It is a popularity that acts as a screen for the other more inconvenient things that he does not neglect to say – for example, his frequent references to the devil – and that if said by others would unleash criticism, while for him they are forgiven.
In effect, the media have so far covered up with indulgent silence not only the references of the current pope to the devil, but also a whole series of other pronouncements on points of doctrine as controversial as they are essential.
On April 12, for example, speaking to the pontifical biblical commission, Pope Francis reiterated that “the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures cannot be solely an individual scholarly effort, but must always be compared with, inserted within, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church.” And therefore “this entails the insufficiency of any interpretation that is subjective or simply limited to an analysis incapable of accommodating within itself that overarching sense which over the course of the centuries has constituted the tradition of the whole people of God.”
This salvo of the pope against the forms of exegesis prevalent also in the Catholic camp went practically unnoticed, amid the general silence of the media.
On April 19, in his morning homily, he lashed out against the “great ideologists” who want to interpret Jesus in a purely human vein. He called them “intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness. And of beauty we will not speak, because they do not understand anything.”
In this case as well, silence.
On April 22, in another morning homily, he said forcefully that Jesus is “the only gate” for entering into the Kingdom of God and “all the other paths are deceptive, they are not true, they are false.”
With this he therefore reiterated that indispensable truth of the Catholic faith which recognizes in Jesus Christ the only savior of all. But when in August of 2000 John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published precisely on this the declaration “Dominus Iesus,” they were bitterly contested from inside and outside of the Church. While now that Pope Francis has said the same thing, everybody quiet.
On April 23, the feast of St. George, in the homily of the Mass with the cardinals in the Pauline Chapel, he said that “the Christian identity is a belonging to the Church, because to find Jesus outside of the Church is not possible.”
And this time as well, silence. And yet the thesis according to which “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus,” which he has reaffirmed, is almost always a herald of polemics. . .
I am loving Pope Francis’ homilies and am especially heartened by his talk of the devil, of Jesus as the only gate and so on.