– That the “Spirit of Vatican II” should be followed so that the Catholic Church becomes more like liberal Protestantism?
Surely Pope Francis needs to hear this. After all, he cares for the poor and marginalized. He’s progressive. He’ll make all this come to pass… he’ll banish the rigid adherence to traditional doctrine propounded by Pope Benedict XVI.
It’s certainly true that Pope Francis has a commendable concern for the poor, putting into action Our Lord’s command to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (Mt 25: 31-46). But to take this concern for the poor and somehow extrapolate from it the notion that Pope Francis will embrace all the progressive causes du jour is an instance of either wishful thinking or self-delusion.
Consider that Pope Francis opposed liberation theology, viewing it as a betrayal of true hope for the down-trodden and oppressed – a system that while promising good would ultimately lead to increased human suffering and inequality because it was based on a philosophy inimical to Christianity.
Well, then, same-sex “marriage.” Surely if two people love each other, their sex shouldn’t matter. Pope Francis will see the justice in letting any two people marry. It would make the Church so much more welcoming and modern.
Oh, but there’s the matter of the letter Cardinal Bergoglio (as he then was) wrote to the Carmelite nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, in which he referred to the bill supporting same-sex “marriage” as “a ‘move’ of the Father of Lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.” He invoked the ire of the President of Argentina for his opposition to same-sex “marriage.” He believes same-sex “marriage” is a “clear rejection of the law of God,” one that would be harmful to families, and destroy the image of God they present.
Women priests. Must have them. Surely that’s fair.
Blessed John Paul II stated definitively in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is reserved to men for a variety of reasons. This is defined Catholic teaching. It’s not up for dispute. Here’s Pope Francis in his book On Heaven and Earth (p.102): “The fact that a woman cannot exercise the priesthood does not make her less than the male.”
“Fact.” “Cannot.” Words that don’t leave any wiggle room from which would-be “womenpriests” can take hope.
Abortion, then. Surely women should have the right to “choose.” A person can be officially in favor but personally opposed.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls abortion an “abominable crime” (CCC 2271). Could any right-minded person seriously think that Pope Francis is going to start supporting abominable crimes? “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (CCC 2273). Supporting life is what Catholics do.
And, in case it escaped any of the pundits’ attention, Pope Francis is Catholic.
Surely, then, the re-establishment the true “spirit” of Vatican II is a must, reclaiming it from the backward-looking tendencies of Pope Benedict?
That “spirit” of liberal Protestantism has turned the mainline Protestant denominations – Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist – into mere shells of their former selves. Why do people need to go to church in denominations that have forsaken Christ’s Gospel in favor of an all-embracing relativism; that have become conformed to the world to such an extent that there’s almost no difference between them; that have abandoned the historic Christian doctrines on everything from theology to morals? They don’t. Liberal Protestant denominations are dying.
Pope Benedict knew this. So does Pope Francis, who said: “The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Savior of the whole person and of all persons.”
Sometimes it takes someone outside the Church to have a clearer vision than wishful people on the inside. Here’s Rabbi Marc Gellman (writing in the Gainesville [FL] Sun on 16 March 2013):
People who are not religious are now offering advice to the new Pope. That advice boils down to this: “Give up everything you believe and make what the Church thinks is true indistinguishable from what trendy secularists think is true.” Now, secularists may be right or they may be wrong, but it’s not the sacred mission of the Church to replace things believed for the last 2,000 years with things that have been believed for the past week. So what I pray is that Pope Francis loves tradition not because it’s old, but because it’s true. Old practices that are true but unpopular need to be preserved. Old practices that are just old and not true need to be let go. The only way to distinguish between them is to have a firm grasp of eternal truth.
Truth. That’s what papal authority and infallibility are all about.
Pope Francis doesn’t need wishy-washy, spirit-of-the-age advice from either secularists or Catholics who have sold out to said spirit – he’s well aware of the activities of the powers of darkness. He needs faithful Catholics who will follow him in the new evangelization, who will minister to the poor and needy in Christ’s name, who will take up their crosses and follow Christ, no matter what society says.
“When we walk without the Cross,” Pope Francis said in his first homily, “when we build without the Cross, and when we confess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.”
If we walk our own way, following the dictates of our own opinions and feelings – be they on divorce, euthanasia, same-sex “marriage,” or any other area in which society disagrees with the Church – then we are dissenters, not faithful.
Pope Francis – like Pope Benedict XVI before him – has shown himself to be faithful.
With him, let us follow Our Lord.
This article was taken from the Catholic Response Magazine. For more information click here.