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Catholics must ‘watch their tongues’, says Pope

By on Thursday, 13 June 2013

Pope Francis  (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis (Photo: CNS)

Catholics must “watch their tongues” and resist the temptation to resolve disputes with “insults, slander, and defamation,” Pope Francis has said.

Delivering a homily at morning Mass on Thursday, which was attended by men and women who work at Argentina’s embassies and consulates to Italy and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, the Pope said: “There is no need to go to a psychologist to know that when we denigrates another person it is because we are unable to grow up and need to belittle others, to feel more important.

“Jesus, with all the simplicity says: ‘Do not speak ill of one another. Do not denigrate one another. Do not belittle one another’.”

The Pope went to say that “in the end we are all travelling on the same road that will take us to the very end,” before adding, “if we do not choose a fraternal path, it will end badly, for the person who insults and the insulted. If we are not able to keep our tongues in check, we lose.”

Pope Francis concluded: “I would ask the Lord to give us all the grace to watch our tongues, to watch what we say about others. It is a small penance, but it bears a lot of fruit.”

The homily was delivered by Pope Francis in Spanish for the first time since he was elected Pontiff. He said: “It’s the first time I have celebrated Mass in Spanish since February 26th, and it feels good!”

  • Burt

    rofl Benedict i quite concur

  • Julian Lord

    It’s not for nothing, Burt, that I mentioned that mystical meditations such as this one can have a certain “shock” value.

    I wanted merely to point out that there is a long Tradition of such spirituality in Catholicism, and perhaps that one should not be so surprised to learn that a priest who belongs to a religious order, as the Pope is, should partake of that sort of spiritual mysticism.

  • Julian Lord

    Ben, it’s not waffle — and the answer is that I think this would depend on your intended audience, but also that if the Pontiff wishes to provide such meditations in the manner of his own choosing, then his sovereign right to do so can hardly be argued with.

    All forms of mysticism are hard to teach, and the Catholic mysticism even moreso these days, as we live in a popular culture that seems to automatically associate the very notion of mysticism with some concepts belonging to Buddhism or Zen, that are generally very foreign to the Catholic and indeed Western Tradition.

    (though to be honest, I’m waiting for the Osservatore Romano report on this homily to appear on the Vatican website before making up my own mind about this homily, as the Vatican Radio reports on the Pope’s off-the-cuff homilies seem generally to be of lesser quality)

  • Burt

    Jabba . I kind of met you on the point that mysticism is indeed part and parcel of how we find God. But not all are that way inclined. If there is something TRULY CATHOLIC about the one True Church that was given to the whole world by Jesus (God made man) is that he is truly there for the REALLY humble, salt of the earth, man in the street, clodhopping, not versed in theology or philosophy, man and women. I hope I am not guilty of being patronising attitudes but maybe it would be better it soo humble Francis was a little more Patronising in the real sense..well it is fathers day.

  • Burt

    Truth is Jabba -when it comes down to it we are not called to be any kind of esoteric elite. It’s precisely that aspect of our faith thats geared to everyday man. It strikes a chord with those busily engaged with daily life, providing for their families They really don’t have time to be philisophical.

    Mystics have much to explore and find, of course, God bless them, but Our Lord NEVER implied there is any mysterious or intellectual adept path to truth that is set apart or above any of us who identify as the “Man in the street”.

    As Our Lord made clear re Heaven and little children. It’s exactly that aspect of Zen that fails. its an elitist path. No doubt exploited by that crafty devil who tries to ensnare us by all our most noble attributes. Perverse being.

    Theology and philosophy are not, and have never been commanded occupations for us at all. I certainly don’t expect (and will certainly fail) God to judge our eternity based on my chance of finding my individual and interesting dissertation.

    Protestants always seem to make clear that Catholics are wrong because we don’t believe we are saved by faith alone. Well funny thing is They are the ones who have nothing but scripture. What is apparent if you actually read the Gospel? what does Jesus continually tell those in earshot? Every time Our Lord teaches how to gain Heaven is based on your behaviour and obedience.

    Basically I am saying I am not happy with the turn of events. a pope who dumbs it all down to non Catholics at the same time perplexes and causes confusion to cradle Catholics. I will always believe the Catholic … dont know wat else u were saying

  • Julian Lord

    we are not called to be any kind of esoteric elite

    correct !!!

    Our Lord NEVER implied there is any mysterious or intellectual adept path to truth that is set apart or above any of us who identify as the “Man in the street”

    correct !!!

    Having thought about this a little more, I remembered that the Pope has in the past couple of weeks been warning against a certain “false mysticism”.

    It strikes me as natural that he might feel the need, in the face of this false mysticism, to provide some teachings from the true mysticism.

  • James M

    But He was not God “looking like” man – He was a man, with no “ifs” or “buts”, Who “just happened” (obviously a very inappropriate choice of words indeed, but I can’t think off-hand of a more theologically & Biblically appropriate way to put it) to be God. The God-man is not less genuinely, truly, fully and completely totally human in every way for being God. Maybe it is because He is God, that He has the infinite power to take on a truly & fully (etc.) human nature – neither cancels the other.

    Granted, we are dealing with something infinitely mysterious here – there is no way to get round that. It does not follow that we can say nothing that means anything – it is fact possible to make statements about the Incarnation in the confidence that they will be true as far as they go, even if no further; for we are dealing with a mystery, not with a muddle. So if “the man Christ Jesus” is called man, as in that verse He is, the word is going to have a meaning that is intelligible – not a private meaning known to St. Paul alone, which his readers (including us, centuries later) have no means of grasping. If “man” has no intelligible meaning, and is an inarticulate grunt; or “really” means “three-headed monster from Venus”; or is a meaningless series of letters, then there is no point in saying Jesus Christ is in, some sense, truly man, as the meaning, if any, will be undiscoverable. But if He is said to be truly man, then it makes no sense to suppose that there is nothing in common between Him, and us. He is – in reality – as truly “of one substance” with us because He is truly man, as He is (in a wholly different way) “of one substance” with His Father. It is what He has in common with us, not what He does not have in common with us, that requires the reality of His humanity to be emphasised – there is no much point in asserting the reality of the Ascension, which is a Divine act, if one does not affirm the reality of His humanity as well. If He is both God & man, then He is both – not one or other, & presumably not one as function of the other.

    And if He is man – then there is no place for the idea that He dispensed Himself from obeying the Will of God. The idea is negated by the gospels – He “fulfil[led] all righteousness”; He does not look for ways to avoid to doing so. That is not the whole of the Gospel presentation of of Him by a long way, but it is an important strand of it. But this idea that, as God, He dispensed Himself from the Law, is post-Biblical. The issue of His relation to the Law is not absent, but the NT authors make the opposite argument: that He was “born under the Law”, was “the end (= goal + conclusion) of the Law”, is the Rabbi with authority to expound it, the One predicted in it, & so on.

    “Being God does give Jesus some prerogatives”

    ## But not in the way that seems implied. He doesn’t get a free pass from the consequences of being human – on the contrary, because He is “greater than” than men, He is able to show a far greater depth of self-sacrificing love than we can. “Because [not: Even though] – He was Son, He humbled Himself…even to death on a cross”. (The Evangelists make the same point). St. Paul has a very high doctrine of Christ – but He does not let a very strong stress on the glorification of Christ by the Father undercut what He also says about the self-humiliation of Christ; in St. Paul, the exaltation of the Son as Lord in the Glory of the Father is of one piece with, and follows upon, the equally low self-abasement to death of the Son by which He destroys death.

  • James M

    It is possible to see how it can look “horrifying and heretical” – but the Pope is saying something very profound & true here, that (probably) can be expressed only by resorting to (very violent) paradox.

    St. Paul says “”For our sake he [= the Father] made him [= Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) STM your argument is with St Paul :)

    “Sin” as used in this passage may mean “sin”, or it may mean “[sacrificial] offering for sin”, or it may mean both. Hebrew thought – & St. Paul was a Hebrew – can accommodate several related ideas in a single word (Genesis 4 expresses “sin” & “punishment for sin” by the same word); & that is likely to be happening here. If so, then Jesus “was made” both sin, and, also, an offering for sin – not one or other, but both together, in the same action; which is a Divine action. Another aspect of Jesus being “made sin-a sin offering”, is that we, by being “in [Christ]…become the Righteousness of God”. And that is shocking as the thought that Jesus is “made…sin for our sake”.

    C. S. Lewis made the point that Jesus is the “Perfect Penitent” – & points out how paradoxical this is; yet it is implicit in the NT. The Pope is thinking in the same way.

  • Ex Umbris Oxford

    I love our holy father very dearly indeed. I wish I was half the man he is. But he’s not terribly good at this himself.

  • James M

    No waffle there – it’s a good, & brief, explanation of a perfectly valid idea, which for various reasons needs a whole essay (or wall of text) to explain it adequately. Brevity is very hard to attain, if the subject-matter combines Catholic doctrine with the Bible. Unless all the (familiar) Ts are crossed & Is dotted, someone is bound to complain. Since the ideas were found to be shocking, some defence of them was needed. If Christian doctrine were reducible to a body of unconnected and shallow propositions, to avoid even the appearance of waffle would be the easiest thing in the world.

    Should one avoid what the Bible actually says ? The Pope is alluding to the words of St. Paul.

  • Irenaeus of New York

    [Sigh]… I have to pray on this. I would rather emulate St. Nicholas. Punching out heretics like Arias while giving gifts to kids :)

  • Julian Lord

    OK — looking at the Osservatore Romano version, now available at the Vatican website :

    … we can see that the Vatican Radio account is, for starters, a DIRECT mistranslation.

    Quello che il Signore vuole da noi — ha precisato — è proprio l’annuncio della riconciliazione, che è il nucleo del suo messaggio: Cristo si è fatto peccato per me e i peccati sono là, nel suo corpo, nel suo animo. Questo è da pazzi, ma è bello: è la verità. Questo è lo scandalo della croce

    This is a rhetorical subtlety, among other things, by the Pope.

    The word “peccato” is usually simply translated as “sin”, except that this is not its literal translation.

    A truly hair-splitting definition would be something like “the resulting state of sin(s)”.

    The Pope anyway did NOT claim that Jesus “became the sinner” !!!

    He claimed that Jesus essentially became the “sinned-against”, the locus, and the destination of all sin.

    Insofar as ALL sins are sins against God, and insofar as Christ in His Passion took the burden of ALL of our sins, the Pope in fact simply reiterated Catholic doctrine — albeit with the mystical connotation already referred to…