Audacity Lives

This just in from the Vatican:

Pope Francis will grant a plenary indulgence – a remission of all temporal punishment due to sin – to World Youth Day Catholic participants, the Vatican announced July 9.

The head of the Church’s Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, and its secretary, Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, released a decree on July 9 that says the Pope will grant it during the July 22-29 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“The young people and the faithful who are adequately prepared will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in accordance with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful,” states the decree published July 9.

The document adds that people who cannot attend World Youth Day can receive it “under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff.”

But this means they must participate “in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

While Christian Smith tells us to “get over” indulgences, they are still pretty hard to fathom from a biblical paradigm. I still come back to a point that Luther made in a 1516 sermon, as summarized by Roland Bainton:

To assert that the pope can deliver souls from purgatory is audacious. If he can do so, then he is cruel not to release them all. But if he possess this ability, he is in a postition to do more for the dead than for the living. . . . Indulgences can remit only those private satisfactions imposed by the Church, and may easily militate against interior penance, which consists in true contrition, true confession, and true satisfaction in spirit. (Here I Stand, 71)

67 thoughts on “Audacity Lives

  1. Whatever Cross is selling, I’ve never seen it before. But the Pope giving people goodies with a magic wand to get them to do things. Yeah, I recognize that.

    Like

  2. It would be great if it was true, but then I wouldn’t be looking to Christ anymore. But that’s how my Catholic friends do it. No Bible, not a bunch of God talk, but checking into the church to get cleaned up and then moving on. Like washing your car from time to time, except I don’t bother with mine. So maybe I have a Protestant Buick.

    Like

  3. No doubt for decades to come formerly wide-eyed participants will say, in Carl the groundskeeper fashion, “I was at Youth Day in ’13. Francis granted me a full indulgence…so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

    Like

  4. The catholic-forum.com describes what temporal punishment is: “The second is temporal punishment, in which a person must expiate, or make reparation for his sins. This temporal punishment remains even after sin is forgiven. Some examples include Adam and Eve getting thrown out of Paradise when they ate the forbidden fruit.”

    So Pope Frances is granting “remission of all temporary punishment due to sin”? Too bad Adam and Eve didn’t have a pope handy.

    Like

  5. Chortles Weakly
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink
    No doubt for decades to come formerly wide-eyed participants will say, in Carl the groundskeeper fashion, “I was at Youth Day in ’13. Francis granted me a full indulgence…so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

    Well, the thing is, everything after Youth Day ’13 was still unindulged. Indulgences are overrated. They can’t keep you out of hell.

    What was interesting was reading the “universalists” of the Founding-era [my personal area of study]. That someone would go to hell forever/eternity hardly seemed just for a single act or even a single finite lifetime, and God is just. But their sense of justice had to admit that you shouldn’t get off scot-free either. So, skirting the hated Roman Catholicism and Purgatory directly, the idea of 1000 years or two of really sucky punishment might be fair. None of the universalists thought you just skate into eternal bliss.

    Somebody reminded me the other day of something nice I did for them; I’d forgotten about it. “That was nice of me,” said I, really more out of surprise than self-congratulation. The Spirit must have moved me, y’know? But if that knocks off a few hours from the 1000s of years of purgation I have coming my way, well, that’s cool.

    I think that’s the theology behind “plenary,” anyway. It’s sort of paying your purgation–not your salvation, mind you–forward.

    Like

  6. Steve Martin
    Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink
    Gotta kick down all you good Catholics.

    Whaddya think…this grace stuff is for free?

    Ah, God’s welfare state. Why din’t you say so? Everybody would vote for that.

    Oh wait, I don’t get a vote? Oh wait, it’s only for the “Elect?”

    You white boy Calvinistical people got the game all fixed. Heaven is like Alabama, you’re either in or you’re out.

    Like

  7. Tom, “you white boy Calvinistical people” like Beza and Witherspoon. Tom loves Calvinists when their on his team. All theology, all the time. Tom is God. Beza he loved, Machen he hated.

    Like

  8. FYI, Dr. Hart – typo in your Bainton quote: “If he can do so, then he is cruel not to *realse* them all.”

    Like

  9. Wow, Tom has gone from smartypants to troll just like that. Watch out, the sun is coming up soon on the left coast.

    Like

  10. Speaking of indulgences, could I use one to get out of the 15 minutes of garage-band jam that occurs between the Call to Worship and Congregational Prayer?

    Like

  11. I attended a funeral of a RC relative last week. First, it’s the first normal funeral (as in not an embarrassing lack of levity from the boomer pastor running the show) I’ve been to in 3 years. The readings the deceased chose were solid and the eulogy by his son was very evangelical (not a fan of eulogies in funerals, but this one was appropriate). But I told my dad afterwards, that funeral had all the best and worst of Vatican II.

    Best: priest denied purgatory in his homily. I’m not sure if he was saying uncle Jim had done enough good to go to heaven, right to Jesus, or if was actually preaching that it was false, but there was no mention of the Eucharist being “offered” for the deceased, which i thought was the whole point of a funeral Mass. The church was run by Augustinians, FWIW. Readings, which my uncle might have picked, were fantastic.

    Worst: Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages and On Eagles Wings (!) were the hymns (Lutheran prejudice against AG, since there’s no explicit mention of the cross, they skipped the best verses in RoA, and I could not believe how the parishioners belted out OEW–admittedly, some aesthetic embarrassment on my part, quite distinct from my theological qualms). Oh, and they sang Surely the Presence of The Lord is in this Place during communion. I did not feel “the touch of angel’s wings,” but i didnt partake or receive a blessing. Lots of mention of the dead being with Christ, but little mention of the Resurrection of the dead, except in the prayers of the liturgy and graveside. This is an American church problem, I think, not specific to Rome. I asked the priest about it, and he just said of course we believe in the resurrection…I was too chicken to ask him about purgatory.

    All that to say, still trying to figure out if the priest was rogue, or being sneaky about the purgatory denial. Also, I forgot how awful “passing the peace” is, and how funny it is to see 7 friars walking around the altar, kissing each other’s cheeks. I’m very sympathetic to my traditional papist friends’ concern over VII, even if I think they are heterodox. Practice reflects doctrine, and the silliness and irreverence begins way short of liturgical dance and clown mass.

    Didn’t Francis also–in interfaith JPII style– wish our Muslim brethren blessed Ramadan this week?

    Like

  12. Oh, and no prayers to the departed for intercession; the priest stated we are in communion with the blessed deceased in the Lord at the Supper, which is what our Confessions teach.

    Like

  13. Mother Church – But this means they must participate “in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

    Erik – And my wife made me get off of Facebook because it was a waste of time…

    Like

  14. Chortles Weakly – No doubt for decades to come formerly wide-eyed participants will say, in Carl the groundskeeper fashion, “I was at Youth Day in ’13. Francis granted me a full indulgence…so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

    Erik – (Chuckles heartily)

    Like

  15. Katy,

    That post was strong. Wow, you are the official Old Life house mother.

    I’m upping the cash payment for the arranged marriage of your daughters to my sons. Their conversion from Reformed to Lutheran may be on the table.

    Like

  16. CW, here’s to you; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg8lSyGavc4 It’s in da hole

    Muddy. Oh Muddy, everybody, including the peloton, wants to know how it is that he’s over 3 minutes better than everyone else? I think I know, but I want you to tell all the good churchy folks how this could be. Remember, we’re just taking truth coupons today.

    Like

  17. D. G. Hart
    Posted July 10, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink
    Tom, “you white boy Calvinistical people” like Beza and Witherspoon. Tom loves Calvinists when <their on his team. All theology, all the time. Tom is God. Beza he loved, Machen he hated.

    Theodore Beza was Calvin’s pal, biographer, and successor. You want to dis him, fine. As for J. Gresham Machen, all that’s left is what we see of his pals, biographers, and successors. Rock on.

    Like

  18. Tom, go easy on Machen up in here. I’ve heard DGH get weepy when talking about the end of Machen’s life and I get weepy hearing about it. You probably don’t understand our affection for the man, but I’ll try to help you. Machen wasn’t thinking about denominational structures, politics, or “American Creation” when he died alone in a Catholic hospital in North Dakota in the dead of winter in 1937. He was thinking about the truth of the atonement — the Gospel. And he understood that proper ecclesiology and worship were the only things that would support the preaching and application of that doctrine to as many people as possible. His legacy helps us sustain the most important institution on this earth — properly functioning, properly connected local churches. Everything else (culture, country, or coolness) is just gravy. Or static.

    Like

  19. Chortles – Erik, that ref was just for you. Quality priest in that movie, too.

    Erik – (Loud guffaw)

    That guy and that movie are great. I think he was an Episcopalian.

    Tom,

    I’m resisting extreme temptation and you know what I’m talking about, buddy. I’m a man of my word, though.

    Like

  20. I hear Francis is considering a similar offer to juice home equity lending at the Vatican Bank:

    “For every dollar you borrow, time off from Purgatory tomorrow”

    Some hip local Protestant youth ministers have followed Francis’ example and offered to send some “really groovy vibes” the way of kids going on the annual Skunk River tubing trip. It’s just not the same, though.

    Like

  21. “They will also need to invoke “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil (with the title Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida) as well as other patrons and intercessors of the same meeting, that they may encourage the young to reinforce their faith and lead a holy life.”

    Damn fine print. There’s always a catch.

    Like

  22. How does Stellman go from confessing the Westminster one week to believing this stuff the next? It’s like Mike Tyson suddenly turning into RuPaul. It reminds me of the guy whose daughter I used to date in high school. I hung out at his house in the 80s when he was a mild-mannered aerospace engineering professor. Now I see him at garage sales wearing dangly earrings and painted nails. He is still married (to a woman), though.

    Like

  23. Erik – “Yeah, buddy, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.”

    Tom Waits, “Step Right Up,” album “Small Change,” ca. 1972.

    Like

  24. He didn’t go in one week, Erik.

    There were signs, such as allowing what became the CtC kind of a safe place in his combox to “discuss” some of the differences between Rome and protestantism without any defense of the latter. Obviously if there are a lot of visitors to site a guy might have trouble keeping up with the nonsense, but imo JJ didn’t know how to answer some of his leading questions and consequently thought some of the answers were persuasive. He sure didn’t seem to appreciate DT King’s dismantling of the typical objections/obfuscations of the ECF’s over at GBaggins. Nor did he consult DTK when he was flying around the country visiting trying to resolve his issues.

    As for your buddy, ain’t got no clue.

    Like

  25. Bob – Nor did he consult DTK when he was flying around the country visiting trying to resolve his issues.

    Erik – Ahh, the Stellman farewell tour. If I have an existential crisis I plan to use Skype. My crises are on a budget.

    Like

  26. Erik,

    Regarding Jason I’d also like to add that the problem is clearly that he held to Reformed doctrine not because He really believed that the Bible taught it but because He believed the Westminster Confession taught it and that the Westminster Confession is more perspicuous than Scripture. After all, he prosecuted Leithart while, unbeknownst to most, his heart was already in Rome.

    It’s a good warning to us all to be sure we are Reformed because we believe it is what the Bible teaches and not because it is what the Confession teaches. Jason had things backward. He stood on the Bible but His Bible stood on the Confession with the Confession as its foundation. Since that is not a Protestant way of doing things, it is no surprise that he just changed the confessions on which His final authority was based anyway.

    Though saddened by his going Roman, I agree with Bob that there were many signs. If you look at his actual blogposts, there was one on faith and love posted about a year or year and a half before his conversion in which the way in which he was “tweaking” justification was more toward Romanism. If you read His blog now, He frequently cites CtC, and two guys by the name of Nick and Jonathan. Very little is cited from official Romanism, but quite a lot from lay apologists who have little to no sanction from the church and whose arguments are often extremely arbitrary in their application. One set of standard for Protestants, another for Roman Catholics, whatever it takes to defend mother church.

    Get a guy who isn’t really grounded in Scripture, make him prosecute an FV guy—which requires delving into Wright and the NP—and it’s not much of a surprise given what has happened. Hindsight is 20/20.

    Like

  27. Another tipoff was the preponderance of creepy icon graphics on his site. Visuals are powerful (duh, commandment #2) and if you’re attracted to that sort of thing Rome or further east is where you may land. Another instance of worship and its trappings (if any) driving the doctrinal and devotional bus.

    Like

  28. Erik, that was funny. And I know funny.

    I think the good thing about all the CtC stuff is we’ve managed to whittle infallibility and unique charism down to a Hair’s breadth;

    When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars
    Then peace will guide the planets
    And love will steer the stars

    I figure it’s about as common as the incarnation. Of course, then how can you be sure sure? Seems to me if you’re gonna be the vicar of Christ you should at least follow Jesus’ gospel admonition to let your ‘Yes’ be your ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ your ‘No’. Hey look, didn’t have to go to Paul for it. From Jesus’ mouth to your ears. Of course there’s the whole unwritten tradition, which may have interpreted Jesus’ saying differently, but not necessarily infallibly, unless of course the cosmic event noted prior occurred and people in bell-bottoms and shaggy hair danced in confirmation of the event.

    Like

  29. Robert – It’s a good warning to us all to be sure we are Reformed because we believe it is what the Bible teaches and not because it is what the Confession teaches.

    Erik – I have a great young pastor (Westminster West grad) and one of the things I am really impressed with when he teaches the Three Forms or preaches Catechetical sermons is that he often teaches from passages of Scripture that are not even cited in our books (The Oceanside/Pasadena edition). He is really good about demonstrating the Scriptural basis of the Reformed Confessions. You see how the framework is thoroughly biblical.

    Why Stellman didn’t get this from his Westminster training I am not sure. He was in the same class as my pastor.

    Like

  30. Erik, he regarded Godfrey’s church history classes as boring. Can’t imagine it, but at least he was honest about that. Sometimes when you’re looking for reasons you find them too.

    Like

  31. For Stellman, being Reformed appears to have just been a way station between Calvary Chapel and Rome. My pastor also grew up in that So Cal evangelical milieu, but I see no evidence of his Reformed convictions waning. He grew to be Reformed while studying with the Disciples of Christ folks at Pepperdine of all places. He had a religion professor who was sympathetic to Reformed theology, I believe, and was attending Kim Riddlebarger’s church in Anaheim.

    Like

  32. Dunno Robert. You got some reasons for your take? Be interested in hearing them. All I can say is that both Bryan and JJ appear to be really weak on the doctrine of Scripture/WCF 1 now. Maybe they knew it as prots, but it’s the gaping hole in their expert testimony about what prots believe after they crossed the river.

    Agreed on the graphics, Chort. I asked J about it on GBaggins and he begged off. I don’t know that it bothered anybody else. Dunno. Dude was the cool 2K guy and got a pass.

    Sean, where did he say Godfrey’s classes were boring? I read the first hand I Shot The Sheriff thing, but I must have missed the updates.

    Like

  33. Bob,

    The main reasons I have for what I said about Jason standing on the confession as the ultimate foundation and not Scripture is based on the interview he gave with Bryan and James White’s account of his meeting with Jason plus his analysis of the interview with Bryan that Jason did. In that interview he defends his prosecution of Leithart because it was based on the Westminster Confession and it is clear what the Confession says. Apparently, it is not so clear what Scripture says and thus the need for an infallible interpreter. Granted that the case was the Leithart was teaching something out of accord with the Christian faith as taught in that confession, but if you aren’t really convinced that the confession is solidly grounded in Scripture and truly, if imperfectly, expresses the doctrine of Scripture, then you aren’t going to last long as a proponent of that confession.

    Using the confession apart from Scripture is dangerous business, and it can be done even if you are quoting Scripture all the time. After all, that is exactly what Rome does with its confessions and catechisms.

    Given that Jason has also said that his Westminster Professors are better original language scholars and better exegetes than he is, it is clear that he didn’t get any of this from Westminster. Apparently, He wasn’t paying attention in his exegesis classes anyway.

    Clearly, as Trueman has said, Jason always wanted and promoted a high ecclesiology. But if the one promoting a high ecclesiology is not truly convinced of the gospel, welcome to Rome. Rome in its very essence is a high ecclesiology without the gospel.

    For me, based on these interviews, you see one who had a high view of the church as an institution who became enamored of the thousands and thousands of words Cross et al post and, lacking a strongly convinced exegetical position, found them convincing. Cross can appear impressive if you don’t recognize the fundamental errors he makes at the start of his arguments and how the same case he makes for his “principled means” applies to Him as well. It’s sad, but a lot of people are fascinated by really smart philosophically minded guys. I was a religion major at a secular university, so I know some of the tricks and am not enamored by somebody just because he can right thousands of words that sound coherent at first glance. God, in his providence, thankfully convinced me of the foolishness of worldly wisdom back then. And Rome is the very bastion of worldly wisdom.

    And the fact that Jason has not yet fully repudiated his 2K position shows me how surface level his look at Romanism truly was. Whether you hold a romanticized version of Roman Catholic history or not, it is pretty easy to see that RC and 2K are thoroughly incompatible. The pope has a secretary of state for crying out loud! The situation is sad, I just hope Jason’s family remains Protestant.

    Robert

    Like

  34. Bob, it’s in one of the podcasts with Bryan. He didn’t really care about it(church history) because he fancied himself an exegete.

    Like

  35. It’s sad, but a lot of people are fascinated by really smart philosophically minded guys.

    It’s an Achilles’ heel among the Reformed. For some it leads Rome-ward, for others worldviewry. We need more Lutherans to keep us Protestant.

    PS Bob, I think it was “I Fought the Church (and the Church Won.” You’re getting your pop culture references mixed up, though Sheriff is a better tune.

    Like

  36. Re: “Really smart philosophical guys”

    All of this philosophy is just b.s. if you don’t buy their premise, and their premise is pretty simple — that Jesus built his church on Peter, that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, and that Jesus meant for Peter to pass that on. They can’t prove any of that objectively. If you don’t accept that, all the philosophy in the world that they want to layer on top of it is meaningless.

    Like

  37. Bob, I thought the visuals might have been ironic. He was saving the final irony for last, though.

    Like

  38. Erik: All of this philosophy is just b.s. if you don’t buy their premise, and their premise is pretty simple — that Jesus built his church on Peter, that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, and that Jesus meant for Peter to pass that on. They can’t prove any of that objectively. If you don’t accept that, all the philosophy in the world that they want to layer on top of it is meaningless.

    Robert: Bingo!

    Additionally, Jason et al want us to believe that Protestants only remain Protestant of a certain stripe or Protestant at all as long as their personal interpretation of Scripture is in accord with their church’s confession. I don’t know if I’ve said this yet, probably someone else had, but that is, in one respect, what any of us do. They only remain Roman Catholic insofar as their personal interpretation/private judgment can square with Rome. They’re just better at ignoring historical inconsistencies, inaccuracies, etc.

    For some reason, Bryan, Jason, et al think that they can escape themselves as a locus of the evaluation of truth claims. Apparently, burying people with comments and essays is convincing to some. But it is utterly meaningless to say you give up private judgment once you at the most basic and fundamental level engaged in an act of private judgement to give up that private judgment. Earning a PhD does not make that less of a stupid idea, nor does it give it a basis it otherwise did not have. Get the first act of private judgment wrong, and you’re in a whole lot of trouble. Besides, it takes a considerable exercise of private judgment and twisting to make Vatican II=Trent=Acts 15. The PhD just enables you to look more philosophically adept in your foolishness.

    But I’m not saying anything we don’t already know.

    To paraphrase Bryan: “Peace Out, Man!”

    Like

  39. Robt.
    Hmm. Can’t say I am necessarily persuaded. Stellman had to prosecute on the basis of the WS because that is what the PCA professes the Bible to say, contra all the other explanations of what the Bible “says”. (To the unmitigated relief of the CtC nowhere does Scripture actually say it is “perspicuous’. Guess that settles it.) He’s obviously trying to appeal in some fashion now to Scripture to support Roman doctrine. Haven’t been over to see what dribs and drabs of stuff he’s coming up with lately. But being jesuitical means you never have to harmonize being 2K. It’s in another sphere.

    Thanks sean. I don’t have much patience with the podcasts. I’d rather read something – but then on the other hand the sheer amount of babbage the CtC can put up is impressive after a fashion.

    Yeah, Grim. It’s should be something like I Fought the Law/Gospel Paradigm and the Roman Romans 2 Hypothesis Won.

    But Erik nailed it. CtC is all about the PPPP (popish philosophical presuppositional paradigm). If you’re in, you in. If not, no worries. You just a separated brotheren with an anti Aristotelian and anathematized paradigm, nothing a little dialectic can’t swallow excretely.

    Like

  40. Yeah, it’s like Congress trying to get off the hook by ceding (unconstitutionally duh) their powers to declare war to the pres. I remember when old Frush Lumbaugh was trying to explain that when it happened with the Repugs. The whole PJ with Byran and Jason BTQ bigtime IMO what with the ex prot interpreters of the interpreters of the . . . Where’s the Cliff Notes version?

    Which reminds me.
    There’s a reason why BC doesn’t come around no more.
    Would you, if somebody ran a “In the Peace of Bryan” column?
    DG ain’t got no heart or soul.

    Like

  41. Erik, because Tom doesn’t read church history unless it bites him in the arse, he doesn’t realize that Machen didn’t leave the PCUSA the way Stellman left the PCA. But Tom blows hot and cold on Machen. There is, in fact, a lot of wind blowing from his direction.

    Like

  42. D. G. Hart
    Posted July 12, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
    Erik, because Tom doesn’t read church history unless it bites him in the arse, he doesn’t realize that Machen didn’t leave the PCUSA the way Stellman left the PCA. But Tom blows hot and cold on Machen. There is, in fact, a lot of wind blowing from his direction.

    Erik Charter
    Posted July 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
    Machen was kicked out and Stellman left totally on his own.

    I missed the part where I mixed all that up. Oh wait, that’s because I didn’t! Darryl’s misremembering things again.

    But of course, Mr. Machen could have submitted to the discipline of his church and not been excommunicated. Perhaps he should have stayed and tried to reform his church, but we will never know if that would have worked. As for Mr. Stellman, perhaps after the Leithart trial, he figured it was only a matter of time before the bell tolled for him.*

    You, me, Tom, and Richard need to go away for a long weekend…

    Well, I’m always game for the bizarre, and that would certainly qualify. You bring the drums, Darryl’s in charge of the Cheetos, and I’ll bring the Aqua Velva.
    ________________________
    *http://godshammer.wordpress.com/category/peter-leithart/

    “Jason Stellman’s flirtation with the Roman church-state right in the middle of his halfhearted prosecution of fellow closeted Roman Catholic, Peter Leithart, could be the means by which the PCA reverses its decision affirming Leithart’s gross heresy as being within the bounds of the Westminster Confession, even his rejection of justification by faith alone and imputation.

    Three PCA presbyteries that still believe that the Gospel is worth fighting for have “approved an overture requesting the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over TE Peter Leithart, a teaching elder member of Pacific Northwest Presbytery.” This means that the PCA’s GA could retry the Leitheart case on the basis that there was a “conflict of interest” given the fact that Jason Stellman was a virtual Romanist while he was prosecuting another virtual Romanist. No kidding.”

    Man, you couldn’t make this [stuff] up. It’s like going to a historical re-enactment except this stuff’s for real.

    Like

  43. Tom, “Mr. Machen could have submitted to the discipline of his church and not been excommunicated.”

    You mean the way American rebels could have refused independence and become — well — Canada (leaving California to the Mexicans)?

    Like

  44. Giving new meaning to papal audacity:

    when the Vatican’s chief spokesman reveals that he doesn’t know what’s on the Pope’s schedule—and no one else knows, either, except the Pope himself—that’s astonishing. Indeed all of the remarks by Father Federico Lombardi, as quoted in an otherwise unremarkable article in National Geographic are eye-opening. The papal spokesman limns a picture of a leader who doesn’t give clear directions, doesn’t communicate with his staff, and (at least in diplomatic affairs) doesn’t have a strategic vision.

    “No one knows all of what he’s doing,” Lombardi says. “His personal secretary doesn’t even know. I have to call around: One person knows one part of his schedule, someone else knows another part.”

    The job of a spokesman is to make his boss look good. These comments by Father Lombardi definitely do not make Pope Francis look good. What’s happening here?

    Has the frustration at the Vatican reached such a level that Father Lombardi feels that he can make critical comments about the Pontiff, knowing that other Vatican officials will back him? Or…

    Is Father Lombardi himself frustrated enough so that he’s willing to risk his job? Or…

    Does the papal spokesman—who knows the Pope much better than you and I do—feel confident that Pope Francis won’t be unhappy with the comments in National Geographic?

    But what those remarkable quotes say about Father Lombardi is a secondary issue. What’s really important is what they say about Pope Francis.

    By all accounts, the conclave that elected Pope Francis was looking for someone who could reform the Vatican, bringing accountability and efficiency to the Roman Curia. How can a leader harness a bureaucracy if he doesn’t give clear directives? How can he promote a culture of accountability if his own staff doesn’t know what he’s doing from day to day?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.