I don’t think you saw quite as much of this in the old days*, a discussion getting shut down outright instead of just banning all the liberals. Blogger Dave Armstrong asks in his title, “Is Pope Francis A Heretic?” My online friends know of my opinion on that word: it has experienced organic development to mean “a person whose opinion about religious stuff I dislike.” A condemnation by the pajama magisterium, in other words.
Mr Armstrong does a nice bit of retro-apologetical analysis and comes to a conclusion:
(T)he pope (or at least a high-ranking Cardinal in effect speaking “for” him) needs to clarify, and the sooner the better.
There’s a reason I don’t believe Pope Francis will “clarify.” In doing so, he would widen the number of people who have a legitimate means of judging the divorced and remarried. Gossip hounds, bloggers, and others would have the information not to settle their own consciences, but to settle the matter for other souls. Pope Francis is wise, and plays the long game here. He is concerned for the souls of people who were bolstered in the heady days of the curia-run-amok. And make no mistake: being a busybody is no gilded path to heaven.
Pope Francis is a pastor. Like a pastor I once worked for, he seems to be the kind of guy who, when in receipt of an anonymous letter of complaint, throws it in the trash right away. When somebody signs it, he waits for the person to request an appointment. He will listen. And he might not agree. But he will give anyone the time of day. The Footnote 351 Gang of Four are cardinals. If any of them asked for a meeting, I’m sure they would get it.
But they don’t seem to be asking for that. They seem to want marching orders. For everybody else. I’m content to let matters of Footnote 351 rest with well-trained pastors who are skilled in the craft of discernment.
The longer the current confusion continues on, the worse it gets. It’s now scandalous. Soon it will be outright disastrous, leading to defections into quasi-schismatic radical reactionary Catholicism or out of Catholicism altogether (similar to an early 70s scenario of mass defection).
“Scandal” has also been redefined as of late. It now seems to mean “Stuff that’s none of my business I found out about online that troubles me.” If one wants to search the Google high and low for troubling news, that’s not scandal. That’s being a news aggregator.
The more uncertainty we have, the more we will have undue and unedifying speculation, detraction, gossip, calumny, and slander taking place in our beloved social media.
And that is not good . . .
Beloved? I’m not so sure our social media is so beloved. It does tend to show our darker natures, that’s for sure. I think people frustrated at having no clarification could just turn off the computer. Or stick with cutecats.com or a saint-of-the-day website.
“Undue and unedifying speculation, detraction, gossip, calumny, and slander” has been taking place in the Church for millennia. Before St Blog’s there was the parish coffee hour. Before that there was Corinth, one of two New Testament communities that got a follow-up letter. Make of that what you will.
In an interview early in his papacy, Pope Francis conceded he was a sinner. That’s not a bad or untrue admission to make. We can all make it. It’s a better thing to say than “You are a sinner.” Only God gets to say that. And when that is said, God knows of what’s being talked about.
* The high water years of Catholic blogging, 2001-2013