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.