Pope Francis’ own never-ending barrage of jabs and swipes against settled Catholic doctrine troubles Catholics.
Just a week ago, in his Christmas address to Vatican officials, the Pope nonchalantly tossed off a denial of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception by remarking that nobody – not even Joseph or Mary – “is born as a saint”.
Most notably this year, Francis has rewritten our official Catechism so as to condemn capital punishment with a severity that arguably contradicts the Bible-based teaching of all his predecessors.
This kind of thing – and many other examples could be adduced – undermines the papacy’s credibility, which depends on the consistency of its formal teaching down through the centuries.
The newest, and perhaps the best, of various recent books criticizing the present pope’s left-liberal orientation is by Chilean scholar José Antonio Ureta: Pope Francis’s “Paradigm Shift”: Continuity or Rupture in the Mission of the Church? (Spring Grove, PA, 2018: TFP).
A paradigm shift is a profoundly different change in overall direction. Traditional anti-Catholic dissenters like Pelagius, Arius, Luther and Calvin fiercely opposed the Church’s doctrine; but at least they shared her basic assumption that correct doctrine is something supremely important.
But now – alas! – we have a Pope who appears to have shelved that assumption in favor of what might be called a meta-heresy: his general [neomarxist] philosophical view that ‘life’ and action (praxis) take precedence over doctrine. As Francis likes to put it, “reality is greater than ideas”.
But since “reality” constantly changes, this approach gives metaphysical precedence to becoming over being, so that Catholic truth itself gets relativized by political correctness.
Whatever our post-Christian cultural, political and media elites declare to be ‘progress’ for humanity becomes a new and overriding ‘reality’ to which the Church’s hitherto ‘static’ and ‘inward-looking’ doctrine must somehow adapt itself.
We thus find ourselves with a Pope who is neglecting St. Paul’s warning: “Can Christ agree with Belial? Can there be a compact between the temple of God and the idols of the heathen?” (2 Cor. 6: 15).