I’m not sure what to make of the Holy Father’s most recent comments, again on an airplane back to Rome, from his papal visit to Mauritius and Mozambique. He doubled down on his response to the apparent ‘criticism’ from a certain sector of the Church in America, which seems to have unsettled him, and touched a nerve. He claims that certain people, stuck in a rigid ideology, which masks some morbid ‘moral failings’, are precipitating schism, of which he, Pope Francis, is not afraid.
I for one am rather certain that this is not what Pope John Paul II meant when he exhorted us to be not afraid, for schism is something one should naturally fear, and strive to avoid.
Pope Francis may well have had in mind the letter of certain theologians and others last year accusing him of heresy, and taking what necessary measures, which I argued was playing the wrong hand, or at least playing what hand they had too early.
The Holy Father gets rather specific and ad hominem:
I would like to emphasize an attitude that I do not like, because it does not come from God: rigidity. Today it is fashionable, I do not know about here, but in other parts of the world it is fashionable, to find rigid people. Young, rigid priests, who want to save with rigidity, perhaps, I don’t know, but they take this attitude of rigidity and sometimes – excuse me – from the museum. They are afraid of everything, they are rigid. Be careful, and know that under any rigidity there are serious problems.”
Hmm. Afraid of everything? Serious problems? Does not come from God? Whatever happened to ‘who am I to judge?’, and all that about ‘throwing stones’? And should we not assume – perhaps even more so – that leftist and heretical ideologues with their banal and pansified liturgies do not also have their underlying ‘problems’?
Here is the Catechism:
“Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity or sexual rectitude, love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith. (#2518)
Pope Francis claims to be in the tradition of his predecessor Pope John Paul. There is a time to be flexible, and a time to be rigid – or, more foundationally, things upon which one must be flexible, and others, quite rigid, indeed.
If by ‘rigidity’ he means to condemn those who hold that certain doctrinal and moral principles – for which countless martyrs have died – are inviolable and true semper et pro semper, is this not precisely what Pope Saint John Paul II taught? But the teaching of Veritatis Splendor is rather muted in this Magisterium.
Whatever is in his heart of hearts, the signs are troubling. Now, we hear that Father Maurizio Chiodi, who claims that contraception and sodomy are permitted in certain cases, has been hired to teach ‘ethics’ at the new ‘John Paul Institute’, or whatever its new name be.
Who is accompanying whom, and on what side is the Holy Father? Should we all get hip and get with it, like, say Father Chiodi?
I’m not sure I agree with Phil Lawler, that if Pope Francis does not fear schism, then we should fear Pope Francis. Popes, prelates, priests, professors and politicians come and ago, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And the Church stands on the side of truth, with her inviolable Tradition, orthodoxy, clear moral lines drawn in the sand, showing the chasm between good and evil, the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death.
We must choose which side we are on, and alea iacta sit – let the die be cast.
To paraphrase Saint Paul – and in accord with the Holy Father’s apparent fearlessness – if heresies and schisms are to be, let them be. After the suffering and division, at least the truth will be made clear.
After all, the Greek apocalypse simply means revelation, and it is God’s eternal Truth being revealed. And may the splendour of that same Truth win out.