Monday, January 26, 2015

Pope: We Need Heretics, Not Apologists

Pope Francis urged Catholics to abandon "all polemical or apologetical approaches" and to "walk together" with non-Catholics. Not just that, but we need non-Catholics in order to understand God.

Christian unity – we are convinced – will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing! We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities, overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences.

 All forms of "proselytism and competition" make us "self-enclosed" and "exclusive," the Pope said.

The occasion was Second Vespers for the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, which was celebrated in the context of an ecumenical meeting, on January 25.

The Bear suspects that, under the Pope's approach, when the Son of Man comes, He will find us still walking! It is a journey without a destination.

The Bear has finally figured out ecumenism. Nobody has any real intention of changing anyone's mind. It's about affirming the status quo under the banner of "Christian unity." These ecumenical meetings have nothing to do with reuniting anyone with the Church. The meaning of "evangelization" has been twisted so as to be unrecognizable. The unspoken premise is that the Catholic Church is no better than any other Christian body. Ecumenism is an end in itself.

Protestants may have some good ideas. The Bear personally likes them, for the most part, and considers many of them allies. On the other hand, they have extraordinarily bad ideas like sola scriptura and sola fide. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the divinity of Christ. Orthodox see their churches as expressions of nationalism and reject the papacy.

If you walk with Protestants, eventually you come to the edge of a cliff.

Pope Francis is too polite to warn them.

The Bear wonders if Pope Francis is too polite to stop before he himself goes over, and takes the lemmings with him.

The Bear just shrugs and puts up another sign for the protection of the woodland creatures.

UPDATE: More on this at Rorate Caeli.


  1. Are you trying to put Mark Shea and the Patheos-ites out of business?

    1. I think Pope Francis just put Catholic Answers Forum out of business!

    2. Sorry for late reply..busy work and family needs.

      Yes, I should call out Francis for causing Mark Shea to be unable to feed his family now.

  2. The obvious reading of the Holy Father's remarks would *seem* to suggest that Mark Shea is, alas, out of a day job.

    I can't help but feel that *part* of the problem is that the Pope hails from a region where apologetics is a one way street, with Evangelicals and Pentecostals proselytizing Catholics like crazy, and Catholic leaders mainly too embarrassed by their faith to do the same - they lack even Mark Sheas in any discernible measure. So the Pope wants a cease fire before he loses any more.

    Of course, there are other, theological reasons why he may find apologetics distasteful...but that is fodder for another discussion.

    1. ...they lack even Mark Sheas in any discernible measure.

      Mirabile dictu! Can it truly be so? What are the immigration policies like down there?

      I've been trying to formulate thoughts on these new anti-apologetics remarks (plus the new t-shirt photo-op revelations, plus the "transwoman" phone calls and private audience, plus the rabbitgate thing, plus the religious freedom thing, plus, plus, plus), but it's all too much. How to keep up?

      I was listening to the conservative Ace of Spaces bloggers discussing the State of the Union address on their latest podcast (profanity warning!), and they were half-joking about the fact that Obama has broken them: after 6 years, they've become so tired of listening to the same worn-out rhetorical devices over and over again that they can't even muster the energy to scorn him. As one of the guys said, "He's broken my snark."

      It's getting to be a bit like that with the Holy Father: a new thing comes along almost daily, and if you stop to try to figure out what he's getting at, you'll just get swamped by the next thing in line, and the thing after that, and so on.

    2. By the way, I meant to reply to this, but got into a rant instead:

      I can't help but feel that *part* of the problem is that the Pope hails from a region where apologetics is a one way street, with Evangelicals and Pentecostals proselytizing Catholics like crazy, and Catholic leaders mainly too embarrassed by their faith to do the same ... So the Pope wants a cease fire before he loses any more.

      I appreciate your attempt to look at this in the most favorable light, but I give far more weight to the "other theological reasons" you mention further down in your comment. I don't think the pope cares at all about losing Catholic faithful to protestant denominations; he's said, often enough and in various different ways, that the theological differences between Christian sects are not worth worrying about, and he's evidently sincere in his belief. If he's correct, it really doesn't matter which church you go to on Sundays, if you bother to go at all, as long as you hold to those beliefs which unite us. Whatever those might be.

      Heck, it's not even clear that Mahommedans and atheists aren't somehow within the bounds of the Holy Father's concept of "church". As others have noted, it sometimes seems as if Catholics are the only people in danger of damnation.

    3. Fortunately, the Bear's snark is far more robust than any human's.

      The real problem is that if you write a blog article on every single wacky thing that comes out of the Pope's mouth, you end up sounding like a crackpot. My son read my last and and said it was a "cheap shot." Not in the sense of unfair, but that it's like I can always go to Pope Francis' well whenever I'm dry and come away with something to write about. This is, in fact, true.

      So, in a sense, Pope Francis has developed the perfect anti-snark mechanism.

      Substantively, the Pope signals -- whether he is sincere or not -- that there is nothing special about the Catholic Church vis-a-vis anyone else. So it would follow that (imagine Pink Floyd's The Wall) "We don't need no 'polagetics; no nulla salus for our Church."

    4. Francis in a nutshell: The only good Catholic is a Protestant.

  3. In Latin America, I was told by someone from there, if people want free medicine, they go to the Catholics. If they want to hear about Jesus, they go to the Evangelicals.

    1. That's probably pretty close to the truth anywhere. They are enthusiastic and have their patter down, and it's pretty convincing. They go to church because they want to. Many of us drag ourselves to our horrible novus ordo churches, nail our foot to the floor for an hour to fulfill our obligation, and are happy to have been done with it. That is a terrible indictment, I know.

  4. Ecumenism in a nutshell:

    Frank the Hippie Pope and Bart the Patriarch Sing…:

    1. Pretty funny. Fortunately, Black Bart's lack of enthusiasm is pretty much the norm.

  5. Here was a recent tweet of mine about "ecumenism"--

    Interreligious Dialogue = (The Holocaust > The Passion) + (Encounter & Affirmation > Truth & Conversion)

  6. "Ecumenism" broadly understood, mind you.


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