Something to learn from Francis

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by ZachT, May 31, 2021.

  1. ZachT

    ZachT Active Member

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    In reading through Pope Francis's manifesto, Evangelli Gaudium, I stumbled upon an outstanding outline of the challenge of being a Christian in today's globalised, secular West. He's specifically addressing pastoral workers, but I think it applies to all active Christians (are we not all called to a ministry of Christian pastoralism in some way? With our children, our relatives, our neighbours?). I figured I'd share it here in case it gives anyone else the clarity it gave me:

    78. Today we are seeing in many pastoral workers, including consecrated men and women, an inordinate concern for their personal freedom and relaxation, which leads them to see their work as a mere appendage to their life, as if it were not part of their very identity. At the same time, the spiritual life comes to be identified with a few religious exercises which can offer a certain comfort but which do not encourage encounter with others, engagement with the world or a passion for evangelization. As a result, one can observe in many agents of evangelization, even though they pray, a heightened individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour. These are three evils which fuel one another.

    79. At times our media culture and some intellectual circles convey a marked scepticism with regard to the Church’s message, along with a certain cynicism. As a consequence, many pastoral workers, although they pray, develop a sort of inferiority complex which leads them to relativize or conceal their Christian identity and convictions. This produces a vicious circle. They end up being unhappy with who they are and what they do; they do not identify with their mission of evangelization and this weakens their commitment. They end up stifling the joy of mission with a kind of obsession about being like everyone else and possessing what everyone else possesses. Their work of evangelization thus becomes forced, and they devote little energy and very limited time to it.

    80. Pastoral workers can thus fall into a relativism which, whatever their particular style of spirituality or way of thinking, proves even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism. It has to do with the deepest and inmost decisions that shape their way of life. This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist. It is striking that even some who clearly have solid doctrinal and spiritual convictions frequently fall into a lifestyle which leads to an attachment to financial security, or to a desire for power or human glory at all cost, rather than giving their lives to others in mission. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm!​
     
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  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is a good passage indeed. Other statements from Francis aren’t like this, but this one is pretty good indeed.
     
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yep, pretty good. I wonder whether he wrote it himself? Do Cardinals contribute sections to these things, perhaps?
     
  4. ZachT

    ZachT Active Member

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    I haven't read any Francis before this, and perhaps his sermons and his press statements are of a different tone and focus, but at least in Evangelii Gaudium this is a pretty consistent theme. Most of the text, excluding the lengthy socialist political argument immediately before this passage (which I also thought was quite well articulated), is about complacency in the church, rampant spiritual compromise, and an exploration of both the honest challenges people face of being a Christian today and the empty excuses people make that compromise their duties of evangelism.

    If you were to plot me on a spectrum I'm not very Evangelical by nature, but this text did a good bit to convince me I probably should be more so. If you've got a spare six hours and have the patience to read a Roman Catholic exhortation (although it's quite a bit lighter on Roman Catholic-specific sections than I thought it would be) I'd recommend giving it a read, it might change your opinion of him a little. Not on his politics, certainly, but on his genuine Christian fervour, perhaps. If you would only be interested in more of the passage above, and don't care what he has to say on social and economic issues, Chapter 2 part II is maybe a 15-30 minute read and is his full assault on spiritual sloth and compromise.

    It is a good question. I don't quite grasp how Papal Infallibility works (does it apply to everything Francis says, or only when he's talking ex cathedra?), but I imagine the RC Church would be hesitant to admit others contributed for fear of muddying the authority of the Pope's written words. At minimum an English translator worked on this document, but it seems probable he had staff who also assisted him like a prominent politician might have speech writers.
     
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Infallibility is only applicable to those ex cathedra official pronouncements of doctrine concerning faith or morals which are applicable to the whole church. It wouldn't apply to this sort of written exhortation from which you've quoted.
     
  6. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    This line of thought has been in the Roman church since at least the Vatican I era, which roughly coincides with the advent of modern textual criticism. It is a theme that Abp. Fulton Sheen meditated on, as well as some of the French Catholics of years past.
     
  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    In the view of the Latin Church, as I understand it, the Pope only speaks infallibly when he goes through the hoops to make the statement infallible. That being said, I take the view that this is a proposition that most Anglicans would have some difficulty accepting, even when the understand the limitaiuons on the ability to speak ex-Cathedra and Infallibly.

    In the 103 years since Vatican I, this authority has been used only once, in 1950, when Pope Pius XII solemnly defined The new dogma of the Virgin Mary's bodily assumption to Heaven. ​

    Whilst that may, or may not, be a novel doctrine, it is a view that Anglicans should argue cannot be proven from scripture and so can not be required to be believed unto salvation. Some Anglicans will vehemently argue against the doctrine as being utterly false, whilst others quite possibly accept the general basis of the doctrine. In the end it is a matter we do not need to have an opinion on.

    For most of us the only thing we can say infallibly is that we are all fallible.
     
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  8. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is quite possible that he did not write this apostolic exhortation himself. That doesn't necessarily mean the other contributors would be cardinals. Papal documents are issued in the name of the pope only though often not written by him alone. Those who may have contributed are never mentioned so we can't know who else may have been involved or how great their involvement was.
     
  9. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Pius XII's apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus is commonly cited as the only time that a pope has exercised papal infallibility since it was promulgated after Vatican I. However, I understand Roman Catholics do argue over this as they claim the exercise of papal infallibility does not always have to be so clearly declared. I understand many believe Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he authoritatively declares that women cannot be ordained to be an exercise of papal infallibility.
     
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I have not gotten the impression that Francis is any less ‘orthodox’ than his predecessors. Much of what gets attributed to him in terms of “style” is filtered through the MSM, which is simply not equipped to follow or report on sophisticated theological discourse.