Father Longenecker Explains It All

 

 

Father Longenecker seems to think that conservative Catholics who have problems with some of what Pope Francis says are the same as liberal Catholics who reject Church teaching on abortion and euthanasia:

 

 

Now with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis. He’s the pope, but they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict. They pick him to pieces, refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt and paint him as a terrible pope—just like the liberals did with Benedict. The liberals thought Benedict was a bad and inadequate pope. Ditto the conservatives with Francis.

Go here to read the rest.  Now I think Father Longenecker is wrong on this, and I can name one person who probably would agree with me:  the Pope Emeritus.

Back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote a letter in July of 2004 in which he made some crucial distinctions:

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

Go here to read the entire letter.  The idea that Catholics must be in lock step with every view of a Pope in order to be a good Catholic would have struck most Catholics who have ever lived as a bizarre notion.  For those confused on this point Cardinal Newman, as usual, is a font of light and wisdom:

12. From these various considerations it follows, that Papal and Synodal definitions, obligatory on our faith, are of rare occurrence; and this is confessed by all sober theologians. Father O’Reilly, for instance, of Dublin, one of the first theologians of the day, says:— “The Papal Infallibility is comparatively seldom brought into action. I am very far from denying that the Vicar of Christ is largely assisted by God in the fulfilment of his sublime office, that he receives great light and strength to do well the great work entrusted to him and imposed on him, that he is continually guided from above in the government of the Catholic Church. But this is not the meaning of Infallibility … What is the use of dragging in the Infallibility in connexion with Papal acts with which it has nothing to do,—papal acts, which are very good and very holy, and entitled to all respect and obedience, acts in which the Pontiff is commonly not mistaken, but in which he could be mistaken and still remain infallible in the only sense in which he has been declared to be so?” (The Irish Monthly, Vol. ii. No. 10, 1874.) This great authority goes on to disclaim any desire to minimize, but there is, I hope, no real difference between us here. He, I am sure, would sanction me in my repugnance to impose upon the faith of others more than what the Church distinctly claims of them: and I should follow him in thinking it a more scriptural, Christian, dutiful, happy frame of mind, to be easy, than to be difficult, of belief. I have already spoken of that uncatholic spirit, which starts with a grudging faith in the word of the Church, and determines to hold nothing but what it is, as if by demonstration, compelled to believe. To be a true Catholic a man must have a generous loyalty towards ecclesiastical authority, and accept what is taught him with what is called the pietas fidei, and only such a tone of mind has a claim, and it certainly has a claim, to be met and to be handled with a wise and gentle minimism. Still the fact remains, that there has been of late years a fierce and intolerant temper abroad, which scorns and virtually tramples on the little ones of Christ.

I end with an extract from the Pastoral of the Swiss Bishops, a Pastoral which has received the Pope’s approbation. “It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”

 

 

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21 Comments

  1. Pope Francis said on EWTN just this past Thursday, this Pope Francis said before becoming Pope, that: “The blood and water coming out of the side of Christ is a symbol of the Church.”
    .
    I am having a problem with that. If there is someone who might clarify this statement I would appreciate it.

  2. Now with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis. He’s the pope, but they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict. They pick him to pieces, refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt and paint him as a terrible pope—just like the liberals did with Benedict. The liberals thought Benedict was a bad and inadequate pope. Ditto the conservatives with Francis.

    Does Fr. Longenecker really want to get into the business of defending the Pope’s ex parte communications with random laity, his half-assed remarks in newspaper interviews (‘proselytism is solemn nonsense’), his confused musings on political economy (complete with polemicists’ terminology), and equate the dismay ordinary people experience with the contemptuous treatment John Paul and Benedict received from the likes of Garry Wills and Luke Timothy Johnson?

    I’ve gotten to the point where I want these useless organization men to just go away.

  3. So-called “liberal” Catholics differed with Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI about divorce and remarriage, ordination of women, artificial birth control and abortion.

    My complaints with Pope Francis are, to name a few, he talks about things he knows nothing about (e.g, economics and the enviornment), he talks nasty about those who desire the Traditional Liturgy, he has sent the wolves after the FFI and the Paraguyan Diocese of Ciudad del Este, and has done little or nothing about dissenting orders and has (to my knowledge) paid lip service and nothing else to the serious problems faced by the Middle East Catholics.

    Pope Francis was part of a dissenting order – the Society of Jesus. A Jesuit priest told my wife and others when she lived in Colombia that artificial birth control was just fine. Pope Francis is from a part of the world plagued with self-inflicted poverty – a part of the world that typically has a knee-jerk reaction to blame the USA for all of their problems.

    Father Longnecker can write what he wants and think what he wants. I can dispute what he thinks and writes when it deals with the lack of leadership in the Vatican.

  4. The term cafeteria catholic refers to people to go through the teachings of the church and and pick and choose what they will accept.
    The people who disagree with some of Francis’ difficult-to-understand remarks are not rejecting or picking and choosing any church teachings.
    I hope the pope himself isn’t a cafeteria catholic, as some of his remarks make me wonder what he means or what he believes.

  5. Dissenting Catholics are those who dissent [aka protest] actual teachings of the Church either of the ordinary magisterium (doctrines) or extraordinary magisterium (dogmas)

    Cafeteria Catholics (very closely related) are those who pick and choose from among the actual teachings (doctrines/dogmas) of the Church the ones they like and the ones they dislike

    Both reveal an underlying crisis of faith in God Who reveals through Jesus Christ His Word made flesh and Who by the power of the Holy Spirit continues to teach through the pope and bishops of the Church in union with him-when teaching on matters of faith and morals.

    This is not every word which comes from the mouth of a pope or bishop by any means. For example, interviews are interviews whether done by Pope Benedict or Pope Francis, neither are magisterial. A committee of a bishop’s conference coming out in favor/or against a bill in Congress is not a magisterial teaching either. However, a pope or a committee of bishops on a bill may very well be explaining or putting forth a doctrine-that might upset a liberal or conservative. So when disagreeing we need to really sort out what we are disagreeing with.

    However that does not solve everything either. How can one confess one is ‘in union with’ the pope and be constantly criticizing every word, gesture etc that he makes. We saw the so called Progesive Catholics who hold to ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ crucify Pope Paul VI, St John Paul II and Pope Benedict. However, do we not see the same hyper-criticism (if not actual dissent) from ‘ultra-traditionalists’ now?

    Father might have overreached about ‘dissent/cafeteria catholicism’ of ultratraditionalists [perhaps he did; in some cases I don’t think he did at all] however, the hypercriticism of the progressives has become the hypercriticism of the ultratraditionalists today Is this what Christ wants when calling us to unity in truth and love [communion]?

  6. “How can one confess one is ‘in union with’ the pope and be constantly criticizing every word, gesture etc that he makes.”

    Not every word certainly, but some critiques and criticisms do not hurt such unity. That has to be the case or else Popes would not so often radically change the policies of their predecessors. Compare and contrast for example the policy of Pope John XXIII regarding religious freedom from that of Pius IX. Consider the policy of John Paul II regarding the death penalty to that of Pius IX who had hundreds of executions carried out under his reign. Where Popes differ it seems odd that the laity are required to suddenly change stances simply to match those of the Pope of the day, especially on matters unrelated to doctrine.

  7. Mary De Voe,
    The blood and water coming out of the side of Christ is symbolic of the Church ( Christ’s Bride) on one level and of Baptism and the Eucharist on another level. Go back to God casting Adam into a deep sleep THEN taking his bride out of his side. This predicted in a veiled manner the Bride of Christ coming out of the side of the Second Adam who is Christ (1 Cor.15:45) who expired ( the deep sleep of Adam) and then His Bride the Church came out of His side. Francis was just repeating Augustine (I think it was) in this matter.

  8. It’s amazing how so many clergy and lay people are refusing to acknowledge the reality of the Pope’s words and actions. Voris tells us we shouldn’t criticize the Pope publically, write him a letter. Now Fr. Longenecker tell us concerned conservative, Catholics are “cafeteria Catholics” because we can’t agree with everything that rolls off the papal tongue. These men are preaching a cultic mentality to their readers and listeners. I was in Herbert Armstrong’s World Wide Church Of God cult 30 years ago, so I know something about the cultic mindset. That mentality didn’t allow any criticism of the leader and ridiculed and marginalized anyone who dared to do so. These men, by their demand for unthinking obedience, are going to ruin the faith of many Catholics, when reality comes crashing down on their heads. My loss of faith in my former cult nearly destroyed me, it was only through the reception of the Catholic faith that I was able to finally recover. Now, I see fools like Voris and Longenecker demanding the same thing that Herbert Armstrong demanded of me. Shame on both of these men, shame!

  9. I have found that it’s a good idea to not pay any attention to Fr. Longnecker whatsoever. Enough said.

  10. Stephen,
    Incomes and career and book sales and income from diocesan speaking engagements are connected to idolizing the Magisterium. I hope the connection is subconscious and I think it is in Fr. L’s case because he doesn’t censor you in his combox like many do.
    You don’t get recurring invites from parishes to speak for a fee if you even constructively criticize Popes. Follow the money trail. This is a business for many. St. Paul said the laborer deserves his wage but he “withstood Peter to his face because he was deserving of blame.”. And Paul had a backup career in tent sales. Many Catholic pundits do not….and probably fear that eventuality.

  11. Saint Catherine of Siena wrote to the Pope urging him to return the Papacy to Rome, reform the Papacy and the Church.

    St. Catherine did not take everything the Pope said and did as beyond criticism or critique. The “professional” Catholic should learn from St. Catherine.

  12. bill bannon: “His Bride the Church came out of His side.”
    .
    I agree. “His Bride, the Church came out of His side.” The Blood and Water that came out of His side is the Church, not a symbol of the Church, not a symbol of His Bride, the Church, but the Church.
    .
    Otherwise, every man is a symbol of himself, which is true, but first the man must be who he is. A man.

  13. I hope the connection is subconscious and I think it is in Fr. L’s case because he doesn’t censor you in his combox like many do.

    Now we all want to know what shark you may be referring to…

  14. Donald,

    I was not ignoring your post in response to my post (see above). I simply have been enjoying my summer :-). To your point, I do agree that over two thousand years that have been very great shifts within the Church, in her direction etc [while not change in substance]. In some senses, ever papal election (although Catholics were not aware of this for ages) has been seen as a conscious choice to either ‘maintain’ or ‘change’ (again we are not talking about ‘teaching’, sacraments etc). What was to be maintained or changed certainly has been different.

    What is new for Catholics (since Pope Pius IX) is taking such an interest in the pope, his well being, and what he was teaching (if an when he taught). Even that has changed somewhat over the last century and a half. Catholics would barely know that an encyclical had been published years ago, while today, we know that the Pope kissed a baby in St Peter’s Square (or gave another interview lol).

    Catholics can indeed be critical of the pope, in fact I believe the ability to be able to criticize in an informed way, does indeed help the Church to grow overall. I believe that not everyone who is critical is necessarily a foe nor do I believe that anger automatically negates love. What I do believe however is that each of us as well as all of use together need to constantly remember who we are and to what we are called. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, the sacrament of salvation for the world. It is precisely as ‘communion’ [truth in unity and love] that we are that sacrament. Given this, our message and method needs to be one of constantly seeking to both dialogue in the truth and reconciling in love.

    That is what I was attempting to communicate in my earlier post and it is what I believe.

  15. “I was not ignoring your post in response to my post (see above). I simply have been enjoying my summer”

    Oh, I quite understand that Botolph. Work often prevents me from responding to comments and I will be on vacation for a week at the end of this week.

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