Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Oracle of Santa Marta

UPDATE: the Bear extends a warm welcome to Pewsitter visitors

Pope Francis' April 1st homily warned of the dangers of sloth and hypocrisy in the Church, while complaining of Catholics who were "downers."

The slothful are stuck, and fail to move forward in apostolic zeal. They go to Mass, pray in their homes, but do not share the Gospel. They are selfish and of no use to the Church.

The hypocrites are like the Pharisees, all wrapped up in their formalities. They are the ones who say "It is not possible." They cannot bring salvation to others. "We have so many in the Church. We have many!" the Pope lamented.

The "field hospital" is filled with those sick and wounded by sin. True Christians gently counsel their brothers and sisters up close, "Ah, do not sin any more. It is not good for you." Many of them were wounded by people in the Church.

Pope Francis slams ordinary Catholics again.

Bear's Comments

With all due respect, Catholics do not know to whom to direct their desire to share Christ. What does "apostolic zeal" mean when we are warned about the evils of proselytizing? When ecumenism demands we must be careful not to offend Protestants? When the Pope's own advisor on Judaism is quoted as saying the Church "has no mission to the Jews?" When Moslems "worship the same God," as a sister "Abrahamic faith."

In truth, the only "fair game" would seem to be lapsed Catholics who have not become something else and atheists. Formalism? "Hi, I'd like to share the gospel with you, but I must first ask you to fill out this three page questionnaire, and sign this waiver and consent before a notary."

But is the pope talking about telling people about Christ and his Church? It is impossible to know the mind of the Oracle of Santa Marta, but probably not.

For Pope Francis, "sharing the gospel" may mean "helping people." We act like Jesus, but do not mention Him, and certainly not his Church. Knowledge of and obedience to the Church -- in other words doctrines and formalism -- is unimportant, if not dangerous. This resembles the famous Franciscan "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words." But Pope Francis may want us never to use words. Words are the stuff of "formalism," and "exagerrated doctrinal certainty." Words can hurt. Words can express judgment.

But who can know the mind of the Oracle of Santa Marta?

For someone complaining about "downers," the Pope seems to constantly tear down the faithful. As I've noted before, his language is that of a prophet, not a pastor. He is Isaiah, eveighing against the wickedness and hypocrisy of the Jews, i.e. Catholics. (In fact, the last time he called us hypocrites, the language was practically word-for-word from Isaiah. And that was two weeks ago, for those of you keeping score at home.)

When the Pope speaks of the "formalism" of hypocrites who say "It is not possible," the Bear thinks of the two Argentine lesbians with their sham marriage and the baby they've managed to obtain. They're set for their own Confirmation and baby's baptism April 5th at the cathedral in Cordoba. Is it the formalism of the hypocrite to have serious reservations about this? Is that the sort of thing the Pope has in mind? One suspects the answer is yes.

But who can know the mind of the Oracle of Santa Marta?

Here is another thing. The Pope is enamored of his "field hospital" analogy, and it has its uses. But for most of Church history, i.e. until last year,  sin was not only a matter of private illness. It affected the Body of Christ and offended the majesty of God. Are we abandoning traditional views about sin and adopting a therapeutic model? It reminds me of people in jail who tell me they've "caught" a felony, like one catches a cold. No sense of responsibility. No wonder plunging confessions are the only measurable result of The Francis Effect. What does "sin" and "contrition" mean when sin is just a disease one gets?

Who can know the mind of the Oracle of Santa Marta?

For a year we have been working on a giant connect-the-dots puzzle, first excitedly, then with growing frustration.Welcome to the Franciscan Church. The words sound familiar, but we no longer know what they mean.


  1. wow. excellent correlations.

  2. Totally agree with your thoughts. I have been continually puzzled by most of the Pope's statements and actions. Sometimes I thought he must be speaking to and about people in some other society, certainly not ours. So what is the point of all his loose statements? I can only conclude he is not speaking to me in my situation and that he does not care that he is not communicating with anyone other than the media.
    The baptism of the baby in Argentina really takes the cake. How come Pope Francis did not stop it? Maybe forced baptisms might be a way to increase converts!

  3. Agreed that there is an odd disconnect in so many of his statements and homilies. Almost as if he's never left Argentina mentally, and is still operating on Peronism / liberation theology. A couple of later articles develop this theme. Remember, he is old, and it is hard to change. He still may be on the learning curve toward being everybody's pope, Northern Transatlantic Catholics, included. It is probably hard for him to really get that Robber Barons have not reduced millions in the U.S. to living in cardboard boxes while hunting them for sport from their zeppelins.


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