Thursday, June 20, 2013

Really Insightful Thoughts from Tom

Our friend Tom at Disputations has some great insights into the somewhat misguided reasons that some non-Catholics are "into" Pope Francis currently. Here are my favorite parts:

Of course, it's not only younger Evangelicals. Plenty of older Catholics think Pope Francis confirms them in their ignorance of liturgy and deprecation of tradition. And it's certainly better for Evangelicals to be favorably disposed toward the Pope than not.

This article, though, makes the reasons for the favorable disposition sound pretty shallow:

As Pope Francis accepts his role, a new generation of evangelicals accepts theirs. As young evangelicals have rejected the megachurch and the televangelist and embraced a more rugged, grassroots Christianity, these actions by the pope fit perfectly. He has refused to live in the massive papal quarters in Rome and has chosen to live in the guesthouse, instead. One of his first actions as pope was to cancel his newspaper subscription at his home in Buenos Aires.

They sound, in short, just like the superficial reasons so many Catholics give for their own favorable disposition.

One of our parish priests praised Pope Francis, not from the pulpit but in a private conversation, for "fundamentally changing the Papacy" within 48 hours of becoming Pope. There's a word for that kind of rhetoric: hysterical. And I like that priest; he doesn't generally say nutty things. I think one of the problems is that he is letting the news networks tell him how to view anything newsworthy with regard to the Catholic faith, e.g., the election of a Pope.

Yes, I get that you have to start somewhere. I am merely pointing out that if you start at "I understand what this guy is doing," then you are at great risk of remaining there. If Evangelicals like Pope Francis because he seems more like an Evangelical to them than other popes, then they are at great risk of either not really hearing how he is not like an Evangelical or of falling back to disinterest or worse when the honeymoon ends and he turns out to be Catholic. (I've already used the expression "the Spirit of Pope Francis" in connection with the disillusionment Catholics who speak wistfully of the Spirit of Vatican II will come to feel as this papacy continues. And, God help us, the Church is still recovering from a generation of young Catholics who knew which rules shouldn't exist.)

Sad, but true. People who see discontinuity between PEB16 and PF1 are headed for a huge disappointment down the road, I'm afraid.

Moreover, he refers several times to Pope Francis's humility as a feature that attracts. But it isn't his humility as such that attracts; otherwise every humble pope would be popular. Anyone who is unaware of Pope Emeritus Benedict's humility wasn't paying attention -- which, yes, is part of the point: Pope Francis's actions draw the attention of Evangelicals in a way Pope Benedict's did not. But the author doesn't merely like that Pope Francis exhibits humility, he likes that Pope Francis exhibits humility in a way that Evangelicals notice. He seems unaware that there are other ways of exhibiting humility, in particular that it can take just as much humility to follow a papal tradition as to break it, or that Christ-like character can be found in leadership styles Evangelicals might not wish for.

Emphasis mine. Truth is I'm trying really, really hard to like Pope Francis, and I don't dislike him; I don't find anything wrong with him. It's just that I really, really miss Pope Benedict. I guess I need to "leave some room for the Holy Spirit", right?

1 comment:

  1. I don't appreciate the "charity porn" coming from this Pope, even though it's probably the media that is distorting his actions and words to appear charity porn-ish. Still, I wish he didn't make it so easy for them (like saying wasting food is a sin) Then again, Francis did get in Islam's face a bit with the 800 Christian martyrs. I'm also not enthusiastic because he feels like a placeholder to me, like the Vatican is buying time to get ready for some major ideological showdown.