So Bergoglio is presenting to our imagination a scenario in which, in 33 A.D., the Old Dispensation came to an end. No longer was it right for an Establishment to consider that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it. So God suddenly broke in etc. etc. etc..
AND the same situation, argues Pope Francis, faces us now. Now, in 2017, there are again those for whom the final word has been spoken and it is up to them to apply it. The Pontiff clearly desires such people to repent and to accept that God is suddenly breaking in, upsetting all the rules, and offering new possibilities.
Just as AD 33 was the moment when true obedience required men to realise that the old rules given through Moses no longer applied, so 2017 is the moment when true obedience requires men to realise that the old rules given by Jesus through His Apostles no longer apply.
God did it once ... the Old Testament was replaced by the New; an Old Age was replaced by a New. Why should God not be capable of doing the very same thing again? And so, indeed, the Roman Pontiff goes on to proclaim just such a radically new dispensation: God once more comes to meet us, to create and cosolidate a new age, the age of mercy ... this is God's surprise for his faithful people.
The problem here is that we are being presented with a narrative that is difficult to reconcile with the narrative and with the narrative structures which have hitherto been deemed to be part of the fundamental grammar of Christian self-understanding. Vatican II (Dei Verbum para 4) interestingly and intelligently described this as the Oeconomia Christiana. It went on to explain, fairly briefly because it was then accepted as a common-place which hardly needed in polite theological company to be lengthily argued, that foedus novum et definitivum numquam praeteribit, et nulla nova revelatio publica expectanda est ante gloriosam manifestationem Domini nostri Iesu Christi [the new and definitive covenant will never pass away, and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ].
[It may occur to you to suspect that it is because Bergoglio has no intention of himself being restricted by the teaching of Vatican II that he has no anxieties about the luke-warm attitude towards that Council among the SSPX.]
True, Bergoglio has not explicitly proclaimed the replacement of the New Covenant with an Even Newer Covenant, what might be called the Bergoglian Third Covenant. But I cannot convince myself that this is not what his words actually and clearly mean. The tip-over from the Old to the New in the first Christian century is paralleled by the tip-over into a new age, the age of mercy in the pontificate of Bergoglio. In each case, the New sets aside the Old and the test of true obedience is acceptance of this displacement; acceptance of the 'New' and of the 'Divine Surprise'. If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, Bergoglio assures us, then we are not Christians.
I shall return to finish this series after a couple of days in which I indulgently invite you to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of my Deaconing. Meanwhile, I will enable no comments.
20 May 2017
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The problem with the papacy is that popes have now gone to part-time working. F1's predecessor was no less culpable in that regard - since when has a pope felt the need to write three books whilst in office?
Where does that leave us going forward? I have no idea but fear we are now at the mercy of secular developments (be they of the bang or whimper variety) to regain any sense of purpose or even coherence as a body of believers.
And may the next 50 years be even more fruitful.
Sounds like heresy to me.
Pope Gregory the Great wrote multiple books in office, while running everything in Rome and all his monastery' s monks. So did a lot of other popes who were busy men. Some people are even more prolific writers when they are busiest with other things.
Naturally this causes those of us who are not prolific to be prolific of envy....
Hello Sadie V. -
Isn't teaching the faith required of priests, and doesn't the pope set the example for the priests ? Furthermore, haven't millions of copies of the trilogy been sold - that's quite a display of evangelization and catechesis.
A Pope's writing is his teaching. It's not as if he were trying to write best selling novel.
Francis' new age is the age of approval of mortal sin under the guise of mercy, dispensing with the required repentance.
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