Friday, November 20, 2015

Pope Francis Revealed in a Flash

Pope Francis Encourages Lutherans to Take Communion

As if to underscore the concerns just raised by the Bear, Pope Francis told a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man to "talk to the Lord" in order to discern whether she should receive communion with her husband.

Pope Francis distanced himself from his own statement by saying it was "not my competence" to give permission, leaving the matter entirely up to the Lutheran woman's conscience. 

(Should anyone need reminding, Lutherans do not believe the same as Catholics believe, that Our Lord is really present under the appearance of bread and wine.)

The Bear has seen some conclude that Pope Francis simply doesn't believe the Catholic doctrine. After all, communion for divorced and remarried -- whom the Church has always considered adulterers -- has never posed a problem for Pope Francis. "A little bread and wine do no harm," is what he was reported to have told the Argentine woman back when he was cold-calling Catholics to give advice straight from the top.

But the Bear doesn't believe that conclusion necessarily follows. More likely, Pope Francis is simply advancing his vision of a Church with soft rules, where doctrine yields to the needs of people, and Jesus does not use His Church to quench the smoking flax.

There will now be Lutherans receiving communion -- with or without a prior talk with the priest -- based on the encouragement of Pope Francis. Who am I to judge?

The Revelation of Pope Francis

The Bear had a genuine flash of insight into Pope Francis. Like lightning, it starkly illuminated a forbidding Church encrusted with rules and doctrines that did not meet the real needs of God's people. There was the angry spirit of the Law, a spirit that delighted in saying "no," and "that is not possible," and was never happier than when ordinary people lived in constant terror of Hell. And the Bear realized that this is how the Pope sees the Church.

And at the same time, the Bear saw the heart of Pope Francis, and how desperate he was to inaugurate a new Church, where people listened to the Church as a kind and wise mother, even where opinions might be tentative, but then made up their own minds after talking to the Lord. Where the Church would have us say, with astonished joy: "Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ?" (John 4:29).

In the End We Will All Stand On Our Own Before God

Let the dead bury the dead bury their dead, and their divisions with them. Why not grant a Lutheran access to communion and let it be between her and God? After all, that is what everything comes down to. Will God be harmed, even if her understanding remains imperfect? Is our own disposition always perfect? Ever perfect?

The Bear will not deny that in that flash, the New Church of Pope Francis was appealing. The Church is not a fortress for a wrathful, easily offended God, but, yes, a field hospital, a hospice, a temple, a hostel for pilgrims. The Bear could live joyfully in such a Church, and develop more responsibility and a deeper relationship with God.

The Flash is Over

But the flash was over, and reality reasserted itself. Even if it did make a healthier Church, it would not work. Lack of instruction, ill-formed consciences, psychological factors and plain old self-interest make all but the very best of us bad guides for ourselves. And the "soft flesh" that would replace doctrine would bend one way in Paraguay, and another way in some other place.

The strong girders of doctrine, the dressed stones and great flying buttresses hold the Church together. The Church says "No!" because it retains an acute sense of the reality of sin. The Church imposes discipline because it is the Church Militant, not a playground. Under Pope Francis' vision, Luther's "great Pope, Self" would reign. The Bear is not sure what would result, but it would not be the Roman Catholic Church. It sounds a lot like Protestantism in fancy dress.

Chauncey Gardener Strikes Again

Once again, we must invoke the character of "Chauncey Gardner" from the 1979 movie Being There. It's about an imbecilic gardner whose simple-minded utterances are taken as profundities, leading him, at the end, toward the White House. Or at least that's what the Pope's off-the-cuff remarks seem like. But is he playing his old open mic game of shaping opinion?

He is after all, the Pope, and the answer is not difficult. He could have clearly told the woman that, sadly, that was not possible at the present. He could have invited her to join her husband in the Catholic Church (although that would have been proselytizing). Instead he flat-out encourages her, while winking at his own advice.

Pope Francis' vision still burns behind his eyes. His resolve has not faltered. He has many allies and great power. His recent statements about doctrine being the "soft flesh" of Jesus, and his encouragement of the Lutheran women to take communion should remind us that we are dealing with a persistent, coy reformer, whose vision for the Church is not Catholic as we would understand it.


  1. Bear, isn't it amazing that we must suffer these two men at the same time?

  2. Or some time I've had the suspicion that you were no ordinary bear, and that truly you were "smarter than the average bear."


  3. If it weren't for you meddling bloggers!

  4. Pope Francis is the Martin Luther of our day and appears to be taking nearly the entire Church with him along the wide road of having your own conscience determine your morality and vision of God. The unfortunate part is this is the road that leads to hell. It is an open question: Can he be stopped before it is too late? We must pray that he can.

  5. You are absolutely dead on it about Pope Francis. I had a similar flash of insight a good while back. I saw that he sees doctrine and anything which does not change itself - and I don't mean adapt itself but morph and change according to the perceived needs of those who are affected by it - as iron bars which serve only to exclude people. And everyone must be included. He has let us know, over and over, how he views anything and anyone he thinks is "rigid". To be certain of one's beliefs, to hold unswervingly to what has been believed by all, in all places and at all times would then make one most definitely a part of the problem rather than the solution.


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