Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mirari Vos vs. Evangelii Gaudium: Battle of the Infallibles

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? - W.B. Yeats

The Bear's encyclical pieces don't seem to be be very popular, but not everything can be about the latest news story. Consider them the vegetables on your plate. You cannot have a Catholic perspective without being somewhat familiar with the Church's past. They speak to today's issues.

Mirari Vos seeks to protect doctrines that are again under attack, like the sacrament of marriage. It also stands as a monument to lost causes, such as protection of the faithful from bad writings and religious indifferentism. It is a useful marker for how far the Church has wandered.

Like most older encyclicals, it was meant to be actually read, so it is short and to the point. It is well worth the few minutes it would take to learn it.

Now the honorable marriage of Christians, which Paul calls "a great sacrament in Christ and the Church," demands our shared concern lest anything contrary to it is proposed. Our predecessor Pius VIII would recommend to you his own letters on the subject. However, troublesome efforts against this sacrament still continue to be made. The people therefore must be zealously taught that a marriage rightly entered upon cannot be dissolved; for those joined in matrimony God has ordained a perpetual companionship for life and a knot of necessity which cannot be loosed except by death.

Religious Indifferentism
Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism" may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against Him," and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate."
We can now add "the profession of no religion whatsoever" to the evil of indifferentism.  Lest you think Mirari Vos comes from the dark ages, when cardinals toasted marshmallows at the nightly immolation of heretics in their thousands, it is recent, by Church standards. 1832.

But forget everything you just read! Indifferentism isn't a "perverse opinion," or "a fraud of the wicked" anymore. It's great!

How do you reconcile this: "Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate." With this from Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium (if you can make it through the turgid writing):
Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live ‘justified by the grace of God’, and thus be ‘associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’. But due to the sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying towards God.
"Communitarian experience of journeying toward God?" Who co-authored this,  Marty Haugen and David Haas? These pagan rites, Pope Francis goes on, while maybe not quite as good as the sacraments, are still inspired by the Holy Spirit, and we could learn a few things from them. Certainly they're good enough for non-Christians' salvation without any help from Catholics. The Bear cannot read "justified by the grace of God," "associated with the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ," or "sanctifying grace," any other way. So much for Pope Gregory's "fraud of the wicked." But it gets better.
While these lack the meaning and efficacy of the sacraments instituted by Christ, they can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences. The same Spirit everywhere brings forth various forms of practical wisdom which help people to bear suffering and to live in greater peace and harmony. As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs.
So, when you see Moslems orbiting the Kaaba in a stupifying mob, just remember that is the action of the Holy Spirit. (I wouldn't mention it to them, however, or you might become acquainted with another "sacred expression" of Islam.)

Moreover, did you catch the last line? Here, let's repeat it so you can enjoy it in its full, staggering impact. "As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs." Pope Francis is recommending to Catholics that we must take up these pagan "treasures," presumably because Catholic tradition is too spiritually impoverished for us to lead Christian lives without them.


"For all the gods of the gentiles are devils." Psalm 95.5. (However, the Bear has it on good authority that Pope Francis cried at the end of Apocalypto.)

A dumb Bear must only wonder at the apparent contradiction. Francis is the Pope. Gregory was the Pope. They are both infallible. Yet they are clearly teaching inconsistent things. Weird, huh?

One is in line with the historical consensus of the Church, the other is not only a novelty, but an absurdity. Who would write such a thing? Who would take it seriously? Are Catholics really that dumbed-down that someone can confidently publish stuff like that? Does the Holy Spirit contradict Himself? Do the Church's infallible teachings have a sell-by date after which they are no longer wholesome? Or did God just hit the reset button after Pius XII so we could start over with Vatican II? Why does only a dumb Bear ask these questions?

In other words, the man who says he is the shepherd calls, but I do not recognize his voice. Those who do recognize his voice do not seem to be of our fold. (Interesting discussion in the combox here about this Franciscan identity crisis with the sheep.)

It is becoming clearer why elements within the Church downplay doctrines, and theologies, dismissing them as "ideologies." These are the things that divide people religiously. There is a beast slouching towards Bethlehem, and it has no time for any religion but the New, the One.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it interesting that this apostolic exhortation was written in response to a meeting of the Synod of Bishops which took place in October 2012, before he was even Pope?

    As it is of a pastoral nature rather than a doctrinal or legal nature, though, it is ranked lower than an encyclical or an "apostolic constitution".

    As with everything official that the pope writes, it is to be taken very seriously.

    I guess I will have to take the five plus hours it will take to read it in full before I form an opinion.

    Thank you for your article.


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