Thursday, 19 September 2013

Well...What do you make of that?

There is an interview with Pope Francis on America magazine. I believe the original interview was done in another publication.

I don't know how they got one when His Holiness called me the other day to say he'd do an interview with me before their one.

What do you make of the 'exclusive' or is that 'inclusive' Pope Francis interview?

There are elements to it that I find unsettling for different reasons. I do like his emphasis on the Sacrament of Confession - surely something some of our Bishops need to promote actively.

One thing that I sense about the pontificate of Pope Francis is that we are seeing a re-defining of the papacy. There is something about his pontificate which is unlike anything I've seen before. What is a Pope for? I had always thought that the Pope is the Successor of St Peter who guards the Deposit of Faith with his life. I had always thought that in his doing so, we find communion with him.

There is a likeable naivity about Francis the man, but it is odd to hear these statements coming from a Pope. I would say it is unique. 'Doctrine' and 'legalism' seem to be things that is less important than a relationship with Jesus Christ to him - but here's the thing - doctrine is obviously important to groups like Quest and ACTA, since they seek its removal from the Church. There is a clear and present danger of the enemies of the Church running roughshod, creating anarchy in the Church. Traditionally, the Pope stands for Christ, against the wiles and assaults of the enemy.

These are strange times. Times in which the Deposit of Faith is under severe attack. Why leave it to others to defend it vigorously? Do not his comments make those who defend the Church's teaching more readily and openly look like cruel dogmatists? Aspects of this interview will be music to the ears of those who seek to overturn the Church's teachings. Other parts will not. Parts will feel like a smack in the teeth to those who defend the Magisterium day in, day out, in their work for the Church and to pro-lifers this will be a bombshell of significant proportions. Plenty of people will be happy to take advantage of the vagueness or open-endedness of some of Pope Francis's answers.

These kind of groups are happy to call themselves Christian without adherence to the Church's doctrines - without loyalty to the Magisterium. How seriously do Quest and ACTA take the Sacrament of Confession? Once doctrine is watered down or perceived to be watered down, would that not take souls away from the Sacrament of Penance in which we find mercy and grace?

Also, I always suspected that the Pope was a sinner (like myself and the rest of the human race). What I don't get from Pope Francis's interview is a sense of divinisation - that Jesus desires to make us into Saints.

There seems to be something surprisingly horizontal about his theology. I am still digesting His Holiness's interview. I find myself having to go back and back again asking, 'Did he really just say that?'

I'd be interested in your thoughts. I'm stunned. Or is that petrified?


Long-Skirts said...

I am disgusted!!

Anonymous said...

well, i will tell you what about the confession.Our child was doing her first sacrament of reconciliation before her First Holy Communion and we had prepared her at home and she wanted to take it very seriously. The priest in the Confessional was one of the founding members of the UK ACTA and halfway through the confession he told her something like : That's enough now.You can go. Suffice to say she was crying her eyes out and has never been back to him for Confession!!! We make the extra journey to London for our Confessions! So, the whole organisation is flawed in its core.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

'How seriously do Quest and ACTA take the Sacrament of Confession?' you ask. How seriously do they take the other Sacraments?

Many of the ACTA fraternity view the Eucharist as a sort of 'community picnic' where we all take turns at 'playing mother'.

And the Quest community clearly don't accept the Sacrament of Marriage.

Unknown said...

Where do I begin? I know that in reality he said nothing shocking or novel. What he did say though was said in with all the fluffy vagueness that leaves what he has said open to misinterpretation, misrepresentation and misdirection. He has personlised his office and downplayed the little customs and traditions particular to the office of the pontiff. Now he is giving the "impression" that he can do the same with doctrine. I'm certain that is not his intention, but it is a invetability of mixing the papacy with his own brand of peronism. This isn't going to get any better. Lets just hope it doesn't get any worse. A pope shouldn't have the faithfull Faithfull juming through hoops when he teaches.

Jacobi said...

“I would be interested to know your thoughts”

Personally I really don’t know what to make of the current successor of Peter.

All I can say is that the similarities between the Protestant Reformation and the current one, Modernist, or call it what you will, seems ever stronger.
I used to wonder what good Catholics felt at that time with the Catholic world collapsing around them and the Church splitting up. Now I think I know.

From 1517, it took 9 popes, some 55years, plus a further Council, Trent, after the failed 5th Lateran Council, to sort out the mess. On that basis we have another 4 Popes to go, we’ve already had our 55 years, but more importantly we need another Council, to restore the Barque of Peter.

As you said, we live in interesting times, as per the Chinese saying!

Lynda said...

It simply gets worse and worse. The Pope is a disaster for the Church, the souls within the Church - and those who might find their way the objectively true Faith. It seems as if he wishes to speed up the destruction of the Church, which has been in freefall since the 1960s infiltration of false ideology into the leadership of the Church. The Great Apostasy has a point of focus. God give us strength.

Jonathan said...

I found some of it confusing and some of it cowardly.

Francis raises the question of a women guilty of adultery and murder who repents of the murder but not the adultery as if it is an open question. His lack of a clear answer implies a solution that is in fact wrong. You cannot receive the sacrament of confession whilst in an adulterous marriage, the catechism is clear on that. The Pope's interview means that priests who stick to that will be castigated as heartless.
"And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief" How can we interpret this except as a tautology? It is clear that not all people who are baptised catholics have the same beliefs so collectively that group is not infallible. Given the Pope's general tone it seems unlikely that he is excluding the dissenters from the 'faithful' but I can't find any other way to explain his statement.

P Stanfield said...

It certainly needs to be read in full, but I think it makes it a lot clearer what he's been trying to say.

The important part for me is: "A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep, and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence".

He's saying that you have to engage with someone in love, not show them the rulebook first. He is talking about effective evangelisation. He's saying that that staying in the safe zones ain't going to transform the world. This is not a capitulation to the world, this is the launch of a great evangelism. It's what he told the 3m at WYD. Go and spread the Gospel. The catechism and moral values follow on from that.

Scary? yes, but what an opportunity.

Vincent said...

It's a shame really - there's a lot of good in the interview, especially with regards to confession - what's going to be referred to as the "liberal" view of abortion, contraception, etc, is completely taken out of context, and in context makes a whole lot more sense. He rather slaps us traditionalists across the wrist though: obviously there's not much hope of him celebrating the Mass of All Ages, but I suppose miracles can't always be expected.

In some ways his words are encouraging but leave a core feeling of sadness. He says too many things that can be taken out of context, too many nuances about this particular doctrine or that, when in reality, I think what we've been missing for the last few decades is clear talking on most issues. People are leaving the Church because of our opposition to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, and no "oh, we can focus on something else for a change" is going to stop all these people disagreeing and leaving the Church. But maybe his words about Confession will make some Catholics increase their fervour.

The future is interesting, if not very scary, in my opinion. He will be misrepresented wholly about this though, and that's very dangerous for those of us who happen to take the challenge of defending the faith at least a little seriously.

So, sad, and happy, and maybe a little confused.

Genty said...

The Pope's apparent tendency to make two conflicting statements at the same time is more than confusing. It's dangerous. Carefully he lays the foundations by emphasising how orthodox he is in the faith, then he goes off on one which appears to contradict that very orthodoxy. It is perfectly possible to talk about love and joy and compassion AND about how sin militates against them. These are not mutually exclusive, but bound inextricably together; Christ being the exemplar of clarification.
My overall impression remains; that the Pope appears very much a creature of the 21st century. This interview is very self-referential. Basically, it's all about him.

Delia said...

Pope Benedict also used to emphasize the positive – and all he ever got was stick – but his teaching was never confusing, and his emphasis was always on the office, not himself. I think this personality cult is extremely dangerous, and the Holy Father doesn't help matters by ditching the traditions of office or by giving long interviews such as this that are open to misinterpretation. The BBC News this morning was ghastly.

BJC said...

Whatever he says, and however he says it, it will be distorted by the media. They did it with Benedict, and they will do it with him, it's the nature of the beast (literally). My disappointment with it, is that yet again the 's' word barely got a mention, but admittedly I haven't read the whole thing. Yet again, there seem to be references to "healing" and "woundedness", but no reference to what's causing the wounds to the soul in the first place, which are our sins, e.g. sexual sins. That's why we need a Saviour, and that's why we need confession, the other sacraments and prayer.

Barbara said...

It pains me to say it (how dare I?) but this Holy Father would appear to be a modernist down to the bone-marrow. As we know, a modernist tactic is to say an orthodox truth one minute and in the second breath udermine it completely or dress it up in sentimentality.

He has been doing this for six months now. Continuously. What's an authentic Catholic loyal to the Papacy to think?

Well, today, I think bad - sad to say. My trust is not there and this is terrible.

The Pope's latest remarks on the non-negotiables are a disgrace and misleading as the opposite is true and a disaster for people in the pro-life movement like myself

People are not being brow-beaten by the Catholic teaching on life issues - it's the opposite. They hardly ever hear about it correctly from clerics in parishes and so-called Catholic schools- or we would not be steeped in this filthy ant-life anti-family "culture" EVERYWHERE! The modernist tatic described above is ued to teach the young and dull the souls of everyone.

I agree with what Long-skirts and Lynda said. Totally.

Prayers - and heaven help us.

Thanks, Mr. Bones.... I see you love the Church.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I have read this rather rapidly. There is a lot to consider but I do not find it particularly worrying. There will of course be people who take sentences out of context and use and twist them but that is in the nature of to-day's society. I saw something on a newsstand about the Pope saying we need more women in the church. I would have thought it was the men that were missing! But of course the Pope said nothing of the kind - merely a request to deepen the theology of women.

I think what he is emphasising is that there are different approaches in evangelising. To the non-Catholic it is probably not going to be very enlightening to be told bluntly some teaching say on abortion or sex. You need to find out first what they believe and gently lead them to Christ and eventually all will fall into place with good catechesis but it may be a long journey.

On the other hand when you are dealing with people within the Church who openly oppose the teaching of the Church you need a different perhaps firmer approach. We constantly need to explain our teaching and why we have come to accept that teaching.

Pelerin said...


Celia said...

Where are these Catholics who 'insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods'? Not in the pulpit, that's for sure.

On the other hand journalists and campaigning feminist and homosexual organisations bang on about them all the time. The Church cannot, if it is to bear witness to Christ, ignore the very real problems that modern attitudes to sexual matters are causing. Certainly in the last papacy (which seems an awfully long time ago) there was very positive pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage teaching and Benedict spoke far less about sin and far more about the joy of a relationship with Christ than his successor, but of course this was not what the press wanted from the 'Rottweiler', so it was ignored. I can still remember the surprise with which both Catholics and non-Catholics of my acquaintance spoke of his gentle and reasonable teaching during his UK visit.

And Francis? I seem to remember a book called 'Benedict XVI: a Guide for the Perplexed'. Perhaps the publishers would like to commission a follow-up.

Martina Katholik said...

"There seems to be something surprisingly horizontal about his theology."
"'Doctrine' and 'legalism' seem to be things that is less important than a relationship with Jesus Christ"

This is correct and I´m not surprised at all because I´ve read books by the teachers and friends of the Pope who are both liberation theologians who invented the argentinian branch called "Teología del pueblo": Lucio Gera S.J. and Juan Carlos Scannone S.J. In their "theology" doctrine and/or the Church Fathers are not existent. A relationship with Christ? Yes, but only in order to help the poor like he did.
The poor are the center of their "theology", to "liberate" them is all that matters.

Robert said...

No,no,no! I think I now get him and I am a dyed in th wool supporter of Pope Benedict. He upholds Aquinas whilst moving away from the sterile scholasticism of the past. That is precisely Pope Benedict's position and that of the people who influenced him such as Balthazar and De Lubac. I think thse ople is giving pastoral expression to the theology of Pope Benedict.

The Bones said...

Robert I think I agree.

But how many will 'get' that.

Andrew rex said...

Now that in this interview Francis has clarified the traditional teaching of the church that the Magisterium comprises of not just the Pope and Bishops but also the laity, will you be correcting your blog section?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Andrew: There is nothing new in what the Pope said about the role of the laity when he said:

And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together.

It is strictly in line with Lumen Gentium at para 12:

12. The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

One needs to read this carefully. First of all it is the "faithful" who are endowed with this infallibility. There will be different views as to who are the faithful! They have to be guided and obedient at least it seems.

Secondly it is the "entire body of the faithful" not just a majority. And Lumen Gentium says clearly this includes the Pope and the Bishops. So if the Pope or a few Bishops disagree with whatever the whole laity has proposed then their proposal cannot be infallible. If ACTA can persuade the Pope, the Bishops and the entire laity of the correctness of a particular view it could be infallible; I have a feeling this is unlikely to happen!

Robert said...

Nicholas Belfield is right. Newman also taught about the role of the laity and he was no liberal. Indeed, Pope Benedict was a great admirer of Newman. this article should be read too:
See my comments ate the end.

Andrew rex said...

Nicholas B: ''Andrew: There is nothing new in what the Pope said about the role of the laity''

I'm well aware that what Francis says about the Magisterium is not novel and he draws heavily upon the patristic tradition. I support this wise and good pope entirely in what he said.

My little dig was aimed at Lawrence's stubborn attitude in the past and his arrogant insistence that the magisterium comprises of only the bishops and pope (but actually in practice, the roman curia), as well as his dogmatic unwillingness to listen to alternative viewpoints. At the top of this blog you will see a tab marked 'what is the magisterium' where there is a rather outdated quote from a catechism - this is what I was referring to in my comment above.

The Bones said...


Real dogmatists are those who refuse stubbornly to accept that which is handed down by Holy Church to men.

That is the stubborness of Pride - those who think they know better than the Saints, Doctors and Popes of the ages.

It is vanity and pride that such people believe that if enough Catholics agree with them in their heresies (populism which the Pope refutes), that the Church will give in to their demands to be able to live out sinful lives without rebuke from their Mother, the Church.

People who humbly accept the teachings of the Church are not proud, but humble.

Francis makes it clear he is among these, not yours.

Andrew rex said...

Lawrence - we shall see what Francis thinks, with time.

....and yet Francis has a very different tone and message to yourself. This is why you (and other uber-traditionalists) don't like him or what he has to say. It's your very narrow interpretation of dogma and doctrine which is at issue, and it's becoming increasingly clear that Francis doesn't share that outlook or approach.

The Bones said...

Mr Rex

I don't think my tone is the problem.

I think the Magisterium is your problem.

Any Catholic teaching that calls for a measure of self-sacrifice is going to be annoying to many.

The humble accept it, and accept their failings. The proud do not accept it, because they cannot accept they need God's mercy.

The Bones said...

The Pope calls us to go to Confession.

Mr Rex, you are a Catholic.

How long's it been?

Andrew rex said...

I am indeed a catholic and I receive the sacraments regularly. The pope also says 'who am I to judge?' so I don't think it's any of your business when I last went to confession.

The Bones said...

Its none of my business, but it isn't meant to be embarrassing for a Catholic (especially one who uses a pseudonym.)

I went on Friday, I think of last week. I think its important, like Pope Francis says, to go to Confession regularly.

It must be hard for someone who disagrees with the Church's teachings to go to Confession, that's all, since they are in denial of what is mortal sin. Preparing for Confession must be hard for heretics.

The Bones said...

Sorry, there were two comments published by others which i accidentally deleted, if you'd like to post your comments again, feel free.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I am not sure that deleting one of my comments even accidentally is not a sin crying to heaven for vengeance - I suggest immediate confession to be on the safe side.

Anyway what I was writing about was Andrew Rex's criticism of your statement about the Magisterium. I think Andrew is confusing the two different ideas of infallibility and magisterium. I suspect he wants a more democratic church. However even in a democracy even if we voters have the power to say what we want to be passed into law it is only Parliament that can do so.

The Catechism clearly states that the Magisterium consists of the Pope and the Bishops and they are entrusted with teaching authority. We as the faithful may discover a truth and if the Pope and the Bishops agree with that truth then it can be infallible. However it is up to the Magisterium to say whether that is the true teaching of the Church and to then teach it. The Magisterium therefore is somewhat like Parliament in that it effectively "legislates" - but one must not carry the comparison too far!

Further the Magisterium not only teaches about infallible revelation but also about the natural law. As Catholics we have to obey the Magisterium even if we have doubts about it.

I cannot find what is wrong with the Bones' statement on this. Perhaps Andrew could be more specific as to his objection.

BJC said...

"Now that in this interview Francis has clarified the traditional teaching of the church that the Magisterium comprises of not just the Pope and Bishops but also the laity, will you be correcting your blog section?"

Andrew, can you please tell us where in Sacred Scripture and Tradition your heretical beliefs are supported? And please, no references to your favourite "liberal" "Catholic" "theologians" - they don't count. The only sources of revelation for a Catholic are scripture and tradition.

Oh, and we need 2000 years of quotes covering every century coming from the usual sources - Church fathers, saints, doctors of the Church, official church documents, Councils and catechsims. And please, full quotes not edited highlights as liberals are want to do.

Robert said...

chaps. I agree with the general tenor but it is only the extraordinary magetserium which is infallible; the ordinary magisterium is not.

Andrew rex said...

BJC - in a later comment I made (which was deleted by Lawrence) I gave the quote from Francis' big interview where he says quite explicitly that the Magisterium comprises of the whole church (laity included, not just bishops).

I guess you're saying that Francis is a heretic then given that these beliefs are his (but are actually drawn from the patristic tradition of the church).

Nicolas Bellord said...

Andrew: You wrote: I gave the quote from Francis' big interview where he says quite explicitly that the Magisterium comprises of the whole church (laity included, not just bishops).

I have searched the big interview in the America article and the word "magisterium" does not appear. Are you still confusing the infallibility of ALL the faithful with the Magisterium? Or is there some other passage which justifies what you say?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Robert: Thanks for pointing this out. On reading the Catechism I noticed the reference to the ordinary magisterium and wondered what this meant. Could you give me a pointer to where the distinction is made between the ordinary and the extraordinary?

One of the benefits of these blogs is that one does learn more and more about our religion!

BJC said...


Can you please answer my question rather than running away from it. If you are so confident it should be easy to do. Indeed if these heretical beliefs are from "patristic tradition" which Church Fathers are you talking about? Where are your sources? Where are your sources from the Bible?

Pope Francis's personal opinions don't come into it and if you are Catholic you should know this. Not that I believe for a minute he holds the views you ascribe to him.

Robert said...

The ordinary magisterium refers to the general teaching of the church: rules on celibacy, how one received communion and so on. the extraordinary magisterium refers to definitions of what the church has always believed: infallible statements such as the Assumption, the belief in the real Presence, the nature of Christ's incarnation. It includes the authoritative teaching of the councils of the church and the pope's authoritative definition. The extraordinary magisterium refers to the deposit of faith passed on and developing. as Newman described.

BJC said...

Let's not forget the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church (as opposed to just the ordinary magisterium) is infallible and most of the teachings of the Church on faith and morals fall under this category.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Robert: Many thanks for your useful explanation. One never stops learning!

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