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God – people – rules

USA Bishops
USA Roman Catholic bishops meeting

Pastoral over ideology

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States (Vatican ambassador to USA) directly challenged the U.S. Catholic bishops meeting this week. “The Holy Father wants bishops in tune with their people. The pontiff made a special point of saying that he wants ‘pastoral’ bishops, not bishops who profess or follow a particular ideology.

Almost since his election in March, Francis has signaled that he wants the church to strike a “new balance” by focusing on the poor and on social justice concerns and not overemphasizing opposition to hot-button topics like abortion and contraception and gay marriage — the signature issues of the U.S. bishops lately.

While Francis’ new approach — which Vigano said must include “a noticeable lifestyle characterized by simplicity and holiness” — has captivated the wider public, some bishops and church conservatives have chafed at the pope’s shift.

“Bishops have been stuck in a bunker fighting the culture war,” said John Gehring, “Pope Francis has said we can’t just be known by what we oppose.”

In an interview Pope Francis said the church cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and must become more merciful or risk falling “like a house of cards.”

To me there appears to be a shift from “rules first” (and might there be some truth in pointing out that a lot of the bishops who were at this meeting were appointed because of their focus on the rules?) The new emphasis is more clearly, it seems to me, in the order of: God – people – principles – rules. Does this remind you of someone else who had this approach? Someone whose name starts with “J” perhaps?…

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6 Responses to God – people – rules

  1. Candidates for ordination as Catholic Bishops are asked a series of questions to ascertain where they stand on all the rules. This specifically includes what they think of ordaining women. Presumably, only those making acceptable answers are considered for ordination.

    In the USA, this seems to have been come a dangerously effective mechanism for skewing the episcopacy towards a legalism quite foreign to the gospel and quite opposed to the practice of Christ.

    God Bless

  2. Bless you Bosco for being courageous enough to bring up a sore subject here and in the Catholic church. Pro-life agendas and contraception rhetoric has become so aggressive it’s turned violent with picketing and bombing clinics.
    Instead a neutral ground needs to be established between the two. It’s also hard to ignore these trends on your own timeline if you have Catholic followers and extremely uncomfortable. As for the Pope he has done more than set an example for social justice and we all need to follow his lead. Jesus would have wanted it this way.

  3. Jesus?

    What I find amusing is that everytime Francis seems to be driving the train off the rails, the very next day the Vatican spokesmen are constantly backpedaling and letting us know what he didn’t mean by his most recent remarks.

  4. JP II we love you. Benidicto. Francis. Cult of personality. What happened to JC. We must diminish and Christ increase.

  5. Papa Francis is rapidly exposing the current philosophy of parts of the Church that emphasise what they are against, rather than what they are For – e.g. Christ’s option for justice and the poor.

    In our own Anglican situation, this parallels the Gafcon option for separating out on adiaphoral matters of gender and sexuality, while ignoring the cries for justice for the poor in its own Global South territories.

    The parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector still has currency in today’s Churches – even our own.

  6. «…he wants ‘pastoral’ bishops»…

    We have here two paradigms.

    Either a chief bishop. Depending on whether he be good or bad, the Church will have good or bad luck. The fact that pope Jorge alias Francis is a “good” one, is a probability that happened. It could have happened contrariwise.

    Or no chief bishop. Then «vox populi vox Dei», and a lot of latrocinia, neighbour parishes hating one another, while belonging to the same diocese, splitting groups within the same parish…

    Which should be the less worst?

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