Fallibility — Peter Robinson

 

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As a friend, who is, like me, a convert to Catholicism, put it in an email: What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

(If you disagree with the premise–that is, if you can see some way of constructing the statement such that it isn’t, actually, preposterous–please do say so. I’d be hugely relieved.)

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  1. mask Inactive
    mask
    @mask

    What is social evil?

    What kind of inequality is he talking about?

    Before capitalism and the industrial revolution there was a lot of income equality as most people lived in subsistence poverty so is one to believe that under these conditions there was little “social evil”?

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Well, I ain’t Catholic, but I’m pretty sure that Tweets aren’t covered by Papal infallibility.

    One could argue that this particular Tweet cannot be covered by Papal infallibility because it contradicts the Holy Scriptures which state that the love of money, rather than inequality, is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10)

    • #2
  3. True Blue Inactive
    True Blue
    @TrueBlue

    The trouble with this Pope isn’t his economic illiteracy, it’s his theology. What about original sin? What the heck does “social evil” even mean? How does it I differ from regular evil?

    • #3
  4. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    True Blue: What the heck does “social evil” even mean? How does it I differ from regular evil?

    Social evil is more fun at parties and regular evil just sulks in the corner of the room playing with the cat?

    • #4
  5. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    “What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?”

    I’d suggest reading about the behavior of prior Pontiffs, and thanking God that this one is only a Liberation Theologist…

    Or you can console yourself with this version of the All The Cretans Are Liars paradox:

    Pope John XXIII once remarked: “I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible”.”

    (From Misthiocracy’s Wikipedia link.)

    • #5
  6. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Peter Robinson: What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

    Thank God for Twitter for providing Francis with a platform that makes his economic illiteracy beyond question?

    • #6
  7. doc molloy Inactive
    doc molloy
    @docmolloy

    Ah.. a social justice pope. Father forgive him, he’s from Argentina; just like Basil Faulty used to excuse everything Manuel did with “He’s from Barcelona.” JP11 would not have fallen for it. But then he’s just been made a saint. Now we have the twittering pope.. Oh the inequity of it all..

    • #7
  8. user_333118 Inactive
    user_333118
    @BarbaraKidder

    Tom Meyer:

    Peter Robinson: What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

    Thank God for Twitter for providing Francis with a platform that makes his economic illiteracy beyond question?


    As much as I decry these modern means of communication and expression, you are right!
    On another post, a member commented that, likely, the main reason that the BLM did not execute a full-scale assault on the people at the Bundy Ranch was because of cell phone cameras!

    • #8
  9. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    How can anyone call this preposterous? Vague enough to be meaningless maybe, but not preposterous.

    • #9
  10. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    It did bring us Thomas Piketty’s screed, so perhaps he has a point.

    • #10
  11. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Technology has transformed the effective powers and secondary roles of the papacy, and of the bishops in general. The Holy Father in Rome will always be an important spiritual leader, but this is a new and difficult era in which off-handed remarks can be zipped around the world in mere minutes; in which the distinction between official and unofficial thoughts, reflective and declarative statements is commonly obscured. The Church would do well to formally consider these changes. 

    In any case, ethics are a more difficult subject than morals. Morals are general principles of behavior drawn from our understanding of reality. Ethics are the application of those general principles to specific circumstances.

    Ethics are challenging at the personal level. They are perhaps even more challenging at the societal level. The selectivity necessary to process society-wide, long-term historical information regarding the various ways in which individual wills interact to finally arrive at an overarching theory of social behavior is incalculable. 

    In summary, I look to the Holy Father for moral leadership, but much more in regard to individual ethics than to systemic ethics.

    Systems are universally dependent upon the moral behavior of the individuals participating in them. The Church’s focus should ever be on the individual. Jesus made no claims about the ideal nature of government. His economic advice can be boiled down to a sentence: Rely on God, not on your own powers (alone).

    • #11
  12. Mendel Member
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Peter Robinson:

    As a friend, who is, like me, a convert to Catholicism, put it in an email: What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

     Like Peter, I also married into a Catholic family, and came under intense pressure to convert from Protestantism. Unlike Peter, I chose to remain with the denomination of my birth. One of my reasons for choosing not to convert is the fact that the Catholic Church places great ecclesiatical power and catechistic and theological influence in the hands of a very few individuals.

    If one of the basic tenets of Christianity is man’s unwaveringly flawed nature, why should we expect a Pontiff to be any different? Indeed, should we not expect most Pontiffs to act in ways which disappoint us, simply because they are tasked with responsibilities which no mortal man can fulfill?

    • #12
  13. Mendel Member
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    What disappoints me most about Pope Francis is not necessarily his message (although I do not agree with the premise of this Tweet), but how delivers it.

    Popes should be allowed to make controversial statements. But given their incredible influence, when popes do voice controversial opinions they need to be explained in detail, not tweeted or whispered as one-liners to journalists on a plane flight. For a pope to drop such an ideological bomb without explaining his underlying reasoning is the intellectual equivalent of a hit-and-run.

    Pope Benedikt XVI also managed to ruffle some feathers, but to his credit he spilled enough ink in his treatises to let the world fully understand his thinking.

    • #13
  14. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Peter, this is a simple tautology. Social evil is basically defined as inequality.

    • #14
  15. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Mendel: If one of the basic tenets of Christianity is man’s unwaveringly flawed nature, why should we expect a Pontiff to be any different? Indeed, should we not expect most Pontiffs to act in ways which disappoint us, simply because they are tasked with responsibilities which no mortal man can fulfill?

    St Peter himself, the “rock” on which Jesus built His church, denied Christ three times… though, significantly, he later accepted martyrdom for Christ. We might disagree by degree, but there is some truth in what you say.

    The Church does not assert that any Bishop of Rome is perfect, but rather that the flock requires a shepherd and the Holy Spirit will not allow that shepherd to mislead his flock. We have had some downright terrible bishops. But the Creed and the Mass have not been broken in two thousand years.

    We are beings of flesh and blood. Until His holy Kingdom is made manifest, we need guides of flesh and blood.

    • #15
  16. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Just think, if we were all equal comrades, there wouldn’t be any social evil. We have some great historical examples of this in Castro’s Cuba, Mao’s China, and the Soviet Union.
    Imagine no possessions, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man, etc.

    • #16
  17. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Mendel: Popes should be allowed to make controversial statements. But given their incredible influence, when they do voice controversial opinions those opinions need to be explained in detail, not tweeted or whispered as one-liners to journalists on a plane flight.

    I share the impression that Pope Francis is less than careful with his public statements, and that concerns me. I have heard other Catholics theorize that he is purposefully inviting controversy, because look at how much attention is being paid to the utterances of a pope again. I’m not convinced, but its considerable.

    It reminds me a bit of President Obama making so many speeches in his first term as President. When people hear you all the time, only the most avid fans remain curious about what you have to say.

    Pope Benedict would sometimes ask an interviewer if he could step away for a moment of prayer and reflection before answering a question. Pope Francis is also a holy man, but he is of a different nature. Enthusiasm and humility seem to be his signature traits.

    • #17
  18. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Mendel:

     

    If one of the basic tenets of Christianity is man’s unwaveringly flawed nature, why should we expect a Pontiff to be any different? Indeed, should we not expect most Pontiffs to act in ways which disappoint us, simply because they are tasked with responsibilities which no mortal man can fulfill?

     And many Pope’s are quite disappointing indeed. On the other hand the claim of the Catholic Church is that the Holy Spirit keeps popes from engaging in doctrinal errors. The simple fact of the matter is social justice, free markets, and all this economic jazz really aren’t part of the christian faith. Really the Church can offer salvation to people in any form of government and economy and has throughout its 2000 years of existence. That one pope like one kind of system while its members prefer something else isn’t new and really isn’t relevant. The Pope is a South American Social Democrat, so what? Just do what all Catholics have done when the pope says something stupid, ignore him until he excommunicates you. If he doesn’t it wasn’t important. 

    • #18
  19. Mendel Member
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Aaron Miller:

    Mendel:

    We have had some downright terrible bishops. But the Creed and the Mass have not been broken in two thousand years.

    We are beings of flesh and blood. Until His holy Kingdom is made manifest, we need guides of flesh and blood.

    I agree wholeheartedly. And indeed, since the unity of Catholics has survived 2000 years despite some horrible pontiffs, the best way to react to Pope Francis’ economic proclamations is with a polite shrug and the remark that Popes’ fields of expertise lie elsewhere (as most have done in this thread).

    The difficulty, of course, is the oversized influence any Pope wields (an influence which directly results from the structure of the Catholic clergy). That influence means there are many people who will not simply shrug at these statements, but use them as cudgels.

    Also, I didn’t mean to criticize anyone’s Catholic faith. As Aaron points out, all Christians need shepherds made of flesh and blood – Protestants are certainly not immune from the problem of fallible leaders.

    • #19
  20. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    There is a parable in the Bible (I forget where at the moment) advising against the hoarding of wealth. Hoarding is sinful for two reasons. First, it denies God the trust due to Him, fulfilled in His constant care of good servants. To overly fret about one’s future resources is to doubt God’s active and benevolent involvement in one’s life. Second, it mistakes the purpose of one’s bounty as wholly one’s own security and pleasures, rather than recognizing that bounty as a means with which to love others.

    Christianity very clearly presents Heaven as one’s proper place for rest and reward. We are meant to share our wealth — voluntarily, yes; but constantly and generously.

    Also, note the daily reading from just a couple days ago. Acts 2:42:

    All who believed were together and had all things in common;
    they would sell their property and possessions
    and divide them among all according to each one’s need.

    I am not suggesting that the Bible supports socialist government. There is certainly some significant context to this verse in Acts. 

    My point is that there is justly tension between Christianity and modern affluence. It’s good that we remain ready to defend capitalism from misrepresentation. It’s good that we remain wary of ideas which suggest hope in communism and such. But we should be equally ready to reflect on how and why our economic freedoms are not always used in charity and moderation.

    At the heart of Christianity is the virtue of humility. Can we openly discuss our failures without implying to liberal predators that “the system [capitalism] is broken and needs to be replaced entirely.”

    • #20
  21. doc molloy Inactive
    doc molloy
    @docmolloy

    Do we genuflect @ Pontifex The official Twitter page of His Holiness? Or is it so much hashtaggery? Hashtaggery or infallibility? It would wear the patience of a saint.

    • #21
  22. GKC Inactive
    GKC
    @GKC

    The precision of a German theologian yields to the magical realism of an Argentine Latin. 

    He should not be Tweeting

    • #22
  23. falsbach@sbcglobal.net Inactive
    falsbach@sbcglobal.net
    @Floydz

    Many Catholic leaders economic ideas lean heavily upon Distributism, including Pope Francis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributism Although a devout Catholic, personally I think Distributism is seriously flawed (in that does not understand Capitalism without the sin, if you will, of Cronyism) The philosophy was conceived/built upon Rerum Novarum. It does try to reinforce private property and the very good Catholic idea of subsidiarity.

    • #23
  24. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    What is a Catholic to do when the Supreme Pontiff makes statements that are, on the very face of them, preposterous?

    1. Pray for him.
    2. Assume good intent – that he means inequality of opportunity
    3. Pray that the other 99/100 tweets that proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ get as much play as this one
    4. Pray for him.

    • #24
  25. doc molloy Inactive
    doc molloy
    @docmolloy

    The Good News Bible, published by the American Bible Society. A major goal of this translation is sensitivity to the hearers of God’s Word. It employs popular contemporary English that is more colloquial in nature. It might appeal to young people. There is a Catholic edition. The earlier Contemporary English Version (1991) has a Catholic-edition New Testament.

    So have we gone from Good News Bible to Good News Tweets? From scripture to a 140 character limit.. Bits and scaps. The congregation was all a twitter..

    • #25
  26. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    But he’s not a Marxist, right?

    • #26
  27. VooDoo Inactive
    VooDoo
    @VooDoo

    Peter,

    As a fellow Catholic, don’t worry. Popes are ‘infallible’ only under certain fairly tight circumstances, 99.99999% of what the pope says/writes do not fall under it. The issue must: “concern a doctrine of faith or morals; it must bind the universal Church; and it must be proposed as something to be held firmly and immutably”. Additionally, it must be stated as infallible doctrine, something rarely done in +2000 years of church history. Popes are human like everyone else. We pray that they get things right most of the time, sometimes they get things very wrong. If it is on economics and not faith and morals, it’s just an opinion.

    • #27
  28. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Perhaps the Holy Father is preparing the Vatican accountants for the liquidation of the Church’s treasures, and their immediate distribution to the poor? Would be a monumental good faith gesture.

    • #28
  29. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Mark Wilson: Imagine no possessions, etc.

    A Party official goes to inspect a collective potato farm. He orders the head farmer to report on how the potato crop was this year.

    The farmer is shaking and nervous. He knows he must give the official good news.

    “The crop this year was unbelievable!” he says. “Why, if we piled up all the potatoes, they would reach the feet of God!”

    The Communist official looks disapprovingly at the farmer. “Comrade farmer, this is the Soviet Union. There is no God.”

    The farmer looks at him levelly and says, “That’s ok. There are no potatoes.”

    • #29
  30. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Not to be rude to my Catholic brothers, but it’s times like this that make me glad that the Prophet doesn’t have a twitter account.

    -E

    • #30

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