PopeWatch: Ideology Bad

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Pope Francis thinks it is a bad thing when Christianity becomes an ideology.  PopeWatch believes that throughout History people with ideologies have attempted to use Christianity.  However, Christianity as an ideology is a new one as far as PopeWatch is concerned.  Father Z is also puzzled:

Here is something that the Pope said:

It is, he said, “the image of those Christians who have the key in their hand, but take it away, without opening the door,” and who “keep the door closed.”

Asking those present how a Christian is able to fall into this attitude, the Pope reflected that “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon (people).”

Noting that it is a “lack of Christian witness does this,” he stressed that “when this Christian is a priest, a bishop or a Pope it is worse.”

“When a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology,” urged the Pope, “he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought,” and “the knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge.

Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.

“It is a serious illness, this Christian ideology. It is an illness, but it is not new,” he said, recalling how the Apostle John alludes to this mentality in his first letter.

Pope Francis then emphasized that the attitude of those who lose their faith in preference of personal ideologies is “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness.

“But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”

“The key that opens the door to the faith,” the Pope noted, “is prayer,” and “when a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.”

The Christian who does not pray, urged the Pope, is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement…when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.”

When we pray, the Pope reflected, Jesus tells us to “go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart,” because “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”

Those who do not pray abandon the faith, stressed the Pope, and allow it to become a “moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus.”


The Holy Father’s passion is clear and strong, isn’t it?   It is a little stirring to read this.  I’ll bet it is even more so to hear it in person.   But …

The Pope’s language about ideology is so vague that I can’t for the life of me make out who or what he is talking about.  It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.

Does anyone know what he is talking about?  Really?

Go back and read over the report again and ask yourself if you truly understand what he is talking about.

Does the spanish for “ideology”, which may be behind his thought, have some nuance of meaning that is different from English or Italian?

What did the Pope really say in this short, non-magisterial fervorino?

PopeWatch shares Father Z’s  obvious desire that Pope Francis could be a good deal plainer when he wishes to say that something is bad.  Then perhaps we would have less of the Hermeneutic of Rorschachity by which Catholics are left to argue about just what in the world the Pope was driving at.

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  1. “Hermeneutic of Rorschachity”. Perfect. Everything the Pope has said so far “can” be interpreted via the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” including this one (e.g. it’s one of the temptations Screwtape proposes in C.S. Lewis’ screwtape letters), but most non-Catholics will interprete it via the “Hermeneutic of Discontinuity”, so his words say a lot about you and your suspicions of the Pope and little about the Pope actually means since no-one really knows that.

  2. ” . . . about the Pope actually means since no-one really knows that.”

    “Ay, there’s the rub. ” Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, “To be or not . . . “

  3. To crib from the Pope, I think the interpretive keys are there, if one chooses to insert them in the door.

    To whit: is there any way this could *naturally* be interpreted as a rebuke to the spirituality of a “Nun on the Bus” or Jesuit university president?

    I’m sure a labored exegesis could be cobbled together to do so, but likewise, one could read Nicholas Sparks through Anthony Trollope.

  4. I think the Pope makes perfect sense if you listen to his words. We need to be a people of “prayer” not of ideology. The ‘truth’ rings with his explanation.

  5. “Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.

    This is true. It is also incomplete, since the reverse is also true. Turning the Gospel into an ideology could also attract people to the Church for the wrong reasons – that is, if such an ideology radiates from the Church. It would be more likely that such an ideology would come from outside and mask itself as a “modern” form of the Gospel in order to capture and neuter the Church, but that is another story,

  6. I have no trouble understanding the holy father, some one who is concerned with rules and regulations might have difficulty.

  7. From wiki, but a decent enough definition:

    An ideology is a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a “received consciousness” or product of socialization).

    So, the HF has a problem with someone having a comprehensive vision? The HF himself has a comprehensive vision, even if that “vision” is that there is no comprehensive vision. Was scares people off is that the Church claims its comprehensive vision is true – and they are afraid it just might be, calling into question some of their own beliefs and practices. In other words, reality bites.

  8. Everybody has concern with favored rules and regulations, Bill T. It’s just that the Bishop of Rome simply hasn’t gotten around to criticizing *yours* yet.

  9. One thing is for sure, ideology is all too often wrapped up in religious tinsel. And this problem exists at the highest levels of the Church. All one has to is look at statements from hte bishops in not just the U.S. but the west in general regarding issues like war, economics, immigration, and capital punishment. And to some extent this problem has been exacerbated in varying degrees by statements of the last few pontiffs.

    I think using Pope Francis’ statement on ideology as an opportunity to discuss this problem would be much better than telling the world how demoralized you are about how he says these things.

  10. I am very confused by most everything this Pope says. Pope Benedict was very precise and exact and detail-oriented, and as a nuclear engineer I like that. Pope John Paul II was very deep philosophically and could even talk credibly and accurately about scientific things (my field of expertise). But the current Pontiff demonstrates no logic, no reason, no continuity, just liberal platitudes.

  11. I think the section at the end is key, where Francis says that the sign that someone has an ideological rather than a faith approach is that he doesn’t pray. So if you and people like you pray, he’s clearly not talking about you.

    Of course, the only people I can think of who think prayer is no longer needed are way out on the left…

  12. I think that the Pope was speaking to each of us individually, presenting the question: Am I, as a Catholic, simply going through the motions and thinking that I have prayed after distractedly or thoughtlessly recited prayers that I have memorized, or am I actually turning my heart to the Lord–alone, in my room or in a chapel, let’s say–recognizing my own sins, my need for His help, my gratitude for all He has given me and recognition of all the prayers He’s already answered, and additional need for guidance as to what I can do to make this world a little better for those nearest to me and those farthest from me–that’s my take on his words.

  13. A Wang takes a tried and true approach, which is to blame the critics who are trying to make sense of this pope’s contradictory gibberish. I feel much more for those who are trying to continually pass on his shockingly divisive statements, rhetoric he shows no concern about backing away from.

    Here is the situation: Benedict XVI: top PhD (1953) at a top theologate (Munich), and post-doctoral dissertation. JP2: top PhD at the Angelicum (1948) with post doctoral dissertation at the Jagiellonian U (Krakow). This Bergoglio pope: failed to complete his dissertation and degree at Frankfurt. No apparent advanced work, other than a master’s at a not-well-known S American theologate (Buenos Aires) in the late 1960’s. No other known advanced degrees in other fields. This is the person that now is running the premier spiritual corporation in the world—like dropout being president of and running Harvard or Stanford? (Those institutions wouldnt tolerate that, we can be sure.)

    Francis throws around terms the ramifications of which he clearly doesnt understand and I am sure by now he doesnt care to analyze…because he is an ideologue, too: of Vatican II, something he says has never been tried (???). His contradictory statements don’t matter to him: he’s been able to do it for about 40 years and nobody ever challenged him on it. They all got stars in their eyes and began muttering wonderful accolades when he opened his mouth (a common path to advancement in the modern Society of Jesus). There is a serious problem, and Father Z, to his credit, is trying to justify his gibberish. But a silk purse it is not.

    He doesnt care much about tradition and what happened before 1965 because it was all cancelled by Vatican II. All those wonderful people like Rahner and Congar and Schillebeeckx and Kung (the latter of whom now says he has left the Catholic Church). And I doubt he has read them (I would give him a pass if he said he doesnt understand Rahner, because I dont think anyone really does) and he doesnt understand them. And that is where we are today.

  14. Just after reading the first 2 paragraphs of “what the Pope said” it reminded me very much of the criticisms leveled against Catholics by Some evangelical and anti Catholic Christians who think that what Catholics have is “religion” -not a faith relationship with the Person of Christ.

    As I read the rest, I did have hard time following him. I get that he is saying that the way to have that “kindness” and not be “rigid, moralistic or ethical” is to pray. But I don’t see what exactly is the perceived problem he may be talking about. He says humble prayer with the heart is the answer to this “ideology” problem.
    Since I think that as Catholics we do have a certain “world view”: a humble way of looking at things in general, knowing that we were, after all, created Ex Nihilo. And there is nothing wrong with that.
    Just like the anti catholic view of what Some evangelicals call “religion”, This view of Catholic perspective, called ideology seems a bit uncharitable…saying that people are keeping the door closed and walking away with the key , having become disciples of their own thought . At the same time this pope has reminded of the primacy of conscience and the proximity of his own thought with that of an atheist. So the mis-application of terminology, or at least unclear use is tough enough in this reflection without thinking of ot on context with his other reflections.
    Unless I totally misunderstood. He seems more generous in his latitude for the Rest of the World than his fellow Catholics.

  15. Yet another example of a writer with column to fill that is just looking for a fight that does not exist. Plain English: Christ is first, never below or intertwined within an ideology.

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