An emeny speaketh sweetly with his lips, but in his heart he lies in wait, to throw thee into a pit. An enemy weepeth with his eyes: but if he find an opporunity he will not be satisfied with blood.
That is a quotation from the Ecclesiasticus 12:15-16. I did not know before today that the same book is also called the "Book of Sirach". On top of that, the numbering of the verses seems to differ. So in the RSV, we find the corresponding verse in Sirach 12:16, which combines both verses into one:
An enemy will speak sweetly with his lips, but in his mind he will plan to throw you into a pit; an enemy will weep with his eyes but if he finds an opportunity his thirst for blood will be insatiable.
The topic today is that of the 2015-2016 Holy Year of Mercy, announced some time ago. In particular, I wish to address the developments which came about yesterday when Pope Francis wrote a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. I still haven't figured out what the "new evangelisation" is supposed to be, by the way. If you ask me it seems to be another way of saying "no evangelisation", a point which has been made by others.
In any case, most of the letter is surprisingly Catholic, apart from somewhere in the middle where Pope Francis addresses the issue of abortion, writing "I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision". I am unsuere of which pressure Pope Francis speaks, but he makes it seem as though all women are forced into it through outside pressure or threats. For some it may be the case, but one may be hard-pressed to argue that it is the case for most. Many do it so that a baby won't interfere with their leisure activities, such as interfering with one's volleyball aspirations - and I don't even mean sex, which for most people in the West is just one leisure activity among many. In typical Pope Francis fashion, the sin is someone else's fault, although at least he does seem to think it is a big issue, although using words such as "tragedy of abortion" again give the impression that is is something brought about by external forces and not through the conscious choice of the women who make the conscious decision to kill an unborn child.
I especially liked the part about those who have been incarcerated, and are therefore unable to make a pilgrimage to obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. I liked it that the letter did not take the opportunity to rail against incarceration and instead speaks of those who "despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sinceredly wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it". That statement entails a kind of culpability which Pope Francis does not seem to think can be attributed to those who have their unborn children killed. The indulgence "can also be obtained for the deceased" so without a doubt we are looking at one of the few Catholic documents released in the name of Pope Francis.
Given that the letter is quite concise and without many contradictions, I am inclined to agree with Mundabor that it has not been written by Pope Francis. I am sad to conclude that, but I have a very hard time believing that the man who when he is allowed to speak freely cannot bring himself to uttering perhaps as little as 2 consecutive sentences or an Orthodox bent can write a document which is very much to the point and does not attack Catholic orthodoxy.
I write though regarding the SSPX, which is the very topic that Pope Francis addresses before concluding the document. Pope Francis makes it clear that "This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one" and that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." That is all well and good, and the SSPX has taken time to respond, thanking the pope for his gesture while insisting that they did not need to be granted special permission during this year of mercy as they have "extraordinary jurisdiction", as granted by canon law in emergency situations. One can hardly argue that the post-Vatican II period does not consitute a period of emergency - one which Pope Francis has made all too visible-, but I am not going to go into the particulars.
My point is that I simply don't buy that Poper Francis is being well-intentioned to the point of being generous. The synod is but a month away and Pope Francis has shown his cards very clearly. It is very clear that in his mind, Church discipline should have nothing to do with Church doctrine or Church teaching, or even obedience to Our Lord. I cannot help but detect a rather sinister ploy in which Pope Francis will turn around some time soon and say that since the year of mercy "excludes no one", and he has proven this by granting the SSPX special jurisdiction during the course of that year, that he would have to extend it to those in adulterous relationships as well. This is, after all, the same pope who said just 2 days prior to this that:
With these words, Jesus also wants to put us, today, on guard against considering that the exterior observance of the law may be sufficient to be good Christians.
The literal observance of the precepts is something sterile if it does not change the heart and is not translated into concrete attitudes.
Those are words which would not trouble us if they were said by a...