“Lethal To The Faith”: Benedict on… Francis
Is this mission really possible in the world as it is today? Would it not be more appropriate that all religions get together and work together for the cause of peace in the world? The counter-question is: Can dialogue substitute for mission? Today many have the idea, in effect, that religions should respect each other, and, in dialogue with each other, become a common force for peace. In this way of thinking, most times there is a presupposition that the various religions are variants of one and the same reality; that “religion” is a category common to all, which assumes different forms according to different cultures, but expresses, however, one and the same reality. The question of truth, which at the beginning of Christianity moved Christians more than anything else, in this mode of thinking is placed within parentheses. It presupposes that the authentic truth about God, in the last analysis, is unobtainable, and that at best one can make present what is ineffable only with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems convincing and useful for peace among the religions of the world.
This is, however, lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and seriousness, if everything is reduced to symbols that are at the end interchangeable, capable of referring only from afar to the inaccessible mystery of the divine.
Stop beating around the bush now: this is an indictment of Francis’ papacy, at least as far as his non-ecumenism is concerned. Benedict is saying, klipp und klar, that Francis’ quest for peace goes at the expense of Truth. Which is obvious, considering the man does not believe in God, much less Truth.
Francis is, Benedict says without mentioning him by name, lethal to faith.
Yes, of course he will deny he was attacking Francis. No! God forbid! Perish the thought! He was merely saying the Truth. Can it be the poor man’s fault that every time someone says the Truth this is clearly in opposition to what Francis says?
The second point is to do with the matter of salvation.
This point is,alas, a negative one; and here, yours truly must alert his readers to the fact that Benedict himself has, and always had, the V II bacillus.
Let me take this example:
Love demands to be communicated. Truth demands to be communicated. Whoever has experienced great joy cannot keep it simply for himself. He must pass it on to others. The same thing is true for the gift of love, through the gift of recognizing the truth that manifests itself.
When Andrew met Christ, he could not do anything but say to his brother: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). And Philip, who was also given the gift of this encounter, could not do anything but to say to Nathaniel that he had found him of whom Moses and the Prophets had written (John 1:45). We proclaim Jesus Christ not to get as many members as possible for our community, and least of all for the sake of power. We speak of Him because we feel that we have to share that joy with others that has been given to us.
We will be credible proclaimers of Jesus Christ when we have encountered him in the depths of our existence, when, within the encounter with Him, we are given the great experience of truth, of love, and of joy.
We see here more of that sugary “religion of joy” that has been such a part of Catholic apologetics in the V II era. This is, so to speak, half way down a slippery slope, at the end of which Francis is awaiting.
The Pontiff Emeritus describes not only Faith, but the reason for his propagation, as a matter of joy. You find the joy, you must share it.
But this is simply beside the point. The reason for evangelisation is the salvation of souls. Evangelisation is not primarily about what we get in this life, but what we get (in positive or negative) in the next. The question is salvation or damnation, not a joyful life in Christ or a joyless one without him. Christianity is first, second, third and thirtieth about the next life, not this one.
Whilst Benedict always links truth and joy, he never goes to the heart of the matter. Words like “judgment”, “hell”, “damnation” do not occur once in 1700 words. Salvation and damnation here are not even an afterthought, they are simply nowhere. How can you evangelise without thinking of damnation? What is this religion, an organisation sending around many Dulcamaras selling their “elixir of joy”?
This is tofu evangelisation in the best V II tradition; an evangelisation which, whilst orthodox in principle and well-intentioned, is left deprived of a solid foundation or, better said, of the eternal foundation given to it by Our Lord:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”
Note the words here: “saved” and “condemned”, not “joyful” and “joyless”.
Francis is lethal to the faith. But Benedict is, like all of V II, a very ineffectual help to it.
Still: I am very glad the Pontiff Emeritus decided to intervene. It was high time. Now there will be a predictable storm, and the predictable visit of the two, with photo-ops, biscuits and tea. But the substance remains:
Francis is lethal to the faith.