The other day – yesterday? the days are a blur as I am on this voyage in S. Italy – I posted on the seriously confusing remarks of the Pope about making “truth idols” along with Fr. Murray’s observations. What to say? The way the Pope’s words were conveyed make his thought hard to reach.
Last night, however, I read a bit in a book on 20th c. Catholic theology by Fergus Kerr. In a chapter about Yves Congar I found the following. I wonder if this has anything to do with what the Pope was grasping at.
Vraie et fausse reforme dans l‘Église runs to 650 pages. In the first part Congar deals with sin in the Church (chapter 1); how reform should take place (chapter 2); and the part played by reforming prophets (chapter 3). The second part lays out four conditions for reform without schism: acknowledging the primacy of charity; remaining in communion with the whole Church; patience; and renewal by ressourcement, return to the sources. The third part deals with the Reformation, principally with Luther, contending that the mediatory role of the visible Church falls away into oblivion. In the conclusion Congar admits understandable reservations and hesitancies but argues that the time is ripe, especially in France: there is nothing ‘modernist’ or ‘revolutionary’ to fear; the bishops are welcoming, the would-be reformers are loyal Catholics; the reform required obviously issues out of pastoral concern. Nevertheless Congar acknowledges the problem of a split—une scission spirituelle – among Catholics, between one country and another, between France and (say) Flanders, Quebec, the Netherlands, Ireland; and also between Catholics in the same country! Accordingly, the book ends with 18 pages on intégrisme in France. Modernism, as it existed from 1895 to 1910, Congar says, was indeed a heresy. He happily quotes Pope Pius X against it. lutegristes, [sic – integristes, surely] on the other hand, maximize orthodoxy so much that this also becomes a way out of Catholicism. He adapts Newman, writing to W.G. Ward: Pardon me if I say that you are making a Church within a Church, as the Novatians of old did within the Catholic pale, and, as outside the Catholic pale, the Evangelicals of the Establishment … you are doing your best to make a party in the Catholic Church, and in St Paul’s words are dividing Christ by exalting your opinions into dogma … I protest then again, not against your tenets, but against what I must call your schisnratical [sic – schismatical, surely] spirit.83 This sectarian tendency to maximize whatever is settled by authority slips into condemning all openness, research, and questioning of received ideas. A Catholic’s orthodoxy becomes measurable by the degree of hatred that he shows for those he suspects of heterodoxy. The problem with integrisme is, finally, Congar thinks, that it has too little confidence in the truth, insufficient love of the truth – ‘Lord enlarge my soul, as Catherine of Siena prayed.’
Kerr, Fergus. Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians (pp. 40-42). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
The Kindle text is a bit of a mess, but the sharp reader can navigate the typos.
I suspect that this is what the Pope was driving at.
Allow me to say that I am not sure that Congar is right. I am not sure that this is what the Pope was trying to say. I am not sure that the Pope was right if he was trying to say this. However, since it is intolerable to imagine a Vicar of Christ who says that “truth” can be turned into an idol, such that it takes one away from “truth”… well. What to do? This commentary from Congar, in Kerr might provide a lens through which we can read Pope Francis’ comments.
And please don’t bother posting comments which simply bash the Pope without any additional thought. Not only are they not helpful for a discussion, they aren’t helpful at all. I know that many of you are frustrated and that you need to vent somewhere, somehow. That said, think before posting?