Pope doesn't want schism – but is not afraid of it

Pope Francis addresses journalists yesterday during an in-flight conference on his flight to Rome (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis told reporters he hoped and prayed the Catholic Church would not experience a new schism, but human freedom means people always have had and will have the “schism option”. Source: CNS.

“I pray that there not be schism, but I am not afraid,” Pope Francis told reporters flying from Africa to Rome with him yesterday.

Schisms have occurred throughout Church history, he said, and one thing they all have in common is having such a focus on an ideology that they begin reading Church doctrine through the lens of that fixation.

A schism is triggered when “an ideology, perhaps a correct one, infiltrates doctrine and it becomes ‘doctrine’ in quotation marks, at least for a time,” he said.

As an example of ideology, the Pope cited those who say, “The Pope is too communist” because of his criticism of unbridled capitalism and its negative impact on the poor. “The social things I say are the same things John Paul II said. The very same. I copy him.”

When ideology takes the place of doctrine, he said, there is the danger of a split in the Christian community.

Pope Francis said small groups of Catholics in the United States are not the only people who criticise him — there are even people in the Roman Curia who do — but he tries to learn from the criticism and to find a way to dialogue with critics who are open.

“Criticism always helps,” Pope Francis said. “When one is criticised, the first thing to do is to reflect, “Is this true, not true, to what extent” is it valid?

“Sometimes you get angry,” he said, but “there are always advantages” to be drawn from listening to critics.

During the inflight news conference, which was briefly interrupted because of turbulence, Pope Francis responded mainly to questions about issues that arose during his visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.

But the Pope also was asked to respond more fully to an informal comment he made on the flight to Mozambique, when he said that it was “an honour when Americans attack me".

“The criticism is not coming just from America, but a bit from everywhere, including the Curia, but at least those who are doing it have the courage” to be public about it, the Pope said on the flight back to Rome. What isn’t acceptable is when one “smiles so much he shows you his teeth,” and then lists criticisms “behind your back.”

FULL STORY

Ideological fixation, not ‘loyal criticism,’ feeds possibility of schism, pope says (CNS)

RELATED COVERAGE

On American critics, Pope says he doesn’t want a schism but he’s not afraid of it (Crux)

Francis warns of ideology 'infiltrating' some quarters of US Catholic Church (NCR Online)

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