19

PopeWatch: Incomprehensible

One of the keys to understanding Pope Francis is to grasp that much of what he says and writes is incomprehensible.  Case in point from a recent homily:

 

Closeness, dear brothers, is crucial for an evangelizer because it is a key attitude in the Gospel (the Lord uses it to describe his Kingdom). We can be certain that closeness is the key to mercy, for mercy would not be mercy unless, like a Good Samaritan, it finds ways to shorten distances. But I also think we need to realize even more that closeness is also the key to truth; not just the key to mercy, but the key to truth. Can distances really be shortened where truth is concerned? Yes, they can. Because truth is not only the definition of situations and things from a certain distance, by abstract and logical reasoning. It is more than that. Truth is also fidelity (émeth). It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining “their situation”. There is a distasteful habit, is there not, of following a “culture of the adjective”: this is so, this is such and such, this is like… No! This is a child of God. Then come the virtues or defects, but [first] the faithful truth of the person and not the adjective regarded as the substance.

We must be careful not to fall into the temptation of making idols of certain abstract truths. They can be comfortable idols, always within easy reach; they offer a certain prestige and power and are difficult to discern. Because the “truth-idol” imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart. Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.

Go here to read the rest.  A besetting sin of many clerics is a lack of clarity.  With the Pope this besetting sin is constant and produces some of the most muddled and opaque prose to ever emanate from the Vatican, and that is saying something.

Share With Friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    2
    Shares

Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

19 Comments

  1. “It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining “their situation”. There is a distasteful habit, is there not, of following a “culture of the adjective”: this is so, this is such and such, this is like… No! This is a child of God.” PF

    The identity of Joe is attributed to his words and actions.
    He is a child of God. His personality is based upon his core beliefs and convictions. If Joe had a flaw in his personality that was harmful to himself and others, his soul and others as well, then the closeness of lovingly like lead Joe away from harm is truth. As a child of God we must be our brothers keeper. A good Samaritan takes his own time out of his day to extend mercy to the injured. How is it that mercy is being applied by leaving Joe in his errors or not trying to help him heal. For the homosexual, Courage outreach is the Inn for Joe who is mentally beat-up and left for dead.

    Where are the messages from Pope Francis to admonish the sinner?
    Yes. After our removal of the plank…but then we are to mercifully help them.

    couragerc.org

  2. The finest homilist I’ve ever known began building his file of homilies around 1948. He tells me: whenever I find something from the Church Fathers, I grab it. Alas, that wonderful man died in 2011.

    Another priest of my acquaintance had this to say: “I want to get to heaven, and I want to take you with me”. His homilies were clear. He is currently persona non grata in the Diocese of Syracuse and has never been incardinated elsewhere (AFAIK).

    I have a suspicion that a comfortable majority of clergymen are like the protagonist in V.S. Naipaul’s Guerillas, who was described by another character in the novel thus: “He had no important skills…an organizer of boys’ clubs”. They want to ‘do ministry’, but the end is to ‘help people’. They lack clarity because acknowledging their actual ends would be embarrassing.

  3. Is there anyone who reads PF’s nonsense and marvels at it? I mean other than old wineskin hippies who lost most of the brains in the 70s?

  4. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Patience”, Bunthorne sings:
    And every one will say,
    As you walk your mystic way,
    “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
    Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”
    That seems to be the general reaction to PF. They mistake the disjointed ramblings of a doddering old man with deep thinking.

  5. I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get it. What’s he aiming at? What’s the point? I get bits and pieces, but some of it seems so broad that you could insist it means anything.

  6. Philip Nachazel wrote, “The identity of Joe is attributed to his words and actions.”
    This is not as simple or straightforward as it seems.

    Wittgenstein asks us to consider this example.” If one says “Moses did not exist”,this may mean various things. It may mean: the Israelites did not have a single leader when they withdrew from Egypt——or: their leader was not called Moses——-ors there cannot have been anyone who accomplished all that the Bible relates of Moses——or: etc. etc.— We may say, following Russell: the name “Moses” can be defined by means of various descriptions. For example, as “the man who led the Israelites through the wilderness”, “the man who lived at that time and place and was then called ‘Moses’ “, “the man who as a child was taken out of the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter” and so on. And according as we assume one definition or another the proposition “Moses did not exist” acquires a different sense, and so does every other proposition about Moses.—And if we are told “N did not exist”, we do ask: “What do you mean? Do you want to say . . . . . . or . . . . . . etc.?” But when I make a statement about Moses,—am I always ready to substitute some one of these descriptions for “Moses”? I shall perhaps say: By “Moses” I understand the man who did what the Bible relates of Moses, or at any rate a good deal of it. But how much? Have I decided how much must be proved false for me to give up my proposition as false? Has the name “Moses” got a fixed and unequivocal use for me in all possible cases?—Is it not the case that I have, so to speak, a whole series of props in readiness, and am ready to lean on one if another should be taken from under me and vice versa?——“

    On examination, we find the apparently obvious stands in need of a good deal of explanation.

  7. I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get it. What’s he aiming at? What’s the point? I get bits and pieces, but some of it seems so broad that you could insist it means anything.

    Sounds like an ordinary sermon from an Anglican vicar. (And, alas, some Catholic priests as well).

  8. MPS; ”Have I decided how much must be proved false for me to give up my proposition as false? Has the name “Moses” got a fixed and unequivocal use for me in all possible cases?—Is it not the case that I have, so to speak, a whole series of props in readiness, and am ready to lean on one if another should be taken from under me and vice versa.”

    Thank you MPS for giving me some insights on simplistic assumptions.
    Guilty as charged. I wonder if the soul on earth is rarely in a state of fixed identity. I suppose it isn’t.
    Grace allows change and while I was reviewing your text from the author Wittgenstein I humbly admit that even after I have re-read his position I’m sure of one thing. My understanding of it is muddy at best.
    In sincerity I ask you for your interpretation of his text so I may benefit from it.

  9. Philip Nachazel

    Wittgenstein explains it like this: “And this can be expressed like this: I use the name “N” without a FIXED meaning. (But that detracts as little from its usefulness, as it detracts from that of a table that it stands on three legs instead of four and so sometimes wobbles.)

    Should it be said that I am using a word whose meaning I don’t know, and so am talking nonsense?—Say what you choose, so long as it does not prevent you from seeing the facts. (And when you see them there is a good deal that you will not say.)

    (The fluctuation of scientific definitions: what to-day counts as an observed concomitant of a phenomenon will to-morrow be used to define it.)”

    This is a favourite theme of his – Just as a fuzzy or blurred image is still an image, so a word without a clearly defined meaning is not meaningless either.

    In the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein argues that it is impossible to devise some definition of “game” that includes everything that we call games, but excludes everything that we do not. However, we are all familiar (i.e. socially) with enough things that are games and enough things that are not games that we can categorize new activities as either games or not.

    A word need not have an essential core meaning that is, therefore, common to all uses of that word. We should, instead, travel with the word’s uses through “a complicated network of similarities, overlapping and criss-crossing.” We have to see how it functions in a specific social situation.

  10. Again thank you.
    Your explanations are helpful. One example, gay, has a core meaning. Commonly used to express light-heartedness, happy and whimsical.
    Now..in a complicated network the word expresses a state of being that is associated with homosexual unions or “lifestyle choices.” Rainbow might be another example I suppose. Two completely different understandings in this day and age.
    You didn’t have to be patient with me but you chose to do so. Thanks. I know that my observations and comments are below a level that you and the majority of the professional community that frequent this site share…and I try to read and understand the positions put forth by this community. What I should do more often is listen more..and write less.

    If my characterization of Joe was one dimensional, or of anyone elese for that matter, and the lesson you have provided me helps me to become more understanding, more thought provoking..than this short dialog is a worthy one.

    God be with you MPS, and continued success in helping your neighbors.

  11. Philip Nachazel
    My Philosophy tutor, Miss Anscombe, who had been a student and friend of Wittgenstein – She was his translator and literary executor – used to say that what made him a great philosopher was that he asked the sort of questions a cleaver six-year old might ask – And that the grown-ups can never answer!

  12. “You will know them by what they do” What they do is what they are after the fact that the sovereign person is created equal and endowed by their Creator with sovereign personhood and unalienable human rights. The sovereign person is who a human being is. His choice of free will acts are what he is, his personality, as a philosopher, a doctor, a murderer.
    The human being always remains a sovereign person created by our infinite God, with innate, unalienable (that is: infinite) human rights.

  13. MPS, The problem with the statement is that Moses WAS real and anything after the statement “Moses did not exist” isn’t worth the paper this statement is printed on (nothing). Perhaps the statement would be better if the person was fictional. One of PFs problems is that he changes KNOWN definitions so he sounds intellectual. They bubble out in his babble. A good example is his use of the heresy of Pelagianism in attacking faithful Catholics. His definition is not in the dictionary nor is it the term as defined by the Church. His use of false “terms” and usages is the exact the opposite of his Office in confirming the brethren in Truth.

  14. John F Kennedy wrote, “The problem with the statement is that Moses WAS real…”

    But that still raises the question, “Who do you mean by Moses? Who was he?” Unless there is an answer to that, to say he did or did not exist is neither true nor false, but meaningless.

    “When I say “N is dead”, then something like the following
    may hold for the meaning of the name “N”: I believe that a human being has lived, whom I (1) have seen in such-and-such places, who (2) looked like this (pictures), (3) has done such-and-such things, and (4) bore the name “N” in social life.—Asked what I understand by “N”, I should enumerate all or some of these points, and different ones on different occasions. So my definition of “N” would perhaps be “the man of whom all this is true”.—But if some point now proves false?—Shall I be prepared to declare the proposition “N is dead” false—even if it is only something which strikes me as incidental that has turned out false? But where are the bounds of the incidental?— If I had given a definition of the name in such a case, I should now be ready to alter it.”

  15. MPS, play your nonsense word games. You are only fooling yourself. Moses was as real as much as I am. Simply because you can’t know everything about either of us, doesn’t make us less so. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
    You will have a confused life if you deny the everyday truths, such as 2+2=4.

Comments are closed.