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Here is my response to a friend who sent the article, “Making Dogma Out of Unsettled Science,” from Crisis Magazine.
Fr. Rutler makes some great points! I don’t think there is any danger of this Pope allowing dogma to change, though, whatever sympathy he seems to show with iffy science and world-worshippers. I think this article is very valuable except for this bit of unnecessary worry the author introduces. It makes a point, but to those who truly care about dogma (and who are fighting against those who hold their ‘tenets’ as inviolable dogma without admitting scientism has become their religion and filter for encounter with reality), it raises as a fearful prospect a possibility the Holy Spirit prevents.
As for the projection onto the walls of St. Peter’s, I hate it, loathe it, react against it, and then I imagine the Pope’s smiling face reminding me that the Immaculate Conception is about Mary’s ‘immaculate receptivity’ to the Word and then to the cries of us all for His help. I’ve said for many years now that the children of this world who are so desperately afraid for the earth and for themselves must be shown, whatever it takes, that the Church is NOT the friend of the post-enlightenment scientific reductionism of overrational, atheist materialists. They are rejecting much that the church rejects, but they have jettisoned the church in the process, wrongly identifying her verbal, logical, historical, and legal interests with the ‘establishment’ that has let them, and the world, so badly down.
If the Holy Father saw fit to let them play upon his walls, I know he hopes it will help them see themselves as SEEN BY the Mother Church they are longing for when they worship Mother Earth. None of us can live rightly without this ‘being held in’ the being, the gaze of an Other. It begins with a mother, and many of the world’s children are essentially motherless, when moms cannot offer this hospitality of the heart. It continues with a father, and they may have only a “corporation man” who betrays and uses and does not sacrifice his interests for the sake of life. It should, rightly, go on with a Church, and they have only their peers to guide them and exacerbate their fears.
Poor, dear little ones! If they can begin somehow to believe the Church can hear them, can embrace them, can let them affect her like a child affects the mother (both at a deep, heart level, and at an annoying, crayon-on-the-walls level), they may enter further and be rescued. The Immaculata is a transparent lens through whom we can best see Christ, but also one through whose love and tenderness He can best reach the least of these.
I think the Pope let those white walls of St. Peter’s be a pure surface on which the children could see their concerns imaged – an image of Mary Immaculate herself. Yuck, like sour milk and poop and vomit and blood, but for the good of the little ones…okay by me!
The Church must not only proclaim Truth to the world, but turn and voice the world’s concerns to God. In this stooping to hear, and this turning to take up the needs and concerns of the children, she turns them toward their Father. Mary and Pope Francis are leading us to this maternal dimension of the Church’s full realization. We have been stuck, perhaps, in our own linear march toward progress in the spiritual life, or the goal of evangelization, and need to be awakened to the tender and un-self-protective movement of the Holy Spirit. I believe the amazing doctrinal strength we see consolidated in the last two pontificates gives the Church a strong, coherent ‘sense of self’ so she can better risk this loving condescension that encounters the world and speaks to its cries for help.
Be not afraid! It’s just the crazy, earth cleansing, world turning wind of the Spirit shaking things up and standing us on our heads!