Card. Marx pulls a fast one with the text of ‘Evangelii gaudium’.

There was an interview with His Eminence Reinhard Card. Marx in America Magazine.  We can trust that the interview really conveys what Card. Marx thinks because, as we are informed, he had a chance to go over it before publication.

I noticed something in the interview that bothered me… a lot.  Here is the section that most troubled me.  My emphases in his response

What challenge accompanies this new time in the church?

MARX: It is best to read “Evangelii Gaudium.” Some people say, “We don’t know what the pope is really wanting.” I say, “Read the text.” It does not give magical answers to complex questions, but rather it conveys the path of the Spirit, the way of evangelization, being close to the people, close to the poor, close to those who have failed, close to the sinners, not a narcissistic church, not a church of fear. There is a new, free impulse to go out. Some worry about what will happen. Francis uses a strong image: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,” rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary. The latter church does not help the people. The Gospel is not new, but Francis is expressing it in a new way and is inspiring a lot of people, all over the world, who are saying, “Yes, that is the church.” It is a great gift for us. It’s very important. We will see what he will do. He has been pope for only two years, which is not much time.

Let’s pull this apart.

Card. Marx says… “Francis is expressing”… and he also forcefully says “Read Evangelii gaudium… Read the text.”

Okay, Your Eminence, let’s read the text from Evangelii gaudium you quoted.

49. Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: [Here’s what Marx quoted] I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. […]

Again, now, let’s see what Card. Marx said, paying attention to the position of the quotation marks:

I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary.

Again… let me spell this out:

Francis wrote:

rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.

Marx said:

rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary.

When Card. Marx quotes the Pope, he continues (in the “rather than” section) what people are going to assume is what Francis wrote.

But that’s not what Francis wrote or intended.  Again, pay attention to the position of the quotation marks.

Whereas Francis writes about a Church that is confined, unhealthy, clinging to security, Marx speaks about a Church that is clean and that has the truth.  Marx sets up a dichotomy (a false dichotomy) which is not in Francis’ text: a Church that is clean v. a Church that is dirty… a Church that has truth v. a Church that…. who knows what… that doesn’t?

By closing the quotation marks before the second clause of the sentence, Card. Marx accurately quotes the Pope, but misleads us about the Pope’s intentions.

Card. Marx misintends the intention of the Pope, and sets up a false dichotomy.  The problem with this is that the Church is not susceptible to this sort of dichotomy.

In my years studying Augustine, one thing in his thought was made clear:  Augustine saw the Church in realistic terms as a corpus permixtum malis et bonis, a body mixed through with good people and bad.  The Church is both dirty and clean.

Some people might think that this is a petty point to pick on.  It is after all, only a small item in a longer interview and, as such, not worth the microscope treatment.

I disagree.  This is important.

The words “clean” and “truth” point to the problem of sin.  They set up a discussion, farther along in the interview, of moral issues such as homosexual acts and adultery (civil marriage after divorce without “annulment”).

Card. Marx pulled a fast one with the text of Evangelii gaudium.  Since the Cardinal had a chance to go over this and double-check it, and since the Cardinal told us to read the text and check what the Pope wrote, we have to conclude that we are being misled.

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  1. Deacon Augustine says:

    This is all of a piece with Cardinal Baldisseri’s misleading nonsense about the “evolution of dogma” which he spoke about at the Pontifical Council for the Family last week.

    Here is part of the report from Voice of the Family:

    “Baldisseri, in response to a concerned pro-family advocate, told delegates that we should not be ‘shocked’ by theologians contradicting Church teaching.

    The Cardinal said that dogmas can evolve and that there would be no point holding a Synod if we were simply to repeat what had always been said. He also suggested that just because a particular understanding was held 2,000 years ago does not mean that it cannot be challenged.”

    This merits a “fail” in Theology 101. Anybody would think there was a conspiracy to destroy the faith.

  2. Joseph-Mary says:

    I agree that the Church is bruised!

  3. Pnkn says:

    Oh my.

    I am personally horrified when people misquote. So …argh… regarding the misrepresentation of what the pope actually wrote.

    But I have a question… what would be the problem of a Church that is ” a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary.” ? Jeepers, I – a sinner – would be delighted to know that in the here and now there is a “place” which has the Truth ! (ok, that already exists) and also has everything “necessary” (presumably to live a life in accord with that Truth – which would include bringing others to that Truth and bringing that Truth to others). This, too, already exists – at the presentation and cost of the Incarnation !

    So I see the cardinal as both misrepresenting what the pope actually said and being disrespectful to the point of denial of the nature of the Church.
    What am I missing ?


  4. Clemens Romanus says:

    Kyrie, eleison!

  5. marcelus says:

    Yeap. In this case , there is a clear intention behind Marx’s words…

    You do not have to be a wizard to understand what PF meant with this: it’s the now famous “hagan lio” go out and evagelize, new ,old, buytb do it. let’s take catholicism everywhere. He said that many times.I recall he even mentioned it physically.-Come out of the parishes. He never questioned truth or anything else

    Deacon Augustine says:
    26 January 2015 at 12:39 pm
    This is all of a piece with Cardinal Baldisseri’s misleading nonsense about the “evolution of dogma” which he spoke about at the Pontifical Council for the Family last week.

    Crld Baldisiere willbe replcaed by Crdl Napier in the October Synod.

  6. iPadre says:

    Yes, the Church is clean and dirty as we have seen with the scandal. Most people refuse to see the clean and holy. But, despite the dirty and sinful, we have the truth. If we didn’t have the truth, we wouldn’t know where to seek holiness and become clean.

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    This whole interview is a mess. Yet he said it represents his real thoughts.

  8. Bosco says:

    Ah the problem of sin, doctrine, and pulling a fast one, I have just read a report in the English edition of ANSA that:

    “Pope Francis on Saturday (Jan. 24) received in a private audience a Spanish transsexual and his girlfriend after the man wrote to him saying he had been cast out of the church in his native city, Spanish daily Hoy reported Monday…

    The pope has said the Catholic Church should be more accepting of gays but recently failed to muster a big enough majority of cardinals to change doctrine on the issue.

    Asked about the reported meeting, official Vatican sources declined to comment.”

    I expect there are other accounts out there.

  9. Sonshine135 says:

    If the church doesn’t have truth, then who does? Whether intentional or not, Cardinal Marx sows seeds of doubt into the heads of believers by this statement. It is a sad day when a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church sounds more like Pilate than like Christ.

  10. Fr Francis says:

    Within days of his election Pope Francis said that the Church should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor. He added that he chose to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.


    And in Evangelii Gaudium he says “The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money .” (n, 55)

    But Cardinal Marx and the other German Bishops have been denying Holy Communion and Christian burial (yes – even Christian burial!) to Catholics who have opted out of paying Church Tax.

    So it appears that the German Bishops consider that paying Church Tax is more important than following the teaching of the Gospels on divorce and remarriage.

    I wonder if Pope Francis is aware of this and what a scandal it is – especially to people in Germany.

  11. Pnkn says:

    Here is another quotation in the article. I note that it is not Cardinal Marx speaking.
    “But others said, “You cannot say that somebody is in sin every day. That is not possible.” ”

    I don’t know about others, but personally, I do indeed sin every day.

    Why a cardinal would cite this quotation as something that needs to be discussed because apparently to some shepherds it is unthinkable that anyone could possibly sin every day floors me.
    (Apologies for the grammar)

  12. Traductora says:

    Cardinal Marx is clearly an ill-intentioned heretic, but the Pope is either too simple to understand his own statements (written for him by Archbishop Victor Manuel (Tucho) Fernandez, head of the problem-plagued seminary in Argentina) or so doctrinally confused he doesn’t understand the import of his words.

    Pope Francis knows little about theology and would probably be the first to acknowledge this and in fact even boast of his ignorance. Fernandez, a big gay supporter, is his main advisor and writes his prepared addresses. And they are very ambiguous, intentionally so, in my opinion, and can be interpreted any way you want.

  13. Emilio says:

    I spent a long, long time working in and travelling throughout the Rhineland and Bavaria during and after WYD 2005, and it is so painful for me to see that this is what it has come down to for that great nation and its once great Catholic history and heritage. My heart goes out to you faithful German Catholics, and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering right now for Pope Emeritus Benedict. It is our hope that the Holy Father will uphold doctrine at the Synod in October. Many prelates, like Cardinal Marx, Kasper, et al., have dared to say that Pope Francis is solidly on their side and will follow them into heresy once the Pope, according to them, decrees that Holy Communion will be given to the illicitly remarried at the Synod. My question is this: what happens to a nation’s episcopate, like the German one, if the majority is in rebellion against Rome? I only know of Bishop Oster of Passau (God grant him many years) as being the lone, very courageous public defender of Marriage and Doctrine. Does anyone know if Cardinal Woelki has remained faithful, or if he has also betrayed the Church? Would bishops be censured individually, or will entire dioceses be? What happens to those who, after the October Synod, will enter formally into rebellion against Catholic Doctrine? What dark days await us.

  14. I agree– this is not nit-picking at all. Good catch for Fr. Z. If the Church isn’t “clean and has everything necessary,” where else can we go? Cardinal Marx would have done well on the ICEL of 1970 with that sort of paraphrase.

  15. Rob22 says:

    Dogmas can change or they cannot. If the Cardinal is hinting at dogma changes to come then the church is not what she claimed to be. Problematic right now especially for converts of recent years who are debating all this and where one goes if they come to believe the church has indeed changed dogma. I say we as it will be a personal thing.

    As someone told me if one wanted a hierarchical church with dogma/n that changes they’d become Mormon.

  16. Allan S. says:

    The Lord allowed Judas Iscariot as an Apostle to prepare the faithful for heretic Bishops – so said Jesuit Father John Hardon anyway.

    I deeply admire those with greater faith than I, who believe the Church will survive its decades-long fall from truth, the shedding of holy (right ordered) fear and de facto proselytization of universal salvation through any (or no) religion.

  17. The Cobbler says:

    Ah, yes, “Read the text, my blatantly obvious misrepresentation is clearly in it!” The crux of insane troll logic. Frequently used by the bottom-feeders in the scumbucket of the internet, and by sophists whose theological agendas have no sane basis.

    This also demonstrates the important thing about citations, by the way; it has very little to do with guaranteeing the accuracy of the claim cited — rather it’s that they make it quicker and easier to call bull when the two are just plain unrelated: if you have to guess which text he’s quoting from, there’s a chance the best you can do is call sloppiness for lack of a citation.

  18. gramma10 says:

    “And thus I clothe my naked villainy
    With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ;
    And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
    William Shakespeare, Richard III

    “And not only the pride of intellect, but the stupidity of intellect. And, above all, the dishonesty, yes, the dishonesty of intellect. Yes, indeed, the dishonesty and trickery of intellect.”
    Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

  19. chonak says:

    The next line after the passage which Cdl. Marx quoted provides a clue:
    “I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”

    In the German translation,
    “Ich will keine Kirche, die darum besorgt ist, der Mittelpunkt zu sein, und schließlich in einer Anhäufung von fixen Ideen und Streitigkeiten verstrickt ist.”

    Is it possible that a German reader sees the German version’s reference to “a heap of fixed ideas and controversies”, and thinks that it relates to established teaching?

    Since the Spanish text refers to “una maraña de obsesiones y procedimientos”, it seems the English is closer to the Pope’s original expression.

  20. Pingback: What the Holy Father Said About Rabbits & Why - Big Pulpit

  21. S.Armaticus says:

    It’s not just the misrepresentation of Evangelii gaudium at issue in this interview.

    The larger problem is the misrepresentation of the concept of the “common good” and by extension the corruption of the Catholic social teaching.

    Excuse the self serving link, but it is very important not only what Marx says, but also who Marx is. There are some who think that Marx might just be the most powerful cleric in all of Christendom.


  22. Raymond says:

    And to think that this man was personally handpicked by Benedict XVI to lead the Munich archdiocese?!?! (face-palm)

  23. asperges says:

    It seems to me we are in sort of re-run of “The Spirit of The Council” era where any nonsense, bypassing accuracy or even truth, can be trundled out to justify any aberration or foolish idea. Unfortunately the Pope indirectly encourages this with his off-the-cuff and impromotu remarks which almost beg to be misquoted out of context.

  24. gloriamary says:

    The words “diabolical disorientation” come to mind.

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