Accept that the world is accepted…

“[T]here is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God. The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is — these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.

“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallises them. God is in history, in the processes.

“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.

When I insist on the frontier, I am referring in a particular way to the need for those who work in the world of culture to be inserted into the context in which they operate and on which they reflect. There is always the lurking danger of living in a laboratory. Ours is not a ‘lab faith,’ but a ‘journey faith,’ a historical faith. God has revealed himself as history, not as a compendium of abstract truths. I am afraid of laboratories because in the laboratory you take the problems and then you bring them home to tame them, to paint them, out of their context. You cannot bring home the frontier, but you have to live on the border and be audacious.

Pope Francis to Fr. Spadaro, Sept. 2013

So, then, just how are things going in the unbarbaric frontier of the world?

Synod of Bishops: Europe overwhelmingly in favour of remarried divorcees – Vatican Insider

“Belgian Catholics, inspired by Francis, are calling for a mother Church that embraces all: hence the need to grow in the faith and form lively communities,” SIR highlights. The questionnaires also placed an emphasis on the essential role women can play in Church life: ‘It is they who pass on the faith to children and guide them,’ Belgian Catholics point out. …

“The doctrine on marriage, responsible fatherhood and the family is rejected in non-ecclesial circles (sometimes even in ecclesial ones),’ because the Church is seen as a stranger and as not competent in these areas. … There was simply an appeal to the Church to ‘accept reality as it is and not try to change it with moral models’ and to be welcoming and merciful.

As I recently noted, the evidence shows that men are more signifcant in the longterm transmission of the faith, but Francis seems preoccupied with the ancillary role of women, almost as if he were, like, playing to the dominant constituency right now, or something. It’s not as pastorally solvent, but the reality, as Robbie Low concludes, is that

“if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.”

But wait, there’s more.

Global poll reveals Catholics largely against teachings on abortion, contraception and divided – Washington Post

“‘Right now, the less-developed world is staying true to the old world values, but it’s gradually eroding even there. [Pope Francis] doesn’t want to lose the legitimacy of the more educated people,’ he added.

“After his election to the papacy 11 months ago, Francis seemed to immediately grasp the significance of the divisions among the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. He has chosen inclusive language, has played down the importance of following the hierarchy and has warned against the church locking itself up ‘in small-minded rules.’ The poll reflects previous ones in finding that the vast majority of Catholics appreciate his approach.” …

Since the liberalizing and divisive Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II appeared to approach the gap with an explicit plan: Narrow it. They emphasized doctrine and called for institutions that wanted to call themselves Catholic to follow the rules.Benedict prompted a lot of debate by saying and writing that a period of shrinkage seemed inevitable if the church was to stick to its teachings.

So what is Pope Francis’s plan, if he has one?

Critics say his solicitation of opinions wrongly gives the appearance that Catholicism is a democracy. Others — including the authors of this poll — say there’s no evidence that he would touch doctrine and is seeking a deeper understanding of why so many Catholics reject church teachings so as to better market them.

Casanova said it’s not clear what Francis plans to do with the research, but the approach “fits with his idea of the church going out into the world and encountering the world as it is, not expecting the world to come to it.

Keep enjoying that normalcy bias, folks, it makes the Kool-Aid go down so much easier.

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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11 Responses to Accept that the world is accepted…

  1. Dale Price says:

    “[Pope Francis] doesn’t want to the legitimacy of the more-educated people…”

    Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence–namely, that the Pope has some kind of coherent strategy in mind. To the extent one can be found in EG, it evidences no such thing.

    And, yes, let’s take our cues from the *&#&ing Belgians, of all people, a church choking its last as we speak, powerless to form a handful of laity to fight against euthanasia. More of the disease isn’t a cure.

  2. Crude says:

    I don’t see anything problematic with the Pope’s comments on this front, nor do I see him giving any indication that his idea of interacting with the ‘world as it is’ means ending criticism of moral and intellectual wrongs. Yes, the world isn’t enthralled with a lot of Church teaching – that’s nothing new at all.

  3. Crude says:

    Beyond that, I think you’re not giving enough credit to the Pope on the ‘women’s role’ front. Did you not notice how, among other things, he focused on their domestic roles? Their roles in family?

    I think a liberal could be looking at Francis right now and bitterly complaining not that he ‘wasn’t going far enough’ but that he was pulling a George W. Bush maneuver of putting a smiley face on the same old views.

  4. That the world has long opposed the Church was, I agree, a given–until it started slapping the “Pop(e) Star” on its cultural vanguard covers. “The world” is not the problem; the problem is that THE FAITHFUL are gaining momentum in their dyscatechesis and dissent by virtue of an unprecedented “Can’t we all just get along?” papacy. Yes, he’s said the right things to the right particular audiences, but what abides is what he’s either left unsaid or garbled to the vast majority of the public. He’s saying what dissident Catholic want to hear. He’s let the leash run out longer than perhaps ever before, with the exception of Paul VI, and, like Paul VI, I suspect he will have his moment of iron resolve on the key issues (à la Humanae Vitae), but by then he will be up to his ears in the knots of his P.R. papacy’s own making. Francis wanted a mess in the dioceses, and he’s getting it.

  5. Steve Fowler says:

    There is nothing new about the world not accepting Catholic teachings: what is new is that the Church has been ACTING like that is not all that big of a problem for some 50 years.

  6. Also, Crude, while I grant that it’s great for him to emphasize the role of women IN THE FAMILY, the problem is that this downplays the much more important role of men in the family’s long-term faith formation. He’s playing up the catechetical role of women, when he needs to be putting just as much light on the role of men. Statistically, it is MEN who need to have greater roles in the Church. I just think he’s very out of touch on this, and I think a lot of it has to do with his scars from the Dirty War.

  7. ErnstThalmann says:

    Yet another of Frank’s strawmen, the complaintants that give “birth within the Church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation …”? Like their relatives, those that obsess over abortion, one is rendered speechless by the difficulty in locating them. And really, “God has revealed himself as history, not as a compendium of abstract truths”? God has revealed Himself in history, perhaps, but as history? If Frank’s strengths are reported to be pastoral, then he should stick to the pastoral in his interviews. We can get our Hegel from Jurgen Moltmann.

  8. Crude says:

    the problem is that THE FAITHFUL are gaining momentum in their dyscatechesis and dissent by virtue of an unprecedented “Can’t we all just get along?” papacy.

    I don’t think it’s a ‘can’t we all just get along’ papacy. I think, at least so far, it’s a ‘Look, our positions do not entail the attitude you think’ papacy.

    He’s saying what dissident Catholic want to hear.

    Dissident Catholics want to hear ‘Women can be priests, abortion is no big deal, contraception is great, use condoms when you screw whoever you please.’ At least, dissidents who are the real problem.

    What about unconvinced Catholics who mistakenly think that opposing gay marriage means ‘You must think all gays are hellbound’? Or opposing abortion means ‘All we care about is you have a child, and nothing else’?

  9. GracieLou says:

    Some of this, it reminds me of back in the day–my brother, his friends, they’d smoke and well…it’s hippie talk. You can only really understand it high. I don’t believe the “hippie-religious” (as I like to call them) are high necessarily, but it somehow makes sense to them. Or not, maybe it just sounds good. I recently perused some of the LCWR materials and “Time initiates processes, and space crystallises them.” would sound right at home there.

    It’s true Francis hasn’t said anything new about women. Benedict said the exact same thing I believe.

    But the “small minded rules” thing. I’m a teacher. I’ll let you in on a little secret, teachers do not harp on little rules and procedures all the time because we find them entertaining or we have fascist tendencies. It is boring as shit, but you’d be amazed how sloppy bad a classroom can get when you let the little things go. Ask any drill sergeant how laxity works to create a disciplined force. Are we fighting a spiritual battle here or what? Are we the Church militant here on earth or not? Read the chapter about how fixing a minor problem like graffiti lowered the entire crime rate of NYC in “The Tipping Point.” You’ve got Luke 16:10 “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater.”

    And the “order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence” business. So the alternative would be? Disorder in the sense of impurity? God is to be encountered in the world, yes, as always, of course, so yeah, go out and get grungy, ok, I’ve done that, been to art school that was pretty real…hung out with atheists…was an atheist…still talk to atheists and other ‘periphery’ folk…so…but I still want a pure church but not as a defense. But as a lamp because people are blind, as a jewel, because they’re spiritually poor, something difficult to attain, because they’re depressed and need a challenge. Well, they might get turned off because it’s so out of reach. So what! It’s ALWAYS been out of reach!! The job of evangelism is to help them understand why it’s worth it. You don’t just trash the place and then say, ‘yeah, you’re right, it wasn’t that great.”

  10. Tony Jokin says:


    I think the first problem might be that you are looking at what elements in Pope Francis’s works support the Catholic teaching. Sure enough, you see ample amounts scattered in his work. BUT, you forget to evaluate all of his work as to how well it supports or lends itself to support of the dissident Catholic position. From what I can see, and from what almost anyone who actually entertains that perspective can see, the comments that lend itself to dissident interpretations is abnormally high. In fact, the joy and happiness felt among dissident Catholics with Pope Francis is PROOF that there is much in his speech, writing and acts that make them feel that they are right!

    There are things that can be said in simple language that the Pope makes a mess out of. Instead of saying “Homosexual acts are sinful” the only statements by the Pope on the matter so far seems to lend itself to confusion and make a Catholic think twice before opposing the promotion of homosexual life styles (who am I to judge?). Has he clarified the matter? NO. He instead only says lines like “I am a son of the Church” which sounds like someone who just can’t get himself to say the truth for fear that he will be anti-pastoral.

    Now I have to say that this whole point regarding “unconvinced Catholics” sounds like a scape goat. This audience, more than the other groups, needs to hear CLEARLY what is RIGHT and what is WRONG. That is just not happening. It is more likely according to the way Pope Francis speaks and writes that this unconvinced population of Catholics will side with the dissident bunch.

    On the questions of “What about unconvinced Catholics who mistakenly think that opposing gay marriage means ‘You must think all gays are hellbound’? Or opposing abortion means ‘All we care about is you have a child, and nothing else’?”

    The solution to that is not to engineer your speech and writing to the extent that everything that comes out is ambiguous and means different things to different people. That is a disaster that only leads to the opposite error. You just need to explain to the people in a plain old fashion what the Church is saying. How hard can that be? Why is it so hard for a Church leader to simply present a coherent message on the Church position regarding a certain matter? I am not sure its incompetency or lack of public speaking skills. No, I think it’s this untold rule that to present the truth clearly is not pastoral!!!

    Also, there is a problem in that this Pope does not like ANY DEFENSE against the world. That is like asking to be imprudent. Are we not to shelter our kids from the world? Are we not to avoid unhealthy relationships that always invite us to sin? Are we not to avoid the media that promotes anti-Catholicism? Where is God to be encountered in this World in those evils it promotes? Are we not to defend against it? Are we not to try and enforce order against it? I am sure we can come up with some favorable interpretation for this but for the “unconvinced Catholic” this reads like “Those kumbayah Catholics got it right. Those are the ones we must imitate!!

    There is a lot of things wrong in the core philosophy that dominates the world, especially in the Western culture of today. The Western society is more or less built on an attitude of “If I feel this is so, it must be so” which has made even gender malleable. It’s pure nonsense and could easily be pointed out as being absurd. Anyway, where exactly are we to find God in that? Why would I even try to find God in that when there are places where I can CLEARLY find him? How is it even RIGHT to not want to create a society where God is more CLEARLY visible?

  11. Tony Jokin says:

    Also, for the past 50 years she has been blaming herself that it was her style & presentation that has made the world not accept her. So now she keeps switching from one style & presentation (which some call pastoral approach) to the next with the hope of coming up with that right one that will end her rejection by the world.

    So whenever some doctrine regarding faith and morals or Church discipline is opposed by the World, the Church blames HERSELF!!!! When the LGBT community is attacking the Church, the problem isn’t their misunderstanding that they are entitled to act out their homosexual tendency. Nope, it’s the Church’s fault for not communicating her position on homosexuality clearly. There seems to be an unspoken naive view that if the LGBT community got to know the actual Church position, they will join the Church. REALLY? They will still hate her still because the Church position doesn’t allow what they want. That is the whole reason why they don’t give a dime about understanding her position. All they need to know is that the Catholic position will not get them what they want and that is enough to hate her.

    I think Abp. Fulton Sheen put it best in describing the divorce/remarriage issue

    “Every rationalization is farfetched and never discloses
    the real reason. He who breaks the Divine Law and finds himself
    outside of Christ’s Mystical Body in a second marriage, will often
    justify himself by saying: “I could not accept the Doctrine of
    Transubstantiation.” What he means is that he can no longer
    accept the Sixth Commandment. ” — (Three to get Married)

    So the Church instead of saying “you have to fix your disordered desires” keeps insisting that its a matter of communicating Catholics truths to the society in a way they understand it. Thus the experimentation with pastoral approaches continues.

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