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Darrel Manson

Habemus Papam! Pope Francis of Argentina (Was Benedict to resign)

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The only part of the interview I disagree with is the comments about Mozart and Beethoven.

 

Are you sure you're Catholic?

Are you asking because I disagree with the Pope, or because I think Beethoven is a better composer than Mozart?

 

However, as a Catholic musician, my taste in music is impeccable and non-musician Catholics should learn to defer to my superior opinion. ;)

 

In all seriousness, I enjoy Mozart, but listening to Beethoven I find more of the spiritual enrichment that Francis mentioned, but I have no complaint with anyone who prefers Mozart.

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However, as a Catholic musician, my taste in music is impeccable and non-musician Catholics should learn to defer to my superior opinion. wink.png

All right, if you're going to play the knowing what you're talking about card, I suppose I'll have to say "uncle." But still, it's well known that God is first and foremost a Mozart lover. Did you miss CCD the day they covered that?

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However, as a Catholic musician, my taste in music is impeccable and non-musician Catholics should learn to defer to my superior opinion. wink.png

All right, if you're going to play the knowing what you're talking about card, I suppose I'll have to say "uncle." But still, it's well known that God is first and foremost a Mozart lover. Did you miss CCD the day they covered that?

 

It was the best joke I could come up with.  I study music at a conservatory, not humor.

 

And God is a Messiaen lover first, then probably a J. S. Bach lover, then a Mendelssohn lover, then a Franck lover, then a Beethoven lover, then a Stravinsky lover, then a Hindemith lover, then MAYBE a Mozart lover.

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However, as a Catholic musician, my taste in music is impeccable and non-musician Catholics should learn to defer to my superior opinion. wink.png

All right, if you're going to play the knowing what you're talking about card, I suppose I'll have to say "uncle." But still, it's well known that God is first and foremost a Mozart lover. Did you miss CCD the day they covered that?

 

It was the best joke I could come up with.  I study music at a conservatory, not humor.

 

And God is a Messiaen lover first, then probably a J. S. Bach lover, then a Mendelssohn lover, then a Franck lover, then a Beethoven lover, then a Stravinsky lover, then a Hindemith lover, then MAYBE a Mozart lover.

 

 

I don't even recognize all of those names. You may not be very good at jokes, but I think you've pre-emptively won the argument.

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Rushmore wrote:
: We live in a reactionary age, and this means that while mainstream culture pursues "Moralistic Therapeutic Deist soundbites," a very large faction within the church goes excessively in the other direction.

 

Well, yeah. But for Francis to go on and on about the need for less-judgmental homilies when, from what I hear, plenty of American homilies (and presumably homilies in other parts of the world) have *already* gone quite far in that direction is precisely the sort of thing that brings the Screwtape quote to mind. And note, too, Dreher's emphasis (or, rather, his Catholic-priest friend's emphasis) on the poor state of Catholic education these days. A pope who says, in effect, that "this stuff isn't all that important" isn't necessarily all that helpful if you think doctrine actually *is* important.

 

Granted, Francis did make a few brief comments about the teaching of the church being clear, etc., but to some ears, this could sound like a politician who says "of course" he believes in this, that and the other thing to soothe the voters, but in a way that leaves people wondering if he's actually going to put those words into action in any meaningful way. I mean, think of all the liberal Catholics and others out there who are *already* interpreting Francis's comments as a step in "the right direction" with maybe more steps to come. It's arguably reminiscent of the way many media types assumed that Obama was basically lying to appease certain voters when he said he was opposed to same-sex marriage (and then their suspicions were vindicated when Obama changed his official position on the subject). Who knows, though. Maybe the better analogy here is Obama's position on national security: everything was hope and change at first, but now the media has to face the fact that Obama's policies are, in many ways, just an extension of his unpopular predecessor's; likewise, who knows, maybe the media will come to express disappointment in Francis five years after *his* election, too, if it turns out that Francis toes the line on these issues the same way his unpopular predecessors did.

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Rod Dreher again:

 

What if his interview had gone like this?:

 

“We cannot insist only on issues related to poverty and economic justice This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about it in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

 

How would you think and feel about that? Because it’s how a lot of orthodox Catholics are thinking and feeling today.

 

But Francis is talking about the Church’s overemphasizing sex and abortion, you say. Hey, do you know how often John Paul talked about poverty and economics, and how important it was to him? Look.

 

Did you know that? Why didn’t you know that?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I don't even recognize all of those names. You may not be very good at jokes, but I think you've pre-emptively won the argument.

Shucks.  There goes another botched attempt at a joke while highlighting a FEW of my favorite composers.

 

Although if you want to hear any of the music I've written, here you go: https://soundcloud.com/evan-cogswell (I'm playing organ on the first piece on the page)

A pope who says, in effect, that "this stuff isn't all that important" isn't necessarily all that helpful if you think doctrine actually *is* important.

 

Granted, Francis did make a few brief comments about the teaching of the church being clear, etc., but to some ears, this could sound like a politician who says "of course" he believes in this, that and the other thing to soothe the voters, but in a way that leaves people wondering if he's actually going to put those words into action in any meaningful way.

JoAnna Wahlund responds to this here:

 

“The Pope needs to stop making remarks like this! They’re too easily misunderstood! No one should have to write an article after the fact explaining what the Pope actually said/meant. The Pope needs to deliberate for hours on end before so much as opening his mouth! Every word must be crafted with the utmost perfection so that the media doesn’t get the wrong idea!” etc., etc.

And, my favorite:

“This kind of thing never happened when Benedict XVI/John Paul II was Pope!”

To these people, I respond:

Really? That’s some pretty amazing selective memory you have going on there. Granted, I’ve only been Catholic for the last ten years, but I remember:

The Condom Kerfuffle, in which the MSM proclaimed that Pope Benedict said condoms were perfectly okay for everyone to use (when he actually said that in certain situations, the use of a condom could indicate that someone was trying to act in a moral fashion by not spreading disease, and that trying to act morally could be a good first step on the road to repentance).

Pope Benedict’s speech at the University of Regensburg, in which (according to the media) the Pope said that Mohammed was evil incarnate and all Muslims were going to hell. (The Pope later explained that his words had been misunderstood by Muslims.)

The publication of Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, in which the MSM announced that the Pope attacked capitalism as always evil in any circumstance and wholeheartedly supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was, according to the media, Pope Benedict’s last ditch attempt to revive a dying church by resurrecting a dead language.

John Paul II’s release of Dominus Iesus in 2000 spawned dozens of newspaper headlines (one of which I remember seeing in my college newspaper) proclaiming that “the Pope says non-Catholics aren’t really Christians!”

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Dreher says the Pope himself would have had a chance to clear the printed version of the interview before it was published, given the nature of the publication in question. Does Wahlund take this into account, even if only to refute it?

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Dreher says the Pope himself would have had a chance to clear the printed version of the interview before it was published, given the nature of the publication in question. Does Wahlund take this into account, even if only to refute it?

No, but a major point of her article is that the Pope is under no obligation to consider how news outlets, bloggers, lay persons, etc. will interpret (or selectively misinterpret) every word he says.

 

(Aaaaaaand I just realized that she published her piece one day before the American Magazine interview.  But a lot of her points still apply to this situation.)

Edited by Evan C

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 It's arguably reminiscent of the way many media types assumed that Obama was basically lying to appease certain voters when he said he was opposed to same-sex marriage (and then their suspicions were vindicated when Obama changed his official position on the subject).

 

Um, just nitpicking here...but they felt their suspicions were vindicated.  You would actually need to prove Obama did not actually change his mind for it to be an actual case of vindication.

Edited by Thom Wade

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Evan C wrote:
: No, but a major point of her article is that the Pope is under no obligation to consider how news outlets, bloggers, lay persons, etc. will interpret his words.

 

I think *all* public figures, especially those with major political and cultural influence, are under at least *some* obligation to consider how their words will be interpreted. Especially when they have some sort of direct oversight of the publication that is publishing their words.

 

(Though yes, of course, the media gets it wrong much of the time. I remember well the Dominus Iesus controversy of 13 years ago, because I wrote a news story on it myself, and my conversation with the local Catholic archbishop was actually one of a handful of things that set me on the path to becoming Orthodox -- and I can remember how I looked at the document that caused all the ruckus and discovered that the key phrase being quoted by all the media outlets was actually from a Vatican II document that had been *quoted* in the Dominus Iesus document.)

 

Thom Wade wrote:
: You would actually need to prove Obama did not actually change his mind for it to be an actual case of vindication.

 

If memory serves, Obama was publicly in favour of same-sex marriage early in his political career and then became publicly opposed to it in time for his first presidential election, which looked mighty *convenient* no matter what angle you approached it from. His later "evolution" on that subject was actually a return to his earlier position. (Meanwhile, Dick Cheney had always spoken in favour of it, but never got much credit for that -- kind of like how, as Dreher notes, John Paul II and Benedict both spoke a lot about economic issues but never get any credit for that.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Evan C wrote:

: No, but a major point of her article is that the Pope is under no obligation to consider how news outlets, bloggers, lay persons, etc. will interpret his words.

 

I think *all* public figures, especially those with major political and cultural influence, are under at least *some* obligation to consider how their words will be interpreted. Especially when they have some sort of direct oversight of the publication that is publishing their words.

True.  I could have said that better.  How about this: the Pope is under no obligation to foresee and prevent every possible way that his words might be misinterpreted.

 

And regarding the interview, I think if you take everything in context, there's nothing that should cause alarm.  He didn't say we need to stop focusing on abortion, same sex marriage, etc.  Rather, some groups need to stop focusing only on abortion, etc.  Francis said the most important thing that we should focus on is God's love and that Jesus died for all, and everything else should be preached within that context of salvation. 

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My impression is that Pope Francis is not real concerned about his words being misinterpreted or taken out of context.

I think that, in a way I would venture to compare to Jesus, he's being deliberately provocative and challenging.

He wants to shock people and perhaps make people uncomfortable. Not everything he says will make everyone uncomfortable the same way, but he seems to be getting around to everyone.

Oh, by the way, the pope condemned abortion today.
 

"In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science!" the pope said Sept. 20 to a gathering of Catholic gynecologists.

Pope Francis characterized abortion as a product of a "widespread mentality of profit, the 'throwaway culture,' which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many."

That mentality, he said, "calls for the elimination of human beings, above all if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to that mentality is a decisive and unhesitating 'yes' to life."

The pope grouped together unborn children, the aged and the poor as among the most vulnerable people whom Christians are called especially to love.

"In the fragile human being each one of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh experienced the indifference and solitude to which we often condemn the poorest, whether in developing countries or in wealthy societies," he said.

"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world," he said. "And every old person, even if infirm and at the end of his days, carries with him the face of Christ. They must not be thrown away!"

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For the most part, I think I've been defending Dreher's position, or at least trying to articulate what his position seems to be, but if I can articulate my own point of view a bit:

 

I grew up in an evangelical environment where the ongoing obsession was how to spread the faith, how to get people into church, etc. Eventually this led to church plants that billed themselves as "Church for people who don't like church" and exhortations to focus on the basics while putting off the other stuff until *after* people had gotten in the door, and it always seemed to me that churches were basically deceiving outsiders if they really *did* mean to talk about stuff like that down the road or they were basically deceiving insiders if they really *didn't* mean to talk about stuff like that down the road. And the current hipster/millennial/post-evangelical sensibility where we have to withhold judgment on everything (except the act of judging itself) hasn't really helped matters.

 

So when I hear Francis say that the pressing issues of the day have to be discussed only in a certain "context", and that those issues basically shouldn't be raised until *after* people have come into the church, it sounds to these ears an awful lot like that watered-down "seeker-sensitive" approach to things which, in the evangelical subculture, has led to a watering down of the faith, period. And given that there are plenty of watered-down Catholics already, you cannot help but wonder if this is really the message they need to hear.

 

Part of the problem here, of course, is that it's hard to say "this is what we'll say to people while they're *outside* the church and this is what we'll say to people once they're *inside* the church" when the very nature of modern communication has obliterated the line between "outside" and "inside". The audience for every single one of Pope Francis's remarks will consist of Catholics *and* non-Catholics, Christians *and* non-Christians. And so we cannot help but interpret Francis's remarks, which were apparently directed at fellow Catholics (many of whom actually need to hear the *opposite* of what he said), in the light of a much broader context.

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Jimmy Akin:

 

Pope Francis thus expresses a concern that the Church’s larger message is at risk of being overshadowed by important but still lesser issues.

 

In his way, he is fighting the stereotypes and narratives that the secular media wants to impose on the Church.

 

In our day, any time a pope says something on [culture-war] subjects it is easy for the media to paint the Church as a stodgy, outdated institution that is merely anti-abortion, anti-homosexual or anti-contraception.

 

But, while the Church upholds the Christian vision on each of these topics, they are not its core message. Jesus Christ is — and Pope Francis seems determined to fight the stereotypes and media narratives by starving them of oxygen and returning the central focus to the proclamation of Jesus Christ and to the love and mercy of God.

 

Once this central message has been seen and appreciated by individuals, so that they are drawn to God and to Christ, the other issues can be discussed in due time.

In the interview, he comments in particular on the role of confessors, stating that they must neither be laxists who claim that sins aren’t sins nor rigorists who emphasize the commandments without taking note of the grace and mercy that God gives us to help us keep them and to forgive us when we have failed.

 

Instead, he indicates, they must be ministers of God’s mercy who lead the faithful along the path of reforming their lives and growing closer to God.

 

Pope Francis’ strategy of focusing on the Church’s central message of salvation in Christ, while not devoting the expected amount of attention to “culture war” issues — like abortion, homosexuality and contraception — is a risky one.

 

It is not an approach that was employed by his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but times and circumstances change, and it is his judgment that a back-to-basics approach is needed, rather than a continued focus on the moral flashpoints of contemporary culture.

 

At the same time, this approach can — and in many parts of the media, has — create the impression that he doesn’t care about these lesser issues.

 

Time will tell whether this “fight the stereotypes, go with the central message” approach will lead to the results he desires, but it is clear that he is focusing on a grand strategy rather than fighting particular, tactical battles.

 

He’s counting on the idea that the moral issues will be sorted out, in the long term, by a compelling proclamation of the Church’s central message: Jesus Christ.

 

By the way, I thought this side note was interesting: The New York Times "initially headlined its story, 'Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion,'" but later "quietly changed its dramatic headline to a more moderate one: 'Pope, Criticizing Narrow Focus, Calls for Church as "Home for All."'"

Edited by SDG

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Jimmy Akin wrote:
: . . . and Pope Francis seems determined to fight the stereotypes and media narratives by starving them of oxygen . . .

 

Based on what we've seen on The Daily Show etc., I don't see any stereotype- or narrative-fighting. Not on any substantial level, at any rate. I just see the oxygen being pumped in a different direction.

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Jimmy Akin wrote:

: . . . and Pope Francis seems determined to fight the stereotypes and media narratives by starving them of oxygen . . .

 

Based on what we've seen on The Daily Show etc., I don't see any stereotype- or narrative-fighting. Not on any substantial level, at any rate. I just see the oxygen being pumped in a different direction.

 

He can't stop them from obsessing about the same subjects they always obsess about. He can decline to conform to their preferred stereotypes and media narratives.

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SDG wrote:
: He can't stop them from obsessing about the same subjects they always obsess about. He can decline to conform to their preferred stereotypes and media narratives.

 

The question is how careful he should be about not giving them something that conforms to their other, more preferred narratives.

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SDG wrote:

: He can't stop them from obsessing about the same subjects they always obsess about. He can decline to conform to their preferred stereotypes and media narratives.

 

The question is how careful he should be about not giving them something that conforms to their other, more preferred narratives.

 

I think that, like Jimmy says, he's playing a long game.

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SDG wrote:
: I think that, like Jimmy says, he's playing a long game.

 

Fair enough. I guess we'll see. (I certainly appreciate the remarks he made *today*!)

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Rod Dreher:

This morning I caught part of the Catholic League president Bill Donohue’s CNN interview with Chris Cuomo. Bill Donohue is always in sledgehammer mode, no doubt about it. I’ve often thought he would serve his cause better by being more nuanced. That said, it was really and truly amazing to see how terrible Cuomo behaved. . . .

Cuomo’s journalism here was atrocious. But I think this episode gives us a sense of how the Pope’s interview is going to be used, both by the media and by many liberals, both within the Catholic church and outside of it: to suppress any narrative with which they disagree. Hey, the Pope told you to shut up about these things, didn’t he? Well, no, he didn’t. Bill Donohue is right. But the indignant Cuomo would rather Catholics like Bill Donohue shut up about these things, and now they are going to claim papal warrant for it. If you dissent from the liberal line, you are disobeying the pope, they will say. People who don’t want to hear what the Church has to say about these controversial issues will now feel they have license to ignore the Church and to work to silence others.

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Rod Dreher responds to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry's claim that Dreher's previous posts on this subject have been "demonic":

The Pope said the Church had become “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. This makes no sense to me at all. I think the world has become obsessed with these things, and the fact that the Church stands against them at all enrages the world. In my 13 years as a Catholic, I can tell you that if it weren’t for Pope John Paul II speaking on these things, and the Catholic magazines and books I read speaking about them, I barely would have heard the Church’s teaching. I think the world rejoices to hear the Pope agree with them that the Church is “obsessed” with these topics, and should be quiet about them. . . .

This is personal with me. When I was in college, and right out of college, it was precisely the sins of lust that kept me away from God. I wanted to be a Christian in the worst way, but I did not want to sacrifice my sexual liberty. I was surrounded by churchgoers who insisted that God Is Love, and that these things did not really matter. You want to know what temptation is, PEG? It’s that. It’s being told that Christ doesn’t demand our total surrender, but only as much as we want to give Him. I knew that He was compassionate and merciful, but I also knew that unless I was prepared to sacrifice everything, my conversion would go nowhere. I knew this because I tried it for a while. Eventually I quit going to church, because I knew I was lying to myself. It was really all about me wanting the psychological comfort of religion without having to sacrifice the hardest things. . . .

During all my years as a Catholic, I had to die to myself on this front. As a single man, living chastely was hard as hell, especially because I received no help from pastors. I can see in retrospect how much spiritual growth I did when I thought I was only walking barefoot across the desert, all alone. Only the old man in Rome, John Paul, flew the flag, so to speak. As a married man, living by the Church’s hard teaching on contraception was very, very difficult — and believe me, we got very little help from priests, many of whom thought people like us were weirdos. Didn’t we know God Is Love, and He doesn’t really care about that stuff? . . .

Francis’s comments not only badly mischaracterize the actual situation in the US church, in my view, but they make it easy for priests, catechists, bishops, and others who are troubled by the Church’s stance on sex and abortion to drop the matter entirely.

You may be certain that the priests, nuns, and religious who make it their business to fight “homophobia” will not have gotten the message that it’s time to move on to something else. . . .

I am glad that John Paul II was the pope when I was trying to run away from God. His unwillingness to stay quiet left me with a restless conscience, and ultimately led me to commit myself to repentance, and to accept Jesus. If I had been told by the Pope when I was 20 years old what Francis says today, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I don’t believe Francis means it this way, but I think his words will be received as an invitation to cheap grace.

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As one of the few, lonely Protestants on Arts and Faith, I tire of the slavish talk about what the Pope said -- both here, among his many followers on the board, and in the mainstream media, which is fixated on the Catholic church in ways that aren't entirely illegitimate (there are a lot of Catholics in the world, so the Pope's comings/goings/sayings are news) but which often are wrongheaded in that they fail to understand faith at all.

 

The Pope has no bearing on my life or spiritual growth. None. I think Catholics and Orthodox folks have a hard time with such blunt sayings, but I'm a Protestant. I don't care what the Pope says beyond how it might affect friends of mine. I watch it from a distance and sometimes find it curious, sometimes encouraging, often discouraging. But it doesn't inform my spiritual life at all.

 

That said, to read Rod Dreher's post is to marvel at just how pathetic the lives of so many Catholics are. Rod is actually (now) one of the passionate believers on that side (now Orthodox), and I don't mean to imply otherwise. I accept that many Catholics and Orthodox are genuine believers, just as I accept that many outspoken Protestants may be dead in sin and trespass. Only God knows the heart.

 

But to read Dreher's post is to marvel at the worst of Catholicism: A guy who just couldn't "walk the walk" unless the Pope was clearing the way and giving him public pointers and signposts.

 

In case my point isn't clear, here's what I read from the excerpt above: While Rod was waiting for the Pope to point the way for him, millions of Protestants were reading their Bibles and concluding basic truths about the world. They then acted upon those truths. But Rod couldn't simply read the Scripture to walk in faith. He needed the Pope to speak out on social issues. He now worries about how the current Pope's utterances could wreck the faith of other Catholics. All the while, he makes comments about how he could never be a Protestant because we don't have the sacraments. 

 

OK, Rod. Enjoy the ups and downs of a life committed to following an appointed man whose utterances can wreck your belief system. I'll be over here, attending my church, partaking of our "fake" sacraments and not worrying about utterances that are widely misinterpreted or sometimes genuinely disappointing. My faith won't be ruined by such things. I'm sorry that yours might be.

Edited by Christian

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