Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is the Pope a Medieval Heretic?

No, not a material heretic. A medieval heretic.

Behind Amoris laetitia and the general Communion-for-public-adulterers movement lies the seemingly modern belief that all of Man's actions revolve around the need for sex and, therefor, the Church's discipline should accommodate this mild short coming. After the sexual revolution and the pill and its other cheaper siblings Mankind will do what it will and the Church must charitably find a way to live with the fact that a complete discipline according to the Gospel is impossible. It's all quite bad and quite morose, but you may not know this idea is quite old, too.

Popular devotion and piety in the middle ages focused on pilgrimages, liturgy, votive Offices, Requiem Masses, reliquaries, and miracles. Formal theology and Church administration, however, took a decidedly different and less sanguine route. A popular opinion eventually arose among some theologians that Man, in his fallen and sinful state, could not truly live the Gospel completely, even if assisted with the help of sanctifying grace after washing in the laver of Baptism. Before Calvin stated Man was so wretched and sinful that he could not be saved unless God especially willed it, Pope Innocent III effectively said the same thing in a tract he wrote as Lothar di Segni. A frustrated Church combating the demands of a virile and warrior-ruled age threw her hands up in despair and some bishops even licensed brothels (!) in hopes the resident women would eventually become Magdalens. The same Pope Innocent who thanked God for allowing him to live in an age when the Church was triumphant seemed perpetually pessimistic toward the same Divine Institution's ability to convert hearts.

Then came Saint Francis, whose jarring poverty and detachment from the world culled anything other than the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. His disinterest in property, his pure focus on salvation, and his naive desire to live the precepts of Christ's Church to their fullest shocked paupers and prelated alike. Innocent permitted Francis to turn his friendships into a temporary brotherhood and by the time Francis died they had become a property-owning, fully-fledged religious order, unlike the small community the deacon from Assisi desired. A true Minorite did not smell like the sheep; he smelled far worse.

Which brings us to our age, when the Churchmen have revived this downtrodden medieval disposition and attempted to smell like the stench of modern sexuality. Is not Francis the cure to Francis?

1 comment: