God’s Ruling Word — The Antidote to Moral Indifference?
The enemy against which we fight is not only hatred in all of its forms, but even more fundamentally indifference, for it is indifference that paralyses and impedes us from doing what is right even when we know that it is right. (Pope Francis re remembering the Holocaust.)
Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press. …But members of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors say that in April 2015, they sent a delegation to Rome specifically to hand-deliver a letter to the pope about Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Karadima’s hands, which he said Barros and others witnessed and ignored. (Pope Francis Ignored Letter Detailing Sex Abuse)
Pope Francis has selected a Portuguese “priest-poet” to preach at his 2018 Lenten retreat who is an open promoter of the “critical theology” of a Spanish nun who defends the legalization of abortion and government recognition of homosexual “marriage” and adoptions.
Father José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon, wrote the introduction to the Portuguese translation of “Feminist Theology in History,” by Teresa Forcades, whom the BBC calls “Europe’s most radical nun.”
In the introduction to Forcades’ work, Tolentino de Mendonça tells the reader that Jesus didn’t leave any rules or laws to mankind, an idea that he approvingly applies to Forcades’ “critical theology.” (Pope Francis chooses pro-LGBT priest to guide lent retreat who hold Jesus didn’t “establish rules”)
The word “indifference,” when applied to action, suggests an unwillingness or inability to see things distinctly in terms of some priority that demands it. Thus understood, indifference seems to be the result of a more fundamental cause—which is the state of confusion in which the lines are blurred that would otherwise distinguish one thing from another, according to the form, position and characteristics that mark and reveal their distinctiveness. In moral terms, this has something to do with the standard that, like light appearing in a previously darkened room, permits different objects to stand out in this way or that.
In what may turn out to be a tragic sense, in recent times ‘confusion’ is the word I most often hear in connection with Pope Francis. Though I know its not the first time this has been so, in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, in my lifetime it does have that distinction. From John XXXIII to Pope Benedict, the Popes of my adult lifetime have all of them been associated with clear, sometimes even profoundly historic, pronouncements. They challenged, dismayed and moved people, stirring strong emotions, including sometimes, strong opposition. But they shed light plainly into what seemed, by comparison, a previously more hidden world, as one would expect the Vicar of Christ to do. (John 1:5)
By contrast, from his early “Who am I to Judge?” even until now, Pope Francis came trailing clouds of darkness, doubt and something akin to dismay. In this respect, his Papacy has been marked (some would say marred) by temporizing formulations that seemed at first to be out of step with Catholic formulations; then in contradiction with Catholic teaching. Now one wonders whether things will go so far as to suggest that there are not really any teachings at all—at least not in the sense of logically understood precepts intended to guide thought and moral decision.
In this respect, following Pope Francis words and actions seems more like dancing than meditation or thought of any kind. It brings to mind Macbeth’s words in the play, about things that “must be acted ‘ere they may be scanned.” Our life of faith must, on that basis, come to be like a scientific experiment, in which data precedes analysis, and no conclusion is possible until things have been allowed to run their course.
But this poses an acute challenge when dealing with moral decisions that affect our actions. It’s certainly imperative to refresh our sense of revulsion against mass slaughter of innocents, such as that perpetrated against Jewish people during the Holocaust. But the remembrance of those events seems rather to warn against the notion that such atrocities must run their course before conscience is allowed to pronounce against their hellish wickedness.
Doesn’t the very idea of God’s Creation involve rules, revealed in action but necessarily at work in the self-determinations through which God thoroughly pre-conceives the order of things that distinguishes cosmos from chaos, for the sake of their existence? From our human perspective, understanding the result may inevitably involve our intuition, but even that is a pre-conception of God, which operates according to His rule for our good.
To go from suspended judgment to action according to right, mustn’t we respond, in thought and conscience, to the rule of God? What is His rule if not the exercise of sovereignty over our lives and actions? Is it not imprinted in the fabric of our nature, even though, in correspondence with His intention, we have a likeness of freedom that represents a moment of choice, for or against His will? What does it mean, then, to say that Christ “didn’t establish rules,” if Christ was with God and was God in the sovereign work of His Creation—the very Word of God through which all things are made? Is not the Word of God, availing, the very rule establishing all things?
And, for those who follow Christ, isn’t it true that all suspense is over—He is the rule establishing God in us and us in God, beyond the thought of choice, and yet in perfect liberty, forever.
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