Beware the liberals on one hand, and the traditionalists on the other. The first would turn stones into bread to be merciful, the other would turn bread into stones to cast at sinners. This was Pope Francis' message at the end of the council.
And who, do you suppose, positioned himself in the middle?
The author of this blog may be a disreputable old Bear, who has never been closer to the Vatican than the Parco Zoo. However, he was somehow licensed by the State of Illinois as a lawyer, and certified among less than 1% of the lawyers in the state to serve as lead counsel in death penalty cases.
In other words, he is a trial lawyer who recognizes a rhetorical technique when he sees one.
Not that there is anything wrong with rhetoric. Good speakers are permitted their "tricks of the trade." Francis' classic three-point homilies are good examples. But there's nothing wrong with pointing them out from the peanut gallery.
Ah, liberals and conservatives. The press is always calling non-liberals conservatives, or, better, arch-conservatives, or hardliners. What politicians or churchmen are identified as "liberal," though? Liberals are just "our sort of folks." They are right-thinking, the way people are supposed to be. There is literally nothing remarkable about liberals.
Cardinal Burke, however, is always a "conservative," or "hardliner." Has the mainstream press ever described Cardinal Kasper or Pope Francis as a "liberal?" Do fish feel wet?
You will hear this theme again from Francis. (Pope Francis almost obsessively repeats a small collection of tropes: walking, smelling, etc.) "Traditionalists" are unimaginative brutes who want to stone sinners. Jesus wouldn't have liked them.
Like the Bear said, he's no churchman. But he does grasp that you cannot make major change to practice without implicating dogma. It's like a game of Jenga. You pull out the ban on communion for divorced and remarried, and value the homosexual orientation. There goes the Real Presence. Uh-oh, now Holy Matrimony is teetering. Oh no! There went scriptural inerrancy! We just lost Papal Infallibility! It's all tumbling down!
Everything is connected to everything else. As a living thing, the Church is properly called the Bride. Those mean old Traditionalists have always stood between the Bride of Christ and those who would make her the Bride of Frankenstein through ignorant or malicious surgery.
So when the Pope tries to put himself right in the middle -- always the most sensible place, no? -- recognize the trick he is playing. Is he walking in the middle, or just talking about the middle? The Catholic center is always and only occupied by the Traditionalists. All proper Catholics are Traditionalists! It is the nature of the the Church to be she who keeps.
The Catholic center is where the sheep are safe from the wolves. Don't be fooled by any wolf who tries to convince you that, no, over here to the left, in the gloomy forest, is the real center. The Catholic center remains, and the path is easy to follow, having been beaten down by centuries of those on the way to salvation.
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