19 May 2017

Is the Pope a heretic? (2)

So let us analyse how this pope does function, rather than trying to define him in terms which he repeatedly disowns. I will use and examine an example from his Homily at the Easter Vigil, this year (2017). He said:

When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it*, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities. #God once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God's surprise for his faithful people. ... if we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians. Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give.

The Holy Father begins this passage by telling us Gospel truth. He is right to assert that the Priestly Jewish establishment did believe the final word had been spoken  and that it was up to them to apply it. Because they knew only the Old Law and the Old Word. They were wrong, because the Man on trial was himself the Law and the Divine Word, who had come to fulfill what was old. As the Church has incessantly taught, Newness put the Old to flight. The Old Testament ended and the New was begun when That Blood was shed.

But notice what happens at the point where I have inserted a *. The following words do accurately describe what happened in the Passion of the Messiah. God did suddenly break in, did upset all the rules, did offer new possibilities [although I think the anodyne flabbiness of that modern 'management' phrase about 'offering new possibilities' radically and infinitely fails to do justice to the cosmos-shattering wonder of both the Incarnation and the Atonement].

What we need to notice is how Bergoglio deftly changes tenses. He has begun in the past: The High Priest ... believed .... Past tense ... we were being told about the first century, circa 33 Anni Salutis. But after *, the tenses become present (breaks ...upsets ... offers). We hardly notice the transition ... it slips past our guard ... because there is an accepted convention that one can use a 'Historic Present' to render  more vivid a narative of past events. But as the next sentence gets under way at the spot marked#, the careful listener will notice that we are no longer in a first century A D. We are now in the present tense; we are being told about the year 2017.

In other words, Bergoglio, if we take his syntax seriously, argues that the situation of 33 A.D. is the same as the situation of 2017 A.D.. Those whom the Pope deems Baddies believe now, he says, as their predecessor Baddies did nearly two millennia ago, that the final word has been spoken and that it is up to them to apply it. 

Whom do you think Papa Bergoglio means by these present-day Baddies?

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Alan said...

Sorry to quibble, Father, but once again I feel that your unwillingness to provide hyperlinks detracts from this piece. A link to the original homily would allow at least readers with some knowledge of Italian to ascertain that the problem of tenses is in the Holy Father's text rather than its translation.

Cherub said...

This is an excellent analysis of what Pope Francis is actually on about. It reminds me a bit of the Bultmannian existentialism of the 1950s and 1960s. I am really looking forward to number three in this series.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Because they knew only the Old Law and the Old Word."

According to St Thomas Aquinas, they also had a secret tradition about the Blessed Trinity and about the Incarnation.

In other words, the Old was not all that they knew.