On narratives about popes and allowing oneself to be surprised

Crux | 8/24/2019 | Staff
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ROME - This Wednesday happened to be the feast of St. Pius X, who served as pope from 1903 to 1914 and whose primary claim to fame was unleashing an “anti-modernist” purge in the Catholic Church, the targets of which were a loosely defined network of Biblical scholars, theologians and others trying, in various ways, to reconcile the faith with science and modern thought.

Pius X issued an encyclical in 1907, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, which was more or less the charter document of the campaign, describing “modernism” as “the synthesis of all heresies.” He also imposed an “anti-modernist oath” on all clergy that lasted until 1967.

Google - Search - Keywords - Pope - Francis

Here’s what makes this interesting: If you run a Google search using the keywords “Pope Francis” and “modernism,” you’ll get more than a half-million results, most of them accusing Francis of being a modernist himself.

Yet there he was on Aug. 21, attending a Mass for the feast in a side chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica like an ordinary member of the faithful, sitting unobtrusively in the sixth row. While we have no idea what was in Francis’s mind at that moment, it’s hard not to think he wanted to honor the memory of his predecessor - suggesting, among other things, that perhaps Francis’s view of “modernism” and the Church’s efforts to resist it are a bit more nuanced than is often appreciated.

Francis - Drop-in - Headlines - Part - Course

Francis’s surprise drop-in didn’t make headlines - in part, of course, because it came on the same day an Australian court announced its ruling on Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction on child sex abuse charges, rejecting that appeal in a 2-1 split decision.

In part, however, Francis’s apparent sympathy for the “anti-modernist pope” likely also didn’t have much traction because it confounds the media narrative that’s been created around Francis from the beginning. He’s...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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