Louie Verrecchio
Not "conservative" just mistaken
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By Louie Verrecchio
October 21, 2013

According to a recent article penned for Catholic Online, Deal Hudson no longer wants to be called "a conservative Catholic."

The reason? Media outlets are reporting, fairly or not, that "conservatives" are struggling with Pope Francis' style, some even going so far as to allege that he has, at times, inaccurately portrayed the faith of the Church, and Hudson wants no part of it.

I can sympathize. Labels are of but limited usefulness.

For my part, while I'm not opposed to being considered a "traditionalist," or even a "radical traditionalist" inasmuch as radical simply means "at the root," the reality is, traditionalists are simply Catholic.

Catholics by definition embrace the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles, transmitted over the course of the centuries "in its entirety and preciseness ... pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion," to quote the instructions given to the Council Fathers of Vatican II by Pope John XXIII.

This means that every authentic Catholic is a traditionalist; to cease to be so necessarily renders one's Faith deficient.

All of that said, I feel compelled to challenge Dr. Hudson's suggestion that every one of Pope Francis' statements, including those considered most "controversial," are entirely defensible.

"I'm prepared to explain all of them," he states.

As an example, he points to that portion of the Scalfari interview wherein Pope Francis said:

"Each one of us has his own vision of the Good and also of Evil. We have to urge it [the vision] to move towards what one perceives as the Good."

According to Hudson, "St. Thomas Aquinas said precisely the same thing. The will is naturally led by the vision of the Good – meaning what appears desirable – towards mental and physical action. That vision of the Good may be wrong, or incomplete, as Pope Francis knows, but that is how the human person operates."

Notice that Hudson takes great liberty "filling in the blanks" in the Holy Father's deficient treatment, with the sole justification for taking it upon himself to do so being summed up in the presumption, "as Pope Francis knows."

Whether or not the pope knows that mankind, unaided by the dictates of the eternal law, often chooses "apparent goods" that are objectively evil is irrelevant; the obvious point is that he didn't communicate as much.

Neither the pope, nor Hudson for that matter, bothered to mention the most crucial truth of all; namely, that the eternal law is made known by way of Divine revelation, taught without error by the Holy Catholic Church.

In spite of a valiant effort, Hudson doesn't manage to even come close to "explaining" what the Pope had said, he simply explained it away, gratuitously putting words in the Holy Father's mouth, as if doing so justifies the irrational notion that people like, who are deeply troubled by the glaring lacunae in the pope's public statements, are somehow the problem.

Even if Hudson's defense is taken as sufficient, the inconvenient conclusion that remains as the best case scenario is that the pope, in an interview with an atheist that has since been disseminated worldwide, on a matter directly related to faith and morals, offered a reflection that only a Catholic philosophy professor can understand within the confines of right doctrine.

Has it not occurred to Hudson, and the pope for that matter, that his audience is the entire human family, wherein the overwhelming majority of people either reject, or don't know, the one true faith established by Jesus Christ?

The suggestion that this pope is entirely blameless for the firestorms he has repeatedly created, both within the Church and without, since the very inception of his papacy is becoming more and more laughable with every passing day.

There's a reason Our Blessed Lord commissioned His Church, the same over which Pope Francis reigns, to "teach everything whatsoever" that He commanded; half-truths and truncated representations of the Faith endanger the very souls that Our Savior died to save.

Surely it isn't too much to ask for a pope who is willing to communicate the content of the Faith after the instructions given to the Council by John XXIII, the neo-con hero slated for canonization next April.

Beyond the sheer weakness of his argument, Hudson also fails to address the context in which the pope was speaking, which is crucial for understanding the full impact of this so-called "new genre of papal speech."

Scalfari, the interviewer, elicited the pope's response by asking, "Your Holiness, is there only one vision of the Good? And who determines what it is?"

If the Church were healthy, a twelve year old kid preparing for Confirmation could answer that question; of course there is only one vision of the Good, God Himself, and He makes Himself known through the Church that He established for our salvation.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, chose to answer as we have seen, but he didn't stop there; rather, he continued:

"And now I repeat it. Everyone has his own idea of Good and Evil and he has to choose to follow the Good and to fight Evil as he understands it. This would be enough to improve the world."

Even if we put Angelina Jolie's entire lipstick collection on this pig, it's still not a Catholic thought.

I'm confident in saying that Deal Hudson and the vast majority of those of like mind, just eight short months ago, would have joined me in condemning the false notion that people do well to follow the Good as they understand it had such a suggestion came from, let's say, an RCIA director or a Catholic theology professor.

Today, however, it's just papal business as usual. Seriously, think about just how far the bar has been lowered since the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio.

In any case, Hudson concluded, "By pointing out that all persons seek the Good as they see it, he is providing all Catholics with the secret of effective evangelism: Start with how people 'see things' and work on converting that, and you will reveal the wisdom and beauty of the Church."

The only secret revealed in this truly terrible situation is that "evangelism" as conceived of by Pope Francis and those who applaud his every misstep (otherwise known as the "New Evangelization") has nothing whatsoever to do with converting anything or anyone.

Sure, the idea of "working on converting" has a nice Apostolic ring to it, but here we are some half-a-century after the Church decided to sidled up to the world and it still isn't clear exactly when the "new evangelizers" actually plan on getting around to doing it.

If one takes Pope Francis at his word, all indications are it isn't going to happen on his watch.

"Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.'"

Well that certainly explains why he believes "Proselytism is downright nonsense." You see, as far as this pope is concerned, Jesus will just magically convert people if we but take a little time "to listen to needs, aspirations, disappointments, desperation and hopes" as they are conceived among those outside the Church.

NEWSFLASH: This entirely novel approach to evangelism isn't working!

For five decades now, the leaders of the Church have clung to the fantasy that the allure of the truth alone, apart from the condemnation of error and without any explicit call to conversion, is enough to accomplish the Church's mission; never mind that this amounts to an utter rejection of the mission as Jesus gave it.

In any case, given that Deal Hudson's attempt to "explain" Pope Francis' words amount to nothing more than circling back to supply insights that the pope never even suggested, his efforts ultimately served to prove the indefensibility of what he actually said.

© Louie Verrecchio

 

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Louie Verrecchio

Louie Verrecchio is the author of several titles including the "Traditio Faith Formation Series" and "Was john Courtney Murray Right?" A columnist for Catholic News Agency from 2009–2013, his writing on a wide variety of Catholic topics has been published by media outlets all over the English speaking world. He has been the featured speaker at traditional Catholic conferences throughout the United States hosted by the Society of St. Pius X, the Fatima Center, Catholic Family News and others. He is one of traditional Catholicism's most widely-read bloggers. For more information, please visit: www.akaCatholic.com

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