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Pope seeks ‘saints next door,’ not doctrinaire perfectionists

Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Vatican Media via AP)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is calling for ordinary Catholics to live holy lives in whatever they do, stressing that the “saints next door” are more pleasing to God than religious elites who insist on perfect adherence to rules and doctrine.

In a new document released Monday, Francis said defending the poor and migrants is “equally sacred” to defending the unborn — a not-so-veiled critique of the conservative right in the U.S. for whom opposition to abortion trumps the Gospel mandate to love and welcome the stranger.

The document, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” is the third apostolic exhortation of Francis’ papacy, after the first two riled conservatives by condemning capitalism and suggesting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

It was signed by Francis on March 19, the fifth anniversary of his pontificate, and perhaps fittingly reaffirmed the centrality to his papacy of the “Beatitudes,” the eight biblical blessings extolling the meek, the poor and the merciful.

After Francis made headlines recently by seemingly denying the existence of hell, the new document strongly affirms the real and present danger of the devil who “poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice.”

In the text, Francis said he had no intention of defining holiness or setting out the various ways to be made a saint. Rather, he said he wanted to re-propose the church’s universal call to holiness that can be found next door, “the middle class of holiness” of a husband who loves his wife, a mother who patiently teaches her child, an employee who works with integrity.

Stressing that perfection isn’t required, he listed as “enemies of holiness” those who claim a superior knowledge of laws and doctrine and force others to submit to their “myopic,” absolutist interpretations. He said they reduce Jesus’ teachings to a “cold and harsh logic” and a “self-centered and elitist complacency, bereft of true love.”

He didn’t name names, but the admonition appeared aimed at conservatives in his own church — including some Vatican-based cardinals — who have balked at his mercy-over-morals style and loose interpretations of church teaching, particularly on marriage and liturgy.

Francis said their “sinister ideology” finds expression in “an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige.”

Much of the conservative criticism of Francis has focused on his last apostolic exhortation, the 2016 “The Joy of Love,” in which Francis opened the door to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion. Conservatives say the document has split the church, caused confusion and undermined church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Just last week, two conservative cardinals headlined a symposium in Rome that issued a declaration rejecting Francis’ opening to divorcees and begging the pope to “confirm us in the faith.”

Francis hasn’t responded directly to four conservative cardinals who have demanded that he clarify his 2016 opening, but in the new document he noted that within the church “there legitimately coexist different ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life” — even if it leads to confusion.

Francis also criticized those who prioritize certain ideologies over basic Gospel teaching, listing, for example, those who focus on abortion over all other issues.

Defending the unborn, “needs to be clear, firm and passionate,” he said.

“Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery and every form of rejection.”

In a jab that seemed aimed in particular at anti-immigrant faithful in the U.S, Europe and beyond, he said some Catholics relegate care for migrants to a lesser issue compared to bioethical concerns.

“That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children,” he wrote.

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Nicole Winfield

42 Comments

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  • Too little too late!! His religion is kaput due to its erroneous history, theology and conduct of its priests. An update on said conduct:

    “ERIE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie on Friday published a list of 34 priests and 17 lay people who it says were credibly accused of sexual abuse or other offenses involving minors over the past three-quarters of a century — including a deceased bishop who failed to stop sexual abuse once it was reported to him.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/local/north/2018/04/06/Catholic-diocese-IDs-priests-and-lay-people-accused-of-abuse/stories/201804060142

  • Kaput? That’s funny, there are hundreds of millions of active members all over the world, with new conversions in Africa spreading like wildfire.
    Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s disappearing.

  • Another step in line with Jesus in what Pope Francis is saying. The doctrinal regorists will kill the Catholic faith as surely as the fundamentalist Evangelicals are making “evangelical” a word meaning lying, cheating, stealing are no biggie, and its okay to walk right by the person lying wounded on the road to Jerico because (s)he ain’t your sister/brother if not your skin color, your religion, your sexual orientation, your nationality.

    There is much Pope Francis is not doing. But he is right in his emphasis away from all the ideological purists and absolutists of rigorous rules.

  • The crises in the
    Catholic Church : The Causes:

    Conduct of many pedophilic priests, the lack of talent in the priesthood, the lack of Vatican response to the historic Jesus movement,
    the Church’s continuing cling to original sin and the resulting subsets of
    stupid ideas like limbo, the denial of priesthood to 50% of its membership, the
    restriction of priesthood to supposedly celibate men (except ex-Episcopalian priests )and the continued train of
    Vatican “leadership” by old European/Argentinian white men.

    And note, in the USA only 22% of Catholics attend Sunday mass routinely i.e.78 % of USA Catholics are Catholic in name only.

    For a non-biased look at the global Catholic population: http://graphics.wsj.com/catholics-world/

    For more statistics etc. on the USA Catholic Church, see https://opentabernacle.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/why-the-u-s-catholic-church-has-lost-more-members-than-any-other-major-denomination/

  • The man never stops, eh?
    “In the text, Francis said he had no intention of defining holiness or setting out the various ways to be made a saint. ”
    It’s too bad he doesn’t want to serve the God he claims to – who’s main direction was to make disciples. Maybe he doesn’t want the people attending his assembly going to Heaven?
    Secondly, there is only one way to become a saint, “Repent and be baptized.”

  • His Enemance Raymond Cardinal Burke is alluded to in the article. As for this so-called “Prince of the Church”: (yawn)

  • Yes, damn those Catholics trying to hold fast to 2,000 years of Church tradition and teaching! This man is pure evil, and a heretic who is trying to cause a schism in the Church. Why? Because he’s a mentally ill man that hates Catholicism.

  • Pope Francis’s statement, which is deeply rooted in 2,000 years of Christian tradition and in the scriptures, tells followers of Jesus that “the great criterion … on which we will be judged” is set forth in Jesus’ words in the gospel of Matthew: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

    Isn’t it interesting — not to say, deeply sad — that those words evoke from some people hearing them (and hearing Francis underscore them) charges that the pope is an evil heretic trying to create schism in the church and to jettison 2,000 years of Christian tradition?

    Talk about Jungian projection of one’s shadow self onto someone who has made us uncomfortably face that shadow!

  • No it’s not interesting, because just like Bergoglio you’re presenting half truths, which is no different than lying. It’s ugly and it’s evil.

  • pope francis has given us a beautiful blue print in today’s language for one who struggles to be holy . you may find some of the older classics of spirituality better suited for you . by all means use them . the only goal is to be holy in christ and to act as christ desires us .

    regardless do progress in some program for holiness . less you again attack others as “pure evil”, “a heretic”, “mentally ill”, and as one who “hates” .

    christ may mind read . we not so much . we only exhibit our weak humanness when we try .

  • Symptom of a religion that does not live up to its billing and reason enough for many to leave including myself after 65 years of brainwashing. Enough is enough!!

  • I’m not even Catholic, yet by virtue of my lack of hatred toward the Pope, I’m more Catholic than bob is!

  • Truth does not equal hatred. The pope is not some grand oracle CAtholics have to bow down and worship.

  • Huh? Still searching for that kumbya moment? That is so 70’s. Learn the true faith and not this modernist bull…it will lead you nowhere as it values humans above God.

  • Sure. It did not address the pedophilia or the erroneous history, theology and dogma.

  • It opened the door for the ills of today. You should luv Vatican 2 since it places Man at the top and puts God as Man’s servant…sort of like rational conclusions. Rationalists tend to bend things to their biases…and confuse data with wisdom. You are confused.

  • “Huh?” indeed . please reference what i did say not your imagination of what i might have thought or intended . that you do a poor job of .

  • your language toward francis does not suggest truth nor balanced judgment .

    we agree in your second sentence .

  • Eliminating any confusion with an updated prayer:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple, preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish girl named Mary. (Some say he was a
    mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by many semi-fiction writers. A descent
    into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/ Christianity and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body ritualscalled the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    (references
    used are available upon request)

  • How is that workin’ out for you? Not too well if you are trolling on this site with your heresy.

  • Deja Vu! We have already experienced your enlightenment, liberty and progress before. It is referred to as the reign of terror aka French revolution…ultimately gave birth to naziism, communism and nihilism…you must be so proud for your enlightenment is darkness, your liberty is slavery and your progress is decay.

  • Wow that is a reach but maybe not for someone suffering from the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in red neck Christianity!!
    Keep in mind two contemporary atheists, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

  • Well I guess that primordial ooze you came from is something you look forward to ….how uplifting. No wonder you troll places that believe in a higher power.

  • What higher power other than human intelligence? We are born, we live, we die. That is all there is so have a good night dreaming about mythical heavens that you require to sleep.

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