“The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”
— Malcolm Gladwell
“It is as though…one’s revered, dignified and darling old mother had slapped on a mini-skirt and fishnet tights and started ogling strangers. A kind of menopausal madness, a sudden yearning to be attractive to all. It is tragic and hilarious and awfully embarrassing. And of course, those who knew her before feel a great sense of betrayal and can’t bring themselves to go and see her any more.”
— Alice Thomas Ellis, in her novel The Sin Eater
“’Are we sacristy Christians?’ Francis asked off-the-cuff. Are we Christians ‘who only talk the talk, but live like pagans? We must ask ourselves these things! This is not a rebuke. I, too, ask myself, am I a Christian? With my witness, really?‘”
— Pope Francis, General Audience, 16 October 2013
“[The] Vatican-centred vision ignores the world around it. I do not share this vision and I will do all I can to change it. The Church is and must become again a community of the People of God and the clergy, parishes, the bishops who are charged with the care of souls, are at the service of the People of God. … [St.] Francis [of Assisi] wanted a mendicant and itinerant Order. He wanted missionaries in search of an encounter, seeking to listen, to dialogue, to help, to spread faith and love. Especially love. And he longed for a poor Church that took care of others, that received material help and used it in order to support others, with no thought for herself. Eight hundred years have passed and times have greatly changed, but the ideal of a poor and missionary Church still holds. This is, in any case, the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached. … Providence has placed me at the helm of the Church and the Diocese of Peter. I will do all in my power to fulfil the mandate that has been entrusted to me.”
“If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. … We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.”
In part 1 of this post, I proposed the thesis that Pope Francis is the first Anti-Counter-Reformation Pope; I also emphasized the Pope’s theological Marthan over-emphasis, and how it explains the confusing inconsistency of his public witness (e.g. the dueling Francises above). In part 2 I will simply elaborate on these points.
In other words, this is a hump day post; no new major keys or insights.
Just more goosebumps for panicky bedwetters like myself.
While some Catholics would like to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, others are trying to “build a monument” to it rather than fully live its teachings, Pope Francis has said.
In his homily at an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae on Tuesday, he said: “The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit, but after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?”
The Pope asked if Catholics have opened themselves to “that continuity of the church’s growth” that the council signified. The answer, he said, is “no.”
Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he continued, but said they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.
We’ll come back to these ideas soon, so keep them in mind.
The reforms launched by the Second Vatican Council are not behind us but ahead of us, Archbishop Piero Marini has said. …
Yes, that Marini.
Notice the dates, by the way. The Pope’s homily on openness and change falls within a day or so of Marini’s sappy pronouncements on “the spirit of the Council.” Will I say that Marini is bound to be appointed head of the CDW by Pope Francis? No. Will I say that Marini almost certainly knows something about Francis’s papal aims that we mere mortals do not? Yes.
Archbishop Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, made the comments during an address at the annual national meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in Erie, Pennsylvania. …
Hence, Marini is not just shooting the breeze to a few fellow liturgists. He’s outlining a mission statement for widespread but murky reforms.
“Fifty years later, I feel a great nostalgia and a desire to … experience anew the spirit of the Council,” said Archbishop Marini. …
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Archbishop Marini told the audience, was really “a matrix for other reforms” and possible changes yet to come. It is not enough, he said, to look at the written document as a manual for reforming the Church’s rites. …
Archbishop Marini, who was master of liturgical ceremonies under Blessed John Paul II, told the liturgists that Vatican II did not give the world static documents. In an ever-evolving culture, the Catholic liturgy is incomplete unless it renews communities of faith, he added.
Here it will suffice to recall something Pope Francis said to Eugenio Scalfari: “We need to learn to understand each other, listen to one another, and increase our knowledge about the world around us. … This is what is important: to know one another, to listen to one another, broaden the range of thought. The world is full of streets that converge and diverge; the important thing is that they lead to the Good.” A reasonable inference is that, as long as reforms are perceived to lead to “the Good,” it’s irrelevant which paths they take; indeed, the broader the better.
“The Council is not behind us. It still precedes us,” Archbishop Marini said. …
THE FUTURE IS NOW. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH THE PAST.
All speakers [at the conference] referred to Vatican II as only the beginning of reforms within Catholic liturgy and the Church as a whole. The traditions of the Church … are kept alive through contemporary culture.
As above, the “important” thing is to learn from the world around us, not transform it, and certainly not attempt to convert it. We must take it as it is, see how much of God we can salvage it, and the integrate the “culture” into our
Orwellian hive mind authentic reforms. Or, as Pope Francis put it: “Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture.”
Meanwhile, Pelagian-Pharisee that I am, I thought the whole point being a Christian was to read all things, including contemporary culture, in the light of the Gospel, to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5).
The best way the Church can share Jesus’s story, [Sr. Diane Bergant] said, is if it follows the lead of Pope Francis…. For Jesus, there were no “outsiders” …
LOL, suxorz for these goat dudes!!
[Bergant] added, saying the church needs to rid itself of the notion that if someone doesn’t fit certain standards then they can’t be part of the faith community. …
On the other hand…
Matthew 18:3 “[Jesus the Legalist] said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Luke 13:3 “No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.”
John 3:5 “[Jesus the Rigidly Exclusionary Ideologist] answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Luke 10:25 “And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? 26 But he said to him: [Dawg, it’s all good. Who am I to judge?]”
Acts 16:30 “And bringing [the Apostles] out, he said: Masters, what must I do, that I may be saved? 31 But they said: [Seriously, bro, relax: there are no outsiders, no standards for entry.]”
“The cake is a lie!”
I’ll give this to Marini: at least we know exactly what his aims are. With Pope Francis, as always, it’s a different story (and then a different story, and then a different story). A consummate neo-Jesuit, Francis designs his words to sow confusion without ever explicitly rejecting official doctrine. Whatever promotes more “dialogue” and a more vigorous criss-crossing of spiritual paths, is good for Francis. The very thing for which he is so praised–his “pastoral” knack for “becoming all things to all people”–is what makes him so troubling. As Mundabor puts it, Pope Francis runs with the (orthodox) hares and hunts with the (progressive) foxes. He is “a son of the Church,” to be sure, but apparently only of the Church of the Spirit of Vatican II: as we just saw (above) he not only utterly rejects returning to the pre-Vatican II tradition but also opposes preserving it as a fixed norm. One way to conserve Vatican II would be to confine oneself to the finite texts of the Council; far better to free oneself from such ‘security’ by riding the currents of the Spirit of Vatican II. Hence, I have argued, Pope Francis is the Manchurian Candidate of the Spirit of Vatican II. He may not even be aware that he is “running” two contradictory, or at least divergent, theological visions, but he is, and it is precisely this confluence that breeds all this confusion.
The scent of confusion has grown so pungent that even Fr. Z has vented about it recently, and Fr. Z certainly has no ax to grind with Pope Francis. Fr. Z in “Symptoms of The Francis Effect™”:
We didn’t think this was going to happen?
Six months into this pontificate, and people are starting to go a little crazy.
For example, the Archbishop of Birmingham is talking about intercommunion with Anglicans….
For example, in the Archdiocese of Freiburg, Germany, some minor chancery official usurped authority which was not his in order to outline a “policy” that would allow the divorced and remarried in the diocese to receive Communion. …
In some places, the Church’s teaching on doctrine and morals are out the window.
Real colors are being revealed.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you will be saying by now…. “You are turning on Pope Francis! We can tell. NotonlydoyouhateVatican II, but all this fulsome support of Francis you gave over the last few months….”
No, dear readers.
If in some diocese in Germany or some diocese in England a minor official or a bishop does something that is … well… pretty weird or against the Church’s law, that in itself is not Francis’ fault. …
The new style of this Pope – which I admit I am not comfortable with when it comes to liturgical praxis – is going to tend to bring people’s true colors out.
Doesn’t it seem that way to you?
The SSPX is having a spittle-flecked nutty over in the selva oscura where they wander. Liberals are dancing around like Gollum on the edge of the Crack of Doom.
Something about Pope Francis is disorienting. In the disorientation, people are showing sides that they have otherwise been able more easily to keep under wraps.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Pope Francis is the Manchurian Prophet of the Spirit of Vatican II. But what is that spirit? It is the Spirit of broadness, of deference to the surrounding culture, of a relentless dialectic criss-crossing that ever leads to the Good, and only possibly reaches the Good. It is, moreover, a spirit of post-textualism, of intentional ambiguity and doctrinal imprecision, and, lastly, of rigorous doctrinal and religious pluralism, triumphalistic ecumenism, and Catholic anti-triumphalism.
Our Francis of the Interviews has gone on record denouncing both conservatism qua static, inward-directed vision and traditionalism qua legalistic restorationism, and we find the same dual denunciation in his homily cited above. On the one hand, he derides those who would turn the clock back (traditionalists), while, on the other hand, he scolds those who would simply conserve the texts and gains of Vatican II as “monument” builders. I don’t know whom the Pope is referring to as “sacristy Christians,” but he sure ain’t talkin’ about progressive Catholics. Against both conservatives and traditionalists, he posits “that Spirit who comes to us and urges us forward”–the Holy Spirit is a forward-looking agent of change.
Indeed, let us look a little more closely at the source of these forward-minded words. They come from his homily on 16 April, 2013.
That date rings a bell?
As Pope Francis notes in the homily: “Today is Benedict XVI’s birthday. We offer the Mass for him, that the Lord may be with him, comfort him and give him much consolation”. [Since maybe he knows what’s headed down the pipe?]
There’s your context: Francis begins by putting Benedict XVI, the great defender of Christendom past, the great restorer of the “Vetus Ordo”, in everyone’s mind. In this context, Pope Francis goes on to say:
“…the Holy Spirit annoys us, because he moves us [forward, of course]….”
Naturally, the Comforter whom Christ promised (Jn 16:17) would be sent to annoy us. Because comfort slows change, you see, and that is doubleplusungood.
Anyway, back to Francis:
[The Holy Spirit] makes us travel, he pushes the Church forward. And we are like Peter at the Transfiguration: ‘Oh, how wonderful it is for us to be here, all together!’ as long as it does not inconvenience us. We would like the Holy Spirit to doze off. We want to subdue the Holy Spirit. And that just will not work. For he is God and he is that wind that comes and goes, and you do not know from where. He is the strength of God; it is he who gives us consolation and strengthen to continue forward. To go forward!
Obama has said that he’s hugely impressed with Pope Francis, presumably because he sees in Francis both a fellow “amateur” who surprised everyone with his political agility and a “forward-minded” leader. Too bad they disagree about war.
I’ve long since become repetitive, I’ve long since become repetitive, so let me summarize the matter this way: the respective introductions by Pope Benedict XVI and James Carroll in Vatican II: The Essential Texts (both of which are available via the Amazon preview), say everything that needs to be said about where the Church is headed under Pope Francis. Benedict XVI has stepped down. He is old and quintessentially Western. He has been replaced by Pope Francis, who is non-Western, in the sense that he’s vigorously globalistic, and who rejects the old in favor of the new, the modern, the open. Indeed, it has already been decreed from on high that “we’re seeing the emergence of a whole new genre of papal speech — informal, spontaneous and sometimes entrusted to others in terms of its final articulation. A new genre … needs a ‘new hermeneutic,’ one in which we don’t attach value so much to individual words as to the overall sense.”
A new hermeneutic for a new Church: an anti-Counter-Reformation Church. Specifically, as Francis said to Scalfari, “Vatican II … decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to open up to modern culture. … Subsequently, however, little was done in that regard. I have the humility and ambition to want to do it.” The Pope once again explicitly rejects looking to the past, explicitly rejects looking to tradition as a normative guide, in favor of opening to the modern, to the sheer creative potential of future, as a normative guide for new “processes” and “new historical dynamics.” Whatever was done to reform the liturgy in a modern spirit, Francis contends, has been inadequate, and so he is determined to accelerate and deepen the modernizing transformation. As the Pope speaks from a Hegelian-Whiteheadian perspective, we see this dialectic for what it is: the Reformation was the antithesis of medieval Catholicism, while the Counter-Reformation was the sublimated synthesis of post-medieval, Reformation-conscious Catholicism; and now, in our day, Pope Francis is striving for a new synthesis to emerge from the antithesis that Vatican II posed against the monolithic supremacy of the Counter-Reformation–striving for an anti-Counter-Reformation, horizontal, anti-clerical modernistic synthesis.
“Vatican II,” the Pope elaborates to Scalfari, “produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. … The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualising its message for today — which was typical of Vatican II — is absolutely irreversible.” Here again, the Pope speaks from a higher, sublimated level of analysis, deeming the debates about the continuity or discontinuity of Vatican II to be trapped within the outdated assumptions of Counter-Reformation Catholicism.
Vatican II was born of the premise that the Counter-Reformation was not enough anymore, and therefore that the Tradition must be extended in a new, albeit scrupulously continuous, key, namely, post-Counter-Reformation key. Vatican II, in other words, far from spurning the Counter-Reformation, wanted to save it by refurbishing it, by making it more attractive and intelligible for the modern world. By contrast, Pope Francis, as his name so vividly signals, is simply not interested in the Vatican II project of continuing to build (or refurbish) the post-Counter-Reformation Church. Instead, he is determined to “rebuild” (or re-develop with a new “beginning”) the Church from the ground up, in a synodal, horizontal, modernized, declericalized, and quasi-iconoclastic mold.
No wonder then, that the “Old Rite” may be up for some knocks under Francis. Even if the Vetus Ordo keeps blossoming, it has already been disdained by Pope Francis as a mere sentimental preference: “I think the decision of Pope Benedict [to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologisation of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.” The Pope’s worry seems to be have infected others directly answerable to him, as this fascinating, though perhaps apocryphal, story about Sandro Magister shows. Either way, what’s the moral of the story? “Those of you who uphold the traditional ways had better tread lightly, and with a smile. It is still possible to lose everything.” Traditionalists have, in other words, been warned by conservatives: make happy and keep your criticisms to yourself.
Or at least, keep them as close to your chest as you can manage.
I like Michael Voris (there go my other two readers!), and he has been a mensch, truly exemplary, in insisting on rejecting the MSM’s attempt to pit a “conservative Benedict XVI” against a “liberal Francis.” Yet, I suspect that the Pope’s unpredictable, anti-triumphalistic, milquetoast witness is beginning to wear on Voris. I have spoken many times of the confluence of divergent visions (hence, “the battle within”) in Pope Francis, and, interestingly enough, Voris titles his latest video “Double Vision” (interesting not in the sense that I imagine he got the idea from me, but in the sense that I’m not the only one picking up on the divergent confusion in Pope Francis’s voice).
Crucially, Voris gets the hardcore progressives and heretics off the table right away, and focuses on the two competing visions that I detect in the person of Francis himself: a God-centered versus a Man-centered theology. Recall the quotation from Pacelli (Pius XII) that opened part 1 of “The Battle Within”:
I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past. A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God.
As I have said, citing Steve Skojec, it’s a red herring to say that the Pope hasn’t changed dogma or is an open heretic; I call this the “asymptotic heresy objection” since it assumes that any deviation from the truth is acceptable as long as it doesn’t actually, formally touch the axis of heresy. The important question is not whether Francis has openly changed or denied this or that dogma; the problem is how much damage he can do while remaining “within the bounds of orthodoxy.” By ignoring the red herring of hardcore progressives and dissidents, Voris parries the “asymptotic heresy objection, since we all know to ignore such ranks heretics, and focuses on the problem I’m most worried about, namely, how much damage can be done by “off the cuff” remarks even if they never touch the axis of heresy. I continue to deny that Francis is a hardcore progressive, much less a heretic. But, like Voris, I agree that the “subliminal” messages spoken by the anti-traditional, man-centered theology, more and more afoot in our day, must be taken with utmost seriousness.
As/If you watch the video, note well the references Voris makes to the trivialization of “the [much too divisive] pelvic issues,” the emphasis on smiles and joy, the hyper-Marthan priority of The People And Their Needs, and the scrupulous avoidance of references to Hell.
[Sorry, I just couldn’t resist: of the perhaps two references to “hell” that I have found in the Vatican’s online words of Pope Francis, one of them is a metaphor, while the other speaks volumes by how its used in, you guessed it, one of the Pope’s unscripted, base-community-style homilies in Domus Sanctae Marthae: “Jesus excluded no one. He built bridges, not walls. His message of salvation is for everyone. … The example given by the Pope was from the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus (Acts 17:15-22, 18-1) proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ among the worshipers of idols. It is the way in which he did this, said the Pope, that is so important: ‘He did not say: Idolaters! You will go to hell… ‘. No, he ‘tried to reach their hearts’.”
Since St. Paul, apparently, avoided mentioning it, I wonder if Jesus ever talked about hell.]
“The Church has become a parody of Herself over all the West.”
Meanwhile, Carroll has no shortage of grist for his progressive mill, and the better part of it has Pope Francis’s public imprimatur.
Consider the following pieces from Carroll, keeping two things in mind. First, does it really sound like Carroll is terrified by Pope Francis’s new face for the Catholic Church, that Carroll is dishonestly trying to twist the Pope’s witness to his own progressive ends? Second, notice how Carroll’s voice becomes firmer and more optimistic with each piece. He’s had his ear to the track a lot longer than I have, and he’s hearing something that many Catholic neo-cons say isn’t there. As always, ponder which “camp” Pope Francis is most visibly galvanizing with his Marthan overemphasis. James Carroll and Fr. James Martin certainly feel more at home in the Church than they ever did before Francis was elected. Why might that be? I guess they’re just spinning Francis.
Meanwhile, we older brothers are all still waiting for the much anticipated psych-out moment when Pope Francis turns on his heel and begins speaking orthodox truth to secular power, shaking off his benighted progressive fans like fleas.
I’m no longer holding my breath for that moment, though.
This Pope, it seems, is like Derek Zoolander: he can only turn, and turn the world, in one direction.
Pope Francis seems to have called off the Vatican’s culture war with the modern world, a hyper-defensiveness that dates back to the American and French revolutions. With the brief exception of John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963, popes have for centuries been tribunes of negativity, rejecting what one called “the syllabus of errors” that accompanied the arrival of liberal democracy, the emancipation of women, secularism — the whole panoply of values that followed the Enlightenment. Renouncing the positive spirit of Pope John’s Vatican II, the two recent popes were culture warriors of the first order. John Paul II railed against “the culture of death,” while Benedict XVI denounced the “dictatorship of relativism.” …
In contrast, Pope Francis is proposing what he called in Brazil last month a “culture of solidarity,” and his affable style gives substance to it. …
Commentators have parsed the pope’s pronouncements, arguing that so far he has not really broken new ground in matters of doctrine. Francis criticizes clericalism — the closed culture of the Catholic priesthood — but seems content to keep its main pillars in place. … But clearly, he has turned away from the culture-war arguments that reduced church authority to nay-saying, which in turn hollowed out church influence. …
Francis’ predecessors expressed concern about global poverty, too, but not like this. Indeed, Popes John Paul and Benedict were ambivalent about the “preferential option for the poor” that lies at the heart of what is known as liberation theology. … The hierarchy was instructed to emphasize charity over justice. That refusal to engage in what was taken to be class conflict undermined Catholic credibility, as the gulf between haves and have-nots only widened.
Liberation theology, spawned in Latin America, was a prophetic response to the scandal of runaway poverty. Dom Helder Camara, the Brazilian archbishop, epitomized its spirit. “When I give food to the poor,” he famously said, “they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” The Vatican’s outright rejection of the movement was one of its most damaging mistakes, certainly an element in the broad disillusionment of the many former Catholics in Latin America.
…some say the new pope represents only an adjustment in style. For all of his availability, and refusal to reiterate the old Catholic condemnations, he is still a man of the tradition. Conservatives insist that he has not altered any doctrine. Liberals regret that he seems content to let stand the Catholic limits on the role of women. …
The dynamism of this vision, opposed to the static old assumption that real change is impossible, is itself the change. The pope’s open attitude is generating an open process, which is trustworthy because it is God’s. …
But the pope knows as well as anyone that the single most powerful engine drawing people out of poverty is improvement in the economic status of women, which can only occur within a larger cultural transformation. Education. Participation. Power. Reproductive freedom. Yes, women’s liberation. There can be no other strategy for ending poverty.
Such a recognition has obvious implications for the organization, discipline, and doctrine of the Catholic Church. “It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church,” the pope told his interviewer. “We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.” The church of justice for the poor must be the church of equality for women — inside the church as well as out. There is no other way. Thus, it matters less whether Pope Francis at present favors the ordination of women than that he has already launched a historical process that makes it all but certain. Other reforms will follow. Style influences substance, and attitude influences everything.
[Vatican II] was the most important religious event in the century, as has been often remarked. And it didn’t stop. A lot of people freaked out after the council, a lot of people in authority in the church began to try to underestimate it, to roll it back, to say it didn’t mean much. …
Pope Francis is properly taken as a major figure of transition for the church, and it’s not just a matter of tone, in my opinion. There’s something very profound in the very first thing he did, which is the name he chose. It’s astonishing, when you think about it, that no pope has ever honored St. Francis of Assisi by taking his name. And yet it seems like a no brainer that this great figure of peace and the poor should be lifted up in such a way. And when Pope Francis did it, there was this kind of “aha!” expression that you could feel around the planet. Of course, Francis, what the perfect name, and what a name we need. And I think he has already shown in a few months that he’s been pope that his deep, deep feeling for the values of Jesus Christ have begun to weigh more than the protection of the institutional prerogatives of the church. …
I’d say that Pope Francis is on the way to initiating the next phase of profound changes that the church needs. Of course, no one’s talking about changing the core values or core beliefs of the church. What we’re trying to do is recover from the tragedy of the detour the church took after the Reformation, and especially in the nineteenth-century, in its rejection of the values of the modern world, especially democracy, pluralism, respect for the other. Vatican II was the beginning of that recovery. It needs to be continued. Pope Francis shows significant signs of being ready to do that. …
There are many ways to live out such a faith, and you don’t even have to be religious, certainly you don’t have to be Christian, but that basic faith in the goodness of [the non-Catholic] God, the hopefulness of human existence, the possibility of meaning in the face of death. …
The question now isn’t the survival of the church, it’s the survival of the human family. … That’s the question before the future, and the church has to be part of the answer to that, to be roundly on the side of human choices that enable the human family to thrive and not die. Questions of justice, environmental rescue, the rights of women, the rights of the poor—those questions are the defining religious questions ahead of us now. These things are so much more than [the “small-minded rules”, as Pope Francis might call them, such as] who’s liberal and who’s conservative, who wears what at Mass, what language the Mass is said in, what club one belongs to, which side of the argument over liturgy are you on. …
A man is known by the friends he keeps and the allies he gains. Same goes for a Pope, I venture.
Since you might need a sanity-ballast as much I do, I leave you with that rarest of commodities these days: uncompromising, balanced, and articulate Catholic teaching.