Archive for the ‘The Papacy’ Category

Bailie to follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead on Francis’s new “tone”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

by Doughlas Remy

(This is a follow-up to my recent post, “Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?” (7/30/13), where I invited speculations about Mr. Bailie’s reading of Pope Francis’s recent remarks about homosexuality. I wondered if Bailie would follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead in denying that anything is afoot.)

So far, Mr. Bailie is channeling Cardinal Dolan on this, i.e., “Okay, just move along now, there’s nothing to see.” (Bailie links to an article by James V. Schall, S. J., in The Catholic World Report of 8/3/13.) The conservative spin on Francis’s new tone is captured again today in a Crisis Magazine article entitled “Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy,” by Jeffrey Tucker. (Notice the title is not a question inviting discussion. ) Tucker takes the liberal media to task for reading too much into the new Pope’s words:

The line [is] that he is overturning all previous ways of doing things. He is embracing progress over tradition, loves the poor and not the rich, favors people over ritual, and is willing to rethink fundamental teachings and reopen the debate over moral issues.

What’s true and what’s not in this line of thinking? Very little of it is true at all.

Did I get this right? Tucker is claiming that there is no essential difference between Francis and Benedict? No change was needed because everything was just fine under Benedict? Neither Francis NOR Benedict favor people over ritual? (astonishing admission!) Neither of them loves the poor and not the rich? (another startling admission!) Neither sees—or has seen—any need for progress or change in the Church’s financial dealings, its stance toward gays, or its policies regarding cover-ups of child sexual abuse by priests?

Tucker’s piece is unadulterated propaganda. Who can ever forget Benedict’s Prada shoes, his extravagant costuming, his bullet-proof Pope-mobile (Where’s God when you need him?)? Who can ignore Francis’s easy mingling with crowds and his exhorting young Catholics to “protest,” and to “shake things up” in the Church?

The Church does change when its feet are held to the fire, as we saw in the aftermath of the child-abuse scandals. The Church is as fragile as a man’s ego, which is all the more reason why women should be welcomed into the priesthood. The Church would just like you to think that it is a rock, and this is where Jeffrey Tucker and Crisis Magazine come in with their propaganda machine.

“Move along, everyone! There’s nothing to see here.” (Sub-text: “We haven’t screwed up. We can’t screw up. We’re all males. You’re in good hands. Trust us. Just trust us.”)

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Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

During a return flight to Rome following his visit to Brazil, Pope Francis seemed to set a new tone regarding homosexuality in the priesthood when he answered a journalist’s question about it thus: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and good will, who am I to judge that person?” He added that gays should never be marginalized: “The problem is not that one has this tendency (to homosexuality); no, we must be brothers. This is the first matter.”

David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement described these words as “a shot—of tolerance and love—heard around the world.” The Rev. James Martin, a U.S. Jesuit and popular author, called the moment a “sea change.”

While it may be premature to infer from the Pope’s remarks that any substantive changes in the Church’s position on homosexuality are imminent, it’s safe to say that Francis’s disposition toward gay priests is more relaxed than that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained. Francis’s use of the word “gay” is a striking departure from his predecessors’ choice of the more impersonal term “homosexual.”

What interests me and many other Catholic-watchers, however, is the “penumbra effect” of these statements. “Tone” is the word being tossed around in the media. Francis is setting a different “tone” about homosexuality—one that is more inclusive than his predecessor’s.

We will  be watching Gil Bailie’s The Cornerstone Forum in the weeks and months ahead for any signs of a reaction to the Pope’s words. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has already denied that the pope’s message is anything new. (Like, “Oh, we’ve been saying this all along!”) This is setting us up for the historical revisionist tack that will play itself out over the next few centuries, i.e., “The Church never persecuted or ostracized homosexuals,” and even, “The Church was in the forefront of efforts to end discrimination against LGBTs.” We’ve seen it before, with slavery and anti-Semitism. The Church is already lining up its revisionist historians to flatly deny that the Church had any role in scapegoating homosexuals.

Will Gil Bailie follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead? Is anyone willing to venture a guess?

The Pope’s “Discretionary Authority” on Matters of Doctrine

Pope Red Prada

Gil Bailie quotes Phil Lawler on the next Pope:

“Count on it: The mass media will remark with surprise that the next Pope, whoever he is, is ‘conservative’ on doctrinal issues, because he upholds perennial Church teachings on matters such as the male priesthood and the dignity of human life. The secular media cannot be made to understand that every plausible candidate for the papacy is ‘conservative’ by their standards, since the papabile are all believing Catholics. An unbelieving world, accustomed to appraising all disagreements in political terms, cannot comprehend that the Bishop of Rome has no personal discretionary authority on questions of doctrine: that he can only teach what the Church teaches.” — Phil Lawler

Dean Hansen responds:

That would be fine if the church, ostensibly instituted by Christ, taught what Christ taught, and refused to make dogmatic assumptions about what he didn’t teach. How much discretionary authority is required to reject doctrines that have nothing to do with Christ’s teachings? How do you forbid what Christ didn’t forbid, or decree things that Christ didn’t decree? How can the church struggle to remain relevant if it continuously shoots itself in its own foot by dragging invented dogma into the 21st Century and declaring it immutable because it’s tied to tradition? Find me the relevant material in the gospel about homosexuality, abortion, birth control, and a dozen other subjects of keen interest to the majority of ex-Catholics, and then we’ll have a serious and meaningful conversation about its potential for survival.

Dean Hansen later adds:

In all of Gil’s latest posts about the Pope’s decision to resign, there is a cloud of sentimental mist and nostalgic vapor so thick that it obscures or dismisses any misdeeds or hints of evil and revels only in the “courage” and intellectual brilliance of the man. What’s wrong with this picture? Real brilliance and moral honesty would acknowledge the 500-pound gorilla of child abuse and deliver its predatory priests to the civil authorities for prosecution and long prison sentences instead of slapping them on the wrists and hiding them where, as case after case shows, they will ultimately do more damage. It’s interesting how the church’s confusion about homosexuality is somehow correlated to its policy about sexual predation toward children. Since the church, in spite of a blizzard of scientific and medical data refuting it, claims that homosexuality is “learned behavior” based on choice, it’s not difficult to imagine why they assume pedophilia can also be treated and reversed with counseling and prayer. The “time out” they give to priests in ministry is equivalent in force to the illusion that ministry can somehow redeem them from human nature. The harm that both of those ideas causes is so outrageous it will either kill the church or force it to reform. And like global climate change, there isn’t much time left to make the right decision. The patient can only lose so much blood before it dies.