ROME — On a recent Sunday, a group of young American Catholics were among thousands in St. Peter’s Square waiting for Pope Francis to deliver his weekly message. Gillian Caruso said he’s doing a great job. “He came out with the statement that we were talking about at dinner last night that no pope has ever said, about gay people not being a sin,” she said. “So that was pretty cool.” Her friend Carolyn Cree agreed. “Especially in this time, like, everyone feels supported by him, you know?”
The women were referring to the pope’s recent remarks to journalists, on his flight home following a visit to Sudan, in which he denounced laws criminalizing LGBT people. He said such legislation is an injustice and a sin, because LGBT people “are children of God and God loves them.”
Back in St Peter’s Square, his message over, Francis delivered his signature sign-off: “Don’t forget to pray for me,” the pope said. “Have a great meal and arrivederci.” As the crowd cheered, the 86-year-old pope returned to the modest Vatican City guest house where he has chosen to live, renouncing the pomp and isolation of the Apostolic Palace.
In that same square on March 13, 2013, the new pope introduced himself as coming from the “end of the world.” Born in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio became the first non-European pontiff in more than a millenium. Since that day, says Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology at Villanova University, Francis has made clear the old world no longer calls the shots on what’s Catholic and what’s not. “The Western hemisphere, the North Atlantic, a certain bourgeois Catholicism, he has rejected that in the most radical terms,” says Faggioli.
The first Jesuit pope and the first to take the name Francis – after the saint of the poor – was elected with a mandate to clean up a scandal-ridden Vatican administration. Papal biographer and veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi says Francis’ reforms of the Vatican bank, for example, are radical. “It is no more possible that mafia money flows through the Vatican bank or corruption money for political parties in Italy like it was in the past,” Politi says.
And he says it’s not only on financial issues that Francis has left his mark. “He has wiped off from the table all the obsession of the Catholic Church about sexual issues,” Politi says, adding that Francis shuns the culture wars and rarely speaks about birth control and abortion. “He doesn’t change the letter of some church documents,” Politi says. “But with his gestures or with his words, he paves the way to new attitudes.”
Comment: This commentary is by NPR’s Sylvia Poggoli. She goes on to cover the Pope’s more controversial actions and the pushback he’s experiencing from the more traditionalist, conservative elements of the Catholic Church and from self-righteous populist world leaders. I doubt Pope Francis is surprised by this push back or even disappointed by it.
One of his more far reaching reforms is pushing the organization and functioning of the church into synodality rather than pure authoritarianism. This may stem from his Jesuit belief in the importance of the informed conscience. In my view, he has made listening to others, questioning both the orthodox and unorthodox and continuing the discussion in a journey of spiritual and human growth. When first asked who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his response was “I am a sinner. This is the accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” I firmly believe this admission is at the heart of Pope Francis’ call to us, all of us, to join him on this pilgrimage to God. The path for this pilgrimage is laid out in “Laudato Si.”
I grew up in the Anglican Church, but I no longer consider myself Anglican. Culturally, perhaps, but the church is long gone. If you attend service, it’s a few retirees, people at the ends of their lives. There are no families, no children.
The Church stopped standing against things. They accepted and encouraged heresy, and the church died.
If unchecked, the popes embrace of modern liberal values will destroy Catholicism.
There are plenty of things the Church stands against, but the emphasis is on what the Church stands for. In the new testament stories of Jesus, the only thing he stood against was the money lenders in the temple. He stood for people, even marginal people and sinners. He told us what to do, not what not to do. Think of the parable of the prodigal son among others.
The Church is still against extra marital sex, of any kind, against abortion and birth control and calls for her priests to remain celibate whether they are straight or gay. The Church does not reject sinners or even consider all those on the margins of society to be sinners. It’s a good thing considering the Church’s record on child abuse. That alone could be grounds for abolishment of the Church if the emphasis was solely on what to stand against.
Thank you for opening this can of worms. I am reconsidering my Catholic upbringing in light of my current studies.
I KNOW god MAY be, but not What. Since that’s my credo it’s silly to try to understand the nature of this fellow Jesus. Was he a traditional Jew? Maybe not. He is less judgemental and more forgiving. But he did support the 10 Commandments and arguably 6 or 7 of them tell us what NOT to do. All Jews and Christians accept the commandments; right.
Then there’s the question of what the RC Church tells its adherents not to do. Christian priests are not to marry (but Jesus did not say so). Jewish tradition w/n allow women as priest as they were subordinate to men. But women could help out as long as they were celibate (is the RC Church maintaining subordination of women or did I miss another thing that Jesus said). Recently Francis said, there maybe changes? Hope he got an ok! Rules for fish, foul, or meat, who says? Not Jesus. The sin should be hated but the sinner loved, except those dang heretics says the RC Church (Protestants caught up to heretic bashing in time). A tithe a tithe or perhaps a bit more! Jesus d/n require money. “Those who believe in me are saved” seemed simple enough and straight from his mouth. Then there is the trinity, an idea never mentioned in gospel but essential by Nicea. Bells, vespers, saints, smoking cannisters and pronouncements in a forgotten language are unable to enrich the simple message of love and forgiveness proposed by Jesus. This has left a wretch like me lost, not found, and despairing of hope in any church, pope, or dogma. My good wishes to all the faithful herein but after a lifetime’s thought, I am left only 8 words (supra).
I am not Catholic, but in general favor traditional practices.
Pope Francis has been in the news as making it more and more difficult for individual Catholic churches to use the traditional Latin mass:
TTG, you wrote:
Maybe I’m missing something, but his restrictions on the use of the Latin mass
sounds to me like unbridled authoritarianism of the left.
I and many others agree with you that this is the most authoritarian facet of Pope Francis’ last ten years. But why is this authoritarianism of the left? He is implementing changes called for by the Second Vatican Council, over 50 years ago. Liturgical changes centered on returning the Church to her roots. The mass was celebrated in the vernacular for centuries and with greater participation of the laity than in what became the Latin mass or Tridentine mass.
The Latin mass remains a source of faith to some with its greater mystery and ritual, but it is also used by some as a form of rebellion against the Church. Restrictions against the celebration of the Tridentine mass were relaxed by previous Popes in an effort to bridge the gap between the current Church and those who largely rejected the changes of the Second Vatican Council. It did not bridge any gap. Pope Francis saw the continued use of the Latin mass as reinforcing the division rather than healing it. His restrictions are his effort to create unity rather than feed the division.
As an altar boy, I learned to serve mass in Latin. It was difficult, but as an altar boy, I was able to participate in the mass to a far greater extent than the laity sitting in the pews. That participation definitely deepened my faith. Still, much of what the priest said in Latin was lost to me. Once the mass was said in English and all that Latin went by the wayside, at least until high school, so much more of the miracle of the Eucharist was revealed to me. It deepened my faith even more.
Today, I consider myself a lapsed Catholic at best and perhaps a bit of a heretic along with cobo. But maybe not. I distinctly remember Father O’Dea, the pastor I knew form my earliest memories, sitting under one of our ancient maple trees with the neighborhood children and telling us that, since heaven was paradise, our beloved pets would surely be with us in heaven. He was not a Jesuit, but he saw God in all things.
My thought, FWIW:
If some churches want to celebrate the mass in the vernacular, fine, go ahead.
If others want to stick with the Latin mass, fine, go ahead.
I cannot see where the harm is in allowing that.
People can pick and choose how traditional they want to be.
But then I am most certainly not the pope, nor familiar with the reasoning of that Vatican Council.
“he saw god in all things”. Ergo reconsider my offering.. I KNOW god MAY be, but not what. Eight little words are all we have so questions of Latin vs vulgar are irrelevant. Unless .. “do you believe in magic” I think the song asked.
Now, after three years of H.S. Latin I ask the question of the day.
“Ubi oh Ubi est meas sububi.” Hint; it has nothing to do w/t Eucharist.
Ah yes, an old joke, but sure to bring a snicker to a class of freshman prep school boys.
TTG I’m glad you d/n give it away. I look forward to the literati’s explanation.
Thanks Bill, I used Google to find out what that might mean.
Very funny (and I say that sincerely).
And BTW, it does give a sample of Latin.
My slightly similar memory from reading Boy’s Life in the 1950s:
The ancient Indian chant:
“Owa tagu Siam.”
“There is no god, and Dirac is his prophet.”
— Saying at Cambridge University in the 1920s and 30s. Paul Dirac predicted, correctly, the existence of antimatter several years before it’s experimental discovery. He was opposed to war and economic inequality in general. He declined the award of knighthood because he preferred being addressed as “Professor Dirac” rather than “Sir Paul.”
The main problem that the major Christian churches face is their reliance on a 1700 year business model that is not faring all that well anymore. Thus, membership is diminishing and especially younger people are staying away.
Lars; Exactly. The R.C. church produces nothing tangible for sale. It does produce a feeling of happiness(?) contentment(?) peace(?). How, and to whom, do you sell that. You sell it by fear … w/o the priests (the holders of the keys) you will not reach heaven and the alternatives to obeying the church are displayed in the most horrible ways. You sell it to the uneducated and keep the rites mysterious (Latin Mass), symbolism, medieval rules. This is a plan for revenue which depends on a world population that is much the same for the past 1500 years. But it isn’t anymore. The RC church is as much interested in money as faithful in her South American and African efforts. This effort does not just apply to the R.C. Church but to all organized religion. Organizations (YMCA, Political Parties, Trout Unlimited) need money to survive. How farfetched is it to expect the RC Church and Islam to do some revenue sharing? I leave Protestants/Orthodox out of that question b/c it is the Pope who has made much over the “oneness” of faith.
That view seems cynical to me.
For a sample of what the Christian faith can offer, the two hymns in this (ten minute duration) playlist seem like fine examples:
“All Creatures of our God and King” (Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip, March 2022)
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Commonwealth Day 2020)
In the latter, evidently Prince Philip at that time could no longer make it down the aisle at Westminster Abbey to accompany his wife.
OTOH, it is nice to see the younger royals taking part. Life goes on.
Funny, I don’t find to many mentions of rainbows and pride from 1700 years ago that have anything like the current meanings of them. I wonder why?
The key question in the near term is how Pope Francis deals with the recalcitrant Synod of German bishops, which has recently called for the blessing of same-sex unions, in open defiance of the Vatican itself, 2000 years of Catholic history, universal Christian history until roughly 1960, and 1000 years for orthodox Judaism before that. Will he stamp out this incipient heresy before it starts, risking another schism with the German church, akin to Luther’s ? Or will he kindly leave it to his successor to deal with. Time will tell.
I Do like the photo of the Pope…It Does Remind me of Many events I Read in
The King James Bible…Like When Jesus was Baptized By John The Baptist..
Im Not Catholic..But also Christian…I Rely on The Comments I Have Read By Pat
on This Matter of The Role of The Pope and I Know The Pope is from Argentina
And Biden Buys Argentina Oil..And Our Border is Open to Them..and Biden had
to Appeal to the Pope to be Able To Take Communion..Trade Offs..??
So…I Trust Pat for His Evaluation of the Matter..Or Anti-Matter..In the Vatican..
I Tend to Agree With Seward ..That This Pope should Leave This Matter in
The Hands of His sucessor..another PETER..The Last Pope..??
Because I Believe the RC Church..has a Major Role
To Play..In History..and that does Not Include Changing What in Written in
the Holy Bible..About The Issues Being Discussed Here..The Bible has a Clear
Warning to Anyone Trying to Do That..The Pope..should Be a Rock..
there is enough Anti Christ Liberalism/Activism in The World Already..But..As Scripture States…”There will Come a Falling Away,First..So The Son of Perdition
Will Be Revealed..” That is What is Happening…The Next Important
Sign Will Be…”When Everyone Says “Peace At Last..Peace At Last..Sudden
Destruction Will Come..”
How Soon After Major Events in Ukraine…Iran..The Middle East Will THAT Happen