Pope: Half-hearted Catholics aren't really Catholics at all

I wish I could remember who it was who remarked at the beginning of this Papacy that Francis would confound liberals and conservative factions in the Church in equal measure. It certainly is interesting to hear that, at Mass this morning, he has repeated and even emphasised remarks similar to those made a few months ago that wishy-washy Catholics hurt the Church.

Catholic News Service reports on Pope Francis' morning Mass in the chapel of his residence. Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading, John 17:20-26, and Jesus' prayer that there would be unity, not divisions and conflict, among his disciples, Pope Francis said that there are three groups of people who call themselves Catholic, but are not really.
Apologising for making up words, he labeled these three groups: "uniformists," "alternativists" and "businessists." Those who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every church teaching and benefactors who use the church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door; "Many people say they belong to the church," but in reality have "only one foot inside," Pope Francis said.

"For these people, the church is not home," but is a place they use as a rental property.

The first group, he said, believe that everyone in the church should be just like them. "They are rigid! They do not have that freedom the Holy Spirit gives," and they confuse what Jesus preached with their "own doctrine of uniformity."

"Jesus never wanted the church to be so rigid," Pope Francis said. Such people "call themselves Catholics, but their rigid attitude distances them from the church." I'd like to hear more from him about what exactly he means here. What constitutes rigidity? Love of the Church and her teachings? Surely not, because that is exactly what he is calling for, greater love of the Church and her teachings. So what is this rigidity then? Certainly there are some of us who tend to resist change. But take for example the attitude of the SSPX, who refuse to accept the validity of Vatican II. Is this what the Pope means? Certainly this refusal has led to a schism of sorts, and thus they are apart from the Church to some extent. The situation is confusing. In the 1988 Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta Pope John Paul used the word “schism“. It looks like a schism, to be sure. But officials of the PCED have affirmed over the last few years that while Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions in 1988 were schismatic acts, the SSPX did not in fact go into schism. I don’t really understand that, but I will take the PCED’s word on this!

The second group, those with alternative teachings and doctrines, "has a partial belonging to the church. These, too, have one foot outside the church," he said. "They rent the church," not recognising that its teaching is based on the preaching of Jesus and the apostolic tradition. OK so that's easy, that's cafeteriaism, people like ACTA and their supporters, who refuse to accept Magisterial teaching and reckon you only have to accept what the Church teaches if it is pronounced ex-cathedra (which is complete nonsense). I think this is broader than just that though, anyone who picks and chooses what part of Church teaching they "like", and make up their own version of truth for the rest.

Members of the third group "call themselves Christians but don't enter into the heart of the church," they use the church "for personal profit," the pope said. "We have all seen them in parish or diocesan communities and religious congregations; they are some of the benefactors of the church. They strut around proud of being benefactors, but in the end, under the table, make their deals," he said. 

Goodness me I have familiarity with this category! Especially in governing bodies and committees which purport to be Catholic, but if you criticise something at odds with Church teaching you are quickly marginalised. These people usually run things and pay lip service to Catholic teaching while working for personal gain, both financially and in terms of kudos. I have found this group really shocking and saddening, clandestine, and extremely nefarious.

Pope Francis said the church is made up of people with a variety of differences and gifts, and if one wants to belong to it, he or she must be motivated by love and enter with "your whole heart."

Being open to the Spirit, who fosters harmony in diversity, he said, brings "docility," which is "the virtue that saves us" from entering the church half-heartedly.

Did you read my blog yesterday? Do you feel criticised by Pope Francis' words today? Good! That's what he is supposed to do. Now I am going to go and put myself through some serious self-reflection to see where this applies to me, and to do my best to change.


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