Saturday, October 05, 2013


I tried to respond to PBJ on Triablogue but that posting got moderated and still, to the time of this being posted here hasn't been published there, so re-responding:

>> sw: PBJ, you're making it ever clearer that you have not read
>> my response nor the full context of Pope Francis' recent interview.
>> If you had, you would see this perspicuity you're looking for in
>> comments like:.. The most important thing is the first proclamation:
>> <b>Jesus Christ has saved you."</b>
> PBJ: All the scrambling attempts to explain the words of Francis
> testifies to need for Catholics to interpret their Interpreter,
> and his words here actually illustrates the lack of perspicuity
> in papal "preaching of the gospel." Which often consists of
> ambiguous references to God's mercy in Christ.

sw: Repeatedly I have asked for PBJ or anyone else on Triablogue to present exact quotes of what they feel is lacking perspicuity and PBJ answered:

> PBJ: Here the pope makes 14 ambiguous references to the gospel,
> except to describes it in social terms:

sw: So, does PBJ mean "ambiguous" or "imperspicuous?" Granted, the two words are somewhat similar - but they are different.  To be "ambiguous" typically means it has more than one meaning - whereas "lack of perspicuity" means it is unclear.  I believe that PBJ needs to clear up his own imperspicuity here.  It is noted, I asked for him to present things he felt lacked perspicuity and/or things he could not understand.  PBJ says there are 14 ambiguous references, and since he does not enumerate those references - PBJ himself is being imperspicuous.

> PBJ quotes: "The church’s ministers must be merciful, take
> responsibility for the people and accompany them like the
> good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor.
> This is pure Gospel."

sw:  I (again) fail to see any ambiguity or lack of perspicuity here! Pope Francis makes a direct corrolation to the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.  The injured person on the side of the road was taken care of by the outcast in this story.  It would be analogous to a homosexual going out of his way, taking time and money to care for a hurt Christian.  The "Gospel" here is to do unto others and when we do even to the least of these, we are doing unto Christ.  I cannot see how anyone who knows the Gospel would even question this example!

> PBJ: Proclaiming "the Gospel on every street corner" is
> described as such things as healing the "‘socially
> wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like "the church
> has always condemned them." Which it has and must.

sw:  Again, if PBJ had read the article I posted and/or the actual context of the interview he would have seen that the Pope is not saying we don't or shouldn't deal with those issues!  The point of the interview, which is <b>clear to anyone who has actually read the interview</b> is that we should not be so focused on those issues as our first proclamation.  The first proclamation needs to be the Gospel message - Jesus Christ has saved you!  Even while you were/are still a sinner, Jesus Christ has saved you!  Once one can embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior then the sins (which far too often receive too much of the focus) will fall into their proper place of repentence and forgiveness.  Attempting to get someone to repent before they have accepted the Lord is a bit of putting the cart before the horse.

> PBJ: To be sure, showing the mercy of God in temporal matters
> is an expression of gospel love, and is conducive to conversion,
> but besides social acts of mercy usually taking upon a life of
> their own, it not what Scripture describes as the actual
> preaching of the gospel. Which (as needed) labors to convict
> lost souls that they are damned because of their sins, and
> rejecting the Son sent by the Father to save them, or the
> light that would led them to Him, and destitute of any merit
> that would earn them eternal life. And thus must cast all
> their faith upon the risen Lord Jesus, to save them by His
> sinless shed blood.

sw:  Again, I have to affirm and assert that Pope Francis did NOT say that we do NOT speak to these sins!  All he was saying in this interview is that "focus" needs to be on the Gospel FIRST as, in Pope Francis' words, "the first proclamation."

> PBJ: Show me some papal proclamations of the gospel that
> are as concise and clear as seen in Acts 2, 10, 13.

sw: PBJ is changing the subject now.  Initially he's complaining that the interview lacks perspicuity - now he's asking for other papal proclamations of the gospel.  He does not specify which pope and ignores the fact that there are gospel proclamations in the very interview he began this response about.

> PBJ: Of course, RC salvation begins with being born again
> (usually) via sprinkling in recognition of proxy faith,
> which is the basis them being henceforth treated as members
> in life and in death, and it typically ends with becoming
> good enough to enter glory in Purgatory. And in so doing it
> fosters faith in the power and merits of Rome to ultimately
> save them. And i speak as a former RC who became
> manifestly born again (evangelical radio helping much),
> but remained therein for 6 years (i knew of no other
> church and worked at lot) as a weekly mass-going RCs, who
> experienced the profound difference btwn institutionalized
> religion and evangelical faith.

I fail to see how this relates to the subject we're discussing - still it is an interesting insight into at least part of PBJ's walk.

The above concludes the response I recreated (since the original, to date, has not shown up) .  PBJ in another posting continues, so I'll continue my response here...

> PBJ: More current papal quotes (social gospel) for RCAs to either
> criticize or explain as supporting what they support - despite
> them sounding different in doing so:
>     "Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need
>     to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve
>     our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a
>     meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are
>     born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to
>     know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world
>     is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move
>     apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards
>     the Good."

sw: If taken out of context this can have universalist implications, but if taken in the context of that interview, it's simply a statement of getting to know one another and bringing those who are outside the fold, inside, and then work upon their personal sins.  Anyone not willing to give up their personal sins cannot "in good faith" remain a Catholic.  The quote PBJ quotes from (but doesn't cite) is from the Scalfari Interview. Eugeno Scalfari is a professed atheist and that too is important to keep in mind - the Pope's audience in giving those answers, just as the Gospel of Matthew is written with the Jews as the audience and John writes with the Gentiles as his audience.  Both are Gospels and each presents the Gospel differently.

>     "Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must
>     choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives
>     them. That would be enough to make the world a better
>     place."

sw:  While that would "make the world a better place," it may not end in saving souls.  Only God can judge that.

>     "You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church
>     [likely TRC heroes] have often been narcissists,
>     flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is
>     the leprosy of the papacy."

sw: A reminder to the reader, popes don't "teach" through interviews.  That being said, the context of this exchange is not quite what PBJ is attempting to show, IMHO.  Here is more of what Pope Francis said in the context of the above statement:

The Church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God. The Church is this, a word not surprisingly different from the Holy See, which has its own function, important but at the service of the Church. I would not have been able to have complete faith in God and in his Son if I had not been trained in the Church, and if I had not had the good fortune of being in Argentina, in a community without which I would not have become aware myself and my faith, ” the Pope responded.

>     "I went to university. I also had a teacher for whom I
>     had a lot of respect and developed a friendship and who
>     was a fervent communist. She often read Communist Party
>     texts to me and gave them to me to read..."Her materialism
>     had no hold over me. But learning about it through a
>     courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few
>     things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the
>     social doctrine of the Church."

sw:  The part cut out by elipses tells us how this woman was arrested, torchured and killed by the dictatorship ruling in Argentina.  This Communist professor had given him (now Pope Francis) a statement from "the American Communists" in defense of the Rosenbergs.  He admired her courageousness and honesty in the face of a dictatorship which eventually killed her - he is not giving any sort of support to Communism, if that was PBJ's intent on including this out-of-context quote.

>     "...when I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-
>     clerical. Clericalism should not have anything to do
>     with Christianity. St. Paul, who was the first to speak
>     to the Gentiles [Peter was], the pagans, to believers
>     in other religions, was the first to teach us that."

sw:  This statement follows "True, I am not anticlerical, but I become so when I meet a clericalist."  Pope Francis, in context, is not denying the need for clerics, but opposes "the clericalist."  More context would be nice here, but in the scope of this interview, no more context is given.  Clearly though, the statement does not have the same impact even in the limited context when just a bit more of the context which IS included is not cut out.

>     Can I ask you, Your Holiness, which saints you feel closest
>     to in your soul, those who have shaped your religious
>     experience?
>     "St. Paul is the one who laid down the cornerstones of our
>     religion and our creed [the pope substitutes Paul for
>     Peter. When did you see a TRC say that? Closet Prot?]. You
>     cannot be a conscious Christian without St. Paul. He
>     translated the teachings of Christ into a doctrinal
>     structure that, even with the additions of a vast number
>     of thinkers, theologians and pastors, has resisted and
>     still exists after two thousand years. Then there are
>     Augustine, Benedict and Thomas and Ignatius. Naturally
>     Francis. Do I need to explain why?"

sw:  The [bracketed] part is an addition to the text which is why the brackets were used, but we are not told who inserted this commentary, it could be PBJ or from whomever he quoted from (and again, did not cite).  I am also not exactly sure what is meant by a "TRC" - but can assume "Traditional Roman Catholic."  Based upon that assumption - I am a TRC who has no bones about giving credit to St. Paul's work in the foundations of the Catholic Church.

>     We were silent for a moment, then I said: we were talking
>     about the saints that you feel closest to your soul and we
>     were left with Augustine. Will you tell me why you feel
>     very close to him?
>     "Even for my predecessor Augustine is a reference point.
>     That saint went through many vicissitudes in his life and
>     changed his doctrinal position several times...he is not,
>     as many would argue, a continuation of Paul. Indeed, he
>     sees the Church and the faith in very different ways than
>     Paul, perhaps four centuries passed between one and the
>     other."

sw:  The elipses are telling again... Pope Francis relates how St. Augustine had also used quite harsh words against the Jews - words which Pope Francis does not share.  Pope Francis goes on to say how St. Paul wrote many books which are revealing of his (Augustine's) intellectual and spiritual intimacy primarily the "Confessions", Pope Francis continues, "which also contain sine manifestations of mysticism, but he is not, as many would argue, a continuation of St. Paul."  All Pope Francis is doing here is shutting down the Protestant argument that St. Augustine is somehow a continuation of St. Paul - he is not.  The two saw the Church differently and he adds, perhaps a bit sarcastically, "perhaps four centuries passed between one and the other."

>     "This is the beginning of a Church with an organization
>     that is not just top-down but also horizontal."

sw:  Again, in context, Pope Francis is referring to the fact that he appointed a group of eight cardinals to be his advisors.  He is merely reflecting on the fact that he is not going to unilaterally make decisions (which he could still do if he chooses) but will be governing from a perspective of not only his views, but along with insights from his advisors.

>     " I have already said that the Church will not deal with
>     politics...The Church will never go beyond its task of
>     expressing and disseminating its values, at least as long
>     as I'm here."

sw:  And again, the elipses are telling.  The point of fact of Pope Francis' audience in that statement is left out!  He said, "I was not addressing only Catholics but all men of good will."

>     But that has not always being the case with the Church.
>     "It has almost never been the case. Often the Church as
>     an institution has been dominated by temporalism and

sw: PBJ's quotes end there, truncating Pope Francis' statement, which I will finish for you.  The thought is a continuation of Scalfari's question about the Church dealing in politicis.  Scalfari states "But that has not always been the case with the Church."  Pope Francis responds, "It has almost never been the case. Often the Church as an institution has been dominated by temporalism and many members and senior Catholic leaders still feel this way."  The indication is that Pope Francis does not feel this way, but the interview changes focus at this point when the Pope asks Scalfari a question - they share a bit more and the interview concludes.

sw: Pope Francis doesn't say it never happened, only that "it has almost never been the case."  I'll agree with that statement.


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