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Am I the Prodigal Son’s Brother? Print E-mail
By Francis J. Beckwith   
Friday, 27 September 2013

On Monday evening of this week, on a plane flight from Chicago to Philadelphia, I sat, amidst the poor lighting and the turbulence, transfixed, pouring over the pages of the Holy Father’s recently published interview, about which several on this page, and thousands elsewhere, have opined.  So, I was not reading it with fresh eyes, but rather through the prism of not only the New York Times, but also by way of the assessments of several writers whose opinions I respect and from whom I have learned much, including Royal, Wiegel,Scalia, Wehner, Reno, Lopez, Dreher, and Garnett, to name just a few.

Like some of them, I found myself not entirely pleased with the language that Pope Francis employed. Some of his words, including those that rightly suggest that our moral theology will appear disjointed if wrenched from the anthropological and soteriological contexts they naturally reside, were later, ironically, wrenched out of the ecclesiastical context in which Papa Francesco is asking us to understand his prescriptions for the global Church.   

That, it seems to me, is precisely what happened with the account in the New York Times, and among the reports offered by some Catholic and non-Catholic believers who saw in the de-contextualized words of Francis a glimmer of hope that the barque of Peter would begin to transition to its proper role as a dinghy on the cultural Titanic of liberal progressivism.  Apparently, if  John McEnroe were to become the Times’ religion reporter we would soon see the headline, “Tennis Mentioned in Bible,” since, after all, the Book of Genesis does say that “Joseph served in Pharoah’s court.” (Gen. 41:46). 

Nevertheless, I began to wonder whether my modest displeasure with the pope’s language – manifested in mild, though visceral, defensiveness – was the result of my clinging to a style of Christian cultural engagement that is not the sort the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to practice at this point in its history.

Of course, as others have pointed out, there was nothing in the words of Pope Francis that is inconsistent with, or contrary to, Catholic moral theology.  The Holy Father is offering to the world, as Christ offered to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), a Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation, a message that has been, at times, purposely submerged by media determined to paint a picture of the Church that conforms to popular culture’s own prejudices and bigotries about the Catholic world.


           Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, c. 1664

For this reason, the ease by which the Holy Father is able to move the conversation reveals that he fully grasps the degee to which this false picture has been uncritically embraced by otherwise intelligent people. He also understands that the way in which the Church and its members sometimes speak and conduct themselves in public is presented through an uncharitable filter that does not communicate “good news.” 

Thus, the Pontiff’s success in drawing sustained international attention to both the Church’s mission and the words of its chief bishop is as much a consequence of his genius as it is of the world’s vanity. 

Those who see in Francis the “non-judgmental” pope of their dreams do not understood Christianity or the true meaning of the Good News of Jesus Christ. For Francis knows that when he, or even the Lord Jesus, says to a penitent, “Neither I condemn you; go and sin no more,” he is not saying that what you did is a sin no more. For reconciliation requires separation, just as a hospital requires illness. 

Thus, when Francis offers the Gospel to the world – and in doing so describes the Church as a field hospital – his offer comes embedded in a judgment.  But it is not his judgment. It is, in the words of Christ, the judgment of the Holy Spirit, who our Lord calls, of all things, “The Comforter”: “And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8)

So, when I reflect on my initial reaction to portions of the Pope’s interview, I have to consider the possibility that there is something wrong with me, and not him.  In that case, I may be more like the Prodigal Son’s brother than I’d like to admit.  While my father is offering love, shelter and a permanent home to his wayward progeny, I find myself disturbed that he may be conceding too much to one, who in the past, did not hesitate to take unfair advantage of his patrimony.

Then I hear, gently tapping on my conscience, the words that Christ put in the mouth of the prodigal’s father, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” (John 15:32)

 
 
 
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Comments (35)Add Comment
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written by Nick Palmer, September 27, 2013
Thank you, Professor Beckwith. You have crystalized a vague feeling I have been struggling to understand and articulate. I truly appreciate your insight!
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written by Avery Tödesulh, September 27, 2013
File under Meliorative
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written by Sherry , September 27, 2013
There was much that was beautiful in what Pope Francis had to say. There are a lot of hurting people in our world today and the idea of a field hospital is apt. Love and compassion are key to seeing the face of Christ and coming to an understanding of His saving grace.

Many of the people I know who have worked tirelessly to help to build a culture of life are people who work in women's care centers AND soup kitchens AND write their congressmen about immigration and the death penalty, etc. They are people with deep prayer lives and joy is apparent within the essence of their being.

These are people who include abortion, contraception, and other moral issues in the context of the theology of the body, for example. The focus is on the human person as designed by God.

I know that for myself, it was only when I read Mulieris Dignitatum (The Vocation and Dignity of Women) and Pope John Paul's Letter to Women that everything fell into place for me and I finally had that "Aha!" experience that changed everything in my being. God's plan was far superior to any of the ideas I had had for myself. Would that I had known sooner.

People are all different and are at different stages of their spiritual journeys. Some need a shout and some need a whisper.

Where the abortion, contraception, and same-sex "marriage" are used out of context is in the public square, in education, on the internet, on TV, in movies, etc. People are bombarded about it every day.

There are some "older brothers" out there. However, from my perspective, the problem has been not the "scolds" (which I have not really come across) but the lack of homilies and education that talks about the human person, the family and about the beauty of Sacramental Marriage and - and what God asks of us for our true happiness.





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written by Manfred, September 27, 2013
Mr.Beckwith: Think of the 80 minute interview on the plane where Francis, in discussing whether homosexual men can serve in the priesthood, seems to respond, "Who am I to judge?" Then think of Fr. John Geoghan who was murdered in prison after molesting TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY BOYS. Then remember the TWO BILLION DOLLARS in legal fees and settlements the Church in America has sustained in predation cases involving homosexual priests. Think of Abp Myers of Newark,N.J. who recently had a co-adjutor appointed by the Vatican because he was unable to handle priests who had been charged with sexual contact with boys. Then remember why MEN historically have the reputation of avoiding any contact with the Church, leaving those duties to their wives and young children. There is a real world out here to which I don't think many "in the Church" have been exposed.
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written by Jacob, September 27, 2013
You're going to be waiting for a long time for the prodigal sons..

The father in that parable did not attract the prodigal son back by watering down his morality. He kept his morality and waited for his son to realize the mistake he had made by leaving.
He never said it was the fault of the other son for being faithful.
You're trying to call us brothers of the prodigal and yet no one has come home.. If these phantom Catholics ever come and we actually reject any of them, your point might have some worth.
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written by GKC, September 27, 2013
Really nice take, to use the talk radio parlance of the era. The last few days on TCT have been interesting, as we've read several different viewpoints on the Francis comments from within an often consensus view on matters among this lot of thinkers and intellectuals. The tie to the Prodigal Son here is well received.

On the Wiki entry on Mr. Beckwith, I notice reference to his graduate thesis on some aspect of the Bahai faith. If Mr. Beckwith or an associate reads these comments, I was wondering if there might be a way to receive a copy. I have a very good friend from my youth who is Bahai (Persian) whose family was chased out of Iran in the late 1970s. I would be enjoy reading it.
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written by MikeL, September 27, 2013
To build on your Prodigal Son metaphor, I agree it is all to easy to take on the hurt attitude of the elder son. On the other hand, it seems much of the MSM are interpreting Pope Francis' interview along the following lines.

The son returns, having wasted his inheritance, and then, rather than acknowledging his faults and asking his father's forgiveness, says "Hey, Pops: Uhh, I ran out of money, things are kinda tight; can you give me a bit of cash so I can go run with my buddies. Oh, and can I have the car keys. Thanks, Dad - don't wait up for me."

In short, God loves me, so almost anything I do is OK with Him.
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written by Rich in MN, September 27, 2013
I, for one, have become so jaded by the tactics of political campaigns that I often see too much through that lens, but that certainly seems to be the way in which the ideological/culture war is being fought. We do not need to be Karl Rove to see the propaganda/rhetorical effect of NARAL's NYT "Thank you, Francis" ad. So, despite evidence to the contrary, I harbor a concern that Pope Francis is in the midst of "on the job pilot training" and unwittingly steering the barque of Peter toward the rocks. I even occasionally have the more irrational fear that the College of Cardinals have elected some "nun on the bus" wannabe. Of course, crazy thoughts like that come from places far divorced from logic and evidence.
It seems to me that the fundamental principle that guides Francis is the notion that, in spiritual warfare, God does not want victims but rather defectors -- defectors from evil. And, when I think of Pope Francis, I cannot get out of my head the image of Francis as a kleptoparasitic spider that will sneak into another spider's web and steal from them at the risk of death. That is the Francis who asked another priest to "call in sick" so that he could take his place offering Mass for a ruthless Argentine military dictator -- and then confront him about freeing two of his fellow Jesuits. Say whatever you want, but that act alone showed is a guy with no small amount of cunning and some major league kahunas, to boot.
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written by William Manley, September 27, 2013
I continue to be amused by the obsession with THE INTERVIEW. Church conservatives are in denial about its meaning because they are scared and angry. Francis is a liberal. That is clear. Change is coming. It is much needed. This is just the beginning.
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written by florin, September 27, 2013
Sept. 27th: I believe in and trust Pope Francis but I don't think he knows how terribly wounding some of his words were, in context or out of context. He does not want to judge and yet he SEEMS to have judged as obsessive those who stand in defense of the unborn and their mothers, often at great cost to themselves: some have even gone to prison to defend these lives. They stand in silent prayer before these abortuaries where human babies are torn apart, the pieces of their tiny bodies sucked out of the womb and then discarded like trash. How rarely Pastors or Bishops even speak about this, much less 'obsess'...while in training as an EMT, we learned "Triage" - to assess the situation and see who needs the most immediate help...the unborn baby in the womb has a limited window of time in which he can be rescued...those who are poor and disenfranchised need our help and there are so many programs, secular and religious, to help them...but the baby in the womb and her mother are most at risk...and there is no grand 'obsession' anywhere to rescue them...in fact, we have Catholic politicians like Nancy Pelosi urging publicly that they should be able to be killed up until the 9th month of gestation, even after having seen the Gosnell butchery!!! Pro-lifers can get discouraged at times, but after having read the full interview of Pope Francis, as beautiful as it was for the most part, many felt they were being judged as obsessive and it was hurtful and incredibly disheartening. I'm sure you know that NARAL sent Pope Francis a bit 'thank you' - they even feel he is telling pro-lifers to back off and involve themselves in other issues..we won't, of course, but the pro-death people are claiming a black victory and will become more overt now in their drive to spread their culture of death...Mother Teresa said that the root cause of the violence in our society is the fact that we slaughter the innocent babies in the womb and if we would do that, what would we not do...indeed, what would we not do? We shall see.
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written by Murray, September 27, 2013
The Elder Brother analogy (beloved of late by Patheos types) is blatant question-begging, and reveals more about the honesty and good faith of those who deploy it than about its targets.

On of the Holy Father's major premises is that the Church has of late been mean-spirited, judgemental, closed in on itself, and focused on doctrinal trivialities at the expense of pastoral care--just like the Elder Brother. (This premise has been vocally supported by Fr. Lombardi, many clergy, the Catholic Left, much of Patheos, and--tellingly--the secular world.) Based on this premise, the Holy Father argues that we must become more "open" and "nuanced", stop talking "all the time" about moral issues, and instead preach the Gospel first and foremost.

The problem with the Elder Brother analogy is that it assumes the Pope's premise. Orthodox/traditional Catholics are often the precise opposite of the Elder Brother in their desire to bring Christ's message to the world. They teach RCIA and children's catechism classes, feed the poor in soup kitchens, stand vigil outside abortion clinics, provide fraternal correction to straying brethren, donate disproportionate amounts of time, talent, and treasure, pray for the conversion of all men, and obey Church teaching in matters large and small.

To the Elder Brother propagandists: It's not that we're standing sulkily by while the Francis-besotted multitudes stream back into the Church and into a true relationship with Christ. If that happens, we'll rejoice along with you. The problem is that we think Francis may be doing a great deal more harm than good. Instead of slandering faithful Catholics with this Elder Brother nonsense, how about you work out your own cognitive-dissonance issues in dignified silence?
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written by Deacon Jim Stagg, September 27, 2013
Thank you, Professor Beckwith. Well thought out, and well presented.

The Holy Spirit works in so many ways, and protects the Church, as Jesus promised. He will and does speak through the voice of Pope Francis.

For those who may despair, I have personally witnessed the return of both the prodigals and the elder brothers. It was though patience and love, and many discussions.....not through threats.

Peace be with y'all!
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written by Jacob, September 27, 2013
William Manley,

I think you display our gravest concern: that no one will return to the Church or be more faithful because Jose Bergoglio has "cool" beliefs, but people like you will use Pope Francis as a sabre against the devout.

God bless Pope Francis, that he will start acting like half the holy man Pope Benedict XVI is! (At least Francis isn't engaging in secular depravity like other popes have.)
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written by Alex, September 27, 2013
To William Manley,
The recent excommunication of a priest in Australia by Pope Francis directly raises doubt, if not, contradict your assumptions.
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, September 27, 2013
In a 2007 interview, Archbishop Bergoglio, as he then was, was asked, “For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church?”

BERGOGLIO: It is what De Lubac calls “spiritual worldliness.” It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. “It is worse,“ says De Lubac, “more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes.” Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the centre. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: “… You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others.”

According to de Lubac, this occurs, when Christianity is treated as an exercise in self-improvement, rather than a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. It also happens, when people like l’Action Française see the Church as an instrument of social control, "to preserve in Catholicism," as Blondel said, "only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes." They treat God as a cosmic minister of police or economics, but the focus is always on man and his well-being.
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written by Dan, September 27, 2013
I've calmed down considerably about the interview. I initially was concerned that William Manley is right, that Francis was maneuvering the Church toward a "change." After examining the matter very closely however I no longer think that this is the case. I still have issues with how Pope Francis expresses things. However, I am convinced that he is firmly committed to Church teaching on abortion and marriage. He is undeniably pro-life. However, what he does not seem to grasp however is that the Church is the indispensable leader of the pro-life movement and in the defense of marriage and, for that reason, the Pope must speak out on those issues.
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written by William Manley, September 27, 2013
Murray, thank you for citing Patheos. I checked it out and found it to be a great site.
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written by MikeL, September 27, 2013
florin,
Having read the interview, I'm convinced that the Holy Father is as concerned for the unborn as any of us. And a generous reading would say that we should continue to vigorously oppose abortion in the the wider context of evangelization - they are complementary.

The problem, of course, is that proof-texting by the MSM and statements like those of NARAL make it *seem* that those of us who are pro-life are nascent Westboro Baptists, and that with just a tad more work Pope Francis will be named President of NARAL and put on the executive board of an LGBT organization.

And this *is* working its way into the wider culture - a cousin of mine with whom I have deep disagreements on these issues is already referencing Pop Francis to support her position.

The question is: What to do (praying seems the best option right now).
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written by Trapblock, September 27, 2013
Well said Professor. Our Holy Father is pastoring.

Let's support him.
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written by kristinajohannes, September 27, 2013
Francis, I chalk the whole interview up to "he who has ears, hear." I find it amazing how the Holy Father is speaking to so many different situations with so few words. Each person has to discern with the help of the Holy Spirit what the pope's words mean for him in his particular situation (or hers!). This can take a while.
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written by JDP, September 27, 2013
William Manley,
More CHANGE is coming? Really? Just what we need, as if the past 50 years haven't brought enough of it. How's all that change working out for us so far?
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written by Brian English, September 27, 2013
"is as much a consequence of his genius as it is of the world’s vanity."

Can we please take it easy with the "genius" talk about Francis until he has been pope for at least a year? There appears to be this assumption among many Catholics that because our last two popes have been giants in Church history, that Francis is obviously going to be another. He may turn out to be a great pope; he may turn out to be not so great.

"While my father is offering love, shelter and a permanent home to his wayward progeny, I find myself disturbed that he may be conceding too much to one, who in the past, did not hesitate to take unfair advantage of his patrimony."

I have not read anyone who quarrels with some of the things Francis said because they think he is going to draw too many of the "wrong type" of sinners back to the Church. I think there are two concerns: (1) he is not going to draw anyone back because his statements could be construed as affirming people in a life that is in fact sinful (as if the father in the Prodigal Son had sent a message to his son saying, "I still love you my son and, by the way, I really think people focus way too much on idolatry, harlotry, and drunkenness"); and (2) his words are going to be used by people like NARAL, Catholics for Choice, etc., to undermine efforts to protect life, protect marriage, and protect religious freedom.

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written by ron a., September 27, 2013
Re: Abortion, contraception, fornication, gay marriage, et.al.

Virtually all the negative conversation/condemnation I have heard regarding the practitioners of the above has been against the activity, not against the repentant sinner. (Prodigal Son) Common Catholic recognition is that we are all sinners. Knowing this, few that I have ever heard are unwilling to forgive and embrace the repentant. (The older son)

A SLOW TRANSFORMATION. RAPPROCHEMENT.
In our time, perhaps the problem is the concept, "sin". Perhaps we shouldn't talk about "sin". (We've eliminated Hell, maybe sin is next!) Things have truly been turned "upside down"...and, then, the innocent are scolded and the guilty are appeased. For what reason--truthfully? What ever happened to the gift of the Holy Spirit termed "counsel"? Has that, in our enlightened age, become passe? Are we no longer to admonish the sinner? (There I go again!) Appeasement. I think that tact was tried already, with not much success if the health and respect for the Church was the goal.

Regarding contraception, fornication and gay marriage, I hear very little "talking" among Catholics (in fact, too little, especially by the clergy). So, I don't know why we have to stop talking "so much" about these "small things". Most talk is usually a RESPONSE to those who challenge the Church teaching on these issues, commonly, the Press. They're the ones who seem to want to talk so much about these things. And they're really not much interested in the complete doctrine or mission of the Church, including the more "important" things.

Clearly, among many Catholics (other religions as well), a more outspoken, pro-active stand has been taken on the issue of abortion. With 50 million dead, how could we do otherwise?

To me, it all begs the question: "Has the world gone mad?"
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written by joe, September 27, 2013
All I can say is good grief. If we turn the interview inside out and read it from high altitude maybe there is a message for us? To suggest that sometimes we deserve the world's caricature is certainly fair. But in this day and age when morals are hotly contested (look the the ECUSA), there is a clear need to be clear. And Francis was not. He sounded like someone waving a 70s felt banner or someone writing press releases for Rowan Williams. Mr English above writes what is obviously true. Dr Beckwith, who I respect, writes what in any other context would sound like the words of some cult member determined to keep the party line. When will Catholics stop treating the Pope like some sort of Vatican version of a Mormon prophet? The Pope's primary job is administrator, not inspired preacher. Witness the NT having very little Peter and a whole lot of Paul. The Pope is not inspired, nor usually infallible. And given the history of Popes, many make a mess of things. History may be poised to repeat itself. I hope not.
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written by Alex Culter, September 27, 2013
Good for you. I have experienced something of the same in my own reaction
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written by Sue, September 27, 2013
The Church's insight on Theology of the Body, which encompasses abortion, homosexuality, and contraception (and divorce! and ivf!) is the signature doctrine of our Church. That is the message of the Incarnation of Jesus. I can only assume Pope Francis wants us to preach TOB why's in tandem with the abortion, homosex, and contraception shalt-not's.

Furthermore, I would like to think Francis is calling us all to be more than once a year March for Life prolifers (even ND's Jenkins can manage that!). We must walk the walk every day with the unborn, the elderly, parents, singles.

But we must also be more active against the wolves than mere talk. It's pretty easy to go to March for Life and disappear into the collective throng. What's hard is to be the person who goes to jail or sacrifices a career for the truth. It may be that Francis wants us to stop talking about these issues and start acting like they're the evil we say they are.
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written by Murray, September 27, 2013
William Manley, I'm glad you're enjoying Patheos. The writers over there are quite orthodox, despite their occasional over-exuberance when it comes to rationalizing the Holy Father's oddities, so they'll probably be a good influence on you.

Here's a more accurate retelling of the Elder Brother analogy: Imagine that after the Younger Son left for the far-off country with his inheritance, the Father's Chief Steward went around the region telling everyone in earshot that the *real* reason the younger man left was that nasty Elder Brother, with all his small-minded rules, his obedience to the Father, and his faithful observance of a multitude of disjointed doctrines. Why, the Father isn't much of a rules guy at all! He just wants to warm your heart and tell you good news, and have you follow your own conscience wherever it leads!

The Younger Son was sitting in an alehouse when he heard reports of the Steward's remarks. He was pleased by the thought of his Elder Brother being put in his place--about time that judgmental prig got what was coming to him!--and he briefly considered heading back to the Old Man to see what was up ... but hey, there's no hurry! This place has wine and hot girls, and Dad's money pays for a great posse. And besides, hadn't the Steward said that it didn't really matter what you did, as long as you followed your bliss?

Two years later, the Younger Son died drunk in a public alleyway under the wheels of a carriage, unreconciled to his Father.

A cartoon? Sure, but no more of one than the standard Elder Brother strawman. Was the Steward misrepresented? Maybe, but he spoke at such length and in such vague terms that people could take whatever message they wanted from his burblings, which they proceeded to do.

And the Elder Brother joined his Father in mourning for the dead boy.
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written by Carlos Caso-Rosendi, September 27, 2013
These are the times that try men’s souls. Our Lady has been telling us since Fatima or even earlier that the Church is going to experience a time of confusion. If they delivered Our Lord to the Cross, we simple servants are not going to be exempted from our Calvary.

I do not know what Pope Francis is trying to achieve. I was telling a friend today that I don’t want to go back to the kind of Church that persecuted Padre Pio or Fr Leonardo Castellani (find out about him, Argentine Jesuit) but I don’t want the church of Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, or Edward Schillebeeckx either. Somewhere in the middle there is firm ground but it won’t be easy to find.

Here in Buenos Aires we have seen Padre Bergoglio come out of a van any freezing night at 3 a.m. to set up a table with hot soup and coffee for the prostitutes (female, male and in-between) of Flores, the neighborhood where he was born. Not a word of reproach or a sermon, just a cup of hot soup, a smile.

Then someone approaches him and whispers something in his ear, he walks aside and hears her confession, dries a torrent of tears, whispers something which the penitent assents to, sobbing. I know it is bizarre to even imagine a transvestite confessing and leaving the improvised confessional with a mix of tears and mascara running down the face. Same thing about mini-skirted ladies of the road. But Someone told us that angels rejoice when something like that happens no matter how bizarre it may look here on earth. The absolution of the good thief on Calvary was no model of sacramental propriety either, but it worked.

I am quite uncomfortable with the idea of ceasing to be the loud and clear moral referent about abortion, militant homosexuality, and stuff like that. Is this a case of catching more souls with honey instead of vinegar? I hope so. I still think of the mix of stern condemnation and tender mercy that Our Lord displayed in His Perfection when He walked this sad and dusty planet. Are we able to get even close to that? All I hope is that He is in His mercy mood when I finally meet Him. I also know that depends on how I conduct myself. For He told me that I am going to get what I dished out in this life.

I envy the Pope’s fortitude. He knows he is approaching the enemy’s front lines by doing what he’s doing. He is risking crucifixion, but if souls are saved that way without compromising the truth … then the objective has been achieved.

Francis likes to read Jorge Luis Borges, a gentle and very misunderstood soul who died in voluntary exile in Switzerland. Borges chose the following inscription for his grave: And ne forhtedon na. It is Old English for “be not afraid,” or, “go forth unafraid,” quoted from The Battle of Maldon, a poem dating back, I believe, to the 10th century.

We must go forth. Be not afraid. Go forth, anyway.
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written by Hay-looo!, September 27, 2013
"Religion has a right to express its opinion"? (from the interview) I agree with Joe, Manfred, Brian English, and Jacob that we are going in the wrong direction here. When did the Body of Christ become an opinion?

It would be lovely if we could move beyond the Kumbaya and get back to what really ails Catholics: divorce, abortion, contraception, alienation from the Church. We cannot become a "wallpaper Church" - gluing on new layers to the rotten ones that fester beneath the surface. These are issues that must be vigorously addressed before we move on. To do otherwise is fraud.
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written by Frank, September 28, 2013
Professor Beckwith,wrong on all counts. If we look off on the distance unlike the Father, we won't see anyone walking toward "home." The culture at war with us is far from penitent much less conciliatory and less than that accommodating. They hate us with a contempt so deep, if they could get away with mass murder, they'd build the Concentration Camps version 3.0 themselves (Ver. 2.0 are the Communist Gulags). Think it can't happen here? then you're whistling past the graveyard of history. In the end, they have lost the war as Christ states in Matthew 16. In the meantime we will lose some battles but don't ever be under the illusion that if they have the ingrained evil to murder the innocent in abortion clinics, they'll come out into the streets if given the opportunity.
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written by Sue, September 28, 2013
Disagree with Frank only on his versioning - Soviets should be Ver 0.5 . The gulags were there before the concentration camps, the free world just chose to ignore them. Many, in fact, said if we just didn't say bad things about Communism and instead led by example, that the Reds would convert to our side. The Wall Fall notwithstanding, the assimilation/conversion went the other way, with US winding up Red while Putin fakes forward.
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written by Thereserita, September 29, 2013
"So, when I reflect on my initial reaction to portions of the Pope’s interview, I have to consider the possibility that there is something wrong with me, and not him. In that case, I may be more like the Prodigal Son’s brother than I’d like to admit."

Excellent post! Right on all counts; especially the introspection that the Pope's comments were designed to elicit from each of us. Of course there are thousands of wounded "coming home" at this moment! As Jesus told us, the fields are ripe for harvest. The problem is that the laborers are so blinded by themselves ("I have slaved for you & you never gave me so much as.."), they can't see, much less help, those who are coming home.

Thank you for this, Mr Beckwith. It gives me hope.
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written by Pay, September 29, 2013
Murray,

Your comment makes us think. I wonder who wi respond it and how ?
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written by Hay-looo!, September 29, 2013
Theresita, could you be more specific? Just who are these blind laborers? And do you know how many thousands have left "home"?
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written by Bill Beckman, September 29, 2013
I heartily agree, Dr. Beckwith. I think our new Pope chose his name wisely. The Church will not be rebuilt with political ideology or worldly wisdom. Gospel truth (sine glossa) and the love and mercy of Christ are the ways and means of the Kingdom of God and they lead only one direction -- to the Cross. The Holy Father is preaching hard truths just as we've heard in the Sunday Gospel readings the last six weeks. Kristina Johannes has it right: "let him who has ears hear!"

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