PopeWatch: Key

Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register has a fascinating article in which he contends that Evangelii Gaudium, published in the first year of the current pontificate, laid out a blue print for what was to come:


The association of the Holy Spirit with the changes laid out in Amoris Laetitia is foreshadowed in Evangelii Gaudium, when he says, quoting Pope St. John Paul II, that the Holy Spirit “can be said to possess an infinite creativity, proper to the divine mind, which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, even the most complex and inscrutable.”

He goes on to warn against being concerned “simply about falling into doctrinal error” and the need to remain “faithful to this light-filled path of life and wisdom.” For, he adds, “defenders of orthodoxy are sometimes accused of passivity, indulgence or culpable complicity regarding the intolerable situations of injustice and the political regimes which prolong them.”

Pope Francis’ famous wish for a Church “which is poor and for the poor” is mentioned in the document, as is his concern for migrants, for whom he, as the “pastor of a Church without frontiers,” is conscious of leading in a Church that “considers herself mother to all.” His concern for the environment in the face of a free market that has rejected God and ethics, a theme most clearly covered in his later encyclical Laudato Si (Care for Our Common Home), is touched upon when the Pope criticizes “the thirst for power and possessions” that “knows no limits,” so that “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”

He also articulates his four specific foundational principles to guide people and society: “Time is greater than space,” meaning to “work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results”; “unity prevails over conflict”; “realities are more important than ideas,” meaning a rejection of what he sees as false ideologies; and “the whole is greater than the part.” The provenance of these principles has been traced back to some controversial historical Argentine figures and to his preference for la teologia del pueblo (“theology of the people”) that was developed in 1967 and is similar to liberation theology.

The Pope also underlines the importance of dialogue, which he says is enriching, and writes that whenever we enter the “reality of other people’s lives” our lives “become wonderfully complicated.”

His frequent recourse to the Holy Spirit as underpinning his actions is clear in Paragraph 280, in which he says “there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills.

“The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place. This is what it means to be mysteriously fruitful!”

In summary, Evangelii Gaudium prefigures much of what has been witnessed over these past five years in terms of the themes Pope Francis has chosen to prioritize. In particular, it shows his skeptical view of the Church’s law and doctrine, which he sees as restricting its evangelizing mission and curtailing the work of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, the Holy Father proposes an idealistic, even revolutionary vision of the Church and human society, one that increasing numbers of faithful see as problematic.

Go here to read the rest.  One of the comments of PopeWatch in regard to Evangelii Gaudium at the time:

I would no more go to the Church for economic analysis than I would look to an economist for an explanation of the role of grace in salvation. When the Pope reminds us all to not forget the poor or to not make money an idol he has the force of his office behind him. The following goes well beyond it:

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and I the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

This of course is a fairly tendentious translation of what the Pope originally wrote:

From Joe’s translation at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam:

“54. In this context, some defend “spillover” theories which suppose that all economic growth, for which a free market is [most] favorable, by itself brings about greater equity and social inclusion in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve confidence in the generosity of those [people] who wield economic power and in the sacralized mechanisms of that ruling economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

54 is rendered more acceptable to me by this new translation but still the Pope goes too far beyond his office.

First, it is clear from this document that the Pope and basic economic knowledge are not on the friendliest of terms, to put it charitably. 204 is a doozy along those lines:

“204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

The Pope seems to have no understanding that the types of mandates he proposes are, to use his term, “poison” for any economic growth. The Pope confuses the functioning of markets with the use of the fruits of the market, not an uncommon mistake by socialists or those who embrace socialist superstitions and try to make economies function according to government fiat.

Second, the Pope seems to have a very optimistic view of the ability of the State to fairly redress inequities in the marketplace. Perhaps the Pope has a “sacralized” view of those who wield the power of the State? If so, that would not be an unusual view for an Argentinian to hold in spite of the overwhelming evidence that State involvement in the Argentinian economy has produced disaster after disaster.

However, debates about economic systems and the proper role of government intervention in the economy are areas where wise Popes have usually tread lightly because they recognized that they had no special charism to render judgments in those areas. Pope Francis, judging from Evangelii Gaudium, might not be aware that his personal opinions in these areas must be, and will be, subject to the normal give and take, even from faithful Catholics, of argument that results whenever any one proffers an opinion about the economy and the role of the State in it. When the Pope seeks to give prescriptions for the proper functioning of the economy and of the State in it he is departing from the realm of religion and entering the realm of policy and that is always a subject for debate and not mere obedience.


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  1. ANY thing he writes, or at least ISSUES as his writings, is a rambling mess. He you read his “off the cuff” speeches, he speaks in the same manner. He tries to use incredibly long run on sentences of strung together pop psychology phrases to sound intellectual. He is the only “Pope” who references his own writings as authoritative sources more than the Bible and nearly 2000 years of the Church teachings.

  2. Anybody notice? The left mocks VP Pence for praying to God for guidance, but they’re waiting for God to tell Oprah to run for president. And, they run out Pope Frank whenever it serves the agenda.

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