All Conversations in My Heart
Monday, May 26, 2008
  Cardinal Biffi's book
John XXIII: a good pope, a bad teacher (pp.177-179)

Pope Roncalli died on the solemnity of Pentecost, June 3, 1963. I, too, mourned for him, because I had an unshakeable admiration for him. I was fascinated by his "unorthodox" actions, and rejoiced in his frequently surprising words and his spontaneous interjections.

There were just a few statements of his that I found puzzling. And these were precisely the ones that won over hearts and minds more than any others, because they seemed consistent with people's instinctive aspirations.

There was, for example, his judgment of reproof on the "prophets of doom."

The expression became, and remained, extremely popular, and naturally so: the people do not like party poopers; they prefer those who promise good times over those who advance fears and reservations. And I, too, admired the courage and drive, during the last years of his life, of this "young" successor of Peter.

But I recall that a sense of perplexity seized me almost immediately. In the history of Revelation, the true prophets were the ones who usually announced chastisements and calamities, as in Isaiah (chapter 24), Jeremiah (chapter 4), and Ezekiel (chapters 4-11).

Jesus himself, in chapter 24 of the Gospel of Matthew, would have to be counted among the "prophets of doom": his proclamation of future triumphs and impending joys do not usually relate to existence here on earth, but rather to "eternal life" and the "Kingdom of Heaven." But the people in the Bible who usually proclaim the imminence of tranquil and serene times are, instead, the false prophets (see chapter 13 of the Book of Ezekiel).

The statement from John XXIII is explained by his state of mind at the time, but it should not be made absolute. On the contrary, it would be well to listen also to those who have some reason to alert their brothers, preparing them for possible trials, and those who believe it

is opportune to issue calls for prudence and vigilance.

"We must look more at what unites us than at what divides." This statement, too - which today is often repeated and greatly appreciated, almost as the golden rule of "dialogue" - comes to us from the era of John XXIII, and communicates to us its atmosphere. This is a practical principle of evident good sense, which should be kept in mind in situations of simple coexistence and for decisions on minor everyday matters.

But it becomes absurd and disastrous in its consequences if it is applied in the great issues of life, and especially in religious matters.

It is fitting, for example, that this aphorism should be used to preserve cordial relations in a shared dwelling, or rapid efficiency in a government office. But woe to us if we let this inspire us in our evangelical testimony before the world, in our ecumenical efforts, in discussions with non-believers. In virtue of this principle, Christ could become the first and most illustrious victim of dialogue with the non-Christian religions. The Lord Jesus said of himself, in one of his remarks that we are inclined to censure: "I have come to bring division" (Luke 12:51).

In the questions that count, the rule can be none other than this: we must look above all at what is decisive, essential, true, whether it divides us or not.

"Distinction must be made between error and the person in error." This is another maxim that belongs to the moral legacy of John XXIII, and this, too, influenced Catholicism after him.

This principle is absolutely correct, and it draws its power from the Gospel message itself: error can only be deprecated, hated, combated by the disciples of him who is the Truth; while the errant person - in his inalienable humanity - is always a living image, however rudimentary, of the incarnate Son of God; and thus he must be respected, loved, and assisted as much as possible. But reflecting on this statement, I cannot forget that the historical wisdom of the Church has never reduced the condemnation of error to a pure and ineffectual abstraction.

The Christian people must be put on guard and defended against those who actually sow error, without ceasing to seek out his true well-being, and without judging anyone's subjective responsibility, which is known to God alone.

Jesus gave precise instructions to the heads of the Church in this regard: he who causes scandal through his behavior and doctrine, and will not be persuaded by personal admonition or the more solemn rebuke of the Church, "let him be to you as a pagan and a publican (cf. Matthew 18:17); thus foreseeing and prescribing the penalty of excommunication.

 




<< Home
Memories of the habits and the teachings of the Catholic Church

Archives
11 June 2006 / 18 June 2006 / 25 June 2006 / 02 July 2006 / 09 July 2006 / 16 July 2006 / 17 December 2006 / 31 December 2006 / 07 January 2007 / 14 January 2007 / 21 January 2007 / 04 February 2007 / 18 February 2007 / 04 March 2007 / 18 March 2007 / 25 March 2007 / 01 April 2007 / 08 April 2007 / 15 April 2007 / 22 April 2007 / 29 April 2007 / 13 May 2007 / 03 June 2007 / 08 July 2007 / 29 July 2007 / 05 August 2007 / 12 August 2007 / 19 August 2007 / 26 August 2007 / 16 September 2007 / 07 October 2007 / 13 January 2008 / 27 January 2008 / 03 February 2008 / 10 February 2008 / 24 February 2008 / 02 March 2008 / 09 March 2008 / 16 March 2008 / 23 March 2008 / 30 March 2008 / 06 April 2008 / 13 April 2008 / 27 April 2008 / 04 May 2008 / 11 May 2008 / 18 May 2008 / 25 May 2008 / 01 June 2008 / 08 June 2008 / 15 June 2008 / 29 June 2008 / 06 July 2008 / 13 July 2008 / 27 July 2008 / 03 August 2008 / 10 August 2008 / 17 August 2008 / 24 August 2008 / 31 August 2008 / 07 September 2008 / 14 September 2008 / 28 September 2008 / 05 October 2008 / 12 October 2008 / 19 October 2008 / 26 October 2008 / 02 November 2008 / 23 November 2008 / 30 November 2008 / 07 December 2008 / 14 December 2008 / 28 December 2008 / 04 January 2009 / 11 January 2009 / 25 January 2009 / 01 February 2009 / 08 February 2009 / 15 February 2009 / 22 February 2009 / 01 March 2009 / 08 March 2009 / 22 March 2009 / 29 March 2009 / 05 April 2009 / 12 April 2009 / 19 April 2009 / 26 April 2009 / 10 May 2009 / 17 May 2009 / 24 May 2009 / 31 May 2009 / 07 June 2009 / 14 June 2009 / 21 June 2009 / 28 June 2009 / 05 July 2009 / 12 July 2009 / 19 July 2009 / 26 July 2009 / 02 August 2009 / 09 August 2009 / 16 August 2009 / 30 August 2009 / 06 September 2009 / 13 September 2009 / 20 September 2009 / 04 October 2009 / 11 October 2009 / 15 November 2009 / 29 November 2009 / 06 December 2009 / 13 December 2009 / 20 December 2009 / 27 December 2009 / 10 January 2010 / 24 January 2010 / 31 January 2010 / 07 February 2010 / 28 February 2010 / 07 March 2010 / 21 March 2010 / 28 March 2010 / 02 May 2010 / 09 May 2010 / 30 May 2010 / 13 June 2010 / 27 June 2010 / 11 July 2010 / 18 July 2010 / 25 July 2010 / 01 August 2010 / 08 August 2010 / 15 August 2010 / 22 August 2010 / 29 August 2010 / 05 September 2010 / 12 September 2010 / 19 September 2010 / 26 September 2010 / 10 October 2010 / 24 October 2010 / 31 October 2010 / 07 November 2010 / 14 November 2010 / 21 November 2010 / 28 November 2010 / 05 December 2010 / 12 December 2010 / 19 December 2010 / 26 December 2010 / 09 January 2011 / 16 January 2011 / 23 January 2011 / 30 January 2011 / 06 February 2011 / 13 February 2011 / 06 March 2011 / 24 April 2011 / 08 May 2011 / 15 May 2011 / 22 May 2011 / 03 July 2011 / 17 July 2011 / 24 July 2011 / 31 July 2011 / 07 August 2011 / 14 August 2011 / 21 August 2011 / 25 September 2011 / 09 October 2011 / 16 October 2011 / 04 December 2011 / 25 December 2011 / 08 January 2012 / 15 January 2012 / 22 January 2012 / 29 January 2012 / 17 June 2012 / 08 July 2012 / 05 August 2012 / 21 October 2012 / 28 October 2012 / 04 November 2012 / 11 November 2012 / 18 November 2012 / 02 December 2012 / 30 December 2012 / 06 January 2013 / 13 January 2013 / 20 January 2013 / 03 February 2013 / 10 February 2013 / 17 February 2013 / 10 March 2013 / 17 March 2013 / 24 March 2013 / 31 March 2013 / 05 May 2013 / 26 May 2013 / 02 June 2013 / 09 June 2013 / 16 June 2013 / 23 June 2013 / 30 June 2013 / 07 July 2013 / 14 July 2013 / 28 July 2013 / 11 August 2013 / 18 August 2013 / 25 August 2013 / 29 September 2013 / 08 December 2013 / 15 December 2013 / 22 December 2013 / 29 December 2013 / 19 January 2014 / 26 January 2014 / 02 February 2014 / 09 March 2014 / 18 May 2014 / 25 May 2014 / 29 June 2014 / 06 July 2014 / 10 August 2014 / 24 August 2014 / 21 September 2014 / 12 October 2014 / 26 October 2014 / 23 November 2014 / 01 February 2015 / 08 March 2015 / 22 March 2015 / 12 July 2015 / 19 July 2015 / 26 July 2015 / 09 August 2015 / 16 August 2015 / 20 September 2015 / 27 September 2015 / 01 November 2015 / 06 December 2015 / 06 March 2016 / 20 March 2016 / 24 April 2016 / 01 May 2016 / 04 September 2016 / 25 September 2016 / 02 October 2016 / 13 November 2016 / 20 November 2016 / 01 January 2017 / 22 January 2017 / 23 July 2017 / 19 November 2017 /


Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]