Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Is the Pope Catholic?

Growing up in a nominally Roman Catholic extended family, that snarky response to a question where the answer was obviously yes was an alternative to the fecal habits of bears in the woods. If you come from an ethnic Catholic Polish family, you have almost certainly heard that response.

These days that question might not be quite as tongue and cheek as it once was. Each day Jorge Bergoglio seems to be turning Catholic orthodoxy on it's head. Whether it is vaguely approving sounding language about homosexuality or railing against the "evils" of capitalism, the economic system that has done more than any pontiff to lift people out of poverty, it has to be bewildering and troubling for more traditional Roman Catholics because it sure is to me (bewildering anyway).

Today brings big news on the marriage front. In an unprecedented move, Jorge is making it even easier for married Catholic couples to get an annulment. Now annulment is a nice way of saying divorce accomplished by declaring that the marriage the church approved turned out to be a mess from the beginning. I don't know of many divorced couples who think their marriage was a swell idea in retrospective. By making it easier for people to ditch a marriage and go back to partaking of the Mass and remarrying, Jorge is talking out of both sides of his mouth, convening a summit on the family on one hand and installing a "6 marriages or fewer" express lane to end marriages on the other.

An analyst I was listening to on the BBC World News suggested that this was a compromise, Rome will go this far but no further. The problem with that logic is it never goes the other way. Every move to compromise, every move to placate progressives is permanent. You never come back, with the singular exception of the Southern Baptist Convention which managed to pull itself back from the brink before it went too far. Progressives will never compromise because they are ideologically driven rather than capital "T" Truth driven. That is why they denigrate Scripture and twist it for their own purposes. I don't think Jorge got snookered here, I think he is doing exactly what he plans to do in remaking the Roman Catholic religion in his own image. I have to wonder what the former "pope", Joseph Ratzinger, a very rare living former pope, thinks of what his successor to the "Chair of Peter" is up to. I imagine he might be regretting his decision to step down, at least privately.

The issue of divorce and remarriage, which led to the split with England and the formation of the Anglican church, has long been a non-negotiable with Rome, and rightly so. The Bible is crystal clear on this issue, even if one divorces for cause, i.e. fornication on the part of one party in the marriage, remarriage is forbidden. Compromise with the completely unBiblical and anti-Biblical "annulment" was bad enough but now the dam is is open and you can expect the Vatican to get a flood of annulments very soon. Make no mistake, it doesn't end there. Winning this one major concession will embolden those who are pushing for married priests, female priests and normalization of homosexuality. Rome is going to learn the lesson of her wayward former subjects in the Anglican communion, compromise to stem the loss of membership always has the result of speeding it up instead. This sort of stuff makes me glad that my source of authority is not some guy who gets elected in a religious political contest whenever a pope dies but the revealed and preserved Word of God.

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