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Posted: 12/10/2016 11:14:26 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/10/2016 11:15:12 AM EST by skid2041]
Fr. Dwight Longenecker

December 8, 2016

CRUX CONTRIBUTOR

A Byzantine icon of Sts. Peter and Paul. (Credit: Wikipedia commons.)

St. Paul was on fire for Christ. Totally converted and traveling tirelessly, he evangelized, fought, wrote and preached. Peter was no less passionate for Christ, but his ministry became one of founding churches and taking the leadership role. If you like, Paul was the prophet, Peter the priest and pope.

It has been suggested that no previous pope has taken the name “Francis” because St. Francis was too holy and the popes were too humble.

Probably not.

Instead, I believe no popes have taken the name Francis because St. Francis was a prophet, not a pope or a priest.

In the Hebrew tradition, two strains of ministry emerged: the priestly and the prophetic. Both were necessary and they complemented one another. The priests preserved the status quo. They maintained the sacrificial system, were custodians of the temple and preserved the establishment. The priests were involved in maintenance, not mission.

The prophets, on the other hand, were at the cutting edge. They lived the faith with radical example. Embracing poverty, extreme religious vows and calling for renewed commitment, they spoke out against injustice, protested the abuses of the powerful, defended the poor and lived their faith with wild eyed passion and burning zeal.

The prophets skated on thin ice, took risks, punched above their weight and paid the price. The priests, on the other hand, played it safe, preserved the traditions, fortified the foundations of the faith. They were diplomats and did the undramatic work of debating, defining and defending the faith. They refined the fine points and understood that the divine is in the details.

Every religion needs its prophets, but every religion also needs its priests. We need radical exemplars of the faith whose lives are obviously consumed with passion for God and others, but we also need the quieter, conservative, seemingly unremarkable men and women who do not love God any less, but who are called to a more mundane expression of their faith.

In other words, we need dramatic dreamers, but we also need dutiful defenders. We need missionaries, but we also need maintenance men.

The lives of Saints Peter and Paul illustrate the priestly and prophetic ministries. St. Paul was on fire for Christ. Totally converted and traveling tirelessly, he evangelized, fought, wrote and preached. He spent his days listening to and loving God’s people.

Peter was no less passionate for Christ, but his ministry became one of founding churches and taking the leadership role. If you like, Paul was the prophet, Peter the priest and pope.

The famous clash between Peter and Paul was the clash between the prophetic Paul who wanted radical freedom for gentile converts and papal Peter who was worried about the impact of such radicalism on the faithful. Paul was pushing boundaries. Peter was defending borders.

Which brings us to the ministry of Peter in the church. Peter and his successors exercise a ministry that is essentially priestly, not prophetic. The pope is the primary definer and defender of the faith. His job is to clarify and make the final call.

The church certainly needs prophets. More than ever we need radical examples of sanctity. We need stunning pioneers of faith, hope and charity at work in the world. We need prophetic figures to challenge the established powers, to defend those who have no voice, to speak out against the greed, violence and rage that destroy the weak. We need warriors who will defend the unborn, the poor, the elderly, the stranger and the helpless.

The office of pope has a prophetic dimension and the best popes have shown what it means to be a radical disciple of Jesus Christ, but the papacy is not primarily a prophetic office. It is priestly, and the pope’s job of defining and defending the faith is crucial to that essentially conservative dimension of the papacy.

It is therefore disturbing to many Catholics that Pope Francis refuses to answer the requests for clarity submitted to him by four of his cardinals. The questions are submitted on behalf of the world’s faithful. They are stated simply and should not be difficult to answer.

Why then has Pope Francis remained silent? Is it because he is more prophet than pope?

While we love and admire Pope Francis for his prophetic stance, we also expect him to exercise the high priestly dimension of his office. His constant support for the poor, the marginalized and oppressed is wonderful. His concern and compassion for those in difficult marital situations is admirable, but as pope, part of his job is to define and defend the clear and unambiguous teaching of Christ’s gospel.

Requesting the pope to clarify his teaching is not to demand mindless legalism or an unbending harshness. All Catholics are well aware of the complexity of marital situations. Pastors realize the application of church teaching is an intricate and delicate task. Pastors wish to respond with sensitivity and concern for the souls of their flock.

However, to do so they need clarification, and the longer the pope delays his answer the more it looks like he is intentionally promoting ambiguity, and the ensuing confusion clouds the conscience and hinders both the pope and the whole church from getting on with the vital task of living out the gospel of mercy with both charity and clarity.
Link Posted: 12/12/2016 8:27:59 AM EST
I take everything Fr. Longnecker says with a grain of salt.....
Link Posted: 12/12/2016 8:43:19 AM EST
With Pope Francis' latest requirement that Climate Change should be lectured from the pulpit, I think Fr. Longnecker might just be on to something.

May God bless them both.

Link Posted: 12/12/2016 3:34:31 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/12/2016 3:41:01 PM EST by OD-Man]
A pope has no special competency with regard to climate change...I am beginning to think Francis has no special competency with regard to Catholicism, absent his speaking ex cathedra. He does seem to be well versed on the topics of coprophilia and coprophagia though... here....
Link Posted: 12/12/2016 7:11:20 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By OD-Man:
I take everything Fr. Longnecker says with a grain of salt.....
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Why?
Link Posted: 12/12/2016 8:55:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/12/2016 9:06:42 PM EST by OD-Man]
Long story short, he's a convert who seems to think that the Catholic Church started with Vatican II....he's belittled Traditional Catholics who have a better understanding of the faith than he ever will.....he still has Protestant baggage.

PS - you notice he doesn't allow comments in his combox? Frankly he's a goofball who can't take constructive / deserved criticism.
Link Posted: 12/12/2016 11:06:24 PM EST
I guess that is fair. But, it doesn't change that he does know things. He does have some great incite. Granted many of his blog posts don't hit the mark. But, that is the same for other priests as well.
Link Posted: 12/20/2016 2:36:00 PM EST
More confusion from Longenecker: The Longenecker Exception
Link Posted: 12/20/2016 11:05:17 PM EST
I forgot that he lived in Greenville....I should go to dinner with him when I'm there next. ( yes, I have no problem calling up theologians that I don't know and inviting them to lunch)
Link Posted: 12/21/2016 10:50:06 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By OD-Man:
More confusion from Longenecker: The Longenecker Exception
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Deep seated lol. OK. The word sophistry was invented to describe this.
Link Posted: 12/21/2016 8:41:14 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By OD-Man:
More confusion from Longenecker: The Longenecker Exception
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Wow.
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