Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Hidden Dangers of Clarity and Structure

Doubling down on Cardinal João Braz de Aviz' warning to religious vocations directors from around the world about the consequences of distancing oneself from the "great lines" of the Second Vatican Council, the following day Pope Francis gave the same group a short list of warning signs that a young person might not be suited for religious life.*

Given the state of the Church, one might be tempted to expect such a list to include, say, active homosexuality, pedophilia, theological and/or pastoral dissent, careerism, inordinate fondness of polyester pantsuits, etc. But I suspect that even considering such things as being potentially harmful to religious vocations is to have already distanced oneself from Vatican II - perhaps irreparably so. No, the real threat to religious vocations is to be found elsewhere: deep in the Freudian Unconscious. Pope Francis explains:
All the people who know the human personality - may they be psychologists, spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers - tell us that young people who unconsciously feel they have something unbalanced or some problem of mental imbalance or deviation unconsciously seek strong structures that protect them, to protect themselves.
Did I mention it was a short list?

While insinuating mental imbalance in one who seeks structure is somewhat new - I mention only in passing his description of Christian ideology as a "serious illness" - decrying the threefold evil of 'structures, rules and habits' is an established trope of Pope Francis' personal magisterium. As he wrote in Evangelii Gaudium (§49):  
More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: "Give them something to eat."
Again, is there any doubt as to who is meant here? And could the modus operandi of setting up false dichotomies be any clearer?

St. Francis, pray for us.

Confirmation of the Rule of St. Francis by Pope Innocent III
Giotto (1266-1337)

*If Jeff Foxworthy were a Catholic, gentle reader, this would be a comedy goldmine.


  1. So Francis say it is the mentally unbalanced who seek 'strong structures' to protect themselves.

    What a slam at all liberals and progressives who advocate for the structures of government, welfare, universal healthcare, and regulations.......as we have all seen these ungodly structure are harmful to humanity.

  2. You're quoting Pope Francis (twice) while providing no links or attributions. There is a sea of second- and third-hand information and quotations to wade through as it is. This doesn't help matters any.

  3. Okay, not twice, but one, without attribution. Try to be careful anyway, will ya?

  4. Try Joshua J. McElwee's article in the National Catholic Reporter from April 13, 2015.


Comments are moderated according to both content and form. If you would like to keep your comments private, please indicate this, and include your email if you would like a personal response. Thank you for commenting.