Tuesday, September 24, 2013

subversive to all "respectable" religious order...,

WaPo | Francis is taking a different direction. Rather than surrendering the moral distinctiveness of the Catholic Church, he is prioritizing its mission. In the America interview, he vividly compared the church to “a field hospital after battle.” When someone injured arrives, you don’t treat his high cholesterol. “You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.” The outreach of the church, in other words, does not start with ethical or political lectures. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” 

There is a good Catholic theological term for this: the “hierarchy of truths.” Not every true thing has equal weight or urgency. 

But this does not adequately capture Francis’s deeper insight: the priority of the person. This personalism is among the most radical implications of Christian faith. In every way that matters to God, human beings are completely equal and completely loved. They can’t be reduced to ethical object lessons. Their dignity runs deeper than their failures. They matter more than any cause; they are the cause.

So Francis observed: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.” 

This teaching — to always consider the person — was disorienting from the beginning. The outsiders get invited to the party. The prodigal is given the place of honor. The pious complain about their shocking treatment. The gatekeepers find the gate shut to them. It is subversive to all respectable religious order, which is precisely the point. With Francis, the argument gains a new hearing.


Tom said...

Maybe I understand. There's a strong feeling out there that people now transcend human limitations, since we now have "science" ... or something. The "rapture of the nerds" is only one of the more obviously crazy manifestations.

I'm a scientist myself, but the idea that science answers religious questions is plain crazy. People who believe that should spend a month trying to do calorimetry, then say again how science has proved, disproved, and/or clarified anything at all about the Infinite.