The Pope on ideology and prayer

From Rome Reports:

Source: Vatican Radio
“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”
“The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens. Ideology chases away the people. It creates distances between people and it distances the Church from the people. But it is a serious illness, this ideology in Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh? Already the Apostle John, in his first Letter, spoke of this. Christians who lose the faith and prefer the ideologies. His attitude is: be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”
“When a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.” He who does not pray is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement.” Instead, he said, “when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.” And, the Pope said, “I say to pray, I do not say to say prayers, because these teachers of the law said many prayers” in order to be seen. Jesus, instead, says: “when you pray, go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart.” The pope continued: “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”
“These do not pray, abandoning the faith and transforming it into moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus. And when a prophet or a good Christian reproaches them, they the same that they did with Jesus: ‘When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him’ – they are ideologically hostile – ‘and to interrogate him about many things,’ – they are insidious – ‘for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.’ They are not transparent. Ah, poor things, they are people dishonored by their pride. We ask the Lord for Grace, first: never to stop praying to never lose the faith; to remain humble, and so not to become closed, which closes the way to the Lord.”
We say a lot of prayers in the Ordinariate.
“It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers,” said the Pope.
Having come from an evangelical formation as an adult, I was used to the free form praying.   Then I discovered how theologically rich and beautiful our prayers are.
The trick is to pray them and mean them, eh?    Our formal prayers are a help to that spiritual communion with Jesus Christ and ensure we are believing rightly when we pray.
These words of the Pope do not put me on the defensive though I imagine many Traditionalists will react as if Pope Francis is singling them out for criticism.
Ideology in the Church can exist on the left, too.   And with the Left, they might not even be guilty of praying at all!
UPDATE:  Barbara Nicolosi wrote this on Facebook in response to this homily:
  • Barbara Nicolosi Katie – Here again we have the Pope speaking as though something were a “Great Problem in the Church” when it is really not. If only millions and million of Catholics were saying ANY KIND of prayers, nevermind imperfect ones! If ONLY we had millions and millions of people who were so into their faith that it appeared almost thoughtless fidelity. (Although, I agree with Doug, it is not really possible to be a Christian ideologue because ideology presupposes the distortion of an idea to the exclusion of all else. As a Christian, what would be the distorted idea? It’s one more of those problematic expressions of his.) I purposely put the “liberal Boomer slant” on these latest uninterpretable comments to make the point that MY Truth is that the principle “ideologues” I have seen who are Christians have been liberal socialist Boomers who make politics everything and especially everything in the church. That’s MY Truth, and My Truth is sacred, is it not? In a a similarly bizarre way, the Pope noted a few weeks ago that is a ” great problem in the Church” that Church media is being used to subvert human freedom instead of promote it. WHA—?! A great problem? We barely have any media in the Church such that it should be attacked like this. Exactly who are the culprits here? Vatican Radio and EWTN? I have issues with EWTN’s production quality, but it is just wrong to say they are endangering human freedom. I think he is thinking of the 12 Watt Catholic radio show run by the SSPX rosary group in Buenos Aires. Then there was the “greatest” problem of youth unemployment and lonely elderly. Those issues, as we all know, are not the greatest problems facing the Church today. Simply put, they’re not. Amy Welborn has said it best in noting that it is like this Pope is arguing with somebody but none of us know who it is. I’m about to conclude that he has a weird view of the state of things from his service in weird little Argentina and so everybody who doesn’t live in a violent little half-Marxist half-Catholic Second World state should just nod and smile and move on.
    UPDATE:   More from this thread:
    Barbara Nicolosi P.S. I hate thinking and saying these things. It grieves me that the Pope is suddenly someone whose words must be parsed and strained. The problem is evident in all the folks who are ardently on the defense starting with the words, “I think he means….” See, THAT is a problem. Everybody has their own desperate idea of what he must mean that ignores the things he is actually saying. I don’t have any real idea what he might mean most of the time lately. I’m just going to parce out everything that is against the constant teaching of the Church and fight like – uh, a mind numb ideologue? – for our Catholic faith regardless of what Pope Francis is doing. Because the Faith, I know is the one sacred, Truth. It’s not MY Truth or your Truth, it’s THE Truth.
    • Patricia Roche I once read a comment that went something like this “People are always arguing about who’s right. . .what would the world be like if we argued about who is most loving?” Those on the far left frequently behave as ideologues, and not only are they ruled by their beliefs – their beliefs are in opposition to the Magisterium on many vital, formative issues. They do much harm and cause great discord. A few right fringe try to be ‘more Catholic’ than the Pope by their refusal to change even the slightest things in liturgy, dress or whatever. I wish Pope Francis was more clearly understandable sometimes, but my takeaway from all he has been saying is to remain orthodox in my beliefs, while at the same time, working at becoming both more loving and more out and about with people in need. Somehow, I think he’s asking us to work on being ‘lovers of people’, doers of the Word. . .to become saints. I think he says these provocative things because most ordinary people know and care so little theology and so many have such a need of LOVE – of Jesus. Could he be asking us who are immersed in theology, to BE (live out) TRUTH, LOVE, FAITH? If we really did that then people might want to better understand our doctrines. . .? I know in my own journey, when I see holiness in someone, I look to see what they believe. Years ago I took note that the holiest, despite all their differences, always seemed to love Mary, the Eucharist, the angels and the Church. They were orthodox in their doctrine. The egotists wanted more power and ‘rights’ and negated the supernatural. They were ideologues.a few seconds ago · Like

      23 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Barbara Nicolosi Well, if they are attached to a certain visionary, then they very well be in the throes of an ideology. But tht wouldn’t be the same thing as being a “Christian ideologue.” Forgive me for insisting on distinctions in philosophical and theological terms. I just don’t down shift this fast.
    • Barbara Nicolosi That’s a lovely interpretation Patricia. As I noted above, I think we should all ignore the Pope’s particular words and strive to come up with the nicest, most consistently Catholic meanings we can out of whatever he says.
    Max Torres For what it’s worth, I think we ignore (or cabin) the Pope’s words at our own peril. He’s telling us what he thinks is important to hear for our interior lives–not our political lives–and I suspect that the Holy Spirit, as always, is communicating through him. So, I’m going to take what he says to heart and pray about it. A little reflection on the possibility that I might be smuggling my own preferences into my putative beliefs isn’t going to hurt me. Knowing the Holy Spirit, it will probably even help. Ditto, youth unemployment, or whatever. Adding to my list of concerns won’t relativize or dilute my solicitude for traditional families, life, etc., which are under severe political and spiritual attack the world over. New initiatives might even open avenues to addressing the old ones more effectively. We all know that God works in strange ways. Consider this just another of them. It is no time to surrender belief that God works through His Church, even through imperfect means like a parochial Argentine priest.

    If I had the opportunity to convey to him whatever I wanted to, after telling him I loved him for being Peter, I’d relay some advice that St. Josemaria gave parents: never scold your children in front of others where it might humiliate and hurt them and even push them away. As a father, I’ve failed in that regard. But, it’s advice worth taking to heart and I’ve tried to live it, always outside of the home, not enough in it. Francis is our Holy Father, and what I think bothers people who are troubled–at least those who aren’t inclined to think that the Church went to hell at Vatican II–is that he seems to scold us regularly, in public, over a megaphone, even in conversations with people who don’t like our our branch of the human family. It’s as if we’re likely to awaken any morning to read that our father has complained about us in the corner saloon once again, or written our sins on the wall of a public bathroom. It will take humility on our parts to accept that maybe we deserve it, or need it for our own good, or for the world’s. I’m praying for humility–mine, not his. Meanwhile, it stings, and humiliates, and might even dispirit us if we allow it to. I’m going to try not to let it, and to take all the good I can from whatever the world is laughing at about me today. The Holy Spirit knows better than I do. I imagine that He will provide succor as, when, and where needed, maybe even joy. Meanwhile, to Jesus, with Peter, through Mary.

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5 Responses to The Pope on ideology and prayer

  1. Indeed whatever this is from “Francis”? It is not proper biblical theology, but as I have said and noted.. just social Jesuit verbiage! He would not fair well with many Catholic theologians and even some popes of the past! Indeed crazy days ahead for Roman Catholicism I fear!

  2. Paul Nicholls ofs says:

    The vagueness of his comments where he is not specifying who or what this is directed to, is only sowing the seeds of confusion. He needs to be more specific and “hit the nail directly on the head with the hammer”, otherwise this only generates endless speculation, as far as the meaning of his words are concerned.

    I have never been critical of the Pope in the past and it disturbs me that I am feeling a sense of turmoil about this one.

    For the most part, I have been silent about my opinion with other Catholics. All I know is that the Catholics I rub shoulders with ( who tend to be somewhat traditional) tend to be quite silent in expressing any opinion about this Pope, while in the past, in discussing other Popes, they have been quite vocal. When I am with them I avoid bringing up the topic of Pope Francis and, perhaps, this is best.

    Crazy days ahead. Perhaps. In any case, I think it is best that I focus on my spiritual life and not weigh into the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’ remarks. This may indeed be my last comment on Pope Francis, until the election of the next Pope.

  3. Pingback: The Pope on ideology and prayer | Catholic Canada

  4. matt says:

    Pope Francis is saying some of the same things that other Pope’s before him have said, at least with regards to work, and economics. He is not the first Pope to instruct that employment should meet the needs of the employed, in addition to the needs of the employer. He is not the first to examine flaws in our economic system. He may just be the first Pope you’ve heard speak of these problems.

    It is such a shame that so many want to label him a Socialist, or a Marxist, just for trying to make the world better. Never mind the fact that is a misuse of the label.

    Some people just do not like the Pope’s message, so they ignore or belittle him.

    This is a shame, because Pope Francis is preaching that loving each other, is more important than loving wealth and comfort. That is one ideology he wants corrected (and it’s not just Christians that love wealth and comfort too much).

    His message requires that some people let go of their ideology. Some of the faithful do not even realize they have an ideolgy – because their thoughts and opinions have been so internalized, without question, for so long, they no longer think they need to inspect them. They have completely accepted their ideas as truths. But ideas are ideologies. If you have an idea, you are an ideologue. Ideas can be distorted, or not, either based on physical evidence, or your faith, or your opinion.

    If you ‘Google’ the word ‘ideology” – this is one definition that you will find:
    1. system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
    “the ideology of republicanism”
    beliefs, ideas, ideals, principles, ethics, morals; More
    doctrine, creed, credo, faith, teaching, theory, philosophy;
    tenets, canon(s);
    the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual.
    “a critique of bourgeois ideology”
    visionary speculation, esp. of an unrealistic or idealistic nature.
    Whether ideology is right or wrong, depends on a person’s perspective. There is nothing problematic in the Pope pointing out faults in our actions – unless of course you are the one who needs to act differently – and you do not like being chastised – so you ‘parse out’ (ignore) that which does not suit you, and your ideology.

    All Christians are ideologues – whether they are from the right, or the left. Both sides have justified ideas.

    You say his comments are not interpretable – but they you nonetheless call them socialist and Marxist!

    Can you not decide which argument to pursue?

    If his comments are not interpretable – then how can you decide if they are socialist, or capitalist. And if you decide to call his comments socialist – then they must be interpretable!

    Pope Francis is not arguing with anybody, he is teaching. That anyone has to ask who Pope Francis is arguing with, is observation that they disagree with his message. It is they who are arguing with Him.

    Those people who think they are too correct to inspect themselves, and open themselves to change, are the people he is trying to teach. Yes, it does sound like it is those on the Right that he is trying to instruct. But his instruction is also for those on the Left.

    His lesson is for anyone who has convinced themself that the system is working well, or the best that it can. He is saying the system is not working too well, for too many, for too long – and it is getting worse. And Pope Francis is correct!

    He is saying many people have become idolaters of money, fame, or power. This is not a desperate idea or difficult to grasp, but it is a desperate condition and for some, difficult to accept.

    The Pope’s teaching is meant as a call to action to correct so many things that are wrong in our world, our politics, our economy, and our thoughts.

    There is no validity in belittling his comments as being from someone from a ‘weird’, ‘violent’, ‘little’, “Argentine’, ‘half-Marxist’, ‘half-Catholic’, ‘second world’ state!

    Would you use that reasoning to belittle the words of the Gospel writers as a weird view of things because they were written in a ‘weird’, ‘violent’, ‘little’, “Israeli’, ‘half-Philistine’, ‘half-Jewish’, ‘second world’, state?

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