Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Pope Francis

If the Bear could conduct an interview with Pope Francis this is what he would want to ask.

You have taken a strong stand against proselytizing, and published reports quote your late friend Tony Palmer as saying you discouraged his conversion to Catholicism. Is the conversion of non-Catholic Christians to Catholicism a legitimate goal today?

Should we seek to bring into the Church non-Catholic family members and acquaintances, or should we leave them to whatever faith they already possess?

Is it ever permissible to initiate a conversation with the goal of conversion? May Catholics make use of apologetics, or are they limited to visibly leading attractive lives?

How about non-Christian persons? Is it desirable that Jews, Muslims, atheists and others enter into the Church? If so, what role should Catholics play in bringing them in?

Related to the foregoing is the issue of how you view the Church and its role in salvation. For a long time, the Church taught the doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus -- no salvation outside the Church. Has this doctrine outlived its usefulness? Are you prepared to say that the Roman Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ as at least the ordinary vehicle for salvation? People who choose to remain outside of the Church are deprived of the sacraments and many other benefits. Does this hurt their chances of salvation, or does God work among them in the absence of sacraments? Can it be reasonably hoped that people who know and are free to investigate the Catholic Church's claims, yet nonetheless choose to remain outside of it, are saved?

If salvation extends beyond the limits of the Church, what is it based on?  A personal sense of faith, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, good works, what?

Does one even need to be a Christian to be saved? Is it reasonable to hope that Jews and Moslems are saved? If so, on what basis? The fact that they are considered "Abrahamic religions?"

With regard to Jews specifically, do you believe that God's covenant with the Jews remained in effect after the death of Jesus, and that God has maintained two covenants, the old and the new? Does the Church have a mission to the Jews?

What is the position of Muslims? Should Catholics avoid engaging Muslims with the goal of their conversion? Is it a good thing when Jews or Muslims enter the Church, or is it better that each remain as he is and be the best Jew or the best Muslim he can be?

Besides non-Catholic Christians, Jews and Muslims, there is a growing number of atheists in today's world. Some are quite vocal in denying Christ. Is it legitimate to cordially engage atheists and employ apologetics and friendly argument to attempt to bring them into the Catholic Church? Or does this constitute proselytizing, which you discourage?

What is the source in Scripture, Tradition or theology for a ban on proselytizing?

What is your definition of proselytizing? Describe your idea of permissible sharing of the Gospel with others. Is the "new evangelization" to be limited to being "attractive?" Or do we just need to clarify what "proselytizing" is?

Just how important is the Church to any particular person's salvation? Do Catholics enjoy a greater hope of salvation because they are within the Church, and have recourse to the sacraments, the saints, and many other helps? If there is a benefit to salvation, should we not desire to share that with others?

Have we reached a point in history when old religious distinctions are less important? Have we placed too much emphasis on the things that divide us in the past? Do you envision the eventual development of some sort of a Pan-Christian alliance where the Church is one expression of God's activity among many others? A "unity in diversity," as you have said? Does this mean that the exclusiveness of the past must be abandoned in favor of a more nuanced valuation of the Church?

Recognizing that there are practical limits on what even the Pope can accomplish, if you could, what would you change about the Church?

  • communion for divorced and remarried Catholics
  • women priests
  • married priests
  • excluding non-Catholic Christians of good will from communion
  • accepting homosexuality as a human variance and allowing practicing homosexuals to receive communion
  • the suppression of the old form of the Mass to foster uniformity and combat division
  • abandoning the exclusiveness of the Church and recognizing that God works equally through other Christian communities

Those would be the questions the Bear would explore if he were given the opportunity. It is quite amazing that any Catholic would desire clarification from the Pope on any of these issues, but Pope Francis has fairly raised the questions.

And they are troubling.


  1. I'd star with the question, why don't you genuflect to the Tabernacle, but are able to kneel freely and without aid to wash the feet of women?

  2. That's a pretty good one, but I'm willing to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt on that one (as someone who has not been able to completely genuflect for awhile now.

  3. Problem is Bear you're asking the wrong questions....the ones you've posed have been answered definitively over 2,000 years of unbroken Tradition based in Divine Revelation. Look for the answers there.

    My first question would be, "Why do you persist in teaching things that are 180 degrees out of Catholic teaching and Sacred Tradition?"

    Problem with you as I see it Bear (and as much as I truly like you), is that you have moments of great clarity, and then poof, you go all squishy.

    He doesn't genuflect to Our Lord at the altar because he simply doesn't believe it's Our Lord in the flesh. Fact of the matter is, Arupe-ite Jesuits believe in a "cosmic christ"...not the Jesus of history, and certainly not the one of miracles. He doesn't genuflect in that situation because he doesn't WANT to (didn't do it as a younger man with good knees either). A genuflection with an altar to lean on and adult, male altar servers to assist (!) is eminently easier than some of the situations of kneeling and yes, genuflecting that he's been shown to do even recently.

    Here's how it's older, much frailer man, who would struggle with his last breath to pay Christ the homage He is due, and which the rubrics 1:19:33 and 1:20:19.

    Sorry, you can keep making excuses (he could at least struggle through a half would!), and you can follow the mal-instruction his actions, behavior, and words give in answer to your questions, and against 2,000 years of the Faith handed down by Christ through His Apostles and their successors. I'll listen to St. Paul's instructions in Gal 1:6-12....I think it was written for the current times as much as it was written for the Galatians.

    All this being said, I wish you a most happy and joy-filled birthday! You're one of the good bears, and I'm very happy and reassured to have you prowling the forest.

  4. ooops...forgot to put in the youtube link....

  5. And just for good measure....

    (It actually cuts too close to the bone to be funny :(

  6. In what must surely be an oversight, the Holy Father has never sat down for an interview with someone inclined to ask him the kind of penetrating questions you pose. Instead, he seems to have chosen for his interviewers either a) his fellow specialists in the highly technical dialect of Modern Jesuitese, or b) secular journalists to whom your questions would never occur in a million years. However, now that the Bear has raised the issue, I expect the Holy See will get right on it.

    1. There is a surprising amount of prejudice against Bears.

  7. You forget, Susan, that the Bear is a trial lawyer. The proposed questions are more in the line of a cross-examination, with the purpose to expose the witness, not to learn anything new. I know what the Church teaches. I also know that Pope Francis seems all about doing his own thing and gulling the rubes with gestures of humility. A truly humble person would care for the faith entrusted to him like someone on roller skates carrying a Tiffany lamp.

    mgl the last thing Father Mario will ever do is explain the theology behind his positions and actions. He knows it would be flat out heresy.

  8. Ahhhhh...The badger outsmarted by a clever bear. It's not the first time :)

    1. It's okay. You would not be the first to underestimate a Bear.


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