Ross Douthat on the Pope and the Precipice

090Very interesting reading,  from Ross Douthat in the New York Times.

In the week since, many Catholics have downplayed the starkness of what happened or minimized the papal role. Conservatives have implied that the synod organizers somehow went rogue, that Pope Francis’s own views were not really on the table, that orthodox believers should not be worried. More liberal Catholics have argued that there was no real chaos — this was just the kind of freewheeling, Jesuit-style debate Francis was hoping for — and that the pope certainly suffered no meaningful defeat.

Neither argument is persuasive. Yes, Francis has taken no formal position on the issues currently in play. But all his moves point in a pro-change direction — and it simply defies belief that men appointed by the pope would have proposed departures on controversial issues without a sense that Francis would approve.

If this is so, the synod has to be interpreted as a rebuke of the implied papal position. The pope wishes to take these steps, the synod managers suggested. Given what the church has always taught, many of the synod’s participants replied, he and we cannot.

-snip-

SUCH a reversal would put the church on the brink of a precipice. Of course it would be welcomed by some progressive Catholics and hailed by the secular press. But it would leave many of the church’s bishops and theologians in an untenable position, and it would sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents — encouraging doubt and defections, apocalypticism and paranoia (remember there is another pope still living!) and eventually even a real schism.

 

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2 Responses to Ross Douthat on the Pope and the Precipice

  1. SUZANNE says:

    The thing is, while Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope opposed Communion for the divorced and remarried. He also told the Spanish bishops during the ad limina visit that he opposed it.

    I call baloney sandwiches on this one.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Suzanne,

      You wrote: The thing is, while Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope opposed Communion for the divorced and remarried. He also told the Spanish bishops during the ad limina visit that he opposed it.

      I call baloney sandwiches on this one.

      In the politics of the Catholic Church, there is a principle known as “Romanesque” the gist of which is that one must adhere to the party line in order to rise to a position in which one has the authority to change it.

      That said, the pope’s own words to the synod clearly indicate that (1) he does not intend to alter doctrine and (2) he expects all of the bishops to be collaborate in adhering to established doctrine, even while seeking new pastoral solutions to various issues in a new pastoral situations. It seems likely that he pope was speaking his own mind in his remarks at the end of the synod.

      Norm.

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