Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Something else the Pope said

As always, I suspect that the pull quotes we're getting from Pope Francis's exhortation Evangelii Gaudium aren't telling us the whole story. Things are more complicated than that. For example, consider this:

63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.
From what I can tell, this Pope is in the business of calling out all manner of bad behavior, and not just the excesses of capitalism. Spirituality without God is a growth industry these days. And a bureaucratic, officious Church that is overly concerned with administrative matters isn't up to the task of dealing with answering spirituality on the cheap. I'm going to read the entire exhortation over the next few days. You can, too.

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