Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Ambiguity and indeterminable meaning

A colleague of mine at the seminary where I teach emailed several of us (his fellow professors) the link to the following article, with this remark:
The following lines from the piece are a brief but brilliant summing up of the problem:
"In the words of Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Francis means 'to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.'

"There is a muddle for you. The bishop asserts a causal relation between two undefined, imprecise phenomena. His phrasing is a sober-sounding rhetorical dodge that eludes argument because the meaning is indeterminable. Ambiguity, like nonsense, is irrefutable [The problem with Francis!! -- his words]. What caliber of scientist speaks this way?"
Maureen Mullarkey, "Francis & Political Illusion" (First Things, January 5, 2015):
In the cap and bells of Flip Wilson’s Church of What’s Happening Now, Pope Francis is readying an encyclical on climate change. He will address the world’s latest mutation of the grail quest: human ecology. Abandoning nuance for apocalyptic alarmism (“If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”), Francis has signaled the tenor of his utterance.

It comes as no surprise. Handwriting has been on the wall along the Viale Vaticano from the get-go. At the beginning of his pontificate, Francis revealed himself to be fastidiously attuned to image. He refused to give communion in public ceremonies lest he be photographed giving the sacrament to the wrong kind of sinner. So, when he agreed to pose between two well-known environmental activists and brandish an anti-fracking T-shirt, we believed what we saw.

It was a portentous image. Press toads hopped to their keyboards to correct the evidence of our lying eyes. Francis was neither for nor against fracking, you see. Nothing of the sort. He was simply using a photo-op to assert blameless solidarity with the victims of ecological injustice. (Both a decisive definition of such injustice and its particular victims went unspecified.) Read more >>
[Hat tip to MSL and JM]


Mighty Joe Young said...

....Francis means 'to make all people aware ,,,

Raising awareness has always been part of Tradition and it is a duty of the Pope according to Vatican 1 (sarcasm, as if that needed noting) and as to social exclusion, the Catholic Church is a perfect society from which Francis now excludes those maintaining a death grip on Tradition, Thomism, and the Real Mass.

The other day MJ wrote that it is possible to write an encyclical on the environment that is morally binding.

But, that possibility is only theoretical ...

BenYachov said...

This woman "Maureen Mullarkey" is a tedious right wing nutter.

Her personal attacks on the Pope's character " He is an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist." are sinful. disproportionate and in direct opposition to the clear teachings of 1 Tim 5:1 "Rebuke not a Presbyter".

They are also inconsistent as both Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI made pro-global warming statements yet they are given a pass.

Finally the Pope hasn't even written anything yet. All we have heard is the wish fulfillment fantasies of British liberals over at the Guardian.

Finally this picture (the Pope doesn't look all that enthused) proves nothing unless we want to claim the picture of Pope SAINT John Paul II holding a Koran up to his face and allegedly kissing it prove he was in fact a secret Muslim.

I guess some people need to be right wingers first and Catholic third instead of the other way around.

Just saying.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

"fastidiously attuned to image"

He's certainly not fastidiously attuned to dogma, so something must fill the void. I look forward to his appearance as a judge on "American Idol"

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

So sayeth the tedious left wing nutter.

Whenever I check the comments on a blog, any blog, and find a baker's dozen or so of BenYachov's comments there, I always have a mind to start humming "The Boll Weevil Song"

JM said...

Ben, I am sure one of the PBC exegetes would have a different spin than you on Timothy. Besides, who knows who even wrote it. Right? As for Mullareky, a nutter? LOL. She is an art scholar and also a pretty good theologian. I would call Kasper a nutter, even if he is a presbyter.

JM said...

Interesting now to read Reno at FT repositioning just a little. The sad part of all this is that Francis to date seems either oblivious or uncaring about how he is perceived by so many American conservatives who want to support Rome. Mullarkey was about as over the top as His Holiness has been, I'd say.

BenYachov said...


Happy New Year.

>Ben, I am sure one of the PBC exegetes would have a different spin than you on Timothy. Besides, who knows who even wrote it. Right?

"Rebuke not a Presbyter but extort him
as a Father".

Many older traditional Catholic translations say "Priest". Modern Protestant influenced translations say "Elder" but the literal Greek says "Presbyter" which means either bishop or Priest.

Even if we hold too a liberal view that one of Paul disciples wrote this letter in His name reconstructing some earlier teaching, the Church has formally accepted this letter as Divinely Inspired Scripture. Also it is in the New Testament Proto-Canon so it's authenticity is beyond dispute.

Additionally I don't see how exegesis can justify calling someone "ideologue and a meddlesome egoist" & make it a form of exhortation when it is clearly a rebuke.

But have at it my friend and let's see if you can come up with something. I have my Haydok commentary on standby.

>As for Mullareky, a nutter? LOL. She is an art scholar and also a pretty good theologian. I would call Kasper a nutter, even if he is a presbyter.

So what? People aren't all black and white. There is a "certain Catholic Apologist" (to cite the Blogmaster's son) who is quite good at defending the faith and giving a good popular explanation of her Teachings but mention "water boarding", "torture" or "Foxnews" and this person goes wacko.

I am sure Ms. Mullarkey has many virtues and talents. But over reacting to an Encyclical that hasn't even been written yet isn't one of them.

That plus the disrespect & personal attack on the Pope.

Let's be real people. I didn't much care for St John Paul II confusing teachings on the Death Penalty. Nor Blessed Pope Paul VI political snubings of the State of Israel.

But I wouldn't attack them personally over it. I would assume their good will and politely disagree on policy.

If possible politely exhort them to see another view point.

How is this wrong?


BenYachov said...

If anyone is interested we have R.R. Reno's criticism of Ms. Mullarkey.

If you find me too sharp he is clearly a friend and takes it easy on her while disagreeing with her.

Obviously he wouldn't agree with my sharpness directed towards her.

As exampled.

QUOTE"Maureen’s criticisms and caricatures of Pope Francis don’t represent “the First Things position.” They’re overdrawn and ill-tempered. But let’s not overreact to Maureen’s overreaction. The Holy Father has expressed a strong desire for a more open atmosphere in which people can speak their minds. And he has spoken his own mind, often in unguarded moments, and sometimes with an exaggerated and divisive rhetoric, some of which he doubtless regrets."END QUOTE

JFM said...

Politeness is great. But sometimes someone snapping helps reveal the extent of frustration. If Francis would utter a single syllable that indicates he is aware of American faithfuls' frustrations, I'd be much more defensive of him. Of course he has no duty to, and he may not give a fig. But I think it may help to have an occasional journalist or critic use the same sort of hyperbole on him he points at others in his celebrated zingers. That's all. Popes need to held to higher standards than other leaders, not lower ones. Catholics always do pretzels trying to explain he Pope. Let the Poe for once explain himself. Of course, I guess when we get the new encyclical, he will have. But if it is as much a mess as the one he jointly redacted with Benedict XVI, I am not very optimistic. All that said, yes, Mullarkey overspoke a phrase or two, to say the least. Maybe Francis will quit extolling the need to get more feminine feedback after this!

JM said...

And sorry, but then there is these, now over a year old, that seems more relevant now than then...