Friday, 3 November 2017

POPE FRANCIS - LOVED OR HATED?



P
ope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.

But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”

This mixture of hatred and fear is common among the pope’s adversaries. Francis, the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first ever Jesuit pope, was elected as an outsider to the Vatican establishment, and expected to make enemies. But no one foresaw just how many he would make. From his swift renunciation of the pomp of the Vatican, which served notice to the church’s 3,000-strong civil service that he meant to be its master, to his support for migrants, his attacks on global capitalism and, most of all, his moves to re-examine the church’s teachings about sex, he has scandalised reactionaries and conservatives. To judge by the voting figures at the last worldwide meeting of bishops, almost a quarter of the college of Cardinals – the most senior clergy in the church – believe that the pope is flirting with heresy.



The crunch point has come in a fight over his views on divorce. Breaking with centuries, if not millennia, of Catholic theory, Pope Francis has tried to encourage Catholic priests to give communion to some divorced and remarried couples, or to families where unmarried parents are cohabiting. His enemies are trying to force him to abandon and renounce this effort.

Since he won’t, and has quietly persevered in the face of mounting discontent, they are now preparing for battle. Last year, one cardinal, backed by a few retired colleagues, raised the possibility of a formal declaration of heresy – the wilful rejection of an established doctrine of the church, a sin punishable by excommunication. Last month, 62 disaffected Catholics, including one retired bishop and a former head of the Vatican bank, published an open letter that accused Francis of seven specific counts of heretical teaching.

To accuse a sitting pope of heresy is the nuclear option in Catholic arguments. Doctrine holds that the pope cannot be wrong when he speaks on the central questions of the faith; so if he is wrong, he can’t be pope. On the other hand, if this pope is right, all his predecessors must have been wrong.

The question is particularly poisonous because it is almost entirely theoretical. In practice, in most of the world, divorced and remarried couples are routinely offered communion. Pope Francis is not proposing a revolution, but the bureaucratic recognition of a system that already exists, and might even be essential to the survival of the church. If the rules were literally applied, no one whose marriage had failed could ever have sex again. This is not a practical way to ensure there are future generations of Catholics.

But Francis’s cautious reforms seem to his opponents to threaten the belief that the church teaches timeless truths. And if the Catholic church does not teach eternal truths, conservatives ask, what is the point of it? The battle over divorce and remarriage has brought to a point two profoundly opposed ideas of what the church is for. The pope’s insignia are two crossed keys. They represent those Jesus is supposed to have given St Peter, which symbolise the powers to bind and to loose: to proclaim what is sin, and what is permitted. But which power is more important, and more urgent.

The Catholic church has spent much of the past century fighting against the sexual revolution, much as it fought against the democratic revolutions of the 19th century, and in this struggle it has been forced into the defence of an untenable absolutist position, whereby all artificial contraception is banned, along with all sex outside one lifelong marriage. As Francis recognises, that’s not how people actually behave. The clergy know this, but are expected to pretend they don’t. The official teaching may not be questioned, but neither can it be obeyed. Something has to give, and when it does, the resulting explosion could fracture the church.



Appropriately enough, the sometimes bitter hatreds within the church – whether over climate change, migration or capitalism – have come to a head in a gigantic struggle over the implications of a single footnote in a document entitled The Joy of Love (or, in its proper, Latin name, Amoris Laetitia). The document, written by Francis, is a summary of the current debate over divorce, and it is in this footnote that he makes an apparently mild assertion that divorced and remarried couples may sometimes receive communion.



With more than a billion followers, the Catholic church is the largest global organisation the world has ever seen, and many of its followers are divorced, or unmarried parents. To carry out its work all over the world, it depends on voluntary labour. If the ordinary worshippers stop believing in what they are doing, the whole thing collapses. Francis knows this. If he cannot reconcile theory and practice, the church might be emptied out everywhere. His opponents also believe the church faces a crisis, but their prescription is the opposite. For them, the gap between theory and practice is exactly what gives the church worth and meaning. If all the church offers people is something they can manage without, Francis’s opponents believe, then it will surely collapse.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/oct/27/the-war-against-pope-francis


PAT SAYS:

I can't make up my mind about Francis.

On the one hand, I like a lot of what he says and what he stands for. On the other hand, I worry is he just a PR man?

Maybe I am expecting too much of him?

He may want to do and say a lot more - but he is restrained not only by certain cardinals but by the whole Vatican curia that surrounds him.

If he went too far, too quickly, I am quite certain that they could easily arrange his death by a heart attack!

But serious issues need to be addressed:

1. Compulsory celibacy for the clergy.

2. Divorce, remarriage and Holy Communion.

3. Vatican and Church corruption.

4. Family planning and contraception.

5. The place of women in the Church.

6. A new Theology of Sexuality.

7. The decentralization of power and authority.

One thing is certain. I do prefer Francis to that dictator John Paul 11.


45 comments:

  1. Who cares what you think Pat about Pope Francis or Pope St. John Paul 11! I have great admiration for both Popes. I trust Pope Francis in his efforts to bring the Church back to its roots, its founder, Jesus Christ. Let's not have a vicious go at these men, led by yourself. And when commenting, please Pat, do a little research first and make intelligent, challenging comments, ones worth reflecting on. Let's not trot out the old favourite themes!

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    1. Some people care what I think.

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    2. Yes, we care Pat but why do you always seek to negativise every thing about the Church. There are many noble aband d beautiful things being done within our Church communities. Many like myself are endeavouring to be in touch, to meet people in the given situations of their lives, to embody the love and mercy of God, to be true shepherds. Not easy in today's world againast apathy, indifference and secularism. However, we must not give up and I believe most priests struggle to do their best. It's this good news we should celebrate not our failings and human sinfulness. I ask you to see the goid - not always the failings.

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    3. The failings are so large as to often obscure the Good!

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    4. Agree, but when we repeatedly talk only about the awful misdeeds - and they are horrible - we miss the immense good being done. Speaking of wrong is always easier than wanting to see genuine goodness and renewal.

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  2. I would say Pope Francis is also one of the most loved of all recent popes. But if he is one of the most hated, then he must be doing something right! For the Church and its Leader are continually persecuted by the hatred of those who are not on its path anymore. It was ever thus. You probably won't have to wait too long today before you see and read the proof of what I am saying. The Pope is there to show charity to those who most need it but his God-given duty is to give strong leadership and guidance even when he knows his decisions will not be popular and will be very different from what a world loose in moral values would prefer to hear him saying!

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    1. There is not a lot of charity and morality in the Vatican I'm afraid!

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  3. MournemanMichael3 November 2017 at 08:18

    Excellent food for thought.......for those believing in the whole rigmarole of Catholicism.
    Went round Seville cathedral yesterday, the largest gothic one in the world. Looking at its ostentatious displays my daughter's reaction was: if Jesus was born in a stable why do we need all this?
    MMM

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    1. MMM, Hope you are enjoying your time in Spain. Enjoy. Pat.

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    2. MMM, glad you are introducing your daughter to the beauty of Church architecture. So many of Europe's majestic churches raise my mind and heart in gratitude for such magnificence. Their splendour evokes the beauty, imagination and creativity of the human mind. Thank God for these gems of architecture. Everyday I look to the beauty of nature - trees, flowers, leaves falling, flowing rivers, majestic firs - they are my "cathedrals" of beauty, inspiration and inner enrichment. Seville, Rouen, Chartres, Milan, Lyon, Cobh, Shandon - all cathedrals bring me heavenwards! Thank God. There's nothing to stop any of us giving to the poor or marginalised - if we choose to do so. Irrespective of such Cathedrals - the Church through its missions and charities contributes immeasueably towards the health, education and social well being of millions throughout the world. This fact may be forgotten in asking -why do we need thses Cathedrals!

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    3. Many operatives in the RC Church use church money for rich lifestyles like Card Bertone spend hundreds of thousands on his retirement apartment including a Euro 50,000 kitchen!

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    4. Many - yes Pat, that's true and they are morally wrong to be extravagant. Unacceptable. But we must remember too the huge charitable work done by the Church in our world, most of it done with integrity, truth, compassion, dedication and only for the well being of those entrusted to the care of the Church's charities. Charities in general have a bad press so it's to be expected that there would be financial abuse in the Church, which I utterly condemn.

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    5. ".. the whole rigmarole of Catholicism." is an extremely offensive description. My Faith is the most important thing in my life and I feel that dreadful description is extremely disrespectful. If you were talking to a Jewish family, for example, would you describe on public media their Passover celebration as "that whole rigmarole" and expect them not to be disgusted? But you feel it's OK to be insulting to Catholic people. I am surprised at you.

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  4. I admire Pope Francis. He is doing all the right things and picking all the right fights. We treat the poor very shabbily. He allows freedom of speech which is essential for any organisation to flourish. There is a good article in the Tablet this week saying that freedom of speech was an alien concept for Pope John Paul. I am always interested in what Pat has to say....he also allows free speech.

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  5. I would definitely dispute that Pope Francis is one of the most hated of all popes.(I was tempted to ask if this was more fake news!)
    Very recently a poll amongst American Catholics indicated that well over 80% thought he was doing a great job. The author and researcher Krames, who is a non-Catholic, investigated in depth the particular qualities that made Pope Francis so popular and yet effective as a leader. He came up with a lot of interesting observations which no doubt posters can find out if so willing. Some of the research shows that people, like Francis who lead with humility but still have the moral courage to not bend to the lowest common denominators make good leaders. He gets out and experiences some of the rough as well as the smooth and he listens to those who approach with sincerity and good will. He has the courage too to look at structures and conventions within the organisation of the Church and to challenge their effectiveness. A lot of this reorganisation is often best done quietly as Staff are shown new and better ways to approach their own work and their problem. It won't necessarily be headline news as that is often very counterproductive!
    Pope Francis has the approval and affection of a greater number of those worldwide who are of other religious denominations (and none) than many of his predecessors enjoyed. This is because of another of his leadership qualities, the ability to reach across to those who are not part of your own organisation and to show real empathy and friendship.
    I think all in all, Pope Francis is a good and prayerful Pope who leads by example and is the right choice for the age we live in.

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    1. The point is - he is HATED by the Catholic right wing!

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    2. The right wing hate Jesus' teachings too.

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  6. Start from the bottom up.If Priests can be hated in their own parish it follows reason that Popes can be hated in the Vatican. Your own story Pat and many others i'm sure bear witness to this. Where there is dis-functionality in lifestyles and practice the bad will surface. I'm sure this is what Jesus found in the Vatican of his day. Part of the mystery is that the cross is central to Salvation History

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  7. But that is precisely the point! - He has the steel and backbone to challenge where challenge and flexibility is needed and yet he knows his job is to give moral leadership and to not bend to every passing whim of those who have already badly lost their way in mire of popular opinion. That won't make him popular with some I fear.

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  8. The pope has said things that encourage fighting terrorism with more terrorism. He is just a hypocrite.

    I find him to be a liar and would rather he would stay out of the country (Ireland which will get a visit from him in 2018).

    He said in spite of the fact that Islamic State preaches the Koran and holy literature to get people to obey what Islam says is God's word and kill unbelievers that "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion. All religions want peace, it’s the others who want war."

    He knows from logic and his Bible that religion can be violent. The Bible God railed against pagan gods who demanded that babies be sacrificed to them. A man-made religion of peace has no immunity to turning violent. What is human will show bad traits sooner or later. And the religion keeps saying it is from God in order to protect itself despite the evil. The pope is no dummy. Yet he lies that Islam is not a violent religion despite the fact that its scriptures condone and even command violence. He does not really care. He is condemning terrorism but not as religious terrorism so he is just a fraud. He knows that nobody has the right to honour violent books as God's word and as he honours the violent Bible he has no room to talk about Islam and its bloodthirsty Koran.

    The obsession with the "Who am I to judge?" comment is bizarre for it shows he is asking, "Gays maybe should be judged." You wouldnt say who am I to judge if somebody was buying Primark runners and not Cedar State.

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    1. 10.05: Ignorant and arrant ninsense. Completely. A lesson in how to misrepresent and misunderstand Pope Francis. I'll most certainly welcome him. Your prejudice is so, so obvious, perhaps your hatred too...

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    2. I agree with you, poster @ 11.03
      The hatred of Pope Francis as is obvious in the deliberate quoting of him out of context is almost palpable. It really doesn't merit any serious reply.
      I know that Pope Francis will be warmly welcomed to Ireland and not just by those of his own Faith but by many discerning people who have the wisdom to see his worth as a world leader which he undoubtedly is. (This may not
      be recognised by many in his own back yard but but what's new about that?!)
      I would certainly welcome him. The Irish people need his inspirational and healing presence.

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    3. To the vitriolic poster @10.05
      Your spurious remarks are very ill-founded and contain several falsehoods.
      Accusing the Pope in this manner is an outrageous slander. (2017 Over to others now if they wish to converse further with you.. I don't.)

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    4. 10.05. So badly written and so misleading. Your piece is so full of falsehoods and prejudiced that it doesn't merit an intelligent response as somehow you seem thick as 2 planks! Cead mile, mile failte romhat ar bPapa Phrionsais.

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    5. How (to the above four commentors) is the poster at 10:05 incorrect?

      Can you provide evidence to contradict his points?

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    6. In response to 10:05. I'm not up on what the pope has said with reference to the start of your comment and I haven't read the Quran, but the Bible as you say is full of violence, but it also has absolute gems of wisdom. It is full of paradox and much like our sayings such as "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost" it's application has to be relevant to the situation or it either makes no sense or can be used to justify almost anything. Its spiritual riches have to be mined out of the historical context that books were written and that of it's authors. I think some justification of allegorical interpretation or the plaintiff cries of those wrestling with God, to use certain texts in worship including many of the "My God is better than your God" / "Kills all my enemies" type of psalms that are regularly used in the liturgy of the hours, pushes the boundaries of credibility and I wonder what many non religious people stumbling upon vespers / evensong make of it! Probably the same horror many of us feel when he hear the word jihad, which I'm sure to many peace loving muslims, is interpreted as a spiritual discipline. We would all do well to "Mind Our Language!"

      " A man-made religion of peace has no immunity to turning violent."

      Absolutely, to many of us, Buddhism is a religion we particularly think of as being peaceful but it's practitioners are humans and therefore potentially affected by very human emotions, indeed affected, those in Burma / Myanmar!

      I'm not sure about your comment regarding the "Who am I to Judge" but I remember the first time I saw LGBT orgs making and sharing memes of it, thinking there was probably more to it and the pope was being taken either out of context or with wide licence. Still, even within current Church teaching, I think many LGBT people have felt comforted by Francis. On balance, I think he's a welcome step in the right direction.

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  9. I mean "I would" welcome Pop Francis.

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  10. Our only salvation - elect bishop Buckley as Pope.

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  11. For me he is the Pope and God has allowed this to happen so therefore God has a purpose to fulfill in and through Pope Francis. He has certainly had some great coverage and the media are in love with him. It is also true that he has a great appeal among people who are of other faith backgrounds, many people who have strayed from The Church, and also many people who hold positions contrary to official Church Teaching.

    For me personally I do miss the clarity of thought that Pope Benedict XVI brought to The Church. One of my lecturers once commented that we all have a Pope who speaks especially to us during our lifetime. For me Benedict is that Pope and I dare say it that in hundreds of years time Theology students will still be reading and studying his work and especially his encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

    Pope Francis sadly has caused a lot of confusion and seems at times to contradict what is official Church Teaching as well as Scripture. I can see that he is trying to bring a pastoral approach but this should be in the internal forum between pastor and parishioner not on the global scale. I do appreciate his humbleness and witness to the world. And I agree Pat that there are some issues that need discussing, but lets not do a Vatican II again and get to carried away. Also take heed of what has happened in the Church of England etc when they have taken a more liberal line and contradicted both Tradition and Scripture. I don't see their congregations doing very well at all.

    I do have to say however that his dealing with certain groups has been rather dictatorial and speaking to a priest friend who lived in Rome for several years with all this talk of reforming The Church and the curia, Francis reign has brought more scandals than ever and also there are now more bureaucrats in Rome than ever before. Seems to be a lot of talk and dictatorship but very little action other than on an individual personal level.

    I will continue to pray for him and his intentions, however when he doesn't deliver what the media and secular world want then watch out. Pope Paul VI was a media darling until Humanae Vitae, and it is worth noting he never wrote another encyclical in ten further years on the throne of Peter.

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    1. Kieran the Kiwi. I don't agree with your analysis. I believe you are misleading. I also think that if you are looking for a new beginning that will accommodate your vision and theology, you should try the Monks st Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath. I don't think the Little Brothers of the Oratory will suit you!

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    2. Thanks Anonymous for your comment. I am unsure what ever gave you the idea I wanted to join the Brother of the Oratory? If I was to return to religious life it would be in my own country.

      Could you please point out for me where I was misleading? I embrace being a life long learner and would be more than happy to be shown where I was misleading and exactly how?

      I thank you also for your concern but I am not looking for a new beginning as I return to my mission soon in NZ. I don't think its either my vision nor theology but simply what I have been taught when I completed my Theology degree and post grad which is simply what Holy Mother Church teaches.

      Again I wish Pope Francis all the best, I continue to pray for him, I believe as already stated that God has called him for some reason, but again I believe there is a lot of confusion.

      Please explain to me how the Archdiocese of New York (Cardinal Dolan) says that Church teaching on divorcee and remarriage cannot receive communion, yet Newark (Cardinal Tobin) says they can. Then the Bishops Conference of Malta say they can, Bishops Conference of Poland say no. Is that not confusion?

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  12. So we need a discussion about priesthood and mass in the Amazon
    Yes we should have married clergy....married men who would like to serve their people

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    1. But never forgetting to put the wife and her shopping list first and planning a nice family holiday over Easter to get away from it all and get some sunshine!
      (What was that pesky phone call from the sacristan about,dear? - What does he mean--Easter ceremonies? Now are we ready to go!)

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    2. Eloquent irony... Clever!

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  13. Michael Kelly from the Irish Catholic

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    1. Cathal Barry from the Irish Catholic is a stud!

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  14. I missed many an Easter break with m6 family as they felt they couldn’t let the choir down...and they all under 14 in those days,
    Grow up 18.53,you must be a silly priest that has no idea how famil6 life works.
    I as a mother had to go to work sat and Sunday when my rota said so.

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    1. Sorry 21.15 to say this but the irony of that clever post at 18.53 went completely over your head! It was exactly that - an IRONIC piece! Your response shows that you misunderstood and took it for real. Maybe someone will explain how it is a clever little gem, short and pithy but striking a punch that some posters would take yards of print to say!
      Your response shows that you missed the irony and thought it must have been written by a priest. That is the most unlikely thing imaginable once you "get" the style of the piece. But you clearly didn't. Don't worry about it. Irony is s bit like cryptic crossword clues. You either 'see "the clever underlying meaning or you don't! Just wondering if by any chance you could read something by say, Jonathan Swift... and think about the secret" between the lines " meaning of his stories.

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  15. If we had married men and women as priests we could have many.
    So a rota could be set up andyes holidays wd be tak3n.
    Let’s face it, priests as we know them are a dying breed
    And those awful bishops and cardinals could go and dump themselves in their fancy buildings.
    They certainly are not following the Jesus of Nasuras

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    1. Well said 21:51 & 21:58! The comment at 18:53 was crass and sexist.

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    2. Jesus of Nazereth.

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    3. No! - no - - 18.53 was a certain style of satire.. So definitely not a sexist post....

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  16. Kieran, I wonder where those theology students will come from.
    Not from Ireland.

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