instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Every little thing he does is magic

I used to call myself a boot-licking Vatican toady, referencing my docility toward papal teaching and curial decisions.

I'm as docile as ever, I suppose, but I haven't called myself a boot-licking Vatican toady in years, because I've come to see that I'm really just a rank amateur. For real boot-licking Vatican toadies, docility is not enough. You. Must. Enthuse.

And while I can and do enthuse over things popes do, I do not enthuse over everything they do. It was noticing how people who had once enthused over everything Bl. John Paul II did were now enthusing over everything Benedict XVI did (while expressing more sorrow than anger that Bl. John Paul II hadn't done them) that showed me what a duffer I was at boot-licking.

Now, of course, it's Pope Francis who -- forget "can do no wrong," he can do no un-fabulous. He talks to people, he kisses babies, he sits in the back row at Mass (who can doubt his Catholic bona fides now?). He is (as someone else has said) the Honeybadger Pope. Francis don't care, he does what he wants... and people love him for it!

Some people love him for it. Other people are mad at the people who love Francis for doing what Benedict had done before him. (These are generally not the same people who are mad at the people who love Francis for doing what Benedict did not do and was -- in the opinion of the people mad at the people who love Francis -- right not to do.)

It gets particularly complicated when the thing Pope Francis has done is preach the Catholic faith. He does this often; it may not be too early in his pontificate to say he's making a habit of it. The Franatics say, "Did you hear him say Jesus is the one Savior? Wow! I love this guy!" The Benedict Brigade sputters, "But...but Pope Benedict said the same thing!"

For my part, I say, "Well, yeah. And also, so?"

Pope Francis isn't a continuation of Pope Benedict in preaching the Name of Jesus. They are both continuations of St. Peter, who kicked off the whole "pope preaching Jesus" thing rather memorably at about nine in the morning on the first Pentecost after Jesus' Resurrection.

I don't understand why people get excited when they read that the Pope is preaching the Catholic faith. Maybe they don't hear the Catholic faith preached very often in their parishes. (I'm fortunate; I've heard good, even challenging homilies far more often than theologically dodgy ones (though neither as often as the harmless but forgettable sort of modest length).)

I have a better idea why some insist that Pope Francis is just saying the same things Pope Benedict said. They're sharpening the knives to be inserted between the fourth and fifth ribs of the people who think -- though I'm not sure "think" is the mot juste -- that, because Pope Francis isn't living in the papal apartments, the Church will permit artificial contraception and priestesses.

But again, if you want to show the incoherence of that line of thought (so to speak), the stronger case is the continuity of papal teaching back to First Century Jerusalem, not back to the first week of March.