9 March 2019

God's [Permissive] Will

How clever of the Kazakhstan Episcopal Conference to use their ad limina to secure clarity from PF with regard to certain dubia which were troubling their minds. Especially about his recent statement that Religious Diversity is God's Will.

And what a relief it is that PF has given his explanation. Now we all understand. The existence of religious diversity may not be positively willed by God, but, since he permits it to happen, it is part of his permissive will.

What could be clearer? Thank God for PF.

And this supramagisterial clarification provides valuable ways forward by which the Vatican can improve its relationship with other groups on the periphery, with as much success as it has done with Islam.

I have long been very worried about the rather Rigid approach which old-fashioned people take towards the long-suffering National Socialist Community. The Shoah has often been treated as a great crime, a massive and bloodthirsty historical injustice. I may myself have unguardedly appeared to use such language without employing the more generous formulation exemplified by PF. Now, thanks to PF, I know better. Thanks to the inspired clarity and Mercy with which PF speaks, we are now encouraged to say that "The Holocaust was God's Will". If unsophisticated Rigidists are horrified by such a form of words, we jump in with the reserve explanation "Ah: I meant God's permissive will ... since he did not prevent it from occurring, we can say that it is his will without implying that in a positive sense he wanted it to happen. But you can't deny that he permitted it".

Similarly, with regard to the immense pain being even at this moment inflicted upon the Paedophile Priest Community. Although PF has Mercifully toned down the Rigid policy which his Rigid predecessor had put in place, it remains true that many Rigid and intolerant things are still being said and done, both with regard to such clergy themselves, and also those admirably Merciful Bishops and Cardinals who prevent nasty people like Police and Canonical Prosecutors (who have imperfect understandings of the Will of God) from getting involved. After all, paedophile clergy are (have I got this right?) nothing less than an inspired and exemplary Avant Garde, who are only doing their simple best to inculturate our Faith more thoroughly within highly sexualised post-modern Society. Hard work, heavy lifting, but somebody has to do it!

Now, happily, we have PF's own go-ahead for this new and far more Christian approach. Archbishops who are summoned to appear and to give evidence before secular tribunals investigating sexual abuse will in future not need to be mealy-mouthed. They can stand there in the witness Box, clutching their pectoral Crosses*, and with bold Parrhesia  proclaim: "The Clerical Abuse of Children is the Will of God".

People Traffickers too ... Drug Smugglers ...  Indian Fast Bowlers ... all of them purposive enactors of the (permissive, of course) will of God.

And PF's own example gives another valuable pointer and precedent: we need not actually mention this "permissive" stuff unless some Rigidists from Kazhakstan start bending our arms. It's a crafty caveat we keep up our sleeves. Normally, a simple statement (e.g. "Female Genital Mutilation is God's Will") is an adequate formula. Because that's how PF did it, God bless him. He knows better than to complicate matters beyond the understanding of simple folk. What a marvellous charism it is to smell so sweetly of the sheep!

And PF's approach will enable us to engage more sensitively and immediately with whatever concerns modern Society has. Over here, for example, we are currently very concerned about Knife Crime. It is apparently even worse in our big cities than it is (for example) in that notable abode of the Will of God, New York. All the Church needs to do, PF makes clear, is to get folk to understand that this epidemic is God's Will.

What a breath of Fresh Air PF is. This is the true Aggiornamento which S John XXIII expected of the Council. Throw the windows even wider open!!

*A neat phrase I have borrowed verbatim from Bishop Lopes. I mention this in case it occurs to some trouble-maker to suggest that by the Will of God I am part of the Plagiarist Community.

Footnote: I have in the past been advised to remember that "Americans don't understand Irony". This blogpost is, er, ironical. Every word of it, pretty well, except this footnote.


Michael Leahy said...

Father, you have truly excelled yourself today. Hilarious and devastating.

GOR said...

Wonderfully ironic, Father! I particularly liked the inclusion of “Indian fast bowlers…”

I fear that reference may be lost on many this side of the pond. Here ‘bowling’ is usually of the ten-pin variety and ‘Indians’ here usually mean ‘Native Americans’. But I can appreciate your efforts to “Instruct the Ignorant” – very evangelical!

Ambrose said...

Of course God positively wills all religions insofar as they acknowledge the divine and are open to, and express, divine truth. How could it be otherwise?
If Christianity should claim to comprehend the fullness of truth it does not thereby despise, nor find without positive worth, those other religions that comprehend divine truth partially.

This is a straightforward, generous understanding of what Francis means, and straightforward, generous people accept it as such.

But here come the nitpickers. Surely Francis is not saying that God wills all religions, for then it would follow that he wills one just as much as another, Islam as much as Christianity, for God can hardly will one thing more than another, he cannot be fully willing Christianity while only half-willing Islam, and so on.

Then Francis tries to assuage the ambushing nitpickers, and they are delighted with his use of “permits.” “So,” they smugly ironize, “God wills other religions and evil because he permits them, heh.” And so on.


God permits, but does not will, evil. God both permits and wills all religious expression that’s seeks to know and love him, no matter how fumbling and imperfect that expression may be.

Leo Flanagan said...

He may permit but does God positively will all religions that deny God's nature in the Trinity, and His revelation, This is my beloved son, listen to him.

Leo Flanagan said...

And can 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' be interpreted as either positive or permissive will?

Mike Lutz said...

I hope Father is willing to include "spitball pitcher" as an American variant of "fast bowler." And, since baseball is played in almost all New World nations, this isn't even improperly appropriating the term to mean the USA!

MH said...

Not all Americans, Father.

Ronald Sevenster said...

Yes, and the difference between the sexes — part of the same orginal Francis statement — is now also not God's positive will anymore. It is his permissive will! What I personally now am certain of is that the pontificate of Francis is an example of God's permissive will. We'll have to endure it.

Voice from the roof top said...

What have Indian Fast Bowlers common with People Traffickers and Drug Smugglers?

John Patrick said...

For the USA, the "Indian fast bowler" equivalent would be a baseball pitcher preferably left handed with a blazing fastball - think Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller, or Chris Sale - feared by his opponents.

Jim Bowman said...

I worked on a newspaper whose primary columnist would now and then bemoan irony-proof readers. He'd won a Pulitzer for all that but could not avoid the complainers who required EVERYTHING TO BE SPELLED OUT, tsk, tsk.

Unknown said...

Perhaps a clarification should be made in the footnote on irony; Liberal Americans do not understand irony and will chastise those who do use it when they catch on that irony has occurred or, rather, been used without their permission.

I myself have been so chastised.

pueblosw@gmail.com said...

Problem is there is not a proper word in the English language to substitute for "permit". Probably something in Latin or Greek but was so long ago, I no longer remember it.