Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

A Discussion on Faith and Culture

Leon J. Podles  :: DIALOGUE header image 2

Conversion and Repentance

September 24th, 2013 · 8 Comments

I have never been in pastoral work and have only visited South America. But in researching the role of men in the churches in Latin America, I have noticed the consensus among anthropologists that Evangelicals have more success is reach men, especially young men involved in drugs and gangs, than Catholics do.

Evangelicals do this by a simultaneous proclamation of repentance and conversion to Jesus. Francis seems to be envisioning first conversion, and then, sometime later, repentance.

Rod Dreher has had discussions on Pope Francis’ interview, and one South American does not like the interview.

Mr. Dreher, I’m Latin American (Brazilian) and, let me tell you, this explanation is bunk.

The “very juridical and hierarchical and morality-focused Catholic Church of Latin America” has not existed for fifty years. It was replaced by exactly the Church that Pope Francis seems to want. The results have not been impressive, to say the least. There’s no reason to think that more of the same will give different results.

The section that describes the new Evangelical Protestants as not putting the culture war agenda in the foreground is, again, precisely backwards. They do precisely that which Mr Chapp says they don’t. They are very, very morally strict, which is why they grow so fast in the poorest areas: they give order to the disordered lives of the very poor, who come from generations of poverty and broken homes and have never known anything better. They take a huge portion of the poor’s meagre income in tithes and “gifts”… and even then the poor are better off in these churches, because the order the church gives, much like a military boot camp, helps them to plan for the future, educate themselves, not fall into drugs, not have multiple children out of wedlock, etc.

And this is not just inwards. The politicians elected by the Evangelicals are at the forefront of the resistance to homosexual “marriage”, to abortion, and most of the left’s culture war agenda. In my own country, abortion would have been legalized a few years ago if not for the resistance organized by the Evangelical politician-preachers across almost all parties – a fight in which, by the way, the Catholic hierarchy was entirely silent. If the Church retreats from these issues, the pull of the Evangelical Protestant churches will only INCREASE throughout Latin America.

To sum up, as we say here, when “the Church chose the poor, the poor chose the Protestants”.

This is also what neutral anthropologists have found.

Francis, like many of us as we grow older, may be fighting the battles of his youth, although history has moved on. The dead textbook Thomism he laments disappeared over a generation ago. Traditionalist restorationism is a tiny, tiny fringe movement in the Church. Strict moralism has disappeared, and laxity reigns.

It is true that a few bishops seem to delight in enforcing petty rules (even as they have let sexual abusers continue in ministry). Cardinal Müller, when he was bishop of Regensburg, severely disciplined priests for participating in an ecumenical wedding and for receiving communion at a Lutheran service. But Müller assigned a convicted abuse to a parish, where the priest molested numerous children. When parents complained, Muller threatened to sue them for criticizing him. In Baltimroe a priest was removed for letting an Episcopal priest, a woman, read the Epistle at a funeral mass for a relative of hers. But I was at a funeral of a friend of mine at the Cathedral in which all, even the unbaptized, were urged to receive communion. Bishops seem to be very arbitrary in their exercise of discipline, and strain out the smallest flies while swallowing obese camels.

Tags: Catholic Church · Pope Francis · Protestantism · clergy sex abuse scandal

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cm // Sep 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

    The pope, I am guessing, was addressing the Timothy Dolanites that have taken over the governance of any number of university faculties and particularly seminaries worldwide. Their brand of evangelical zeal is Jansenistic, and pervasive. The dead Thomism you refer to is very much alive and well and the basis of the new philosophy and theology lectures being forced in seminaries worldwide. The new sacramentary langauge is dripping with Post-Reformation theology coming from those quarters for those who have ears to hear. I do hope he pulls back from extemporaneous interviews as his broad comments sometimes can be taken in the wrong way. Most folks are just not aware of the take-over of this Post-Reformation restorationist philosophy and theology because it is largely hidden and inaccessible by the laity. It is a very real and present danger because the men being educated in it today will be in power soon enough, and if he doesn’t correct it now we will simply have a new pendulum swing. And George Weigel will make more money off his next book predicting it.

  • 2 Mary Ann // Sep 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

    The Brazilian combox writer was dead-on. Which leaves us to wonder WHY the Church appears to prefer that the poor be poor and dysfunctionally immoral. Makes the hierarchy feel good to be shepherding all the little people, does it?

  • 3 Mary // Sep 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Can we please get real about S America and eveangelization there.Life with the priests in the favelas is not quite what Catholics envision as eveangelization and Borgoglio is well aware of this.
    Search for and read Borgoglio’s testimonies in the Argentine courts concerning the Church’s knowledge on the thousands of missing tortured drugged and dropped naked in the Atlantic Ocean during the Dirty War. Borgoglio was accused by two Jesuits. One died and the other “forgave” him. The Vatican needed a Pope that could hold up to the UN’s Rights of the Child nvestigation that it signed onto thirteen years ago and Borgoglio is experienced.
    Remember the accused pederast “fr’ Urrutigoity from Scranton went to Paraguay and is now in charge of an orphanage there under an OD Bishop?
    There is much more that needs to be investigated.

    Francis… where is Archbishop Józef Wesolowski?

  • 4 TheAltonRoute // Sep 25, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Isn’t poverty of every kind what liberation theology exalts? Not surprising that the Jesuits were at the forefront of pushing liberation theology. Consider the role they played in fomenting the Cristero War. Their goal is to keep the poor simple (i.e., stupid), so that the poor are content to live in shacks. One of the biggest enemies of the Church is the Society of Jesus.

  • 5 caroline // Sep 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    There seems to be some mysterious connection between keeping one’s pants on and getting out of poverty which eludes Catholics but does not escape Protestants. What we Catholics need to do is not to zip it on our sexual ethics but to preach and to live their connection to mastering poverty. Sexual morality and social justice are on the same team even if we have to learn it from the Protestants.

  • 6 Joseph D'Hippolito // Sep 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Which leaves us to wonder WHY the Church appears to prefer that the poor be poor and dysfunctionally immoral. Makes the hierarchy feel good to be shepherding all the little people, does it?

    Mary Ann, you are spot on! I’ve been saying and thinking that for years.

    If you want an answer, it’s this: The Catholic Church long ago abandoned repentance as part of the Gospel. Just look at how the hierarchy behaved in the midst of clerical sex-abuse.

  • 7 Mary // Sep 27, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I spoke with a friend last week on the phone who gratiously offered to send me six tapes she had made recording what her Pediatrician told her he had heard at Physician’s dinner and seminar in 1969. In the eighties she convinced him to go on record. They are of particular interest to us today and I urge you to find all six in detail on youtube.
    Dr Dunnigan commented that after what he heard he realized he better study the last book of the Bible better.
    Here is an abbreviated version.If you listen to all six more is to be discovered and understood.

  • 8 admin // Oct 18, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Money is a great corrupter, and not only in the Church, although there greed is especially disgraceful.

    The plots of Tony Hillerman’s novels usually center around the ruinous effects of the love of wealth.

    Franz Stangl, the commander of Treblinka who supervised the murder of a million people, claimed that the primary motive for the extermination program was to get hold of cash to finance the German war machine. Treblinka had rooms full of money confiscated from the victims, and the amount stolen allowed the Nazis to maintain the German civilian standard of living while also running a war.

Leave a Comment