This morning America magazine publishes an oily letter from Mgr. John Strynkowski–Fr Weinandy’s predecessor as executive director of the Secretariat for Christian Doctrine at the U.S.C.C.B.

Like so much put out by the Jesuits today is is….well… Jesuitical. It makes bland points, poses as serious, but is shallow, hides behind gentle, patronizing language and adopts a lofty, self righteous tone. Bleh.

But maybe I’m being harsh and judgmental…

You can read the letter here and make up your own mind.

What gets me is not the content, but the tone churchy people use these days. It can only be described as sentimental mumbo jumbo. Its become a kind of new Catholic orthodoxy. In the old days prelates inveighed in magisterial tones against heresy, wickedness, dissent and apostasy. They spelled out their disagreements clearly and logically.

Nowadays it’s all the language of “fraternal affection” laced with “deep concern” . things are “noted with sadness”. One never comes out and accuses anyone of anything clearly. Instead there are a lot of “perhaps” and “could be” and “possibly” and “could be construed as”. There are no statements of objective truth instead we have “many people agree” or “after consensus it was decided.”

It all tumbles around in ambiguity and is as slippery as an octopus in oil. Then when they are criticized they say, “Point to something we have said which is not orthodox!” Nothing you have said is unorthodox, but then nothing you have said is orthodox either–because all of it was subjective, sentimental, lukewarm ambiguity.

For more on this technique read the posts by my “guest blogger” Fr Harvey Nicolaitan SJ

The paragraph that tickled me most was this one:

Your fifth concern is that bishops feel that the pope is not open to criticism and indeed resents it. What is your source for this? Indeed, there has been much criticism of the pope, but he has remained silent. I am not aware of anything that he has said in public to indicate that he resents criticism.

Clearly Monsignor has not come across the delightful collection of Pope Francis’ public insults to those who disagree with him. It was collected by an English blogger and is called Pope Francis’ Bumper Book of Insults. This is a pope who publicly insults his critics and attacks them with with name calling but when they respectfully and properly ask him to clarify his comments he ignores them.

This is a pope who takes the high road and calls for dialogue with everyone….except the members of his own flock who would like to sit down and talk. Pope Francis calls for synodality, consensus and consultation but (from what I hear from the few sources I have in Rome) rules with an increasingly autocratic style.

But he’s the pope and we are called to pray for him and thank God for the gifts he brings the church, and one of the best gifts he’s given the church so far is to relieve us of the temptation towards any kind of ultramontanism.