One trend that I have noticed with Pope Francis is the desire to look outside of the human condition, marred as it is by Original Sin for the problems facing the world.
It is only my opinion, but I do detect within Francis's anthropocentrism an emerging view of the world that forgets, or even denies, Original Sin. For instance, his latest interview decries the world economic system that pushes countries, especially world powers, to war. There may be quite some truth to this, but His Holiness neglects to mention that wars and conquest have been a feature of every civilisation since the dawn of time. As long as human beings have been around, there have been wars. Who can be to blame for this? Benedict XVI, I am certain, would look to our human condition, wounded by sin, and point to the seeds of mutually assured destruction which are already in man. This wound can be healed by grace in Jesus Christ, I think he would say.
|ISIS terrorists: 'Don't blame us! Blame the arms dealers!'|
Not a great percentage of the world are arms dealers, so we can safely blame them without causing too much offense to 99.999% of the human race. In the Holy Land, His Holiness had a special word for arms dealers, but let's face it, there are no end of people queuing up to pull the triggers who received no admonishment whatsoever, in Iraq, Syria and, well, a lot of countries!
Again, the mafia. Well, the mafia do some terrible things, but I am not convinced that the mafia nurture within the hearts of its members sins that are any worse than, say, abortion because all murder is wrong. Presumably, if the mafia were brought closer to Christ they could be a far greater force for good in the world than the Freemasons, because they at least would be truly Christian. It seems a bit harsh and erratic to place arms dealers and mafia members in Hell, but the great multitude of faithless sinners if not in Heaven, but in God's friendship. Why so pessimistic about the salvation of arms dealers but so optimistic about the salvation of nearly everyone else? Are we really going to place the sins of the whole world on the shoulders of arms dealers?
Finally, we have the world economic system which brings with it a host of bad things, not least, in the Holy Father's view, wars and ecological damage. Presumably, His Holiness would see the slavery highlighted by The Guardian this week as a form of evidence of an inhumane economic system, despite the fact that no company has been coerced by the economic system to make slaves. Ultimately, the economic system relies on human beings for its operation and human beings are quite capable of abusing, debasing or corrupting further that which is already imperfect.
Many of the Holy Father's chief concerns seem to me to be the kind of concerns and campaigns that I was into before I became a Catholic, read about sin and salvation and learned at the feet of good and holy priests (and Popes) about the redemption won for us by the Blood of Christ and how Christ came to raise our nature up, making us by adoption, what He is by nature. I have, since I became a Catholic, believed that all of us are being called out of darkness and into light, that we are all being called away from sin and towards friendship with God, away from the works of evil and towards works of goodness and charity - from ourselves to Christ - though if I hear the word 'fraternity' from His Holiness one more time I might lose quite dramatically any charity in my soul!
I am sure he will be a great humanitarian, ecologist, pacifist and charismatic teacher. I am sure, too, that there will be some who oppose him and some who merely do not fit his agenda, who will be viewed as the greatest criminals on the face of the earth. Embracing secular humanism might make the Church more attractive to the enemies of the Gospel, but it makes the Church - and frankly the Pope - open to the charge that of the Lord Himself and His own teachings - we are embarrassed. The more it is espoused within the Church, the more vulnerable the Church is to the temptations that we are promised will one day be presented to it, with the coming of the false messiah. I hope that doesn't sound too hysterical, but how on earth would a Church only concerned with this life cope with such a man today? If the Antichrist were revealed during the reign of Pope Francis, truly, he could not have picked, for him at least, a better time.