Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pope Said ... What?! (Part II)

A few astute people have shown me that the Pope might have known exactly what he was saying when he quoted a 14th century document that was critical of Islam. (See my previous post and these news items). In fact, two of those people left rather thoughtful comments here. And now ... I am doing some more reading ... and I see that the Pope is taking shots at the Jews and the Pagans. What is he thinking?? Shortly after -- or "minutes after" as the Age reports it -- offering an apology for the speech that incited Muslims around the world, the Pope was commenting on two recent Roman Catholic festivals relating to the crucifixion. He slipped this little gem into his commentary:
"We preach the crucified Christ — a scandal for the Jews, a folly for the pagans." --The Age
Do you recognize that statement at all? Here is a hint: Try cracking open 1 Corinthians. The Pope has paraphrased the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23: "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." Note that he has changed "stumbling block" to "scandal". And he has exchanged "Pagans" for "Gentiles" (or "Greeks" in some translations). Now, why would he do this? And why would he use it on the same day he offered an apology for his apparent verbal gaffe of a few days ago? If you take the time to read the Biblical passage (1 Corinthians 1:18-30 NIV | KJV | NRSV | CEV), you will see that it deals with wisdom. Particularly, the supremacy of God's wisdom. And, by extension, I suppose the wisdom of the Christian path as well. So, we have to ask, in sharing this bit about preaching "Christ crucified" and connecting it to the wisdom of God, could the Pope in fact be claiming that he acted with great wisdom and forethought in what the media is calling his "blunder" that has enraged the Islamic community? Remember, now, that the Pope -- for millions of Catholics around the world -- is the representative of Christ on Earth. He is considered to be the only person who is in direct contact with God the Father. And he is considered to be infallible. So, there was no mistake for which to apologize. Something more is certainly going on, and this bears watching. (Aside: If I am not mistaken, the concept of Papal Infallibility is only applied to statements he makes that can be considered solemn papal definitions or ex cathedra teachings. So, if he was at a conference of scholars in Germany, can those statements be taken as ex cathedra? And if the statements are not ex cathedra, then are we back to calling the whole thing a mistake, thereby cancelling out everything I just wrote?)


Anonymous said...

A few comments:

Here's a good explanation of papal infallibility:

Papal infallibility deals with issues or morals or doctrine - not any speech or comment that he makes.

Also, you said "He is considered to be the only person who is in direct contact with God the Father." That statement isn't really accurate. We believe God communicates with us (and vice versa) in many ways, prayer being the most common. So, the Pope is not the only one in contact with God, but he is the only one guaranteed to be prevented from teaching error by the Holy Spirit. The rest of us, while believing we are teaching God's Truth, could go astray.

Hope that makes sense - anyway, read the document referenced above for a better discussion of the Catholic perspective on infallibility.

So, to answer your question - Yes, the Pope could have just made a mistake in his recent comments, or it could be part of a wider plan on his part.

Brainwise said...

But my statement about being the representative of Christ is correct, yes?

I took a quick look at what New Advent had to say about Papal Infallability while I threw my thoughts together. I just wanted to point out that if it is considered impossible for the Pope to err in judgement or action, then my musings stand. Otherwise ... it's just a mistake writ large on the world stage.

Thanks for posting the additional URL. I do like your correction of my statement ("He is considered to be the only person who is in direct contact with God the Father.") And your clarification that "[The Pope] is the only one guaranteed to be prevented from teaching error by the Holy Spirit."

So, where do you stand on the wider plan idea?