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November 28, 2013

Did Pope Francis say anything new in his Exhortation?

I must have missed. 


I am seeing assorted media articles about some “big changes” the Pope has reportedly mentioned in his exhortation, but I’m not seeing it.  We all know by now Pope Francis has his own personal style, so that is nothing new.


British Editor for the Telegraph Damian Thompson writes:
 “Pope Francis reveals his radical message and it will startle conservatives”!

Really?  A "radical message"??  Where?  What's "radical" about anything Pope Francis said???

This 'conservative' Catholic isn’t startled by the Pope’s Exhortation [Evangelii Gaudium] but I am certainly startled by Thompson's hysterical interpretation of it! 

Thompson writes:  “Now, at last, we have a clear idea of what sort of Pope has taken over the Catholic Church. His Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – the Joy of the Gospel – challenges Catholics to reject a life of comfort and move into direct contact with the poor as a matter of great urgency. It tells them that the Church has become lazy, even without realising it. It says that traditional styles of worship are not necessarily suitable for newly evangelised non-Western people, or the modern world in general; and, in a passage that will truly trouble some conservatives, it raises the possibility that non-Christian religions are performing God's work, enriching souls albeit imperfectly.

I must have missed the part where Pope Francis said “traditional styles of worship are not necessarily suitable” any more. In all honesty I didn't see the Pope mention "styles of worship" anywhere in his exhortation- did I miss it?

What the Pope ACTUALLY said was…

43. “In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated. Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives. Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God “are very few”.[47] Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation “so as not to burden the lives of the faithful” and make our religion a form of servitude, whereas “God’s mercy has willed that we should be free”.[48] This warning, issued many centuries ago, is most timely today. It ought to be one of the criteria to be taken into account in considering a the reform of the Church and her preaching which would enable it to reach everyone.

Pope Francis knows there are a bunch of ignorant Catholics out there who have no idea why they keep the customs they do, so the point of the custom is useless.  Not at all what Damian Thompson would like his readers to believe.  There are ALL SORTS of customs throughout the world in Catholic parishes- these are CUSTOMS, not Tradition.  Since this Sunday is the beginning of Advent lets look at some of our customs in Advent.  Here in the United States we usually have Advent wreaths and Christmas trees IN our parishes for Advent.  This is a CUSTOM that we can keep or toss out the door.  If the CUSTOM fails to teach what it is supposed to teach, we don’t need it and it SHOULD be tossed out.  Admittedly that probably is not what the Pope was thinking about in his exhortation, but it shows what a "custom" is.  Again, this is NOT "worship", but a custom. Customs are NOT essential to worship, they come and they go.  Nothing new here.

He goes on to quote:

"254: Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”, and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”. But due to the sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying towards God. While these lack the meaning and efficacy of the sacraments instituted by Christ, they can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences. The same Spirit everywhere brings forth various forms of practical wisdom which help people to bear suffering and to live in greater peace and harmony. As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs."

Thompson excitedly rambles; “There is so much in this document to unsettle traditional Catholics, capitalists and – yes – liberals that I'm hard put to single out the most radical paragraph. But I think it's the one above. Catholic conservatives and Francis's friends in the Pentecostal churches will find it difficult to accept, even if it's possible to argue that every word in it has been said by the Church somewhere before. If this isn't a declaration that non-Christians go to heaven (something Rome has never denied but also never emphasised) then I don't know what is.”

What is there to "unsettle" anyone over?  I don't see it because I can't find anything actually "new" in the document.

He mentions the bit about non-Christians as if that were 'new' news, its not.

He even admits in his own statement that it's not 'new' thus contradicting his own article!!! 

As far as Capitalism… NOTHING new there either.  This stuff is ALL in our Catholic Catechism…

Capitalism:  #2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with "communism" or "socialism." She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.207 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market."208 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended. 

Poverty & Focusing on the Poor:  #2439 Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly.

Love and Care for the Poor:

2441 An increased sense of God and increased self-awareness are fundamental to any full development of human society. This development multiplies material goods and puts them at the service of the person and his freedom. It reduces dire poverty and economic exploitation. It makes for growth in respect for cultural identities and openness to the transcendent.230
2442 It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens. Social action can assume various concrete forms. It should always have the common good in view and be in conformity with the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. It is the role of the laity "to animate temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice."231
2443 God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: "Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you"; "you received without pay, give without pay."232 It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones.233 When "the poor have the good news preached to them," it is the sign of Christ's presence.234


Over at Fox6Now.com writer Cary Docter seems to think the Church has suddenly changed its theology on the Eucharist and who can receive it and when.

“The Pope hinted that he wants to see an end to the so-called “wafer wars,” in which Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are denied Holy Communion. His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.

The fact is NO unrepentant sinner is allowed the Eucharist- the Pope didn’t change that. [see catechism quote below] 

We are ALL called to confess our sins BEFORE Holy Communion.  

And why wouldn’t we if we truly understood our Catholic faith?  The Eucharist IS the BODY, BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY of God Incarnate!  

Who would DARE want to receive God in the Eucharist without first repenting from sin?  Only the ignorant who 1) don't believe in the Eucharist or 2) don't believe they are sinners.  

For as Sacred Scripture says, if you eat the Body and Blood of the Lord in an unworthy state you bring damnation to your soul (1 Cor. 11:27-32).  When a priest refuses to give Communion to someone he KNOWS is in mortal sin, he is doing it FOR that person’s soul.  It is an incredible act of LOVE to deny a sinner Communion because to give it to them would be a bigger sin.

Again, all in our catechism and Canon Law #915 and #916 - nothing new here because Pope Francis did not re-write the catechism or Canon Law. 

1385 To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."218 Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.
1389 The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.224 But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.

The Pope in his exhortation WONDERFULLY goes on to re-enforce no women priests and no abortion.  Hopefully shutting up the liberals for at least a time. 

Again, nothing new there it’s all in our catechism. Though this part might “startle” liberal “catholics” who ignorantly hold out hope that ANY pope has the authority to change these things, it does not startle educated Catholics who know better.

Nothing “startling” here.

So what DID the Pope say that was a “change” or something "new"?  As far as I can tell it’s a smaller Vatican by decentralizing it and how he himself governs as Pope, and finally shorter less boring homilies... [I hadn't heard that one before] 

135. Let us now look at preaching within the liturgy, which calls for serious consideration by pastors. I will dwell in particular, and even somewhat meticulously, on the homily and its preparation, since so many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry and we cannot simply ignore them. The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people. We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case. The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.

I actually laughed out loud at that part.

In my opinion, decentralizing the Vatican won’t have ANY noticeable effect on the Catholic laity at all.  It will affect the clergy at the Vatican. I could be wrong on that, but we shall see.

Other than that, I honestly don’t see any ‘big change’ and find it interesting how the media is running around screaming “BIG CHANGES” and “TRADITIONALISTS AREN’T GOING TO LIKE IT” or “RADICAL CHANGES COMING FOR CONSERVATIVE CATHOLICS”. 

Pope Francis hasn't said anything 'new' really.  He has reinforced the catechism and his own actions and words focusing on the poor.  Nothing, in my opinion, "new" here.

So what exactly are we ‘conservative traditional leaning’ Catholics supposed to not like?  I must have missed it, anyone care to fill me in?



In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner



2 comments:

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

I am still in the midst of reading the document, not quite half way through. For the most part I think it's a wonderful document. The Pope sees a world in crisis and the Church as the vehicle to solve the crisis through proclamation of the Gospel. But you are delusional if you think this document is not controversial. John Vennari, a militant Traditionalist, has already attacked the document, completely misrepresenting what the Pope wrote.

http://www.cfnews.org/page88/files/e37738adb6edd892883b1b12f97030f3-161.html

Then there is Mundabor, who says he refuses to even read it, saying the Pope is trying to just confuse us with such a huge document. He also plagiarized Vennari, in effect accusing Pope Francis of heresy.
http://mundabor.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/the-temple-veil/

It is going to get very nasty.




Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

To Catholic in Brooklyn: I KNOW its controversial that is the ENTIRE reason I wrote this article, to SHOW how the media is running wild with it.

What I don't understand is WHY.

The Pope said what is ALREADY in the Catholic Catechism - so why are Catholic's freaking out?

What is "NEW" that the Pope mentioned that is NOT already in the Catechism besides the 3 things I mentioned "decentralized Vatican, how the Pope governs the Church and better homilies"? What else in the document is "NEW" or changes anything?

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner