I cannot escape the sense that elder brothers and sisters are being unmasked in the Catholic Church. Robert Royal wrings his hands:
(H)e uses phrases that make you worry – as well as think. And unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like he will continue to do that as long as he’s pope.
Someone in his combox suggested taking “un” off the “fortunately” and we’d have it right. Mr Royal does get the point of the interview, which is a dialogue piercing into modern unbelief:
But what emerged most notably in this interview was his wisdom of heart, sapientia cordis, which, it seems, can reach even the most settled skeptic.
Catholics, especially Good Catholics might consider getting used to this situation. We should be worrying if we’re resting too much on our laurels (I think we are) and not engaged enough in the mission of Christ.
Mr Royal is worried about moral relativism:
Most people will see this as the pope saying it’s fine to believe whatever they like.
In fact, he says that, more or less: “Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”
In fact, he does not say this at all. Pope Francis’s statement strikes me as realism. Nearly all people do have a sense of good and evil. Nobody gets it perfect.
Nearly all conservatives supported military adventurism in southwest Asia a decade ago. Did they really intend that a few million would be refugees, that Christianity would be pushed to the brink of extinction in Iraq, that military suicides and divorces would soar? Of course not.
Many bishops chose the public image of the institution and care of the clergy above child safety. Did they intend to lose hundreds of millions, chase away hundreds of thousands of believers, and spawn self-hatred, suicide, and calls to trade in their black cassocks for orange prison wear? Of course not.
Will people interpret the pope’s words to mean what they want them to mean? Of course they will. It happened with many good Catholics under the last two popes. The difference in the Church today is that believers, and especially disciples are being challenged to discern.
And that can be far more difficult than surety. Nobody’s getting a free pass. Speaking for myself, I don’t wish for one. I have a lot of work to do, and I’m having a great time being a Catholic. This is the best time.
Mr Royal saves himself with this last word:
Read the whole interview. The human interactions are splendid and the final result sheer delight. I’m willing to bet Eugenio Scalfari never thought that in his declining years he’d be drawn into an interchange like this, which will stay with him forever now – and with us.
This is the point. Splendid indeed. Now, a show of hands: who’s ready to do this today?