Francis: New Pope, New Church?

Pope Francis is back at the Vatican after a whirlwind World Youth Day celebration in Brazil. Not a single doctrine of the Catholic church was altered during this event. Frankly, there seems little likelihood there will be change to any Catholic doctrine in the foreseeable future. Pope Francis even made clear that there will be no female priests during his papacy.

What is the excitement all about? Are the words of the oft-sung hymn “Sing a New Church” about to become prophetic? We are told that the pope has changed the tone of the discourse. He has. But how significant is that change? Let’s look first at the ways in which Pope Francis has indeed changed the tone.

We know many of the indicators reflect more personality than substantive change. These signs include carrying his own bags (or, in the case of the trip to Brazil, his briefcase), kissing babies and choosing not to live in the Vatican apartments. There is indeed some significance to these gestures in that it is clear the pope expects others in the hierarchy to adopt much of his way of responding to others. We are even seeing signs of simpler dress and communication among the hierarchy…

Besides, Pope Francis is just getting started. He’s not done yet.    Read more

28 responses

  1. That article is frightening. Why is it frightening? Because it is so accurate. I have serious concerns about this pope. He doesn’t look like a pope and he doesn’t act like a pope. I wonder why he accepted the office of Supreme Pontiff if he didn’t really want it.

    I’m sick of hearing about “A return to Gospel values”. What an insult to previous popes! Another thing, what exactly are “Gospel values”? It’s a phrase banded about by wooly headed incompetents, it is particularly favoured by those working in Catholic education, that sounds good but doesn’t actually mean very much. No one has ever been able to name these “values” when I have asked.

    Forgive me, but I’m sick of hearing about the poor. If the poor are being oppressed then it is because the Faith has been lost. No government that is based on Catholic Social Teaching would oppress the poor. So, let’s get back to basics. Maybe the pope should concentrate on the Social Kingship of Christ instead of uttering soppy, stupid guff like “let’s be very close to the poor”. How can I be “close to the poor” living in the West of Scotland? Does the pope want me to go and hug a tramp sleeping under a railway bridge? What we should be doing is catechising and defending the Faith. God forgive me but this pope is starting to sound like Judas with his false concern with the poor.

    How can a pope not want to talk about abortion? How can a pope “change the subject” when asked a question about it by journalists? Unbelievable. Is there any group more “poor” than the unborn? Naked and defenceless in their mothers’ wombs. Is Pope Francis really saying we should change the subject and focus instead on hugging the homeless?

    I think this is a truly frightening pontificate. We now have a pope who seems to detest the papacy. What is really frightening is that he has an army of fans – including the secular press. I noticed a comment on a site last week saying “Finally we have a pope who is one of us”. The Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church? The Vicar of Christ? God help us all.

    • Petrus:

      In Italy he is now being referred to as ‘il Papa di popoli’ and/or ‘il Papa di gays’; a cross between the Dalai Lama and Princess Dianna.

      • I mean this as a reply to Petrus (although it’s a reference to your username) because there is no REPLY button at his post.

        I, too, find Constantine’s username very interesting because of the content of the majority of his posts. Coincidentally, one might say, one once had a telephone conversation with a young man reputed to be of a very cheerful disposition, so to speak, nod nod wink wink, whom I’m now told is employed as a teacher in a school dedicated to St Constantine somewhere out there in the UK. More than that one will not say – discretion being the better part of valour …

        In any case, nobody say a word, hush hush! Constantine, Great or otherwise, is entitled to his anonymity as are the rest of our blogging community, but I can’t resist being a wicked woman. It’s fun!

        But If I’ve hit on my dear telephone friend of yore, I hope he’ll email me to arrange that tea and cream cakes date we sort of mentioned at the time. Although now that Bradford’s Tearoom (Sauchiehall Street) has gone bust, heavens knows where we could meet now. IS there anywhere else that serves tea and fresh cream cakes in Glasgow? And is Constantine the Great within easy reach of said Glasgow?

        Such problems face a girl every day. What IS a girl to do? Constantine, you hearing me? (My treat, Sugar Plum… but only if I’ve got the right guy. I don’t believe in blind dates. Not in Glasgow where the Alsatians go around in pairs.)

    • That’s a great post, Petrus – got the WOW factor.

      But, silly you asking what “gospel values” are. You for real?

      Gospel values, as any archbishop will tell you, are respect for every human being, especially “gays” and women, respect for every religion on earth coupled with a readiness to apologise for Catholicism at every turn; freedom of conscience; if you want to kill you granny and you can square it with your conscience, go for it, guy! Oh and tolerance of every evil under the sun, (mustn’t forget tolerance) and hugging a hoodie if you happen to meet one after dark on a lonely stretch of road just before he swipes your wallet.

      The above are the “gospel values” so beloved by the Catholic education “experts” (not). Petrus, you daft or what? You didn’t know that? You for real?

      As for the rest – summed up beautifully with a pope who seems to detest the papacy – that has to be the original nutshell.

      However, I’m puzzled about the claim that the Pope wanted to “change the subject” when abortion was mentioned – he’s on record defending the right to life of the unborn, and identified it is a moral issue, in the nature of things. So a wee clarification on that point would be interesting.

      As and when, Petrus. As and when…

      • Editor,

        Ah shucks. I’m blushing.

        In that article it said the pope changed the subject and didn’t want to discuss abortion. If I’ve read that wrongly, I apologise to the pope.

    • I agree about “gospel values” – what does that phrase mean?

      I also wonder about other phrases like “an encounter with Jesus” that sort of thing which the pope is saying a lot without explaining it.

      Does anyone know?

      • I really meant to answer Petrus, but no reply button at his post. So I will answer both Petrus and Marietta-Anne here.

        Firstly, about “changing the subject” – I take it you refer to this extract from the article at the top of the thread:

        It is notable that Pope Francis has almost never used the word abortion since his elevation to the papacy. He was asked about this in his press conference. He forthrightly answered that the church’s position on abortion was clear and he wanted to present a positive message. In other words, he wanted to change the subject. He understood there are many issues the church needs to talk about, and by limiting itself to commenting over and over on abortion, homosexuality and other sins of the flesh, the church has failed to provide a strong voice on so many other important issues. For Pope Francis, poverty is at the top of that list.

        I’m afraid I always think of this mantra: I want to be positive not negative in the context of speaking or writing about the moral law, as – frankly – unintelligent. It’s the sort of “pub talk” you expect from the near-illiterate.

        What’s “negative” about condemning murder, whether it be of the unborn or 90 year olds? Would the pope change the subject if he were asked about the holocaust during WWII? I seriously doubt it if for no other reason than that the media fall-out would be massive.

        The idea (from later in the article) that “compassion and mercy” are not to be found in condemnation of evil, is – I repeat – frankly unintelligent. The parent reprimanding a small child about to stick his finger into the blazing fire, is being full of compassion and mercy. The pope might be a popular humanist who happens to believe in Hell and “encountering Jesus” but he’s no genius if he thinks talking about the poor every five minutes – a group whom Christ warned would be with us always – is “positive” while changing the subject when it turns to abortion and refusing to use the term (unless it’s to replace it with “murder”); as I say – he’s no genius, if he thinks it’s possible to “encounter Jesus” in that ridiculous frame of mind.

        Which brings me to the question raised by Marietta-Anne: this baloney talk about “encounters with Jesus” or “taking Jesus to the world ” and similar is just a way of saying “be nice to everyone… dialogue to death with everyone…don’t annoy anyone cos Jesus wouldn’t annoy anyone”.

        Nonsense, of course, sheer nonsense. The clue is in the fact that talk about Christ divorced from His Church is a lie. It is a pretence. If anyone wants to truly encounter Jesus, they have to become Catholics. The only authentic “encounter” with Christ is when He absolves us from our sins in the Sacrament of Penance which He established for that encounter, or when He enters our souls in Holy Communion and when we are present at the re-enactment of His sacrifice on Calvary, the Mass.

        When the Pope says that, and more, we will know that he is preaching the truth about Christ. Everything else could have fallen from the zealous lips of the Protestant evangelist Billy Graham.

      • Marietta-Anne,

        What these statements amount to, I’m afraid, is Protestant terminology. It used to be Pentecostals who spoke about “Gospel values” and “encountering Jesus.” The terms are deliberately vague and non-committal, typically ecumenical.

        What you will never hear our Modern popes and prelates saying are things like “outside the Church there is no salvation or “unless ye do penance, ye shall all likewise perish.”

      • editor,

        You beat me to it, but your response to Marietta-Anne is so much clearer and concise than mine so I’ll let you off.

  2. I think my main criticism of Francis’ style thus far would be that it seems mainly composed of:

    – pandering to the secular media
    – pandering to non-Catholics
    – platitudes
    – empty gestures

    (I feel comfortable criticising him – he said himself he enjoys hearing constructive criticism).

    On the other hand, I have liked much of what he has emphasised (if not always in the style he has done it). In particular, with reference to our worship, his denial of communion in the hand. However, theres no point in making a personal example on the matter, if he will continue to allow individual Bishops to make the rules in their own dioceses.

    I dislike him always calling himself “Bishop of Rome” – yes, that is one of his official titles – but his style of downplaying the status of his role is ultimately to let Protestants define Catholicism. Thats what been happening at grass roots levels for decades now, and see the devastation.

    I dislike his thumbing his nose at aspects of tradition. He is trying to be humble, but this is just silly. Would muslims ever change their worship form to something similar to a disco dance? Would they ever do away with minarets, like the priests who vandalise their altar rails? Would the redcoats at buckingham palace ever stop wearing red? No, of course not, because they are not stupid and realise that identity and tradition are closely bound up together.

    I think Francis has made two serious errors in his meddling with the Franciscans who use the traditional mass, and in allowing the serial homosexual pervert Monsignor Ricca to remain in control at the IOR. I suspect Ricca confessed and asked forgiveness – which is fair enough – but the long series of scandal he has been involved in suggests that he has never made any real effort to change his ways.

    What I really liked about Pope Benedict XVI (under whose pontificate I returned to Catholicism) was that he showed me that the faith was intellectual, was beautiful and was ancient. This portrayal of our Catholic faith was markedly different – and so much more appealing – than the very puerile and dissatisfying portrayal concocted over the years by various parish priests and RE teachers. Benedicts writings and speeches were not always easy to understand – but through this they were thought provoking and demanded proper consideration.

    I dont really think Francis has shown me anything yet. Hes been very busy impressing the secular media and non-Catholics. Sure, “help the poor”. Perhaps I flatter myself, but I reckon I might have come up with that one myself, if Id have thought long enough!

    I did like some aspects of his recent press conference. While the media sought to misrepresent the nature of his comments, I liked what he said. He said no to “wummin priests” and he praised the Catechism for its teachings on homosexuality.

    What I didnt like what his off-the-cuff manner. Its obviously a personality thing, but someone in that role needs to be very, very cautious about what they say to the media. We all say the wrong thing or use the wrong word sometime or other.

    Ultimately, I guess the message matters more than the style, but I dont think Catholics should be on tenderhooks every time the Pope opens his mouth.

    Although I have reservations about his style, I do like him and wish him well for the duration of his papacy (though I suspect I will continue to miss Pope Benedict severely).

    • Some very interesting points, there, Gabriel Syme, and I wish I could share your attraction to the new pontiff. I’m afraid I just cannot take to him at all. Indeed, I’m on the verge of buying a plane ticket to attend the canonisation of Pope John Paul II. Worse (perhaps?) I’m on the verge of starting a campaign to canonise Uriah Heep. Yes, it’s that bad. I’m struggling to see anything good at all in this pontificate beyond the consecration to the Immaculate Heart at Fatima. Even that would have had more impact on the world had he gone there in person for that purpose.

      All the superficial stuff that attracts the media, utterly repels moi. One is totally and utterly repelled by it. One really is.

      He is the pope, however, and I will remember him in prayer. Especially when I’m praying to St Jude.

      I know, I know – I’m a VERY wicked woman. Can’t help it. And anyway, it’s kinda fun…

    • Gabriel Syme,

      “I think my main criticism of Francis’ style thus far would be that it seems mainly composed of:

      – pandering to the secular media
      – pandering to non-Catholics
      – platitudes
      – empty gestures ”

      You have summed up what is in my mind, completely clearly.

      I worry about what this pope is doing, talking like a politician looking for votes.

      However, I do know he has spoken about Hell, quite early in his days as pope, and that he has affirmed Catholic teaching on male-only priesthood, so that is something.

      I agree with you in everything you say, especially about we should not have to be on tenterhooks every time he opens his mouth, but we are. I also miss Pope Benedict who was humble without talking about it.

    • This is in response to Athanasius’ post where he congratulates me on my super duper reply to Marietta-Anne, but there is no REPLY button there (which is getting annoying, so I’ll check it out later)- thus, I’m replying to Gabriel Syme who is now disguised as Athanasius, hence the four foot white beard and cowboy boots. You look great, Gabriel Syme, don’t listen to the critics…

      Ath, thank you for your kind words about my super duper reply to Marietta-Anne, but so super duper was my reply to Marietta-Anne at 8.56am this morning, that I got my “negatives” confused with my “positives”. I’ve now corrected that (see paragraph 6).

      What am I LIKE? (Strictly rhetorical question…)

      • editor,

        You ask, rhetorically, what am I like? Well, I think it’s safe to say you’re nothing like that person with the four-foot white beard and cowboy boots. But I do know a woman who matches that description!

    • Petrus,

      It’s all the more frightening when this “pub talk” comes from a pope!

      THAT was my point.

      And here’s more gobbledegook of the kind that suggests the Church may be one, holy, catholic and apostolic but she is also dispensable:

      Sometimes, it is still thought, that proclaiming the truth of the Gospel means an assault on freedom,To counter that assertion, the pontiff turned to Pope Paul VI, who said, “It would be … an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with total respect for free options which it presents … is a tribute to this freedom…. At the same time, he clarified that the Church’s “missionary spirit is not about proselytizing, but the testimony of a life that illuminates the path, which brings hope and love. The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us.” Read the entire (appalling) report here

      So, while urging that we must all be “missionaries”, Pope Francis also urges us not to make out that the Church is anything more than a “community of people animated by the Holy Spirit… encountering Christ and wanting to share this experience” – as I’ve said above, words that could fall from the lips of any Protestant evangelist: bring back Billy Graham.

      The answer to the question “do you think you’re more Catholic than the Pope?” used to be an automatic “no, of course not.” Now, it just HAS to be “Yes, of course I am!”

      For the record, I am not encouraging the heresy of sedevacantism here. Pope Francis, like his Vatican II predecessors, is a duly elected and valid pope. He’s just not doing what a Pope should do – promoting and defending the Catholic Church. His words, like those of his immediate predecessors, appear to suggest that “the Church” extends beyond the boundaries of the visible Catholic Church, and anyone who thinks they’ve had an “encounter with Christ” is doing just dandy. Wrong.

      Pope Francis is adding to the prevailing confusion in the Church which has long made acquaintance with its cousin, chaos. Confusion into chaos is what we are suffering now. And chaos which is deepening with just about every word uttered by the pontiff.

  3. Does anyone know how a synod works in the orthodox church? I tried to ask this question on discussions for someone but I garbled it.
    Some people here and there have been mentioning that the Pope uses the word synodality. And a sedevacantist priest on Rorate said he has expressed a like for the orthodox synods.
    It seems reasonable to think that in the name of collegiality there may in the future be an attempt to hand out more of the powers of the papacy to Bishops. Does anyone know how an orthodox synod works?

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      I presume the Orthodox synods will be groups of their top men seeking to reach agreement on various issues – I found this article on the subject and it sounds like a synod of the Orthodox Church is just like any other business meeting.

      Presumably, they imagine that the Holy Spirit will make Himself heard in the most dominant voice(s).

    • Threelittleshepherds.

      I don’t think it is reasonable at all to hand out some of the powers of the papacy to the bishops. This is the logical conclusion of the Vatican II collegiality error.

      Christ entrusted the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter only, not the rest of the twelve. Peter is the rock on which the Church is built.

      It was not flesh and blood that revealed Christ’s identity to Peter, it was the Father in Heaven. this is the first act of papal infallibility.

      Remember in John’s gospel when Our Lord asks Peter “Do you love me?” When Peter answers that he does love Him, Our Lord answers “Feed my lambs. Look after my sheep.” The distinction between lambs and sheep is important. There’s a clear hierarchy in the Church with Peter at the top. The bishops cannot receive any of the powers of the papacy.

      Actually those who promote collegiality are proponents of the religion of man. Ultimately, they believe Our Lord got it wrong when He founded the Church and they know so much better. I pray to God Pope Francis isn’t one of them.

      • Thank you, Editor.

        Petrus
        I agree completely. I didn’t mean handing out the powers of the Papacy is reasonable, but that it might be a next step towards using collegiality to dismantle the Papacy.
        I hope too that Pope Francis doesn’t have any new ideas.
        (I mean ANYMORE new ideas!)

  4. 3littleshepherds,

    Yes, I realised what you meant just after I posted my comment. I know you are a good un!

  5. I couldn’t believe what I was reading in this report about the Pope’s greetings to Muslims at the end of Ramadam. Children are to be taught to respect other religions. http://www.osservatoreromano.va/portal/dt?JSPTabContainer.setSelected=JSPTabContainer%2FDetail&last=false=&path=/news/vaticano/2013/177q13-In-un-messaggio-autografo–per-la-fine-del-.html&title=Teaching

    How are Catholic children to learn that the Church is essential for salvation if they have to respect other religions?

    I hasten to add that I know we have to respect all people, that is not an issue, whatever their beliefs, but I always understood that we could not have any truck with a non-Christian religion. I take it that has now changed?

  6. What is the difference between an ancient false religion and a new false religion? Both are made-up, man-made belief systems. They just came on the scene at different points in history. Why should we respect false religions just because they are old? If we are to respect Mohammedanism, why not then respect Scientology or Mormonism? Seems a bit unfair to Mormons.

    I don’t buy this idea that age gives error legitimacy.

    I suppose it ties into to the modernist-Teilhardian concept that religious truth is an evolutionary process of ‘becoming’. Essentially, the older it is, the more time it has had to become true.

    Once false always false. No amount of time can change this. Mohammed was the Joseph Smith Junior of his day.

  7. Josephine

    Thank you for bringing our attention to Pope Francis’ message to Muslims at the end of Ramadan. Like you, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I think Athanasius has mentioned separate but similar words of the Holy Father on another thread.

    With so many causes for concern during this papacy, I think the Ramadan message hasn’t got a great deal of attention. Whatever, this message really is shocking. So we are to “respect” the “teachings”, “symbols” and “values” of false religions. How can the relativisation of religion and indifferentism be avoided if this is to be the mentality of Catholics? What exactly does evangelisation mean according to the Conciliar mindset?

    “Beware lest thou have a mind to imitate the abominations of those nations.” – Deuteronomy 18:9

    Here are the Pope’s words that leapt out at me:

    “Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these! It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbors or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.”

    Can I suggest that His Holiness’ next such message contains some of the following words:

    “He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who sent Him.” – John 5:23

    “Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them.” – Ephesians 5:6

    “The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in Her and asserts that all who are outside Her will not be saved.” – Pope Saint Gregory the Great

    “Therefore, they must instruct them (Muslims) in the true worship of God, which is unique to the Catholic religion.” – Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, #6, 1832

    I think it is very well worthwhile posting a link to the magnificent, truly Catholic words of Father de Cacqueray, the Society’s District Superior of France. They really should be read. The linked article also has the Holy Father’s full message.

    http://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/dialogue-islam-our-call-alarm-2316

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