Monday, October 27, 2014

Is Pope Francis' "God of Surprises" simply the Prince of this world?

Father John Hunwicke writes, "The Holy Father has criticised  the fault of 'wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises; within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve'. (He went on to make balancing criticisms of other and contrary attitudes.)

When the first wave of Ordinariate clergy were being 'formed' at Allen Hall, our teaching was solidly, insistently, based upon the Conciliar and post-Conciliar Magisterium. This meant the written words of Vatican II and, mainly, the Magisterial documents of our recently canonised S John Paul II. Written documents like Veritatis splendor and Familiaris consortio. Is the Holy Father now telling us that we ought not to be 'closed within' such written words? Heaven help us; it's only a couple of years since we learned all that stuff from expensive written texts provided for our education by funds which, I think I understood, the English Bishops generously made available! Making a bonfire of them seems a bit premature!

Of course, those written words did not represent the end of the Magisterium. There must be development! But, surely, any developments cannot just ignore or rubbish the teaching of those documents? S Vincent of Lerins and B John Henry Newman analysed the difference between change and development. A human foetus cannot develop into an octopus, nor an acorn into a lemon tree..."

I have heard it suggested that rhetoric like the Holy Father's is a danger to his own authority, rather like cutting off the branch that one is sitting on. If the magisterial documents, the written words of a predecessor are now of negligible consequence, how, people wonder, is his own authority any greater? When Pope Francis issues some written words which he desires to be seen as having Magisterial authority, what would be his answer to the naughty little boy who said "Ah, Holy Father, I'm not going to close myself within your written word. Give me the God of Surprises any day..." See here.

It is intrinsic to the Catholic religion, that before one can become a member, he must satisfy himself that the answers to all questions of faith or morals are contained in a Deposit of Faith which has been revealed by God and entrusted to a Custodian established by God Himself and endowed with infallible protection against any change or error.  There are many who consider themselves to be "Catholic" even as they reject the Church's teaching while striving to erect a church in their own image and likeness.  One such deluded soul left a comment at this Blog accusing Catholic bloggers who are faithful to the Church's Magisterium of representing "a Puritan sect" anxious to "excommunicate" other Catholics.

This sophomoric soul should reflect very carefully on the words of Pope Paul VI, in a discourse given to a general audience on September 1, 1971: "...He who thinks he can remain a Christian by his own efforts, deserting the institutional bonds of the visible and hierarchical Church, or who imagines he can remain faithful to the mind of Christ by fashioning for himself a Church conceived according to his own ideas, is on the wrong track, and deceives himself.  He compromises and perhaps ruptures, and makes others rupture, real communion with the People of God, losing the pledge of its promises."

The Church is a communion of persons with the Living God, brought about by the Lord Jesus in the Holy Spirit. And, as Pope John Paul II teaches in Christifideles Laici, No. 64, " awareness of a commonly shared Christian dignity, an ecclesial consciousness brings a sense of belonging to the mystery of the Church as Communion. This is a basic and undeniable aspect of the life and mission of the Church. For one and all, the earnest prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper, 'That all may be one' (Jn 17: 21), ought to become daily a required and undeniable program of life and action."

When we understand what is meant by the Church's communion, the words of Pope Benedict XVI make perfect sense: "..In order to remain in unity with the crucified and risen Lord, the practical sign of juridical unity, 'remaining in the teaching of the apostles' is indispensable." (Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, p. 69, Ignatius Press).  But the false prophets of the "new morality," which is neither new nor morality, continue to insist that we are now living in a new era in which men have "come of age."  These mental and moral midgets, anxious to baptize abortion, homosexuality, contraception and a host of other evils, argue that there is now before us a new way, an easy way of following God which permits all things in the name of "love."

As these sons and daughters of Hell raise their angry voices against the Church, demanding that she "update" her teaching so that it will be more palatable for "modern man," the Church reminds us all in her authoritative voice that, "They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a 'bodily' manner and not 'in his heart.' All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged." (Lumen Gentium, No. 14).

If Francis is taking his direction from a "God of surprises" who is telling him to change doctrine, I've got news for him: this "god" is the Prince of this world, he who surprised Eve and assured her that there was a better way" than God's Way.

And we all know where that led.

Pope Francis believes the Church needs to mature to better approach man "come of age."  Related reading here.


Peter said...

Pope Francis's latest comments on the 'bastardization of the family' suggest to me that he has been listening to the advice received, probably from some good Cardinals.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

One can only hope Peter. Things have been growing very dark.

Peter said...

I think it's going to be OK Paul. There has been a strong opposition from faithful Cardinals. I think the Pope will have got the message if he had any inkling of trying to make bad changes to Church disciplines which could only corrode and attack doctrine. Looking at the little Marian shrine there in the photo on that article, I am given hope and I hope you are too.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

We're not out of the woods yet. One prominent Jesuit said that we would have revolution in a year's time. Francis himself said, “Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.”

One year to "mature"? What does this mean? One year to jettison Church tradition and the previous magisterial teaching?

The Mystical Body of Christ is a perfect society. What does he mean by mature? Accept the zeitgeist?

Peter said...

The crazy thing is St. John Paul II's FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO addressed the subject of divorce/remarriage/Holy Communion and everything to do with family; I am struggling to see how this latest synod is necessary. Did the Church read, digest, and implement FC's teaching? Or, to borrow someone else's phrase (''It's easier to buy a new book than read the one you have''), is it a case that we can't be bothered to live the difficult teaching so we mess around with producing a new document? I honestly think most bishops and priests aren't bothering to read and implement i.e. teach from the official teaching documents of the Magisterium. That's precisely a major part of the problem. Agreed, the term 'mature' is strange, given the Church is 2000 years old; perhaps Pope Francis means that, I hope, we have a year to convince many of the truths of the Church's teaching and to produce useful guidance on how to move forward and help families be faithful and good. Certainly many cardinals and bishops could do with some maturing in the faith.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Why would Francis tell a woman, whose son has stopped going to Mass, that what really matters is that he's a good boy? See my previous post on this subject.

The Mass is no longer necessary for salvation?
How so?

And what does Francis mean when he says that, "God is not a divine being"?

What then is God if not divine?

I think that at some point the excuses for this man need to stop.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Peter said...

This is just bizarre.

I can't post the link as my phone is o playing up, but Google Pope Francis latest homily which you'll find on ROME REPORTS website:

'Pope: there are three types of Christians'

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