One of the intellectual problems that has bothered me about the account of the first fall in Genesis was how two human beings in the state of grace, before the fall and its subsequent disordering of the passion, would ever commit a sin. If it is true that sin darkness the intellect and that Adam, before he sinned, enjoyed a fuller horizon with his intellect than us, why would he commit sin? His passions are not disordered in any way, he is in complete control of his appetites – so what tempted him?
One answer may be confusion. The serpent started placing theories – not from God – in Adam’s mind. Adam got confused, he started seeing something as good which was in fact an evil choice. As much as Adam may have had a superior intellect, it was not angelic, perfect nor divine. He could still get confused.
That is a simple point I want to make. We can all get confused in the search for the good.
This is an extremely useful point nowadays. I have been pondering the recent comments of Pope Francis on civil unions as well as the report released on sexual abuse in the Church.
As for Francis’ comments. I can read several articles on wherepeteris.com for example that go point by point and fact by fact to prove that Francis said nothing wrong or unorthodox. The problem was that it left me feeling dry. I could not refute the simple idea that even if I grant what Francis said was correct, holy and just, why say it in the first place? He knew it would cause scandal, he has the chance now to correct himself – yet he offers no useful comments to clarify. That is what makes the arguments defending Francis so shallow. I have often defended Francis myself on numerous statements, but feel that I need to take a different approach. One can be accepting, accommodating and welcoming to any group of people or cause in this world while at the same time not causing scandal (large and unneeded that is – even Jesus caused scandal) That is what makes defending issues like Francis’ comments so frustrating shallow. As much as you can get the words to sound correct and holy, there was really several dozen better ways to approach the topic and accomplish the same goals. So the question keeps coming back why did he say it and do things the way he did?
This time I am not going to answer the question. Why? Because the intellect is not perfect. It gets confused. I am going to make an act of the will to skip over the issue and focus on something that is going to help me prepare for the advent season. My will can easily present myself with something better to think about.
That is the whole of this article. To balance two opposing threads. The first, reverent obedience and respect to the Pope who I try to follow. The second, a growing concern among many that what is being taught is not the true nor does it lead to holiness.
Now his recent comments were just personal opinion and off the cuff remarks so they are not necessarily teaching, but this can be applied to more formal statements as well.
If the Pope wants us to do something – then do it. If the subject is something clearly true and right then do it right away. If there is some confusion as to if the teaching is in line with the faith then pause and wait for even a while before acting. It is not as if we believe that the Pope is teaching error or that he is a heretic — we simply recognize that there is confusion going on.
Personally, I like to try to practice what the Bishops/Parish Priest say even when not speaking in the most formal or definite teaching capacity. Using he above method I can still do that. Yet, once and a while I just have to stop and wait.
The danger is to offer up a whole bunch of shallow arguments defending what Francis or your local priest says on every occasion out of reverence for the promise of Christ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. The other danger is being to critical and actually attacking Francis – True Vicar of Christ on Earth – simply because your intellect tells you he is wrong.
The potion I propose – is simply to wait. Don’t defend nor attack. Just give it time. Use your will to present your intellect with something better to do than enter into the confusion – for or against – and end up doing something wrong. Rarely in life do we need to make choices within even one month other than to eat and drink. After going back through the history books and the catechism ask again what this or that personal really meant and if what they said carries the same weight as what others in there same position have said previously or currently.
99% of what Francis says in his homilies and writings we can but into practice right away. For the 1% of other stuff, simply recognize the contradiction with his other statements and with previous Popes and then say the thing to do is wait. I am too busy doing the other 99% of stuff to spend much time on the small fraction of craziness. Unless I really know arguing for or against may make me an intellectually confused person.