Saturday, April 9, 2016

Long game

So. Something less than two years since the first meeting; something more than two years since the Surveys went out. Two sessions of Extraordinary Synod. Hijinks, hijacks, stolen mail, et.c., and Fr. Hunwicke's favourite parrhesia.

Indeed, no, you don't have to worry about Müller coming after you. It is Pope Francis himself who will "come after" you. It might be Pope Francis who haunts your nightmares!

Now, as much as I might like (from my quiet backwater armchair, my complete lack of orders or orderly vocation, my simple responsibility not to write carelessly nor to promote error) the idea that not bishops nor cardinals nor popes are immune to excommunication, and the invited bishops having been encouraged to deliver themselves of what they really believe as sincerely as they might, Inquisition Paused, and their having (we may suppose) actually done so;... but of course, how else might the Pope the Shepherd of Shepherds, know whither to call his wandering sheep if he doesn't know what hedges they've got tangled in? (Actually, I can think of a few ways, but maybe they Just Wouldn't Work. I don't even know that they haven't been tried!)

Some folk are particularly needled by the exclamation "no-one can be condemned forever". Jesus himself says, they remind, that the alternative to salvation is eternal fire and "the worm that dieth not"; but whom is Francis exhorting in this Apostolic Exhortation? Context, remember! If context (including Tradition) is needed for understanding Scripture, how much more for understanding the Pope from Argentina? Nay, every word of this particular letter is addressed to some living human person, some cleric or fonctionaire or journalist... Can you, reader, condemn forever anyone living but yourself? Did Jesus not also say to us "seventy times seventy times forgive", which is to say "absolutely every every time your brother apologizes"?

None of this is to suggest that I particularly like the Hortative, its thinking-out-loud style, the deliberately-informal. BUT. If we are to lament that informality, that frequent shift of human addressee, that style, as lending itself to confused interpretation, how much more we ought to parse clearly, and make sure we really do understand what we criticise, and make ourselves plainly spoken, unambiguous, and clearly addressed.

(On which score I myself frequently fail, I know it well.)

God Bless The Pope, quem unus cum Ecclesiam Suam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere dignetur toto orbe terrarum...


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