Thursday, August 1, 2013

Peter Berger on Pope Francis at The American Interest.

Someone named Peter Berger shared his opinions on Pope Francis. I'm not sure if this is the Austrian sociologist, but, given that The American Interest, to judge by its name, appears to be a magazine of the neo-conservative variety, I suppose it probably isn't. Although, there is a certain predilection to sociological modes of thinking on display in the article.

I suppose Berger thought he was being pretty clever with this line:
I will try not to annoy Catholic readers of my blog by commenting on the thunderous improbability that Jesus ever spoke these words, intended to establish a “church”, and put the later bishop of Rome in charge.
Let's see if we can untangle that rats' nest of a sentence.
  1. The cuteness of the praeteritio‎. It's generally better to leave to praeteritio‎ things that are more or less obvious but for reasons of social niceties one pretends not to mention. It doesn't really work with things that are definitely in question.
  2. Why is it thunderously improbable that Jesus spoke those words? Without any evidence to the contrary, it would seem more probable that words ascribed to Jesus by ancient sources were spoken by him, than not. It appears Berger doesn't agree with the words – that, however, does not make them less probable.
  3. Why is the word church in quotation marks? I suppose this is intended to indicate that the idea of what constitutes a church is questionable, or ill-defined, perhaps. What is a "church," anyway? Well, it seems clear that Jesus did, in fact, establish a church, as evidenced by the New Testament epistles addressed to various churches (or "churches").
  4. "and put the later bishop of Rome in charge" – I don't believe that it is accepted Catholic doctrine that Jesus personally put in charge this or that bishop. But if Berger believes that Jesus didn't want anyone, at all, in charge of anything, then he would need to provide some evidence for that supposition before I would be interested in accepting it.
The rest of the article suggests that because PP. Francis granted indulgences for Twitter followers, then he is therefore a postmodernist. But didn't St. Gertrude the Great compose the prayer:
Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen. (my emphasis)
So it would seem that it is not postmodernist, nor even modernist, to say that we might be united to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. PP. Francis is not saying that we are united through virtual reality, rather than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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