|One of the two doves released last Sunday by two children during the Pope's Angelus talk is attacked by a crow. The other dove was attacked by a sea gull. Both doves survived, which is probably the real message.
Pope Francis seems to be taking the Barque of Peter on a rightward tack. Vatican Insider has two articles which have given me reason to seriously question whether Francis is a true reformer, or just a very good performer.
The first excerpt is about a sermon Francis' gave at his daily Mass on Thursday. He is reflecting on one of the daily readings involving King David, but it's in the middle of his sermon that Francis seems to be contradicting a number of previous Francis statements:
".....Francis then quoted Pope Paul VI: “This is why the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to be with Christ at the margins of the Church. It's not possible. It is an absurd dichotomy. We receive the Gospel message in the Church and we carry out our holiness in the Church, our path in the Church. The other is a fantasy, or, as he said, an absurd dichotomy." (This is an apparent direct contradiction of his statement in Evangelii Guadium that the Church must seek out it's mission on the margins, to get out of the safe center, and learn from the periphery.)
The "sensus ecclesiae" is "precisely to feel, think, want, within the Church.” There are "three pillars of this belonging, this feeling with the Church.”
“The first is “humility”: “A person who is not humble, can not hear the Church, they can only hear what they like. We see this humility in David, ' Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my home?' That realization that the story of salvation did not begin with me and will not end with me when I die. No, it's a whole history of salvation: I come, the Lord will take you, will help go onwards and then calls you and the story continues. The history of the Church began before us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people that walks the path of the Lord.” (David was far from humble. See today's readings.)
“The second pillar is fidelity that is linked to obedience. Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received. And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus', and we must not - he would say - become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please.”(Again, this contradicts past statements in which Francis spoke about a hierarchy of importance in Church teaching. Here he conflates the Gospels with Church doctrine and Church doctrine with the Creed. Is this where he is really at, that there is no hierarchical difference and that to question doctrine is to lack humility and fidelity?)
Finally here's an extract from a statement Francis gave to the trustees of the University of Notre Dame. It could have been written by Cardinal Raymond Burke:
“In my Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions,” the Pope said, addressing the delegation in Italian. “This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defence of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!”
I freely admit I no longer have any idea what Pope Francis really thinks about much of anything. I think he might actually believe his statements about unfettered capitalism and global economic inequality and maybe, just maybe, his statements concerning ecumenism, especially with regards to the Orthodox. As far as financial reform, I have way too many questions about the people he has chosen to further the reform and links between specific individuals and the multitude of high end consulting firms he has brought in to further his reforms. Plus, I don't know that the curia can really be reformed as long as it is based in Italy. A real reform in this area would be to keep the ceremonial Church based in Rome and the operations/diplomatic end somewhere else far from Rome----like New Zealand. That would be meaningful reform, especially if the New Zealand end was composed totally of laity. I know this last is a fantasy of mine and that there is no way in hell such a reform will happen under this pope because I also read this article on Vatican Insider
Here's a paragraph to give the flavor of the linked article:
"Anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength “to carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people,” the Pope said. “Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself “chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us.” Thus, “When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones.”
For all his advice to the laity to take on humility, there's a certain lack of same in the above paragraph when it comes to the ordained priesthood. I can't say that I think of priests and bishops as 'annointed ones' any longer. I tend to think of them as self selected homophobic misogynists whose maturity level is too often suspect, whose spiritual maturity level is also questionable, and whose authority is constantly propped up by each other and ignored by those they supposedly serve and lead. Sorry, that's the just the way it is for me.
I had some pretty high hopes for Francis when he first came on the scene, but in the back of my head was a little voice saying: "The original Francis rejected the priesthood and this Francis sits at it's pinnacle. This is not irony. This is deception." Hence the photo for this piece.