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