The Francis Transformation
#1

From http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it:




The Francis Transformation

He has unveiled the true program of his pontificate in two interviews and a letter to an atheist intellectual. With respect to the popes who preceded him the separation appears ever more clear. In words and in deeds

by Sandro Magister




ROME, October 3, 2013 – The first meeting, in these days, of the eight cardinals called to consultation by Pope Francis and his visit tomorrow to Assisi, the city of the saint whose name he has taken, are acts that certainly characterize the beginning of this pontificate.

But even more characterizing, in defining its approach, have been four media events of the month just ended:

- the interview of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio with "La Civiltà Cattolica,"

- his letter in reply to the questions addressed to him publicly by Eugenio Scalfari (in the photo), the founder of the leading secular Italian newspaper, "la Repubblica,"

- his subsequent conversation-interview with Scalfari,

- and another letter in reply to another champion of militant atheism, the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, this last written not by the current pope but by his living predecessor.

Anyone who might wish to understand in what direction Francis intends to proceed and in what he is separating himself from Benedict XVI and from other popes who proceeded him need do nothing other than study and compare these four texts.


*


In the interview with pope Bergoglio in "La Civiltà Cattolica" there is a passage that has been universally perceived as a clear reversal of stance with respect not only to Benedict XVI but also to John Paul II.

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.  Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."

Naturally Pope Francis is well aware that also for the two popes who preceded him the absolute priority was the proclamation of the Gospel; that for John Paul II the mercy of God was so central as to dedicate a Sunday of the liturgical year to it; that Benedict XVI wrote precisely about Jesus as true God and true man the book of his life as theologian and pastor; that in short none of all this divides him from them.

Francis must also know that the same consideration applies to the bishops who more than all the rest have acted in harmony with his two predecessor popes. For example, in Italy, Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Whose "cultural project" centered key events precisely on God and on Jesus.

[html]There was however in Karol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger, and pastors like Ruini or in the United States the cardinals Francis George and Timothy Dolan the intuition that the proclamation of the Gospel today could not be disjointed from a critical interpretation of the advancing new vision of man, in radical contrast with the man created by God in his image and likeness, and from a consequent action of pastoral leadership.

And it is here that pope Francis separates himself. In his interview with "La Civiltà Cattolica" there is another key passage. To Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who asks him about the current "anthropological challenge," he replies in an elusive manner. He demonstrates that he does not latch onto the epochal gravity of the transition of civilization analyzed and forcefully contested by Benedict XVI and by John Paul II before him.[/html] He shows himself convinced that it is more worthwhile to respond to the challenges of the present with the simple proclamation of the merciful God, that God who "makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and makes it rain on the just and on the unjust."

In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini who represented this alternative orientation to John Paul II, to Benedict XVI, and to Cardinal Ruini.

In the United States it was Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin who represented it, before the leadership of the episcopal conference passed to cardinals George and Dolan, very loyal to Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

The followers and admirers of Martini and Bernardin today see in Francis the pope who is giving shape to their expectations of a comeback.

And just as a Cardinal Martini was and continues to be very popular in the public opinion outside of and hostile to the Church, the same is happening for the current pope.


*


[html]The exchange of letters and the subsequent conversation between Francis and the professed atheist Scalfari help to explain this popularity of the pope even "in partibus infidelium."

One passage of the article of August 7 in which Scalfari posed questions to him was already indicative of the positive idea that the founder of "la Repubblica" had formed of the current pope:

"His mission contains two scandalous innovations: the poor Church of Francis, the horizontal Church of Martini. And a third: a God who does not judge, but forgives. There is no damnation, there is no hell."

Having received and published the letter of reply from Bergoglio, in commenting on it Scalfari added this other satisfied consideration:

"An openness to modern and secular culture of this breadth, such a profound vision between conscience and its autonomy, has never before been heard from the chair of St. Peter.”[/html]

In affirming this, Scalfari was referring in particular to what Pope Francis had written to him about the primacy of conscience:

"The question lies in obeying one's conscience. Sin, even for one who does not have the faith, is present when one goes against conscience. Listening to and obeying it means, in fact, deciding in the face of that which is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision hinges the goodness or wickedness of our actions."

Francis had not added anything else. [html]And some observant readers wondered how such a subjective definition of conscience, in which the individual appears as the sole criterion of the decision, could be reconciled with the idea of conscience as the journey of man toward the truth, an idea developed by centuries of theological reflection, from Augustine to Newman, and forcefully reiterated by Benedict XVI.[/html]


But in the subsequent conversation with Scalfari, Pope Francis was even more drastic in reducing conscience to a subjective act:

"Each one of us has his own vision of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and to fight the evil as he understands them. This would be enough to change the world.”

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Enlightenment-style atheist Scalfari should have written that he “perfectly shares” these words of Bergoglio on conscience.

Just as there is no surprise in his pleased acceptance of these other words of the pope, almost a program of the new pontificate, or “the most urgent problem that the Church is facing”:

"Our objective is not proselytism, but listening to the needs, the desires, the disappointments, the desperation, the hope. We must bring hope back to the young, help the old, open to the future, spread love. Poor among the poor. We must include the excluded and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope John and Paul VI, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to open to modern culture. The council fathers knew that opening to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with nonbelievers. After then, very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and the ambition to want to do it.”

There is nothing in this program of the pontificate that could turn out to be unacceptable to the dominant secular opinion. Even the judgment that John Paul II and Benedict XVI did “very little” in opening to the modern spirit is in line with this opinion. The secret of the popularity of Francis is in the generosity with which he concedes to the expectations of “modern culture” and in the shrewdness with which he dodges that which could become a sign of contradiction.

In this he decisively separates himself from his predecessors, including Paul VI. There is a passage in the homily that then-archbishop of Munich Ratzinger pronounced at the death of Pope Giovanni Battista Montini, on August 10, 1978, that is extraordinarily illuminating, in part on account of its reference to conscience “that is measured by the truth”:

"A pope who today would not undergo criticism would be failing in his task in the face of these times. Paul VI resisted telecracy and demoscopy, the two dictatorial powers of the present. He was able to do so because he did not take success and approval as the parameter, but rather conscience, which is measured by the truth, by the faith. This is why on many occasions he sought compromise: the faith leaves very much open, it offers a wide spectrum of decisions, it imposes as the parameter love, which feels obligated toward everything and therefore imposes great respect. This is why he was able to be inflexible and decisive when what was at stake was the essential tradition of the Church. In him this toughness did not derive from the insensitivity of one whose journey is dictated by the pleasure of power and by disdain for persons, but from the profundity of the faith, which made him capable of bearing the opposition.”


*


In confirmation of that which distances Pope Francis from his predecessors has come precisely the letter with which Ratzinger-Benedict XVI - breaking his silence after his resignation - responded to the book “Dear pope, I write to you” published in 2011 by the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

Both of the past two popes have dialogued willingly with professed atheists and secular opinion leaders, but they have done so in very different forms. If Francis dodges the stumbling blocks, Ratzinger instead emphasizes them.

It should be enough to read this passage of his letter to Odifreddi:

"What you say about the figure of Jesus is not worthy of your stature as a scholar. If you pose the question as if ultimately nothing were known about Jesus and that nothing were ascertainable about him as a historical figure, then I can only invite you in a decisive way to make yourself a bit more competent from a historical point of view. For this I recommend to you above all the four volumes that Martin Hengel (an exegete of the Protestant theological faculty of Tübingen) published together with Maria Schwemer: it is an excellent example of precision and of very broad historical information. In the face of this, what you say about Jesus is careless talk that should not be repeated. That in exegesis there have been written also many things of scarce seriousness is, unfortunately, an incontestable fact. The American seminar on Jesus that you cite on pages 105 and ff. confirm only once again that which Albert Schweitzer had noted with regard to the Leben-Jesu-Forschung (research on the life of Jesus), and that is that the so-called 'historical Jesus' is for the most part the reflection of the ideas of the authors. These maladroit forms of historical work, however, do not in any way compromise the importance of serious historical research, which has led to true and sure knowledge about the proclamation and figure of Jesus."

And further on:

"If you want to replace God with 'Nature,' there remains the question of who or what this nature may be. In no place do you define this, and it therefore appears as an irrational divinity that does not explain anything. I would like, however, above all to note also that in your religion of mathematics three fundamental themes of human existence remain unconsidered: freedom, love, and evil. I am amazed that with a single comment you would dismiss freedom, which nevertheless was and is the foundational value of the modern age. Love, in your book, does not appear and also about evil there is no information. Whatever neurobiology may say or not say about freedom, in the real drama of our history it is present as a decisive reality and must be taken into consideration. But your mathematical religion does not acknowledge any information about evil. A religion that overlooks these fundamental questions remains empty.

"My criticism of your book is in part a harsh one. But frankness is part of dialogue; only this way can understanding grow. You have been very frank, and thus you will accept that I should be so as well. In any case, however, I consider very positively the fact that you, through your engagement with my 'Introduction to Christianity,' should have sought such an open dialogue with the faith of the Catholic Church and that, in spite of all the contrast, in the central field of interest convergences should not be entirely lacking."

Vox Wrote:I miss Pope Benedict!


*


So much for the words. But to distance the last two popes are also arriving the facts.

The ban imposed by pope Bergoglio on the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate against celebrating the Mass in the ancient rite has been an effective restriction of that freedom of celebrating in this rite which Benedict XVI had guaranteed for all.

[html] It emerges from conversations with his visitors that Ratzinger himself has seen in this restriction a "vulnus" on his 2007 motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum."[/html]



[html] In the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica," Francis dismissed the liberalization of the ancient rite decided by Benedict XVI as a simple "prudential decision motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity," when instead the intention made explicit by Ratzinger - expressed at the time in a letter to the bishops of the whole world - was that “the two forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching."[/html]


In the same interview, Francis defined the postconciliar liturgical reform as “a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation." A strongly reductive definition with respect to the vision of the liturgy that was proper to Ratzinger as theologian and pope.

Moreover, also in this field, Francis replaced en bloc last September 26 the five advisors of the office of papal liturgical celebrations.

Among those removed was for example Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, a liturgist for whom Ratzinger himself wrote the preface to his most important book, dedicated to the orientation of liturgical prayer "to the Lord."

While among those promoted are liturgists much more inclined to second the celebratory style of Pope Francis, this too visibly far from the inspired "ars celebrandi" of Benedict XVI.
Reply
#2
I had to consciously remind myself of this, so I will do the same here.  Magister of course speaks and reads Italian, so he is working firsthand in his own language when reading and responding to the interviews.  His column reproduced here by Vox is translated into English by his own translator.  Worth considering if you are thinking perhaps the pope was mistranslated or his statements were outright fabricated.
Reply
#3
Pope Francis-yet another innovator in the tradition of Vatican II, yet another Pontiff blazing new trails in an already overwhelming landscape of novelty. How long o Lord, how long?
Reply
#4
I would not trust the "official" text from La Repubblica just yet. As to Summorum Pontificum being "wounded" by the decision regarding the FFI Magister has always missed the distinction that priests of religious orders do need permission from their superiors to say the TLM, SP makes that clear.  Diocesan priests are not restricted in the same way. And at this point we hardly have confirmation that Pope Benedict said any such thing. The Apostolic Visitation of the FFI began when he was still pope.

C. 
Reply
#5
(10-05-2013, 04:57 AM)Cetil Wrote: I would not trust the "official" text from La Repubblica just yet. As to Summorum Pontificum being "wounded" by the decision regarding the FFI Magister has always missed the distinction that priests of religious orders do need permission from their superiors to say the TLM, SP makes that clear.  Diocesan priests are not restricted in the same way. And at this point we hardly have confirmation that Pope Benedict said any such thing. The Apostolic Visitation of the FFI began when he was still pope.

C. 
Does a canonized Mass need permission? Quo Primum isn't so restrictive.
Reply
#6
(10-05-2013, 08:40 AM)JMartyr Wrote:
(10-05-2013, 04:57 AM)Cetil Wrote: I would not trust the "official" text from La Repubblica just yet. As to Summorum Pontificum being "wounded" by the decision regarding the FFI Magister has always missed the distinction that priests of religious orders do need permission from their superiors to say the TLM, SP makes that clear.  Diocesan priests are not restricted in the same way. And at this point we hardly have confirmation that Pope Benedict said any such thing. The Apostolic Visitation of the FFI began when he was still pope.

C. 
Does a canonized Mass need permission? Quo Primum isn't so restrictive.

Don't know of a "canonized" liturgy. Quo primum again. It's still disciplinary.

C.
Reply
#7
(10-05-2013, 04:57 AM)Cetil Wrote: (P)riests of religious orders do need permission from their superiors to say the TLM, ...

True, Cetil. Of course, the priests of the FFI had the permission of their Superiors until prohibited by Rome and the Superiors replaced. And as I pointed out in another thread, do you believe that if the Visitation had been completed when Papa Emeritus was still Pope, that the outcome would have been the same? I don't.
Reply
#8
(10-05-2013, 07:22 PM)jovan66102 Wrote:
(10-05-2013, 04:57 AM)Cetil Wrote: (P)riests of religious orders do need permission from their superiors to say the TLM, ...

True, Cetil. Of course, the priests of the FFI had the permission of their Superiors until prohibited by Rome and the Superiors replaced. And as I pointed out in another thread, do you believe that if the Visitation had been completed when Papa Emeritus was still Pope, that the outcome would have been the same? I don't.

I have no way of knowing that of course, nor does anyone else. Recent news from the FFI shows that there were a lot of problems there as evidenced by the responses of the individual members to the survey conducted. So far I have not heard that anyone in the FFI has had trouble getting permission for the TLM either. Supposedly Pope Francis has said he is concerned if the TLM is used for "ideological" reasons and I think that is a legitimate concern. But I am also someone who thinks the Novus ordo was used by liberal groups for ideological reasons as well. And that needs attention, which is LONG overdue! This interview might shed some more light on the FFI situation but I have yet to find an English translation of it:
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/inchie...41//pag/1/

Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)