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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Ivory Tower

The Ivory Tower
The Ivory Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is a link to criticism of Pope Francis by a well-known conservative moral theologian. With all due and great respect to Mr. Grisez, I fail to see his point.

The Pope does not communicate in an interview like someone reading a dense academic treatise. In my view, that is a long overdue improvement in papal communications.

As to the substance of the criticism, as I understand him, Grisez is saying that the Pope's comments are confusing and misleading, especially to those who do not share traditional Christian moral views and instead embrace moral relativism.

Grisez seems to take exception to this particular part of what the Pope said in his recent interview with la Repubblica: "the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."

If you read for yourself the Pope's interview (see link at an earlier blog post), you will see that Francis is stating a truism: if we do not preach personal transformation through Jesus, specific Christian moral teachings become matters of widespread indifference to many, many people, including Catholics. That is the collapse, the social amnesia, to which Francis is referring.

That amnesia has already taken place in the U.S. and in many other countries that are historically Christian. The moral black-out has been going on for forty or more years at an accelerated pace, although the roots of the collapse can be found in earlier decades (see Ivory Tower link). Do I need to repeat the particulars of this collapse? Just ask yourself this simple sociological question: what does a white wedding dress mean today in the United States, even among Catholics?

Individuals like Grisez need to stop imposing their own personal styles on others, including the Pope. The style of the academic treatise has miserably failed to stem morally chaotic trends with high personal costs in historically Christian nations. That academic style may give comfort and pleasure to the already committed and to those of us who have an academic and intellectual mindset, but the academic style has in fact been ineffective for the masses of secular and even Christian and Catholic individuals. 

Conversion must precede a list of ethical rules. In addition, most people don't speak "academese"--and even those who do, ignore "academese" when it comes to the emotional turmoil of living and surviving in their day-to-day circumstances.
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