GeE 57: New Pelagians

See the source imageThis paragraph and the two that follow describe “new pelagians.”

57. Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centered and elitist complacency, bereft of true love.

Conservative-leaning Catholics see themselves in this criticism, but it really applies to any Christian who indulges the self-centeredness described here.

This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting:

  • an obsession with the law,
  • an absorption with social and political advantages,
  • a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige,
  • a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters,
  • and an excessive concern with programs of self-help and personal fulfilment.

Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ. [Evangelii Gaudium 95]

The key test for the problem described here is the outward focus. Some Christians–not just Catholics, not just conservatives–are too focused on the smaller, purer community. The example of Jesus was to actively engage the people avoided by the religious leaders of his day: Samaritans, tax-collectors, those who engaged in unlawful sex, and other sinners. Almost as if sin was a disease to be caught by transmission from those who engaged in it.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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