Saturday, November 08, 2014

On the Pope's Latin American ethos

A comment by Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri on William Oddie's article, "Will Pope's Defense of Faith at Synod Ease Anxious Minds?" (Crisis, October 30, 2014), offers some possible cultural insights. She writes:
I was reared in Australia but I spent 30 years of my adult life in Uruguay a small country bordering Argentina. I'm not saying it can be an excuse for everything but there is some truth to the fact that his style is typical of South America, especially the southern cone, as they call it. Over there you can very rarely if ever find a priest or a bishop that will give a clear and unambiguous homily. The few that do earn themselves many enemies. Sometimes this goes against their work because they get completely cut off so no one listens to a word they say again. In South America it's the kingdom of gradualism, "don't rock the boat" ph[i]losophy is king.You can't give them too much truth in one dose because it makes them deaf and hard as a stone to any truth thereafter. I'm stating this with great experience. I said the truth too clearly and I got marginalized more than quick and it didn't look like at least for now that it had any good result. That said I don't regret it and I still think clear and truthful is the best. But you must take into account he was born reared and formed as a priest there. If he became a bishop there it's not been for his capacity for being crystal clear strong and unambiguous.

This said I am praying a lot these days and think we should all pray and do more penance. Things don't look good and I'm not too sure he knows how to handle things. But people down in South America are very much mostly oblivious of most of the details and uninterested.
[Hat tip to JM]


New Catholic said...

That is giving way too much relevance to culture over CHARACTER. It is a character issue, not a cultural one.

This comment was much better:


Dr. Timothy J. Williams:

When I saw the title of this article, I assumed the question it poses was meant rhetorically, and asked with perhaps a touch of sarcasm. But as I continued to read, I discovered to my amazement that Mr. Oddie is serious. He actually believes that Francis issued some sort of transparently Catholic statements at the conclusion of the Synod. And then, he quotes the very passages he believes buttress his argument that Francis is a good, orthodox, albeit misunderstood, pontiff.

Seriously? The sophomoric language, the wagging finger, the name-calling, the inscrutable allusions, the sweeping generalizations, the novel formulae, the contradictory assertions, the constant sneering at everyone… all of this is the writing of a defender of the faith, a great evangelizer? Yes, says Mr. Oddie! The Pope’s meaning is quite clear, but just twisted, distorted, taken out of context by a manipulative press. (Yet Mr. Oddie himself notes that some of the conservative voices who saved this Synod from disaster will not be around next time, by the express will of Francis, yet we are NOT to ascribe this to liberalism or Jesuitical machinations!)

Well, all right then, maybe the fault is in me. I have no training in theology or canon law. I am just a confused Catholic, and Francis isn’t helping me any. So I reach out to people in whom I have confidence to help me understand what I am supposed to be gleaning from his ceaseless commentary. But lately, that isn’t helping either. One of my theologian colleagues told me recently that a catechetics paper written with the style and contents of Francis’ remarks would earn a “D” in his course. Two others told me they are praying that this turns out to be a mercifully brief pontificate!

So let me ask a question or two: Why is it that only liberal Catholic journalism, the secular press and pop-culture media are celebrating this pontificate? Why is every traditional Catholic order on edge? Why do some of the leading orthodox cardinals and bishops in the Church appear no less confused than I am by the Pope’s performance at the Synod? Why does every single statement of Francis, regardless of the language in which it was issued, require a follow-up explanation, denial, clarification, and accusation that the
press has falsified the words of the Pope? Honestly, the defenders of this pontificate are just trotting out a comical “Yogi Berra” defense: “Francis hasn’t said half the things he’s said.”

Christian Sauvé said...

Isn't it the case that insipid and pointless homilies dominate Catholic pulpits everywhere? Or is it that Latin America at least has "gradualism" (which admits that the sinner must be brought to repentance, gradually), while northern countries don't even recognize the existence of sin, other than the sin of being politically incorrect.