Papal Zingers: Liberal and Traditionalist Errors

Papal Zingers: Liberal and Traditionalist Errors

The Synod on the Family has created a confused media storm.  The workings of the Church are impenetrable to secular analysis.  To clear up a few abused papal stereotypes, consider Pope Francis’ closing remarks. He really hit the nail on the head.

The Traditionalist Temptation: “a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.”

The Liberal Temptation: “The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

Pope Francis is stereotyped as a liberal and an enemy of tradition. Pope Benedict XVI is stereotyped in the opposite way. Liberal and conservative are insulting and limiting when applied to the pastoral care of the Pope.  Pope Benedict echoed the remarks of Pope Francis in his book The Nature and Mission of Theology.

“There are, of course, many petty minds and repeaters of the past even among orthodox theologians.  They are to be found everywhere; hack theology has enjoyed a particularly rapid growth precisely where there was too much noisy chatter about creativity.  For a long time, I shared the impression that the so-called heretics were really more interesting than theologians of the Church, at least in more recent times.  Now, however, when I consider the great believing teachers from Mohler to Newman and Scheeben, from Rosimini to Guardini, or in our day de Lubac, Congarm, Balthasar – how much richer and more relevant is their testimony than the witness of those who let the corporate subject Church slip through their fingers.  These masters are a clear witness of another truth:  pluralism happens, not when we make it the object of our desire, but when everyone wants the truth with all his power and in his own epoch.”

Pope Benedict and Pope Francis are far more similar than the media realizes, and they are often more similar than even the Catholic media realizes.  Their similarity lies in their love and faithfulness to Christ.

The stereotyping is reminiscent of people recruiting Jesus to their own ideology. Jesus’ teachings can be used to support feminism, conservatism, liberalism, environmentalism, socialism, traditionalism, and lots more isms. Proof texting for a cause usually ends up abusing the Word. We need to be recruited by Jesus and not draft Jesus into our cause.

Here are a few bonus zingers from the closing remarks of Pope Francis.

“- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).”

“- The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.”

“- The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…”

One Comment

  • Clark Massey on Oct 23, 2014

    Missionary alumna Sylvia sent me a great point on Facebook:
    Ultimately, Francis states that these temptations are no surprise or cause for worry. They are evidence of the presence of the Spirit and opportunity for growth:
    “Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parrhesia.”