Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Francis - Recent Remarks on France, Secularity and Muslims

“France must become a more secular state,” Pope Francis said surprisingly in an interview with by the managing editor, Jean-Pierre Denis of the weekly La Vie: “Your secularism is incomplete. France must become a more secular country” because its secularism “sometimes results from too much Enlightenment philosophy, for which religions were a subculture, and France has not managed to overcome this legacy. “
The concept of secularism introduced into the French democracy is “healthy”, insisted the pope, because “today, a state must be secular”. But “a healthy secularism has an opening to all forms of transcendence, according to the different religious and philosophical traditions. The search for transcendence is not only a fact, but a law.” He also expressed concern for Europe, which “has been weakened and risks becoming an empty place (…) forgetting its history.”
“This (Europe) is the only continent that can bring some unity to the world. China has perhaps a more ancient culture, and  deeper, but Europe alone has a vocation of universality and service,” he said. Speaking of immigration, Francis believes that “one can speak of an Arab invasion today,” but he immediately notices positively, “how many invasions of Europe has known! And she always knew how to excel herself, moving forward to find herself enlarged by the exchange between cultures.“

Pope denounced the “poison” of ideologies.
I don’t have the text of the Pope’s remarks today, but the few that appeared  (as above) point to a maximally important truth that must be made (if his remarks so point).
Let me explain: The social doctrine of the Church does not point to the creation of Christendom as a Catholic political order. The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ. The Kingdom of God is not an eschatological order that is to take place at the end of the world as a one-world system. It is to take place now: “Above all,… the kingdom is made manifest in the very person of Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, who came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mk. 10, 45). The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God.”The Kingdom of God.”[1] The Person of Christ is “the Son of the living God,” who assumed a human will with all sin, Himself being sinless, and mastered that human will making Himself obedient, with that will, to death and thus restoring His humanity – and therefore all humanity – to freedom from death. That subduing of the human will of Christ is the supreme act of human freedom and autonomy and defines the meaning of the secularity of the temporal order. As John Paul II put it in #85 of “Redemptoris Splendor:” “The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom: he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom.” That freedom is the meaning of “secularity.” It is the personal establishment of divine transcendence in the created order whereby the human person is capable of making the gift of himself in secular life.
            Secularity is not a naturalism bereft of the supernatural. On the contrary, it is the locus of the “supernatural” that is the very dimension of the AGAPE of Trinitarian Life. It is the transcendence of self that is the becoming of “another Christ.” It is transcendence within this world.
            The enemy of that transcendence is to cramp the search for holiness into the categories of the ministerial priest or religious life, a distillation of the religious state of perfection as out-of-this-world. Such is “clericalism.” Such a secular state of affairs could tolerate the immigration of Moslems because it would not involve competitive religious categories. It is the open playing field of Christian anthropology that supports, aids and abets the mastery of self for the gift of self to the transcendent God and to all men in family and in work.
The pope, whose trip to France was announced in the last year, has not yet been programmed. He admits being unfamiliar with the French reality: “I went only three times in France (…) I do not know your country. I would say that it exercises some seduction. (…) In any case, France has a very strong humanist vocation. “

Blogger: ideologies are conceptual absolutes that are cobbled together independent of the experience and the consciousness that derives therefrom. Ideologies deny the transcendence of the human person as constitutively related to the Creating and Redeeming God. Secularism denies that relation. Secularity is engendered by it.  
Secularity is a Christian truth, the truth of the Person of Christ that is self-gift. Wherever there is self-gift, there is Christ, there is freedom, there is holiness. Self-gift, which is the act of the human person made in the image of God and saved by Jesus Christ, can, and does, take place outside of the structure of the Catholic Church. But not outside of Christ. Hence, a truly Catholic France can be possessed of that Christian anthropology where all persons are culturally encouraged to make the gift in family and ordinary professional work. It is what is truly human. The Person of Christ in Scripture, sacraments especially the Eucharist are the power sources of this anthropology and its giftedness which irradiates throughout the society.

[1] “Mission of the Redeemer,” #18.

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