One of the best Catholic bloggers surfaces occasionally at dotCommonweal where, very early this morning (Commonweal time, I presume), he suggested “#enoughalready.”
So it has come to this. We are now debating the doctrinal authority of papal tweets and phone calls.
Frankly, I’m surprised that the tweet on inequality has gotten so much traction. I saw the news bit, shrugged, and went on with my day. Likewise the supposed phone call to the Argentinian woman. The latter discussion amounted to gossip about what began as a private matter between a pastor and a believer. Two people shared a conversation, and two or fewer persons recall the exact details. Nobody else. Long-suffering spouses of culturewarriors are not lining up for divorce, so the detractors should get over themselves. And conduct an examination of conscience.
On the other hand, Cathleen Caveny in the commentariat nails it:
At the same time, it is ironic to see people who treated JPII’s theology of he body as a third testament get their knickers in a twist over Francis!
And let’s not forget that JPII cultivated celebrity pope hood–while still living, he encouraged the creation of John Paul II Centers to study his theology of the body. And Benedict used his platform as pope to turn his theological tomes into best sellers.
All brutally true. Did she say ironic? This is a laugh riot. Oh yes, another commenter mentioned “hilarious entertainment.” Which, as I admit a guilty pleasure, it is. Are these people sure they want a hermeneutic of continuity? Really sure?
The last two popes have each cultivated a papacy-as-populist-pastorate (henceforth PPP ). Their followers, mainly well-intentioned, have bought into it totally. The institutional church since the 80’s certainly have also cultivated it–why else would people be encouraged to bypass parish clergy, bishops, and national conferences to whine and complain directly to Rome? The whole system of the past three decades, enhanced and enabled by the internet, is geared to this. Nice work, people. Some complain about the mainstream media, but the real problem is that the pajama media has been thrown into utter confusion.
Francis tries to act as he’s been trained: a pastor and a Jesuit. A good chunk of the Church acts as if the administrative philosophy of JP2/B16 is still holy writ. So when the tone of the message changes, the elder siblings are thrown into confusion. So I feel for them. But it’s also time for some people to grow up. If you were born in 1978, you are certainly a middle-ager now. No more spoon feeding.
Is it time to broaden–and I mean all of us–our formative materials? Not just popes. Not just calendar quotes of the day. But a more mindful reading of the Scriptures, especially the Gospels? Deeper encounters with theologians and saints–not just the fan favorites? Failing that, I expect Pope Francis will seem more and more obtuse and bothersome to many of our Catholic sisters and brothers. And that is really too bad, because many of them bring a commitment and intensity that I don’t find at all bothersome.
Plus, the front porch can be a very lonely place while the party is rolling inside … no matter how many internet friends one claims.