Monday, March 18, 2013
Sentinel & Enterprise: Will Pope Francis be another John Paul XXIII?
You have to hand it to Charles St. Amand, the editor of the Sentinel & Enterprise, a local newspaper serving the Leominster-Fitchburg area as well as seven other cities and towns. The man is most consistent. When it comes to articles and editorials which touch upon the Catholic Church in particular and Catholicism in general, Mr. St. Amand never troubles himself with getting the facts straight. See here for example.
Take yesterday's editorial entitled, "Francis: Whose shoes will he fill?" We read: "With the election of a new pope, Catholics around the world must be wondering what the latest successor to St. Peter has in mind for the Mother Church...He has shown himself to be socially conservative in Argentina by his stance against gay marriage and his backing of the traditional role of women in the Church, but he has also scolded some of his priests there for their refusal to baptize children born out of wedlock."
Actually, the terms "liberal" and "conservative" should never be applied to the Church. As Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand explains, "These terms, facilely applied to many natural realms, can be extremely misleading when applied to the Church. It is of the very nature of Catholic Christian faith to adhere to an unchanging divine revelation, to acknowledge that there is something in the Church that is above the ups and downs of cultures and the rhythm of history. Divine revelation and the Mystical Body of Christ differ completely from all natural entities. To be conservative, to be a traditionalist, is in this case an essential element of the response due to the unique phenomenon of the Church. Even a man in no way conservative in temperament and in many other respects progressive must be conservative in his relation to the infallible magisterium of the Church, if he is to remain an orthodox Catholic. One can be progressive and simultaneously a Catholic, but one cannot be a progressive in one's Catholic faith. The idea of a 'progressive Catholic' in this sense is an oxymoron, a contradictio in adjecto...With the labels conservative and progressive they [the intellectually dishonest with an anti-Catholic agenda] are in fact requiring the faithful to choose between opposition to any renewal, opposition even to the elimination of things that have crept into the Church because of human frailty (e.g., legalism, abstractionism, external pressure in questions of conscience, grave abuses of authority in monasteries) and a change, a 'progress' in the Catholic faith which can only mean its abandonment. These are false alternatives. For there is a third choice, which welcomes the official decisions of the Vatican Council (Vatican II) but at the same time emphatically rejects the secularizing interpretations given them by many so-called progressive theologians and laymen. This thirs choice is based on unshakable faith in Christ and in the infallible magisterium of His Holy Church. It takes it for granted that there is no room for change in the divinely revealed doctrine of the Church." (Trojan Horse in the City of God, pp. 10-11).
So it's not a question of Pope Francis being "conservative" or "progressive." The Holy Father opposes so-called same-sex "marriage" and the ordination of women to the priesthood because divinely revealed doctrine cannot change.
The Sentinel & Enterprise editorial refers to Pope Francis' predecessor on the Chair of Peter, the same Pontiff who called for Vatican II, as "Pope John Paul XXIII": "Will he [Pope Francis] maintain his life of simplicity and pursuit of social justice, or will he be the next John Paul XXIII?" Obviously, the writer of this confused editorial was thinking of Pope John XXIII who was elected Pontiff on October 28, 1958 and installed on November 4th of that same year. Pope John reigned as Vicar of Christ until June 3, 1963.
This is the sort of coverage of Catholicism that Catholics have come to expect from the Sentinel & Enterprise. But they deserve better.
Related reading here.