Sunday, September 10, 2017
Lovers or fighters. . .
It seems that Francis has brought out the worst in Rome. He has bypassed the people he has put in charge, hired and fired right out from under those who were supposed to be in charge, raised trial balloons about everything from reconciling divorced to welcoming LGBTQ to intercommunion with Lutherans -- only to distance himself from things when they seem to get too controversial. He has said strange things to stranger individuals (via phone calls and interviews) while trying to master the photo op and the impromptu press briefing. He has challenged capitalism and remained mute before the sins of socialist or fascist economies. He has sent an olive branch to Muslims while condemning his own curia in very harsh terms.
Now it seems that he has taken after Protestants and some fairly big guns in American Roman Catholicism as extremists who seem to cater to hate and division. In the Jesuit newspaper La Civiltà Cattolica (sometimes called a ghost voice for the Vatican) Francis seems to have used other voices as a proxy for his own opinions, in this case written by the editor in chief, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, and Argentinean edition editor Rev. Marcelo Figueroa. Their article, “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism” is an untypical rant of changes and unfounded characterizations laced with contempt. It yokes both Protestant and Roman Catholic support for American conservatism has little more than an “ecumenism of hate.” Strong words for a Vatican accustomed to dealing with the art of diplomatic nuance.
In any case, it appears that this pope has added fuel to the fires burning in Rome and wherever Roman Catholics are battling over worship, economics, sexual politics, and more. Francis has proven not to be a uniter. In fact, just the opposite, he has drawn otherwise rather dull and staid Roman Catholic institutions into the fray. Who knows where it will end. In America we have bishops across the Hudson River taking markedly different positions on the question of the proper attitude of Rome to the whole sex, gender, and preference debate.
Maybe Missouri will have to surrender our title as the fighting church to Rome. In everything from female acolytes to which side the altar the priest stands to the rather predictable sex issues, Rome is gearing up for a fight and at this point in time I have no idea how it will end. The longer Francis remains, the more likely the progressive side may prevail. I guess it is a wait and see proposition.