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Disaffected Catholics of the “conservative” tribe typically criticize the current pontificate on four fronts: for diminishing Catholic thought with an anti-intellectual bias; for undermining a healthy Christian anthropology; for feeding disunity and confusion; and for downplaying the singular nature of the Christian revelation. It also—so they argue—has played loose with the notion of truth, thereby conflating mercy with indulgence, treating mercy as a kind of new, trademarked product of this papacy, and detaching mercy from justice, a virtue tied inextricably to truth.
Claims - Frustration - Anger - Critics - Cranks
These strong claims are too often voiced in frustration or anger, and thus easily dismissed. But writing such critics off as reactionary cranks, the go-to tactic of many of Pope Francis’s defenders, is not just derisive and condescending. It also doesn’t work. Contempt for people who offer their questions and criticisms out of principle, even if they’re mistaken or needlessly harsh, has the opposite of the desired effect. It stiffens resistance and proves the need for more of it. Name-calling is a bad way of winning over the alienated.
In that light, Austen Ivereigh’s latest book, Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church, could have been a friendly, candid midstream assessment of the Francis pontificate, the kind that might reassure critics (or at least win a truce) with conciliatory honesty. Ivereigh clearly has the intelligence and skill to produce such a text. But that’s not the book he wrote.
Hubris - Rupture - Title—the - Author - Persons
Along with the hubris and “hermeneutic of rupture” hardwired into the title—the author seems unaware that many of the persons raising questions about the current pontificate want to love Francis, want to believe in the pope’s leadership, and already live their faith sacrificially—Wounded Shepherd is 416 pages of sometimes interesting, sometimes tedious personal background on Francis and internal Church politics, undone by...
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