Pope Francis to German Bishops: Your Church is a mess! Fix it and … GO TO CONFESSION!

The German bishops are making their ad limina visit.  Every few years diocesan bishops have to go to Rome to meet with offices of the Roman Curia and, usually, the Pope.

Pope Francis gave an address to the German bishops that was clear, coherent, well-crafted and, in many respects, stinging.  He painted a dire portrait of the Church in Germany.

At one point he said:

One notes in particular in traditionally Catholic regions a very strong decline in participation at Sunday Mass, not to mention the sacramental life.  Where in the 1960’s everywhere just about all the faithful still participated at Holy Mass every Sunday, today there are often less than 10 percent.  Ever fewer people seek the sacraments.  The Sacrament of Penance has almost disappeared.  Ever fewer Catholics receive Confirmation or contract Catholic Matrimony.  The number of vocations to priestly ministry and the consecrated life has sharply diminished.  In consideration of these facts, one can speak truly of an erosion of the Catholic Faith in Germany.

The talk is available in Italian and in German HERE.   Ed Pentin’s report HERE.

Pentin wrote:

In his speech to the bishops, Pope Francis therefore directly appealed to them not to “put trust in administrative structures, in perfect organizations”. He called such a tendency “a sort of new Pelagianism” — a term reminiscent of his critique of the Italian church last week.  [Most of the time I have no idea what the Pope is talking about when he uses this “Pelagian” slap.  Libs titter behind their hands because they think he means conservatives and traditional Catholics.  Here the Pope has shoved it smack into the faces of some of the most liberal Catholics anywhere… German bishops.]

One of the things Francis promoted, hard, was fostering the Sacrament of Penance, getting people back to the confessional.

Also, via Pentin:

Noting the sacraments are approached “less often” (a survey released earlier this year showed 54% of Germany’s priests go to Confession just once a year or less), and that vocations have “significantly diminished”, the Pope said the solution depends upon overcoming “paralyzing resignation”.

Here’s what the Pope said:

Turning now our attention to parochial communities, in which one experiences and lives the faith in a greater way, the sacramental life must be at the heart of the Bishop in a special way.  I would like to underscore only two points: confession and the Eucharist.  The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which is about to start, offers the opportunity to bring about the rediscovery of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Confession is the place where one receives as a gift the forgiveness and the mercy of God. In confession there begins the transformation of every single member of the faithful and the reform of the Church. I hope that greater attention will be given to this sacrament, so important for a spiritual renewal in diocesan and parochial pastoral planning, during the Holy Year and also after. It is also necessary to put into evidence always the intimate connection between the Eucharist and priesthood. Pastoral plans that do not give adequate importance to priests in their ministry of governing teaching and sanctifying in regard to the structures and the sacramental life of the church, on the basis of experience are destined for failure. The precious collaboration of the lay faithful above all where vocations are lacking cannot become a surrogate for priestly ministry or make it even seem simply to be optional. Without the priest there is no Eucharist.

Switching web pages we immediately find editorials at the Fishwrap (National Schismatic Reporter) applauding the Pope’s words about confession and abjuring their heretical notions about the ordination of women, which Pope Francis at other  times has said is impossible.

Oooops… no!  Wait.  I had a monsignor moment there.  Scratch that last part.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t see there any report on the Pope’s stern speech to their German episcopal Liebchen.

What the Fishwrapers want is what the Germans have been up to for years.  And now even Francis has called the German Church to wake up.

The Pope’s speech to the Germans was direct… linear… clear… detailed. Detailed in a way that I would not have expected from Francis.  This was written for him. That’s not a surprise.  Popes generally can’t write their talks, especially in languages they don’t speak about things they don’t know much about.  They depend on others.  Once the Pope reads it, it is his, of course.  But… some German wrote this who knows well the situation of the Church in Germany.  Gee… who might have been available to do that?  I’m pretty sure that Benedict, when he was Pope, provided the content for his own addresses to German bishops.  I mean… who better than he?  Right?

And then we ask the question: why?   Francis seems to have been all over the German message in the last couple years.  Did he finally get tired of seeming like he was on their leash?  Did he talk to enough people to finally get the message about what is really happening in the incredibly wealthy but spiritually enervated German Church?

 

I don’t know.

But this talk was interesting.  Eventually, I am sure the whole thing will be in English

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47 Responses to Pope Francis to German Bishops: Your Church is a mess! Fix it and … GO TO CONFESSION!

  1. Well, that’s good that he’s being firm. However I feel that based on the shenanigans going on in their country, such as: wack-a-doodle liturgies where ministers and altar kids rotate around in a circle or do weird choreography before Mass (H/T to YOU for this oldie a year ago: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2014/11/why-is-it-that-truly-weird-stuff-comes-into-the-church-from-germany/), their bishops wanting to VIOLATE doctrine at the synod, and their heavy investiture into the pornography business called wetbilt in Germany, the whole “church” of Germany and its bishops’ conference deserves an interdict and dissolution respectively. Exceptions can be made for those priests proven to hold traditional liturgies … like the Latin Mass ;).

  2. Clemens Romanus says:

    I’m not sure the Pope knows what Pelagianism means. At least, that’s my perception.

  3. Grumpy Beggar says:

    “. . . a survey released earlier this year showed 54% of Germany’s priests go to Confession just once a year or less),”

    “Confession just once a year . . . or less” !? If that were me I’d probably be dead by now.

  4. Kent Wendler says:

    No human (or angelic being) can “out-subtle” the workings of the Holy Spirit.

  5. LeeF says:

    Regarding the HF’s admonitions on the sacrament of penance, based on what I see here in the US, lack of use of the sacrament is only a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Only if the priests preach a correct understanding of sin, including using the words “mortal” and “grave”, coupled with occasional preaching on the last things, i.e. everyone who “means well” isn’t heaven bound, will the people in the pews have a reason to fight sin in their lives and go to confession. A good place to start would be to highlight the fact that intentional/careless failure to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days is a mortal sin requiring confession *before* next receiving communion.

    And of course to actually offer generous confession times, rather than “by appointment”. Let the deacons be the greeters while father is in the box before Mass (the most convenient time for parishioners).

  6. iamlucky13 says:

    This seems like a fitting place to bring up again two of my favorite photos of Pope Francis:

    http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/03/14/world/pope/pope-master675.jpg

    and

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Pope-Francis-confessional.jpg

    Many thanks for all the priests who make confession readily available!

  7. CatholicMD says:

    My guess would be Cdl. Muller. Although his speech later about neurotic priests was vintage Francis.

  8. Maltese says:

    Oh, wait, maybe +Kasper has the solution: rapprochement to divorced and homosexuals; as if watering-down the Faith further will fill the pews. Actually, and I firmly believe this, only a staunch reaffirmation of the Faith really fills the heart.

    Otherwise, the Catholic faith becomes another garden-variety.

  9. The Cobbler says:

    Given that I made a point the other week about his holiness having finally made a statement in which I can’t find an orthodox interpretation, it’s only fair that I point out that now he’s broken his pattern of saying more liberal/progressive things to more liberal/progressive audiences and more orthodox things to more orthodox audiences — in this case telling the progressives that they need to remember to confess, that we can’t just substitute lay empowerment for the priesthood, and that, oh yeah, it’s not just traditionalists who can be pelagian. For my own sanity’s sake I’ll refrain from trying to untangle that paradox, but I am not unaware of it.

  10. The Cobbler says:

    (Er, rather, I made a point the other day about his statements from the other week.)

  11. Dear Clemens (et alia/aliae),

    Pelagianism (broadly generalized, but fairly) is the idea that one can get oneself, on one’s own, into Heaven.

    Supposing the (philosophically-charitable) proposition that the German Bishops in some majority do want their flocks to get to Heaven, and supposing that they also think themselves effective in leading folk to do what is necessary for that, it follows that What the German Bishops Think Necessary does not include Supplication for Divine Assistance via Instituted Channels of Grace.

    Or, in short, they would seem to be (broadly, but fairly, generalized) Pelagians. Again, supposing they are not actively malicious.

  12. Maineman1 says:

    This is rich. I honestly don’t comprehend this Pope. He stacked the recent Synod with a number of prelates who share the same bland pseudo-faith as most of the Germans. The Pope calmly lambasted hard hearted churchmen who hide behind doctrine, as sitting on the seat of Moses in judgment.

    Now he’s lecturing them about the spectacular collapse of the Catholic faith in Deutschland?

    I’m utterly baffled. Seriously, who is Pope Francis?

  13. Maineman1 says:

    Fr. Z,

    Is Pope Francis properly utilizing the word Pelagian?

  14. rmichaelj says:

    +1.

  15. Polycarpio says:

    I don’t think this speech was written for Francis, at least not in the sense that it’s entirely somebody else’s content. I agree with CatholicMD that Card. Müller is a likely source, trusted by Francis (contrary to some opinions I’ve seen here) whom he would naturally turn to on these issues. I also agree that many of the passages there (including the Pelagian label) are “vintage Francis.” He also instructed the bishops to get out there and defend life more. All in all, it was a strong delivery. It reminded me of his address to CELAM (the Latin American Bishops) during his trip to Brazil in 2013, in which he had quite a few pointed barbs for progressives, if anyone was paying attention ( it which wasn’t covered much here; it was in Spanish).

  16. chonak says:

    In this case, the Pope’s reference to Pelagianism is more understandable than usual: the Church in Germany should not think that its good works (social services) are sufficient to rate it as adequate. Instead it needs to carry on the spiritual mission of the Church, which has priority.

  17. stuart reiss says:

    I read the pope saying to the Germans “not to put their trust in perfect administrative structures and an organisation” ( what? Is he talking about the church?) as “go make a mess” “give communion to Lutherans, Calvinists, and all the others who asks. Stop hammering on about legality, and laws, just get on and do what you guys must to get the numbers up…..”
    I can’t read this any other way…a leopard doesn’t change its spots overnight…we suddenly don’t have a pope distancing himself from the krauts.

  18. oldconvert says:

    One thing I can’t figure out is why the Germans (in particular, every country has prelates with this mindset – I’m from the UK so I know that some of ours do) seem to believe there is a vast untapped reservoir of divorced-and-remarried, plus homosexual people in sexually active relationships, who will all flood back to the Church once the rules are relaxed. Have they been following focus groups, or pollsters, or something? Cause the Church of England went down that route and all that happened is the attendance has fallen even further.

    With respect, Father, I should stop trying to second-guess Pope Francis. It’s like trying to catch smoke. He seems to delight in sowing deliberate confusion amongst the faithful.

  19. DonL says:

    Well, the sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Holy Orders, finally get clear support from Francis. What does this mean for his take on the synod, which was far too much of a direct attack on these same sacraments? Time will tell, but this is very encouraging.

  20. mpolo says:

    Yes, confession practice is terrible here in Germany. I help out fairly regularly in a parish, so they asked me to hear confessions on Palm Sunday, so that they would have at least offered confession once in that year, though I was told not to bother giving more than a half hour, because no one would come. What a surprise that only two elderly faithful came to confession.

    But there are signs of hope. I heard confessions at a neighboring village on Divine Mercy Sunday, and there I had constant flow of penitents for the 3 1/2 hours I was there, and most of those were regular confession-goers. I was followed in that confession room by a Benedictine who heard my confession in the extraordinary form. There are also a lot of people going to confession at the “Night Fever” events that happen monthly in several cathedrals. But it’s got to penetrate down to the parish level.

  21. CradleRevert says:

    ” Where in the 1960’s everywhere just about all the faithful still participated at Holy Mass every Sunday, today there are often less than 10 percent. ”

    Hmmm….and what sort of changes have been made in the Church since the 1960’s which may have lead to such a decline?

  22. Charlie says:

    The Pope’s talk to the German hierarchy could be reworked in English and French and given to the Bishops of Canada.

  23. Volanges says:

    LeeF says:Let the deacons be the greeters while father is in the box before Mass (the most convenient time for parishioners).

    Would that that were possible but deacons and hens’ teeth are found in approximately the same number in my part of the land. Our present pastor offers Confession for an hour every Saturday. It’s one hour more per week than his 2 predecessors offered. He’s not in any danger of having to turn away penitents at the end of the hour. That said, I’ve not been there during that time as often as I ought to.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Maltese says,

    Oh, wait, maybe +Kasper has the solution: rapprochement to divorced and homosexuals . . .

    According to the German bishops, that solution only applies to those who have paid their Church tax.

    You want the Sacraments? We don’t care about your moral situation. Just pay up!

  25. TNCath says:

    I’m wondering if the ghost author of this address is none other than our seldom seen these days German Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who lives with a certain retired German prelate. Indeed, this address was much too direct and clear for Francis to have penned it himself. That said, it still wouldn’t surprise me if Francis didn’t deliver another address next week that seems to completely contradict what he said to the German bishops in this address.

  26. donato2 says:

    For some one who does not like to judge or proselytize, Pope Francis sure likes to scold — and psychoanalyze. None of it is helpful. It serves only to alienate and demoralize.

  27. PhilipNeri says:

    I am constantly railing against Pelagianism and nominalism at Notre Dame Seminary. Not that these two are problem for our seminarians but b/c the two tend to be problems for the Church and the our secular culture, respectively.

    When I hear the Holy Father denounce Pelagianism, I hear him condemning the tendency of some Catholics to rely on Doing Deeds to achieve their salvation. These Deeds can be mere mechanical prayer, occupying an ecclesial office, holding an orthodox view on X, protesting some injustice. The overall idea being that there is something we can Do to work for our salvation or to earn our salvation. Doing Deeds can contribute to our growth in holiness, but our salvation is freely given through Christ’s death and resurrection.

    Also, I sometimes see and hear Catholics of a Pelagian bent questioning the salvation of others b/c these others are not Doing the Proper Deeds, or not Doing the Deeds Properly; in other words, the Deeds and their proper execution are somehow uniquely indicative of one’s status as member of the Saved.

    An example: a man attended Mass at an OP priory and noted that we were using “store bought” wine in the Mass. He complained to the prior. The prior noted — correctly — that the wine was perfectly licit for Mass. He disagreed. He returned the next day with a case of “sacramental wine,” that is, wine labelled as Sacramental Wine — a darker, heavier, sweeter wine. The prior accepted the gift with gratitude. When we didn’t immediately start using his gifted wine, he protested vigorously and declared us heretics, storming off to never return. An absurd and Pelagian reaction.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

    P.S. This same man complained when I quoted from BXVI’s “Deus caritas est” in a homily. His objection? BXVI used Nietzsche in the encyclical, thus poisoning the whole document.

  28. Benedict Joseph says:

    Once again we are tempted to take consolation in an uncharacteristic exhortation by the Holy Father. This appears as nothing other than perfectly characteristic of his eradicate thinking. It is rather like a kind of water torture, first hot, then cold. The washboard of this “orthodoxy” is a little too much to endure. Any attempt to rationalize it is disassembled with the next pronouncement. Only the welfare of the Church requires us to take note of this chaos. Beyond that, what can be done? We have our place in the ecclesial body – groundlings. Be still and watch . And pray.

  29. Dundonianski says:

    More than a few (I sense wary) contributors on Francis’ latest utterings suggest an unusual cogency, not a consistent trait, but what is consistent are the elements of “orthodox seed” scattered for us starved little birds every so often. The Bergoglian heterodoxy will will resume as always s, I fear.

  30. Father Bartoloma says:

    I wonder if the Christmas address to the Roman Curia is going to be a big “Bah Humbug” like last year.

  31. Imrahil says:

    But dear LeeF,

    everyone who does mean well is actually heaven-bound. (Note: Wilfully setting aside a precept one knows to be given by God is of course not compatible with meaning well, and sins of weakness include that the person didn’t mean well with enough of force – though in the latter case, the hope for quick recovery through repentance is rather forceful, dare I say.)

    I may, of course, be reading too much into this, but that it is not good enough to be good, but you have to fulfil commandments in addition (why, then? because God just wills to make it harder??) – not because it is bad to counteract them – is something that has the Protestant smell on it. Which, whether true or not, would in any case be natural enough, given that the “standard” of fire-and-brimstone preaching is set by Protestants.

    Oh, and, of course, he who commits sins but does have no idea that they are really sins (not “that the Church teaches they are sins”, but that they are sins), yes, he does get a pass. Unfair? Only if God had given the commandments to make things harder. He hasn’t; he gave them to make things easier.

    As for having Confession hours, totally agree.

    But don’t let the deacons be the greeters, even if there are deacons. If I’d eagerly be personally greeted at the beginning of Mass, I’d feel awkward such as I am by the grace of God, but if I were a non-practicing Catholic drawn, by some mysterious way, to Holy Mass for once after a decade, I’d probably run at high-speed out of the Church door. No, let them greet one another (reverently) if they know each other, and otherwise, let them sit quietly in their banks, until the celebrant does come out and greet with his actual greeting, viz., “Dominus vobiscum”.

  32. Bender says:

    About that mercy and rediscovery of the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist —

    While the Pope no doubt intends for people to see this as good news, the problem is that the reason people don’t go to Confession or Mass is because they do not believe themselves to be in need of mercy, they believe themselves sinless and, in any event, have no need nor use for sacraments. They are just great they way they are now.

    In order to embrace mercy and the sacraments as something needed, one must have humility to recognize that one has shortcomings, that sometimes they do things they should not, and sometimes they do not do things that they should. But generations of people have been schooled in that 1970s mentality of a “pastoral” approach that avoids suggesting that perhaps, just maybe, they are anything less than perfect because we would not want to hurt their feelings and sound judgmental and harsh.

    No one seeking mercy, Confession, Communion? You reap what you sow. I don’t blame the fallen-away, they are only going down the road that those who should know better have said they could go.

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear oldconvert,

    on the one hand, this is a very good point.

    On the other, there is this peculiar German thing that if there is one person in the whole world* who is not treated as justly or as mercifully as she could be**, then the whole legal system must be thrown upside down to fit that one instance – whether she’ll react by coming back to Church or not.

    [ * practicing Catholics excepted, because they’ll do what they’re told anyway – but that part isn’t peculiarly German.

    When there were some reforms in the German military, downvaluing old and established practices, at the end of the 1960s, some captains came together and did what in older terms would quite probably be called “mutiny”, stating explicitly that “just look at the universities which were reformed as the students wished only after the students got rebellious, and not earlier. Discipline is our enemy.” Doesn’t that strike a familiar tone, somehow?

    ** we’re talking something the German prelates, to all appearances, really feel to be the case – it is irrelevant here whether it actually is the case.]

  34. Bender says:

    This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories of it happening to others in some places —

    A person does X, Y, Z, which are objectively sinful. Upon reflection, he goes into the confessional and says, “Father, I’ve done X, Y, Z, etc.” The oh-so-pastoral priest then stops him and thinking that he is offering reassurance, says, “Oh, don’t worry about that. Those are not really sins.” Since even the most pious can struggle with sin, invariably the person once again does X, Y. and Z. But this time, remembering what the “authoritative” priest said, he does NOT go to Confession because he was told they were not sins and thus there is no reason to go.

    That is how you end up with empty confessionals.

  35. juergensen says:

    Which raises the question: Having presided over the dissipation of the Church in their German homeland, why would Francis give their views any weight at all in a matter that will definitely affect the universal Church, namely the family?

  36. LeoXIII says:

    For some insight into what Pope Francis means by “Pelagian,” I found it helpful to read his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. In paragraph 94 he states: “This [spiritual] worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.”

    His words call to mind Matthew 23:2-7: ““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. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.'”

    The Pope appears to be warning us about two perspectives that appear opposed, yet equally lead us astray. Proponents of both perspectives are on a journey to the same destination using the same map, but set out in opposite directions. Group A, Neognostics (Stereotypes: “Liberal” Catholics focused on the “Spirit of the Law” / “Mercy at the expense of truth.” etc.) throw away the map, proceeding solely by their own intuition and sense of direction. Group B, Neopelagians/Neopharisees (Stereotypes: “Conservative” Catholics focused on the “Letter of the Law” / “Truth at the expense of mercy.” etc.) rigidly follow the map refusing to adapt even after it has become clear that portions of terrain have changed. Eventually both groups get swallowed up in a bog or fall off a precipice.

    We all, of course, assume we are on the correct “middle path,” and thus refuse to alter course. But if pride (“self-absorption”) is truly the common factor leading us astray, then humility alone can return us to the path to salvation, which St. Paul famously exhorts us to work out “with fear and trembling.”

  37. donato2 says:

    “The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.”

    This, in my opinion, is psychobabble. As is his custom, the Pope levels charges without naming names or giving actual examples. Who, exactly, are these people who “feel superior to others” and how does the Pope know that they have these feelings of superiority? In what acts or statements are the “feelings of superiority” manifested? Who “analyzes and classifies others” and in doing so “exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying”? Actually, as to the latter question, I can think of one such person, and that is Pope Francis himself. In the very passage in which he denounces the practice, he “analyzes and classifies” others: those “intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past” allegedly as a result of “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism.” And he has done this not just in Evangelii Gaudium but repeatedly over the course of his pontificate. He denounced “rigidity” in connection with both sessions of the Synod, and just recently he warned about allowing the “rigid”into the priesthood (and slammed the police (another favorite punching bag of liberals) while he was at it).

    Pope Francis emphasis on psychological explanations is both irritating and disturbing. It is technique commonly used by liberals: rather than engage the argument that a person is making, attack the person’s motivations and mental state. Most everyone at times fails to show adequate charity, fails to evangelize and fails to be open to God’s grace. However to say that this is a problem peculiar to those who love the Church’s tradition is as offensive as it is wrong.

  38. Augustine says:

    Wait a minute, were those the bishops from Germany or from Argentina, including the one pontificating about loss of the flock on Sundays and on the other days?

    The more I hear Francis and the more I compare his words with his actions, I have the growing, eerie feeling that he means none of them and that he’s just, jesuitically, just striking politicking points.

    “May his days [in office] be few: and his bishopric let another take.” (Ps 109:8)

  39. Praying4Mercy says:

    Very interesting point and comment, Leo XIII. Are you able to find a rationale for all of the pope’s apparent contradictory stances? Meaning that you do not find any of his statements unnerving or upsetting. I am seriously wondering this as I am not able to do so. I find it uncanny that so many are continually unwrapping his statements as to what they actually mean; rather than simply looking at what he said. The seeming contradictoriness of his statement leads me to other than theological explanations. Nevertheless, I do appreciate what you just wrote. It is interesting and possible. At the same time, since many get upset about some of his statements, I do not think that all believe they are on the middle path. When he talks about being “closed hearted” and “neurotic”, I think those who are concerned about dispensing altogether with adherence to the rules (as definitely is going on in the Church) believe he is talking about them. Another way to see the apparent contradictions is that we are to look to what the holy father says, whatever that might be, and conform our thinking accordingly. So when he criticizes some for being too concerned with abortion issues, we should think that way, then when he says beware of the culture of death, so to speak, we should think that way. If find this not so much a theological issue as one of his personality. The greatest problem I am having is with this continual back and forth and seeming contradictions is a possible development of the cult of personality instead of a simply increasing one’s understanding of the teachings of Christ in all of their balance and following it.
    Actually the personality of Pope Francis as manifested by the history of his statements is likely the greatest challenge of all.

  40. Maineman1 says:

    Does he speak German? I wonder if the Pope was even briefed about the speech, or if he was even aware of the contents. I have grave doubts.

  41. WYMiriam says:

    I would like to underscore only two points: confession and the Eucharist. […] It is also necessary to put into evidence always the intimate connection between the Eucharist and priesthood. Pastoral plans that do not give adequate importance to priests in their ministry of governing teaching and sanctifying in regard to the structures and the sacramental life of the church, on the basis of experience are destined for failure. The precious collaboration of the lay faithful above all where vocations are lacking cannot become a surrogate for priestly ministry or make it even seem simply to be optional. Without the priest there is no Eucharist.

    I have removed the four sentences that spoke so well of the sacrament of confession from this quote of Pope Francis in order to emphasize the question I have: am I just weird, or does anyone else think it odd that, for someone who says he wanted to “underscore” the Eucharist, there is hardly anything said directly about the Holy Eucharist? Oh, wait. “Eucharist” is an ambiguous term (thank you, Vatican II, especially), and can stand for both the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist — Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

    Okay, I’m thinking now that Francis meant “Eucharist” in the sense of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which explains things better. I’m beginning to understand this . . . I think.

    I’m confused, however, about the sentence “Pastoral plans that do not give adequate importance to priests in their ministry of governing teaching and sanctifying in regard to the structures and the sacramental life of the church, on the basis of experience are destined for failure” — it is genuine Francis-speak, in my view, because I see nothing in here that touches directly, or even indirectly (except for “sacramental life of the church [sic]”) on the Holy Eucharist or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    It seems to me that there wasn’t much “underscoring” of “the Eucharist”. Too bad. I read the whole talk, in a different translation than Fr. Z has above, and I thought it was quite good overall — not only because it had real meat in the content, but because it was comprehensible all the way through. God’s blessing to whomever wrote it!

  42. Daniel W says:

    The Pope is hitting the German liberals hard. Calling them “Promethean neo-pelagians” etc, he means that they think we can get ourselves and others to heaven without repentance, mercy or grace.

    He is accusing the Germans of a tendency to build ecclesial structures to get to heaven (Caritas for example!), ie. the tower of Babel! rather than encountering God both individually and community in contrition and humility.

  43. Augustine says:

    @Praying4Mercy, sometimes I believe that Francis is just cunning or jesuitical, but perhaps he suffers from the mental side-effects of dabbling in Hegelian dialectics. To the practitioners of such inanity, the truth of an argument does not reside in its premises and their logical development, but in the outcome or synthesis of a confrontation between a thesis and its opposing antithesis. I’ll leave such details to the much abler Fr. Z, but Francis is what the remnant would call modernist.

  44. JesusFreak84 says:

    Ummm….Germans who don’t pay their “church tax” are banned from the Sacraments, yet the Pope who preaches the “Church of the Poor” never felt the need to address that?! *Headdesk*

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