Why Americans Misunderstand Pope Francis

The following is excerpted from “Why Americans Misunderstand Pope Francis” By Jose Mena | December 24, 2013

In most of the early reactions to Pope Francis’ papacy, one finds the severely confused notion that Catholic social teaching is readily reducible to American political categories. The problem is that these categories are totally inapplicable—if not wholly alien—to the majesty that is the corpus of Catholic social teaching.

It strikes me that few Catholics today are willing to place their Catholicism first and their party allegiance second. Catholics ought to religiously submit their intellect and will to Church teachings in all cases, and not just in those instances in which Church teaching happens to accord with that of one’s favorite politician.

Pope - Dem GOP Jesus

That Pope Francis manages to preach his critiques of the modern Western way of life in a spirit of Christlike joy and compassion is itself a minor miracle. His attitude reflects the ultimate truth that what the Catholic Church is in the business of doing with its social teaching is to proclaim a particularly vivid, compelling, intellectually rigorous, and genuinely beautiful account of what the human person is and what is good for the human person to pursue.

We Catholics must approach this account with humility and grace, and discard whatever cultural and intellectual presuppositions do not concord with this beauty and rigor. We must commit ourselves first to Christ and His Church, clear-eyed and reverently, and trust that they will not lead us astray.

This is the rule that I try to follow:

  • If I feel that the Holy Father is criticizing something I hold dear, perhaps I should examine exactly why it is that I value that so highly, instead of leaping immediately to a passionate critique of the Holy Father’s words.
  • If, on the contrary, I feel that the Holy Father is endorsing a particular political conviction of mine, I should be immediately skeptical of my comfortable interpretation, and careful that what I want to believe to be true is actually fully justified under Catholic thought.
  • And when I do find good reason to disagree with what a pope or a cardinal is saying—and I grant that there are plenty of cases where this holds—, I should do so in a tone and attitude of utter respect and admiration for the intellectual work done by the Church and Her bishops.

Read the original @ https://ethikapolitika.org/2013/12/24/americans-misunderstand-pope-francis/


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5 responses to “Why Americans Misunderstand Pope Francis

  1. Chrissy, I respect the integrity of your Catholicism, as I respect anyone humbled by the blood of the Lamb. I have significant problems with this article by Jose Mena, sufficient for a thousand-word essay, but since (a) no one wants to read such self-indulgence, and (b) I don’t have sufficient motivation to write it, let me just contribute two points.

    1) Mena’s central premise is that Catholics should defer to the greater wisdom and tradition of the Holy See, but my position is exactly the opposite: Question Everything. I don’t believe Christ wants us to shut down our powers of discernment for even two seconds, since as per the exact center verse of the Bible, Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” From the outside looking in, it’s my understanding the Pope is infallible in some things, not in all things.

    In fact, Mena contradicts himself when he first writes “Catholics ought to religiously submit their intellect and will to Church teachings in all cases,” but later adds “when I do find good reason to disagree with what a pope or a cardinal is saying—and I grant that there are plenty of cases where this holds…” So we are to agree to disagree?

    2) Here’s the problem with all this SJW Marxist bullshit … CHRIST DIDN’T COME TO SAVE NATION STATES!!! I can’t stress this highly enough. Any teaching that advocates distribution by the state to the poor is ANTI-CHRIST. Not only does it subvert Christ’s message of redemption of the individual soul through Christian charity, it actively subverts the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” Merrily pulling Benjamins from my wallet upon penalty of imprisonment isn’t charity, not even close. It’s vote buying.

    One of the big reasons we’re so morally screwed is because half the nation (i.e. Democrats) believe Government should be in charge of charity, thus absolving themselves of any personal responsibility for their brother or sister. Government is their Religion, and they see paying taxes as our social method of lifting up the poor, which is ironic since all the takers, the advocates for redistribution, usually pay no taxes. What hypocrites!

    No welfare, no food stamps, no bennies of any kind. We must reorganize as a nation responsible for those in need down the block and around the corner. We must rebuild local connections to the community and respond as our forefathers (and -mothers) did, with compassion and charity as an active and individual choice, not under duress as part of some anonymous Borg-like Collective.

    If Pope Francis’ message is for a larger outreach by the church to impoverished communities, count me in. But if his message is that governments have ANY responsibility for the economic needs of its citizens, we’re entering hammer-and-sickle land and spitting on the sacrifice of Christ toward our individual redemption.


    • Amen to that, and well said. So much gets lost in translation. And shame on Franko for letting himself get used by the Press and Barack to push communist ideals. Even more shame if he’s talking politically and not to individuals as Christians. As individual Christians, we are called to be generous. States are not called to demand money at the point of the gun for “charity.” That’s not charity. We were just talking about how well Franko did *pastorally* on this trip. But politically? A mixed bag. We’ll be sorting it out for years.

      I agree with you also about Jose Mena, but I like Chrissy’s additions.


      • chrissythehyphenated

        I think you’re way off base shaming the pope for how others use him. I heard the same crap ad nauseum about Dubya. How is it that people who KNOW how corrupt and twisted this regime and its puppet media are still blame the victims?


        • You may be right, Chrissy. I certainly don’t like ever blaming the victim, but sometimes the willing enabler must be blamed, and in this case, there was too much eager legitimizing of Barack and the Castro brothers. This was the wrong time for that. Did Mother Teresa willingly give Bill Clinton his happy photo ops? No, she pointed her bony finger in his face and told him to “Stop killing babies!!!” We got a few gentle rebukes about religious freedom (very gentle) from Franko, but we needed a few bony-finger moments during this visit, and we never got them. It’s sad that St. Teresa’s cojones were bigger than all our recent popes combined.

          Don’t get me wrong. I love Franko, and his pastoral work is wonderful. I love how he sought out the ones doing the Lord’s work while he was here. But I’m overall disappointed and wish he had not come at this time. We are in a time of looming war and treachery and desperately-needed political divorce. In such a time, the message of reconciliation and forgiveness can be a catastrophe, especially in Cuba. Goodness.


        • And I would add one more test to your list of three rules above. I don’t mean this to detract from yours, because I like all 3 of them very much, and the humility you espouse is absolutely critical.

          4. If I find myself disagreeing with a political position or specific judgment of the Holy Father or a bishop or cardinal, and being fully open to their persuasion I am unable to reconcile myself with it, I should look to similar Church positions over the past 2000 years. If the current view at issue is clearly at odds with the historical thinking, then I may reasonably conclude that our very human (though inspired) leadership has temporarily fallen off the Holy Spirit wagon and veered into a ditch. Do not panic. This has happened periodically throughout history. See Ray Arroyo’s “Pope Fiction” for numerous examples of how our Faith has not been corrupted even when our leaders fail to be completely clear-headed. It’s ok. I should approach my reasonable disagreement with humility and not shout from the rooftops that our leaders are “morons” and “Marxist Peronists” like crazy people or Ann Barnhardt. That would be bad. But I may speak up in disagreement, and I may pray that some brave nun, somewhere, has the courage to put her bony finger in the pope’s face and tell him if he’s being an idiot about climate change. Maybe he’ll listen to her.