order) nuns.

  73. robtbrown says:

    Dennis Martin,

    1. Both John O’Malley SJ and Jordan Aumann OP put Ignatian spirituality in the tradition of the Devotio Moderna.

    2. It is well known that St Ignatius treasured De Vita Christi by Ludolph the Carthusian and Imitatio Christi, both Devotio Moderna classics.

    3. Aumann considered the Devotio Moderna to be Affective.

    4. I wonder whether you are confining the Devotio to its roots in Northern Europe, e.g., Ruysbroek and the Rhinelanders. In fact, it found its way into Spain.

  74. Imrahil says:

    Dear @slainewe,

    interesting observation.

    I just add the other observation that, well, I’m a man. I might sometimes not succeed at being one, but I still am.

  75. Palladio says:

    Naw, your definition is way too narrow. Plenty of contemplatives, in religion, also have an active apostolate: the Carmelites you mention, for example, whose ‘double spirit’ is preaching on the one hand and contemplation on the other. Benedictine oblates are OBLIGED to contemplation, but mostly live in the world, whether or not in religion. Contemplation is a variety of prayer. I do recommend, to everybody, Into the Silent Land, by Fr. Martin Laird, O. S. A. Fr. Laird is the contemplative’s contemplative–and a professor at Villanova University.

  76. acardnal says:

    Contemplation is not acquired by technique. It is a gift.

    I like what the late Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. said about contemplative prayer:
    “Contemplative intimacy does not come about by techniques — neither oriental nor occidental. Centering-prayer does not bring about contemplative prayer. It can’t; it’s a technique. Emptying the mind is just not the way to go. It’s abnormal to empty the mind; the mind is made to be filled. It’s only when we are really open to the Spirit, a deepening conversion and so on, that God begins to give the kind of communion with Himself that we cannot produce. When we get to prayer and are living with a deeper conversion, God begins to give us at prayer-time a loving awareness of Himself and that grows. It’s not something a technique can produce. No technique of any type can produce that. It has to be given by God and then received that is why it is called infused contemplation. When we are ready for it by deep conversion, He is given. They cause each other.”
    –Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM; “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer” dvd, Disc 4, Segment 1,

  77. kiwiinamerica says:

    Is his term “ideology” synonymous with the word “dogma”, in particular Catholic dogma? IOW, is he saying that Catholics who adhere too rigidly to Catholic dogma cause people to be “driven away”?

    To give a real world example which has been in the news recently, is he saying that Catholics who have divorced and remarried and thus cannot receive Communion, are being driven away by “ideology”?? Is he saying that homosexuals should be welcomed into the priesthood, for instance, for to keep them out would be mere “ideology”?

    That’s certainly how the New York Times would understand this, even if the cogniscenti on this thread don’t read it like that. Therein lies the problem with the du jour game of “parse the Pope” which has now become an integral part of Catholic life. You can read into it whatever you want.

    This harks back to his now famous interview on the plane home from Brazil when he made his “who am I to judge?” remark. His comments today fit in perfectly with that. However, his “who am I to judge?” remark is a canard, a red herring, because nobody is asking him to judge and popular opinion notwithstanding, the Church has never judged homosexuals. It simply says two things; sodomy is sinful and that homosexuality is a disorder and therefore those afflicted with this disorder ought not be ordained. That is all.

    Is this an example of the type of “ideology” that might drive people away? Does the Pope have a problem with restating this teaching? Or is he OK with the teaching but thinks that, like abortion, we ought not talk about it too much?

  78. StWinefride says:

    acardnal: It’s only when we are really open to the Spirit, a deepening conversion and so on…

    In “Fire Within”, Father Dubay explains the above further. He says:

    “Even though contemplation is utterly divinely given and humanly received, and as a consequence we can do nothing to force God to grant it, yet we can and must prepare ourselves for the gift. God gives only to the extent that we efficaciously desire, that is, not merely wish something to happen but take concrete means to fit ourselves to receive it…

    Advancing communion with God does not happen in isolation from the rest of life. One’s whole behavior pattern is being transformed as the prayer deepens. So true is this that if humility, patience, temperance, chastity and love for neighbor are not growing, neither is prayer growing. Hence, contemplation is not simply a pious occupation in the Chapel or in some other solitude. Its effects are so necessarily seen in all the prosaic details of daily life that if growth in the virtues is lacking, so is the contemplation”.

    Fire Within, Fr Thomas Dubay, Ignatius Press, p.59

  79. Palladio says:

    “Is his term “ideology” synonymous with the word “dogma”, in particular Catholic dogma?” No.

    Anyway, I suspect one way to restate what the Pope says is that we must live out dogma, not just say we ‘believe in’ or ‘adhere’ to it. Be the visible proof of what you believe: that is what the Pope is endorsing. For example, I wonder if the more important thing, if you were standing before a homosexual dying from AIDs, would be some show of love, as opposed to “I hate your sin.”

    As for technique, the Catholic Church–not sure what is meant by ‘occidental’–has the very long tradition of disclaiming technique, a tradition which Fr. Dubay seems latterly to echo. Far from emptying the mind, it endorses any number of holy phrases, not least to open the heart and soul and even the mind to the reality of God, especially in silence. Silence is never empty in this Catholic tradition of contemplation.

  80. Bea says:

    My humble take:

    A Catholic in love with the idea of Catholicism and/or
    A Catholic in love with the idea of loving Christ

    is not in love with Catholicism, itself, (The Catholic Faith) and is only in love with the ideology of what he/she perceives to be Catholicism
    nor is he/she in love with Christ, Himself, only the idea of what he/she perceives to be Christ.

    Fr. Z why “She” and not “He”
    quote:
    “It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.”

    Did YOU have somebody in mind?

    I have not read the original text in Spanish but if he refers to “She” it could be because “Ideologia”
    in Spanish is a feminine word: “La ideologia”

  81. Bea says:

    PS I love his exhortation to Prayer.

  82. The Masked Chicken says:

    One reason I haven’t posted in the last week, aside from horrible noggin problems (note; for non-English readers, noggin = head), is that I wanted to see if it would cut down on my sins of imprudence and pride, since, many times, when I make comments, my words are either ill-considered or too full of me-me-me. It is getting to the point where I am afraid to say anything.

    In any case, the Pope might as well as cribbed his entire remarks from George J. Marlin:

    http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2011/catholicism-not-ideology.html

    That being said, I have a few points to make for discussion.

    1. Ideology, in the generally agreed upon sense may be defined, according to three convergent sources as:

    a. (Wikipedia): An ideology is a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a “received consciousness” or product of socialization).

    b. (Merriam-Webster):
    1. visionary theorizing
    2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
    b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
    c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

    c. American Heritage Dictionary (Free Online Dictionary):
    1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.
    2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

    One must be very careful to make a distinction between the word, “ideology,” as a general term for a system of doctrines (the modern use and the one most common), and the historical term, “ideology, which the Pope seems to be referencing in his speech, although it might not be obvious.

    Although Marlin, cited, above, claims that the notion of, “ideology,” as a closed system of thought was developed by the anti-religious, Antoine-Louise Destutt de Tracy, in the late 1790’s, the facts are a little more complex. de Tracy was a proto-sensualist, which was a theory of mind developed, among many, by Helmholtz in Germany in the late 1800’s, wherein the perceptions of the mind develop from sensations that are then interpreted (although the idea can be traced back to Aristotle in some form or another). de Tracy believed that all aspects of man could be traced back to the interactions of sensations (touch + resistence + movement = beginning of sensations, sensations coalesce into ideas, the juxtaposition of two ideas lead to judgment, the comparison of two ideas leads to aesthetics (if I remember correctly), etc.). Unlike Aristotle and Aquinas, who held similar views of the role of the senses in cognition to that of de Tracy, de Tracy excluded the possibility of sensory stimulation from anything beyond the purely natural, thus, making him a long-lost relative of the neo-atheist movement of today and an ardent anti-religious. However, this does not mean that he could not, dimly, see something like a Natural Law, even within his own observations of man. His system is a closed system (his followers were called Ideologues), because he excludes the possibility of divine revelation as a type of cognitive data, assuming only the natural world.

    If one supposes that Pope Francis is using the term, “ideology,” in this sense, then his whole definition amounts to the fallacy of begging the question, since such a definition incorporates, from the beginning, the exclusion of any form, not only of Christianity, but of spirituality, period, since it is a purely materialistic use of the term.

    Here is the first contradiction: one cannot accept, as a part of one’s, “ideology,” the existence of the soul and properly, be called an ideologue. Now, to claim that, “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology,” can only mean that the faith becomes a faith without the concept of the immaterial, which, in a sense, is not the same ideology. The original ideology hasn’t been distilled, it has been replaced by a different axiom (strict materialism). Thus, this is not even the Faith, anymore, since one of its foundational postulates is the existence of a soul. Indeed, since one is prevented, by Pope Francis, from using the term, “ideology,” to be equivalent to the doctrines of the Faith (I will show why, momentarily), it is unclear exactly what he is even talking about, in this passage, since, last I heard, one of the ideas of the Faith is that, “Faith without works is dead.” Certainly, he means that anyone who holds this idea cannot be an ideologue, and yet, if one does not hold this idea, one cannot have said to hold the entire range of Catholic ideas and thus, holding this idea is necessary in order to be a Catholic ideologue, as the term was used by de Tracy (if, de Tracy had accepted the immaterial). Thus, the problem is the following contradiction: a Catholic ideology must hold to charity in action, but a Francis Catholic ideology cannot. Thus, his statement is a contradiction or, more likely, form of exclusive use of the term. No wonder it is confusing.

    Let me be simpler. Most people, when they hear the term, Catholic Ideology think: the dogma and doctrines of the Faith that form the basis for action in the real world. This is the consistent definitions from the dictionaries and encyclopedia at the top of this comment.

    Pope Francis, however, defines Catholic Ideology in this fervorino as something akin to, “Faith without the impulse of action.” Not even de Tracy would go so far and he coined the term. This definition of ideology is purely personal to Pope Francis – it is not like de Tracy’s ideology, which was purely materialistic and anti-religious; it is not like the common and dictionary uses, which see ideologies as leading to actions. The only conclusion one can come to is that he is not really talking about ideology, at all, but has chosen a confusing term for something more akin to what he really means: dead Faith. If he had used this term, there would be no controversy. The concept of dead Faith has been known for centuries and is a well-known Catholic concept of a person who knows all of the dogmas (so does the Devil), but manifests no response of supernatural charity from them. See, isn’t that much clearer?

    Ideology is a loaded term.

    More contradictions:
    1. “It is, he said, “the image of those Christians who have the key in their hand, but take it away, without opening the door,” and who “keep the door closed.”

    How can this be, since a Christian is one who follows Christ and Christ called all of his followers to spread the Gospel?

    Indeed, Pope Francis’s notion of keeping the door close is nothing more than the manifestation of dead Faith, again, since the Devil will not lift a finger to help Christians to get to Heaven.

    A Christian who keeps the door closed is a contradiction in terms. There are no Christians who keep the door closed. He has created an imaginary type of Christian. Now, there may be some people who claim to be Christians who don’t manifest their Christianity very much, but unless they are doing so, deliberately, they are Christians, nevertheless, and, even if deliberately, they are still Christians, although in sin.

    He is, again, setting up a strawman Christian who does not exist except in the abstract. It would be a great contradiction to hold to a system that demands the opening of doors, but refuse to open the door. Either one doesn’t really hold to the system, or one misunderstands the system, or one is dead. Any of these can respond to grace (hey, resurrection is a work of grace), however. Even hatred of God can, paradoxically, be used to open doors.

    2. If one keeps the door closed and never uses the key, how could you even know that they have the key? If a man acts as a Christian, has he not, at least in some small way, shown you the key. Also, I did not know that Christians were given the key. The key is grace, is it not? They may point out what to do to get the key, but exactly what is this key of which he speaks that is given to man? I thought that God held the key.

    In any case, he could have, simply and much more clearly, just read James 2:14-26 and been done with it, since that is what his point really amounts to.

    Simply put, his use of the term ideology is idiosyncratic. People who understand the term in its more common sense will be confused and people who understand the term as it was historically conceived will be confused. The use of the idea that Francis has of ideology mus be inferred from his text, which one can do, but if one brings any sort of outside knowledge to to text, one will be quickly lost.

    To show this even more forcefully, I asked the question, earlier, how can an ideology be self-referential. I expected someone to try to answer the question, but, in truth, I meant the question semi-rhetorically, since an ideology cannot be self-referential and Pope Francis is, again, using both the terms ideology and self-referential in a purely personal way and I say this because I am an expert in self-referential theory, since one of the theories about humor from the 1970’s was that it involves paradox and self-reference. I was able to prove this wrong, but, in the process, I became very acquainted with self-reference theory.

    What Pope Francis means by the word self-referential really is ego-centric, self-aggrandizing, or some other type of thing when he talks about an ideology becoming self-referential in his 6/14 fevorino. The one thing an ideology cannot be is self-referential. The proof is a little difficult, as it uses Tarski’s T-Theorem to show that any system that is self-referential has no assignable truth content within itself, but an ideology without the assertion that its ideas are true is, by definition, not an ideology.

    Again, he has dressed up a common Christian idea in confusing personalist language usage. He could have simply read 1 John outloud and have been done with it. Heck, he could have simply said that the Christian must, “die to self,” and have been done with it or even quoted St. John the Baptist’s, “He must increase and I must decrease,” and been done with it. This really is simply using a term, self-referential, to be synonymous to ego-centric, when it is not. It is a mistake in terminology, although a common one. The word, self-referential, has a specific agreed upon meaning, meaning a type of communication that refers back to itself. A self-referential ideology refers back to the ideology, not to the person making the ideology. He simply uses the word incorrectly.

    The more I think about these things, the more I think that the confusion is because Pope Francis uses terms in his own way. One is able to reconstruct what he probably means in a Christian sense, not by using those terms as common usage, but by getting his likely sense from context and re-framing it. One should not have to do this.

    On a final note, I think that Robtbrown is correct, as far as Pope Francis’s emphasis being on the affective components of the faith, but I say this as an ignorant theological novice. This whole idea of pitting ideology as a closed rational system vs. an open active system smacks of pitting Thomism against Nouvelle Theologie.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouvelle_Th%C3%A9ologie

    Read the wikipedia article and the famous 1946 article by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.:

    http://cfnews.org/gg-newtheo.htm

    and see if this does not explain at least some of Pope Francis’s perspective on closed ideology.

    Maise Ward had the best take-down of Nouvelle Theologie I have heard (paraphrasing):

    “I’m a grown-up. Why would I want to go back to acting like a teenager?”

    The Church is to become Christ brought to full stature. It is not to always be revisiting and trying to live as an adolescent. It knows more, now, than the Church Fathers and, supposedly, lives with more wisdom than the early Church. It is important to reference original ideas to make sure that we are on keeping on track, but trying to live in the past or to make the present like the past is a form of despair of the possibilities of the present (and wouldn’t that be ironic if that were the legacy of Vatican II).

    Although Mamajen was rescued from,”ideology,” by contact with the realities of suffering, I have to say that when I was younger, the Charismatic movement that I had contact with preached Jesus and tried to show Christian love, but I picked up a lot of bad habits from it and I did not really learn to see it correctly until I began to try to fit it into the Catholic system of thought. It was they, the people preaching Christ, who couldn’t see the key right in front of them. If ideologues are holding back the keys, often the run-out-and-love-them types can’t see which key is which right in front of their face. The holding back of keys works both ways, you see. One must have both knowledge and action. One without the other can be deadly.

    This is not my first rodeo in this area. Pope Francis is, ironically, also spouting ideology. Does he not understand that? Oh, not the way he means ideology, but it is ideology, none the less according to common understanding. This is like the atheist who claims to have no faith, all the while having faith in the continuity of the physical world. I know I said it couldn’t happen, but Pope Francis’s comments on ideology are self-referential: his is the ideology of not having Catholic ideologies. Clearly, he cannot mean that. There is only one way that a self-referential statement can be true and that is if it is given truth by a meta-authority. The only reason the Bible is true is because the Church says so. Protestants have it so wrong. The proof has existed, at least in math, since the 1930’s, but no one ever thinks to use math in theology, so my ability to publish on that will probably be safe for another 100 years. Likewise, Francis’s statements, when true, are true because of the pre-existent meta-authority of the Church and this is what people go to in order to understand Francis – not his own words. Why doesn’t he just quote the Church teachings. It would save a step and be much clearer.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Well, I trust I’ve shown why I have to worry about imprudence and pride when I write. Quit making me think. It hurts.

  83. Janol says:

    As regards the Holy Father’s meaning and use of the word “ideologue” – sometimes I think he means “intellectuals”, other times “rationalists”, and still other times something else. The resulting effect of which seems to me and others to lump them all together as if all intellectuals reduce the Faith to a philosophy or ideology.

    I find it ironic that so many of the very things our Holy Father has preached about/against (e.g. categorizing people/putting labels on people, making judgments/criticizing others) I see examples of in his own homilies. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I find the constant generalizations, the stereotypings, the false dichotomies/alternatives, the idiosyncratic use of words and the denigrating of those groups he stereotypes, to be disconcerting. These rhetorical fallacies injure his own reputation as upholder of truth and justice and give fodder to those who seek to destroy the Church.

    It is possible, and the Church has always excelled in this, to praise and encourage those who are progressing along right paths, and to delicately show/enlighten those who are on divergent paths within the Church the more correct or loving way to proceed, after having tried to interpret their seemingly divergent paths in the best possible light. One can lift up and build without hurting others. One can emphasize one field of the Church’s apostolate at a given time without denigrating the other fields. The Church must preach the truth in charity and mercy to all, and as our Holy Father himself might say, in a “loving and merciful way” especially to those within, her own children.

    I’m posting this in the hope that we blame any confusion as to what the Holy Father says or means on his rhetoric and not on his faith or orthodoxy. I believe if we can call a spade a spade here, we will see more clearly.

  84. Janol says:

    P.S. I did love his distinguishing between “praying” and “saying prayers”.

  85. Siculum says:

    Another commenter on another post referred to this article yesterday.

    Not that I’m a good judge, but there’s a lot of great reflection in the foregoing comments here.

    I too struggled with how to interpret Pope Francis on this article, but when I figured it out, Bingo, a light went on in my head. Yes, he’s probably talking about a someone or someones.

    Maybe he’s thinking of what are known as” career priests.” Sometimes these career priests take the form of being tremendous liturgists, all about what is and isn’t “liturgically correct.” But they have little to no palpitable spirituality to them, in public or in private. There’s a collar, but no soul inside on fire with the love of the Lord. They’re all about what’s right or wrong with this or that, and how perfectly the linens are starched, and the candlesticks polished, and how freshly exquisite the flowers are, but never or rarely the deeper, Christ-centered “why” of anything. There’s no Christian zeal except when it comes to aesthetics and appearance.

    I’m not a priest, but I’m struggling with falling into the same trap, or at least fear that I may be. So his words cut into me a bit; they prick my conscience. Is my own faith becoming too legalistic to the exclusion of my prayer life, and constant — or even occasional — true conversation with God? Am I so focused on defending the Faith, Church doctrine, the Holy Father, proper Liturgy, the Pro-Life movement etc., day after day after day, that I don’t even make time to actually just quietly talk to Our Lord Himself — let alone listen? Do people actually see Christ’s love shining from my soul when I speak and write on the aforementioned things? Or do I indeed come off to my fellow man as a mere “idealogue” with little genuineness about me, even if I have my facts right? I even bet I’ve fallen short in my past comments on this blog, and probably will again.

    I think this is where the Holy Father is coming from, given how he also talked about “airport bishops” recently. Although, I could be wrong.

  86. MGL says:

    Palladio and mamajen, thanks for your kind replies. They don’t really answer my concerns, but I do appreciate your efforts.

    The very problem with this kind of conversation is that we’re having it at all. I haven’t been in the Church very long (just over five years, including two years of RCIA), but I’ve been paying close attention in that time to Catholic blogs and the like, and this kind of confusion seems like a new phenomenon: Orthodox Catholics provide a variety of oft-incompatible explanations as to what the Pope really meant; modernists and sedevacantists read the exact same words and are encouraged in their heterodoxy; traditionalists, meanwhile, read the very same words and recall some of the more dire interpretations of the Third Secret of Fatima. Needless to say, they can’t all be right, and it stretches the outer limits of credulity to assume (as many do) that every member of the other groups is heedlessly taking quotes out of context, or cannot follow the thread of conversations or arguments.

    In a slightly different vein, it occurred to me today that when previous Popes addressed errors, they would first take care identify the specific error in question or even better, address a specific erroneous argument. I’m sure there are exceptions, but when I read Benedict XVI, Pius X, Pius XII, Leo XIII, or John Paul II, I am provided with a sufficient amount of information to identify the error in question either in myself or in others and act accordingly.

    By contrast, Pope Francis seems largely to be at war with certain adjectives; e.g. ideological, self-referentialist, Vatican-centered, clericalist, egoist, temporalist, small-minded, unfruitful, disjointed, arrogant, restorationist, legalist, disciplinarian, static, and inward-directed. And when confronted with these adjectives–usually untethered to anything resembling a specific argument or assertion–each of us is left to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” So everyone reads our idiosyncratic Pope in their own idiosyncratic way, and each group declares theirs the One True Interpretation. And confusion abounds.

  87. Basher says:

    Slainewe wrote:

    “I do like the distinction between “saying prayers” and “praying.””

    A very old priest once explained faithfulness to me as “Kneeling down to say prayers when you are too weak to actually pray”. So, to say that I disagree with the Holy Father doesn’t even begin to explain it. Saying prayers is all some of us can manage, sometimes or much of the time. When he says things like this, all I hear is vanity and spiritual elitism and the attitude of the man who threw out the bouquet of rosaries.

  88. The Masked Chicken says:

    I just spent a piece of time writing an ideological comment (be warned: very long :( – but what would an ideology be without length, eh?), but it went to moderation.

    I think every ideologue needs a moderator just like every true believer needs a drill sergeant.

    True believer, hmmm… I forgot to comment on the comparison between the ideologue and the true believer. Oh, well, go read Erik Hoffer’s, The True Believer and the Passionate State of Mind for a refutation of the, “gotta get out there and do-do-do for the cause,” mentality. No one needs to read my further comments.

    Really, if I could draw, I would make my comments into comic books. It might make them easier to deal with.

    The Chicken

  89. Bea says:

    JP Borberg says:
    19 October 2013 at 6:10 am
    Palladio:

    “…name an -ism that has not seriously damaged us…”

    Catholicism?

    Good points, JP Borberg and Palladio I might add this “ism”:
    Catholicism misinterpreted.

    tcreek :
    “I was born in 1935, hence there have been 8 popes in my lifetime.
    Pope Francis is the first pope whose messages are unclear to me. Thankfully, since others have that problem, I don’t worry that it’s age causing my confusion.”

    I know what you mean. I was born in 1937, but some priests have told me they don’t understand him either and one of them simply told my husband “don’t even try” However confusing and/or unclear his words may be it does make me meditate on them and delve deeper into the words and meanings of the gospel.

  90. JabbaPapa says:

    Didn’t Pope Benedict once say something similar ?

    The Holy Father has himself made this point before — an ideology, in the continental European understanding, constitutes a set of self-supporting ideas and oppositions that determine one’s world-view.

    It is obvious that this is insufficient to constitute Faith, but what is less obvious is that both the Revelation and God Himself, and therefore the Church, transcend any mere ideology.

    What is not obvious at all is that each individual Christian must also transcend this flesh-minded conception of ideology ; leave the old Adam behind, and follow the new Adam at the foot of the Cross.

    What the Pope means is that a leap of Faith outside ideology and towards God ; and towards Faith, Hope, and Charity ; is the necessary Action of conversion to become and to remain a Christian.

    It is, ultimately, a mystic insight, albeit not a mysticism that is overly hard to comprehend.

    Iur lives, and especially our Life in the Spirit, mean so much MORE than what we think they do.

    PS it’s also an implicit critique of Platonism and Neo-Platonism, hence an even more deeply implicit rejection of the fundamentals of Islam — which is nothing more than exactly an ideology of the sort that the Pope has condemned.

  91. Palladio says:

    MGL, you are welcome. I am a wee bit surprised at your surprise at having a conversation, though. How is being a Catholic not also being in dialogue with others? I always say that nothing is more Catholic than a question. I asked them in parochial school, I asked them of one priest for nearly ten years, and I still ask them.

    You write, “it stretches the outer limits of credulity to assume (as many do) that every member of the other groups is heedlessly taking quotes out of context, or cannot follow the thread of conversations or arguments.” Really? Why? The Pope speaks in a minority language, Italian, to a world hardly inclined to the one true faith. All any Catholic not able to speak Italian can rely on is second hand reports, often by secular media at odds with the Church, and even if a Catholic knows Italian he cannot be sure to get the full source. That what the Pope says is misinterpreted by different groups each in its own way has got to be one of the most unsurprising things on earth: that is the state of the Church. It also requires no assumption that he IS being quoted out of context. I don’t see any problem understanding why some people misunderstand him or anybody, just as plenty misunderstood Pope Benedict XVI. Funnily enough, I just saw looks of understanding on television (EWTN) as the Pope spoke some of the very words in question. Last week, our 65 year old pastor, during his sermon last Sunday, had apparently no problem quoting and applying what the Pope had said a day or two before. No theologian myself, I had no problem understanding either man. Last, I do think it is a little presumptuous to judge a Pope in public at his expense. If other Popes do it for you, there you go. Pope Francis has not and will not contradict them, whether you understand him or not.

  92. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Isn’t dogma or Catholic doctrine a part of knowing, loving, and serving the good God?

    God has graciously been pleased to reveal Himself to us through the Church, including information about which behaviors of ours draw down His grace, and which drive it out of our souls, that is, about the life of virtue vs. sin.

    An ideology is a human invention, not something revealed by God. An ideology is a set of ideas about how the world (or some part of the world) works and how it ought to work, apart from what has been revealed by God. For geeks, it might be viewed as something like an operating system. I don’t think there is anything wrong with ideologies in general: human beings have only so much bandwidth with which to process information around the complex set of variables that make up human society; if we had to start afresh every time we encountered a new person or a new situation, we would never have time left to pray, to earn our daily bread, or to sleep. So, an ideology can function as a sub-routine that helps us process new information quickly and efficiently.

    Even when ideologies grow up around the Christian faith, they remain human inventions. And Christians can sometimes place the ideologies that have grown up around their faith, in the place of their duty to God and their neighbor. Or even place ideology in the place of God Himself. Which would not be good.

    An example might be the ideology I possess that it is proper and respectful to appear in Church looking clean and presentable, and that not to do so is disrespectful. This is not a bad ideology, but I have gotten into trouble with placing this ideology before my duty to Almighty God – my duty of justice to my neighbor. So, for example, I have given “the hairy eyeball” to the immigrant man who sat down next to me in the church, wearing none-too-clean work clothes. I’m sure I made him feel unwelcome at church, when in thinking it over afterward, those clothes were probably all he had to wear. See, it’s not bad for me to emphasize a proper appearance in myself (and for my children, if I had any), but it’s not for me to place that lens of mine between myself and my brother or sister who have come to seek the Lord in church. Instead, I need to be welcoming to everybody, especially to the poor and the refugee, the funny-looking – those who need welcoming most.

  93. Palladio says:

    Marion, a big difference exists between ideology (e. g., communism) and your expectation of proper attire at Mass. An ideology is not just any firmly held thought or opinion. So, what the Pope warns against is the rather large scale outlooks, a hard as cement, that are far from being confined to the political world. For that reason, everything is wrong with “ideologies in general,” which, by their very nature, affront, undermine, and just plain destroy human nature and dignity.

  94. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Palladio, then I’m afraid I don’t understand the concept of ideology as well as I thought I did. Could you please give some examples of ideologies (other than Communism) that the Pope might have in mind, which may be affecting otherwise devout Christians?

  95. Palladio says:

    I thought I had above, Marion. I think the Pope truly is an able speaker, and others have, too, commented on what he said, not only explaining him, but putting him in a Benedict XVI context, to say nothing of Scripture. I’d like to leave it at that, thanks.
    The reason I am back is to quote this story, to ask a simple question, how does this prevent understanding of the faith or betray it? A less simple question, why are we obsessing about some fraction of what the Pope says? Here’s the VA News Agency story, but before that, a pleasant evening to all.

    Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted the “Patrons of the Arts” in the Vatican Museums. The group, which is dedicated to preserving the vast and unique collection of art housed in the Vatican Museums, was in Rome for the 30th anniversary of its founding.
    In his address, the Holy Father thanked the Patrons for their “outstanding contribution to the restoration of numerous treasures of art preserved in the Vatican collections and to the broader religious, artistic and cultural mission of the Museums.”
    Pope Francis said, “In every age the Church has called upon the arts to give expression to the beauty of her faith and to proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation, the dignity of human beings made in his image and likeness, and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring redemption and rebirth to a world touched by the tragedy of sin and death.” The Vatican Museums, he said, “make it possible for countless pilgrims and visitors to Rome to encounter this message through works of art which bear witness to the spiritual aspirations of humanity, the sublime mysteries of the Christian faith, and the quest of that supreme beauty which has its source and fulfillment in God.”
    Pope Francis concluded his address with the prayer that the patronage of the arts would always be a sign of “interior participation in the spiritual life and mission of the Church” and “an expression of our hope in the coming of that Kingdom.”

  96. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Contemplatives, even hermit contemplatives, are involved in the Church’s work of evangelization by praying for souls, and by praying for those who do the actions of evangelization. That’s why St. Therese of Lisieux is a patron saint of missionaries, as opposed to somebody who actually got out of their hometown.

    2. It’s amazing that nobody ever complains about Mother Angelica (also a child of Italian immigrant family) having done her talking and teaching in very much the same style as Pope Francis. How many times did you hear Mother Angelica making a little story out of what the Apostles were thinking, or what they were saying to each other behind Jesus’ back? But suddenly it’s a sin or weird or insulting, if it’s Pope Francis doing it. And how many times did you hear Mother Angelica starting a comment about a bad tendency in people with, “You know those people like X? I call them FUNNYNAME. They’re always doing Y and Z when they should be doing A, B, and C.” But suddenly it’s stereotyping or a sin or insulting, if Pope Francis does it.

    So yeah, you gotta wonder if the Pope’s oft-referenced nonna was a lot like Mother Angelica.

    3. I think people are starting to get the hang of Pope Francis’ rhetorical style, maybe. This was a pretty calm thread, all things considered.

  97. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    You did, Palladio. I needed to go back and re-read from earlier in the day. What I guess I didn’t have a clear enough understanding of, was of how any given ideology might interfere with or even squelch the living out of the Christian life. This is what I was trying to think about when I wrote my example above (admittedly, not a particularly good example.)

    Another commenter wrote, and you, Palladio agreed with him: “Modernist ideologies teach the moral-of-the-story concepts while demythologizing the sacraments. They leave man urged to duty but without access to grace by which to achieve goodness.

    “‘Conservatism’ tends to ritualize, or sociologize the sacraments too, rather than maintain the purpose of them, which is an immediate, personal encounter with Jesus.”

    All this is a big help to my understanding. I would appreciate enlargement on the topic and examples someday, down the road, from anybody.

    Thank you.

  98. MGL says:

    Palladio, pardon me for being a little combative, but you write:

    I am a wee bit surprised at your surprise at having a conversation…

    You come very close to misrepresenting me. I am not surprised at having a conversation (I have them all the time); I am astonished that this particular conversation has become so prevalent among Catholics over the past few months.

    Just count the speculative formulations in this thread alone: I suppose, I think, my reading is, I believe, my understanding is, perhaps, I would think, my understanding, the possibility that I am totally off in right field and completely misinterpreting, I believe, I guess, the Pope is perhaps, if I try to read it with the hermeneutic of continuity, I think I understand, most likely, can’t tell what he’s talking about, It makes perfect sense to me but I don’t think I can explain it, I just don’t understand where he is coming from or what he means, very vague, inscrutable, unclear, cryptic, paralyzing, feminine[!], is he saying, I think he means, maybe he’s thinking of. (Even our esteemed host is baffled.)

    I mildly object to your accusation that I am “judging” the Pope, in observing that he seems to prefer to go into battle against adjectives or attitudes rather than arguments. Otherwise, we will have to agree to disagree on the matter of reading out of context. For my part, I have read the Holy Father in context and having done so, I completely understand why modernists are sounding so buoyant these days. Apparently it really does come down to Private Judgment after all!

  99. robtbrown says:

    Palladio says:
    Naw, your definition is way too narrow. Plenty of contemplatives, in religion, also have an active apostolate: the Carmelites you mention, for example, whose ‘double spirit’ is preaching on the one hand and contemplation on the other. Benedictine oblates are OBLIGED to contemplation, but mostly live in the world, whether or not in religion. Contemplation is a variety of prayer. I do recommend, to everybody, Into the Silent Land, by Fr. Martin Laird, O. S. A. Fr. Laird is the contemplative’s contemplative–and a professor at Villanova University.

    You make so many mistakes that it’s hard to know where to start.

    1. I gave a definition of the contemplative life, which is consistent with the thought of St Thomas.

    2. Contemplative prayer can exist in or out of the Contemplative Life (which is a state of life). Mother Teresa was no doubt a great contemplative–she was not leading the Contemplative Life.

    3. There is also active life. There are two types of active lives: A) those whose activity involves passing on the substance of their contemplation (contemplata aliis tradere)–these are the contemplative-actives; B) those whose activity does not, e.g., a priest who teaches engineering.

    The preaching and teaching orders from the Middle Ages (e.g., Dominicans and Augustinians) are usually considered according to A.

    3. I wrote Carmelite and Dominican NUNS, both of which are strict contemplatives. The teachers of those orders are known as sisters.

    4. How in the hey did you make the jump from Benedictines of Clear Creek to Benedictine Oblates? Oblates can live in the world, working at secular occupations.

  100. SpittleFleckedNutty says:

    The Pope speaks and we are again left with the verbal equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, and lots of people claiming to know what he means. Frankly, some of these explainers need someone to explain some of their explainations. Holy lio.

    Our Shepherds should illuminate those topics on which they choose to speak, not shroud them in double-talk. Papa Black Shoes would do well to buy a new car and transfer some of that famous humility to his tongue. Let better-equipped theologians and homilists come to the fore. He is Peter, there is no doubt. But even Peter recognized his limitations and let Paul do most of the talking.

  101. robtbrown says:

    One other point: Contemplative can have various meanings.

    1. It can refer to the formal type of life someone is leading, e.g., a life ordered (i.e., providing and obligating) to spending most of the day considering the Divine Truth in itself. This contemplation is a good in itself and not necessarily connected with activity. .

    2. It can also refer to mental prayer that engages the intellect (and not merely the imagination). IMHO, this is the beginning of true theologizing and is much like the description of the prayer of Active Recollection. It can also be compared favorably with Acquired Contemplation.

    3. It can also refer to a certain grade of prayer, e.g, Acquired or Infused.

    1 is a specific life that is found in the orders I noted above.

    2 and 3 are open to anyone in any state of life (but it much be admitted that it is more likely found in 1 .

    The Jesuits call themselves Contemplatives in Action. Although their formation includes developing a very deep spiritual life, it is nonetheless ordered toward action. According to the thought of St Thomas, this would not be the contemplative life.

  102. mamajen says:

    MGL,

    I don’t really have anything more to add, but just wanted to say God bless you for your conversion. My husband is also a convert, and I have so much respect for people who take that initiative. There is always more to learn, even for us cradle Catholics. That’s one of the things I love about our faith. The desire to learn will take you far.

  103. mamajen says:

    I think JeffK actually summed it up really well!

  104. Joshua Mincher says:

    Dogma and prayer are united in Christianity. Orthodoxy usually is taken to mean ‘right belief’, but, as Ratzinger talks about in ‘The Spirit of The Liturgy’, doxa is the Greek for ‘glorification’, ‘praise’, or ‘worship’. Orthodoxy is ‘right worship’. Dogma and prayer identify together because the Dogmas are the qualities and the nature of the Person who you worship.

    Ideology, is idolatry, the separating of dogma and worship, so that dogma is reduced to an idea, an image, and the Person is replaced. Worship is replaced by propaganda and philosophy. It becomes reduced to a liturgy to reinforce collective identity, whether ideological, racial, national, or religious. Prayer is replaced with moral lessons and didacticism.

    Right worship is the best context to discuss the unity of dogma and prayer, ideas and conversion, because worship is always of a Person. It is always awe and glorification, which inspires thanksgiving and contrition, a heart humbled and contrite. Contrition, repentance, penance, and praise/glorification identify right worship because they can only be directed to a Person.

    Ideology is identified by the lack of worship. No one worships ideas, moral lessons, concepts, etc. No one is contrite before a logical conclusion. One can reason to a logical conclusion, and conclude that X is right, is logical. But no one is contrite before it. No one praises a logical conclusion. When they trumpet it, they are praising themselves, or perhaps they use it to condemn everyone, including themselves.

    I sort of wish Pope Francis would just read ‘The Spirit of The Liturgy’ out loud to us. Or ‘The Rule of St. Benedict’, or The Gospel…that would work.

    I don’t think we can understand him, as though he were a finished work. Who says Francis has it all worked out? As scary as that is for a pope. I figure he is like most Catholics, including bishops, of his generation: taking the pretty wild post-conciliar innovations in which they were formed and applying the rule of continuity to them, keeping what works, sifting out, being self-critical.

    I don’t think Francis necessarily has a solid, finished, position. He probably is still working through Ratzinger’s voluminous works and trying to figure out exactly what Vatican II was. I’ll bet he read “Milestones” and was like, “hmm…this is a hard saying, who can believe it?” And it’s hard to purify one’s ideas. And there was alot of good and alot of bad in his generation: it’s hard work to keep the good and purify the bad. So it’s not surprising when his statements cover the spectrum of crazy to deeply Christian.

  105. Quanah says:

    MGL,

    I think you bring up a good point about how Francis seems to be at war with certain adjectives as opposed to specific arguments and errors. I also think your right that this leads to a lot of different and even opposing interpretations. But there is a question that his attention to adjectives addresses: How do I live my faith in the myriad of situations I come into in my daily life? In your comment above concerning previous popes you said, “I am provided with a sufficient amount of information to identify the error in question either in myself or in others and act accordingly.” But the information given tells us what is correct/incorrect and why. It doesn’t necessarily tell us how we should act in every given situation when this comes up in our lives. There is no book from the Church in which I can look up something happening in my life at that moment and read exactly what I am suppose to do. It’s because of this that it is good that Francis’s attention to adjectives is leaving you wondering, “Is it I, Lord?” I do not think I am expressing what I’m trying to say in a satisfactory manner. Hopefully this example will help. Abortion is a great evil. There is absolutely no justification for it and it is so serious that a Catholic woman and any Catholic who cooperates with her automatically excommunicates themselves if she aborts her child. In addition to the child being murdered with the consent of her mother, there is the horror of the condition a woman must be in to commit such an act. I have seen many times with my own eyes faithful Catholics treating these women horribly. Thankfully, I have much more often seen these women treated with compassion by faithful Catholics. Who’s right? Who is acting according to the Church’s teachings? People can debate it, but someone’s wrong. The answer isn’t found in the Church’s teaching on abortion or why She is correct. The answer is found in the adjectives.

    One final note: when speaking about making of the faith an ideology, or being self-referential, egotistical, clericalist, arrogant, etc., Francis doesn’t need to mention any one in particular because these are universal dangers.

  106. Sonshine135 says:

    Without reading into this too much Father Z, I’d say that the Pope is actually fairly understandable on this one. He warns us about being religious ideologues. An ideologue can become a person who is callous towards an individual’s situation, because they see everything as either black or white, for them or against them, without looking with the eye of God. When we pray, we open our heart and mind to wisdom, love, and understanding. Thus, we are less inclined to look upon a person with disdain for them not being “like us” and instead see them for the beloved person that they are, created in God’s image and likeness.

    Just a guess. No spital-flecked nutties this time.

  107. jhayes: “Maybe it’s the difference between a teacher telling you the answers and teaching you to think through the problem yourself.”

    One can not understand how to approach a problem, if one does not have a clear understanding of definitions and laws from which to form a thinking process. Hence I do not agree that the Holy Father is doing the same thing as a teacher…The lack of clarity is a bit frustrating, even if this is the direction, he possibly wishes to go.

    As for the rest of my thoughts they are here: http://japotillor.blogspot.com/2013/10/our-holy-father-on-ideologyreportedly.html

  108. didn’t Blessed John Paul II say something similar when he noted that “Christianity is not an ideology …it is the face of Jesus” Is this the point Pope Francis is trying to convey?

  109. Gratias says:

    Perhaps it is not as difficult to understand Pope Francis as we think. From an Argentinean blog (Página Católica): during the pontificate of Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, as has been said in this blog, to these that requested communion kneeling or that the dispositions of Summorum Pontificum be implemented, were told that their respective requests were motivated by “ideology”. ” (“durante el pontificado de Bergoglio en Buenos Aires, como ya se dijo en este blog, a los que pedían comulgar de rodillas o que se implementara lo dispuesto en el Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, se les hacía saber que el respectivo pedido era motivado por “ideologia”.)

    They also said that this homily was the response to +Fellay’s attacks a few days ago.

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  111. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Gratias,

    which if it be true, would mean, that the Pope was … er… ideologicizing.

    That said, I keep thinking that our Holy Father is teaching us, consciously or unconsciously, the indeed important lesson not to get the doctrine of infallibility in the wrong throat (viz. not to get superexcited about the Pope’s sayings when he is not infallible).

  112. Imrahil says:

    Of course, the request to communion kneeling is motivated by ideology. Only by an ideology that must not necessarily come together with uncharitableness, and which then must check simply whether it is right or wrong.

  113. Palladio says:

    robtbrown, writes, no doubt in all charity, “You make so many mistakes that it’s hard to know where to start,” only then to substantiate with further examples in no fewer than two posts what I wrote and not for an instant to show a single solitary “mistake.” I am more than happy to leave what I wrote as is, as a result, adding just that the Pope continues to exemplify and endorse contemplation for all Catholics. To defend an orthodox Pope is, of course, to defend the faith, which Catholics are bound to do after Confirmation.
    As for judging the Pope, MGL, yes, my friend, though I was not accusing you of anything, I would definitely say that sending him up — and in public — as wanting in your view as against all other Popes (or some list of them) you find congenial is judging the Pope. (One small test: would you say that in front of him with the both of you in the same room? Would you even write him a letter to that effect?) I do find that presumptuous, whether it it coming from a Cardinal or confirmand, at the very least. Perhaps you thought I was referring to everything you wrote about His Holiness, but I was not. But of course it is no secret that Catholics are not supposed to be presumptuous, not of a Pope, not of a pauper, not of anybody, and least of all in public.

    I meant –sorry if I was unclear– “this particular conversation,” too, conversation in general, and then listed the ways in which in either case the whole thing is completely unsurprising. I do think we forget how execrable was the response to Benedict XVI — in part because we love SP!!!!– from many if not all quarters. That response, too, was judgmental, presumptuous, inter alia. Conversation is a high point of human existence, MGL, in my book: I am grateful wherever and whenever I can find one. Special welcome, by the way, to the one true faith!

    I hope your Saturday evening was indeed pleasant, robtbrown and MGL, and that this week brings you both, and all of Father Z’s readers, and Fr. Z himself in the Eternal City, many blessings.

  114. Palladio says:

    Dear, and I do mean dear, Marion.
    I would be remiss to omit a reply to your own kind note back to me, which I just noticed, from last night. You are more than generous to have read my earlier posts, which I was not inviting you or anybody to do, but which I was referring to simply to close the subject (at my end) and say good night.

    If ever a century presented itself as ideological in tooth and nail, the one our Pope was born in is it. The scale of this boggles the mind. The Church, having fought ideology from the start, will prevail, but the Pope diagnoses ideology as now endemic, rightly so. Was is Benedict or John Paul who descried “the dictatorship of relativism:” another -ism, perhaps the most fundamental one, the most fatal one, invades even Holy Mother Church.

    To have a reaction against a standard of dress in Mass is (to my mind, entirely understandable) is one thing. To realize that your standard is not universal or absolute is another. In fact, what you wrote demonstrates you have no hardening of the heart, which is one quality of ideologues. Your standard, which is also mine, addresses itself to folks with means and — another 20th century reality in the U. S. at least — the upbringing which would have provided for that standard. One monsignor I know never tired, in his very diverse parish, of trying to fight this good fight, reminding all the faithful that the poor families who founded their church carried their shoes to Mass rather than enter with them soiled! Now we can say in reply, there are no families in that sense, no matter social or economic background. Divorce, broken, dysfunctional homes, casual dress now de rigeur, revealing dress for girls and women being the market choice, etc.

    Christ in His Church breaks the chains of our narrow little worlds to free us. Ideologues create, as perhaps never before, the sad and destructive array of conditions which erect those worlds, an affront to the very idea of our God-given human nature and dignity and by their very existence fatal to them. The Pope, like the two Popes before him, wants puts Christ at the center of our lives, because Christ provides us with what we need and want to build, not another mortal -ism, but the Kingdom of God.
    God bless.

  115. kurtmasur says:

    I would like to respectfully add my perspective on what I think Francis meant by “ideology”. Like somebody already mentioned above, ideologies can usually be described by an “-ism”. IMHO, ideologies have no place in the Church. The message of Christ, charity, his sacraments, the Eucharist through the Liturgy, and of course, prayer, should be all that matter. …nothing more. Whether lay people or clergy, when somebody adopts a certain ideology (the word “liberal” and “left” comes to mind) within the context of the Church, it usually results in a skewed view of the Truth. Think of LCWR….as a result of their ideology, they probably don’t even believe in the Church’s message through the Magisterium (hence their “beyond Jesus” mentality).

    That said, conservative Catholics can also face the potential pitfall of idolizing the Church, its teachings, scriptures….to the point of an unhealthy obsession….an obsession that blinds Christ’s true message and Truth. And not just Catholics….also Bible thumping evangelicals/protestants can get quite carried away and obsessed with the Bible (since that is the most sacred thing they have), to the total neglect of charity. I have personally met people from the latter group with hatred in their hearts….much of it hatred to the Catholic Church, rather than focusing their energy on what it matters most: charity.

    To conclude, one final example that comes to mind from Francis’ homily about ideology is from the horror film movie Carrie (I have only seen the original one). I admit it’s a bit strange to post such an example on the comment board here, but it’s the best thing that comes to mind. Anyways, in case you haven’t seen it, the film is about a high school girl, Carrie, and her mother, a religious fanatic (I believe Christian). Carrie’s mother is a very good example of an ideologue. Despite being an extremely religious and devout Christian (not sure if she was also Catholic), she had absolutely no charity…zero. She treated Carrie horrendously, over-sheltering her at home because she was extremely worried that she would fall to the sin of the flesh. In the end, Carrie ended up going to her school’s prom (against the mother’s wishes), but when Carrie returned home, the mother assumed that her daughter had fallen into perdition (specifically, that she had fornicated, which of course wasn’t true). So the mother takes out a knife and prepares to kill her daughter! Whatever happened to “Thou shall not kill”? Through her ideology and fanaticism, apparently Carrie’s mother had come to believe that the only sins that existed were those of the flesh.

    These types of distortions that result from ideology is what I believe Francis is trying to warn us about.

  116. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. If you want to get a feeling for Francis’ teaching as a cardinal, you should go back and watch EWTN’s translation of his archbishop TV segments. The man sticks to his script, forgets to look at the camera fairly often, and looks sad a lot. The last few ones showed in August, so they won’t be up much longer.

    2. We know he is fond of St. Francis de Sales, and his segment on De Sales talks about how De Sales advocated being sweet and kind in order to attract people to the faith, which of course the good saint did, very successfully. What he doesn’t mention is that the saint’s sweetness was supported by his receiving consolations from God all the time, pretty much all his life.

    3. I can believe that the story might be true that Pope Francis is “a different person” ever since he started receiving consolations right after his election, and that the consolations haven’t failed yet. He really does look more joyful now. Now, having consolations doesn’t _prevent_ you from talking logically. But the Biblical imagery has always suggested that it can go so far as to feel like being intoxicated, and of course the first accusation against the Church on Pentecost was that St. Peter and the rest of them were drunk as skunks. When you have a joy and love from God that is hard to put into words, but you have to put it into words, all kinds of odd expressions come tumbling out of your mouth; and this is what we see in a lot of saints as well as in ordinary people.

  117. lana says:

    Someone wrote: By contrast, Pope Francis seems largely to be at war with certain adjectives; e.g. ideological, self-referentialist, Vatican-centered, clericalist, egoist, temporalist, small-minded, unfruitful, disjointed, arrogant, restorationist, legalist, disciplinarian, static, and inward-directed. And when confronted with these adjectives–usually untethered to anything resembling a specific argument or assertion–each of us is left to ask, “Is it I, Lord?”

    These adjectives all sound to me like they can be summed up into one: ‘you hypocrites!’. And the response, ‘Is it I, Lord?’ is good. And he has given us the antidote, more prayer, and not just ‘saying prayers’. I thought it was a great homily.

  118. robtbrown says:

    Palladio,

    Actually, I did point out mistakes, which were centered around your comment that Papa Bergoglio is leading the contemplative life. I’ll try again:

    1. The Contemplative life does not merely mean, as you insist, someone who practices contemplative prayer.

    2. It refers to a state of life, which is ordered toward contemplation, i.e, a simple gaze on the Divine Truth for its own sake–not necessarily for any activity. Everyone leading the contemplative life is obligated–by vows–to contemplative prayer. A secular priest or a layman might practice contemplative prayer, but there is no specific obligation that they do.

    3. No one who has an active vocation (or secular job) can be said to be in the contemplative life. That does not mean that their lives cannot involve contemplative prayer (either acquired or infused).

    4. A Benedictine Oblate or a Dominican or Carmelite tertiary may practice contemplative prayer, but that does not mean they are living the contemplative life.

    5. There are those, however, whose activity flows out from and into contemplation, e.g., the Medieval Preaching Orders.

    6. Jesuits claim to be leading the contemplative life, but I disagree. The deep spiritual life in which they are (or were) formed, however, is ordered toward activity. And so IMHO they are not leading the contemplative life.

  119. Catholicman44455 says:

    The pope should stop trying to be a theologian when he is obviously in over his head. His sermons are almost incoherent and always confusing. Funny how “ideology” is always attributed to the orthodox or conservative. never to the liberal or dissenter. Ironically, the pope has his own ideology – it’s called liberation theology and moral relativism.

  120. RobW says:

    The Holy Father has done inteviews with everyone including atheists, maybe time to sit down with Fr. Z or some other english speaking interviewer to explain exactly what he means by these statements.

  121. RobW says:

    …another thought I had is Francis makes Benedict and JPII look so prudent and measured in their statements…I can’t help but think this.

  122. Palladio says:

    It is really very simple, robtbrown. Whatever it is you were criticizing the Pope about is, I find, unpersuasive. Perhaps I was being unclear. The differences between “a contemplative life,” centered on, inter alia, Eucharistic Adoration,” and (your term) “the contemplative life” are not what I was addressing, even remotely, though both include the fullest sense of contemplation, which is a kind of prayer (or even praying) or prayers. It is even more obvious, I think, that the contemplative life is a contemplative life–and I gave examples. You corrected no mistake of mine, since I never wrote or implied what you claim I wrote or implied. What you, alone, say with regard to me looks like a straw-man, which you then proceed to knock down.
    God bless, and have a nice day.

  123. slainewe says:

    @Basher,

    “Saying prayers is all some of us can manage, sometimes or much of the time.”

    Of course the flesh is weak, and when the spirit is still willing (that is, we add an apology for our poor attempt at prayer), the Lord accepts our perfunctory prayers. But Pope Francis seems to be referring to those who offer ONLY perfunctory prayers all the time.

    “Saying prayers” is sending a loved one a form letter. (We can mitigate the coldness of it by adding a personal note of apology, but we know it is not ideal.)
    “Praying” is sending a loved one a letter written while thinking of that person and reflecting on how he will receive what is written.
    “Contemplation” is when the loved one comes to visit. :-)

  124. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says:
    Of course, the request to communion kneeling is motivated by ideology.

    I would hope it’s motivated by theology.

  125. Mark Nel says:

    “What did the Pope really say in this short, non-magisterial fervorino?”

    Suggest you ask a liberal. They are all wildly ecstatic about this!

  126. filioque says:

    Speaking from the US, I have to say that “ideology” is a word that is used here almost exclusively by progressivists who want to give us a new, improved church: the Call to Action folks who want to ordain women, give homosexuals their “rights,” recognize a woman’s “right to choose,” and otherwise corrupt Catholicism. And of course it is used to characterize the intractable views of those of us who are opposed to such errors.

    I very much appreciate the learned comments that have been made here, but as a practical matter I can only observe that Pope Francis has just given a go-ahead to the progressivists’ use of one of their favorite brickbats. Perhaps he is unaware of such implications. Perhaps he likes to speak vaguely so that the authorities can’t pin him down. Whatever, I hope he changes his style, and soon, or I will have to start considering other possibilities.

    MGL and Masked Chicken, I found your comments especially astute. Thank you.

  127. TomD says:

    When the scribe asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answers . . . “”The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk 12:29-31, RSV-CE).

    Any objective or pursuit not centered on the first commandment, even if lovingly based on the second commandment, runs the risk of becoming a human generated or pursued “ideology.”

  128. cyejbv says:

    I only read about a third of the post from the link you provided Father, and none of the comments. Here’s a layman perspective. Or mine, anyway.

    If what seems to be almost everything the Pope says has to be explained and dissected, I can understand the frustration I’ve heard and seen among so many Catholics. I too, am frustrated.

    This simple and humble Pope seems to be confusing the most simple and humble among us. Some lady on Twitter told me she was tired of priests and now the Pope ‘selling their souls’. I know you write about viewing Pope Francis through Pope Benedict XVI, but I have to say: the Pope Emeritus’ powerful and deep intellect was clearer to me than is our Holy Father.

    I’m obedient and etc etera and so on, but it struck me that when even you are left uncertain as to the Popes meanings and the word ‘ideology’ requires explanations, it’s no wonder people are confused and hurt. This woman I mentioned actually said, “The government and now the pope! Well, I put my foot down at abortion.”

    When a ‘layman perception’ like that is expressed, there’s little doubt to me that the confusion is starting to become more than frustrating. It’s dangerous.

    God Bless You, Father.

  129. BLB Oregon says:

    I took him only to mean this: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them….Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. These you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” Matt. 23:2-4,23-28

    He means it does little good to avoid being the prodigal son if in doing so we only to become the jealous elder brother, instead. Neither makes a man like the Father, because the Father is both righteous and compassionate. I think that is all he means.

  130. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    by theology, but of course by theology presenting results, not theology inquiring.

    The former is, along the dear @Chicken’s neat explanation, an ideology. And also in many popular understanding; not, of course, in the sense of “misinformation” sometimes, but rather falsely, attached to the word “ideology”.

    As to saying prayers,
    the funny thing is that about the one advice we have about praying is to simply say a prayer.

  131. CharlesG says:

    Palladio said: “So I guess he is using the word ideology in a special sense rather than the one normal people would understand.” In a word, no. In two, He’s not. On the contrary, ideology is anti-intellectual and undermines reason because it is always one or another closed way of speaking or ‘thinking.’ I expect normal people understand the word that way.

    Me: I think the divergent views expressed in the above responses show that the definition you are using is not necessarily what a normal person would think ideology means. One of the definitions cited above was “A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.” Ideology is not necessarily a negative term, and I believe many would see an ideology as an intellectual system of belief. Catholicism is based on the revelation of Jesus Christ, but it includes real content in the Deposit of Faith handed on by Jesus and the apostles and authentically interpreted by the Magisterium. I believe the Pope’s loose talk could be interpreted as diminishing and dismissing doctrine and intellectual frameworks of thinking about our Faith. Maybe that is not what he meant, but that surely is how the New York Times, Obama, Pelosi, and the nuns on the bus will interpret it. Just as with the Pope’s dismissal of proslytism, where most people will think he is dismissing evangelism, not knowing he is giving a special meaning to the term. I believe he needs to speak more clearly and explain if he is going to use special jargon to which he attaches a special meaning. A personal relationship with Jesus, prayer and mercy are all wonderful things, and obviously the starting and ending point of the faith, but that don’t mean that doctrine on faith and morals is nothing. And particularly is it incumbent upon the successor of Peter to defend the teachings of the Deposit of Faith, not belittle them, IMO.

    Cheers,

    Charles

  132. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil,

    No doubt that most people have a temperament tending to the Right or to the Left. Maritain’s comment seems appropriate: Those on the Left tend to think there is no such thing as Substance; those on the Right that there is no such thing as Accidents (thus the joke that an SSPX mass was said to be invalid because the server tripped as he was transferring the book). I’ve known priests who somehow link the present liturgical disaster to John XXIII inserting the name of St Joseph into the Canon. On the other hand, I’ve also known priests who think that whatever else goes on in the liturgy is OK, so long as the bread and wine are consecrated.

    I’ve known many people who attend Latin mass. Some of them drive for at least an hour one way every Sunday–one old high school teammate drives 210 miles one way every Sunday. From what I’ve seen, maybe one quarter at the most have been people of the Right.

    Yesterday, there were diaconate ordinations at Clear Creek. Most of the people I spoke with were normal middle class people, neither rigid nor moralistic.

    As I’ve said before, the Novus Ordo (and its various accretions) is based on some questionable theology that posits the Eucharist as a Meal. I would say that comes closer to ideology than what motivates someone to want Latin liturgy.

    I understand what the pope is getting at, not wanting ideology to interfere with the purity of the faith–but the social circumstances, which in various continents more and more militate against the Church, demand that clerics must speak about more than just prayer. It is fine if someone wants to live in a cave (like St Francis or St Benedict) or monastery, devoting a life to prayer and penance, but most people have to confront the present circumstances–this is especially true of bishops (incl the Bishop of Rome).

    Some days ago a group of Italian Catholics made a public appeal to the pope to help them combat pro homosexual legislation. As far as I know, nothing has come of it. If he does ignore their request, I wonder whether some will think he is what he has spoken against–a Sacristy Catholic.

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