“There is today … a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt 28:19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one’s own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.”
— “Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization”, §3 (CDF, 2007)
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Let’s begin with something light and fluffy, much like Catholicism in our day.
Apparently Cardinal Marx’s taste in altars is about as profound as his sense of the Last Things. (Maradiaga 1, Marx 2. Game on!)
Next up, I ask this without guile: Has Pope Francis voiced anything similar? Is it wrong of me to hope that he will?
I know that we’ve been warned about Anglican-Catholic “surprises” in the future (and advised that “the Church needs [Anglicans] as Anglicans”), but there’s a very reassuring lack of surprise in the Russian Orthodox response to the latest Anglican apostasy. (Apparently, the dam had already been breached, but it’s now threatening to become a pan-Anglican disease, and something ought to be said.) Let’s hope Pope Francis can keep those silly Anglicans in line.
“When [Pope Francis] speaks about evangelization, the idea is to evangelize Christians or Catholics,” to reach “higher dimensions of faith” and a deepened commitment to social justice, Skorka said. “This is the idea of evangelization that Bergoglio is stressing – not to evangelize Jews. This he told me, on several opportunities.“
In another interview, we are informed by Skorka how seriously Pope Francis takes kosher laws and rabbinic prayers:
“I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to makes [sic] sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition. These are festive days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals…. He accompanies me together with the others at table – his secretaries and a bishop, and they all say ‘Amen’ at the end”, the Rabbi said. … “I do not cease to be a Jew for him, and he goes on keeping his own faith. But the two spiritualities have to have a point of encounter. We cannot live in a world where we reject each other, we must build bridges.”
[T]he pope is aware that some religious conservatives, inside and outside the church, are unsettled by his approach. Francis has said Catholic leaders have been driving people away by talking too much about divisive social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The pope has dropped some of the more regal trappings of the papacy. …
“He is receiving very, very harsh criticism from people who don’t like a pope without red shoes, and a pope who speaks to people in a very simple and direct language, and a pope who will transmit to people that he is close to them, that he in some way hugs them through jokes and through simple words and through simple expressions,” Skorka said. “The criticism he is suffering from is not new for him. He already had this kind of pressures and other kind of pressures during his serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, so he knows exactly how to handle these pressures. He’s a very strong man and he will go ahead.”
Notate bene: “He will go ahead.”
Now let us wind back to the homefront to hear what the Holy Father has to say to us Catholics. Just when you thought it was safe to hold hard and fast to our Entish Catholic traditions (based on the pope’s recent sermon against “progressivism”), we are given another Evangelical-Big-Church false dichotomy, this time not between “prayers” and “prayer,” but between “worshiping God” and “celebrating a rite.” Keep in mind how fervently the pope protects rabbinic traditions and rituals, which would of course find their home “at Temple.”
“The Temple [!] is the place where the community comes to pray, to praise the Lord, to give thanks, but above all to worship: we worship the Lord in the Temple. And this is the most important point. This is also valid for liturgical ceremonies: what is most important in this liturgical ceremony? Chants, rituals – they are all beautiful… but the most important thing is worship.”
Good thing the Eucharist isn’t a chanted ritual.
“But I think – I say this humbly [!] – that we Christians may have somewhat lost the ‘sense of worship’, and we think: let’s go to the Temple, let’s come together as brothers and sisters – that’s good, it’s great! – but the centre is where God is. And we worship God.”
The Pope then asked a couple of questions: “are our Temples places of worship, do they favour adoration? Do our celebrations foster adoration?” Jesus chases out those who try to do “business” [?] in the Temple, who had taken the place of the Temple to do trade rather than worship.
What is the Holy Father talking about? People who “try to do business” at Mass? In the context it sure sounds like he’s wagging his finger at those serious, ideological, Pelagian traditionalists again. But, and this is the same point we’ve seen over and over again, who can tell what these Protestanty oracles mean? Anyone?
At least he speaks clearly and with courage about the blight of Christian persecution in the Middle East.
“We won’t resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians who for two thousand years confess the name of Jesus, as full citizens in social, cultural and religious life of the nations to which they belong,” he said. … He also said he would “not rest as long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and asylum-seekers.”
Let’s keep praying for him to foster a consistently clear pastoral voice when talking to fellow Catholics.
“Is not this a time of strange providences? is it not our safest course, without looking to consequences, to do simply what we think right day by day? shall we not be sure to go wrong, if we attempt to trace by anticipation the course of divine Providence?
“Has not all our misery, as a Church, arisen from people being afraid to look difficulties in the face? They have palliated acts, when they should have denounced them. … And what is the consequence? that our Church has, through centuries [or only decades], ever been sinking lower and lower, till good part of its pretensions and professions is a mere sham, though it be a duty to make the best of what we have received. Yet, though bound to make the best of other men’s shams, let us not incur any of our own. The truest friends of our Church are they, who say boldly when her rulers are going wrong, and the consequences; and (to speak catachrestically) they are most likely to die in the Church, who are, under these black circumstances, most prepared to leave it.
“And I will add, considering the traces of God’s grace which surround us, I am very sanguine, or rather confident, (if it is right so to speak,) that our prayers and our alms will come up as a memorial before God, and that all this miserable confusion tends to good.”
Good sense for hard times.
Blessed John Henry Newman, ora pro nobis!
Dear Fr. Jaki, ora pro nobis!