Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I can sympathize

Some Catholics are increasingly concerned about the tendency Pope Francis has for being open about Faith, lack of Faith and Salvation.  If one takes a more critical look, one could argue that he is almost embracing a form of universalism.  Though his statements about hell and the destiny of certain groups, such as the Mafia, suggest otherwise.  But he certainly seems to step back from the idea that Salvation and one's particular belief system are in any way linked.  Salvation now seems overwhelmingly based on how one lives one's life.  And this is not an exception where God is able to step in and save based on God's inscrutable will.  This is par for the course.  The norm.  Salvation is based on being a good person, or even simply having a good conscience. 

So it's not surprising that some are alarmed. For me, I don't see this as anything new.  Pope Benedict certainly made similar strides.  And while many could say it started with Vatican II, I always saw an urgency with Pope John Paul II about being Catholic.  Hence his emphasis on evangelizing - dare I say converting - folks, including those legendary Separated Brethren, back into the Catholic fold.

I've often wondered if the hell-pit of horror we've experienced since becoming Catholic has to do with that post-PJPII era diminishing of importance on being Catholic as having to do with salvation.  After all, telling Catholics, especially younger, more progressive ones, that we lost everything to leave Protestantism for Catholicism has not - I can attest - had the same umph that it seems to have had with older folks from previous generations who seem more willing to equate Catholicism and one's chances for salvation.  After all, if one Church is as good as another, then eh, you get what you get.  I could have stayed Protestant and done quite well.  If I chose to leave it all to become Catholic, so be it.  I didn't have to, and if we suffer, then it's what we get. 

I don't know.  I'm sure it is a complicated mix of things.  But based on the differences in those who are much older and no longer running things in most Churches who were absolutely enamored with my testimony, against those closer to my age who are in most of the committees and councils who more or less appeared to say, "Yeah, OK.  That's something I guess", I sometimes get the feeling I've found a name for our pain, and it is post-denominational salvation Catholic style. 


  1. I think that a lot of ones identity with the faith has to do with for lack of a better word persecution. My identity with my faith is strong in part because I grew up in an environment in Baptist North Louisiana. I think that is true of anyone in the South that didn't give in to the peer pressure and give it up. I think that is why I have a lot of interest in and sympathy for converts. So St John Paul II identity with the faith makes sense to my and why it is less distinct in Francis who grew up in a less hostile environment in Argentina. In one way the worst day for the Church in this country, was election day 1960. From that day forward being Catholic was normal. Of course that didn't happen in the South which remained hostile and I think the faith on a whole is more vibrant here.

  2. That could be. And I've often wondered if it is a regional thing. I'm in the Midwest. Ohio to be exact. And the Church here is quite the thing. Catholic are one of the dominant groups. They also tend to embrace more of a modern acceptance, sometimes even proudly proclaiming 'that went out with Vatican II.' I sometimes wish we could move somewhere else, just to see.

  3. While I grew up Louisiana I have lived in northern Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and now the Houston Texas area and this is my observation. www.ncregister.com/daily-news/protestant-south-becoming-a-new-catholic-stronghold/ Here, is an article on the growth of the Church in the South.


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