Monday, November 2, 2015

Francis and Caring

Francis and Caring
P. Schultz

A bit of an email exchange:

On Oct 30, 2015, at 3:04 PM,
"Third, while highly intellectual in his own distinctive way, Francis is clearly a less systematic thinker than either of his predecessors, and especially than the academic-minded Benedict.  Whereas the previous pope defended popular piety against liberal critiques, Francis embodies a certain style of populist Catholicism—one that’s suspicious of overly academic faith in any form.  He seems to have an affinity for the kind of Catholic culture in which Mass attendance might be spotty but the local saint’s processions are packed—a style of faith that’s fervent and supernaturalist but not particularly doctrinal.  He also remains a Jesuit-formed leader, and Jesuits have traditionally combined missionary zeal with a certain conscious flexibility about doctrinal details that might impede their proselytizing work.  This has often made them controversial among other missionary orders, as in the famous debate over the efforts of Matteo Ricci.  A Jesuit in China during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Ricci was attacked for incorporating Chinese concepts into his preaching and permitting converts to continue to venerate their ancestors.  That Ricci is currently on the path to canonization, and his critics are mostly forgotten, says something important about the value of Jesuit envelope-pushing within the Church.  But it also says something important that Catholicism has never before had a Jesuit pope" (

And now we know that what distinguishes Francis is caring. Ricci cared and Francis cares for human beings as human beings, not as “recruits” to the “one, true faith.” Seems to confirm how radical the phenomenon of caring actually is, especially in the modern world. But I would point out, it was radical in Aristotle’s world, the Athenian world, as well, where Pericles was most highly honored, to say nothing of Plato/Socrates’ radicalism, as illustrated by Socrates’ execution. 

Hence, by ridding ourselves of bureaucracy, for example, we don’t guarantee that people will care. This is something I think Hummel misses and makes his thought somewhat melodramatic. Which is not to say, of course, that his thought isn’t worth paying a lot of attention to. Without the melodrama, fed by the notion that our situation is “either/or”, as it were, one need not simply turn away from the world or seek a monastic like life, although at times perhaps this turning away is the best we can do. 

Speculations in the am. 

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