Neglect – Followup
My two recent posts on Pope Francis’ much-hyped interview has yielded, both on and off this blog, a number of remarks which appear to share in what I regard to be the same misstep, namely setting up a false dichotomy between either the Gospel or the Law. (“The Law” here meaning nothing more than the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals as contained, e.g., in the Catechism.) As a somewhat extreme version of this story goes, Pope Francis – and those Catholics who agree wholeheartedly with him – want an “open” or “evangelistic” Church that spreads its arms wide to the world whereas those Catholics who are critical of his remarks, mainly out of concern that they will lead to a watering-down of the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, would prefer a closed, sectarian Church where the priests read anathemas from the pulpit each Sunday. At the same time, there are critical Catholics out there who will always feel some trepidation when they hear the words “open” and “church” in the same sentence, perhaps because they know full well what happened to the Church the last time it “opened up” to the world. Even so, I do not subscribe to any “either/or” which would pit evangelization against orthodoxy. I do, however, retain deep concern at any statement, movement, or mentality which would place orthodoxy in the backseat in the name of evangelization. If the Church were to do that, then an obvious question is begged: To which faith is the Church evangelizing the world to? Is it the Holy Catholic Faith or is it something else? Similarly, if the Church is to stand as a faithful witness against the evils of our times, why abortion, contraception, and “same-sex marriage” should be put on the backburner is beyond me. Why not treat the Church’s social mission as a seamless whole? I believe those, and other concerned queries, are fair questions to ask.
Addendum: I wasn’t sure where to put this, but a friend of mine alerted me to George Weigel’s piece on Francis’ interview: “A Christ-Centered Pope.” Although I remain a bit suspicious of what Weigel is up to whenever he attempts to interpret papal statements for mainline conservative publications, this is one of the better positive reviews of Francis’ interview currently available.
Addendum 2: Now for the traditionalist response. Though written before the publication of Pope Francis’ interview, a needful counterpoint to Weigel’s praise of Francis can be found in Christopher Ferrara’s “Francis the Awesome: The Consequences of an Off-the-Cuff Papacy.” The Remnant – Ferrara’s traditionalist newspaper — is currently preparing an “Open Letter” to the Holy Father seeking clarification on a number of the statements made in his interview.