FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Explanation of "self-referential Church" comment
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4
I had read this speech by Cardinal Bergoglio and had trouble understanding it.  I found this explanation helpful.
http://www.catholicculture.org/commentar...fm?id=1066

Quote:This was the report by Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana that he had been authorized by Pope Francis to release the notes he had made for his address during the meetings of the cardinals leading up to the conclave (see Cuban cardinal: before conclave, Pope Francis challenged Church not to be narcissistic). The complete text of these notes, as presented by Cardinal Ortega, has been provided by Vatican Radio.

I will not speculate whether these notes are, in effect, an outline of the intended course of Francis’ pontificate, but they certainly contain some strong language. Because some of that language is a bit abstract, however, it will be useful—after briefly summarizing his notes—to provide some concrete examples of what Jorge Mario Bergoglio meant as a cardinal, and has now released publicly as Pope.

He advised that the next pope needed to overcome a tendency within the Church to be self-referential or narcissistic. The Church, he said, needed to “come out of herself”, moving not just to the geographical but to the “existential” peripheries (the troubled material, moral and spiritual edges on which people live their lives), in order to evangelize effectively. When she fails to do this, the Church becomes self-referential, which is a kind of sickness. This leads her into a very serious spiritual evil, which the great theologian Cardinal Henri de Lubac called the worst evil that can befall the Church, namely “spiritual worldliness”.

Now it is important to understand this properly. The Church in her essence cannot be sick. Essentially speaking, she is the body and the bride of Christ. She becomes sick only through her members, and especially those among her members who represent her in the specifically hierarchical capacities demanded by her Divine constitution. So when the future Pope Francis referred to being self-referential, to narcissism, and—speaking very plainly—to spiritual worldliness, he was not criticizing the Church “without spot or wrinkle” as described by St. Paul in Ephesians 5.

No, he was talking about a certain attitude among the Church’s members—narcissistic, self-referential, worldly in their very spirituality—which makes the Church as an institution extremely ill.

A Partial List of Examples of Spiritual Narcissism

This critique of a certain malaise in the Church can refer only to one thing: When we start defining the Church according to how we ourselves are, we are committing this sin of narcissism; we are being self-referential. And in this sense, we are making the Church self-referential in all of her operations, which must be carried out through her members. Let us consider some practical applications of the Pope’s thesis.

    When theologians and academicians redefine faith and morals according to their own desires (chiefly, in our day, through the cancer of Modernism), they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When laymen use the Church for their spiritual comfort while rejecting whatever Catholic teachings they do not like, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When people at any level in the Church decide they are not called to express the way, the truth and the life of Christ to others because it is outside their personal comfort zone, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When affluent Catholics constantly find excuses, including legal and political excuses, for not stretching themselves to serve the poor, including immigrants, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When those with strong feelings about certain traditions and the liturgy claim that they alone are the bearers of the true light of Christ, dividing themselves from others and from obedience to ecclesiastical authority, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When cardinals and bishops refuse to speak truth to power, preferring to enjoy life with “people who matter”, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When Catholics invest their emotions and their sense of mission in unapproved apparitions or other similar phenomena, as if these hold the key to everything, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When priests alter the liturgy to suit their tastes or fail to teach the fullness of Catholic doctrine, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    When religious communities depart from their founding charisms and pursue essentially secular goals with a spiritual veneer, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
    Whenever anyone defines right and wrong in terms of chronology (“Come on, it’s 2013! Don’t be so medieval!”), he or she is being narcissistic and self-referential, and making the Church sick.
    And when Catholics fail to seek constant enlightenment from both the Church and the Holy Spirit in prayer, preferring to go on spiritually without making any real effort to lay bare their own spiritual weaknesses—preferring the comfort of an apparently serene but half-hearted and surely one-sided Christianity—then they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.

This is what Cardinal Bergoglio was explaining to his brothers just before they elected him pope. He may have used some academic language to refer to the problem. Indeed, Pope Benedict had done the same, calling it “self-secularization”. But it really is not so difficult to understand. When we make the Church into what we see in the mirror, instead of stretching ourselves to the “existential peripheries”, we plunge the Church into spiritual worldliness. We make the Church sick.
Quote: Let us consider some practical applications of the Pope’s thesis.
Ignore everything after this sentence.  It is just speculation.  I can speculate also:

When we insist on calling the Mass a sacrifice, and so alienate our separated brothers and sisters, we are being narcissistic.

When we vote for small responsible government instead of a nanny state, we are being narcissistic.

Note to the logically impaired.  I am not implying Pope Francis is saying this.  I'm pointing out that the author is speculating to the max.

Do you have a link to the actual speech?
Here's the link:
Pope Link

Try this if it doen't work, I'm too lazy to convert to tiny url:
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/03/...en1-677269

Jayne,
I don't see why you would have a problem with the original.  He's calling for evangelizing and witnessing.  The question is HOW he intends to do this.  IF he thinks we need happy-clappy clown masses and mealy mouth ecumenism, then he'll fail.  IF he thinks we need to preach the Truth that outside the Church there is absolutely no salvation, then he'll succeed.  That key detail we don't have, but we'll soon find out.
I saw that article a few days ago, and to be honest it doesn't seem to really have much to do with what the pope may mean by "self-referential Church." It just reads like a list of 'things I, the author, think are bad.' Note the absence of references to other writings or particular theological background of Bergoglio.
(04-03-2013, 06:26 PM)Cordobes Wrote: [ -> ]I saw that article a few days ago, and to be honest it doesn't seem to really have much to do with what the pope may mean by "self-referential Church." It just reads like a list of 'things I, the author, think are bad.' Note the absence of references to other writings or particular theological background of Bergoglio.

I am not familiar with the term "self-referential Church".  As James says, it seems to have something to do with evangelization but it is not very clear what exactly.  I was pleased to see somebody unpacking it, but I think you are right.  There isn't any reason to believe this is anything more than wishful thinking from the author.
the most easiest definition of "self-referential" is simply looking back or referring to self.
I personally think he means when the Church worries more about itself than the world.
AND this is why I think this pope is dangerous.

The job of the Church is to save souls and not worry about creating the nanny state.
Perhaps the Holy Father is saying Lumen Gentium was a waste of time. 2,000 churchmen laboring over a document that defines what the Church is? That is quite a self-referential activity.
Quote:He advised that the next pope needed to overcome a tendency within the Church to be self-referential or narcissistic. The Church, he said, needed to “come out of herself”, moving not just to the geographical but to the “existential” peripheries (the troubled material, moral and spiritual edges on which people live their lives), in order to evangelize effectively.

I'm pretty sure I know what he means, and I've been thinking of it for a long time, but it's hard to put into words. The above paragraph just about nutshells it for me. If you listen to Catholic radio, or read Catholic books by contemporary authors, there is this constant emphasis on the Catholic Church. "WE have the truth! WE have seven sacraments! WE have 50 days of the Easter season! Yippie! WE this... WE that..." And while all that's true, how is it evangelizing in the modern age? Often you don't even hear the name of Jesus Christ. You might say there's no difference between Jesus and his church. But there is. And we need to point to HIM... and imitate HIM... and in that way we are drawing people to the Church. It's hard to explain. Look at it this way: Jesus constantly referred to his FATHER. The Father and Holy Spirit constantly pointed to the SON. Even the persons of the Trinity aren't self-referental or narcissistic, if that makes sense!! We Catholics definitely need to come out of our little Catholic bubble and become a "hands on" kind of people to the world. I definitely think it's time and that is also why I think Pope Francis is the man of the hour.
(04-05-2013, 08:40 AM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:He advised that the next pope needed to overcome a tendency within the Church to be self-referential or narcissistic. The Church, he said, needed to “come out of herself”, moving not just to the geographical but to the “existential” peripheries (the troubled material, moral and spiritual edges on which people live their lives), in order to evangelize effectively.

I'm pretty sure I know what he means, and I've been thinking of it for a long time, but it's hard to put into words. The above paragraph just about nutshells it for me. If you listen to Catholic radio, or read Catholic books by contemporary authors, there is this constant emphasis on the Catholic Church. "WE have the truth! WE have seven sacraments! WE have 50 days of the Easter season! Yippie! WE this... WE that..." And while all that's true, how is it evangelizing in the modern age? Often you don't even hear the name of Jesus Christ. You might say there's no difference between Jesus and his church. But there is. And we need to point to HIM... and imitate HIM... and in that way we are drawing people to the Church. It's hard to explain. Look at it this way: Jesus constantly referred to his FATHER. The Father and Holy Spirit constantly pointed to the SON. Even the persons of the Trinity aren't self-referental or narcissistic, if that makes sense!! We Catholics definitely need to come out of our little Catholic bubble and become a "hands on" kind of people to the world. I definitely think it's time and that is also why I think Pope Francis is the man of the hour.

As St. Joan of Arc said, Jesus Christ and His Church are the same thing.  That is the Catholic understanding and we had best maintain it.
Like I said, it's tough to try and explain this. Christ and his church are not the same, they are one the way a husband and wife are one, but still two separate entities. What I am talking about is this: The Catholic Church is more than liturgy and apologetics. While those are important, they have dwarfed the subject of the Church's social teachings - for as far as I can remember and I'm almost 60.
Pages: 1 2 3 4