By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The False Fear of Ross Douthat on Pope Francis' Outreach to All

At this NY Times link, you can find columnist Ross Douthat describing the fear that Pope Francis' outreach to secular culture will "fail." He also says that you will be able to judge the Pope's outreach to the unchurched by its "fruits."

There are two blatant fallacies in his column:

1. For the Christian, there is no choice but to reach out to everyone. The choice between a small, selective in-crowd of the pious and the great unwashed masses is not a Gospel choice. A Christian reaches out to everyone. Period. Any choice for a pure minority is a replay of the old, discarded option of Donatism. Read Augustine again.

2. How does Douthat define "fruits" of any papal outreach? He seems to define "fruits" as statistical measures of seminarians, church attendance, etc. By that statistical approach, then the scandal-ridden Legionnaries of Christ was a great success. I beg to differ. By "fruits,"or to be more exact, good fruits, the New Testament means the fruits of the Holy Spirit: patience, kindness, goodness, humility, among others. By that authentically biblical standard, the Pope's outreach has already been validated.

Christianity defines success and failure very differently from what statistics can measure.

And, by the way, on a more purely personal note, the keenest observer of the Vatican is John Thavis.

(Image of Augustine in public domain)