Exemplary fuzzy thinking about Pope Francis

At Hell’s Bible there is an op-ed which exemplifies some of the fuzzy thinking going around about Pope Francis.   The basic idea is that Pope Francis is the very bestest and most wonderfulest ehvur.  He’s going to get rid of all the stuff we don’t like so we have have sex with any animate or inanimate thing we want, etc.   He’s sort of a Catholic president Obama.

In fact, Pope Francis is not going to change the Church’s doctrines on faith and morals.  He just won’t.  When liberals figure this out – really figure it out – they will eventually turn on him.

A couple telling paragraphs:

Lapsed, but Listening

The Jesuits have always tried to get people to think for themselves, to arrive at belief through an arduous process. When bishops started telling parishioners that their gay and lesbian siblings were sinners, and that family planning was a grievous wrong, people stopped listening to them — for good reason.

“In terms of people in the pews, the Catholic Church lost roughly one-fourth of its strength over the last 35 years,” wrote the political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell in their book “American Grace.” They argue that when the religious right politicized faith, they put a “not welcome” sign on the door for millions of people of faith. This was compounded by the hypocrisy of these same moral authorities protecting pedophile priests while ignoring the lifelong anguish of the victims. For much of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in places was essentially organized crime in clerical garb.

The spirituality of Pope Francis, like his namesake from Assisi, is by example. Shedding the glam trappings of power and the aura of invincibility, he lives in a spartan guesthouse, mixes with the folks and tries to give voice to the sick, the poor, the immigrant living in the shadows. He washes the feet of prisoners, and Muslim ones at that. He laments that worshiping “the god called money” makes for bankrupt human beings.

The church he envisions would be a “home for all,” not “a nest protecting our mediocrity.” It’s strong stuff, long overdue and as refreshing as a brisk wind blowing down from the Dolomites.

His second strategy is aimed at the hardened heart of the church inside Vatican Square — the curia. He has summoned the cardinals for discussions on how to reform the church, the role of women and posture toward divorced Catholics. One goal is to remove the adjective “scandal-plagued” from curia.

No fancy cars, he admonishes the high clerics. Clean up the Vatican bank. The word “monsignor,” which means “my lord,” is out for elites. And enough with the “interminable and boring homilies where no one understands anything.” If that weren’t enough, he went after the cult of power: “Heads of church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.”

The only problem with Francis is his age. If he were 50, he might have a quarter-century to move his church up several centuries in enlightened thinking. His time is short. But what a miraculous sprint, producing this minor miracle: the lapsed are listening.


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  1. jaykay says:

    “For much of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in places was essentially organized crime in clerical garb.” “… to move his church up several centuries in enlightened thinking”

    Amazing that people will actually pay to read this third-rate drivel, which even by the standards of the solipsistic rants we’ve come to expect from the “enlightened thinkers” is puerile. But then again, the illumined ones obviously hate to be moved outside their comfort zone, so they have to be fed with the same nursery gloop over and over again or the screaming and rattle-throwing will start. Same thing with matters related to the liturgy, as we know all too well. And to think that they and their audience self-congratulate themselves as being the leading edge of public opinion and analysis. It is to laugh.

  2. Microtouch says:

    …Except he lobbed a grenade at his own argument when he said “In terms of people in the pews, the Catholic Church lost roughly one-fourth of its strength over the last 35 years,” wrote the political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell in their book “ . A time when the church started teaching watered down, touchy feelie faith and the effects of the liberal/modernist interpretation of Vatican II was showing it’s ill effects. And of course no diatribe against Holy Mother church would be complete without the obligatory ” hypocrisy of these same moral authorities protecting pedophile priests while ignoring the lifelong anguish of the victims”. Oh well…

  3. Palladio says:

    I don’t know why we would expect objectivity from the NYT when Catholics in the blogosphere freely unburden themselves of their anxieties about Pope Francis. And in case anybody thought that the academy was all sweetness and light, there is the most curious use of the word “‘strength.'” Surely it is impossible to use the word with any precision, but the authors quoted by the NYT use a fraction to express ‘strength,’ and on the bizarre assumption it was a term that needed, apparently, no explanation at all. The NYT does nothing to correct or explain the vocable. But then just a day or two ago it was referring the “Catholic” assassins of the IRA–whose platform was and is communist–without a second thought. Don’t hold your breath to read about Lutheran Nazis, Southern Baptist KKKers… So when and where has the Church in America got fair coverage in the press? I suspect that if that was in the middle decades of the 20th century–a big if, of course–those days are gone. We are returning to the norm of respectable prejudice against the Church of Christ in puritanical America.

  4. jaykay says:

    Palladio: not just in America, puritanical or otherwise. Include the entire Anglosphere in that. There is however a difference between Catholics in the blogosphere expressing anxiety about HH and an actual newspaper that prides itself on being the “paper of record” spamming rubbish and spin about the Church. People pay for these papers on the basis that they are getting objective journalism of the best class, which clearly they are not. Sort of like going into a top class restaurant and finding packet instant noodles on your plate.

  5. Palladio says:

    I agree, jaykay. Secularism, including statism, is modern puritanism, red in tooth and nail. The old hatreds of the deformation of the sixteenth were dormant for a few decades in the last century but now rear their ugly head in these more recent -isms, of which the NYT is perhaps nothing but a mirror.

  6. Bruce says:

    “… homilies where no one understands anything.”

    Actually in my experience it is the opposite! Most priests(not all) in my diocese dumb down their homilies. I find that the unorthodox priests have a condescending attitude towards the laity. That is why I love the parish I am at now, the priest’s homilies are long, intelligent, challenging, and orthodox.

  7. Palladio says:

    P. S. “‘In terms of the pews:'” I missed that, which I mention in fairness to the authors. But the frame given for the loss by the NYT has nothing to do, I suspect, with Bishops teaching anything contrary to the sacrament of abortion as the source and summit of the faith Americans, in quest of a so-called ‘sex life,’ got in material and bodily catechesis from holy books published serially, Playboy and Cosmopolitan, whose prophets are legion. Other means of secular tradition to make ‘having sex’ cheap and easy in illo tempore included Hollywood and the academy, and now also include the internet. There are other sacraments dear to America the ugly, but I rest my case with one example. So if Catholics fell away from the Church, as obviously they did, any sign the Church was supposed to seem more like the country as a whole, America the ugly, is much more likely an explanation. They did not, in other words, fall for ‘progress’ per se, but heard from the pulpit the Church was for progress, too. Hard enough with Satan, flesh, and the world, but when Mother Church seems to align Herself with those evils–as in liberalism and modernism from within she sometimes did–thirty five percent almost seems a small figure.

  8. Stu says:

    The “lapsed” never stopped listening. They just pick and choose what they want to hear. That’s often why they are “lapsed.”

    Nothing has changed in that regard.

  9. Palladio says:

    Some of the piece leaves me scratching my head. “The Jesuits have always tried to get people to think for themselves.” The point is moot, at best. The Church endorses faith and reason, not faith alone, and counts absolute intellectual giants among its Doctors, not all of whom are Jesuits. It probably would give the author no comfort at all to learn that Saint Peter Canisius (S. J.) wrote a Catechism.

  10. Toan says:

    From the author, Timothy Egan, in the “About” section of his website:

    “I am currently one of the many insignificant bi peds systematically trying to create my own slice of nirvana here on earth. My personal idea of nirvana may be different from yours, but all in all we are equally yearning for the same aspirations in life – the avoidance of pain and an increase in pleasure – whatever that means to you and how you accomplish it is within your own personal agenda.”

    With a bio introduction like that, it should be no surprise that his thinking about Pope Francis is fuzzy!

  11. johnnys says:

    I think many left the Church because our pastors stopped talking about sin, the devil and hell. Heck why do I need a Church when we are all going to Heaven! Jesus loves everybody! He does not condemn! Very true but…..no one wants to acknowledge that second part…..don’t sin again. (John 8:11)
    I don’t think our lapsed brother is going to like a recent message from our Holy Father…..


    I haven’t heard anything from the catholic libs and modernist bloggers about this one. In fact, have not heard much about it at all. It’s only been a few days but still….I can’t imagine the nyt or huffpost having much to say about it. Probably ignore it much like the second part of John 8:11

  12. Tradster says:

    “He’s sort of a Catholic president Obama.”
    Pope and Change?

  13. Cascade_Catholic says:

    Father, you’re right. He’d have to change the documents of the church, and the catechism line by line and I can’t see that happening. I appreciate your constant reminder of this, and I think eventually people will calm down. Salvation has never been a big number thing. The description of the “narrow gate” or “eye of an needle” are clear indicators. Many will lose heart, and will “too go away…”

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Toan’s quote of the author’s website description —

    Fuzzy indeed. The man thinks he’s a Buddhist, while clearly describing himself as a hedonist. The avoidance of pain and seeking of pleasure is the direct opposite of Nirvana. I guess he didn’t pay attention in World Religions class that day….

    Moving along, he’s an idiot. Pretty clearly, the real problem is that a lot of Americans (including some Catholics) don’t think anybody they know personally, including themselves, can possibly be a sinner. Sinner = them over there, righteous = me and my Prius (or other status symbols and shibboleths).

  15. Palladio says:

    How influential is this sort of thing? (Quite.) My little take on it: “insignificant bi peds:” chilling, self-depreciating, or both? Authors are supposed to be significant, in that, in writing, they signify. Chimps are bi peds, too, but they do precious little writing (as far as I am aware). So the author is suggesting he is little more than a chimp? Solidarity among bi peds? Avoid pain, increase pleasure: again, chilling. “whatever that means to you and how you accomplish it is within your own personal agenda:” ibid, even more so, as it seems to justify any behavior. Sounds to me, no aspersions or offense intended, like a weak description of giving up on truth, hence on beauty and goodness. Prayers for one and all, since this sort of thing strikes me as the go-to no-fault position of somebody–of a lot of somebodies–happy enough to have others do whatever they want to do.

  16. Charles E Flynn says:

    Rev. Know-It-All has noted a potential disadvantage of the cafeteria of the “spartan guesthouse”:

    What do you think of the new Pope?

    The posting also has a revealing anecdote about Cardinal Ratzinger.

  17. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    Well, no smoke without fire.

    A German bishop, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, is under fire for spending €31 million on his über-luxurious new headquarters, including €350,000 on built-in-wardrobes, €25,000 on a conference table, €783,000 on a garden and €15,000 on a bath tub……yep you read that correctly…… 15 thousand euros ($20,340) on his bathtub.

    He was summoned to Rome yesterday and will have to explain how he has spent €31 million of church money on his headquarters next to Limburg cathedral when the original estimate was €3 million. According to newspaper the Welt am Sonntag the costs could be even higher, reaching €40 million ($54,240,000).

    He was also criticized last year after magazine Der Spiegel revealed he flew first class to India to visit poor children.

    No better man than Francis to send him packing with a flea in his ear.


  18. Mariana2 says:

    What puerile writing, I’m embarrassed to read this!

  19. Del says:

    I doubt that the liberal secular press will ever turn on Pope Francis. When have they ever turned on one whom they embraced as their own? Obama seized their phone records while he sicced the IRS on those who spoke out against him…. and the slipstream media still love him.

    I suspect that the liberal secular press will get stuck in a perpetual expectation that any day soon, Francis will announce “The New Liberal Catholic Church.” And until he does, they will continually remind us that it is coming soon — so we had better stock up on condoms now, before the prices jump when all those Catholics are finally allowed to live like 21st Century Pagans.

    For my part: I trust the Holy Spirit. And I trust the Cardinals who discerned the man who would follow the great Popes of the last century. I expect that Francis will also be great, if he is given time to guide us.

    But our Francis will not be the Pope that the Fishwrap and Hell’s Bible tell us he will be.

  20. midwestmom says:

    “the Jesuits have always tried to get people to think for themselves…”

    Like the Jesuit priest at Creighton U. who recently cashed it in? He thought for himself.

  21. Imrahil says:

    Well, the first paragraph and the first two sentences of the second are interesting enough (by which I do not mean right).

    About the rest, let be silent the minstrel’s courtesy.

    Only, I have never been explained one thing. It is of course quite true that certain groups feel unwelcome in the Church. However, this reason is due to the fact that they object to the teaching, not to the focus on the teaching.

    If, say, the Church from today to tomorrow becomes silent about (say) homosexuality, any sane homosexual will naturally think that they are doing a PR campaign. Now our sane homosexual, even if he is Church-friendly, will not be interested in the Church’s PR campaigns. He will ask: now what do you say, yes or no?

    It is the job of the World (by which I mean not necessarily, but of course also, the rotten world) to ask questions. It is the job of the Church to answer questions. And it is about the answers to the questions that the World is interested, and is rightly interested.

    Quite understandably the Church wishes that other questions would be asked than are . But that is not, I think, in her power to change – and efforts to change that are largely ineffectial and create the hardly helpful image of a Church desperately sorry about her own teaching.

    Either the answers must be changed: this is only possible, of course, where the answers can be changed, where we are in the realm of the debatable things. An example would be the general attitude on fun and worldly pleasure taken in general (though I guess here it is more about getting rid of Protestant-origin preaching undertones which never were much present in Catholicism; often the people reject more what they think to be the Church, than the Church).

    If that is not possible (by which I not only mean dogmas, but also things that, while not dogmatized, are simply assumed to be actually true upon investigation, or, as long as the Church has not revised her speaking, by the Church Magisterium), the answers must be all the more clearly affirmed – and explained on the natural law lines. (Whether or not the term “natural law”, which where it is known suffers from much misunderstanding among the non-Catholics, should be used at first is still another question.)

    I have no illusions about how good explanation will work. But I am convinced that hushing-up will work even less.

    The Lord Mayor of Berlin said, “I am gay, and that is a good thing”. I reject the statement, but we can learn from the method. Wherever we discover, in Church teaching, something hard we would like to deny but cannot (leaving open whether than can be the case at all under an, indeed hypothetical, hypothesis of complete understanding on our part and having a good sub specie aeternitatis viewpoint; it certainly is the case on first subjective view in some cases with many persons), then proud affirmation is the second worst thing to do – the only alternative, hushing-up, being a large degree worse.

    Of course our Holy Father did not say, “hush up”. Certainly not. But the respective people will, as surely as the law of gravitation, pose the old questions that have been being posed for decades and decades. There just are no more reactions than three possible: answer truly, answer falsely, and not answer at all (making them realize you do not answer).

    (Though I agree there is some art of not answering questions before they are asked.)

    Dear @RidersOnTheStorm,

    the problem about that is that in that case, an orthodox, conservative, and even according to his opponents personally amiable bishop would have been fired for reason of an (openly admitted) media campaign.

  22. mike cliffson says:

    One of Fr Longeneckers alter egos gone independant, surely?

  23. mburn16 says:

    “I think many left the Church because our pastors stopped talking about sin, the devil and hell. ”

    I don’t know if I can buy that…in no small part because the Christian denominations which have done far better in terms of attendance in recent decades talk about hell and the devil even less than most of your “happy clappy” Catholic churches. One of my protestant friends, during a recent discussion, highlighted his church’s belief (not at all uncommon among evangelical protestants) that, once you’ve accepted and welcomed Christ’s power to save, you’re absolved from all of your sins…not just past, but present AND future.

    If a lack of talk about sin and hell was a major driver behind poor church participation, you would expect to see it manifested the strongest in the “once saved, always saved” category. But the opposite seems to be true.

  24. Bob B. says:

    I made a mistake once telling the president of a Catholic school (a Jesuit priest, of course) that there were many teachers who professed to be Catholic, but didn’t believe in what She teaches and there were just as many non-Catholics working there who laughed and made jokes of us at Mass (all of which I saw, heard and attempted to stop). The use of the word “She” in referring to God didn’t even cause a stir, despite coming from the theology staff (most of whom graduated from a Jesuit college, of course).
    At an in-service, there was a lot of animosity and condemnation of the subject matter (contraception) and of the presenters – to the great embarrassment to the school, especially as some of the faculty and non-Catholic administrators chose to make their personal beliefs known in how they asked questions. At yet another in-service, one of the Jesuit priests apologized for the required Gospel reading of the day! Social Justice is virtually the only “Catholic” subject that is discussed.
    This is not my idea of Jesuits having people think for themselves and the bishops, it seems, don’t do anything about it.

  25. Sonshine135 says:

    “If he were 50, he might have a quarter-century to move his church up several centuries in enlightened thinking.”

    Like illuminated thinking? Light-baring angel-like thinking? Seraph-angel like thinking? Satanic thinking?

    Actually, they lost me on the first paragraph, but I was mildly entertained by the last.

  26. Jack Hughes says:

    someone is obviously a few bricks short of a house……. scrap that he’s built a house on marshland

  27. Pingback: Pope Francis New Letter to Homosexual Catholics - BigPulpit.com

  28. netokor says:

    Where I work we got an email from this newspaper offering a special rate for a subscription. I immediately blocked them. A couple of weeks later they tried again and got through by re-writing my email address in all caps. I blocked them again laughing out loud (I was alone at my shared office). They seem to be desperate. Apparently, satan is being stingy with his subsidy to this foul publication.

  29. Robbie says:

    A Pope doesn’t have to change any doctrines or laws to move the Church in one direction or another. These days it’s all about tone and emphasis. By speaking through interviews, a Pope can do much to sway the faithful. Just look at the recent comments we’ve seen this Pope make. He didn’t change any doctrines or laws on abortion or gays, but the media and many of the “faithful” have taken his comments to mean that a change is here or on the way. Perception, in effect, becomes reality.

    In fact, here’s an example I’ve experienced. It’s well known the new Pope favors a more celebratory style than Benedict. In fact, he’s said he prefers a Mass without superstructures and an emancipated formation. Well on Saturday, the Mass at my parish began with an opening hymn that used bongo drums. Yes, bongo drums. I don’t know what happened after that because I left and went somewhere else.

  30. Palladio says:

    “It’s well known.” Really? Try EWTN: the Pope celebrates Mass with every bit of reverence Benedict XVI did–as recently as yesterday, as, in fact, I posted here yesterday: Latin and Italian chanted, reverence throughout.

  31. netokor says:

    Robbie, I agree with you. I hope I’m not repeating this link. God bless him, but Pope Francis is not helping the faithful.


  32. Cavaliere says:

    To hear the secular media report it you would think the papal apartments were the equivalent of the palace at Versailles.

  33. donato2 says:

    “….refreshing as a brisk wind blowing down from the Dolomites….” Perhaps Mr. Egan here is making an allusion to Pope Benedict’s teaching, which Pope Francis has praised lavishly. A wind that comes down from the Dolomites to Rome would originate in Bavaria.

  34. Kathleen10 says:

    What hypocrisy, and it’s always the same hypocrisy.
    These same types who misleadingly call the sex scandals in the Catholic church due to “pedophilia”, refuse to acknowledge these were (hopefully not are) homosexual crimes of homosexual priests against mainly adolescent and older boys, according to the John Jay study. By definition, (male perps sexually assaulting male victims). This is NOT pedophilia, but, pretty much, no one wants to alter their terminology so as to be accurate, becaauuse…that would offend the OTHER favored group (today’s secular homosexuals) who openly participate in man/man or man/boy sex relations and “we don’t want to offend THEM”.
    The level of this hypocrisy is hard to take, and so rampant everywhere. I don’t think they see the irony of this at all, or the contradiction.
    And these people would never be satisfied. Never. If they would, they would all be enthusiastic members of churches where “God is still talking” and where all their fondest wishes have come true. They’re out there, so I don’t understand why the obsession with the Catholic Church. Well I do, but I still wish they’d move on.

    Thank you for the great photos Fr. Z.! It’s fun to be along with you on this trip. It does seem like everywhere you go, there are so many people. Apparently Rome still has much appeal to many. You’ve been there a number of times but it seems surreal that they exist at all to one who has not yet visited. Enjoy!

  35. Kathleen10 says:

    “they” being the beautiful sites, artwork, etc.

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