The "Madness" of Pope Francis?
I was thumbing through Facebook this morning and came across a recent article by the excellent Ed Pentin on National Catholic Register entitled: “Female Anglican Bishop Addresses Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals.” You can go to the article and read it for yourself, but I think the subtitle does a good job encapsulating the article: “Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, as well as Salesian Sister Linda Pocher and consecrated virgin Goiliva Di Berardino of Italy, presented remarks on the subject of women in the Catholic Church.”
Then, I did what you should never do - I went to the comment section. Without sharing names, here is a sampling:
“So two Catholic women and a heretic? Why? God spare us from false ecumenism”
“The Pope has become bonkers has lost his marbles allowing a heretic Anglican woman to speak. Mother Angelica must be turning in her Graves. Mothrr Mary helpnis.”
“Why would a false, heretical “bishop” be allowed to address the Council of Cardinals? Can you say “Infiltration”?”
No, that comment wasn’t left by Dr. Taylor Marshall. And…
“More bad Human-Resource “Rountables” that play with fire - literally - while allowing participants to “feel” good about themselves and “validating” their perspectives, no matter what basis in fact they have.”
And one more, from a priest nonetheless…
“Will someone stop this madness?!?”
Now, I know that going to the comment section is a terrible idea, but this last one from the priest really got under my skin.
The reaction is understandable but after half a second of reflection it falls apart. Is it really “madness” to have three women come to a meeting of nine cardinals to speak to them?
Certainly, the idea of female ordination is erroneous and does damage to ecclesial union and the integrity of the sacraments. Women can’t receive Holy Orders.
But this Anglican woman is a bishop in that ecclesial community. Of course this doesn’t conform to reality (she’s not an actual bishop [or priest for that matter]). But should we really be closed off to hearing her thoughts? Is it madness?
No. The cynical approach to the current pontificate has borne nothing but rotten fruit. Question the prudence of certain actions. Push back on perceived errors in charity. But ecumenical dialogue carried out by nine cardinals is not madness; it is a prominent example of the listening posture that the Pope says we should adopt as a Church. Listen to understand the person, not to agree with everything they say but to advance personal connection, greater trust, human fraternity, and a great many other benefits.
If you only speak with someone in order to convince them of the veracity of your perspective (to win an argument), then you are not using your time effectively. As Billy Graham put it: “We have to build a bridge of trust that supports the weight of truth.”
We can and must do better and not be absolute jerks.
Listening to someone does not mean validating their opinions even as we validate the person. We often say that we love the sinner and hate the sin. Or we say that we judge actions not persons. But this cuts both ways. We can listen to the point of view of another, disagree with them (even vigorously), and still walk away better for having heard them out.
A good man and friend of mine left a comment on some comments I made this morning on Facebook that I would like to share. I basically stated what I’ve written above and he said:
“This is an interesting point. On the one hand, I understand the concern. However, it's important to remark that - communication with someone is not legitimization of their lifestyle. This has been a constant problem with the anti-Pope Francis movement. If the King of England, who is not Catholic, came to speak with the Holy Father (which he has) we should welcome that. Not to legitimize the outright insanity of England, who was once a shining beacon of Christendom, but to listen, provide the Truth and hope for their conversion.
The same could be said for any high-level politician or prelate in another religion. Should an imam arrive at the Vatican, let us rejoice - they come to the home of Truth. Why would we say no. Why would the Successor of St. Peter, the one who literally holds the Keys given by Christ Himself say "no, go away."
It’s a dangerous road to walk, berating the Holy Father at every turn.
It’s also worth noting - it was the King of Kings who said, “Go into the whole world and tell of the Good News.” This requires talking to a sinner.”
Well said. Let us choose the better path and imitate our Blessed Lord.
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