Sunday, April 7, 2013

"A kinder, gentler pope... is ... scary"

David Gibson at National Catholic Reporter has an interesting post about concerns about Pope Francis' pontificate from traditionalists and liberals in the Church.

[E]ven as the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio basks in this broad approval as Pope Francis, some constituencies in the Catholic church are cautious or even angry at his election, and their concern has only grown in the early days of his pontificate.

Gibson observes that some traditionalists are concerned with the Pope's informality and his love of the poor and his substantive criticisms of capitalism.

But the critique by the liberals is what I think will be the precis of Francis' pontificate:

"The election of a doctrinally conservative pope, even one with the winning simplicity of his namesake, is especially dangerous in today's media-saturated world where image too often trumps substance," the feminist theologian Mary Hunt wrote at Religion Dispatches
"A kinder, gentler pope who puts the weight of the Roman Catholic hierarchical church behind efforts to prevent divorce, abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage -- as Mr. Bergoglio did in his country -- is ... scary," Hunt said.

That's the heart of it, and that is what I believe is the genius of Francis' election.

Traditional Catholic teaching on divorce, abortion, contraception, and marriage are of the same moral cloth as the love for the poor and sick and the disabled.

They are the same love and the same concern, applied to different realms.

Sexual sin is a war on the innocent-- on children in the womb, on children and mothers abandoned in divorce, on young people left emotionally and physically devastated by promiscuity and disease, and by the infestation of our culture with false "rights" to sexual irresponsibility-- really assertions of power and privilege-- that leave the poorest among us devastated. Sexual sin is an intimate affront. As Paul observed, sexual sin is the only sin committed in the body. The fruit of the revolution in sexual morals is Detroit, not Shangri-La. Wrecked families, dead children in Planned Parenthood dumpsters, single mothers struggling to raise their children and protect them from the self-vindicators who roam the streets at night.

The Pope's message is this: love for the poor, for the jobless, for the sick, for the oppressed, for the imprisoned, for the lonely, for the elderly, for the unborn, for the young whose lives are wrecked by promiscuity and abandonment, for men and women and children torn apart by fornication and abuse and homosexuality and divorce, are the same love.

That has always been the teaching of the Church. It is the teaching of Christ. Pope Francis is reminding us of this truth.

The proclamation of love for all the poor-- the financially poor, the politically oppressed, the unborn, the very young and the very old, the disabled, the abandoned and divorced and sexually used-- is the heart of Christian morality.

To those who hate Christ and His Church, that proclamation is very scary indeed.


  1. “Traditional Catholic teaching on divorce, abortion, contraception, and marriage are of the same moral cloth as the love for the poor and sick and the disabled.”

    Bullshit. Catholic teaching on divorce, abortion, contraception, and marriage serve primarily to keep women chattel. Making it difficult for a woman to get out of an abusive relationship, denying her control over when she gets pregnant, and forcing her to have babies she does not want, isn’t at all like feeding the hungry.

    As I have so often pointed out, religious conservatives always come down on the side of restricting liberty, all the while whining that they are the ones being denied their right to impose their values on others.


  2. You make some excellent points, Doctor Egnor.
    I have been very weary of this pope because of comments he made as a younger man about the Falklands at the time. Obviously I am for the rights of the Islanders, but that aside; I was perturbed by a bishop involving himself in a nakedly political situation.
    But, I have to admit I think he has a certain style and genuineness about him that is extremely attractive. A Pope who loves the poor, who kisses the feet of prisoners, and calls for radical change in the moral directions of our civilization is exactly what the Church of Rome needs. It has the potential to benefit all of Christendom by means of forcing a conversation LONG overdue.
    So far, I am extremely impressed with this Pontiff. He seems to have come along way since the days when his politics where so well known. That is commendable in many, many ways.
    Congratulations and thanks are in order.
    Congratulations to the RCC and thanks to God.


    Your comment is so full of hatred it is not easy to find a good point to engage. What I will do is point out to the other readers that your "[...]and forcing her to have babies she does not want, isn’t at all like feeding the hungry" translates to not allowing pregnant women to kill their own unborn offspring on a whim.
    If women do not want to get pregnant they have the mental capacity to avoid sexual union.
    They are not as stupid or irresponsible as you think, KW.
    They are, in fact, human beings just like you. So are the offspring you would have culled so you can play with expensive toys and rut like a juvenile animal.
    Also, next time you need to put a colon after 'Bullshit', so we all know what is about to follow.

  3. I don't find the new pope 'scary'. I'm interested to see what course a Jesuit pope will take, since we've never previously had one before.

    Jesuits have traditionally been science friendly. From a brief search on the Internet, I note that most of the astronomers at the Vatican Observatory seem to be ordained Jesuits.

    The first article notes that Pope Francis appears concerned about environmental damage in addition to poverty. And there can be nothing as poverty inducing as a warming Earth on the livelihood of farmers in already hot Equatorial and subtropical countries.

    I don't expect it will happen. It's too much to hope for. But I wonder what would happen if Pope Francis made a pronouncement on AGW? And it contradicted Egnor's position?