NRO: Pope Francis Enters His Third Year of Scolding Introverts

At NRO, Nicholas Frankovich, a deputy managing editor, has some sharp comments on Pope Francis as he begins the third year of his pontificate. You can sense the frustration in his commentary, along with his hope.

There is a lot to chew over in this piece.   Some people are going to hate this while others should avoid precipitous high fives.  THINK as you read.

Pope Francis Enters His Third Year of Scolding Introverts

He preaches mercy for everyone except them, when the Church needs them more than ever.

‘I want the Church to go out into the streets,” Pope Francis told a cheering crowd gathered for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, four months after he was elected pope. “¡Hágan lío!” he exhorted them, in the spirit of creative destruction: Make a mess! Take care, he added, not to become “closed in on” yourselves. [It is interesting that, by contrast, Benedict XVI all through his writings, before and after becoming Pope, explores the theme of “self-sufficiency”.  But he does it in an entirely different way.] On other occasions, he has urged priests to leave “the stale air of closed rooms” and has characterized traditional Catholics as “self-absorbed.” An extrovert, Francis attaches a positive moral value to extroversion — and, as if it followed by some logical necessity, a negative moral value to extroversion’s complement, introversion.

“Pope Francis has said that he does not want a church that is introverted,” Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, describing the pope’s “achievements,” explained bluntly last July in an article for the Catholic News Agency. Two weeks later in the Los Angeles Times, an admiring Amy Hubbard included in her list of lessons that we should take from Francis: “Do not be an introvert. That’s just putrid.”

“This is no century for introverts,” Kathleen Parker remarked on the occasion of Francis’s elevation to the papacy two years ago today. In our age, yes, “introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology,” as Susan Cain writes in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. To “disappointment” and “pathology” we should add, if we follow Pope Francis on this question, “character flaw” and “moral failing.”

More grandly than any other figure on the world stage today, Francis, entering the third year of his pontificate, exemplifies what Cain calls “the Extrovert Ideal”:

We like to believe that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual — the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” . . . Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent — even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.

In fairness to Pope Francis, we should remember that, though he is quick to chastise introverts, they have been quick to reciprocate. The primary reason that he disappoints many Catholics who delight in cultivating their interior life is not that he leans left in his politics and theology but that he’s shallow or at least presents himself as such. He has little apparent interest in the life of the mind. He lacks the patience to think slowly. Cain quotes a venture capitalist telling her, “I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas.” Bingo.

Francis tends to speak in platitudes, sometimes strung together rhetorically when they don’t cohere logically. Consider more closely his “Make a mess” speech at World Youth Day in 2013:

I want the Church to go out into the streets. I want us to defend ourselves against all worldliness, opposition to progress, from what is comfortable, from what is clericalism, from all that means being closed in on ourselves. Parishes, schools, institutions are made in order to go out. . . . If they do not do this, they become a non-governmental organization, and the Church must not be an NGO.

What a brain-bruising knot of contradictions: Go out into the streets — that is, the world — to defend yourself against worldliness. Church institutions must go out into the world! Many already do, such as Catholic Relief Services, arguably the Church’s premier NGO. If other Church institutions don’t do likewise, they’ll become NGOs. They must not become NGOs!

In the original Spanish, [NB] the key word in Francis’s phrase “what is comfortable” is “instalación,” derived from medieval Latin. A “stall” was a fixed place, and “installation” was, and remains, an ecclesiastical term for the assignment of a prelate to his place — of a bishop, for example, to his “cathedra,” or “chair.” A bishop should be stable, like a tree, rooted in the soil of his diocese. Episcopal “absenteeism” (a bishop’s failure to reside in the diocese where he has his chair) was once common, but the Church has condemned it since the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Francis himself has disparaged “airport bishops,” although in doing so he seems to contradict his message that the Church’s missionary (Latin: “sent out”) or apostolic (Greek: “sent out”) character is preeminent. [I wonder if a distinction must be made between the mission call of clerics and of lay people.]

The word “missionary,” of course, is now associated with colonialism and has fallen out of fashion. And “apostolic” sounds churchy and formal. In contemporary Catholicism, the new word for the Extrovert Ideal is “evangelical,” as in “the New Evangelization.” You know the drill: Leave the fortress and sally forth into town. Drop that sourpuss, Counter-Reformation stance contra mundum. Engage the world with a smile. Let’s dialogue.

That’s the music, from circa 1965, to which the lyrics of the New Evangelization have been set. The term originated during the pontificate of John Paul II, and Benedict XVI formally recognized the concept in 2010, when he created the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Benedict charged it with “the specific task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first proclamation of the faith already resounded, and where Churches are present of ancient foundation, but which are going through a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” It was a serious objective nobly articulated.

In the Francis era, sadly, the New Evangelization is sometimes made to sound like a program for shaming introverted Catholics into leaving their conversation with the Lord so they can go help in the kitchen. [And here is a serious concern – one of my most serious concerns, even fears…] Concern with liturgy, for example, the public prayer of the Church, is dismissed as “the Church . . . being obsessed with itself.”  [For the thousandth time, unless we have a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship, no initiative we undertake in the Church will bear lasting fruits.  A revitalization of our worship is a good in itself and needs no further justification.  However, if we want any sort of New Evangelization to work, we had better find our knees again, and silence, and the transforming, unsettling encounter with mystery which is found only in sacred liturgy.]

Martha, Martha.

Remember, Mary chose “the better part” and “the one thing necessary.” Jesus’ teaching in Bethany stands in obvious creative tension, however, with his instruction to his disciples to go forth, teach all nations, and baptize them. All Christians are called to contribute to the Great Commission, but the nature of the contribution will vary from individual to individual, as the body of Christ has many members, each with a different function. “Are all apostles?” Saint Paul asks rhetorically (1 Cor. 12:29).

[… CUTTING A BIG CHUNK…]

In our drive to conform to the Extrovert Ideal, the spiritual fruits of their labor have become invisible to us, inaudible, unintelligible. Godspeed to Pope Francis in his mission to draw people to the Church — but not in his attempt to discourage those who are only laboring to keep the oil burning in the sanctuary lamp. [Good image, and situated well.  The sanctuary is the place we need to revitalize before we can hit the streets.] The flame is guttering.

I am going to turn on the moderation queue and let some of your comments pile up before releasing them.  That way you are engaging the material first, rather than reacting to each other first.

Also, you will want to read the whole piece before jumping in.

Please share this post!
Share

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Pope Francis, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to NRO: Pope Francis Enters His Third Year of Scolding Introverts

  1. yatzer says:

    I think this puts a finger on what has troubled me about this papacy. As a confirmed introvert, I do try to help others, but glad-handing, bouncy extroversion just isn’t me and won’t work. There are a whole lot of us around, and our efforts are worthwhile. The emphasis should be on all of us together with our various abilities and legitimate concerns. Christ doesn’t require a certain personality type to serve him. “Martha, Martha” indeed.

  2. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    Make a mess…

    Find this introvert (who posses well above average training in certain skill-sets) a Catholic billionaire willing to finance another Crusade, and willing to support me, and/or other people like me, and I’d happily to “make a mess”.

    Because the governments of the West sure won’t do it, or can’t do it.

    I don’t think that the “clerical-class” wants any of us to make even a tiny mess. His Holiness should be talking to the Deacons, Priests, and his brother Bishops about making a mess, or telling them to allow us laymen to make a mess. There’s an army of energetic Catholics across the globe who want To Do Something, but are being held back by their priests and and other clerics.

    From what I’ve overheard from my own vantage point, A Lot of us younglings want to make a mess, but either can’t afford it, or we know that we would be severely scolded by our elders or by the “clerical class” if we did…

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The funny thing is that Pope St. John Paul II was a very extroverted guy, but he was totally comfortable with people being introverted, too. He supported contemplative vocations, scholars, etc.

    I wouldn’t mind so much what the Pope says, except that a lot of priests in this country seem to want to repeat a twisted version of anything he says, except with the volume 100 times louder, and the comments 100 times worse. I start to get afraid that one of these days, I’ll get extroverted right in someone’s face.

  4. Robbie says:

    I read this piece earlier in the day and the comment about going to help in the kitchen jumped out at me as well. I’ve mentioned this before, but I go back to the Pope’s first homily the day after he was elected. To the Cardinals, he said the Catholic Church can’t become a spiritual NGO. Yet, his actions and words since have suggested something different.

  5. Akita says:

    I’m the consummate extrovert but have never felt comfortable in the post Vatican II Church. The banality of most Novus Ordo liturgies leave me beleaguered. The extrovert popes (JPII and Francis) are uninspiring. I know JPII was personally very holy, but my personal growth and enthusiasm for the Faith were in hibernation for the 25 years of his papacy. I was electrified with the ascendancy of Benedict, however. Suddenly there seemed so much beauty to unpack in the Church, her liturgy and teachings. My personal growth was remarkable and I was on fire for the faith. I made pilgrimage to hear Benedict speak. I am devastated now. I am lethargic and in mourning. There are moments of despair even, but staying close to the Virgin and my favourite saints have kept me afloat.

  6. gramma10 says:

    Introverts play a role as do extroverts. I guess I am an extrovert in personality with certain things but I am an introvert in other areas.
    I am a people person like Pope Francis but I spend quiet time in adoration and meditation. I am sure he certainly does that more than we know.
    So we have the contemplative nuns and the Cistercian Monks. For an example I think the two Carmelite’s St. Theresa’s were both introverts and extroverts.
    I think we all misunderstand much of what we each say since we define things differently. Especially what Pope Francis says and really means
    By making a mess I believe that in order to straighten out (say—a drawer) it makes sense to first make a mess by pouring out the contents on a table and make a mess before reorganizing it.
    When things are in flux then sometimes we need to stir up the pot a bit and get it all moving.
    When things are quiet and still all the time, often no one chooses to change. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zones to grasp a new thing God is asking us to do.
    I don’t think we need to take things too personally. The Lord has a plan and our Pope is trying to let it happen. Of course this is only my very humble opinion. : )

  7. APX says:

    FWIW: Perfection lies in the mean…the much neglected ambivert. Christ was an ambivert. As an introvert who went to bed feeling like a mistake and woke up feeling the same because my lack of “winning personality” that comes with being an introvert leaves me trying to survive in a world of extroverts who just think I’m “anti-social” (the term is “asocial”) and can’t handle someone who doesn’t want to socialize 24/7.

    How can I write the Pope a letter?

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Akita – Part of faith life is that sometimes you’re on fire and have lots of consolation from God and cool stuff going on, and then you end up having times when prayer is dry and everything seems sad. That’s the time when God is closest, but we feel Him less, because He has us doing most of the heavy lifting. It’s a less pleasant way to grow, but it’s very strengthening once you get through it.

    This stuff usually alternates. Right now you’re in a hard part, but sooner or later, things will get easier. The consoling parts will probably never be the same kind of consoling as you had before, but you will get what you need. And hey, it will probably never be as hard as this for you, either. Once you know there’s a pattern, it’s a lot easier to tough it out and keep on walking with God.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I have written many times on my blog that too many people are running around thinking they are doing holy and meriting actions, when in reality they are acting out of egotism. Too many Catholics, especially in America, think they will get to heaven merely by doing good works, which usually means prancing about the sanctuary as lectors, EMs, and so on, instead of getting down and dirty with the poor in the pew. I think the problem is twofold; one, the clericalization of the laity, where lay people think that holy actions make them holy, like being in the choir; and two, the one does not have to deal with the interior life.

    There is a huge disjoint wherein people do not read the Scriptures daily, do not meditate daily, do not enter into prayer daily, do not study their Faith daily by reading, and yet go out and seemingly do good works which are, to be blunt, useless, if not done in and with and through God.

    Good works without a humble interior disposition mean that these works are done for the glory of the person, instead of the glory of God. In truth, only works done by God through us, and not our own efforts, bring about merit and the building of the kingdom.

    Holy actions should reflect a rich interior life. I hear too many Catholics talking about “my ministry”, “my meetings”, “my liturgy” and so on.

    Without the growth of the interior life, without purgation of even venial sins and the tendencies to sin, works are tainted with pride and egotism. This situation makes the Church weak.

    I agree that not enough Catholics want to help the really poor, especially if they think throwing money at government programs is the solution, which it is not. God expects us to get involved with individual charity.

    But, without a rich interior life, actions stay merely human actions and not supernatural ones. And, tackling the interior life means that one must be an introvert at least part of the day.

  10. Akita says:

    I might add that I have no access to the TLM, so there even is no succor from that in my world, except when I go out of town. My children and I are subjected to NO Masses with banal music, bizarre homilies that often border on heresy, or said by foreign priests and are rendered incomprehensible. I step back and try to buck up, thinking of one of my favourite saints, Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, who was put to death by being compressed with a stone slab. Her crime was having Holy Mass said clandestinely in her home during the great persecution of English Catholics.

  11. Dialogos says:

    This analysis makes perfect sense to me. (I am a confirmed introvert.) I believe Pope Benedict is an introvert, too, though I might be wrong. Susan Cain’s book helped me make sense of my introvert nature. I am intrigued by the Pope’s desire to “make a mess.” It sounds like the concept I hear repeatedly today of “disruption.” Those especially enamored of technology and hyper-capitalism (the overheated, unhealthy kind) are always touting “disruption” as a good thing. Admittedly, I am a Luddite; however, aren’t we as Catholics also defenders and stewards of Tradition, especially as it helps us be ordered to what is right and good?

  12. SimonDodd says:

    I read the whole article, I think it’s exactly on-target, and it confirms that I want nothing whatsoever to do with that man or anything he’s selling.

  13. CharlesG says:

    As a lifelong introvert, I share this author’s frustration with the Pope, especially his derogation of those who take a more intellectual approach to the faith, doctrine and liturgy. As between extroversion and introversion, why does it have to be either/or and not both/and? People have different personalities.

  14. andia says:

    As an extreme introvert ( I routinely score 100% expressed introvert on Meyers Briggs Tests) I find the pope’s comments on introverts hurtful and make me wonder if there is a place for me in this Church at all. I have to wonder what these statements do to priests and deacons who are introverted, sensitve, shy or quiet for these folks it must be so hard to get up and preach evey week to begin with, but to do so knowing that the pontiff does not see the gifts their personalities bring- must be soul wrenching.
    My prayers are for them, they are going to need them- even if tey are too introverted to ask.

  15. Quanah says:

    Thanks for the article. It’s reminding me to dust off “The Soul of the Apostolate”.

  16. Mojoron says:

    Does this mean that Cistercians are introverts?

  17. Uncledan says:

    As Catholics, we do the most good for Pope Francis in praying for him as much as possible. Let us start praying for him immediately then.

  18. lana says:

    I am an introvert, and I plan to stay that way. But I will take the constructive criticism from Pope Francis and make some extra effort to do the best I can for the least of my brothers. Not to the point of losing my center, but yes, go out a bit beyond my comfort zone. No problem with that.

    Susan Cain’s book is excellent. I recommend it highly, to become more comfortable with how God made you, if you are an introvert, and to understand everyone else better as well.

  19. Cafea Fruor says:

    This whole discussion of introversion and the interior life vs. the new evangelization is something that’s very much been on my mind lately. I’m naturally an introvert, but I am also discerning what I believe is a vocation to the eremitic life, which is very much not “going out into the streets”, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how one who thinks she’s supposed to be a hermit can evangelize at the same time.

    I think the key is that, as far as I understand, the Holy Father said he wants “the Church” going out into the streets. He didn’t say anything about each individual going out into the streets. The Church as a whole needs to get out there. But we individuals, the parts that make up the whole, will all have different roles to play as the Church as a whole evangelizes. So it’s not extroversion to the exclusion of introversion. But I think the Pope does need to be careful in his emphasis. It’s like when a husband and wife wear themselves out on the kids and neglect their own relationship, which only results in the entire family suffering or even falling apart — if the Church doesn’t build up her relationship with the Lord first, the grace to have any effectiveness in running out to the streets just won’t be there (you can’t give what you don’t have), and everyone suffers. The interior life MUST come first, and I do think the Holy Father tends to give the impression that this is not so, whether or not he intends to do so.

    Even on a lower plane, an organization that exists for the sole purpose of reaching out to people, say, Catholic Charities or even Habitat for Humanity, cannot reach those people without the behind-the-scenes staff making the reaching out possible. You need those who do the planning, the paperwork, the accounting, the fundraisers, and what have you. Maybe what the Pope is saying, albeit very unclearly, when he says that the Church can’t be too self-focused, is that, while the behind-the-scenes folks are vital, he thinks that those who do really need to get out there are spending too much time hanging out in the office and need to remember that the office exists to support the mission and isn’t the primary locus of their work. I dunno, though. So much of what he says isn’t so clear.

    As I said, I am discerning a vocation to the eremitic life, and I, for one, see no opposition between this more introverted vocation than the more extroverted of those called to be parish priests, missionaries, etc. My way of “getting out there” would be through intercession for those individuals who actually are getting out there, and for the people they are trying to reach. For example, I pray very much for the work of a military chaplain with whom I have been friends for a long time, and he always says how much he really needs and relies on my prayers for his work where he’s stationed. His work is on the obviously extroverted side of things, getting out into the “streets” of the military, but my role is on the introverted side of things, seeking to help build up that relationship between the Church and her Lord without which my friend’s going out to the streets has no effect. I love this more introverted role, and, to be frank, if I finally discern it’s where God wants me, then you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands before I think I need to give it up to go running out into the streets myself.

    The words that Pope Pius XI wrote in a letter to the Carthusians in 1924 come to mind. In that letter he basically told them, the most introverted order of the western Church (I can’t say “of the Latin Rite” here, since they have their own rite), that they need not make any excuses for their life, which has absolutely no external work or apostolate, because their life is so vital to the Church. Among other things (the whole letter is worh reading), he said:

    “…And there are perhaps some who still deem that the virtues which are misnamed ‘passive’ have long grown obsolete and that the broader and more liberal exercise of active virtues should be substituted for the ancient discipline of the cloister. This opinion Our predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, refuted, exploded and condemned in his Letter Testem benevolentiæ given on the 22 of January in the year 1899; and no one can fail to see how harmful and baneful that opinion is to Christian perfection as it is taught and practiced in the Church.”

    Granted, Pius XI was writing to monks and nuns, but I think the point still holds that what is passive does not means neither obsolete nor bad, and any view contrary to that is dangerous to the Church.

  20. Bea says:

    As I saw it, the analysis was pretty well presented.

    I especially liked the “Martha, Martha” analogy. My mind was already following that tract.

    Quote:
    “has characterized traditional Catholics as “self-absorbed.”
    Huh?
    Well, whatever happened to “who am I to judge?”
    Maybe, just maybe, Traditional Catholics are absorbed in meditation, prayer and adoration before the Supreme Being.
    Maybe, just maybe, they are “God-absorbed”, not “self-absorbed”
    Is that not better than being so extroverted that one yells from the rooftops before thinking or meditating on our next words?

    Quote:
    “we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones.”
    Huh?
    With my many years as a people-watcher, I find the exact opposite to be true.
    I have found that fast talkers, speak that way to cover their incompetence.
    I have found that fast talkers are not more likable as they appear to presume that only their opinion and ideas count and others have nothing to offer.
    I have found that slow talkers usually have more intelligent ideas to offer as more thought is put into what they are about to say.

    As to “Hagan Lio” in practical Spanish ala-“Mexicanization” of that expression (although it can imply to “make a mess”) it is more widely used as to mean: “Make (or cause) Discord/upheaval”
    Well, so it has come to pass.
    No thinking Catholic can say that they feel at peace that Christ’s Teachings, Tradition and the Magisterium is being handed down and protected in all its purity from error or discord.
    Discord does not come from God but from “elsewhere”, but then, who am I to Judge?

  21. These words of Pope Francis seems like he is taking jabs at his predecessor, Pope Benedict with Benedict’s “obsession” with things liturgical. Just because Pope Francis doesn’t get it, doesn’t mean he needs to bash it. I hope and pray for an open mind and a respect given by Pope Francis and everybody in the Church to the labor of love that Pope Benedict sacrificed for and the legacy that he left behind.

  22. MikeM says:

    I’ve been interpreting what Frankovich is taking as a criticism of introversion as being about excessive risk aversion. I believe that it was in the interview that appeared in America Magazine that Pope Francis would rather see the Church go out and get a little bruised and bloodied than see it shut itself away. I see comments like “make a mess” as being related to that. Pope Francis wants the Church to take more risks and to accept that it will make some mistakes along the way. He likes making off the cuff remarks and wishes that some bishops would put down their scripts and talk to people, even though that will mean that they’ll sometimes be misunderstood, that they’ll sometimes get something wrong, etc.

    It should be a balancing act, and I’m not sure if Pope Francis has struck the right balance, and I would guess that he and I have different positions about where the Church is right now and, therefore, where it needs to go. But, even so, I think that the problem that I think that he is addressing can be a very real one for people.

  23. Gratias says:

    Mercy, Lord!

    At least Pope Francis will have a whole year of Mercy. Perhaps the Franciscans of the Immaculate, Bishop Livieres, Una Voce and other “mete líos” will be left alone if they are sufficiently introverted and keep their heads down under the radar screen.

  24. JesusFreak84 says:

    So….not only is Asperger’s Syndrome a form of autism, it’s now a moral failing of mine, too? (I mean, besides being a trad who would love to impersonate a rabbit…) Thanks, Holy Father… >.>

  25. Christ_opher says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf, A very good article in the sense of trying to establish the truth of the words that are being used by Pope Francis.

    I find it difficult to understand the point of what the Pope is trying to convey but this extends to many others within the heirarchy because many sound more like politicians in their spoken and written words rather than men of God. Often the spirit is mentioned I find this quite concerning because if they are referring to the Holy Spirit they should use the correct name or are they referring to another spirit?

    There seems to be a drive when challenged to constantly reaffirm Pope France’s popularity especially from those that I see as being in some kind of inner circle but Jesus experienced popularity and then was beaten, whipped, spat upon, crowned with thorns and crucified for us. So the path of popularity serves no purpose, the correct path can only be the the path of truth and the truth is in living our faith. I hope that the Pope has a God given strategy to unite the Church in the truth and that the synod is an opportunity to reaffirm the absolute truth and not an opportunity to manipulate the truth into some kind of new age of enlightenment which by the way if they go down the path of redesigning the vows of a Holy marriage and communion have exhonorated henry the 8th of England and therefore my ancestors that may have died in Scotland for their faith died in vain.

  26. Ivan says:

    If we concentrate on the talkative aspect of introverts vs. extroverts, let’s look at what Dom Lorenzo Scupoli said about governing one’s speech:

    “WE MUST GIVE careful attention to our speech because of our tendency to speak on anything that is attractive to our senses. This inclination is rooted in a certain pride. We think that we know a great deal about things and, fond of our own conceptions, we do not hesitate to communicate them to others. We think the entire assembly should be attentive to us.”

    “One could not easily enumerate all the evil consequences arising from uncontrolled speech.”

    “When worldly talk reaches your ears, do not let it touch your heart. If it is necessary for you to lis- ten to it, to understand and comment on it, lift your heart to Heaven. There reigns your God, and from thence that Divine Majesty condescends to behold you, unworthy as you are. After you have decided what to say, eliminate some of it because, in the end, you will always discover that you have said too much.”

    “Silence has a definite value in the spiritual warfare. Its observance is an assurance of victory. Generally speaking, it is accompanied by distrust of self and confidence in God, a greater desire for prayer, and facility in practicing virtue.”

    “Unprofitable discourse is to be avoided. The company of God, His Saints and Angels, is to be preferred to that of man.”

    There are more examples in the link above, and while this may not be exactly the point discussed here, it does help in a certain aspect conversing with Our Lord and cultivating the interior life.

  27. lana says:

    And NOTHING will make me leave my conversation with the Lord. But my small experience is that you really do need to go out and be with people ‘in the kitchen’, at least a small amount, in order to understand yourself better, let go of narrowness, etc.. They minister more to you, than you to them, and it feeds the conversation with the Lord by often humbling you. I think that is part of Pope Francis’ ongoing spiritual direction towards introverts.

  28. DisturbedMary says:

    “Who am I to judge” apparently doesn’t apply to introverts. The writer is justifiably hurt and insulted. Francis talks the way he walks: in big graceless heavy footed strides. He should lighten up. We are not all Jesuits.

  29. rtjl says:

    I am a member of a small group people committed to the new evangelization. We are committed to carrying the gospel to the world, though we don’t always know how to do that. While we seek to go out into the world and “make a mess” to borrow Francis’ words, our first and primary commitment is to prayer, both personal and private. We all have active personal prayer lives, we all seek to participate fully, consciously and active, and yes, meditatively at Mass in our respective parishes and we are committed to meeting at least weekly to pray vespers together. We have sat at the feet of St. Benedict to learn the art of contemplative and liturgical prayer and we look to St. Dominic to learn the art of combining contemplative prayer with active service and proclamation. Prayer first and mission second. Love of God first and love of neighbor flowing from love of God.

    In the words of a Dominican Motto – “contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere” – “to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of contemplation.”

  30. bposullivan says:

    Both Frankovich and the Francis supporters he cites seem to be confusing the pope’s criticisms of narcissism with criticisms of introversion.

    I consider myself an introvert, in that I feel energized when I have time to myself, and sometimes social events can be exhausting for me. And I’m happy to be an introvert. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s OK to be “self-absorbed” or “closed in on myself”; I hope that when I gain energy from solitude, I spend some of that energy working with and for other people. My ways of “walking the world” may be quiet and small in scale, compared to an extrovert’s; but, relative to my personality, being a little social can be a big thing.

    And I don’t think the Pope has ever said that walking in the world has to take an equally large and loud form for everyone, or that being introverted is the same as being “self-absorbed” or “closed in on ourselves. I doubt he thinks that all extroverts avoid those problems; it’s seems obvious that one can have an outgoing, amiable personality and still be narcissistic and selfish. Congress is full of extroverts like that.

  31. Skeinster says:

    Can’t get too worked up about this- if the Church is everybody, then there will be different
    jobs for all. Surely the Pope realizes this- but in his enthusiasm, he stresses this particular type of Catholic Action.

    If we examine our actions with a clear mind- and hopefully with the advice of a good spiritual director- and believe we have found our proper vocation, then we can go on about our business without worrying about this.

  32. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Excellent essay. Period.

  33. Traductora says:

    I didn’t think of it as “introversion” until now, but the author of this excellent piece does make a very good point about the object of Francis’ attacks: not a specific doctrinal line, not even a specific liturgical school, but a whole type of personality and way of being that he sees as unfitted for the New Church of Tomorrow.

    I think this actually began well before him, however, in 1965, with Vatican II (as the author suggests), and it had devastating effects on everything from contemplative orders to theological schools. It was not as clearly stated, perhaps, but the subtext was always there: contemplatives, or even people with a scholarly or reflective bent, were “fleeing from the world,” which of course was where the New Church was located. This is part of the lateralization brought by Vatican II where the focus in liturgy and thought and even prayer was not to be outside of oneself and one’s community and directed towards God, but instead was to turn towards the people around one and, in fact, to reject one’s own individuality and individual relationship with God and see oneself as simply a part of a “community,” the main function of which was just to congratulate itself on its niceness.

    The Pope comes out of the generation where these ideas held sway, and he seems to have made few changes to his thinking over the decades (possibly because he rejects the whole notion of “thinking” in any analytical sense). The fact that his just-proclaimed “Jubilee Year of Mercy” is also meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II reinforces this connection.

  34. DonL says:

    Introverts/extroverts? IMO, no, it is about diminishing doctrine (the truth that will set us free) and the consequential corruption of the sacraments, by claiming the highest good is pastoral mercy….for the unrepentant.
    The sin of presumption (we’re all going to heaven) is the bait!

  35. DonL says:

    What does this introvert/extrovert diversion say about Christ’s retreating to the desert for 40 days? Shouldn’t He have more wisely spent the time preaching among the poor?

  36. Gratias says:

    In Nicholas Frankovics we have a writer of great insight. It is amazing how he explained that Pope Francis speaks – and writes – in a series of platitudes without logical connection: “I want the Church to go out into the streets. I want us to defend ourselves against all worldliness, opposition to progress, from what is comfortable, from what is clericalism, from all that means being closed in on ourselves. Parishes, schools, institutions are made in order to go out. . . . If they do not do this, they become a non-governmental organization, and the Church must not be an NGO.”

    I agree that hagan lío (“meter lío”) in South American lingo means more to sow dissension or discord.

    Of the enormous number of words coming out of Francis’s extroverted mouth every day, what has stuck with the world is: 1. Who am I to judge – which signifies that the Church now has modernized its position with respect to Homosexuals. 2. Catholics should not reproduce like Rabbits – which represents an opening to the Globalwarmist open society.

    For the introverts, which I think is a word He is using instead of neo-Pelagians (as He calls traditionalist Catholics), nothing.

  37. chantgirl says:

    I am an extrovert who finds herself most nourished by the EF. However, I have been trying to reach out to the “peripheries”, as Pope Francis says, and trying to get more involved in corporal works of mercy, as Fr. Z encourages us trads to do. Therefore, I assist at an EF parish about half of my weekends to give glory to God and recharge, and then the other weekends I go to my local NO church and try to make a lio by making friends with Catholics who would normally be very skeptical of trads and the EF. I try to participate in works of charity at this NO parish and give a friendly face to the Catholic trad. So, in the EF, I find the grace and strength to go out to the periphery of the Church and try to join in the New Evangelization. Be the Maquis ;)

  38. M. K. says:

    I’m also an introvert, and I think that Frankovich has a point and makes it well. The only thing I would add is that there is likely a cultural dimension to this as well: my experience traveling and living in several Latin American countries for a few months at a time is that the general ‘tone’ of those cultures is more extroverted than one would typically find in North America and Europe. This can be expressed not only in social interaction but even in domestic architecture – most Latin American homes I’ve visited had fairly small bedrooms and large common spaces, which had the effect of discouraging people from spending too much time alone and put the focus on families being together in a group whenever they were at home. Though I’m typically wary of this sort of generalization-by-anecdote, I believe that there is a broader cultural context that impacts the pope’s approach to these things, and that the culture that shaped him is more extroverted (and correspondingly less introvert-friendly) than North American and European cultures tend to be.

  39. jhayes says:

    bposullivan wrote Both Frankovich and the Francis supporters he cites seem to be confusing the pope’s criticisms of narcissism with criticisms

    I agree thst Frankovich is criticizing a straw man he has built. I have never heard Francis criticize people because of their their personality traits (introversion or extroversion) or their preference for a contemplative versus an active life.

    What I have seen is his criticism of people who have taken on roles of interacting with the laity who are ineffective because they do things that distance them from the laity or are selective about the people they feel worthy to be welcomed.

    As he said recently in an interview:

    The journalist asks they Pope for a reflection on the proliferation of sects in Mexico and more generally in Latin America and the Churches’ responsibility in the loss of faithful. …

    – The Pope begins to speak of evangelical movements and whether these are these sects or not. What they typically offer is personal contact, the ability to be close to the people, to greet and meet people in person. He says that in Latin America a strong clericalism creates a certain distance from people. Clericalism in Latin America has been one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of the laity. The laity in Latin America grew only thanks to popular piety, which the Pope says, has given the opportunity to lay people to be creative and free, through worship, processions etc… But organizationally, the laity has not grown enough and has not grown because of a clericalism that creates distance….

    The Pope also speaks of “disasterous” homilies as another reason for the flight of Catholics. “I do not know if they are the majority – but they do not reach the heart. They are lessons in theology and are abstract or long and this is why I devoted so much space to them in Evangeli Gaudium. Typically evangelicals are close to the people, they aim for the heart and prepare their homilies really well. I think we have to have a conversion in this. The Protestant concept of the homily is much stronger than the Catholic. It’s almost a sacrament”. In conclusion, the Pope says that the flight of Catholics is caused by distance, clericalism, boring homilies as opposed to closeness, work, integration, the burning word of God. And it is a phenomenon that affects not only the Church but also the evangelical communities series…..

    Reflecting on the crisis of the family, the Pope said he believes that the Lord wants us to address some specific problems: marriage preparation, support for cohabiting couples, accompanying newlyweds, support for those who have failed marriages and new unions. The importance of understanding the sacrament of marriage to prevent many marriages becoming more a social event rather than one of faith.

    http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-on-his-pontificate-to-date

  40. Rachel K says:

    I don’t thinK Pope Francis is asking us all to become or behave like extroverts. I understand from his words that he wants us to be careful not to keep the Good News to ourselves. I think he wants us to remember that the Gospel is a gift to us and indeed can be our salvation and road to Heaven if we work hard to cooperate with Gods grace, but it is also something we are obliged to share with others. We should not be satisfied with saving our own souls and should be solicitous fro the salvation of others. This will put us outside our own comfort zone and this is part of the sacrifice we make for the around us. I love the statement at the end of the NO Mass which says “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” or even “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”. What wonderful calls to us to evangelise, what we receive at Mass we must hen go and pass on to others. Of course each of us will do this within our own personality, and God expects that, but ” the Mass is ended” is not the end, it is only the beginning!

  41. SimonDodd says:

    andia says: “I find the pope’s comments on introverts hurtful and make me wonder if there is a place for me in this Church at all.” That man is not this church. One of the worst mistakes people make in abusive relationships is allowing the abuser to define who they are and how they ought to be; don’t concede Francis that kind of power.

    CharlesG says: “As a lifelong introvert, I share this author’s frustration with the Pope, especially his derogation of those who take a more intellectual approach to the faith, doctrine and liturgy. As between extroversion and introversion, why does it have to be either/or and not both/and? People have different personalities.” In my experience, most extroverts have little to no comprehension of the notion of extroversion and introversion; whereas introverts are constantly forced to deal with the reality that this is a world by,for, and of extroverts, extroverts are barely aware that we exist, and they don’t understand the idea that there is any way of being other than how they are. All they see is people who, being at variance from themselves, are deficient and need to be fixed. That might make sense of Francis, right? He doesn’t think we’re different, he thinks we’re basically like him, but we don’t act like him because we’re lazy or damaged.

  42. Aquinas Gal says:

    I’m a confirmed introvert too. I’ve come to accept that people have different gifts. I can enjoy — and sometimes envy — the extroverts who make friends easily and are the life of the party. But I appreciate my own gifts of in-depth thinking, etc., by which I can make valuable contributions to my community and the life of the Church.
    Personality types are just that — personality types. They are not moral failings. Each type has its strengths and its weaknesses. We all have to work on balancing them out. The Church has plenty of room for all of us, no matter what personality type we are. As far as Francis goes, I respect him deeply as the pope but I am at the point where frankly I just don’t care much what he says and pay little attention to it. I read Aquinas instead (another introvert!)

  43. lmo1968 says:

    I disagreed with the premise of this article. I don’t think that pope Francis is saying only extroverts are welcome. In fact, I don’t think that he is really so much of an extrovert if reports about his character prior to becoming pope can be trusted. He did not talk to the media much, he did not smile much, etc. In a recent interview, the pope said he prays the rosary three times a day, so I think he knows something of the value of meditation.

    Anyway, I think that the pope is saying that the Catholic Church is essentially missionary and always has been, as Jesus Christ commissioned the Apostles to go out and announce the Gospel to all nations. This mission has never ended. The people of Asia have not yet heard the gospel, that is why the mission is not complete. The people of the west have forgotten the gospel that is why a new evangelization is needed. The people of the southern hemisphere need to be strengthened in their faith, that is why we need to go out to them. The pope is saying that we all are entrusted with this mission to carry the gospel to the world. You do not need to be an extrovert to do this. You can do it as an introvert (as I am), in whatever way your life allows you to. Even if you can do nothing else but pray for the world, that is still critical. The key is, I think the pope is telling us not to lock ourselves up, away from the world, thinking only of ourselves.

  44. arga says:

    To me the most damaging omission in this “go out” discourse is the very first principle of the faith, which is to seek personal sanctity. THEN you “go out.” The greatest teacher of this particular sequence was of course J.-P. Chautard. [And another was Augustine, who wrote about finding space for contemplation in the midst of the active life. Otium in negotio.]

  45. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    I think bposullivan has the best portrayal of the article so far. I don’t think the pope is talking about extraversion (i.e. a personality trait of individuals) at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion

    That being said, it would be nice if the pope would speak more precisely in general. It’s hard to figure out exactly *what* he’s saying most of the time.

  46. Gerhard says:

    We are getting too much simplistic superficiality. For all this current talk of “mercy”, not ONCE is St Faustina and Our Lord’s revelations to her mentioned. St JPII and BXVI on the other hand gave us their full depth, beauty, and sometimes terrifying hard teachings. In relation to the liturgy, it is divinely ordered for our salvation. Because He is made really present, what we do to Him in the way we celebrate it will be accounted for by us at our particular judgment. Who were the folks laughing, gossiping, mocking Our Lord, and having a party at Calvary, as they do at Mass? – those who refused to recognize Him for Who He Is.

  47. benedetta says:

    First of all, the notion that majority of self-absorbed or introverted Catholics are TLM attendees is a complete statistical impossibility. I’m sure that many of us could attest to that idea being baloney even before running the numbers, purely based upon wide ranging experiences in the non traditional Catholic universe which is really quite large. The idea that these other realms lack for introverted naval gazers or the self-absorbed is preposterous, neither born out by data nor anecdotal experiences.

    The reality is that Latin Mass congregations just tend to do community and fellowship, better. Perhaps it is a paradox that the scorned and the shamed eventually wind up being more genuinely social, more friendly, more kind, and do joy better than the magnificent and empowered, take care of one another, and are kind to strangers authentically not content to just say with words that all are welcome and leave it at that. Anyone who wants to learn how to do via hagan lio towards one’s neighbor ought to stop by their local TLM congregation, that is, if they can get past the officious media organized snark.

    The perpetuated injustice that traditionalist equals [insert slander here] seems to have more than nine lives, thanks to willing hit piece writers willing to attach the opinion of the Pope no matter what the cost or the facts. When do we get to the part about being kind to other believers who worship according to a Rite not your own or your very favorite or never before experienced, opening the parish doors to them generously, and not calling them this or that name collectively? If it’s not self absorbed it’s another thing…and introverted, it seems to me, is just a horse of a different color.

  48. Nicholas Frankovich says:

    A few people here have raised an argument that has popped up in various comment threads to the article. On this thread, lmo1968 articulates the argument most fully. It’s that the pope is criticizing or warning the Church as a whole, not its individual members.

    But if Francis’s view is “only” that the Church as a whole should be essentially extroverted (literally, turned outward), how is that any less problematic than the view that individual Catholics should be?

    The Church’s mission to go out and draw souls to herself has to be balanced with her mission to be something that would benefit those souls once they’ve arrived in her sanctuary. Otherwise, what’s the purpose?

    When the Church conceived as mission lacks a rich interior life of her own—that is, when she ceases to be a spiritual and mystical resource that her members can tap into—she becomes, to borrow the pope’s line of thought, an organization that is obsessed with or closed in on itself, committed to nothing except its own self-perpetuation: Win converts to the faith, so they can win converts to the faith, so the new converts can . . . But to what end?

    The answer to that is not something we’ll find in the streets that Pope Francis wants us (or rather “the Church,” as lmo1968 and others argue, though I don’t see the difference) to go into. It’s it in the Adoration Chapel.

  49. lmo1968 says:

    Nicholas Frankovich: Thank you for noticing my comment. I am going to try and offer what I think the pope is telling us with regard to your concerns in your comment. I do not have a problem with the pope’s exhortation to “go out” (as you say, be extroverted) and I do not think he values extroverts only. (I am an introvert.)

    The Church is missionary. That means we as individuals are missionary. You find that problematic. I think we can make this work individually within our own states in life. For instance, as a writer, you can evangelize by publishing edifying articles about the faith. That is a form of missionary activity. Even the cloistered nuns who remain behind monastery walls are hidden away in order to pray for the whole world. They “go out” through prayer. St. Therese of Lisieux wanted to be a missionary but could not because of her health. So she prayed for the missions and is now a patron of them even though she never left Carmel.

    Regarding your second point — the Church’s mystical state. This is a good point. It is true I do not see the pope preaching about the importance of prayer so much but I don’t think this means that Pope Francis is “shallow.” (But boy do I hate when he talks “off the cuff.”) Looking over his recent homilies, I do find they are rich in reflection on what it takes for the average person to live a good Christian life. Are they rich in theology? No. Do they sail off on the heights of mysticism? No. He speaks in his homilies like a pastor rather than a theologian or a mystic like our previous popes. He speaks in a way that 99 percent of the people will understand unlike Pope Benedict and St. John Paul II who the average person could be lost in trying to follow. (I’ve read Introduction to Christianity, my hat’s off to anybody who read the whole thing). I think the pope is trying to appeal to people in order to attract people to the faith and is trusting the local churches to impart mystical and spiritual wisdom to them via the Adoration Chapel, the rosary, and other prayerful activities.

  50. jhayes says:

    Nicholas Frankovich, I don’t think Francis’s view is that “the whole church,” meaning every individual, needs to do one thing to the exclusion of all other roles. My sense is that Francis has a rich interior life of his own and values this in other people who can devote themelves more exclusively to it than he can. I haven’t heard any suggestion that he wants to close monasteries and convents and turn contemplative religious and laypersons out to become street preachers – nor has he proposed packing theologians and philosophers off to the mission fields.

    I think he does believe in a Church of “both, and” and not “either, or.”

    As I said in an earlier post in which I quoted his recent interview with the Mexican reporter, I do think that he feels that some people charged with the care of souls (bishops and the priests who assist them) are ineffective because they do things that distance them from the laity, because they are selective about the people they feel worthy to be welcomed, because they don’t communicate well, or because they sit in their rectory waiting for people to come to them rather than going out to find, show respect to, and join people in in the lives they live, however far those lived lives may be from the values we teach. And similarly for laypeople who want to hold others at a distance.

    I wouldn’t generalize a critique of a people doing a particular role into a criticism of everyone in the Church.

  51. Traductora says:

    Dear Nicholas Frankovich, Thank you for that reply. One of the things that this brings up, to me, is the absence of the individual in modern Catholicism…even though Jesus’ call, like that of John the Baptist, was to the individual. And then after conversion, the individual would find his particular calling, where Our Lord wanted him or her to be. That person then went out and called other individuals, but often silently, through humble witness or through prayer.

    Granted, later there were situations where missionaries arrived and preached, the king or leader converted, and therefore the entire population converted en masse, but that reflected the behavior patterns of the populations to whom the Gospel was preached and was not the ideal application of the Great Commission. Initially, prior to St Paul’s conversion and St Peter’s belated and grudging understanding, it meant telling this band of Jewish followers to go out and preach to individuals in the Jewish community (all the early missionary trips, including that of St James to Spain, were to Jewish communities). But by then, the Jews had already moved to the point where even the poorest and humblest individuals were responsible for their faith and practice – that is, they could make an individual decision for conversion.

    Even in the oft-criticized conversion of the Americas, the Indians had to accept Christianity voluntarily; the Spanish insisted that they listen to the preaching, but if they weren’t converted (and the Hopi never converted), all they had to do was sign a treaty with Spain and agree to let the missionaries pass through every now and then and preach to them. But they didn’t have to accept it as a group, although in some cases the few who could think of themselves as individuals and not simply part of a tribe did become Christian.

    Obviously, there had to be a community to welcome these converts because they were now excluded from their own, whether Jewish or gentile, and there had to be things that this community as a whole believed and an environment where the converts could take root and flourish and hear what Our Lord would tell them next – and have a place to do it.

    I was somebody who had been considering a vocation to a contemplative community and then saw that community collapse and fall into worse than heresy (a bizarre Devils of Loudon scenario, complete with crazy, charismatic priest) in the late ’60s, in the course of “implementing Vatican II,” and it all had to do with a bizarre notion of “community” combined with the idea that somehow the contemplative vocation, even for people who had been there 60 years or so, was worthless. Many of these poor women probably died in despair, thinking they had wasted their lives.

    My point is that when the individual was rejected, the church community also fell apart, including all the micro-communities, such as religious orders. And this is all because communities are made up of individuals voluntarily forming part of them, since individuals in Christianity have free will and in fact must have free will for their decisions to be valid, and if you strike at the individual, the individual soul with her eyes on God, the individual vocation, then you have also destroyed the community.

    So I think there’s a tension between the community and the individual, between the active and the contemplative (even in one’s own nature) and between even the local and the universal that has been completely obliterated and ignored by the thought tendencies of the last 50 years…and that unfortunately, Francis is simply expressing this thinking, which is antiquated but is to him, for some reason, very “modern.”

    And that’s what Vatican II, the sociological revolution, never understood, and what the Pope, who in my opinion is not even smart or ill-intentioned enough to be a modernist but thinks that he is the very model of a modern major general, so to speak, fails to understand.

  52. benedetta says:

    The other interesting thing about the good encouragement for Catholics to go to the peripheries of the Holy Father, and hagan lio, is that the Media and the Oligarchy and the Elites empowered and mutually propping up of one another ALWAYS knee jerk and reactionarily take this to mean, “NGO” and “Government sponsored” and “Programmatic” works of mercy.

    Indeed, which is the more holy work of mercy, the one trumpeted in the bulletin, the one orchestrated for photo opp/votes, the pr, the community organized by some local pest into everyone’s private business…or, the quiet caress of someone who is unafraid to touch another’s wounds without accolade or anyone’s awareness, especially when that caress is intended to help another already too humiliated to rise up again, focusing on that one’s needs and not one’s immediate need for the gratifying affirmation of applause from the mass do gooder movements all around?