PopeWatch: The Catholic Left Loves “Their” Pope

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Well after  a year as Pope, it is clear that Pope Francis has excited two groups:  the mainstream media and the Catholic Left.  In a long article yesterday, CNN highlighted various denizens of the Catholic Left who cannot contain their joy over a Pope they are certain is one of them:

He wears a blue flannel shirt and work boots instead of priestly black. He’s 52 but looks 35 — the kind of guy you might see on one those TV reality shows about home remodeling.

A clerical collar is nowhere in sight. His cellphone buzzes like a drunk bumblebee.

Several years ago, Unni’s parish, St. Cecilia in Boston’s Back Bay, merged with a predominantly gay church nearby as part of the archdiocese’s plan to deal with a lack of funds and priests.

Unni made a point of welcoming gays and lesbians to St. Cecilia, even scheduling a special service during Gay Pride month.

Conservative Catholic bloggers went ballistic, accusing him of watering down church teachings.

“They crucified me!” Unni says.

It was a different time in the church, Unni says, when doctrinal conformity was the order of the day. People who stepped out of line could expect to get smacked down.

The Archdiocese of Boston forced him to cancel the LGBT service, but Unni preached about homosexuality anyway, telling the congregants he doesn’t know anything about the “gay agenda,” all he knows is Jesus’ agenda — a. k. a. the Gospel.

Unni’s been known to take that love-your-neighbor vibe to extremes.

Stories abound about him arriving late to dinner dates with parishioners because he was buying homeless men meals. He cut short a recent interview to dash into an immigration center.

A book sits on a table at Unni’s office in St. Cecilia, a redbrick church overshadowed by hotels and office buildings. It’s called “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way he Leads.”

As he thumbs through it, Unni looks like a kid who’s got his hands on “Harry Potter.”

Unni quotes liberally from the pontiff’s speeches and sermons in his own homilies, mentioning the trickle-down criticism, for example, during a recent Mass.

A satirical cartoon in which Francis is criticized for making the same “crazy impractical mistakes” as Jesus greets visitors from a table in St. Cecilia’s vestibule.

“I almost feel vindicated in a way,” Unni says, “that someone, namely the Pope, has the same approach to the complexities of life and relationships and the church and the poor as I do.”

Go here to read the rest.  Father Unni is a piece of work.  In addition to being forced to cancel a Gay Pride Mass back in 2011, he managed to turn 14 million in the bank into a six million dollar deficit during “renovations” at his parish, and wrote anonymously attacking the new missal translation.  Go here to read all about it.  Leftists like Father Unni, who have labored unceasingly to turn the Catholic Church into a clone of the dying Episcopal Church, believe that in Pope Francis they have the leader to allow them to transform the Catholic Church into a mere megaphone for the liberal zeitgeist.  They have had a good year.  We shall see if the next year gives them cause for joy, and cause for orthodox Catholics to mourn.

26 Responses to PopeWatch: The Catholic Left Loves “Their” Pope

  • Participation in and communion with the Catholic Church requires participation in and communion with the Holy Spirit.

  • “Leftists like Father Unni, who have labored unceasingly to turn the Catholic Church into a clone of the dying Episcopal Church, believe that in Pope Francis they have the leader to allow them to transform the Catholic Church into a mere megaphone for the liberal zeitgeist.”
    .
    Shear poetry. The conservative zeitgeist will work to prevent any disfiguration of the truth.

  • Does anyone here belief tat the Pope is trying change any of the Catholic teachings? Specifically – on gay marriage or the use of contraception or better yet abortions? At his worst moments I see him talking to the public (via the media) too casually and not prepared. At best I have had friends inquire about the Church. What so bad about that?

  • “At his worst moments I see him talking to the public (via the media) too casually and not prepared. At best I have had friends inquire about the Church. What so bad about that?”

    What is bad about it depends upon what happens to people after they make inquiries about the Church. If they end up getting the Gospel message as interpreted by Father Unni, with Jesus as the original “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” Guy, rather than the Son of God, then what has been accomplished?

    My overall problem with Pope Francis is that his message, as promulgated by the media, tends to confirm people in their lives, rather than transforming their lives.

  • I agree with your assessment Brian. I also get the point about Father Unni (although I really don’t know much about the man I can make an assumption). I guess i have faith that Christ is still the head of the Church and that tremps all other issues.

  • “trying change any of the Catholic teachings?”

    Not so far. What I do see is that he has not gone out of his way to defend teachings unpopular with the chattering classes in the media, academia and entertainment and he has made statements in his interviews that indicate he would prefer to speak of other things. A Pope needs to be a champion of the teachings of the Church, and Pope Francis seems to be ill at ease in that role in regard to teachings that are under attack from elite opinion throughout the West.

  • “A Pope needs to be a champion of the teachings of the Church, and Pope Francis seems to be ill at ease in that role in regard to teachings that are under attack from elite opinion throughout the West.”

    That is one reading of his remarks. Another might be that he knows from history the harm that can be done by allowing the enemies of the Faith to set the Church’s agenda. Few would dispute that the Counter-Reformation led to an unbalanced focus on those issues that the Reformers considered important. Bl John Henry Newman desired a more balanced presentation of “the Faith once delivered to the saints”; that is why, in his writings; he quotes Greek Fathers over Latin ones, in a ratio of 3 to 1 and seldom cites an authority later than St John Damascene in the 8th century. In other words, he chose writers who did not share the Reformers’ preoccupations. His Grammar of Assent is a masterpiece of apologetics, not least because he had never read the Schoolmen.

  • “A Pope needs to be a champion of the teachings of the Church”

    Thanks Don. I see that point. It seems to me that all the perspective is really in his presentation and misinturpretations. His cultural personality seems to be what some are really upset about. It does drive me crazy (I actually like some of it), but I don’t think he is about any change that would contrary to the Churches teaching.

  • “In other words, he chose writers who did not share the Reformers’ preoccupations. His Grammar of Assent is a masterpiece of apologetics, not least because he had never read the Schoolmen.”

    I greatly admire the work of Cardinal Newman, and read him frequently, especially his translations of Saint Athanasius. However, his work did not lead to mass conversions to the Faith. The work of the Fathers of Trent, on the other hand, stopped the Reformation cold, and allowed the Church to recapture lost ground. In the modern world the Church since Vatican II has tried the method favored by Pope Francis and it has proven to be a flat, busted failure. I think it is time to give a combative approach a try for the next half century. Whether we wish to do so or not, I think the Church will adopt an increasingly combative approach if she does not wish her children to share the fate of the Copts during the next period of history.

  • While it is certainly true that the approach of the Church following Vatican II has failed, I’m not sure the combative approach would work either. I started going to an SSPX chapel 20 years ago. In that 20 years, while my city has added about 2 million in population, there is still just the one chapel. They seem to have a terrible “2nd generation” problem where many of the children from the large families drift away from the practice of their faith altogether. It’s frustrating to see an obviously false religion like Mormonism seem to do a much better job.

  • “In that 20 years, while my city has added about 2 million in population, there is still just the one chapel.”

    Ah, but imagine if the Church had a tenth of the fight that so many traditionalists have in abundance. They cannot counter the modern spiritual death wish of the West, and they suffer the penalties of being a besieged, and often cranky, minority, but the Church could if most Catholics who lead the Church were not engaged in unilateral spiritual disarmament.

  • The Pope is a liberal., whether he knows it or not.

  • Donald M McClarey wrote, “I greatly admire the work of Cardinal Newman… However, his work did not lead to mass conversions to the Faith.”

    Bl John Henry Newman’s work was, under grace, central to an enormous number of conversions, often overlooked because of its oblique character. His writings on antiquity, in particular, produced a steady and growing conviction on many in the Church of England that Protestantism was an unsupportable innovation. They embraced a high doctrine of the sacraments, including the apostolical succession, baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence and, in consequence, discarded Sola Scriptura and the Lutheran doctrine of justification. For many, this was a springboard into the Catholic Church. What is more, it was a continuing influence; by the time of Newman’s death, the Anglo-Catholic party accounted for rather more than a quarter, but rather less than a third of Anglican clergy. The Anglican Ordinariate would be inconceivable without this Anglican rejection of Protestant errors.

    As for his personal influence on many of the Oxford Converts, Newman describes it himself in the most beautiful of his sermons, On the Parting of Friends: “should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed…” Anyone fortunate to know the Birmingham and London Oratories will know that they preserve this charism. Perhaps, we could call it the pastoral approach?
    [NB Newman regularly uses “comfort” in its Latin sense of “strengthen together” ; old-fashioned in his day and obsolete in ours]

  • Great Britain was Protestant prior to Newman and so it remained after Newman MPS, with most of the new strength for Catholicism due to Irish immigrants. There were a few high profile converts, Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Manning, Manning of course did not get along with Newman, but mass conversions there were not, and I do not think Newman would have claimed such. As for the Oxford Movement and “Anglo-Catholicism”, smells and bells wrapper around a Protestant substance was what it largely amounted to in the end. If anything by transforming some Anglican parishes into Catholicism-Lite, it probably stopped more conversions to the Faith than it inspired. The condemnation by Leo XIII of Anglican orders in 1896 was a fitting coda to the whole experiment.
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13curae.htm

  • Innocence, virginity, virtue are lived by the people who follow Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, to become the Sons of Man. It is the Sons of Man of whom Jesus said: “It is my delight to be among the Sons of Man.” The Sons of Man live virginity, innocence and virtue.
    .
    Father Unni needs to strike while the iron is hot, because once Father Unni is dead, he will be too cold to strike.
    .
    To become a practicing homosexual, an individual must reject his own and his partner’s soul. Since the human body cannot go to heaven without its soul, it is fair to say that practicing homosexuals will not be going to heaven.

  • “the Lutheran doctrine of justification.” …through Faith, is only half true, since man must use his free will and choose to accept Jesus Christ through his Faith. This free will choice is an act, the work called for by the Catholic Faith, the work of the person enlivened with the Holy Spirit.

  • “[NB Newman regularly uses “comfort” in its Latin sense of “strengthen together” ; old-fashioned in his day and obsolete in ours]”
    .
    Might consolation be interchangeable with “comfort”? If so, Our Lady of Consolation and the shrine at Turin, Italy of Consolata will bring us “strengthen together”.

  • Mary De Voe

    Consolation is from “consolare,” meaning to cheer. It is connected with the Latin word for the sun, just as we talk of “a sunny disposition.”

    “Con-” usually means together (con-spirare to whisper together) but it can have a vaguely intensive force Tristare = to crush, Con-tristare = to pulverise (hence, contrition). Similarly, Rumpere=to break Cor-rumpere=to destroy (hence, corrupt0

  • Donald M McClarey

    Newman’s converts included Frederick W. Faber, later Superior of the London Oratory and noted for his hymns []which are not at all to my taste], W. G. Ward and Frederick Oakley, who went on to found the Rambler, almost the house journal of the Oxford converts. John Brande Morris the Syriac scholar and later chaplain to Lord Acton and to Coventry Patmore was another. Their number included two eminent ecclesiastical lawyers, Dr Badeley and Dr Hope-Scott, among the last of the English civilians, before Doctors’ Commons lost its monopoly over probate, divorce and admiralty cases.

    The next generation included Gerald Manley Hopkins, perhaps most celebrated of all, received by Newman himself. Then, there was the great Benedictine Patristic scholar, Dom John Chapman, later Abbott of Downside, Robert Hugh Benson, priest and novelist (and son of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury) and Ronald Knox, the great classical scholar and son of the Bishop of Manchester.

    Finally, we should not overlook the Anglican Benedictines. The whole community on Caldy Island was received in 1913.

    This is just a sprinkling of the most celebrated. Their numbers run into the hundreds.

  • Insignificant MPS except for the individuals involved. As I said, no mass conversions.

  • Donald M McClarey

    By that criterion, the last mass conversion was of Clovis and his 5,000 Franks.

  • Untrue. Google Our Lady of Guadaloupe. The Jesuits who found Poland half Protestant and left it almost entirely Catholic would no doubt deserve a mention also.

  • Thank you, Michael Paterson-Seymour.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    Your arguements are weak and your evidence is thin.

    Hundreds? Really?

    Don handed you your head on a plate and you didn’t notice.

    His original points stand. Yours don’t even register.

    Don said:

    “A Pope needs to be a champion of the teachings of the Church, and Pope Francis seems to be ill at ease in that role in regard to teachings that are under attack from elite opinion throughout the West.”

    Now comes an interview with an Argentine bishop, recently consecrated by Francis, who was his closest confident back home. This bishop insists that Francis as archbishop emphatically believes that making statements to defend Church teaching is counter productive,and is best abandoned in favor of leading with the love of Jesus.

    This description – reported by Sandro Magister – completely comports with what we are seeing. Your contention is null and void. Don is correct.

    We already know we have a problem with the majority of bishops unwilling to step ups and defend Church teaching. We now know that problem has spread to Argentina. We also know it looks like such a bishop was elected to the papacy.

    I pray Pope Francis grows to understand he’s not in Kansas anymore.

  • Phil Steinacker

    History suggests that to focus on points of controversy is counter-productive.

    The age following the Council of Trent and the Wars of Religion was an age of scepticism. Many people simply drew the conclusion that Catholics and Protestants cannot both be right, but that they can both be wrong and that the failure of either side to persuade the other meant that we have available to us no rational criterion, one that is valid for all, according to which we can decide religious questions.

    The religious revival, when it came, was the work (under grace) of St Jean Eudes, St Vincent de Paul, St Louis de Montfort, St Francis de Sales and Bl Marie of the Incarnation (Mme Acarie). Their method was an absolute focus on Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, both in His sublime divinity and in His complete abasement as God in becoming man. As followers of a God who abases Himself willingly to enter the human estate, the devotional end for the faithful was to abandon all self-love and worldly attachment, so that the person of Christ might become incarnate in the believer.

    Shunning controversy, their appeal was experimental: “This has happened to me and it can happen to you” was their invitation. What other arguments could they deploy? As the Abbé Henri Brémond says, “In the course of the normal development of man, there occur moments in which the discursive reason gives place to a higher activity, imperfectly understood and indeed at first disquieting.”

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