New Interview with Pope Francis
I consistently enjoy reading comments from the pope when he is speaking casually, responding to real people in front of him. The pope’s latest interview—with a group of editors of European Jesuit publications—is no exception.
Francis began by restating his axiom, "realities are more important than ideas." He spoke about how he believes heresies in the Church arise when theologians focus so much on disembodied ideas that they miss the realities in front of them. He said:
"Take the example of heresies, whether they are theological or human, for there are also human heresies. In my view, a heresy arises when the idea is disconnected from human reality. Hence the phrase someone said – Chesterton if I remember correctly – that ‘heresy is an idea gone mad.’ It has gone mad because it has lost its human roots.
[…] Notice that this phenomenon of abstract ideas about the human condition is ancient. It characterized, for example, decadent scholasticism, a theology of pure ideas, totally distant from the reality of salvation, which is the encounter with Jesus Christ."
This is constant refrain of the pope’s, one that I have resonated with personally for several years. It’s easy to get caught up in ideas, in abstract logic or philosophical systems, and miss the real person in front of you, their experiences and their suffering. In Evangelii Gaudium, the pope taught, “Realities are greater than ideas. This principle has to do with incarnation of the word and its being put into practice: ‘By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God’ (1 Jn 4:2). The principle of reality, of a word already made flesh and constantly striving to take flesh anew, is essential to evangelization” (EG 233).
Next, Francis spoke about Ukraine, Russia, and NATO. He warned against reducing the conflict to good guys and bad guys. Instead he focused on how much arms dealers are influencing and profiting off of this war and how the war is harming real people.
He went on to speak about some of his experience in Argentina in the years following the Second Vatican Council. I thought this part was really fascinating because it gave a glimpse into why Francis has been so critical of Traditionalism in the Church.
Finally, the pope answered a question asking for his thoughts on the German Synodal Path. He said, “The problem arises when the synodal path comes from the intellectual, theological elites, and is much influenced by external pressures.”
In other words, the pope is concerned with ideologies and agendas influencing the synodal path rather than the German Church remaining attentive to needs of the people. In other words, he’s concerned that ideologies may be taking precedent over realities. However, Francis said, “There are some dioceses where the synodal way is being developed with the faithful, with the people, slowly.”
The entire interview is worth reading.