This Pope is No Historian

Nope.  Not even close to being one.  So I agree-

Now Francis, we know, is not the professorial pope that Benedict has been. Neither is he an historian by training or even by avocation; his focus in school as a young man was chemistry, and later as a Jesuit teacher he focused on literature and psychology. He has had a busy administrative, pastoral, and politically freighted clerical career since that time. So, in fairness, we cannot expect him to speak with exceptional precision on historical themes, even where these touch on present-day ecclesial matters.

But it is not with mere imprecision that Pope Francis delves into the past. He seems to advance headlong, perhaps echoing an opinion or idea he has picked up here or there, in order to praise and blame—to glorify some (Luther the reformer, Ricci the inculturator), and to criticize or repudiate others (Roman centralists, those looking at other religions and faiths as “other”) as less mindful of the Holy Spirit than they ought to have been.

This mode of engaging with the Church’s past does not well serve the Church of the present day, mired as she is in a mass culture domineered by soundbites, 140-character tweets, the shoutings of protesters and populist political rallies, “fake news,” and perhaps most insidious of all, glibness in general. The pope, and all of us who look to the Church’s long experience for insight on how to go forward with present-day challenges, can do better.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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