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Francis’s Radical Realism: Performance v. Ideology

One year into his pontificate, one of the few uncontroversial things to be said about Pope Francis is this: He is our first American pope. This claim, verging on the obvious, provides an insight of its own. We are in the midst of something like a shift in current, a continental reversal of polarity. Since the Spanish conquista first brought Catholicism to this continent’s shores, to now the twilight of the twenty-first century, the Americas have listened. Now, through Francis, there is speech, a voice.

A Latin American voice.

Ever since the pragmatism of William James (and the pragmaticism of C.S. Pierce), there has been a distinct sense of concreteness to the original philosophical ideas produced on this continent. Yet, in a more direct way, the geopolitical situation in Latin America over the past hundred years has produced a sense of the concrete that is more than purely philosophical in nature. The comparative political history of modernity in Europe and the Americas makes this very clear. Whereas the European story is driven by an intellectual progression of ideas (e.g., rationalism, empiricism, idealism, and so on), the Latin American version is a postcolonial response to political situations.

Francis reflects this situation-based approach, in a very direct and pointed way, in section 231–233 of Evangelii Gaudium, summarized by the subtitle “Realities are more important than ideas.” He describes the distinction between realities and ideas by giving ontological priority to the former. “Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out,” Francis teaches. The ontological simplicity of reality gives way to a “principle of reality,” an incarnational order between word and flesh that favors the practice of evangelization.

Francis’s notion of practice here is performative. To “put the word into practice,” we must “perform works of justice and charity which make that word fruitful.” This is, perhaps, the key to understanding the significance and logic of his phone calls, kisses, and simple acts of kindness that have become something of a spectacle in the public media. (And why not? They are spectacular.) It is a performance, a series of very real, and often quite ordinary, responses to situations. It is concrete and therefore proximate, giving rise to a unique and unprecedented sense of intimacy. That this intimacy has been perplexing to many is only evidence of the radical nature of this approach in times where ideological “issues” take precedence over human touch. These iconic papal acts can be, and have been, grasped in pictures, images without language, because they are realities and, as such, they “simply are.” Francis shows without saying because “realities are greater than ideas.”

The question of papal continuity, a question that always appears at some point in this discussion, is interesting in itself. I do not know whether any other pope has been scrutinized as closely as Francis has been in terms of his fidelity to, and progression from, his recent predecessors. What is most obvious in this case is also instructive: The relationship between Benedict XVI and Francis is literal and present. We can see it plainly. The irrationally ideological style of today’s popular speculation is, perhaps, most vividly on display as both Left and Right antagonize a very real friendship between our two popes. In other words, we are too easily led into pretending as though Francis and Benedict are not in frequent and friendly, collegial contact.

Of course it does not follow to argue that if two people are friends then they must agree with each other. However, when two popes who, for the first time in 800 years are both alive, are dear friends, who stay in close and frequent contact, this ought to give a strong preliminary suggestion that mere speculation and paranoia should not overcome so easily.

Nonetheless, what I am calling Francis’s “radical realism” is perhaps most apparent within the papal progression from John Paul II to Benedict XVI. John Paul II was a practitioner of the art of performance in his theatrical work, as an actor and a playwright; this, I think, makes sense of his intuitive grasp of the power of phenomenology, an influence deeply embedded in his writings before and after his papacy. Benedict XVI’s Augustinian roots give his writings a sense of the performative, too, most explicitly in Spe Salvi, where he maintains that the Christian message must be “not only ‘informative’ but ‘performative’.” Benedict anticipates Francis’s radical realism when he elaborates that “the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.”

From the craft of the theatre and appreciation for a phenomenological lived experience in John Paul II, to Benedict XVI’s Augustinian understanding of the amorous and performative core of the Gospel, to the now direct—and uniquely American—favor shown to reality, over and above ideas, in Francis, the progression, the movement, is symphonic.

But what are the relevant implications?

One of them is a critique of modern ideology that, in many respects, mirrors that of Alasdair MacIntyre and, more recently, Slavoj Zizek. In fact, it may also raise an interesting, albeit limited, convergence between them.

In Marxism and Christianity, MacIntyre credits the prophetic strength of Marx’s critique, rooted in the Christian inheritance carried over from Hegel, but also highlights Marx’s two-fold weakness: the inability of his theory of ideology to account for itself (How can Marx accuse others of false consciousness?) and its constitutive social conditions (in this case, MacIntyre rehearses the argument he would more famously deploy against social science methods in After Virtue). MacIntyre’s strategy is what stands out here as unique, especially amongst philosophers, because, as he has continued to show throughout his oeuvre, he takes seriously both the ideological implications of a critique of ideology and all of its social effects, well beyond the narrow boundaries of reason.

This MacIntyrian strategy is similar to Zizek’s use of Lacanian psychoanalysis to critique the narrativist approach in Freud and other purely linguistic or interpretive approaches. In The Plague of Fantasies, Zizek, following Lacan, contends that “narrative as such” is what emerges as the real, not a strategic reorganization of narratives and counter-narratives. Therefore, for Zizek, ideology emerges when we forget to account for what he (and MacIntyre) points out: “Narrative as such” and the ways in which desire reconstitutes the narrative into a fantasy.

There has been much debate over the narrative—the translation, the terms and their exact meanings and intentions, most of all the economic narrative—of Francis’s message in Evangelii Gaudium and elsewhere. What this parsing of words misses is the performance, including the performance of the narrative, but most importantly the performance of the Gospel as a reality instead of an idea. If the Gospel is merely an ideological alternative, a narrativist strategy, then, as MacIntyre notes disagreeably and Zizek strongly and perversely favors, Marxism may simply be the modern appropriation of Christianity.

Francis’s radical realism, then, is to treat the Word as an incarnate thing, as a reality to be shown more than it is said, to let its proclamation live in the performance of its witness, to be captured in pictures of tenderness, embrace, ordinary living. A kiss. Acts such as these are immune to the ideological trap of Western ideas that has turned so much of the reality of the Gospel into intellectual history, moral theology, and dogmatic ideals. A real Gospel cannot be a philosophy or even a philosophical theology. A philosophical Catholicism is what Francis seems to be avoiding, and for good reason.

The result of this realism is radical in both senses. On the one hand, it returns to the root (radix) of the matter, to the real itself. On the other, it makes incredible demands that come with very real costs. There is a price to pay when the Americas are given a voice. Francis is direct: “This calls for rejecting the various means of masking reality: angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems bereft of kindness, intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom.”

In short, Francis is calling the Church, and the world, to reject ideology as such, to decolonize and disabuse itself from the deleterious effects of Western intellectualism, to perform an embrace of reality, most of all, the reality of Christ and his presence among us in the poor and the suffering.


Readers are invited to discuss essays in argumentative and fraternal charity, and are asked to help build up the community of thought and pursuit of truth that Ethika Politika strives to accomplish, which includes correction when necessary. The editors reserve the right to remove comments that do not meet these criteria and/or do not pertain to the subject of the essay.

  • Hematite

    In the end, all ideology tends to idolotey and insanity.

  • Deacon Keith Fournier

    This is brilliant

  • Mariano

    This is post-modern nonsense.

    • SamRocha

      This is ideology.

  • Bill Maniotis


    As brilliant as your argument is, especially the notion that “reality is more important than ideas,” the fact remains that the ideologues have so thoroughly colonized our minds that only fantasy is visible to most of us. If our only means of spiritual warfare is to adopt Francis’s “radical realism,” then I am on board, but do we not eventually need the help of philosophy/theology to help us (and, eventually, the ideologues) distinguish between reality and the “plague of fantasies” themselves?

    • SamRocha

      I hope so. That is, I hope there is some role for the philosopher and the theologian to play, but the key here is the order. In other words, Francis’ radical realism puts into proper order the relationship between ontology and epistemology, I think.

  • Prudentia Politica
    • Rosemary58

      I do get a sense of longing for Utopia in Francis’s words. But he balances this with faith in action.

  • Bradley Bethel

    Sam, why do you call him a realist instead of a pragmatist? How do you distinguish between realism and pragmatism?

    • SamRocha

      This is a fair point. The main issue I have with it is the baggage that comes with the term (as Pierce’s reactionary ‘pragmaticism’ shows), but I did note that, albeit glancingly. Also, while Francis might have a pragmatic *method*, I am not willing to say that he is using a pragmatic theory of truth.

      • Bradley Bethel

        The distinction between a pragmatic-like method and a pragmatic theory of truth seems significant, indeed. Can one adopt a pragmatic method while rejecting a pragmatic theory of truth? I suppose doing so would, in fact, make one a realist rather than a pragmatist. Perhaps you could address that in a future essay.

        • Bradley Bethel

          P.S. I just remembered an interesting perspective on the distinction between pragmatism and realism–and their respective rejections of idealism–found in James Campbell’s 2007 “One Hundred Years of Pragmatism,” published in the journal *Transaction of the Charles S. Peirce Society* and also found (I believe) in his book *A Thoughtful Profession: The Early Years of the American Philosophical Association*.

          • SamRocha

            There is a lot here to talk about, but, as far as the method/theory-of-truth distinction goes, that is my reading of James in the Lowell Lectures. I don’t think that it strictly follows, logically or otherwise, to see each version of pragmatism as mutually inclusive. But, in the end, I think pragmatism is overestimated as a theory. It was never built for the long haul. In my own work I try to glen what I find useful from it (which is very pragmatic) and use it as it helps me understand other interests in phenomenology, aesthetics, and philosophy of education. Last thing: Yes, for James truth evolves, but it does not evolve because it is a fantasy, it evolves because it is real and alive!

        • Dan Hugger

          If we run this through Peirce:

          “Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.”

          Then it would seem like a pragmatic method would be a pragmatic theory of truth!

          • Bradley Bethel

            That classic quote from Peirce, however, does not speak to the nature of truth itself, at least in the way James’s work directly addressed the nature of truth. James would be comfortable saying something like, “Truth evolves.” I doubt Pope Francis would make such a statement, at least with regard to the truth about the nature of God. Or would he? Perhaps a theology–or a Gospel–grounded in the real experience of people is, indeed, a theology that evolves. Within such a theology, are any doctrines eternal?

        • IRVCath

          Certainly. Take St. Francis Xavier, or most missionaries throughout history. I’m pretty sure they believed, as far as they knew, all that Holy Mother Church teaches. Yet in St. Francis Xavier’s case, in his baptism of ten thousand, can we be sure they got even a tenth of the instruction we expect converts today to undergo?

  • Christopher Hall

    Yes, avoid a philosophical Catholicism. Just like St. Thomas did!

  • @MTMehan

    Thoughtful stuff, thank you.

    Admittedly, it is hard for me to read this piece and not sense a kind of anti-intellectual celebration, hopefully unintended or simply an error on my part. I felt a similar vibe in your piece against school. I’m sorry to tweak, but it feels a little too proud of spurning conventions, of being a voice in the wilderness. On the other hand, you clearly are a radical thinker, and you clearly think deeply about Pope Francis.

    Yet unlike our pope, the piece seems to take much admirable labor in the intellectual fields and dismiss it as ideology with too little care of separating the sheep from the goats.

    I guess I would simply ask, where is your own “on the other hand” defense of the intellectual life of Western Civilization, philosophy, theology, etc.? Do you have one you could point out to me? Is it MacIntyre? Augustine? Does it defy description?

    I discern a humanist impulse to overturn a group of schoolmen, and that’s good, if such a desire is also recognized and moderated as a passion. I’m with you. But I’m not sure “Western intellectualism” (that isn’t Pope Francis’ phrase, is it?) is the properly defined enemy of the real.

    That is, calling out everything but The Word as ideology may be less than true, less than real, and not what you mean to do. Yet that is, I have to say, kind of how the piece feels. I don’t think that’s what Pope Francis is doing. I don’t think that is his radicality.

    PS I like your music.

    • SamRocha

      Thank you for your serious critique here, and more generally at Patheos. Given that you are willing to give me such a rigorous reading online, I would only add that my other published works, especially my latest and forthcoming books, add a lot that is missing in these shorter pieces. Augustine does influence me a great deal, but mainly in seeing him through the lens of Monica. A lot of this is personal, playing itself out in the, as you noted, oddly anti-intellectual intellectual work I do, but the question of imbalance is not one I take lightly or would explain away willy nilly. You are more right, I think, than I can appreciate right now. But, my hope is this: with time and work, it will work itself out, more or less…

  • DavidM

    “Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out,” Francis teaches. And that sounds plainly false: ‘realities’ are only properly *human* realities (i.e., relevant to us) insofar as they are understood as such, i.e., insofar as they are ‘idealized.’ And in any case, how can one possibly justify the claim that ‘realities’ simply ‘are,’ and are not ‘worked out’?

    • DavidM

      Put it this way: “Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out” is an idea (isn’t it?). As such it needs to be ‘worked out.’ Can it be done so in a plausible, tenable, non-‘ideological’ way? I don’t think so.

      • SamRocha

        Things exist. This claim is the backbone of any non skeptical realism, which I take to be Francis ontological position. When we translate that into language, things start getting worked out and over, but it does nothing to detract from the basic fact that things exist.

        • DavidM

          Things exist. Also: Things come to be. Also: Things cease to be. When you just say “things exist” that is again empty rhetoric, non-responsive to my argument, unless you have some argument to show that the term ‘things’ in this expression should not be taken to refer to ideas as much as to anything else, or that you have some defensible notion (i.e., idea!) of a ‘non-idea’-thing which is not ‘worked out.’ Any abstract reference to ‘things’ or ‘realities’ will necessarily be a reference to these things or realities that is mediated by *ideas*. So what is the point of declaring that ‘realities’ or ‘things’ simply are, or simply exist – as if you thereby managed to avoid the fateful ‘worked-out’-ness of ideas?

          • SamRocha

            Ideas are things, too, obviously. And the problem off language, mind, and other subjectivities are serious ones. But none of this detracts from the basic fact that any thing that is real (i.e. any thing that is a thing and not otherwise), exists with ontological sufficiency — all epistemological, psychological, and other things notwithstanding.

          • DavidM

            So you agree that “Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out” is a problematic statement? Good. It is. (It also still appears to be false, for the reasons I already gave.)

          • SamRocha

            It may be problematic in certain ways (the ones you’ve chosen to raise), but it is not so in the most basic ontological sense I have chosen to focus on.

  • DavidM

    “There is a price to pay when the Americas are given a voice. Francis is direct: “This calls for rejecting the various means of masking reality: angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems bereft of kindness, intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom.”” – How is this not empty rhetoric?

    • SamRocha

      So you’re a chicken and egg, gotcha question sort of guy, huh? Have fun!

      • DavidM

        How is that not more empty rhetoric? Seriously??

        • SamRocha

          Can you ask your question in a way that leads me to believe that you are being serious? Your “question” is not a question at all. It is an assertion.

          • DavidM

            No, Sam; “How is this not empty rhetoric?” is clearly a question, not an assertion. It is one which requires you to actually define your terms (starting with ’empty rhetoric’) and explain how they actually (don’t) apply to your statement (which appears to just be a riff on the all-too-common dichotomization of Francis from his predecessors, and specifically in a way which appears to be bereft of all substance, i.e., ’empty rhetoric’).

          • SamRocha

            It is a question in the sense of its grammatical content, but it seems to function in a very different way, which is why I asked if you might rephrase it in a way that would show me that you are serious.

  • OdinsAcolyte

    Putting words in the mouth of Peter’s Heir. Never trust anyone who tries to tell you what somebody meant to say.

    • SamRocha

      What do YOU mean to say here?

    • Mike Blackadder

      Sam is only the 100th who sets out to explain what Francis ‘meant to say’. Maybe that’s the downside of an approach that places little importance on ideas.

  • Rosemary58

    Pope Benedict warned on having a faith that is ossified; like old salt, what good is it? Pope Francis carries that theme along, putting faith into action. It’s the object that seems to change when I hear Francis.

    Christianity is not a quaint ideology or a curious philosophy, and those who try to fashion it into something like that do not understand that before anything, it IS. There is only one reality, and it is God’s, not ours. We are on HIS turf, not He on ours.

  • So, how can you prove what you’re saying is actually happening in reality? Wouldn’t you and the pope himself have to relate and communicate ideas in a philosophical way, for anyone to know and understand what you’re on about… It’s the natural relationship between Reason and Faith. It’s the distinction between heresy or opinion and objective reality. A valid statement avoids proselytises, which renders merit to freedom and not control.

  • Rachel Gehring

    Sam, keep writing and discerning. We need balanced intellectuals in the Catholic blogosphere, those who understand that at the heart of all of this is a Person.

  • The trick will be not allowing this to become yet another form of “sin all you want, you’ll be forgiven in the end” theology that has dominated the western experience for the past 40 years.

    • IRVCath

      You misstate, unfortunately, the Western experience. It is largely, “sin all you want, because there is nothing to forgive.” At least with the first, one has a sense of sin, and a sense they can be forgiven somehow. In the West we do not have that anymore.

  • Mike Blackadder

    ‘To “put the word into practice,” we must “perform works of justice and charity which make that word fruitful.”’
    It’s true that what Pope Francis is saying here is in perfect continuity with the teachings of the church. What strikes me and perhaps bothers me in his message is how he deemphasizes the corollary to this statement. Yes, it is true that a Christian life is empty without acts of charity, without works, but works are also empty outside of the context of faith. To actually say that ‘realities are more important than ideas’ seems a bit like aiming for a lesser version of Christ, and it seems to me that there are practical consequences of a Christianity redefined in this way.
    Once again, perhaps the explanation for this message is actually pragmatism. It is the recognition of what is missing from a large majority of Catholics, or perhaps just his own point of emphasis, and making bold uncomfortable remarks (even if they are one-sided) is an effective way of waking people up to what he is saying.

    • IRVCath

      Because he it is likely he is addressing in large part the people who read encyclicals – most of whom, as practicing Catholics, already have faith.

  • Mike Blackadder

    It also appears that in some instances it is actually Francis who has overemphasized the relevance of ideas. It’s just that he tends to feel strongly about certain ideas. Take for example the criticism that Francis has faced with his economic narrative in Evangelii Gaudium. You could say that it is consistent with the social doctrine of the church of his predecessors, but it is exactly because he takes it further with particular remarks that he sparks controversy.

    “Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

    “In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

    “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”

    and lastly, ”

    “If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.”

    Now if we are Christians arguing with secularists about the immorality of abortion, the effect of redefining marriage, then it seems that we are open to criticism on the basis that we are being too focussed on dogma, ideology, being divisive. But if the idea being expressed is that trickle-down economics is bad, that violence legitimately spawns from inequality (ie. rather than absolute poverty), that free markets should not be trusted by politicians, then suddenly we are being good Christians.

    What offends some people about Francis’ remarks I think is best articulated in this final quote. “I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth”. In other words, if you find yourself offended by his narrative of economics then it’s obviously because you care less about the poor, you are selfish and ultimately less humane than you could be. Ironic that in this particular circumstance that he places so much weight on the significance of these ideas.
    The reason for pointing this out is not to try to catch Francis in a ‘gotcha’ or call him a hypocrite. Rather I think this illustrates that it is somewhat problematic to have a style where some things he says don’t appear to be well thought out, and is a legitimate cause for confusion.

    • NDaniels

      Perhaps it is the fact that Francis fails to mention that it is atheistic materialism that has led to the individualistic, indifferent, and self-centered mentality that has become a sign of the Time we are living in, including atheistic materialism’s influence on capitalism.

      Without freedom, there can be no innovation, but this does not change the fact that capitalism does not serve the Common Good when it becomes influenced by atheist materialists.

      • Mike Blackadder

        Yes perhaps. But that would be simply reiterating what is actually taught by the Church for the last 100 years. There is no getting around the fact that governments, citizens, the rich and the poor must conduct themselves according to Christian morality and charity and with the aim of caring for others as well as themselves. This is the only formula for a just and peaceful society.

        It doesn’t solve our problem with selfishness observed under Capitalism to promote an even more disastrous manifestation of human error and sin where political and economic power are joined together (as is done under the socialist state). In a nutshell trickle-down is simply asserting that private citizens who have succeeded economically will tend to do a better job of generating economic activity with their earnings than if government tried to redistribute their earnings to achieve the same thing. I’m not sure how anyone has decided that this concept has ‘never been confirmed by the facts’ when actually Reagan’s version of an economic recovery so strongly outperforms alternative government-centric attempts like those of Mr. Obama. It’s not a question of not recognizing right from wrong, but simply demonstrating good judgment.

        There is certainly truth in what Francis is saying however. To some people, the defense of free markets and Capitalism does practically amount to mysticism and a sanctified view of the invisible hand, even when the outcome is significantly unjust. However, overemphasizing the possible shortcomings of Capitalist economic societies out of proportion with the failures of alternatives does not tend to gently lead such individuals away from their errors, but generates a legitimate mainstream objection to what ought to be the wise position of the Catholic faith and inspiration of God Himself.

  • Sam,

    I would be interested to know your thoughts on how this might apply to reality and ideology in respect to the sacred liturgy and the “antagonization” of papal friendships.

  • MPRyan

    Regarding a proper ordering of the relationship between ontology and epistemology, Two points come to mind, an observation and a poem.

    An observation. For what it’s worth, Jesus was not a writer.

    A poem. From Seamus Heaney. Titled Scaffolding:

    Masons, when they start upon a building,
    Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
    Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
    Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
    And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
    Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
    So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
    Old bridges breaking between you and me
    Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
    Confident that we have built our wall.

  • Not just a Latin American voice- A Jesuit Voice- complete with the central fallacy of Jesuit thought, that we all live in separate realities instead of separate perspectives on the same reality.

    • Sounds like you’re off in your own reality. Ooh boy…

      • No, I’m just exploring why we’d have Jesuits hiding clergy sex abuse and sticking up for homosexual marriage, just to take an example from my neck of the woods.

  • Guest

    I am liking Papa Francis more & more. Thank you! I much prefer your take on him than the main stream media which always screws it up and twists his words the wrong way.

  • D bran

    Pope Francis is awesome!

  • Alex Woollends

    Dr. Rocha,

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. It was good to hear back from you!

    I just wanted to give some musings to “Mariano” and some other folks on here; what Dr. Rocha is talking about is certainly *not* post-modern nonsense. I would encourage everyone to read the late (and great) Michael Oakeshott’s brilliant “Rationalism in Politics” essay. You can find it here:

    Oakeshott argues (and I believe it is a sound argument) against *all* modern political theories – conservativism, liberalism, and libertarianism. If his argument is sound, as I think it is, then what we have found here is yet another example of how Church teaching is aligned with the truth of the matter!

    In short, Pope Francis’ rebuttal of ideology is not only justified, it has nothing to do with anything resembling post-modernism.

  • James_Locke

    “In short, Francis is calling the Church, and the world, to reject ideology as such,”: should probably read, “In short, Francis is calling the Church and the world to reject ideologies that do not conform to his own,”

    Reality is not a naked thing that can be decoupled from perception. Christ’s coming did not change this. Ideas are still the filter by which our perception understands reality. You can claim to have no filters, but at the end of the day, you are still wearing tinted glasses.

    “objectives more ideal than real” for example. What a powerfully imaginative statement. Yet without a filter to examine it, it can mean opposite things to different people.

    Frankly, this ideology of HIs Holiness reminds me of Plato’s Philosopher, who seeks to understand the forms of reality, the things that are most real. How ironic that he sets himself up an an anti-intellectual but is just another Western Philosopher (in reality).

  • Augustine

    So then you reject that faith needs to lead to action, called faithfulness, in order to be alive and meaningful! Sounds to me like you are a closet Protestant who holds that faith so called because it is merely mental assent is all that is needed for salvation…

    A section of James 2 – 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

    18Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.19You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” 24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

  • weirded out

    Francis is a perfect ideologue. He has made an ideology out of not having an idea in his head. And you really buy that the relationship with BXVI is all warm and fuzzy? Wow. Step away from the hookah, my friend. As Francis says, “I am Vatican II.” Confusing, contradictory, mercurial, nonsensical, clown-like. Yes, exactly like the documents he worships. Have you ever read them? Do they make ANY more sense than the circular, bizarre speeches and writings of FI?

  • weirded out

    Yes, things exist. How freekin’ brilliant. Back to first semester ontology. (massive eye roll)

  • Brendan Walls

    Good essay. I had never thought of the papal lineage in this way, rather Francis being a departure. Style wise, maybe it shouldn’t have concluded so abruptly with the penultimate paragraph’s longer quote giving the reader the impression Francis approves of this essay, too. Perhaps he does!

  • kayla

    While we are living in this material world we need to know that the Christ is always with each one of us in whatever we are doing and demonstrate this in our behavior with each other as brother and sisters of our Dear Lord Jesus.