Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pope Francis Catholicism: Stoicism v Humanity

The Catholic Church is a difficult discuss without offending because commentary is as passionate as it is opinionated.

In academia our view of "Catholics" or the "Church" is shaped by the Crusades, the Protestant Revolution, harsh treatment of Galileo, Spain’s Conquest of the America, Henry the VIII, etc.  Just as those examples exist so to does Christ, the social justice champions (saints) (link), Roman oppression during the first two centuries of the church, Joan of Arc, the Cristero Movement (movie), the Protection of America’s Native Population (VascoDeQuiroga-Link), Papal Succession from Peter, etc. etc..

The history illustrates the polarizing views regarding the Catholic Church's place in human history and within the Church itself.  Pope Francis, hereafter Pancho, via his acts of humility shifts the focus and connects with the faithful and non-faithful in a different manner.  Many observers say his actions are more Christ-like; embracing the lowly, removing excessive bishops (link), removing the opulence of the Church in favor of the simple and even calling members directly.  However detractors argue his statements walk a thin line between dogma and heresy permitting wiggle room to subjects long considered closed.  [note: he has not said anything contrary to church teaching]

Had the Axis triumphed the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s may not have happened nor would the Eiffel Tower or Louvre exist in current form had Charles Martel not brilliantly maneuvered at the Battle of Tours stopping Muslim takeover of Gaul…the historical examples are endless.  The examples are always looked at in hindsight and from the winner’s perspective.

Pope Francis has taken winning and hindsight out of the equation.  Rather than waiting for history to dictate whether the sin was in fact a sin, Pancho takes the fight directly to the soul.  As parents balance between punishment and forgiveness when raising their children so too has Pancho moved to re-balance the church and her members.  

In the information age it is pointless to reiterate the "rules" of the Church since anyone who wants them can freely seek them.  Why repeat them ad infinitum? Why repeat what is wrong all the time?

The CC determines what is right and what is wrong in terms of faith and morals for Catholics, if you are not Catholic why should anything the Church decrees bother you?  The fact is that it does...maybe not because you care, but because the church has always been at the forefront of moral issues making critiques and dispensing advice.  This view in light of modernity shows the focus teaching the rules muddied the best way to apply them.

As a child is allowed to learn life's lessons by falling and getting up so are the members of the CC invited to learn.  We fall 7 times and rise 8.  The whole purpose of organized religions is to provide a guide to being a good person, so why not focus on the purpose rather than the method?

Access to information and ever expanding scientific discoveries have shaped the way we think about nature and our place in it.  The pope’s statements admit that there is a lot more gray out there than previously considered.  Finally, the function of the Church is not to condemn but to save.  In this spirit I think Pancho is choosing to leave the ninety-nine in an attempt to recover the one.

The Atlantic - GOP should be like Pope Francis (link)
The New Yorker - Conservative Catholics Feeling Left out of Pope’s Embrace (link)
Gawker Article [Opinion] Proposing to Liquidate the Church (link) (my comment on the article link