Francis and his predecessors
R. R. Reno, and the publication First Things, has been consistently critical of the pope for a while now. I read this new article by Reno because it mentions Shaun Blanchard’s excellent analysis of Traditionis Custodes (that I’ve mentioned before).
I thought that Reno's line about how “one gains a sense of a pope’s program by whom he’ll put up with—and whom he denounces and disciplines” was thoughtful. However, his overall assessment of Francis is fundamentally flawed.
While Reno is correct that Francis has different emphasis than Benedict and John Paul II did (I think Francis is picking up Paul VI's priorities more so than his immediate predecessor's). However, I think Reno presents Francis's pontificate as not just different, but as a rupture from Benedict and John Paul II (e.g. his Francis is a liberal and John Paul II and Benedict were neoconservatives rhetoric).
I believe that if you read Francis's teaching with an openness to understand, and not with antagonism, that it's perfectly clear that his teaching is deeply rooted in the work of his predecessors.
It was John Paul II and Benedict who developed the teaching on the death penalty to the point that allowed Francis to outright condemn it. It was John Paul II's teaching on the the law of gradualism and moral culpability that explicitly laid the groundwork for Francis's teaching about Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics in Amoris Laetitia. It was Benedict's teaching about the development of doctrine that Francis built from for his own teaching on the matter.
There is no rupture between Francis and his predecessors, just difference.
Hello Mr Fahey, I'm a subscriber and more power to your work. I'm sorry to hijack here, but I imagine you or one of your confreres will be onto this?
This is a very good article! Incidentally, I'm in the process of writing an article on a similar topic for WPI: the fact that the "new Mass" has a different spirituality than the "old Mass". Traditionalists treat this as a "gotcha" point, but it really isn't an issue if "different" is not seen as "opposed".