Pope Francis running Jesuit principles into the ground

Using them for his purposes.

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, emphasis added throughout:

Pope Francis has also [in addition to governing with “gestures, slogans, and sentiments”] revised the Catechism in a way that suggests a fundamental change in the Church’s teaching. This was done in a peremptory fashion without discussion or explanation.

It is as if Francis had meditated on St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, which guides one toward galvanizing discernments that come with commanding immediacy, rather than consulting moral theologians. This can’t help but create the impression that everything is up for grabs. Who knows what will come next?

He looks directly to the Spirit.

“Time is greater than space.” Pope Francis put this forward as one of his guiding principles. It means that movements of the spirit matter more than official liturgies, authorized doctrines, and established structures. This principle is anti-institutional. It is a characteristic sentiment of ­Jesuits formed by the Spiritual Exercises who are old enough to take the Church’s institutions for granted.

A big statement that, but the author has seen Jesuits in action.

I taught for a number of years at a Jesuit University. [Twenty years at Creighton U.] I’m familiar with a pastoral approach that treats disruption and rule-breaking as a spiritual tonic. Many Jesuits I knew were “liberal” in style and rhetoric. But I came to see that this was not always out of conviction. It was a tactic, a posture meant to enhance their evangelical effectiveness. Breaking rules and adopting heterodox views puts people at ease, they thought. It opens up space for the Holy Spirit, getting people onto the “ladder of love” that brings them into the Church.

Crazy?

This is not a crazy approach. In some circumstances, it works. As St. Paul said, “I have become all things to all people,” suggesting a mobile strategy for the proclamation of Christ crucified. This Jesuit adoption of multiple, even contradictory ecclesial masks helps us understand why Pope Francis can tack so quickly from “liberal” to “conservative” positions, suggesting a relaxation of the Church’s judgments about sexual morality (“Who am I to judge?”), while at the same time making striking statements about the unfitness of homosexual men for the priesthood.

Plus the Argentinian effect:

This approach coheres, moreover, with the Peronist tradition that seeks to transcend ideology in the service of the people. A true Peronist is left-wing—except when he is right-wing.

But the Church?

This does not work as a general strategy for the Church. The Francis mode of improvisation depends on the underlying stability of the tradition for its effectiveness. If the Church becomes the agent of her own disruption and rule-breaking becomes the rule, then Jesuit freelancing tactics lose their spiritual effectiveness. They become, instead, futile gestures in an atmosphere of disorder and confusion.

Not what Ignatius had in mind.

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