Friday, May 2, 2014

St John Paul II: The Pope Of The Family.....Really?

St JPII will be looking down from heaven on the Synod on the says Pope Francis.

While I can't say that I was overwhelmed with last Sunday's dual canonization, I can say one remark from Pope Francis surprised me.  It was about JPII and how he was the Pope of the Family.  I was not quite sure how this particular designation was merited, but then found out it was merited because that's what St JPII himself wanted to be remembered as, and if there's one thing I know about JPII, he got what he wanted.  Pope Francis obliged.  He stated so in his short homily as excerpted below from the Tablet article:

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

I am not particularly happy that Francis felt the need to point this out.  JPII is not my idea of a man who understood the contemporary family even though he was raised in a one parent family.  He always appeared to me as a man who understood the importance of maintaining the traditional idea of family because it was useful in a geopolitical sense.  The traditional family model underscored male authority, kept women open to pregnancy after pregnancy, was the backbone of the Church itself, and was the established form of enculturating children in their proper gender roles. I have always seen Theology of the Body as more of a social political treatise than a theological work, but then I've always thought JPII was far more interested in playing in the geopolitical field than the spiritual field. He was good at the geopolitical thing and not so good at the spiritual thing.  How he suddenly becomes good at the family thing is too typical of his papacy.  "I say I it is, therefore it is".

However, if one accepts the geopolitical bent of JPII's papacy, and also accepts that Pope Francis, as a JPII appointee, was a willing player in these geopolitical games, then it makes sense that Francis inform us all that JPII might now be the spiritual driving force behind the Synod on the family.  That does not bode well for the transparency and dialogue needed for this synod.  I can easily imagine JPII's Theology of the Body will be quoted endlessly, neck and neck with the soon to be beatified Paul VI's Humanae Vitae.  There will be rejoicing in fascist family circles and groans from Catholic families who don't qualify either economically or in their actual makeup as a proper fascist Catholic family.  And as Bill Lyndsey musingly points out, gays as parts of heterosexual families or as parents with their own families, need not worry about being counted as families or members of families since the 'family' has been the flag behind which a great deal of anti gay crusading has been done by the Catholic powers that be that know everything there is to know about families.  (I'm practicing really long sentences so I can be a translator of liturgical Latin.)

I should also point out that with in this past year, gay marriage has also become an excuse for Roman Catholic agitation about the 'war on gender identity'.  This is especially prevalent guessed it, Poland.  Which I am led to believe is not just gay men acting feminine (clerical men are immune to this charge), but women taking birth control pills while acting as if they have an intrinsic equality with men.

This naming JPII the 'Pope of the Family and Patron Saint of the Synod on the family' is just one more red flag amongst many when it comes to this upcoming Synod.  I figured things weren't going as planned when all of sudden bishops conferences like England's, which had been transparent and seriously attempting to get lay input, suddenly clammed up about the results of their efforts.  The dust up between Cardinal Kasper and his cardinal detractors over different approaches to divorce, the sudden need of the CDF's Cardinal Muller to issue a thirty some page defense of Catholic marriage law, and the total silence from the Vatican on the inhumane laws targeting gays in Uganda and Nigeria, are just some of the red flags that lead me to believe this upcoming synod will not be a spectacular pastoral success.  I see another potential Humanae Vitae written all over it.  Should that come to pass, it will be another nail in the future of Roman Catholicism in the developed world and would very shortly be mirrored in the developing world.  One need only look at the failure of the Bishops Conference of the Phillipines who lost a 15 year battle against reproductive rights for Philippine women and their families.   My advice to those who will be attending this synod is not to look to JPII for inspiration the Catholic family, but to the lay women of the Philippines because it there the future of the Catholic family resides.


  1. BaptizedBabyBoomerMay 2, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Misogyny rules in Pope Francis' vision and for the building up of the Catholic fascist family. That is how I see this all coming down and it does spell ruin for the Roman Catholic Church's future because women won't buy this bull of inequality in their homes, their church, their world. I know the mindset of a Roman Catholic family with VI teachings & the anti-birth control view, the misogyny, how it divides families and chokes communication, creates little fascists and bullies and t-partiers and bigots of all sorts. I know the damage that a VI Church has done to especially the men in keeping them so narcissistic and immature. Sad that Pope Francis has put the dead PJPII and Opus Dei types to such an elevated state. Not very spiritual of him to do.

    I think that Pope Francis is living in the past. In elevating PJPII he also is in denial of women and their rights as human beings. Sorry it has come to this state of backwardness in the RCC. Not Good News at all.

  2. 56,000,000+ abortions since '73. Yes indeed, the American woman really have it figured out. % Half are female. The hatred for females sure as hell ain't coming from the CC 3B. The CC ain't doing the killing. The paradox of feminism, the altar you worship at, is they kill their own. 56,000,001..........

  3. Where do you get your figures? No matter, I thought it was the RCC that was against BC, something that lowers those figures from what they may well have been..... It is also interesting that there are more abortions in those who are strict dogmatists than in those who are not. Oh well, people who depend on those types of figures, live in a world of trees with no forest.........

  4. sylvesterpatsteffenMay 3, 2014 at 5:34 AM

    CHURCH in Transition
    Pope Francis is worldly-wise in a contemporary CATHOLIC sense and truly knows, I believe/ hope, that the walled-in mindset of the Catholic Church’s imperial/ hierarchical structure/ culture is disconnected from reality and unworkable. But he is wise and humane and will transition the Church with sensitivity to the people of good will still in high positions in Church. Particularly, he will remain respectful and sensitive to Emeritus Benedict, the last of the Imperial Popes.

    Francis’s conundrum is to bring the Caesarist Curia into the 21st Century. But the Cardinal Curia hasn’t resigned as did Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Church remains with one foot in Vatican I and one foot in Vatican II. In this straddled position, the Curia stymies Church’s transition into the 21st Century. The challenge for Francis is to determine what future, if any, there is for the anachrous Roman Curia. Holdovers of the Roman Caesarist Curia are threatened and resistant to Church’s transitioning into Postmodernity. It remains to be seen how deeply into this unstoppable transition Pope Francis can take Christian Ecumenism.

  5. Elasticity doesn't seem to think men have a damn thing to do with abortion numbers. Wonder what kind of unreal world he/she really does live in? Seems like it must be one where men have zero responsibility for anything relating to pregnancy and the clerical men of the Roman Catholic Church have had no impact on the abortion numbers. Maybe E should do some research on abortion numbers in the Phillippines and other predominately Catholic countries in the developing world. Or even Poland's numbers for that matter.

  6. Until the Catholic Church holds men equally accountable for irresponsible sex and the consequences, which too often include forcing women to abort, I will take you gender bashing with a very large grain of salt.

  7. Sylvester, I wish I had your faith in Pope Francis. What I see is a man who is truly pastoral, but a pope who is a true Catholic pope in all that that entails. He will further the global Holy See just as much as his predecessors and although he will personally act in a way that transcends (or ignores) some of the teachings and rubrics, as pope he will not change one of them. At this point I wish he would give a treatise on the primacy of personal conscience, because otherwise his papacy may wind up being described as that of 'everyone's favorite idiosyncratic bachelor uncle' and his changes/reforms could very well die with him.

  8. Where would you look for those figures? The NRLC examined figures from the CDC and the Alan Guttmacher institute and came up with a figure of roughly 54 million.
    Birth control was legal for decades prior to 1973, and no one could ever suggest that the number of abortions was anything close to what it is today. When BC fails, there is an inclination toward abortion. Thus the birth control mentality, as was predicted, ushered in the abortion mentality.
    You suggest that the RC church could, in effect, contribute to a decline in the number of abortions by changing its teaching regarding BC, yet most catholics practice artificial contraception already, so it would seem that a change in teaching would have not have the affect you believe. The well-documented relationship between BC and abortion suggests that the number of abortions might very well increase should the Church change its teaching as you desire.

  9. BaptizedBabyBoomerMay 3, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Gender bashing is exactly what it is! Blame all the females and we are supposedly worshiping killing. How about all the wars that men seem to start? They must all be at the altar of worshipping killing. How many children were born since '73 ? I wish that Elasticity would look at those numbers, as well the numbers of babies and children who died of preventable diseases due to lack of vaccines, starvation and wars since '73.

  10. sylvesterpatsteffenMay 3, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    An aside: The picture of the Pope suggests he is putting blinders on his eyes.
    What REALLY pees me off is the culpable ignorance and insistent arrogance of the imperial male hierarchy that is closed minded to the obvious truth that THEOLOGY SUPPOSES BIOLOGY in the same way that faith supposes reason and grace supposes nature!
    Look at the super-populated regions of the world where pollution and desperate consumption are irrecoverably destroying food sources!!! And still arrogant male hierarchs insist against birth control. Don't they see that the greater moral issue is the radical abortion of the food basis of life for humankind? Where is their respect for the Sacrament of organic life in which we are covenant bound to each other, to nature and to God???

  11. I love your last sentence Sylvester. I think Francis may have an inkling about that covenant, but I don't if any of them have respect for the Sacrament of organic life. And if they have no respect for that, they can't possibly have any respect for the evolution of consciousness or how very sacred that evolution is.