Two of the more enduring images of the Bible are the gift of tongues and the Tower of Babel.
Priestly gifts and this would include Pope Francis have often been blessed with such spiritual and physical gifts as the gifts of speech, the gift of tongues interpretation and prophecy.
The Tower of Babel refers to a story in Genesis.
According to this first book in the Old Testament, Moses related the story that after the Great Flood, a united humanity appeared from a land in the east called Shinar that spoke a universal language.
They resolved to build a city with a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.
This way they could make a name for themselves lest they be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Because their intention was egotistically motivated because of the vanity of their nation, God came down from above and made their speech unintelligible.
Thus they were scattered over the face of the earth.
I think if a priest, especially a new and green pontiff were not extremely careful he could run the risk of turning discussion of the Catholic faith into an occasion of confusion and misunderstanding.
Pope Francis has said many thing since his becoming pope last April that have upset and even confused many of the faithful.
Of course his statements gave hope to the liberal wing of the Church.
Quite frankly I can understand the concern that many Orthodox Catholic have with his pronouncements.
The first statement that concerned me was when he told Catholics that as a Church we cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…
I hadn’t realized that was what we were doing.
In fact from the pulpit one hardly ever hears about the evils of abortion, euthanasia or homosexuality.
The pope did state that we had to talk about them in context.
I submit that is exactly what we are doing when we do talk about these issues.
The context is a culture war that was started by the Marxists, dating back to Sardinian communist, Antonio Gramsci, who ordained a long march through western culture in the early 1920s.
The advent of the culture war was predicted many years ago by Russian author Igor Shafarevich, whoreduced the Communist Manifesto’s 10 planks to three specific targets, which were private property, the Christian religion and the family.
The pope seems to have failed to note that these basic human institution that have provided the moral and physical glue for Western Civilization have been under vicious assault for many generations.
Another statement that turned a few devout heads was when the pope opined on women in the church.
Of course this is a loaded question that the last four popes have had to walk on cracked eggshells to address.
The pope suggested that the feminine genius is needed whenever we make important decisions.
While that sounds like a nice, even flattering thing to say about the gentle sex…especially the part about the feminine genius, what does it mean in the context of Church teaching?
Well for starters I am sure someone longing for a female priesthood could seriously reason that women should become ordained because they could then apply this genius, which I wish he had defined, to the important decisions that priests make each and every day.
Then the pontiff was asked what the Church’s role in the modern world.
He answered that what the church needs most today ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful.
The pope offered the image of the Church as a field hospital.
I am not at all certain what he means by that but it does not seem to agree with mu childhood and adolescent understanding of the what the Catholic Church was supposed to stand for?
I guess I fear that we will fast become a church of social workers.
I have to stifle my urge to laugh or make a glib remark because he is our pope but I always thought that the church’s divinely ordained role was to lead the faithful to heaven.
Unless the pope is a believer in universal salvation, which was declared a heresy 120 years ago, that’s the only thing that counts.
As Hillary Clinton likes to say among the ruins of our foreign policy, what difference…does it make….if you gain or heal the entire world and suffer the loss of your immortal soul?
Nothing...nada...if the church is relinquishing this primary function why do we really need a church?
There are plenty of medical and psychology organizations who will heal wounds and warm hearts.
Then there is the issue of Liberation Theology.
I have written about it for the Mindszenty Foundation and am scheduled in March to talk about it in Chicago for them as well.
Basically it is a relatively new teaching about the poor, especially in Latin America where it originated well over 40 years ago.
It has led to such derivatives as the so-called preferential option for the poor and an obsession for helping the poor no matter what the means.
This has essentially led to trillions of dollars in spending that has been borrowed from America’s future .
This is standing G. K. Chesterton’s idea of the democracy of the dead where traditions and customs of the past must be recognized as still valuable.
With today’s leaders we have the tyranny of the living.
My additional research has uncovered the fact that Liberation Theology was essentially the idea of the KGB and the Soviet’s attempt to undermine its chief antagonist, the Catholic Church.
Personally I think you could trace it back to the ideas of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, which sought to do away with religion, royalty and the middle class.
Pope Francis is considered the pope of the poor.
So when he became pontiff many on the left assumed that he would jump right in on their behalf and support Liberation Theology.
My guess is that the only thing that has held him back is that its proponents make no excuses for the necessary violence that is left in the wake of this powerful abstraction.
Behind the growing skepticism is the fear in some quarters that Francis’s all-embracing style and spontaneous speech, so open as it is to interpretation, are undoing decades of church efforts to speak clearly on Catholic teachings.
Some conservatives also feel that the pope is undermining them at a time when they are already being sidelined by an increasingly secular culture.
Francis is certainly a lot different at least in the beginning than both of his predecessors.
During the previous three decades, popes John Paul II and Benedict had a similar focus. Each wanted to make orthodox teachings crystal clear so Catholics would not get confused or lost what Benedict XVI called the slavery of relativism.
That is precisely the risk Pope Francis has been running since his rise to the throne of Peter.
We all need to pray that his gift of tongues does not degenerate into a new kind of theological babel and misunderstanding.
The stakes are just too high!