Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Pope Francis on the Myth of Pope Francis

At times, it almost seems impossible to get a feel for the real Pope Francis because the news media is so focused on the media-created myth of Francis. I was somewhat interested to see that in a recent interview he was asked about this and expressed dislike for the Francis myth:
You have said that the Francis-mania will not last long. Is there something in your public image that you don’t like?

I like being among the people. Together with those who suffer. Going to parishes. I don’t like the ideological interpretations, a certain ‘mythology of Pope Francis’. When it is said, for example, that he goes out of the Vatican at night to walk and to feed the homeless on Via Ottaviano. It has never crossed my mind. If I’m not wrong, Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there is an aggression. Depicting the Pope to be a sort of superman, a type of star, seems offensive to me. The Pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone. A normal person.

On an almost entirely unrelated note (other than that I'd been meaning to post this bit and then ran into this other story before I had a chance to do so, here's another Francis quote that struck me this morning, dealing with the topic of confession:
Pope Francis urged the pastors to devote time to hearing confessions and to avoid being either very lax or very strict.

“It’s normal that different confessors have different styles, but these differences cannot be ones of substance, that is, involving healthy moral doctrine and mercy,” he said.

Neither the very lax nor the very strict priest witnesses to Christ, because “neither takes seriously the person in front of him,” he said. “The rigorist, in fact, nails the person to the law as understood in a cold and rigid way; the indulgent, on the other hand, only appears merciful, but does not take seriously the problems of that person’s conscience, minimising the sin.”
This latter seems important for contextualizing what Francis has to say on other topics. He persistently calls for topics to be dealt with "pastorally", which for too much of the Church has come to mean "acting as if moral teachings don't exist", but that is a perversion of what "pastoral" means.

1 comment:

August said...

It sounds good, but it also sounds like stuff I've heard from Charismatic Catholics who, ultimately, have no real direction.
Point to two different 'extremes' between which, you could drive a truck through. What ends up happening is that you get ensconsed in a highly self-referential process because you are judging yourself based what you perceive your proclivities to be. For many, this form of advice seems to inculcate weakness and self-doubt for people can imagine situations in which they were either rigorist or indulgent.
This results in navel-gazing and an attenuated will.

It seems to me the biggest loss is lack of real community where my confessor would actually know me and the people who were involved in my life. The only way the old idea of 'the Church as Hospital' works is if the surgeon knows whether he is looking at failing kidneys or an ingrown toenail. But we live in the days of abstract sin, and bureaucratic clergy, so perhaps a simple rule based response would actually be best. I do not mean rigorist by this, I mean having the humility to realize you aren't going to uncover the essence of a man by listening very hard at him for five minutes. Consistency provides a person something to stand on though.