A disruption in blog service? Todd is away and I can say – and you can see – that I have not exactly stepped up to the plate. Here is it June 5, and the blog has been quiet since May 28. It is me, Fran, who has not posted here in a long time. Anyway, I’m popping in, better late than never.
“What I’ve seen is how disruptive Pope Francis has been within the hierarchy of the United States,” said Tobin. “I was talking to a couple of brother bishops a while back and they were saying that bishops and priests were very discouraged by Pope Francis because he was challenging them.”
When I read these words at the NCR , which I was led to via a post at PrayTell, I was stopped in my tracks. The pope is disruptive? Lest I be accused of a kind of contextual proof-texting, let me step back and explain.
It appears that Archbishop Tobin (this Tobin, not this one) was speaking at the College Theology Society Meeting in Latrobe, PA last week. He spoke of the “balkinization” of our society, meaning the divisive ideological world which we inhabit here in the US. I’ve had to think about this post, lest it appear that I am furthering such division, which I can assure you I do not wish to do.
Archbishop Tobin also said, “At the present moment, this behavior helps to contribute to the balkanization of American Catholics into so-called right wing and left wing, or progressive and traditionalist, factions, who point fingers at each other…” I don’t disagree with this. Blogger Mark Shea made a comment on his Facebook page the other day, in talking about ideological divisions, that made perfect sense to me. (And it works in reverse as well.)
Shea said: “If people simply learned from the Church rather than reacting to their tribal enemies, so many problems would vanish. The folly of “faithful conservative” Catholic is that they seldom listen to the pope. Instead, they listen to what the left says about the pope, panic that it is all true, don’t try to understand the lefty things that *are* true and part of the Church’s tradition, and then completely freak out.”
This is all well and good, but I am struggling with Archbishop Tobin’s remarks about division, and then his remarks about Pope Francis. A little disruptive cognitive dissonance perhaps?
The notion that bishops have grown discouraged because the pope challenged them strikes me as a most self-serving position. Perhaps something is out of context or I read it wrong? I do know people who attended the CTS, so I can ask someone, and I have an intention to do just that, but I’m still left shaking my head.
If the pope does not challenge all of us, if God does not challenge all of us, then what are we doing here? And isn’t disruption necessary for change, for transformation? And what about the bishops and clerics who were challenged by the past two popes, one of whom is now a saint? It seems that any complaints about that brought little more than the tsk-tsk sound of those questioning their Catholic crediblity. He’s the pope, that’s why, was the hue and cry.
The whole thing leaves me, as ever, wondering. Which in its own way, brings disruption. It makes me think about the theme of the CTS conference, which I found on the CTS website: “God has begun a Great Work in Us: The Embodiment of Love in Contemporary Consecrated Life and Ecclesial Movements. ” Great work is often disruptive, so let God work.
So much for my pondering today… I know, everyone wishes Todd was back already!