PopeWatch: Orthodox Talk



Sandro Magister looks at the intriguing fact that many of the statements of Pope Francis are quite orthodox, even as his Papacy seems to be putting in motion forces that are anything but:


VATICAN CITY, March 17, 2015 – Among the many things that Pope Francis says there are some that almost never make the front page of the newspaper. And if they do they are almost immediately swept away by other headlines of an opposing and compelling nature.

This is what happens every time he speaks as “a son of the Church” – as he loves to call himself – and as a faithful witness of tradition on questions like contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexual marriage, “gender” ideology, euthanasia.

On these questions Pope Francis is anything but silent. And when he talks about them, which is much more often than one might think, he does not budge an inch from what was said before him by Paul VI, John Paul II, or Benedict XVI.

And yet in dominant opinion, both secular and Catholic, this pope passes as an innovator who changes paradigms and breaks with the dogmas of the past, also and above all on questions of life and death that were the cross of his predecessors.

Further below is presented in chronological order an anthology of the statements of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the questions indicated above, from the end of last October’s synod until today.

There are twenty-one statements in less than five months. Some of them highly polemical with the “spirit of the time.” All of them perfectly in line with the traditional doctrine of the Church. The latest also throws quite a damper on the expectations for change in the area of marriage, expectations Pope Francis has called “desmesuradas,” disproportionate.

The novelty of this pontificate is that along with these reaffirmations of perennial doctrine it also gives free rein to doctrines and pastoral practices of a different and sometimes opposite nature.

Another novelty that is no less are important is that this discord of voices is produced from within the Catholic hierarchy itself and even from other words of the pope himself that are taken up as emblems of change, starting with that “Who am I to judge” that has gone on to become the universally identifying mark of this pontificate.

It thus happens that so influential a cardinal as Reinhard Marx should say calmly at a recent press conference, in the name of the German Church and with regard to communion for the divorced and remarried:

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome. Every episcopal conference is responsible for pastoral care within its own sphere. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we should act here in marriage and the family.”

It thus happens that an archbishop like the Italian Giuseppe Casale should arrive at admitting abortion, as he did in an interview with “Il Regno” on the reform of the Church “according to the guidelines of Pope Francis”:

“For the beginning of life we must determine when there is human life, the person, without resting on preconceived positions, because science could open new perspectives for us.”

It happens that the paradigm shift of the Church’s view on homosexuality is already largely accomplished and cast in a positive light, seeing the unprecedented numbers of homosexual churchmen who occupy important positions in the curia and are in close contact with the pope.

It is partly for this reason that the following statements of Francis are so striking, all of them being so “traditional.”

It is here that the enigma of this pontificate lies. As Fr. Federico Lombardi described it in the Jesuit magazine “Popoli”:

“That of Francis is not an organic alternative plan, it is rather the setting in motion of such a complex reality as the Church is. It is a Church on a journey. He does not impose his vision and his way of doing things. He asks for and listens to different.

Go here to read the rest.  The Orthodox Catholics in this Pontificate get talk, and only talk.

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  1. Personnel is policy. It doesn’t matter one bit whether the Pope says
    things that seem orthodox when those things are just words hanging in
    the air. What matters is what the Pope does to implement those words.
    Sadly, what we’re seeing is a Pope who is both (1) making an example of what
    those about him can expect from him if they persist in their orthodoxy (e.g.
    Cardinals Burke and Canizares-Llovera, the FFI, etc.) and (2) surrounding himself
    with the very people who seem to have little use for orthodoxy.
    We’ve seen something like this before, during the reign of Paul VI, for example.
    Humanae Vitae was an orthodox Catholic document that was both
    utterly prophetic and almost completely ignored in practice. Paul VI was
    correct, he was prophetic even, but his personnel weren’t on board and that
    encyclical never found the reception it deserved. Paul VI was deeply disturbed
    by the response HV drew, but lacked the skills needed to bring the people around
    him to share his vision. That’s where I think Francis differs from Paul VI– in
    this pontificate, the disregard for the Pope’s orthodox words by his personnel
    is a feature, not a bug. Don’t expect that to change during this pontificate.

  2. I have friends who advise me that Pope Francis is really completely orthodox and that it is the popular news reports which spin his words and actions. But what I see him doing – appointing liberal clerics to positions of power and neutering orthodox conservative clerics – is just the opposite of his words. And his refusal to use Latin and his denigration of anything traditional is very problematic. But just as in 1st Samuel chapter 8 the people wanted a king like that of other nations, so today did the people want a Pope – a religious leader – like that of the other Christian Protestant denominations and we have gotten one.

  3. As I’ve said before, if you’re content with words, he’ll give you bushels of those. And he’ll wrap those fine-sounding words around a Cupich or Leow that he designates as your new ordinary.

    Then again, orthodox Catholics have been delighted with empty word service, at least in American political life. Maybe their bliss will remain unpunctured as the water around them starts to boil.

  4. “He does not impose his vision and his way of doing things.”

    The biggest centralizer and micro-manager since Blessed Pio Nonno isn’t imposing his vision and way? Pull the other one, Father Lombardi.

  5. “Gay theology” is the line in the sand.

    If pf welcomes them with the verbal and written acknowledgment’s that the acts are abominations, (Leviticus 18 v.22, 25), and calls for conversion…ok.

    If not, he himself is doomed to failure along with his supporters.

    I’m on break so I can’t spend much time on the written WORD proofs, but here are some verses; Genesis 10 : 19,20
    Genesis 19 Judges 19:15-30 Daniel 11:21-39 Romans 1: 24-32 1st Tim. 1:9,10

    Pray Pray Pray

  6. “The novelty of this pontificate is that along with these reaffirmations of perennial doctrine it also gives free rein to doctrines and pastoral practices of a different and sometimes opposite nature.”
    This kind of admixture is staple today. Mixed motives, mixed intentions frustrate us all, and inhabit all of our own works too.Tthis is why we have to practice Lent, seek purity in our own hearts and reactions to those God puts in our paths.
    Recently a question at rcia about Shriners and Masons– “…and they do so much good in the world helping burned children and Mayo clinic established by Masons? ” Yes there are layers and layers in all of us. We have to keep turning to the Lord and ask Mary and Joseph’s help.
    But giving up the reins or giving “free rein” is really an abdication of authority. God bless the pope.

  7. Orthodox Novus Ordo Catholics put up with abuses in the celebration of Mass, bad music, banal homilies and lots of fluffy talk.

    I could not take it anymore.

  8. Bergoglio reminds me of the many phony conservatives in the
    Republican Party, who endlessly affirm their fidelity to
    traditional conservative principles as they move further to
    the left on the issues. Eventually, the phony conservatives
    will redefine their newly established leftist positions to be
    true conservative positions and denounce true conservatives
    who are faithful to traditional conservative principles to be
    extreme radicals who have neo-Nazi and KKK tendencies.

    The duplicitous Bergoglio will continue to portray himself
    as a traditional son of the Church while he radically transforms
    the Church and the teachings of the Church

  9. Archbishop Giuseppe Casale: “For the beginning of life we must determine when there is human life, the person, without resting on preconceived positions, because science could open new perspectives for us.” “preconceived positions”? Is there a pun intended here? And science does not supplant logic. If it grows it’s alive and if it’s human he or she is a living soul created in God’s image.

  10. Agreed William Walsh- Casale seems to try to make wiggle room where there really is none.
    Also Lombardi’s statement that “He asks for and listens to different opinions” makes me wonder- Is he asking for “opinions” on settled matters? or Why entertain dissension?

  11. At the risk of sounding ludicrous, is it possible that Pope Francis has a real problem with inferiority complex, and that some of his behavior like living outside the Vatican complex, driving a jalopy, avoiding the traditional red papal shoes (by the way, he has BAD feet from his photos), his clumsy hick idiom, his avoidance of English and such like, rather than signals of humility (NOT judging his virtues!) are signals of a man uncomfortable with the cultural accompaniments of the papal slot? Just saying. (Carefully look at the pictures of his first appearance at the balcony after his election: he stood there, mask-like face that seemed lost, unlike the invariable smiling upbeat mien of previous popes on their maiden appearance.)

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