Clare Short of Faith in our Families blog has written an open letter to the Pope. I think this letter typifies the anguish that many faithful Catholics are experiencing under the current pontificate:
Dear Pope Francis,
I have supported you and defended you many times this year. Even when I was unsure of exactly what it was you were saying – I always gave you the benefit of the doubt and stood up for you against those who were criticizing you. However regarding your recent comments denouncing the “rigid” attached to doctrine as “Pharisees” I am sorry but with a heavy heart, I have to disagree with you:
Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast:
“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart. This is the drama of these people, and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism: Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Savior. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”
You are correct in saying that the Pharisees of 1st Century Jerusalem were politicians. They were not interested in the spirituality of the Jewish faith in anyway shape or form. All they were interested in was satisfying their lust for power and status over the people. In this way they held God’s people in contempt. They used rules and regulations to keep people captive.
But Holy Father, don’t you understand?…
The religious politicians of the 21st century are your friends – the Walter Kasper’s and the Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s of this world. They are the ones trying to control the Family Synod. They are the ones manipulating the media. They are the ones doing deals and getting their mates into the position of Bishop to further their own political agenda, when they really, really should never have even been there (Kieran Conry). Just like the Pharisees of 1st century Jerusalem, they are primarily concerned with their own lust for power and status. They hide this behind a smoke screen of words and phrases that seem to offer salvation, but are in-fact as empty as the rules and regulations of 2000 years ago. They hold God’s people in contempt by offering them apparent solutions to the problem of sin. They do not do this by keeping them captive in rules and regulations, but instead they seek to abolish ALL rules and regulations and usher in a climate of relativism. When people perceive their sin as relative, the rules and regulations no longer apply: and consequently their sin no longer exists.
Holy Father don’t you see? The real 21st century Pharisees operate by keeping God’s people captive in their own sin.
I don’t know how the church works in Argentina. I feel there are some cultural differences in Europe that perhaps you are not fully aware of. You see, here, the church has been kept afloat by those who have remained loyal to church teaching. The church has suffered so much damage here over the last 50 years from people wanting to push their own political agenda – to put Man at the centre of the faith rather than Christ. The truth and beauty of Christ – the true spirituality and heart of the Catholic faith has been almost completely replaced by nothing more than a synthetic substitute.
I understand your message of mercy. You are reaching out to those who are not secure in their faith – to those who have perhaps suffered a massive lack of proper religious education and catechesis and have never known the real Jesus or felt His love. I know there are many who are already secure in their faith who do not understand why you are taking this approach – but I do. But there are also those who want to twist this message to their own advantage. The mercy Kasper offers is focused on this life alone. He seeks to please man. He makes no mention of how it will effect people in the next life. To allow people to remain in mortal sin is to ignore God’s truth and God’s justice. How will Kasper’s teaching on mercy effect people’s time in purgatory – or worse? Is this real mercy?
Holy Father, I admire your courage for taking on the heavy cross of becoming Pope, and I pray for you every day. Please Holy Father, I beg you – do not be deceived by those who wish to put Man at the centre of the Catholic faith. Jesus did not come to ‘people please’. He came to set us free from ourselves. Please see the true 21st century Pharisees for who they really are.
I love you and you are in my prayers.
Go here to read the comments. When ordinary Catholics doing their best to live the Faith have this type of reaction to a Pope, something is very, very wrong.